Bang for your buck is one of the biggest reasons to buy any video game in any generation of gaming and no genre has been able to delivery in that regard as much as Roleplaying Games. Some of these bad boys let gamers accumulate 100s of hours of gameplay and some of us still end up going back to it to play more. This was by far the hardest Top 8 list I’ve had to compile thus far because, let’s face it, RPG fanboys are an entirely different breed and when they back the “greatest RPG of all time,” it’s one they’ll argue until they’re dead about.
Our list is comprised of some surprise titles, expected titles, and unexpected rankings. However, after completing every single one of these titles at one time or another, I have to rank them in this order dependent on how much enjoyment I got from the experience. If you’d ranked these different or rotate some in and out, then feel free to leave that comment below and let me know how you’d list them differently. This isn’t an end all, be all list, it’s pure opinion and we’d love to hear yours! So, let’s get down to it.
8. Kingdom Hearts
I’m not sure any roleplaying game received such a fan following as rapidly and loyal as the Kingdom Hearts franchise. With a unique look and feel, Kingdom Hearts was a surprisingly pleasant title to play that was based on a concept that many were unsure of if it would work or not. Blending a mix of Disney characters with Square’s roleplaying characters has to be something that made a lot of individuals turn their heads, but surprisingly, it worked and it worked well. I’m sure I’m not the only one awaiting a Kingdom Hearts III confirmation!
7. Suikoden II
Suikoden II is almost like the roleplaying game that never was. It received a limited printing and it didn’t sell very well, but gamers still regard this title as one of the best roleplaying games ever created. Not only was the title critically acclaimed, but the difficulty of the title was one to fear. Unfortunately for gamers not willing to shell out $70+ for a copy, Konami has no desire to release Suikoden II on the PlayStation Portable in North America or Europe like they did in Japan. Some of you should just start a petition, right? (lol)
6. Demon’s Souls
Regarded as the hardest RPG ever made, Demon’s Souls took a lot of gamers by surprise. This RPG is so good that I’ve died maybe 250 times in the game, yet continue to go back for the abuse that it hands out. Not only that, but when you do beat it, you can play it again at an even harder level (seriously, lol). It’s hard-pressed to imagine how so many people can be a glutton for punishment like this, but I’m one of them. If you haven’t picked this up yet, be sure to do so. It’s worth the $60 price tag (if you can find it).
5. Final Fantasy VII
Unexpected right? I’m sure most of you expected Final Fantasy VII to be in the Top 2 or at least 3, but it’s not. While a ton of gamers live and die by this title, I felt the four above it were superior in most aspects. I’m a huge Sephiroth fan and love the franchise, but I think FFVII gains a little hype due to it being the first of its kind released on PlayStation. Had another title with its status been released first – FFVII wouldn’t be as highly regarded as it is, but it’s still worthy of Top 5 RPG on any list.
4. SMT: Persona 4
To be honest, I could probably list every single Persona title on this list and be happy about it. Each sequel in the Persona franchise has been better than the last and has offered something new to the genre in terms of gameplay, visuals or story. Its continued success is not surprising considering the gameplay hours you can put into a title like this for a mere $40 (even less if you find a sale). However, Persona 4 is above and beyond the rest in the franchise and despite it still being one of the best RPGs I’ve played to date and most recently, it doesn’t topple our Top 3 below.
3. Valkyria Chronicles
Valkyria Chronicles is easily the best roleplaying game of this generation. Not only was the cliché “boy meets girl, boy saves girl” not the focal point of this title, but the decision to implement a tactical, strategy-based, third-person shooter in the form of a roleplaying game was just genius. I have never felt a stronger connection to characters in a game before this one. VC made it even possible to care about the side-characters that you only met in the game a couple of times or recruited into your squad from the barracks. SEGA hit a gold mine of originality with this one and hopefully they continue to push that envelope.
2. Chrono Cross
It’s hard to sum this game up into a small paragraph when its success is so immense. Not only did it sell very well, but everything packaged into its discs is almost unrivaled in the genre. Critics praised the game’s complex plot, innovative battle system, varied characters, moving score, vibrant graphics, and success in breaking convention with its predecessor. Overall Chrono Cross was a moment in life to cherish while playing and its various Game of the Year awards confirmed that.
1. Final Fantasy IX
In my opinion and the majority of game reviewers, Final Fantasy IX is the highest rated roleplaying title in the history of PlayStation, thus it’s no surprise to find it at number one on our list. However, I’m sure this is a surprise enough to have many of you up in arms. While many can make the argument for a handful of other titles, Final Fantasy IX offered a very complex storyline, great character design and development and probably my favorite Final Fantasy character to date – Vivi.