Yup here it is, my totally flexible, ever-changing current favorite rpg list. I look at a lot of all time bests list and they seem so rigid, especially the ones seemingly completely stuck on previous eras as the only "golden age" of gaming. Also while I am a huge rpg nerd, I certainly have not played every game currently out there, so this is just a best of list of the ones I've played so far, which over the years is a fairly large amount.
#10. Kingdom Hearts: The second game might have been a lot more polished, but it's hard to top the original in terms of the wonder and wow factor that came along with the seemingly impossible but completely awesome merging of two universes like Disney & Square. Interacting with legendary characters from both never loses its appeal. I have gone through the game many many times and what it manages to really capture better than most is a pure sense of fun and imagination, Now if they'd just finally getting around to making another one for home consoles instead of releasing portable spin-offs...
#9. Lunar: The Silver Star: Now most probably played the very good re-release on the PS one but that was just a little extra polish to what was already a fantastic game and one of the few reasons to own a Sega CD. The battles were admittedly a tad simplistic and didn't require a whole lot of strategy overall, but what really makes the game stand out is the fantastic music and extremely fun and funny characters along with some of the funniest npc dialogue you'll ever run into.
#8. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars: Mario in a rpg? Surely you must be joking! It's amazing to see that what probably started off as a novel experiment has become one of the great rpg franchises. I have played and loved every Mario rpg since the first, but the series wouldn't have gotten anywhere if the original hadn't been completely fantastic which it was with a great fun story and the really novel idea of actually teaming with Bowser to stop a common foe along with the introduction of a turn-based yet interactive battle system that was really innovative at the time and still implemented a lot to this day. I'd really love to see a full-on sequel incorporating favorites from this and the Paper Mario series someday, but that's probably too much awesome to hope for.
#7. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion : I have actually never beaten Oblivion. I probably could have done it quite easily, the main quest is very direct and not all that.... oooohhhh what is that fortress/cave/temple over there?!? As most who have played it can tell you, there's just so much to do in Oblivion that it could take you years to actually get around to doing the main quest. Who has time to stop invading demons from another dimension? I'm busy becoming the head of all the guilds! I seriously do not think there is another game I have poured so much time into, it easily clocked in at a couple hundred hours by the time I finally stopped playing. If Skyrim is actually better, I may never need another game ever again...
#6: Rogue Galaxy: The PS2 was host to a ton of fantastic rpgs, and IMHO Rogue Galaxy was the best of the lot. It had a fantastic and fun story about SPACE PIRATES! Which needs to be a theme more often. The battle system was just a lot of fun and you could lose tons of hours doing side stuff such as synthesizing equipment or hunting down bounties or even competing in insect tournaments. All balanced by a fun and memorable cast.
#5: Shining Force II: I love me a good turn-based strategy rpg. And while there have been plenty of great ones since the 16-bit days, none has really held me in it's thrall quite like SF II. The huge cast, tons of classes and unlike most games in this genre, you could bring a huge party into battle (where as most limit you to a small party no matter how many characters you have) making it really feel like you had an army at your hands.
#4. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: The year was 2003. George Lucas had just tried his hardest to destroy any love for Star Wars with the absolutely terrible Episodes I & II. Star Wars was pretty much beginning to lose traction, something previously unthinkable. Then KOTOR happened. The history of Star Wars games is not great to say the least, but Bioware is pretty much like the Pixar of the gaming industry, and this was their Toy Story. Throwing out a lot of what fans were familiar with and placing it back in a time when Jedi were plentiful worked pretty brilliantly. A great story with a fantastic twist few saw coming. This was also the first game to really go into the whole morality system that has anchored most Bioware games since, which really allowed for the feeling that you were truly driving the story rather than just along for the ride. Add in a cast that stands right up there with the best Star Wars characters and you've got an epic classic that's hard to top.
#3. Final Fantasy IX: No list of best rpgs is complete without a Final Fantasy in there. I've enjoyed nearly the entire series, but IX is my favorite, mainly because it does an excellent job of blending what the FF series was in the 16-bit days to what it was moving towards in the future at the time. I won't argue whether the FF games have gotten worse or better, but this was a fantastic mix of the old and the new, along with a really fun story and battle system, along with my favorite FF character, Vivi. Also one of the best endings I've ever seen in a game, period.
#2: Secret of Mana: Magical. There's really no other word to describe how playing Secret of Mana feels. To be fair it lacks the fantastic story and truly memorable characters of a lot of other great rpgs, but it manages to create a wondrous journey backed by a beautiful soundtrack and managed to do right a lot of things modern games still don't do like have multi-player in an rpg! Not to mention mostly competent A.I. partners that didn't get themselves knocked out every couple of minutes (I'm looking at you, Donald Duck, though that can apply to characters in KOTOR and Rogue Galaxy as well). A great weapon upgrading system and a battle system that never got boring. You can easily still see this game's influences to this day, even if it's not really given credit for it.
#1. Chrono Trigger: This shouldn't really be a surprise, but then it's hard to be surprised by pure perfection such as Chrono Trigger. The combo-attack system was revolutionary then and I haven't really seen anything that comes close. The huge number of possible endings was a first and is still rarely topped. The easter eggs added tons of extra hours to a game that was already pretty lengthy. It also manages to tell a touching story filled with all the comedy, action, drama and romance you could pretty much ask for. This is the perfect rpg, and while I remain open to the idea that something better may eventually come out, I seriously doubt it.
Ok that's the list, but it's not a statement of fact. Better games may and in fact will probably come along, so if I need to do a big update to this list at some point I will. I should mention I excluded games where you might actually argue that they aren't rpgs, such as Legend of Zelda & Mass Effect, otherwise those would definitely be near the top. I might have another post tomorrow, but most likely it'll be Monday. Until then, if there's a game on this list you haven't played, you really owe it to yourself to check it out however you can.