Here’s a topic that I’ve seen in other places but not here - each of us lists four RPGs that we particularly like (or consider very underrated) and four RPGs that we particularly dislike (or consider very overrated), with a brief explanation for each opinion. This gives everyone a peek into each of our own tastes and preferences within the genre and usually sparks a debate or two. You don’t necessarily have to pick your absolute favorite or least favorite RPGs, just eight for which you possess a cogent opinion. Ready, set, go.
One often-overlooked gem in the PS1 RPG library. Although the visuals aren’t brilliant and the voice acting is downright painful on occasion, Grandia is a very fun, very charming RPG that does a particularly good job of using a timing-oriented ATB-esque battle system and an entertaining cast of characters to its advantage.
Seiken Densetsu III
This game teamed up with Final Fantasy V and Tales of Phantasia to fuel my ZSNES obsession five or six years ago. SD III removes some of the diversity of weapon combos and spell learning systems of its predecessor and slows down the speed of combat just a tick, but the six playable characters, class branching options, plot branching options, and excellent SNES-era visuals make for a hell of an action RPG.
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
This was the first great strategy-RPG since Final Fantasy Tactics to find a great balance of storyline, stylistic, customization, and battle elements. This game is most definitely geared towards hardcore level-uppers and fans of strategy-RPGs, with hideously powerful hidden bosses and dauntingly long series of optional dungeons serving as the ultimate goals for a very entertaining and exploitable battle system and customization system. Definitely a must-buy for fans of the genre.
Tales of Symphonia
If you like RPGs and own a Gamecube, then you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t try this one out. While it isn’t my favorite of the Tales series (that honor belongs to the PS1 remake of Tales of Phantasia), Tales of Symphonia is an excellent blend of entertaining characters and storyline, solid audio and visuals, an intense battle system, an entertaining array of customization options, and a hell of a lot of sidequests. In the USA Symphonia is overwhelmingly the most popular game in the Tales series, and it’s not difficult to see why.
Wild ARMs 2
I really enjoyed the first game in this series, but its sequel even more loosely uses the American Old West as an inspiration and gives us less depth and attachment to its characters. The quality of the game’s soundtrack also goes down a significant notch. It’s no surprise that the original got a solid PS2 remake and this one didn’t.
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
The two PS2 KH games have a ****ton of fans and that popularity is mostly well-deserved, but CoM bastardizes what makes KH so much fun, replacing it’s vibrant worlds, colorful characters, and entertaining battle system with a bland labyrinthine castle and repetitive card-based combat. No thanks.
Dragon Quest VI
The Dragon Quest games have one hell of a pedigree, but are often criticized for being too slow, too long, and too boring. DQ VI not only lives up to those criticisms, but delivers them in excess. DQ VI starts slowly, moves slowly, and doesn’t ever seem to end, and if that weren’t enough it also lacks DQ V’s entertaining storyline and character interaction, DQ VIII’s brilliant visuals, or DQ VII’s great characters. It gets props for bringing back a decent version of the DQ III class system, but it takes so long to get anything out of it that it only slows down the game ever further. If you want to get into the DQ series, don’t start with this game.
A God-awful Zelda clone. I don’t know if it even should be considered an RPG (only one playable character, very little freedom within the storyline), but it might be my least favorite game of all time. Avoid this like an STD.