5. Final Fantasy 7
Final Fantasy 7 is a game most people have probably heard of. It was the game that defined the genre for a long time, and for good reason. It tells an interesting story about eco-terrorists and their journey to save the world. That’s the simple version. It involves clones, scientific experiments, corporate/government corruption, magic, Biblical themes and the iconic spiky haired hero known as Cloud. It’s been criticized as being convoluted — I might simply say that it’s epic, cool and super weird — but the fact is that as you actually go through the story, it grabs you. The music is great to the point you remember the songs years later, and there are many scenes and segments that stick in your mind. It has one of the coolest RPG casts, a very unique world, and it sticks with you.
4. Star Ocean 2
Star Ocean 2 is the second entry to a game that, basically, asks the question “What if someone from the Star Trek crew got stranded on a fantasy planet?” It combines sci-fi and fantasy in a way that’s fresh and enjoyable. The plot itself is kind of eh, but it’s told well and the cast of characters has a lot of charm. The gameplay is the star here: its active, action RPG battle system split the difference between the button mashing of the Tales series and the fire-and-forget nature of a typical RPG. The real, real champion of the game, though, is its talent & skills system, which allows characters to master skills like crafting, blacksmithing, cooking and dozens of others. Using this system you can, if you were so inclined, search out rare ingredients and get the best weapons and armor halfway through the game.
3. Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy Tactics is the video game version of Game of Thrones before Game of Thrones was a thing. It tells and intriguing political fantasy story overlaid on the story of the personal journey of Ramza Beoulve, an aristocrat who disowns his family and journeys around the kingdom after his commoner best friend’s sister is murdered on his brother’s orders. It’s hard to undersell how good the story is; Ramza encounters evil forces who are possessing the corrupt members of high society and has to put a stop to them. Meanwhile, Delita pursues an epic rise to power fueled by his vendetta against the upper class. The game also has an execution of strategy RPG style gameplay that hasn’t been beat to this day. The moment to moment execution is fluid and fast, and the Final Fantasy style jobs system present in the game is the perfect fit.