I actually thought EP was a lot better than IS. I'm not a huge fan of either of them but EP just feels like... I don't know, like they had a much better grasp on what they were doing. Imported IS back when the Oracle of Maya script was around, played some of it, couldn't get into it. Played it again when the translation patch was out and I still couldn't get into it. It felt very off to me.
I think a lot of import-only games received higher praise than they otherwise would've gotten because of the whole... forbidden fruits aspect.
Also echoing what Taelus said about FFIX. When I was younger, I found the super deformed art style really off-putting and I didn't really /get/ the whole learning-skills-from-weapons things. Now, the story themes feel a lot more relevant to me and I appreciate the way the game was balanced.
Similarly, I have a hard time actually hating games for the same /kind/ of reason. I don't like FFVIII anymore -- I take a lot of issues with how its gameplay works, in particular -- but when I was really playing it for the first time, summer after eighth grade, on some emotional level it meant a hell of a lot to me. I can't hate it. It's part of my personality.
And I don't know when I'm going to re-evaluate something and fall in love with it. That happens a lot too.
There's also the question of what you find fun. Games are horrible things if you take an absolutely reductionist view of them -- treat them like the punishment/reward feedback loops that they, objectively, are. So you have things outside of the gameplay per se -- the story, the atmosphere, the mood -- the suprasegmentals of the play-ecosystem, if you will. And there's fun in that, the aspect of /experiencing/ something. Of getting a good story, or being able to shape a good story (in games that allow that kind of interaction).
There's the science kit aspect of it. Being able to try different things, different skillsets, character builds, units. Dicking around with game objects to see what'll happen. Prying out easter eggs and emergent behavior. The exploration aspect.
I am dehydrated as fuck and need to drink less caffeine.
Fun fact: I remember reading RPGFan in study hall back in 6th grade. This would, roughly, 've been when Wild Arms 2 was new.