I think Valkyrie Profile was the first and only TriAce game to have accomplished a good story (but did so with the sort of "muddiness" of a lot of early RPGs).
....Why do so many people play games for story? I think playing the new 10's era of Atelier games made me dumber,but hot diggity, was alchemy fun. Same for most of Tri Ace or Tri-Crescendo titles, or even Namdai.
I can forgive lack of a decent story in the wake of a decent cast of characters. In fact, with a good enough cast to get wrapped up in, provided dialogue is also good, I can totally overlook a flawed/boring/cliche' plot. Couple a good cast with good gameplay and I'll be happy as a lark over-throwing innumerable evil empires time and time again.
Case and point. The Tales series. I can't say any of the games in the series proved terribly memorable for me in terms of plot. Yet, Tales stands as one of my favorite franchises by far with a host of characters I'll never forget and, hands down, some of the best gameplay in the realm of JRPG's period.'
Getting hooked by a good story is the exception for me. I love when it happens but VERY seldom does it really occur. Most recently (for me personally, having just played them this year) persona 2 IS and EP reached a level of "stellar" in terms of plot that enabled me to overlook the excruciating gameplay.
Then of course there are titles that get me without a mondo-cool-cast or decent story and shine by merit of environments, soundtracks or gameplay. Secret of Mana immediately comes to mind.
In short, the point of what I am saying is the ultimate truth for me personally is that while it is the "gelling" of these various qualities in games that make for an enjoyable experience, it need only have a few of these qualities reach an "exceptional" level to have a really great time with the title. This of course holds true for me ONLY with JRPGS.... Anything else (WRPGS, or other genres) need to be uterly fantastic in every regard to hold my attention. Sometimes I don't think I would even play video games if not for JRPGs *shrug*... good to know what trips your trigger I suppose.
Ok thats enough... I'm rambling now... notice the increase in ellipses...