For many strategy fans, the Shining Force series holds a place near and dear. I love how each fight is basically a puzzle waiting to be solved — a stark difference from the usual mash attack random battles in most RPGs. Each calculated battle leaves no room for grinding per se, just careful strategy. Even though it lacks class options, there is a wide variety among the recruitable characters for well-rounded teams with a couple of surprises and a few secret characters.
The FF series has always been more hype than substance for me, but FFVI really raised the bar with its engaging story, numerous party members, and multi-team battles. With nary a dull moment aside from the ridiculous random battles FF perpetuates, the varied character development highlights the deleterious effects of a cruel dictatorship on numerous levels and humanity's strength in spite of hardships. Lastly, FFVI spawned Kefka, one of the most memorable villains in video game history, whose laugh will forever be heard in nightmares.
I was a latecomer to the Chrono Trigger bandwagon, having first played it only a few years ago. However, the game has weathered the trial of time extremely well, providing an immersive experience across multiple time periods with engaging characters. CT's handling of time travel plot lines has yet to be bested, avoiding the cliché pratfalls and paradoxes often found in pop culture. With an extensive, melodious repertoire to complement the changing landscapes, Chrono Trigger encompasses a standard that many games can only hope to achieve.
One of the best strategy games I've ever played that also gave me the most frustrating moments: every single bit was the best experience ever until I got to the Wiegraf battle while never using Mustadio at all. Then, it was hours of frustration with a non-evil-killing team until I got lucky. To FFT's credit, it has all the design factors of a legendary game: challenging battles, engaging battle system, numerous unique classes, minimal random battles, and unlockable secrets. FFT is leaps beyond the average strategy RPG with endless replayability, and I have yet to hear a strategy fan decry Tactics.
The DS's touchscreen resulted in much innovation for gameplay mechanics as a whole, but TWEWY took it to the next level and crafted a unique battle system relying on selectable pins for attack types, right-handed touchscreen/voice pin activation, and left-handed partner attack activation for a combination of chaotic fun. Every other aspect matches up in quality: catchy tunes to match the hip Shibuya scene, mouth-watering edibles for boosts, sliding difficulty levels, selectable battles, thought-provoking afterlife plot with extensive backstory, great unlockable New Game+ mode offering even more story and bosses... I could keep going on. My only complaint is that there hasn't been a sequel.