Mario is no stranger to the wonderful world of role-playing games, and AlphaDream's initial entry in their Mario and Luigi series, Superstar Saga, continued the plumber-in-red's trend of incorporating platforming elements into the framework of a traditional RPG. With the now-signature timing based combat, mini-platforming challenges, and puzzles that took advantage of both brothers' abilities, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga certainly didn't skimp on gameplay variety. It's the witty writing, however, that kept you coming back for more. Battling a monster made of sentient soda pop that's gone berserk? The ever-present fury of verbally challenged Fawful (I HAVE FURY!!)? Literally jumping the border? This stuff was brilliant, and it became a staple of what makes the Mario RPGs so compelling.
The original Kingdom Hearts was something of a formative gaming experience for me. I debated about whether or not this game or its sequel was more deserving of the spot, and while I would say that Kingdom Hearts II is arguably a better game in almost every aspect, there's one thing the original Kingdom Hearts has over its successor — Billy Zane. The dulcet tones of everybody's least favorite Titanic character made the villainous Ansem and his pre-final boss monologue truly memorable, and it still stands out as one of my favorite gaming moments. "This world has been connected... tied to the darkness... one who knows nothing, can understand nothing."
Seeing as I am a wee young'un, Final Fantasy X is my favorite (and my first) Final Fantasy. I later went back and experienced the adventures of Terra, Cloud, Squall, Zidane and company, but an initial experience with Final Fantasy X at my friend Scott's house (and watching him struggle to defeat Anima) was my first real exposure to the concept of a cinematic, story-driven game — something that blew my notions of what was even possible with video games out of the water. Plus, you know, it had a good combat system and Aeons and stuff. Stuff is good.
Keeping in line with my habit of finding out about great things way later than I ought to, my first experience with Chrono Trigger came when one of my high school friends practically begged me to play the DS version, letting me borrow his copy for the day to see if I liked it. Next thing I knew, I was in 2300 AD learning about the devastation of Lavos, then I had my own copy of the game, and the rest is history. I do think elements such as the revised translation, added connections to Chrono Cross, and swanky music box feature give Chrono Trigger DS a slight edge above its earlier incarnations, but really, any chance you get to experience this classic is worthwhile.
This is another one of those instances where I prefer one game to its objectively better follow-up. I could give a whole list of reasons why Persona 4 is arguably a better game than P3 — full party control is a godsend, which P3 doesn't have unless you're playing the PSP version. But maybe I just prefer the color green? Or my protagonists blue-haired? Whatever the case may be, Persona 3 remains my favorite of the Persona sub-series. It has some truly memorable characters, dark themes, and one seriously awesome soundtrack. Plus, how can you not love the introduction of Orpheus (possibly one of the coolest looking starter demons/personae in the entire MegaTen series)? Per...so...na!