5) Skies of Arcadia Legends (GC) - Ok, I'll admit, Skies of Arcadia makes the list mostly because not only do you get to be a "good" pirate, but you also get to use the sky as your sea. In my opinion, they made a few updates to an already awesome game and made it even better. It also allowed for those who missed out on the Dreamcast version a chance to experience this gem. Not to mention, the strategic ship-to-ship battles made the air pirate fantasy completely come to life. What I liked best about Skies of Arcadia was its focus on three main characters and throughout the game you had supporting characters coming in and out of your party. It was like hanging out with your best friends and then adding a fresh face every so often to keep things interesting. I also liked how this game didn't take itself too seriously and a lot of the time I found myself smirking at the friendly banter between Vyse and Aika. All-in-all, this game was definitely the most fun I had with my Gamecube.
4) Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King (PS2) - I don't even feel like I can properly give justice to the scope of Dragon Quest VIII in merely a paragraph. This is definitely a game you could log a substantial amount of hours into, and it's not just that you could, it's that you actually want to take this amazing journey as far as you can. I honestly could get lost exploring the beautiful backdrop that was Dragon Quest VIII for more time than is probably best to admit. Not to mention, this game is pure turned-based goodness at its finest. It came at a time when a lot of RPGs were going more toward an action-based combat system and this game definitely reminded me how much I missed a turn-based system. It was also a turn-based system that provided a bit of a challenge; it made it more about strategy than just choosing "attack" every time. Oh, and lets not forget the British accents; they added a little something extra special and unique to the game.
3) Suikoden V (PS2) - After most people were disappointed with Suikoden IV, V had to get it right, and for me, it did. This game actually made me an emotional wreck, but in the best way possible. From the beginning, the epic betrayal that accompanies all Suikoden games came out full force. The difference with Suikoden V was I, myself, actually felt betrayed and fooled by characters I thought would never turn on me. I can't even count how many times I was completely blindsided. Every time I went into battle, I had a wave of paranoia that came over me. I was so worried that I would make a hasty decision and it would cost me one of my characters' lives. And then there were the lives that were lost that absolutely broke my heart. Suikoden V had a strong story supported with a distinct cast of characters. Let's face it: no matter what ending you received, it left an impression on you. It's one emotional rollercoaster that I'd gladly ride again.
2) Final Fantasy X (PS2) - This game did something great for RPGs. It changed the standards we held them to or, as I like to say, it upped the ante. For being the first of the series on the PS2, Final Fantasy X literally made a splash. Between the captivating scenery and characters coming alive right before your eyes with realistic mannerisms and voiced dialogue, there's no denying that Final Fantasy X raised the bar. The sphere grid also added something extra to the turn-based combat system. Additionally, the fact that you had some choice in picking some of the abilities your characters acquired was a nice change of pace. With some more than memorable characters, blitzball, and other side quests galore, Final Fantasy X deserves recognition. Oh yeah, and most non-romantics can take a page from the love story of Tidus and Yuna. Say what you want, but it was one video game romance that didn't make me roll my eyes.
1) Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3/FES (PS2) - Let's be honest. When Persona 3 came out, we had been beat over our heads with cliché RPGs with less than stellar characterization. The PS2 was clearly the king of RPGs, but, perhaps, it can also be said that there was a definite issue with quantity over quality. As a result, it was necessary for each game to separate itself from the pack and that's exactly what Persona 3 did. Persona 3 was a breath of fresh air in a genre that was starting to become quite stale.
Perhaps Persona 3's biggest strength was that it offered something for everyone, whether that was something dark, humorous, challenging, thought provoking, or entertaining, you were able to find something in Persona 3 that held your interest. Probably the best part of Persona 3 is that you had a choice in how you played the game. Whether you wanted to build your personality stats to unlock other social links, study for exams, hang out with certain social links in hopes of reaching a deeper connection, or if you wanted to dungeon crawl, you ultimately decided how you wanted to spend your time. The best part? Everything was connected to your success in the game: social links leveled up personas and getting high scores on exams rewarded you with extra items. Persona 3 offered a deep story that provided many twists and turns along the way. It also had a cast of intriguing, unforgettable, and deeply developed characters who all offered a little bit of something for everyone. It's one of the few RPGs that I have actually played more than once and I credit it for filling what had been a void in the RPG genre.