5) Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia (PS2) - If for no other reason, Ar tonelico makes the list because Americans need to know about the Japanese "dating sim" genre, which has saturated the Asian market in the last decade. There's something terribly addictive about it, but when you mix it into a fast-paced and enjoyable turn-based RPG with INCREDIBLE music, what you have is a real treasure. Of all the games NIS America has localized, this is by far my favorite. We need more games like this in the USA!
4) Baten Kaitos Origins (GC) - The prequel/sequel to the first game, Baten Kaitos, was largely ignored due to the poor performance of the original. This is a shame, because this game did everything right. Limiting the amount of characters to three and simplifying the card-based battle system, was exactly what the doctor ordered. The GameCube's RPG library was slim, but most entries were excellent. This is my pick from the GameCube, and I know I'm probably alone in it. But I stand firm in my conviction that this is the right choice for that console, and it belongs on this top five.
3) Romancing SaGa (PS2) - Square's long-running underdog, the SaGa series, has always stood in the shadow of the almighty Final Fantasy series. If you want to play the best game in the series (that has reached English-speaking gamers), you'll want to pick up this fantastic PlayStation 2 RPG. Sporting unique visuals and some of the best music ever put into an RPG, the aesthetic qualities alone sold me at first. But things got even better, as I quickly learned that this is one of the most balanced games (in terms of difficulty) in the entire series. You don't know Square, and you can't judge Square, until you've taken the time to play this game. End of story.
2) Kingdom Hearts II (PS2) - The second in Square Enix's Disney / Final Fantasy crossover series made me one of the happiest gamers on the planet in 2006. All it took was a few simple tweaks, and this sequel stood so far above the original in terms of gameplay, plot, and aesthetic that the original seemed to fade into darkness. Indeed, I have my doubts that S-E can repeat the success of the series again. Regardless, this was the best action RPG I played in the last console generation.
1) Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra (PS2) - The best conclusion to the best RPG trilogy I played in the last generation. People complained that the battles in XS1 were too simple, but far too complicated in XS2. Like baby bear's soup in the Three Bears, this last one was "just right." It was easily the best story I've yet witnessed in a game. The sound and visuals were wonderful, and the gameplay was great for a turn-based RPG. This was an easy choice for the top 5 list.