(Disclaimer: I don't own a PS3 and have not played any of the releases on that console)
5) Final Fantasy IV (DS) - In a move that was maybe a tad bit TOO faithful to the original game, Final Fantasy IV on the DS doesn't change the script or battle system of the original game very much, and tweaks made to the game are minor and matter little overall. It's also missing the etxras from the GBA port of the original game, but even with all these complaints, Final Fantasy IV is still just as engaging today as it was over a decade ago. Cecil and the gang never looked better, and with new abilities to learn, a refined combat system, great challenge level, and top notch voice acting, FFIV is better than ever.
4) Tales of Vesperia (Xbox 360) - Being a main Tales series game on a western console ruffled the feathers of some jRPG fans, but I couldn't be happier. vesperia is probably the best Tales game the series has to offer yet. While it takes the same basic approach to combat as previous entries, the different fighting styles of each character help make the game stand above the pack. Even though Namco Bandai releases a new Tales game twice a year, it doesn't change the fact that Vesperia is a great game with an enjoyable battle system and solid graphics. Considering the game itself ends on a relative cliffhanger, if Namco Bandai chooses to revisit the world of Terca Lumereis in the future, by way of DLC or even a sequel, I'll be first on board.
3) Penny Arcade: On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 2 (PC/Xbox 360/PS3) - Humor in RPGs is rare nowadays. Oh sure, sometimes you have those moments where a character makes a wry comment or a humorous scenario occurs, but no RPG in recent memory is based entirely on its humor carrying the bulk of the game. Penny Arcade: On the Rain Slick Precipice of Darkness Episode 2 is such a game, and it does so gracefully. While the first episode's humor was average, at best, Episode 2 has much more gut-splitting moments interspersed throughout the entirety of its story. The battle system is fast paced and fun as well, and definitely helps make the game a great package. For 1200 Microsoft Points, this game is a steal.
2) Chrono Trigger (DS) - Talk to any RPG enthusiast who had been playing since the SNES days and Chrono Trigger will most likely come up in a conversation. It is a fine example of a true classic. This DS port includes all the extras of the PlayStation rerelease, but none of the harrowing load times that accompanied. Plus, now it's portable! Whoever doesn't think that this is a good deal must be insane. Even though the extras feel tacked on and superfluous, the main game is so good that the price of admission is well worth it.
1) Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2) - I considered Persona 3 (and its FES incarnation) as the swan song of the PlayStation 2... and fortunately, I was wrong. Imagine everything Persona 3 was, just better. With a new story, new Social Links to explore, and generally more polished gameplay, it's okay that Persona 4 follows its prequel's formula closely. COnsidering many companies have already moved on to greener pastures like the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, it's incredible that Atlus has remained on board with the PS2. The fact that it blows every game released for the newer systems this year out of the water doesn't hurt, either.
Disappointment of the Year: Lost Odyssey
I would have named Fable 2 for its bugs, broken gameplay, and halfassed story, but I had no real expectations for that game. Lost Odyssey, on the other hand, was from Hironobu Sakaguchi, the mastermind behind the Final Fantasy series. I was prepared for a grand adventure when I started the game ... only to be greeted with a drawn out, if decent, storyline, some of the most irritating characters I've ever seen, and a battle system that literally put me to sleep while I was playing the game. Strike two, Mistwalker.
Best non-RPG game: Left 4 Dead
Gears of War 2 corrected everything crappy about the first game. Call of Duty: World at War uses the near perfect Call of Duty 4 engine. But neither of these games holds a candle to Left 4 Dead - teaming up with friends to kill the living undead never felt so satisfying - or hilarious. Frantic and fast paced, Left 4 Dead gave me some of the most fun I've had in multiplayer gaming yet.
Best Developer of 2008: Atlus
For giving us Persona 4. 'Nuff said.
Worst Developer of 2008: Square Enix
Infinite Undiscovery and Last Remnant were, though fun and innovative in their own right, disappointments considering the pedigree of their developer. Considering that any decent games this year from Sauare Enix were remakes (Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories and Final Fantasy IV), ports (Chrono Trigger DS), or spin off titles (Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core), 2008 definitely wasn't Square Enix's best year. They've basically become the Japanese version of EA. Hope still remains with the new Star Ocean game, which is looking to shape up nicely for a release in the first quarter of 2009. Don't disappoint us, Square Enix.
RPG series that needs a damn break already: Tales
I was fine with them releasing three Tales games in one year, but releasing TWO VERSIONS of the same game, with the only difference being that one has anime cutscenes, while the other is CG, crosses the line from overkill into absurdity. What the hell, Namco Bandai.