5) Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii) - In general, Wii games need to offer something different from the pack in order to prove themselves to a largely critical public. While games like Tales of Graces attempts to continue use of bland, anime-style environments that are truly underwhelming compared to their HD counterparts in Tales of Vesperia, games like Madworld and especially Muramasa stand apart from the pack by drawing attention to its artful and visually distinctive representation of its game world. The fact that the game itself is an incredibly fun Action RPG is only icing on a very large (and very attractive) cake.
4) Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (WiiWare) - It's somewhat surreal that one of the better RPGs of the year is a game originally made for cellphones and released episode by episode on the Wiiware in order to maximize profits. A sad state of affairs for the condition of the RPG genre this year, or a testament to the lasting power of a classic game that gets a well-done sequel over a decade after its release? You decide.
3) Knights in the Nightmare (Nintendo DS) - Sting is a rather unknown game developer that, in recent years, has proven that when it comes to unique gameplay mechanics, they can serve up something never before seen in the genre. While Riviera was a small deviation from turn based battle systems and Yggdra Union was an incredible take on the SRPG subgenre, Knights in the Nightmare is in a class of its own, converging a great amount of different gameplay experiences to finally breathe some fresh life into the shambling zombie that is the JRPG industry. One can only hope that the rest of the industry can follow the trend this smalltime developer seems to be setting. God knows it can't hurt them.
2) Suikoden Tierkreis (DS) - Being a longtime Suikoden fan, it was somewhat disappointing that the latest entry in the series does not continue the long-standing story of the main games but instead focuses on an alternate dimension storyline. While it is somewhat disheartening to play a new entry that does not take place in the same world as the others and features a somewhat simplified gameplay system, the fact is that Suikoden enthusiasts can find much to like in Tierkreis, not the least of which is its story, which captures the heart and soul of the series perfectly.
1) Dragon Age: Origins (Xbox 360) - This year was somewhat dry in terms of RPGs, but Bioware has given us another great adventure in the form of Dragon Age Origins. While a little rough around the edges thanks to a multitude of bugs, glitches, and oversights, the core game is deep, rewarding, and incredibly fun. A complex job class system that springs from the simplistic three classes available at the start, a great story, and excellently written dialogue makes Dragon Age: Origins a game that shouldn't be missed. If this game is any indication, Mass Effect 2 should be a shoe in for the game of 2010.
Disappointment of the Year: Star Ocean: The Last Hope
Who the hell wrote the story and dialogue? They need to be fired. Who created the battle system? The need to be fired. Who scored the music? They also need to be fired. Who designed the characters? They need t- you know what, just fire the whole team, Tri Ace. This game was garbage. Let the series die, already. I haven't played a game this bad since Ephemeral Phantasia. Everything about this game was terrible. EVERYTHING EVERYTHING EVERYTHING!
Best non-RPG game: Batman - Arkham Asylum
You get to be the God damn Batman. In a Batman game that doesn't suck. What more do you want? A sequel?