Rank console RPGs

We had a thread recently ranking the FFs. I am playing FF5 for the first time because of that thread, and I really like it. So now I am wondering what other classics I may have missed. I have played a lot of them, but there are a few I missed (Lunar, for example…and Lufia). So give me your list of top console RPGs, from any era, so I know where to go after I finish FF5.

Well, SNES only:
Chrono Trigger
Secret of Mana
Ogre Battle
These 5 are stone cold classics.

Lufia 2
Secret of Evermore
Lufia 1
Breath of Fire 2
Are at least worth playing.

Lots of people loved what the PS1 had, but I’d say only FF7 and Xenogears are classic-level games.

Chrono Trigger (SNES)
Earthbound (SNES)
Tales of Phantasia (SNES and soon GBA)
Xenogears (PSX)
Chrono Cross (PSX)

I wouldn’t name any must-plays from the current generation, but my favorites have been:

Baten Kaitos (GC)
Xenosaga (PS2)

Only 2 unhesitating recommendations: Skies of Arcadia (Legends for GC) and DQ8. Sweet, turn-based, story-driven fun.

The Mario RPGs are fun, too, but some folks are hung up on teh kiddy.

Dragon Quest 8
Final Fantasy 10
Valkyrie Profile
Vagrant Story
Shadow Hearts: Covenant

If you do not mind HORRIFICALLY high sequences of random encounters:

Skies of Arcadia
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne

I’m not a huge fan of console RPGs, but Skies of Arcadia was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had with a game. And it’s hard to pinpoint just why, because many aspects of it were annoying in typical console RPG fashion. But the story and the characters and the world were just so vivid that I went along for the ride.

From games that were released in the US…


2-Chrono Trigger
3-Zelda: Link to the Past
4-Secret of Mana
5-Lufia II
6-Orge Battle
8-Illusion of Gaia
9-Secret of Evermore
10-7th Saga


2-Lunar 2
4-Wild Arm 2
5-Final Fantasy VII
6-Suikoden 2
7-Persona 2
8-Valkerie Profile
9-Final Fantasy IX


1-Shining Force III
2-Panzer Dragoon Saga


2-FF X
3-Dark Cloud 2
4-Grandia 2
5-Suikoden III
6-Front Mission IV
8-Star Ocean 3


Skies of Arcadia


Tales of Symphonia
Fire Emblem

  1. Chrono Cross
  2. Morrowind
  3. Knights of the Old Republic
  4. Jade Empire
  5. Fable

Top five overall (I have not played DQVIII yet):

  1. Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter (PS2)
  2. Chrono Trigger (SNES)
  3. Final Fantasy V (SNES)
  4. Dragon Quest [Warrior] IV (NES)
  5. Final Fantasy (NES) (But probably I only like it so much because of nostalgia)

Chrono Trigger, Chrono Trigger and Chrono Trigger.

It does everything right, and it manages to look and sound gorgeous on an SNES.

Right now I’m playing SMT:Nocturne and it’s the most fun I’ve had with a console rpg since FF7, but it has random encounters galore so YMMV.

Right now I’m enjoying Nocturne as well, although I’ve temporarily set it aside for Disgaea (and because I forgot to save at a key point and lost a lot of progress).

Chrono Trigger is also awesome, but it looks like everybody knows that.

I think SMT: Nocturne is easily the best PS2 RPG I’ve played, followed by FFX. I just got finished DQ8, which is enjoyable but I never really felt very connected to the game in the way that I did in Nocturne or FFX. Good game, though.

I’m intrigued by Star Ocean 3, mostly because I can find it really cheap nowadays. Any comments on that one?

Also: Disgaea is awesome, but it’s very, very goofy, and it’s very much a strategy RPG. I have a save file somewhere around level 480, with almost 200 hours of playtime, so you know - good value.

FVII (PSX) and Super Mario RPG (SNES) are probably my two favorites, Xenogears (PSX) in a close third - if you can call Dark Cloud 2 (PS2) an RPG, throw it up there too.

Super Nintendo? Sega Genesis!

You all forgot Sega console RPG’s.

Master System

  1. Phantasy Star
  2. Miracle Warriors


  1. Phantasy Star II
  2. Shining Force
  3. Shining Force II
  4. Phantasy Star 3
  5. Phantasy Star 4
  6. Shining in the Darkness
  7. Dungeons and Dragons, Warriors of the Eternal Sun

Sega CD

  1. Lunar
  2. Dark Wizard
  3. Shining Force CD
  4. Lunar 2
  5. Vay

The SRPG games in the #2 slots are just as good as the RPG’s in the #1 slots, but, alas, they are not strict rpgs, so I knocked them down a point because I am biased.
For starters.

Here’s a comment on Star Ocean 3. I feel like I am going to be watching cutscenes : Until the End of Time.

If you were playing the game, you would have gone through three cutscenes in the last sentence. Gameplay is nice though, when you get to play.

Bahamut Lagoon

Valkyrie Profile
Front Mission 3

Star Ocean 3
Xenosaga (not the second episode)

A note on the PS2 games, if you don’t like cutscenes then avoid them. It can just be overwhelming. Especially if you get important instructions on what to do next during a scene, but missed it because you decided to get a cup of tea while the two anime styled and voiced teenage girls argued. Star Ocean 3 I’m talking about you here.

Yeah, not calling Disgaea an RPG per se. It’s more of a puzzle game with hitpoints.

Nocturne is really impressing me so far. I’ll probably make a big long post when I’m done with it.

I know Robert asked for lists, but what I enjoy in these topics are when people take a few minutes to write down why a particular game is on their list. So…

Vagrant Story
On one level, it really is a giant dungeon crawl around the haunted city of Le Monde. On the other hand, I found the combat system to be quite challenging, in that there is both a timing element to combat (think Shadow Hearts) and a strategic layer as well (getting the most combos isn’t always in your best interest). Forging weapons and armor, and combining what you’ve got to build up an appropriate arsenal was endlessly engaging. I remember looking over charts to figure out how I could bootstrap my way up the weapon tree, and at the end of the game, I think some of my first weapons were still around in some form or other. The plot is also quite good, and I found the comic book style word balloons to be an effective way of showing dialog. Much better than the <character portrait with a sad look> “I think your father is dead. … … …” style. The dialog itself was pretty snappy, and overall much better writing than usual for a translated console RPG. The game takes advantage of the PS2’s texture smoothing - it won’t make you forget FFX and other modern RPGs, but it ages pretty well. Ultimately, I loved the sense of wandering around this ruined city, trying to make sense of the plot, and learning the rules of combat and weapon forging.

For simplicity’s sake, I will count strategy RPGs, but as far as action RPGs go, I am drawing the line at Ys. Also, I don’t import RPGs, so this is all ‘US HILLBILLY LOL’ type stuff.

  1. Dragon Force

The only game on this list I didn’t have to think about. If I could make every game reviewer in the world be forced to sit through just ONE title, it’d be this one.

  1. Phantasy Star IV

-Traditional top-down RPG? Check.
-Quick movement and many travel options? Check.
-Combat that looks good and resolves quickly? Check.
-Characterization that isn’t terribly overdone? Check.
-Neat Sci-Fi world where you can tear shit up with a plasma sword? Check.

For my money, the most playable “traditional” RPG ever released.

  1. <Any Fire Emblem Game>

I’ve beaten both US GBA releases and played the GC game. It’s simply a case of absolutely phenomenal gameplay that’s easy to pick up, combined with story that’s generally vastly superior to other console fare. Also, you can press the “B” button and skip all of talking. I think it warrants the #3 spot on that alone.

  1. Chrono Trigger

Does most of what Phantasy Star IV did right, except it bogs down pretty bad later on in the game. Still, it’s a game where the combat is clean, quick and generally entertaining… and the dialog ranges from solid to tolerable. Winner.

  1. Ys Books I & II

Dead fortunetellers, funky demon masks, and rescuing damsels in distress. Deceptively simple mechanics that make for solid gameplay all around. Great boss fights, too.

  1. Panzer Dragoon Saga

Worth playing once. Worth finishing? Eh, maybe not.

Games mentioned by others that I’ve played but just can’t put in a “best” list:


Skies of Arcadia: Random combat every 30 seconds. And load times on the Dreamcast of about 10-20 seconds at the beginning and end of every random fight. Are you kidding me?

Disgaea: Inaccessible.

I’m surprised to see a distinct lack of Final Fantasy Tactics. Certainly not the traditional top-down roam around an overworld and visit towns and fight enemies in side perspective turned base style, but it is still pure goodness.

It’s a PS1 strategy RPG, and probably one of the deepest I have played. The depth of character customization is top notch, taking the job system from FFV, and fleshing it out so each job has a ton of unique learnable abilities, including the ability to carry over certain skills from a previous job. Makes team building extremely fun and satisfying and relies more on tactics and planning than the hyper-insane but mostly stat-based nippon ichi games like Disgaea.

I really enjoy the story too, one of those over elaborate political/religious/familial grand epics full of unecessary complicated names and relationships but i love the style of the storytelling, in game cutscenes on the various maps before and after the battles. The music is superb, too.

The game should be readily available on Ebay and elsewhere, and in my opinion, sadly is the peak of the genre (1997 i think).

And there is the obligatory FFT gush.