4. Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy needs no introduction. Many gamers see FFVII as the pinnacle of the series (its certainly fair to say that it was the first mainstream entry, as RPGs were relatively niched prior to its release), but the early SNES games have a sizeable cult following as well - Final Fantasy III especially popular for its job/class system and Final Fantasy VI for enigmatic villain Kefka (Sephiroth who?) Its difficult to overestimate the influence of Final Fantasy on gaming its frequently held up as the golden standard of RPGs, as reflected in the title (each entry in the series is supposed to represent the pinnacle of RPGs at the time of its release, hence: Final Fantasy). Theres a lot to recommend, and very little to criticise. The music is exceptional, theres a large number of memorable tunes and each suits the situation youre in perfectly, whether its a tense boss battle or the exploration of a huge new mystical world. The characters are well drawn, complex and likeable youll want to see them triumph, because you care about them as you might care about the characters of a book or a film and thats simply not the case in many games. The gameplay usually follows the standard RPG formula, which each title adding its own quirks that help to separate it and improve the gameplay experience as a whole. Boss battles are epic, and the games are both challenging and lengthy (yet youll rarely find yourself bored, despite the quantity of grinding required). Final Fantasy is the best known traditional (turn based) RPG series in the world, and it earned that reputation with consistently brilliant titles through the 90s and 00s. Heres hoping Squaresoft can recapture that early magic soon, as recent entries have been lacklustre to say the least.