5) Wild Arms XF (PSP) - This game is easily the most underrated RPG of 2008. It was unfairly slammed by critics and I'm not sure why. The game was fun to play, had one of the best stories to ever grace a Wild Arms title, a top-notch soundtrack, and was very very challenging. The game had a lot of variety in its missions and was a strategy RPG that required a lot of strategic thinking. It was also a fantastic value for the money in that it was a 40+ hour game. It's a feat for an RPG on a home console to provide 40+ hours of gameplay, but for a handheld RPG to offer that much play time? That's something special.
4) A Vampyre Story (PC) - 2008 has been a year where things that have been in development for a criminally long time actually saw the light of day. That Guns 'n Roses album Chinese Democracy finally saw the light of day after 14 years. Even better than that, ex-LucasArts mad genius Bill Tiller's long-awaited A Vampyre Story finally saw release after four agonizing years of waiting. A Vampyre Story was definitely worth the wait, proving itself to be the kind of stylish and comedic graphic adventure that fans have been clamoring for since Grim Fandango. This was the most unabashedly fun graphic adventure I've played in a long time and I'm looking forward to A Vampyre Story 2.
3)The World Ends With You (DS) - Square Enix has had a fantastic RPG showing this year, what with its many remakes of venerable classics along with some new content. The top selection of Sqare Enix's 2008 RPG roster is the highly original The World Ends With You. Square Enix has been heavily criticized by jaded gamers lately for only releasing mainstream, commercial, "cookie-cutter" RPG titles. The World Ends With You was anything but that, and proved to be a truly unique and excellent RPG that shows the untapped potential of the JRPG genre. The game has lovely presentation, a cool storyline, a modern soundtrack, innovation (the ability to tweak multiple dimensions of difficulty on the fly is absolute GENIUS!!!), fun gameplay, is not needlessly long, and has excellent replay incentives. The World Ends With You is one of the freshest and most creative JRPGs I've played outside of Shin Megami Tensei or Earthbound, proving that Square Enix still has "it."
2) Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (PS2) - Persona 3 was one of the most interesting JRPGs to come out in recent years and gave a much needed shot in the arm to jaded JRPG fans sick of the same old stuff. Persona 4 took what made Persona 3 awesome and addressed its most glaring flaws to create an evolutionary improvement. A Persona 3 level of awesomeness with a wider variety of dungeons, complete control over party members during battles, compelling characters, deeper social-link scenarios, and storyline content that's often more bizarre than any Persona title before it? I'm sold. I've been a Persona fan since Revelations: Persona on the Playstation One and I absolutely love the direction the series is going in.
1) Eternal Eden (PC) - Eternal Eden seems an unorthodox choice for my top spot. Games such as The World Ends With You and Persona 4 are far more forward-thinking games, but Eternal Eden was my personal favorite this year. The game just flat out rocked, plain and simple. It was a beautifully designed RPG with fun and addictive gameplay. Eternal Eden actually wrestled me away from Persona 4, which is no mean feat considering how mindblowingly awesome Persona 4 is.
I also feel that Eternal Eden is the cream of the 2008 indie RPG crop. That's really saying something since 2008 has been a stellar year for indie (independently developed) RPGs. Games such as Laxius Force, Iffermoon, The Spirit Engine 2, Eternal Eden, and even Mount & Blade could have all been in my top 5 this year. Therefore, Eternal Eden's place in my #1 spot is not just a victory for the game itself, but for indie RPGs as a whole. I've been hearing a lot of talk this year about how RPG fans are totally jaded on what's being released these days. Do yourselves a favor and check out Eternal Eden, Iffermoon, or any of the other aforementioned indie titles. They just may remind you of why you started playing RPGs in the first place.
And for fun, here is my pick for worst of 2008.
Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles (DS) - The DS has some excellent Japanese graphic adventures such as Trace Memory, Hotel Dusk: Room 215, and the Ace Attorney games. It also has Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles- the absolute worst Japanese graphic adventure I have ever had the displeasure of playing. Everything about this game was terrible. Gameplay was practically absent. The English language localization was an embarassing throwback to gaming's dark ages. The three stories presented in the game were short and boring. The music was lousy. The graphics were unimpressive. And to add insult to injury, US gamers only got half the game. The Japanese version of this game contained 6 storylines including an all-new DS-specific one. The US version only had a measly 3 storylines, none of which was the all-new DS-specific one. This game was an absolute waste of time and money. It should be renamed Fake Blunder: Defective Crock-of-s***.