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Sam Marchello's Top Ten Quirky-ZOMG-Must Play Games That Will Make You Smile (Shut up! Titles Are Hard!)
Nyx's Top Ten Gems
She Hopes You Didn't Miss Out On!
1Valkyrie Profile
22) Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete
33) Persona 3: FES
44) Growlanser II
55) Shadow Hearts: Covenant
66) Radiata Stories
77) Suikoden III
88) The World Ends With You
99) Okami
1010) Atelier Annie

I've always struggled to define what, for me, makes a great RPG. At the end of the day, what defines a great RPG is how rich the experience is. It doesn't have to have strong combat elements or a deep storyline for me to enjoy it, it merely has to be a game that resonates with me on a personal level. Each of these gems have shaped me as an RPGamer, and I am glad to share with you all my thoughts on why I love each of these games.

First on the list is my all-time favourite and never to be replaced RPG, Valkyrie Profile. While the game was flawed in its inaccuracies to Norse Mythology, it's one of the only games I've ever played more than four times. Valkyrie Profile has one of the most beautiful and tragic love stories to ever grace a console, with strongly crafted vignettes that made my heart break over and over again. It's hard not to love the characters, their hardship and tragedies. This game is emotionally captivating, and no matter how many times I play it, I will always tear up at the same scenes, and will continue to love the characters of this game for years to come.

Second, we have Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete. Although I have played the original Lunar more times than Eternal Blue, there's something about how the story unfolds in this game that makes it superior to the original. Retaining the same themes of adventure and love, Eternal Blue's cast of characters constantly shine. While the localization wasn't perfect, Eternal Blue had its fair share of laugh-out-loud moments. With the success of Lunar: Silver Star Harmony, hopefully one day we will see an Eternal Blue remake. I can only hope that some day Mystere, the greatest superhero ever, will ride again and spank the enemy hard!

I love apocalyptic stories, and Persona 3 is the type of story that kept me going for over 70 hours nonstop. Persona 3 is hot. So hot, in fact, I can't remember the last time I played such a mature game that kept me guessing from beginning to end. Persona 3's strengths are numerous in amounts, from its strong and believable cast of characters to its unique twist on turn-based combat. Also, there's Mitsuru. Oh god, Mitsuru. What a babe. Too bad she'd execute me before I'd even have the chance to make a move. I'm not a fangirl. Nope. Not at all.

While Growlanser: Generations was the last game to ever be put out by Working Designs, I wasn't a big fan of Growlanser III. Growlanser II, however, I adored because the plot had done something so vastly different that it left a lasting impression on me, though I won't spoil it for those who've never played the game. With its gorgeous character designs, branching political plots and full-bodied characters, I found it very hard to put this game down. This was one of the best random purchases I've ever made, just for the main plot twist alone.

If you had talked to me a few years ago, the original Shadow Hearts likely would have made this list. In 2009 I finally had the chance to play its sequel, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, which is superior to the original game in nearly every aspect. I am a huge fan of the Judgement Ring system, and the addition of having a combo system kept combat fast-paced and interesting. Chalk full of humour, this dark alternate-history RPG is one that leaves a lasting impression from start to finish. Yuri and the gang are vibrant, and yes, Karin is a million times better than Alice. Too bad for the, uh... "plot twist". Also, I love Joachim. Best wrestler to appear in an RPG ever.

Radiata Stories is another one of those games that I purchased on a whim and have never regretted. Adorable is probably the best word to describe this game. With its slice-of-life story about a young boy's quest to become the best knight ever, it's hard not to love the antics of Jack Russell and the jitters of Captain Ganz. Radiata Stories' strengths lies in its simplicity, both in combat and story it's a sweet fairy tale that leaves you smiling wide. With over a hundred characters to recruit and two unique plotlines, what more could you ask for from such a slice-of-life RPG?

I lovelovelove Suikoden, and as soon as Suikoden III was released, I remember begging my mother to buy it for me for Christmas. I remember clutching it the moment it was in my possession. I played it nonstop for about two weeks, at which point I finished it and realized I wanted more. With 108 characters to recruit and a very intricate and woven story, its hard for me not to love Suikoden III. With Albert Silverberg's sexy not-technicolour dreamcoat, and Aila's obsession with soda, the only thing that doesn't make this game a winner is Bishop Sasarai's awesomely shaped "hat". Yes, that stupid canoe-shaped hat. While I've always been pro-hat, I've always feared that Sasarai has a small child hidden in there.

Back in 2008, I had given my undying love to a little DS RPG called The World Ends With You. Generally, I hate stylus-based DS games, but TWEWY had such a fast-paced and quirky combat system that getting into random battles was addictive and even challenging. The game also toted a great story with a fun cast of characters, each forced into a deadly game of chance. The World Ends With You just oozes with style that's both hip and original. There truly isn't a game like it. Plus you fight with pins. How cool is that? Don't forget to wear your hip threads in the right district!

As someone who studies Japanese Literature, Okami was one of those games that was highly original and very intriguing. Sporting some of the most stunning graphics to ever grace the PlayStation 2's library, Okami is a work of art. One of the strongest aspects of Okami lies in its gameplay, in which players will find themselves painting their way through Nippon. Not only is the game aesthetically pleasing, but the story is surprisingly engaging throughout. Restoring the world with Ametarasu was one of the most pleasant gaming surprises for me to date. With Issun by my side, the world of Nippon was constantly thrilling and never dull.

Now I recognize that Atelier Annie only came out in 2009 and that it might be too early to make a "Best of the Decade" list, but Annie is a spunky and quirky game that gushes with personality. With her gold digging charms, Annie is your girl-next-door and not exactly what one would call "hero material," but this is what makes her so fantastic. She is the everyday girl, and she's someone who's on a journey of self-discovery... and by self-discovery, I mean winning the heart of a handsome prince. Not just humourous, but laugh-out-loud hilarious, Annie is one of those games that's easy to fall in love with, but it does demand your full attention. While it's no Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes in terms of gameplay, Annie wins my 2009 pick simply because it kept me entertained from start to finish.

- Sam "Nyx" Marchello
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