36 – Paper Mario
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Initial Release Date: February 5, 2001
Why it’s one of the best RPGs: It’s not a list of the best anything unless Mario’s in it somewhere, and RPGs are no exception. Paper Mario has unfortunately gone down an…interesting road since its RPG roots that you may like or dislike, but there’s no denying that the original was excellent. All the characters are two-dimensional paper figures and often display paper characteristics both as game mechanics and for comic effect. The turn-based battle system includes timed button press mechanics for attacks such as jumps and hammer attacks, adding a level of interactivity to the fights not seen in many other RPGs.
Praiseworthy above all else are the brilliant cast of characters in Paper Mario. You don’t just run about as Mario and Luigi, but instead, Mario teams up with unique allies such as Bombette, Watt, Sushi, and Goombario. They’re all monsters that Mario normally spends time defeating, but for Paper Mario they help him save the day. The NPC interactions and dialogue in this game still impress today, and have become a staple of the series even as the RPG side of Paper Mario drifts to the Mario & Luigi games.
Next: 35- Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King