26 – Earthbound
Developers: Ape/HAL Laboratory
Initial Release Date: June 5, 1995
Why it’s one of the best RPGs: Earthbound is one of those rare games that went from nearly unknown (in North America, anyway) to a beloved classic. It’s a bizarre, goofy RPG about a kid named Ness and his friends’ journey to stop an evil alien force called Giygas from destroying everything.
Earthbound blends tongue-in-cheek humor with overblown American culture references to great effect, while bringing along a cast of characters, including enemies, that wouldn’t be out of place in an old-school comic book or a Saturday morning cartoon or maybe an acid trip. You’ll consume hot dogs, store money in an ATM, save the game by calling your dad on the phone, drag a teddy bear behind you to take damage for you, and then suddenly be charmed by the game’s purity as you’re reminded of a smell, or perhaps a song, from your childhood. Earthbound’s mix of zany characters and heartfelt moments make it one of the most unique RPGs on this list. It’s a game that those who missed it in its heyday should certainly try, and one its fans will (rightfully) not let Nintendo soon forget.
Next: 25 - Tales of Symphonia