So I was moving my PS1 collection around today and of course, I couldn't help but reflect and ponder…
Most RPG fans I know will agree that the original PlayStation remains the undisputed king of the RPG. One could make legitimate arguments for both the SNES and PS2 but personally, I'm going to go with the PS1. It just has to be.
I played probably 35 RPGs on that system and there are two things I remember: First and foremost is the idea that they were "all the same;" that really infuriated me. Nobody better say that around me or they're begging for a black eye. Seriously. Too many people just think everything was a turn-based fantasy RPG with a lot of Japanese characters who looked like they were 10. Stereotypes bother me but this one above all else pisses me off no end. The role-playing experiences on the PS1 were very different if you sampled most everything that was available. It was continuous and various.
For instance, the side-scrolling slashing action and gorgeous hand-drawn artistry of Legend of Mana was nothing like the heavily anime-inspired, 3D Granstream Saga . Neither used a turn-based mechanic. And even the games that did were so freakin' inventive; developers did so much with that system; Saga Frontier , Legend of Legaia , Star Ocean: The 2nd Story , etc. The latter was more of a hybrid in fact, and even when Legaia and Legend of Dragoon were both turn-based, they remained vastly different in a number of important ways.
There was diversity and almost unparalleled quality from Squaresoft, which stretched beyond the vaunted Final Fantasy series. Vagrant Story and Chrono Cross are two of the finest games in the industry's history, and certain franchises like Suikoden and Wild ARMs really sucked me in. This isn't even including the strategy/RPGs like Vandal Hearts , Koudelka , Tactics Ogre , and Final Fantasy Tactics . And these days, the term "RPG" is tough to define…can we even say definitively what constitutes an RPG anymore?
Plus, the industry has shifted. Story-driven RPGs just aren't popular; RPGs have to be open-ended and freedom-oriented or they almost don't matter these days. So it is safe to say that no future console could ever top the PS1 as far as sheer RPG goodness goes?