10 Iconic RPGs That Aren't Final Fantasy

For decades, video games have been windows to exciting virtual worlds. Roleplaying video games not only toss us into other worlds, but huge worlds of fantasy we can get lost in forever. The gold standard of classic RPGs is perhaps the Final Fantasy series, sending parties of adventurers on quests for years. They're perhaps the most well known, but not the only RPGs.

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Final Fantasy might be a pillar of the genre, but there are several others of its kind that definitely challenge it for the crown. Here are ten classic RPGs that go leaps and bounds ahead of the Final Fantasy series.

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10 Earthbound

Earthbound is a special kind of entry on our list. It plays by similar RPG rules but serves as both a tribute and a parody of the genre. Using a more American inspired setting and B-movie type enemies, the game takes the familiar and twists it with the strange.

Although the game was a flop on first release, it developed a cult following over the years and soon became an underrated classic amongst gamers. The adventures of Ness and his crew of companions now have their own clan of fans thanks to re-releases and ports of the game. If you've avoided this cult-favorite title, consider taking a chance on an RPG alternative.

9 Secret of Mana

If you took the visuals of a SNES Final Fantasy title and added some Zelda-esque mechanics, you'd have Secret of Mana. Though it was spawned from a Final Fantasy spinoff, the two couldn't be more different.

There's a sort-of arcade hack-and-slash quality to it, a unique magic system, and a multiplayer feature rarely seen in RPGs at the time. The world is huge, the characters are fun, although with some translation errors, and it just feels like a breath of fresh air. Though not without a few flaws and strange gameplay elements.  Secret of Mana is an RPG well worth your time.

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8 Skyrim

One of the more modern titles on our list, Skyrim is not only a titan of the genre but a classic in the realm of both action-adventure games and RPGs. It's quotable, it's recognizable, and it's epic in nearly every definition of the word. How many of us have not taken on the role of Dovahkiin and set forth on a quest to save Skyrim from the dragons?

Skyrim has all the classic RPG trappings and trimmings. You can go by the story, take up quest after quest, or simply go off the beaten path and do whatever you want. It's this kind of freedom that puts it on our list and makes it iconic.

7 Dragon Age

Bioware's Dragon Age series is a hybrid of RPG breeds, mixing the party of adventurers from JRPGs and the choice system and character development from western games with a little D&D flavor mixed in. Though an acquired taste for some, the method of storytelling made famous by Bioware is what puts Dragon Age on the map.

In a world of elves, dragons, dwarves, and lore that would make Tolkien proud, the Dragon Age series has much to offer any classic RPG fan. If you've ever wanted to join a party of adventurers on a quest to save a fantasy world, this is the game for you.

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6 Fire Emblem

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If controlling a party of adventurers wasn't enough for you, try assuming the rank of general and leading your forces into battle with the Fire Emblem series. If you were to take a fantasy RPG and mix it with elements of chess, you would get a basic concept of Fire Emblem. 

One of the most popular franchises in the realm, there is a lot going on for this tactical RPG series. With a deep and ongoing narrative, legions of memorable characters, and a complex and mind-bending battle system, this series will test your brains as well as satisfying your RPG itch.

5 The Legend of Zelda

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We know what your thinking... Isn't Zelda more of an action-adventure title? Consider the following, the original game had a wide-open overworld, a series of weapons, magical items, and tools you had to find in order to progress the story, and it was all set in a fantasy realm of fairies, dragons, and magic. Starting to get the picture?

The original NES title shares a lot of similarities with early JRPGs like Final Fantasy that followed, namely in terms of visuals. But if you compare it to other action RPGs, Zelda can stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Skyrim. 

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4 Pokemon Series

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There is no way we can talk about classic RPGs without talking about this bombshell of a series. Since first premiering in the '90s, the series has continued to build and become a staple of not just RPGs, but gaming in general. There are few games that have such an effect on our culture as much as the Pokemon series has.

From taking your team of creatures into battle to exploring a wide and vast world, the Pokemon series uses traditional JRPG features but puts them in an engaging and adorable setting. With hundreds of Pokemon to collect, you'll definitely be busy for hours on end.

3 Diablo Series

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An icon of the action-RPG genre, the Diablo series takes traditional RPG elements but dredges them in the blood of demons and hellspawn with hack and slash features that anyone can pick up and play. It's a marriage of two playstyles that work beyond belief.

The games have a lot of choices in terms of gameplay. You can play as a number of different classes, battle legions of different monsters and bosses, and collect hoards and hoards of loot. With a trilogy of games with more than enough features and material to satisfy, it would be a crime not to give this series a chance.

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2 Dragon Quest Series

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If you've had your fill of Chocobos, black mages, and summoning 16-bit monsters, why not take a chance on Final Fantasy's biggest rival, Dragon Quest. To be fair, Dragon Quest definitely takes some inspiration from the other series, but it's whimsical design and traditional fantasy lore help it hold its own against the RPG juggernaut.

With designs by Dragon Ball creator, Akira Toriyama, and different parties of adventurers we can all grow attached to, there's a lot to love about this series even from casual RPG players. Though somewhat grind-heavy in the earlier titles, we can't say we don't like finding new monsters to bash and new lands to explore in this colorful and creative world.

1 Chrono Trigger

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And now we come to the RPG that leaves many of its peers in the dust, Chrono Trigger. Considered by many to be one of the greatest games of all time and even the greatest RPG of all time, Chrono Trigger blends genre, mechanics, and story together into one epic title. Needless to say, it has quite a reputation.

With a party of lovable characters, a deep lore involving time-travel and saving the world, and multiple endings, it's no wonder this is considered gaming royalty. The combat is traditional but with a fast twist, and the action is sharp and powerful. It is definitely one of the games you must play before you die.

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