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Everyone knows that what Capcom and SNK are to fighting, EA is to sports, and Epic is to shooters, Squaresoft, now called Square-Enix (you know, since merging with Enix), is to RPGs. Or at least they used to be at a time. While their most recognizable title is Final Fantasy, they have created other classic RPG franchises. This article celebrates 5 of them. By the way, this list is specifically focused on Squaresoft and not Square-Enix, just in case you’re wondering why Dragon Quest or Illusion of Gaia isn’t on here.

1. Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger is perhaps the most well beloved 16-bit RPG. It’s time travel plot, bright colorful graphics, team-up attacks, and multiple endings made this a game to remember, even almost two decades after its released. ALong with numerous re-releases and remakes (most recently on the Nintendo DS), it spawned a sequel entitled Chrono Cross. While Chrono Cross was great in its own right, many fans will argue that it lacked the charm of its predecessor. While only time will tell (no pun intended) if we will see a new Chrono game, the original is available on the Playstaton Network, Wii Virtual Console, and on Nintendo DS for anyone who has yet to experience this classic.

2. Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts10 years ago, if you had told me that Square was planning a crossover between Final Fantasy and Disney, I would have laughed right in your face. However, as time went on, the more that players seen of the game, the more awesome it looked. When the finished product hit the Playstation 2, it was nothing short of a classic. This action RPG had players taking the role of a kid named Sora, and teaming up with Donald Duck and Goofy in order to battle a mysterious enemy known as the Heartless. Your mission would take you across several different worlds, each inspired by one of Disney’s classic movies. The sequel was even better, as you took on a menace known as the Nobodies. Kingdom Hearts 2 took players to new and unexpected worlds, including Tron and Pirates of the Caribbean. Various prequels and spinoffs were released on portable systems, and a new KH game, one of the few games to chronologically take place after KH2, entitled Dream Drop Distance will be hitting the Nintendo 3DS (get it?) later this year. Of course, fans patiently await an actual Kingdom Hearts 3.

3. Seiken Densetsu (Mana)
The first Seiken Densetsu game was a game boy title that hit U.S shores as Final Fantasy Adventure in order to capitalize upon the increasingly popular Final Fantasy (this was a common practice, as the first 3 games in the Saga series made it over here under the name Final Fantasy Adventure), however it was the second that would be the real standout in the series. Released for the Super Nintendo under the name Secret of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 2 had a major influence on RPGs on both sides of the pacific. It’s command ring menu system allowed players to change their equipment, cast spells, and use items without the need to go into a menu screen, and it continues to be used in games such as Mass Effect. Also, you fought alongside two AI control teammates whom you can assign to other players thanks to use of a multitap. Sadly, Secret of Mana would be as good as it gets for the series. Seiken Densetsu 3 never made it to U.S shores outside of a fan translation, and after the Playstation Legend of Mana, subsequent releases in the series weren’t well received.

4. Xenogears
This Playstation RPG broke nearly all conventions in the genre. It’s innovative combat system, mech combat, anime cinematics, and mindfuck of a plot made it a sleeper hit with gamers everywhere. Taking control of Fei Fong Wong, a mysterious drifter, you discover the truth behind your origins. However, with each plot twist thrown, gamers are kept guessing throughout the game. The storyline contains themes inspired by on Judaism, Star Wars, The Old Testament, and the works of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Because of its heavy religious overtones, it almost wasn’t released in the U.S, but thankfully it was, and gamers were better off for it. A Japan-only book known as Perfect Works revealed that Xenogears was episode 5 in a series of 6 episodes. However, there has been no official sequel to Xenogears. While the Namco Bandai published Xenosaga was rumored to be a prequel to Xenogears, series creator Tetsuya Takahashi said that the two were unrelated even though they share similar themes. Who knows if there will be a real follow up to Xenogears, although it may work better as one game anyhow.

5. Vagrant Story
This Playstation action-rpg epic was another sleeper hit. Playing as Ashley Riot, a riskbreaker, you set out to the lost city of Lea Monde on a mission to clear your name and stop an ancient conspiracy in this fantasy-espionage title. It’s innovative targeting-grid based combat system, heavy emphasis on puzzle solving, and weapon crafting make this something unique. It’s compelling plot hooked players from beginning to end, and there were even hints that the game took place in Ivalice, a common setting present in Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII. While there is still much to learn about the game’s events, there is no word on a sequel, yet the original is available on Playstation Network.

Honorable Mentions: Romancing Saga 1 – 2, Saga Frontier 1 & 2, Parasite Eve, and Front Mission.