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The 12 RPGs of Christmas

By Heath | December 23, 2010 at 5:10 am

Only two shopping days left till Christmas. Not sure what to get your neighbors in RPGLand? I’m here to help.

Now before you read this and be like “Derp! There are old games on there derp,” understand our unique perspective that a good game is a good game. And if you don’t have it, you don’t have it. Mathematically, that puts you without a good game. This ain’t no best of 2010, it’s a Christmas shopping list of good games to give to people you like this Christmas. Hell yeah.

Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
DS, 2010
Mostly Traditional JRPG
Good for: Any RPG fan with DS, really.
What’s up: Series fans, many of whom thought these games were dead, will especially dig this. Newbies are welcome as well, as this game has a charming atmosphere and gameplay that holds its own against most other RPGs on the system.

The Witcher
PC, 2007
Action WRPG
Good for: Gamers with a good enough PC to play it and who like something truly deep.
What’s up: There’s a hot sequel coming out next Spring, and what better way to celebrate than by hooking you friend up with one of the best RPGs in recent years? This game is a good gift and this Christms, especially timely.

Resonance of Fate
Xbox 360/PS3, 2010
Mostly Traditional JRPG
Good for: RPG fans who were on the internet complaining about all that stuff Final Fantasy XIII apparently lacked.  RoF also boasts a truly difficult, interesting battle system.
What’s up: When I say “truly difficult,” I mean it.  Some have taken this to mean “forced grinding,” but there’s always a strategic way around that actually.  So if your friend is not the brightest bulb in the box or gets easily frustrated, perhaps steer clear.  Speaking of grinding…

Disgaea 3
PS3, 2008
Tactical RPG
Good for: TRPG fans who like nonsensical scenarios and thousands of potential hours of gameplay.  At $30 new, it won’t even put much of a hurtin’ on your wallet.
What’s up: By the time someone is done with this one, the summer 2011 release of Disgaea 4 won’t be far off.  Well, unless the receiver ends up one of those addicts.  If that happens, all the better for your Christmas Cred, perfect gift-giver-guy!

Ys Seven and/or Ys: The Oath in Felghana
PSP, 2010
Action RPGs
Good for: Fans of mixing fast-paced battles and wailing guitars.  These are some great games that a lot of gamers aren’t even aware of.  Do your job and spread the love. These are part of a series, but you absolutely do not need prior experience to understand and enjoy them.
What’s up: Ys Seven has a party system while Oath in Felghana is back to the Ys tradition of solo combat.  If you’re only gonna get one of these, guess which one your homie will like more and go with that.

Tales of the Abyss
PS2, 2006
Timed-action JRPG
Good for: Series fans, JRPG fans who don’t mind a little faster pace than the usual combat system.  Also ideal for people still rockin’ the PS2 and/or who won’t be all lame about getting a last-gen game.  A good game is a good game, after all.
What’s up: One of the last truly great RPGs to come to the PS2 in English. Though please use caution in giving this game to those unfamiliar with the Tales series, as Namco Bandai’s recent publishing patterns don’t give a positive outlook for future games. You might be setting someone up with temporary pleasure at the cost of future pain on this one. Be careful.

360/PS3, 2010
Good for: RPGamers who place story above all else.
What’s up: The graphics are the target of a lot of hate, so if your friend is one to judge quickly, think twice about this one.  This game is, overall, pretty average in most aspects, but with an excellent story and stunning music.  There are a lot of RPG-lovers out there that are into that, and your pal just might be one of them.

World of Warcraft
PC, 2004 (latest expansion in 2010)
Good for: PC-owner who doesn’t flip out at the idea of playing online.
What’s up: Hey, what’s better for Christmas than finding out your friend used your credit card number to rope you into a financial agreement!? 🙂 Naw, there’s a 30 day trial, it’s cool.
This game shows up on a lotta lists but that’s because there are a lotta reasons. It’s the English language’s most popular MMORPG and it has a bustling community and easy-to-learn gameplay.  While true that a new player won’t be able to get into the new expansion right away, that’s fine; there’s plenty of game to go around without the expansions. WoW is very straightforward and is a lock to be healthy for a long time.   But if you’d rather go the free route….

Lord of the Rings Online
PC, 2005
Good for: PC-owner who doesn’t flip out at the idea of playing online.
What’s up: Now subscription free with paid benefits. If you’re into it, sign a buddy up too so you can rock Middle Earth together. If he/she’s more casual than you, that’s fine since there’s no mandatory subscription fee. You don’t even have to be an LotR nerd to get into this one.

Yakuza 3
PS3, 2010
Action RPG
Good for: People who miss Shenmue, action RPG fans in general, and Japanerds.
What’s up: The game comes with very informative, interesting movies describing the stories of the first two games, so fear not the unknown, dear gamer. This action RPG takes place in Japan and has Japanese dialogue with English subtitles. Battles are against street thugs, dangerous assassins, and rival Yakuza members, and the level-up system is pretty customizable. Part 4 comes out in North America this spring, making this one good-n-timely.

Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas
PC/360/PS3; 2008 (Fallout 3), 2010 (New Vegas)
Action WRPGs
Good for: Western RPG fans in general, those who like a high degree of customization and those with enough know-how to get online and download a patch.
What’s up: Not sure if your buddy would dig the Fallout craze going on with the release of New Vegas? Try picking up Fallout 3, which is readily available and cheap as heck. If he’s into it, he’ll probably pick up New Vegas on his own. You save money but still look like a hero for introducing a friend to the series: double win.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
PSP, 2010
Action RPG
Good for: Anyone who has ever liked a Kingdom Hearts game, even if they profess to hate the series now. I know because that was me, and this game won me back; it’s the best one since the original.
What’s up: Birth by Sleep takes place before other KH titles, but those unfamiliar to the series can still get into it just fine — or at least to the same extent they could for any other Kingdom Hearts game. It’s got satisfying ARPG gameplay with an entertaining story and some of the best visuals on the PSP.

So there are some picks for great RPG gifts this year. With the 2 shopping days left, you’d probably do well to find one of these for your gaming friend. Yes, there are other good picks as well, I’m plenty aware. If you’ve got a success or failure story, or recommendation of your own, feel free to share it with us via email, Facebook, or Twitter.

Have a great year-end break, everyone. Those out there not lucky enough to get a break, our hearts and wishes are with you.

-Heath Hindman

Topics: Editorials, Specials