Story overlooked, characters unknown, plots ill-conceived? You won’t find a game on this list that fits that description. This is a rundown of the best dialogue video games have to offer. Some of it funny, some insightful, some out of the ordinary but all if it is well written. Writing is an aspect many gamers overlook instead concerning themselves more with the next boss fight or thinking a character is deep and profound because of hairstyle instead of what is said. What is said is what is important and all of these games have something to say.

Quick, before you go jumping into this game and expect great dialogue, turn off the voices first. Ah, isn’t that better? Yeah, the dialogue in Baten Kaitos is far and away some of the best ever seen, and underappreciated. The turn off was it’s card battle system dumped on by critics and hated by others. But the plot seamlessly unfolded in the well crafted dialogue. With enough characters to match that of Star Trek, Baten Kaitos had a mountain to climb to make each character act and sound different from the next, but they did and did it well. Sure, it’s not just about character development, but when the dialogue of a game is so good it can be translated directly into book form with little effort, then you know you’ve got a great story on your hands too.

I picked the N64 version for many reasons. One being they didn’t bleep out all the good stuff, another was the N64 version just had better comedic timing. For some reason the Xbox version had to load every bit of dialogue making every phrase seem to take forever to get out. It’s like the characters had chronic asthma. Anyway, CBFD had some of the most laugh out loud moments in video game history all thanks to incredible writing. This game brought us the Great Mighty Poo opera and dim witted scarecrows. Even in multiplayer this game was hilarious. When shooting your own teammates the AI would yell, “Traitor!” and other phrases I shouldn’t type here. The idea the AI could recognize your horrid deeds was new to video games, and was just plain clever in execution.

The PS3 version has the best load times, sue me. If there was one word to describe the dialogue in this game, it would be epic. Truly, a masterwork in every regard, but the dialogue may be the least appreciated. Beyond the great banter you get between characters there are actually plays, and books you can just pick up and read. A unique tale of kings or knights can be read offering in game clues sometimes, or are just for fun; all of which are well written and fun to read. With all the stuff that’s in Oblivion it comes as no surprise that some of the dialogue in this game is choppy and stilted. But it makes the list because of the sheer amount of dialogue, some of which is quotable and some of which is quite forgettable.

A quaint story to say the least for this game spans around 13 hours when done properly, but a marvelous one because of how well it is written. Ashley Riot and Sydney have great banter back and forth as you slowly uncover your history as well as revealing the plot of the game. The dialogue is so well paced you hardly feel like it’s there at all and at the same time remembering every line. Vagrant Story plays out like a one act play with enough twists and turns to satisfy. It’s so well crafted that even to this day the ending is left up to speculation. Play it for yourself and draw your own conclusion on what was said, or what wasn’t.

The dialogue in this game brought to life some wacky characters like Issun. Basically, acting as Navi, Issun guides the player through the quest. However, Issun is extremely enjoyable and has great banter in the game. For that matter, every character does. And with names like Mr. Orange how can you go wrong? The dialogue in this game was as bright and colorful as the artwork. The game’s plot was a mishmash of ancient Japanese myths thrown in to compile a wonderfully written tale, and perhaps overlooked due to the fact that everything else in the game was fantastic.

Hilarious, an outright a gas to play. Never has a game broken the 4th wall quite like Super Paper Mario did. The writers poked fun at everything they could in Mario lore and video game culture in general. Perhaps the only complaint with this game would be it had too much dialogue for a platformer game like Mario, but it was all very funny. Some dialogue is left unsaid as well, like clever action sequences that play out written for the script but not for the viewers. For instance, someone wrote down the idea to have the Wii loading logo and sound put in the game as a joke, and a darn good one at that!

A pivotal game for some, hated by others because of its popularity. Get over it, FFVII was the most well conceived FF Square ever produced. FFVII stands out today as last FF game to write great character back-stories, and develop a villain the player could love or hate. The dialogue evoked emotion, made you think, kept you guessing. It did all the things great dialogue should do. Cloud was unworthy, Barret was hot headed, Tifa was detached and in love at the same time, Aeris had faith, Cid was proud and stubborn, and Sephiroth was driven mad through seamless events in the well crafted story that is FFVII.

Dialogue has never been better than with the Xenosaga series. I picked III only because I and II were a complete mind job offering nothing more than mysteries and character development. III puts to bed all the questions surrounding the series, and it does so in Xenosaga fashion; long amazing cut scenes. Some couldn’t stand the 30min breadths of banter; I on the other hand craved for more. Xenosaga’s story was so well done, and the characters interacted so well that those scenes could have kept going and I’d still be on the edge of my seat. I’d compare the games closer to movies than games. They should have been movies honestly. But because it’s a game it makes this list.

An odd choice for #2 some would think and I would agree. However, the fanboy in me has put ZTP this high on the list so blame him. Honestly though, it’s the fanboy in me that has cried out for a good Zelda plot that never came until now. ZTP actually crafted a character to care about in Minda. She was so well done, I’ve never had an attachment to a character quite like her. The dialogue she was given brought her to life on screen so well. And we can’t hope for Link to ever be fleshed out so I don’t expect it. ZTP as a whole however isn’t all that bad either regarding dialogue. For once, Gannondorf appeared mean and evil. OoT made him out to be standard bad guy #5, but ZTP brought him together just a bit better.

Yeah, I’ll admit it; I made this list specifically to honor this game. But don’t leave I want to explain why! Xenogears attacks the player with what I like to call a wall of text. This game was so text heavy sometimes a half hour could go by and you’d still be reading. That’s a turn off for some, but if you really commit yourself to this game you’ll find the best dialogue any game has ever offered. This game is so well conceived that the world the characters inhabit is known from origin as you progress in the game. You meet God in this game, and he offers up a bit of superfluous yet insightful dialogue as well. Each character is developed so well you begin to feel like you’ve known them from birth. And some are so well crafted you do see them from birth. This game is a psychoanalysts dream as well. With characters that have multiple personality disorder, religious beliefs toppled by facts brought to light in game, family issues, segregation and persecution, Xenogears addressed everything with a high level of detail. Story archs? Yeah countless, you’ll be playing this game twice just to figure them all out and connect the dots, or just go to the gamefaq and read the story yourself!

There it is, the Top Ten Games with the Best Dialogue. Sure there are a few left unmentioned that’s why it’s the top 10. Some may wonder why older games weren’t listed. Simply put, older games didn’t have enough text to figure out anything but getting from point A to point B. Never the less, dialogue has never really played an important role in video games as a whole, but it should. I tire of playing games filled with standard issue heroes with standard issue plots. Xenogears is far and away from standard issue and the best conceived of them all. So, go back and play some of these you may learn something or find a new favorite character you didn’t know much about.

List by acefondu (05/31/2007)

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