Ha Pez, Ultima rocked but VII wasnt the best RPG.
That distinction goes to Bard's Tale (1, 2 and 3) for me.
games are too easy now, especially RPGs.
When RPGs first started in the text era, they were freakin hard. Zork 1 had to be one of the hardest RPG's I ever played and none of them were easy all the way to Zork Beyond (which is the last one I played).
Remember Dragon Warrior on the original Nintendo? final fantasy got its start from that. The historic figure in Dragon Warrior was named Erdrick and you had to find his armor and weapons to beat the final boss.
Anyway, in Final Fantasy one, in the southern hemisphere in one of the towns there was a graveyard and if you looked at the graveyard tombstone names one of them said "Rest in Peace Erdrick". Dragon Warrior went downhill after that but the first one was the reason I got into console RPGs, though PC RPGs are always better IMO.
Also, remember Might and Magic? (before Hero's of Might and Magic). The first three kicked major butt even if the graphics are shady by today's standards.
When Aeris died in FF 7, me and my roomate (who played the game with me, took turns as it got old levelling up after a while) were so freaking sad. The drama and emotion of that happening especially when you didnt know it was coming was just unreal for a video game. The Gold chocbo was very hard to get but you needed it to get Knights of the Round which was one serious summon spell. If you ever beat Emerald Weapon (the one under the water floating around you could see the entire game) then you really had your characters kicking ass. We finally beat him but you have to have almost the exact materia combination and know exactly how to beat him or you are toast. We never did beat Ruby weapon (the little red flower sticking out of the desert towards the end of the game) thoug. That bastard would just make your characters disappear under the sand and we couldnt figure out the strategy to beat him.
my roomates girl had a crush on Sephiroth
FF 8 rocked. I dont care what others aid that game kicked butt too. Easily the best airship of all the games was in 8. The Ragnarock was freakin awesome and that one cinematic when it ran into the final building and turned into this monster robotic dragon was just unreal. Also, the cinematic battle scenes in 8 were by far the best of any of the series. I probably spent 50 hours playing that little card game within the game to collect all the cards.
FF 9, like you, I never really got into. It had the old school feel about it (classes and all), but the story was weak and the characters just didn't interest me.
10 could have been so much better without the little arrow telling you what to do. It was entirely too easy. I loved blitzball though and the summons kicked major ass. Bahamut rocks in all of them but he really was something special in 10 (he kicked ass in 7 too but 8 and 10 were the best Bahamuts)