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Xenoblade-  To me the perfect balance of a story being complex with a lot of twist and turns and room for the gamer to figure stuff out without drifting into the convoluted and wacky.  Also balances MMO like style with a large open world and tons of optional grindy sidequests but with a compelling main storyline.

Pokemon-  They're cute and the battle system is great.  Games are mostly interchangeable to me.  

Skies of Arcadia-  Mainly because of the reasons mentioned by the OP, but I think they're selling the story short.  Essentially it's a tale of two naive children being dumped into the world, one seeing the best humanity has to offer and one seeing the worst.  

Tales of Symphonia-  Classical RPG tale of chosen hero needing to find x macguffins to save the world from destruction.  But what it does it does incredibly well.

Paper Mario 2-  Best of the Mario RPGs.  Great script that is constantly amusing, and does an amazing job of giving you various scenarios to keep things fresh like becoming a wrestling star and solving a train mystery.