Technically I've played Pokemon before, which is a classic stat-leveling RPG. But I think the difference was that my brother LDK and I were playing it with a Gameboy emulator on the PC, so you could just speed through all the random encounters in a tenth of the time. Plus, after having experienced the real-time fighting mechanics of Monster Hunter Freedom 2, traversing through menus during battles and waiting for the selected action is not my idea of fun.
But K has set out to win me over with a very well-made action-adventure RPG, Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story. And I have to admit, I'm completely taken in. Here's what I love about it:
1) No More Random Encounters
I can see (and avoid) the enemies on the field. During actual fights, it still uses some menus but I get to interact by pushing buttons to jump/punch/hammer in order to hit the enemy. The more precise my timing, the greater the damage.
2) Keeps Things Interesting
Everytime I think I'm getting bored with the game, some new twist is introduced. Like when Bowser suddenly grows to the size of a small skyscraper and I have to hold my DS like a book. Or how Mario is always in the lead but now I have to play Luigi all by himself.
3) Beginner Friendly Yet Challenging
The game provides plenty of hints and indicators on where to go next, a veritable yellow brick road to lead the way. I could probably get through the entire game without doing any exploring or grinding. Yet, I'm constantly amazed at the way they introduce a power initially and then 10 hours later, I figure out that it can be used differently in this new situation over here. The in-game and mini-game puzzles are a perfect balance of cleverly stimulating to the brain yet not so hard that I'm following the GameFAQs walkthrough line by line.
Bottom line: K did a good job because RPGs are no longer on my black list. As long as they're not boring.