Sitcoms and cartoons always portray it like a cross between getting your molar yanked and getting stuck next to the motor-mouthed buffoon on the treadmill at the gym, but I think, given the right circumstances, that having your own personal narrator could be a great and awesome thing.
Not for the mundane stuff, of course ("Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he's trying, unsuccessfully, to match the plaid shirt with the olive shorts.") But for your more graceful and awe-inspiring moments? Hell, yes.
The narrator's one of the big and unexpected stars of the show in Bastion, the lead-off title in Microsoft's Summer of Arcade lineup for the Xbox 360. It's an old-school role-playing game that find you searching to unravel the mystery of the Calamity, an environmental catastrophe that's eradicated most of your world and the people in it. As you advance, the rainbow-puzzle pathways and platforms literally re-forming as you approach, you quickly realize that this is no normal narrator, soldiering through a prefab script -- he's reacting to what you're doing (and not doing) on the screen.
When the Kid -- the name's a great example of the game's minimalist approach to delivering information-- pokes himself on the cactus-like stabweed plant littering the landscape, the narrator is poetic in a way that puts OUCH! to shame: "Hurts. Like a broken heart." Even finding the clichéd weapon on the ground is made fresh by fresh verbiage. ("He finds a breaker's bow -- and it ain't broke.") The running commentary is rife with cool remove and deadpan wit, doled out at a perfect mood-setting pace.
Like so many things about Bastion, the narration succeeds because it's perfectly configured. But there are also plenty of other examples: You're given access to a wide range of weaponry, but it's entirely up to you how you want to use the materials you collect in battle to modify and use them. Creatures aren't just recycled versions of the beasts you beat down in the last level -- each one you meet has a slightly different power and attack style. And in a deep and meaningful twist on the easy vs. brutal difficulty question, you can make each play through as challenging as you want by slotting icons to different deities in the game's clever and useful shrine.
There's certainly no shortage of loot and experience point-stashing RPGs to play -- Diablo, Torchlight, Dungeon Siege. Bastion is a great example of what happens when a developer approaches an established genre in a deep and thoughtful way: Engaging gameplay, narrated brilliantly.