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E3 2004 Impressions

Damian Thomas' Impressions
Top 5 RPGs:
1) Uncharted Waters Online (PC)
It's still early in development in Japan, and Koei doesn't even know if it's going to make it to the States, yet this is the title I'm most anticipating. Sailing the 7 seas as an adventurer, pirate, or merchant is MOST appealing, especially if my friends can join me. Visiting ports all over the world, fighting sea battles, making smart investments, these are all the things I loved about New Horizons, and the implications make this the only MMO I will be willing to play.

2) Suikoden IV (PS2)
I'm a huge Suikoden fan, and the fourth installment of the series just looks great. Granted, I wasn't able to PLAY much of it, as it was a demo, but it still seems nifty, and if the story holds up, it should make it one of the top games of the year.

3) Ys VI (PS2)
I'm not a huge Ys fan, but dangit, this game was so much fun to play, despite being ridiculously simple. I guess I've just been needing an old-school RPG to enjoy at home (seeing as how I've been playing tons of great old-school on my SP lately at work.) Add to that fantastic graphics, excellent artwork and sound, and some of the best controls I've felt in a game in a long time, and this winds up my numero tres title of E3.

4) Wild ARMs: Alter Code F (PS2)
Yes, it's a “new game” but if it's as good as the first, I'm all there. The visuals looked excellent, and I wish I had gotten a chance to play the game rather than interview the Sony peeps, but that net me a great poster.

5) Chulip (PS2)
Don't ask exactly why this made my top-5. Heck, as we see more of it, it may turn out that it's not even an RPG. But the thought of a game that requires you to go around kissing people to make them happy brings out the kid in me. I think the idea is just excellent, and from what I played of the game, it's simply hilarious. Definitely getting this one.
Top 5 Non-RPGs:
1) Tie - Gradius V/Neo Contra (PS2)
This was definitely a banner year for Japan's number 1 third-party publisher. Suikoden IV, Ys 6, Silent Hill 4: The Room, and now they blindside me with the Treasure-developed Gradius V and Neo Contra, the first decently-playable iteration since Contra III. I love Gradius, and I love Treasure shooters (Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga). Put them together, add in some two-player simultaneous action, and you get a game that plays like a divine combination of both companies' greatest treasures. As for Neo Contra, it's just FUN. Again, the two player simultaneous action, mixed with decent controls and nifty weapons makes this a real fun title. You get first prize, Konami.

2) Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GCN)
It's Metroid Prime, which I liked a whole heck of a lot, with slightly upgraded graphics, the screw attack/space jump, and 4-player death match. Nothing much more needs be said.

3) Call of Cthulhu (PC)
It's been a LONG time in coming, but this title looks excellent and has some great concepts. The fellows at Bethesda never got around to letting me touch the controls, but the game is moody, atmospheric, and most importantly, it has incredibly detailed hand models. It's complicated, all right? Still, I'm getting this game when it comes out, or at least renting (so cheap!)

4) Silent Hill 4: The Room (PS2)
I have to admit, I did not actually get to lay my hands on this title, just because of the times I was at Konami's booth (playing Gradius and Neo Contra.) Still, the game looks excellent and has such a creepy atmosphere that it just FELT oppressive and terrifying. The nice booth Konami had set up for it (a replica of said room) was also a wonderful touch.

5) Midway Arcade Treasures 2 (PS2)
I loved the first, and the second has more of what I want, including NARC and APB. All I need now is a collection with Peter Pakrat and Rolling Thunder, and I'll have every old arcade game I care about owning. NARC was still so much fun, and it made me want to say no to drugs... or just shoot drug dealers and get injected with heroin. Makes me wonder what I'll like about the new NARC game.
Favorite Show Experiences:
1) Final Fantasy Concert: Uematsu is the most upbeat, energetic Japanese game composer I know... well, behind Yoko Kanno.

2) John breaking the Phantom: If it can break playing UT 2004, it MUST exist.

3) Coming across Working Designs' booth... er, meeting room: Growlanser in 2004! Only $89 bucks for an outdated game, soundtrack, cards, and your mom!

4) Drinking the night away after we almost lost the site: I am the hand of Golbez.

5) Santa Monica: Street urchins, great weather, and drunken Rob trying to pick up the server. Quality.
Least Favorite Show Experiences:
1) The site nearly being lost. I've worked here 6 years (almost continuously) and that gave me reason to drink. Quitting only made me go to Grad school.

2) Being lied to about what I did while intoxicated. That is not cool.

3) The deleterious effects on my digestive system brought about by El Pollo (crack chicken) Compero.

4) Korean BBQ price scare. Thank goodness Stephen picked up the tab! We love you big guy!

5) Mike's car mirror getting smashed. Sorry Mike :(
Best Swag:
1) Wild ARMs Alter Code: F Poster signed by Takashi Fukushima, the President of Media Vision, and Kentaro Motomura, one of the developers. Agetec treated us right!

2) Cow plushie & Cow Harvest Moon shirt from Natsume. I got many a Dami-treat when I gave those to my girlfriend.

3) Nintendo Press Bag: Everyone says that's the nicest bag... and it is.

4) The ton of swag received from SNK. Every hour on the hour they gave away posters, cards, stickers, etc. I walked away with posters for Metal Slug 4 and 5, and KoF 2K2 and 2K3, as well as KoF cards and SNK stickers.

5) Shin Megami Tensei Poster. I don't care what Chrissy says, I like it!

More Impressions
Tim Duong Stephen Harris Liz Maas John McCarroll
Mike Salbato Damian Thomas Mark P. Tjan


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