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One Year To Rule Them All
Saturday, January 4, 2003

Yes yes, I'm quite heavily Lord of the Rings influenced of late. Seeing Two Towers more than once, as well as finally owning a copy of the Fellowship of the Ring extended version AND reading the books will do that to you.

I guess my 2003 wall calendar doesn't help matters either.

Looks like a few things happened other than the Two Towers premiere... such as Christmas and New Year for example, and the champagne birthday of yours truly. (Said person substituted champagne for sparking apple something or other though. :P) So without further ado, um... merry belated Christmas and happy belated New Year. Hoping that everyone's went well, as did mine... except for eating a tad too much. A few times even. Even so, too much for me is probably half a meal to a lot of you, so oh well.

As expected, I got Christmas presents... while good, I'll spare you the boring details. I got some really neat things out of Japan, while not exactly for Christmas, they came around the same time... so it still feels like Christmas to me. Of notable mention however, is the Xenogears Square Millennium Collection (Fei version), Fire Emblem GBA, a Xenosaga art book (get this: hard cover with its own plastic casing. WTF...) as well as the complete Xenosaga guide book... man, is that thing ever THICK. So yeah, I'll have three Xenosaga guides since I'll buy the US one for collecting purposes.. how sad is that?

I dare not forget the strawberry and banana KitKats as well as the December issue of Cube Famitsu Advance. This just so happened (well not really, as this is the reason I bought the mag) with the concert CD for Super Smash Bros. DX... or Melee, for everyone outside of Japan. Now, I know this thing is coming with Nintendo Power as well (under the title Smashing Live! which just sounds dumb to me) but... NP's dealie is subscriber only, and Famitsu... is just so much better than NP. I love how Japanese magazines are, the layouts and everything... they're really different from English magazines. Oh yeah, and the CD itself is awesome.

And my favorite gift of all was... a cold! Yep, I spent the New Year drinking Neo Citron and taking other random medicines and herbs while my head throbbed and my throat hurt like hell. Suteki da ne...

My New Year's resolution? To keep the Mailbag on schedule more. With December over, that should be rather feasible...

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Survive December? No problem. My cold is another story.

Merry Christmas, Liz. My Christmas wish for you is that you survive the rest of December with your sanity intact.

My favorite games of 2002 are Morrowind (the best RPG I've played since Baldur's Gate II), Robotech: Battlecry (yeah, the game's not THAT great, but for a Robotech fanboy it about overloaded my joy circuits), and Virtua Fighter 4. They're all different games, but I don't just play RPGs, you know. Now, if I was going to list my favorite games that I PLAYED in 2002 (not just the ones that came out that year), the list would include the following:

RPGs:
Morrowind
Sakura Taisen (I'll let others debate whether it's really an RPG or not)
Grandia II
Lunar: Silver Star Story

other games:
Zero Gunner 2
Virtua Fighter 4
Shogo: Mobile Armor Division
Etherlords
Halo (co-op, not single player)

And I would like to end this little letter by noting that even though it's no longer supported in the U.S., I still use my Dreamcast more than any other console. It's amazing how import titles extend the life of that sucker, especially now that you can snag inexpensive games by trolling eBay and buying stuff from Hong Kong distributors trying to liquidate their stock. :)

=====
Aaron W. Thorne

You know, that reminds me of my time spent in California, in which I played more older games than I did current ones. I also balme that little fact as for why I don't have a list in our Games of 2002 feature. Had I made a list, I would have had two RPGs on it. Yup, two, and both imports at that, one which I never even finished. Let's give it up for Xenosaga and Fire Emblem, shall we? :P

Anyway, out of what I played and beat this year, I would have listed Final Fantasy X, FFIV, and Secret of Mana up there. And um.. Link's Awakening. Whee. Don't even get me started on non RPGs.

One glance at the pre-order section for Dreamcast over at NCS' online store is more than enough to tell you that the Dreamcast is far from completely dead. I visit their site daily, and that's even more evidence... and I for one liked the Dreamcast and am glad to see it still has a lot of life to it, even if it's not here and wouldn't buy most of those titles.

Since we cover Sakura Taisen here at RPGFan, I think it'd be fair to count it in your list, don't you think? People can debate alllll they want, we'll still be covering the series.

 
Whoa, THE J-Lo?!

JLO's top five

1)Suikoden 3-Wow, what a feeling to go back to the world of the 108 stars of destiny. I love seeing my castle grow and this year, the story is even  better than ever!

2)Kingdom Hearts-If it weren't for Suikoden 3 Kingdom Hearts would've just blown everything else outof the water, being one of my first PS2 games, was there really a question?

3)Grandia Xtreme-Wow, an actually enjoyable and almost perfected dungeon crawl. The other Grandia's were good, but Xtreme just perfected it.

4)Arc The Lad Collection-Was this out in 2002? I dunno but it was awesome as heck!

5)Wild Arms 3-Not the gratest, but nice graphics and battle system.

Top five non-RPG
1)NBA 2K3
2)Timesplitters 2
3)Sly Cooper
4)Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance
5)Virtua Fighter 4

Damn, that's the only mention of Suikoden III in this column - I'm in shock! I'm expecting more votes of Suikoden III in the next column though, because it DID seem rather popular. A lot more votes. I mean, it made #1 in OUR games of 2002, and I doubt our tastes really differ that much from the readers.

I'm amazed that someone liked Grandia Xtreme... it was fun for a 20 minute jaunt at E3 (I swear, E3's the one time of the year that I play games the MOST...), but seemed to be generally disliked, sometimes for the very reason that it's a dungeon crawl. From what I played, I really saw nothing new, especially with the battle system being the SAME thing as II.

Actually, Arc was supposed to come out in, oh, 1999 or 2000, so I don't blame you for getting so confused. I think it finally got released in 2002, and the guidebooks came several months later... that's a lotta freak blizzards, I tell ya.

 
I love asking for lists of things.

I do so love making lists of things.

My top three games of the year:

1. FFX

Technically, I suppose, this came out before the year began. I got it last Christmas. But I'm counting it anyway.

The only thing that I didn't love about the game was the absence of a world map and I can accept that. I cared not one whit for the minor voice acting problems (quite some lengthy pauses on Yuna's part), because even then I knew it wasn't as bad as it could be. Recently I played Shadow Hearts for the first time and was instructed very quickly and firmly as to how poorly voice acting could be done.

Anyway. I loved this game. Every last minute of it, and once my still-immense gaming backlog is taken care of (counting as many as three new games, counting a GC with the intriguing-looking Animal Crossing), I intend to head right back to it again. Beautiful.

And I should mention that FFX-2 repels me a bit, based on its scantily-clad characters alone. I do not understand, maybe even fear a little, the Lara Croft phenomenon: the need to put imaginary people in imaginarily tiny clothing. I think it says something unpleasant about modern society, but I don't know what that thing is.

2. Wild Arms 3

I finished this one several weeks ago. And though I fully recognize that it had probably the dumbest story I've played through in years, I loved it. I've always been a fan of the Wild Arms series. I even loved the second one, which most people tend to pan. (I also loved the always-maligned FF8 and didn't really think FF7 was all that fabulous, though I suppose I loved that one too. FF6, now there's a great game. Of course, that's just me talking.) Anyway. I still had a great time playing this, even though the ending was about as disappointing as endings can be.

3. Kingdom Hearts

I'm almost sad to admit how much I like this game, because I tend to be of the opinion that Disney is the corporate equivalent of Satan himself and that all its various animal-shaped offal should be purged from the earth, Viking-style. With lots of fire and sharp things, that is. But I'm STILL playing this one (I'm having a little trouble with the Ice Titan in the colisseum at the moment) and I'm still enjoying it. I don't even mind that they have pop stars doing the voices of some of my all-time favorite game characters. Or that the guy from that Buffy spin-off does Squall, my absolute all-time favorite game character. Such things I can let go. Here's another one with a colossus of a dumb story, which normally sends me screaming into the street but somehow this time around it doesn't even bother me. Fun.

Honorable mention should go to Shadow Hearts, which I'm counting for this year because I never played it until recently. Short with another bad ending (and I got the "good" ending) but exceedingly enjoyable while I played it. Oh, and Silent Hill 2, cuz I'm a mark for spooky games.

I'd probably have something to say about Suikoden 3 but I won't be seeing that one for another few days yet. I'm not SURE that I got it for Christmas...but I think it's a safe bet. Huzzah.

-TV's Adam

I too tried counting FFX as a top game of 2002 for my list - as you can see, it wasn't a go. :P

I found some of FFX's actors great, and some of them subpar. As you said, it can be much worse, but then again, there's titles like Xenosaga that will be an example of how well voice acting COULD be done. There's always going to be the good, bad and the ugly though... and my one true complaint about FFX's voices, is that laughing bit with Tidus and Yuna. (I kid you not, Mike WALKED OUT OF THE ROOM and refused to come back until it was over. Then the scene made ME kill myself laughing, so I stopped playing for at least five minutes. Gods.)

I'm kinda split on Disney, myself. They have some awesome movies and the like. Now, great product doesn't always mean great company in the background, and Disney DOES have a lot of overrated crap. :P Granted, it's DISNEY, and I'm 22, not 8 here. Still, I've heard lots of grungy stories about behind the scenes at Disney, and while not all may be true, I'm sure Disney has its fair share of dirty secrets. Guess it's the breaks of being a huge corporation.

Though personally, I think the actors in Kingdom Hearts did a great job, even if I do despise one or two of them... I found David Boreanz fitting as Squall, myself. Can't say for Lance Bass though, Sadly, I never made it that far.

 
I think I'll quit my job at the mall-- oh wait!

Howdy Liz,

Just thought I'd write in and say Merry Christmas! I also went to my local mall yesterday Dec. 21 and realized why Christmas crowds are hell. I really feel sorry for you.

Ok, my top 3 RPGS of the year would have to be Kingdom Hearts, Baldur's Gate, and Wild Arms 3...and if Baldur's Gate wasn't released this year, I don't care, because that's when I got to play it. As for online RPGS, I don't like them, so I would have to agree with you and say that FFXI probably wouldn't be in my top 20.

On a side note though, I'm looking forward to getting a GC this year with Smash Bros., that game is awesome, even though it's not an RPG.

Games I would like to get for Christmas but can't...damn I hate that...are 1. Xenosaga 2. Zelda, with the bonus games 3. FF1 and 2

Oh well, I guess that I'll have to settle for Star Wars Rogue Leader and Bounty Hunter. I just realized this by the way, I didn't ask for many RPGS, what the hell is wrong with me? I don't play hardly any games that aren't RPGS, oh well.

Anyways, hope you and the staff have a great Christmas and keep up the good work.

P.S. Liz, you should talk to people and get them to make an RPG with a punk rock soundtrack...and I mean a real punk rock soundtrack, no blink 182 crap...

Later
Jon Baldwin
aka brain_eater333 and gilgamesh333

Thanks... though now, the crowds have died down big time. My guess is that everyone's completely friggin broke and sick of malls. I know I am!

Baldur's Gate. I really did like that game, and I had all intentions of borrowing it from my friend so I could beat it. Alas, with so many other games at hand, it slipped my mind, as well as the prospect of borrowing Shadow Hearts... le sigh.

Definitely getting a GC, eh? You won't regret it. My GC is my most beloved system since my PSOne (modded version). While you already know SSBM is a must, you seriously can't overlook some other GC titles, like oh, Metroid Prime. :P But that's to be expected of me, if you've been reading this column for at least two months. And Ze-- oh wait, you did mention it. Damn. Okay, maybe give Eternal Darkness and Super Mario Sunshine a shot. I can't believe I'm about to say this, but the Resident Evil titles aren't too shabby either.

Speaking of which, Zelda IS an RPG.. partially, which is why we cover it. Just because you visit RPG sites, doesn't mean that you have to ask for mostly/all RPGs or Christmas. As much as I love RPGs, if I ever came across someone who didn't play anything BUT, I'll seriously have to lecture that person on the other games they're missing out on.

As for the punk rock soundtrack thing, well, I could look into it, but I don't see myself going very far. And by the way, while I don't listen to punk myself, I still agree that Blink 182 isn't real punk. I wonder what kind of RPG that would be.

 
Chobits: Strange new anime, or Chozo Hobbits?

I have to say there is only one game on my list because of the fact, I only bought one game this year. Well, the fact that I only have a PS1 sort of limited my gaming this year. That and going to college and getting my anime fix left me broke most of the time. Anyway, my choice for the best game of 2002 is... Arc the Lad Collection. If you are into strategy RPGs, this is the game to get. You get three games and an add-on for less than the price of 2 new game, two great stories (Arc 1&2 is one story and 3 is a new story), and a nice challenge.

My other 2002 best is anime related. The best series of 2002 is Chobits. I am not sure if it was actually released in 2002, but my friend let me borrow his fansubs of it recently. Someone mentioned Chobits earlier in the mailbag, although they might have been talking about the manga. It is a funny series with great animation, what else would you expect from CLAMP. The story is about a guy named Hideki who moves to Tokyo after failing the university entrance exam. He really wants a persocon, a computer that looks like a person, generally a cute girl, except for the ears, but they cost too much for him to afford. He ends up finding one in the trash and decides to take it with him. At first he thinks she might be defective because all she can say is 'Chii', but he is slowly able to teach her to talk. The majority of the comedy is either pointing out that Hideki is always broke, or about how he is somewhat of a pervert but when it comes to Chii, which he names the persocon, he is bashful. I haven't heard if any company has licensed it yet for US release, but it is worth a good laugh.

Xeno

Only bought one game? Oh you poor soul. Ah well. If all that anime you bought was worth it, and you got an education too, it's not so bad, right?

I could never really get into Arc. I think I tried the second or third, and watched the first. It just didn't pick up my interest or grab me, and the price tag didn't help matters either. I don't doubt that everything inside is actually worth that price if you WANT all of it, but I'm not interested in standees and thumb buttons, let alone games that failed to capture my interest.

Anyway, I'm not quite sure if said person was talking about the Chobits anime or manga. I'll see the anime on day... really! (Actually, probably not. My time to watch anime is sadly dwindling - I rented End of EVA last week and never got to watch it. Bah.) In any case, I think it's safe to say your description of the series is much more detailed, and sounds much more interesting.

I do know though, that there is no license for the US yet... does that mean I can legally download episodes? :P Kidding.

But you really need to get something other than a PSOne. No, really.

 
Wait, what's Rygar again?

Hi Schala,

2002 has been an interesting year for gaming, hasn't it? I never expected to see so many older franchises resurrected on current generation consoles. 2002 saw a new Shinobi title, a new Rygar title, and two new Metroid titles. I'm sure I'm forgetting something somewhere, so I'll just use the aforementioned as examples. I'm sure many gamers are saying things like, "Whoa! A new Rygar! It's about time; I haven't played Rygar since the NES days!"

But there was one 2002 game for Game Boy Advance that came out of nowhere and impressed me more than I expected. That game is a car-combat/RPG hybrid, published by Natsume, called Car Battler Joe. Sure the story mode took me only about 10 hours to complete, but after the ending, I could keep playing the 'epilogue' indefinitely and spent upwards of 20-30 extra hours doing all the extraneous stuff. Then when I decided to start a new game, I discovered I could do so...with all my built up cars carried over- so it was like a New Game Plus of sorts.

Car Battler Joe is one of the few RPGs where even after I did practically everything there was to do (short of finding some of the hidden special car parts), I still find myself playing it nightly. This is one addicting game, extremely fun to play, and at $19.99 new, is a flat-out steal in my opinion.

So, yeah, Dezo's favorite RPG/ favorite game of 2002 is easily Car Battler Joe. The game is definitely an acquired taste/niche RPG but it works for me, and I hope the game sold/sells well enough in Japan to warrant a sequel. I badly want one since a HUGE story thread was left unresolved and other CBJ fans feel left hanging as well.

-Blademast...errr, I'll sign off as Car Battler Dezo for this letter :)

I'm sure many gamers said the same things about Metroid too! Well, except replace 'NES days' with 'SNES days' and we're all good. Hell, I was saying that about Oregon Trail, which I only played in my black and green Apple IIe days, after seeing the latest version (the fifth?) this past E3...

Yes, 2002 definitely brought us one thing we never thought we'd see: a car RPG. And Dezo, I blame you (and all your talk of it on the boards) for the reason that a reader e-mailed me and asked why he couldn't find it in stores. I do like the idea of an indefinite epilogue, and the New Game + - like feature is one of the best features ever created. Can be cheap at times, but it's just so neat in some games, like for collecting purposes. And an unresolved ending isn't very surprising nowadays... it usually purposely leaves things way open for a sequel, which I won't doubt will come one day.

It doesn't surprise me in the least that CBJ's being called an acquired taste/niche RPG... I mean, it's out of Japan, and there's lots of things there that could be labeled as such, let alone games. Dating sims anyone? And for that reason, that's why so many games we see released in Japan never make it here.

 
Little late but...

Hey,

When do you think, they are gonna start advertising Evolution Worlds? I mean the game came out Dec. 2, and I still havent see any advertisments on T.V I mean. And my Christmas list goes like this.

1.) EVOLUTION WORLDS!!!!!
2.) A playstation 2 with Final Fantasy 10, and Wild Arms 3
3.) A gameboy advance with Metroid Fusion, ( I already got Metroid Prime )
4.) An Xbox with Halo
5.)  A dreamcast with Skies of Arcadia ( Because I don't wanna wait till JAnuary to get the game on gamecube )

Yes I know, this is being put in rather late, but it's mostly to answer the advertising thing. Most every game will be advertised in gaming mags. However, it's the big budget titles and franchises and/or huge success possibilities that you'll see advertised more than just in gaming mags. Some games will be lucky enough to be advertised in magazines other than gaming oriented ones. Some, maybe fewer, will have TV commercials, sometimes on several channels. Even fewer will get a commercial ad in a movie theater, and another select few will get giant, and I meant GIANT posters in malls.

Sadly, I don't think Evolution Worlds is the type of game to fall into any category that would qualify for more than just ads in gaming oriented mags. The Evolution games weren't the most popular RPGs on the DC, and... you know, I don't even know why they ported the games.

Now Skies of Arcadia on the other hand...

 
Memories of bad Rod Stewart songs spill forth.

Hey everyone!

After a long day of working and typing my newest story =D,I got home and almost instantly got online.I decided to check in on the site and looked in the mailbag ,my letter was there....YAY!Anyhoo,I might as well ask a few questions during my annoying letter.

1.Who thinks I'm sexy...? C'mon,don't deny it.

2.Is Legia 2 (Or however you spell it) really all that's it cracked up to be?

3.....AM I SEXY OR NOT!?

Anyhoo,thanks for looking at my letters! =D

-Damion-

1 and 3) Can't say. All I know is that you're nowhere near as sexy as me. :P

2) Go read some reviews and find out. I'd offer an opinion if I had one but really, purchasing or even renting Legaia 2 hasn't crossed my mind and probably won't for a while. All I've heard is that it's supposed to be better than Legend of Legaia, which didn't take long to annoy me.

 
Closing Thoughts

Wow, I finished this thing up just in time to put in more eyedrops. So was that update long enough for you? If you don't see your list here, it'll be in there next time, promise. So send yours in - I know plenty of you haven't done so already and I'm curious. Come on, what are you waiting for?

~ Liz, who thinks three viewings of The Two Towers is enough for a while... (letters@rpgfan.com)



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