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The Log Wench
Friday, January 10, 2003

I feel like I've talked myself out, with the last two extremely long columns I've put up in the past week. Though I have been asked what games of this year I want, so I'll just do my Obligatory List Of Random Stuff To Look Forward To (or not) In 2003:

The RPG Liz Wants Most Badly, Despite Beating the JP Version 8 Months Ago, And Also Makes Both Her 2002 And 2003 Lists:
Xenosaga. A great experience in either English or Japanese, but perhaps much better when you can fully understand instead of partially (then reading a translation later). Plus, with the English voices apparently being really awesome, I have more to look forward to. Even if I know all that happens.

The Non RPGs Liz Wants Now, But Has To Wait For:
Devil May Cry 2 and Metal Gear Solid 2 Substance, but mostly the latter. Dante w/ Devil Wings = TEH AWESOME. ;P

The Other RPGs Liz Wants, But Knows She Will Be Too Poor to Buy Her Own Copies Right Away:
Star Ocean: Til The End of Time, Zelda: Wind Waker, FFX-2 (depending when it comes out), Breath of Fire V, Skies Of Arcadia Legend, .hack

The RPGs Liz Won't Go Near, No Matter How Much You Try:
FFXI. For many, many reasons. And um... the games that aren't coming out here, 'cause most of them sound so weird. Triangle Again, anyone?

The Old School But Not 2002 Games Liz Swears to Play In '03:
Finish Link's Awakening; Fire Emblem I-V, FF Tactics, maaaybe Vagrant Story, Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, Suikoden I and II, and the list goes on.

The Time When Liz KNOWS She'll Lapse And Forget What Gaming Is:
Mid-December, when Return of the King is in theaters. I expect a repeat of my Two Towers Syndrome which I went through and am still going through. :P

The Games Liz Wishes To See, At Least Announced In '03:
Metal Gear Solid 3, a Metroid Prime sequel, the revelation that Super Mario Advance 4 is in fact Super Mario Bros. 3, CHRONO BREAK, and the US release of Xenosaga Episode II. Maybe a new Fire Emblem...

Once again, I'm out of ideas, so I'll have to kill you guys with a slew of letters. Again.

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2004? Think again...

Hey Liz,

Suikoden III is number 1!!!! YAY!!! Best rpg in 2002 period. I've always loved the Suikoden series and although I have a few gripes about it, mostly music (the first two were so good) and weird camera angles, the game was enthralling.

Anyway my top games most looking forward in 2003 are...

1. Xenosaga - Xenogears is one of my favorite rpgs and looking at the sequel err...prequel or whatever makes me drool. Heard it didn't have a good ending, but who cares. It's a series anyway and Lord of The Rings always had bad ending, well the first two had less than exciting endings.

2. Star Ocean - Wow the game looks amazing. If the story has any resemblance to the previous games and the battle system is fun, this game may be the top RPG of 2003.

3. .Hack - Interesting synopsis in an rpg. Looking forward to it.

4. Grand Theft Auto: Sin City - Destroying cities are fun!

5. Final Fantasy X-2 - Looks fun to play. Hope story is good since direct sequels tend to fall into the "not as good" category. Probably wont come out till 2004 though.

What are your top 5 games you are looking forward to the most in 2003?

The music in Suikoden III wasn't that bad. I thought it was pretty good, although I'll have to agree that I liked the music in II more. It could be much much worse...

I don't know if I'd say the ending of Xenosaga was bad, per se, but it was more left open ended... for the most part unresolved. I thought it was pretty good in some parts. I liked some of the scenes, though overall it left many questions being asked. It does make one anticipate Episode II more though.

Star Ocean: Til The End of Time certainly looks awesome... I can't wait to play it, assuming I get a chance to before year's end. Heh. I'm looking forward to all these, plus Zelda for GameCube and Xenosaga Episode II if the Japanese version gets released this year. Oh, and we can't forget FFT Advance and hopefully FF Crystal Chronicles.

...and what the heck is GTA: Sin City? Are they making a GTA based in Las Vegas? Now that would be amusing... robbing casinos. Hmmm...

 
At least SOMEONE liked Harmony of Dissonance.

Ah, the games of 2002. I may as well give my two cents.

Before I begin, though, I should give a small disclaimer. Ten or so years of drug and alcohol abuse have wreaked havoc on my memory. Hence the abundance of games on this list that were released within the past two or three months.

Here they are, in no certain order. Brace yourself, this could get long-winded.

RPGs:

1: Kingdom Hearts - Like many, I scoffed at the notion of a Square/Disney game. When I finally got around to playing it, though, it didn't take long for me to become a believer. Another quality product from Squaresoft.

2: Suikoden III - While the game pales in comparison to the godly Suikoden II, it's still a damn fine game. (You can say 'damn' in the Mailbag, right? I hope so, because I'm already self-censoring myself to death. It's taken me an hour to write this much! :P)

3: Morrowind - This game is insane. I've been playing for about six months now, and I'm still finding new places and items. Of course, it did take me about a month to finally decide on a character...but that's not the point. The world is as big as any MMORPG, yet it doesn't contain people with "teh 1337 skills" begging for "teh phat lewt". That's a blessing in itself.

4: PSO - Now I see why some freaks would spend 5600 hours on one game. This game has sucked me in completely. Hell, I've started dreaming about my sexy HUnewearl, with her purple hair, those long, long legs, and the biggest...er, never mind.

5: Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance - Okay, it's time to get serious. I've been a Castlevania whore since the beginning. I'm the most dedicated fan of the series that I've ever known. Here's an example of my love for the series: I played the N64 versions and I ENJOYED them. Very few people can say that. HoD is yet another fine game in the series. I particularly like the ties to Simon's Quest, which used to be my favorite game of all time, a position that Symphony of the Night now holds. Plus, I can actually SEE this one....

Non-RPGs:

1. Metroid Prime - I shouldn't even need to say anything.

2. Metroid Fusion - This game is a lot deeper than I expected. When I was watching the ending, I was expecting to see a percentage of at least 70%, but I expected higher.

I got 33%. I nearly cried. No Samus softcore for me. Sigh....

3. Way of the Samurai - I think I'm one of, like, four people that actually played this game. If you haven't played it, go and do so. It shouldn't take but two hours or so for you to beat it. However, there are a slew of ways to play through this game. Of course, you can't really save, so you have to devote some time to it. Once you play it, though, you'll make time for it. It's that good.

4. Hitman 2 - This was a big departure from the "kill anything that moves" stuff that I typically play. I really like the fact that the scoring system punishes you for killing anyone other than the intended target. It's nice to be forced to think now and then.

5. Megaman Zero - Hard. Well, at least in the beginning. This game gave me quite a few additional grey hairs. Plus, it has Zero. If only he weren't drawn so goofily. (is 'goofily' even a word?)

I didn't include older games that I finally got around to playing, like FFX, Super Smash Brothers: Melee (OMFG Ganondorf!), and Shadow Hearts. All in all, I played more good games this year than bad. That's a welcome change.

Peace,

The Darkrider

P.S.: The new comic sucks.

I never anticipated Kingdom Hearts being bad, rather, I'd actually anticipated it being targeted towards a younger audience, made it a bit easier and just more kid oriented overall. Of course, this was way back when it was announced at E3 2001, and the more I heard about it, the more wrong I realized I was. Boy am I ever glad.

I've lost count how many times I've said damn in the Mailbag... sadly, I don't even censor myself here. Tsk tsk. I hope I don't scare off readers that way...

I guess it's not hard to find new items and such in Morrowind if you, you know, buy the expansion. (And are playing the PC version.) And your little comment reminds me that it's really sad that you CAN encounter lamers in .hack, which isn't even a real MMORPG... pathetic. Speaking of online RPGs, 5600 hours of Phantasy Star Online is nothing. I wish I remember how many hours certain people I know *hack* *cough* logged between the DC and GC versions, but it was no small number. Although I must say it's pretty sad if you dream about your character. (Hey, mine was a purple haired HUnewearl too! I never dreamt about her though, thank God.)

Ah yes, the ever beloved Castlevania. I still haven't finished SotN, let alone bought any of the others. I really do like the brightness of Harmony of Dissonance compared to something like Circle of the Moon though. But anyway, is it a really big surprise that Symphony of the Night is still the favorite Castlevania?

You know, I still think my 50% and six hour completion of Metroid Fusion is extremely sad. Not that I was aiming to see a suitless Samus, but it kind of hurt my pride, you know. In any case, I went to VGMuseum or some such site to check out the ending screens... the one of her with the other transparent image of her is still the nicest, I think.

...You can't save? What the hell type of game doesn't let you save these days? I guess with a game that short, it's not such an issue. To me though, it'd feel like such a waste shelling out for a game that short... I don't know, I at least like to get five hours out of a game nowadays. As for your other non RPGs, 'goofily' must be a word, since it's not showing up on my spellcheck. MMZ is supposed to be really hard, which can't be a bad thing as long as it's not impossible.

You think the comic sucks too eh? Eh, it's not too bad, since you know, I've been in it already. In like, five issues. (Just kidding Kiem, I do like it. :P)

 
Uh oh. It's HER again.

Hello, my dearest rival! How does this new year find you! Since you asked so nicely while destroying my most recent secret underground military base, I shall bestow upon you my picks for the top games of this past year.

1) Suikoden 3 - Like this wasn't obvious. I'm a raging Suikoden fan and the third installment only made improvements on the series, as far as I'm concerned. Pretty graphics(while not as detailed as FFX's or some other games, they do have their own charm and beauty), moving music, and an intricate story that's really quite amazing in the opening chapters once you see all the points of view and tie all the little details together. Fantastic stuff. And the fact that Chris is an awesome heroine doesn't hurt either.

2) Gitaroo-man - One of the most enjoyable rhythm games I've ever played, with a killer soundtrack to boot. I recommend everyone give this one a shot.

3) Wild ARMs 3 - Another awesome soundtrack accompanies the third Wild ARMs installment. The game itself is enjoyable, though the random battles when one is trying to solve a puzzle or find your next location can be tiresome, and the cast is enjoyable as well. Give it a whirl if you get the chance.

Really, those are the only console games I played that were released last year. Pretty sparse, but whatcha gonna do when you've got no free time, eh? Until next time, my rival.

Hatefully yours,
Lord God Xeria

You Suikoden whore... you just want to see more implied yuri between Chris and some other hawt chick.. Jeane, perhaps? Heh heh heh... I KNOW you. I do like the charm of the game's graphics... especially the character design, ducks not counting. Makes me want a Suikoden III art book...

Finally, someone had something intelligent/informative AND positive to say about Wild Arms 3. One piece of music that sticks out in my mind right now is the battle music and that ever so prominent whistle... I love that theme. Seems more 'western' themed than the other two, which makes for an interesting RPG.

 
Everything's difficult, huh?

My favorites, even though I only completed one of the three games mentioned here. (SMC really has nothing to complete.)

1. Kingdom Hearts
Simply because it deserves the credit, and it has the coolest crossover plot this side of fanfics, even if I never did beat that bloody annoying Deep Jungle world yet.

2. Metroid Prime
It seems bloody difficult to find anything... but it's interesting and fun enough, and I'd really love to get all three endings on my three files, along with every art gallery completed.

3. Metroid Fusion
One thing I'm hating is going to be trying to get the best ending, which would be 100% completion in under two hours. But I think the game is good old 2D Metroid, which is nice, even though one of my favorite items, the last in the game, doesn't get any use.

4. Sonic Mega Collection
"He's the fastest thing aliiii--iiiiive!!" I have a few gripes with SMC. One being their choice in games. The ones I would omit if I were in charge would be Sonic Spinball, Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, and Ristar, and keep everything else. Then, with the extra space, see if I could squeeze in Sonic CD. Ristar is not a Sonic game, and Sonic Spinball and Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine look obviously as if they were done by American companies. They're not even original ideas, and Spinball has horrible control and speed. It's inconsistant too. In the Japanese version Ristar was replaced with Comix Zone. And to UNLOCK Ristar and Flickie, you have to enter a certain game, and then exit back to the games menu. Repeat process a few thousand times. Blue Sphere, which was idiotically named, and doesn't even HAVE a name to begin with, Knuckles in Sonic the hedgehog 2, and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Knuckles shouldn't have even been unlockable in the FIRST place! They should've just BEEN there for play, like in Sonic Jam! What's WRONG with those people?!

But at least after a few hours I can play all my favorite Sonic games without worry.

Apparently, the better the game, the less I have to say about it, due to it not having much wrong with it anyway. Anyway, adieu.

~ Kisai Deschaine

Too bad our friend Andrea never worked on that Kingdom Hearts fanfic.... heh heh heh. KH certainly is any fanfic (crossover) writer's dream. However, we all know about the scary universe that is fanfiction, and I refuse to venture into the Kingdom Hearts section of fanfiction.net (or most other sections). Ever.

The thing about finding items in Prime is looking very carefully, using all three - heck, four visors... everywhere. In Fusion, all you have to do is set Power Bombs all over the place... and sometimes look for hidden paths in walls that only a Morph Ball could fit into. Needless to say, it's much harder with Prime. Chances are you'll end up short on Missiles the most out of anything, despite that I beat Fusion with ten energy tanks when there are 20 max. Of course, if you've got mad skillz, you can beat either game with half the total items. Not that it'd get you the best ending in either game, and as I said before, the ending shot in Fusion for beating the game with 100% in 2 hours is the best one. No, Samus isn't naked, but she's not in one of those weird overly feminine poses either. She looks cool in Prime too though. Not the 'perfect blonde bombshell' look, and I'm glad for that.

BTW, if you make any new year's resolutions, make one not to complain about spoilers that aren't spoilers. Please. :P

 
And it spreads...

Okay. How am I gonna explain this. Um...Help?

When I first saw Kingdom Hearts, it was on a "ad", I think it was. Then, I brought a magazine, and it also had KH as an "ad" and it was reviewed! So, needless to say, I got obssese with Sora and KH. Then someone lented a PS2 to my brother, and which game did I rented? Kingdom Hearts. Bingo.

So started my KH craze. I started to draw fanart and fanfics. But where they your normal fanart and fanfics? Let's put some fangirl's original fantasy groups, shall we? It's called the Protectors of Realm of Dreams, aka PoRoD. These are not your ordinary original female characters, for they can go to many world and never grow and never be beaten, for they have powers none can really comprehend. Now, let's put some Yu-Gi-Oh stuff in it. Sora's the cousin of Yu-Gi-Oh? I know...it's nuts, but let's put some MORE. How about some Back to the Future stuff, like Sora's child find him?

Is there something wrong with me? Is it contagious? Or is my syndrome causing this?

Thank you early.

This is Sora of the Haunted Wasteland...and she's so please to be writing to you, she tells you right now she's ecstasic!

Does normal fanart or fics even EXIST anymore? Of course not. While what you describe may sound bizarre to a lot of us, I'm sure plenty who regularly browse the scary world of fanfiction.net can say 'That's nothing... I've seen much more bizarre'. Such is my case. I mean, I've seen an SSBM/KH/YuGiOh crossover, which was just downright scary. By its own right, fanfiction is just that... fiction by fans, and you know how scary fanatics can be. Which may not necessarily apply to YOU, as it seems to be a common... case, especially among the female gender. The fanart and fic-producing part of an obsession that is. I still say fics are by far scarier of the two though... though there IS hentai fanart... so uh, it's kind of a toss-up.

Then there's cosplaying, which is a whole other can of worms right there that I won't open.

 
Dying plentiful in FFIV was just awesome.

Hey Liz,

I live in England meaning alot of the games on peoples lists haven't even come out here yet! (frustration) if they make it over here (double frustration).

While this is slightly annoying i'm not to bothered as the games have been pretty bad like final fantasy x (worst rpg i have ever played, man it was boring..) The quality in games has just really gone down hill. Anyway i have been doing some thinking and have realised i spent most of the year playing:

Vagrant story Final fantasy 4 and 5 And shining force 2 for my megadrive!

All of which had a hardness level which made me have to pay attention, as well as a story line that made me want to. Unlike the aforementioned Final Fantasy x and Grandia 2 (so easy....). The main point im trying to make is that so far buying a ps2 was a waste of time as i don't play it and the games that i do want aren't out yet like suikoden 3.

Not to mention older games like xenogears and parasite eve on the ps! that never even came out here! (sigh....)

Later!
Max

Ps: your not the only one with a Lord of the Rings obsession, that special edition DvD is brilliant....not enough time in a day!

Yeah, one day I'll watch my special edition FotR DVD, I swear. But when I'm constantly working or on here doing this, it makes finding time a bit hard. :P

I still think FFX was good even if it was easy, but yeah, let's not go there. As for the difficulty in the other games, I find it most welcome. Of course, what I have played lately have not been cakewalks (Metroid...) but sometimes it seems like the developers try too hard to display a good story, and not hard enough at making the game an actual challenge, or the other way around. Granted, some games are long enough as is, which might be one of their excuses, but still. On the flipside, Vagrant Story's box puzzles got rather grating after a while, and I wanted the game to give me puzzles of ANOTHER sort for a change.

I wish I could offer some advice which would help you find a way to play US games... and I know people in Europe who do, I just forget how they do it. Blah. Because Xenogears, if you can get past all the text, and Parasite Eve would be very much worth it, among all the other titles Europe never got...

 
...If Sony ever decides to release a PS2 hard drive here...

hands done the best game is final fantasy X. i know square released some copies early late in dec. 0f 2001, but since the official release was jan. it should have been on the list.

final fantasy XI should have been on the list, even though it has yet to be released here in the U.S. hello! no one included arc the lad collection, or final fantasy 1&2 for the playstation. can't wait for final fantasy XI, final fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy chrystal chronicles, and lunar 3.

hopefully they'll make next years list. plus i think gamearts and working designs are great game companies and even though they are not as rich as square, they make great games. lunar is definetely a close second for me to final fantasy/ and better than all f.f. clones out there, because it was original.

Yeah, I thought the real release date was supposed to be January. I also heard that the December release of 'some' copies of FFX was supposed to be rather limited, but I found that stores seemed to have an overabundance of copies when I went in to pick up my copy... in December. There were lots of great RPGs that came out in '02 however, that I don't find it necessary to have FFX on the list. Plus, it was #1 on our list of 2001, so it wouldn't be fair to all the other titles, let alone Suikoden III.

FFXI should have been on the list? Says who? A more careful look at the list would tell you that they are editor's picks, and a good guess or two might help you figure out that... none of us owned FFXI. Not only would it be expensive, but you can't connect to the Japanese servers outside of Japan, so owning it and trying to get online would prove rather futile. Plus, you can't even play the thing offline anyway. Maybe it'll make the list of '03, so you'll have to wait a year and see.

I still credit any greatness that Lunar might have to GameArts and not WD. :P They developed it, and WD may have translated it, but it's still GA's nice little creation...

 
Get BMX XXX. Without the X's.

Hi!

I just got PS2 and was wondering what good games i should get. When i get more money of course. I have Kingdom Hearts and I'm getting FFX soon. I really like lord of the rings (I've read all the books 3 times and seen TTT 3 times) and was thinking about getting that. Do you know if they're gonna bring fire emblem for GBA out in the U.S.? And my fave Rpgs of 2002 are:

1. Golden Sun! I know it came out in 2001, but I play it all the time. Like today. And yesterday.
2. Kingdom Hearts
3. Tactics Ogre: the Knight of Lodis

~Kraken

Okay... I'd recommend Suikoden III for starters, especially if you liked the first two. There's also Shadow Hearts, which may contain less than stellar voice acting, but is still good; Harvest Moon, if you're into the HM series; Wild Arms 3; and again, if you're into that type of game, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. That's all of the RPGs I can think of offhand that didn't outright suck, anyway. If you're looking for non RPGs, get Devil May Cry and Metal Gear Solid 2 (or wait for Substance this spring.) And there's always the popular but overrated (so it seems) Grand Theft Auto games.

As for Fire Emblem, I'm not really sure or not whether to be surprised at how many times the game gets mentioned in my column other than by me. Must be my constant rambling about it. Anyway, in answer to your question... we of the English Fire Emblem community honestly have no idea anymore. Nintendo sends out auto responses to anyone who e-mails them about it, which say basically they same thing that they did back in like.. May, or so. The chance of FE coming here seems less any day, though I'm just hoping Nintendo decided to focus in the big titles first. Hoping, while I wander my way through the Japanese version...

 
Closing Thoughts

Whoo! The weekend is pretty much here for me (unlike the rest of you, my weekends consist of Friday and Saturday), and I don't have any big plans this time, PLUS Christmas is thankfully over. So, if you have a list of 2002 to send in, do so. If not, tell me what titles of 2003 you're looking forward to. And, of course, why.

~ Liz, who needs to watch her FotR DVD appendices. Preciousssss... (letters@rpgfan.com)



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