This was a surprisingly dry year, at least compared to last year. There are only 18 games this time and sadly, not all of them are great. Let’s hop into it!
#5 – Elder Scrolls 3 – Morrowind (PC)
…I am not a fan of this game. And yet, it’s on the list. Why? Well, there’s a nice, clean transition between Daggerfall and my favorite of the series, Oblivion. That’s about it. I’m not a fan of the story, characters, races, or just plain anything in this goddamn game. It’s just not fun to me. I can’t explain why and yet, I can say it’s much better put together than 90% of the games on this list.
Now don’t give me that face. This was a slow year, to be sure, and if you take a good, hard look at the runner ups, I’m sure you’ll agree that at least I actually acknowledged this one.
#4 – Wild Arms 3 (PS2)
Fuck yeah, Wild Arms! Now, you might be wondering why they didn’t receive any spots in years 1997 and 2000. Okay, two reasons. One, the original Wild Arms was just okay. JUST. OKAY. I hate it when people get all uppity about that one. Seriously, let it go. The second was actually really good, but there was a lot that was better that year.
FINALLY, I get a chance to highlight one and wouldn’t you know, it’s the one I personally believe is the best. Of course, I really haven’t played much of the 5th and I don’t own XF, so I’m not 100% sure about those, but yes, out of the first 4, this is easily the best. Loaded with all kinds of great features, great characters, intertwining plots, great cel-shading, and what have you, this is classic RPG at its finest with plenty of twists to keep newcomers interested as well.
#3 – Kingdom Hearts (PS2)
Before it got bogged down with endless gaidens that absolutely didn’t make any sense, before it became relentlessly parodied and was claimed to be over-hyped, before it was more about the bullshit and less about an awesome Disney/Squaresoft crossover, there was the good ol’ original Kingdom Hearts. Say what you will, but the game was fun, vibrant, sounded great, had good voice acting, lots of great features, plenty of extras, and could even be tough at times.
Fun for kids and just as engaging and challenging at times for adults, this was a HIT when it was initially released. Sure, it’s a little old looking back on it now and it certainly has its problems, but goddamn if it isn’t worth at least watching that awesome intro and hearing that catchy music again.
#2 – Suikoden 3 (PS2)
Easily the best of the series hands down, which is really saying something considering it’s already an incredible series, Suikoden 3 was quite the contender for the number one spot this year. As usual, 108 different playable characters, lots of great features in and out of combat, plenty of developmental styles, excellent music and visuals, great intertwining story, and a true RPG classic.
#1 – Arc the Lad Collection (PS1)
“Wait, what? In a year with games like Morrowind, Suikoden 3, and Kingdom Hearts, a Playstation ONE game takes the win?!” Ha ha ha…BAAAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAAA!!! Oh, my poor friend…it’s not just A game. Oh, no no…it’s FOUR. And, it’s motherfucking Working Designs. Those other entries didn’t even stand a chance, really. Sure, the original Arc the Lad is alright.
It’s not bad, but it’s painfully hard, relentlessly brutal, and very grind intensive. 2 and 3 are where it’s at and there’s even the Monster Arena disc, complete with all kinds of awesome extras a la Working Designs. So what is it? Well, it’s a top down SRPG series with lots of intertwining plots and it’s more or less and epic tale told over the course of THREE WHOLE GAMES.
They’re very well developed, feature great effects, tough fights, lots of interesting and ever-expansive features, great dialogue, even better characters (there’s a ninja that fights with kicks, machine guns, and shotguns!), and is just a great series overall. It’s really too bad Working Designs couldn’t hold on a little longer and help out with the PS2 Arc the Lads as they really needed it.
The rest of these games range from bleh to pretty good, but nowhere near the top 5 this year. This was not a hard year to select the top 5. Not at all. By all means, still check them out, but don’t expect much. Seriously.
Digimon World 3 (PS1)
Dragonball Z – Legendary Super Warriors (GBC)
Dragonball Z – The Legacy of Goku (GBA)
Forever Kingdom (PS2)
Freedom Force (PC)
Grandia Xtreme (PS2)
King’s Field 4 (PS2)
Lost Kingdoms (GC)
Legaia 2 – Duel Saga (PS2)
Megaman Battle Network 2 (GBA)
Summoner 2 (PS2)
Tactics Ogre – The Knights of Lodis (GBA)
Zone of the Enders – The Fist of Mars (GBA)