The Most Radical Games of 2003
It's that time of year when GMR reflects back on the previous year's game releases and ponders "what was that all about?" Some games, like Panzer Dragoon Orta, seem as though they came out a billion years ago, but nope, that was 2003. So, what moved us in mysterious ways? Don't let the scores we gave these games fool you. It's only after the dust settles, the buzz of New Year's Eve has worn off, and Gerry's washed all that lipstick off his collar (he put it there himself, he ain't foolin' no one) that we can really sit back and say, "That game kicked my butt...in a good way."
What one reviewer thought might not outweigh the collective mindset by the time we hit '04. Or after 12 months have crept by, Dark Cloud 2 might not resonate the way that Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter still does. So, welcome to GMR's inaugural Most Radical Games celebration. This is the shiznoz that we're still playing. This is the freakiest, 'fro-iest, most fantasticus stuff of the bunch. It's the funk, the flavor, and the fuzzy dice of that grand old era we like to call "last year." Who won what and why did they win it? Are we serious when we say red is better than blue? Well, it always has been and always will be, but for now it's time we revealed our hand...
Wario Ware, Inc
Seemingly built for the ADD generation, Nintendo's Wario Ware is the sickest (we mean that in a good way, parents) collection of straw-grabbing, punching-bag-avoiding, asteriod-shooting, button-pushing games (none of which are over five seconds long, thanks) we've ever seen. Wario Ware is like the White Castle of videogames, except that it's not made out of beef. Make of that what you will. We speak in tongues.
beyond good & evil (PC)
gc | ps2 | xb
Apparently, the person holding this magazine does not actually read the magazine. If you had, you might remember all the very nice things we said about Beyond Good & Evil. If any of that had sunk in, then perhaps BG&E might have sold more than 14 copies. OK, so a photo-taking babe and her walking pig uncle might be a focus group's nightmare, but that's exactly why we like it. That and the fact that its cohesive widescreen vision and innovative play mechanics make for an absolutely compelling experience. Pick it up on the cheap now. OK, bye.
broken sword: the sleeping dragon
deus ex: invisible war
fatal frame ii
the legend of zelda: the wind waker
We're siding with the cat on this one. The cat says, "Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is incredibly deep, offers a billion hours of gameplay, and is portable like a mo-fo, but it ain't no Disgaea." What othe game lets you throw exploding penguins, has an innovative Geo Panel system, boasts a mad-funny script, and lets you raise your characters up to level 9,999? None! The cat wins! Meow.
advance wars 2
final fantasy tactics advance
Yeah, yeah. We've played all the other games where you push the buttons and walk the walk. Big whoop, party games! You're not the boss of us. If you were, then why have we been subjecting all of our friends to our tone-deaf renditions of "It's the End of the World As We Know It"? Because making fools of ourselves rocks, and you know it! Now give me that microphone. It's my turn.
mario party 5
tony hawk's underground (GC)
ps2 | xbox
Yeah, expectations might not have been über-high for Tony from the block. But Activision, or more accurately, Neversoft pulled out all the stops for T-Lo on THUG. Create just about any character you can imagine, ditto for parks, ditto for moves, ditto for FUN! Wakeboarding Unleashed took us by surprise though, and if it had offered a few more features, it might have usurped the Hawkman.
We have never, ever seen a game like this. Yes, it performs all the duties required of an action-platforming sonavab****. But Viewtiful Joe takes all the core principles of the de facto action brawler and expands the concept to the point where it must get a new pair of pants. The pantless may wonder what all the hoopla is about, but know this: An unbelievable 2D storybook art style, an enthusiastically voice-acted cast of characters, and more invention in one game than the genre has seen in years equals snappy, stylish fun. Amazingness on a 3-inch disc.
Panzer Dragoon Orta
Prince of Persia; the Sands of Time
Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando
The Simpsons: Hit & Run
nba street vol.2
This was a tough decision; with games like NHL Hitz Pro knocking teef (that's "teeth" for people with no teef) and Top Spin slapping balls left and right, this genre was a hot one. Naturally, Madden, the Rolls-Royce of sports games, was omnipresent, but yo, NBA Street Vol. 2 was the shiznoz. You can't imagine how many times we put down former Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine editor Todd Zuniga on this one. Oh, and what, Todd? Yeah, you heard us.
mario kart: double dash!!
Apparently, a lot of you folks like to lean out your window on the highway and throw banana peels at the cars behind you. Or maybe that's just us. Play it safe, people! Why throw your compost at actual truckers when you can litter from the safety of your GameCube? You spend so much time chucking stuff in MKDD, they should have named this Chuck: The Game instead. The new dual-character system adds extra strategy to an already excellent game. Besides, The Fist really likes Peach. He's so cute like that.
Moto GP 2
Need for Speed Underground
Project Gotham Racing 2
final fantasy xi
The fact that Milky stays at the office until the wee hours of the morning playing FFXI is as awesome as it is very, very sad. Just wait till the PS2 version hits, we'll never see him again. Better looking than any other MMORPG out there and fantastically deep, you could play for months and still see only some 30 percent of what the game offers. Worth the time, worth the money, honey. Love you, babe.
Star Wars galaxies
star wars: knights of the old republic (xbox)
Final Fantasy has had it good enough the past few years taht it can move over for just a second, thanks. Besides, you can't deny the effect KOTOR had, not only on an RPG-starved console (nice one, Microsoft), but on the genre as a whole. KOTOR offers a stellar cast of expertly realized characters and one of the deepest, most innovative sets of play mechanics seen in an RPG.
bof: dragon quarter
mario & luigi
rainbow six 3
It's not perfect, and the A.I. is alternately insanely difficult and bordering on retarded, but Rainbow Six 3 is man stuff, and we mean that in the best way possible. No other game captures the feel of strapping on Kevlar (as we often do in the office, especially when Gerry starts hitting the bottle) and slapping in another clip. It's when you're hugging the side of a barn and throwing on the thermal that you feel like an absolute superstar.
virtua fighter 4: evolution
Soul Calibur II was everywhere and seemingly all things to all people, but we love our Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution big time. Nothing against SC2, but VF4Evo is easy enough for total newbs to pick up and play (important), but it's also unfathomably deep, so veterans can continue to learn new tricks. Plus, it's 20 bucks and lets us dress up our characters in furry wigs. That's gotta count for something.
Guilty Gear XX
Soul Calibur II
Click "next" to find out which game got the Game of the Year award!!
best console games
final fantasy tactics advance
See what the cat said in the Disgaea story. Tactics features a small busload of characters and an infinitely deep customization system, offering, according to Tom Byron, one million hours of gameplay.
Joe, we have to say it. We love you. If it weren't for that pesky KOTOR, you'd have gotten Most Radical Game of the Year. You're handsome, a laugh riot, and you got style, kid! Henshin a-go-go, baby!
OK, PC gamers, we get it. Bioware has nuclear-powered design skills and can even put the shine back on the moribund Star Wars license, courtesy of this groundbreaking RPG.
need for speed underground
If we enjoyed doing any one thing this year, it was slapping the dragon on our wagon and letting that beast go! NFSU filled the gap that Ridge Racer left behind. Nicely done, chaps.
OK, we're starting to run out of things to say about this very nice game where players can choose their course by being oh so evil or a patsy goody-two-shoes. Fine, be that way.
knights of the old republic
pc | xb
The post-release hype and all the subsequent awards for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic had gotten so out of control that we briefly considered choosing another game, Viewtiful Joe, for 2003's Most Radical Game of the Year. But after our self-imposed backlash to the hype had settled down and we fired up KOTOR to give it another spin, we realized that it truly is, in fact, the Most Radical Game of the Year (Sorry, Capcom, we love you and Joe too—See GameCube and Action MRGOTY).
But with KOTOR we got an epic quest that started off humbly enough. You're hurled into a donnybrook of galactic proportions straight out of the gate (sort of like in Halo, but with Star Wars guys) and don't really have much time to think about your place in things—just that you have to come to grips with the game's well-paced and considerate controls and combat mechanics in a hurry before you get lasered to death. As you begin to fold additional characters into your crew, the game's extraordinarily deep dialogue system draws you in like no other RPG before it.
The game is so good it made us give a crap about Star Wars again (you have Anakin and Padmé to thank for kicking us off the wagon), and seeing the tangible effects your valiant or sinister actions had on your character made playing through this 50-hour RPG a second time practically mandatory. Playable in nearly any order you choose and offering differing events and perspectives depending on your course of action, KOTOR is one of the most pliable, enthralling RPGs ever designed. Sure, KOTOR has only like three NPCs and absolutely none of that headgear looks cool, and we're still waiting for that downloadable content for the Xbox version, thanks. But even if it wasn't already the best RPG released last year, it also has "the twist." You know what we mean. And if you don't, then why are you reading this? You should be playing KOTOR!
Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in GMR Magazine.