If you missed it, click here for Part One!
7.) TALES OF SYMPHONIA
Here in America, Namco isn’t really known for being an RPG powerhouse. They have released several games, but they are known more for their fighting and racing games than RPGs. That will hopefully change soon. Tales of Symphonia is the latest release in a series of RPGs that has been very popular in Japan, but hasn’t reached it’s true potential in America. Thus far, Tales of Destiny and Tales of Destiny II (Tales of Eternia in Japan) have been released here, but haven’t sold as well as in Japan. That should change with Symphonia.
Selling over 200,000 copies on the first day of release in Japan, Tales of Symphonia continues several Tales traditions while setting itself apart in others. One thing that the series has been known for is its anime stylings, and that is no different in this one. The graphics are some of the best cel shaded graphics I’ve ever seen, and the character designs are excellent as well. The battle system is similar to previous Tales games, but rather than being a 2D based combat system, where characters fight in a straight line, it is much more three-dimensional.
Namco is in it for the long haul with this release, because now Namco has created an entire studio for the development of just this series. They put a lot of work in to the development of this title, and they’ve even employed a well-known anime studio to create the intro. Production I.G. is the studio behind fan favorites such as Love Hina and Ghost in the Shell, and even played a part in the animation of Evangelion, and to have them on the roster for this title gives you one more reason why you need this game.
The fact that there has been somewhat of a drought on the Gamecube as far as RPGs are concerned makes me believe that 2004 will be the year that my fellow RPG fans will be truly happy that they own a Gamecube. With other big name titles like Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles this year and Baten Kaitos (also by Namco) being released in 2004, the Gamecube could be well on its way to being a quality RPG haven, which is where it belongs. So, although Namco may not be known for their RPGs yet, they will be. They have realized that the American market is viable, and are releasing the Tales series over here, in addition to the aforementioned Baten Kaitos, and the PS2 title Xenosaga Episode 2, I think Namco is going to be the killer RPG company of the future. And the future is certainly bright.
10 Reason To Love Your GameCube In 2003!
6.) KILLER 7
I guess that I could tell you to buy Killer 7 because it looks to be one of the more interesting games to come out this year, a noir tale of murder and deceit with 7 different game play styles. Seven different game play styles for the seven personalities of your character, Harman Smith, to take down a crime lord named Kun Lan who has killed the woman Harman loved. Bleh.
Why you SHOULD be buying Killer 7, the reason I WILL be buying this game, are the gorgeous graphics. Cel shading has been around since Wacky races for the Dreamcast, and was popularized by Jet Grind Radio, but this cel-shading engine has a unique look. Looking more like Frank Miller’s Sin City than the garish cartoony worlds of Jet Grind, Zelda, and even the noirish XIII, Killer 7 uses striking blacks and whites with bold use of color to establish a surreal look. All the screenshots so far have had a dreamlike monochromatic scheme of purple or pink and large areas of gray. Never before has a game, especially in 3- D, so completely immersed itself in an art style to convey it’s story and mood. Seriously, too many truly beautiful and fun games, like the aforementioned Jet Grind, have failed to sell in spite of, or because of, their unique graphical prowess. This is your chance to redeem yourself.
Something even more important than the future of art minded game graphics are at stake here, though. I have heard people bitch about how Nintendo systems don’t have mature games on them since the Super Nintendo and Mortal Kombat era. Well, here is a game that is mature in presentation and story content, and not in the blood everywhere, MK or the kill a hooker and shoot a pimp style of Grand Theft Auto style, either. A beautiful, mature game made by one of the best companies in gaming for Nintendo’s GameCube. There is no excuse not to have this in your collection.
10 Reason To Love Your GameCube In 2003!
5.) MARIO KART: DOUBLE DASH!!
Ok, we’re getting down to the Top 5 boys and girls. So as a word of warning, you may be seeing something displayed in the subsequent game descriptions that may throw you off a bit. Actual PASSION. Please, do not be alarmed. There are still people in this world that speak about videogames in this way. They all just happen to work here. Regardless, these games are well worth our words of adoration. And if it were at all possible we’d purchase every one of these things FOR YOU. But alas, all the dollar bills have been taken off of our money tree; hence we’ll just have to try to convince you all get these games on your own.
Something tells me though, I won’t have much trouble convincing the masses to pick up THIS one…
The franchise that spawned a genre. After the original Mario Kart came along and took the gaming world by storm, a trillion other kart racing clones came running err… racing out of the gate in a successful effort to “cash-in”. None of them, though. Absolutely NONE of them live up to the original Mario Kart for SNES. Heck, it’s been said that not even Mario Kart 64 lives up the original. I don’t know about all that, but there’s no doubt that this is one of the most beloved franchises in all of videogame history (which is funny because it was spawned from another one of the most beloved franchises in videogame history). At this point, Nintendo could probably throw out giant bags of used tampons with the words Mario Kart on it and it’d still sell more than any other game this holiday season. Fortunately (and obviously) this is NOT what they’re doing, as the Mario Kart series has always been associated with gaming excellence and this time the Big N has upped the ante in a number of firsts for the series.
For the first time ever, players will be able to choose two different characters to race on each vehicle simultaneously. This feature alone brings in a broad spectrum of gameplay possibilities, especially with the way it’s been cleverly executed. One takes care of the driving, whilst the other is on the back dishing out a variety of weapons to try to crush your opponents’ skulls in. No more character specific karts. Each vehicle has it’s own attributes and once selected, players can then put their favorite characters on any of the vehicles available making for quite the array of possible combinations. Coolest of all, with a quick tap of the Z button you can have your team swap places, making a whole new slew of character specific powerups available. And everything from the good old standby spiky shells, huge banana peel skins, and even huger ba-bombs can all be picked up and thrown at the poor twits sorry enough to get in your way.
And what’s Mario Kart without multiplayer? That’s what made this series so blasted fun in the first place! Sitting behind your best friend with one red shell the entire race in second place, and hitting him with it just as you’re about to cross the finish line to COMPLETELY humiliate him. That’s what Mario Kart is ALL about! Even though Nintendo dropped the ball on doing the right thing by not supporting online play (Great Caesar’s Ghost! How could they have passed on the chance to bless the world with online capable Mario Kart?? Why GOD, WHY?) they did take the time to do the OTHER right thing by not limiting the chaos to just four players. Multiple GameCubes equipped with Broadband Adaptors and a couple of TVs can be used to experience eight-player kart racing insanity. The ultimate setup.
“Pure and simple this is Mario Kart. That should have sold you right there.”
Nintendo’s even sweetening the deal, although how much exactly isn’t presently known. As of this writing, rumors still persist (oh come on, you KNEW I was going to throw in a rumor here SOMEWHERE) that there’s a chance a remake of Mario Kart 64 could be included with Mario Kart Double Dash!! in the same vein of The Ocarina of Time with The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. BUT even if this doesn’t come to light, Nintendo of America just recently confirmed the existence of a pre-order bonus where if you pre-reserve your copy you’ll be treated to a Nintendo GameCube preview disc loaded with movies and demos of upcoming titles! So early adopters get SOMETHING for free, possibly even another full game! Now you not only HAVE to buy this game, you have to preorder it as well! When game companies hand out freebies, we need to support them. *thumbs up, smile with teeth showing*
But I’m not going to waste another breathe on any of the other upgrades, new features, or free Midget give-a-way specials that will be implemented here. This is Mario Kart. Pure and simple this IS MARIO KART. That should have sold you right there. And if gamers of the world have developed a Nintendo anti-bias so large that they are no longer able to enjoy the subtleties of a fat Italian plumber riding on the back of a go kart throwing a giant red turtle shell at another even more giant magic fire breathing turtle-like… umm, thing… or something… then I don’t know what this world has come to.
Buy the game. Play the blasted thing. And be happy. You know you will…
CLICK HERE FOR PART 3!.