Despite some problems, I was actually able to write my
top ten list on time for once. There were so many good releases in 2004
that it was difficult to pick which ones I liked the most. Even though
I was eventually able to make some decisions on what impressed me the
most in 2004, I will not hesitate to say that it was a difficult process.
Onimusha 3 or Red Dead Revolver? ESPGaluda or Gradius V? Metal Gear Solid
3: Snake Eater or Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes? Mega Man Zero 3 or
Metal Slug Advance? These are examples of why it was so difficult to decide
on only ten titles. It's not easy to form a top ten list when so many
great games are released in the same year. Nonetheless, here are my picks
[ 10 ] =
Red Dead Revolver
The 3-D rendition of Gun.Smoke, Red Dead Revolver
was a pleasure to see in 2004. Just as it was about to fade into oblivion,
never to be seen again, it was saved and enjoyed a surprisingly big release.
There aren't many things to thank Rockstar for, but if it weren't for
them, Capcom fans probably would have never had the chance to see Gun.Smoke
(a 2-D classic) make the move to 3-D. Magazines criticized it (even though
they liked it), but the plain fact is that it's a fun game with character.
[ 9 ] = Nightshade
When I first played Sega's new 3-D Shinobi, the
game's lightning-fast pace, nice visuals, great character design, and
cool moves impressed me. Not only did I want to own the game, but I wanted
to see Sega expand on it; and expand they did. With Nightshade, Sega included
everything that was great about Shinobi, and more. It's just as fun as
Shinobi, with even more furious hacking and slashing, more wall-climbing,
more leaping, new modes of play, and cool new enemies. The quality character
design of Shinobi was carried over to Nightshade, as well; Hibana (the
game's main character) is a knockout, and arguably one of the best female
characters to come from Sega's design team.
[ 8 ] = Metal
Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Even though Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater came
out in 2004, it was Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes that won my heart.
After playing Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, it was Metal Gear Solid:
The Twin Snakes that I kept going back to. In 2004, I played MGSTS more
than MGS3. Why? Aside from it being stunning in visuals and presentation,
the control and camera of MGSTS are better than that of MGS3. While MGSTS
controls well with a good camera to rely on, something about MGS3's control
and camera just don't seem quite right. Grabbing, choking, and breaking
necks in MGSTS are reliable and easy to execute, while in MGS3 the same
techniques seem to be unreliable and unpredictable. It's not that they
don't work at all, it's just that the same techniques seem to come off
a lot easier in MGSTS, making for a more enjoyable gaming experience.
MGS3's gameplay is also hindered some by a strange and unpredictable camera
(that sometimes prevents you from seeing where your character is going);
an issue not present in MGSTS. MGSTS's visuals kill; the character models
look great (especially Sniper Wolf and Ninja), the special effects are
nice, and the game's awesome cinematic scenes are nearly unrivaled.
[ 7 ] = The
King Of Fighters: Maximum Impact
The King Of Fighters: Maximum Impact is an awesome
game, but its few flaws are what keep it at seventh; where's Andy? Where's
Kim? KOFMI's graphics, gameplay, audio, and character design all rock
(Ryo, Mai, and Iori look great), but the exclusion of classic characters
like Andy and Kim (among others) is a disappointment. Despite the lack
of classic characters like Andy, Kim, and Eiji, though, KOFMI is arguably
one of 2004's best titles. While KOFMI is a 3-D fighting game aesthetically,
it has the heart of a 2-D fighting game, and SNK combined elements of
both to create a 3-D fighter unlike any other in the genre.
[ 6 ] = Onimusha:
Combining the gameplay of Power Stone with the characters
of Onimusha, Capcom released the 4-Player fighting game Onimusha: Blade
Warriors in 2004 for the PlayStation 2 hardware. I love the Power Stone
games, and Gotcha Force was my game of 2003, so it's not hard to see why
Onimusha: Blade Warriors made me happy. The game runs at a nice pace and
delivers frantic, multi-player fighting at its best. There's nothing better
than playing a fighting game with a bunch of rowdy friends, and Onimusha:
Blade Warriors carries on the Power Stone legacy with its 4-Player support.
The game also gets points for its stunning backgrounds, quality roster,
and intricate character customization mode.
[ 5 ] = ESPGaluda
The awesome sequel to the awesome ESPRade.
[ 4 ] = Metal
Metal Slug Advance arrived toward the end of 2004,
and I must say that it was well worth the wait. With MSA, SNK created
a completely new entry in the series, and with great success. For
years, the series has
been known for its fantastic
visuals and animation, and MSA is no exception. The game's lush graphics
and quality animation are, by far, some of the best visuals seen on the
GameBoy Player/GameBoy Advance hardware. In
MSA, a number of changes (for the better) were made to the signature gameplay
of the series, such as the inclusion of
a lifebar, e-cards that enhance character abilities, and saving. This
game is absolutely fantastic. A must-have.
[ 3 ] = Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus
This game was a disappointment to everyone but me;
with 4-Player support, more detailed graphics, more enemies, branching
paths, and a ton of secrets, the game rocks. In addition to the four turtles,
other playable characters like Casey Jones and Splinter can be unlocked,
and each of them even have their own unique abilities. Although it would
have been better if Konami had left the combo system from the previous
game intact, TMNT2 is still a fun game that doesn't forget its 2-D side-scrolling
action roots. Also, it's cool that Konami not only made a 2-D and
a 3-D version of the game, but implemented connectivity features between
them as well (through passcodes given in both games). I loved going to
arcades to play the original 2-D TMNT games when I was a kid, and even
though it's 3-D, playing TMNT2BN now (as an adult) is just as fun.
[ 2 ] = Samurai
Shodown V Special
Samurai Shodown V was awesome, and this entry is
even better. More characters, more match-ups, more action, more Samurai
[ 1 ] = Capcom
And here it is, my number one game of 2004: Capcom
Fighting Evolution. Liked by some but disliked by most, CFE is the underdog
game of 2004. Why is it so good? Because it has one thing that recent
fighting games have been lacking: simplicity. And in its simplicity, CFE
delivers a unique fighting experience found only in old Capcom fighting
games. Capcom Fighting Evolution is more than just another Capcom fighting
game; it is a tribute to Capcom's legacy of original fighting games, and
that is why I think it is the best game of 2004. Once again, thanks Capcom.
[ Runners ]
I usually don't address runners-up, but there were
so many good releases in 2004 that couldn't be ignored. Neo Contra, Mushihime
Sama, Gradius V, Gundam: AEUG VS Titans, Virtua Fighter 4: Final Tuned,
R-Type Final, Bloody Roar 4, Guilty Gear Isuka, Iridion II, and Mega Man
Zero 3, Mega Man X8, Metal Slug 5, Onimusha 3 were also good games. In
fact, it was extremely difficult to leave them out of my top ten of 2004,
and because of this the list was changed several times. After many changes,
these titles were left out of my top ten of 2004, but it in now way at
all does it mean they are bad titles; every single one of the titles mentioned
(and maybe even a few not listed) deserve credit. All of them are good
titles, and will eventually find their way into my library...
[ Best Hardware
] = PlayStation 2
Hands-down, the PlayStation 2 was the hardware of
hardware steadily gained momentum over the past few years, and in 2004
it finally hit its stride; there were a plethora of great titles released
for the PS2 in 2004 (even more than in previous years).
Developers have put a lot of time into research
for the hardware since its release,
and in 2004 it showed; gorgeous titles like Onimusha 3, Metal Gear Solid
3: Snake Eater, Gradius V, and R-Type Final (among others) showed what
the PS2 hardware was really capable of. Not to be left out, quality
2-D titles like Capcom Fighting Evolution, KOF 2002, ESPGaluda, and Guilty
Gear Isuka made it to the PS2 in 2004, as well.
Six of the ten games I chose for 2004 were developed on the PS2, and most
of the runner-up games I mentioned were also developed for the PS2. 2004
was an exceptional year for the PS2, and it will be remembered as the
year that the hardware hit its stride.
[ Best Character
Design ] = Hibana
When I first saw Hibana (the main character of Nightshade),
I was stunned. I was impressed at how well Sega's designers had crafted
her; from head to toe, she is perfect. More than just CG though, she is
a model of a certain type of woman; a perfect type of woman that exists
in real-life (those who know understand what this means). From the way
she walks, to the way she ascends gracefully into the air after chaining
a series of kills, her movements are pure bliss. The ninja outfit she
wears also looks killer, and it suits her perfectly; it's obvious that
someone at Sega has a firm understanding of fashion. Hibana would animate
like a dream if it weren't for the fact that she was almost definitely
modeled after a certain type of perfect woman in real-life.
[ Worst Game ]
= Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
This game is everything I fucking hate. I can barely
express my hatred for this game in words. This is one of the worst games
ever, in the history of videogames. Yet, everyone fucking loves it. A
horrible theme, uninspired
graphics, poor design, and
shit for gameplay. Why the fuck do
people want to play a game that glorifies gangs and the crimes they commit?
It glorifies the lifestyle of worthless thugs who victimize innocent people
in real life; how is this considered to be a game? It mirrors the grim
reality of the violent society in which we live, and glorifies everything
that normal people hate about society today. How is this good?
Is it really a game? Crime simulators are bullshit. I don't give
a fuck if everyone calls it "game of the year," or if everyone
thinks I'm crazy for not liking it or respecting it. It's
not my game of the year; I
don't have to like it or respect it. It's
a piece of shit. By far, the worst game of 2004.
[ EA Sports ]
= It's Not "In The Game," And It Never Was
In 2004 there were rumors that Madden 2005 would
be the last entry in EA's long-running football series. And all I have
to say is this: good riddance. Even though it probably isn't, I really
hope this is true; Madden titles aren't worth shit. Some may disagree,
but if I'm wrong, then why is it that bargain bins are filled to the brim
with out-of-date Madden games? If I'm wrong, then why is it that Madden
games not only clutter the shelves of used game stores, but never actually
leave the stores? Because they fucking suck, and they always
have. Period. EA charges $49.99 every year for the same exact shit they
put out the last year, and even though they don't have to charge that
much for updated stats and an assload of options that nobody gives a fuck
about. But they do, and it's bullshit. So, let's get this straight: these
fuckers charge $49.99 for games that, after their initial release, aren't
worth shit...and it's OK? No. Fuck EA. Sega also makes sports games, and
they sell their new ones at $19.99 because they care about the consumer
(unlike EA, who rapes their "fans" at the blink of a dime).
If the rumor (which is more like a wish to me) turns out to be the truth
in 2005, Madden won't be missed...