The EZA Community Top 20 Best of 2003!



  • Never really cared for wrestling in any of its forms, so I'm forced to say once again, another game I can't comment on.



  • Here Comes The Pain is a truly spectacular wrestling game. It's got pretty much everything I want out of a wrestling game and then some. Look at those visuals and tell me it isn't one of the best looking PS2 games out there. The in-ring action is thunderous, you can hear every move make this resounding thud it's absolutely destructive. You got new match types like the Elimination Chamber and Bra and Panties matches, the former is an exciting addition and I suspect droves of WWE fans were pining for it after the 2002 Survivor Series-so seeing it in HCTP was breathtaking.

    HCTP is the absolute best wrestling game in terms of in-ring action and it's great that it's in the top 10. I'd like to thank @Dipset for joining me in getting this game into the top 10, HCTP really deserves it.

    I remember I had to choose between buying this and another game that's presumably going to be in the countdown quite soon. I chose the latter and I was still desperate for HCTP. I saw a display for HCTP outside a shop and I wanted it so badly. Thankfully I was allowed to rent it from a Blockbuster and try it out, then I got it for Christmas which was sweet.



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  • 0_1660680820826_The Simpsons Hit & Run.png

    #8: The Simpsons: Hit & Run - 9 points

    Votes

    #1: 0
    #2: 1 (JDINCINERATOR)
    #3: 0
    #4: 1 (Shoulderguy)
    HM: 3 (bruno_saurus, bam541, Capnbobamous)

    Information

    Release date: NA: September 16, EU: October 31
    Developer: Radical Entertainment
    Publisher: Vivendi Universal Games
    Genre: Action-adventure, Driving
    Platform(s): GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC

    Links

    Trailer
    Wikipedia



  • Man, Hit and Run needs a remake. I hear only good things but never managed to play it and am not ready to pay new game price for it.



  • Ahh yes the counterpart to my difficult videogame purchasing decision in 2003. The Simpsons: Hit & Run was so awfully exciting and still is a real treasure. Some may call it a GTA knockoff but that's why it's so good because smashing The Simpsons and GTA together is a brilliant fusion. I loved the collectibles, the missions, the story, the nods to the TV show's episodes. What a game and what a horribly painful videogame purchasing decision I had to make. I chose Hit & Run over Here Comes The Pain.



  • The driving physics in The Simpsons: Hit & Run were a little janky at times and some of the mission time limits could be very difficult. Despite that, it was still an absolute blast to explore Springfield in this game and to interact with many of it's different characters, with excellent writing that evoked some of the very best of The Simpsons tv show.



  • Much like what I said above about Spongebob, Simpson's Hit & Run is the Simpsons game I universally hear is the best of the IP. I actually have seen a brief gameplay segment of this years ago, but I never clicked with the Simpsons. So while I'm not averse to this as I am to SB, I still feel no desire to play Hit & Run. BUT! It's to the part of the countdown where I gotta say: Was 2003 the prime of licensed games? Because it's surprising to me to see a run of these kinds of games here.



  • It's weird to be saying this because I actually would love to see more of this sort of open world game, but the vehicle-focused gameplay of Hit and Run always made me think less of it. I guess for me it's harder to appreciate the world and the characters from the show being realized when you're just speeding through the main missions. Obviously it's open world and you can just explore and such, and there's still lots to see when you're just exploring, but I always appreciated the higher production value that the main missions usually has.



  • Xenosaga: Episode 1

    Seems I'm the only one who ever votes for this series here. It's truly one of the most stand out series during that generation for me and while it may not have entirely seen its vision through I still think it stood out with its ambition as just a trilogy of games, well worthy of the word 'saga' in the title. Episode I, as with III, never came out here in the UK so I played it a little later than 2003 but it was everything I expected and wanted when I finally got the chance to sit down with it.

    Final Fantasy X-2

    I know it's always been a divisive game but I have always loved every aspect of Final Fantasy X-2, so much so that I actually prefer it to its predecessor. The gameplay/combat system often gets commented on so I wont delve much into that but when it comes to the story I think it's quite often given too much of a bad rap. Obviously the drastic change in tone is quite the shocker when you fist start playing the game but I think they did a great job using it as a way to highlight just how big an impact putting an end to the cycle of Sin had on Spira and its inhabitants; the shift in tone and behaviour really hammers down just how much of a weight had been been lifted for these people.
    I think Yuna was also really well done in this sequel. On the surface it seems that she too has drastically changed along with everyone else, but the more you play, the more you see that this is mostly just a mask she is putting on and underneath it all she is clearly really hurting still. Some of the moments she spends alone just with her own thoughts are actually quite moving . I also found the Shyuin and Lenne story really touching, especially at its conclusion but I wont spoil it for anyone who hasn't played it yet.



  • 0_1660758514593_Prince of Persia The Sands of Time.png

    #7: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - 11 points

    Votes

    #1: 1 (Sentinel Beach)
    #2: 1 (Crepe)
    #3: 0
    #4: 0
    HM: 2 (JDINCINERATOR, Phbz)

    Information

    Release date: NA: October 28, EU: November 14
    Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
    Publisher: Ubisoft
    Genre: Action-adventure, platform
    Platform(s): Game Boy Advance, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, PC, Mobile

    Links

    Trailer
    Wikipedia



  • The game's in my all time Top 5. I wrote about it in our first own Hall of Greats here. Just an unforgettable story delivered in a wonderful way, I love it.



  • #9: WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain

    HCTP is one of my all time favourite games and by far my favourite wrestling game. These animations hold up as fantastic by today's standards. The little details add up to a pretty bonkers authentic experience.

    It's hard not to compare a game like this against "modern gaming" where everything is unfinished and half assed. This game has a huge roster of then current superstars and older "Legends". There was an entire story mode with branching decisions and character XP to make the superstar you want.

    It had TONS of modes and match types. It was extremely current too with Elimination Chamber being mind blowing at the time.

    They just don't make em like this anymore. WWE games are so bullshit nowadays by comparison. This was packed to the brim with quality features.

    --

    #8: The Simpsons: Hit & Run

    This game is absolutely fantastic. Every element of this game is really fun. It's probably the best adaptation of the source material until South Park: The Stick of Truth came out years later. The developers made not only a fun game, but a great The Simpsons game. You want to be in Springfield and just soak it all in.

    --

    #7: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

    My memory here is hazy but I know this was an amazing game when I played it. I actually think I own it on GC and I do intend on replaying it sometime shortly. Shout out to the GBA version that I recall a bit better. It was hard and I never finished it, but I had fun with it. It plays a lot like the older PoP games.

    --

    Damn... that is a killer string of three games in a row there!



  • My lone exposure to Prince of Persia: Sands of Time was @Sentinel-Beach's great presentation in the first iteration of our Hall of Greats, of which I recommend taking a look at here

    Beyond that and the follow up cross examination, I have not experienced it but to Sentinel's credit, I loved seeing the passion for it and that presentation does and says more than I could, so that's why I wanted to spend this entry's comment highlight both the presentation and our HoG as well.



  • 0_1660849202188_Pokémon Sapphire.png

    #6: Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire - 12 points

    Votes

    #1: 1 (Shoulderguy)
    #2: 1 (bruno_saurus)
    #3: 0
    #4: 1 (Brannox)
    HM: 1 (DIPSET)

    Information

    Release date: NA: March 19, AU: April 3, EU: July 25
    Developer: Game Freak
    Publisher: Nintendo, The Pokémon Company
    Genre: Role-playing
    Platform(s): Game Boy Advance

    Links

    Trailer
    Wikipedia



  • The last Pokemon anything I cared about before kinda growing up and out of kids cartoons.

    Still unsure whether I just grew up or whether Pokemon pushed me out because I can distinctly say that this is the last time I enjoyed any sort of aesthetic coming out of the Pokemon universe. The art direction was still really solid here. It might've been right around when Pokemon turned into full blown vector art or right before it, but when the pixel art (video game) / hand drawn (anime) aesthetic went away, I was D-O-N-E.

    I'll never forget how badly I wanted a GameBoy Advanced SP. I never really cared about the Advanced cause I thought it looked weird and my friends didn't really have any games that impressed me. But once I saw Ruby, I asked for an Advanced SP for Christmas and got it.

    I remember laying in bed thinking the night before Christmas "GameBoy Advanced SP! GameBoy Advanced SP!" then when I got it the next morning, I yelled "GAMEBOY ADVANCED SP!"

    I was a happy camper.



  • The third generation of Pokemon is the last gen of Pokemon I care anything for. As indicated above, it's 4th in the 11 games from 2003 I've played, in addition to being 83rd of my top 100 list (as of writing). I've discussed how Diamond/Pearl permanently soured me on the IP with the directions the franchise has gone, so in retrospect, it made me really appreciate this gen of the games all the more.

    While I'll always hold the pixel-art of the first two gens in higher regard, I think the art design for the Hoenn region is pretty solid to look at, with many interesting Pokemon designs and typing. Of the three starter choices of the first three gens, for me, this is the most well rounded choice (however, I have my permanent main, more on that at the end). I loved how from the jump, you know your dad is the Gym Leader of the nearby town, but you must train and adventure for a bit before coming back and challenging him. While Team Rocket is always the true villains of Pokemon, I like the dichotomy of Teams Magma and Aqua (even if their MO is pretty stupid). I also think it's a solid idea of having two rivals, with the professor's kid and Wally.

    All that said, once you raid the respective team's hideout, the pacing takes a nosedive, and HARD. Yes, the meme of "Too much Water" is run into the ground and back, but it's a salient point: There's way too much focus on Water Pokemon more than any other type, and having a third of the map (and the last quarter of the adventure) have you surfing and diving endlessly and aimlessly (for first playthroughs) is a massive stain.

    Also, to briefly touch on it even though I never utilize it, I like the concept of the Secret Base, but there's no in-game incentive to make one (though the spot in the furthest North West spot in the world where it's only accessible by surfing AND has trainers AND a small grass patch with a unique catch spot for I think Swellow and another Normal Type (can't remember which) are all neat little additions to make the place a legitimate SECRET.

    However, getting past all of that, this gen has some really interesting side quests, mostly for SEVERAL Legendary Pokemon, from the Dragons and the Regi-s, and of course the story path cover Pokemon. On the point of the Regi-s, having to crack the Braille code, have specific Pokemon using specific moves and in specific spots of your team while you do specific actions all culminate in a reward of not one, not two, but THREE extremely hard to catch but incredibly powerful Pokemon.

    Another neat spot is the Trick Master; Every time you get a Gym Badge, you should return to his house because each visit is a mini-puzzle box with three trainers and most challenges focusing on a particular HM.

    Like all Pokemon entries in these countdowns, I gotta leave my team of choice when I go through them: The three that are permanents, no matter what, are Blaziken, Metagross, and Salamence (I trade in the latter two from a previous playthrough). Then, the final three are Legendries in Kyrogre/Groudon, if possible, one of the two Dragons Latios/Latias, and finally Rayquaza. But, since those Legendries are late game additions, I'll carry Raichu, Skarmory, and Crawdaunt and switch them out once I obtain the appropriate replacement.

    To close, as always, a massive shout-out to all my fellow voters @DIPSET, @bruno_saurus, and @Shoulderguy



  • Ruby and Sapphire are not talked about much when people bring up the best games in the series but I felt like Pokémon Ruby was an improvement over the GBC games in nearly every way. It's impossible for any new game to compete with the original 151 Pokémon. Even so, the 3rd Gen Pokémon sit almost as close to my heart as the first Gen.



  • 0_1660935340089_Tony Hawk's Underground.png

    #5: Tony Hawk's Underground - 12 points

    Votes

    #1: 1 (DIPSET)
    #2: 1 (Oscillator)
    #3: 1 (JDINCINERATOR)
    #4: 0
    HM: 0

    Information

    Release date: NA: October 27, EU: November 21
    Developer: Neversoft
    Publisher: Activision
    Genre: Sports
    Platform(s): Game Boy Advance, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Mobile, PC

    Links

    Trailer
    Wikipedia



  • The urban appeal of Tony Hawk's Underground is fantastic and the ways it freshens up series by bringing new features in like getting off your skateboard is bold and welcome. A terrific Tony Hawk's game with an attitudinal bent that fits seamlessly into the year 2003.