The EZA Community Top 20 Best of 2003!



  • I should've voted for Going Commando but it slipped my mind. A staggeringly good Ratchet & Clank game.



  • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is a great sequel and introduces many aspects to the series that I feel have become staples throughout the franchise: Upgradable weapons/health as you defeat enemies, purchasable armor with increased stats, the Challenge Arenas of fighting waves of foes with unique modifiers and bosses, large and expansive spaces searching for crystals, moonstones, and the like, and further fleshing out the titular duo as characters. This is also when James Arnold Taylor became the voice actor for Ratchet, bringing an immediate improvement over how much of a jerk Ratchet was in the original game.

    Of course the weapons are standouts as an R&C does, like the Bouncer, Plasma Coil, and Pulse Rifle for example, each changing up combat. That said, there were weapons like the Zodiac and Clank Zapper that felt like complete misses, but overall, it's a solid roster. Speaking of roster, the planet selection is interesting as well. Oozla is a fun choice for the first real explorable planet, being a deserted and depressing place with rain, natural creatures and overgrowth. Smolg's upper atmosphere shipping complex is a tricky maze of containers and creatures that feels like an airborne gauntlet. Snivelak, being the Thugs-4-Less HQ is reminiscent of the original's Umbris: A red-sky atop a place filled with traps and forces wanting to take you out.

    The places you go to are fun, but are not AS fascinating as the original's, yet this is the only game that holds the Bogon Galaxy and another lombax in Angela. The fact neither is ever referenced again in the franchise is bizarre to me and I wonder why Insomniac never referenced these in future games. The overall plot does have a neat twist halfway through, but having Qwark be the surprise villain at the literal end when he isn't shown (despite him being in disguise throughout), felt kind of a leap, but it's still a good time.

    Another thing I'll always hold dear is this is the first time the Insomniac Museum was put into an R&C game, and seeing a 3D modeled out space of the Insomniac offices at the time and where departments were with cut content and playable prototypes blew my mind. Every time I do a series replay, it's one of the highest of highlights to come back here and tour around again.

    All this praise said, there are a couple of issues that keep it in my personal ranking of "Good" of the entire franchise (Context: Personal rankings are Phenomenal, Great, Good, Bad, Blight on the Galaxy): Firstly, the space missions. I appreciate the change up to the gameplay, but some of them are extremely hard to get the elusive Platinum Bolt for the respective segment. Another downside is how it treats the legacy weapons. On one of the early planets, you can find a Gadgetron vendor and if you have a save of the previous game on your memory card, you're given eight weapons from said game, free of charge. A really neat feature for sure, but the issue is they don't upgrade like the other weapons and ammo isn't the easiest to come across, so I never feel incentivized to use them. A final nitpick critique I have are these dna looking blue canisters that increase your health are used to reward you for reaching some borderline blood vessel bursting spots. There are a couple that come to mind that are real easy to get/find, but there some put in areas where you need to be pixel perfect with your precision on jumping, gliding, and/or platforming. Frustrating, to say the least.

    Overall though, it's still a fantastic game. Besides being my runner up for GOTY from 2003, it's sixth favorite game of the franchise and 56th favorite game of all time, as of writing (which should say something about how much I love R&C games as a whole).

    To conclude, as always, shout-OUTS to my fellow voters for getting it all the way up to Bronze position on our collective podium: @Capnbobamous, @Sentinel-Beach, @NeoCweeny, @bam541, and @bruno_saurus!



  • All I remember from Going Commando is spending multiple nights playing the game to get the RYNO before the final boss fight, and then completely deleting that boss in seconds with it. One of the very first times where I'm actually compelled to go beyond just finishing the main story of a game.



  • "B2 Brawler is down and out!"
    A really fun game, my first R&C game. The upgradeable weapons system has always been the highlight of the whole series and I was immediately hooked already in this one.



  • I honestly had a lapse of judgement and didn't vote for R&C Going Commando but I probably should've. This was one of the three first PS2 games I ever played. When I got my PS2, it came with: Going Commando, Rise to Honor, and SOCOM II.

    Friends from school were really into R&C but I hadn't played it before. This game really knocked my socks off. I guess I didn't vote for it because I haven't played it in eons so I sort of forget. But I recall it being pretty mind blowing at the time.

    --

    Jak II

    Somehow I never played the Jak & Daxter series. It's pretty much blasphemy at this point because I love every single other Naughty Dog game. I do intend on getting the revamped PS+ at some point in 2022 or 2023 and punching through this series.

    My memory of Jak II is mostly from these ads that would play in the mall. The game seemed kinda edgy and mostly for teenagers. When I was 8 years old playing (mostly) E-rated games, I just assumed Jak was for Teens based on the marketing. Once I got older, I never played them.

    Damn shame.



  • 0_1661194480712_The Legend of Zelda The Wind Waker.png

    #2: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker - 27 points

    Votes

    #1: 3 (Phbz, E_Zed_Eh_Intern, Crepe)
    #2: 1 (Shoulderguy)
    #3: 2 (Brannox, Axel)
    #4: 1 (Oscillator)
    HM: 0

    Information

    Release date: NA: March 24, EU: May 2, AU: May 7
    Developer: Nintendo EAD
    Publisher: Nintendo
    Genre: Action-adventure
    Platform(s): GameCube

    Links

    Trailer
    Wikipedia


    0_1661194491199_Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic.png

    #1: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - 28 points

    Votes

    #1: 3 (Brannox, Axel, Capnbobamous)
    #2: 1 (Phbz)
    #3: 1 (ffff0)
    #4: 2 (Sheria, NeoCweeny)
    HM: 2 (Oscillator, bruno_saurus)

    Information

    Release date: NA: July 15, EU: September 12
    Developer: BioWare
    Publisher: LucasArts
    Genre: Role-playing
    Platform(s): Xbox, PC, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch

    Links

    Trailer
    Wikipedia



  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is my #3 because I've played it and don't remember anything bad about it. Don't remember anything good either, that's why it's not higher.



  • My list:

    1. Command & Conquer: Generals
    2. Beyond Good & Evil
    3. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
    4. Need for Speed: Underground. I think it was a decent game, but I think there were a couple of annying things there. I'm not sure.
    5. Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup. I've played this only because I love Harry Potter. Gameplay is not as trashy as Quidditch segments in prior Harry Potter games, but it's not worth playing.


  • 14 games for me in 2003 and here's how they ranked:

    1. Pokémon Ruby
    2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
    3. Madden NFL 2004
    4. The Simpsons: Hit & Run
    5. SimCity 4
    6. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
    7. SoulCalibur II
    8. Beyond Good & Evil
    9. Tony Hawk's Underground
    10. Law & Order II: Double or Nothing
    11. Hoyle Casino 2004
    12. Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
    13. NBA Live 2004
    14. The Sims Bustin' Out

    The feeling of crossing the ocean in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker with that theme playing is the best! I played it for the first time with the HD version on Wii U and it was such a great journey through the largely-sunken ancient Kingdom of Hyrule, that is brought to life by it's beautiful art style.

    Overall when compared to other Zelda games Wind Waker ranks 5th for me. Behind Breath of the Wild, A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time and A Link Between Worlds.

    It's too bad about the Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic remake. I was excited to finally play this game for the first time but that won't happen any time soon, if it even gets remade at all. But as a fan of the old BioWare, It's nice to see that their games are still respected by the gaming community.



  • The lack of KOTOR oi my gaming history... It ain't right, I know that. I was looking forward to sinking my teeth on the remake, but, well, yeah. Maybe some day.



  • I'm not a fan of Wind Waker's original art style on GameCube, especially the way Link looks. But, all the rough spots were filed off with the HD version on Wii U. Thought I should give a few props to the original.

    KOTOR, I haven't played. Game's definitely not for me. But, I did watch a good chunk of Kyle's playthrough, and I must say, it definitely has vibes. Certainly HM worthy.

    And, here're my picks:

    1. (5 points) Project Gotham Racing 2
    2. (4 points) Tony Hawk's Underground
    3. (3 points) Rainbow Six 3 [specifically the Xbox version, but may as well lump it in with Raven Shield]
    4. (2 points) The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
      HM - Ikaruga
      HM - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

    On Rainbow Six 3: It's a somewhat rough, janky game (PUBG reminds me a lot of it), but the Xbox Live multiplayer definitely had its moments, and the theme song is great (wait for the guitar...):

    Youtube Video



  • #1: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
    #2: Jak II: Renegade
    #3: Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando
    #4: Soulcalibur II
    HM: Beyond Good & Evil
    HM: Command & Conquer: Generals
    HM: The Sims Bustin' Out
    HM: SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom

    My games were really well presented on the list, 7/8. Only The Sims didn't make it. :] That's the one and only Sims game I've ever owned or even played. And it was actually my little brother's purchase, but we had fun together goofing around with it. Making cool houses especially, that was our main thing with the game.



  • Here is my list

    1. Jak II
    2. Ikaruga
    3. Ratchet & Clank 2
    4. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
      HM) Fire Emblem
      HM) F-Zero GX
      HM) Crash Bandicoot 2 N-Tranced
      HM) Manhunt

    I think very highly of my HMs here. Sadly none made the list.

    The Wind Waker is my least favorite 3D Zelda game. It's a beautiful game but I don't like the sailing and the dungeons are very underwhelming.



  • My votes! The Top 4 hold a special place in my childhood heart. But all are grand to play even today. This also helps to know that if I ever bring NBA Street Vol. 2 to the Community Hall of Greats, it won't fare too well hah. The only ones I didn't play as a kid were KOTOR and Castlevania, so they couldn't slip up the top 4 when comparing them. Maybe one day they could sneak in there in eventual replays.

    Going Commando is probably in the top half of Ratchet & Clank for me overall. I love all the areas in that game and how it expands the gameplay well from the first game! And yeah, the RYNO is beautiful. As always.

    #1: Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
    #2: Pokemon Ruby & Sapphire
    #3: Jak 2
    #4: NBA Street Vol. 2
    HM: Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
    HM: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
    HM: The Simpsons: Hit & Run
    HM: Mario Kart: Double Dash

    Just slipped the Top 8 was SSX 3 for me. Love that game, but I couldn't remember it as fondly as the others on my personal list. STILL NUMBER 9 THOUGH.



  • My votes were:
    1.WWE Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain
    2.The Simpsons Hit N' Run
    3.Tony Hawk's Underground
    4.Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    HM: Manhunt
    HM: True Crime: Streets of L.A
    HM: NBA Street: Volume 2
    HM: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time



  • GOTY 2003

    1. Tony Hawk's Underground
    2. SOCOM II U.S. Navy SEALs
    3. WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain
    4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

    --

    Honourable Mentions:

    • Pokémon Ruby
    • NHL 2004
    • Soulcalibur II
    • ​Space Channel 5: Part 2​

    --

    Tough Cuts:

    • R&C Going Commando
    • F-Zero GX
    • The Simpsons: Hit & Run
    • NBA Street Vol. 2
    • Rainbow Six 3
    • Midnight Club II
    • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004
    • SSX 3
    • NFS Underground

    --

    Thankfully, a lot of my tough cuts landed on our Top 20 list. I think out of all of the GOTY threads, this one feels really diverse and representative of the gaming climate at that time. Not everyone played hardcore games and a lot of casual ones landed really high up.

    I cut some amazing games like SSX3 and NFS Underground. I feel like Tricky is better than 3 and Underground 2 is a lot better than the original, but Underground 2 never made our list before so I cut bait on that.

    I'm not going to die on the hill saying Space Channel 5: Part 2 is GOTY material, but this game is really awesome. I downloaded it off of PSN a few years ago and I got so into the vibe of it all. It's insanely hard but the stress manifests in both hilarity and anger all at the same time. It's like the only game that can make you laugh and cry at the same time because you're so stressed out on a boss and scared to fuck up and spaz out.

    Glaring omission is LOTR Return of the King. The Two Towers and ROTK hold up to this day. In ROTK, you can play as a pretty wide range of characters, all with their own playstyle and combos to unlock. The level design is amazing where some levels play completely different from others. It also has a Horde-mode before Horde-mode's were even a thing. I will die on the hill saying this game should've made our Top 20.



  • Okay as it's been mentioned, I haven't played any of the SOCOM games before, but I did buy the first one last week just because of this list. So hey, I'll play through the main PS2 series eventually!



  • Alright! Happy to see my top 3 be the Forum's top 3 as well!

    Starting with The Wind Waker, this is the only Zelda I like, and I've only played this and Link to the Past, plus I've watched Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask (though I'm open to watching a Twilight Princess full playthrough). I really enjoyed sailing to various islands and discovering each's secrets. The soundtrack is also really delightful as well, especially while sailing, but my favorite track is for Dragon Roost Island and I can listen to that track alone on repeat for a long time. I've only had one playthrough and I got to practically the end as Puppet Gannon kept beating me down, and little did I know through the years just how close I was until I was done. Still, I would love it if Nintendo would port the HD version to Switch, but it's Nintendo, so they won't do it... Anyway, shout-outs to @Oscillator, @Axel, @Shoulderguy, @Phbz, @E_Zed_Eh_Intern, and @Crepe for voting for it as well.

    Despite my loves for Going Commando and The Wind Waker, KOTOR is phenomenal and something that astounds me is I didn't play it for the first time until a few years ago when Microsoft got the OG Xbox Backwards Compatibility up and running. It blew me away how the game holds up almost two decades later, and I fell in love with something Star Wars related that had ZERO ties to anything and everything pertaining or related to "Skywalker." Even though I knew the twist for YEARS before playing the game (as it's one of those cultural spoilers it's a near-herculean feat to avoid), it by no means ruined my enjoyment. In fact, knowing the twist ahead of time actually made the whole experience that much more enjoyable. The cast of crewmates are all entertaining and I always rock with Bastilla and Jolee as much as I could (Juhani when one wasn't available), because I always wanted to have a party of lightsaber wielding jedi cutting through all the encounters. I feel the planets, though small in number, are all nicely done, with my favorites being Dantooine and Korriban.

    All this praise said, it IS subject to major glitches, like Zalbaar being multiplied in your ship, Yavin not even being available to select, and sidequests not happening despite meeting pre-requisites all because you open a specific door before you're supposed to or arrive on a planet and certain NPCs completely disappeared.

    However, this doesn't put a damper on the memories it's given me and the feelings it inspires I go through it (which, admittedly has only been twice, but still, I love it). As far as the remake, yeah I'm bummed as well it appears to have switched developers and if it ever comes it'll be a few years longer, but I always have the original and it's such a wonderful adventure I ADORE. More shout-outs to @Oscillator, @bruno_saurus, @Sheria, @NeoCweeny, @ffff0, @Phbz, @Axel, and @Capnbobamous!!!

    As far as my list, the full 2003 slate from me is:

    GOTY: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
    2.) Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
    3.) The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
    4.) Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire
    5.) (HM) Final Fantasy X-2
    6.) (HM) Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire
    7.) (HM) Crash Nitro Kart
    8.) (HM) Hexic
    9.) (Didn't make the cut): Mario Kart: Double Dash
    10.) (Didn't make the cut): Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
    11.) (Didn't make the cut): Tak & the Power of Juju

    I remember Tak & the Power of Juju from my childhood and I feel like I went really far in my lone playthrough, but I can't recall anything else, from the story, world, enemies... I remember combat utilizing a staff? I think? I don't know anything else about it though.

    Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga was another game I remember feeling like I got really far as well. However, despite digging the RPG mechanics, I never really cared for the world, story, characters... You name it, I eventually just didn't vibe with it. I lost steam the longer I played until I came to the hard (for me) decision to just stop. I always want to finish games, even if I wind up not enjoying them, but this was one the first games to teach me it's okay to walk away.

    Hexic is a neat puzzle game that my lone experience was when it was preloaded on every Xbox 360, so I think it was first thing I ever played on the console. I get the appeal, but after awhile, it became too repetitive for me, plus there are a couple colors I struggle with and that didn't help me to replay it. Still, for what it is, it's a nice "turn your brain off and just veg out" kind of game.

    As much as I love CTR, Nitro Kart was a decent time for awhile as well. But around the same time as Tak, I don't remember the tracks/story mode for this game very well. And since Nitro-Fueled has released, I have no desire to ever replay this.

    I think Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire is probably the most, for lack of a better term, weird fusion of concepts on my list; Pokemon. And Pinball. And it actually works quite well, again from what I remember. While I'm not into pinball all that much, I remember this was a fun way to pass the time. Trying to get the ball into specific slots or rails somehow evolved whatever Pokemon was in the middle of the table, and this was after I had played Ruby for the first time, so when I got a Vibrava, I had never seen it before and became OBSESSED with trying to figure out how to get in the main game proper. Good times.

    To close, as always, massive thanks and appreciation to @Shoulderguy for spearheading these last few lists. Can't wait for the next one!



  • @bruno_saurus

    Woah! That's awesome. SOCOM and SOCOM II were pretty hardcore, even by 2002/2003 standards. I love the mission design though and there is something insanely satisfying about commanding your unit to eliminate a target from stealth and nobody sees or hears. You probably can't get it to work today, but back when, you could use a PS2 headset to command your squad in the Campaign. It actually worked and was pretty slick.

    SOCOM 3 really goes places with it's Campaign. It has a bigger focus on narrative and it went into more bespoke mission moments like Jeep missions or loud gunfights. It also had that Hollywood bombast that got taken a step further with COD4 a few years later. If you ever get stuck on SOCOM or SOCOM II, just know that SOCOM 3 & Combined Assault play completely different in single player.



  • GOTY 2003 Recap

    Notes:

    • 16 people from the community voted and nominated 56 different games
    • #1: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is the highest ranking Star Wars game in these elections. Previous #7: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (2019). And it's the second GOTY the community has given to developer BioWare. #1: Mass Effect 2 (2010).
    • #2: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is tied with #2: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (2000) as the highest ranking Zelda games.
    • #3: Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is the 12th game from developer Insomniac to make the top 20/25.
    • #5: Tony Hawk's Underground is tied with #5: Rocket League (2015) as the highest ranking sports games.
    • Publishers with the most games in the top 20: Sony (3), Nintendo (3), LucasArts (2), Namco (2), Ubisoft (2), THQ (2).

    Exclusives (At the time):

    • 6: PlayStation 2 (Final Fantasy X-2, Jak II, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, SOCOM II U.S. Navy SEALs, WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, Xenosaga Episode I)
    • 3: GameCube (Ikaruga, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Mario Kart: Double Dash)
    • 2: Xbox (Otogi: Myth of Demons, Project Gotham Racing 2)
    • 1: PC (Command & Conquer: Generals)
    • 1: Game Boy Advance (Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire)

    Score totals for games that didn't make the top 20:

    • 4 Points: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Sims Bustin' Out, Need for Speed: Underground, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, SSX 3
    • 3 Points: Madden NFL 2004, NBA Street Vol. 2, Rainbow Six 3, Silent Hill 3, Vexx, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising
    • 2 Points: SimCity 4, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Manhunt, Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup, Homeworld 2, Deus Ex: Invisible War, Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
    • 1 Point: True Crime: Streets of L.A, Pokemon Pinball Ruby & Sapphire, Crash Nitro Kart, Hexic, Max Payne 2, Midnight Club II, Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly, Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, Dark Cloud 2, Fire Emblem, F-Zero GX, Crash Bandicoot 2 N-Tranced, Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, Tiger Woods 2004, NHL 2004, Space Channel 5: Part 2

    Thanks again to everyone who voted!

    With multiple countdowns happening at the same time, I'm curious if everyone is ready to start the 2002 election soon or wants to wait?