"In 2002, Bethesda released another installment in their Elder Scrolls fantasy series, which puts the player in the boots of a nameless prisoner, sent to the nation of Morrowind by the order of the Emperor himself to complete a mission... Now, while the blank slate approach may seem like the most overdone thing ever, it really works in Morrowind because of its freeform nature. In character creation, you get to pick from a wide variety of skills to create exactly the kind of character you want. Fancy a plain old warrior or mage? Or maybe something a bit more unorthodox, like an unarmed fighter or a diplomat?
The freedom given to the player continues beyond the character creation as well. As soon as you hit the street, still a bit wet behind your ears, you’re free to do whatever you wish. You can choose to follow the main quest, or just say “screw that!” and go explore the world around you. And there are a lot of things: numerous cities, ruins, factions and side quests that’ll keep you occupied for a long while. There are even a few easter eggs hidden out there for thorough explorers...
Lastly, it is also great how the game won't try to hold your hand. Just the verbal directions given by in-game characters and the notes in your logbook; no arrows pointing to objectives, no "go here" marks on the map. While sometimes frustrating, it also gives a sense of triumph once you find that faraway place you were after.
In the end, what makes Morrowind one of the greatest games is its amazing customizability, which helps to keep things fresh again and again, ensuring countless playthroughs of fun in the world of Morrowind." -- Written by Praetor18 (originally nominated by Gruttepier)
"Though Mario had previously been featured in an RPG, never before was everybody's favorite plumber in a game like this. In Paper Mario, as the title might suggest, Mario is paper. While this may seem like a terrible premise, the folks at Nintendo made it work. The paper thing never really feels like a gimmick, and is more of a way to give the game charm. All of the staples of the Mario series are here: Mushrooms, Peach, Bowser, and Peach getting kidnapped by Bowser. Paper Mario sets the mood for all of the Mario RPGs that would later follow it, and its humor, pace, and quality ensure that this is a good thing.
The game's fun story is backed up by a very likable soundtrack, graphics which are nice and thankfully aren't the sole focus of the game, and a good story. The game has no noticeable flaws, and the story never feels rushed or (excessively) cheesy. Overall, Paper Mario is one of the most solid games every released." -- Written by kirbyparufo (originally nominated by uwnim)
"In 1999, Nintendo released a new, creative fighting game on the N64 called Super Smash Bros. It looked like a fighting game, yet felt more like a kid’s game. In fact, the world the characters (from different Nintendo franchises) were in was like a toy box, with the fighters as trophies ruled over by a glove. People fell in love with its massively fun multiplayer and crazy items and stages. Nintendo rewarded their love of it with Melee a few years later, which introduced many more characters, another white glove, more fun items and stages, and a large form of Bowser. The newest part of the series, Brawl, takes the greatness of the first two and makes it even better, combining old and new to make it (arguably) the greatest in the series.
Brawl introduces a darker world in the toy box with The Subspace Emissary, where a new evil threatens the peace. 9 new characters join the brawl, including a couple that you might not expect. The multiplayer that made the series so popular becomes easier to play and the amount of crazy items you can used has changed, with some old ones making a comeback and new ones adding more fun into a match. The many kinds of battles in Melee are retained in Brawl, making for new and exciting matches.
A new slew of stages are included with some of your favorite Melee stages, coming from Nintendo’s many worlds like Dreamland or . And of course, it has many things for you to collect, like trophies and CDs. And, it is not just being an upgrade of Melee, for the new Stage Creator and Online Play define it from the others.
As part of the SSB series, Brawl makes a fun addition to any gaming library." -- Written by crazygamer999 (originally nominated by Alexis0ffline)
"RPG's generally have a hard time sticking out from other similar games. To accomplish that difficult task, they usually must do something innovative such as throwing a unique gameplay element into the mix (ex: Pokemon series), or just have a great stories and play well (FF series). Earthbound's story isn't incredibly deep, nor does the game excel in any normal technical area (graphics, etc). What makes the game great is its unique personality. Most of the game is cheesy, silly, and impossible to hate. Its personality is visible in the battle system too: A rolling battle counter and battles which change in relation to how you engage an enemy mix things up. The final battle is among the most memorable in gaming history. I also know of no other games where one can fight criminal caterpillars and new age retro hippies.
From a technical view, Earthbound is merely adequate in most categories. The graphics are nice and go with the feel of the game. As with most RPGs, there is nothing to note about the controls other than "they work." The soundtrack is enjoyable, and it does a good job at matching the current mood of the game. However, the game's genre gives it a free past to shy away from its technical aspects and merely focus on how fun it is, something which is quite easy and enjoyable to do." -- Written by kirbyparufo
"Zelda, a franchise familiar to just about everyone, has put out many games, all of which pull you in leaving you wanting more. None of the other games in this franchise do this more than The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. This game has its own uniqueness to it that will leave you wanting to play it over and over and over again. It's pretty different plot wise from the other games but this gives it a fresh feeling, rather than more of the same. The game play is nothing less than magnificent, bringing back some old favorite items such as the Ocarina, but also bringing some new ones to it, like the masks that turn you into a different being. The scenery and the music blend together so perfectly that they really set the mood. Having a much darker feeling to the game, you will soon realize that the game IS much darker and won't often have a happy feeling to it, but this also adds mystery to the game, like why IS the game so gloomy? Adding to the game play is the addition of many more side activities, mainly finding all 20 extra masks. This will bring other little stories into this game, some of which I personally felt connected with, and I'm sure you will/have too.
Overall you can really tell that the creators of this game put time and effort into this to make it such a great game, and a quick review like this cant even scratch the surface on how good this game is. To really understand the magnitude of its magnificence you need to play it yourself! What are you waiting for? Pop that bad boy in!" -- Written by Alexis0ffline
"Charming is probably the best word to describe Final Fantasy IX. There is nothing groundbreaking about the game per se; in fact it’s been frequently described as a ‘return to the roots’ for the series. It combines the (then) modern features from the previous 3D instalments with the more traditional RPG setting, along with a whole load of other cute throwbacks. But in fact, all of this hardly matters when considering what makes it so great. Sure, innovation is nice, but why have change for change’s sake? The core elements of the series such as the active time battle system and world map had already been proven successful. This game simply takes these elements and wraps them up with a vibrant fantasy setting, an engulfing plot, and a likable cast of characters.
Other things worth noting about the game include the beautiful soundtrack , and of course its addictive minigames. No write-up on FFIX would be complete without mentioning Chocobo Hot and Cold, but the game has plenty more to offer in terms of optional content, including the often underrated Tetra Master card game. Then of course there’s the added challenge of getting the Excalibur II sword for any uber nerds, making it one of the few RPGs to actually reward you for completing a speedrun. But most importantly is the general atmosphere of the game; cheerful and upbeat, even in the face of disaster. In that respect it’s the most appropriate game of the series to represent our board." -- Written by jim_reaper95 (originally nominated by kliqIMB)
"Jinjo Jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo. Jinjo jinjo jinjo Jinjo Jinjo jinjo Jinjo Jinjo Jinjo Jinjo, jinjo Jinjo Jinjo jinjo jinjo, jinjo jinjo, jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo. Jinjo jinjo jinjo. Jinjo jinjo. Jinjo jinjo, jinjo jinjo, jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo! Jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo (jinjo) jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo. Jinjo jinjo, jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo, jinjo jinjo jinjo. Jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo jinjo.
Jinjo, jinjo jinjo jinjo Jinjo? Jinjo, jinjo Jinjo. Jinjo jinjo jinjo, jinjo jinjo jinjo Jinjo Jinjo Jinjo, jinjo Jinjo jinjo jinjo. Jinjo Jinjo, jinjo jinjo jinjo Jinjo, jinjo jinjo jinjo. Jinjo jinjo jinjo. *JINJO*" -- Written by DemosSomnio and Homer the Hedgehog (originally nominated by NickDreadskull)
"Shadow of the Colossus, the second game by Team ICO, is considered to be one of the greatest games on the PS2 for its sheer and utter beauty, and for its very unique and thought-provoking storyline. The game essentially drops you into this majestic, vast, open world, from dark caverns and sandy deserts to lush forests and ancient ruins, really putting in a lot of effort into making the player feel like the world wasn’t set up as an excuse to have a nice backdrop for the gameplay . And what do you do in this breathtaking world? You seek out the only 16 living things other than you in this land, and kill them. If you didn’t feel like a jerk after killing these creatures, you should probably see a psychologist. The creatures in question are giants known as Colossi, and are easily the most awe-inspiring bosses ever, yet, amazingly, none of them (well, except for the last) really seem evil. Most seem purely innocent, merely trying to save themselves as you mercilessly stab them repeatedly in the skull, as if you were a mosquito carrying West Nile to the Colossi. You jerk. But what makes this game so popular on the EVERYBODY PANIC board is probably the sheer… well, EPicness of the fights themselves. The only way to describe them is to imagine yourself climbing a mountain, while the mountain fights back. And you can take them down with a mere sword. That’s just awesome. Now, the game does has its flaws, but its epic battles and ability to make you think you may be better off ignoring your objective to win the game are certainly memorable, and easily make it one of the greatest games ever made." -- Written by GameDestroyer23
"I remembered my first time playing F-Zero GX when I finally owned a copy two years after its release: I went straight for the last track available and found myself pulling on the Gamecube controller because it felt like it was going so damn fast. Several years later and relatively-well-versed, I fail to sympathize with the people who struggle from smashing into the guardrails repeatedly.
After you finally get over the heavily-improved graphics, music, and sense of speed--compared to F-Zero X's sacrifice of graphics for framerate--it'll take you a while to realize how much you have to conquer in the: twenty-six tracks on four difficulties and nine chapters on three. That leaves a load of unlockables, including more machines than the main thirty from X, fifty-plus parts for GX's custom machine creator, and many other things I'm not allowed to spoil per GameFAQs videogame board rules. The sharply increasing difficulty is what many gamers complain about because the AI gets unforgiving; I have thrown brief fits of rage the first time I went through this game because of them.
To beat the game you need to have built up sharp reflexes and memorization of the tracks and every helpful or fatal section that can decide between victory or failure in within a second's decision. While certain parts of certain tracks can pose challenges--chicanes, cylinders, pipes, and literal definitions of "speed trap"--keeping a good line at a high speed before, during, and after those parts is critical to winning. Certainly by then you've dropped Blue Falcon or the others of the original four and have acclimated to something else faster, because ALL of the machines in the game drive noticeably different from each other.
If you skipped all of the above: The gameplay alone makes F-Zero GX great but its dazzling graphics and their delivery with the music pumps it up even further." -- Written by ThunderLuigi947 (originally nominated by kirbyparufo)
"Tim Schafer’s Psychonauts is one of the most creative games ever produced. Sadly, the sales of this game don’t represent its quality. Because it barely sold, many decide unjustly to pass it by.
At first glance, Psychonauts does many things by the books: The game is a simple platformer. There are boss battles, things to collect, and plenty of secrets. However, the game’s unorthodox design is what makes it great. The story is an unusual one: As a psychonaut, Raz (the main character) journeys through the minds of others for any number of reasons. Each mind is a completely unique level, each more crazy than the last. No two feel the same. In one, Raz must journey through the mind of a paranoid milkman, one of the single oddest experiences in video gaming. In another, Raz becomes monster-sized and takes on a level Godzilla-style. No other game meshes so many unusual design concepts together. Every level is memorable in one way or another, and it is hard to not be excited for the next.
From a technical standpoint, Psychonauts feels like it is firing on all cylinders. The controls are great. The soundtrack is great too and never becomes tiresome. The game doesn’t look impressive from a technical standpoint, but one cannot help but love the unique art style. Throughout the game’s entirety, the odd but fun story is pushed along by excellent dialog and ridiculous characters. While one could find some flaws about the game, it tries to do so much that there will inevitably be some. A gamer that passes up an opportunity to play Psychonauts is doing themselves a great disservice." -- Written by kirbyparufo
Method: First, the board was solicited for a list of nominees. Each user was allowed to submit up to ten games for the nominations list. The purpose of the nominations list was two-fold: first of all, to give users a chance to nominate games they would like to write for if they won (nominators were given 'first dibs' on write-ups), and secondly, to have a public list of potential games. The second is to guard against a voter suggesting a game late that many previous voters would've voted for had they thought of it.
Then, the games (160 total) were entered in a large week-long poll. Users were allowed to vote for up to four games. As was the case with four of the boards in this batch, one round was not sufficient to get a list of 'finalists', and thus, an intermediate round of voting was conducted where users could vote for two additional games besides their initial votes.
Then, the top vote-getters from that round (32 total) were entered into a final poll, where users were allowed to vote for up to three games. The totals from the second round of voting were added to the totals from the first round of voting. With that, the Top 12 games were announced and write-ups were solicited.
Full Results: 32 total games made the final voting round. They are, in finishing order:
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Super Smash Bros. Melee, League of Legends, Mega Man 3, Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Donkey Kong 64, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Metal Gear Solid 3, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, Ratchet and Clank
DDJ's Brief Analysis: Entering EVERYBODY PANIC's list, only two games had appeared on every top ten list: Chrono Trigger and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. That streak ends here: Chrono Trigger does not appear on EVERYBODY PANIC's list, and actually wa not even nominated. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time sneaks in at #12, barely keeping its appearance streak alive. Instead, we see several games that we haven't heard much from before: EVERYBODY PANIC's winner, Psychonauts, has not made any previous list, nor have F-Zero GX, Banjo-Kazooie, or Golden Sun 2. This would usually be the point where I try to attribute some pattern of taste here, like LUE's older audience, but for the life of me I have no idea what it would be. However, once again, we see here our seventh consecutive new champion.
List by DDJ (01/03/2011)
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