Monday, February 5, 2024

The 1000 Games I've Beaten (#182 - 194)


#182 Final Fantasy X (Playstation 2) – Spring 2002

Today we've got the entirety of 2002 on deck, starting with the game I got a Playstation 2 for. There were 3 games I wanted to play, but I could only get two with the system. That's okay, because the first thing I played was this incredible game. Just getting the game was an adventure, as I went to Electronics Boutique on a bicycle during a rainstorm (at night, no less) when I found out they had PS2s on sale and FFX in stock. The good news is EB was like a 15 minute trip from where I lived, even at night in a rainstorm. No, I didn't have a car. Glad I didn't because that was a fun adventure. I stuffed the PS2 box into a backpack that wouldn't zip up and pedalled back with it strapped to my front to keep it together, like in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial or something. The rain was pretty light so it was all doable.

I feel like in recent years the game has gotten a bit of a bad rap and gets dumped on a lot. Things like the "ha ha ha ha" scene get endlessly lampooned and it's kind of ridiculous. If the game deserves any flack for anything, it's the annoying, drawn-out temple puzzles. Other than those, it's a great game, with vibrant colors and outstanding music.

It suffers from the same "wrong main character" syndrome as FFXII (and debatably FFIX) so that's something one has to get past to enjoy this. The other characters are great and your MC is kind of this annoying odd man out, but it is what it is.

When I first got this, it was probably the most visually impressive game I'd ever played. EQ hadn't upgraded its visuals yet to the higher levels it'd reach later, and by 2002 the excellent-for-1999 graphics were old. Other than the PC, the PS2 didn't have any real competition as far as visuals went in things I'd played. So this felt very much like a massive step up from the previous systems. Maybe the biggest step up from one gen to another that we ever got.

Favorite Tune: Luca. What an incredibly relaxing theme. Hearing it today takes me right back to Spring 2002, playing this game in the morning. It's also a theme that goes well with pretty much everything. Except maybe a first-person shooter

Best Place To Level-Grind: Highbridge. Helps that you have the "enemy attack" theme playing there and it overrides the normal battle theme, giving everything a sense of urgency. Every time I play I end up getting a ton of levels at that point. Course, you need spheres to actually spend your level points on stat improvements, and I found the best sphere farming to be... Besaid Island, right at the beginning of the game. Combine Besaid Island at the beginning with Highbridge about halfway through and all your leveling needs are covered until the endgame.

Toughest Part: Braska's Final Aeon. That thing completely obliterated me the first however many times I fought it. Great music for that fight. I hate it though, roughest final boss in the first ten games IMO. Or at least it was when I played it the first time. Didn't go on to the postgame or the super-weapons afterward because I was just glad to have the game down. Wasn't until about ten years later that I got really into RPG postgames, and FFX has a pretty robust postgame. When it's all said and done this guy really isn't a big deal compared to some of the bosses that follow.

#183 Dynasty Warriors 3 (Playstation 2) – Spring 2002

This was the other game I got with the PS2. It was a difficult choice because Devil May Cry was getting a lot of positive press. This was a good choice though because it was a great stress relief kind of game. Went really well with FFX. I mostly associate this game with pro wrestling because I got really into it around this time, renting a bunch of VHSes of pay-per-views from the previous few years (like their Wrestlemanias, Summerslams, and even some oddball things like WCW Souled Out '99.... pretty much whatever Blockbuster had). This game also heralded me getting back into martial arts which I'd been out of for like 5 years at this point.

The game itself? Perfectly good, and I to this day think it might be the best of the Dynasty games. It had a limited but very choice selection of playable characters, and everything felt really impactful - from the music to the sound effects to the moment to moment bashing. Later I played Dynasty Warriors 4 and it felt like a step down, nowhere near as impactful, and then I sorta just got out of the series until way later in time. For what it was though, this game was a good one.

Favorite Character: Zhang He with the Vega claws was a ton of fun to play as.

Favorite Tunes: Got 3 real standouts that come to mind here.

Arena - The main tune I associate with the game, and the main tune I think of when thinking of all the above stuff like watching wrestling VHSes.

Rough Play - Some games have character select themes. This game has a CHARACTER SELECT THEME.

In Flames - If this one doesn't get you wanting to jump up and go do something, I don't know what will.

#184 Devil May Cry (Playstation 2) – Spring 2002

Third PS2 game I wanted to play, so the next thing I rented once I finished the above two. For something that started out as a spinoff Resident Evil game, this ended up being a great trend-setting game on its own. Basically invented the "stylish combat" action genre. This first game is a little on the barebones side compared to DMC3, which does everything it does only far better, so I think it's brought down a little by (most of) its sequels surpassing it. If it were a standalone game I think it'd be remembered more fondly as a trendsetter that should have led to more. As it is, it's the first in a series that'd get a lot better. I was instantly a fan of this, though, and it looked incredible in 2002.

Favorite Tune: First main battle theme. Plays during the super-memorable Sin Scissors attack at the beginning and then continues being the main battle theme for like the first third of the game. TBH this should have been the main battle theme for the whole game. The one that plays for the other two thirds is okay but inferior to this. Kinda like HHH changing themes in 2001, for the wrestling nerds.

To me, this theme encapsulates DMC's entire vibe and cutting-edge aesthetic.

#185 Terminator: Dawn of Fate (Playstation 2) – Spring 2002

Next I found out there was a new Terminator game out, and it was actually...pretty good? I mean it isn't great or anything and it's quite derivative of survival horror games of the era, but it's a Terminator game that doesn't suck! It also takes place entirely in the Future War with a slightly younger Kyle Reese, which was interesting. To this day it's the only media I've ever seen that has early Terminator models in it (i.e. things that came before the T-600).

You'd think there would be more Future War games, considering how well it lends itself to any kind of progression-based game. As time goes by the machines get more advanced and more refined. It's a world where the enemies evolving makes total sense. Imagine an RTS in that universe where you could choose to play as either side and make use of the tools both sides had. Machine efficency and overwhelming power versus human ingenuity and guerilla tactics.

...this game is not any of that. But it's pretty good. Had fun with it. Thought it was kind of comical how you could melee-fight T-800's with an electric baton though. Oh, and they completely skipped over the T-700... just like every other game, movie, and show ever. It IS mentioned in the original script of The Terminator as the first model with human tissue, but relatively easy to put down compared to the T-800. Matter of fact the reason Kyle Reese brought a shotgun to fight the Terminator in the first place was because repeated shotgun blasts were really effective for knocking out T-700s. When the Terminator got up almost right away, he knew it was a T-800 and that his worst fears were realized.

And that's the only time a T-700 has ever been mentioned in anything. They were drawn up to appear in Terminator Salvation in the terminator factory, but the producers thought too many T models would confuse the dumb viewers so they overdubbed it to say the factory had T-800s.

Anyway, Dawn of Fate. Cool game, very inspired, got creative with the terminator universe. Solid B+ for this one.

Post HERE.

#186 WWF Smackdown 3: Just Bring It (Playstation 2) – Spring 2002

The third PS2 game I bought (previous two were rentals). Paid $15 for a Blockbuster copy and think that was a pretty good deal. I spent probably dozens of hours on this game. Funnily enough, now it's generally considered the weakest of the Smackdown series on Playstation 1 and 2. But don't tell me that in 2002.

Most of the time spent here was with the create-a-character, where I created a (rough-looking) Brock Lesnar, a hot blue-haired chick, and a few other characters. You could even edit existing characters, change their themes, etc. So this was the last game I know of where you could play as HHH with his "My Time" theme music.

My created Brock Lesnar went on to dominate the world title for a long, long time, until several years later when I turned the game back on to have Eddie Guerrero defeat him for it and remain champ forever. RIP Eddie Guerrero.

#187 WWF War Zone (Playstation) – Summer 2002

Wanted to go back and play something from a little earlier in time, and this was in a bargain bin. It looked cool in Nintendo Power. Didn't spend much time on this one at all though. I played as Shawn Michaels and beat story mode by superkicking people outside the ring and then beating the countout. The game is pretty hard if you're trying to win normally. This was the first real WWF Attitude Era game, so maybe my intention was to start here and play some of the others, not sure.

Biggest Disappointment: Shawn Michaels...did not have his theme music! He only had the D-Generation X theme. Half of what I was looking forward to in this game was Shawn's theme music. The other half was playing as him, since Just Bring It didn't have him. This game was nowhere near as good as Just Bring It, so chances are I quickly abandoned any ideas to go through the wrestling games from an earlier point.

#188 Zero Wing (Sega Genesis) – Summer 2002

The game responsible for that ridiculous "All Your Base" meme video that everyone was quoting in Summer 2001. I guess it occurred to me a year later that there was nothing stopping me from emulating the thing.'s a very generic shooter. Not a whole lot to this one.

I guess I should say something else. Well, it's a standard shooter. You get two Options type pods that mimic your attacks and triple up your shots, which is kind of cool. Some of the enemies resemble Xenomorphs. And uh...that's about it.

#189 Kirby's Dream Land 3 (Super NES) – Summer 2002

This was a fun little jaunt when I wanted to emulate something else from The Emulation Backlog (which is infinite) and settled on the next Kirby game. Surprised I didn't get to this one sooner. It's an okay game but nothing about it really jumps out at me the way the others do. I think I finished this entirely inside of one afternoon.

Surprised I played this before Kirby Super Star, which was the one I wanted as a kid. The fact that it still hasn't appeared on this list (and won't for a while) is wild. The art style here is fairly appealing and a bit like Yoshi's Island. The animal mounts returned from KDL2 which is probably the best thing here. All in all it isn't my favorite Kirby game or anything but it's one that I think probably gets underrated.

Post HERE.

#190 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (Playstation 2) – Fall 2002

After doing a bunch of part-time odd jobs for a few months, finances weren't so hot, so I was looking for my first full-time real job. That search wasn't easy and caused me to start having a lot of legitimate concerns about life for the first time. Which was in retrospect a good time to play MGS2, a game full of legitimate concerns about life and the way things are. When Raiden finds out that he's been believing a bunch of lies, then has to run through a cold endless hallway while being blasted with propaganda, that's metaphorically how a lot of people felt in the early 2000's. And how even more people feel in the early 2020's.

The game is alright. A lot of people didn't like it at the time but I never understood that. I like it more than the first game, and the visuals alone are a massive upgrade. The bosses all have interesting gimmicks and the game in general just strikes me as more atmospheric and moody than the first. I can really get immersed in this one. The main problem people had was probably that you play as Raiden for most of the game and there was a bait-and-switch, which is a legitimate complaint. At least Raiden didn't brutally murder Snake with a golf club right before you took over playing as him for most of the game, then people would have really gotten mad.

After getting attached to gruff, tough-as-nails Snake, switching to Raiden is jarring. Look at how wimpy this guy is. He's like "myehhhhh"

Fondest Memory: Running around the Big Shell oil tanker with the sun shining and seagulls flying around. Something about that place had a really peaceful and calm feeling to it when you were outside, for some reason. I don't know of any other game with a setting like that either.

#191 Suikoden 3 (Playstation 2) – Fall 2002

This game was a bit of retro comfort as I started at my first major, full-time job, which was a particularly intimidating job piloting mechs at a warehouse. Retro because in late 2002, the year 2000 (when I played the other two) felt like it had been a decade previous. I loved the system of multiple characters with multiple chapters where you could jump between them.

I worked at night, so when I had a night off there wasn't much to do besides game. I remember I'd try to knock out a chapter of this over the course of a night of playing, and usually I was able to. As a funny side effect, I associate this game with dead silence and late night, not being used to being awake at those hours. Thankfully that didn't last more than a year or so.

Each of the three leads have three chapters each, with a 4th and 5th chapter after they're all done. I remember being almost certain that the endgame would give us a new main protagonist, the "Flame Champion", after it being hyped all game.

The instruction booklets even had pictures of the Flame Champion wielding a staff, and he looked like a typical Suikoden series hero. However, that guy just turned out to be the previous Flame Champion, and you chose one of your three characters to inherit his power. Which was cool, but not what I thought was going to happen. He's also featured on the box, facing away behind the 3 protagonists.

This guy. Who is this guy?? Not the main character, that's for sure.

Thought this might be the protagonist as well, but I'm pretty sure it's Luc. Was surprised that the villain of the game was a relatively minor bit-player from the first two games, who never even particularly struck me as bad guy material. All of that said, I had fun with this, almost as much as Suikoden 2 a couple years prior, and it helped me get through a rough first few weeks of warehouse work.

Favorite Character: Chris, the knight. Here she is riding the world's luckiest horse. Once you get to maybe halfway through her chapters, she sheds her suit of armor and lets down her hair and she's just a gorgeous character. A good approximation of a Joan of Arc type character, whether they intended it or not.

#192 Metroid Prime (Gamecube) – Fall 2002

Right Away, Favorite Music: The file select theme. This has one of the best file select themes I've ever heard, maybe THE best.

This was game of the year for me, despite some very steep competition. I got this, and a Gamecube, pretty much as soon as it was out. The Gamecube never gave me the kind of mileage the PS2 did, but it was a good little system with a few classics I'm glad I got to play. This was actually one of the first things I got with money from the full time job, a situation where I really HAD money for the first time ever. Also picked up Mario Sunshine along with this and the system, but didn't get to that game for several months.

This on the other hand I played as much as I possibly could over a couple of weeks, and it was pretty spectacular. At this point it might be a little played-out as I've played it so many times and it isn't really tremendous to look at (even the HD version) now. Believe me, though, in 2002 this game was incredible on all kinds of levels. I'd waited almost a decade for another Metroid game after Super Metroid and this was one situation where the wait was worth it. Looked amazing, played amazing. You could use the Wave Beam to light up dark rooms (no longer works in the HD version). I mean there were so many idiosyncrasies and quirks to this game that it felt more like a sandbox world to play around in. That elusive thing that's hard to find outside of an MMORPG.

Fondest Moment: First landing on the planet, in the rain, and being able to look around in full 3D. Look up at the sky and raindrops start pattering on the visor. This was absolutely unreal in 2002.

Side Note: When I was in 6th grade or so, I drew up a full "Metroid IV" game in a notebook, with something like 12 areas to explore, numerous bosses, new items, etc. I went really in-depth with it. I had the final boss as a giant armored spider-shaped Metroid. The ultimate evolution, caused by radiation. Well, Metroid Prime's final boss is a giant armored spider-shaped Metroid, the ultimate evolution, caused by radiation. So that was pretty cool. Almost as cool as Ocarina of Time jumping forward to a post-collapse Hyrule like my notebook novellas had done.

Favorite Area: Phendrana Drifts is one of the coolest areas in any game. I already like "ice levels" and that was a pinnacle, S-Tier ice level.

Toughest Part: Phazon Mines. Can be tough to find all the save points, leaving you with long distances between heals, and the color-coded space pirates are treacherous.

Post HERE. Had to hand-take the pictures for it due to no way to screen record the Gamecube at the time, but if any game is worth that level of effort, it's this one.

#193 Dragon Ball Z: Budokai (Playstation 2) – Winter 2002

I seriously can't remember this one at all. Drawing a total blank. I know later on I played the superior Budokai Tenkaichi, but I don't remember this one. Surprising considering this was the first good 3D DBZ game that I had access to. Was pretty novel to finally have DBZ games getting American releases at all, for that matter. I don't even have any screenshots of it because I can't tell the difference between this and the five other Budokais on the PS2. Well, glad I got to play a really solid DBZ game at last. Besides Hyper Dimension.

#194 Mega Man X6 (Playstation) – Winter 2002

Really disappointing game here to say the least. I've been waffling between this and Mega Man X7 as "worst X series game" ever since. This game still plays like the other two PS1 games before it, only a little bit slower and clunkier, with slight delays on things like dashes and sword swings. It doesn't reinvent the wheel like X7 does for the worse. However the level design in this one is so bad that it might actually have X7 beat on being the worst.

Still, it was a new X series game and I was still very into that series, especially after X5 and all of its Wily-bait. ...which this game doesn't really continue with, aside from Isoc who they do nothing with even though he's clearly a Wily shell. And then Wily never appears again ever.

I think the thing that jumps out to me the most about this game is how I spent seemingly hours on Metal Shark Player's stage. Wouldn't even say the stage is necessarily difficult, but it's very slow and tedious and you can easily die if you make a mistake due to the control delays and clunky dashing. You can't race through that stage to get back to where you were because you're constantly at the mercy of the giant trash compactor that crushes the stage every few seconds. So you're stuck going through it at a slow pace every time you have to start over.

Toughest Part: High Max and his invincibility. I don't even know if this is necessarily "tough" so much as "really cheap and unfun". Never found that fight exciting or interesting.

Favorite Level: Rainy Turtloid's stage is actually pretty good. Lot of atmosphere there.

Creepiest Part: The fortress stages and their demonic aesthetic, with all kinds of weird demon stuff in the backgrounds. Between this and Wily living on as some sort of virus, this game had the potential to be setup for even more interesting things to come. However, the fact that the sequels were so meh causes this game to just be a dropped ball in retrospect. Rather than just a lull, it's where the series goes off the cliff.

Dumbest Part: This same screen. I wonder how many MMX6 players got to the first fortress level, were all excited for it, and then ran into this spike wall midway through and had to die out of the level. You can't get past this wall unless you finished the extra armor sets, which are obscure AF so good luck, OR have the Jumper powerup (which is well-hidden AND missable) and combine that with an ice block step. Might also be able to get hit and i-frame your way up the wall if i-frames protect you from spikes, IDK.'s ridiculous that this wall is even here. Just an example of how bad the level design is in Mega Man X6.

Post HERE.

The 1000 Games I've Beaten

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