This award can strike even the most outwardly attractive game, made by the most brilliant of development teams. But, in order to win this award, a game must meet a distinct criteria:
There needs to be a lot of hype or an extended period of time spent developing the title.
In the case of the 2001 RPGamer Awards, Final Fantasy Chronicles and Dark Cloud took home the ruined glory of 'Biggest Letdown'.
Dark Cloud, for Sony's PlayStation 2, suffers on many levels. Be it from the very minor plot - an evil spirit destroys your village and you, a survivor, must rebuild and defeat the creature - to the relatively plain graphics, Dark Cloud gave the feeling of a job both rushed and unfinished. With difficult to use gameplay mechanics, as those shown in the 'Georama' landscape designing system, unmemorable music, a number of developing delays, and a vague use of the term 'Role Playing Game' backing its' action RPG marketing, the viewers of RPGamer selected a game destined to be forgotten as their biggest letdown. Only marginally more appealing in their eyes sit runners-up Summoner - with its' bad character development and repetitive battle system - and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - using its' connection to the novel with some disturbingly free license.
Whereas RPGamer's staff and its viewers agree on a good number of the awards given this year, the biggest letdown award is a point of conflict. The staff's first and second runners-up include Lufia: The Legend Returns - an uninspired sequel to a wonderful series - and Hoshigami: Ruining Blue Earth - with hype never letting up. Which, at last, brings us to the cream of the proverbial crop; the long awaited wealth that is Final Fantasy Chronicles. With the PlayStation rereleases of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV having been out in Japan for a prolonged period of time, it was only natural that those RPGamers wanting to rehash their earlier days would beg Squaresoft to port the titles stateside. Alas, when they did so, it was to ill effect. The SNES emulation that the games use featured frightfully choppy movie sequences, long load times, and missed timing to the soundtrack of both games. Had it been more than a ploy to make fast money off the nostalgia of the fans, Final Fantasy Chronicles might have undergone the necessary development time and had these colossal errors corrected.
Although there were a number of good RPGs in 2001, someone had to take home this trophy. Innovation on a new platform can be a good thing, but sticking to the tales of times past can do a title justice. And, in much the same manner, porting an old game to a new platform has its merits, provided the change-up is done with heart.