This year's award for Best Gameplay is especially significant for the staff. For the first time in RPGamer history, a PC game has been awarded one of the coveted "Best" crowns. Neverwinter Nights was released amid a great deal of hype, after a very long period of development. Gamers instantly fell in love with the game's intricate story, breathtaking graphics and, of course, the addictive gameplay. Based on the 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules, it brought a new level of balance and perspective to the PC gaming arena.
In this particular category, however, another game caught the attention of the readers. Born from an idea that many scoffed at in the beginning, Disney and Square paired up to release one of the zaniest crossovers ever, Kingdom Hearts. Nothing brings the gamer closer in terms of gameplay than allowing them to control the character, and that's just what Square decided to do. Standing out as one of the most enjoyable action RPGs in recent memory, Kingdom Hearts has become an instant classic.
Konami builds upon the previous successes of the Suikoden series by following the classic truism, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." As is the case with the last two games, you can gain up to 108 characters, which delivers the ultimate in replay value. Add in a couple twists to the battle engine, and you've got what makes Suikoden 3 so alluring.
Tactics Ogre isn't well known, but those who have played it know what it's like to play a quality strategy RPG. This genre is somewhat elusive, in that there are very few games that are merely ordinary; they either fail or succeed spectacularly. Quest hit the nail on the head with this one, playing a delicate balancing act between depth and simplicity to appeal to more advanced gamers as well as beginners.
The Mega Man series has always been about gameplay, and Capcom pushed the envelope further with Mega Man Battle Network by turning it into a strategy game and challenging the player on an intellectual level. The familiar Capcom formula is applied to Mega Man Battle Network 2, resulting in a game that is more entertaining and engrossing than its predecessor.
Even Nintendo hopped on the tried-and-true bandwagon this year, with the release of The Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords. The game consists of a port of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and a brand new multiplayer mini-game, providing the player with a nostalgic trip down memory lane and a highly addicting multiplayer frenzy. Whether you're in the mood for a solo run, or want to try your hand at robbing your friends blind, this game has it all.