Handheld systems always seem to have a simblance of popularity, with it's compact size and action-packed games. This year, the RPGamer staff turned out in spades to vote for their favorite GameBoy Advance title. Although the second and third places managed a close call, the outcome spoke for itself and it seems tactical is the name of the game for the RPGamer staff. From the staple Final Fantasy series and even a little Mana spice in the middle, GameBoy Advance certainly seemed to win the hearts of staff this year.
Staff members this year seemed to be on the same wavelength as the readers
with, also voting Final Fantasy Tactics Advance as their number one choice for GameBoy
Advance. With new races, each specilizing in their own set of jobs, an almost infinite set
of battle parties can be created, allowing each RPGamer to explore the game in their
own way. In a similar vein of PlayStation's Legend of Mana, each location is placed on a map once certain
key events are triggered, allowing for new missions and storyline quests and a unique map for every gamer. Toss in the
ability to support each other through tough multiplayer battles, and you've got a game that is
both good for individuals as well as groups. Though some may have been disappointed its
storyline wasn't as deep and intricate as Final Fantasy Tactics was, with both the
readers' votes as well as the staffs' behind it.
A second unanimous agreement comes in the form of Sword of Mana which
scores the second spot for the staff as well as the readers. Sword is what many have
been waiting for in a remake of a game - not a sloppily thrown together port, but a true
reshaping of a game from beginning to end. With two intertwining storylines to follow, Sword
brings with it excellent replay value, important to those RPGamers looking for just one
title to purchase for the year. With a fast-paced battle system that relies on constant
action, RPGamers will never sit in a bored fashion holding down one accept button; instead, they
will be leaping to action, trying to score the best hits while avoiding the counterattacks.
All said and done, Sword sets precedence for quality and innovation for future game
remakes for the Game Boy Advance.
Third place is where the staff deviates from the readers, choosing
Fire Emblem over the reader's Golden Sun: The Lost Age. In the
past there has been a serious dearth of tactical games to be found on any system,
especially on a handheld. That changed this year with many entries into the genre, and none came with
greater anticipation than Fire Emblem did. Actually the seventh entry in a
well-renowned series, it was only this year we finally saw one translated and localized for North
America. Its difficulty surprised and unpleasantly shocked some people - once a character
lost all their hitpoints, they become permanently unavailable for the rest of the game.
Because of this, some chose to shy away from the title. Those that braved it, however, found
a game with a battle system requiring careful planning and deployment, and a storyline
that focuses on the politics that rule many nations and the things that could topple a millennium
of peace in one quick moment. Fire Emblem is not a game that is easily ignored