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Readers Results > Staff Results

The Gameboy Advance had a fruitful year in 2004, with a nice selection of games for the RPGamer on the move. In fact, the GBA had as many RPGs as the Xbox and trailed the PC market by only a few entries. With a large variety of styles, and some exceptional remakes and ports, the GBA managed to bring together a solid lineup of titles. First and foremost on the readers' minds when it came to portability was, oddly enough, a port. Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls takes the original two Final Fantasy games and gives them each an additional shine that is irresistible and one of the main reasons why the GBA was such a strong system for RPGs this year.

Best GBA 2004 Winner
Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls

Not only does it feature the upgraded graphics its PlayStation counterpart received not long ago, but it also sports an additional storyline and dungeon per game. These dungeons extend the gameplay to almost twice as long, and give players a chance to experience something new to the game whether this is their first time playing it, or a veteran run-through. Even with these additional dungeons, which pulled references from the many different Final Fantasy games, the nostalgia factor was high and pulled in many of the old-school crowd looking for the old fashioned kind of game. Even so, it didn't matter whether you'd played one or one hundred RPGs - Dawn of Souls could suck you in with its enjoyable gameplay either way.

Alone, Final Fantasy I & II would have had a fair chance of winning, but what really seals the deal for Dawn of Souls are the extra dungeons. Since the difficulty was lowered a bit in the games, the extra dungeons provide a nice challenge to the game while adding several hours of playtime. Readers seemed really excited about fighting previous Final Fantasy bosses in Soul of Chaos, and got a bit of pride as they beat Omega Dawn of Souls to take gamers on a trip to a Final Fantasy long gone. Soul of Rebirth adds a nice cap to the story by showing what happens to some of your fallen comrades and explaining some of the final events in better detail.

Second Place - Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories

Dashing into second was the Disney and Square-Enix duo, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Adopting the setting and look of the Kingdom Hearts, Sora as well as trusty sidekicks Donald and Goofy must venture through their memories of the past. Again featuring cameos of several Final Fantasy characters across multiple games, it is easy to see why the game became so popular. With a card-based battle system covering everything from basic attacks to the most complicated summons of allies and enemies, in addition to a room-creation system, there are tons of customizations for the readers to enjoy. However, the battle system did not appeal to all and with exceptionally difficult battle fights, many RPGamers found it too frustrating of a game. Love it or hate it, Chain of Memories was popular enough to place in the silver spot for the readers.

Third Place - Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon

Rounding out the top three is another port, this one from the Sega Genesis rather than the Nintendo. One of the first tactical RPGs, it can be argued the first Shining Force game shaped the future of rpgs for many years after its original release. Now redone as Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon, RPGamers newer to the genre will be able to experience another solid RPG. Much like many ports brought to the GBA, the graphics as well as portions of the translation were touched up. However, the game is more than a dozen years old and it does show; not everyone enjoys how the battles can drag on, especially when re-classed characters begin anew at level one, making them vulnerable to defeat on huge battlefields. Nevertheless, readers still rallied behind the title, giving it the nod of approval and the bronze award.

by Anna Marie Whitehead & Jordan Jackson

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