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by Jake Alley
In last week's editorials update, John Fienberg went on a rather lengthy tirade about how our awards for the best RPGs of 2000 were selected with a strong Square bias. While he overlooked the fact that our award for the best game of the year overall went to Skies of Arcadia, a Sega title, he still made some points that deserve to be addressed.
Before I begin, I feel I should explain exactly how these awards were chosen. Each and every RPGamer staff member was given a list of every game that came out this year, and a list of the awards. Each person than made a first second and third choice in each category, giving those games 3 2 or 1 points respectively. After everyone voted, the total scores were collected, and the games ranked accordingly. This system admittedly isn't perfect, as most RPGamer staff members have precious little time to play RPGs due to the heavy workload we all had to content with this year. There's also the problem of timing. Many of the earliest games released this year slipped some people's minds, and some of the last games of the year had yet to be purchased by some of us.
Final Fantasy 9 and Chrono Cross placed highly in categories such as Best PSX and most fun because, quite frankly, they are very good games. While they were not by far the first choices of every person voting, they ranked quite highly in everyone's second and third place choices, simply because they appeal to a broader market. I for example am quite fond of Vanguard Bandits, and ranked it well above either of the dominating games, however not everyone has such a fondness for tactical combat. Others adored Vagrant Story for it's plot while most of us were put off by the gameplay. On average however, most of us placed Square's two high profile games right after those which appealed to us as individuals.
Now then, allow me to address some of John's specific points. He complains strongly that Valkyrie Profile was not awarded best graphics. After first observing that this award was dominated by Sega titles, with Square's games landing 3rd and 4th, I must point out this was an area of little contention. While plenty of this years games had beautiful graphics, some in 2D, some in 3D, one cannot deny that Shenmue, the winner of this award, is absolutely amazing in a technical sense. No other game has ever achieved the levels of realism and immersiveness found in this title, and that fact won over everyone's votes. The first runner up, Skies of Arcadia, won its place on similar merits. Not only does it feature beautiful visuals, but also wonderful animation bringing its characters to life with huge levels of physical expression. Chrono Cross meanwhile did things with polygons no one thought were possible on the Playstation. Specifically, it made them look smooth and shiny. Personally I am surprised that Valkyrie Profile failed to win fourth place, but again, not every one of us had a chance to play it. He also fumed that Valkyrie Profile failed to win best music despite the fact that it placed quite high in what is, quite frankly, the most subjective category of all.
In summation, I hardly see how anyone could accuse our awards of having an unfair Square bias when only two of their many titles received awards, and between them winning only four of the fifteen categories, especially in light of the fact that two Square games placed quite prominently in our Letdown of the Year category.
Finally, to close on a personal note, I'd like to point out that my personal votes were given to a very broad spectrum of games by most developers, and on most platforms, and that not a single one went to FF9.
Original Editorial : A rather scathing editorial about the RPGamer awards of 2000
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