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Ethan "Ethos" Pipher's 2008 Halftime Report
1st Half
RPGs Not to Miss
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What? Final Fantasy IX didn't come out this year? Okay, okay, so I admit that I've only played three RPGs released in 2008 to completion so far. Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard, The World Ends With You and Harvest Moon DS Cute. And since I can only recommend two to you fine folks in good faith, I couldn't very well have slots 3-5 empty! Y'see, most of my year has been spent finally playing and completing games that have been building up in my backlog. I beat Rogue Galaxy (unfortunately). I beat Phantom Hourglass (much better than Wind Waker), and I'm finally well on my way to beating Chrono Trigger and may have already by the time you are reading this.

Before I go on to drool all over upcoming RPGs, I feel it is important to mention the enjoyment I got out of The World Ends With You. While its battle system is an incredible amount of fun, it shoots itself a little in the foot by never allowing for full concentration on a single screen. But still the game's uniqueness is overwhelming and better yet, it works. The story sometimes dips in teen melodrama but is otherwise surprisingly compelling. No matter the disagreements on minor issues, the game is worth picking up.

Another game that surprised me was Etrian Odyssey II. Yes, it's hard enough to break diamond, but the series is a truly unique experience that is worth a look into. You can read my review for more reasons why, but it really comes down to the pure sense of exploration the game provides. It also feels like a well-made package with a whole lot of love behind it.

Also, you should all go play Final Fantasy IX.

2nd Half
Most Wanted RPGs
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With Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen as a first pick, it might surprise you that I thought DQVIII wasn't too hot on the PS2. This is because I think it is a series meant for the handheld space, hence my extreme excitement for all the remakes and sequels heading to the DS. It is my system of choice and Dragon Quest is a series I need to catch up on. I hear IV is a fan favourite.

The original Tales of Symphonia was a very good game with potential to be great. While I have reservations about this sequel, I can't help but be excited for the possibility of an improved entry to the series. I hope Dawn of the New World's new gameplay elements and characters deliver.

While I have heard disappointing impressions around the internet surrounding Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, I still think the DS is the future of great RPGs and the Sonic universe an exciting prospect to house Bioware's first handheld project. While never huge into the Sonic franchise, I've been a big fan of the character design, and have been waiting for a Sonic game to truly love. My fingers are crossed.

I didn't think Final Fantasy III DS was all that hot, but IV was fun from what I played and RPGamer's own Glenn Wilson says that improvements are being made to Final Fantasy IV DS compared to III. Plus, what have I been saying about RPGs on the DS? This has to be on the list.

Finally, Too Human comes in at the final spot. It would be higher, but I don't own a 360. I've been following this game closely and I'm surprised it doesn't have more hype. I think it could be great, and I love how Silicon Knights is putting a lot of effort into carrying your character forward into the trilogy.

So that's it! I think the DS is the future of stat management and I think you all need to play Etrian Odyssey II, The World Ends With You, and Final Fantasy IX. Don't get me wrong, I love my big, flashy console titles but I think it's becoming an increasingly better host for more western RPGs like Fallout 3 and Mass Effect. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts, and I'm curious to see how I look back on this year after having played these titles. If you agree, disagree, or want to comment on my good looks, feel free to email me!

_ethos

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