Roundtable - January 1, 2003 - Part III

Justin: Our third and final topic for the evening has to do with future releases. 2002 was a decent year for RPGamers, but with games like Zelda: The Wind Waker, Crystal Chronicles, Xenosaga, .hack, Golden Sun: The Lost Age, and Star Wars: Galaxies on the horizon, 2003 is looking much better. Which 2003 releases are you most looking forward to, why, and how do you think the balance of RPGs on each system will determine the systems' successes in 2003?

Alex: I don't know about the whole year rocking, but I am very excited for the GameCube Zelda game. I am interested in seeing something new, so I have my eye on .hack, and to a lesser extent, Xenosaga. Portable games are ruling my world right now though, so I am on the lookout for some new RPGs in that department.

Googleshng: The game I'm looking forward to the most at this point is Zelda, but the most interest I have is in Xenosaga. Specifically, I'm rather curious to find out if it will be an actual game, or a rather long CG movie.

Alex: That is something about Xenosaga that I was worried about as well, but I have since read that the game is going to be longer than they initially stated. If I remember correctly, they originally said 15 hours CG in about 25 hours.

Cortney: Of all the games I know of for 2003, I'm mostly interested in Dark Cloud 2 and Final Fantasy X-2. DC2 has interesting cell shading - take that, Wind Waker! As for FFX-2, in spite of the skimpy outfits that nearly scream female objectification, I think a game centering on strong, adventurous women is indeed my kind of RPG. Golden Sun: Lost Age is a possibility, as long as the story is coherent this time around.

Justin: I'm another one looking forward to Zelda most, though I'm actually most interested in Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles right now. I was a huge fan of Kingdom Hearts simply because it took many standards of normal RPGs, like a strong storyline and a more in-depth stat system, and combined them successfully with action-RPG gameplay. Crystal Chronicles looks to change even more from the traditional RPG, with a four-player mode that's really intriguing to me.

Ed: After playing a 2 player game of Four Swords with Mikel, I'm all for the idea of a multi-player RPG.

Googleshng: I'm still shocked that we haven't really seen anything along those lines save Mana. Well, Mana and PSO.

Alex: I'm really anxious to check out the new Harvest Moon games. Both the GBA and GC games look sweet and the link-up capability between them seems rather interesting.

Cortney: There are plenty of Japanese games that I'd like to see over here. Atelier Marie, Elie and Anis, for example, looks like a nice RPG. Also, I'm hoping that RPGMaker 2003 for the PC crosses the Pacific.

Justin: Looking through the release dates for 2003, I was shocked at the distinct lack of RPGs on the Xbox. With the number of RPGs on the GameCube growing and the PS2 having a very solid release schedule next year, do you foresee the amount of RPGs on a system affecting the success of the system as a whole, or do they just appeal to different kinds of gamers?

Googleshng: I think at this point the world at large is wising up to the fact that the Xbox is just a joke, and as a general rule console sales are driven by the release of high profile games no matter what genre they're in. I don't think anyone here can really discuss how the market will shift next year, though, until everyone reveals what they hope to get out the door by next Christmas.

Alex: As I mentioned in the latest Japandemonium, the simple fact is that games developed for the Xbox are doing terribly in Japan right now. Anticipated games are selling in the tens-of-thousands, not to mention the abysmal sales of lesser known titles. Since RPGs are mostly only developed in Japan, there does not seem to be a future for the genre on Microsoft's console. When developers realize this, they will defect to other consoles.

Cortney: Genre-clumping probably won't affect the overall success of each console. The Xbox game list is dominated by action games, so fans of that genre will lean toward that console. However, I do agree with Alex's comment about defecting developers.

Ed: Well, part of the problem the XBox has is that a fair number of RPGs that are coming out on the XBox are also being released on the PC. Why should people go out and buy another console when they can just play it on their computer?

Googleshng: Particularly since the PC version of Morrowind is a good deal better.

Justin: So, more or less, having more RPGs doesn't look to change the sales of the current systems for the better, but not having them really hurts their credibility among hardcore gamers, and thus also hurts their sales. And with that, tonight's roundtable is closed. Hope you enjoyed reading it, and goodnight!

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