I did not intend on taking so long with this update, a mix of document problems, procrastination (probably mostly that to be honest) and also multi-tasking resulted in this wait. But here we are, finally updated again. Anyway, will try to not take so long with future updates. Also may go back an edit older posts too. REZ January, 2002 Go to synaesthesia... The shooting genre Reinvented - Advertisement for the Neptune release entitled Rez, a musical themed rail shooting game, where one travels as an avatar along a path through a computer network. NORIO OHGA'S LAST STAND February, 2002 Japanese business tycoon and onetime opera singer Norio Ohga has passed away this past week following a 3 month coma after collapsing on-stage while he had been conducting an orchestra in Beijing late last year. Though there was room to say he could recover, his condition ultimately took a turn for the worse in the past few weeks - resulting in doctors concluding that his life had ultimately come to an end. Ohga is best known for his contributions to the media giant corporation known as Sony, at which he oversaw it's rise to a conglomerate with the establishment of Sony Music and Sony Pictures, in addition to Sony Computer Entertainment later in his career. The latter later absorbed Sega into itself, and is currently leading the gaming industry. Ohga is also credited with Sony's involvement in the invention of the Compact Disc, or CD-ROM, media format which has revolutionized forever the way our media is consumed & presented to us. Sony has released a statement to the press giving his surviving family their condolences, and mourning for his passing - his legacy with them being far too great to simply brush off. - Los Angeles Times SONIC ADVENTURE 2 February, 2002 Good Hedgehog Play as Sonic and board, swing and grind to save the world. Evil, Sinister, Malcontent Hedgehog Play as Shadow, Sonic's evil double, and conquer the world. - Magazine advertisement for Sonic Adventure 2. Released in 2002 for the Neptune, Sonic Adventure 2 was to be the definitive Sonic title available for the system. "Dedicated to Norio Ohga" - Text featured at the end of the game's credit sequences. "Sonic Adventure's sequel takes the bars set by it's predecessor and the Sonic games before it and raises them all the more higher. This a definite must-have for any Sonic fan or even Neptune player in general." - Electronic Gaming Monthly, 2002 "Sony's first true entrance into the Sonic franchise as it's new manager has really kicked off with a bang - everything from the first game has been only updated. The voice acting, the character animations, the graphics, the gameplay and even the story have all been upgraded to be 10 times more amazing than they were before. A definite should-buy." - Game Informer, 2002 "The Hedgehog is on a roll!" - Next Generation, 2002 "For a lot of people, Sonic Adventure 2 proved that Sony truly was capable of handling the Sonic franchise. Though one can't ignore the fact that Sony became rather fond of Sonic quickly, public consciousness viewing him as Sony's mascot now what with all the various types of merchandise he had and now recognizable he was. It was easy for him to slip his way into symbolizing the entire corporation rather than just it's video games division. However, some people - and I do sympathize with them - long for the simpler times when Sega was an actual thing and Sonic was it's mascot, and was just a blue hedgehog that ran really fast." - Kyle Powell, Blog Post, 2012 "Shadow the Hedgehog. That's really all you need to know about this game." - Anonymous commenter, 2005 "I miss Sonic Adventure and it's hub worlds, if only because I kind of liked those wacky side stories all of the NPCs got up to while you were busy running off with the action stages." - Youtube Commenter, 2010 "Sonic Adventure 2 had a tough act to follow. It was expected to follow after Sonic X-Treme which shocked the world, and Sonic Adventure which shoved it's way into popular culture with a movie released the previous year. It wasn't going to please everybody. For as praised that it is, it is criticized just as much." "Sonic Adventure 2's release was another worthy success for the hedgehog, but behind the scenes things were getting a bit messy. The STI design for 3D Sonic clashed with Sonic Team's. Christina Coffin and her team decided not to bring back the dash panels from the original Sonic Adventure, something which hearkened back to Sonic X-Treme. Yuji Naka actually argued over it, though he and Naoto Ohshima also had their own separate disagreements too, over the direction Sonic was headed in. It ended in Ohshima leaving Sonic Team, and Sony as a whole. While STI went back to working on it's own original projects, the question of whether or not Sonic Team should be handed the next Sonic game was a seriously asked question. They were quite busy making more IPs for Sony: one of which set to release next year. In addition, Sony was not amused with Takashi Iizuka not wanting to make a 3rd Adventure title. Sony didn't care though, they could have any other studio they own make any Sonic game they want and were willing to let him go if he caused an uproar about it. He kept himself quiet." - Sonic Team: The Inside Story, ScrewAttack, 2017 "By 2002, the original Sonic Team trio of Sonic's creators were all going separate ways. Yuji Naka remained, Naoto Ohshima left, and even before that back in the 90's Hirokazu Yasuhara left - only for years later Sony to purchase the company he was working for Naughty Dog and bring him back into the family. Abeit, not part of Sonic Team." - Sonic Team: The Inside Story, ScrewAttack, 2017 "The STI team had proven itself yet again with Sonic Adventure 2. Christina Coffin's programming skills had now twice proven key to two high-selling Sonic titles - one of them being one of gaming's most historic titles ever." - Sonic Team: The Inside Story, ScrewAttack, 2017 "I think the conflicts within Sonic Team were bound to happen. The Hedgehog was growing more than he ever was before, I expected there to be some bumpy roads at that point. Even I wasn't completely sold on the direction that Naka and his team were taking the series. There was only so much I could do though. It didn't help that we had a lot more going on than in the old days." - Tom Kalinske, 2017 interview with ScrewAttack JET SET RADIO FUTURE February, 2002 Lead a posse of street-smart skaters through multiple adventures as you reclaim your turf from rival crews, combat corporate goon squads, and attempt to save the soul of the city. - Excerpt from the back cover of Jet Set Radio Future, the sequel to Jet Set Radio. As can be expected, it was a Neptune exclusive release. PAC-MAN WORLD 2 February, 2002 The Ghost Gang Strikes Again! They have picked the Magical Golden Fruit from an ancient tree and released the most wicked entity that Pac-Land has ever seen. It's time for Pac-man to take control and return what was taken. With brand new skills, a zany cast of enemies and friends, and a vast world to explore, his heroics will be pushed to the limits. Step aside 'cause Pac-man is coming through, and he's on a mission! - Back cover for Pac-man World 2, which was released for the 3DO M2 in February 2002 despite the discontinuation. It was later released for the GameCube in March of 2002, and Nokia Neo in October of 2002. It was one of the final games released for the defunct M2. THE SIMS HAS OVERTAKEN MYST March, 2002 The world of gaming has been seeing drastic changes ever since it first became a thing - and there is no bigger a change than what's popular on the scene at any given time. Not that long ago Mario was the everywhere, until Sonic showed up to give the plumber some healthy competition (though some argue Sony's a bit too full of itself with the hedgehog). Now, it appears another newcomer has risen to the scene - in the same of Sims. Indeed, the life simulator game has completely overtaken Myst to become the new highest selling PC game of all time. Sonic may have slowed Mario down, but not even he was able to do as much damage as The Sims has. The two games are not really competitors though, in fact Myst came out in 1993 and is an adventure game, while the sims is effectively a virtual-life game - albeit one from the genius that is Will Wright and his Maxis team. At 6.3 million copies sold, we now officially live in a time where a game called The Sims is the most popular PC game. The Sims, which was released in February 2000, lets players create a neighborhood of simulated people and control their lives. The game was the best-selling game of 2000 and 2001, and it has been translated into 13 different languages. The game's success has inspired the release of three expansion packs: The Sims: Livin' Large, The Sims: House Party, and The Sims: Hot Date. The combined sales of The Sims and all its expansions have exceeded 13 million units. On March 26, EA will release a fourth add-on, The Sims: Vacation, which will let players take their sims on a trip to an island with three different settings. "Reaction to The Sims by both customers and critics have exceeded our most ambitious expectations," said EA president John Riccitiello. "The Sims has become a cultural phenomenon. Its worldwide appeal spans hard-core gamers, casual computer users, and even gaming's most elusive group of consumers, women. Over 50 percent of new Sims players are female." In addition to the retail expansions, players have access to additional free add-ons, including new household objects and character clothing sets, on the game's official Web site. For more information about The Sims, take a look at our complete archive of Sims-related coverage. - Electronic Gaming Monthly, 2002 "Sony assimilating Sega, The Sims becoming a thing and overtaking Myst, Nokia joining the home console race, the Dot-com bubble, the first X-Men movie, the first Shrek movie, the first Harry Potter movie, the first live-action Lord of the Rings movie, 9/11, and the evolution of first person shooter games. All in the span of just a few years. Good lord how the world changes fast." - YouTube commenter, 2010 HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED March 14, 2002 The time has come at last. Halo, the long anticipated and hyped up title from Panasonic Interactive Entertainment & Bungie has finally made it out to stores after what was described as the onset of Development Hell. The M2 may be gone and with it the name of 3DO, but Halo is already proving to be their great return to action. If you've read the Publisher's Weekly bestseller Halo: The Fall of Reach which came out last October, then you already know the basics of what is in store for humanity in this Science Fiction shooter. Following after the novel, the Pillar of Autumn is attacked by the Covenant Empire just after it discovers a massive 'Halo' ring orbitting around a nearby gas giant. The Covenant attack is dangerous enough to warrant Master Chief Petty Officer, Spartan JOHN-117, to escape the ship along with the AI known as Cortana directly onto the somewhat familiar ground of this mysterious Halo ring - which is believed to be some kind of weapon. Of course, there's more to Halo than meets the eye, and the single player campaign is only half of the story. One of Halo's strongest points is it's online multiplayer, which utilizes only the most modern of online capabilities. You can now enjoy the addictive fun and excitement of online shooter multiplayers in the comfort of the home console. Split screen action, five multiplayer action modes alongside a variety of customization options and up to 16 players online - with a System Link allowing even more makes for one of the most powerful reasons to turn your gaming from local to online - and the epic soundtrack from Martin O'Donnell only adds to the reasons to pick this thing up. Numbers don't lie, already is Halo breaking sales records, the projection being that it will break it's first million in no time - and considering the critical praise it is getting from most outlets this should come as no surprise. 3DO might just be more successful in death than it was in life. See pages 17-18 for more coverage on the growing Halo phenomenon. - Neo Magazine. Halo: Combat Evolved was released on the Nokia Neo, with a Nintendo GameCube port being released in May of 2002. A PC port was released in September of 2003. "A truly revolutionary title, it combines sci-fi space opera with gritty wartime action with one of the most engaging online multiplayers we've seen in this industry yet. If you didn't believe a new era had begun before, you're definitely gonna start believing it now." - Game Informer, 2002 "A challenger has appeared, and it means business!" - Next Generation, 2002 "Halo won me over because it was a bit more than just a first person shooter game. It's setting was more interesting to me than those 'set in a real war' type of games. It's plot even came with a genuinely surprising twist with the third faction of enemies that appear late into the story. In general the entire storyline of the campaign is honestly one of the most surprisingly thought out things I've seen in a first person shooters - and the plot is something that honestly usually doesn't get talked about in these kinds of games yet when it comes to this one you could probably do an entire series dedicated to analyzing it thoroughly and I'd be totally invested in said series. Though the first game it self doesn't tell you the full story, there are additional materials in the form of novels that let you in on the extra details not covered in Combat Evolved. As a whole, Bungie and P.I.E. clearly put effort into coming up with this title and it definitely pays off well." - David Mason, IGN Forums, 2009 "I feel like not enough people give the amazing score of this game the praise that it deserves." - Hayden Burns, YouTube, 2012 "I like the attention to detail in this game, all of the enemy aliens have ranks determined by their armor colors and their species - and all of them remain consistent throughout the game. Despite that, they can still offer quite a challenge once in a while especially once the factions such as the flood and the sentinels come into play." - Patrick Mills, Gamespot, 2003 "For all of the praise that Halo does deserve, I have mixed feelings about the direction it shoved the industry towards." - Austyn Gross, YouTube, 2017 "I was rooting for Halo to succeed if only because I wanted to see what was left of 3DO make a name for itself rather than just fade away into being nothing but a memory. Luckily, that's what happened." - IGN Forums user, 2012 "I still don't like the GameCube port though, it looks and plays good but getting online on that version is just so much more complicated and just barely supported. Loading times are more prominent but actually well hidden and not as much a burden as one would think." - Thomas Foster, Gamespot, 2004 "When Halo came out, a revolution had begun." - Game Informer, 2007 "In the end, Halo actually did turn out to be the Saviour we needed after all. Even after losing the 'console war', we were still struggling to find our place in the third party world [Panasonic] was still thinking of just shutting us down completely. Had Halo not been a commercial success, it would have been it. Luckily, Halo was a success and it gave us the ability to start spreading our wings out again." - Laura de la Cruz, Interview with Gamespot, 2007 "Halo started something that would overtime begin transforming gaming into something far different from what it was before. To keep it short, First Person Shooters were going to begin becoming the norm, for better or for worse. However, it also gave hope for the reincarnation of 3DO known as PIE, it appeared as though they were rising from the ashes to not reconquer, but instead carve out a new empire for themselves." - IGN, 2012 "Panasonic Interactive was definitely in a new neighborhood. They now had to produce games for the other consoles, they had to learn their hardware, and they were now competiting with companies that had once upon a time been their own supporters. Halo was something they needed to get along in their new home." - Gamespot, 2012 SEGA SOCCER SLAM March, 2002 ARE YOU TOUGH ENOUGH? Go toe-to-toe with the wildest players ever in Soccer Slam, the high-flying, hard-hitting, 3-on-3 soccer game where winners go on to drink from the Continental Cup! - Back cover for Sega Soccer Slam, a Neptune exclusive that features an exaggerated version of Soccer as well as mini-games. KINGDOM HEARTS March, 2002 What's it all about? No one would have expected Disney to approach Square to do an RPG, but it happened. No one would have expected a Disney-based RPG to be any good either, but that's happening too. Featuring four new characters designed by Final Fantasy legend Tetsuya Nomura, Kingdom Hearts takes Sora (the main character) and Goofy and Donald Duck on an adventure to save their two friends Riku and Kairi. Kingdom Hearts will not only introduce Disney characters to a whole new genre in gaming, it will tie together what was previously a separate collection of character-specific worlds. In Kingdom Hearts, the Little Mermaid's underwater kingdom will rest alongside Tarzan's jungle, Pinocchio's village and Aladdin's Arabian environs, among others. Virtually every Disney character you know will make an appearance during the game, with Dumbo having already been sighted. - Magazine Excerpt about Kingdom Hearts, a Neptune exclusive title first released in March of 2002. "It's like Final Fantasy, but with Disney! In fact, it pretty much literally is." PLAY AS SONIC OR TAILS: April, 2002 Sonic Team's two stars make cameos as warriors in SSBM. Here's how you get 'em: achieve a high score of 20 KOs with any one character in Cruel Melee. Sonic and Tails will then both challenge you (yes, at the same time). Beat 'em and they open as playable characters. Finish Classic mode with either for a special surprise. - Excerpt from EGM's April 2002 issue "One hoax caused a total fire storm amongst what is basically three fandoms." - IGN Forums user, 2008 "Sonic was never considered for Super Smash Bros. Melee, and for the foreseeable future it is highly unlikely that it will ever happen." - Masahiro Sakurai, 2010 interview with ScrewAttack, translated. "Sonic has never, was never, and will never be considered for Super Smash Bros." - Tom Kalinske, 2010 interview with ScrewAttack. SPIDER-MAN May, 2002 The question on pretty much everyone's mind in Hollywood today, as the movie industry sat back slack-jawed at the record-shattering $115 million opening weekend for Columbia Pictures' ''Spider-Man,'' was whether it was an aberration or a sign of more blockbusters to come. ''For a long time, we never thought that a $100 million weekend was really possible,'' said Paul Dergarabedian, chairman of Exhibitor Relations, a Los Angeles company that monitors the box office. ''And this was not just $101 million and change. This proves that it is technically feasible for a movie to have a $100-million-plus weekend, to have a $40-million-plus day. And that changes everything.'' Of course, various all-bets-are-off pronouncements were made after ''Titanic'' opened in 1997 and earned $1.8 billion around the world. So far, though, that movie's phenomenal success has proved to be an aberration. Yet the Monday-morning betting in Hollywood is that in this case, ''Spider-Man'' might actually signal a new era of $100-million-plus openings, raising the bar for everyone. ''What happened with 'Spider-Man' this weekend is, historically, an aberration,'' said David Davis, a box-office analyst for Houlihan, Lokey, Howard & Zukin, an investment banking firm. ''But it foretells a world where $100 million openings will become common in the relatively near future.'' In hindsight, everyone has theories on why ''Spider-Man,'' from the Columbia Pictures unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment, beat the $90 million record that Warner Brothers' ''Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'' set just six months ago. ''Spider-Man'' is a shorter film, so it could be shown more times each day. Because it appealed to an older audience, it was possible for theater owners to add post-midnight screenings that also sold out. And since children's tickets are cheaper, a movie with more teenagers and adults in the audience will inevitably earn more money. - New York Times, May 2002, excerpt HIROSHI YAMAUCHI STEPS DOWN FROM NINTENDO LEADERSHIP May, 2002 It is the end of an era. Hiroshi Yamauchi, who has led the video game monolith Nintendo since 1949, has made the surprising decision to step down from the company's leadership - though he is remaining the company's largest shareholder and remains the chairman of it's board of directors. Though the reasons for leaving his presidency are unclear at this time, this shift in leadership comes as a surprise given that it is the first time that someone not a member of the 'Yamauchi' family name has headed the company, who was founded by Hiroshi's great-grandfather long ago in the year 1889. It was under Hiroshi's leadership however the company expanded into the multi-billion dollar behemoth that it is today - leaving it true that the gaming industry would not be where it is today had it not been for him and his keen sense of business. From what we can tell, he is confident that Nintendo's presidency is left in "good hands" as his successor is none other than Satoru Iwata, who had previously been the head of Nintendo’s Corporate Planning Division. Even still, it is clear that Hiroshi is beginning the process of stepping back from direct leadership of the company - leaving one to wonder where things will go for Nintendo from here. - Los Angeles Times E3 2002 - E3 - ELECTRONIC ENTERTAINMENT EXPO WIKI GUIDE E3 2002 belonged to one game and one game only -- DOOM 3 from id Software. There had been lots of rumblings about id releasing a new Doom game with a new and revolutionary DOOM engine, but no one had seen much of it. So id sets up this little movie theater in the Activision booth and word gets out that id is showing DOOM 3. This was the first DOOM in nearly one decade, and it's id, so everyone took it seriously. People had heard John Carmack talk about dynamic lighting and some of the other things he planned on throwing into his new engine. In other words, nobody had a clue. DOOM 3 had the most amazing graphics anyone had ever seen in a game -- and that includes the non-interactive graphics in games like Dragon's Lair. DOOM 3 took the DOOM franchise in a new direction. It was slower-paced. It was nearly like survival-horror. You did not have bullets and shotgun shells sitting behind every corner. The monsters did not just splat and die. Some of them survived entire clips of bullets and chased you. You saw reflections in glass. Monsters could break through walls. In one part of the demonstration, you entered a bathroom and saw a Pinkie eating the carcass of a fat zombie. Both the Pinkie and the zombie attacked you. The line to get into the id theater became over 100 people deep. More people queued up for the movie than could possibly fit into that tiny theater over an entire day. Computer games seemed like the backwater of gaming in 2001. In 2002, thanks to DOOM 3 and several other new titles, PC games were the hotspot of gaming. SSCEE opened E3 2002 by declaring the console wars over and themselves as the victor. Having shipped 30 million Neptune consoles worldwide, SSCEE was rightfully confident that neither Nokia nor Nintendo could possibly catch up. Arrogant as that sounded, it ultimately proved to be correct - even if Nintendo and Nokia didn't believe the fat lady had sung just yet. In a less predictable rivalry, Vivendi, the company that held the literary rights to The Lord of the Rings lashed out against Electronic Arts, the company that held the rights to make games based on the movie versions of The Lord of the Rings. The EA had a huge booth with a gigantic screen showing the trailer to upcoming movie, The Two Towers, on a 30-foot screen. Vivendi, with an equally large booth right next door, had a special room called "The Hobbit Hole" in which it projected coming attractions to its Hobbit and Lord of the Rings games on a domed ceiling. This was also the year of Volleyball games. Taking a bit of a break from the phenomenon that was Shenmue, SSCEE's Yu Suzuki showed off Beach Spikers Volleyball. Meanwhile, Tecmo's Tomonobu Itagaki unveiled Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball. Nintendo's big game at E3 2002 was Metroid Prime, an FPS game with an emphasis on adventure. THQ showed Red Faction 2, and Eidos' Time Splitters II made a big noise. Infogrames packed people in to see Unreal Championship for Xbox, and Acclaim showed off Turok Evolution -- the latest in its console-based popular FPS series. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: RavenShield, from Ubisoft got a lot of attention at Ubisoft with its amazing visuals. Everyone knew that Ubisoft would have another FPS game. One organization people did not expect to come out with a shooter was the United States Army. In 2002, the Army unveiled a new recruitment tool called America's Army, a realistic depiction of army combat that gamers could download for free. Built using the same game engine that Epic created for Unreal Tournament 2003, America's Army caught more than its share of the attention from the mainstream media. PIE, the afterlife form of 3DO, was rising from the ashes with Halo: Combat Evolved, which had just begun to take the world by storm by the time of the expo. Considering they were planning on having more books and extended universe media made about it, it was definitely a big subject at the show - and a major talking point getting people interested in the Nokia Neo. Speaking of which, Nokia wowed the crowd with a gem of their own - Battlefield 1942. A game that was coming out of nowhere. Being it was to be one of their big first party titles, it was one of the things they showed off extensively, alongside the ability to play Neo Geo Pocket games on the N-Gage. They were definitely improving on their presentations. The Neo itself was proving to challenge the two big names in a way that previous number threes had failed, it had been stealing a lot of European market share from Nintendo (and replaced 3DO in the region), and it's connection to SNK allowed it a place in Japan. Halo & Battlefield meanwhile were sure to get it a foothold in America. Other former 3DO games were also getting ported to the other consoles by this time, with GameCube ports of Gex games being released as well as Spyro titles on all of the consoles. They were also able to some portable titles too. For all intents and purposes, PIE (3DO) were looking to be more successful as a third party company than they were as a first party contender. Of course, this meant they were likely to become the rivals of their quite literal sister company Electronic Arts. New versions of old games ruled the roost at E3 -- and not just DOOM. Tecmo's Team Ninja gave the world its first glimpse of Ninja Gaiden at E3 2002. To Nokia's delight, Tomonobu Itagaki, an outspoken N. Neo evangelist, made Ninja Gaiden exclusively for Neo. Tecmo also unveiled a new Rygar game. SSCEE's Smilebit also unveiled a new Shinboi for Neptune, as well as Panzer Dragoon Orta. Not to be outdone, Konami showed Contra: Shattered Soldier for Neptune. - IGN, 2012 MICHAEL JACKSON DIVORCES SONY June, 2002 "… Anyway, I first let me say, I really don’t like to talk that much. I really don’t. I prefer performing than talking. Let me just say this… The tradition of great performers… the tradition of great performers from — I really want you to know what I say! — from Sammy Davis Junior, to James Brown, to Jackie Wilson, to Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly. The story is usually the same though. These guys worked really hard at their craft, for the story ends the same. They are usually broken, torn and usually just sad, because the companies take advantage of them, they really do. And… Sony…Sony… Being the artist that I am, at Sony I’ve generated several billion dollars for Sony, several billon. They really thought that my mind is always on music and dancing. It usually is, but they never thought that this performer — myself — would out think them. So, we can’t let them get away with what they’re trying to do, because now I’m a free agent… I just owe Sony one more album. It’s just a box set, really, with two new songs which I’ve written ages ago. Because for every album that I record, I write — literally, I’m telling you the truth — I write at least 120 songs every album I do. So I can do the box set, just giving them any two songs. So I’m leaving Sony, a free agent,… owning half of Sony! I own half of Sony’s Publishing. I’m leaving them, and they’re very angry at me, because I just did good business, you know. So the way they get revenge is to try and destroy my album! But I’ve always said, you know, art — good art — never dies. …Thank you. And Tommy Mottola is a devil!" - Michael Jackson, May 2002, Excerpt SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE July, 2002 Pollution and Paradise don't mix. It's up to Mario, his water pack and you to make things less toxic and more tropic Super Mario Sunshine, only for Ninteno GameCube. - Paper ad for Super Mario Sunshine, successor to Mario 64 and the true original 'Mario' game for the Nintendo GameCube system. It would see releases in North America and other regions in August 2002 and the following months. "SHINE GET!" - YouTube comment, 2009 "I will forever love Super Mario Sunshine. All these other games of the early 2000's were making themselves all serious, complex, dark and filled to the brim with shooting action and mature themes but in comes Mario with an innocent, literally sunshine fueled vacation of the game that honestly does feel like a literal vacation from all the edge that was filling the rest of the market. It was honestly something that I felt was needed and made me continue loving Nintendo. Sure the water gun thing was something new but I never saw anything wrong with it - it's better than giving Mario an actual gun! It may not have a multiplayer or online connectivity, and it does have that odd design choice when it came to Yoshi, but no game is ever pefect even if it's Mario. Plus, Mario doesn't need to connect online. Honestly, I enjoy Sunshine because of it's simplicity. It's just simple, family friendly fun and sometimes that's a fantastic experience." - Cesar Oliver, Gamespot, 2006 SLY COOPER AND THE THIEVIUS RACOONUS September, 2002 He's one cunning, devious, thievius raccoonus! Rooftop chases, narrow escapes and dodging security guards. Spotlights, alarms and infrared lasers. - Back cover for Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, the first one of Sucker Punch's most successful hit series. It was exclusively available for the Nokia Neo. SONIC X - ONLY ON FOXBOX September, 2002 Sonic's here, and you better keep those eyes open because one blink is all it takes to miss this blue blur! Every super sonic week, watchers of FoxBox will be treated to a quick dose of what is sure to be one of the latest hit series - Sonic X! Meet Sonic and all of his friends on the small screen along with their human friend Chris as they battle the evil Dr. Eggman and deal with everyday problems of hijinks, action and super fast speed! Just remember to keep that schedule in memory, because you will miss it before you even know it! Now, you may think that surely such a famous character's show would be present on other networks - but nope! This show is only airing on the equally new saturday morning block FoxBox! And trust us when we say ONLY! Your kids might want to get ready for the fastest high-speed action show they've ever seen! Based on the hit video game franchise owned by Sony. - Magazine advert for the localisation of SegaSonic Freedom Rangers, renamed Sonic X for distribution in America. At the time of it's Americanization, Sony was also exploring the idea of anime based on their other franchises. STAR FOX ADVENTURES September, 2002 Out of the cockpit... and into epic adventure! At the far edge of the Lylat system, an army of diabolic dinosaurs has shattered the tranquil world of Dinosaur Planet. The future looks bleak... until Fox McCloud enters the fray. For the first time in his legendary career, Fox leaves his Arwing to battle enemies hand to hand with an enchanted staff of untold powers. In the biggest challenge in Team Star Fox's history, he'll wield weapons and magic against massive bosses, fly Arwing missions, and explore vast prehistoric lands. He'll need all the help he can get from old teammates Slippy and Peppy - and new allies like Prince Tricky and the mysterious Krystal. The balance of power shifts ever more to the evil General Scales, and the Fox hunt is on... - Back cover for Star Fox Adventures, a game developed by Nintendo Subsidiary Rare for the Nintendo GameCube. BATTLEFIELD: 1942 September, 2002 In the Air...In the Deep...On the Battlefield Fight your way to victory in the most intense Battles of World War II. Choose your weapon and then jump into a raging firefight. From bazookas to battleships, a massive arsenal is at your disposal. - Back cover for Battlefield: 1942 - released for both PC and Nokia Neo, from Nokia's acquired studio DICE. Despite the delay, it was one of the staple games for the system and a high seller. "The Nokia Neo was a haven for First Person Shooter games. It began with Halo and Battlefield, and even back in 2002 Call of Duty was on the way - and more was coming." "Coming out not long after Halo, Battlefield was a definite sign of the way gaming was heading. First Person Shooters were becoming more popular in the home, and the conoles of the day were attracting a much more 'hardcore' audience. While it's true that the most popular of the platformers would survive this change, many of those new faces coming into the world would be far less lucky. Thing is, for me there isn't really much to talk about with most of these games. They are shooter games, often based off real history, and do a good job at what they set out to accomplish. Battlefield was a solid and successful first party game, and made money for Nokia. It, and many others of the genre, made powerful use of the growing online multiplayer gaming that was becoming the norm." - Rayden Lancaster, Gamespot, 2011 "The games that were once regulated to the PCs, were now becoming available in the home. Of course, PC gaming was far from dying, but the types of games once commonly only found on it were now accessible to those who preffered a console - and the same goes for online multiplayer as well. That part of the shift was nice. The shift in gaming from platforming and mascots to FPS games though, that is definitely a mixed bag. I personally miss the days when it was Sonic and Mario that everyone debated over. In the early 2000's though, that debate wasn't so common as was the debate regardling Halo, Battlefield, Call of Duty (which was on the way for 2003), and other such games. I like some of the more original shooter games but I personally ignore the ones that are more run-of-the-mill. That's to not to hate on all of them mind you, I do understand the value in being able to play with a group of people without having to be the host of some party just for the purpose of gaming and I do realize that's obviously the most important part of most of these games, just saying I do admire the ones that have a little bit more than just that." - IGN, History of FPS Games, 2015 "Halo was a revolution, but Panasonic was a third-party company, the only hardware they made were televisions, electric rasers, cameras and home appliances. Battlefield was something they [Nokia] needed to prepare themselves for that - and in my opinion it did the job pretty well and is still doing that job well to this day! Sure it's one of the 'history-based' shooters, but it's not half bad at all and I say this as someone who has played it. It's so easy to hate on FPS games nowadays but there's a reason they caught on that I think gets overlooked in all of it. It's not just the online multiplayer, it's the same reason that games like DOOM got so popular. Last I checked, DOOM didn't have online multiplayer." - Bobby Wood, YouTube, 2012, excerpt. GODZILLA: DESTROY ALL MONSTERS MELEE October, 2002 Legendary Monsters, Epic Battles. - Blurb from the back cover of Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee developed by Pipeworks and published by Infrogrames (under the Atari branding). It was released for both GameCube and Neo, with a similar game known as 'Godzilla: Domination!' being released on the GameBoy Advance around the same time. A multiplayer arcade-esque fighting game utilizing a selection of the Kaiju of the Godzilla franchise (though it refers to them as 'monsters'). "Under infogrames, Atari had become a bit of a zombified corpse, still doing things but nothing that was ever really that 'huge' in the larger gaming industry. Sure there were some games that were decent such as their Dragon Ball Z Budokai Tenkaichi series, and their Godzilla games which gained a bit of a following, it is hard to believe that the modern Atari was once the king of gaming before Nintendo completely uprooted them." - IGN, The rise & fall of Atari, 2016 "While Atari's days of running the gaming industry are long over, their games still manage to have some personality to them, whether they be nostalgia trips or modern titles. I always enjoy a good Atari game. 2002 in particular looks to be a fair bit of the beginning of what might end up being a revival of Atari as a third party brand. It's a shame that they can't make a new console in their new form." - Gamespot, 2002 RED FACTION: THE FIRST INSTALLMENTS Every video game company has to start somewhere, and just like Bungie with the Marathon series, Volition's first truly hit series was none other than the 'Red Faction' franchise. It is perhaps best known nowadays for being the franchise in which the megacorporation known as Ultor was first introduced to the world, but is also known for it's heavy themes, especially with undertones of revolution. Like many games that came out in the early 2000's, it was a first person shooter. The original game, released in May of 2001, featured 'GeoMod Techhology', allowing you to actually alter the surrounding terrain and buildings, often using things like explosives. Using this, you can actually make alternative paths for yourself or get in the way of your enemies - and in general it is a feature unique to it not seen in many other first person shooters - much less the ones being released at the time. The entire premise of Red Faction is basically taking place in a science fiction future in which Mars has been colonized by humans and is being mined for minerals since Earth's own minerals have been depleted. Thus, the Ultor Corporation finds itself in charge of the operations on Mars. Unfortunately, Ultor doesn't exactly give the miners a better life or a brighter future because living conditions are horrible, human rights even worse, and there is a horrible disease that is spreading around - culminating in the spark that ignites a full on revolution. Ultimately, your main character, Parker, travels through Ultor's complex and learns all sorts of dark secrets about the company along the way as he kills everything the business throws at him and even destroys their space station! However, with the earth defense showing up and an antidote found, things turn out to have a happy ending. The original Red Faction overall was a fantastic early 2000's shooter, and a great start for a company that would only move on to bigger and better projects. Though as is to be expected, the game by modern standards is a bit dated - especially in the graphics department. Still though I'd be lying if I said those early 3D graphics don't have a bit of nostalgic old timey charm to them, as cheesy as they look in some cases. It was released for the Sega (Sony) Neptune, and the PC and even had an N-Gage port at one point - and yes it had online multiplayer. Red Faction II on the other hand was released for the Neptune, Nokia Neo, PC and even the GameCube in October of 2002, and like the original was developed by Volition and published by THQ - yes the same THQ known for most of the Nickelodeon liscensed games. It keeps the Geo-Mod engine from the original game, and has a local multiplayer with a lot of game modes to choose from such as Deathmach, Bagman, Arena and even Capture the Flag. It's comparable to Halo and Battlefield. Red Faction II takes place five years after the events of the first game, and the nanotechnology developed by a character from the original game who was the head of Ultor's science division ha been claimed by the Earth Defense Force. With this technology, they actually revive the Ultor Corporation - only this time with a focus on supersolidiers and weapons. So yeah they basically want their own version of Master Chief. However, most of the doctor's research has been stolen by other groups, and switched hands many times over. The player character himself is also trying to claim the research - for a entity known as the Republic of the Commonwealth. What's very interesting about the story mode of this game is that there are actually four possible endings that are all determined on your Heroics score at the end of the game - but unfortunately it's not like you can make much other drastic changes in the story. On it's release, Red Faction II's Neptune & GameCube ports were seen as oddly superior to the Neo & PC ports. Granted it wasn't by much, but that's how the reviews viewed it. I personally don't really see much of a difference, but I don't want to bother getting into it. As a whole, the first two Red Faction games were a good beginning to a series that really put Volition's name on the map and showed THQ was more than just the people that made the Nickelodeon games. - Jack Moore, Blog Post, 2014 GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY Released in October of 2002, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was the sixth entry in the Grand Theft Auto series, and the first main entry in the series since 2001's Grand Theft Auto III. Released right around the same time as Halo and Battlefield 1942 and both developed and published by Rockstar, it was but another push of mature content games into mainstream console gaming. Takin place within the fictional Vice City, we follow Tommy Vercetti who just got out of prison not long before getting caught up in an ambushed drug deal, following it up with taking down those responsible, building a criminal empire of his own, and seizing power from other crime lords in the process. So indeed, you are most certainly not playing as a 'hero' this time, at least not in the usual sense. But the others are worse than you anyway......debatably. With how most people tend to drive around the streets in this game that probably isn't quite true. The gameplay of GTA: Vice City is done through a third-person perspective, dropping you as Tommy into Vice City to basically run around and do whatever you want, with the expansive city being a sandbox style open world filled with pedestrians, missions and all sorts of other activities - whether they are legal or not - and a lot of them aren't. In fact, the more illegal things you do, the higher your notoriety goes. The more stars you get, the more determined the police will be to get you, eventually reaching the basically undefeatable feds themselves stepping in. Trust me when I say they are truly relentless, but it makes for a great endurance test. Also, you can finally drive motorcycles. Interesting is the combat system of the game, which includes an auto-aim system that can be used to assist you in gun fire against enemies, and on that same subject there are many different gangs in the city, and completing certain missions will both please and offend different gangs. Ones that like you will help you, while ones that don't will want you dead. It's as simple as that. If you're down on money, you can just outright purchase businesses....if you have the money for it. Though you do have to do missions in order to accomplish this. Really virtually everything in the game is dependent on missions, whether they are small or big. While GTA: Vice City is a fantastic game for it's time, and one of the more ambitious titles of the era too, very well deserving of the praise that it got when it came out - one can't talk about this game without mentioning the controversy that came out because of it. It is much more than just some complaints about a mature, crime-centered game. It goes straight into the territory of lawsuits being filed - all while being labeled as violent and explicit. For one, civil rights groups felt that because the player fights gangs of immigrant groups such as Haitians and Cubans, the game is some kind of invitiation to commit ethnic hate groups - and using discriminatory language. This got to the extent that outright protests were staged against the game - and led to several ordinances prohibiting the sale of violent video games in several areas - adding that ontop of the fact it already had a censored version made for Australia. Sad thing is how common it is for the GTA series to be involved in these kinds of things. It's practically become standard. Whether you like the games or not, one can't deny that they are a major bringer of cash for Rockstar - hence why they never stop despite the drama they get. In fact, I wouldn't even be surprised if the drama is part of why they make the company so much money. - Spencer Barnes, Blog Post, 2012 KING OF FIGHTERS 2002 October, 2002 The Dream Match is Happening Again! The King of Fighters 2002 Join the battle with 39 of our best characters, including those unique ones from the past! Enjoy the new MAX power system that is even easier to use and play! You, too, can fully master the battle of your dreams with the newly revived 3 on 3 battle! Available on SNK Neo Geo arcade cabinets, home systems, and Nokia Neo - Back Cover for a release of King of Fighters 2002. The game, as stated, was released for SNK's own original home systems and arcade cabinets, but as also available on the Nokia Neo. RATCHET & CLANK November, 2002 There is nothing small about this game - Advertisement for Ratchet & Clank, developed by Insomniac Games for the Sony Neptune. Following a feline-like humanoid known as a lombax, the game is both an action platformer and a third-person shooter, and the beginning of the franchise effectively owned by Sony itself. "Lots of people were for some reasons that eludes me, asking for a game where Sonic had a gun and was shooting people. Ratchet & Clank being exclusive to us, gave them what they wanted without ruining our most prized possession. I don't know about you, but I for one would rather not turn Sonic into 'Medal of Hedgehog'." - Tom Kalinske, 2003 interview with Gamespot "Though his name has some interesting meanings for some people, I always loved Ratchet. I won't lie though, when this game came out I first thought it was a spin-off of the Sonic universe but I was proven wrong because for once the hedgehog is not present in the game what-so-ever from what I can tell. Which is good, he really doesn't have much of any place in the universe that Ratchet & Clank sets up for itself. I personally love all of these duos that Sony has under it's belt, it seems to be something of a theme for them." - Eliseo Martin, Gamespot, 2007 "Ratchet was a jerk in the first game. It was only fixed in the later ones, where they realized how bad it was. Even then, it was fortunate that the franchise proved rather successful because I'm very fond of it if I do say so myself." - YouTube Comment, 2006 SPYRO THE DRAGON: A FRANCHISE It all began with the 3DO M2, and Insomniac Games. With those two things combined in 1998, the Spyro the Dragon franchise was born. Spyro the Dragon is a franchise of the platformer genre, making it one with the Sonics, the Marios and the Banjo-Kazooies. The Spyro series itself started out much like those did, with the basic mascot character in Spyro the Dragon himself, a spunky purple dragon with flight, fire breath, everything you'd ask for in an anthro dragon character from the late 90's. Released for the 3DO M2, the original Spyro game was one of it's signature games that got it to sell in those early Pre-Neptune years of it's life, before everything started going rapdily down hill for the sadly ill-fated system. Ultimately, Spyro spawned a total of four major game released on the 3DO M2. Spyro the Dragon released in 1998, Ripto's Rage in 1999, and Year of the Dragon in 2000. In 2001, a portable release 'Season of the Ice' was released on the GameBoy Advance. Being that 2001 was the final year of 3DO as a console maker before they transformed completely into Panasonic's third party game division, Year of the Dragon would be the last 3DO Spyro game. In fact, some worried it may have been the final home console game of Spyro ever. Though thankfully they were proven wrong. You see Spyro was not initially owned by 3DO at all; rather the rights to franchise were owned by Universal, they just happened to agree to letting the franchise be solely released on 3DO systems until 3DO dropped out of the console war completely in the wake of Sony putting down their full weight (and Halo not being ready on time). It should also be noticed that Season of Ice also wasn't even developed by Insomniac games, and neither would any of the future games in the series. The fall of 3DO did not also mean it was the fall of Spyro, however. Year of the Dragon was ported to the Nintendo GameCube in 2001, becoming the first multi-platform Spyro game, and in some regions was even a launch title for the system - right alongside the original mascot of 3DO Gex who also was forced to make the transition from first to third party. The port was thankfully a rather decent one, though was effectively just slapped together for the monetary gain considering almost nothing at all was actually changed from the original, aside from some graphical tweaks. The other Spyro titles would also see ports onto the other contemporary consoles in the coming years following the discontinuation of the M2. As a whole, the initial period of Spyro was the series' golden age. Again, while not the highest selling game franchise in the industry's history, it remained a popular one with millions of copies sold under it's belt, and the target demographic for it - children - remained in love with the little purple dragon. However, gaming was changing once 3DO, transformed by then into P.I.E., finally released Halo for the Nokia Neo - and began to rebuild all of the finances they had been losing since before they had to drop out of the console race to begin with. This is important for Spyro, because it was after Halo was released to the world that Panasonic approached Universal with the idea of purchasing the franchise from them, and once the agreement had been made Spyro - one of the M2's higher selling games, finally became an official property of the company that once benefited of it as something close to a second party title for it's own consoles. While no longer made by Insomniac and also no longer on a 3DO system, the Spyro series was now technically be handled by the development studios of what used to be 3DO themselves - or people they outsourced to. At the time of the purchase, one Spyro game, Enter the Dragonfly, was under development. Slated for a Winter 2002 release, Panasonic - possibly using Halo as an example, delayed the game for 2003. - Eliseo Martin, Blog Post, 2012 SONIC MEGA COLLECTION November, 2002 8 Great Hits! + Extra Games! + Bonus Features! - Front cover for Sonic Mega Collection, a compilation title that includes Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog CD, Sonic Spinball, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles (alongside Knuckles in Sonic 2, Blue Sphere, Sonic 3 & Knuckles), Sonic 3D Blast, Flicky, Ristar, Comix Zone and The Ooze. Released exclusively (as to be expected) for the Neptune. It also featured sans of most contemporary Archie comic covers, illustrations of various characters, and a handful of promotional video material. SUPER MONKEY BALL 2 November, 2002 The Ultimate Party Game Returns!!! Your favorite monkeys are back with 12 unbelievable Party Games, an all-new Story Mode, and over 150 new stages! Let the good times roll! Only on Sony Neptune - Back cover for Super Monkey Ball 2, the first game of the series to have a storyline - in the process introducing the villain Dr. Bad-boon. "I never knew that I could love a video game series about adorable monkeys rolling around inside of balls but yet here we are." - YouTube Comment, 2009 SPACE CHANNEL 5 PART 2 November, 2002 The grooviest broadcast this side of Venus! It's the 25th Century and our intergalactic reporter finds herself in two huge-spanning Adventures in futuristic neo-'60's style. Ulala must face a group of intergalactic terrorists who have designs on world domination. Using a special 'danca ray' that mesmerizes people, the evil invaders are hell-bent on taking over, and the only coming between them is Ulala and some pretty geoovt danca moves! - Back cover for Space Channel 5 part 2, sequel to Space Channel 5 and another major Neptune exclusive title. METROID PRIME November, 2002 Evil Waits below the surface... Something sinister lurks in the depths of planet Tallon IV. Interstellar bounty hunter Samus Aran is the only one who can destroy this evil... But first it must be found. - Back Cover for Metroid Prime, the Nintendo GameCube's definitive Metroid title, and Metroid's first true 3D title. "Metroid Prime is by far one of the GameCube's very best titles - a definite must have for any true fan of Nintendo. Like Super Mario 64 was for Mario himself, it was the introduction of Samus and Metroid into the world of 3D gaming, and it is one of the first serious yet awesome shooting games without an 'M' rating present on it - though it is rated 'T'. And thankfully in classic Nintendo style it offers it's own experience rather than being a copy of Battlefield or Halo. Everything about this game to me really shows just how capable the GameCube as a console is, which most of Nintendo's main line of games always does for all of their systems." - Vicente Barnes, IGN, 2002 THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: WIND WAKER November, 2002 An Evil Wind is Blowing Legend has it that whenever evil has appeared, a hero named Link has arisen to defeat it. That legend continues on the surface of a great and mysterious sea as Link sets off on his most epic and awe-inspiring adventure yet. Aided by a magical conductor's baton called the Wind Waker, he will face unimaginable monsters, explore puzzling dungeons, and meet a cast of unforgettable characters as he searches for his kidnapped sister. - Back over for the Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, the first Legend of Zelda title released for the Nintendo GameCube. PANZER DRAGOON ORTA December, 2002 The era of human prosperity has come to a grinding halt, with all but a few pockets of civilization destroyed by years of devastating battles. A new Empire rules with an iron grip, and a band of rebels begins a revolt in an attempt to become masters of their destiny once again. As the world is engulfed in the flames of war, an unlikely and unwilling Hero must become mankind's only hope. The Dragon will rise again. - Back cover for Panzer Dragoon Orta, 2002's Panzer Dragon title and as such a popular Neptune exclusive. "Those who say Sony buying Sega was a mistake clearly have not played Panzer Dragoon Orta yet. This is dare I say one of the best games on the Neptune, if not of all time. The storyline, graphics and sound are all perfect in a combination that makes this one of the best rail shooters of all time - especially after Star Fox's stunt this year. However, the game is rather hard even on the easiest settings - if you can beat this game on normal, you're pretty much a true gamer." - IGN Reviewer, 2002 "This game puts hair on your chest." - Anonymous comment, 2002 "Sure, this game looks beautiful, and is one of the best shooters we've ever played, but we just can't explain how therapeutic it is to incinerate everything with the power of a thousand George Foreman Grills." - Maxim, 2002 "The only crime this game commits is being too short. Way, way too short. After SA2 I would have expected a lot more content." - Anonymous comment, 2002 "When Yamauchi turned down Sony, they created their own worst enemy." - Anonymous comment, 2002 RAGE OF THE DRAGONS December, 2002 Iron hands wipe out evil! Out now! Rage of the Dragons. In a town ruled by an evil religious cult, the battle to decide the strongest dragon begins! Each contestant is a champion who contends with the power of mighty dragons: Black Dragon, Red Dragon, Blue Dragon, and White Dragon. Go head to head in a tag-team partnership to test your attack and defense in the heat of battle. - Back cover for Rage of the Dragons - released on Neo Geo, Neo Geo home consoles, and the Nokia Neo. The latter release was international and in December, but original releases were in September of 2002. Spoiler: SA2 vs Super Mario Sunshine (Warning: Long) SONIC ADVENTURE 2 VS SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE In 1996, two games were released opposite each other. Sonic X-Treme, or Sonic Saturn, and Super Mario 64. Since that fateful day, the fanbases of these two games have been at each other's throats in a debate over which game is better and which franchise truly won the console wars - something which the former game's company claimed to have been victorious in. In 2002, though not on the same day, the sequel would be released to the world when Sonic Adventure 2 and Super Mario Sunshine were released within the same year. One in the first half, the other in the second half. While the debate is not nearly as long lasting as the legendary original one, it nonetheless is a clearly defined member of the everlasting console war - perhaps it's even one of the last echoes of that age old conflict. Now, unlike the original two games where the two effectively did the same thing in bringing the two major franchises of gaming into the 3D age, Sunshine and Adventure 2 are about as different from eachother as Night and Day unless you are really into nitpicking and find ridiculously minor similarities between the two. Regardless of that however, here I am comparing and contrasting the two just because they were Sonic and Mario games released in the same year. Oh well. Though saying that, the two were to bring their respective franchises onto the new generation of consoles - with both the GameCube and Neptune lacking a mainstream Mario and/or Sonic game at the time - only Smash Bros., Luigi's Mansion, Shuffle and a re-release of the previous title. The Development Cycle for Sonic Adventure 2 was, to say the least, a bit controversial. Most of the game had been developed by Sega Technical Institute, though many key members of Sonic Team - Yujia Naka and Takashi Izuka included - were involved in creative input and artwork for the game. Beginning in 1999, thinks were going smoothly, until Sony took over Sega and absorbed it completely into Sony Computer Entertainment - creating the modern entity known as SSCEE. Or, as Nintendo once called them, the artist formerly known as Sega. This sudden change in administration resulted in Sonic Adventure 2 being among the games that were delayed as a result - shifting the release from June of 2001, to December of 2001. Things however, did continue to go smoothly after that, until around the time of Jak & Daxter's release when the game was delayed a second time, apparently for 'quality assurance'. This would put the game on it's final release date - February 2002. Yup. SA2 on 2-2-02. Classic Sega. Not a whole lot is known about why the delays happened, twice, but it is known that during the second delay most of the in-game cutscenes and even the character animations were all completely redone, along with the graphics getting an overhaul presumably to better match up with Sony's other contemporary releases. In my opinion I find it a bit petty to make the game be delayed just to improve the graphics, but Sonic is the face of Sony - a company which just the previous year had a movie more successful than Disney's yearly film. Super Mario Sunshine's development meanwhile was a bit less eventful, I don't recall any major delays occurring, after all. That said, the game's unique concept of Mario spraying water did come from fan desire to see Mario shooting - something which plagued the Sonic fandom at the time too. I would ask how that came about, but I think we already know the answer.Regardless, Nintendo shifted into a water gun, then a water pump with accompanying dude, then finally into the talking robotic water nozel we all know and love today. There was a lot of other cut content too though, like realistic humans, a station system, and a much larger Delfino Plaza - to name a few. While it's sad to see some of these things go, sometimes going simple is the best thing, especially for an E-rated game. While there weren't any major delays, it can still be seen that Nintendo took their time with the game, as they always do. They didn't need a change in management to make them do it, they were doing it from the start. Development history is not the only differences between the games though - their stories for example couldn't be any more different than they are. By the way, spoilers ahead. The plot of Super Mario Sunshine is simple. Mario, Peach, the Toads, and a new character named Toadsworth are all going on vacation to the tropical Isle Delfino, some Dolphin shaped Island in the middle of the ocean. It would've all been good if the island hadn't have been polluted by what I really hope is paint as they say because sometimes I'm really not sure. Regardless, Mario is arrested and blamed for both the pollution and the resulting absence of the shine sprites - darkening the island's skies. Sentenced to clean the island or never leave it, even though he probably would've helped anyway all things considered, Mario is joined by the talking water-spewing jet pack/hose/robot known as FLUDD in his quest to clear his name and clear the muck off of the island. Also, spoiler alert that probably isn't much of one but the actual culprits are in fact Bowser and his now iconic but then newly created son Bowser Jr. While there are, well, I guess you could say sub-plots in the loosest sense of the word in the form of random tasks you do during the individual episodes of each level - such as the sandbird, fighting bosses such as Petty Piranha and Gooper Blooper, and racing some guy in a bad costume - but I say loosest since of the word because these don't exactly have cutscenes and hardly ever feature in more than one 'episode'. Still, all of these are actually pretty fun do thanks to Mario's more versatile than ever before jumping maneuvers with FLUDD which can make finding alternative paths to victory all the more possible - much moreso than in 64. Still, the plot in Sunshine in general is very simple, you won't notice it so much as the gameplay. Oh and no I'm not going to talk about the Bowser Jr. believes his mother is Peach at first 'twist'. Wait.... Yeah, I'm not going to elaborate any further. Just know that once Mario gets to the theme park, the 'Shadow Mario' turns out to be Bowser Jr. (but Mario still has to clean everything up anyway) who is under the belief Peach is his 'mama'.....but in the ending of the game we are thankfully told it's not true (thank Miyamoto). Aside from that, there actually isn't much the plot. Whereas Sonic Adventure 2's is gonna be total TL;DR territory, Super Mario Sunshine really doesn't require much in the way of plot unless you really do want every single mission of every single level detailed to you. With Sonic Adventure 2, things are far more complex. As is to be expected, Sony was at the absolute peak of their ego so they really wanted to outshine Nintendo in every possible aspect of game development. Whether they did or not though is up for debate, but they clearly wanted SA2 to be the badass game that everyone just believes is superior to Sunshine. Whereas Sunshine is characterized by the bright sunny beach, Sonic Adventure 2 is characterized by the stars against backdrop of the night - or against space. The plot of Sonic Adventure 2 goes like this - there actually four stories to choose from. The main Hero and Dark stories, and two side storylines following a character of either alignment. In the main plotline, Dr. Eggman - Robotnik - infiltrates a military facility where he steals his deceased grandfather's brain (this game is rated E so it's tame) and awakens Shadow the Hedgehog - the Ultimate Lifeform created by his grandfather, who tells him to collect the emeralds and meet him on the Space Colony ARK. While the logic behind this is questionable, Sonic is blamed for this, captured, escapes, pursued, encounters Shadow who was also in that part of the city, and then is captured again. Oh and Eggman was viewing all of this from his pyramid base while Rouge the Bat - another newbie - was messing with Knuckles and gathering shards of the master emerald. As Eggman meets up with Shadow on the ARK, Rouge infiltrates Eggman's base and follows him there where she convinces both of them to team up with her if they want more Chaos Emeralds. Then they head to the Prison Island to steal the Chaos Emeralds and blow the place up, while Tails and Amy are there to bust out Sonic. This naturally results in a confrontation with Eggman. Anyway, Sonic is busted out, the bad guys blow up the island, and finally all the characters have met each other in some form or another. After that, the Dark Team shows off the Eclipse Canon's capabilities by blowing up half of the moon, which Shadow claims "fell on deaf ears". I would comment on that but I have a theory that maybe Eggman's past with the Death Egg & Chaos is the reason behind this? Or maybe I'm just dumbfounded by how blowing up half the moon "falls on deaf ears". Anyway, Rouge is sent to chase after Tails while Tails chases after the president so he and Sonic can learn that Eggman is transmitting his evil from space. Then, Tails and co. are chased by Shadow. The heroes then infiltrate the pyramid base together, battle with Egg Robo, a giant ghost, and a giant golem (No really) before finding a rocket ship and flying off to the ARK. Knuckles does crash the thing though and yet again splits off from the group. On the ARK, Tails takes out the main power supply and Sonic goes to dunk their fake emerald into the machine, but Eggman holds Amy at gun point, lures Sonic and Tails to him, and sends Sonic out of the colony where he seemingly explodes in a capsule but really doesn't because he escaped at the last minute. Shadow deduces Rouge's identity as a government spy after she had her own confrontration with Knuckles, and then heads off to have a final showdown with Sonic. The two stories that aren't the 'full team' ones are Knuckles and "Unknown". Both of these stories are very simple, at least compared to the main two. The basic plot for Knuckles' segment is that the master emerald is shattered in a confrontation with the Rouge Bat. He finds some initial pieces on Angel Island, but has to hire the good ol' Chaotix to guard the island for him while he sets out to find the rest before Rouge does. No really, they return in a non playable cameo. Heck, he also fights that ol' Egg Robo throughout his stages too, and even in a true boss fight twice, same with Rouge. For the most part though, Knuckles' story is just a reason to get the Master Emerald onto the ARK and to throw in nostalgia trips for long time fans of the franchise, since this game's release date was actually Sonic 3's anniversary. As I said in the Hero story, it lines up with that one once he meets up with them, and once he's on the ARK he finds the last pieces and does battle with Rouge & Robo one more time. Interestingly he does have a run-in with Gerald, who we will talk about right now. For starters, Gerald is actually the true main antagonist of the game and the secondary unplayable character of Metal Sonic's story - G. is the brain of Eggman's grandfather having been put inside of a 'Silver Sonic II' robot, probably to access his knowledge and "diary". Gerald however takes over the body and becomes yet another robot that gained self awareness and turned on the good ol' doctor. He's also the "Unknown" character. For the most part, this story is effectively training as an Eggman robot against your fellow creations before getting sent out to do Eggman robot things, only to head off to do your own agenda instead. Most of this plot is present to clear up plot holes and explain why the Master Emerald is needed, it isn't the most necessary thing but I guess they gotta make their personal fan-fictions canon. Most of the things you do in this story arc ties into the final story. And then we get to the last story segment - and brief tangent here but Jesus Christ since when did Sonic have this much more of a complicated plot line than Mario? Like, good lord Mario only took like one paragraph to actually explain and even then there's not much to the mini plots within each mission it's like just race this guy, beat this boss, find these coins, go to this part in the level, platform through this obstacle course, but Sonic is going all out with this giant Prison Break out-Egypt Expedition-Star Wars drama plot that is like cool and all but jesus this is taking up so much of the discussion. I'm actually still summarizing it by the way. Anyway, thankfully the last story is very straight forward and short. It starts with Sonic heading back to the main lab of the ARK to meet back up with Tails, Amy and Knuckles. After that, it turns out Gerald's shenanigans have caused the Space Colony ARK to fall, as it was all part of Gerald & Shadow's plan to avenge the death of Gerald's granddaughter Maria when the military raided and shut down the ARK 50 years prior - in turn spurring Gerald to create Shadow in the first place. They want to destroy the entire world, if you didn't catch my drift. Tails, Eggman, Rouge, Knuckles and Sonic all team up with each other to head into the Eclipse Cannon's core to stop the end of the world as we know it. Amy just kinda stays behind, again. However, this is good because she talks Shadow out of being evil just in time for him to help everyone against both his creator and his massive lizard prototype. This does however, lead into a truly iconic moment in which both Sonic & Shadow turn Super to combat the Biolizard for a second and final time on the outside of the ARK - where it is supported by Gerald himself as they try still to crash it into the earth. Luckily, Sonic and Shadow stop them and use Chaos Control to put the ARK back in place - though Shadow sacrifices himself in the process. With all of that, things wrap up inside the main lab of the ARK, where everyone has some enlightening, solemn small talk to some nice, somewhat tragic music before Live and Learn plays one last time for the end credits. So ends, the story of Sonic Adventure 2. Okay, so, now I can mention Sunshine again. Who has the better story? Is that really fair at all? Mario just has a basic clean up the island, clear your name, find out it's Bowser and put a stop to Bowser plotline that is easy to follow with only the most minor of world building for Isle Delfino. Sonic Adventure 2 basically has a straight film plot stuffed like a thanksgiving turkey full of plot, lore, drama and action that unravels between four entire arcs and takes more than one paragraph to actually do it justice in what is supposed to be a summary. Overall, I will say that Sonic Adventure 2 has the most engaging plot, though Sunshine has the easier to follow plot I blame Yuji Naka. Dude was way too obsessed with turning Sonic into an RPG, apparently not satisfied with those Japan only Sonic RPG games - the stories of which are also incrdedibly less complicated than this by the way. However, story is hardly the most important part of either a Sonic or a Mario game, what about the gameplay? The gameplay of both games at their core is that of a platformer - which given the franchises is basically a no-brainer. With only character to play as, Mario is yet again the simplest and quickest to summarize. As is customary for Mario, the name of the game is jumping - and boy can Mario jump. The GameCube controller is truly amazing for this game, as with the controll stick Mario and spray his water in all sorts of spins, twirls and even flips, and can stomp his way through crates and into the underground with the press of the B button. The water cannon on his back makes him for his lack of fire power in this game, and as said before offers a very creative way to complete levels - in fact you can get used to the robotic guy so when those missions where he gets taken away come along you may have to adjust to not having around to save you from a fall. Not to say that doing so isn't rewarding, mind you. Point is, Mario may be one character but he has a jack-of-all-trades quality to him, in that he can solve just about any level without the need to switch someone else - even if you could. All he needs in this game is FLUDD, which is fair thanks to the levels being designed with him in mind. You will need him to slide enemies to the edges of platforms so you can stomp them off, and you most certainly need his assistance when it comes to the boss battles. He even comes with - albeit temporary - upgrades that give him abilities other than the basic spray and hover nozzles, the rocket and turbo nozzles. Both of which have their moments of being incredibly useful if not actualy necessary. Then, there's the inclusion of Yoshi. Yoshi is very interesting in that there is no basic green yoshi, and he can shoot juice out of his mouth - ammo supplied by edible fruits found throughout the island. Instead, his colour changes based on what fruit he ate, which also affects the colour of his spray. Regardless, he serves as both a flutter jump, something to ride, but most importantly his spray helps you get into some secret areas that can help you get special shine sprites that you wouldn't otherwise have gotten! Though on that note, 100% completion of Sunshine doesn't really get you anything actually worth playing for......at all. But at the very least, the journey to get that reward is still very fun and impossible to hate! Plus, the graphics on the water are absolutely superb. Sunshine also technically has the better looking cutscenes, but to be fair, Sunshine uses pre-rendered cutscenes when it has scenes play, while Sonic Adventure 2 almost strictly uses the in-game models & textures, with only a handful of pre-rendered cutscenes found during the game. Then we get to Sonic Adventure 2, which while it has much more playable characters that actually is quite a fair bit deceptive, because most of them copy a 'counterpart' character's gameplay style completely. For example, Sonic & Shadow play exactly alike, Tails & Eggman play mostly alike, and Knuckles & Rouge play exactly alike. Metal Sonic is a hybrid of the first two playstyles. What I like about this game's gameplay is every single button is actually put to use in some unique way - or at least all of the main ones are. For Sonic & Shadow, this is most evident. Their gameplay is your basic Point A-to-Point B high speed platforming, with levels designed around that - though with a surprising amount of branching pathways. The newest ability in Sonic's arsenal, shared with both Metal & Shadow, is grinding on rails. Switching rails is very smooth, using a trigger button when the condition of their being a rail on the correct side not being grinded on is met, rather than the action button used for spin dashes, and sommersaults. Even the light speed dash now uses a separate button! Homing attack is still basically the replacement for a double jump though. Even the light speed dash, which thankfully returns, now uses a separate button than the other major actions and no longer needs to be charged - which is very good for when those trails of rings are over bottomless pits - which is rather common. Upgrades only improve their abilities, from flame somersaults to the light attack and Sonic's bounce attack. Then there's their slightly modified counterpart, "Unknown". "Unknown" can shoot targets using eye beams, missiles from his hands, and can dash right into them. In his boss fights (against him) he also has a freeze ray and electric grappling cables which the player can't use. Speaking of which, Tails & Eggman. Their play-styles are similar to Gamma's from the original Adventure game, with both of them being in walking mechs that shoot both bullets and fire a lock-on laser. However, you no longer need to worry about a time limit. For the most part, the mechs can't do much else but shoot, lock-on, jump, and hover - and they get upgrades to their weapons, and in Eggman's case even armour. There are however two staggering differences between their playstyles. Tails can actually get out of his mech - allow him to use his tails to attack and fly and actually most importantly of all actually hack into enemies in order to turn them against each other while having an overall faster travel speed. Eggman meanwhile, can transform his vehicle into either a flying egg-mobile or a driving/boating mode, allowing him to explore more of his levels and get to alternate pathways more easily. Both of their levels are also Point A-B, but are filled with more enemies and platforming to compensate for their abilities. Then, we finally get to Knuckles & Rouge - who are also basically exactly the same as each other. Surprisingly fast on their feet, with prominent melee attacks, a radar and the ability to both glide and climb walls - oh and to dig too with upgrades. The only real difference between how either of them control is that Rouge kicks while Knuckles punches. Their levels are interesting in that they are very much like a miniature open world, to a point where in some cases I could see some of these levels existing in say Jak & Daxter - I wouldn't be surprised if some of the folks over at Sony were inspired during development. Instead, the things you need to find - usually emeralds, emerald shards, or keys, serve as three separate goal rings. The differences between levels is that Knuckles' levels include sub-bosses with Egg Robo while Rouge's levels actually have their fair share of stealth mechanics, fitting her role in the story. Amy is also present, but while she was apparently originally intended to be playable in the story mode, she was eventually scrapped. She is however playable in the Chao Garden, Kart Racing and Multiplayer. Why she was scrapped is uncertain. Her gameplay is effectively just like Sonic & Shadow, only she's notably slower. Now, the similarities between everyone actually fits into the theme of the game - that of Good vs Evil. Now, being this is still Sonic, the game doesn't go that in-depth on this theme, but as you may have picked up between the names of the story, the similarities with the plot, and even the logo of the game there are tons of "good and evil" references throughout the entire game. Heck, Shadow's first level is at night, while Sonic's is at day. Super Mario Sunshine's story meanwhile, well, I can't knock it. The theme of the game is not the intricate battle of Good against Evil or Night against Day, but is just a fun vacation with things that either go along with a beach or resort island setting or are otherwise things kids would enjoy during the summer. Even though the game didn't come out until after Summer was already done. Oops. Anyway, another thing I saved until now is where Sonic Adventure 2 really clobbers Sunshine - content. Now, what I mean is that in Sunshine you got a lot of stages with a lot of missions and an interesting, beautiful world to run and jump around in complete with solid Nintendo gameplay, but with Sonic Adventure 2 you get all of that and more with two things: Multiplayer, and Chao Garden. Multiplayer is self explanatory and is something completely lacking in Super Mario Sunshine. You can compete for world rankings online and/or battle with each other either offline or online, though only 2 play against each other at a time. There's Race, Shooting, Hunting, Kart Race and Chao Race/Karate modes for multiplayer, each with their own specific set of characters to use for each. In addition to the main characters, you can play as Chaos, Metal Knuckles, Tikal, Amy, Silver Sonic II ("Gerald"), Big the Cat, Chao Walker and even Egg Robo. This adds a lot of replay value to the game and gives it a powerful edge against Sunshine, making up for any brain confusion it's story may cause you. Many hours have been lost to this game mode and it's variety - far too many for me to count. And then, finally, the Chao Garden. This is perhaps the main reason people continue to play Sonic Adventure 2 many years after the game initially came out. What is the Chao Garden? Well, something that feels like an entirely different game in and of itself. It was initially present in Sonic Adventure and that game's one-year-later Neptune port in which you go to a select 'garden' area and hatch these adorable little critters known as Chao from eggs and raise them with a character of your choice. It sounds basic, but there is a TON that goes into this if you actually care about Chao enough. The genetics of Chao breeding can result in seemingly infinite variations of Chao colouration, and with SA2 introducing Hero-Dark alignments there are even more evolution types for your Chao rather than just their elemental skill type. It's like having a Tomogachi, but in 3D. You can even pit these things against each other in Races or in Karate, where their skill grades and levels come into play - encouraging you to get the Chao Garden emblems by raising Super Soldier Chao. I really hand it to Sony's teams on this one, the Chao Garden definitely had effort put into it. You can play as all the main characters plus Amy in this mode too, presumably to even out the characters, this is the only time in which you ever see Eggman outside of his mech barring cutscenes. Though while it is both incredibly unique and fun once you get into it, I do admit that it's a bit unfortunate that for 100% completion it is necessary - trust me when I say that raising a Chao that actually does win those races and battles is incredibly time consuming as it takes a few good real life hours for those little guys to evolve. So trust me when I say dedication is required. Oh and for all 180 Emblems you get a 3D version of Green Hill to play around with as Sonic. I think they were focusing on all of the other content so much that they didn't have time to put much else. It is however better than Sunshine's postcard you get for 100% completion. I'm serious. In conclusion, Sony during the Neptune era honestly went straight up overboard when it came to Sonic. Calling SA2 better than Sunshine honestly feels unfair because sure Mario has superb gameplay, beautiful graphics and a simple, easy to follow and lovably family friendy storyline but SA2 has like two truckloads of more content to itself than Sunshine has. I'm not really going to say which one is objectively better because sometimes, Sonic Adventure 2 is certainly overwhelming, but Super Mario Sunshine like I said doesn't have as much extra content other than, well, Single player stuff. Since, that's the only mode Sunshine actually has. Seriously though, they really did need to make some spin-offs for the Hedgehog because SA2's plot is complicated as heck. - Ellis Watts, Blog Post, 2012 "TL;DR" - Anonymous Comment on the above blog post I do apologize if the ending bit is too long, it's the replacement of the "Games of" segment I used to talk about games with noteworthy differences ITTL. I put a spoiler just in case it's too long. I may remove it if it's biased/ASB or if it's just better as a separate post.