RPGamer Awards 2003 2003 Results  

   Fun Value
   Battle System


Best RPG

For many years, the staff has set out on their own with the RPGamer awards results. Then there are some years where we just plain don't agree with our readers. This is one of those years, with readers voting for the more slightly predictable winners, while a panel of eleven staff members chose a slightly more eclectic group. Just what does the staff feel make a great game? You may be able to guess from other lists, but you just might find yourself surprised by a few of the lesser known, lesser played, lesser voted for games that rank on the staff's list for 2003 Role Playing Game of the Year.

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness

Taking the top slot this year for the best RPG is a game that not many chose to trumpet from the mountaintops and the readers pretty much ignored. In fact, they probably didn't even bother whispering it in the valley, but they made a grave error in snubbing this hilarious tactical fighter. The sharp, comical, and often witty Atlus game, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, captured the majority of the staff members' hearts this year. Its clever and silly script left our staff members in stitches, ensuring that it would be a top ranker. Add in a likeable cast of assorted demons and anti-heroes with an innovation-pushing tactical battle system for your little demon and you've got a winner. Who knew this little number from Atlus would get the top nod from staff? Apparently no one.

Final Fantasy XI

Taking a bow in the silver slot at the RPG of the Year podium is a game that you would expect to be on the list, but did we make a mistake putting the wrong number? Nope, the staff really voted the latest massively multiplayer online role playing game, Final Fantasy XI, as the second-best RPG of the year. It features addictive gameplay that racks up months-long playtime (and we're talking without breaks here, folks...). Get ready to quit your job to explore the world of Vana'Diel, with its diverse races, beautiful atmosphere, and massive amounts of replay value as you can team up with just about anyone from anywhere in Japan or the United States. However, be ready for a headache-inducing experience trying to communicate with the broken Engrish that comes out of the very limited translation service.

Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter

Rounding out the top three for the best RPG of 2003 comes from a staple series in the genre. I know what you're thinking, but here you won't find the words "final", "fantasy", or "sin". This year, staff members decided to honor the long-standing and much respected Capcom Breath of Fire series, and most namely the latest sequel to the story of the anthromorphic dragon clan, Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter. Although the graphics may not be the world's best, Dragon Quarter's storyline made up for it and it made up for any other problem it had. Along with an in-depth and much loved storyline come changes in a battle system, eliminating the random battles in favor of a new strategy-centric method of battle. You can fight or you can trap and run, and in the mind of RPGamer staff members it certainly wins the fight.

Dark Cloud 2

Approaching the top three slots for this year is another dark horse of a game that didn't even see the light of day in the reader's awards, or almost any awards at all. One of the most original games in terms of gameplay, and the sequel to one of the first PlayStation 2 RPGs to hit the market, it's only a matter of time before this game got some recognition from someone. Dark Cloud 2 reprised the idea of a destroyed village being rebuilt which was the same premise of it's predecessor Dark Cloud, but this time around the entire world was destroyed and it's up to you to rebuild it. With a full array of consequences and reactions to your actions and buildings, you could place your town hall in the wrong spot and never be able to progress forward with the plot. Due to such originality, RPGamer staff members give Dark Cloud 2 the fourth place for Best RPG of 2003.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga

Rounding out the best RPG of 2003 category is yet another sequel in a year that seemed full of sequels. Only this time, it was a sequel to a series that has been around since the dawn of the Nintendo Entertainment Center. This incarnation of the Mario series found itself not on a high-powered next-generation, DVD-based system, but the handheld Game Boy Advance. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is the third of the famed Mario RPG series, but this time the storyline isn't to save Peach from Koopa, oh, no; this time it's from Fawful and his boss. Of course, there are many other changes, including Luigi actually being in the game, and of use in battles. Controls may have managed to be clumsy, but this game is a lot more, and for that RPGamer staff members give it the final slot as best RPG.

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