The Top 20 Games of 2001-2005

Unsurprisingly, Game Boy Advance + GameCube = years of great games. But which is the best?

By Nintendojo Staff. Posted 05/03/2012 17:00 3 Comments     ShareThis

15. Mega Man Battle Network (2001)

Remember Bubsy? Boy, was that a terrible game. And an even worse mascot! In an age where mascots were a dime a dozen, it was hard to imagine many of them getting as successful as Mario. Or Kirby. Or, hey, Mega Man, who has got to be the only mascot in Videogameland who is actually several mascots. When the original Mega Man evolved into the dashing Mega Man X (We tried to get him to stop. It’s not working. -Ed.), we saw a good thing going– after all, it was all still platforming action. But with Mega Man Battle Network, everything changed. No longer did Mega Man roam post-apocalyptic streets looking for Wily– no, now he lived in a super-crazy world where cars drive automatically and batch files can jack into the Internet for some reason. It’s a world where platforming no longer makes sense, but RPG-slash-shooting does. It’s a weird mix, but then again, the modern world is all about weird mixes, and Mega Man Battle Network, if anything, embodies them. With an insane number of Battle Chips, considerable customization opportunities, and post-game content that lasts to this day, it’s no wonder that this game started so much from … so much.

Why Andrew Hsieh loves Mega Man Battle Network

For some reason or other, too many people wrote Mega Man Battle Network off as a failure even before the game came out. Mega Man was meant to be a platformer, see– Rock Man Battle and Chase and Mega Man Soccer never took off, after all. But Mega Man Battle Network, with its likable characters, incredibly catchy music, and hearty allusions to bygone days (hello Bass and Gospel, it’s been a while!), went on to spawn five more sequels, two spin-off games, and one entirely new spin-off series. (Not to mention two anime series and one manga run.) Certainly not content simply to be in a sleeper hit, heroes Lan and MegaMan.EXE starred in a game that combined real-time thumb-twitching with Pokémon-style chip collecting and good old-fashioned RPG leveling and customization. And while its sequels made things a lot more complicated, the original game remains incredibly complete by itself, with plenty of Robot Masters to beat up even after the first time players beat the game. Fact is, Mega Man was starting to look pretty old-fashioned– and jacking into the Internet was the way to go.

14. Mario Kart DS (2005)

All we wanted from the Mario Kart series was to have the ability to play online, and suddenly in holiday 2005, we could. More than ever, players all over the world could compare shortcuts, item strategies, and speed opportunities in Mario Kart DS— even if most of those just involved drifting left to right to left to right to left to right to being hit by a Blue Spiny Shell. (That’s the only way we can stop you, snakers! Don’t judge us poor plebeians.) Sure, the Friend Code system was a little awry– it still is– but having the possibility of racing people was a huge improvement. Meanwhile, the addition of tracks both old and new– even in Battle Mode– was a lovely nod to past Mario Kart games, and definitely sealed a place for Mario Kart DS in the pantheon of great Nintendo games. We won’t even mention the addition of new karts and Dry Bones, because we’ll just end up crying tears of mirth for the rest of this article. See, it’s not easy to make a Mario Kart game that continues to make hardcore Kart aficionados happy, but Mario Kart DS succeeded. Thanks, Nintendo.

Why Andrew Hsieh loves Mario Kart DS

Back when Mario Kart DS came out, I spent days upon days trying to connect the game to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, but my Internet connection just wouldn’t play nice. And for the many Internet-less months after that, with just one DS, I’d resigned myself to simply reading about how wonderful it was to play online with other players, feeling jealous all the while. But though the selling point of MKDS certainly was playing on the Internet, my brother and I discovered one very simple, very old-fashioned way to have fun: beating each other over and over again on time trials. Every day I’d come home from work to discover that the score I’d set the day before had been destroyed by my younger brother, causing a) intense rage and b) somewhat justified pride. We’d beat each other until we unlocked the staff times for all the stages– and then we’d beat those, too. (Or he would– eventually, I just fell behind.) Even now, I’ve only played Mario Kart DS precious few times in traditional multiplayer, and considering those involved items instead of controlled time trial racing, I’ve always been destroyed. But I’ll take people on in time trial any day. I’ll be Dry Bones.

13. Skies of Arcadia Legends (2003)

It’s almost impossible now to imagine a time when companies like Overworks (now SEGA Wow) and SEGA fought off Nintendo games with such gems as Shinobi and Phantasy Star Online— but man, those were bloody times. Thank goodness that in 2003, SEGA felt it prudent to release many of those games on Nintendo consoles. Skies of Arcadia Legends, with its additional collection and battle opportunities (new discoveries, Moonfish, the Angel of Death), one-upped the original Skies of Arcadia in most every way, while opening the game to formerly battle-starved Nintendo acolytes. What’s more, the charming cast, involving everybody from the core party members, to the sprawling number of crew members that could be on the ship at any given time, to the many villagers and cityfolk on the disparate islands across the world, wasn’t just icing on the cake– it was almost the whole point of the game. Skies of Arcadia Legends, more than almost any game of its time, proved that games like Final Fantasy VII weren’t the only games that could do something new with the RPG genre. Like its eponymous blue skies, Skies of Arcadia Legends represent possibilities, and we should all be happy that it shines so brightly.

Why Joshua Johnston loves Skies of Arcadia Legends

Skies of Arcadia Legends was salvation to early GameCube RPGers. Fresh off the bitter pill of Nintendo 64’s poor role playing lineup– and with Tales of Symphonia and Baten Kaitos over a year away– Arcadia ably filled the void with a memorable pirate adventure across a boundless world of floating islands. To be sure, it wasn’t perfect: as an “enhanced port” of a Dreamcast game, the graphics were a little dated, voice acting all but nonexistent, and the random battles were at times aggravating. That didn’t matter. This game charmed better than a baby at a birthday party, a sprawling epic with a likeable premise, fun cast of characters, and charming narrative across a well-paced fifty hours of discoveries and massive battles galore. Although other GameCube games were more polished, none gave a greater sense of “boldly going” into the great unknown like this one did.

12. Soulcalibur II (2003)

Is it any surprise that the GameCube iteration of Soulcalibur II is the bestselling version of it? After all, it’s got Link. But as a pure game, Soulcalibur II continues to impress. With beautiful graphics– among the best of its time– and soaring music, the game pumped up players to fight agaisnt the likes of Raphael and Cervantes like never before. And yet, its huge amount of content, from unlockable weapons to crazy Conquest and Weapon Master modes, proved to games like Bloody Roar: Primal Fury that fighting games couldn’t get by on pure aesthetic value. And with things as superficial as character biographies, Soulcalibur II really wanted players to be invested in the game, to think of Soulcalibur II as not just a video game, but a full-on experience. “That just sounds stupid and impossible and I want to play Street Fighter now,” you might say. Well, we’ll lead you to the most prevalent indicator of Soulcalibur II‘s success. Almost every video game enthusiast now misspell “caliber” as “calibur.” Now that’s saturation.

Why Joseph Nelson loves Soulcalibur II

I’ll admit, I only bought this game because Link was in it. I played Soul Blade on PlayStation, so I knew the gist of what it was; just your typical fighting game, but with weapons. When I played this, though, I was immersed in a world of noble warriors, pirates, avenging mothers, and misguided knights (oh, and Voldo, the weird BDSM guy – he still gives me the creeps to this day); Link was just a bonus. It is impossible to just play through once, I found myself completing it several times a day just to unlock every bit of story and every weapon for every character, but that’s just the hoarder in me.

11. Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001)

Must we even provide the famous SSBM a blurb? Is there no justice in the world? Does there remain one video game enthusiast who has never heard of Super Smash Bros. Melee? Well, fine. Even more than Super Smash Bros., Melee introduced gamers to the magic of pummelling Mewtwo with Link. We know this. But even more famous is Melee‘s promotion of the pro fighter scene. With wavedashes and edgeguards galore, pros like KEN and ISAI beat the stuffing out of characters (now divided into tiers!) with high-power characters like Marth and Falco, typing out massive strategy guides online and posting videos all over the place. And boy, did people swallow up this scene. Suddenly, Super Smash Bros. Melee, with its high-octane gameplay and massive playerbase (compared to most fighting games), was the next big thing– and considering the mixed reaction toward Super Smash Bros. Brawl, it still is. This is the game that created SmashBoards, after all– an entire message board system devoted to the Smash series. And yet you can have fun playing Melee without all of that nonsense, with customization options way outstripping its predecessor, and a sound test built to last. It’s undeniable: Melee is important.

Why Joseph Nelson loves Super Smash Bros. Melee

Take your favourite Nintendo characters, throw them together into a fighting game, and you have this masterpiece. On paper, it sounds a bit silly, yet this works in such a way that far surpasses the original. Whereas the first game in the series was mere novelty, Melee put on its big boy boots and showed us that it was no longer just a party game. Zelda and Ganondorf as playable characters proved that they weren’t just a pretty/ugly face, and the massive trophy collection added that extra dimension of replay (and gave me a gambling problem).

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3 Responses to “The Top 20 Games of 2001-2005”

  • 21 points
    Dave Magliano says...

    Maybe the toughest list to compile, considering the sheer number of systems it spans. Also reminds me how many great games I never played. And since I must give my opinion, would have liked to see Rogue Squadron II included. Maybe an honorary #21. That game was ridiculously fun and immersive. One of the better translations from the star wars universe.

  • 1244 points
    lukas85 says...

    Guys until this list you where doing a fine job, but, METROID F&%#* PRIME!!! for gods sake,how can you missed this game, this was the best game of tne gamecune Generation, and you guys put some games that i didnt know their existence, Boktai, Lost Kingdoms? They are probably good games, but i really dont think they are better or more significant games that meteoid prime. This list is … Weird.

    My top 5

    1) .Metroid Prime
    2).The Wind Waker
    3).Metroid Prime Echoes
    4).Super Smash Bros Melee
    5).Roque Squadron II

    • 1 points
      Kevin Knezevic says...

      Some of the staff have pretty…eclectic tastes. :p

      My personal list would’ve looked more like yours, but to be fair, there were a lot of really great and unique games during this generation, so this was probably the hardest list to narrow down.

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