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Holiday Wish List: 2004 — Day Three

By Michael David Sims
29 November 2004 — Look at that! We're smack-dab in the middle of this thing. With twelve games down, we've seen some titles that apparently came out of left field (Katamari Damacy) as well as surefire hits (GTA: San Andreas, Halo 2), but today we're in for a real treat. Five — count 'em, five — Nintendo exclusives and another huge sequel that's sure to slither its way up the sales charts.

Before we begin, let's recap a few things:
— All titles are listed alphabetically, so if you're dying to see if a Star Wars game will make the list, you're gonna have to wait another day or two.
— The games had to of been published between September 1 and December 24. If a game has yet to be published, it has to have a release date of December 24 or earlier.
— Each game has been assigned a grade of 1 to 4. And those grades are as follows:

1 = Put it on your list, and hope you haven't been too naughty.
2 = Take the money aunts and uncles stuffed into cards, and buy it on the 26th.
3 = Beg your parents for it... even if you don't live with them anymore.
4 = Screw waiting! Buy it now!

Got it? Good. Let's roll!

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Title: The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Classic NES Series)
System: GBA
Rating: E
Release Date: October 25
Grade: 1

The most underrated and often overlooked Zelda game has returned... but only hardcore gamers, Zelda fanboys or Nintendo completist will really care. But that's us, and that's why The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (often called Zelda II: The Adventure of Link) is on here.

The games in the Zelda franchise are often referred to as RPGs, which couldn't be further from the truth. They're adventure games through and through. However, this installment in the series is (for the most part) an RPG — what with Link needing to level-up his life and magic bars. The reason many gamers shunned the first sequel is because the look they had fallen in love with drastically changed and Nintendo (to some extent) moved away from the top-down perspective — opting instead to become a side-scrolling Super Mario Bros. clone. In fact, its new look and gameplay elements (which included jumping) played so much like SMB, it felt more like Super Mario Bros. 2 than Super Mario Bros. 2 did. (And when I say Super Mario Bros. 2, I mean the Doki Doki Panic clone. Not the real Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 which can only be found via import or on Super Mario Bros. All-Stars. God, this is so confusing.)

If you can get over the different look and horrid localization, Zelda II really offers a solid gameplay experience that many gamers missed the first time around. And even though Nintendo is only re-releasing Zelda II to make a quick buck, it's good to see they're offering up this gem once more, because it brought a lot of new elements to the franchise and doesn't garner the respect it really deserves.

Title: The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
System: GBA
Rating: E
Release Date: November 16 (?)
Grade: 2

Truthfully, not much is known about the next GBA Zelda title, but (from what I have seen) it looks to cross the in-game style of the classic A Link to the Past and the artistic stylings of Wind Waker. Despite its imminent release, Nintendo has remained tightlipped, only revealing the basic plot. Which is: Link will adventure in a brand new land as he searches for the fragmented Kinstones. And if you thought Link was small before, wait until he dons the magical (and birdlike) Minish Cap! Why he's on this voyage has yet to be revealed, but it's a Zelda game — so we know it will be filled with secrets and unforgettable quests.

Explaining the release date: There is the very real (and unfortunate) possibility that The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap will not be released until January, but, as it stands, the release date is still listed as the middle of November. So let's keep our fingers crossed.

Title: Mario Party 6
System: GameCube
Rating: E
Release Date: December 6
Grade: 3

Has the Mario Party series always featured a story? In researching this game I came to realize that (at the very least) the latest installment does. "Brighton and Twila — otherwise known as the sun and the moon — are embroiled in a bitter feud over who's more impressive. It’s up to Mario and his party-hearty cohorts to settle the spat and restore order to the cosmos." Hmmm. Interesting. Regardless, fans of the series should rejoice, as Mario Party 6 features 75 new games, six boards and a microphone (packaged with the game) for in-game use. The one downside: It's not online compatible! Come on, Nintendo! Give us online games! P-L-E-A-S-E!

Note: Not that it's important, but the image that's being used to preview this game is from a print ad for Mario Party 5. Why? Because Nintendo has yet to release box art for Mario Party 6.

Title: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
System: PS2
Rating: M
Release Date: November 17
Grade: 4

I had the chance to see the Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater trailer at E3 this year and nearly wet my pants — every time I saw it. Which was, like, ten times. That's how hot this game looks. Though they showed very little in the way of gameplay, if you're a fan of the series (and who isn't?) you know what to expect. If you're not (and, again, who are you?), I'll fill you in. First, lots of stealth action. Second, Snake Eater adds a new feature to the MGS franchise in that camouflage is very, very important. If you're slithering through dirt or dried foliage, you'd better be wearing something brown. If not, you're going to be spotted — quickly! Also added to the game (or last time I heard it was still in there) is broken limbs. Take a nasty fall and Snake won’t be running too far (or fast) on a snapped ankle. Also, the ability (and need) to eat. Besides that, you can expect a compelling story filled with twists and turns, and loads of action in typical Metal Gear fashion.

Possible SPOILERS: If you've seen the trailer or read any previews, you know this game is set in the 1960s. So you might have come to realize that the Snake we know today isn't the Snake in MGS3 (especially if you know the whole clone storyline). So who's that make this Snake? Well, if you watch the trailer (or look at the box art) you'll notice he's wearing a patch. Hmmm...

Title: Metroid (Classic NES Series)
System: GBA
Rating: E
Release Date: October 25
Grade: variable

Much like the re-release of The Legend of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, this feels like another attempt to bleed gamers' wallets dry on the part of Nintendo. Not that Metroid isn't loved, but the original NES game can be unlocked by linking Metroid Fusion to Metroid Prime. And didn't Nintendo just release a remake of the classic in the form of Metroid: Zero Mission? Regardless, here it is in all of its alien-shooting, maze-traversing, ass-kicking glory.

Explaining the grade: Even at $20 (which is a great price for a GBA game), you might want to put this puppy on a list or use gift money. 'Cause this is an 18 year old title that can be unlocked and played on a television or enjoyed with fresh new graphics in the form of the remake. But, if you're a huge Metroid fanboy, it's going to be money well spent. So you decide.

Title: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
System: GameCube
Rating: T
Release Date: November 15
Grade: 3

Just a few moments ago we spied the side-scrolling roots of Samus Aran and the Metroid franchise, and now we're taking a look at the second installment in the widely popular first-person shooter Metroid Prime series. This time around Samus must travel to a(nother) mysterious planet to unravel a(nother) mystery involving aliens, her ever-adapting suit, and a dark clone. Are we seeing a retread of Metroid Fusion (they best Metroid game, I might add)? Don't bank on it. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes will deliver an original story as well as solid, hard-hitting action, adventure and puzzles much like its predecessors.

As it is with good sequels, MP2:E has shed the deadweight and added features that were missing in the first — such as four-player battles! But where's the online play? Get with it, Big N!

Tomorrow: Street racing, an RPG featuring a beloved mascot, wall climbing, online platforming action, sexy wrestling and computer characters I'm not related to.

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Day One :: Day Two :: Day Three :: Day Four :: Day Five


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