Christmas: UNLEASHED

The lights have been taken down, and stored in a cardboard box in the dank, musty basement, not to be seen again for another eleven months.  The tree, now brown with death, is in the backyard, with a

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The lights have been taken down, and stored in a cardboard box in the dank, musty basement, not to be seen again for another eleven months.  The tree, now brown with death, is in the backyard, with a few forgotten ornaments still clinging to it’s lifeless branches.  The decorations are all packed away — every last fake wreath, plastic Santa Clause, and festive bar of soap.  Yes, Christmas is over.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t still gloat about the presents!

GameCola editors Matt Gardner and Paul Franzen have a lot to be thankful for.  They’ve got roofs over their heads, clothing to keep them warm, and food to keep them from getting hungry.  But, more importantly, they’re also spoiled rotten, especially around Christmas time.  To show you just how spoiled they are, GameCola presents Christmas: UNLEASHED – a bulleted look at what Santa Clause brought Matt and Paul this year.

Matt Gardner’s Christmas: UNLEASHED! 

Unlike Mr. P. M. Franzen here, I am a chronic procrastinator.  It is now over a month after Christmas, February second, and I am sitting here desperately trying to remember every last part of the gigantic pile of games I received this year and write them into a nice little feature before the strictly enforced deadline.  I believe I may have gotten more games this year than any year before, and as such my pile of non-video game gifts was rather small.  That works fine for me, but enough about crappy intros; I’m running out of time!

Final Fantasy X-2 (PS2): It’s as if Rivers (see: The Gates of Life, this issue) threw a fusion bomb at FFX and some JPOP superstar poppy pop pop pop, woo.  This game is a great sequel to a great game.

ffx2Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter (PS2): Don’t let the name fool you.  This is actually the fifth game in the Breath of Fire series, not the 1/4th, and it certainly isn’t simply 1/4th as good as the other games, either.

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (PS2): Animeish Tactics game something like Final Fantasy Tactics.  A humorous take on the serious business of tactical video games… yeah.

Gladius (PS2): Play as one or two heroic gladiators in various arenas where other not-as-heroic gladiators will try their best to end your quest in a pool of yer own blood!  Arr!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (PS2): They’re teenage, they’re mutant, they’re ninja, aaaaaaaand they’re turtles!  This game isn’t as wonderful as the old ones, but it does have its charms.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of time (PS2): Good game… would be better if it didn’t have the damned bug or whatever that makes my controls not respond after pretty much every single cut-scene with the exception of the start button leaving me to pause and un-pause constantly until the game decides to give me back control… pah.

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (PS2): The King has returned… with all new MULTIPLAYER action!  Weeeeeeeeeeeee!

The Hobbit (PS2): Back to the beginning.  Bilbo in his prime!  Dwarves all over the place, and my precious!

Soul Calibur 2 (GCN): One of the few fighting games you’ll actually ever see me play.  It should feel honored.

Xenogears (PSX): Man… don’t you just love it when those funny little X’s decide to make a Z sound?  I sure do…

Who Wants to Beat Up a Millionaire? (DC): Paul gave me this gem… it’s as wonderful as the name suggests.

Sonic Adventure (DC): Just like the GameCube Director’s cut version, only crappier!

Time Stalkers (DC): I’ve always wanted to stalk me some of that sexy time… here’s my chance.  Restraining order my ass…

vmuSoul Fighter (DC): Those bastard souls have had this coming for a looooong time.

Visual Memory Unit (DC): I CAN SAVE!!  I CAN SAVE!!!

RFU Adaptor (DC): RFU adaptation at its finest!

Super Mario Advance: Super Mario Bros. 2 (GBA): Check out The g50’s amazing … of the Month in this very issue!  GIANT enemies and vegetables?  Whaaaat?

Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World (GBA): Luiiiiigiiiii why do you juuuump oh so craaaaapily?  I still love YOU Mario 😉

Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi’s Island (GBA): Nevermind.  I hate you Mario… don’t cry… damn it… damn it stop!

Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (GBA): Have you ever seen the greatest combo in all of Super Mario history?  Have you?? It, of course, is Mario in the Hammer Bros. Suit and IN THE BOOT!!!

Green Eggs and Ham (GBA): Not in a box not with a fox not in a tree SAM LET ME BE!!! Hmm.. they are actually pretty tasty.

Sword of Mana (GBA): Again.. check out my work in THIS VERY ISSUE!! I love swords, and I looooove 
Mana.  What a combo!

.hack//SIGN v.03 Gestalt Limited Edition (DVD): Tsukasa…

.hack//SIGN v.04 Omnipotence Limited Edition (DVD): Tsukasa?

.hack//SIGN v.05 Uncovered Limited Edition (DVD): Tsukasa!!

I’ve finished.  Yes it’s true!  I apologize to any game I may have forgotten… I love you, I really really do… I’m just pressed for time!  I promise to play you as SOON as I can!  I love you!!

Paul Franzen’s Christmas: UNLEASHED! 

You know, I don’t think I actually got as many video games this year as I normally do.  But that might have something to do with all the DVD’s Santa brought me, and all the clothing and candy and books and… wow, I got a lot this year.  I guess that means my parents love me more than yours love you, eh?  I was just lounging around in my new sweatpants and my new Luigi t-shirt, watching my new Confessions of a Dangerous Mind DVD and eating my new Lego candy, when I thought it might be a good idea to write my half of Christmas: UNLEASHED before the memory of Santa’s many gifts to me this year fades completely from my memory.  So here goes:

Luigi t-shirt: Well, yeah, I already mentioned this in my introduction, but it would be silly to leave it out of my spiffy little bulleted list, now wouldn’t it?  I came across this beauty on a trip to the mall with my Mom for Christmas shopping, and I just had to have it.  So I made her buy it for me.  Er.. I mean, I “asked” her to buy it for me.  Yes.. “asked”… that sounds less selfish, doesn’t it?

lshirtJeopardy (PS2): I put this game on my Christmas list, but I didn’t actually expect to get it.  That’s the way a lot of items on my annual lists work — I put as much stuff as I can think of on there, so that way people don’t have to actually think about what to get me.  It saves people from a lot of headaches, believe me.  Anyway, this game made it onto the list because I love the NES Jeopardy, and I figured that this one would have to be a lot like it.  I was right.  Still, I’m not sure I’d recommend it to most people — unless you’re into trivia games, like me.

Kingdom Hearts (PS2): It’s the GameCola Game of the Year for 2002!  Everyone who has a PlayStation 2 should own it!  Well.. okay.. I did wait a year after it was voted Game of the Year to actually come into ownership of it, but I’m glad I did.  It’s the perfect blend of Disney and Final Fantasy, and I think anyone who likes either of those should look into it.  It’s only major fault, that I’ve noticed so far anyway, is it’s camera, which likes to swing around all willy-nilly in the middle of important boss battles/important platforming; so there’s a lot of death related to that.  Otherwise, though, the game’s a blast!

Nintendo 64 controller: It’s hard to come by new N64 controllers in this day and age, so I’m glad Santa’s elves were able to fashion one for me.  Santa’s elves, being third party peripheral manufacturers, didn’t manage to make a controller better than the ones that Nintendo had made, but it gets the job done.  It’s about time, too — I was getting tired of using the broken controller during four-player games of Mario Kart 64 or WWF No Mercy (still the best wrestling game to date).

Nintendo GameCube: Wow, I certainly didn’t expect Santa to bring me this gift, either.  After my Dad said that we would be downsizing Christmas this year, I figured I’d be lucky to find a pair of used socks and some dental floss under the tree; but lo and behold, there was a GameCube there!  Glory be!  Now I have ALL MAJOR SYSTEMS (except N-Gage.. oh wait, I said “major” systems.. nevermind)!!  Actually this shouldn’t have come as such a surprise, considering I’ve been getting one system per Christmas for the past few years.  Hm.. I wonder what that leaves for next Christmas then… Saturn, perhaps?  Maybe Virtual Boy?  Who knows?

Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GCN): This, of course, is the main/only reason I wanted a GameCube.  Well, that and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, whenever that comes out.  Mario Kart 64 is my favorite game of all time; and after spending several hours with Double Dash!!, this is still the case.  I don’t agree with Geoff’s review last month, where he said that the new battle mode is horrendous; however, I’m not too pleased with the difficulty level of this game.  I’m a god of Mario Kart 64.  A god I say!  And yet, it took me like six or seven tries to beat the Star Cup on 100cc mode.  The Star Cup, for cryin’ out loud!  There’s OBVIOUSLY something wrong with the game.. there’s certainly nothing wrong with MY skills.

1up Bracelet: Inexplicably, I’ve become interested in making/wearing bracelets of the past several months.  I blame Jenna for this.  I found this gem the same time I found the Luigi shirt… oh, what a day that was.  Hot Topic had an entire section devoted to just Nintendo stuff!  They had Legend of Zelda jackets, Pac-Man steering wheel covers, Metroid t-shirts.. I practically had a heart-failure right there in the store.  They better still have some of that stuff next time I go to the mall and actually have some money.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan (GB):  Neal made fun of me because it took me so many tries to beat this game.  You wanna know how many tries it took me to beat this game?  Three.  And yet, he made fun of me.  What a jerk.  The game is pretty simple, though; essentially, it’s a simplified version of The Arcade Game or Turtles in Time or whichever Turtles game you fancy.  There’s only five levels to it, and you can kill Foot Soldiers with one swipe of a bo.  Yeah, I don’t know why it took me so many tries to beat, either.  But go buy it!  It’s fun.

Atari stickers: These actually came packaged with Jeopardy.  I’m thinking I’ll use them on my PlayStation 2 or Xbox controllers, to keep them separated from others in events of mass controller confusion.  Mine will be the ones with the Atari stickers, and no one will take them home thinking they’re their’s.  This is a nice change from the Power Puff Girls stickers that I’ve been using.

Legend of Dragoon (PSX): I don’t really know much about this title.  I was asking Matt for recommendations of games to add to my mammoth Christmas list, and this was one of the ones he came up with.  All I really know is that it’s a two-disc PlayStation RPG.  It looks pretty spiffy.  Plus, Matt usually knows what he’s talking about when he comes to video games, and I know he wouldn’t steer me wrong.  Hopefully, anyway.

Disney’s Magical Quest 2 Starring Mickey and Minnie (GBA): By now I’m sure you all know the story concerning the first title in this series, so I can just skip explaining that whole shebang.  If you don’t know, go read the “Dear Readers” from issue last October, okay?  The first Magical Quest is an awesome game, and I’m hoping the second one is too.  I haven’t gotten around to playing it yet — I’m waiting for a long car ride to arise.  Word is that there’s a third one coming out later this year, too — this one starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.  Poor Minnie.  First she looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy in Kingdom Hearts, and now she gets shafted in the only video game series she could call her own.  Oh well, she was never a very interesting character to begin with.

Chocobo Racing (PSX): This is another title that comes recommended from Matt.  Since Double Dash!! was the premier kart-racing title I got for Christmas, I haven’t spent any time at all yet with nestlemaniaChocobo Racing, but I am assured that it is indeed a title worthy of my collection.  Just ask Matt!  He gave it a 7 in the 2-4 issue!

WrestleMania (NES): I love that I got this game for Christmas.  You know why?  Because I bought it for myself.  This isn’t a “I bought the game and then my parents bought it for me for Christmas, tee hee, what a silly little mistake”; rather, this is a “I bought the game, realized I had two of them, so I put it in my eBay warehouse, which also happens to be where Christmas gifts are stored, so whoopsie, it got mixed in which my Christmas gifts and ended up wrapped under my tree”.  Ah well.  My parent’s have hearts of gold, even if their memories are only bronze.

GameCola hooded sweatshirt: You know, you guys CAN order stuff like that off the website.  It’s right there on the navigational bar.  You see where it says “swag”?  That’s insider lingo for “GameCola merchandise, please buy this stuff so you can spread the word about your favorite video game webazine”.   This particular hooded sweatshirt is comfy, and all the ladies dig it.  Do you need help scoring some chicks?  Get GameCola gear!  It can’t possibly make your situation any worse, can it?

Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup (PS2): Funny how I got more games for PS2 than for any other system, isn’t it?  I haven’t even seen an appearance by Xbox yet.. though we’re not quite finished, now are we?  This game is, without a shadow of a doubt, the best sports game from 2003 that I played.  Yep, it wins out over all zero other sports titles that have graced my consoles.  It’s the only one that seemed at all interesting.  I’m tired of all the Super NHL NFL Breakaway Ice Hockey Blitz  ’04s that came out this year, and Quidditch is a welcome change.  The game isn’t as good as it can be, but it’s certainly more creative than anything else that’s out there.  Maybe next year’s version will be better.

Sheep (PSX): This one was a gift from my girlfriend.  (Yeah, yeah, a gamer with a girlfriend, who would of thought, right?)  It’s.. well.. it’s more fun than herding sheep, which is coincidently what the game is about.  I haven’t gotten to far in it just yet because Kingdom Hearts keep sucking my time away, but what I’ve played so far has been enjoyable.  Especially the multiplayer mode.  It’s sheep soccer.  I can’t say it’s better than the best soccer game of all time (International Superstar Soccer 64), but it’s certainly a creative minigame.

Game Player’s Game Tape for Nintendo Cartridges Vol. 1, No. 1: I can’t believe I actually sit through this entire tape.  It’s 40 minutes of people from Game Player’s Guides (I’m not really sure who they are) beating NES games, and telling us how we can be better able to play with power.  The VHS tape features Double Dragon, Milon’s Secret Castle, Bionic Commando, Robo Warrior, and Wizards and Warriors, and as of those, I’ve only played Double Dragon (and that was only in the Dentist’s waiting room waiting for him to do God-knows-what to my teeth), this tape really wasn’t all that exciting.  It is, though, a neat piece of gaming’s past to own.  And it only cost my parents a dollar! (I know this because my dad left the price tag on when he wrapped it.)

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon (MXB): Man, I was disappointed with this title.  I was hoping for something along the lines of The Curse of Monkey Island, and what I got was The Curse of Moving a Bunch of Crates to Solve Pretty Much Every Puzzle.  If all of the crate-moving was cut out of this game, and all that was left were the puzzles.. I probably still wouldn’t think it was that great, because the developers put all this stealth crap into the game.  So if they took out both the crate-moving and the stealth crap, then there might be an enjoyable game in the third Broken Sword.  Oh well, maybe the first two are better.

Well that about wraps (HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH GET IT???) it up for video game related gifts that I received this past Christmas.  I can’t believe Matt got more than me… oh well, at least HE didn’t get a GameCola hooded sweatshirt, eh?  Eh??  Ciao.

And there you have it, gamefans — Christmas: UNLEASHED.  I hope you all enjoyed reading our trip through the Christmas of 2003, and join us again next year when we again show you just exactly how spoiled Matt and Paul are.  Merry February! 

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