8D - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2004
NOT JUST PLAYING AROUND
THE TOP 10 VIDEO GAMES OF 2003
2003lacked that special
game that could redefine a
genre. Yet, the industry reached
new peaks in popularity with
the public, as seen with the
barrage of television ads,
awards shows and game sales.
Amid the countless sequels and
rehashes released, a few games
stood out from the rest of the
pack. Without further ado, the
Daily's TV/New Media staff
has selected a list of
10 worthy games.
1The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
(Nintendo) - The decision process for this
year's No. 1 was an easy one. Link's latest
adventure is the year's best game and became an
instant staple on the underrated GameCube system.
"Wind Waker" has it all: creative puzzles, intense
swordplay, beautiful graphics, an incredible score
and a clever plot that ties in quite
nicely with the rest of the
series. "Zelda" still
remains the best action
role-playing game fran-
chise and "Wind Waker"L
lived up to the hype.
2Star Wars: Knights
of the Old Republic
(LucasArts) - Prov-
ing that not all "Star Wars"
games are garbage, this RPG
took everyone by surprise.
Every action chosen by the gamer
changes the character's balance
between the light and dark sides
of the force, making fanboys'
dreams finally come true. Courtesy of Nintendo
3 Prince of Persia: Sands of Time (UbiSoft)
- As if the acrobatics and stunning visuals
weren't enough, "Prince of Persia" allows users
to manipulate time itself, rewinding, accelerating and
even stopping characters in their tracks. UbiSoft was
careful to make gameplay easy enough for beginners
but challenged players' minds throughout the expan-
sive excursion across this Arabian city. Character
animation is beautifully fluid, making each leap,
climb, fall and fight immensely enjoyable. Despite
its short length, "Persia" is a fine example of quality
Death of the American arcade
The guy at the far left just wet himself.
Madden NFL 2004/NCAA Football 2004
(EA Sports) - Writing a list of the top 10
games without including these near-perfect
football sims would be criminal. EA Sports deliv-
ers excellence every year and the online play
affirms EA's bragging rights in the genre.
Final Fantasy X-2 (Square Enix) - The
first sequel to any game in the "Final Fan-
tasy" saga, "X-2" follows the main charac-
ters of "Final Fantasy X" on a sphere-hunting
expedition across the war-torn world of Spira.
The graphics are amazing, breathing color and
life into the characters of this magical world,
and the updated combat system is incredible.
"X-2" is more than a worthy sequel - it's a
well-thought-out and well-executed game
Tony Hawk's Underground (Activi-
sion) - Some game series stay stag-
nant, but "Tony Hawk" just keeps
getting better. Adding a story mode to the
mix while keeping the same game engine
enabled this new edition to be up to the stan-
dards of its predecessors.
Mario Kart: Double Dashl (Nintendo) -
Though criticized for its simplicity, there's
no arguing that "Mario Kart" is still the king
of the action/racing genre. The smooth graphics
and boppy music make the latest installment a
must-have for any multiplayer enthusiast.
Viewtiful Joe (Capcom) - Fresh and fre-
netic, "Joe" offers innovation in spades, con-
trasting with the sequels that flooded the
market this year. A return to 2-D gameplay with 3-
D cel-shaded graphics, nothing else dared to take
December 2, 2003 -
American arcades are in
decline. This simple fact
should be apparent to any
gamer. Yet, while you sit in front of
your PlayStation 2, playing some
version of "Tekken," you might not
even remember when Namco's clas-
sic fighting franchise was offered
exclusively by coin machines. Pin-
pointing the causes behind this fall
is a difficult task.
The story starts 10 years ago
when video game makers began to
develop a new type of hardware, one
that, ironically, undermined the very
arcades for which these machines
were built. Sega and Sony created
hardware for arcade games that had
been designed using the-specifica-
tions of their upcoming console sys-
tems, the Saturn and PlayStation,
The similarity of these arcade games
to their respective console units
allowed for faster and more accurate
ports. Gamers could now enjoy high-
quality arcade games at home.
As great as this advancement was
for home gainers, it was one of the
major contributors to the downfall
of arcades. In fact, with the release
of "Mortal Kombat: Deadly
Alliance" exclusively for console
systems, Midway gave silent acqui-
escence to the fact that arcades in
America are on death's door.
Some may point to the interactive
dance craze of "Dance Dance Revo-
lution" as a sign of resurgence. The
immensely popular Konami game
- there are 1,828 "DDR" machines
in the United States, including 69 in
Michigan - drew gainers back to
the arcades with its numerous
However, the success of "DDR"
was a double-edged sword. Such
high interest prompted Sony to cre-
ate a port for the PS2, creating
another challenge for arcade owners
to overcome. Certainly, the release
of "DDR" machines in America's
arcades brought garners back for a
time, but the phenomenon, like so
many before it, is quickly being
made available in America's living
According to a study by the
Entertainment Software Associa-
tion, Americans spent $6.9 billion
last year on video games for their
consoles and computers. The study
also claims that 50 percent of Amer-
icans over age six play video or
computer games. With such a large
population of button mashers, there
exists a potential for packed
What it all comes down to,
though, is this: Arcades in America
just aren't cool. The supply of
gamers and the demand for games
exist in this country, but few want to
be seen skulking into or out of any
of these institutions. Take, as an
example, that establishment of most
esteemed prestige, Pinball Pete's.
The franchise once boasted three
Ann Arbor locations, but now sports
just one site at the dodgy end of
South University Avenue. Unless it
was festooned with paraphernalia
for a Creed concert, it is hard to
imagine a less enticing locale. Pete's
is most crowded after the nearby
bars let out, and people are too
drunk to realize they are in an
arcade. Take away the advantageous
location of being in one of the major
bar areas in town, and Pete's would
have nothing but screaming 10-year-
olds left there by their parents.
If these businesses want to sur-
vive, they must find a way to make
going to arcades more socially
acceptable. They must also find a
way to make games that cannot be
ported to console systems. While
redemption games, those where you
get tickets which can be exchanged
for crappy over-valued prizes, are a
popular solution to the problem,
they are not enough of a draw to get
gamers back into the arcades.
Unless of course you really, really
want that pair of fingercuffs for 70
Courtesy o, finteno
Who wants a moustache ride?
the chances that this game took in 2003.
Panzer Dragoon Orta (Sega) - The
fourth installment in this shooter series
that few know about returns to form with
steller gameplay in tow. "Orta" shows the
power of the XBox's graphics engine while
having precise and impeccable controls over
the non-stop action.
Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution (Sega) -
No fireballs, no maces, no 30-foot ver-
tical leaps, just the most beautifully
intricate fighting game on the market. The "Evolu-
tion" version features two new fighters as well as
an all-new Quest Mode that pits gamers against
some extraordinary Al. Plus, it's only 20 bucks.
-January 8, 2004
- Charles can be reached at
The Gathering': geek or chic?
By Brian Stephens
Daily Staff Writer
If you were to ask a student whether he
has played a game and enjoyed it, you'd
most likely receive a positive response. You
ask that same person if he considers himself
a gamer and you'd probably get a raised
Assuredly, the word "gamer" conjures up
images of pimple-faced geeks stuffing their
faces with Cheetos. This stereotype does
little for the proliferation of gaming com-
munities on campus, and unfortunately for
these would-be ganers, the community at
the University is often marred with frag-
Fortunately, the work of several diligent
students has given the hobby a new-found
"When I first came to the University of
Michigan, it was tough, primarily because
no one knows what other people play," LSA
sophomore Arman Kayupov said.
Kayupov, a die-hard "Halo" fan, started
his own gaming community in East Quad
last year. In a short amount of time,
Kayupov was able to synchronize "Halo"
network games in not only East Quad, but in
West Quad, Couzens and Markley.
While emphasizing the importance of mak-
ing his "Halo" group open to both advanced
players and beginners, Kayupov took the
proactive approach to finding members.
"I first went door-to-door asking people
whether they wanted to play, then I asked
my (resident advisor) to send e-mails out to
people in my hall," Kayupov said.
The gaming communities on campus are
often lost amongst the vast array of student
groups and organizations; students often
assume that gaming refers to arcades and
Unfortunately, garners who enjoy tabletop
games frequently find themselves scram-
bling to find others to play with.
"We tried to start a group at the University,
but we didn't have enough people," said Jason
Blauet, a recent University alumnus and avid
"Magic: The Gathering" card player.
Set in a medieval fantasy world, "Magic:
The Gathering" is a card game where play-
ers strategically compete against one anoth-
er. The object of the game is to use one's
cards to cast fantastical spells to destroy
opponent's lands, thus winning the game.
Blauet, a devout gamer that has spent thou-
sands of dollars on "Magic" cards, was intro-
duced by a friend to the game only a year ago.
What drives someone to play three times
a week? "It's fun," Blauet said.
Cognizant of the state of the gaming com-
munity on campus, Blauet urges interested
gamers to go to the Underworld located on
South University Avenue. This gaming
store, according to Blauet, possesses all of
the accoutrements needed not only to get
started with the game, but also to network
with other "Magic" players. Blauet tests his
mettle against other players in weekly
"Magic: The Gathering" tournaments at Fun
4 All in Ypsilanti.
Both Blauet and Kayupov seem to realize
the difficulty of reaching out to gamers and
Blauet, when asked about advertising his
hobby to friends, replied, "It is something
you just don't bring up in conversation ...
It's a lot easier to just meet them at the
Kayupov was a bit more optimistic,
expounding that while he makes an effort to
get new gamers interested, he concedes that
"most of the time, the subject of games just
doesn't come up."