By Gary Gray, 15, Sunland Christian School
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Ah, the holiday season of 2002, it’s right around the corner. And chances are all you video game lovers out there are looking for some hot new titles to go ask your grandparents to get you this year. The question is, which titles are worth the $50? Will the new Mario game carry on the legacy? Will the new TimeSplitters be as much fun as the old one? Well, I’m here to help find answers to your questions. I have arranged them by category so it should be as easy as kindergarten to find the game for you.

Driving Games

It’s 7 p.m. on a Friday. The popcorn’s ready and so are the drinks. The doorbell rings. You open the door without hesitation because your friends are here to play your new driving game. Let the chaos commence.

Burnout 2: Point of Impact
Systems: GameCube and PlayStation2
Price: $49.99

When the first Burnout came out, people were sort of confused. Usually in a driving game, crashing was looked down upon. Burnout changed that for eternity. Burnout had the most technologically advanced crashing software in any driving game. The crashes looked like something out of a John Woo action flick. So you can just imagine what Burnout 2 has in store for us. The crashes in this sequel are fantastic. An added feature includes tires flying off your car when they crash. The cars are similar to something in The Fast and the Furious, with gaudy paint and decals on them. The handling of the cars is not much different from the first Burnout. With more cars, bigger courses and more spectacular crashes, who wouldn’t want this game?

Need for Speed Hot Pursuit 2

Systems: GameCube, PS2 and Xbox
Price: $49.99

Finally, Need for Speed returns. Not much is being said about this title, but I know that EA Games is boasting new cars and tracks, not to mention impeccable car physics. A new feature includes police helicopters chasing you along with three or four highly skilled policemen in Corvettes. With ferocious imported beasts like the Porsche Carrera GT, 150 mph will seem like a Sunday drive. So for those of you who don’t like the arcade style of Burnout, this game’s for you.

Role-Playing Games (or RPG)

From Mario to Sonic to Crash, we’ve been through a lot of RPGs during the past few years. Some were good. And some were, well, you know, bad. Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes and Rayman 2, who could forget those nightmares? So if you want to be the RPG king this Christmas, check out these new titles.

Super Mario Sunshine

System: GameCube
Price: $49.99

He’s baa-aaack! And I know you all missed him dearly. The famous plumber makes his debut on the GameCube. This time he’s on vacation on a tropical island and someone decides to pollute it. It’s up to Mario to find this person and collect mysterious "shines." Mario is not alone, though. Joining him again for the first time in a few years is the mini dinosaur Yoshi. Mario will also have a talking backpack that shoots water in many different ways. It has a jet nozzle for helping Mario move faster and a hover nozzle that extends his jumps. The graphics are great, the environments are huge and the gameplay is classic. This game is reason alone to own a GameCube.

Kingdom Hearts

System: PS2
Price: $49.99

Take three Japanese anime-style characters named Sora, Riku and Kairi, throw in a handful of Disney-worlds (pun intended), villains, heroes, and heroines, and you get Kingdom Hearts. You play as Sora, a normal boy whose life is ruined by the invasion of the Heartless. The Heartless is basically a horde of creatures under the control of a handful of Disney villains. The Disney villains are kidnapping all of the heroines of the Disney-worlds and using them to open a secret door that leads to who knows what. This time-consuming adventure took me about an hour and a half to get through one stage. Sound a little childish? That’s what I thought at first, but it’s one of the best RPG’s out there.

Animal Crossing

System: GameCube
Price: $49.99

Hey look, a game with Nintendo 64-quality graphics, so-so sound, and really no point to it, but I love it! Animal Crossing is like the Sims meets Hello Kitty. You go around your virtual community doing (almost) anything you want. Design all your clothes, collect bugs, get new wallpaper—the list goes on and on. The cool thing is that whatever time it is in everyday life that’s what time it is in Animal Crossing. For example, if you are celebrating the 4th of July, turn on Animal Crossing and watch your character and his friends watch fireworks!

Sports Games

There are lots of sports in the world. There are also a lot of sports games in the world. It would be literally impossible for me to review them all. So I narrowed it down to three major sports: basketball, baseball and football.


NBA Inside Drive 2003

System: Xbox
Price: 49.99

This is easily one of the most graphically enhanced sports games out there. They even have the underarm hair (EEEEWWW!)! This year’s installment is new and improved with player graphics and ball and net physics. Also this year, the sounds that come out of the players’ mouths actually move with their lips (finally)! And in the Franchise mode, you can trade all you want and have Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant on the same team. And the people said AMEN!


System: GameCube, PS2 and Xbox
Price: $49.99

What can I tell you? This series will stop at nothing to bring us great games. New graphics, players and stadiums make it the most updated b-ball game out there. Not to mention that this is Sega’s third year in online gaming. The only drawback of this basketball season is that there is no mention about another installment of Kobe Bryant’s game, NBA Courtside, which is arguably the best basketball game of 2002.



System: GameCube, PS2 and Xbox
Price: $49.99

Here it is, the reason for that spontaneous Thanksgiving party. Throw around the old pigskin once again in this highly detailed blockbuster. They even squeezed the Houston Texans in there for you—just in time. Not much has changed graphically but you will see major changes in the gameplay. For instance, if you see your favorite team run a really cool play, it’s in the playbook in 2K3. Not to mention that it has been widely advertised that you will never see the same moves twice. With an awesome celebration sequence when you win the Super Bowl, this will have you playing for a while.

Madden 2003

System: GameCube, PS2 and Xbox
Price: $49.99

He’s back again. Sports announcer John Madden, Mr. Football himself, is giving you a digitized version of every aspect of the football season. At least, that’s what it seems like. You’re just waiting for someone to spill beer on you. The coolest feature is Create-A-Play. It’s where you go on a virtual playbook and make any play you want. What’s really great is that you can try your play out as soon as you make it. As you can see, this game is very detailed. Expect to spend at least an hour on ONE exhibition game.


MLB Slugfest 2003

System: GameCube, PS2 and Xbox
Price: $49.99

This game is insane. I’m not even sure this is a baseball game. It’s more like boxing, and oh yeah, I got to smack a ball in the rafters a couple of times. Improvements include new crowd graphics and more detailed player faces.

Shooting Games

Ah, the shooter game. It all started with the big orange Nintendo gun in the game Duckhunt and then it grew to something far more sophisticated. Before you knew it, people were throwing Goldeneye parties and having Syphon Filter multi-player tournaments. Check out the shooters for the new era.


System: PS2
Price: $59.99 (price includes USB microphone)

This game scares me. It’s too good. You go on countless missions with your fellow SEALs backing you up. The artificial intelligence in this game is unparalleled. If you need cover, with a push of a button your buddies will come to your aid and start blasting away your enemies like there is no tomorrow. And now SOCOM is going to be an online game, which means you’ll be able to play with people across the globe, up to 16 at a time! The modem you buy with it to go online does not make this game cheap. I do not know the exact price though, because it is constantly changing. I’m sure this game will be remembered as one of the best tactical shooting games ever.

TimeSplitters 2

System: GameCube, PS2 and Xbox
Price: $49.99

All I can say is: WOW. This game rocks. Okay, so it doesn’t have the ultra-realism of SOCOM, but guess what? I don’t care. With an improved multi-player mode, loads of cool weapons and insane terrorist monkeys with guns, who wouldn’t want this game? For those of you who have more than one of these systems, I’ll be honest with you, get the GameCube version. Both the Xbox and GameCube versions were better in the graphics department than the PS2. So why GameCube over Xbox? Because Xbox’s controller is a freaking giant! The GameCube controller handled the game much better. And if you don’t believe that this game decimates all, TimeSplitters 2 was just named Most Acclaimed Game of the Year. For people who don’t know what that means, let me break it down for you. Everyone in the country thinks this game kicks serious boo-tay!

Fighting Games

Oof! Pow! Bang! Ouch! Biff! Kablam!

Street Fighter Alpha 3

System: GameBoy Advance
Price: $29.99

This was so much fun to play it should be fighting game of the year. The graphics were amazing, the gameplay was amazing, it was just amazing. New this year is a slow-motion sequence every time you execute a special combo. With 33 fighters available, this is the best fighting game on a handheld system that I’ve ever played.

Tekken 4

System: PS2
Price: $49.99

Finally, another Tekken game! With a truckload of new characters, moves and backgrounds, you can’t miss this one. Graphical enhancements include walls that you can be backed up against, new collision detection (collision detection is when the two characters are really close on screen and the software tells the game not to combine their animations), and new lighting effects. Oh, and try to find the few destructible items in the game.