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[ Writer ] = BAD
[ 01/07/06 ] = 2005 Top Ten

It's that time again, where I talk about titles that deserved recognition in the previous year. As always, you won't find any Madden or EA shit here. No Call of Duty, no Final Fantasy, no Burnout, no Tom Clancy, no Pirates!, no Sims, and no Need for Speed. No stupid shit. You've seen all those games on lists in magazines and on other sites (maybe even in the same order), but they won't be seen here. This list consists of games from the fighting, action, and shooting genres. No more, no less. Fans understand this. Read on for what I consider to be the best games of 2005...

[ 10 ] = Dynasty Warriors
[ Maker ] = Koei
Fans of the series don't like Dynasty Warriors 4 as much as the other entries in the series, and to many Dynasty Warriors 5 is the king of the genre. But I really liked DW4, and thus really liked Dynasty Warriors on the PSP. Essentially an altered version of DW4, one of the things I liked most about DW on PSP was how the areas were cut down into sections. Koei's own, signature brand of hacking and slashing in this DW is just as fun as has been since the developer's first venture into the genre with DW2. It was one of the only four titles released in its genre for 2005, which is just another reason to put it on my top ten. Koei has contributed to the almost-dead genre of side-scrolling action fighters, and once again it's nice to see. I like Devil Kings more, but it was nice to see that Koei is still supporting a genre that actually takes skill to play.

[ 9 ] = Giga Wing Generations
[ Maker ] = Takumi
Long-awaited sequel to the 4-Player masterpiece that is Giga Wing 2. Nothing more needs to be said; this game is Takumi greatness. While it may not be what the sequel was, this entry still offers shooting action only Takumi can deliver.

[ 8 ] = Viewtiful Joe - Red Hot Rumble
[ Maker ] = Capcom
I heard about it when it was announced at E3, but this one didn't really interest me until I recently got into Viewtiful Joe and its sequel. I got it and I was impressed at how fun and complete Capcom made it. Viewtiful Joe - Red Hot Rumble reminded me immediately of Power Stone 2; 4-Players and really fun, with an interesting cast, multi-tiered stages, cool items, and stellar visuals. It was great to see that Capcom chose to develop the game on the GC hardware; thanks to the power of the hardware, the lush, splashy visuals, amazing effects, and silky-smooth animation look absolutely beautiful. While it is a 4-Player fighting game, VJRHR sets itself apart from the others with various types of objectives to complete in each stage. The screen is absolute mayhem, as four players battle it out while simultaneously trying to complete the objective (such as killing the most enemies or collecting the most items) to win the match. The only reason this didn't rank higher than Gundam VS Zeta Gundam on the list is because the latter reminded me of the awesome Cyberbots. Like Gotcha Force on the same hardware, VJRHR is 4-Player madness with amazingly smooth visuals and over-the-top effects. The game is unique, and just as good as its side-scrolling counterparts.

[ 7 ] = Soul Calibur III
[ Maker ] = Namco
I think this is the first Namco title to make it into my top ten. After all the anticipation and time I've spent with SCIII, I couldn't let it go without recognition. Namco made SCIII not only a good game game, but a better game than its predecessor. There are tons of characters to choose from, and they even made it so that you can create your own character with custom clothing, accessories, armor, and weapons. The gameplay is tighter than SCII, the counter moves take more skill to pull off, and the characters are more refined. The visuals are also just as impressive as that of SCII, but with flashier effects, new costumes, and new weapons; Namco deserves a pat on the back for utilizing the power of the PS2 hardware to its fullest extent. Namco did a good job with SCIII all around, and the game has been refined as a whole. Critics had their gripes with SCIII (even though they seemed to like it), but ignore that shit and just buy it. You'll be happy you did.

[ 6 ] = Mobile Suit Gundam - Gundam VS Zeta Gundam
[ Maker ] = Capcom
Carrying the torch of traditional Capcom mech fighting passed on since Cyberbots and Tech Romancer, Mobile Suit Gundam - Gundam VS Zeta Gundam is awesome. Even though the game takes inspiration from the two aforementioned titles and plays like Gotcha Force, the gameplay is tight and careful calculation is required. However, the learning curve isn't steep; just about anyone can pick it up and play it, and at the same time fighting veterans can continue to explore its intricacies. The game and its previous two incarnations (Mobile Suit Gundam - AEUG VS Titans and and Mobile Suit Gundam - AEUG VS Titans DX) have been successful in Japan, and that is precisely the reason why. GVSZG offers everything that the previous two versions offered and much more, including new mechs, characters, weapons, and modes of play. This game is huge, and could keep any fighting fan busy for a very, very long time. Get it before it fades into obscurity.

[ 5 ] = Samurai Spirits - Tenka Ichi Kenkakuden
[ Maker ] = SNK
Finally, Samurai Shodown made the leap to the AtomisWave hardware, and is it ever pretty. Beautifully-drawn hi-res backgrounds, characters, and effects, with that unique SNK flavor. Fans of the series may not like it as much as the second game, but they have to admit that it was nice to see the series on new hardware. Speaking of the second game, it was cool to see Seiger back in the lineup, since he had been gone for so long; fans had been asking for his inclusion for how long? As for the new characters, the fencer Andrew is cool, and one of the new females named Iroha looks stunning in that feminine style SNK executes so well. And to top it all the artwork is killer, just as in previous titles. This is probably my favorite fighter on the AtomisWave hardware; KOF NeoWave and Guilty Gear Isuka are great, and Demolish Fist is cool, but nothing rivals the greatness and nostalgia of the Samurai Shodown series. Nice to see that SNK is keeping the series alive, and on the AtomisWave hardware, at that! Go SNK!

[ 4 ] = Resident Evil 4
[ Maker ] = Capcom
This game was monumental, and with it Capcom revolutionized video games once again. Not only did Capcom show what their brilliant staff was capable of, but more than anything what the GameCube hardware was capable of. Many have criticized the GC, but RE4 made them choke on every one of their criticisms. Many see RE4 as a perfect game, and with good reason; it's just so damn good! The graphics are absolutely stunning, the gameplay is unique and stylish, the sound is great, and the story is interesting. The game is a long, visceral roller-coaster ride with enough plot-twists and revelations to keep the player glued. Capcom ditched Leon's aesthetically-impressive long hair and fur jacket from the preliminary version of the game, but the design is still great. Those who have not played this game through cannot completely fathom the experience. The game took forever to come out, and for good reason.

[ 3 ] = Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 - Mutant Nightmare
[ Maker ] = Konami
Yes, this game is number three on my top ten for 2005. True, it's not on anyone else's top ten, and some seem to think that it is "just a beat-'em up." But from me this game gets the respect it deserves not only because it's a great game for many reasons, but because these days games of its type are still rare. Sure, in 2005 there was Dynasty Warriors 5 and X-MEN Legends II, but Konami's latest turtles game is at the top of the genre. With tons of new features, moves, customization, enemies, and improvements, TMNT3 is 4-Player side-scrolling action fighting at its best. What makes this game so good is that it is classic Konami side-scrolling action fighting; it plays like the old 2-D TMNT games, and it's just as fun. I love this game, and I know others that do, too. This new TMNT game shows that Konami still has it after all these years...

[ 2 ] = BeatDown - Fists Of Vengeance
[ Maker ] = Capcom
Capcom showed more love for the side-scrolling fighter genre in 2005 with the release of BeatDown. Video game media had no respect for this game, and even "fans" who had asked Capcom for more side-scrolling fighters didn't appreciate it. But few and far between there are true, loyal fans out there who appreciated this game, and I am one of them. I played this game a lot, and I'm still not finished with it! True fans of Capcom side-scrolling fighters appreciated this game. Sure, Cavia assisted Capcom in the development of the game, but it turned out great, and we are lucky to even have new side-scrolling fighters in a generation that doesn't even appreciate them. Sure, Viewtiful Joe and the sequel were successful, but we were very lucky to have gotten BeatDown, considering how underrated and unappreciated Chaos Legion and Crimson Tears were. Nearly everyone I've turned this game on to became addicted to it once they overcame the shit reviews. It's not a perfect game, but it does the genre justice, and it's nice to see that in 2005 Capcom was able to squeeze out another side-scrolling brawler on the current hardware.

[ 1 ] = DarkStalkers Chronicle - The Chaos Tower
[ Maker ] = Capcom
When I saw that this game was announced for Sony's new PSP hardware, I was pleased, but at the same time I was disappointed because news suggested that it would be just a straight port of the DC-powered DarkStalkers Chronicle. I was glad to see that when the game came out it wasn't just a straight port; it was an enhanced version of the game with interesting new features, including enhanced resolution, a Wi-Fi tournament mode, and a completely new skill-building mode with branching paths. The stunning hand-drawn visuals still haven't aged a bit, and look even better with the PSP's enhanced resolution; the lush, colorful stages and beautifully crafted characters look incredibly smooth. Add all of this and Capcom's signature sound composition to the game's already perfect fighting engine, and you've got the best title of 2005. Like the entries before it, every single part of the game flows together in perfect harmony to create not only the best fighting game of the year, but the game of the year. I love the game, and I love the series. Thank you, Capcom.

[ Honorable ] = Mentions
There were some other exceptional titles in 2005, and they were MegaMan Zero 4, Killer 7, Devil Kings, Viewtiful Joe - Double Trouble, The King Of Fighters - NeoWave, Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, 94 Re-Bout, Naruto 4 - Gekitou Ninja Taisen, and Dynasty Warriors 5. These titles are highly recommended; get them or kill yourself.

[ Best Hardware ] = AtomisWave
Sammy's DreamCast-compatible AtomisWave hardware gets my nomination for the best hardware of 2005. Why? Because in 2005 we saw a number of high-quality titles and promising announcements for it; Samurai Spirits - Tenka Ichi Kenkakuden, KOF NeoWave, Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, KOF IX, and Metal Slug 6 from SNK, Guilty Gear XX Slash - The Midnight Carnival and The Fist Of The North Star from Arc System Works, and The Rumble Fish 2 from Dimps. SNK's KOF '94 Re-Bout (PS2) and KOF - Maximum Impact: Maniax (XB) probably would have been on the AtomisWave in 2005 as well, had an arcade release been planned for them. With an impressive list of titles from the previous two years (Guilty Gear 1.5, Guilty Gear Isuka, Demolish Fist, Force Five, The Rumble Fish, Knights Of Valour, Kenju, Dolphin Blue), several key releases in 2005, and the announcements of key titles for 2006, the future for the AtomisWave hardware looks promising. There were rumors that support for the hardware was being discontinued, but the recent releases and announcements say otherwise, and show its potential. Although most of my time in 2005 was spent with titles developed on the System 246/PS2 (as seen above), I had to give Sammy's hardware the respect it so deserved. Rallying up support and providing an impressive lineup is not easy to do with new hardware, but since its conception Sammy's diligence has gradually established a promising foothold. With support from SNK, Sega, Arc System Works, IGS, and Dimps, the only one missing from the party is Capcom...

[ Best Character Design ] = Iroha
[ From ] = Samurai Spirits - Tenka Ichi Kenkakuden
[ Maker ] = SNK
SNK's new Samurai Shodown features a ton of charcaters, some old some new, but one in particular caught my eye. As of the completion time of this article, I had not decided on a best character design for 2005, but then I saw an illustration for Iroha and it was love at first sight. Ashley from RE4, Taki, Setsuka, and Ivy from SCIII, and Gina from BeatDown were candidates also, but none could stand up to SNK's great character design (once again). Iroha's supple, pale figure was drawn with the utmost care, and her clothing compliments her perfectly. Essentially a fusion of old and new (that slightly resembles Mai), her outfit is unique and pleasing to the eye. Lastly, the two oddly-curved blades she weilds show that while her outfit may suggest something else, she means business. Iroha rocks, and SNK wins again...

[ Disappointments ] = Of The Year
[ 1 ] = No Street Fighter IV
With so many facts, clues, and rumors pointing to the development of a new Street Fighter, Capcom showed nothing of the sort in 2005. Why not? This was, by far, the biggest disappointment of 2005 simply because fans have been waiting so long for a completely new entry in the series. When E3 finally came around, everyone was so excited, and fans all over the world waited in anticipation. I waited and waited in front of the computer, hoping to see news of a new SF on new hardware hot off the press. Minutes seemed like hours, and the suspense was killing me, but no news or announcements ever came. It was heartbreaking, to say the least.

[ 2 ] = No Capcom Fighting Evolution 2
Capcom Fighting Evolution needs a sequel, and it would have been great if Capcom had shown something at E3 2005. I thought they would show or at least announce a CFE upgrade or sequel sometime in 2005, but surprisingly they didn't. I waited all year for an announcement, but it never came. I really hope a follow-up is being considered; there are still a ton of characters in the Capcom universe that could be included in an upgrade or sequel.

[ 3 ] = Resident Evil 4 and Killer 7 Downgrades
These, along with the Viewtiful Joe titles, are two titles that should have never been made for PS2. These titles were initially planned as exclusives on the GameCube because they were designed to take full advantage of the hardware and its unique capabilities. The visual intricacies that are the heart and soul of these games were lost in the downgrade from GC to PS2. Powered by the GC hardware, the unique visuals are what made these titles unique. They may seem the same on PS2, but more was lost in the transition than meets the eye. Not only that, but these titles were supposed to be exclusive. It was very, very disappointing to see that Capcom broke GC exclusivity with these titles, and then to pour salt in the wound they downgraded them! Hopefully you bought Resident Evil 4 and Killer 7 on the GC...