Friday Flashback Five: Week of July 13, 2003

It’s that time again—time to close out the week with our Friday Flashback Five.  Every week, we take a look at five random games that debuted that week in history.  Some are remembered for years afterward, while others are forgotten within weeks.  All are a part of our hobby’s history.  This week, we’re heading back to the week of the July Thirteenth, ‘Oh-Three.

While a rather large number of games came out this week, most of them were for cell phones.  Only a handful came out for consoles, but most of the ones that did are likely to be remembered to this day, one way or another.

As always, this isn’t an ordered, “top” or “bottom” list.  It’s just a look back at a point in our hobby’s history, and some of the games that have helped build the hobby.

With the usual warning out of the way, let’s get this started with…

NCAA Football 2004
“Little brother” to the insanely popular Madden pro football series, the college football NCAA Football has never been quite as popular, but it’s always been a consistent money-maker.  The NCAA Football series has always been a bit more on the technical side; where Madden was more accessible, NCAA generally stayed truer to its source.

That said, one of the things NCAA shared with Madden was that there was always a large number of things to do—you could create teams, play on-line against others, play a match with mascots for players, and more.  It remained true to its more technical leanings, yet in offering an abundance of things to do, it gave incentive for the novice football fan to try and figure out what things like “running the option” means.  It was, over all, a worthy addition to the NCAA line.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
To say that Star Wars is a financially viable brand is a supreme understatement.  Anything, at all, under the banner will sell and sell well.  In its entire history, there’s only one thing that George Lucas has tried to make the public forget about, that he’s seen as “unworthy” of the brand, and—well, as much as I might hate to say it, he’s right.

That aside, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic hit the ground running with the full power of the Force behind it.  There was so much to it, even non-Wars nerds enjoyed the heck out of it.  You had a decent, though not great, ability to be on the “light” side or the “dark” side, you could customize the heck out of your character’s skills, and the plot wasn’t anything to sneeze at, either.  It’s set thousands of years before the first film, and as the game progresses the player comes across tons of Wars lore as they help the Republic rebuild after a great war.

All in all, while it was simply fantastic for Wars fans, even R.P.G. fans could get into it, and anyone wanting to throw people into walls just because they could.

Silent Line: Armored Core
The Armored Core series has always been the little series that could.  The series hit the ground running offering something different, something new—but as time passed it didn’t really innovate.  Even well into the PlayStation 2 era, the series stubbornly stuck to a control scheme that was designed before the analog sticks were part-and-parcel of the hardware.  The other thing the series has always been known for is being what amounts to a dress-up game for giant robots.  As the series progressed, you swapped out parts—all kinds of parts, from heads to legs to interior parts to everything else you could possibly think of.

Silent Line continued both of those, as well as the kind of plot seen in every title previous.  You played a “Raven”, a mech pilot, who works for an independent mercenary group taking missions from anyone.  The game is set in a dystopian future where corporations rule.  You take jobs from the various companies, and eventually discover that a company is working to make sure it’s the most powerful company around—by any means possible.  It’s an interesting plot, sure—but it’s been the basic plot of nearly every title in the series, so that added to the awkward control scheme made for a title that failed to live up to the (incredible) hype.

Navy SEALs: Weapons of Mass Destruction
No matter what one may think of the military, this game didn’t do it justice.  For reasons known only to the developers, it was, in a word, crap.  Terrible scripting, boring levels, buggy programming—it was, frankly, terrible.

About the only complimentary thing that can be said about it is that it ends—eventually.  After restarting missions a dozen times because taking the wrong step can break enemy scripting.

The Italian Job
It’s difficult to make a car-centered video game with an actual plot.  Most of the time, even if the game’s plot has been carefully woven into the game play, to make everything you are asked as the player to do make sense, fit the game, and be interesting, gamers are going to forget it.

What we have here is a lackluster plot that is woven into the game about as well as a basket woven by a narcoleptic rhesus monkey.  It’s serviceable, one could suppose, if bland and boring.  Add to that the fact that there really isn’t much to do, and that the game had been out on other systems for a good little while at that point, and you have a title that doesn’t do the genre justice.  It felt more like a title hurriedly slapped together to cash in on the movie.

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That’s all for this week.  See you on Monday, and have a good weekend!


2 Responses to “Friday Flashback Five: Week of July 13, 2003”

  1. Elisa Michelle Says:

    I remember Knights of the Old Republic out of all of those. And I also remember the Italian Job did horribly, which is sad because I actually liked the new(er) version of the movie.

    • I didn’t mind the newer version of the movie, though I wish that game had done it more justice. Though I suppose with the stigma about “tie-in” games, it at least wasn’t shocking to be–what it was.

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