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RPG Land Remembers 2000

By Heath | December 1, 2009 at 1:19 pm


Over the next month or so, we’ll be fondly looking back at each year of the decade that will soon be leaving us forever*. Can you believe we’re at the end of a decade here? Fond memories and half-assed photoshops are requisite. We’ve been gaming way too long, man. Or maybe you just started somewhere in the middle of this decade? Either way, it’s a milestone for us all, so join us as we look back at the RPGs of the year 2000. I might forget some (10 years is a long time), so be humane in reminding me what loser I am. 2000 was a special year. Amid my sharing of my own random memories, feel free to drop your own via email to (contest at rpgland dot com), hit the forums, or that Facebook dealie we just got like yesterday.
(* = unless you have a time machine, which I don’t rule out.)


Sequels carried the RPG torch into the new millenium, with January’s Parasite Eve II to be met with boos and hisses for not pleasing the fanbase created by the original. February would bring Alundra 2 and Front Mission 3, the latter of which was the first of its series to come to America. Parasite Eve II and Alundra 2 both took a lot of criticism for being too big of departures from the gameplay of their respective predecessors.
wildarms2Another “2” arrived in North America in April: Wild ARMs 2. This title was embraced by those looking to be told a good story and largely snubbed by others who, as with other “2s” before it, claimed its gameplay did not live up to that of the original. Adding to the stack of underachieving games with “2” in the title was SaGa Frontier 2. Squaresoft had previously said that the original SaGa Frontier would be the last SaGa game, but compelled by loyal fans carrying sacks of money, continued. I for one am grateful for this decision, even though SaGa Frontier 2 was kinda meh.

2000 was a year in which the RPG world received quite a few shockwaves. Among them certainly was the revelation of Final Fantasy XI. Its planned existence was not surprising…its being for PS2 was expected…it was just that little “online only” part that got people. The same party at which Squaresoft dropped the news (Square Millenium) was also the event at which Final Fantasy IX and X were revealed for very immediate releases (compared to current FF standards), but this tidbit about XI, with all its simultaneous outrage and intrigue, stole the show. For years leading up to its release and even to this day, Final Fantasy XI gets praise from some and utter, utter disdain from others, almost always centered around the fact that Square had the audacity to stick a “main series” Final Fantasy title online.
Speaking of online games, 1999’s EverQuest would get its first two expansions in the year 2000: The Ruins of Kunark in April and The Scars of Velious in December. I learned of this game from a stoner working at Wal-Mart who was like “Duuude, have you heard of EverQueeeeest? It like, never ends, man. That’s why they called it…’Ever’ like as in ‘forever.’ Ooohhh.”

May saw the release of Rhapsody. We’d have been better off if it hadn’t.

The RPG summer in 2000 would kick off with Squaresoft’s Legend of Mana making waves, but not as many as one Diablo II, which would release later that month. That guy kicking it with all the flames in the background stands symbolic of the hell the game would put so many college students through during the semesters that began two months later. “Class or Diablo II? Hmmm….” Blizzard’s hack-and-slasher with randomly generated dungeons is, to this day, looked upon and referenced as one of the genre’s defining games. “Diablo clones” refer to the series’ second installment as much as the first.


The summer would also give RPGamers a taste of the world of Ivalice in Vagrant Story. While VS is not a Final Fantasy title, it does actually take place in the same mythical realm as Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Advance, Tactics A2, and XII. A spiritual sequel to Brave Fencer Musashi called Threads of Fate also came to North America in July.

In August, a certain sequel to a then-five-year-old Super Nintendo game arrived on PlayStation. With practically unprecedented hype surrounding it, Chrono Cross hit North American shelves. This was nine months after the Japanese release, but the internet was not even close to as popular a means of getting video game information then as it is now, so whatever wasn’t in the magazines just wasn’t known to most people. Being a sequel to Chrono Trigger, some players were very turned off by how loose its connections seemed, while just as many others praised the game for its complex story, Mitsuda soundtrack, and unique battle system.

I remember, birthday cash in hand, picking up Chrono Cross around release time along with a PS multitap for…games that weren’t Chrono Cross. Though with all those characters, maybe there should have been some use for the multitap in that game….

Also in August — though seemingly less noteworthy at the time — would be the release of tri-Ace and Enix’s Valkyrie Profile for the PSX. This game debuted at the then-standard $40, but then for a while would be available for pretty cheap, and after that, rarity set in and the price skyrocketed. Despite being ported to PlayStation Portable and receiving a PS2 sequel, the price of the original PSX Valkyrie Profile can top $100 in the US.

The Nintendo 64, which struggled with RPGs throughout its life, still had a bit of fight left in it when Atlus brought Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber to North America. While not high in supply or hype, the game was well loved by those that played it and remains one of very few games to ever get the coveted 10/10 from RPG Land. Baldur’s Gate II would join OB64 in making the fall of 2000 a memorable one. It remains among the most beloved cooperative RPGs out there.


October of 2000 marked the release of the highly anticipated PlayStation 2. People slept outside waiting in line for days, snagged up the supplies in virtually every store, and sold those babies second hand for upwards of 150%-300% the retail value. In retrospect, this was more than a little bit ridiculous, because the PS2’s launch lineup was not that spectacular, especially for those who crave RPGs above other genres. Summoner, Eternal Ring, Orphan, and Evergrace were about it for PS2 RPGs, giving the year 2000’s RPG crown to…well, anything other than PS2.

Gaming in the year 2000 cannot be properly memorialized without also taking a (millionth) backward look at the Sega Dreamcast. The 9/9/99 launch put a new console under a boatload of Christmas trees immediately preceding 2000. The year would pretty much go on to define the “system that would never die.”
Sega pulled no punches with its Dreamcast RPGs in late 2000, releasing two of RPGaming’s most widely renowned experiences. Shenmue arrived in North America on November 7, 2000, and was immediately labeled the most realistic video game to date. Its sights and sounds immersed players — some to the point of deep fascination, some to the point of utter boredom. For a number of years to follow, Shenmue would be among the games holding the bar for graphical excellence and atmospheric detail. In 1UP’s Dreamcast retrospective podcast, panel members tell some decent stories about their run-ins with Shenmue‘s detail (skip to at least 39:00).

Skies of Arcadia, a more traditional JRPG, was released stateside a week after Shenmue and just five weeks after its Japanese launch. Taking players to a world whose foundation was air instead of land, airships were the main vehicle in Arcadia, and the setting certainly satisfied RPG fans who crave some exploration. Its innovations seemed somehow minor and major at the same time. That doesn’t sound like it makes sense, but it feels good to say. And feeling good is what looking back is all about. Grandia II, celebrated for its hilarious dialogue and action-packed battle system, would also hit the Dreamcast in December.
As if trolling Sega, Square launched Final Fantasy IX on the same day as Skies of Arcadia. As we’d say where I grew up, “They’s bastards.” (It’s a joke. Don’t be flamin’.) Random Fond Memory: now-defunct gaming magazine PSM once said in a preview that Vivi was the main character of the game, and that despite their previous guesses, it was totally not Zidane. I remember playing it for a few hours and then being all like “The hell you say?” Random Fond Memory 2: I went on a couple of months hiatus from this game after starting it, then came home from work one night and just looked at it, standing there mocking me. I told it, “No…no man, you’re done tonight!” Fuled by sheer determination and a case of Mountain Dew, I then played the game for some 27 hours, though I admit to taking a brief (brief, dammit!) nap after an unsuccessful run at Neocron. Share your memories with me via email at (contest at rpgland.com). I’ll do something with them. I guess we also got one of those Facebook things just now too, if I can figure out how the damn thing works. I hate the internet.

November 30 greeted Breath of Fire fans with what many consider to be the last “real” Breath of Fire game, though they had no way of knowing that at the time. Breath of Fire IV is also given credit by some conspiracy theorists as being the inspiration for Final Fantasy X‘s battle system.

Delays pushed the release of Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete back towards the end of the year as well. This was an enhanced PlayStation port of a Sega CD game and came with a box full of various goodies. Random Fond Memory: I got Spyro: Year of the Dragon from two different people on Christmas of 2000, so on December 26, it was off to the mall to take one back and put that cash towards the $65 purchase of Lunar 2.

Slipping under many a radar in December of 2000 was Persona 2: Eternal Punishment for PlayStation. It wouldn’t be until years later that this game — which is actually only half of a two-part pack — would become so much more sought after. Persona 2: Innocent Sin, the other half of the saga, was released in 2000 in Japan, but has never made it to North America or Europe. Joseph Wartick called it “Very Good.”

RPG System of the Year 2000: PlayStation. No contest, the sheer amount of RPGs and quality thereof was fantastic for the PSX.

2000 was a pretty incredible year for RPGs. The PlayStation was at the height of its console market dominance, and there’s no denying that its RPG lineup played a part in that. Meanwhile, these hip “MMORPGs” were starting to pick up more steam, largely thanks to “that game that doesn’t end;” so much so, that the best-selling offline franchise now had a date with the internet. The Dreamcast showed up to engage the PlayStation and PS2 in console warfare, and two of those three were seeing some real gems. The year would end with all the buzz being about 2001, the year in which the PS2 was expected to really take off and this fabled “Game Boy Advance” would finally be in the hands of portable gamers worldwide. And did you hear Microsoft is gonna make a game console? Are they serious? WTF?

Move onward to the RPGs of 2001…2001banner

Relevant Links:
RPG Land Remembers 2003
RPG Land Remembers 2002
RPG Land Remembers 2001
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Topics: Games of the Decade, Specials