SoulCalibur II (GC, PS2, Xbox)
Picking up from the Dreamcast's jaw-dropping SoulCalibur, SoulCalibur II was the much-anticipated release for all three major home consoles. There's a story here, something I've never figured out, but it hardly matters. What does matter is "Soul-Cal 2" delivered on lofty expectations and even exceeded them, establishing the series as one of the best in the entire fighter genre. Even cooler? Heihachi (Tekken), Link (Zelda), and Spawn (comics) appear, each specific to a particular console.
Personal Highlight: Where to start? When all you're supposed to do is beat up your friends in one on one combat, there are bound to be too many highlights to mention. Still, I think few things are better than when your opponent, who is thoroughly thrashing you, makes a critical misstep and falls off the edge of the stage for an instant loss. Insult to injury: fall down after him in mocking jest.
Other Notable Releases in 2003: Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire (GBA) keeps the Pokémon train rolling strong as ever. Viewtiful Joe (GC) makes 3D cel-shaded graphics famous. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GC) gives a new twist on the massively popular racing series by fitting the karts for two.