Gamers' Choice Award Winners!
GameSpy's GameCube Game of the Year
Runners Up
Animal Crossing

While Sony and Microsoft are taking bigger strides into online gaming, Nintendo is focusing on extending the capabilities of its console with accessories and peripherals. Its concept of "connectivity" allows players to get more out of games using a GameCube, Game Boy Advance, and other peripherals. The deepest and best example of this concept is Animal Crossing. On its own it's an incredibly immersing game that does for consoles what The Sims did for PCs. It simulates life in a town populated by furry critters and requires you to perform dozens of tasks that are individually mundane, but because of their freedom and variety become addictive. For example, if you get bored of fishing then you can spend time decorating your house. If that gets old, go ahead and run some errands for your neighbors. If you want to take a break from making money, go ahead and play one of a handful of classic NES games. The game always offers something new to explore.

Adding GBA and e-Reader capabilities gives the game infinite replay value. Connecting a GBA to your GCN allows you do go to an island and pick new kinds of fruit. Plugging in an e-Reader gives access to items, songs, new characters, and more. You can also visit other player's towns by switching memory cards and trade items by using a password system. Animal Crossing will not win any awards for its graphics and sounds, but it stands alone as the most innovative console game of 2002.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4

One of the finest games to be released this year on the GameCube is, without a doubt, Activision's stellar Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. It embodies all the very best elements of last year's smash hit THPS3 while adding new, exciting features. With its monstrous career mode, refined combo system, and huge, gaping skate parks, THPS4 delivers on all fronts.

It's a shame then that the GameCube is a little behind the online console gaming charge currently being enjoyed by PlayStation 2 and Xbox owners. The lack of online support here is a negative point, but the fact remains that the single-player experience -- and split-screen multiplayer for that matter -- is second to none. THPS4 kicks all the other extreme sports titles released for the GameCube this year to the sidelines. A nice little bonus comes in the fact that the game is so smooth and slick -- more so than the slightly uglier PlayStation 2 title.

With over 190 separate challenges to complete in career mode, you'll not soon be putting your joypad down. Featuring a ton of the most famous and able skaters in the world, THPS4 is a must-buy for GameCube owners. It's hard to get much better than this.

Next: The Runner Up Awards...
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Vital Stats

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Adventure, Simulation
Release: September 16, 2002

Vital Stats

Developer: Neversoft
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Sports, Extreme
Release: October 23, 2002
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