Nothing says "Free" like one with conditions.

This issue is the big 2003 E3 wrap-up (starring F-Zero GX as the cover feature), a pretty grim one in retrospect, with Nintendo's output already drying up and lagging well behind PS2 both domestically and abroad. But at least Nintendo Power was selling, with the shills for buying a subscription, a few advertisements before the table of contents, with the page opposite advertising Kangaroo Jack, which notoriously used a hip-hopping kangaroo in all of its ad materials when the movie was actually almost completely different.

Name's Kangaroo Jack and I'm here to say, living in the Outback is pretty...okay!

The "Power Charts" section has "NP's All-Time Console Favorites" with "Player's Choice" for the GameCube and a corresponding section for the Game Boy Advance. Nothing on sales, or what the readership liked about the all-time list. This was just done for the one issue (Nintendo Power turned 15, hence the combined July/August issue as a nod to the original). The editor's list decided to put The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time at number one (of course) with Final Fantasy III (that is to say, Final Fantasy VI) at 3. These top 10 lists usually have poor taste. They put Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem at 16, Madden NFL 2003 at 19, and classics like Yoshi's Island, Super Mario RPG, any of the Donkey Kong Country games, and any other Zelda game besides The Wind Waker didn't chart. I'm guessing that since seven of the twenty were GameCube games they were weighted that way. But even so...Madden NFL 2003? Top 20 of all time? Give me a break.

Game Watch broke the news that Infogrames officially changed its name to Atari (they purchased the brand purchased from Hasbro Interactive). The story of Atari was long even by 2003, but in 2003, the original Atari still existed (if not for long), the legal successor to the 1972 Atari Inc. was now Midway Games West and shut down that same year.

The "Player's Pulse" section is decorated
with letters they've received. A miracle that USPS even delivered these given how
awkwardly the address and stamp are placed.

Most of what was covered was spread between the E3 2003 Wrap-Up and other sections of the magazine. There are a few I wanted to touch on specifically, ordered by appearance in the magazine:
- Geist, shown on page 37 was one of the "big four" (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, F-Zero GX, and Pikmin 2) and an FPS with the gimmick of possessing people. Unfortunately when the when the final product came out two years later it was a critical and commercial failure and forgotten. - Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes has a full page dedicated to it, including an interview.
- Among the titles in the "E3 2003 Wrap-Up" article is a short bit on Fire Emblem, the very first localized Fire Emblem game and released with that title, though in Japan was Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade.
- Pac-Man for Nintendo GameCube (later released as Pac-Man Vs.) is mentioned to be "even a surprise for Namco", it was actually developed as a tech demo without Namco's involvement. Still, it was never released as a full retail title, only bundled as an extra with other Namco games.
- The Legend of Zelda: Tetra's Trackers, which was later renamed Navi Trackers and incorporated into the 2004 title The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures before being cut out entirely from the localized releases, due to the heavy amount of spoken dialogue.
- Stage Debut was another title. It was not a game per se but featured characters with texture-mapped faces that could be imported from a camera (a GBA camera device was planned but never released). It was basically an upgraded version of the N64DD title Mario Artist: Talent Studio.
- Giftpia, a quirky game by Skip Ltd. was shown off at E3 with English text but never received a release date or a localized release.
- Custom Robo was mentioned (it had some Japan-only N64 games) and actually was released in America under that name (in Japan, it was Custom Robo: Battle Revolution, because, like with Fire Emblem, only the original game had that title).
- Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life was mentioned, which built on Harvest Moon 64 but with even more features.
- Mario and Luigi, a GBA title (released as Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga) appears for the first time in Nintendo Power.
- Goblin Commander: Unleash the Horde didn't have any screenshots and the game was ultimately a dud but it sounded good on paper--a Blizzard alumni (of Diablo and WarCraft, the games that actually put them on the map) leading a game that was a traditional RTS with some more action-oriented gameplay. It got Xbox and PS2 versions as well, but never a PC version, curiously enough.
- ChibiRobo, as it was called back then was another quirky Skip game, this time to be published by Bandai. The version here was very different from 2006's Chibi-Robo!. Wikipedia describes it as such: "the [E3 2003] version entailed the player training Chibi-Robo to defend the home of his inventor from a pair of burglars. The gameplay was different as well; instead of a platform-adventure game, it played like a point-and-click adventure title, where the player was not in direct control of Chibi-Robo, but was rather conveying commands to him by clicking a cursor around the area."

This is described in the magazine as the "world's most expensive
hamburger". By 2023 standards (especially L.A.), a hamburger with chips
and a can of soda for $10 is a bargain.

The rest of the magazine features some stuff like some strategies for games that were out (very few maps, only for Wario World), a short-lived column called "FUNdamentals" (about coding games), a bit on the new Game Boy Player, an extra contest in regards to the 15th anniversary of Nintendo Power...the actual feature is only one page and features trivia like "How many times has Mario been on the cover?" (19 as of summer 2003). There was also a contest: 14 winners got a subscription to 1-year subscription to Nintendo Power (lame!) while the grand prize got that plus a platinum GameCube, platinum Game Boy Advance SP, a Game Boy Player, a GBA link cable, and "5 of the biggest upcoming games: Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, F-Zero GX, Soul Caliber (sic) II, Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance".

The actual "Player's Poll Sweepstakes" was a Finding Nemo-themed trip to both Pixar and THQ (the latter that churned out the licensed games in those days), a Game Boy Advance SP and Nintendo GameCube (both in the Platinum color, of course), and copies of Finding Nemo for both systems (as par for that sort of thing, completely different games). The second place winners (5 of them) got copies of the games, and 50 winners got a Nintendo Power t-shirt.

Under "Now Playing", they didn't have weighted scores, just the star method and what each staffer thought about it. Games that month (in order) were Enter the Matrix, Wario World, Hulk, Mega Man Network Transmission, Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, Sonic Adenture DX: Director's Cut, Finding Nemo (GCN), Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation, Army Men: RTS, Sonic Pinball Party, The Incredible Hulk (related to the movie, but based on the comic book), Finding Nemo (GBA), Ultimate Muscle: The Path of the Superhero, Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II, Dr. Muto, Ed, Edd n Eddy: Jawbreakers! (the lowest rated game that month), Ice Nine, Iridion II, Medabots: Metabee and Rokusho Versions, and Mega Man Battle Network 3: Blue and White Versions.

The "Pokécenter" section features a section on the new TCG expansion, confusingly named "Pokémon-e TCG: EX Ruby & Sapphire". The release of the expansion was the first set that was released by Nintendo instead of Wizards of the Coast, with Wizards' release of Jamboree cancelled. An ad for Pokémon-e TCG: EX Ruby & Sapphire follows the section.

Finally, a special note on Army Men: RTS: it had a strategies feature and a review but by the time the magazine hit the presses, the company had gone under and the GameCube version (pretty much complete) was released by a different company in November 2004. An embarrassment had it been a bit higher-profile, but with the issues facing Nintendo consoles at the time, I don't think many people noticed.

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