The holiday season is fast approaching and we all need to start thinking about what to get as gifts for those we care about (or for ourselves as personal presents). For those of us who are gamers we know that this is shaping up to be a crowded marketplace for new games on all the major platforms. With all of these choices, deciding what to buy someone can be a very daunting task.
Being faced with these decisions as well, we decided to research all the upcoming and recently released games for all platforms and come up with a definitive list of must have games in each major genre (Action, First Person Shooter, Fighting, RPG, Sports, Strategy and Other) for all the platforms. We will look at not just what games to buy, but why they should be bought! Please note all release dates are based on North American street dates.
So without further ado, let’s get to the guide!
Part 1 – Xbox 360
Part 2 – Playstation 3
Part 3 – Wii
The Nintendo Wii has become the breakthrough console of this generation of console Wars with approximately 13.5 million units shipped since its launch in November of 2006. While the Xbox 360 still leads in North American units sold, the Wii has a worldwide edge on Microsoft's white giant. The Wii is wowing everyone with its low price tag and innovative motion controls that really involve you into the game. Non-gamers are entering the gaming world thanks to the Wii as this consoles original style and motion based game play is easy for everyone to pick up and play. While their lineup isn't as large this Holiday season as the PS3 and 360, there are some real gems coming out soon that will keep the Wii sold out throughout the season and beyond.
Super Mario Galaxy
The next core installment in the Mario universe is the highly anticipated Super Mario Galaxy, this time Bowser has amassed a space armada and kidnapped Princess Peach and Mario needs to go intergalactic to save her. Spanning many planets all with distinct environments and challenges, Mario and his friends will need to give their best to save the Princess. Thankfully Mario and Co. will have a host of new moves based on tilting, flicking and moving the Wii Remote, the first Mario game of any Nintendo console is always an event and this one promises to deliver on all the hype.
Why Buy it? Nintendo's first party games and especially Mario games are always given huge internal support and are generally the best on Nintendo's system, Super Mario Galaxy is going back to it's Mario 64 roots and that is a very good thing. This game has very well implemented motion controls and is the best-looking Wii game to date. Mario controls like a dream and (literally) gravity defying jumps, new moves, amazing game play, rock solid frame rate and great visuals make this THE Wii game to have this holiday season.
Nights: Journey of Dreams
Years ago Sega released a game for their failing console the Saturn called Nights into Dreams, the game breathed new false hope into that console and a sequel was never made. On December 18th gamers dreams are going to come true as Sega releases a sequel 11 years in the making with Nights: Journey of Dreams. The premise of the game is relatively simple; you control a jester character that flies around 3-d environments on a 2-d plane. During the 'races' you can perform actions like loops, spin through checkpoints and transform into other creatures to access special areas. All in all it is a very non-standard take on a standard game play style (race game). What makes this so special is the surreal look and feel of the game, you really feel like you are in a dream world and playing this game is just enjoyable.
Why Buy it? Nights has a special pedigree, it is a sequel to a game that many hardcore gamers hold very dear and wish they could experience again. The Wii version promises to features some great motion controls on top of numerous alternate control methods to ensure it plays like, well a dream. The game play is deeper then it appears at first glance with scores tied into multipliers earned by performing tricks, snagging items and flying through loops, it adds a strategic element to each element that inspires players to replay the game over and over. The simple yet stunning graphics have many subtle features that make watching this game a joy. This game is one to get for any serious gamer.
FIRST PERSON SHOOTER
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
Years ago, Nintendo rebooted the Metroid franchise on the Gamecube as a First Person shooter with the original Metroid Prime game, despite initial concern that the action game could never translate to a shooter the game wowed critics and gamers alike becoming an instant classic. The newest iteration, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption further cements the series and its heroine, Samus Aran, as icons in the genre. This version features an interesting storyline that has Samus Aran traversing the galaxy trying to discover the source of an insidious corruption while trying to avoid being corrupted herself. The series has had a surprisingly efficient graphic overhaul in this entry despite the Wii's modest hardware specs, the developer Retro needs to be given a pat on the back for this and in particular the great controls. The controls are the true star, with the Nunchuk analog stick controlling Aran and the Wii Remote used to target and shoot as you point on the screen. With this control PC owners should feel nervous as it rivals mouse and keyboard controls for pinpoint accuracy. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is available now and is a must have for any Wii owner.
Why Buy it? This is the best shooter on the Wii… period, it has stunning visuals, amazing controls and a great story that is finally enhanced with quality voice acting (generally impossible on older Nintendo consoles due to cartridge format). This game nails almost every aspect it tries right, it is a game that purists and newcomers can and will enjoy. Any gamer owes it to themselves to own this game if they have Nintendo's innovative new console.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles
Not quite a pure first person shooter, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is a light game, it will use the new Wii Zapper once it is released and should be a great addition to the Wii's library. The game follows the rise and fall of the Umbrella corporation and the story will span events from Resident Evil 0 through to Resident Evil 3, with hordes of zombies and undead to blast to smithereens. This will be a fun game to play on the Wii and will really involve any gamer into the action, it is available November 13th.
Why Buy it? This will be the first great light shooter on the system, Capcom has put some nice touches in this game such as destructible environments, a huge range of damage animations and spot on hit tracking. The Umbrella Chronicles will also be a way for new players to the Resident Evil universe to experience the zombie filled history of the Umbrella corporation, returning veterans will have a blast, pun intended, noticing little details that further flesh out the universe. All in all this game looks to be a fun ride that is sure to please gamers this Holiday.
Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution
The Wii is still young so there are not many fighting games for it yet, luckily one of the few is Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution and it is very good. The game features a storyline drawn from the hit animated series on the Cartoon Network, you can select from 20 characters and battle your way to the finale. Up to four players can play together in multiple game modes, while motion control is minimal in the combat, there are many minigames utlizing the motion sensing functions. This is a solid fighter that Wii owners should try.
Why Buy it? While the Naruto animated series is not for everyone, it does add a lot of charm to this game, the characters and story obviously have a lot of depth to draw upon and it shows. The action in the game is fast, furious and fun and is definitely a fighting game worth checking out. The motion controls are well implemented and the graphics really channel the spirit of the show, put together it is a very solid game that is available right now.
ROLE PLAYING GAME
Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
Fire Emblem is a series that has been around for nearly two decades and has an impressive pedigree. This game is a sequel to Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and continues the story almost directly. In this turn based strategy game you will control rebels struggling to rebuild their country after the previous games heroes defeated the evil King of their land. Your huge roster of characters have many different classes each with their own movement, attack and special abilities. This is a deep strategy RPG and likely the only one on the Wii for some time, so if you need a great strategy fix, this one will do it for you or a gamer you know.
Why Buy it? Aside from the fact that this is the only turn based strategy RPG of note on the Wii, it is truly a great one. The story, while hardly innovative, is very detailed, the characters all have personality and you generally are interested in them and the story. One of the best things about this game is the permanent death system, in most turn based strategy games if an ally falls they recover for next battle, in this series if you lose someone they are gone. It really adds a personal feel to the game, there have been times in this series I have gladly replayed a mission four or five times to ensure I recruited the new teammate and no one died. The developer should be commended for both creating captivating characters we care about and a system that has us fighting to preserve them. This is a great game and a must have for the Wii, it is available now.
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Originally planned as a Gamecube title, Twilight Princess was re-engineered mid stride as a Wii near launch title, they also released it for the Gamecube, but the definitive version is on the Wii. This installment in the classic and beloved series has Link traveling to the land of twilight to rescue Princess Zelda (again). In a departure from the cutesy Wind Waker game Link is once again a mature representation and the story and action hinges on that appearance. Over the course of this Epic adventure Link will learn a host of new abilities, battle strange and wondrous creatures and solve mysteries. This is THE RPG for the Wii and one ever fan of the genre should own
Why Buy it? The fact that a nearly one year old game is on this list should be a hint, this is a true classic and a must have. The graphics a year later still look stunning, the character design, sound and animation are all top notch and really set the title apart. What is most compelling about the game is the story, Link looks mature and the story reflects this, as you play you will want to know more about Link, the characters and the world of twilight. The story even dares to contemplate a what if scenario about what Link would be like if he chose an evil path. Add to this mix motion controls that are fun and effective (fishing has never been as fun in a videogame before) and you have a true winner. If you have a Wii or know someone who has one they must have this great game.
Mario Strikers: Charged
This Mario themed soccer game may sound like a gimmicky game, but it is a deep, good looking and most importantly fun game that has a lot going for it. Really at it's heart it is a soccer game pitting Mario and his friends against various teams made up of friends and enemies from the Mario series. The action is fast and frenetic with the analog stick used to control and the buttons used for kicks, hits or dodges, motion control is understated in the control scheme but executed well when it is used. This game is very fun as a solo, local multiplayer and online multiplayer (one of the few on the Wii) match.
Why Buy it? The developer of Mario Strikers: Charged took great care in making this game and ensuring it was not a cheap and quick sequel to it's predecessor. The animation and graphics are impressive and true 480p widescreen, it makes a huge difference on this system when it is implemented right and these guys did it. The game play is truly fun with fast action, great control and MegaStrikes that can change the course of the game. If you or a friend are looking for a great soccer game that is accessible and fun, look no further. Mario Strikers: Charged is available right now.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
Strongly hyped as the first time classic game icons and former console opponents Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario team up in a game, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games delivers the goods in a fun sports mashup game. Featuring all the classic events from track and field games over the ages this game has extensive motion control, strong characters and an addictive play style. The 24 events have you doing everything from shooting and rowing, to 100M dash and fencing, each event has their control intricacies and all require some strategy and finesse to play. This is a fun game (especially with friends) and is available right now.
Why Buy it? Novelty factor aside, it is really cool to see Sonic and Mario competing against each other in the games many events. This game has simple but effective graphics, a great many events as well as progressive track unlocks as you complete the game which add a lot of replayability to it. The motion controls are implemented really well with finesse and timing needed to successful win events, this is something not a lot of developers do right for the Wii and Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games has it in spades. This is a great sports party game and a wonderful replacement for the Wii Sports game that you have played since launch.
Geometry Wars: Galaxies
Geometry Wars was and still is one of the best titles on Xbox live, this entry in the series is not a port, but instead a huge step forward for the new series. The game boasts 60 levels where you control your ship (and its drone ship) through wave after wave of enemies, everything is made up of brightly colored geometric shapes and the explosions and effects will light up your screen like the 4th of July (or Canada Day if you are from the great white north). It is a dual analog game when used with the classic controller (left stick controls movement, right shoots in the direction it is pushed) or the Wii Remote is used to shoot where you point, either scheme works great. this is sure to please any Wii owner when it is released November 13th.
Why Buy it? Geometry Wars is an addictive and fun game, Galaxies is 60 times the fun with all the extra levels, different level variants (Black holes, waves and more) to be found and new enemies to encounter. The graphics while not revolutionary are bright and vibrant and really wow you when the action is at its heaviest. The icing on the cake for this game is the inclusion of a co-op mode so you and a friend can blast the vile geoms together. All in all this will be a great game alone or with a friend and will be a great addition to the Wii library.
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
This offbeat adventure game stars a young pirate named Zack and his mini golden monkey friend Wiki as the scour the land and sea for parts of the legendary pirate Barbarosa's skeleton, if they put him back together they get a wish. Controlled entirely via the Wii Remote this adventure game channels classic LucasArts games like Sam and Max, Curse of Monkey Island and Full Throttle except that thanks to the innovate control courtesy of the Wii you are pointing and clicking as well as spinning, shaking, flicking and turning the controller. The controls are great and are backed up by truly imaginative puzzles and amazing designs at both the character and stage levels. The game is available right now and will be a great gift to yourself or a friend.
Why Buy it? Zack and Wiki has been getting very positive buzz and it is definitely justified. These days adventure games are a dead genre, but with the innovative controls a new life is breathed into it. The animation and graphics are great, with a stylish and high quality cell shaded look the characters and environments really shine. Of course the puzzles and level designs are the star of the show and make this game a blast to play. If you are in the mood for a different game on the Wii you owe it to yourself to get this title!