December 28, 2006

 Navigation

   Home Page

 News & Features

   News

 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note

   Boomers

   Pinings

   Longshots

   Techie

 Pop Culture

   Film

   TV

   Books
   Video Games
   CD Reviews

 Living

   Food

   Wine

   Beer
   Grazing Guide

 Music

   Articles

   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts

   Bandmates

 Arts

   Theater

   Art

 Find A Hippo

   Manchester

   Nashua

 Classifieds

   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad

 Advertising

   Advertising

   Rates

 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover


Best games of 2006
Iím almost 30 and Iím still playing with my Wii
By Glenn Given production@hippopress.com

2006 was a red letter year for gamers, and by red letter I mean D+ ícause as usual the lionís share of games released were crap. But, one must expect that from the fastest-growing media industry. As with their sister media, video games fall prey to sequel-itis, shallow movie tie-ins and the sacrifice of artistry in the face of a quick buck. But letís not blame the messenger; gaming is, more than ever before, an art form. It has its pillars of design and aesthetic; there are gaming hallmarks of ingenuity and meaning. And then there is The DaVinci Code for the PS2. Honestly, people, a little research can save you a lot of money, and if youíre hell bent on purchasing $50 of crap I can bottle and mail some to you.

Was 2006 a horrible year for games? No. Were there more horrible games than in any prior year? Yes, but thatís mainly chalked up to a bevy of new console launches and the steadily widening gaming market. Frankly, 2006 was a great year, specifically for PS2 owners, PC gamers, and those of us lucky enough to score a Wii. Did I mention that I gots me one?

Best ďLetís Play Global Thermonuclear WarĒ simulator
DEFCON (PC) (Introversion)
Introversionís spooky ethereal Broderick-esque is all glowy with neon-hued arcs of radioactive horror. Yay! Conscience be damned, DEFCON is a masterpiece of gaming and Introversion should be applauded for taking something so wrong and making it so right.

Most Spell-tacular RPG
Bookworm Deluxe (PC) (PopCap Games)
In a great year of casual gaming Bookworm Adventures takes the crown. You guide Lex through an epoch- hopping quest to defeat enemies by spelling big words. Itís Scrabble meets Final Fantasy! Triple word score for adding items that boost your word attacks through nerdiness (like damage multipliers for using XYZís).

Pew Pew Pew-iest
Company of Heroes / Dawn of War: Dark Crusade (PC) (Relic Entertainment)
I normally detest anything Canadian (Poutine? Come on people that cheese has gone bad.) but Relic laid out not one, not three, but two absolutely thrilling strategy games this year (almost back to back). While Company of Heroes does the impossible by making WW2 games interesting again Dark Crusade has robot mummies with laser guns. So I vote the latter.

Best 60Ē Plasma screen breaker
Wii Sports (Wii) (Nintendo)
Wii!!!! I gots me one! And I donít have sweaty clammy palms so Iíve managed not to hurl my Wii-mote through my TV screen! Seriously, though, Wii Sports bowling is near perfect and nine holes of Wii Sports golf is quickly replacing a bottle of Jamesonís as my after-work de-stresser.

SPOILER ALERT! Ganon is the bad guy-est
Twilight Princess (Wii/GC) (Nintendo)
Master Sword. Iron Boots.
Heroís Bow. Gale Boomerang.
Zelda needs saving.

I totally forgot how hard platform games were-ing-est
New Super Mario Brothers (DS) (Nintendo)
Itís a beautiful game with snappy controls and wonderful design, but honestly, after World 5 Princess Peach is gonna need somebody else to come get her ícause I quit.

Most flower planting-est
Animal Crossing Wild World (DS) (Nintendo)
Fishing, fossil collecting and paying off that mobbed-up Tom Nook for putting a pink roof on my house is just as enjoyable on the DS as it was on the Game Cube. The added bonus of traveling to friendsí towns is the icing on this long car ride time-wasting cake.

Best impression of David Bowie saving a medieval kingdom
Final Fantasy XII (PS2) (Square-Enix)
RPG fans apparently canít get enough androgynous youths saving the world. FFXII reinvigorates a franchise that has been sagging since FF7. Active battles, programmable party AI and a story that doesnít make you shake your head in bewilderment spirit us away from the crazy Japanese epics of vaguely hippie-ish quasi-Arthurian nonsense that has be de rigeur for RPGs for nearly a decade.

Atomic wedgie-est
Bully (PS2) (Rockstar Vancouver)
Yay Canada! The pre-emptive parental harrumphing and finger-wagging left a clutch of overzealous with egg on their faces after Rockstar released this polished enjoyable sandbox action-adventure with little to no hooker bludgeoning. Oh, wait. Whatís that? You can make the high school boys French kiss? Oh you naughty, naughty scamps.

Best use of Rushís epic YYZ in a game
Guitar Hero 2 (PS2) (Red Octane)
FREE BIRD! Yes, GH2, the rock-tacular fret-shredding rhythm game, has ďFree BirdĒ as well as 63 other hot tracks. Replace the air in air guitar with well-functioning peripheral controller and replace drunken goofus with tight gameplay and youíve got a crowd-pleaser. SKYNYRD!! [flicks lighter] WHOOO!!!!

Thickest game guide book
Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (360) )(Bethesda Softworks LLC)
Oblivion not only features the voice talents of Terrence Stamp and Capt. Picard but it also allows you to stack books up into Rube Goldbergian devices for impaling orcs with lances. This ridiculously expansive RPG blends the open sandbox style of GTA with the Avatar of the Time-Dragon style of an insane Dungeons & Dragons nerd. However the Cheeto dust crumbles, Oblivion is an impressive game.

ó Glenn Given