So via Nintendo, I got the “new and improved” Wii straps in the mail today used to strengthen the cords for the Wiimote. Truthfully, I am an avid Wiimote swinger, but on the same token, I don’t fling my controller like a moron. Wii Have A Problem makes you wonder what the Hell is wrong with some of these people….

2006 was quite a year for gaming. There’s a lot to make mention of, especially with the introduction of two new systems last year. After some evaluation, I’ve decided the upgraded Xbox 360 that’s pending will be my next system of choice. I’ve admittedly not been a big Xbox fan in the past, but since they no longer require you to have gorilla hands to use their controllers (talking about the original system, even the revised controllers), I’m willing to give the 360 a chance.

I wanted to cover a few of the highlights of last year. Things that made gaming in general just a bit special. And there’s a little bit of love for all the systems. But to my personal interests, this is what stood out to me:

Playstation 2

Kingdom Hearts II – What an amazing game. After delays and setbacks and years in development, KH2 finally came out, and it was worth the wait. Loved the worlds, loved the story, and loved the closure they brought to the end, with hints that more could be on its way.

Final Fantasy XII – For the first time, I was concerned this game may not be as special as the other installments just because of all the horror stories that surfaced around the development of this title, but those faded away when I sat down and played the game. It’s another amazing title in the Square legacy, and I’m glad they made a more optimistic hero this time out. There’s only so many ways you can do the jaded anti-social loner.

LEGO Star Wars II – The first game was great. The second game expanded on the concepts that were already done so well before. And it was based on the Trilogy that everyone loved. A fun little game with enough stuff collection to last well into this year.

PSP

Locoroco – I was so glad to see the PSP finally get something original besides yet another “me too” port. There’s not a lot of games like Locoroco, which is a shame because it’s so brilliant, and a relief because it reminds you that all the gaming ideas haven’t been fully tapped just yet.

Ultimate Ghosts ‘N’ Goblins. – Classic old-school gameplay. Classic old-school gameplay that will make a nearby sailors blush when they overhear you cursing this game, but damn, it’s a pretty game, and the action is solid.

Downloading PSOne games – Nothing just yet that makes me want to explode with “must have”, but it’s a nifty feature from the Playstation 3’s bag of tricks.

Good-bye, UMD – A shame, really. I honestly liked the concept of it, and would have liked to have seen more titles appear.

Nintendo DS

Nintendo DS Lite – The original DS was clunky. The revised version had that “sleek, sexy” look to it befitting most Apple computers. It’s a much-needed and aesthetically pleasing design through and through.

New Super Mario Bros. – Nothing jaw-droppingly innovative, but fun and enjoyement at its purest. After the GBA Metroid games, and now this, Nintendo could make 2D side-scrollers until the end of time for their portables, and no one would do it better. Mario is just good, solid gameplay.

The games of 2006 – Elite Beat Agents, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Tetris DS, Mario Kart DS, Final Fantasy III…. The list goes on. For portable gaming, I take my DS everywhere, because I never know where I might be able to challenge friend or stranger alike to a good online gaming session before the start of a movie, or in a coffee shop.

Wii

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Easily the best Zelda since Ocarina of Time, this is a brilliant and beautiful creation. It’s so easy to get lost within the world of Hyrule, and for a title that began it’s life cycle on the Gamecube, who cares, really? I am sold swinging my controller like a sword and shield.

Virtual Console – The adult in me likes that there’s not going to be a drought of games for the new system, all at somewhat reasonable prices, but the kid in me loves keeping it old-school with some of the best titles in the history of gaming. Well, not so much Urban Champion, but you know….

Wii Sports – Simplistic, the graphics don’t show off the system, but it’s fun to play with friends. Who knew simple Bowling would be so deceptively addicting?

Xbox 360

Burger King’s Line of Games – There is something so morbidly fascinating about playing that creepy-ass King, sneaking up on lumberjacks, and giving them hash browns. And the funny thing is, I’m not kidding.

General

The “Death” Of E3 – Ah, my beloved E3. I grew up with you through the years. You will never be the same again after 2006, and I will mourn your passing. E3 was always a gathering of old friends from the industry. Sure it was loud and crazy, and one year I saw stripper midgets at an outside party, but in its weird way, it captured the spontaneity of what video gaming represented, before it became all stiff and corporate in all the wrong places.

Waiting In Line All Night For The Launch Of Video Game Systems – Five words: I hope you die, scalpers. Thanks for taking such a great hobby and tainting it with greed. There are people who actually enjoy playing their purchased game systems, you know.

The Death of Gamecube and Game Boy Advance – Here’s to the end of two really good systems. Cheers, mates….

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Filed under: end of year