The Top Ten Games of 2006 chosen by members of the old Gamepulse.
2006 has to be one of the years to remember in videogaming, not only were the ten games below released and loved by many, but there were other events too. The year got to a flying start on January 26th when Nintendo announced that it was redesigning its DS Handheld
system into a sleek and sexy number after the original design had received some criticism after the release of Sony's PlayStation Portable. While the following day Microsoft admitted in Famitsu Magazine
that they had fluffed the Japanese launch of their new XBox360. Not only was the DS Lite released later that year, but Nintendo's new home console Wii, touted by many within the industry as the most innovative piece of hardware since the DS, was released to much praise despite its limited software, Microsoft's XBox 360 went from strength to strength in America and Europe, Sony launched its new PlayStation 3 system in Japan and America and while people initially went a bit mad for the system, the majority of shipped systems since launch day have sat gathering dust due to its large price tag and Sony seemingly losing touch with the industry and being over arrogant. There was no PlayStation 3 launch in Europe after it was pushed back from its previous November date to 2007, later announced to be March 23 2007.
Games wise, we saw a real fest of games, ten of which were the choice picks from former Gamepulse readers, games not featured in the list that deserve a mention are Square-Enix's Kingdom Hearts 2 which was released in the US during spring but Europe had to wait until Autumn to be given a chance to play it. Dreamfall: The Longest Journey was released to much praise from the industry, but like Fahrenheit before it, largely went ignored by the masses. Psychonauts, previously set for a late 2005 release, finally arrived on European shores in the early weeks of 2006 but was another game that didn't sell well, either due to people having a lack of money because of Christmas, the lack of backwards compatability for the XBox version on the new XBox 360 or just because it wasn't a big name release, either way, for such a game to fall under the radar, to Bitparade anyway, is a major crime. Nintendo's DS didn't only see a hardware update, but it received a number of key games too, most notably Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training, which introduced a lot of people to the handheld that probably wouldn't of bothered otherwise, Animal Crossing: Wild World, putting the popular Gamecube title onto a system which we feel it is much more suited to, Mario made a return in New Super Mario Bros, featuring a Sonic Rush/Ikaruga 2.5D graphical style and bringing Mario back to his traditional platforming routes. Gaming's first lady Lara Croft made a triumphant return in the more than enjoyable Tomb Raider Legend.
The site you are now browsing went into production in 2006 also, after hosting trouble with Gamepulse we decided we were going to take all of our work and launch as a separate site, forming Bitparade from the ashes of Gamepulse. Which is where this list comes from, it was only voted on by a small portion of members, which resulted in many of the games getting a similar overall vote score, as by that time the Gamepulse community was almost gone despite many people awaiting the release of the new site, so there may be some surprises in there, but on the whole, we think its a rather good list.
LocoRoco - Sony PlayStation Portable - Sony Computer Entertainment Japan - Sony Computer Entertainment - June 23 2006
LocoRoco was a rare event as it was one of only a small portion of games that was released in Europe before both the USA and Japan. The aim of the game was to tilt the environment to manoeuvre jelly-like creatures- the LocoRoco- through each level. Critically the game was very well accepted and amongst PSP owners more willing to try something that looked a little different it proved incredibly popular gaining a loyal fan-base in the process. LocoRoco places 10th in our Games of 2006 chart and is the only PSP release to feature.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Microsoft XBox 360, PC - Bethesda Softworks - 2K Games - March 24 2006
Technically joint 8th is The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, released for the Microsoft XBox 360 and the PC, also set to be released on Sony's PlayStation 3 some time this year.
Oblivion is an open-ended Role Playing Game, in which you can take absolutely everything in the game at your own pace and do pretty much as you wish. The game was a huge critical success and is still one of the most popular XBox 360 titles now. The game is considered to be one of the first few must-have games largely due to its open-endedness and the quality of its graphics. Many players clocked up in excess of 40 hours worth of gameplay before they even begun to play the games main story-line, instead choosing to explore the games rumoured 16 square mile landscape instead.
Canis Canem Edit - Sony PlayStation 2 - Rockstar Vancouver - Rockstar Games - 25 October 2006
Rockstar caused controversy again by releasing Canis Canem Edit, formerly known as Bully which was its release name in the USA, with parents taking the normal "I'm not going to buy my 12-year old a game about bullying" despite it receiving a BBFC rating of 15 and over, Rockstar themselves stating its not a child's game and that you don't actually bully anyone, but actual do what most bullied kids wish they'd of done in their own school, and bring the bully regime crashing down.
Canis Canem Edit was a nice change from Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series, despite there being many similarities, it felt more streamlined and more accessible to the masses, but due its name change outside of the USA many didn't know what it was when it hit store shelves, forcing the likes of GAME and Gamestation to put stickers on boxes stating "Formerly known as Bully".
We Love Katamari - Sony PlayStation 2 - NAMCO - NAMCO/Electronic Arts - February 2 2006
2004 was the year Katamari Damacy was released in Japan and America, and it quickly became an Import hit in the UK and Europe, so when Electronic Arts announced that it would be co-publishing sequel, We Love Katamari, there was mixed reception, many rejoiced, especially those that wanted to sample the original but didn't have the funds to modify their PS2 or buy a second, imported machine, and some importers were happy that the masses would finally get a chance to play a version of the game they'd loved so much. Other members of the import community were less happy, the more "elite" members saw it as one of theirs, that it was never meant to be available to the European market, and generally took a similar stance to the underground Punk bands that claim they don't want to be succesful or "sell-out".
Not that it mattered anyway, despite its critical success, consumers deemed the game to be too out-there for their personal taste and it didn't sell well at all. The games premise is simply for you to roll a sticky ball around a landscape attempting to make it bigger by rolling over whatever the ball is big enough to roll over, you start off usually picking up flowers and such and eventually get big enough to pick up houses and even luxury cruise boats.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Nintendo Gamecube, Nintendo Wii - Nintendo - Nintendo - December 8 2006 (Wii), December 15 2006 (Gamecube)
This may look surprisingly low, but remember, this is yet another game that's equal third in our list. The latest installment in The Legend of Zelda franchise is a bit of a special one. It's the third in the series to technically go multiformat, appearing on Nintendo's previous console, the Gamecube, as its last title, and its new one Wii as its first must-have game. The two games differ ever so slightly, with the Wii version being a mirror image of the Gamecube game. This is due to Link being traditionally left-handed (as he is in the Gamecube version) but due to possible confusion when using the Wii's movement sensitive controller, Nintendo made Link right handed by mirroring everything in the game. So everything on the right in the Gamecube version is now on the left in the Wii one.
The game has received incredible reviews, using Game-Rankings.com as a source, it currently stands at 94.9% on the Wii and 96% on the Gamecube, and is the top selling Wii game, while the Gamecube, even only after two months of being on the shelves, is one of the console's rarer titles.
Guitar Hero - PlayStation 2 - Harmonix - Red Octane - April 7 2006
Developed by music game maestros Harmonix, Guitar Hero has become a PlayStation 2 legend, spawning a sequel in its very first year. The game gives all those who would find themselves pretending to play along to their favourite songs via air guitar a chance to actually play those songs through a plastic replica Gibson SG guitar controller.
Featuring classic songs such as Motorhead's "Ace of Spades", Deep Purples "Smoke On The Water" and "Spanish Castle Magic" by Jimi Hendrix, players use he five different coloured fret buttons on the neck of the controller while strumming via a flick button on the guitars main body. The game now has a huge fan-base and its sequel is set to be released on XBox 360 this year with downloadable content.
Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories - Sony PlayStation 2 - Nippon-Ichi Software - Koei ltd - November 3 2006
When it comes to turn-based Strategy Role Playing Games, Nippon-Ichi don't seem able to put a foot wrong, and once again they got everything right with the sequel to the much acclaimed Disgaea. At first it seems dubious that it is called Disgaea 2, after all Nippon-Ichi have released other SRPGs since then, most notably Makai Kingdom: Chronicles of the Sacred Tome, but as the game progresses some old faces appear, both as characters available for you to use and as boss characters. Some characters even make an appearance from the other Nippon-Ichi SRPG titles.
As usual, the gameplay mechanics were extremely solid, and you don't need to be a strategical master to get the most from the game, plus if you chose to do so, the game is pretty much endless, once again you are able to level your team members up to incredible heights by entering into many different battles thanks to the games random battle generator via the item world in which you can also level up the selected weapon. Disgaea 2 was another critical success and picked up awards from IGN (Best PlayStation 2 Strategy Game of 2006) and featured in Gaming Target's "52 Games we'll still be playing from 2006 selection".
Gears of War - Microsoft XBox 360 - Epic Games - Microsoft Game Studios - November 17 2006
Probably the most hyped XBox 360 game aside from Halo 3, and it seems to be a game that fits into that rare category of living up to that hype.
Gears of War is a tactical third-person shooter, set in a world being infested by a species known as the Locust Horde. The game is heavily reliant on use of sound and cover as central parts of the gameplay, resulting in the single player being a tactical affair similar to older Rainbow Six titles, albeit it from a third-person view point. The games use of cover is emphasized to the point that harder difficulties result in death after only a handful of shots from enemies, leaving you having to hide behind something and use either blind-fire or carefully poke out the side or top of what your hiding behind to fire off a small amount of shots. For this reason, many people claim Gears of War feels more like you'd expect a real war to feel in terms of action.
Dragon Quest: Journey of the Cursed King - Sony PlayStation 2 - Level-5 - Square-Enix - April 13 2006
Journey of the Cursed King is actually the eighth title in the Dragon Quest series, but it's the first to be released in Europe. Although in Japan it is easily as big as the Final Fantasy series it had never been exported to European shores.
In the US and Japan the game was a huge success. Its sales were also boosted by the inclusion of a demo of Final Fantasy XII (which looks set to feature in our 2007 list). The demo was dropped for the European release, but it still received respectable sales, especially in a market that's not really open to the RPG genre. The game sees you take the role of "The Hero" a nameless and voiceless (due to the fact he doesn't have a voice actor) character that is considered by his colleagues to be a good leader among other things.
Shadow of the Colossus - Sony PlayStation 2 - Sony Computer Entertainment - Sony Computer Entertainment - February 17 2006
Finally, to our Game of the Year, which also won our Best PlayStation 2 title 2005 award and was Runner-up in the Best Single Player Title 2005 award in the old structure for our awards due to its popularity with importers after it was released in October 2005 in the US and Japan, while Europe and Australia had to wait until February to see it on store shelves.
In many people's eyes, Shadow of the Colossus was something truly special, and not only does it rightfully take its place amongst our Top Ten with some absolutely great competition to accompany it, but it would deserve to be amongst the top ten all time PlayStation 2 greats.
Everything about the game worked in harmony, although some people had problems with its camera, others were able to overlook that and see the bigger picture, there had been nothing like this before. Shadow of the Colossus is a tribute to Nintendo's Zelda series, with each of the Colossi being based on the idea of a Zelda style dungeon, or so Fumito Ueda claims. Climbing each of the Colossi was a challenge as each required a different approach, and some of them truly were epic battles. Not only were battling the Colossi enjoyable, but Shadow of the Colossus was one of only a minority of games where I enjoyed travelling between story driven points, another example would be Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, the reason for this was the sheer beauty of the scenery and how much of a pleasure it was to ride Agro, who felt as close to a real horse than has ever been produced in a game before it, even Epona in Zelda: Twilight Princess doesn't feel as right as Agro does.
All of these things combined with Ueda's ability to infuse emotion into his games, as seen in ICO, makes Shadow of the Colossus truly special.