Sean Colleli - Staff Writer
First and foremost we saw the DS really come into its
own. After a smattering of ho-hum launch
titles, developers woke up from their constricting genre hibernation and
slammed out some winners. There were the
quirky titles, to be sure (Trauma Center comes to mind) and all out crap
(Battles of Prince of Persia). But we
also got hits like Castlevania Dawn of
Sorrow, Advance Wars Dual Strike, Meteos, Mario and Luigi 2, and Nanostray.
In the middle of it all, Nintendo expanded the demographic
with their cuddly Nintendogs, a
puppy simulator that confounds the hardcore but hypnotizes the casual and
female gamers at the same time. Who
could’ve predicted such an innocent concept would turn into a DS selling
monster? Heck, they even released a
holiday bundle that flew off the shelves like hotcakes.
It all ended in a bang, of course, with the release of Mario Kart DS, the closest thing to
video game crack to come along in a while.
Accompanying the Karting frenzy was the launch of Nintendo WiFi
Connection, which was further implemented in Animal Crossing Wild World a few weeks later. Yes, the DS is showing significant progress
after a lukewarm start.
The GameCube, however, wasn’t as lucky as its unorthodox
little brother. Nevertheless, a healthy
supply of quality games found their way onto the pint-sized console. The innovative Geist and the revolutionary Resident
Evil 4 stole much of the spotlight, while Killer 7, DDR Mario Mix
and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat filled out
the selection. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance brought some much needed RPG love to
the lineup, but with Zelda pushed back to April 2006 there wasn’t a Nintendo
produced cube Mega-Hit in 05.
The PC had a relatively healthy year, if rather
unexciting. F.E.A.R. and Quake 4
both promised to change the shooter market, and while they still made a splash,
they’re the same old FPS with a new coat of paint. On the downside Half-Life 2: Aftermath has once again been delayed.
In multiplatform news, Prince
of PersiaL The Two Thrones graced all three platforms with the third
installment of his trilogy. After the
irritating, Godsmack hardrocking second game, Two Thrones was a breath of fresh air and the fulfillment of the
first game, as well as a successful synthesis of artistic beauty and brutal
combat. In other news, Sir Sean Connery
was back as Bond in From Russia with
Love, although the movie-to-game transfer was inevitably rough. If I’d wanted to watch cutscenes, I’d pop in
Perfect delivered the much-needed run and gun action that Bond faltered
with. Across all three platforms, Free
Radical’s nonsensical shooter fulfilled fragging dreams with its massive
multiplayer and mapmaker. The solo game
was mostly a parody of older titles Free Radical had worked on, but it was en
an entertaining affair without doing anything earth-shattering. All in all, a good year for action across the
Far and away the biggest gaming event of 2005 was the
explosive launch of the Xbox 360. But
after the hype faded, so did the divine luster of the 360. Some of the good games (Call of Duty 2, Quake 4)
are available on the PC, a parallel to the original Xbox’s chief problem: it’s
a gaming PC with a controller.
Rare spiced things up with Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero,
but Rare’s definitive quality seems to be wearing off. I really hope they can rescue Joanna Dark’s
franchise, the original PD was one of my favorite games and I’d hate to see the
series go mediocre. Here’s hoping PDZ
was just a case of development confusion.
The 360 has a great deal of potential, but like all
consoles, it’s up to the developers to use that hardware. The intentional console shortage backfired,
the launch lineup was simply “okay”, but I’m willing to bet Microsoft won’t let
the 360 become the next Dreamcast.
Competition is tight, with the uber-powerful PS3 and groundbreaking,
user friendly Revolution hitting stores next year, but these are the console
wars and everything is fair. Regardless
of which side they’re on, gamers have a lot to look forward to. 2005 was good for gaming, but 2006 will be
This past year was a real mixed bag as far as games go. I remember back in December of ’04, we were
hearing about how big 2005 would be for gaming.
Unfortunately not everyone’s expectations were met, but there were some
high points that made 05 at least memorable.
Page 3 of 5