Best and worst from the first half of the year

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posted 8/22/2006 by The GN Staff
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Matt Mirkovich – Staff Writer

Top three from the first half of 2006

It’s been a pretty dry year so far for me. I didn’t immediately hop on the next-gen bandwagon, and I’m just now getting a PSP in late July. But that’s not to say I haven’t had my share of great games to play this year. Here are a couple of games you absolutely must have in your library, along with a few you should avoid...
 
1.      Kingdom Hearts 2 (PS2)– I think this is without question, one of the best games released for the PS2 this year. While a little too easy for me, the great story and engrossing game play managed to get me to play through this game and complete that entire damned journal that Jiminy keeps. If you haven’t played this one yet, do yourself a favor and simply play it on Proud mode.
2.      Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (PSP)– Can I count this? This is a re-issue of a PS1 RPG released in the shadow of the PS2 back in 2000. It’s an amazing game with a fun battle system, and some new CG sequences to prep for the upcoming sequel, Valkyrie Profile: Silmeria. If you’ve got a PSP make sure you grab this before it becomes a rare find like the 73,000 copies of the PS1 version.
3.      Tomb Raider Legend (PS2)– Here’s a game that totally caught me by surprise. After the atrocious Angel of Darkness I gave up on Lara completely. It wasn’t until I had a friend at Eidos in the QA department knock some sense in to me about how good this game was that I gave it a chance. Imagine my surprise to find how responsive Lara was to my commands, and the back story that she has been given only makes me more interested in a sequel.
 
Worst three from the first half of 2006
 
For every diamond, there’s hundreds of cubic zirconium, the game industry is no different. Here are a few games that I just didn’t think were worth my money so far this year. This isn’t to say that they are bad games, but perhaps are the most disappointing to me.
 
1.      Shadow Hearts: From the New World  (PS2)– This is especially painful considering how much of a verbal fellation I’ve given Shadow Hearts 1 & 2. From the New World for some reason failed to grab me, and didn’t feel nearly as epic as the previous entry in the series. The characters were interesting, but they didn’t seem to have the hook that Yuri alone had in the first two games. I still enjoy the game and I think it’s good, but I’m just sour after the first two adventures.
2.      Tourist Trophy (PS2)– Polyphony Digital makes some beautiful games, it’s a shame that this one is all looks and no substance. If you’re an absolute gear-head when it comes to bikes then I still recommend this title. But if you’ve never tried anything like this before you might be in over your head. Couple this with the short length and the steep learning curve and you’ve got a definite try before you buy scenario.
3.      The New Super Mario Bros (DS). – Wow, color me peeved with this one. It’s like they sucked all the fun out of the previous Mario games, and mashed them all together. They could have out and out lied and just repackaged Super Mario World or Super Mario Bros. 3 and I would have felt less ripped off. The new forms of Mario are a fun novelty at first, but quickly go tiresome. I’m trading my copy in and putting a reserve down for Super Mario Galaxy, at least there is some originality there.
 
Industry Trend(s)
 
What would the games of this year be without some banter about the companies that produce them? Not a terribly interesting one if you ask me. Here are just a few things about the industry that really grind my gears.
 
First off we’ve got this utter arrogance of Sony, attempting to force a computer system into the homes of the gaming populace thinking it’ll be the ultimate gaming machine, I don’t want to invest my money in potential, I want to spend my money on what is definitely going to happen, not could happen. The 360 has shown that it’s got the horsepower to keep up with the PS3, and it’ll be interesting to see whether or not Sony falters in this console generation. And while we’re at it Sony, allow Suikoden 1 & 2 to come out for the PSP over here. I think it’s ridiculous that you’ve got a suit up there who can determine whether or not something is “Too Japanese” for me. Count your blessings that you even have 3rd party support for the damn system. I swear if you guys screw up the PS1 releases later this year, count me out on any more purchases for your hardware.
 
Now I’m not all negative on this industry, no I have a few nice things to say. A lot of companies have hopped on the anthology or collection boat as of late and it’s nice to see a lot of titles get another lease on life. It also gives me a chance to show the youngin’s that we didn’t always have awesome things like Guitar Hero to play. That’s another great thing about our industry and culture, music games are really starting to move out of their niche. With Konami’s release of Beatmania and an attempt to cash in with a release of Guitar Freaks (Looks like it’s going to be called Guitar Revolution in the US) and a new yearly iteration of DDR on three different consoles, people will have a lot of stuff to get down with later this year. I’m just waiting for EA to jump in on this gravy train, you’d think with EA Trax they’d be able to get something together… but what do I know?
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