Sunday Evening New Releases and ShackReviews

By Chris Remo, May 14, 2006 4:45pm PDT Well, E3 is all over. This was certainly one of the most exciting shows in recent memory, what with the playable unveiling of two consoles as well as plenty of good games elsewhere as well. Wii put on a much stronger show than I expected; 27 playable titles was significantly higher than the dozen or so I assumed we'd see. Nintendo really knew how to manage the show throughout the week too, even after a strong press conference. Plenty of information was released in the following days of the expo--Solid Snake in the next Smash Bros., light gun attachment for the Wii controller, nice looking retro controller for the Virtual Console, a new sidescrolling Mario platformer for GameCube. Sony, on the other hand, didn't come out nearly as strong as they could have. The odd thing is, a lot of that had to do with the way they presented their information. Why announce a $499/$599 price now, putting a damper on their whole presentation? Why not wait, like Microsoft did and Nintendo is doing?

I was also a bit surprised that neither Sony or Nintendo really talked at all about their online services. Nintendo announced that they'll have that always-connected download service thing, and Sony showed their SingStar song download mechanism they always show, but neither talked about the actual gaming service. I have a feeling Sony's won't turn out quite at the level they want it to, but they'll probably improve it over time to bring it up to speed. Nintendo's will probably be quite similar to the DS method, which is a bit frustrating.

There was also a lot of really cool PC stuff this year, which was nice to see. I was talking with Darren Gladstone, who writes for Computer Gaming World, and he said, "You know what the big news at this show was? PC gaming is back." Games like Spore, Crysis, Bioshock, Supreme Commander, and Railroads! looked great to me. I also saw a closed doors demo of Command & Conquer 3 and though it wasn't playable by journalists, there seemed to be a lot of promise there, with great looking FMV cutscenes and a lot of nice C&C touches. Microsoft has been talking up its plans lately to treat PC gaming as an actual platform--in the way that consoles are treated as platforms--with a lot of centralization and simplification of how games are installed and presented in Vista. They're also in initial talks with retailers about having actual PC sections again, instead of some crappy shelf behind the counter. That sort of thing takes a lot of money, since that's the only thing you can really use to drive retail presentation, but if anyone has the capital and vested interest in making it happen, it's Microsoft. Here's hoping.

On the new releases front this week, New Super Mario Bros. (NDS) comes out. What else needs to be said?

This Week's New Releases

GameCube

Major League Baseball 2K6 (Kush Games | Mon. | GCN, also PS2, Xbox, X360, PSP in Apr. '06)

Portable

Backyard Baseball 2007 (Humongous | Tue. | GBA, also PS2, GCN, PC in Jun. '06)
New Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo | Tue. | NDS)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Double Pack (Konami | Tue. | GBA)
X-Men: The Official Game (Amaze [NDS], WayForward [GBA] | Tue. | NDS, GBA)

PC

Zoo Tycoon 2: African Adventure (Blue Fang Games | Tue. | PC)

Multi

The Da Vinci Code (The Collective | Fri. | PS2, Xbox, PC)
Fuel (Firetoad | Tue. | Xbox, PC)
X-Men: The Official Game (Z-Axis | Tue. | PS2, Xbox, GCN, X360, PC.)


Additional Database Entries
Featured ShackReviews:

Obviously I played a whole bunch of games at E3 this week, but in terms of what I really sat down and played myself, just Ritual's SiN Episodes: Emergence. Yesterday, I played through the whole thing, and it was a really fun experience from start to finish. Can't wait to see what comes next.

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