Welcome to the year in SPOnG. As you're warming your toes by the fire and thinking about returning that copy of Superman Returns
on the DS that your Mum bought you, the games industry is lying on its back and rubbing its belly in glee at all the money it made. All those brand new Wiis and 360s, the endless copies of Gears of War
and Need for Speed: Carbon
: these are the proteins of an industry fat on cash. Well done all!
There's no rest for the wicked, however. While the rest of SPOnG has either jetted off to the United States, Australia, Barnsley or Bristol, I - 'Young Mark' am sweating over my keyboard, bleeding from my fingers, and missing out on turkey and stuffing.
But it's all worth it because I can offer you this review of the year in games - and then bugger off snowboarding in the west of Canada. It's all here: the breath-taking highs, the soul-crushing lows, all those nights we spent crying ourselves to sleep about console delays… All that, and other such fripperies. So, without further delay, read on.
"A girl in a bikini throwing cheap caps at a bunch of fat men trying to take pictures of her crotch isn't exactly the golden future of interactive entertainment we have collectively pictured."
[b]E3 Booth Babe Bikini Ban
Anyway, the year got off to a bang with Sony failing to make a significant appearance at Las Vegas's Consumer Electronics Show
. T'internet was ablaze with rumours about Sony's lack of readiness to ship in Spring as we had previously been led to believe
. Does anyone remember that? Yes, Sony had at one time told us we would have our mitts on PS3s over six months ago. Oh! How we look back and laugh!
So, Sony managed to make something of a bang by doing nothing at all, which is fairly impressive in itself. What did come out of CES was speculation that Sony's delaying the PS3
"…will force what was described to us as '...the perception [amongst consumers] of a different generation. Like Next-Generation Point Five.'"
'Next-Generation Point Five' - come on, as we know from how the year unfolded in PAL territories, getting to Next-Gen Beta 01.0a would have been something of an advance.
is how the console wars kicked off for 2006.
Moving swiftly on, Nintendo delivered a quick belt to the chops of its rivals as it became apparent that there was "one hot console you can't buy in Japan for love or sensible money, and it isn't the Xbox 360."
. It was the Nintendo DS, if you were wondering. We hope you were. Hardware shortages were pushing the prices for used DSs as high as $287 (£142). That warmed the bleak nights of January for us.
Following the path blazed by that little hot-rock of news were rumours that Zelda: Twiglight Princess
would make use of the Wii's new control system. Bizarrely, Nintendo attempted to deny it, claiming that the game would only use the traditional controller. As anyone who now has Zelda
on the Wii (hands up out there if you don't) can tell you: Nintendo was being 'economical with the truth'.
Anyhow, Microsoft went on to 'shock' us with its announcement of an external HD DVD drive for the 360
. Bill Gates managed to get a sly dig in at Sony while he was at it, indicating that following Microsoft successfully shipping around five-million 360s, "Sony will have a year where they're supply constrained most likely, unless the thing is a complete flop." Bill said a few games-related things this year, we'd never realised that he could be such a, well, bitch. But more of bitchy Bill as I take you through the year.
Then came the darkest hour of January, when E3 made the much bemoaned move of banning bikini-clad babes
at the convention. Still, SPOnG made a swift recovery, observing that, "A girl in a bikini throwing cheap caps at a bunch of fat men trying to take pictures of her crotch isn't exactly the golden future of interactive entertainment we have collectively pictured." Trust us, we know what we're doing.
January also saw the first peek
at the now familiar DS Lite and some hints about an Xbox portable system
Oh, and some games came out:
The Sims 2
Ridge Racer VI
Dead or Alive 4
God of War
Read on for SPOnG's review of February