Specials: I hope there's working power outlets in this world without new video games...
Year in, year out, the video game industry keeps on growing. Ever since Pong ushered in the video game industry in 1972, each year brings familiar faces in different places and new and wonderful worlds to explore.
But what if the gaming industry didn't keep churning out new titles for an ever more rabid audience? What if a crash of epic proportions forced us to make due with only the games that were released in the last year? What would we do then?
I'll tell you what we'd do then. We'd take the 52 best games released in 2005 (one for each week of this hypothetical new-gameless year) and gorge ourselves on all the gaming goodness that should be more than one person can handle in a year. So that's what we did. The staff of Gaming Target went back over the 2005 slate of games and picked out the games we'd keep playing for another year if we had to. Of course, we'll play all of these great games in 2006 anyway.
So what if the gaming industry stopped? This is what we would play in 2006...
The First Ten
The Second Ten
The Next Ten
The Last Ten
The Top 12
Advance Wars Dual Strike (DS)
Nintendo practically committed a crime when it released Advance Wars 2 for the GBA with only one new unit and hardly any new gameplay to speak of. Advance Wars: Dual Strike is their apology. Featuring tons of new units, command officers, gameplay modes, and even a snazzy new RPG-style CO system, Dual Strike is the sequel that the series deserved.
Though it has archaic visuals, lacks online multiplayer, and has less than stellar touchscreen implementation, Advance Wars: Dual Strike builds on everything that made the first two titles in the series fun; that is, balanced gameplay, fast-paced battles, and an easy to learn system. It also stood out as the first strategy game for the DS, and the first DS game to feature to feature a large amount of depth and complexity. - Dave Hulick
Animal Crossing: Wild World (DS)
A man walks into a bar and the bartender says ?What do you think is the best game for the DS?? The man says Mario Kart DS. Another man jumps up and yells ?Them's fightin' words? and a brawl breaks out. In the end the carnage was too much to handle for the police officers called to the scene. There were turtle shells, bob-ombs and tiny, little animal furniture everywhere. This is the debate Animal Crossing: Wild World and Mario Kart DS stir in every owner of the DS. And boy, Tom Nook and company has his rabid supporters. You might pick a side, but either way, you can't lose. - John Scalzo
Burnout: Revenge (PS2, Xbox)
Burnout 3: Takedown was so incredible, it would have taken quite a tall order to top it. Burnout Revenge doesn't quite reach those heights, but as a stand alone 'battle racer' it's still better than almost every other racing game in 2005. The major change to the normal races is the ability to 'check' traffic that's in your lane, using them as weapons to take out the ferocious competition. To hammer this new concept down, the inclusion of 'Traffic Attack' lets you slam all comers without fear of causing a wreck, unless you hit a semi or head-on traffic. Crash mode has been completely renovated to create even more destruction. The addition of Crashbreakers, which can decimate rival cars, makes every race a dangerous affair. In short, Criterion didn't just puke out a rehash of Burnout 3; they instead rebuilt almost everything to make for a fresh, more destructive experience. Throw in online play and Burnout Revenge has enough depth and excitement to last numerous years, let alone one. - Adam Woolcott
Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow (DS)
Year after year, Konami releases a new 2D Castlevania, and year after year these games are received very warmly by the gaming community. You'd think the series would be stale by now, but Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow brings more than just a marginal update to the table. Featuring hundreds of new souls, a weapon synthesis system, and an interesting castle design, Dawn of Sorrow is easily the best portable Castlevania of all time and it even stands up to the coveted Symphony of the Night in terms of sheer depth. Even if you're not a fan of two-dimensional gaming, you owe it to yourself to pick up this title. - Dave Hulick
Condemned: Criminal Origins (Xbox 360)
It just made 05 with a release date of November 22 ? right beside Microsoft's brand new Xbox 360 ? and as it turns out Condemned: Criminal Origins is simply one of the greatest horror games to ever grace any system, and certainly one of this past year's AAA gems.
As Agent Ethan Thomas, you'll fall from grace as a top FBI investigator hunting serial killers and find yourself on the other side of your own case as you fight your way through abandoned buildings and other creepy Metro City locales, facing down hordes of psychotic street people under the influence of a master killer. Fighting these rabid and terrifying creeps is an adrenaline filled experience that will leave you breathless after each encounter. Pipes, 2 x 4s, concrete rebar and the occasional shotgun or automatic pistol (not to mention an extremely cool taser gun) are all that stands between you and certain death at the hands of pure evil.
Tracking Serial Killer X to the abandoned Apple Seed Orchard estate is a nightmarish ride through a frightening whirlwind of unimaginable fear. The incredible high def graphics combined with amazing 5.1 positional audio help sell the experience like no other game before it, and the brutal and visceral combat is not for the faint of heart or those that are squeamish. Condemned never backs down from its presentation of hardcore violence and terror. However, if you're a horror fan who appreciates films like Seven
and novels like Silence of the Lambs
you're in for a real treat - a game that actually meets, and at times exceeds, its cinematic and literary counterparts on virtually every front. - Nick Doukas
Conker: Live and Reloaded (Xbox)
Those who were lucky enough to experience Conker's Bad Fur Day on the N64 back in 2001 instantly fell in love with this foul-mouthed squirrel. Cursing, pissing, and barfing ? this game had it all. This year, Rare brought Conker back to your living room with Conker: Live and Reloaded. Now only does it include the graphically redesigned original Conker's Bad Fur Day, but it also has an all-new multi-player mode. You can't go wrong with one of the best and funniest adventure titles of all-time, but the inclusion of the Xbox Live compatible Deathmatches seals the deal. Watch out, because Conker is Live and Reloaded! - Vadim Leonov
Darkwatch (PS2, Xbox)
High Moon Studios
For all their ubiquity in pop culture, vampires have never really gained a foothold in the video game landscape. For that matter, neither have cowboys. So when it comes to the vampire cowboys of Darkwatch, hoo doggies, is it a hoot. The Wild West is wilder than it's ever been as Jericho Cross takes on demons, ghouls, banshees and other vampires in one of the best first person shooters I've played in a while. Amidst a sea of games set during World War II, wars against aliens on faraway planets or stepping into the shoes of the latest super-secret agent gone rogue, Darkwatch stands out. And it stands out by being an intense first person shooter with awesome weapons, great melee combat and that fantastic Wild West setting. You can keep all your World War II shooters if I can get Darkwatch... - John Scalzo
Dead or Alive 4 (Xbox 360)
After all the delays almost pushed Dead or Alive 4 out of 2005, the game landed in stores on December 28 as the only Xbox 360 title of 2005 not released on launch day and as one of the prettiest fighters that has ever graced any console, ever. Kasumi and the rest of the DOA gang are still kicking high and even though DOA4 only spent three full days in 2005, I'm sure we'll plenty from it (and its many fans) in 2006. - John Scalzo
Destroy All Humans! (PS2, Xbox)
I've resigned myself to the fact that humanity will likely never invent a disintegrator ray. The science of making every cell in a person's body simultaneously explode in a fiery display of power just isn't possible. So thank god for THQ, Pandemic and an angry little alien known as Crypto-137. They've invaded the 1950s and turned in the funniest game of the year (sorry Psychonauts). While Destroy All Humans! could have used a few more months in the incubator to come out just right, the game we all got to play was a marvel in creating a new sandbox to play in. Crypto's excellent adventure in the 50s is full of enough action to keep the hardened controller jockey happy and the jokes fly so fast I know I caught a few errant bullets because I was laughing too hard. The fact that Crypto sounds just like Jack Nicholson is the icing on the cake. - John Scalzo
Fight Night Round 2 (PS2, Xbox, GameCube)
Lately, boxing titles haven't been as popular as they were a few years ago. But Electronic Arts is trying to change this with their second boxing title in as many years, Fight Night Round 2. Round 2 recycles many of the features that were included in the original, yet also includes many new features that makes this title a legitimate contender. For example, in Fight Night Round 2 you are allowed to change your weight class to contend for more belts, the punch variety has been increased with the inclusion of haymakers, a new cut-man mini-game helps you contain your bleeding and the GameCube version even includes the classic Super Punch-Out! for the SNES. That's quite a deadly combination. - Vadim Leonov
OK, that's all for now. Check back tomorrow for the second ten.