Recently an article surfaced on the internet pointing out that there weren’t any new games to be excited about in 2006. While it’s true that a lot of gamers are excited about sequels like Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Final Fantasy XII, Kingdom Hearts 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4 there are still plenty of brand spanking new titles to be excited about. We’re going to feature ten titles to look for in 2006, five brand new to America and five that are making their world premiere.
Coming to the US in 2006….
Chibi Robo (Gamecube)
This cute simulation / platformer game stars a tiny silver robot whose sole purpose of existence is to help brighten a family’s home. You control the tiny tin can to scrub floors, blast nano bugs and pick up trash. On paper it might not sound that interesting, but Chibi Robo is a fun game with a heart felt storyline to boot. Look for it in February when Nintendo publishes this title, in the mean time read our import coverage of Chibi Robo.
Drill Dozer (Game Boy Advance)
Also known as Screw Breaker in Japan Drill Dozer is a blend of classic platforming and lots of smashing. As suggested by the title, you control a mech with a built in drill. This can be used to dig your way through levels and search for hidden treasure to further beef up your mech. What makes Drill Dozer succeed as a game is clever level design and a few puzzles thrown into the mix. The biggest surprise about Drill Dozer is that it’s designed by Game Freak from Pokemon fame. Drill Dozer is slated for a February release in America, but we’ve already covered the Japanese version.
Beatmania (Playstation 2)
After the success of Dance Dance Revolution in the USA, Konami has finally decided to bring the first Bemani game over. The US edition of Beatmania is really the key pressing frenzy known in the arcades as Beatmania II DX. While it sells itself as a DJ simulator Beatmania fans knows that it has more in common with a beat box simulator. With the special DJ pad you need to play notes as they fall from the screen, but expect a challenge Beatmania is perhaps the most hardcore music / rhythm game out there. Right now Beatmania has no set release date, but Konami says it’s coming in 2006.
This brilliant title was bound to be picked up from Japan. The game puts you in the shoes of Mr. Esc who scours buildings in search of stick figure survivors. By clearing paths, pushing switches and leaping over gaps you can make a route to save these hapless souls. Throughout the hundred levels in the game you’ll brave burning buildings and dash into a flooded shopping center. Each of the areas has a different theme and threat, which gives Exit much more variety than most games. One part platformer and one part puzzler Exit and its unique visual style make it a must see PSP game. Ubisoft has it planned for a Q1 2006 release in the USA.
Steambot Chronicles (Playstation 2)
If you want a “sandbox” mecha RPG then Steambot Chronicles is your game. You play an amnesiac hero, Vanilla Bean, who wakes up in between a battle between the Garland Globtrotters and the Killer Elephant bandit tribe. Vanilla can choose which side he wants to take his trotmobile robot on and the adventure begins from there. Or if you don’t want to adventure take some time to perform music, have a snack at the local bakery to refill Vanilla’s running stamina or settle down as a farmer. Steambot Chronicles offers a myriad number of choices and quirky storyline that made it a hit in Japan. Thanks to Atlus USA we can expect this to appear in English sometime in 2006.
This innovative war / pinball game is developed by Yoot Saito of Seaman fame. It premiered a couple of times at E3 with gameplay evolutions each round. An early demonstration showed the game off with DK Bongo support and now Nintendo opts to support the microphone instead. While bouncing around a huge pinball on a battlefield you can bark commands to your troops. Shout out movement directions to direct your troops to capture a bell on enemy territory. If all of this sounds adventurous and a little crazy to you, you’re not the only one. However, this daring and creative title was a blast to play at E3. We’re looking forward to playing the final version which is slated for March in the USA and April in Japan.
N3: Ninety Nine Nights (Xbox 360)
This brilliant game is developed by Q? Entertainment and action veteran Phantagram. On the surface it looks like a Dynasty Warriors clone since you’ll battle against an endless army. However, the game offers immense battles it’s you versus say five hundred troops that you can see on screen. N3 also has a bunch of different classes besides Inphyy the warrior, there’s a water controlling mage and five other characters to try out. Also you can’t ignore N3’s gorgeous visuals, which show off what the Xbox 360 is capable of. Expect this in Q1 2006 if you’re in Japan.
Cooking Mama (Nintendo DS)
Even though a few cooking games have surfaced (Curry House: Coco Ichibanya and Yoshinoya) Cooking Mama looks like is gong to top them all. Use the stylus and draw lines to cut vegetables. Roll up an omelet by dragging your stylus down. Finally you can even plate your food artistically by dragging and dropping items with the stylus. Clearly a creative edition to the DS’ already innovative library, Cooking Mama is bound to be a hit when it is released in March.
Every Extend Extra (PSP)
The second title from Q? Entertainment has more in kind with their other titles (Lumines and Meteos). Every Extend Extra is actually an extended version of the PC game Every Extend. In the game you play as a lone polygon ship with no other skill but self destructing. If you explode in the right place you’ll blow up surrounding cuboidal foes, score points and more ships to blow up. Blast your way down to a boss fight, but don’t get hit or you’ll lose precious time to beat the level. Every Extend Extra is cleverly titled music cross shooting since it has a killer soundtrack to match the arcade style gameplay. Look for this release in Spring of 2006.
Okami (Playstation 2)
We’ve saved one of the most anticipated titles for 2006 for last. Okami designed by Capcom’s Clover Studio (they did Viewtiful Joe) and is perhaps the most “artistic” game out of the ten. You play as a painted white wolf who can run, jump and use the power of calligraphy. By changing the screen into parchment you can create stars, make bridges appear and finish off weakened foes. Not only does Okami dare to try something different the game’s living painting style makes it a game that is just as fun to watch as it is to play. Luckily gamers won’t have to wait for Okami much longer. The April release date is drawing near.
Tourist Trophy (Playstation 2)
Gears of War (Xbox 360)
Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raido (Playstation 2)
Yggdra Union (Game Boy Advance)
Ar Tonleico (Playstation 2)
On a final note most of the games we’ve chosen to feature are going to be released in the first quarter of 2006. Take this as a sign that 2006 will herald in even more new intellectual properties as the year passes.