127 Nintendo Games for '08
8th Jan 2008 | 12:44
NGamer has picked out its hottest games of 2008. Over the coming days, we're going to highlight the 127 games that will make your Nintendo consoles shine. Here's the first 20.
1) Mario Kart Wii (Q2 - April/June)
Nintendo never make the same Mario Kart twice, so we just know Ninty are still sitting on all the really good stuff.
We've seen bikes, mid-air spins and the familiar sight of plumbers and turtles thundering through the cascading Yoshi falls.
But what can it all mean? Will the aerial spins rely on SSX Blur-style wrist contort-ation? For our money (all £3.50 of it), it's got to be at least in part speed boost-related, because the thought of trying to 'snake' around tracks with the Wii controller has our aging arthritic joints creaking in fear.
As for the bikes, these wibbly-wobbly menaces must surely be the physical manifestation of the multiple control systems touted by our man Reggie.
The reappearance of golden oldie tracks shouldn't prove a concern - historically, old MK content doesn't come at the expense of new content, and we'd be blue shell on the final straight surprised if there wasn't a glorious Mario Galaxy-themed finale.
2) Samba De Amigo (Summer)
The Dreamcast was already getting throttled by the PS2's tentacles when Samba De Amigo flew out of the Sega nest in December 2000, but hopefully now it'll get the audience it deserves, on a console with two shaky-shaky controllers that can mimic the maraca. Ole!
That Sega have delegated developmental duties to Gearbox suggests it'll be fairly true to the original (as when they're not working on Brothers In Arms titles, Gearbox earn a crust by porting titles), albeit with an updated track list which we're sure will include the Mario theme at some point.
Downloadable extra songs were available even 'back in the day' on DC, so hopefully we'll get them, too.
If the remote and nunchuk work half as well as the original's mat and maracas, we're convinced that Sega's return to the Copa Cabassa will give you the shakes.
3) Sega Superstars Tennis (March)
So, we've got Sonic, AiAi the ball-monkey, Ulala of Space Channel 5, and Mr Grinny McGrinnington up there.
But who else are Sega going to pluck from their (let's be honest) pancake-thin batch of characters? You just know NiGHTS is going to roll up, and there's a shout for the likes of Toejam & Earl (possible), Flicky (why not?) and Alex Kidd (over Sega's dead bodies).
Whoever makes the cut, we're guaranteed a range of courts in settings more colourful than a docker's vocabulary.
Sumo Digital were responsible for the well received console versions of Virtua Tennis 3, you might recall, and this uses a modified version of VT's engine.
But Sumo haven't just scrawled over Tim Henman with their blue pen; it's very much its own game, packed with neat little touches (such as smashable TVs in Sonic's stage which combust to reveal unlockable extras).
We'd trust Sumo with our first-born children, so we've every confidence this will be a cracker.
4) Wii Music (2008)
This one's undergone more image changes than Madonna's pet chameleon, but it looks like this rhythm game collection's finally going to blend in with the likes of Guitar Hero.
Its main draw a four-player orchestral mash-up, it might not be as flash as Activision's wallet-destroyer, but should prove just as manic.
Our only concern is that some instruments might prove more entertaining than others - point a trumpet in the air, or bagsy the bassoon? Still, multiplayer should be great.
5) Bully (March 7)
So where in the name of Billy Bunter's picnic hamper was this in last Christmas's release schedule then, eh? Did the dog eat it?
Absence only makes the heart grow fonder though. For the uninitiated, Bully (released over here on PS2 as Canis Canem Edit after approximately six middle-aged women got their knickers in a twist) is an inventive GTA-'em-up with a schoolyard twist.
Rather than run around mindlessly kicking softies up the backside, as young Jimmy Hopkins you'll find yourself with a bit more control over your moral destiny; help break-up a volatile playground fight, or wade on in? Attend maths, or kiss girls behind the bike shed? It's up to you, and is what made Bully one of PS2's most inventive games.
Rockstar aren't ones to push half-baked products out the door, so we reckon its prolonged truancy is to make the new bits extra spesh.
Expect motion-sensing fun, which hopefully won't include having to write out lines on a blackboard with the Wii remote.
6) We Love Golf (TBC)
Golf is as close to a sure thing as you're going to get on Wii, but we've already got more golf games than Tiger Woods has yachts. So what makes serial sports day-dodgers Capcom think they can compete?
Well, for tee-off, they've enlisted the developmental services of Camelot, who have been, er, widening our perceptions of the sport for a decade or so now, caddying up the likes of the cartoonish Everybody's Golf on PlayStation as well as the fair (as in fairway! No, wait; as in decent) Mario Golf series of games.
We Love Golf notes that in current Wii golf titles it's sometimes hard to strike the ball with precision, and to remedy this has incorporated a swing meter narrated by - who else? - a talking Wii remote with puny little hands.
This might sound odd, but in practice it works very well indeed. Other things we like: pointing the remote at the screen to activate an animated preview of the fairway. Ace! Ha! Oh, sorry; that's tennis.
7) Wii Fit (Early 2008)
That odd sound you can hear in your left 'lughole' is the collective huff of the Japanese nation sweating off their Christmas pudding in front of Wii Fit.
A successful launch means that the proposed Western release date of early 2008 should be on track (despite the hilarity of Shigsy claiming Stateside gamers might need a larger board).
Us? We're apprehensive and excited all at once. We still take Dr Crygor's WarioWare workout from time to time, so we know that hula-ing, striking poses and nutting footballs can be a right laugh.
On the other hand, the sheer humiliation of watching our fat little Miis struggle under the pressure of a single push-up is not a compelling prospect.
But regardless, anything that might knock Chantelle off the front page of Heat is okay by us.
8) Blue Fang Project (Autumn)
Gave the game away by advertising for a 'senior Wii programmer'. Previous games include Zoo Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon 2, Zoo Tycoon: Dinosaur Digs and Zoo Tycoon DS. What could they be working on?
9) Matsuno (TBC)
That's the Yasumi Matsuno project to you, buster. Yazz was a game director at Square Enix, overseeing projects such as Ogre Battle and Final Fantasy XII.
Little is known of his forthcoming Wii project, although he's a vocal advocate of the ol' shufflebox.
10) Mushroom Men (Spring)
Little tiny plants, awoken by sentience-giving magical cometdust, make like stupid humans by forming tribes and waging war with each other.
Razorblade axes, clothes-peg train tracks and similar Toy Story-ish reappropriation abound in this quirky platformer.
11) Alive (2008)
Taking place in the wake of an earthquake, this action game is apparently striving for real depth in its characters.
It places a greater requirement on teamwork and problem-solving rather than the old faithful (guns 'n' violence), making it an ideal game for females.
So claims Ubisoft's CEO Yves, who clearly has never worked with Chrissy. "Action plus," he calls it. That's not a joke.
12) Project Witches (TBC)
A third-person hack-'n'-slasher which lists among its key features: "sultry girls against satanic monsters".
Coders Revistronic are an unproven commodity, but Project Witches's emphasis on co-operative play suggests that this could be their breakout title.
13) Worms: A Space Oddity (Q1 Jan/Mar)
Right now, we're padding our coats with hot water bottles and plotting our path to chilly Ossett, West Yorkshire, to get an extended hands-on session with A Space Oddity at Team 17's offices - so look out for an extended preview soon.
In the meantime, all you need to know is that this is good old-fashioned two-dimensional Worms with a new-fashioned control system.
Each weapon has its own unique gesture, and the harder you whoosh, whack, wallop or whatever the remote, the more impact it has on screen.
As you can see from these shots, the pop-up book visual style is vaguely reminiscent of Yoshi's Story, and there's four-player online play over Wi-Fi in the pipeline, so we can't wait. In fact, we're off to Ossett now!
14) Blox (Mid 2008)
This is Steven Spielberg's project. It seems simple - underwhelming, even - but that belies a wealth of ideas and potential.
It's an old-school puzzle game that presents you with screens of increasingly complex block structures, which you can prod or pull with your pointer, or interact with in other ways, such as lobbing a ball at them.
Some blocks are 'special' - they disappear when you nudge them, or cause a small explosion. You have to fulfill conditions to pass on to the next screen, such as leveling the field with one throw.
Sound like it's got the life expectancy of a Spinal Tap drummer? Shush - there's a hugely versatile level editor: the demo video showed off a giant Mouse Trap-type contraption.
15) Red Steel 2 (TBC)
Never particularly watertight when it comes to leaks, Ubisoft outdid themselves by confirming a sequel to their flagship Wii launch game in Cannes last June, before cranking the Benny Hill music up to 11 and denying all knowledge at every turn afterwards.
Job ads on the Ubisoft website - searching for a Wii Online programmer at, hey!, their Paris office - would certainly seem to back up their Cannes faux pas.
Admittedly, Red Steel's edge has been blunted since that launch day (blame the likes of Metroid Prime 3), but its multiplayer had such a whiff of GoldenEye about it that you could almost smell the dam water closing in.
Red Steel often divides the gaming community, but most agree that a followup, free from the restrictions of the oppressive deadlines that plague launch titles, could become one of the Wii's landmark games.
If they make a bit more of an effort to let us see more of Scott than his dismembered, many-jointed arm, that'd be a start.
16) Super Smash Bros. Brawl (10 Feb (US) Not before July (UK))
Not only does our rammed cover represent a myriad of titles winging your way in 2008, but - bar a few characters yet to be announced - it simultaneously represents just one game, the one game to rule them all: Smash Bros.
It's the most comprehensive pick 'n' mix of Nintendo history ever collated, scraping the sweet tub right down to the Sin And Punishment flakes at the bottom.
And for every retro-nod there's a brand spanking new feature to match. Controller remapping, a streaming Wi-Fi battle footage Spectator mode and the return of the special events - rock-hard scenarios designed to push your playing into new realms of skill, and push remotes into new realms of your television screen.
If Galaxy is the Wii's single-player head honcho, then Brawl is the multiplayer daddy, sure to win over new fans with its giddy brand of item-snatching combat while pleasing old hands by including much-loved arenas from Melee.
If we could pick just one past stage to return it would be Zelda's castle, with its sprawling length and underground smash-hole - lo and behold, producer Masahiro Sakurai has made it so.
He's clearly a mind-reader. We're now thinking of a playable Leon S Kennedy with all our mental might. You try it too...
17) Shin'en Project (TBC)
The German developers of Nanostray and various sound tools (most notably for the GBA) have thrown the sauerkraut among the, er, German pigeons by announcing on their distinctly non-English website that they're working on Wii. It'll be their first non-handheld project.
18) Southpeak Pool Party (TBC)
Thirteen variations of billiards, snooker and whatnot. Sadly, the graphics look like they've been drawn using a novelty bendy pen, and some of SouthPeak's recent output has been almost heroically bad.
19) Digital Embryo Project (TBC)
The Cake Mania devs have put down their whisks and hopped on the Wii gravy train, but not much is known about their new project.
It uses the Vicious Engine, but as that's used for everything from Alien Syndrome to Marvel Trading Card Game, that's not much help.
20) Secret Files: Tunguska (Spring 2008)
PC point 'n' click adventure about a girl searching for her father. Actually a pretty good effort, as PC point-'n-clickers go (today's breed are hit and miss). Logical puzzles and a good interface help its cause.
21) N-Space Projects (TBC)
N-Space, the Florida studio behind GC incredi-flop Geist, have been working on numerous Wii titles since 2005.
Last seen working on Call Of Duty 4 DS, they've been asked by Nintendo to provide more 'mature' games. It's like Rare/Microsoft in reverse!