Wii Sports (Wii)
The Nintendo Wii was a huge question mark, taking an entirely unique approach to gaming. What was this motion control? How does it work? What were the possibilities? There were loads of questions and Wii Sports, packaged with the Wii, answered many of them while showcasing the system. The graphics were easily miles behind the likes of Gears of War, but that wasn't the point. Wii Sports turned games into a modern-day party machine for everybody. From kids to seniors, people of all walks were taking to Wii Sports for heated tennis competitions or living room bowling tournaments. Nintendo had struck gold.
Personal Highlight: Wii bowling was the perfect new and novel activity and was subsequently utilized as the backdrop of several parties I attended. From laid back sessions to much more competitive trash talking affairs, everyone could play and that's what made it work.
Other Notable Releases in 2006: Resistance: Fall of Man (PS3) served as Sony's premier title for its shiny new gaming console/Blu-ray player. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii) released at the same time as the Wii, giving Nintendo a premier launch title of its own. New Super Mario Bros. (DS) returns Mario to his side-scrolling roots, proving to be as fun now as it was in 1986.
God of War II (PS2)
Well into the era of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii, God of War II released on the PS2, showing there was still some life to be found in the aging console. While not on par with the technical abilities of modern consoles, GOW2 fooled many with its superb graphics and gameplay that pushed the PS2 to its limits. With Epic boss fights and a storyline that had Kratos after none other than Zeus himself, GOW2 was a fitting finale to Sony's system.
Personal Highlight: Almost as soon as you start the game, you're fighting the enormous Colossus of Rhodes . This larger-than-life battle immediately set the stage and let you know you were in for a treat.
Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
With the big releases of games this past year, it would be easy to forget how big the release of Halo 3 was. Ads were everywhere, it was being discussed on television ad nauseam, and it was impossible to miss a story about it on the Internet. Halo 3 may have had a lot in common with its predecessors, but it kept the momentum of the industry going, proving that a major video game release was every bit as big as a major movie.
Personal Highlight: The day Halo 3 came out, a group of friends and I ditched out on our various responsibilities (i.e. jobs, wives, kids) to play all day. It was something I hadn't done since becoming an "adult," and it was entirely worth it. Sure, I didn't tell anyone else why they couldn't get a hold of me for over 14 hours, but they didn't need to know.