If the annual sports update is an old evil made good, here we are heading in the opposite direction: once they would have made yesterday's Esoterica list, but nowadays mainstream music games are the vast empires staffed by licensing experts. There's no shortage of goodwill for the likes of SingStar, Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but they are now the machine, and someone needs to rage against it until, at the very least, there's convergence of downloadable content. It's no more impossible than FIFA having become the darling of critics everywhere.
On: TBC / Developer: Harmonix / Publisher: MTV / Release date: Christmas
The Fab Two And The Dead Two's' Wives are notoriously hard to please - and reluctant to license out their peerless songbook - so you can be sure Harmonix will acknowledge the considerable honour bestowed upon them by pulling out all the stops for this. It is, after all, some kind of landmark: as a hand extended across the generation gap and pop-culture gulf to our upstart art form, only Shakespeare scripting Mirror's Edge 2 from beyond the grave could beat it.
It won't, in other words, be another AC/DC Live. But we're also prepared to bet that this "experiential journey through the band's history" and "visual exploration of the band's imagery" will involve an experiential journey down some rows of coloured dots, and a the visual exploration of a familiar-looking set of plastic instruments.
That's no reason not to be excited, and there are countless reasons you should be. A fat budget and an eagerness to please should bring a little bespoke variety to this increasingly rote genre; George Martin and son's meticulous stewardship of Beatles recordings guarantees superlative sound quality and creative mixing possibilities (think their surround-sound collage soundtrack for the Love show).
And then there's the prospect of a new way to savour Paul's funky, melodious basslines, John and George's chiming riffs, Ringo's idiot-savant drumming. And a selection of tunes whose variety - from hoarse R&B holler to folk ballad, via orchestral psychedelia, proto-metal, bar-room bawler and diamond-hard pop perfection - ought to easily eclipse that of any Guitar Hero or Rock Band package to date in a single band. Special request: multiple mic support and harmony-singing score multipliers.
[Readers please note, I had to write this because Tom is too young to know any Beatles songs. Just think about that for a second. - Oli]
Supporting Cast (in alphabetical order)
On: TBC / Developer: TBC (possibly Freestyle Games) / Publisher: Activision / Release date: TBC, very probably 2009
Accused of chasing Rock Band last year, Activision aims to restore its reputation with a mixing deck peripheral for its next rhythm game, if reports are to be believed (and yeah, they are). Let's hope it talks to World Tour's Music Studio.
Guitar Hero Metallica
On: TBC / Developer: Neversoft / Publisher: Activision / Release date: First quarter
More than a love letter to the band, Guitar Hero Metallica is a genuine World Tour expansion, with new tools for Music Studio, an Expert Plus difficulty level and a rags-to-rock story mode masking a logical difficulty curve.
On: Wii / Developer: Q Entertainment / Publisher: Atari / Release date: 2009
We know less about this than almost anything in this year's Coming Attractions - just two letters in fact - but we do know that it's Tetsuya Mizuguchi making a Wii game. That's enough for us, for now.
On: PS3 / Developer: Sony London / Publisher: Sony Europe / Release date: 2009
Wireless microphones are imminent, downloads will continue to flow, and we've heard whispers of a promising menu system overhaul. More band-specific SKUs would be nice, too. We want Kylie.
To some degree it's an off year, with no Rock Band 3, and no (full on) Guitar Hero 5, so hopefully games like the baton-waving Major Minor's Majestic March will make an impact. It's out in March, of course.
We'll be back tomorrow with another instalment in this year's rundown. It's goblin time.