10. New Super Mario Bros.
(Nintendo, DS) - Gamepage
Forbury Lion: Back to basics for Mario, It was never broke so why did they change it?
Marc Cosgrove: It's pick up and play, yet challenging and fun. Sometimes I got frustrated with it but kept coming back for more and was rewarded each time. Few games can pull that off. Plus everything was tight in the production, haven't experienced a single bug or lazy developer moment.
Allan Cameron: Initially, a disappointment, couldn't get used to the controls, but get past that and you unlock an entirely new game comprising the best elements of all the previous Mario 2d platformers. The three coin collecting dynamic coupled with rewarding puzzles ensured this was the most enjoyable game of 2006 for whichever level wished to play it. Even if my girlfriend can't get past the first 4 levels...
9. Half-Life 2: Episode One
(Valve, PC) - Gamepage
Simon Hayden: A stunning continuation to the best game series ever created.
Marc-Andre Martel: Just plain enjoyable, the best five hours I've spent gaming this year! This one - and Sam and Max Episode 1 - actually convinced me that electronic distribution and episodic gaming was the way to go!
8. Pro Evolution Soccer 6
Mike Little: Manages to recreate the highs and lows of real football almost perfectly.
Richard Block: The fact that my mates and I never stop playing it, despite how flawed each version is!
Seb Merhej: Simply put the greatest footy game ever and the game of 2006. Improved on its predecessor by having more forgiving referees and making it a smoother game in comparison. However, the licence for Chelsea has gone, which is a terrible shame. (Yes, if only they'd got rid of the bastards entirely.)
7. Dead Rising
(Capcom, Xbox 360) - Gamepage
Gordon Bonifacio: Zombies!
Rob Brown: The fact that it satisfied the punters more than any other game this year. Capcom totally nailed the zombie-infested-mall sim and met the vast amount of gamers' demands. Both technically (quality of the graphics, the sound, the direction and writing of cut-scenes) and the numerous little gameplay details. Also the way that save system could have been even harsher (as with Survival Mode) but still managed to piss off a lot of people who wanted to play through the apocalypse with training wheels. What the hell is that about? Mostly, though, that it's the best in a year without standout bests - after Bethesda managed to manhandle what should have easily taken the crown, this is the only other option.
Stewart: Finding a bike, and being initially disappointed that I couldn't pop a wheelie. Then I found the corresponding book. Everything about the game was such a joy, even finding that the plastic sword wasn't useful was a revelation.
6. Company of Heroes
(Relic, PC) - Gamepage
ice_freezer: Excellence in just about every single aspect.
chavatar: Exceptional in every respect and great fun in both single and multi-player. I'm neither a particular fan of RTS or WWII games, but this sucked me in with a blend of great visuals, strategy and game balance.
gitsome uk: RTS at its finest, it's one of the few games that after playing a marathon session I've watched the replay and realise how much detail is packed in. Great graphics, sound and presentation.
Rob Heald: The very best games take up residence in your consciousness even when you're not playing them... CoH is one of these games. Awesome visuals, stunning detail, thumping gameplay with tons of depth, this game simultaneously re-ignited my desire to play WWII games and strategy games. And even the story bits are brilliant - what are the chances of that in an RTS?! I loved this game so much I had to go and spend some "quality time" with the tanks on display in the Imperial War Museum... "Sherman on point!"
5. Wii Sports
(Nintendo, Wii) - Gamepage
Peter A: Was played by the entire family and all my friends during the Christmas/New Years period, spanning an age range of 5 to 60, so gets my No.1 vote. I think my cousin summed it all up when he said "I'm usually good at (video) games!" upon losing to his Dad at Wii Bowling ^_^
Sam: It got my parents, girlfriend, sister and even gran excitedly prancing about in front of the telly at various points during the xmas holiday, a welcome change from being told I'm wasting my time with 'another games machine'. Brought a tear to my eye.
Joakim Hagdahl: The first launch title for any console that has so perfectly captured the idea of the console. Nintendo saw that for the Wii to be successful accessability was key, by making the game respond to the players making the moves he would do in the real sport they could capitalize on the players imagining that they are really playing the sport and not just a game. Wii Sports have changed what to expect from console sports titles from now on. Why would you be playing Virtua Tennis with a normal game pad when you could be playing with a Wiimote?
4. Shadow of the Colossus
(Sony, PS2) - Gamepage
Liam McGuigan: An exception to the "gameplay over presentation" mantra, Shadow of the Colossus isn't actually that much fun but you can't let that get in the way of a good game. A short-lived journey that feels like a 60 hour epic, it's an outstanding experience. When you emerge victorious your triumph is mixed with sadness - do the Colossi cry? I think they do.
Marcio Tavares: It's amazing how a game with awkward camera control, not so easy controls and badly measured difficulty can keep you wanting it more and more...
Tobias Hanraths: It is not also magnificent and often overwhelming in the scope of its artistic vision - it is also a wonderful example of simplistic, creative gamedesign, showing how to create a deep and satisfying gameplay experience without using cheap tricks like hundred button combinations or heavy scripting. It's beautiful, but also, and more important, an almost perfect game.
Hughes: I hate boss battles, even in games that I love they drag the experience down. And yet somehow a game based purely on boss battles grabbed me by the whatsits and didn't let go. The desolation of the environment that seperated you from each beastie just made the task feel even more lonely and captivating.
3. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Tardkommando: A triumph. For me the highlight were some of the genuinely brilliant quest designs not to mention the graphics, scope and freedom of the game. (Also the supposed levelling flaws were inconsequential if you hadn't read any of the internet teeth gnashing before you played the game.)
Derrick Dowd: A game that was seemingly endless. It its not normal for a huge game like this to have a 'pick up and play' theme to it but it was great. You could just turn it on for half an hour do a few side quests and turn it off and go out. But it was the only game I have ever played that kept me up until the sun came up.
Brian Stewart: Playing this game for the first time is when I decided that it was the first real next-gen game I've played. I love the huge world you get to explore and there have been many times when I've been walking along the road and something's caught my eye so I get sidetracked because I want to investigate. You can spend hours doing that.
Geoff Floyd: Great freedom to approach the game how you wanted to. Graphically stunning... well the outside views and towns! Good, varied bunch of side quests in addition to the main story. Being able to contract Vampirism and suck on the blood of the innocent!
Fergus Byrne: I'm still amazed that a game could keep me playing for 130 hours and even after all that I wish there was more.
2. Gears of War
(Epic Games, Xbox 360) - Gamepage
Daniel Wyld: I have been screaming for a game that allowed a full campaign play through with a mate over Live and this delivered. Graphically, it's the best looking console game of all time, and the online multiplayer is a beast! It's better than sex with my girlfriend (yes, the passion has died after seven years) and even has homoerotic undertones (or overtones?) to satisfy teh gays. Oh, and the physics engine is more enjoyable to watch than two lesbians wrestling in brandy butter at Christmas. This much fun in a box should be given a health warning - it rocks!
Mohammad Arsalan: It may not have been the most innovative game that we have ever seen but the fact that gears is the best looking console game of all time makes it worthy enough for being the best game of 2006. It plays amazingly well and has taken over Halo 2 as the most played game online. It shows us that even though the 360 might not have the same power as the PS3, programmers will find it much easier to program amazing looking games for it. As is Halo wasn't enough, 360 now has another name that will make Sony cry like little girls. HAIL MICROSOFT AND HAIL EPIC.
Niccolo Janelli: Two words... Total immersion. Sometimes graphics and other "technical" elements such as good surround sound, are seen as mere ancillary to the gaming experience. This is sometimes true, but a game like Gears of War remind us that a large part of the gaming experience is believing you are part of the gaming world.
Thor Henrik Bruun: Massive hype, massive satisfaction!
1. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
AGM: Such a massive game, epic in every sense of the word, while having a world thats so organic that it feels like its being lived in, rather than a random collection of areas. The sword combat is great, the usage of the Wii controller is novel, and the art design of the game creates a world that's visually impressive.
Frode Singsaas: What is there not to like about it?
Alex: It has got to be the best game of the year full stop. The fun of riding on horseback across Hyrule field while day turns into night while getting chased by enemies while aiming your bow with the Wiimote and knocking the moblins off their hogs and shooting the flying enemies down. Then riding across the big bridge and still firing at them, only with bomb arrows, then watch them fall off the bridge and into the darkness. Then morning breaks so you decide to go to your home village and go fishing and talk to all the people. Then you decide to go to Kakariko village. So you travel over Hyrule field again riding through all the moblins that get in the way. When you get there you buy some more bombs. Then you travel through Hyrule field again towards Lake Hylia until you get to a house which then you glide down to Lake Hylia with a cocoo and watch the cool game art of the water and the scenery. After chilling out you decide to finish the day blasting off in the cannon up to Gerudo Desert. You suddenly see a moblin camp outside of Arbiters Grounds guarding a treasure chest. So you steal one of their hogs and smash down all the guard posts and ram them all down. You open the chest to find 50 rupees. Then you ride off into the distance watching the sun set.
Simon Jones: It's not the immersive world of Hyrule and the the quirky characters who inhabit it that impress me most about TP. Nor the sense of joy upon discovery or working out a puzzle that has had you stumped for some time. All important things that do put Zelda above any other game I played in 2006 but this was expected. No, it's the fact the Wii controls work perfectly fine (perhaps better than traditional controls) in a "proper" game that makes me most pleased about how TP worked out.
Daniel: I love the way that it only takes the first bar of the theme tune to put a big-ass smile on my face. I also love jumping over the fallen pigs during the horse-back combat.
Jim Bob: It's Zelda...