That Was The News

Part 1: Your top stories of 2006, from January to June.

Eurogamer gets through hundreds, even thousands of news stories every year, and quite a lot of them aren't just about games and how many polygons they've got in them - some of them are about whether they have motorbikes, too.

But, as you'll soon see, those aren't the only topics that capture your interest - you're just as keen to read about barefaced liars, demented German film directors, the plight of the Chinese, Paris Hilton and Wonder Woman.

So here's to you, the Eurogamer reader. For your amusement, here's a selection of the most popular stories of 2006, as voted for by your fingers and faces. Click the links for the original stories.

January

Nobody would be able to buy it for about 11 months - and we're not sure whether anyone eventually did - but the year began with the announcement of an Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive. Microsoft then had to repeatedly explain that it wouldn't be used to play games, because no one ever believes you on the Internet. More interesting, inarguably, was Bill Gates' assertion that Halo 3 would be released whenever Bungie finished it, and not whenever he most wanted to crash his moneyed fist into the wheezing face of his enemies.

This of course was back in the days when everyone expected PlayStation 3 to come out in spring (that almost seems funny now). Back then some people were starting to think otherwise, suggesting it would really come out in November. Sony itself kept quiet, but did have a few things to say about its plans for the PlayStation Portable. One day, said CEO Howard Stringer, you'd be able to watch TV on the go, easily manage media, buy and download games and all sorts. We filed that one under /PSP/00O2233TIU00/.

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The DS Lite - denied and then announced in January.

Meanwhile, Nintendo was forced to repeatedly deny that it was going to do a new version of the DS called the DS Lite. Nonsense, they told us, mid-January. It's still nonsense, UK boss David Yarnton told us, to our faces, around the same time. It's completely true, Nintendo Japan told everyone in the world about 48 hours later. Still, that stuff about being able to use the (then) Revolution controller as a fishing rod in old Zelda games did turn out to be nonsense, so the Nintendo UK "Fact or Fiction" department did at least have a half-decent month.

(Which is more than can be said for Microsoft's, whose representatives claimed that they had every intention of supporting Xbox 1 for ever and ever and ever.)

January was also the final confirmation that things were all a bit dodgy over at Gizmondo, with the company going thoroughly tits-up, even before Ferraris and everything else. Elsewhere in the courts, Rockstar took a few more legal blows over the "Hot Coffee" scandal, which arose after poorly animated sex scenes were poorly hidden on GTA: San Andreas DVDs. Even James Woods was annoyed.

Not as annoyed as Chinese World of Warcraft fans though, who claimed they were being discriminated against because other players assumed they were gold-farmers. And not as annoying as Steve Ballmer, either, who said that he reckoned Sony had no online strategy for taking on Xbox Live.

February

Then it all went a bit Hollywood. Stefan Eriksson, Gizmondo executive and former mafioso, destroyed a Ferrari worth $1 million in California and captured the hearts of gamers the world over, while Eidos' new Lara Croft Karima Adebibe also got your attention. I expect that was your hearts as well.

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Stefan Eriksson and Ferraris - happier times.

But what really got you going was the infamous Uwe Boll's frank exchange with our Ellie Gibson, who got him on the phone to talk about his work, including films of BloodRayne, House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark. "Tons of journalists, including you, have nothing else to do than to follow the Internet voices of one or two thousand people. Only half of those people have seen my movies, and only two per cent of those people have seen my movies before House of the Dead," the deluded film-maker would rail.

Nor was that the end of the shouting, as yet more people went after Rockstar's Hot Coffee, while even American prostitutes slammed GTA, inviting us to boycott the game because of its portrayal of sex workers. Meanwhile, World of Warcraft developer Blizzard found itself apologising for banning a guild that welcomed lesbian, gay and bisexual members.

On a lighter note, Bill Gates was in the news again - this time having a merry old laugh about Nintendo and their madcap ideas. "They march to the beat of a different drummer," he explained.

But the last laugh, surely, was Sony's - as representatives finally got off their arses and denied reports of a PS3 delay. It's still due out in spring, they said. February also saw first hints of what PS3's online service would be like. All was well in the land of PlayStation - or so we thought...

March

Except of course it wasn't, as we all found out in the middle of March, when Ken Kutaragi got up and said PS3 would actually launch worldwide in early November. You quickly noticed this wasn't in spring, and the news took a little getting used to. Fortunately for Sony, a Phil Harrison fronted keynote address at the Game Developers Conference later that month gave the console some much needed tangibility, and hinted at an online service that could rival Xbox Live in many respects. GDC also saw a PSP price cut, and first talk of a PSone emulator for the handheld.

Nintendo took a slightly different tack with Satoru Iwata's keynote, preferring to do absolutely sod all. There was first sight of a new Zelda DS game, Phantom Hourglass, but much desired Revolution revelations were thin on the ground.

In both Sony and Nintendo's cases, attention suddenly turned to E3.

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Viva Pinata - did you know it's filled with fun?

Elsewhere, Microsoft simply got on with things, announcing Rare's Viva Piņata, which would go on to be the best game of the year no arguments, and quietly dispatching some rumours that caught your attention - that of a hack for Xbox 360 that ultimately had little practical application, and those slightly boring Halo Forerunner reports.

More exciting, you decided, was the news that Guitar Hero II was already in development, just weeks before the original game's European release, although not even the chance to chatter about what its 40 new tracks might be could keep you away from the unfolding story of Stefan "Ferrari Wrecker" Eriksson, with further developments in the Enzo case and news that his Mercedes had also been confiscated winning you over.

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