While the Tony Hawk games were responsible for bringing skateboarding into the gaming world it was EA’s outstanding Skate series that revamped the format and brought it all back to the tricks. The controls, which let you control your character’s feet individually, were considered too complex by many people but once surpassing that barrier, the game sparked to life. Completing the story mode is satisfying but not nearly as much as taking control of the world and bending it to your whims. See an interesting gap? There’s almost certainly a way to set things up so that you can hit it. And with the instant replay and ability to record in Skate 2, you were always just a few button presses away from impressing your friends via EA’s dedicated Skate site. Simply put, this is a sublime experience.
I waited more than 20 years for Nintendo to make a worthy successor to Excite Bike on the NES, and in the end it was RedLynx who took the idea and brought it to life in the 21st century. What’s immediately obvious is that the developers have done everything to ensure that the controls are as responsive as possible, something that is vital once the game enters the harder difficulty levels, when advancing demands true skills and determination. It’s not often that something peripheral to the experience is a make-or-break feature for a game, but for Trials HD it’s the checkpoint system that fills this role. Instantaneous restarts – from either the previous checkpoint or the beginning of the stage – allow you to keep your momentum going just as easily after the 10th restart as after the 100th.
Super Mario Galaxy
Poor Mario. Twenty-eight years after making his debut as the unnamed hero in Donkey Kong he’s still being asked to perform extraordinary feats. With Super Mario Galaxy being pushed from GameCube to Wii, expectations only climbed. And impossibly, the game lived up to the pre-release buzz. Making perfect use of the Wii remote, Super Mario Galaxy provides what is possibly the best 3D platform experience after the groundbreaking Super Mario 64. The worlds are bright and energetic, featuring characters new and old, and the action is near-perfect. In this day of first-person shooters and angry military personnel, it’s easy to forget the innocence that allowed games to grow into the force they are today. Super Mario Galaxy is the perfect reminder of where games came from, and also where they’re going.
Further Reading: Review
Ever noticed how a few games are able to metastasize, spreading from your game time to the remainder of your waking hours? Katamari Damashi is most certainly in this select group. The concept of taking random detritus and maker bigger and bigger balls of crap is a simple one but in this first take creator Keita Takahashi got the balance just right. Later instalments would suffer from poor controls and the onset of concept fatigue, but here things clicked, as the roll-’em-up mechanics and oh-so-zany characters and story gluing it all together combined to create an unforgettable experience. There’s something sublimely satisfying about rolling a ball around a school ground collecting benches, kids and more as you strive to satisfy the King of All Cosmos with your efforts.
Further Reading: Review