Can we "canonize" any of the best games of 2006?

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Little_Socrates

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#1  Edited By Little_Socrates

Roughly two years ago, I had a couple of threads beginning a series looking to mark which of the "Best Games of The Year XXXX" deserve to be considered "The Best Games Ever Made." I got through 2005 and 2011. I'm happy to return to this series. I have little access to the year's major releases thanks to some absurd goings-on in my life, so let's talk about the past, huh?

2005 seemed to reach at least moderate consensus on Resident Evil 4, Devil May Cry 3, Guitar Hero, God of War, Shadow of the Colossus, Psychonauts, and Civilization 4. These would likely comprise a lot of my list, though I (and a handful of voices in the thread) might have picked Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory or Guild Wars. I came up with Dark Souls and Portal 2 as the representatives for 2011 in the 2005 thread, but Bastion and Skyrim both are mentioned enough times to list them as well. I'll probably run 2011 again sometime, now that we have more distance.

2006 marked the launch of the PS3 and the Wii, officially marching us into the full launch of the hardware generation. Obviously, some good games came out on older platforms! Launch titles are often a bit weak, after all, though a handful stand out as pretty good games!

The quality games of the PS3 and Wii launch would be:

-ExciteTruck

-Marvel: Ultimate Alliance

-Resistance: Fall of Man

-Ridge Racer 7

-The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

-Trauma Center: Second Opinion

-Wii Sports

The Xbox 360 blossomed in 2006, with titles like:

-Dead Rising

-Gears of War

-Hitman: Blood Money

-Just Cause

-Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend

-Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

-Prey

-Saints Row

-Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter

-Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas

-Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent

-The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

-Viva Piñata

The PC boasts some strong games as well:

-Battlefield 2142

-Black & White 2: Battle of the Gods

-Dark Messiah of Might & Magic

-DEFCON: Everybody Dies

-Dreamfall: The Longest Journey

-Half Life 2: Episode One

-Heroes of Might & Magic V

-Star Wars: Empire At War

-The Lord of the Rings: The Battle For Middle-Earth II

The PS2 and Gamecube offered some games outside of the multiplatform versions of the above, though the Xbox does not:

-Baten Kaitos: Origins

-Bully

-Final Fantasy XII

-Guitar Hero II

-Kingdom Hearts II

-Okami

-Xenosaga Episode III: Also sprach Zarathustra

Lastly, the handheld platforms released some games worth talking about in 2006:

-Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!

-CastleVania: Portrait of Ruin

-Final Fantasy III (the first American release of the only "missing" Final Fantasy entry)

-Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories

-LocoRoco

-Lumines II

-Mario vs Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis

-Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops

-Metroid Prime: Hunters

-New Super Mario Bros.

-Star Fox Command

-Suikoden V

-Tetris DS

-Valkyrie Profile 2

Are any of the games from 2006, on or off this list, good enough to categorize as "all-time greats?" Are there any on the PS3 or Wii? Personally, I suspect there'll be consensus, with most recommendations focusing around 6 or 7 titles, but I doubt many will be as intense as the recommendations for 2005.

This is more about celebrating and thinking about how good modern games really still can be than it is about meticulously fighting each other on a question of rankings. Games are maybe one of the few medium where single-year comparison still makes a lot of sense, though we're definitely starting to see patterns emerging with the two-or-three year cycle most developers work under these days. 2006 is another launch year, meaning some "major studios" might be elevating their design or hampered by working on art assets. Obviously, 2007 looms ahead, a year many feel defined the generation (for good reason!) Maybe we'll forge ahead soon enough.

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Voysa_Reezun

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I think Saints Row 2 is the one to canonize, as it started to veer away from a straight GTA clone and the second one offered amazing activity and side-mission variety, co-op play, and solid exploration (those secret islands! the Volition offices!). The first Saints Row was still getting its footing.

I think there's an argument that GHII was the height of that second wave of music game popularity after the DDR craze of the late '90s and early '00s calmed down, too. I would definitely nominate that for canonization.

Gears of War was a solid game, but it seemed to be the game to give future games (GTA IV, Army of Two) an idea for how to implement a fluid cover system in shooters, which I think elevates it to a game that should be considered for canonization as well.

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Gaff

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Going to predict that Twilight Princess, Bully, Okami, Wii Sports and Brain Training are going to be on that list, if we're going by critical acclaim and cultural impact.

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Zevvion

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There are only 4 games on my 2006 list that I really, really liked.

  • Gears of War
  • Burnout Revenge
  • Pokemon Diamond
  • Viva Pinata

I think Gears of War is definitely one of the 'all time greats' as you put it. It wasn't the first game with a cover system, but it was the one that inspired almost literally every other shooter to come out after it to implement one. Even a full generation further, one of the most anticipated games for the rival platform is a cover based shooter. It also was one of the first games to truly nail how to do a co-op experience. The entire campaign was playable in co-op and not only that, if you lost connection to your mate, he could just rejoin whenever and you continued from where you left off. You could play singleplayer for every chapter and call in help when you needed it in a very specific situation. It was really well done.

I personally believe Revenge and Pinata also belong there, but I don't think there are as clear cut cases as Gears is.

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oraknabo

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I'm not much of an Elder Scrolls fan, but I don't think anyone can deny the importance of Oblivion that year.

I like Dreamfall and Dark Messiah a lot, but I don't know if they deserve to be at the top of the list of 2006 games. I do think Okami and Bully deserve pretty high praise.

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Little_Socrates

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#6  Edited By Little_Socrates

@zevvion said:

There are only 4 games on my 2006 list that I really, really liked.

  • Gears of War
  • Burnout Revenge
  • Pokemon Diamond
  • Viva Pinata

I think Gears of War is definitely one of the 'all time greats' as you put it. It wasn't the first game with a cover system, but it was the one that inspired almost literally every other shooter to come out after it to implement one. Even a full generation further, one of the most anticipated games for the rival platform is a cover based shooter. It also was one of the first games to truly nail how to do a co-op experience. The entire campaign was playable in co-op and not only that, if you lost connection to your mate, he could just rejoin whenever and you continued from where you left off. You could play singleplayer for every chapter and call in help when you needed it in a very specific situation. It was really well done.

I personally believe Revenge and Pinata also belong there, but I don't think there are as clear cut cases as Gears is.

Embarrassed to have missed Revenge and Piñata. I like Viva Piñata considerably more than many of these games. Added.

EDIT: Revenge actually released in 2005, with a 360 port in 2006.

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notnert427

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#7  Edited By notnert427

- Hitman: Blood Money was terrific. I've bought and played through it on two different consoles and will do it again if they release a remake on the Xbox One.

- I'm not sure Splinter Cell: Double Agent is a big plus for '06. That series peaked with Chaos Theory, and Double Agent was serviceable at best. The story was a fucking trainwreck.

- Rainbow Six: Vegas was a pretty damn good game, though Rainbow Six 3 remains the best RB6 game, IMO.

- Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter was solid, though frustratingly difficult at times.

- Half-Life 2: Episode One lost its way a bit. It was okay, but I wasn't a huge fan, largely because Half-Life 2 was so excellent by contrast.

- Gears of War was really cool at the time, but hasn't aged well. That's probably largely due to way too many games trying to copy it shortly thereafter, though.

- Saints Row was little more than a GTA clone, and didn't really hit its stride as a series until later entries. (Edit: @voysa_reezun beat me to this comment.)

- Wii Sports, and then later Wii Mario Kart and Wii Sports Resort were the only games that made that console worthwhile.

JMOs.

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Zevvion

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@notnert427: Saints Row was the first game to actually do GTA better than GTA though. That is worthy of mentioning. The only thing GTA had over Saints Row at that time was the vibe. But Saints Row was a better playing and more fun game in all other aspects.

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Fredchuckdave

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#9  Edited By Fredchuckdave

Valkyrie Profile 2 is one of the best games ever made.

Final Fantasy XII is probably still the most interesting open world game despite not really adhering to FF traditions.

Suikoden V is the best Suikoden by far.

Scarface: The World is Yours is a wonderful cocaine accumulating simulator.

DMC 3 SE is a lot better than the original.

Xenosaga 3 is pretty good and rare.

Resistance is actually a pretty good Doom type shooter, the color palette is bland but everything else is good, excellent enemy design and weapons.

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deactivated-5e49e9175da37

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Oblivion introduced a whole new generation to RPGs, specifically Bethesda's style of RPG. I have friends who did not play RPGs or medieval/fantasy games but played Oblivion for 200 hours. Which led to them playing Skyrim for 200 hours.

In hindsight it might be easy to point at Morrowind as the hardcore favorite, or Skyrim as the iterative improvement on Oblivion, but Oblivion appearing in 2006 as the first real deep single player game available in the 7th gen changed the course of ... well, history. The Bethesda open world was a revelation for console gamers and for a new generation of kids having their formative experiences. The way today's 18 year olds might react to Oblivion is the way today's 30 year olds might react to Link to the Past or Final Fantasy 6. It's one of those games that expanded what people believe is possible .

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Little_Socrates

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Valkyrie Profile 2 is one of the best games ever made.

Final Fantasy XII is probably still the most interesting open world game despite not really adhering to FF traditions.

Suikoden V is the best Suikoden by far.

Scarface: The World is Yours is a wonderful cocaine accumulating simulator.

DMC 3 SE is a lot better than the original.

Xenosaga 3 is pretty good and rare.

Man, I had a very incomplete list. Definitely adding Valkyrie Profile 2, FFXII, and Suikoden V.

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StarvingGamer

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  • Dreamfall
  • Okami

The end

There are arguments to be made for Oblivion and Gears in terms of influence and impact, but if we're talking about "best" games, I will be far on the opposite side of that discussion.

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Lelcar

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#13  Edited By Lelcar

Final Fantasy XII, Wii Sports, Gears of War, Suikoden V, New Super Mario Bros., and Twilight Princess are definitely in my top 10 from 2006.

I also want to give props to the GBA version of Final Fantasy V.

EDIT - I didn't play Okami until it was released two years later for the Wii, so that's why it's not included in my 2006.

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oraknabo

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Yeah, Suikoden V is also very good.

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I_Stay_Puft

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#15  Edited By I_Stay_Puft

I'll probably say

  • Bully
  • Gears of War
  • Okami

Bully for the simple fact that rockstar was able to reinvent what an open world game was suppose to be at the time. Before from what I can recall most open world games during this time were just straight up GTA clones. Bully showed you can make an open world game different from the gangster / mafia stuff and still have it be fun and enjoyable both with the gameplay and story.

Gears of War kind of took the RE4 third person shooter mechanics and refined it to what we see now with over the shoulder shooters. I remember in college that game being the game to play whenever you were going to play any multiplayer online for the xbox 360.

Last was Okami mainly for how underrated that game was at the time. I'm sure the game gets it's just dues now with all the remakes and word of mouth but from what I remember that game came out of nowhere for me because it came out at a time when everyone was gearing up for the new video game consoles.

I'd probably like to throw Jump Ultimate Stars into best games of 2006. It was super smash bros on the handheld before super smash appeared on the handheld. I have great memories of a bunch of former co-workers playing that during lunch breaks or after work in the parking lot just chilling and playing a few rounds. It was also mind blowing being able to take a handheld game and playing it against random people all around the world. You have to remember that this was the early stages of online multiplayer for console games so doing this was super cool. People complaining about super smash 3ds being broken have no idea what broken is compared to playing against users who are mostly in Japan. So many lag filled matches but oh so fun.

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TobbRobb

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#16  Edited By TobbRobb

What a horrible year for me. I liked like 4 of those games. And only Okami was a standout game.

Gears of War, FF XII and Guitar Hero 2 would be the others but I don't feel too strongly about any of them. Especially not FF which I never finished.

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Ben_H

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#17  Edited By Ben_H

New Super Mario Bros. was 8 years ago...

I feel old.

I couldn't pick a best of 2006. There are so many amazing games on that list. Oblivion, Viva Pinata, Dead Rising, Empire at War, NSMB, GRAW (the PC version of course. Far better than the console version), Saints Row. Wow, what a year. I could back up any of these games for best of 2006.

Edit: Apparently Company of Heroes was 2006. That might just be the best of 2006. I thought it was 2007 for some reason. That game was mindblowing when it first came out.

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ShadyPingu

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The language of these discussions is always tricky. No interest in arguing which games are "best," personally, because we do that every day already.

It's probably more worthwhile as a retrospective to determine which games each year are "important" to the direction of gaming as a whole, and that number is very few. The only games on your 2006 list that I would canonize as "important" are Wii Sports, Oblivion, Gears of War and maybe Brain Age and Guitar Hero II. I liked Baten Kaitos Origins a whole lot but can also recognize that the only place it's an important game is inside my mind.

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Guesty_01

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#19  Edited By Guesty_01

Oblivion, Gears of War and Twilight Princess deserve their due.

But without a doubt the best game of '06 was Okami. One of my top ten of all time, absolute joy to play, amazing viauals, fantastic music. Was a better zelda game than twilight princess. Just this year I played through the ps3 HD version. Still as fun as ever.

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Fearbeard

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My list would look something like this:

  • Gears of War (hugely influential)
  • Guitar Hero II (started a massive craze for music games)
  • Okami (just a quality classic)
  • Dead Rising (some flaws but super unique)
  • Hitman: Blood Money (probably the height of that series so far)
  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (while Morrowwind had come out on Xbox, I think Oblivion really showed how these massive first person role playing games could work on console)

You could definitely make an argument for Wii Sports as well and it was definitely the most popular game on the list by far but I didn't think it was particularly good even then.

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GalacticPunt

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#21  Edited By GalacticPunt

Wii Sports must be canonized, as millions of people who don't usually play games carry happy memories of playing it. Hell, many of us who play all types of games have happy memories of playing with friends and family. Ask an average person on the street to picture a video game, and Wii Sports is as ubiquitous as Pong or Pac-man.

Gears of War 1 and Oblivion are also essential milestones in video game history. The former for taking Resident Evil's innovations one step further with cover mechanics, so every third person shooter since is influenced by it. The latter for popularizing Western RPG's on a massive scale, making it accessible enough for millions of console owners, and ultimately luring many of them into the PC world with the infinite possibilities of mods.

I think just those three are untouchable in their importance. I personally love Final Fantasy XII as well, but that did nothing to stop JRPG's loss of popularity. :(

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Voysa_Reezun

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#22  Edited By Voysa_Reezun

I guess I should have actually listed what I'm voting for instead of just giving thoughts. I'll separate those games into this post:

- Wii Sports (pioneer game to show off motion control, sold enough Wiis to expand the gaming demographic significantly, the Wii printed almost as much money the PS2 did in large part due to this game)

- Gears of War (pioneered the cover-shooting mechanics in tons of games after it)

- Guitar Hero 2 (the premier game of the second wave of music game popularity after the first DDR-inspired wave died down)

That's it. I don't see anything on that list that I would call enough of an absolute artistic classic to overcome lower sales or less importance in future design or what have you. I can't recall anything that isn't on this list either, but if I do, I'll edit.

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Justin258

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Why didn't FEAR get in 2005's list? You know, the game whose enemy AI has yet to be topped?

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ArbitraryWater

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For what it's worth, I believe Heroes of Might and Magic V came out in 2005 (and also that game didn't really become great until its second expansion in 2007).

Oblivion comes to mind as a game of 2006 that should probably be "recognized", level scaling be damned. As does Gears of War, Wii Sports, and... wow, sort of drawing a blank. 2007, now that was a year.

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Milkman

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Wii Sports is probably the most important game on the list.

Gears of War and Oblivion also stick out to me as "all-time greats." There's plenty of arguments that could be made for most of the games on that list but as far as being remembered by the general gaming public, those two are the most obvious to me.

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Yummylee

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Fucking Gears of War... I didn't play the original until 2009 and I was still blown away.

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PoorTommy

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Okami, Wii Sports, Gears of War, and Bully are my favorites among them. I never have had the craze for Oblivion, but I won't campaign against it.

However, I am willing to condemn Dreamfall. I don't see how that can be recognized as anything but as "a game for assholes." It was the Shenmue of 2006.

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Turambar

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Here's a list that, regardless of whether you personally like these games or not, should get past at least the first culling of the titles:

Wii Sports*

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Dead Rising

Gears of War*

Hitman: Blood Money

Rainbow Six: Vegas

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion*

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic

Half Life 2: Episode One*

Bully*

Final Fantasy XII

Guitar Hero II*

Kingdom Hearts II*

Okami*

Xenosaga Episode III*

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

New Super Mario Brothers*

Suikoden V

Valkyrie Profile 2*

The asterisks represent games I'd personally push forward past the second culling.

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GunstarRed

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Gears, Okami and as much as I don't care for it, Wii sports.

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Corevi

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#30  Edited By Corevi

Okami and God Hand (which isn't on your list despite being one of the greatest video games ever made).

If we are going by original release dates Persona 3 came out in Japan in 2006 and is a fantastic game.

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deactivated-58ca104190dca

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The ones that need to be on the list:

  • Company of Heroes. I still play this weekly, one of the best real time strategies.
  • Oblivion. Weaker than Morrowind or Skyrim but a highlight of 2006 non the less.

These ones not so much:

  • The warlords expansion for Civ IV. Because the vanilla ones are always a bit lacking
  • Need for Speed Carbon. I played a lot of this, not the greatest racing game or the best Need for Speed but I can't think of any other racers that came out in 2006.
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mbradley1992

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I think I'd put Twilight Princess, New Super Mario Bros., Wii Sports, and Gears of War on that list. They all changed the game in many ways. Zelda showed that change in a Zelda formula could work. NSMB was a fresh resurgence of 2D platforming (which I think helped spur the indie movement into that direction). Wii Sports proved that motion controls could work (though only when done correctly). And Gears was just a great game. Maybe it saved the 3rd person shooter after years of a flooded market with stuff like Brute Force.

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jaycrockett

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Oblivion and Gears of War absolutely.

Wii Sports and Brain Age were strong contributors to my purchasing their respective systems.

I really liked Twilight Princess, but in hindsight it hasn't had the impact on me that Wind Waker has.

Guitar Hero II was the beginning (and pinnacle for me) of the music craze. You could play Freebird; sort of hard to top that.

I really liked Marvel Ultimate Alliance.

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TechnoSyndrome

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Dead Rising is the only game I feel super strongly about on that list. I know it's a cheesy thing to say, but that game was the game that made me say "this is next gen".

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fisk0

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#35  Edited By fisk0  Moderator
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GERALTITUDE

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#36  Edited By GERALTITUDE

Oblivion, Gears of War and Final Fantasy XII immediately jump out at me. But wow, there are a lot of games here I really loved. Blood Money, Prey, FEAR, Company of Heroes, Ultimate Alliance, Bully. Goes on.

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DeathByWaffle

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It blows my mind that Gears of War was a 360 launch game, it was so great. Feel like there hasn't been an exclusive that great on either platform yet this generation.

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Slag

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#38  Edited By Slag

Well Going by a mix of factors- innovation, execution, critical and commercial success and impact I'd say these are the "hall of Fame games of 2006

All Time Greats

  • Wii Sports
  • Gears of War
  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Hall of Fame Worthy

  • Bully
  • Brain Age : Train Your Brain In Minutes a Day!
  • Okami
  • New Super Mario Bros.
  • Final Fantasy Xii
  • Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  • Viva Pinata
  • Guitar Hero II

Near Misses/Borderline

  • Kingdom Hearts II
  • Company of Heroes
  • Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria
  • Saints Row
  • Suikoden V
  • Marvel Universe: Ultimate Alliance
  • Dead Rising
  • Burnout Revenge

Really good year for games!

I do take issue with Excite Truck being called a quality game. That game had 4 tracks. it was an interesting proof of concept, but the thing is so light on content it barely seemed like a tech demo. makes Wii Sports seem like an 80 hr JRPG by comparison

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Sinusoidal

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Where's all the Locoroco love? I played that to death. 100% The music is also utterly infectious:

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Hunter5024

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I had strong positive opinions about Kingdom Hearts II when it was released, but I was 15 so...

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TheSilentGod

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One game deserves consideration that hasn't received it yet: Medieval II Total War. Fantastic RTS that came out in 2006. Probably not quite as good as Rome, but it made several important improvements and was exceptional at providing an historical RTS experience with some impressive scale to its battles.

Also, Neverwinter Nights 2 wasn't bad. I wouldn't call it an all time great, but it deserves a mention.

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Jazz

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#42  Edited By Jazz

Hmm, this would be my personal opinion of course -

1) Hitman Blood Money - still one of the greatest games ever made

2) Trauma Centre 2 - I love these games, so completely different to anything else

3) Techincally Elite Beat Agents came out in the US in 2006 so EBA.

4) Dark Messiah of Might and Magic - better than Oblivion..all Bethesda games are over hyped.

5) Okami - take that over Twilight Princess.

6) Dead Rising..I guess..at the time it was something special.

7) Valkyrie Profile 2 is a fantastic game

8) Gears of War - cool co-op and it was great at the time..not so much by 2.

9) Wii Sports - like Gears it changed many things.

10) Company of Heroes - great RTS that captured what I liked about DoW and made it better.

oh and Godhand..obviously.

Whatever happens Blood Money needs to be on that list. It's a work of genius.

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mclargepants

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#43  Edited By mclargepants
  • Hitman: Blood Money
  • Okami
  • Bully
  • TES IV Oblivion
  • Wii Sports

Those are the big ones I think that are worth canonizing. Wii Sports has to be on the list, you're crazy if you ignore it and Blood Money is an exceptional game. Okapi goes on way too long, Bully I never could get into but enough people revere it, and Oblivion is my favorite TES but you can't deny it has some glaring issues.

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deactivated-5e49e9175da37

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@hunter5024: I hated the controls in KH1 (mostly just the jumping), and I don't know how I made it through the first four hours of KH2, but after I did, that game is really good! Yeah it goes ALLLLL THE WAY up its own ass with its Heartless and Nothings and Nobodies and Nightdarks and Organization XIIIs but man if the combat isn't way better, and man if the art isn't wonderful.

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nightriff

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That's a solid year in gaming, not amazing by any means, throw my hat in for MUA and TP, played the hell out of those.

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jaycrockett

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#46  Edited By jaycrockett

@deathbywaffle said:

It blows my mind that Gears of War was a 360 launch game, it was so great. Feel like there hasn't been an exclusive that great on either platform yet this generation.

Gears wasn't a launch game because the 360 came out in 2005. But yeah, here we are a year out on the new generation and nothing has had the impact that Gears had.

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MEATBALL

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#47  Edited By MEATBALL

Of the games mentioned I'd probably go with the following

  • Wii Sports
  • Twilight Princess
  • Gears of War
  • Oblivion
  • Final Fantasy XII
  • Okami

Twilight Princess is probably a shaky one just because it has plenty of detractors. I really enjoyed it, though, particularly on the Gamecube.

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ripelivejam

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these games are fucking old already. i'm going to die soon. yaay!

just got okami hd, still holds up.

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hermes

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Just to point out that Okami is available in HD for past generation consoles, and it is totally worthy.

The game hasn't aged one iota, it is still one of the best "zelda-like" adventure games out there. It made me sad that the game was not commercially successful (not even in Japan, how can that be?) and the company disbanded, because it meant more games like it are very unlikely...

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bluefish

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For my money it's got to either be Gears of War or Okami

Both are really, really fantastic games to this day.