Never Mind the Sunshine

10) Brain Age 2 (Nintendo DS, July). The original Brain Age took the phrase “educational fun” and stripped it of its oxymoronic status. Following a daily regimen of these mini “brain training” games and Sudoku puzzles was the closest your mind could come to doing hardcore ab crunches. The sequel promises brand-new puzzles (controlled by the Nintendo DS stylus and actual voice recognition) and an amazing multiplayer mode that gives up to eight players the chance to link up using only one cartridge. One game forces you to quickly make change for a customer . . . without using a cash register! Good luck, Starbucks trainees.

9)All-Pro Football 2K8 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, August). Sure, millions will run and snap up the latest Madden, but it's kinda hard to call EA's annual tweak-and-polish jobs “anticipated.” Enter All-Pro Football 2K8, which sports a gimmick even casual football fans can get excited about: Assemble your dream team out of the greatest players in history. Want to see what it looks like to have John Elway lob one to O.J. Simpson? Or how about throwing a circa 1963 Mike Ditka in there? Too bad you can't assemble an all-star list of cheerleaders, too.

8)Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition (Wii, June). If Hollywood had wanted to get a Resident Evil movie right, they could have simply ditched Paul W.S. Anderson and experienced 2005's game of the year, Resident Evil 4. The nearly flawless, terrifying action-shooter returns in Special Edition form this summer on the Wii, this time utilizing the console's “point and shoot” controller. The only thing not scary about this rerelease is the price: $29.99. Even for a zombie, that's a no-brainer.

7)The Darkness (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, June). The Darkness has one of those wonderfully bizarre plots that only a video game born of a comic book can provide: Mafia hitman Jackie Estacado receives an entirely unexpected “gift” on his 21st birthday—supernatural demonic powers. Just go with it.

Silly as it sounds, the gameplay we've seen so far looks intriguing as you take on enemies with an amusing-looking mix of the conventional (machine guns, knives) and the mystical (flinging cars around with dark tentacles growing out of your back). Your powers are recharged by staying in shadows, which could add a tactical flavor to the chaos.Oh, and speaking of “flavor”: you can also regain power by having your toothy demonic appendages gobble down the hearts of freshly dead foes.

6)Manhunt 2 (Wii, July). From the very start, anyone wanting a little hardcore sex and violence in their video games would have been hard-pressed to find it on the (initially) family-friendly Wii. Resident Evil 4will undoubtedly change that a little bit, but in Manhunt 2, you'll finally see what the Wii remote and nunchaku are really for: cutting off a maniac's balls with a chainsaw. And that's only one of several über-violent “snip, snip” torture scenes that would have Jason Voorhees feeling sick to his stomach. Until we get Hostel: The Game, this one's gonna rule.

5)Blue Dragon (Xbox 360, August). If there's one area in which the Xbox 360 is lacking, it's the genre of the Japanese role-playing game. Fortunately, Blue Dragon is only months away, and it has a better pedigree than a show dog: Designed by Hironobu Sakaguchi (creator of the Final Fantasy series), scored by Nobuo Uematsu (responsible for Chrono Trigger's classic music) and featuring the art of Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball Z), the team reads like an otaku's wet dream. Figure in an interesting real-time combat system and visuals that vaguely resemble Rankin/Bass stop-motion, and it's hard to imagine how this game won't be awesome.

4)Mario Party 8 (Wii, May). The Wii is sure to breathe new life into this party with an innovative controller that opens up a ton of possibilities—such as swinging it like a lasso. Over 65 new mini-games (some utilizing your personalized “Mii” avatar) are promised, along with a ton of unlockable extras. For those disappointed with the drab and lifeless Wii Play, or the long load times of Rayman: Raving Rabbids, this is the mini-game party title of the year. The only downside? When Mario throws a party, it's always BYOB. He's kind of a cheap-ass like that.

3)BioShock (Xbox 360, August). BioShock's teaser trailer is as shocking as it is intriguing: Deep in a water-logged ruin, a young girl is cornered by a man with a monkey wrench, at which point a lumbering being in what appears to be a diving suit violently intervenes on her behalf. The twist? Apparently you play as the little girl's attacker. Why you would do such a thing is a mystery to be solved by playing, one of many in a game that supposedly draws heavily from—of all things—the works of Ayn Rand.

2)Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii, August). Nintendo's epic, action-packed space opera returns with a brand-new, kick-ass control scheme thanks to—you guessed it—the Wii remote and nunchaku. Combine this with a dramatic story line and one of Nintendo's most memorable soundtracks, and you've got The Legend of Zelda in space. And we'll take a hot girl with a gun for an arm over an elf in a green tunic any day.

1)Lair (PlayStation 3, July). With each passing day, PlayStation 3 owners get a little more pissy over the fact their $600 console only has a handful of games worth playing (a very small handful—think Smurf-sized). Well, things are about to make a dragon-sized turnaround. Lairputs the player in the saddle of a fire-breather, fighting in an all-out war that has engulfed your fantasy kingdom. Your dragon can stomp around the battlefield just as easily as it takes to the skies to rain fire down on your enemies below, and most levels will require the player to do both.

With the game being developed by Factor 5—the brains behind the venerated Star Wars: Rogue Squadron games—it's safe to say the air combat will deliver. But most exciting are the sprawling next-gen battlefields you soar over, all miles-wide yet detailed down to the last pitchfork-wielding peasant. Finally, a game that reminds PS3 owners why they've been eating ramen for six months.

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