RELEASE: FALL 2007
THE SKINNY: Who thought raising a single-cell animal into a race of homemade creatures could be so exhilarating? Genius computer game maker Will Wright ("Sim City," "The Sims") did. In this thought-provoking simulation, players develop a microscopic creature into a race that can explore and colonize other worlds. Spore was the hit of the show and will likely take hold of players' imaginations the way "The Sims" did.
2 New Controllers
FORMAT: PlayStation Portable, Nintendo Wii
THE SKINNY: The one thing that hasn't changed in video gaming in more than a decade is how we play - with a joystick and buttons.
This winter, that all changes.
The newest controllers for the upcoming Nintendo Wii console and PlayStation 3 will involve not just button mashing but wrist twisting. The Wii controller looks like a remote control but contains motion sensors so it can be swung like a tennis racket or pointed at the TV like a gun. The PS3 controller has sensors, too, but looks like the old PS2 controller.
The only game to use Sony's new controller is from Salt Lake City-based Incognito, which uses it in the futuristic fighting-jet game "Warhawk." You can turn the controller, push it down or pull it up to simulate flying giant fighter jets.
Get ready to trade those twitching thumbs for tennis elbow.
3 NINTENDO DS LITE
RELEASE: June 11
THE SKINNY: What's not to like in the new version of Nintendo's best-selling portable gaming device: It's lighter, sleeker, easier to control and most important, has brighter, more detailed screens. The Nintendo DS should have been designed like this from the start, but to be fair, the company probably had to take some technological strides to make it happen. Either way, the DS Lite is sexier, more playable and at $129, a steal. Call this the iPod of portable gaming systems.
THE SKINNY: In an apocalyptic water world, players scour an abandoned city, fending off mutants and the like in a first-person game with role-playing elements. What makes it stand out? Amazing graphics with stunning water effects and an eerie backdrop that is part Edgar Allan Poe, part "Blade Runner."
5 SUPER MARIO GALAXY
FORMAT: Nintendo Wii RELEASE: TBA
THE SKINNY: The best Wii game on display was this new version of Mario, which introduces fresh gameplay elements in which players wiggle and point the controller to guide their favorite plumber from planet to planet. With its crisp, colorful graphics and original design, this could be the best new Mario game in years.
6 LOCO ROCO
FORMAT: PlayStation Portable,
THE SKINNY: This colorful, cartoonish game about a singing blob that rolls along a playful, grassy backdrop could be the most fun to ever grace this portable gaming system's screen. Players rock the backdrop left and right by using the shoulder buttons while the yellow blob rolls along to happy tunes. Sound corny? It actually plays great.
7 MASS EFFECT
THE SKINNY: The makers of "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" and "Jade Empire" have created a new science-fiction-based role-playing game that appears to have the same depth and intricate storyline as the earlier classics. But this time, new graphics make conversations between player and characters more emotional and realistic.
8 DOWNLOADABLE GAME SERVICES
THE SKINNY: All we've done for years is buy games on discs or cartridges. But when the Nintendo Wii is released in the late fall, you'll be able to download older, classic titles to memory cards for the system. Microsoft's Xbox360 already allows players to download arcade games to its hard drive, and Sony's PlayStation Portable will allow players to download old PS1 games for play on the mobile gaming unit. And GameTap is a service with more than 500 titles available to download and play on your home computer.
9 HEAVENLY SWORD
FORMAT: PlayStation 3
THE SKINNY: Not just another fighting title, this game is what it feels like to play in a scene from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Players hack and slash in a fantasy world with amazing, crisp graphics. And the fighting isn't just contained to the players' arena: You also can fly and grapple with your opponent "Dragon"-style.
10 Wii SPORTS
FORMAT: Nintendo Wii
THE SKINNY: This is a compilation of games for the new Wii controller that are quick, fun, easy to learn and hard to put down. What more can you ask? Play tennis, golf, baseball or fly a plane using the controller like a racket, a club or a bat. It doesn't give players a lot of control over the characters (in tennis, they move toward the ball automatically), but couch potatoes can finally stand up and get some exercise while playing a video game.
-Text by Vince Horiuchi