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Anniversary aftermath: Next year's awesome games that you forgot about

Eric Caoili

We spent yesterday going through the big releases that've been announced for next year so far -- Smash Bros. Brawl and/or Wii Fit likely topping your personal "must get" list -- but what about the second-tier games that don't usually receive much press or attention?

Though we haven't forgotten about the low-key releases, we've collected a selection of games and media to ensure that these titles stay on your mind too! Read on for our top ten list of awesome 2008 games that you totally forgot about!

1. Oboro Muramasa Youtouden (TBA 2008)
Publisher/Developer: Marvelous Interactive/Vanillaware

This 2D ARPG from Vanillaware, the same developer behind Odin Sphere and GrimGrimoire for the PS2, puts almost every 3D game on the Wii to shame with its gorgeous scenery. Two playable characters have been revealed -- Kisuke, a young ninja with amnesia, and Momohime, a katana-wielding girl dressed in a kimono. Oboro Muramasa Youtouden will support both traditional and "casual" controls, the latter likely using the remote's motion-sensing features.

2. Monster Lab (June 2008)
Publisher/Developer: Eidos/Backbone Entertainment

We bet you completely forgot about this one! Monster Lab has you customizing up to 150 abominations to send into turn-based battles against other monsters (think Tim Burton meets Pokemon). Backbone Entertainment will provide a full suite of online features for you to play with -- multiplayer battles, creature trading, downloadable content, and photo sharing.

3. Civilization: Revolution (Q3 2008)
Publisher/Developer: 2K Games/Firaxis

Any PC gamer worth their salt should already be familiar with the Civilization franchise. For over fifteen years now, Sid Meier's strategy games have stolen countless nights from us with its addictive empire-building experience. Civilization: Revolution continues that tradition on the Wii, bringing with it a "streamlined time scale for quicker play" and online multiplayer matches.

Gallery: Civilization Revolution | 5 Photos

4. Nitrobike (TBA 2008)
Publisher/Developer: Ubisoft/Left Field Productions

Though it doesn't bear the Excite name, Nitrobike might as well be the motocross sequel to Excitebike 64. Left Field Productions handled development on Excitebike 64 and claims that Nitrobike will be five times as fast as its predecessor. Those who've had some hands-on time with the game describe it as "Excite Truck with bikes," which is fitting, considering that Excite Truck feels like Excitebike with trucks! As for online features, Nitrobike will track your records and allow races for up to six players.

5. Kiki Kai World (TBA 2008)
Publisher/Developer: UFO Entertainment/Starfish SD

The spiritual successor to the SNES's Pocky & Rocky, Kiki Kai World is a fast-paced, arcadey "cute-em-up" in which you vanquish evil spirits in ancient Japan with talismans and a purification rod. It's as fun as it is wacky, and you can bring along a friend in this adventure's cooperative mode!

6. Project O (TBA 2008)
Publisher/Developer: Marvelous Interactive/Cing and Town Factory

If only there were more Pikmin-styled RTS games! Project O puts you, a timid boy/king, in charge of a growing kingdom. You'll cultivate the surrounding area, build essential structures, and lead your subjects in battle against a variety of threats -- mushroom men, spicy dragons, and ... evil cows!

7. Ninja Reflex (TBA 2008)
Publisher/Developer: Electronic Arts/TBA

We know absolutely nothing about this game, save the fact that it exists, but with a title like Ninja Reflex, how can you go wrong? Is it, as Siliconera suggests, a Flash Focus-styled release with a stealth-assassin theme? Or perhaps it's a game in which you have to put a Michael Dudikoff movie into your DVD player as quickly as possible. If that's the case, then we've already won, as American Ninja 2 has never left our DVD player.

8. Blast Works: Build, Fuse & Destroy (Q1 2008)

Publisher/Developer: Majesco/Budcat Creations

Blast Works is actually an upgraded port of TUMIKI Fighters, Kenta Cho's side-scrolling freeware shooter for the PC. Your ship starts off as a simple lump of blocks, but you can absorb chunks that you've blown from your enemies to upgrade the craft. The Wii version of this abstract shoot-em-up adds a two-player cooperative mode, a robust editor mode, and online support (leaderboards and ship/level trading).


9. Bully: Scholarship Edition (February 1, 2008)
Publisher/Developer: Rockstar Games/Rockstar Vancouver

This Scholarship Edition of Rockstar's boarding school sandbox game improves on last year's PlayStation 2 release with new content. With motion controls likely added as well, this could end up being the definitive version of Bully, similar to The Godfather: Blackhand Edition. Considering its award-winning script and upcoming February release, we're surprised that more people aren't talking about this one!

10. Dr. Mario's Virus Buster (TBA 2008)
Publisher/Developer: Nintendo/Nintendo

If you love Dr. Mario, as any person worth a damn should, the updates Nintendo has planned for this puzzler will flutter your heart -- Mii support, online matches, and a four-player mode. Forget FFCC: The Young King and the Promised Land, this is the Wii Ware downloadable game we're looking forward to the most.

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