Actors get Oscars, singers get Grammys and video games get awards from Boys’ Life: THE BOYSIES. The Boysies are dedicated to the age-old proverb that video games don’t have to be gross to be cool.
CATEGORY ONE: Best Console
The best video game console doesn’t need to be the most powerful. For this category, we’re closing in on what we think matters most: which console has the best games.
(Nintendo of America)
Nintendo’s goal has been to take gaming into a new world, and Wii has been a success. Having come out a year later than Xbox 360, Wii has overtaken the Microsoft console in sales, while leaving PS3 in the dust. Wii’s lead over the competition is especially notable, however, when it comes to family-friendly games.
CATEGORY TWO: Best Portable Game System
Games for cell phones have really improved, but they still can’t compete with dedicated portable game systems like DS and PSP. Like the race for best console, this is a battle between a powerful system and an innovative, less-expensive rival designed with the family in mind.
Winner: Nintendo DS
(Nintendo of America)
DS just keeps on rolling: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, Mario Party DS, Brain Age 2 and a really excellent version of Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground (rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older).
Nintendo’s portable boy’s screens are considerably lower resolution than the screen on PSP and the processor is weaker, yet somehow Nintendo makes the whole thing work. The truth is that it’s in the games. Too many PSP games feel like smaller versions of console games—and too many are made for adults.
CATEGORY THREE: Best Sports Game
Winner: Madden NFL 08
(Electronic Arts for GameCube, PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360, DS, PSP, Mac, PC)
Year in and year out, the Madden NFL series continues as the best of the best: great graphics, realistic action, a wide variety of plays, sharp controls, and enough levels of difficulty for both beginners and hardcore players.
Not all versions of Madden NFL are created equal. The Wii and DS versions are disappointing; the PS3 version had problems. When we say Madden NFL 08 is the sports game of the year, we mean Madden NFL on Xbox 360.
Runner-up: The Bigs
(2K Sports for PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP)
2K Sports has breathed a little extra life into baseball by picking up the pace of the game and adding a ton of mini games, making The Bigs a bit more entertaining than the more realistic baseball games of 2007. The Bigs isn’t bad on any platform, but it really is most fun on Xbox 360.
Runner-up: FIFA 08
(EA for PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS, PSP, PC)
Electronic Arts is the biggest publisher of games and the overall champ when it comes to sports, and FIFA 08 shows why. This soccer game is not easy, but it’s worth the trouble to learn it. It looks great and plays better than it looks. Just don’t expect to win any championships on your first try.
CATEGORY FOUR: Best Party Game/Collection
Winner: Rayman Raving Rabbids 2
(Ubisoft for Wii, DS; Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older)
This collection of 60+ mini games delivers on action and humor. The rabbids, which look like cartoon rabbits and act like zany maniacs, are the funniest characters in gaming today. It’s worth pointing out that this game is much more satisfying on Wii than DS.
Runner-up: Mario Party DS
(Nintendo for DS)
Overall, Mario Party DS probably has slightly better games than Raving Rabbids 2, but the sense of humor in Raving Rabbids was the decision maker. What Mario Party DS brings to the party is a story mode and a puzzle mode along with a collection of mini games.
Runner-up: Namco Museum Remix
(Bandai Namco for Wii)
Namco has taken nine classic arcade games and dressed them up with new graphics and altered gameplay to create a fun collection.
Runner-up: Viva Piñata Party Animals (Microsoft for Xbox 360)
Packed with 40 mini games — some good, some great, a few a bit disappointing — Viva Piñata Party Animals is a good package overall. Many of the mini games in this collection are not all that miniature, such as the cart racing game.
CATEGORY FIVE: Best Games of the Year
It’s been a good year, but not an especially great year for games. That said, the top two games of 2007 would make the “best of” list no matter what year they came out.
Console Winner: Super Mario Galaxy
(Nintendo for Wii)
If you’re looking for a game that reminds you why you started playing video games in the first place, here it is.
In Super Mario Galaxy, the powerful plumber chases bad boy Bowser across not just one galaxy but dozens. Mario transforms into a boo (ghost), a bee and his old two-dimensional self. The graphics are beautiful, the challenges endless, the fun nonstop.
Portable Winner: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
(Nintendo for DS)
Great Wind Waker-style cel-shaded graphics and a storyline that picks up where Wind Waker left off make this the portable game of the year.
Runner-up: LEGO Star Wars: The Compete Saga
(LucasArts Entertainment for PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, DS; Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older)
First of all, a word to LucasArts: Why isn’t this game on PS2, Xbox and PC?
LucasArts took all the deep gameplay goodness that made the previous two LEGO Star Wars games so great and combined them into one huge title. If you don’t already have LEGO Star Wars I or II, here’s your chance to relive all six Star Wars movies through the eyes of blocky little LEGO characters.