Games of summer

It’s well understood that the summer season is generally the worst time of the year to be a gamer. All of the best releases are saved until fall, where a mad dash begins for holiday season sales.

It’s well understood that the summer season is generally the worst time of the year to be a gamer. All of the best releases are saved until fall, where a mad dash begins for holiday season sales. However, there are a few decent gems among most of the standard gaming boilerplates that the summer of 2007 is offering up. Here’s a breakdown by console of what you’ll want to play:

Nintendo Dual ScreenSurf’s UpUbiSoft EntertainmentReleased May 29 $39.99

If penguins and cheesy humor is your thing, you’ll enjoy the game version of Surf’s Up, an animated summer movie. The gameplay isn’t very engaging and the story leaves a lot to be desired, but a few mindless minutes with this game makes for some summer fun. The Nintendo DS is having the worst season of the major consoles this summer, so if you own one and get that new game itch, you’ll want to consider playing with a different system.

PlayStation PortableCrushSEGA of AmericaReleased May 29$34.99

If you have a PSP and enjoy puzzle games, you’ll want to buy Crush. Hell, if you like puzzle games and don’t own a PSP, you’ll want to buy a PSP and Crush along with it. To describe this game would take about 15 minutes, but in a nutshell, Crush is a puzzler set in a 3-D environment where the goal is to use blocks to “crush” the screen into a 2-D world. This action is supposed to save the story’s hero from insomnia. It may sound crazy, but it takes only a few plays before Crush will totally replace Tetris or Q-Bert as your favorite puzzler. It’s that good.

PlayStation 3Ninja Gaiden SigmaTecmo GamesReleases July 3$59.99

The newest installment in the Ninja Gaiden series will be a definite plus for the failing PS3 system. It revisits the story of Ryu Hayabusa and pushes the technical limits of the PS3 to the max. The graphics, sound and story are all based on the previous Ninja Gaiden Black game, released on Xbox, with components of the game being enhanced for the new system. Ryu’s large arsenal, which made the original game so much fun, is getting even bigger for Sigma. That means more fun and more killing. This game should be a flagship title for PS3, but it still doesn’t justify the exorbitant cost of one of Sony’s beastly machines.

PlayStation 2Guitar Heroes Encore: Rocks the 80sRedOctane GamesReleases July 17$39.99

If you already like the Guitar Hero series, this summer will make you happy. Hair metal will be injected into your guitar gaming goodness like silicone into Pamela Anderson’s rack. There’s nothing new about the gameplay here, given that Rocks the 80s isn’t a proper sequel, but mostly just a moneymaker for RedOctane Games. The soundtrack will feature, among others, “Holy Diver” by Dio and “Bang Your Head” by Quiet Riot, so get ready for some neck pain if you buy this one. You’ll be banging your head along as you mash the buttons, feeling like Jon Bon Jovi or David Lee Roth.

Xbox 360Madden NFL 08 EA SportsReleases Aug. 14$59.99

Another year, another great Madden football game. This has become the industry standard for electronic football and this year will push the bar up even further. The graphics are simply delicious, the gameplay feels as authentic as the real thing and the controls are nearly perfect–and that’s just based on early demo copies.

WiiMetroid Prime 3: CorruptionNintendoReleases Aug. 20$39.99

Hooray Nintendo! Metroid is now the third franchise in their illustrious history to make the 10-game mark, and wow, does this new one look stunning. The Metroid Prime sub-series has been nothing short of spectacular, and with the motion-capture Wii Remote, controlling Samus will take on a whole new level of fun. The graphics and sound will be similarly top-notch, though Nintendo has been fairly mum about story details. It’s no stretch of the imagination to call this game the best that summer will bring, so if you’re a Wii owner, pre-order it now.