Think your wallet is safe now that the holidays are past? Think again! With more than a few game makers taking the safe route out of Q4, that only means more games fighting for your dollar the rest of the year. I easily found 20 great looking sequels and original IPs coming out for every console and handheld, all releasing before April 1st.

Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop – January 20

Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop looks to be making some trade offs on coming to the Wii, but they look to be trade offs worth making: lower fidelity graphics in return for tight light gun-esqe shooting, downloadable content in trade for a save system that’s just a tad bit more forgiving. With the promise of the same ridiculous amount of zombies on screen and the ability to still use just about anything in the mall as a weapon,Wii gamers look to be off to a good start in 2009.

Skate 2 – January 21

Simply from personal experience, I’m really looking forward to this one. I’m not one for sports games; in fact, before I played Skate I had never bought a game in the genre. This series changed that by being both truer to the real thing and more accessible for newcomers. The deep, addictive, and intuitive skating mechanic and a huge open world return from the original while a newly added camera and ability to walk up stairs just about solves all my problems with the original game.

Demigod – Q1 2009

A mix of the RTS and Action-RPG genres, Demigod is looking very promising. A project of passion coming from Gas Powered Games, the games mix of tactical team based strategy and your hero unit’s abilities and equipment make for a very entertaining multiplayer experience. An interesting art style makes the game into an even more original experience for PC gamers to look forward to. Another plus: Stardocks no DRM policy means no Spore/Bioshock style debacles.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin – February 10

You don’t have to worry, Monolith understands why you probably aren’t as interested in this game as you should be. Just remember how amazing the first one was and know that Monolith is taking something of a Gears of War 2 style sequel: bigger, badder, and more bad ass. A much improved graphics engine, more enemy variety, more destructive bullet play, and a more open environment to explore. And of course, this game is probably going to be the scariest thing you play this year.

LocoRoco 2 – February 10

LocoRoco was one of the most original games to come out on Sony’s platform and while the idea of a sequel might take away from the games initial creativity, LocoRoco 2 looks to bring a serious amount of new content to the franchise. Minigames, multiplayer, and an expansive new campaign work out to an abundance of charming new LocoRoco content for game starved PSP owners.

Street Fighter IV – February 17

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix not enough for you? Well you’re about to get another injection of classic fighting and stellar new HD visuals in Sreet Fighter IV. Nearly the entire cast is here, drawn in a flowing, fluid, cel-shaded style that looks simply stunning in motion. Series stalwarts don’t have to worry about to big a break from the past as the game is still supposed to play just the classics.

The Sims 3 – February 20

Feeling a little disappointed by Will Wrights last outing? Return to his former genius in the sequel to the real life simulation phenomenon, The Sims 3. With more customizable Sims and a focus on the new open neighborhood, The Sims 3 will give players control over even more emergent situations. Entire neighborhoods worth of relationships will grow with your family meaning grudges can now last lifetimes ( just like in real life!). Also look for an expanded building/decorating mode and the end of having to tell your Sims to go to the bathroom!

Dawn of War II – February 23

Dawn of War II is taking what developer Relic learned in Company of Heroes and applying it to the original Dawn of War. Dawn of War II focuses almost exclusively on combat and tactics (instead of base building and resource gathering) so that players are more involved and attached to each of their specific squads, which are now extremely customizable. Likely to have the best multiplayer RTS gameplay this side of Starcraft II, strategy gamers already have a lot to look forward to in 2009.

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix – February 24

It’s a puzzle based RPG… in space! The sequel to the addictive Puzzle Quest, Galactrix moves the series not only into space, but also into a hex based grid puzzle with some interesting gravity based gameplay. Based on where you are, puzzle pieces might fall down (near a planet) or based on inertia (in space), so your tactics will change depending on the environment. This one is nearly guaranteed to take up space in your portable for months to come.

Killzone 2 – February 27

Killzone 2 has had quite the storied road to development. An amazing, photo-realistic teaser trailer that hyped everyone up. Then the first real video brought everyone back down to earth. Then new real video started coming out, video that almost, just about reached that infamous trailer. Suddenly it looked as though developers Gorilla might actually do it and not just in the graphics department: an impressive class-based multiplayer component looks like it could take PSN by storm.

Halo Wars – March 3

Halo fanboys may not end up liking this console strategy game as much as their messianic FPS, but that doesn’t mean this console RTS won’t be a fantastic entry in the fledgling genre. With developer Ensemble’s pedigree behind it and strong word of mouth from those that have tried it, Halo Wars might just do for console RTS’s what Halo did for console FPS’s; making it feel right with a controller in your hands.

Empire: Total War – March 3

It’s about time a historic RTS puts some focus on swashbuckling naval combat, which is exactly what Creative Assembly’s next entry in the Total War series promises to do. With more of the excellent real-time tactical combat and overarching turn based campaign map, all based in the revolutionary 1700’s, Empire: Total War looks to continue the PC’s stampede of excellent strategy games in 2009.

Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard – March 3

A parody game based on classic action game stereotypes is a good idea. A marketing campaign that lampoons the entire history of an imaginary video game characters repertoire from retro roots, to revolutionary 3D, to a cash-in cart racer is a great idea. A game that does all of that and uses Will Arnett and Neil Patrick Harris as voice actors is a freakin’ fantastic idea. Lets just hope the gameplay lives up to the games awesome premise.

Peggle: Dual Shot – March 3

If you haven’t played Peggle before, I’m going to help you out; DON’T. The ridiculously addictive take on the Japanese gambling device Pachinko, Peggle will quickly take over your ever spare minute. Stupidly easy but deceptively compelling, with Peggle coming to the portable platform even more of your time will be stolen away, bouncing little metal balls on blue and orange pegs, Odes to Joy singing in your head, never stopping, never ending…

Mad World – March 10

Just look at that picture. Now look at that fan. You get to throw people into that fan. You also get to stab people with street signs and crush people with spikes, all while looking super-spiffy in stark black and white. Now that’s how you make a Wii game.

Resident Evil 5 – March 13

Does this one really need an introduction? Zombies! Chainsaw-Monsters! Co-op Gameplay! Wesker! Why isn’t this out yet!?

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars – March 17

The biggest surprise coming out of last years Nintendo E3 keynote, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for the DS is looking surprisingly good. A Liberty City that is “far bigger” than the PSP GTA’s and a more stylized art direction look to make the game distinct in the series while touch controls for jacking cars will take advantage of the DS’s touch screen capabilities. Rockstar impressed with two fully fledged outings on one portable: let’s hope they can do it again on the DS.

Trackmania DS – March 17

The easiest way to get introduced to the Trackmania series is to just download and play the completely free version available here. Done? Okay, now you understand why the arcadey racer will find itself pretty well suited to the Nintendo DS. Perhaps the best part is the potential for hundreds of extra tracks made in the fully fledged track editor; you can even trade these levels wirelessly with your friends, though only locally. Arcade racer fans should keep this game on their speed trap radar (ha!) come March.

Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure – March 17

EA’s done well for itself in the eyes of most gamers with a large amount of critically acclaimed and original games released in 2008. For one of their first original DS outings, EA is making a charming looking mash up of the puzzle and platforming genres that looks like a fantastic fit for the duel-screened portable. Colorfully animated platforming, combat puzzling, and an abundance of British-spoofery looks like it’ll be a smashing good time on the DS this spring.

Dragon Age: Origins – March 23

Seeing nothing else besides BioWare’s name on the box, most gamers would know that Dragon Age: Origins is a deep and engrossing RPG. A strong story and characters with some real depth are essentially a given, but BioWare is also promising some massive team based battles to fight in. Beautiful graphics and extremely well animated “digital actors” are just icing on this fantasy cake. Let’s just hope it looks a little less like Lord of the Rings and more like an original IP when it releases.

(Photos from the Joystiq Gallery)


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