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The Week Ahead - 27/07/07

Feature: One game (two versions) to rule than all...

Now the Manhunt 2 controversy has died down Nintendo is able to sneak its most violent game onto the shelves - Pokemon Diamond/Pearl. Well, think about it: training creatures to fight tooth and claw in small arenas. Bear baiting and cock-fighting was banned in this country years ago you know. And that's before we get onto spraying innocent woodland creatures with chemicals. Sounds suspiciously like Rohypnol to us.

Other than this pearl among games there's very little else to crow about. Both Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80s and Rugby 08 are well worth a look if you're a fan of the genres but at least take solace in the fact there's now over 500 species to find in Pokemon. So that should keep you occupied for a month or two.

The complete list of games released in the UK this week (27/07/07):

  • American Chopper 2: Full Throttle, PS2, Zoo Digital
  • Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers, DS, THQ
  • Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80s
  • Pokemon Diamond/Pearl, DS, Nintendo
  • Rugby 08, PC/PS2, EA
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Pokemon Diamond/Pearl (DS)

The first 'proper' Pokemon game on DS has been available since April in the US and received rave reviews pretty much everywhere, with some justification. If you've never quite been won over by its charm or look at screenshots and think it's a bit childish then shame on you. Yes, the format is still the same - you travel around a verdant wonderland collecting and training up creatures to fight battles on your behalf - but once you get hooked into the collecting dynamic it's irresistible. And believe us, this is the perfect game for short journeys - just flip open the DS to tinker around with your evolving Pokemon or enter a quick battle to boost their stats.

And collect-a-holics will be delighted to hear there are now over 500 species to find, all drawn and animated with Game Freak's inimitable charm. Firm favourites such as Gyrados, Kadabra and Meowth return with 107 new creatures, such as Piplup, Chimchar and Mime Jr., now available to add to your pokedex. Superb Wi-Fi options such as the ability to go-head-to-head online (for the first time ever) or trade your Pokemon with people on your friends list round off a deep and rewarding package.

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Guitar Hero: Rock the 80s (PS2)

Listing some of the tracks available will be enough to whet your appetite: I Ran - Flock of Seagulls, Turning Japanese - The Vapors, I Wanna Rock - Twisted Sister, Wrathchild - Iron Maiden, plus tracks by the Police, Anthrax, Skid Row and Dead Kennedys. There's 30 classic 80s tunes in all with extra venues, characters and guitars to unlock. Though not a full blown sequel this expansion should be powerful enough to keep you rocked out until Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock or Harmonix's Rock Band emerge later in the year. (Guitar Hero II pictured)

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Guilty Gear: Dust Strikers (DS)

It's been out in Japan and the US since last year and eventually flops onto our shores like a lost, exhausted whale. This beat 'em up tries to use the dual-screen in an innovative way by presenting the fights vertically but it simply doesn't work. Add to this the simplicity of the moves - repeatedly tapping 'A' will build up your combos for most characters - and you have a game that simply can't compete with the many other 2D fighters around. In a slow week, this is one to definitely avoid.

Rugby 08 (PC/PS2)

This may be a bit of a niche sport but since taking on the franchise EA has been gradually improving it year on year. And let's not forget the Rugby World Cup kicks off this September. This is undoubtedly the best with the ease of passing and tackling notably improved adding greater flow to the game. You can play through the gruelling six-week Rugby World Cup campaign in France or get stuck into classic matches dating back to 1987. With new set-piece, maul, scrum and rotational controls this is every rugby fans dream, but it's also accessible enough for those who have no idea what position the hooker plays in.

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