Winner: Red Steel
Ubisoft | Wii
Flashback: April 2006. All we know about Nintendo's next system is that it's got some kind of tilty-whirly controller and potentially outdated hardware. Then some game called Red Steel comes along with crisp, clean visuals and a hard-boiled Yakuza setting. Based on early pictures and reports, this was going to single-handedly sell the Wii come November. It went from unknown to must-have in about a day.
Then people started playing it. Turns out those initial images were doctored to high hell, as the graphics ended up looking, well, like a GameCube game. The aiming was crap, the computer was mindless and the much-anticipated sword fighting parts felt tacked-on at best. The entire package failed to live up to the hype in every way. But there was still time until the Wii's release...
The developers told us everything was getting fixed. Cut from our first taste in May to launch day in November and guess what? The onetime system seller was a junker. Not a horrible mess, mind you - just an average, uninspired blaster that neglected to bring one new trick to the table.
Collateral Damage: Ninety-Nine Nights
Microsoft | Xbox 360
Getting people excited for this game is one of the best marketing stunts of 2006. It looked mediocre the whole damn time, but the 360's rising star cast a blinding glare; while vague help from Lumines -man Tetsuya Mizuguchi tricked us into thinking a tired formula could be reborn. Oops. While we're at it, we're not so hot on slaughtering women and children, either.