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The decade's most memorable moments in gaming

Microsoft buys Rare | September 2002

Every now and then a business-y news story comes along that makes us say: "Wha...? No way. That'd never f***ing happen." And this was one such occasion. Microsoft buying UK developer Rare was a massive deal and a hard one to believe. After all, this was the game maker that had given Nintendo fans such genuine classics as Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye, Banjo Kazooie and Perfect Dark over the years. It made zero sense that Nintendo would willingly sell one of the main ingredients of its magical mojo to the evil Microsoft empire.

At the time it was inconceivable that we would never again play a Rare title on a Nintendo home console. We were still getting used to the idea of Microsoft even being in the console business... and then this bombshell got dropped. If we ever wanted to play a decent game featuring anthropomorphised animals again, we'd have to do it on the X. That was difficult to swallow. As it turns out, Nintendo has done really rather well without Rare being on board and Microsoft must be wondering if it really was such a wise investment of $375 million.

The arrival of EyeToy | July 2003

We should have seen it coming, really. Sony's motion-sensitive camera peripheral had us all prancing around with our arms in the air and a smile on our faces. But instead of this passing as an impressive technical novelty, Nintendo realised the potential and the rest is history.

In EyeToy's defence, some games were really impressive, like the Virtua Fighter mini-game that allowed you to block, punch and kick in real-time, interacting almost seamlessly with a virtual opponent. Until you step towards the camera, that is, and become an all-powerful giant.

N-Gage gets released, mocked | October 2003

Chances are you remember the N-Gage for one thing and one thing only - side-talkin'. Yes, it was the cell-phone gaming handheld thing that made you look a complete twat and object of indefensible ridicule when it was used as a communication device. Its release was greeted with a piss-taking, side-talkin' meme.

Above: As demonstrated here, using the N-Gage made you look stupid

In researching this entry, we browsed the entire gallery on the side-talkin' site and we're pleased to say that - even after six years - it's still funny. Brighten your day and go see the side-talkin'.

Nintendo shows off Twilight Princess at E3 2004 | May 2004

The first half of the decade was quite the drama for Zelda fans. It kicked off at Nintendo's Space World event in 2000, when the company showed off some serious-styled footage of adult Link in a sword duel with Ganon. Fanboys went wild with happy and, although it was shown as a GameCube tech demo, they unanimously concluded that it was a first glimpse at a new in-development Zelda title.

A year later at Space World 2001, Miyamoto proudly debut the very cel-shaded, cartoony-looking Wind Waker. Fanboys went wild again, but this time it was the not-happy kind of wild. A lot of gamers quickly decided that they hated the style and thought that it looked like it was for little babies in nappies. They wanted the grown-up Zelda. As we know, happy candy-coloured Link has endured despite the early hate.

This intriguing soap-opera helps make our chosen 'Zelda trailer moment' all the more significant. This is the moment that realistic Link came home. This is the moment Miyamoto came on stage with a replica Link sword and shield. This is the moment when a roomful of Nintendo lovers jumped and shouted and whooped and screamed and pissed their pants and threw up horn signs like they were rocking with Bon Jovi. This is the moment:

Wii Fit and Wii Music never really elicited the same response, did they.

Nintendo reveals its new DS handheld | May 2004

No one was sure what to make of the DS when it was rolled out at E3 04. It was not the new handheld people were expecting. It was weird looking. It's approach to gaming was not conventional. General consensus on the show floor was that it would be embarrassed into submission by the awesome sexy power of Sony's PSP, which also made its debut at the show. Nintendo prattled on about revolutionizing the way people played games. But the early demos felt gimmicky and the touchy controls pointless.

Above: The DS as seen at E3 2004. The antithesis of sexy

The DS launched in the US six months after its E3 showing. The initial game line-up was underwhelming. Gamers were unconvinced and baffled in equal measure. A lot of shit games released in the following months with touch-screen, microphone-blowing nonsense shoehorned in didn't help matters. Was Nintendo's handheld crown finally slipping? Answer: No. At the last count, DS has sold 113 million.

J Allard | Exact date of metamorphosis unknown, but it was sometime in 2004

With the advent of the 360, the Xbox brand image shifted unrecognisably. What was once a chunky black breezeblock from the suits who made Windows became a sleek, sexy, modern piece of all-encompassing multimedia cool for everyone to share. But by far the most staggering transformation was that of Xbox front man J Allard, who made a startling overnight metamorphosis to follow suit.

Where once there was a chubby, nerdy-looking, balding corporate anyone, there now stood a sharp, trim, shaven-headed ambassador of hipster cool who looked, talked and dressed around 400 years younger than his predecessor. Many didn’t even believe he was the same man, and we’re still not entirely sure that we do. It was like the original Allard had been done away with and replaced by a shiny-headed alien pod person from the planet Awesomerthanyou.