A New Dawn

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Christmas is a time when all good little gamers can get some quality button bashing in – in-between peace on earth and family stuff of course. But now it's 2003 and a year of work stretches before us. This is not aided by long winter nights and cold winter mornings, unless you live somewhere hot, in which case pipe down.

If only there was some sort of gamer hibernation program that meant we get to huddle up in front of consoles and PCs for the winter months.

Fear not dear playmates, although I paint a gloomy picture thus far, all is not lost. Just think, a new year means a whole new batch of games coming our way. Two weeks into January and things are already looking good. Read on for a list of things to look forward to in the year to come.

Advance gaming

You may recall the loss of my GBA towards the end of last year. Loss!? Pah! They stoles it from us, tricksy, thieving"Anyway, the point is I cunningly delayed buying a replacement and voila! Good old Ninty has announced the release of the Game Boy Advance SP.

Yes kids, those thieving gypsies actually did me a favour. I can now buy an SP without feeling guilty about excessive consumer spending on electrical goods – hoorah!

The GBA SP (in case you haven't already heard) is a redesign of the current GBA and is destined to redress the mistakes Nintendo made first time around. First things first, this GBA revamp has an integral front screen light – at last we cry! No more sitting on the floor under a lamp in the corner of the room, getting backache and thinking, "I really should vacuum more often", which has to be a good thing.

On the inside it's pretty much the same as the original GBA, but on the outside it's all grown up. The new incarnation looks more like the world's smallest laptop than a handheld. At only 24.3mm thick and 84.6mm front to back and 82mm wide, this machine really can fit in your pocket.

Save your batteries for your remote control cars because the SP has a rechargeable lithium affair similar to a mobile phone. The only drawback being if you import the charger will have the wrong plug. With the light on expect over 10 hours of play and around 18 hours without light. Sounds good to me.

The flip-top screen and metallic finish definitely gives the SP adult appeal. You never know it might actually sell this time – stranger things have happened. And with a price tag of $99 or between £80 and £90, I'll be getting one. The GBA SP (it definitely wins biggest abbreviation, second only to MMORPG) is available in the US March 23rd and brings up the rear in Europe on March 28th. It's a small wait for "Oh my God, I can actually see" style gaming.

Meanwhile, back with the rest of the gaming world"

There are a fair few things to keep us occupied over the coming months. New Year is a time for making lists, so here's mine – who am I to shun the list-making tradition?

PS2

Our favourite fan heater had a bumper year in 2002, so it'll be quite a feat if it manages to maintain Sony's Midas touch – somehow I don't think they're worried.

Devil May Cry 2

This has got to be worth waiting for. The teaser trailers and wallpapers have started filtering through and I don't mind saying I'm excited. This is the one to watch for superb, ultra playable gameplay – ooh, and it looks pretty damn good too. Hackneyed Matrix style camera work aside, Dante's got a cool new lady friend and the environments look awesome.

XIII

The latest in the raft of stealth-em-ups "with a difference." This time it's based on a comic, so hopefully the story will be sorted. The graphics feature our old pal, cel-shading. I know, it all sounds a bit nothing new there then, but the stuff I saw at ECTS looked promising. It's definitely on my must play list.

Xbox

The jolly green (well mostly black) giant has managed to stand up to the critics and the competition over the past year, but I'm hoping 2003 will show us exactly what it can do.

DOA Extreme Beach Volleyball

I've said it before and I'll say it again, this game looks awesome. It's got girls and bikinis and frankly, anything that staves off my cravings for DOA4 has got to be a good thing. Is it just cashing in on cheap titillation"er yeah, probably, but since when was that a bad thing? I just hope it's not all beauty and no brains.

Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon

This promises to be Mr. Cecil at his finest as he finally brings George Stobbard into a fully 3D world. With Charles Cecile at the helm, this is definitely going to have the most compelling story line of anything else we'll see this year. It's been a long time coming and is certainly my most eagerly anticipated game.

N.U.D.E

Okay, so there's no release date even pencilled in for Japan yet, but I want to put it on my list. Jeez, indulge me, this is MY column after all.

Gamecube

Poor old GC, you can't help but feel a bit sorry for it. No matter how Nintendo fiddle the figures, it's just not doing as well as they would have liked. It wasn't all bad though because they did have Metroid and Pikmin — and Mario Sunshine probably didn't do them any harm either. As far as 2003 goes I have one word and one word only"

Zelda

So there we have it, the ultimate wish list for 2003. If you're not happy with this lot then your world must be a bleak and desperate place, and I'd rather you stayed there.

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