Shippin' Out August 13-17: Madden, Metroid, Hexic 2

The second-half of 2007 game blitz kicks off this week, as Electronic Arts officially puts its annual footballer in the game.

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This week, the end-of-year-release onslaught kicks off with EA Sports' Madden NFL 08 blitz of retail shelves on Tuesday. This year's improvements to the franchise of franchise's gameplay include a newly redesigned branching animation system and a heavier emphasis on the "weapons," or outstanding players, on each team.

Having apparently slimmed down during the off-season, Madden 08 will only be appearing on 10 platforms this year. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions lead the price pack at $59.99, with the PlayStation 2 and Wii versions running for $49.99; the PC, Mac, PlayStation Portable, GameCube, and Xbox versions for $39.99; and the Nintendo DS version for $29.99. For the play-by-play on this year's game, be sure to tune in to GameSpot's Madden NFL 08 Launch Center for this week's gameplay marathon, as well as reviews, previews, trailers, and more.

For those looking to sidestep the Madden rush, this week also sees a number of new handheld and console games coming to market. On the handheld front, Kuju Entertainment plays dungeon master in Dungeons & Dragons Tactics on the PSP, while Coyote Console attempts to find a happy middle between modern-day warfare and WWII shooters with Operation: Vietnam for the DS. Also on the DS, Image Epoch's tactical turn-based strategy Luminous Arc hits retail shelves. With its school supplies now properly in tow, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 on the PS2 also reemerges this week.

The downloadable games machine continues to churn on the Wii and Xbox 360, as well. Gearing up for Samus Aran's debut on the Wii with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on August 27, Nintendo has dedicated its Virtual Console updates this month to the Metroid series. Fittingly, the original Metroid is first out of the gate and is available for 500 Wii points ($5). Joining the heavily armored heroine will be Climax Entertainment's Sega Genesis dungeon-crawler Shining in the Darkness for 800 Wii points ($8) and Hudson's labyrinthine actioner for the TurboGrafx-16, Cratermaze, for 600 Wii points ($6).

Appearing this Wednesday on Microsoft's downloadable game service will be a time-traveling dolphin and a mind-bending puzzler. While Carbonated Games' original Hexic came part and parcel with the Xbox 360 Premium package, Hexic 2 will cost all Xbox 360 owners 800 Microsoft points ($10). Already available for the Wii's Virtual Console, Novatrade's Ecco the Dolphin rides the tide onto Xbox Live this Wednesday for 400 Microsoft points ($5).

This week's new releases are listed below (list taken from retailer information--actual dates may vary).

AUGUST 13, 2007
Metroid (Wii)
Shining in the Darkness (Wii)
Cratermaze (Wii)

AUGUST 14, 2007
Madden NFL 08 (X360, Xbox, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, DS, GC, PC, Mac)
Dungeons & Dragons Tactics (PSP)
Operation: Vietnam (DS)
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (PS2)
Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon (DS)
Luminous Arc (DS)
Heroes of Mana (DS)
Billy the Wizard: Rocket Broomstick Racing (Wii)
Fatal Fury: Battle Archives Volume 1 (PS2)
High School Musical: Makin' the Cut (DS)
Book of Mysteries (PC)
Mystery Solitaire: Secret Island (PC)
Prank TV (PC)
7 Wonders of the Ancient World 2 (PC)
1914 Shells of Fury (PC)

AUGUST 15, 2007
Hexic 2 (X360)
Ecco the Dolphin (X360)
ATV/Monster Truck Mayhem (DS)

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