Shippin' Out 9/4-9/8: Test Drive Unlimited, NASCAR, Spy Hunter

Sim racing, open-online racing, combat racing lead this week's releases; LocoRoco does whatever a LocoRoco does on the PSP, and Scramble comes to 360s.

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Game publishers may have it in for school-going gamers. Ever since back-to-school sales started and the prospect of returning to the classroom has been on the horizon, new, anticipated games have hit retail shelves--just in time to interfere with homework.

August saw the releases of Dead Rising, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, Saints Row, and some game about football. September isn't looking like a slouch, either, with the month's first full week featuring a trio of driving games to suit almost any racing fan's fancy.

In pole position is the stock car sim NASCAR 07 from Electronic Arts. The only game licensed by the popular racing circuit steers onto the PlayStation 2 and Xbox and adds new features to emphasize the strategy of team-based racing. NASCAR 07 is rated E for Everyone and sells for $39.99. The PlayStation Portable version, simply titled NASCAR, is also available this week.

For those who would rather cruise the coast of Hawaii than turn left all day, Atari is offering up Test Drive Unlimited for the Xbox 360. The "massively open online racing" game lets drivers explore part of the US's 50th state at their leisure and challenge other gamers to races on the spot. Test Drive Unlimited is rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older, retails for $39.99, and ships with a 48-hour trial of Xbox Live Gold.

If road rage is your thing, Midway Games' Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run may be up your alley. The game is an update to the Spy Hunter arcade classic and stars Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson and his Swiss Army car, The Interceptor. The primarily mission-based driving game will also see players get out of the car for third-person melee combat. Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run is rated T for Teen and retails for $39.99.

The week's other notable release, LocoRoco for the PSP, is a 2D platformer that features a round, orange blob as its hero. Gamers tilt the screen's perspective with the handheld's shoulder buttons and let gravity do its work on the protagonist as it eats, gets bigger, and divvies up into smaller blobs. LocoRoco is rated E for Everyone and retails for $39.99.

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

SEPTEMBER 4, 2006
Perimeter: Emperor's Testament (PC)
The Secret Files: Tunguska (PC)

SEPTEMBER 5, 2006
Jaws Unleashed (PC)
Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run (PS2, Xbox)
Test Drive Unlimited (X360)
LocoRoco (PSP)
Guilty Gear Judgment (PSP)
Xbox Live Arcade Unplugged Volume 1 (X360)
World Championship Poker: Featuring Howard Lederer - All In (PSP)
Yakuza (PS2)

SEPTEMBER 6, 2006
American McGee Presents: Bad Day L.A. (PC)
NASCAR (PSP)
NASCAR 07 (PS2, Xbox)
DIRT - Origin of the Species (PC)
Scramble (X360)

SEPTEMBER 8, 2006
Silent Heroes (PC)

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