Shippin' Out August 11-15: Madden

Opening day for year-end gaming onslaught commences, with Favre-covered footballer joined by Space Siege, Bionic Commando Rearmed, Bangai-O, Fable II Pub Games.

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In a little more than three months time, gamers will have successfully navigated the holiday 2008 shopping season and gained unfettered access to such games as Gears of War 2, Resistance 2, MotorStorm 2, Fable II, and Mercenaries 2 along the way. That holiday season kicks off aptly this week with the traditional mid-August launch of Electronic Arts' flagship football franchise, Madden NFL.

As is customary, EA Sports will be hitting all applicable marks with its annualized football sim, with one notable exception. Madden NFL 09 will be available this Tuesday on the Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Wii, and Nintendo DS. However, the PC edition will be benched for the season to give the developer time to retool its online connectivity, according to EA Sports chief Peter Moore. The Xbox 360 and PS3 $90 special-edition bundles will also contain NFL Head Coach 09, which will see a stand-alone release on September 2.

Check GameSpot's Madden NFL 09 Launch Center later today for the full review of this year's edition, as well as a special Twenty Years of Madden feature.

Publishers typically steer clear of EA Sports' annual juggernaut, but the game won't march to retailers alone this week. Of note, Chris Taylor's Gas Powered Games has hit the switch on Space Siege, a spiritual successor to the developer's 2002 action role-playing game Dungeon Siege. Also a relic of the future, Bangai-O Spirits will bring its fast-paced shoot-'em-up action to the DS this week, courtesy of D3 Publisher and Ikaruga developer Treasure.

Perhaps the stiffest competition that EA Sports will run up against this week comes by way of each console maker's digital storefront. With Capcom and GRIN at work on a fully reimagined Bionic Commando, the two have also teamed on a revamp of the classic 1988 side-scrolling platformer. Available on Xbox Live Arcade this Wednesday and on the PlayStation Network a day later, Bionic Commando Rearmed costs $10 (800 Microsoft points).

Fable II Pub Games is the second significant addition to Microsoft's online platform this week. The casino-style minigame compilation, which lets gamers earn cash that can then be transferred to Lionhead Studios' upcoming Xbox 360-exclusive action RPG Fable II, can be had for 800 Microsoft points ($10). Participating retailers will also be including the game gratis as a preorder incentive for Fable II.

As made famous by Homestarrunner.com, Strong Bad will make his gaming debut in the first installment of Telltale Games' latest episodic-adventure series, Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People: Homestar Ruiner. The vehemently obtuse pugilist will retail for $8.95 on the PC, with the edition for Nintendo's WiiWare Channel clocking in at a dollar more for 1,000 Wii points ($10). Billiards simulator Break In (700 Wii points, $7) and Star Soldier spoof Star Parodier (900 Wii points, $9) round out Nintendo's digital offerings.

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

AUGUST 11, 2008
Break In (Wii VC)
Star Parodier (Wii VC)
Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner (WiiWare, PC)

AUGUST 12, 2008
Bangai-O Spirits (DS)
Dracula 3: Path of the Dragon (PC)
Imagine Teacher (DS)
Madden NFL 09 (X360, Xbox, PS3, PS2, PSP, DS)
Madden NFL 09 All-Play (Wii)
Sinking Island (PC)
Space Siege (PC)
The Cheetah Girls: Passport to Stardom (DS)

AUGUST 13, 2008
Bionic Commando Rearmed (XBLA)
Fable II Pub Games (XBLA)

AUGUST 14, 2008
Bionic Commando Rearmed (PSN)

AUGUST 15, 2008
Baseball Mogul 2009 (PC)
Ford Racing: Off Road (PC)

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