5 Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) — 2.52 million
Running upside down! Seriously, if there’s a model for updating a decades old classic, this title is IT. Maintaining all the charms of the original Mario (i.e. jumping, coins, lava), Galaxy blasts players through outer space on a mission to rescue (who else?) Mario’s beloved Princess Peach from the dastardly Bowser (seriously, dude get a life). The coolest part about this title is a polished return to the 3D gameplay of such earlier installments Super Mario 64 and Sunshine which lets the little plumber bro (when is the last time he went to work?) run upside down, sideways, and any combination of the two through all sorts of nutty climates. Oh yeah, also it took home a prestigious BAFTA over seas for Best Game, and consistently ranks as such in various polls.
4 Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (PS2, Neversoft)
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (PS2, Neversoft) — 2.72 million One would think the PS3 hadn’t been invented yet considering the console’s absence from this list, but that doesn’t mean Sony was just sitting around with its thumb up its port. In the mid-2000s, gaming companies finally had a read on how to make cash off of non-gaming-gamers (more physical movement). The Guitar Hero franchise had steadily gained traction as a party game — a mix somewhere between karaoke and drumming on the steering wheel, so it made perfect sense to beef up the track list with more recognizable jammers. From Weezer to Santana, living rooms across the country rocked out to an even more amped up catalogue — plus got the chance to square off with noted thrashers Slash, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello, and Bret Michaels — a veritable A-Team of musicians where the “A” stands for “affordable/available.” Hey, at least the Jonas Brothers weren’t secret characters.
3 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360, Activision)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Xbox 360, Activision) — 3.04 million Ah yes, the start of a shooter legend. For years the Call of Duty franchise had been toiling away in World War II (which to be fair, is very cool in its own right), but bringing all the bad-assery of hi-tech weaponry to the masses was a master stroke that would pay off for years to come. As the first Modern Warfare entry, this Activision title was deemed by many to be an instant classic for its immersive sights and sounds, as well as a near flawless multiplayer mode. The title was still a few installments away from the mega-controversy of playable terrorism and what not, so the story dealt largely with a U.S. vs Russian/Middle East skirmish that more than satisfied Johnny Gamer’s bloodlust.
2 Wii Play (Wii, Nintendo) — 4.12 million
Despite generally middling ratings, Wii Play sold like gangbusters — likely more a reflection on the might-be-your-mom Nintendo Wii crowd than some sort of upset against cool video game violence. Wii Play offers a crap load of mini-games, from laser hockey to table tennis. Also there is one where gamers ride cows to topple scarecrows. Sure, these may sound like the kind of virtual research exercises used to study exposed chimp brains, but there’s some highly addictive charms at work here. For one, having come out the previous year, the Wii was still able to get a lot of mileage out of its novelty wand controller. But yeah, chances are all kinds of families were stoked off the chance to do an activity together.
1 Halo 3 (Xbox 360, Microsoft) — 4.82 million
Master Chief and his space-buddies continued the war on ancient alien doomsday devices and gamers showed up in droves to rival The Flood. Yes, there were well-thought out plot lines about centuries old space-religions and what not, but the real draw, as always was the sleek graphic design and multiplayer death matches players had come to know and love. Even in times of galactic battle, the old adage still “rings” true: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Halo-lujah!