Friday, 23 November 2007

Korea has a PS3 Phone

Sony confirmed yesterday that it's not making a PS Phone, but Korea doesn't care because it's gone ahead and made one anyway.

The pictures below are of the Amycoll PS3 Phone. Clearly, Sony had nothing to do with it, but the unit actually looks pretty nice with its PlayStation buttons, proper D-pad and wide LCD screen. Nice work from the boys in "Koera" as it hilariously says on the unit.

And the funniest thing is that the PS3-branded unit runs on a Microsoft operating system for which, over the years, numerous emulators have been made, most notably full-speed SNES and NES emulators. Not missing the trick, the phone actually comes with said emulators pre-installed, probably breaking every copyright law in existence.

Check out the 'Windows: designed for PS3' logo. Hah! We want one.

PS3 banks big on Christmas marketing

There's little over four weeks until Christmas and if any of the three platform holders has realised there's money to be made, it's Sony.

Guardian Unlimited has revealed details of the Japanese outfit's holiday campaign, which kicks off with a PlayStation 3 television ad that promotes the console as an entertainment center that plays and stores music, films and photos. No surprise there then.

Sony is also reported to be spending almost $2 million to promote three key titles, including sure-fire girlfriend and granny hit Singstar, which is in the shops on December 12.

The theatrical ad, called "The Entertainers" will feature a magician, his assistant and a plucky acrobat all trying to promote the different features of the PS3. ""The new campaign is designed to showcase the wealth of entertainment available on PlayStation 3," explains SCE UK marketing man Alan Duncan.

Of course, it's not the first time platform holders have taken the multimedia angle when marketing their consoles, but UK analysts believe it's an essential move to differentiating the PS3 from the competition.

"To compete in such a competitive market it is important for Sony to get a multi-media message out there to differentiate the product from rivals," said games analyst Piers Harding-Rolls.

Either way, they can't possibly be as bad as Microsoft's Scene It? ads.

EndWar factions revealed

Ubisoft has whipped the wrappers off the three factions in real-time strategy console game Tom Clancy's EndWar.

Chief among them has to be the European Federation, formed in 2016 after Saudi Arabia and Iran had a nuclear argument. The resulting energy crisis meant the continent had to band together - all except the UK and Ireland. We were too busy drinking fish and chips and eating tea, love.

Europe has the Enforcers Corps to do its bidding; made up of counter-terrorist agents like Jack Bauer and peacekeeping forces like Greenpeace. They love a bit of urban warfare with rapping and stuff, and although they are less armoured than their counterparts, their electronic warfare, enery weapons and fast vehicles more than make up for it.

Following them are the Americans, who split from Europe after a controversial space race, eventually upsetting everyone when they launched their Star Wars-like Freedom Star space station.

Their Joint Strike Force is small, light and fast - much like the Advanced Warfighter squadrons. They specialise in stealth technology and battleground robotics like those little aerial drone things, and can call in coordinated ground and air strikes.

Last but not least are the Russians, now the largest supplier of oil in the world, resulting in a reclaimed title of superpower that was last flexed during the Cold War.

Their hardened and veteran Spetznat Guard Brigade have the heaviest arsenal around. So much war has passed their eyes that their regard for human life is minimal, they probably smoke, and they can modify their vehicles beyond their original capabilities.

EndWar is a real-time strategy game built on the familiar work of author Tom Clancy. It's console exclusive and so promises intuitive controls, including voice commands that apparently work really quite well indeed.

Fresh craft for Ace Combat 6

Atari has opened its hangars and wheeled out a whole army of fresh aircraft for Ace Combat 6.

The most expensive of them is The Idolmaster Miki pack, based around the Japanese 360 game The Idolmaster, where you play as a producer and coach nine young pop idols to stardom. Miki Hoshii is the first of the characters to sign-up for flight school, and brings with her an impressive Su-33 fighter plane - probably has rich parents. Get a load of her for 400 Points (GBP 3.40 / EUR 4.65). But not like that, she's 14.

Following her are the manoeuvrable F-16C Fighting Falcon with Windhover Squadron colours; outrageously fast Mirage2000-5 Experimental beast; heavily armed A-10A ThunderBolt II with essential shark mouth; spooky F-14D Super Tomcat with jack-o'-lantern paint job; light-weight F-15E Strike Eagle with something called active stripes; and sure-footed, er, winged F-16C from Ace Combat 2. Each will lighten your wallet by 200 Points (GBP 1.70 / EUR 2.33).

One craft is free, though, the well protected F-16C Fighting Falcon - part of the mercenary tactical strike force Scarface. Smutty plane porn for those who know what the numbers and letters mean, then.

Minter halts dev blogging

Space Giraffe developer Jeff Minter has said he's going to stop writing about game development on his blog after taking a bit of a shoeing for a late-night post earlier in the week where he complained bitterly that the Xbox Live Arcade version of Frogger was outselling his latest game "by more than ten to one".

"Not seeing a lot of reason to continue even trying to make games, at this point, when a remake of Frogger, one of the worst games in the history of old arcade games, can outsell Space Giraffe that we put so much love and effort into, by more than ten to one, in one week," Minter had written. "OK, we get the message. All you want on that channel is remakes of old, shite arcade games and crap you vaguely remember playing on your Amiga. ... We'll shut up trying to do anything new then."

Two days later, Minter, clearly upset by the reaction, wrote: "I'm not going to be writing about game development here any more after this. Yes, I had a bit of a rant the other night because frankly yes, it is a bit disappointing to see a repackaged MAME rom doing much better than original content, but hey, that's how it goes. People are more inclined to buy stuff they remember rather than stuff that's new.

"We're invested in XBLA now, and we need to re-use the [Space Giraffe] framework for a couple of reasonably quick games - I think that's the way to make it work out for us, we just need more games in the pipeline. I'm already halfway through the next one and I just want to get my head down and get on with it."

Seems like a shame to us. We always enjoyed hearing what he was up to. He adds: "from now on this will just be about sheep and plushies and other such non-work-related stuff". Hopefully in time he'll change his mind.

Beats Impressions

With the PSP's new PC Store open, figured it was worth checking out, putting through its paces. So I jumped on the Australian store, saw SCEE's Beats was on there, saw it was only AUD$12.95 and decided to give it a try. Best decision I made all week. Really! Sony could do with a lot more PSP games that you download on the cheap that both generate and use your own content in-game.

Beats is by SCEE's London Studio. For reference, they're the SingStar guys. It's a simple little title, with two components: one lets you create, record and share your own tracks using a bare-bones music-making game, the other gives you a Bemani/Fantavision-style rhythm action game that's able to base itself on any music you've got saved on your memory stick.

The music maker's OK, if a little basic (you don't really make music, just queue it up), but the rhythm action part's great. Sure, the tech doesn't do the best job of timing the in-game beats to those in the song (in fact it misses more often than it hits), but if you'd told me a year ago I'd be playing a game like this - even a half-working one - to High on Fire or Johnny Cash I'd have slapped you and called you, sir, a liar. For the times it does all come together, it's worth it.

Other bells and whistles: the game's menu themes and in-game background are customisable, and you can record and share anything you make in the music-maker.

Final thoughts: yes, it's simple, but it's also cheap! And remember: since it uses your own mp3s, you can go ahead and make your own, free expansion packs for as long as your music collection holds out. The sooner Sony - and other PSP devs - can release more quirky stuff like this, which takes full advantage of both the platform's strengths (wi-fi, portability, personal media storage) as well as the new PC Store, the better the it'll be for the PSP.

Microsoft Embroiled in Halo 3 Lawsuit

Microsoft has been sued for so many things; it has been sued over Xbox Live, also for Xbox 360 units that hadscratch discs and also for fires! Now Digital Journal reports that a class action lawsuit has been filed in California, which claims that Halo 3 causes the Xbox 360 to crash.

Halo 3 Lawsuit

Randy Nunez, who is the complainant, has alleged that his version of Halo 3 makes the Xbox 360 ‘crash, freeze or lock up’. The suit has made a lot of claims one of which is that Halo 3 is not compatible with Microsoft’s next generation console. The lawsuit has been filed under California’s consumer protection legislation. It also charges Microsoft with a breach of ‘statutory implied warranty of merchantability’ and ‘statutory implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose.’

Here is a small excerpt from the lawsuit filed by Nunez:

“Although faced with repeated and mounting consumer complaints and inquiries concerning this operational flaw in the Halo 3, Defendants have failed to recall Halo 3 or otherwise remedy its failure to function on the Xbox 360.”

It is also interesting to note that along with Microsoft, Bungie Studios has also been named as the defendants. The suit even goes on to call Bungie and Microsoft deceitful. It seems that the legal department of Microsoft is going to have a lot of workload.

Dead Rising lumbering to PC?

Rumour is circulating that Capcom's Xbox 360 undead splatterfest Dead Rising is heading to PC.

Apparently, the rumour has originated from what's reportedly a bit of a slip up by an Italian game distributor that distributes Capcom's games in, er, Italy.

We spoke to Capcom UK about the rumour earlier this morning. "No comment", was the reply.

But with Capcom now bringing games to PC - such as Lost Planet and Devil May Cry 4 - perhaps there's truth lurking in the Dead Rising gossip.

Dead Rising sees photojournalist Frank West following a lead to a local shopping mall where reports suggest a tide of undead zombies has been sighted.

It's up to you to fight through the groaning masses in a bid to uncover the truth behind the mysterious zombie outbreak - all before your helicopter ride out of the hell hole arrives in seventy-two hours time.


Wii breaks Australian sales record

Nintendo has announced that the Wii has become the fastest-selling console to reach 200,000 units in Australia, after 50 weeks of release.

The console was released in the region last December, and sold almost 40,000 units in its first four days on sale.

The launch of the console helped Nintendo of Australia record sales of AUD 138.8 million for the financial year ended March 31, almost double that of the previous year.

Resurgent PS3 continues Japanese sales success

Sony's PlayStation 3 has managed to outsell the Wii in Japan for a second week running, as Sony's console continues to gain solid footing in the crucial territory.

The PlayStation 3 sold 39,178 units for the week ended November 18, although this was down from almost 56,000 the previous week.

Nintendo's Wii sold 36,230 units, a slight improvement over last week's 34,546.

However, comparing lifetime-to-date sales from Media Create data, Nintendo is streets ahead of its Sony rival, with 3.8 million consoles sold compared to 1.3 million.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 still struggles in Japan, with only a further 6525 units sold, bringing the total number of sales since release to 459,943.

Nintendo is still winning the battle of the handhelds, with a further 76,084 DS Lite's sold, but Sony also enjoyed strong sales for the PSP as it shifted another 65,609 units.

2K: We'll continue tough anti-piracy measures

2K Games has defended its right to employ tough anti-piracy measures to stop its titles being ripped off before they even reach store shelves.

The publisher was criticised for the the release of BioShock on PC as it required an awkward authentication set-up before consumers could begin playing, but believes it was necessary as many games are stolen during the manufacturing process and cracked pre-release.

"We went to great lengths to avoid the piracy issue," commented Martin Slater, senior programmer for 2K Australia, reports GameSpot. "We achieved our goals. We were uncracked for 13 whole days. We were happy with it."

"But we just got slammed. Everybody hated us for it. It was unbelievable," he said.

"We were trying to avoid production DVDs going walkies between the manufacturing process and actually turning up on shelves. You find with a lot of games, what happens is that anywhere between manufacturing and the stores, one of these DVDs will go walkies and end up in the hands of crackers," he admitted.

As a multiformat title, Slater said that it's important that a pirate PC game doesn't cannibalise sales of the genuine console game.

"When you're releasing simultaneously on the 360 and the PC, one of the things in the back of the publishers' minds and the people who want to make all the money is that we don't want to lose console sales to people ripping off the PC and the piracy issue.

"If they can get a cheap pirated version on PC they may not buy the 360 SKU, which is probably your main SKU," he added.

Slater said the the company wouldn't adopt the same methods that it had for BioShock – awkward downloads for consumers can be just as time consuming and technically challenging for the developer – but it is willing to enforce strict measures in order to stop games losing sales to illegal piracy.

"I don't think we'll do exactly the same thing again, but we'll do something close," he stated.

"You can't afford to be cracked. As soon as you're gone, you're gone, and your sales drop astronomically if you've got a day one crack."

Atari Europe Would Like To Remind You They're Just Fine

Atari in the US, they're in trouble. If they were a horse, we'd be thinking of all the neat things around the house we could fix with some glue. But Atari Europe, well, that's a different story. Their internal development team would like you all to know that they're just fine, their games are coming along just fine and that titles like Alone in the Dark 5 and Test Drive aren't affected by the crummy American Atari's financial woes. Just in case, you know. You were worried.

The Mario Galaxy Box Art That Should Have Been

Some new wallpapers have turned up on the Japanese Mario Galaxy site. What, you don't care about something as trivial as that? You're right, we're sorry. Nintendo news is, after all, serious business. You probably think this picture is awful, hate both Mario and kittens and most definitely won't be clicking on it for a bigger version.

How Poland Was Sold On Halo 3 (NSFW)

Not with Mountain Dew, or soppy commercials, or signs behind trees. No, when Poland needs to know how great Halo 3 is, they go the direct route: they crack out the slutty models. This is Ania. Ania may or may not love Halo 3, we'll never know! But when Polish lads mag CKM called, said they wanted her to frolic with the game, the 360 and its associated peripherals, Ania answered. With gusto. Verve, even. Click through to see just how much verve. But be warned. It's totally, utterly NSFW. Bare flesh, wireless wheel straddling and pointing fish abound!

Simple 2000: The Japanese Hardware Chart

Go on. Pick your mouths up off the floor. They'll get all dirty, then you'll get sick, and nobody wants to be sick at this time of year. Especially when people ask you how you got sick, and you have to tell them it's because you care too damn much about the Japanese hardware charts and went and freaked out upon seeing that not only had the PS3 beaten the Wii again, but that the PSP had nearly caught the DS. And that's not relying on new colours or a Final Fantasy game. Those are regular, old-fashioned sales.

DS Lite: 76069
PSP: 65609
PS3: 39178
Wii: 36230
PS2: 8855
360: 6525
GBA SP: 153
GameCube: 38
DS Phat: 15

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Free Halo theme song for Guitar Hero III

Guitar Hero III owners will find a nice treat on Xbox Live this morning - the Halo theme tune is now available for download. And it's free!

Titled 'Halo Theme Mjolnir Mix' the free download lets you play the new version of the theme, put together by Martin O'Donnell, Michael Salvatori, and Steve Vai.

And while you're there, you might want to splash some MS points on the recently-released track packs, including Foo Fighters and Velvet Revolver tunes.

Carmack: WoW 'a train driving all PC gaming'

id Software's John Carmack has labelled World of Warcraft as being the beating heart of ALL PC gaming currently.

"...if you look at what's really successful on the PC - like World of Warcraft, that's an insanely successful product. It's like a train driving all the PC sales numbers altogether on gaming", Carmack told Gamasutra when voicing his opinions on the state of PC gaming.

Speaking further on the topic, he said that, when embarking on a new game in today's gaming climate, you end up looking at PC as it sits next to console ", and that drives design conditions."

"Historically," continued Carmack, "the real value of PC has been in connectivity, and in modification... but the latest generation of consoles is encroaching on that territory with all the options you've got on current consoles, the connectivity and the add-ons and things you can get there."

"Just in terms of games that you sit down and play in the console mode, the PC probably doesn't have a huge amount of differentiation, and that's unlikely to change."

Carmack concluded on the topic that where PC remains "standing on its own" is in the MMO genre. People predominantly play games - "at least, higher-end games" - on console, he said, "but the PC still has a strong enough margin to make games, and we continue to support it."

Orange Box demo on Live

Valve has said a demo for The Orange Box should be making its way to Xbox Live today.

This first sampler will let you get a feel for Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and presumably be followed in coming weeks by tasters for Portal and possibly Team Fortress 2. Very good.

Earlier this week EA told us the PS3 version would be out next month on 14th December, quashing rumours that it would not make it in time for Christmas oh no what will I get in my stocking etc.

Those of you with a 360 and PC can already buy it.

EGTV: Kane & Lynch vids

Everybody loves a great action double act: Mario and Sonic, Ratchet and Clank, Steve McClaren and a giant baseball bat to the face. We can't be sure whether Kane or Lynch, eponymous stars of IO's new third-person action-fest, would think it a good idea to give a 22 year-old goalkeeper his competitive international debut in a qualify-or-die clincher. But they sure know how to handle a firearm.

IO is best known for its lugubrious Hitman series - and one suspects Agent 47's phone will be ringing off the hook this morning with the entreaties of irate England fans. Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is a brand new franchise from the Danish developer, promising much and delivering... Well, we'll leave that bit to Kristan, who will be delivering his verdict later this week.

In the meantime, you can sample a Dead Men teaser triple-bill on Eurogamer TV, with direct-feed footage captured from the final build of the game.

Go here!

The Sam & Max Revival (Never Say Die!)

Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell's day job? Story writer at Pixar. Purcell created the characters as a youth and went on to draw a comic strip and create a Sam & Max graphic novel. A LucasArts adventure game followed as did an animated series. Then things went south: The comics went out of print, the cartoon was canceled and LucasArts ditched the adventure game. Fast forward to the present day, where Sam & Max is experiencing a revival thanks to episodic point & click games. It's getting to the point where the games are now outshining the original comic. Says Purcell:

I still find that when people bump into me at conventions, they saw the game before they ever saw a comic.

And that's not necessarily at bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.

Hello, Phantasy Star Universe Expansion

Don't be ashamed. We know there are still some of you who play PSU. It's OK! We're not judging you, or your niche online gaming habits. We're just letting you know that Ambition of the Illuminus is now out on 360 (1600 points), PS2 and PC (both $40). It adds a bunch of stuff like new cities, new weapons and new bad guys, as well as increased character customisation. 360 players will need a copy of the original PSU, while PS2 and PC owners can make do without, as for them it's a standalone expansion.

PlayStation Phone "definitely plausible", says Sony

Talk of Sony making a PlayStation Phone has erupted on the internet once again as Sony Computer Entertainment's co-chief operating officer, Jim Ryan, states that such a gadget is "definitely plausible".

Speaking to the Economic Times, Ryan said, "The PlayStation is a proven success and so is Sony Ericsson. Convergence with the two arms working together is definitely plausible. It is hugely intellectually seductive to have a console oriented phone."

He goes on to comment: "What has been done is finding a match between a camera and a mobile phone, and that has been done wherein the mobile phone features are not reasonably inhibited and the camera is also a reasonably competitive product. It is hugely intellectually seductive to have a console-oriented phone".

Ryan later explains that, should such a device work well, the phone functionality would have to be built into a primarily game-playing machine, not the other way around like cameras in phones.

He makes no mention of when a so-called PlayStation Phone device may actually come into fruition.

This follows previous rumours sparked off by a patent filled by Sony Japan's Ericsson Mobile Communications dept. for a PSP-looking, phone-enabled device back in November last year. Check that out here, if you can be arsed to read through lines of repetitive, over-complicated jargon.

PS3 Unreal will make US holiday

The PlayStation 3 version of Unreal Tournament 3 has been approved by SCEA and has been released to North American manufacturing, according to Epic's Mark Rein.

"Midway has started talking to retailers to figure out exact timing and they will have a formal announcement early next week when everyone is back from the Thanksgiving holiday," he said in a statement.

"My guess is that Midway will start shipping the title to North American retailers on Monday December 10, and it could show up in stores as early as December 11, but more likely toward the middle of that week."

The game was originally scheduled to be released in November, but Rein did not commit to a specific date.

"All we've said is that we're hoping for a November release, but as you know we value getting it right over getting it right now, so there's no guarantee of that," he said on Epic's official forums back in September.

When Midway reported its third quarter results in early November, it lowered its financial outlook to reflect the delay of the PS3 version of Unreal Tournament 3 out of 2007. Even so, Rein left open the possibility that the game could still reach store shelves before Christmas.

Apparently, that has now become a reality...for North America, anyway.

"I think PS3 owners are going to really enjoy UT3 this holiday so make sure you get it on your shopping list!" he said.

As far as the UK and Europe are concerned, Rein noted that Epic had a few localisation-related tasks to complete before starting the certification process. He anticipates a January or February 2008 European release.

Romantics sue Activision over Guitar Hero

Billboard is reporting that the members of the band The Romantics have filed a lawsuit against Activision over Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s.

The game uses sound-alike musicians to sing "What I Like About You," but The Romantics apparently believe that the musicians sound too much like them.

The suit, filed in Detroit, alleges that the Guitar Hero recording of the song improperly imitates the band's sound which they have developed since 1979 and confuses consumers into believing that The Romantics recorded the music and endorsed the product.

Activision, RedOctane, and Harmonix Music Systems have all been named defendants in the lawsuit. The Romantics are seeking compensatory and punitive damages and are asking the court to enjoin further distribution of the game.

Although Activision has not yet responded to the suit, it should be noted that Guitar Hero players are informed that songs in the game are "As made famous by," rather than "As performed by," certain musicians.

The right of publicity gives an individual the legal right to stop others from using his or her identity for commercial purposes without permission, but typically this arises only in cases where well-known voices are being imitated.

SCi: Talks continue on takeover

SCi has released an interim management statement that discusses the company's first fiscal quarter results and specifies that it has no new information to release regarding any possible takeover.

"We have nothing to add to this earlier statement at this point but confirm that we continue to be in discussions," read the statement.

The release also noted that unit sales increased by 14 per cent year on year, despite no major product launches, and success was spurred on by Pony Friends for the DS - although the higher numbers of games sold were at generally lower price points.

The company stated that early sales of Kane and Lynch: Dead Men in the US were positive, and that it would issue an updated statement in January.

It had been previously speculated that Ubisoft and Warner Bros were interested in acquiring SCi, but Ubisoft subsequently ruled itself out of the running, while Warner Bros added Traveller's Tales to its books instead.

Electronic Arts, Sony and an unnamed Chinese company have also been touted as possible bidders.

Wii stock selling out in minutes, reports HMV

HMV has told that the Nintendo Wii is selling out within minutes of going on sale, as consumer appetite for the console continues to massively outstrip supply.

The High Street retailer is confident it receives a fair share of stock as Nintendo does its best to meet demand, but admits to a frustration in not being able to fulfil customer's needs.

"Our store on Oxford Street had a delivery last week and it sold out in 34 minutes," revealed Tim Ellis, HMV's head of games. "That gives you an idea of how many we could actually sell."

"We're selling out so quickly at the moment it's frustrating for all parties concerned and it's the same everywhere. If we weren't getting any stock and everyone else was we'd be crying about it but we seem to be getting our fair share," he said.

Software for Nintendo's home console is also enjoying healthy sales, and it's not just the big first-party titles such as Super Mario Galaxy and The Legend of Zelda doing good numbers.

"Nintendo games are genuinely good, but I think third-parties are starting to catch up," said Ellis.

"Companies like Sega, with Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, Boogie from EA, Cooking Mama, some of the Ubisoft titles like My Word Coach – they aren't selling as well as Brain Training but it all adds up to a healthy market.

"The volumes on the hardware are such that it's now worthwhile for publishers to make the extra effort of working with the Wii," he added.

The Gradius... Music Box?

That's not just some music box. It's a Gradius music box! This early 90's promotional item wasn't available in Japanese stores, but only from King Records Japan by sending in application tickets from three King Records Gradius CDs. It plays a 15 snippet of "Farewell," the ending tune from Gradius 2

Soldier Of Fortune: Payback Cleared For Australian Release

Was a sad day for Australian fans of Soldier of Fortune when the latest iteration, Payback, was refused classification in Australia due to its excess of gory bits. So let's turn those frowns upside down! Activision have sent word that a revised cut of the game has been okayed by the Office of Film & Literature Classification, who slapped an MA15+ rating on it in time for an "early 2008" release. What was cut/changed? Activision say they've reduced the ragdoll physics, toned down the blood and gore effects and completely removed the dismemberment of bad guys, regardless of whether they're alive or dead. Good news for Activision, but...removing gore from Soldier of Fortune? It's like taking cookies away from the cream.

Delayed Fatal Inertia Coming to PS3s Next Spring

Fatal Inertia was at one time a PS3 exclusive. Not it's not! Heck, the Xbox 360 version of the Unreal Engine 3-fueled racer has been out for over a month. So when's the PS3 version going to hit? Koei won't give a formal release date for it, but said it would be out sometime in Spring 2008. No word whether that version will have extra content. Previously, the game was delayed "indefinitely," but Koei has since decided to keep the dream alive. But, man, these companies and their floating release dates. Who can keep up?!

Didn't the 360 version suck balls anyway?

Activision "Looking Into" GH Wii Mono Issues

For a few weeks now, we've been getting emails and hearing complaints about Guitar Hero III on Wii. Namely, that its sound only outputs in mono. Mono. Hey, Activision, the 1950s just called, they want their sound format back. While many obviously either don't notice or don't care, those who have and do should know that Activision are...looking into the problem:

We are already looking into the issue, and rest assured, are working to offer a possible solution to our fans.

Course, they haven't found one yet, but hey, I'm sure the same guys who let a game ship in mono sound will be able to speedily resolve the issue. No sweat.

Simple 2000: The Japanese Software Chart

Good news! Mario Party DS' success probably means there will be future Mario Party games! Thanks, God. We appreciate you answering our prayers. What didn't hold up as expected was Shin Sangoku Musou 5, also known as Dynasty Warriors 6, which certainly didn't sell as well as Mario Party and Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. Still, it's a fairly solid week for the underdog PlayStation 3, which charted with the aforementioned, Hot Shots Golf 5, Ratchet & Clank Future, and newcomer Heavenly Sword. Plus, folks bought Game Center CX. Good for them!

The following stuff sold pretty well in Japan for the week of November 12th to the 18th.

01. Mario Party DS (DS) - 116,000 / 350,000
02. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles (Wii) - 83,000 / NEW
03. Shin Sangoku Musou 5 (PS3) - 76,000 / 264,000
04. Pro Yakyuu Famista DS DS (DS) - 49,000 / NEW
05. Game Center CX (DS) - 46,000 / NEW
06. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii) - 40,000 / 365,000
07. Heavenly Sword (PS3) - 15,000 / NEW
08. Final Fantasy Tactics A2 (DS) - 14,000 / 230,000
09. Wii Sports (Wii) - 13,000 / 2,211,000
10. Soukou Kihei Votoms (PS2) - 12,000 / NEW

11. Wii Play (Wii)
12. Flash Focus: Vision Training in Minutes a Day (DS)
13. DS Nishimura Kyotaro Suspense Shin Tantei Series: Kyoto Atami Zekkai no Kotou - Satsui no Wana (DS)
14. My Housekeeping Diary (DS)
15. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
16. Mario Party 8 (Wii)
17. Hayarikami 2 (PS2)
18. Mario Kart DS (DS)
19. Shin Sangoku Musou 5 (Xbox 360)
20. DS Literature Collection (DS)
21. Pokémon Mysterious Dungeon: Time Expedition Party (DS)
22. Taiko Drum Master DS (DS)
23. New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
24. Dungeon Explorer: Meiyaku no Tobira (PSP)
25. Kanji Brain Test 2.5M (DS)
26. Anata o Yurusanai (PSP)
27. Pokémon Mysterious Dungeon: Shadow Expedition Party (DS)
28. Monster Hunter Portable 2nd (PSP)
29. Ghost Squad (Wii)
30. Hot Shots Golf 5 (PS3)

Ocarina Of Time Deposes Imposter, Reclaims Throne Atop A Mountain Of Skulls

It was big news when we heard Mario Galaxy had overtaken Ocarina of Time as the #1-rated game of ALL TIME over at Gamerankings. That was a record that had stood for a long, long time. And, unless you want to be a prick about it, is still standing: Ocarina of Time has reclaimed the top position. Seems not everyone was done reviewing Mario Galaxy, and when a couple more scores trickled through the gates that weren't up to the other's standards, it dropped Mario to #2. I know that was enough to cancel my pre-order (Aus release date: Nov 29). Who wants the second-best game of all time? Not me, that's for sure.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Get a friend to buy a 360 this Christmas and you'll both receive TEN Arcade games

Microsoft is offering Xbox Live Arcade games for 360 owners who persuade their friends to buy its console.

The Together Experience, as it's calling it, has you a your Xbox-buying friend fill out a form together (after buying a lovely new console, obviously) where after you'll both receive ten Xbox Live Arcade games. Yes, ten.

And they're not crap ones, either. Every Extend Extra Extreme, Sonic The Hedgehog, Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting, Bomberman Live, Marble Blast Ultra, Spyglass Boardgames, 3D Mini Golf Adventures, Small Arms, Assault Heroes and Zuma Deluxe will all go to bargaining punters.

You can find the terms and conditions of the deal over on It sounds like a brilliant program to us, especially in the run-up to Christmas when we know plenty of people we can "persuade" to buy an Xbox 360.

The worst achievement ever

Turok's "Grab Bag" achievement has earned itself the crown of being the worst achievement of all time.

Why? The achievement description reads Kill at least 1 creature, 1 enemy, 1 teammate, and yourself in the same round of a public match. Wonderful. A whole 10 gamerpoints goes to the incredibly skilled player who manages to fire a rocket launcher at the side of his team-mate's head while he's trying to snipe.

So if you find yourself being stabbed in the back for no rhyme or reason during a public match, don't blame that player. Blame Turok

Take-Two expands credit to $140 million

UK business gets access to $25m

Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two has expanded its credit facility from USD 100 million to USD 140 million, with USD 25 million available for the UK business.

The credit will be used to get the publisher through the coming Christmas season and into the new year, and lenders once again include Wells Fargo Foothill and Citigroup.

"Our credit facility will support our periodic working capital needs during the busy holiday season and beyond," commented Ben Feder, CEO of Take-Two.

"We look forward to further strengthening our financial position with the release of our solid 2008 product slate, including Grand Theft Auto IV in our fiscal 2008 second quarter," he added.

Take-Two's UK outfits include Grand Theft Auto IV developer Rockstar North, Rockstar Leeds, the studio responsible for GTA games on the PSP, and the European headquarters at Rockstar London.

PCs always better than consoles, says Crytek art director

While admitting that he doesn't spend that much time playing them, Crytek's art director says that videogame consoles can't compare to the PC.

"My opinion on them in comparison to the PC is that I think the PC is always better," said Michael Khaimzon
"Because the PC you can do so many things with, and the console is just there for the gaming."

Khaimzon, who grew up in Communist Russia, hasn't worked on any console games. He has, however, helped create the amazing visuals in the Crysis PC game.

He views consoles as inferior simply because there are so many more things you can do with a PC.

"You cannot create characters on a console - you can't run a 3D programme from one, as far as I know. You can't play certain strategy games on a console well, like Total Annihilation for example, or at least I haven't seen one, I think it's limiting to certain types of games," he said.

At the same time, he noted that PCs allow user to plug in a controller and play the same kinds of games as consoles.

Khaimzon isn't concerned with compatibility issues and the price of graphics cards, criticisms that are often brought against PC gaming.

"[N]obody forces you to upgrade your PC. You can take Crysis and play it on a medium-spec machine and it will still run, even on an older machine.

That said, Crytek recommends that Crysis be run on an Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 PC with an NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 640 MB graphics card that costs upwards of USD 400--more than the 40GB PlayStation 3, the Arcade or Pro model Xbox 360, or the Nintendo Wii.

"If people think there are games that are worth buying a USD 500 video card for, then they should go ahead and buy it and enjoy games of that quality - but they can still enjoy games at a lower quality as well," he explained.

Rainbow Six Vegas 2 unveiled

Yeah I caught it yesterday too but here's the news for anyone who didn't know already...

Ubisoft has whipped the wrappers off of Rainbow Six Vegas 2, the next and sixth instalment in its tactical shooting series.

It's due out here next March on PC, PS3 and 360, and not a lot appears to have changed. The Montreal studio who made the first will be developing it, and offering more in the way of co-operative, tactical and online options than before.

Elsewhere there will obviously be a new campaign to get stuck into as well as more fancy graphics to ooh and ah at.

"Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas took the gaming world by storm in 2006 thanks to its technological advances and gameplay innovations," said Yves Guillemot, smiling boss of Ubisoft.

"We are convinced that Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 will remain a pioneer in the highly competitive first person shooter genre, bringing more of what Rainbow Six fans love to the table."

As Yves helpfully mentioned, Rainbow Six Vegas came out last year and was actually very good - a welcome return to form said Kristan in our review.

Hopefully this time Ubisoft can brush up on a few of its production values and make the story a little more engrossing. If it does, this could be one to remember for years.

Sony launches PSP Store on PC

Sony Computer Entertainment has launched a new version of the PlayStation 3's online store - a website accessible via PC, specifically for PlayStation Portable owners - reports.

The store can be found at and accepts existing PlayStation Network logins. Contents differ between regions, as with the PS3 Store.

The existing PSP download service will be closed at the end of January, and members will be contacted with details of how to use the new site and transfer their already-downloaded content.

The new site, which launches with a series of full and casual games, demos, gameplay videos, movie trailers and themes (see full list below), has the same look and feel as the PS3 version, and content can be downloaded and transferred from the PC to a PSP Memory Stick via a USB connection and Sony's download manager software.

While demos and trailers will be free, the service - available in 25 countries across the world - will also offer full games for sale, such as Bboy, classic PS one titles including Crash Bandicoot and WipEout, and more casual titles at lower price points.

While anybody may browse the site for free, existing PlayStation Network account holders will be able to download content as soon as the service launches, while new users can sign up on the site - and all account management options are available as well.

The service will be updated with new content every week at the same time as the PS3 Store.

Who Wants Club Nintendo Swag?

Those interested in Club Nintendo's latest swag, you can stop asking your parents to proof-read your angry letter to Nintendo. NCSX and Play-Asia got your back. Both online importers will be taking orders for the Mario Galaxy soundtrack and SNES Wii pad, and while prices are a tad steep, we're confident you of all people can find 17 separate ways to justify the expenditure.

Play Console & PC Games Without A Console Or PC

The future is not now. But it is soon. Remember that streaming games technology we posted about a little whiles back? Something very similar, and a bit more concrete, has just been announced by t5 Labs for the US and Europe. Using a set-top box, t5 say they'll be able to stream console games straight to your TV, just like on-demand movies. No word on pricing schemes or participating publishers (though t5 say they're currently in negotiations), but they're hoping to launch in Q2 2008 in Europe, with a Q3 launch in the US to follow.

And The Dragon Ball Z Movie News Continues!

So Hollywood is making a Dragon Ball Z movie, which will probably suck to varying degrees. Goku will be played by Justin Chatwin, Tom Cruise's son in War of the Worlds. Rumor has it that Mexican actress Camila Sodi auditioned for the role of Bulma, which makes sense as the movie is being shot in Mexico. If true, she might be a good choice. Aqua hair aside, she at least looks like her anime counterpart. Now whether she can act or not...

Won't "Rule Out" Its Own Rock Band Type Game

Got your copy of Rock Band? The band-in-a-box game looks like it's going smash hit. The game was developed by Harmonix and is being published by MTV Games. Electronic Arts is handling the distribution under a three year deal. EA does make money on each sale, but it's considerably lower than if Rock Band was a straight up EA title. Does that mean Electronic Arts is interesting in making its own Rock Band clone? EA Partners general manager David DeMartini:

That's not to say that we wouldn't at some point be involved in the genre, as this is a huge genre that hasn't reached full potential. We wouldn't rule anything out.

I can see it now: Exclusive licenses, yearly updates and a curse. Rock on.

Japan Goes Bonkers For DS TV Tuner

You may like the looks of Japan's DS TV Tuner. You may even fancy one. Know that Japan doesn't fancy them. Japan has gone CRAZY for them. Didn't matter that there was little advertising or fanfare for the tuners, because it all went down like this: pre-orders went up, too many people rushed to Nintendo's site, site crashed, site went back up, pre-orders sold out. All this for a teeny-weeny TV tuner that lets you scribble on the screen. Shine on, you DS-mad Japanese diamonds.

Japanese Actress Admits Halo 3 Obsession

We already know that at least one Japanese male likes Halo 3. Hell, he even got the logo shaved into his skull! And now we can point to a Japanese female who openly admits to liking Halo. Famed Japanese voice actress Kana Ueda (Rin Tosaka in Fate/stay night) says that she's really into the FPS and claims to have played it for something like 16 hours on Monday night! Apparently she's a hardcore gamer, and the Osaka-raised Ueda was previously really into Monster Hunter Portable 2. Guess that makes MHP2 a gateway game or something. So there ya go!

The Dorkiest Wii Game Yet

A team of Australian scientists have made a crucial breakthrough in science's never-ending war on fatties. They've built an exercise bike that's hooked up to a videogame...then gone and strapped two Wii Remotes to the rider. One to the leg, one to the helmet, so that not only is the rider's speed mimicked by the on-screen avatar, but their movements as well. Sounds promising from a theoretical point of view, but in practice? Look at that helmet! You want people to lose weight, not die suddenly, and horribly, of shame.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Shameful Blu-ray Porn Promoted with PS3

It's not only in format wars that shameful movies matter, but also console sales. In the basement adults-only section of Akihabara retailer AsoBitCity, the in-store display promoted the 40GB model and pointed out that it can play naughty high-def flicks. The sign says:

Blue Ray adult movies, definitely enjoy them on the new PS3.

Because there's nothing like seeing mosaics in HD! Hit the jump for more pics of the display. Mildly safe for work — depending on where you work.

Nobody Knows When Dragon Quest IX's Coming Out

Dragon Quest IX is a pretty big game for Square. It's the next proper Dragon Quest, and it's on the money-printing DS. You'd think they want to take their time with it, avoid rushing it, make sure its perfect. And you'd be dead right. At a shareholders meeting today, nobody at Square Enix could confirm, or even hazard a guess, at when it's coming, only that it's due in 2008. Could be January, could be December. Could even be January 2009. Oh, don't give me those sad puppy eyes, DQ fans. You know better than anyone how Squeenix roll.

Uncharted Devs Wish They Hadn't Shown It So Early

We've all played Uncharted. We all love Uncharted. Best game on the PS3 so far, hands down. Funny thing is, a lot of people - who haven't played the game - don't believe us. Think it looks awful. Think it looks patchy. And a lot of them are basing this off some earlier showings of the game, showings that didn't exactly paint it in the best light. Cue a bad case of the regrets from Naughty Dog co-prez Evan Wells:

Something else that I would say might change is...the fact that we showed the game so early. In fact, we knew at the time that it wasn't, you know, solid -- in particular the A.I. and the gunplay. And we put it out there hoping we'd get the benefit of the doubt that we still had seven months of production left and then of course, we got the feedback...and it was good feedback, and in some ways it was a great focus test for where we were headed.

Well, a lot of it wasn't good feedback, it was mean feedback! Awful, horrible feedback. Still, we get what you mean. Game's better, you're happy, PS3 owners are about to be very happy.

Club Nintendo's DS Lite Looking DS Game Holder

While others order the coolest stuff on Club Nintendo, my wife always orders the most useful. Her logic: It's free and useful. Our latest Club Nintendo loot? We got this nifty DS game cartridge holder. We think it's leather, but aren't sure. (Might be pleather!) Just love that it looks and folds like, well, a DS. There are even little magnets in it that make the case snap shut!

What Is It With These Spanish Language Games?

That's (apparently) a screen from Ubisoft's Spanish-teaching DS title, My Spanish Coach. exercise in bad-taste stereotyping, or in teaching kids - regardless of colour or creed - a potentially vital means of explaining their paternal neglect? You, impartial observer, be the judge.

Ms. Pac-Man Looks Lovely on Hands

Aside from Square Enix's Final Fantasy costume jewelry, no gaming rings jump out at me. There are these: Ms. Pac-Man and a ghost. For those with man hands, there is also an approximately one inch version of the ghost ring. While the website dubs the ring "Ghost Ring Large," we refer to it as Blingy-Blingy.

Not Enough Rock Band To Go Around?

Emails are flying about today concerning Rock Band. All of them from either customers, or employees, of Best Buy. All tell a very, very similar story: that there's just not enough copies of Rock Band to go around. One reader attending a midnight launch let us know that his local store's (Florence, Kentucky) entire shipment was a no-show. Another, at the Columbus, Ohio midnight opening, was given a rain check despite being the very first person in line (he wanted a 360 bundle but the store only received two PS3 copies). Same for Minneapolis. We also got an email from a Best Buy employee, letting us know that no staff at his store are allowed to purchase a Rock Band bundle from the company until January 08. As of now we're obviously only hearing this stuff in connection with Best Buy (and obviously not all of them), so those with pre-orders anywhere else, breathe deeply with me. You might/should be OK. Those intent on shopping at Best Buy, though, consider yourselves warned, and prepare for any and all shades of disappointment.