Slave to the Game

Filling you in on the oddball gaming news

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While most celebrating their first birthday have achieved very little during the preceding year bar the production of a variety of venomous smells and a lot of drooling, the Wii has had a pretty eventful time.

With its radically new approach to control input (not to mention controversial attitude towards the console industry’s traditional generational horsepower boost), it was clear from the start that the machine was going to be death or glory for the then-struggling Nintendo. Would its success follow on from the SNES and DS? Or would it just be another Virtual Boy? Everyone claimed to know, and all were equally vitriolic in their views.

One year on, it’s obvious that Nintendo’s risk has paid off. The company is back in a commanding position in the videogames industry, the like of which many felt it would never reach again back in the dark days of the Gamecube. Wiis are flying off the shelves and popping up all over the mainstream media, and publishers’ press releases are now packed with new concepts and buzzwords we’d never heard of eighteen months ago.

It’s been far from a flawlessly easy ride though, and not everyone’s a fan. Some remain resolutely anti-Wii, despite the console’s dominance, and there’s still bizarrely a faction heavily against what it sees as the format that ruined gaming. So one year on, just what has the Wii achieved? What has it changed and how much for the better? Read on and find out.

The package now costs $10,250 in the US, 950,000 yen in Japan, and 7,500 euros in Europe. With lower prices now both for the consumer in the form of a system price cut, and for the developer in the SDK, it hopefully will mean higher sales and profits for the PS3.


This is not the last of the price drops either. "As more and more new titles are developed for the PS3 format, SCEI will significantly reduce the price of the Reference Tool in order to contribute to the cost saving measures of the development community," Sony said in a statement.

Cheaper consoles seemed to have worked somewhat for the PS3, although it still suffers from a lack of games. Only about 70 games will have been released for the console by the holidays, versus the hundreds for the Xbox 360.

The Wii is also slightly ahead of the PS3 as far as the number of games, however its cheap price and innovative gameplay have helped it to sell far more consoles than many had expected even with a comparatively low number of titles.

Much of the problem with developing games could be the difficulty and expense of producing them for the PS3. Some developers have claimed that the console is particularly hard to code for due to its sophisticated cell processor and the like.

This could explain why a sizable chunk of the PS2 developers are switching to other consoles, some industry analysts say.

The Fall Xbox 360 dashboard update has now been officially revealed, and it's looks awesome with Xbox Classics and films on demand. December 4 is the date you'll need to watch out for; that's the day you'll be able to download and play Halo. Yes, Halo as in the Xbox game, through Marketplace, on your Xbox 360. Isn't technology great!

Microsoft is introducing games it has published for the original Xbox on XBL Marketplace, with the eventual plan to bring as much of the back catalogue across as possible. Third party games will also be available to 'demand'. Games cost about 1200 Microsoft points (about ten quid), which according to us puts them a little over what you'd pay for them second hand. The initial list of downloads includes Halo, Fable, Fahrenheit, Crimson Skies: High Road To Revenge, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath Of Cortex and Burnout 3. All good then, apart from maybe Crash.

The official blurb reads: "Starting on Dec. 4, all Xbox Live members will receive a free system update with a host of new features and enhancements. Included in this update will be the launch of Xbox Originals, which, for the first time, will enable consumers to download and own full Xbox games, such as Halo, Psychonauts, Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge and Fable, among others, directly to their Xbox 360. This new service will launch with an array of blockbuster titles spanning the most popular genres from action-adventure to classic role-playing games."

And if that wasn't enough, films on demand, though not confirmed for the December 4 date, aren't far away either. Studios such as Warner Bros are potentially lined up for the service, so we can look forward to films such as The Dark Knight, The Assassination of Jesse James and I Am Legend appearing eventually. Films will cost less than a fiver and come in 720p resolution. You have 14 days to start watching a film once it has downloaded. Once you started watching a film, you have 24 hours to finish it.

After that, the film deletes itself from your hard drive. It's basically an online rental service then, like the US Video Marketplace that's been going for a few months now.

Microsoft has been vigorously inspecting Xbox 360 consoles sent in for repairs in Taiwan which has resulted in the usual turnaround time of seven days being extended to as long as one month since October, according to retail channels in Taiwan.

The sources commented that the tighter inspection was motivated by a need to see if game consoles have been illegally modified to use pirated games and a need to screen consoles which really need repair. However, consumers are increasingly becoming discontent with the tighter attitude towards after-sales repairs, the sources pointed out.

Sony has confirmed to Eurogamer that all PlayStation 2 titles that support rumble and are compatible with PS3 will also rumble if you use the new DualShock 3 pad.

During last week's hands-on with the new controller, we noted that PS2 rumble seemed to be disabled. Since then, PS3 firmware 2.0 has quietly introduced support.

The news from Sony adds to anecdotal evidence from eager importers who reported success getting rumble out of games like Rez and Katamari Damacy.

PlayStation 3 games that already support the pad include MotorStorm, Resistance: Fall of Man and Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction.

So, another reason to put one on your shopping list, although you might have to wait a while if you opt for an import - the demand, not to mention price, seems pretty high. The official European and US release date for DualShock 3 is spring 2008.

The PS3’s abilities just keep on expanding, and one of the newest future additions will be support for a popular video codec.

DivX, Inc. announced a partnership with Sony that will let its video technology be integrated into a future, yet undetermined, PS3 system update. The obvious benefit is that owners of the PS3 will be able to access far more videos than previously capable. But as an additional bonus, soon game developers will also be able to use DivX technology for future title creation, and the PS3 Software Development Kit will also be getting the DivX upgrade.

CEO of DivX, Inc., Kevin Hell, spoke regarding the announcement of the DivX upgrade for the PS3. “We are excited to work with Sony Computer Entertainment to bring DivX to PS3. Our technology will expand the multimedia functionality of PS3 by enabling users to enjoy access to the broad library of content in the DivX digital media format,” said Hell.

A chronic shortage of Nintendo's popular Wii console could mean disappointment for those putting it at the top of their Christmas list.

The BBC has learned that high street retailers are struggling to keep up with demand for the console, which has been in short supply for months.

Websites such as Wii-consoles.co.uk have been set up to help shoppers find out when stock becomes available.

Nintendo said it was "doing everything possible" to keep up with demand.

Its push to fill the shelves in time for Christmas will see it ship an extra 3.5 million consoles globally. It is not known how many extra consoles will make it to UK shelves.

In April Nintendo estimated a yearly shipment of 14m units, but that has now been raised to 17.5m.

Despite this, the gaming giant admitted that not everyone who wants one is guaranteed a Wii this Christmas.

"The demand for Wii hardware globally has been unprecedented and higher than Nintendo could ever have anticipated," said a spokeswoman.

"Nintendo is now in a position in which seasonality demand trends are being broken, therefore the demand for Wii hardware is constant throughout the whole year globally. Due to this phenomenon it is possible that the demand for Wii hardware may outstrip supply," she said.

I mentioned a few days ago that I was working on a facebook application. Since then my application has now reached 22 users, and I have also added 12 more games!



Oldschool Arcade Application

Currently the games on my arcade application include:
-Pacman
-Duckhunt
-Asteroids
-Space Invader
-Moon Patrol
-Hexagon
-Burger Time
-Centipede
-Snake
-Frogger
-Simon
-Sonic
-Bowling
-Pool
-Breakout
-Pong
-Tetris
-Zelda
...and more

I'd greatly appreciate everyone's support, so if you haven't added the application yet add it!

Oldschool Arcade Application

Life Imitates Games

Posted by William On 0 comments


I always love it when network television uses video gaming as a plot device. Take this past week's episode of NBC's Life, for instance.

Life is a cop show featuring a quirky police detective who just got out of prison after 14 or so years after being framed for a murder he didn't commit. It's an excellent show most of the time, I promise.

Last week's show revolved around a family of Persians (not the cats) whose son had been kidnapped and ransomed for some drug money. When they searched the son's computer they found reference to a file called 'Farah Level 10', but couldn't find the file.

The crafty detective Charlie Crews then brings in the son's Xbox, which boots up Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. What follows is a montage of the game, complete with fake titles like the one seen above. When they finally get to level 10? A spreadsheet opens! AHA! Now I'm going to have to take all my drug money spreadsheets off of my Xbox. Damn TV writers.

For those of you who didn't get in on the deal, there were free God of War demo's being given away starting a few months ago. I'm not fully sure if this deal is still going on or not, but we just recently received our copy.

I personally was amazed by the demo. The graphics and the gameplay were both equally amazing, and I was surprised at how long the demo seemed.

But since we've beaten the demo, there's not really any reason for us to keep it, so we are giving away our copy of the demo, plus the little collector's item that came with it to one lucky reader. So if you didn't get a copy of the demo when it was being given away before, here's your chance to get it now.

Just leave a comment to this thread with your email, and one person will be chosen at random.

When the hell is Unreal Tournament III coming out on PS3? No-one, not even Epic, seems to know, but a 2007 release isn't completely out of the question just yet, according to Vice President of Epic, Mark Rein.

UT III was originally scheduled to release in the latter end of this year before Midway said that there's every possibility it could be delayed into next year to ensure it's finished.

When a delay is suspected, you can usually be damn sure it'll happen, but Rein says it could still make 2007. "We're getting awfully close," he said, adding: "This version we had here today was [gestures] this close to being a release candidate, so hopefully we'll be done with it really soon."


He encouragingly went on to say: "If we get it done at just the right time, there's a good chance it'll be out in stores just before Christmas," in an interview with Destructoid.

PC gamers, the lucky bastards, will have it on November 23. Xbox 360 owners, however, will definitely be waiting until next year.

Nintendo is launching an interactive Nintendo Wii channel to let users upload, view, and vote on the best Mii creations.

The new feature will be available as a free download in the US from the Wii Shop Channel beginning 11 November and will give Wii owners the opportunity to submit, browse, and vote on bi-monthly popularity contests.

"The Check Mii Out Channel lets people show off their Mii creations and vote on those created by others," said Nintendo's outgoing marketing president, George Harrison. "It's yet another way that we're building fun, interactive communities of Wii owners without charging them extra for the privilege."

Any gamers hoping to cosy-up on the sofa this Christmas and watch films with their Wii are set to be disappointed. Nintendo has confirmed that DVD playback won’t be added to the console this year.

Nintendo claims it’s postponing the release due to a need to secure enough production units in time for the Christmas rush. It broke the news on the Q&A section of its Japanese Wii website.

The addition of DVD playback functionality, either through a firmware update or by creating a second-generation Wii, has been widely discussed since well before the console’s December 2006 debut.

In November last year, software developer Sonic Solutions claimed its CinePlayer CE software would be used in the Wii as the DVD playback application. However, it said the enhanced Wii would be released by Nintendo “in the latter half of 2007”.

That timeframe was confirmed by Nintendo on its Q&A site. It appears that it did indeed plan to release a Wii that can play DVDs in the second half of 2007, but that production restraints have prevented if from doing so.

It also noted that "DVD licensing fees... are higher than expected".

"Sorry for the inconvenience, but please be patient," Nintendo told its fans.

Nintendo gave no indication of when a DVD playback-enabled Wii might actually appear.

Hot on the heels of a PS3 DivX rumor, DivX has pretty much pilled the beans on upcoming support on the Xbox 360. Here's the clip from a routine financial earnings call that's set the rumor mill ablaze:

Coster - "Just a minor point here, but there was a recent Microsoft (MSFT) conference where I believe their media extender now incorporates the DivX codec on it, is that correct? Can you confirm that and does that mean we're soon going to see Xboxes with DivX on them?
Hell - "Yes! that, uh, we're in discussions with Microsoft on that at this point in time, so I can't go into any great detail on that. Um that is not a certified, that is not a certified or licensed product at this time."

Forthcoming Xbox 360 controls will let parents limit the number of hours played by uoung gamers.

In addition to restricting the type of games played, Xbox 360 will soon be able to limit the total number of hours played by younger gamers.

"As the customer base broadens, the demand for these kinds of capabilities does increase," said Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division.

Not unlike a similar feature found in Microsoft's Windows Vista operation system, the new timer will grant care-takers the ability to restrict total hours played on either a daily or weekly basis. Once the time limit is reached, the console will automatically turn off.

According to Bach, a restriction timer was the number-one most desired feature by parents in a recent study conducted by Microsoft.

News of an Xbox 360 timer was first rumored in early September.

Sales in Japan of Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 video game console have exceeded those of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.'s PlayStation 3 for the first time on a weekly basis, a survey showed Friday.

According to the survey conducted by research firm Media Create Co. <2451>, Xbox 360 sales came to 17,673 units in the week to last Sunday, against 17,434 units for PS3.

Xbox 360 overtook PS3 as the second best-selling video game machine in Japan, Media Create said. Nintendo Co.'s <7974> Wii stayed the best-selling machine.

The Xbox 360 machine performed strongly in the latest week partly because Microsoft on Nov. 1 cut its price by up to 5,000 yen. In the preceding week, Xbox 360 sales totaled only 3,718 units.

Meanwhile, PS3 slumped due to a lack of blockbuster game software titles. SCE plans to launch a low-priced version of PS3 on Sunday.

Xbox 360 was launched in Japan in December 2005. PS3 was released in November 2006.

Besides a new Sony PS2, Sony also announced a new color for the slim Sony PSP in Japan - Deep Red.

The Deep Red Sony PSP (PSPJ-20000) will start selling on December 13th for 22,800 yen (~$198). Sony will also offer it in a bundle with the DMB TV tuner (PSPJ-20001) for 29,800 yen (~$260.)

Sony also announces a new battery charger for all Sony PSP consoles. The PSP-330 is going to sell for 3,800 yen (~$33).

Japan has several more color choices for the Sony PSP already: metallic blue, lavender purple, rose pink and felicia blue. Black, silver and white slim PSP consoles are also available in the United States.

If you want one of the Japanese market only PSP consoles, Play-Asia is exporting them.

The new version of SEGA game NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams on Wii (see our hands-on preview) is set to use real-world data as part of its gameplay. More specifically, NiGHTS will use the Wii Weather channel to decide what the weather will be like in a specific area of the game.

In NiGHTS, there is an area called My Dream where players will be able to interact with the A-Life creatures from the game. The creatures that appear are set to react differently depending on what time of day it is and what the weather is actually like. Due to the tie-in with the Wii Weather channel, this means the creatures you see and how they interact with you will be dependent on where you are in the world.

By introducing this feature, SEGA is randomizing the creatures to some extent, so not everyone sees the same A-Life reacting the same way every where. It also means players will have to play the game at different times of the day and in different weather conditions in order to see everything.

In some ways, this will be a nice feature, but it could also be frustrating for players–especially those who live in areas of the world where the weather doesn’t change very much from day-to-day.

NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams is expected to be released across the U.S. on December 18.

That rumour about the new 40GB PS3s using the smaller, quieter 65nm chips? Yeah, no. Least, not yet. German site Heise Online managed to get in touch with SCEE regarding the matter, and were told that while consoles in the coming months would start to ship with the newer chips, those shipping now are still packing 90nm chips. Disappointed? Dry your salty tears with the knowledge that thanks to the use of new components elsewhere in the 40GB PS3s, power consumption is down 32.5%.

ESPN and Microsoft Corp. today announced an agreement that will add high- and standard-definition full-length games, television shows and video game programming to Xbox LIVE, the online games and entertainment network on Xbox 360. Effective immediately, fans of all ages can access a growing catalog of marquee sporting events and timely programming, including full-length NCAA college football and basketball games, Summer X Games 13, "World Series of Poker," "The Contender," "Madden Nation" and much more on Xbox LIVE Marketplace, the leading high-definition video download service.

"Establishing this relationship with Microsoft on Xbox 360 provides an innovative way to reach our target demographic through this dynamic next-generation entertainment console," said Matt Murphy, senior vice president, Digital Video Distribution, Disney and ESPN Media Networks. "This agreement embodies our mission to deliver the best sports content to fans, and does it through an exciting and robust platform that reaches millions of people."

Through this agreement, Xbox LIVE users can download a variety of popular events and shows available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace each week, highlighted by the best matchups from the world of college football and basketball.

For video gamers, ESPN content on Xbox LIVE will include the 2006 and 2007 seasons of "Madden Nation," an ESPN reality series taking fans inside the world of Madden NFL football competitive gaming. Additional programming will include the 2007 "World Series of Poker," the 2007 season of "The Contender," the full-length high-definition surfing documentary "Down the Barrel" and some of the best college football bowl games.

"This is a natural fit for us, as so many Xbox 360 owners are huge sports fans," said Ross Honey, senior director of the media and entertainment group at Microsoft. "We are dedicated to providing our diverse community of Xbox LIVE users the premium entertainment content they want, and partnering with ESPN is a great example of our continued dedication in the video-on-demand space, especially in high definition."

Currently offering more than 3,200 hours of premium entertainment content from more than 30 studios and networks, Xbox LIVE Marketplace is the only online service offering downloadable movies and TV shows in high definition.


I apologize for the lack of posts this weekend, I was busy setting up one a new project of mine, which I will get into more detail about in just a minute.

But first off there are some changes being made to the blog. I didn't like the way the blog looked before. It had a very unorganized feel to it which really bothered me, so I'm changing the template and re-arranging different items on the blog.

Secondly I'm adding a couple of mini games on the side Nav bar. I found a pretty cool site, www.widgetbox.com , which has many different widgets including a few mini games so I decided to add one or two of em to the blog.

Finally the reason I didn't have time to post much this weekend was because of the project I was working on. This project is an arcade for facebook. Currently the name is Facebook Arcade, but facebook isn't liking me using the word "facebook" so that's probably going to change sometime soon.

But I would really appreciate it if all of you who do use facebook would add my application.

The link is http://apps.facebook.com/facebookarcade

Currently there's 12 games on there, but sometime this week I will be adding 5+ more and I will be changing the layout of the whole thing. And as always criticism is greatly appreciated, so if you have any comments or suggestions let me know!

Family groups renewed calls on Friday to clamp down on video game "Manhunt 2" after hackers accessed scenes of bloody killings that were scaled back to let the game go on sale in the United States.

The feat involves modifying Sony Corp's PlayStation Portable device to run an altered version of "Manhunt 2" and led to calls for a more restrictive rating on the game.

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board, the U.S. industry group that polices game content, on Friday defended its decision to give "Manhunt 2" a "Mature" rating, meaning it is suitable for players 17 years and older.


"'Manhunt 2's' rating makes it unmistakable that the game is intended for an older audience. The unauthorized hacking into the code of this game doesn't change that basic fact," ESRB President Patricia Vance said in a statement.

The board initially slapped an "Adults Only" rating on the title in June, a kiss of death for a game since hardware makers Sony, Microsoft Corp and Nintendo Co Ltd do not allow such content on their machines.

A modified version of the game in which gruesome execution scenes were edited and blurred was given a "Mature" rating in August, and the game went on sale on Wednesday for Nintendo's Wii console and Sony's PSP and PlayStation 2.

Almost immediately, hackers said they had modified the PSP version of the game to remove the blurring effects.

"Manhunt 2" is published by Take-Two Interactive Software Inc , which was embroiled in scandal two years ago after hackers found hidden sex scenes in their hit game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas", prompting it to get yanked from shelves until the scenes were removed.

Common Sense Media, a group that rates movies, TV shows and other media based on their suitability for children, said it was asking the Federal Trade Commission to look into how the ESRB reduced its rating on "Manhunt 2".

The Parents Television Council, which aims to stop TV and other media from targeting children with violent or sexual content, urged the board to reinstate its orginal "Adults Only" rating on the game and suspend reviews of other games from Rockstar and Take-Two.

"Either the video game industry will step up and do the right thing, or else it will defy the public interest in order to preserve its own economic interest," PTC President Tim Winter said in a statement.

Take-Two Chairman Strauss Zelnick said in a statement the company tried to ensure its games were sold to the appropriate audience.

"I urge consumers to respect that commitment and to enjoy our games as they are meant to be played, without modifying or illegally downloading modified copies," he said.

"Manhunt 2" launched amid mixed reviews, with the Wii version garnering an average score of 70 on Metacritic.org. Game Informer magazine gave the game a 78, applauding its "uncompromising take on morality and violence", while Web site 1up.com gave it 40, dismissing it as "largely forgettable".