Slave to the Game

Filling you in on the oddball gaming news

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A German tech site is reporting that the new 40GB PS3 console will include a 65nm version of the Cell processor, thus reducing the system's power usage.

As previously reported, the new USD 399 model will be available in North America on November 2. It eliminates the PS2's Emotion Engine and graphics synthesizer chips and cuts two of the four USB ports.

The new system should therefore output less heat and noise, according to the tech site's report. The site also claims that the new console features a smaller heat pipe and a new motherboard.

SCEA did not respond to a request for comment prior to press time.

Mike was right, the PSP update itself, no big news. It was a barren, dusty dustbowl of interest. Except that once it hit, the British PlayStation site had to go and let slip that once the PS3's V2.0 firmware arrives, your v3.72 PSP will be able to power it up remotely.

* Support has been added for [Remote Start]* of the PS3 system under [Remote Play].

*To use this feature, the PS3 system software must be version 2.00 or later. For detailed information about [Remote Start], visit the PS3 Help & Support section at and select Connecting to other devices in the General Guides area.

You may have heard that Nintendo is doing alright for themselves lately. They've sold a few Wiis, a handful of Nintendo DS handhelds, given themselves a little walking around money, put a new coat of paint on the headquarters.

The company's good news alert comes today from analyst group iSuppli, via Gamasutra, who add up the software sales revenue numbers, putting third quarter sales at $1.2 billion for Nintendo, some $200 million more than Sony's take.

That change in software sales leadership can be chalked up to stellar Nintendo DS and Wii game sales, combined with a drop in PlayStation 2 software purchases. Unsurprisingly, iSuppli pegs Sony's woes on a lack of PlayStation 3 software and the high price of the console. With no legacy hardware or handheld to help its numbers, Microsoft remains in third place, despite its high software attach rate.

It should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to sales trends, but an official change in the order of things must be at least somewhat troubling to Sony's games division (and inversely thrilling to UK: Resistance).

Sure, Super Mario Galaxy is coming. But even so, gamers feel slighted. Casual players make up a big portion of Nintendo's market, so the company's interests have shifted. Right? Nintendo UK general manager David Yarnton says:

It's important to know that we're not ignoring the hardcore gamer. They're still very important to us... And Christmas alone we have already catered on the Wii with Metroid Prime 3 and Super Mario Galaxy, and on DS with the Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass.

Nintendo hasn't forgotten you, Joe Q. Gamer. It just wants patience, because good things come to those who wait. Well, eventually. We hope.

Among the more talked-about but still unconfirmed features is a tool that would allow parents to limit the amount of time their children can play. Another rumor claimed the fall update would finally give the 360s the IPTV functionality Microsoft promised it would have back in January at the Consumer Electronics Show.

On Tuesday, Microsoft confirmed one feature would not be included in the fall update. Following the discovery of some IPTV functionalities in a recently serviced 360 by site Xbox 360 Fanboy, Microsoft said the functionality would be excluded from the console's looming firmware update.

"This was an isolated incident where these features were inadvertently exposed while the customer's console was being serviced and is unrelated to the fall update," the company said in a statement e-mailed to CNET sister site GameSpot.

Microsoft did not comment on the specific functionalities unveiled in the leak, which included onscreen chat while viewing live TV, recorded television, and on-demand movies. However, Microsoft did confirm that the 360's IPTV functionality will be a version of its Microsoft Mediaroom software, which was unveiled in June.

Microsoft's statement also raised the possibility that IPTV won't make it into 360 owners' living rooms this year. At CES, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said his company was planning a holiday 2007 launch for 360 IPTV. Now, Microsoft says the functionality will be in the hands of IPTV service providers by year's end--and not necessarily those of consumers.

"Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) features will only be available from the Xbox 360 through a service provider who has deployed Xbox 360 with Microsoft Mediaroom (IPTV) services," read the Microsoft statement. "Xbox 360 with Microsoft Mediaroom (IPTV) will be available to service providers by the end of the year. Microsoft's IPTV service providers will ultimately determine the timing of Xbox 360 with Microsoft Mediaroom deployments."

Some Ohio parents say they're heeding advice not to buy the new video game "Manhunt 2."

Child advocates have called it senselessly violent. The game features characters who kill and torture using everything from glass and shovels to a fuse box and a toilet.

At a Toledo GameStop location, where one couple said they would never let their children play the game, even store manager Jesse Sine is bothered by Manhunt 2. He says while it cannot be sold to anyone under 17, he still worries about youngsters getting their hands on one.

The game is rated "mature." Take-Two Interactive Software makes it for Nintendo Wii (wee), Sony PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 2.

Defending the game, Take-Two has said it believes in "freedom of creative expression."

In the latest antics of "The Simpsons," Bart chases a giant ape through a video game factory, Lisa destroys a logging camp and Marge storms city hall with an angry mob.

But don't look for those episodes on TV.

They are levels in "The Simpsons Game" that hit stores on Tuesday amid praise from critics for its faithful recreation of the hit TV show's look, feel and humor.

"That was one of the big design challenges on this game, to make each of the levels feel like episodes. We wanted to make the game feel like a fully playable season of the show," said Hans Tencate, lead producer on the game at Electronic Arts Inc.

Several writers from the TV show injected the game with the irreverent wit "The Simpsons" is known for, coming up with some 8,000 lines of dialogue -- enough for a full season.

"Few games embrace their license's soul so well -- 'The Simpsons Game' nails the show's trademark humor, in-jokes, and social satire, plus it features impressive cartoony graphics and the real-deal voice actors. This is total fan service, meaning Simpsons fans -- and apologists -- will be pleased," gaming news site said in its review.

The new game is the latest addition to the already large catalogue of more than 20 "Simpsons" titles, which range from 1991's arcade machine to 2003's "The Simpsons: Hit & Run."

But this appears to adhere most faithfully to the show.

Developers came up with a way that let them create Homer, Bart and other characters in 3D yet retain a look that is remarkably like the cartoony visual style of the show.

"It's actually much harder to do than you would think partly because 'The Simpsons' is hand-drawn. We came up with proprietary technology ... that gives the game a little more of what the TV show would look like," Tencate said.

The game hopes to build on two other milestones this year: the 400th episode of the TV show and the long-awaited movie adaptation that has pulled in more than $500 million at the box office worldwide.

In the game, the Simpsons discover they are living inside a video game and have powers matching their personalities. Bart, for example, can turn into the superhero "Bartman" while Lisa can activate the "Hand of Buddha" to move large objects.

Just as the show used a pop culture medium to skewer pop culture, the game is peppered with parodies of an industry still struggling to shed geeky stereotypes and win mainstream acceptance.

"There are not many video games to my recollection that do full-blown multilayered parodies of the video game industry. We make fun of everything from 'Pong' to 'Tomb Raider'," Tencate said.

While the humor has won praise from critics, some reviewers said they were disappointed with some of the actual gameplay, the lack of online features and for limiting cooperative play to two people.

The game had an average rating of 69 on, which creates a weighted average of reviews from gaming Web sites and publications.