Black Wii Bundle Limited Edition

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Wii

black-wii-limited-bundle

All signs point to Nintendo introducing a new black Wii console in May, and a poster leak from GameStop all but confirms most of the rumors we’ve heard. Kotaku reports that the poster (above) teases a black Wii bundle, which includes a black MotionPlus accessory, Wii Sports, and Wii Sports Resort.

This is very similar to the rumors we had previously heard from various retailers. Of course, now we have photographic evidence, so the new color and bundle is almost a certainty. May 9 is the likely date, so if you’ve been waiting for a sleeker Wii that can sit alongside your PlayStation 3 like a little brother, this is your chance.

New Bungie Game Headed to PlayStation 3

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: PS3, Upcoming Games

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The newly announced publishing deal between Activision and Bungie has significant impact on both companies (and even Microsoft), but one company that hasn’t been mentioned much is Sony. After years of Microsoft exclusivity, this deal finally means we’ll be seeing Bungie games appear on the PlayStation 3.

The company’s press release mentioned “multiple platforms,” which led to speculation of PS3 development. It was confirmed by Sony senior director of corporate communications Patrick Seybold, via Twitter. “Congrats to Bungie,” he said. “Marrying their creative minds and incredible talent to the power of PS3 will be like giving PS3 fans Halo on steroids.” Of course, no jump to multi-platform would be complete without a little corporate cattiness.

It isn’t terribly surprising given the nature of the news — Activision is a multi-platform publisher, after all. Bungie broke away from Microsoft exclusivity in 2007, and Halo Reach will be the final piece of their deal with the console manufacturer. The press release seems to indicate that Bungie is developing one particular new franchise with Activision, but still has the freedom to make other games with other publishers as they like. If Bungie intends to launch any other new titles, Microsoft or Sony could court them for exclusivity.

Two Additional Tom Clancy Games

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Upcoming Games

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Splinter Cell: Conviction is fresh out the gate, and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier still has a few months to go, but there are apparently two more Tom Clancy games under development at Ubisoft. Eurogamer discovered as much when they translated a Dutch interview with Tom Clancy brand manager Michel Verheijdt.

“At this moment I’m working on two Tom Clancy games which have just gone in development,” Verheijdt told Control Online. “I can’t say anything about it, or I’ll have to send Sam Fisher after you.”

It seems likely that at least one of these unannounced titles will be a return to the popular Rainbow Six franchise, especially when you consider that it’s been over two years since we last heard from the series. As for the other mystery project, it’s just about anyone’s guess at this point. Sequels to EndWar or H.A.W.X. are both strong possibilities, as are entirely original games — or maybe we’ll finally get that Sum of All Fears remake we’ve all been dying to play. Keep your fingers crossed, Affleck fans.

We’ll keep you posted as the official details crop up.

Some Details of The Last Story

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Nintendo, Upcoming Games, Wii

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Considering that Nintendo and Mistwalker’s The Last Story is due out on the Wii before the end of the year, the Hironobu Sakaguchi-run developer is being awfully quiet about the game. A full-on reveal will probably have to wait until the E3 show in June at this point, but until then, Nintendo seems content with releasing tiny little drips of info on the RPG — partly on the Japanese teaser site, and partly in previews published in Famitsu and other Japanese game mags.

A few of the tidbits released so far:

- The game’s fictional world is a pretty orthodox take on the sword-and-sorcery genre, without the sort of SF-style trappings often seen in Japanese RPGs.

- Much of the game is set in Ruli, a peninsular bay home to a thriving merchant metropolis. Ruli has survived relatively unscathed from the war and devastation over on the main continent, and the city in its center is massive and filled with twisty back alleys. It is run by Count Alganan, a cunning leader with shrewd political sense and a full knowledge of magic and its potential powers.

- Mistwalker has revealed concept art of the main hero and heroine (above). Their names haven’t been divulged yet, but they are apparently members of Ruli’s mercenary class, putting them pretty low on the social ladder.

- Battles in The Last Story take place in realtime, but you’re allowed to pause the action and enter commands manually should the need arise. Notable in the media shown off so far is the presence of “pointers,” lines drawn outward from enemies indicating where their attention is currently focused. As the hero, you’ll be able to “gather” enemy attention and divert them away from allies, useful for protecting spellcasters and ambushing monster hordes.

No US date has been announced for The Last Story yet, but an American release seems all but inevitable. Stay tuned for more coverage.

First Few Minutes With Ni no Kuni

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: NDS, Upcoming Games

Ni no Kuni

It won’t be very long before Level-5’s Ni no Kuni, the DS adventure game they’re teaming up with animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli to produce, is out in stores. (This week’s issue of Famitsu claims a fall release in Japan, but considering that the official site and every other source online says “spring 2010,” this is quite likely a typo.)

To celebrate, Level-5 has released a bevy of new information from their DS mega-game, essentially revealing most of the intro and the first set of quests Oliver the hero undertakes. If you’re sensitive to very light spoilers, feel free to skip the rest of this article.

- The game takes place in Hotroit, a white-bread industrial city that looks a bit like Anytown, U.S.A. as envisioned in the 1950s. Oliver and his friend Mark are both pre-teen tinkerers, retiring to the garage in their spare time to work on a secret car project they’ve been puttering around with for a while.

- One night, Oliver waits until his mother Allie is asleep, then sneaks out in order to test out the racer with Mark at the riverside. Allie, noticing that her son is missing, arrives at the scene just in time to witness Oliver crash the car and get thrown into the river, thrashing about helplessly. Allie dives in to rescue the boy as eyewitnesses look on, successfully bringing him back to shore uninjured. Just then, however, Allie is struck down with a heart attack and very suddenly passes away.

- Distraught, Oliver holes up in his room all day in mourning, clutching the doll that his mother made for him. He’s rather surprised to find that the doll comes to life before his eyes. It calls itself Shizuku, a spirit from the world of Ni no Kuni, and claims that Oliver’s tears are what freed him from a curse laid upon him by Jabow, an evil wizard. Shizuku wants Oliver to help him defeat Jabow and rescue the great sage Alicia — who apparently shares souls with Allie over in the “real” world. If Oliver saves Alicia, Shizuku says, he might be able to bring Allie back to life as well.

- The pair proceed through a magical gate to Ni no Kuni, a fantastic world filled with strange characters — many of whom bear an eerie resemblance to people and things Oliver knew in Hotroit. For example, the kingdom is run by Nyandahl XIV, a despotic ruler who looks quite a lot like a neighborhood cat named Frank that Oliver runs into now and again near his house. Nyandahl is extremely angry about something — what, nobody knows for sure — and refuses to help Oliver or even see him.

- Realizing that Ni no Kuni and Earth are more connected than at first glance, Oliver returns to his home world to find that Frank the cat is also acting rather annoyed — he likes having the neighborhood dairy-shop owner clean his ears, but the lady hasn’t done it lately because she’s lost her special ear-pick. Oliver tracks down the pick, Frank is happy, and before long, our hero finds that this has changed things for the better in Ni no Kuni as well…

No US release has been announced for Ni no Kuni yet, but a DS game with this sort of game-design and animation talent behind it not getting an English version would seem a terrible shame indeed.

Natal tech will come into the rest of our lives soon

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Microsoft

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Microsoft is a massive company that ships quite a lot of products each year. And yet, when CEO Steve Ballmer decided to highlight just one as Microsoft’s most exciting product of 2010 in front of a group of executives, he talked about the upcoming Natal. Ballmer was in South America to speak with customers primarily about Microsoft’s line of Online products, such as Exchange Online and Live Meeting, but it was Natal that was bestowed with that honor — though it wasn’t necessarily the videogame functions he seemed excited about. While we’ll primarily see Natal as a method for playing games when it’s released later this year, Ballmer is also excited about the non-gaming applications of Natal.

“Perhaps for me the most exciting product we’ll bring to market this year, and it really fits in this context, actually comes out of our videogaming group,” he said earlier this week in Bogota, Colombia (via ZDNet). “You might say, why would I talk to a group of CEOs about videogames? Because the technology actually is very general purpose, and we’ll see come into the rest of our lives pretty soon.”

“It’s a technology that we call Natal. It’s a little camera and microphone that sits on top of your TV set,” Ballmer explained for the uninitiated. “And if you want to control the TV, you don’t go get some remote control or big fat gaming thing. If you want to look through TV channels, you just gesture, and the computer recognizes your voice, it recognizes your gestures. You want to see the next sports program, you go like this, it will cycle you through. You want to play a game and you need to jump, you jump. I’m not going to jump too hard; a little bit too high altitude here in Bogota for that, at least for me. But it recognizes you, it knows your voice, who you are, your gestures, what you’re doing.”

He continued, “And if you think about that in a lot of settings, why am I carrying this thing? I’ve already forgotten three times where I set it down. I should just be able to go like this, and the camera should recognize that gesture and control the slides for me, and let these kinds of things freely happen.”

Whether or not that’s something that the average consumer is actually interested in remains to be seen. Either way, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Natal at E3 in June, ahead of its release later this year.

Activision to Shut Down Infinity Ward

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Popular Games

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Activision may be planning to shut down Infinity Ward after completion of the second Modern Warfare 2 map pack, reports CVG. “Continued defections from their Infinity Ward studio have created meaningful uncertainty around the future of their Call of Duty: Modern Warfare franchise,” wrote Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey in an investor note. “We expect Infinity Ward studio will be essentially closed after their next map pack release, with development work on Modern Warfare 3 spread between two studios not historically tied to the franchise.” He may be referring to Treyarch and Sledgehammer, both of which have been tapped for future Call of Duty titles, but haven’t worked on a Modern Warfare yet.

Keep in mind that, for the time being, this is only speculation from an analyst. If it proves true, Activision will be putting the final nail in the golden goose’s coffin. Even as leadership has flooded from the studio, Activision has retained the Infinity Ward name; if they shut down the studio, even that will be gone. Don’t worry too much about the staff, though; we’re sure most of them can find jobs at some other studio.

PlayStation V.S. Wii

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Games and Players, Sony, Wii

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Scotland-based game developer Cohort Studios has a thing or two to say about the next wave of motion controllers. The studio is currently hard at work on The Shoot, an on-rails shooter designed for the PlayStation Move, and it’s pretty safe to say Cohort’s sold on the tech.

“The PlayStation Move is a great piece of hardware,” Cohort CEO Lol Scragg told Develop in a recent interview. “It has a fantastic feel to it and it’s incredibly accurate. We’ve had no issues with it, and the hardware and the libraries have come on well.”

But how does Sony’s device stack up against the competition? “Having used both controllers a lot, I’d say it was clear that the Move controller is so much more accurate [than the Wii remote],” Scragg said. “And it’s not just across the X and Y-axis either, the Z-axis is really accurate as well.”

The CEO went on to discuss the negative perception of motion control among hardcore gamers. “I understand that, if you read any of the forums, you’ll [see] people state they don’t need motion control, but that’s because they’ve likened motion control to the Wii,” he explained, adding, “Once Sony and Microsoft start releasing their own games for their motion controllers, I think the core will come round to it.”

Granted, Scragg’s opinion may be somewhat skewed by his company’s investment in development for the PlayStation Move. It’s still nice to hear developers getting excited about new technology.

Shadow of the Colossus 3D Movie

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Upcoming Games

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We’ve heard next to nothing about the Shadow of the Colossus movie since we heard last year that Justin Marks, writer of the spectacularly awful Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, was working on a script. We still have no concrete details about it, but Marks was tapped for a quote in an LA Times story (via CVG) about the popularity of 3D films and was credited as writer of the Shadow of the Colossus film.

“3D continues to speak to the elimination of the middle creatively,” he said in the story. “If you don’t have an action tentpole that can conceivably be thought of in 3D, you may as well make small indie movies because the studios aren’t going to be that interested.”

Given that statement, it’s hard to think that he would then go and work on a SotC movie that isn’t in 3D. And with 3D being all the craze, surely Sony would want to go all out with a new action movie. It’s not confirmation of anything, but given the current trend, 3D seems like a safe bet.

Halo 2 Fans Refused to Leave Halo 2 on Xbox Live

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Microsoft, Popular Games, Xbox

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Sometimes telling a loved one goodbye for the last time is just too painful, especially after spending the better part of the last decade at one another’s side. Such is the case for a handful Halo 2 fans who’ve refused to let go of their first-person shooter of choice, even after Microsoft pulled the plug on the original Xbox Live roughly two weeks ago.
It turns out these intrepid gamers have been able to remain connected to the old Live service as long as they don’t shut down their consoles or lose their internet connection. As a result, there are still around 13 people still playing Halo 2 online. The initial group of holdouts started much, much larger, but — as tends to happen when you leave your system on for weeks at a time — many have dropped out due to their consoles overheating, random disconnects, and other issues.

A fellow going by the name of Joe Campbell decided to chronicle this stalwart bunch of Halo players in a thread on the official Bungie forums. You’ll find his updated list of remaining Halo 2 users inside, as well as links to any livestreams that may still be running.

“We will keep playing until we are all forcibly removed,” Campbell writes. “It could be by Microsoft, Bungie, our Xbox’s overheating, or just lagging out. Not for competition, not for a prize, but for the love, and memory of Halo 2.”