3rd Birthday Debuts in Sixth Place During Christmas

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: PSP


Two high-profile PSP games made their debut during Christmas week in Japan but only one of them could come out on top. Of course, in the land where Monster Hunter Portable 3rd still rules, “on top” is second place in this week’s Media Create sales figures (via Inside Games).

The victor was AKB 1/48, a dating game that features members of the J-pop supergroup AKB 48 (so named because there are 48 young women in the group). The game launched with four different retail SKUs, some including a special pink PSP, others just pink battery cases featuring kiss marks. All combined, these different versions sold 236,000 copies while The 3rd Birthday, the anticipated sequel to the Parasite Eve games, sold 140,000 copies and ended up in sixth place.

Two other debuts of note were Cyber Troopers Virtual-On Force, an Xbox 360 port of a popular mech arcade game from 2001, and Echochrome ii, the Move-based puzzle game for PS3. Virtual-On ended up in 29th place and Echochrome fell somewhere out of the top 30.

This week’s Media Create hardware data comes from NeoGAF and it shows another increase across the board for all consoles. Individually the PSP remained at the top, but when all models are combined the DS actually sold a few more units. The Wii remained the number one home console by a wide margin.

The full Top 10 software chart (new releases in bold):

1.Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (PSP) – 404,000
2.AKB 1/48 Idol to itoshitara… (PSP) – 236,000
3.Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii) – 214,000
4.Pokemon Black/Pokemon White (DS) – 165,000
5.Wii Party (Wii) – 162,000
6.The 3rd Birthday (PSP) – 140,000
7.Mario Sports Mix (Wii) – 136,000
8.Inazuma Eleven 3: The Ogre (DS) – 117,000
9.Ni no Kuni (DS) – 84,000
10.Tongari boushi to maho no omise (DS) – 74,000
And the hardware sales:

Home Consoles:

•Wii: 131,761
•PS3: 64,228
•360: 5,298
•PS2: 2,604

•PSP: 177,691
•DSi: 93,464
•DSi LL: 92,329
•DS Lite: 5,790
•PSP Go: 5,380

Civilization V Lead Designer Departs Firaxis

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Popular Games


With Civilization V on the market and work on a major patch now completed, lead designer Jon Shafer has opted to depart Firaxis.

The news was first reported by the blog Flash of Steel, which was able to obtain official confirmation of Shafer’s departure. The parting was reportedly amiable, with Firaxis and Shafer wishing each other well going forward.

“I very much enjoyed my time Firaxis, worked on many projects that I?ve very proud of and got to know a lot of amazing people,” Shafer said. “I’m appreciative of the opportunities provided by Firaxis and 2K, and hope to see (and play) more great games from them in the future.”

Shafer arrived at Firaxis in 2005, and his take on Civilization was well-received by both reviewers and the market. He emphasized that his departure was of his own accord.

No word on Shafer’s next destination, but we’ll keep your apprised.

El Shaddai Director Talks New Enemies, Third Weapon

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Games and Players, Popular Games


A recent wave of updates and screenshots have been posted on the official Japanese website of El Shaddai and director Sawaki Takeyasu spoke to Famitsu about this latest information concerning the Bible-inspired action game.

A new weapon called “Gale” has been revealed, giving protagonist Enoch a long-range attack option. Equipping Gale also enables Enoch to dash at high speeds (seen above). Takeyasu says Gale will be particularly effective on the game’s 2D stages.

Gale, along with the “divine toothpick” called Arch and the shield-like Veil, form a circle of dominance similar to rock-paper-scissors: Arch is strong against Veil, Veil is strong against Gale and Gale is strong against Arch. Speaking about these weapons, Takeyasu thinks that Americans will enjoy Veil the most because of its weight and high damage output, but the Arch “feels pretty good” while slicing enemies.

In this next screenshot are two new enemies known as Silversage and Goldsage. Both are equipped with Gale. Takeyasu says that “among the enemies, these two were the first ones to be designed.” He compared these enemies to knights and noted that the breakable armor on their bodies makes it easy for players to understand how much damage they have dealt to the pair.

At this point the Japanese website for El Shaddai features much more information than the English website, although the game is still slated for release in Spring 2011 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in all regions.

Miyamoto says Zelda: Skyward Sword is Half Finished

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


While it’s been in development for at least around a year and a half, it turns out that according to Shigeru Miyamoto, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is currently “over half complete.”

The status update came while Miyamoto was speaking with Pocket-lint more generally about the Wii. He didn’t have much else to say about Zelda, other than that they’re trying to make it a “dense” experience. “What we are focused on is creating gameplay mechanics so the gameplay experience feels very dense,” Miyamoto explained. “In fact, the overall experience is going to feel more dense. We hope that people will want to go back and replay the game once they finish it.”

What’s noteworthy here, though, is whether the game’s current status puts in doubt Nintendo’s previously announced target of an early 2011 release. With the game only around half finished, it would seem unlikely that it’ll be on store shelves within the next four months or so — and Pocket-lint’s story already only pegs it for a vague 2011 release, omitting any qualifier of it coming early in the year.

Much remains to be seen until Nintendo itself gives an updated release timeframe, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

In-Game Ads Business Hasn’t Grown so Fast

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Games and Players, Popular Games


Remember the absurdity of seeing in-game billboards for current day products in the future-set Battlefield: 2142? Thankfully, it sounds like that’s a thing of the past — at least for Electronic Arts. Speaking with Edge, EA’s free-to-play head Ben Cousins said in-game advertising hasn’t become the revenue-generator they expected, and it’s being quickly supplanted by microtransactions.
“We actually aren’t getting much from ad revenue at all. The in-game advertising business hasn’t grown as fast as people expected it to,” Cousins revealed. “If you think about how fast the virtual goods business has grown in the last year or so, it’s been much quicker and become a much more reliable source of revenue.”

Cousins is in charge of such free-to-play games as Battlefield Heroes and the forthcoming successor Battlefield: Play4Free (pictured above). “We hedged our bets [with Battlefield Heroes],” he said. “We thought we’d do in-game advertising and virtual goods sales, and one of those took off really fast and the other hasn’t really taken off at all.”

But don’t get your hopes up too high — this doesn’t mean EA is abandoning in-game ads altogether; just changing the way they approach them. Cousins used as an example a promotional campaign with Dr. Pepper, where buying a can and scanning the barcode unlocked an exclusive outfit in Heroes. “That kind of deep integration will work, I think, but I’m not convinced that we’ll have billboards in games and things like that,” Cousins admitted. “Maybe those days are over.”

EA Partners to Distribute Portal 2

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Popular Games


EA Partners announced today that it will be handling the distribution duties for Portal 2. Steam will host the downloadable PC and Mac versions, of course, but the boxed copies for retail stores will be handled by EA. The company also reconfirmed earlier news of an April release.

The press release eagerly reminds us that the game recently won the Most Anticipated Game of 2011 from the Spike VGAs as well. “Portal 2 is Valve’s most innovative title in the company’s history and will be launched with a first-class launch campaign this April,” said VP Doug Lombardi in the press release. “We’re excited to be working with Electronic Arts to deliver this title as we expand our platform strategy to include the Mac and PlayStation 3 platforms.”

Getting “Reverie” and “Resurrection” in 2011

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Popular Games


Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is getting two story-based downloadable content packs in early 2011. The first pack, titled “Reverie,” puts players back into the Castle. Apparently slaying the Queen let out an evil presence that she was keeping at bay, so Gabriel has to save Laura from it. This first pack is due in February.

The second downloadable content, called “Resurrection,” is set for April. It picks up the story after the end of the game, and gives more context to the epilogue. It’s said to be “larger in scope” than Reverie, and features a showdown with a so-called notorious enemy. We’ll keep you posted as we hear more about these two upcoming DLC packs.

Microsoft to Make Big PC Gaming Push with Windows 8

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Games and Players, Microsoft, Popular Games


Despite numerous claims to the contrary, it’s not true that PC gaming is dead. But Microsoft’s support of the platform has largely been dead for many years now; other than the Games for Windows Live initiative (which many would say pales in comparison to Valve’s offering with Steam), Microsoft hasn’t done much in the space of PC games — although, to its credit, it did announce that Age of Empires Online (pictured above), Microsoft Flight, and Fable III would be coming to the platform.
Now a source has told TechRadar (via CVG) that “Windows 8 will represent a real new push into PC gaming” for Microsoft. The source also claimed, “Gaming will be a key component for the whole OS.”

While that certainly sounds nice, we’ve heard things like this before; gaming was supposed to be much more central to Windows with the launch of Vista, and that never really quite worked out. We’ve also not seen PC versions of several big name games from Microsoft including Gears of War 2 and every Halo game released after Halo 2 — including Halo Wars, which seemed like an absolute no-brainer as an RTS game developed by Age of Empires developer Ensemble Studios.

It’ll be a difficult task to become a prominent player in the PC space with competitors like Steam, which has arguably become the de facto Xbox Live-style service for a large segment of the PC gaming audience. There’s also an increasingly large group of people gaming on Macs, and there are those who might not upgrade their operating system if they’re content with Windows 7 or whatever they’re currently using, which would limit the number of people that any gaming-centric features in Windows 8 could be exposed to.

Microsoft will have an uphill battle to climb in order to make a significant impact in the PC gaming space. If the source is correct and that’s something being planned for Windows 8 — which wouldn’t come as a complete surprise, as Microsoft has at least spoken about supporting PC gaming more — we should begin to hear about it over the next few years.

Rayman 3D Listed by Australian Ratings Board

Author: Arthur Ricky  //  Category: Popular Games


Yet another leak has sprung from Australia’s Office of Film and Literature Classification. This time the ratings board has prematurely outed an unannounced Ubisoft game by the name of Rayman 3D.

GoNintendo discovered the slip-up on the OFLC’s website, where the game has been rated PG for mild violence. Given Ubisoft’s support for the platform and the “3D” bit in the title, it seems reasonable to suspect a 3DS release for Rayman 3D; the OFLC’s database, however, lists the game for multiple unspecified platforms.

Between Rayman Origins and this mystery project, Rayman fans should have plenty to look forward to in the near future — provided Rayman 3D isn’t just another Rabbids spin-off, that is. We’ll bring you the official details as soon as they’re available.

Atari Announces Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale

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


A new Dungeons & Dragons game will be coming to downloadable formats early next year, Atari and Bedlam Games announced today.
Titled Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale, it pits players against the forces of evil as they attempt to conquer the Dalelands. It looks to be an action multiplayer title, though it’s not clear how much in the way of RPG elements it will include.

This is the second D&D game to be announced this year, the other being the revival of Neverwinter. The latter is also a multiplayer title being developed in conjunction with Cryptic.

Daggerdale is currently being developed for XBLA, PSN and PC. Look for it in spring 2011.