Late Night Consoling

Somehow this slipped under my radar earlier this week, but nonetheless, Nintendo is celebrating the two year anniversary of the Game Boy Advance, which was released on June 22nd, 2001. In those two years, some 300 games have been released, which is pretty impressive, as is the fact that they've sold 6.5 million consoles and 20 million games. And clearly the Game Boy Player for GameCube is proving to be a success, as the just-released combo package has significantly increased GameCube sales in Japan. Looking back on the system's library to date, I see a mixed bag. We've had some real gems (Advance Wars), a lot of really solid titles (Castlevania), some decent retro-releases (the Phantasy Star and Atari Anniversary collections) and a slew of ports, some good (Super Mario World) some problematic (Capcom's buggy Super Puzzle Fighter disappointment). And there are some good games on the horizon, including Super Mario 3 and Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. What I would like to see is naturally more original titles, not just re-releases of games I already have. I mean, it'll be nice to have a portable SMB3 and all, but I would like a new Mario game a whole lot more. Hopefully now that they're out of Mario games to port we'll see a new title. Although with my luck, they'll gather up all the Game Boy/Game Boy Color Super Mario Land games and release that as a collection. The system has such a huge install base that you would hope more original games will be developed. I guess the temptation is too great for Nintendo to just keep porting all their best-known SNES games, but hopefully we'll see more Wario Ware-style innovation, and less shoddy ports like Donkey Kong Country (which turned out better on the Game Boy Color than the GBA, which really shouldn't be the case).

Xbox Hackers Threaten to Release Xbox Exploit
As noted in this story at News.com, some hackers (who are either being incredibly stupid or very polite, depending on how you choose to read this story) have asked Microsoft to either release an official Linux boot loader for the Xbox or they will release information on an exploit that with a single drop of solder leaves the system wide open for amateur developers and pirates equally. Are they bluffing? We'll know for sure next week, when they'll be forced to show their hand.
PS2 Silent Hill 3 Bonuses in Japan
Konami Japan has announced that when Silent Hill 3 is released over there in a few weeks, it will ship with a bonus CD containing five music tracks, one of which isn't actually in the game. Shipping alongside the game, and retailing for about $20, is a special DVD titled THe Art and Music of Silent Hill, which has some 200 minutes (!) of bonus material, including the secret endings for all three games. It's unknown if any of this will be available in this country, where the game is being released in early August. Speaking of Silent Hill 3, GamerFeed has posted links to the E3 trailer for the game, which was posted to Konami's Japanese site.
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Shenmue III Announcement Imminent?
A news item at GamePro has the news that Sega AM2 has revealed in their latest monthly e-mail newsletter that they will be announcing a new title next month. While this is far (let me repeat: far) from any kind of confirmation about the existence of Shenmue III, they also mentioned that the official Shenmue website will be getting a full relaunch in July. Of course if this game isn't a new Shenmue, it's likely to be the already-announced-but-still-mysterious Virtua Fighter RPG for GameCube, or an entirely new project.
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Former Capcom Designer Resurfaces
Also at GamePro is a story reporting that Yoshiki Okamoto, the designer of such classics as Street Fighter II, Final Fight and those great Flagship-developed Zelda games, who left Capcom earlier this year, has started up a new company. While it's only just getting started, the company intends to function as an independent developer for Japanese publishers, and expects to launch a web site in July.
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Bond Voice Cast Announced
Electronic Arts announced today that they have secured some major players from the recent Bond movies to provide voices for 007: Everything or Nothing. Specifically this list includes Pierce Brosnan (who will be providing more than just his likeness, unlike the last game), John Cleese (as Q), and even Dame Judy Dench as M. In addition to those actors, there's also Willam Defoe and Heidi Klum in addition to the previously-announced Shannon Elizabeth, and Richard Kiel, who provides the voice for the old-school character Jaws.
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LeBron James in NBA Live 2004
Yep, that didn't take long...EA Sports has revealed that LeBron James, the recent high school graduate and first pick in the NBA Draft, has already been placed in NBA Live 2004. Details, screenshots and all manner of related NBA draft news can all be found at EASports.com.
PS2 .hack for Less
IGN is reporting that .hack://INFECTION, the first of the four-part .hack series, will be dropping in price to $29.99 in the coming weeks. For those interested in knowing such things, the second installment is already out, with the third scheduled for release in October, and the last in December.
GameBoy Advance Sonic at McDonald's
As some of you are probably already aware, starting today, and running for the next month, you can pick up handheld games from Sega in McDonald's Happy Meals. Info on all six games (including playable demos of two of them) can be found at McDonald's' web site. Early buzz about the games hasn't been particularly favorable, but it's still a neat idea, and hopefully this won't be the last time something like this is done.
PS2 R-Type Final Headed for North America
Shmup fans rejoice! Gamers.com has learned "from sources close to the deal" that Eidos Interactive has obtained the rights to bring IREM's R-Type Final to North America. While no release date has been uncovered yet, it's scheduled for release overseas next month.
GameCube Viewtiful Joe Q&A
Computer and Video Games has conducted a Q&A with Atsushi Inaba, the producer of the extremely wacky Viewtiful Joe. While not the most in-depth of conversations, it does shed a bit of light on this game, and should be a good read for those who haven't checked out the playable demo yet (which is available on the $10 GameCube demo disc). For more Viewtiful fun, check out the new movies that are up at Cube.IGN, and Planet GameCube's hands-on impressions of the game.
Xbox New Steel Battalion: Line of Contact Details
Some new details and screenshots from Steel Battalion: Line of Contact are up at Gamers.com tonight. Among the tidbits here is a confirmation that you'll be able to customize your Vertical Tank for use in both on and offline play, and that there will be two types of VTs players can use, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
GameCube Eternal Darkness: The Movie?
Reports have hit the web that Hypnotic has acquired the rights to make movies or a television series based on Silicon Knights' Eternal Darkness. Of course, the rights have been sold for everything from Dead or Alive to Zero Wing, but that doesn't mean we'll ever see these projects.
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NeoGeo - thanks Sur3aL!

Misc. Media/Previews
GameSpot has a preview of the Xbox port of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3, an update on SquareEnix's Drakengard (PS2), new screenshots from the Xbox and PS2 versions of Sega's ESPN NFL Football 2004, the GameCube, PS2 and Xbox versions of NCAA Football 2004 and the GameCube, PS2 and Xbox versions of Madden NFL 2004, as well as new shots from the Xbox port of Dynasty Warriors 4, new shots from Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (GC, PS2, Xbox), new shots from Sega GT Online (Xbox), new shots from Splashdown: Rides Gone Wild (PS2), new shots from .hack://OUTBREAK (PS2), a new trailer from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox) and a new preview of I-Ninja (PS2). Over at IGN they have a new preview of the very strange Magic Pengel: The Quest for Color, new movies from Mega Man X7 and new shots from Syphon Filter: Omega Strain (all PS2). IGN also has an update on R: Racing Evolution (GC, PS2, Xbox), a new trailer from the North American version of Soul Calibur II (GC, PS2, Xbox) and a preview of the WonderSwan to GBA port of Digimon: Battle Spirits 2. Elsewhere on the web, CvG has a brief preview and gameplay footage from Worms 3D (GC, PS2, Xbox), and Gamers.com has new movies from Kirby's Air Ride (GC) and some new details from SNK vs. Capcom Chaos (NeoGeo/Arcade).


Console Game of the Evening: Sonic CD for the SegaCD. "Arguably the best Sonic title, it has the same fast paced gameplay along with the best graphics and sound the series ever had. The addition of time travel and the CD quality soundtrack made it unique and notably more involved than the Genesis games." (submitted by pyide).