So, uh, here; have some catch-up news!
360 Hitting Europe And Japan By Year's End[xbox]
Microsoft reaffirmed today at their Xbox Summit that both Europe and Japan, in addition to of course the United States, would be getting the Xbox 360 within the calendar year 2005. This is in stark contrast to the release dates of the current Xbox, which launched in November of 2001 in North America but not until three months later in Japan and then a further two months later in Europe and the UK. Though the worldwide launch is unlikely to actually be simultaneous, it is a step in the right direction for Microsoft, who already faces very low consumer anticipation for the 360 in Japan and would do well to put as much time as possible between the launch of their system and Sony's.
More 360 Titles Confirmed[xbox]
In more Xbox Summit news, Microsoft released a list today of games hitting the Xbox 360 from Japanese publishers. Highlights include Biohazard/Resident Evil 5, which made news recently for being announced as in development for PS3 and Xbox 360 but not necessarily for Revolution, as well as Ninety-Nine Nights (from Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Q Interactive, home of Meteos and Lumines), Call of Duty 2, Quake IV, Gun (a Western from Tony Hawk vets Neversoft; also in development for current-gen systems), and Namco's Ridge Racer 6.
PS3 To Have Nice Physics, Also To Be Expensive[ps2]
Not particularly surprisingly, the PS3 will in fact not be cheap, according to Sony Computer Entertainment President and PlayStation honcho Ken Kutaragi on Friday. Among explanations of the console's planned 10-year life cycle, as well as mention of Sony's agreements with physics middleware providers Havok and Ageia, Kutaragi noted that, "I'm not going to reveal its price today. I'm going to only say that it'll be expensive." Ominous!
Majesco Going Through Tough Times[xbox] [ps2]
Despite Psychonauts being one of the best-reviewed Xbox and PS2 games in recent months (and one of my favorites), the game has been a commercial flop and, along with the equally poor performance of Advent Rising, has helped to put publisher Majesco in a really bad place. The company has been making a name for itself by way of signing off-beat, namely Psychonauts, developed by Tim Schafer's Double Fine Productions, as well as Microsoft Game Studio Japan's action/strategy title Phantom Dust, Planet Moon's upcoming PSP zombie-fest Infected, and more. Though reports that the plucky publisher filed for bankrupcy turned out to be misinformed, Majesco is still not in the best of shape. CEO Carl Yankowski resigned, then the company's shareholders launched a class action lawsuit accusing Majesco of misleading statements in regards to their revenue, income, and growth potential. Sad days indeed for one of the few publishers left willing to take a chance on risky IP. Also, their Nasdaq stock symbol is "COOL". Yeah, I'm serious. I just thought you'd like to know.
Sony Announces New Color For PSP, Also Web Browser[psp]
Sony confirmed that version 2.00 of the PSP firmware, due July 27th in Japan, will (finally) include a web browser. That's right, no more Wipeout Pure hack. Though the press release did not comment on whether the firmware would actually have an English-language release, it would be surprising not to see one either simultaneously with the Japanese release or soon after. More importantly, Sony also revealed that as of September 15, the PSP will be available in "Ceramic White" in Japan, "To provide more fun as a personal system". Again, no word on a North American release of that.
Zelda: Wind Waker Apparently Quite Dull[gamecube]
Wind Waker has its fair share of critics (and every one of them makes me shed a tear) but one of its most frequent and bizarre such critics has to be director Eiji Aonuma himself. Aonuma is also in charge of the upcoming Twilight Princess, and as one might expect he has been pledging that the new game will be much, much better than Wind Waker. One might not expect, however, that he would do so by accusing Wind Waker of being "slow and dull". He singles out the Triforce hunt near the end of the game as one particularly egregious example. All I can say is, if Twilight Princess makes Wind Waker appear slow and dull in comparison, bring it on. What little I've played of it so far suggests it's on the right track.