Late Night Consoling

By Chris Remo, Jan 19, 2006 8:10pm PST Sorry for the first news item in tonight's LNC. I was kind of hungry when I wrote it.
  • PS3 to Feature Beefier Online Service?

    [ps3]

    Some gamers were left with a bad taste in their mouths when Sony announced that it would continue with the non-unified online strategy it used with PS2, allowing publishers to cook up an online solution for each game. After Microsoft's meaty Xbox Live service, the Sony approach seemed a bit lean. However, an interesting survey by Sony appeared this week, leaving recipients to stew over whether the company might be preparing a tastier online recipe.

    A few morsels of possible features from the survey:

    6. A single identity and password for all online games?
    7. Global Lobbies allowing you to play against anyone in the world?
    11. Headset support in all online games?
    17. A feedback rating allowing you to choose who you play against?
    21. The ability to download music, game demos and other content?
    30. The inclusion of a web browser.
    31. A specific lobby only for Adults.
    33. Game Lobbies should be Eyetoy compatible.

    And here are the rest.

    Many of the features certainly share a lot in common with the ingredients of Microsoft's Xbox Live. If Sony is in fact brewing up a competing service, it'll go a long way towards whetting gamers' appetites for the console. Anything as ambitious as what's suggested in the survey must have been simmering for quite some time. As always, however, any actual implications of the survey are merely rumors and should be taken with a grain of salt.

  • Kojima Broadcasts it Up

    [ps3]

    If you have a spoken understanding of Japanese, you may be interested in checking out Hideo Kojima's Hidechan! Radio MP3 broadcast, a part of the Metal Gear designer's blog he calls Hideoblog. I do not have any understanding of Japanese, so I had to read about this elsewhere. Apparently, Kojima treats the broadcasts as actual talk shows, in which he invites guests--mainly staffers at his Kojima Productions development studio--to chat about various topics. Unsurprisingly, one of the more common topics is the Metal Gear Solid series. So far, Kojima has stated that voice recordings for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3) will be taking place through 2006.

    In typical Kojima form, the English version of his blog offers only a cryptic query in regards to the possibility of an English translation of the broadcasts, complete with suggestive ellipses: "Will there be an English version...?" Well, we have no idea, Mr. Kojima, why don't you tell us...?

  • Sonic to Show Up on Revolution?

    [nintendo]

    Matt Casamassina at IGN Revolution reports on a rumor sent in by "sources close to SEGA" that the publisher is working on an exclusive Sonic the Hedgehog title for Revolution. The source claims that it is being handled by a "top-tier" Sega team headed up by Yuji Naka. Naka, who was the lead programmer on the original Sonic titles and who also produced games like NiGHTS Into Dreams (SAT) and Phantasy Star Online (DC), is in charge of Sonic Team, which suggests that would be the group the source is referring to. The game is distinct from the Sonic the Hedgehog title announced for PS3 and Xbox 360.

    Unsurprisingly, Sega did not confirm or deny the rumor. In the past, company president Simon Jeffrey stated that with Sega out of the console business, Nintendo systems are the spiritual home for Sonic. A company spokesperson said, "When Revolution rolls out, it would be a safe bet to assume that we will be there," but did not clarify any further.

  • Silent Hill Trailer Available

    [ps2] [xbox]

    A full trailer for Silent Hill, the film many gamers are hoping will be the first truly great good game to film adaptation, was released. It's a pretty generic trailer, but it shows some promise. Plus, Roger Avery (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, The Rules of Attraction) is a good solid writer, and Christophe Gans (Brotherhood of the Wolf) knows what he's doing behind a camera. Fingers crossed!

  • Majesco Re-Evaluates Strategy, Slims Down

    [ds] [psp] [gba]

    Majesco (Nasdaq: COOL) has been facing financial disaster for almost a year, following the poor commercial performance of games such as Double Fine's Psychonauts (PS2, Xbox, PC) and GlyphX's Advent Rising (Xbox, PC). It just posted its fourth quarter results and with an operating loss of $35.4M versus an operating income of $5.6M in the same quarter of the previous year, the company is drastically revising its strategy. While games such as Psychonauts and Advent Rising were intended to solidify Majesco's move into high end home console development, the publisher is now going to focus solely on budget and portable titles. To that end, the company has now cancelled Papaya's adaptation of the Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver as well as Terminal Reality's Demonik, co-created by Clive Barker. The company also trimmed down its personnel by about 20%.

  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Electronic Gaming Monthly has a nice long interview with Microsoft's Peter Moore, unsurprisingly all about the Xbox 360's launch so far. What is surprising (for this industry) is that the interviewer actually asks some tough questions rather than a bunch of fluff. It comes from EGM editor Dan Hsu, who has been vocal lately about some of the problems with gaming journalism. Perhaps he's trying to affect some change?

    IGN has a video interview on Sonic Team's The Rub Rabbits! (DS) with director Takumi Yoshinaga.

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2

GameSpot checks out DC Studios' State of Emergency 2 (PS2, also PSP) and Codemasters' Dance Factory (PS2). 1UP previews Game Arts' Grandia III (PS2).

Movies: Grandia III (PS2).

Xbox/X360

IGN previews Idea Factory's Spectral Force 3: Innocent Rage (X360). GameSpot checks out the 360 beta for Square Enix's Final Fantasy XI (X360, also PS2, PC). 1UP looks at Psuedo's Full Auto (X360, also PS3.

Portable

GameSpot tries out an import version of Capcom's Resident Evil: Deadly Silence (DS).

Multi

GameSpot has a character profile for The Collective's Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure (PS2, Xbox, PC). IGN looks at EA's Arena Football (PS2, Xbox).

Screenshots: Tomb Raider: Legend (PS2, Xbox, X360, PSP, PC).

Movies: The Godfather (PS2, Xbox, X360, PSP, PC).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Hard Drivin' for the Sega Genesis. "Total freedom for awesome 3D stunts. Saved me from the $1/play arcade game with the short time limit. Arcade ports to 16-bit machines... weren't graphically awesome, but good enough!" (submitted by BulletPro)

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  • So I finished Metroid Prime Pinball (DS), well you don't really finish, the credits role and you restart the table cycle.

    I was suprised how much fun the game was, considering the concept sounds like a lame crossover product. Clearly a lot of time and effort has gone in to getting the 'feel' of the worlds (well, tables) right. It does get a little repeditive: you almost always replay some of the stages in your quest to collect enough artifacts to access the Artifact Temple table (which, upon completing, gives you access to the final table), although the tables level up (I think the max is Level 3). The final stage is a bit "WTF?!" at first because you have to work out the mechanics, but after that its doable as long as you have a few spares balls to play with that sounds so wrong: you know what I mean!

    Pinball games tend to be either very "arcadey" or simulations. Usually the arcade games don't have very good movement. In other words, the balls movement doesn't feel very natural. The simulation games tend to be less 'fun' at first (not as many flashing lights/sounds, etc) but the ball movement tends to feel very natural and they really reward learning the tables. Metroid Prime Pinball stricks a really nice balance between the two. The tables aren't very difficult to learn, but reward skillful flipper use, and there are plenty of mini games (some of them get pretty hard on higher levels) and sights and sounds to keep the arcade crowd happy. Ball movement seems quite good to me: its not simulator perfect, but its good enough to seem reasonably realistic.

    Hmmm.. what else? The rumble pack adds a nice additional element to the game, but its by no means a crucial or very realistic :) Oh, I almost forget the most unique aspect. The dual screen setup works particularly well allowing a complete view of the table without the usual nasty tracking that goes on. The designers have also allowed for the (physical) space between the two screens: without this, I have few doubts the game would not feel nearly as nice to play so kudos to whoever game up with that idea. The game does seem to adjust what happens depending on your situation: you seem more likely to win extra balls or health if you're close to dieing (so less simulation). Its one of those games that can be just picked up and played by anyone (I bought it for my mother actually, we quite enjoys it) yet can also be very challenging.

    So, there you go. Its no simulation, but its good fun and can be quite challenging. I'd give it about 7.5 or 8 out of 10, but I enjoy pinball games: if you don't, make sure you test it instore first as YMMV.