Desired DS Details Divulged During D.I.C.E.[ds]
Nintendo marketing VP Reggie Fils-Aime made several announcements at the D.I.C.E. Summit (Design, Innovate, Create, and Entertain) regarding the Nintendo DS portable console. First up is the new DS Download Service to be hosted in US gaming retailers such as GameStop, EB Games, and Game Crazy. The company is also in talks with non-specialty retailers such as Target and and Wal-Mart. Much like Nintendo's wireless download hubs at events such as E3, the service will allow DS owners to download game demos or other content directly onto their systems. The downloaded demo is stored in RAM and is removed when the system is turned off. Fortunately, the DS features a standby mode. I kept an Electroplankton demo in a DS for days at E3 simply by putting the machine into standby rather than turning it off.
When the service launches, it will offer demos of Tetris DS, Brain Age, Mario Kart DS, Meteos, True Swing Golf, and Pokemon Trozei, and a video of Metroid Prime Hunters. The selection will rotate each quarter. Fils-Aime also indicated that, as in Japan, content download capability will eventually expand beyond the retail space.
Further justifying Metroid Prime Hunters' incredibly long release delay, Nintendo also announced that the game will feature voice chat in the game's pre- and post-game lobby, though not during gameplay. The main uses for the chat feature seem to be deciding on game settings (a marked improvement from Mario Kart DS' blind setup) and "discussing" the prior battle. Though it was not specifically mentioned, the DS' double input/output headset port can presumably be used for voice chat. Perhaps the company will finally release a Nintendo-branded headset.
The recently announced DS Lite was also mentioned, and its March 2 Japanese release date reiterated, but there is still no word of release dates for non-Japanese territories.
Unsurprisingly, no Revolution news was announced. With the recent news that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata will be keynoting at GDC, it looks like we'll have to wait until then for more on the console.
PS3 News at Taipei Game Show?[ps3]
According to translated reports from Chinese-language publication The Commercial Times, Sony plans to make a big showing at the upcoming Taipei Game Show, which runs from February 16-20. The company's next-gen console will be featured at the event and apparently given a full 25% of the booth space. Given Sony's propensity to have enormous floor presence at these sorts of expos, that may be a large space indeed. It's certainly a far cry from the lip service Sony paid to the machine at the recent CES 2006 in Las Vegas.
It's difficult to tell how much Sony is really planning to reveal, however. Taipei Game Show is certainly no E3 (nor is it a CES or a TGS--the Tokyo Game Show, that is) but the company did state late last year that it plans to reveal more about PS3 in another show prior to E3, which turned out not to be CES, contrary to the expectations of many. Sony may be using this show mainly to diffuse some of the hype from Xbox 360, which launches in Taiwan and several other territories next month. Unless Sony runs a private event, the other biggest thing between now and E3 is Game Developers Conference.
Atari Not Doing So Hot[ps2] [xbox] [xbox360] [gamecube] [ds] [psp] [gba]
In keeping with the dropping profits from fellow publishers, Atari posted some disappointing financial results for its third fiscal quarter, coming up far short of expectations. The company saw a 36% drop in revenue from $156.4M to $100.8M year over year. In a market that has already been seeing some tough times lately, Atari released fewer titles than usual, impacting the bottom line even more. It was also announced that CFO Diane Baker resigned, effective immediately. "The uncertainties caused by these conditions raise substantial doubt about [Atari's] ability to continue as a going concern," the company stated. Atari plans to put a higher emphasis on software for Nintendo DS and Sony's PSP, given the enormous surge in market share seen by portable systems over the last year.
Following the announcement, Atari shares dropped from a closing price of $0.88 to $8.63 in after-hours trading.
Capcom Doing Pretty Hot[ps2] [xbox] [xbox360] [gamecube] [ds] [psp] [gba]
Unlike many of its publishing brethren, Capcom had a very positive third quarter this year, posting an astonishing 418% increase in net profits over the prior year, at 7.4B yen ($62M). While the company saw significant tax breaks this year, positively impacting its bottom line, it also saw a 13% increase in revenue. Capcom's acclaimed Resident Evil 4 (PS2, GCN) has sold 3 million copies, with titles such as Mega Man Battle Network 6 (GBA) and Monster Hunter PSP also contributing to the publisher's success. To be fair, Capcom also faces a strengthening Japanese economy whereas US publishers are currently dealing with a sluggish home console market.
EA sends along a Q&A with world designer Steven Smith regarding the New Jersey section of The Godfather (PS2, Xbox, X360, PSP, PC).
GameSpot has a designer diary for Reflections' Driver: Parallel Lines (PS2, Xbox, PSP).
Movies: Drakengard 2 (PS2).
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
Skullmonkeys for the PS1. "Doug Tennapel, et al did it again, or did this come before The Neverhood? Either way the guys that brought you The Neverhood (and Earthworm Jim) spat this little sucker out too. Its all claymation, with a downright original score." (submitted by not work safe)