Late Night Consoling

By Chris Remo, Feb 23, 2006 8:00pm PST Bandai sent us some footage from the upcoming Samurai Champloo game for PS2. I haven't really seen it get any press. I've never seen the show, and I don't really care to, but I recently found out that the game is developed by Grasshopper Manufacture, the studio headed up by Goichi Suda (aka Suda 51). Most recently, Suda directed Killer7 (PS2, GCN) and he's also working on an RPG called Contact (DS) and a Revolution project. Killer7 definitely had a few flaws, but it also had some really interesting gameplay mechanics, and Suda's involvement in Samurai Champloo makes me want to check it out. The game apparently somehow links music and combo attacks, which could be pretty cool.
  • PS3 Not Delayed After All?

    [ps3]

    For the past week, rumors have been flying left and right that Sony's PS3 will be delayed for a variety of reasons, including limited component availability, prohibitive manufacturing cost, game development holdups, and so on. If you've been saving up your bucks from your second job and can't wait to get your hands on Sony's upcoming machine, CNN/Money's Chris Morris is here to say not to panic. Morris spoke with several insiders, some connected to Sony and some to its competitors, and while they were practically unanimous in the opinion that Sony would miss its Japanese launch target of spring, they believed North America will still see PS3 before this holiday season. In terms of Europe, it's looking like a sure thing at this point that the console won't be showing up before 2007. In addition to insider reactions, Morris points to Microsoft's first out of the gate advantage, as well as Nintendo's growing hype, as reasons Sony will refuse to let its next-gen entry stay out of the fight for too long.

  • Yakuza Confirmed for US

    [ps2]

    Exactly a month ago I brought you a rumor that Sega would be bringing Amusement Vision's Ryu ga Gotoku (PS2) to North America and Europe. Sega has finally officially confirmed the game's upcoming release under the name Yakuza. Producer Toshihiro Nagoshi's mobster epic was highly rated in Japan but its sales performance was not bad but also less than spectacular. Hopefully the game will see better success in its localized forms.

    The action/adventure title puts the player in the role of a Yakuza member who has just finished a decade-long murder sentence and becomes embroiled in a vast conspiracy. It features an in-depth street brawling combat system, open-ended content, and plenty of side missions. Yakuza is due in North America and Europe this summer. - Press release.

  • Revolution: Dev Kits Under $2,000, Console Under $200?

    [nintendo]

    Nintendo PR man Reggie Fils-Aime mentioned several days ago in an interview that Nintendo has sent out over 1000 controller dev kits for its upcoming Revolution console. In an attempt to figure out precisely what that statement meant, the always thorough IGN Revolution contacted six Revolution dev kit-equipped studios worldwide. Some interesting information was revealed:

    So far, three dev kit revisions have been sent out. The first was merely a GameCube with a wired Revolution controller. The second dev kit revision had some minor tweaks, and the third had increased CPU power. Apparently, another interim kit has been sent out to key developers, with internal specs more closely approximating those of a production Revolution console. The "real" fourth dev kit will reach about 90-95% the power of a production unit, and will be sent to developers such as EA and Ubisoft that are working on E3 titles. Absolute final completely done finished dev kits will be commonplace in June.

    One developer on Revolution's technical specs: "At first, we were discouraged that it would be less powerful than Xbox 360, but once we got everything working with the controller, our concerns faded." IGN reports that the other developers contacted for the article shared that sentiment.

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has implied that the Revolution development API is deliberately very similar to GameCube's, to allow studios to more easily transition from current- to next-gen production. IGN's developer sources confirm this, claiming that developers with Cube experience can get Revolution prototypes "up and running in no time."

    All the studios questioned believe the Revolution will sell to consumers for under $200, with some believing the price point may be as low as $150. This is consistent with developers quoted last December who believed Revolution may launch at a $149 price point, putting it at half the price of an Xbox 360 Core. However, that seems like it would be something of a shortsighted move on Nintendo's part, as it would give very little leverage for multiple price cuts down the road. After all, $149 is only one cut away from the nearly five year old GameCube's current $99. For my part, I'd say $199 is a good guess.

    Finally, the developers also revealed that a software development kit for Revolution will run a developer about $2,000. While this may seem pricy compared to a consumer console, game console SDKs frequently cost tens of thousands of dollars per unit. That particular bit of news should be encouraging to smaller dev houses which may not be willing (or able) to shell out the dough usually required to get started in full-scale console development.

  • DS + SMB in May?

    [ds]

    Earlier this week, UK retailers hinted that Europe will be seeing DS Lite sometime before August. US retailers apparently couldn't let their counterparts across the pond have all the rumor-mongering fun. IGN now cites "retail sources" claiming that Nintendo will release DS Lite in North America alongside the highly anticipated New Super Mario Bros. (DS) on May 7, effectively acting as a second launch for the system complete with a hot launch title (something the system certainly didn't have when it actually launched in 2004). May 7 is also just days before the Nintendo press conference at which Revolution will be fully unveiled. As always, however, it's worth remembering that retail sources very rarely have reliable information about events that are several months away, unless those events have already been announced elsewhere.

  • Free Xbox Live! APRIL FOOL'S!

    [xbox360]

    Earlier today, Microsoft's official Xbox Calendar of Events had a special three day promotion added, beginning April 1, 2006. It indicated that Verizon would be sponsoring a weekend of free Xbox Live Gold usage for all Xbox 360 owners with free Xbox Live Silver memberships. Microsoft never sent out any press releases or announcements about the promotion, and then removed the calendar entry later in the day without explanation. Looks like somebody let the announcment slip ahead of schedule. So, uh... April Fool's?

  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    CNet aggregates various estimates of the PS3's manufacturing cost into a range of plausible totals. The lowest quoted estimate is $700 per unit, the highest quoted it $905, and the average of the two is $790. By contrast, Xbox 360 is estimated to cost between $501 and $525.

    EA sends over a short Q&A about the "MobFace" character creation feature of The Godfather (PS2, Xbox, X360, PSP, PC).

    GameSpot has a designer diary for Bigbig's Pursuit Force (PSP).

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2

IGN previews Konami's Suikoden V (PS2).

Movies: Samurai Champloo (PS2).

Xbox/X360

IGN checks out Indie Built's Top Spin 2 (X360, also DS, GBA) (so does Game Informer).

Movies: The Outfit (X360).

Portable

GameSpot goes hands on with Tetris DS (DS) (so does IGN). GameSpy checks out the PSP version of EA's From Russia With Love (PSP, also PS2, Xbox, GCN).

Multi

IGN checks out Digital Extremes' Warpath (Xbox, PC).

Screenshots: The Godfather (PS2, Xbox, X360, PSP, PC). Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan (PS2, X360,PC).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Mr. Nutz for the Super Nintendo. "We all love Mr. Nuts. [sic]" (submitted by Foxhawk)

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