Late Night Consoling

You know, I haven't been looking forward to The Legend of Zelda: The Twilight Princess (GCN) all that much. Sure, it's a Zelda game, and it's pretty much guaranteed to be really good, and the game will probably have a huge amount of content, but I was so crushed by the decision to abandon Wind Waker's style that the game just came off as bland to me. Out of all the videos I saw and the demos I played, there wasn't much that really got me all that excited. In all honesty, Wind Waker is easily one of the most gorgeous games I've ever seen in my life. I know some people think it's kiddy or cartoony or whatever--screw that. I have rarely seen anything in gaming with such dedicated and well directed artistic style, so much visual subtlety, so much pure expressiveness oozing from practically every pixel. I've been playing it recently because I've never actually completed the game before, and it's been completely blowing my mind all over again. The little smoke curls, the way waterfalls crest over a ledge, the expressions on the faces of all the NPCs, the way that all the nuances of character movement are actually individually animated rather than just glossed over... This game set the bar so high visually in so many ways, but then most other games (and gamers) just sort of pretended the bar wasn't there or didn't notice it. And I'm not talking about the specific style, here; I don't mean every game has to be cel-shaded, obviously. Things like actually having animations for all the different ways your character can move and interactions your character can perform, those are things that games should be doing--or at least, games with as high a budget and production values as Zelda has.

Anyway, oddly enough, going back to Wind Waker has actually served in making me excited for Twilight Princess (finally). I'm still not crazy about the visual style, which I find to be a bit generic, but just remembering how much love and effort and ingenuity Aonuma and the Zelda team put into their games has reinforced my confidence. Despite its end game flaws, Wind Waker has so many awesome encounters and surprising moments, and it's hard to believe they don't have more of that kind of thing up their sleeves. It should be good stuff, assuming the game actually comes out some day.

  • Sony PS3 Blu-ray Delayed On Time Consoles Technology News

    [ps3]

    Sony Home Pictures Entertainment announced today its intention to roll out the first round of Blu-ray Disc movie titles on May 23. This corresponds with the launch date for Samsung's BD player, the first BD device to hit retail shelves. Appropriately called BD-1000, the device is expected to retail for approximately $1000. The titles to be released by Sony and MGM are 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, A Knight's Tale, The Last Waltz, Resident Evil Apocalypse, and XXX. A second wave on June 13 is comprised of Kung Fu Hustle, Legends of the Fall, Robocop, Stealth, Species, SWAT, and Terminator. Given the selection, Sony appears to be hedging its bets on the young male demographic acting as early adopters. The company also be hoping that that same demographic, its primary target with the PlayStation line, will invest in a BD collection as the BD drive-eqipped PS3 nears its eventual release date, whenever that may be. Sony did not list prices for its initial releases. - Press release.

    One other studio is joining Sony on its May 23 Blu-ray launch. Lionsgate Home Entertainment will be releasing five BD titles: Crash, Lord of War, The Punisher, Saw, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Unlike Sony, Lionsgate did reveal price points for their titles, and as expected it's a bit of a premium over DVD. Crash and Lord of War will each retail for $39.99, with the latter three at $29.99. This initial release will be followed later in the summer by five more titles: Reservoir Dogs, Total Recall, Stargate, Frank Herbert's Dune, and The Devil's Rejects. Each will be $29.99 with the exception of The Devil's Rejects, priced at $39.99. - Press release.

  • Toshiba Readies HD-DVD Player

    [xbox360]

    This is even less console-related than that Blu-ray item, since HD-DVD isn't actually an integrated part of Xbox 360, but here you go. Toshiba revealed to CNET today via CNET Japan that the company's first HD-DVD players would be available in March, with HD-DVD movies available on March 28. The initial players will cost between $499-$799. This will be followed by a PC HD-DVD drive in April and a recordable HD-DVD drive in May. Perhaps we'll be getting that external HD-DVD drive for Xbox 360 sooner than anticipated (see, it's console news!).

  • The Power of Spore in the Palm of Your Hand

    [ds] [psp] [gba]

    A job listing was recently posted on GameDev.net advertising a design position for Will Wright's Spore. What's surprising about the posting is that it relates to portable versions of the game. The requirements of the job include "designing, creating and maintaining game systems and content for SPORE Handheld titles." It then specifies that such game(s) will be shipping on "multiple Handheld platforms," which in all likelihood is referring to DS and PSP, with GBA being a rather slim possibility and systems such as Gizmondo or N-Gage utterly improbable.

    Spore was announced for PC in a surprise presentation at Wright's deliberately blandly titled seminar "The Future of Content" at last year's Game Developers Conference. The incredibly ambitious game aims to be something of a Sim game to end all Sim games, starting the player out with a single-cell organism which evolves and evolves, eventually becoming the progenitor of a highly advanced spacefaring species. While it might seem like a bit much to try and distill down into a portable game, such a translation actually makes more than a bit of sense. With such wildly divergent possibilities, Wright and his team have elected to take a procedural approach towards content creation for the game; that is, models and animations will not be precreated. Rather, the game will allow such content to be generated in ways that stem logically from how the player has chosen to evolve his or her species. One side effect of this is that the game takes up a comparitively small amount of space than one would expect out of what is essentially SimUniverse. The PC game will also go online in order to populate the player's universe with planets and life forms created by other actual Spore players. With Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection service and the PSP's ability to go online, this should be possible as well.

    The position being advertised is in Emeryville, California, the location of Wright's personal development studio, suggesting that the acclaimed designer will be overseeing the project moreso than he did with the portable versions of The Sims 2.

  • Seropian Quests it Up

    [ps3] [xbox360]

    Spectrum MediaWorks, a company headed up by Bungie founder Alex Seropian and film/TV veteran Jim Banister, has announced some details about its upcoming MMO, X Quest. The game is actually one component in a larger X Quest property, which will also be manifested in a reality television show of the same name. The reality TV program will feature two teams of seven contestants each who take on missions within a space simulator. They will be interacting with the same virtual environment that makes up the MMO, and events caused by players of the MMO will have an impact on the events of the reality show. The game is being constructed by an unnamed MMO developer, and ways to interact with the game are also being constructed for mobile phones and web browsers.

    Director Ron Howard is serving in a consulting role in the creation of both the game and the TV series. Game industry veteran Lorne Lanning, founder of developer Oddworld Inhabitants, is on Spectrum MediaWorks' design advisory board. Lanning and Oddworld Inhabitants, frustrated with various aspects of the games industry's operation, recently withdrew from the industry proper in order to transform the studio into a multiformat creative team working not just in games but also in areas such as film and television.

    It is unknown what Seropian is currently working on with his recently-founded studio Wideload, responsible for Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse (Xbox, PC). The company is currently hiring, however, so it's safe top assume there's something in the works over there.

  • Metroid Prime Now Hunting on the Internet

    [ds]

    Nintendo announced today that the official Metroid Prime Hunters (DS) website has gone live. It contains some new information about the game's characters, multiplayer, and single-player campaign. - Press release.

  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    You may recall Philadelphia Channel 6 Action News' shocking expose about the Nintendo DS, which revealed how sneaky pedophiles can lure children by way of Pictochat. In reality, the story was misleading and in some cases factually incorrect. It turns out that the reporters covering the story contacted gaming site GamerDad while the story was still being written to confirm various details about how the DS worked. GamerDad's David Long attempted to set the record straight, but Channel 6 Action News apparently completely ignored the informed knowledge he provided.

    Game Informer has coverage of the art exhibit i am 8-bit.

    GameSpot has a Q&A on Red Storm's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (PS2, Xbox, X360, PC).

Misc. Media/Previews

Xbox/X360

GameSpy checks out the 360 version of Red Storm's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (X360, also PS2, Xbox, PC).

Screenshots: Dynasty Warriors 5 Empires (X360, also PS2).

GameCube

GameSpy checks out Monolith Software's Baten Kaitos II (GCN).

Portable

GameSpot has a preview of Metroid Prime Hunters (DS) and Kush Games' MLB 2K6 (PSP, also PS2, Xbox, GCN, X360).

Screenshots: Lemmings (PSP). Mega Man Battle Network 6 Cybeast Falzar (GBA). Mega Man Battle Network 6 Cybeast Greagar (GBA).

Movies: Cooking Mama (DS). Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai (PSP).

Multi

IGN checks out Rockstar San Diego's Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition (PS2, Xbox).

Screenshots: Rogue Trooper (PS2, Xbox, PC).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom for the NES. "An adventure game set in Salandria, where you get to visit such wonderful places as the Zuchinni mountains to chase Minister Pumpkin! PEOPLE WERE PAID TO MAKE THIS GAME???" (submitted by Acid Gumball)