Late Night Consoling

Previews coming in a minute!
  • Heeeeeeere's Sony

    [ps2] [ps3] [psp]

    As you are probably aware by now, earlier today Sony held a last-minute press conference at which various details were announced regarding PS2, PS3, and PSP. Ken Kutaragi addressed the press and publishers at the PlayStation Business Briefing, with the biggest news being the confirmation of the long-rumored delay of PS3. The system will not hit shelves until November of this year, a far cry from the company's firm spring deadline it previously maintained so strongly. When it does hit, however, it will do so worldwide. Starting in November, PS3 will ship to Asia, North America, Europe, and Australasia before the end of the year. The Japanese launch will be on or around November 11. The company has pledged to bring one million units to market in the first month, with additional shipments of more than a million each month thereafter until the end of the company's fiscal year in March 2007. By that point, the stated goal is to have six million units on the worldwide market.

    Another major announcement was that PS3 will require a hard drive; as such, all games will be designed with that specification in mind. The drive will be upgradable, but the default drive will be 60GB, running Linux. Oddly enough, Kutaragi said that the company has not yet decided whether to include the hard drive with the system, even though it will be required for games. The only real plausible reason for this would be that the company would offer multiple hard drive choices at launch in addition to the 60GB model, allowing consumers to choose the drive they will use. Even so, it seems like a risky move from a marketing perspective.

    PS3's backwards compatibility with PS1 and PS2 was re-confirmed, and it was also announced that the system will upsample legacy games to run in high definition. Xbox 360 does the same for the Xbox games with which it is backwards compatible. Past statements by Sony representatives suggest that, like PS2, the system will utilize a largely hardware-driven approach to its backwards compatibility, with the same small list of incompatible games that currently applies to new-model PS2s. For comparison's sake, Xbox 360 uses an entirely software-based backwards compatibility solution; Revolution will use software emulators for NES, SNES, and N64 games, but a hardware-driven solution for GameCube games.

    The existence of an online service for the system was confirmed. A free basic service will include matchmaking, voice chat, and purchasable content. The online solution is being handled by GameSpy and Sony Online Entertainment. The distinction of a "basic" service implies that there will also be a paid service, but there were no details revealed.

    Much like Xbox 360, PS3 will operate as a networked entertainment media hub.

    Final development hardware will ship to publishers and developers in June. Coincidentally, this is when Nintendo has announced it will be shipping its finalized Revolution dev kits. Both companies have of course already shipped early dev hardware.

    Contrary to common expectation, there were no games shown or discussed at the meeting. Completely in line with common expectation, there was also no official price point announced.

    A few announcements were made about PS2 and PSP as well. Here they are:

    - PSP will be getting its own EyeToy peripheral, with a version of the game EyeToy Play as well as video chat software.
    - The PSP will see a price drop to $200 this month. However, the bundle will likely include very few components, with the only confirmed inclusions being the system, a battery pack, and a power adapter. Currently, the $250 bundle also includes a Memory Stick, headphones, and other accessories.
    - Some time this spring, the browser will support Flash.
    - PSP owners will gain the ability to download various emulated PS1 games onto the system, to be stored on Memory Sticks.
    - PSP will gain a GPS receiver peripheral. A GPS-enabled version of Hot Shots Golf will be launched as well.
    - Given its continued strong sales and dominant position in the marketplace, Sony has no plans to lower PS2's existing $149.99 price point.
    - I don't know.

  • Miyamoto Speaks Up

    [gamecube] [nintendo] [ds]

    In an oddly candid interview given to writers of Nintendo's European website (requires annoying VIP Lounge access), Nintendo design head Shigeru Miyamoto spoke about upcoming Nintendo games following his recent knighthood in France's Order of Arts and Letters. For one thing, he confirmed the rumors that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GCN) will make use of the Revolution controller's unique features when played using the system's GameCube backwards compatibility. The rumor was discouraged by Nintendo earlier this year, but has been doggedly persistant, apparently for good reason. Rather directly, Miyamoto said, "When you play Twilight Princess on Revolution you can take advantage of the Revolution controller."

    He also spoke about the upcoming New Super Mario Bros. (DS), due out in May. He stated that the game will be utilizing the quintessential Mario story: "I have narrowed down the whole story to about half of what my team originally came up with. Peach is kidnapped, Mario has to go and rescue her from Bowser and the Koopa Kids. That's about all you need to know for the story!" He said the game "really [doesn't] need any story...at all," apparently preferring to let the gameplay speak for itself. In terms of the game's structure, he compared it to Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES), with the game of course split up into worlds and levels, and containing a healthy number of secrets and shortcuts. His comparison may imply that the game features an overworld map, an element conspicuously absent from screenshots so far. Finally, the game will also include all of the minigames from Super Mario 64 DS (DS), with additional 2- and 4-player single-cart multiplayer modes added in some cases.

    Miyamoto reiterated that, as has been known for months, the big reveal for Revolution will come at E3. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata is giving a keynote address at next week's Game Developers Conference, and company PR man Reggie Fils-Aime has indicated that some Revolution details may be revealed then as well.

    Speaking of Miyamoto interviews, the designer is participating in a web chat this Friday on the aptly named webchats.tv. Questions may be submitted up until the event, which will occur Friday, March 17 at 7pm CET, or noon in Shack time.

  • Viva La Franchise


    Microsoft and entertainment licensing/merchandising firm 4Kids Entertainment today announced the creation of a new franchise, which includes the next game from Microsoft-owned (and former Nintendo second party) developer Rare. Viva Pinata, described as a "mass-appeal entertainment property," will take the form of Saturday morning television show, an Xbox 360 game, and various other merchandise lines. The game sounds kind of like Animal Crossing meets Pokemon; the press release describes it as "an immersive world where [players] are challenged to create and maintain a living garden ecosystem that grows in real time...to attract and host more than 60 species of wild pinata, utilizing hundreds of customizable elements."

    The Pokemon resemblance is likely no accident; Viva Pinata seems to be marketed in much the same way, with a corresponding game and television show, as well as other merchandising lines largely targeted at young consumers. 4Kids also handles the Pokemon television program, as well as various programs and merchandising for properties such as Yu-Gi-Oh!, Cabbage Patch Kids, Magical DoReMi, Winx Club, Bratz, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sonix X and G.I. Joe Sigma 6.

    Viva Pinata (the game) is set to ship for Xbox 360 this holiday season. - Press release. Official site. Screenshots.

  • SOE Announces Semi-Announced PS3 Game


    The game has been accidentally known to the gaming public for about a week now, but today Sony Online Entertainment has officially announced Untold Legends Dark Kingdom, the first launch title for PlayStation 3. Dark Kingdom is the third game in the Untold Legends action RPG series, whose first two titles were developed for PSP. The game's storyline is being headed up by Keith Baker, author of various Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons novels.

    Untold Legends Dark Kingdom will support resolutions up to 1080p, and is set in a fantasy world. The game has three playable character classes, with a combo attack system, skills, and spells to learn. It also features cooperative play online. - Press release. Screenshots.

  • DOA4 Gets Update 2


    IGN reports that Team NINJA's Dead or Alive 4 (X360) is getting its second auto-update through Xbox Live. While the first one was a patch largely addressing an error by which users' save games were accidentally deleted, this new update addresses balance issues and slight changes to the game's interface. Apparently, the goal of the balance tweaks is to "prevent button mashing power moves from being excessively used."

  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Next Generation has a less than elated response to Sony's recent announcements. On the other hand, analysts seem relieved that the machine is at least coming out before 2007.

Misc. Media/Previews


First looks at Sony Online Entertainment's Untold Legends Dark Kingdom (PS3) come from GameSpot, 1UP, and GameSpy. GameSpot checks out D3's The Aka Champion (PS2). 1UP checks out an import version of Square Enix's Final Fantasy XII (PS2).

Screenshots: Untold Legends Dark Kingdom (PS3).


There are first looks at Rare's Viva Pinata (X360) from GameSpot, IGN, and 1UP.

Screenshots: Viva Pinata (X360).


Shacker lord cecil has impressions of Nintendo's Tetris DS (DS).


IGN goes hands on with Bugbear's FlatOut 2 (PS2, Xbox, PC).

Screenshots: OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast (PS2, Xbox, PSP). The Godfather (PS2, Xbox, X360, PSP, PC).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Berzerk for the Atari 2600. "Was a 6-year-old's worst nightmare; one more robot to clear the maze, but the bouncing smiley face is coming!" (submitted by zoolanderinsydney)