Update: Previews are here, for those of you still awake.
Sega Has a Secret, and Interactive Sports[ps3] [xbox360]
Sega, in keeping with its stated goals of working with and acquiring Western development studios, has announced its purchase of San Francisco-based studio Secret Level. The studio will retain its current offices and will serve as the center of Sega's internal North American development. It may be working on a previously rumored PS3 and Xbox 360 revival of an unnamed classic Sega title. "We looked long and hard at building an internal studio from scratch," said Sega of America president Simon Jeffery, "but were so impressed with the team at Secret Level and their next-gen technology that we decided to create our internal development infrastructure through a direct acquisition, one that could fulfill our dynamic growth plans and produce high quality games."
Secret Level has developed titles such as Karaoke Revolution (Xbox), America's Army: Rise of a Soldier (PS2, Xbox), and Magic: The Gathering: Battlegrounds (Xbox, PC). The company has also been known for bringing Epic tech to consoles in the past. It took Unreal Tournament to Sega Dreamcast, and brought Unreal Engine tech to PS2 and GameCube.
The publisher also announced that it has acquired London-based Sports Interactive. The studio is behind the Football Manager franchise, previously known under the name Championship Manager. Sega has been publishing the titles since the name change, when the Championship Manager marquee stayed with previous publisher Eidos.
DS Lite in May?[ds]
The latest issue of Electronic Gaming Montly has a short news blurb mentioning that DS Lite will be shipping in North America some time this May. It also notes it will sell for $130, the original DS model's current going rate. The article is oddly devoid sources, giving literally nothing more than an unclarified "due in May" mention and "we hear" for the price bit. Consider it reasonable speculation. Nintendo has not announced a date, likely because the company has yet to meet demand in Japan. Financial reports indicate that units originally intended for export had to be allocated for sale back home. If Nintendo can get DS Lite out in North America in May, it would be a fitting match for New Super Mario Bros. (DS), recently delayed until May 21.
Namco Reportedly Fast, Possibly Furious[ps2] [psp]
Namco Bandai Games has announced that it is currently set to publish The Fast and the Furious, a tie-in with the upcoming film The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Oddly, the announcement states that the game is "set in a world related to, yet separate from, the movie." Gameplay will heavily center around drifting mechanics, with features such as a Drift Indicator and a drift assisting option. Four-player online multiplayer and two-player split-screen multiplayer will be supported. The game is in development by Eutechnyx for PS2 as well as PSP, hoping to target the barren PSP racing game market. Eutechnyx comes from a racing background, with a portfolio including Ford vs. Chevy, Street Racing Syndicate, Big Mutha Truckers, and Big Mutha Truckers 2: Truck Me Harder!
Nintendo Predicts Posting Progress in Profits[nintendo] [ds]
Nintendo released a statement today, raising its previously posted financial forecasts for the fiscal year that ended March 31. The company's previously estimated net income was $637.7M (75B yen), which has now been raised 26.7% to $807.7M (95B yen). The results are the highest profits the company has seen since 2001, the year in which it launched GameCube. To explain the increase, the report stated:
The increase in foreign exchange gain is expected to increase income before income taxes and extraordinary items and net income on a consolidated basis. On a non-consolidated basis, in addition to the effect of the increase in foreign exchange gain, favorable sales of "Nintendo DS" in Japan, among others, are expected to increase net sales, income before income taxes and extraordinary items and net income.
Nintendo has currently achieved DS sales of approximately 6 million in Japan and worldwide sales somewhere over 13 million. The company hopes to achieve 10 million in Japan by the end of 2006.
GameSpot has posted a translated and paraphrased of an interview with the designers of DS Lite, taken from Nintendo's Japanese site.
IGN has a developer commentary video on the single-player campaign of Digital Illusions' Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (X360, also PS2, Xbox).
Official Xbox Magazine UK talks with Rare's Gregg Mayles and Jim Veevaert about Viva Pinata (X360).
Game Informer has impressions of Rockstar San Diego's Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis (X360). Firing Squad tries out the Xbox version of Funcom's Dreamfall: The Longest Journey (Xbox, also PC). Official Xbox Magazine UK checks out Volition's Saint's Row (X360).
GameSpy previews SNK's Metal Slug Collection (PSP).
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
Ghostbusters for the Atari 2600. "Gozer the Traveler will come in one of the prechosen forms. For the 2600 he appeared in the form of a blinking light that said "ZUUL" at the top of the screen." (submitted by jake2000)