Late Night Consoling

By Chris Remo, May 01, 2006 8:25pm PDT Down in the previews section you may notice a new video for New Super Mario Bros. (DS) hosted on Nintendo's official game site. For those crying foul over Mario's polygonal rather than spritely form, I submit this video as justification of why the 3D route was taken. There are an absolutely ridiculous amount of individual animations going on depending on what Mario is doing and how he's doing it, and a 3D model is very conducive to that kind of fluidity and variety.
  • Ubisoft Exhibits Sound Marketing Judgment

    [xbox360]

    Ubisoft today announced that it will be publishing From Software's Xbox role-playing game RPG [eM] -eNCHANT arM- in North America and Europe. The game was released by that name in Japan earlier this year, but Ubisoft has rather wisely changed the name to make it a bit more appropriate (and pronouncable) to Western Audiences. It now goes by the more mundane, but less aggravating, Enchanted Arms. "Enchanted Arms is the first classic Japanese RPG game created specifically for Xbox 360," said Ubisoft's Jay Cohen, vice president of publishing at Ubisoft. "With its fast-action gameplay, stunning high-definition graphics, rich and colorful environments, and over an hour of anime-style cinematics, itâ??s a must-have for every Xbox 360 owner." Enchanted Arms casts the player as a rising hero in a millenium-old war, with the ability to collect dozens of different controllable creatures. Ubisoft promises 50 hours of gameplay and turn-based battle system.

    Enchanted Arms ships in North America and Europe this summer, and is likely to be at E3.

  • SNK Says, "Wii!"

    [nintendo]

    Speaking to IGN, arcade favorite SNK today revealed Metal Slug Anthology for Wii. Every version of Metal Slug released in arcades since the series' 1996 Neo-Geo inception will be included, as will "many additional surprises" (been spending too much time around Nintendo PR, eh SNK?). Control schemes taking advantage of the motion-sensing Wii controller have been added; it is unclear whether a traditional control scheme will also be uncluded via the promised traditional controller "shell", or how the new control scheme will work. "Fans worldwide have been looking forward to our return to Nintendo platforms and what better way then to bring our complete Metal Slug arcade collection to Wii," said SNK Playmore USA president Ben Herman. "The Wii controller will be used in a new and unique way that enhances the gameplay. Our fans have demanded that we support Nintendo platforms. Let the celebration begin."

    No release date was given for Metal Slug Anthology, though the game will be present at E3.

  • Grasshopper Gets Busy

    [ps2] [ps3] [nintendo] [ds]

    Goichi Suda's studio Grasshopper Manufacture has been announcing projects left and right recently. For an independent company with just a few dozen employees, the company has been taking on an impressive amount of development. Last week, some more Grasshopper news appeared, including two more game announcements.

    - Famitsu reported that Grasshopper is developing an adaptation of the Blood+ anime series, to be published by Namco Bandai Games for PlayStation 2. Entitled Blood+ One Night Kiss, the game puts the player in the role of the series' protagonist Saya and a new character named Aoyama. One Night Kiss is being directed by Grasshopper CEO Suda, who gained fame as the director of Grasshopper's unorthadox Killer 7 (PS2, GCN). This marks the second time Grasshopper has worked on an anime-based game for Namco Bandai; the two companies recently shipped Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked (PS2). (Note that there is also an entirely separate Blood+ game being developed and published by Sony, also for PlayStation 2.)

    - Suda also revealed a horror game concept, Kurayami, planned for PlayStation 3. Kurayami takes heavy inspiration from the writing of Franz Kafka, though it is not specifically based on any of the author's works. Rather, the game will draw from the surreal and uncomfortable themes for which Kafka is known. The game's protagonist finds himself in a strange village and must find his way out, confronted at every turn by frightening situations and darkness. Kurayami is unfortunately still in planning phases, likely since Grasshopper already has so much on its plate, and no publisher has been announced, so don't expect to see it at E3.

    - Multiple rumors have sprung up lately that Grasshopper's Wii project, which Suda announced some time ago but which has been kept in total secrecy since, may be in E3 at some form behind closed doors. When contacted by Shacknews about the matter, Nintendo had no official response, and since the game's publisher has not been announced (if it has one), it looks like we'll have to wait until next week to know for sure.

    Grasshopper also recently released Contact (DS) in Japan, and Atlus will be showing the game at E3 as well as releasing it in North America this summer. Then, on top of all that, there are rumors that Suda and Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima may be collaborating. Take that last bit with a considerable amount of salt, however.

  • Namco Bandai at E3

    [ps3] [xbox360]

    Namco Bandai Games has revealed its next-gen lineup for E3, consisting of two games each for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

    - Culdcept Saga, a new Xbox 360 iteration of the bizarre cult classic board game/card game hybrid franchise Culdcept, will be at the show. The game was previously announced at a Japanese press conference, but has only now been confirmed for release in North America.

    - Mobile Ops: One Year War, the technically-based-on-Gundam mecha title announced last week, will be shown.

    - Ridge Racer hasn't missed the launch of a PlayStation system yet, and it doesn't look like that's going to change. The seventh main game in the series was recently revealed in Famitsu, and will be at E3.

    - Tekken 6, first shown in teaser form at last year's E3, will return to this year's E3.

  • Indie Built Gets Un-Built

    [xbox360] [ds] [gba]

    According to GameSpot, Take-Two-owned developer Indie Built has been officially dissolved. The company, originally known as Access Software, has had a storied history in the games industry. First entering the gaming market with the classic Tex Murphy series of adventure games and then the longrunning Links series of golf games, Access Software was redubbed Indie when it was purchased by Microsoft in the late 90s. Indie created the Amped snowboarding series and the Top Spin tennis series during its tenure with Microsoft. It was then purchased by Take-Two, where it released sequels in both of those franchises. Most recently came Amped 3 (X360) and Top Spin 2 (X360, DS, GBA). Former co-owners Chris Jones and Bruce Carver left the company some time after its acquisition by Take-Two. Aaron Conners, who co-created Tex Murphy with Jones, was still at Indie Built as of the development of Amped 3.

    Studio employees have been offered other positions within Take-Two's internal development. Take-Two also owns the rights to Amped, Links, and Top Spin as part of its 2K Sports label.

  • GameCube to Get Price Drop?

    [gamecube]

    According to GameSpot, retailers have been receiving marketing materials suggesting that the Nintendo GameCube will be getting a price drop in the near future. The system is currently priced at $99.99, but the amount of the alleged discount is not known. GameCube's sales have been floundering in recent years, largely due to waning third party software support resulting in a slow pace of new games. Furthermore, with Wii having complete backwards compatibility with the machine later this year, the number of reasons to pick up a new GameCube have been dropping, making the rumors of a price drop seem likely true. Don't be surprised if an official announcement is made during Nintendo's press conference next week.

  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Dean Takahashi of The San Jose Mercury News has two Xbox 360-focused pieces today: one about the interplay between various component manufacturers leading up to the creation of the Xbox 360, and one about a guy who had so many problems with his Xbox 360(s) that Microsoft's Peter Moore ended up calling him on the phone.

    GameSpot takes a look back on one of the Greatest Games of All Time, Gran Turismo (PS1).

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2

IGN checks out the PS2 version of Spike's Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 (PS2, also Wii). GameSpy checks out Square Enix's Dragon Quest: Young Yangus' Mysterious Dungeon (PS2).

Xbox/X360

GameSpot checks out Eden Studios' Alone in the Dark (X360) as well as the 360 version of Io's Hitman: Blood Money (X360, also PS2, Xbox, PC). IGN takes a look at From Software's Enchanted Arms (X360). Game Informer has a preview of Eden Studios' Test Drive Unlimited (X360).

Screenshots: The Darkness (X360, also PS3). Enchanted Arms (X360). Test Drive Unlimited (X360). Too Human (X360).

Portable

IGN has a preview of SNK's SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS (DS) and some new details on oeFun's Konductra (DS), as well as a look at SNK's Metal Slug Anthology PSP, also Wii) and Awesome Studios' Mercury Meltdown (PSP). 1UP checks out zSlide's HOT PXL (PSP).

Movies: New Super Mario Bros. (DS).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

South Park for the Nintendo 64. "I spent roughly six hours going from store to store trying to get a copy of this when it came out and it wasn't even close to being worth the effort. A couple years later it was stolen by an elderly woman at a yard sale and I really didn't care." (submitted by BrodieMan)

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  • EVERYONE should read the article by Dean Takahashi about the various components manufacturers.

    "Then something unexpected hit. Both Samsung and Infineon Technologies had committed to making the GDDR3 memory for Microsoft. But some of Infineon's chips fell short of the 700 megahertz specified by Microsoft. Using such chips could have slowed games down noticeably. Microsoft's engineers consulted and decided to start sorting the chips, not using the subpar ones. Because GDDR3 700-MHz chips were just ramping up, there was no way to get more chips. Each system used eight chips. The shortage constrained the supply of Xbox 360s."