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Late Night Consoling

News time!
  • Xbox Live Spring Update Tomorrow

    [xbox360]

    Microsoft today announced that the much anticipated Xbox 360 spring dashboard update will go live tomorrow. The update will consist of over 125 features or improvements.

    Some of the most requested features include:

    - Background file downloading, with up to six pieces of content queued
    - Reorganized Marketplace menus
    - Improvements to DVD playback and control
    - Custom soundtracks that are not interrupted by loading screens or other transitions

    Furthermore, there are general improvements, such as "better support for Xbox 360 game disc recognition," which will presumably help reduce the number of "Disc Read Error" messages users have received while attempting to play standard Xbox 360 game discs.

    This update is also expected to add support for the Xbox Live Vision camera, though the peripheral itself is not slated for release until this fall.

  • PS3 to Use Hardware Backwards Compatibility?

    [ps3]

    IGN has translated reports from Japanese publication Ultra One claiming that Sony will be using a hardware solution for backwards compatibility in its upcoming PlayStation 3, at least initially. Apparently, a complete software solution is not yet ready, but would be implemented later on to lower the costs that come along with including actual PS2 hardware inside each PS3. Similarly, PlayStation 2 currently uses a hardware solution for its backwards compatibility with PlayStation games. The inclusion of such hardware in PS3 may be a contributor to the unit's price and hefty size.

    Interestingly, Sony announced during GDC that PS3 would have the ability to run PS1 and PS2 games in high definition. However, such enhancements would now seem unlikely if Sony has decided on a hardware solution, since original PS1 and PS2 hardware would lack the necessary horsepower to perform such upscaling. The upside, of course, is that compatibility would be flawless, since games would be running on the hardware for which they were designed. Microsoft was forced to use a software solution for its Xbox to Xbox 360 compatibility, which has required the company to write emulation code for each game individually. In its Wii console, Nintendo is expected to be using a hardware solution for GameCube compatibility, given the similar architecture between GameCube and Wii, and software emulation for the legacy systems it will support.

    Ultra One's article also notes that PS3 will include built in flash memory as well as the hard drive, so that system updates and options will be saved regardless of whether the original hard drive is being used. Users will be able to replace the included hard drive with any standard third party drive.

    During Sony's pre-E3 conference, the company announced that while the less expensive PS3 would go for a suggested retail price of 59.800 yen ($532), the higher-end model would have an open pricing scheme. Such schemes are common in Japan, allowing retailers to decide on a price set by market demand. Ultra One published speculation of the price point retailers would choose, expecting the unit to go for 73,000 ($650).

  • Sony's Hirai on E3, Microsoft, Blu-ray

    [ps3]

    Dean Takahashi of the San Jose Mercury News has published an interview with Sony Computer Entertainment America boss Kaz Hirai, in which Hirai discusses the reaction to Sony's E3 press conference ("It was a positive reaction"), the PS3's price point, Blu-ray vs. DVD, and online gaming.

    Hirai had much to say on the advantages of Blu-ray over the DVD format being used by Microsoft in Xbox 360. "If you look at the lack of Blu-ray on Microsoft, what do you do if the game requires 40 to 50 gigabytes? Put it on three disks?" he asked. "Let's look under the hood and see total value we are delivering to consumers." For comparison, the DVD9 standard used by Xbox 360 games holds about 8.5GB of data, while Blu-ray discs hold about 50GB. Some developers have called into question whether the capacity of DVD9 will remain sufficient for large games throughout the console generation.

    When Takahashi brought up Hirai's infamous remark that "the next generation doesn't start until we start it," Hirai responded frankly. "It's been that way for three console generations," he said. "With our original PlayStation, we ushered in the era of the CD-ROM and 3-D. With the PlayStation 2, we correctly said that the next-generation starts with PS 2, not Dreamcast. With the PlayStation 3, we are keeping to our belief that we have the true next-generation console. It's all about the games."

    In regards to online gaming, Hirai said, "Thank you, Microsoft, for helping us in taking consumers online." He noted that Sony plans to make sure "online is an integral part of the experience."

    When asked about Microsoft's Live Anywhere initiative, which plans to bring together users' PCs, Xbox 360s, and mobile devices, Hirai pointed out the unique position Sony has to integrate PS3 and PSP. "Cell phones are not primarily designed for entertainment. We can make the PSP and the PS3 work together," he said. During the company's E3 presentation, SCEE's Phil Harrison demonstrated a feature allowing the PSP's screen to serve as a rear view mirror for a PS3 Formula 1 game.

  • DC Studios Declares State of Emergency

    [ps2]

    Edinburgh-based developer DC Studios has ceased all trading and operation, making its 29 staff redundant, according to a report from Scotland's Sunday Herald. Most recently, DC Studios developed State of Emergency 2 (PS2), whose extremely low sales were cited as the primary reason for the studio's current financial troubles. DC Studios acquired the State of Emergency license from VIS Entertainment, which developed the original State of Emergency (PS2, Xbox, PC) for publication by Rockstar Games. State of Emergency 2 was published by SouthPeak Interactive.

    DC's 55-employee Montreal studio remains unaffected by this turn of events.

  • Halo 3 Documentary Trailer Coming

    [xbox360]

    In the latest Weekly Update over at the official Bungie site, web guy Frank O'Connor revealed that the company is working on a documentary describing the making of the Halo 3 (X360) E3 trailer. O'Connor stated that the documentary will have "some never before seen scenes (think angles, really)," but did not go into greater detail.

  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    IGN has a video analysis of the Halo 3 trailer and the evolution of the series.

    Eurogamer has an interview with Sony's Tsutomo Kuono, speaking about the upcoming wacky 2D platformer Loco Roco (PSP).

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2/PS3

IGN checks out a beta of Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo 4 Online (PS2).

Screenshots: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PS2, also PSP). Mercenaries 2: World in Flames (PS3).

XBOX/X360

GameSpot checks out Namco Bandai's Galaga (X360).

Screenshots: Over G Fighters (X360).

PORTABLE

IGN has translated details on Square Enix's Dragon Quest Monsters (NDS). Game Informer has impressions of Nintendo's Big Brain Academy (NDS).

Movies: Spectrobes (NDS).

MULTI

Screenshots: Alone in the Dark (PS3, X360, PC). FlatOut 2 (PS2, Xbox, PC).

Movies:

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Rampage for the Atari Lynx. "Roar! Smash! *crunch* It's great fun smashing stuff up, but what am I meant to be doing?" (submitted by MaverickUK)