Late Night Consoling

By Chris Remo, Jun 07, 2006 8:00pm PDT Console executives are back! Tuesday felt so empty without them. There's also a bit of a Nintendo news blowout--complete with trademark Nintendo semi-news.
  • Nintendo on Wii

    [nintendo]

    Nintendo held a conference in Japan yesterday to discuss various details of the company's strategy for the coming year. Unsurprisingly, the brunt of the announced news pertained to the company's upcoming Wii console and the current Nintendo DS handheld. Here's what was said regarding Wii:

    - Newly developed games will definitely be a part of Virtual Console. Pricing will be around 500 yen ($4.44) to 1000 yen ($8.88), putting games in essentially the same price range as Xbox Live Arcade titles for Xbox 360, which generally go for $5-$12.50.
    - Nintendo plans to ship six million Wii units worldwide by the end of the company's fiscal year 2006, which ends March 31, 2007. Four million of those will be shipped by the end of calendar year 2006.
    - Wii will have all of the capabilities of a retail DS Download Station, allowing trailers and demos to be wirelessly sent to DS consoles.
    - Some DS games will have additional big-screen features usable with Wii.
    - The final price and release date for the Wii console will be revealed by September. (Thanks for the heads up, guys!)
    - Two reports from Reuters cite Iwata as noting that he expects Nintendo's profits to have little impact from from sales of Wii hardware, but he also does not expect "an enormous loss." These statements suggest that the console will be sold fairly close to cost, if it will not cause significant profit or loss.

  • Nintendo on DS

    [ds]

    ...And here are the DS announcements:

    - To cope with continuing demand, Nintendo is working to raise DS production to over 2 million units a month worldwide, peaking at 2.2 million a month.
    - Nintendo plans to release 3-4 titles per year in the Touch Generations line, the casual gamer-friendly brand which currently contains games like Brain Training (Brain Age), Nintendogs, and Tetris DS.
    - The company plans to ease non-gamers into the hobby by way of Touch Generations titles. Towards that end, the company noted that many Japanese consumers who bought a Brain Training game went on to buy more traditional games. For example, 32% of Brain Training owners later bought Animal Crossing: Wild World, 23% bought Mario Kart DS, 20% bought New Super Mario Bros., and 14% bought Tetris DS.
    - Opera's DS web browser will be available in Japan in July via online sales. Worldwide release dates were not given.

    Also, while this was not mentioned at the conference, here's as good a place to put it as any. Namco Bandai made something of a surprise announcement that Point Blank DS will ship to retailers next week in North America.

  • Sony's Kutaragi on PS3: "It is Clearly a Computer"

    [ps3]

    Sony has traditionally been keen on the idea of consumers thinking of its game consoles as computers rather than game machines. Sony Computer Entertainment boss Ken Kutaragi famously said about the PlayStation 3, "[It] is not a game machine. We've never once called it a game machine." Last week, SCE Europe's Phil Harrison stated that the PS3 could perform all of the entertainment functions of a PC; "PlayStation 3 is a computer," he said; "We don't need the PC." Indeed, even the PS2 is officially referred to as the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system.

    Today, Kutaragi reiterated that view. "[PlayStation 3] is radically different from the previous PlayStation," he said. "It is clearly a computer." He noted that game consoles are generally stripped down to lower costs, and while that is true with PS3 to some extent, he also expects the machine to keep pace with PCs. "If a new technology gets into mainstream PCs, the PS3 will have to adopt it as well," he said. "Everything has been planned and designed so it will become a computer." He notes that the hard drive can be swapped out with any standard PC hard drive. The higher-end PS3 model also features support for various flash memory card formats.

    Kutaragi went so far as to say that PS3 will be very customizable: "As a computer, the PS3 could really be sold via BTO [build-to-order.]" He noted that companies such as Dell and Apple have programs allowing customers to keep their PCs updated with new hardware over time, and though there are no specific similar plans currently in place for PS3, it is a possibility. "I think that the time may come that the 60GB HDD would become too small or the RAM too low," he said.

    In regards to any alleged difficulties of PS3 programming, Kutaragi pointed out that PC users don't complain about "improved clock, memory or HDD." He added, "On the computer named PS3, I would like the top guns of programming to express themselves." It is important to note, however, that PC architecture does not generally change as drastically as console architecture does between generations; PS3 features the highly distinctive Cell processor consisting of several parallel processing units.

    In regards to the different paths being taken by Sony's competitors in the upcoming generation, Kutaragi was welcoming. "I think that if this can make the market and the industry more dynamic, why not?" he asked. "If we we're all doing the same thing, the market would transform into a killing arena--that's not really good, in my opinion."

  • Xbox 360 an "Obsession" for Sony's Stringer?

    [ps3] [xbox360]

    In a Wall Street Journal interview at the paper's D: All Things Digital conference, Sony CEO Howard Stringer made an inadvertent reference to the video game industry when speaking about the performance of Sony's film The Da Vinci Code. "It also beat Xbox 3 in Europe in its second weekend," he said, intending to say "X-Men 3." When corrected, Stringer laughed and exclaimed, "There's an obsession!"

    That led into interviewer Walt Mossberg asking, "PS3 is going to be 500 bucks, right?" (the machine has a dual $499/$599 price strategy) and Stringer launched into an explanation of PS3's price point. "$499, and look it's got more bells and whistles than a 747," he said. "The reason it's expensive [is that] instead of concentrating on just the games player, which would have been done in the past, PlayStation 3 is designed to go somewhere else, where it's the center of the living room."

    Stringer also had some thought on Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. "Look, the skill of Bill Gates is he's so brilliant at his detail that when he slips in the salesmanship, most of us think: oh my God, he must be right," Stringer explained. "He talked on the one hand, and I loved it, he talked about Vista [being] delayed as if delay was normal, and then he started mocking me for delaying PS3."

  • Pokemon Battle Revolution Announced

    [nintendo]

    Pokemon games have made it to every Nintendo system since the original Pokemon Red/Blue's debut on Game Boy, so it was only a matter of time until a game in the decade-old series was announced for Wii. That happened during Nintendo's conference yesterday, as the company unveiled Pokemon Battle Revolution. Very few details were given about the game, though online functionality of some kind was confirmed. The game will also feature connectivity with Pokemon Diamond/Pearl (NDS), allowing two gamers to fight battles on the big screen using creatures they have collected in the DS games.

    Pokemon Battle Revolution is set for release some time in 2006. It is not known who is developing the game, be it original Pokemon developer Game Freak, frequent collaborator Genius Sonority, or some other studio.

  • Ninety-Nine Nights Coming in Two Months

    [xbox360]

    Microsoft today announced that Ninety-Nine Nights (X360), a large-scale third person action title developed by Q Entertainment and Phantagram, will be shipping in North America this August. The game has already been released in Japan and Korea. For more on the game, check out Shacknews' preview.

  • Perfect Dark Zero Update, Rumble Roses Demo Available

    [xbox360]

    The map update for Rare's Perfect Dark Zero (X360) first erroneously announced last week is now actually available via Xbox Live. It consists of the multiplayer maps Trench, Rooftops, Gas Plant, and Plaza, the last of which is also playable in the free Perfect Dark Zero demo available through Live. This new update is purchasable for 500 Microsoft Points ($6.25).

    A free playable demo for Konami's Rumble Roses XX (X360) is now also available through the service.

  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Bungie has released their Halo 3 trailer documentary, going behind the scenes on the making of the company's E3 video for the upcoming Xbox 360 shooter.

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2/PS3

GameSpot checks out SNK's The King of Fighters 2006 (PS2). AtomicGamer takes a look at SCE Santa Monica's God of War 2 (PS2).

XBOX/X360

AtomicGamer previews BioWare's Mass Effect (X360).

GCN/Wii

Movies: Pokemon Battle Revolution (Wii).

PORTABLE

Screenshots: Point Blank DS (NDS).

MULTI

1UP checks out Rocksteady and Argonaut's Urban Chaos: Riot Response (PS2, Xbox) and EA Tiburon's NCAA Football 07 (PS2, Xbox, X360, PSP).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Shinobi for the Sega Master System. "This game was so frustrating because once you died on the later levels, you were too weak to do anything! Had to love those Shuriken Intermissions too!" (submitted by xoque)

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