Argo/Zune to Game After All?[xbox] [xbox360]
News about Microsoft's upcoming portable device, known as either Argo or Zune depending on who you ask, is likely to get old pretty fast, with no end to rumors and still no official statements from Microsoft. Still, here's the latest one. Reputable Apple rumor site Think Secret has reported on news from "Microsoft insiders" that the system is equipped with a 400MHz DSP processor, seemingly overkill for a machine speculated to focus on audio/video playback rather than gaming. For reference, PSP has a MIPS CPU clocked at up to 333MHz, locked at a speed of 222MHz. With that kind of power, Microsoft may be setting its signs on Nintendo and Sony's handheld offerings after all. Still, with Zune's price point rumored to be in the neighborhood of $400--the price of a premium Xbox 360 package--it will have to deliver some tasty gaming to succeed on those terms.
Too Human Taking a Little Too Long?[xbox360]
Last week, the Gears of War (X360) product page on Xbox.com was updated to reflect an October 2 release date, whereas previously the Epic shooter was announced only as coming out some time this year. Inquiries to Microsoft were met with neither confirmation nor denial of the information. The October 2 date has since been removed.
Now, another anticipated game has had its release date moved around. Silicon Knights' sci-fi adventure Too Human (X360), famously in development for many years and across several systems, has been announced for an unspecified 2006 release date. Until mere days ago, its Xbox.com product page release date read "TBA 2006," though now it has been changed to an even more vague "TBD." It is not clear whether the change reflects a delay or merely housekeeping on publisher Microsoft's part to keep release dates as open as possible until final announcements are made.
Final Fantasy XI-2 Coming?[ps3] [xbox360]
Varies news outlets are reporting on an article from Japanese site Nikkei, noting that Square Enix is currently working on a sequel to its multiplatform MMO Final Fantasy XI (PS2, X360, PC). The unnamed game is apparently in the works for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows Vista; the inclusion of Vista indicates that the game is likely to show up no earlier than 2007. Square Enix has not yet responded to inquiries regarding the reports.
DS Lite Cracking Up[ds]
Reports on various blogs and forums indicate that the left hinge on some DS Lite units seems to be prone to cracking. Various photographs have appeared showing the small horizontal crack; according to those affected by the problem, functionality of the hinge itself is not affected.
At this point, Nintendo is not classifying the problem as one covered under warranty, presumably because it does not affect operation. Online users have reportedly been unable to find a strong correlation between amount of use and presence of the problem. The manufacturer estimates that less than 1% of DS Lite units are afflicted with the defect, and are charging a discounted rate of $50--rather than $75--for those who wish to send in their units for repair. By contrast, Nintendo will replace units containing dead or stuck pixels free of charge, so if you happen to have a cracked unit with a dead pixel or two, you may well be covered.
Nintendo Shows off at Comic-Con[ds]
Nintendo today announced that it will be showcasing upcoming titles at this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego, though it seems the company's lineup will be entirely made up of Nintendo DS titles rather than those for the Wii console or the few 2006 releases left for GameCube. Among the games playable at the show will be iNiS' Elite Beat Agents (a remake/sequel to DS rhythm game Osu! Takae! Ouendan!), Square Enix's Mario Hoops 3 on 3, Q-Games' Star Fox Command, ChunSoft's Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, and others. The company will also be operating a download kiosk for Nintendo DS game demos and movies. Longtime voice of Mario (and Luigi and Wario and Waluigi), Charles Martinet, will be on hand to sign autographs and say things in goofy accents.
MSN Messenger Knows Who Your Friends Are[xbox] [xbox360]
Xbox Live friends list functionality, once a feature in MSN Messenger but removed over a year ago, has been returned to Microsoft's online chat software. Users with recent version of the renamed Windows Live Messenger now have an Xbox tab that will list recent Xbox Live news and display the online status and current activity of each of their friends. While Messenger users cannot interact with friends through the software, clicking on a Gamertag will launch that friend's Xbox.com page. (Thanks Major Nelson.)
Another industry member-written blog about the industry has sprung up, this one from QA Engineer Zachary Slater. Fittingly, it's called the Game QA Blog.
Screenshots: God of War II (PS2).
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 for the Dreamcast. "I lost countless hours of my life to this game, and more specifically School II. S-K-A-T-E" (submitted by emocore) (Chris: Me too... me too.)