Ultra-Late Night Consoling

Sorry so late tonight, guys. I was at a Konami event all day, and I came home to four billion screenshots that needed to be posted. The upside is that you get four billion screenshots!

It's too bad no particularly mindblowing announcements have come out of Games Convention, but there have at least been a couple of nice things from each platform holder. Settlers of Catan on Xbox Live Arcade should be a lot of fun, whenever that ships. I'm also glad to see that both Super Mario Strikers and Battalion Wars 2 will be online on Wii. To be honest, I'm still somewhat skeptical about the initial quality of Wii's online service, so if nothing else it's good that Nintendo is not neglecting online multiplayer for games that clearly need it. Plus, Battalion Wars 2 has cooperative mode, and like I've always said (and you should too), you can never have too much co-op. Finally, I'm pretty impressed by how many playable games Sony will have at Tokyo Game Show. As many mind-boggling announcements and attitudes Sony has revealed and exhibited in recent months, I am appreciative of the fact that they do seem to be really pushing for a lot of original or exclusive titles on PS3 even quite early on in the system's life. The last thing we need is another generation of console clones.

  • Microsoft Announcements: Soccer Exclusivity, XBLA, Accessories Dated

    [xbox360]

    During Games Convention in Leipzig yesterday, Microsoft made the surprising announcement that next iterations of both major licensed soccer franchises FIFA 07 from Electronic Arts and Winning Eleven Pro Evolution Soccer 6 from Konami will be next-generation exclusives on Xbox 360 for the following twelve months. Though this does not bar them from appearing on the current-gen PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube, it does mean that PlayStation 3 and Wii owners will have to sit out on licensed soccer games for a while. EA Canada's FIFA 07 for Xbox 360 (screenshots) is expected to ship this fall. Konami's Winning Eleven Pro Evolution Soccer 6 for Xbox 360 is set to release this October.

    Microsoft also announcd that three well known board games will be coming to Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360: Carcassarone, Alhambra, and Settlers of Catan. No release dates, points, nor developers were revealed.

    Finally, Microsoft revealed official United States launch dates and prices for its upcoming Xbox 360 accessories. The lineup is as follows:

    - Xbox Live Vision ($39.99, Sep. 19): Includes Xbox Live Vision camera, Xbox 360 headset, one month of Xbox Live Gold, UNO, and Freeverse and Strange Flavour's camera-based game TotemBall.
    - Xbox Live Video Chat Gold Kit ($79.99, Sep. 19): Includes Xbox Live Vision camera, Xbox 360 headset, 12 months of Xbox Live Gold, 200 Microsoft Points, UNO, TotemBall, and Robotron.
    - Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel ($149.99, Nov. TBA): Includes wireless racing wheel and, for a limited time, a limited-edition force feedback-enabled version of Bizarre Creations' Project Gotham Racing 3.
    - Xbox 360 Wireless Headset ($59.99, Nov. TBA)
    - Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver for Windows ($19.99, late Dec.): Allows wireless Xbox 360 peripherals and controllers to be used with Windows PCs.
    - Xbox 360 Faceplates ($19.99 each, early Nov.): New faceplates will be available featuring the Halo franchise, Viva Pinata, and Forza Motorsport 2.

  • Nintendo Announcements: Battalion Wars & Mario Strikers on Wii, Pink DS, English Training

    [nintendo]

    Though its next-gen console won't be seeing an officially licensed soccer game in the next year thanks to Microsoft's timed exclusivity deal, Nintendo did announce that a new version of its own soccer franchises is coming to the system. During its Games Convention press conference today--entitled "Wii prove our promise," rather misleadingly seeing as the company revealed no new hard information about its system--Nintendo announced Mario Strikers Charged (artwork). The game features more team creation options than the original title, and also adds online multiplayer functionality. It will be developed by developer Next Level Games, also responsible for the original title.

    Also announced during Nintendo's conference was Battalion Wars 2 (screenshot, artwork), which Nintendo was sure to note is abbreviated "BWii." The game is a followup to UK-based Kuju's action/strategy hybrid on GameCube published by Nintendo last year. As with Mario Strikers Charged, Battalion Wars 2's most notable improvement over its predecessor is the inclusion of online multiplayer, which has three main modes: the combat oriented Assault, the tactical Skirmish mode, and a cooperative mode. It also adds new units, races, and environments, including naval units, and is comprised of over 20 single-player missions and over 15 multiplayer missions.

    Following Sony's announcement of its Europe-exclusive pink PlayStation 2 and PSP yesterday, Nintendo announced its own pink hardware. A pink DS Lite will be released in Europe on October 27. No mention of a North American release was made.

    As far as DS software goes, Nintendo revealed a German version of English language training software, first released in Japan as Eigo ga Nigate na Otona no DS Training: Eigo Duke. The game will be coming to various European territories in localized form.

  • Sony Announcements: Lots of Games at TGS

    [ps3] [psp]

    During this week's Games Convention in Leipzig, Sony Computer Entertainment released a list of 19 PlayStation 3 titles that will be playable at this year's Tokyo Game Show, which will run from September 22-24, 2006. The company noted that eight further playable titles are unrevealed, bringing the PS3 lineup for TGS to a total of 27. The current list is as follows:

    - From Software's Armored Core 4
    - Omega Force's Blade Storm: Hundred Years War
    - Konami's Coded Arms Assault
    - Capcom's Devil May Cry 4
    - SCE Japan's The Eye of Judgment
    - KOEI Canada's Fatal Inertia
    - SCE Studios Liverpool's Formula One 06
    - Game Republic's Genji: Days of the Blade
    - Polyphony Digital's "Gran Turismo" series (unspecified game)
    - Ninja Theory's Heavenly Sword
    - Factor 5's Lair (working title)
    - Koei's Mahjong Taikai IV
    - Clap Hanz' Hot Shots Golf 5
    - BEC's Mobile Suit Gundam
    - Evolution Studios' MotorStorm
    - Ongakukan's Railfan
    - Insomniac Games' Resistance: Fall of Man
    - Namco's Ridge Racer 7
    - Incognito Entertainment's Warhawk

    The company also noted that it will be showing video footage of a total of 35 games, which likely include many or all of the playable games listed above.

  • Relic Going Next Gen?

    [ps3] [xbox360] [nintendo]

    According to IGN, publisher THQ has put up a job post soliciting a tools programmer for a new strategy game. Interestingly, the listing notes that the game is in development for all three next generation consoles. It is unclear whether the game is a console version of one of Relic's PC franchises such as Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War or the upcoming Company of Heroes, or an entirely different franchise.

    Neither Relic nor THQ could be reached for comment as of press time.

  • Konami Brings Adventure and Cars to Portables

    [ds] [psp]

    Konami held a press event today at which it showed off several of its upcoming games, and the publisher also announced a couple of new titles: Lost in Blue 2 for Nintendo DS, the sequel to the company's self-described sleeper hit adventure game Lost in Blue, and a new "dark yet zany" racing games for PSP entitled Pocket Racers.

    Lost in Blue follows a similar plot to the original game, with a male character and female character trying to survive while stranded on a remote island. Konami noted that despite the structural similarities, the characters in Lost in Blue 2 are actually new characters, rather than the same pair from Lost in Blue. This time around, the unique abilities of the male and female characater have been strengthened and made more distinct. The DS' unique hardware capabilities also take on a greater role in puzzle solving and survival skills such as carpentry, food preparation, and so on. Lost in Blue 2 is set to wash up on North American shores in early 2007.

    Pocket Racers is a supernatural-themed racing game, with the player racing for his or her very soul against the evil "Nemesis." Being an evil sort of fellow, the Nemesis has been transforming people into small cars, serving as the premise for the the game's odd plot. The game's environments consist of indoor household environments, in which objects such as tables and chairs become large imposing obstacles thanks to the scale-altering work of the Nemesis. The game features 15 environments and 16 vehicles. It includes both single-player and multiplayer modes, with up to four players supported via local wireless. Pocket Racers skids into North American stores this fall.

  • LucasArts Drawn to Free Radical

    LucasArts has been making new developer partnerships left and right. Earlier this month, the publisher announced that it has struck a deal with Day 1 to create a new next generation franchise. Last week, it announced a deal with Ubisoft that will see the French developer and publisher creating an unspecified number of games starting with Star Wars: Lethal Alliance (NDS, PSP). Today, LucasArts announced that it is joining forces with another developer to create another unrevealed next generation franchise. This time, it's TimeSplitters developer Free Radical, which coincidentally is also working with Ubisoft on its shooter Haze (PS3, X360, PC). This latest announcement was extremely brief, and made no mention of platforms or release dates. "In recent years, LucasArts has established itself as one of the hottest publishers on the planet," said Free Radical director Steve Ellis. "We're honored that theyÂ’re every bit as interested to be working with us as we are to be working with them."

  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Today, there's coverage of Leipzig's Games Convention from GameSpot, IGN, 1UP,

Misc. Media/Previews

Xbox/X360

Screenshots: FIFA 07 (Xbox, X360, also PS2, GCN, NDS, PSP, GBA, PC).

Movies: Test Drive Unlimited (X360, also PS2, PSP, PC).

GCN/Wii

Screenshots: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii, also GCN). Elebits (Wii). Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii). Battalion Wars 2 (Wii) (BWii artwork). Mario Strikers Charged artwork (Wii). Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz (Wii). Wii Sports (Wii).

Movies: Red Steel (Wii).

Multi

Screenshots: Call of Duty 3 (PS3, X360, also PS2, Xbox, Wii). Tony Hawk's Project 8 (PS3, X360, also PS2, Xbox, PSP). Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (PS3, 360, also PS2, Xbox, GCN, Wii, NDS, PSP, GBA, PC).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Puggsy for the Sega Genesis. "A 16 bit platform/puzzler with physics? Unpossible! Very unique, challenging and charming game from Traveller's Tales (the Lego Star Wars studio)." (submitted by node)