Late Night Consoling

Some pretty meaty news items in here. Sorry, guys!
  • Import shop Lik Sang closes, points finger at Sony

    [ps2] [ps3] [xbox] [xbox360] [gamecube] [nintendo] [ds] [psp] [gba]

    Yesterday, online video game import shop Lik Sang was required as the result of a Sony-initiated court case to cease exporting PSP units to European countries. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe also announced its intention to block any future importing of any of its consoles, including the as yet unreleased PlayStation 3, to Europe. Today, Lik Sang announced that it has gone out of business as a result of the legal actions and will no longer accept orders. The company has refunded the cost of all pending orders to consumers, and is working on completing any incomplete repair or return transactions. Lik Sang cites legal costs incurred as a result of "multiple Sony lawsuits" as the reason for the closure.

    The company disputes Sony's claims that the reason for its blocking of imports to Europe is to "protect consumers from being sold hardware that does not conform to strict EU or UK consumer safety standards." Lik Sang disputed this claim, stating that all PSPs contain the "CE" mark indicating conformity with European Union product regulations.

    Lik Sang went on to point out that Sony Computer Entertainment Europe executives had purchased PSPs from Lik Sang, and listed several by name. "Sony Europe's very own top directors repeatedly got their Sony PSP hard or software imports in nicely packed Lik-Sang parcels with free Lik-Sang Mugs or Lik-Sang Badge Holders," reads the press release, "starting just two days after Japan's official release, as early as 14th of December 2004 (more than nine months earlier than the legal action)." Sony's first legal actions taken against Lik Sang for PSP sales began in late 2005.

    "Today is Sony Europe victory about PSP, tomorrow is Sony EuropeÂ’s ongoing pressure about PlayStation 3," said former Lik Sang marketing manager Pascal Clarysse. "With this precedent set, next week could already be the stage for complaints from Sony America about the same thing, or from other console manufacturers about other consoles to other regions, or even from any publisher about any specific software title to any country they donÂ’t see fit."

    Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Sony denied any liability in the matter. "Lik-Sang did not contest this case (i.e. they did not turn up and therefore incurred no legal costs)," read the statement. On Friday, Clarysse had stated, "Fighting multiple lawsuits in different countries at the same time and paying high premiums to expensive lawyers is an overwhelming situation for a small company like Lik Sang. Launching separate court actions with separate claims and different judges is completely unnecessary, except for the fact that it helps reaching one single target: outspend Lik-Sang to death." He added, "Pay beyond," a reference to Sony's current marketing slogan "Play beyond."

    Sony's response continued, "We would therefore strongly deny that our actions have had anything to do with this website closing (we assume the legal entity is still trading), and would suggest that this release is sour grapes on behalf of Lik-Sang which is aimed to belittle Sony Computer Entertainment and the British judicial system that found against them." The company also stated that Sony employee purchases from Lik Sang were made for "investigatory purposes."

  • Ubisoft announces GRAW 2, increases Wii title count

    [ps3] [xbox360] [nintendo]

    In a sales report for its first half of its current fiscal year, publisher Ubisoft made a number of noteworthy announcements. The company announced Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, a followup to its critically and commercially well received title released earlier this year. GRAW 2 will ship in the fourth quarter of its current fiscal year, which will put it in stores some time between January and March of 2007.

    After already establishing itself has having the highest number of launch titles planned for Wii, Ubisoft has now announced that it will have an additional seven games available for the system by the end of its fiscal year, bringing Ubisoft's total Wii game count to 14 by March 2007. Of those games, one will be part of a "non announced new brand." Ubisoft has already established a new franchise on the system with its upcoming launch title Red Steel.

    Both Assassin's Creed (PS3, X360, PC) from Ubisoft Montreal and Brothers in Arms Hell's Highway (PS3, X360, PC) from Gearbox have been delayed from their calendar Q1 2007 release periods. The games are given a broad potential release period, running from April 2007 to March 2008, but it is likely they will appear in the second half of 2007.

  • Grasshopper has "secret" title in works for Wii

    [nintendo]

    Earlier this year, Killer7 developer Grasshopper Manufacturer quietly announced that it is developing a game for Wii entitled Heroes, which centers around a protagonist who wields a lightsaber-like weapon. Speaking to Game Informer Online, Heroes director and Grasshopper head Goichi Suda revealed that the company has "another secret Wii title" in the works, though he did not go into any details as to its genre or name.

    Interestingly, Suda noted that it is purely coincidence that Heroes' swordplay mechanic is so appropriate to Wii's motion-sensitive controller. Apparently, the game's concept had been formulated before Nintendo had publically unveiled the Wii remote. The game's publisher, Marvelous Interactive, was aware of Nintendo's plans and strongly encouraged Grasshopper to develop the game for the system. "When I found out about the remote controller I understood why he was pushing so hard for Wii," recalls Suda, who added, "The final reason is that people at Nintendo are really nice people, too. And since we are a small development team Nintendo was really happy and supportive of us."

    Suda also revealed some early gameplay details of Heroes. The game plays in third person, with the nunchuck analog stick used for movement and the remote used for controlling actions, a common scheme for the system. The game's main character Travis Touch down is a hitman who must become the top-ranked professional killer by tracking down and killing the ten ranked above him.

    Finally, Suda addressed frequent rumors that he is working on a game with Metal Gear series designer Hideo Kojima. "There have been rumors about us working on something for next year. If we are actually making something together it would be a really interesting game," he said, adding that he and Kojima have "developed a good relationship" since the latter attended a Grasshopper event in January.

  • F.E.A.R. 360 to release on appropriate day

    [xbox360]

    Following many months of press release titles and news headlines using the title of Monolith Productions' F.E.A.R. in conjunction with the English language's word "fear" (or synonyms thereof), publisher Sierra Entertainment is tying it all together by announcing that Day 1's Xbox 360 port of the game will be released on Halloween, October 31. The Xbox 360 version will include a new arcade-like Instant Action Mode featuring online leaderboards.

    Day 1 is also developing a PlayStation 3 version of F.E.A.R., set to ship alongside the console's North American launch on November 17, 2006.

  • Guitar Hero II rocks web

    [ps2] [xbox360]

    RedOctane has launched the official site for Harmonix's Guitar Hero II. It consists of a trailer, a track list, character profiles, and various screenshots and wallpapers. Guitar Hero II is set to launch for PlayStation 2 on November 7, and for Xbox 360 at a later unannounced date.

  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    IGN has opened up a Wii Launch Guide, while GameSpot has a feature called PS3: Inside and Out.

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2/PS3

We've got previews of three PS3 games: MotorStorm, Untold Legends Dark Kingdom, and Genji: Days of the Blade. GameSpot has a developer Q&A on the PS3 version of BEC's Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire (PS3, also X360). Game Informer previews SCE Studios London's SingStar Rocks! (PS2) (so does GamingExcellence). GamingExcellence also checks out Square Enix's Final Fantasy XII (PS2).

Screenshots: Untold Legends Dark Kingdom (PS3).

GCN/Wii

GameSpot has a video interview on Ubisoft Paris' Red Steel (Wii).

Portable

GameSpot checks out Supervillain's Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony (PSP). GameSpy checks up on Konami's Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (NDS).

Multi

GameSpot has a "Combo Spotlight" on EA Tiburon's Superman Returns: The Videogame (PS2, Xbox, X360, NDS). IGN checks out EA Black Box's Need for Speed Carbon (all).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Captain Novolin for the Super Nintendo. "This game was made famous by Seanbaby's worst game lists. I played it. I want to commit suicide now." (submitted by Orange Pylon)