Late Night Consoling

  • Sony reveals Europe/AUS PS3 launch plans

    [ps3]

    Sony has revealed its final release date, pricing, and launch lineup plans for the PlayStation 3 in Europe and Australasia. As has been hinted in the past, the 20GB hard drive model will not be offered at launch. Indicating that the lack of the lesser model is in response to "retail and consumer demand," it will follow "later in the year dependent on demand." One million 60GB hard drive units will be made available on March 23, 2007 to the PAL territories.

    PlayStation 3 will sell at retail in Europe for 599 Euros (US$778), in the UK for GBP 425 (US$842), in Australia for AU$999.95 (US$791), and in New Zealand for NZ$1199.95 (US$841).

    Releasing during the systems "launch period" will be some thirty games across retail and downloadable formats. It has not yet been confirmed which titles will be released alongside the console on day one of launch. The launch period games are as follows:

    Retail:
    - Blazing Angels Squadrons of WWll (Ubisoft Romania, Ubisoft Entertainment SA)
    - Call of Duty 3 (Treyarch, Activision UK Ltd)
    - Def Jam: Icon (EA Chicaco, Electronic Arts Ltd)
    - The Elder Scrolls lV: Oblivion (Bethesda Game Studios, Ubisoft Entertainment SA)
    - Enchanted Arms (FromSoftware, Ubisoft Entertainment SA)
    - Fight Night Round 3 (EA Chicago, Electronic Arts Ltd)
    - F.E.A.R. Vivendi (Monolith Productions, Universal Games Intl SA)
    - Formula One Championship Edition (SCE Studios Liverpool, SCEE)
    - Full Auto 2: Battle Lines (Pseudo Interactive, Sega Europe Ltd)
    - Genji: Days of the Blade (Game Republic, SCEE)
    - The Godfather: The Don's Edition (EA Redwood Shores, Electronic Arts Ltd)
    - Gundam - Target in Sight (BEC, Namco Bandai Games)
    - Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (Raven Software, Activision UK Ltd)
    - MotorStorm (Evolution Studios, SCEE)
    - NBA 2K7 (Visual Concepts/Kush Games, Take 2 International SA)
    - NBA Street 4 Homecourt 2007 (EA Canada, Electronic Arts Ltd)
    - Need for Speed Carbon (EA Black Box, Electronic Arts Ltd)
    - NHL 2K7 (Visual Concepts/Kush Games, Take 2 International SA)
    - Resistance: Fall of Man (Insomniac Games, SCEE)
    - Ridge Racer 7 (Namco, SCEE)
    - Sonic the Hedgehog (Sonic Team, Sega Europe Ltd)
    - Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007 (EA Redwood Shores, Electronic Arts Ltd)
    - Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Entertainment SA)
    - Tony Hawk's Project 8 (Neversoft, Activision UK Ltd)
    - Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom (Sony Online Entertainment, Electronic Arts Ltd)
    - Virtua Fighter 5 (Sega AM2, Sega Europe Ltd)
    - Virtua Tennis 3 (Sega AM3, Sega Europe Ltd)
    - World Snooker Championship 2007 (Blade Interactive, Sega Europe Ltd)

    PlayStation Store:
    - Blast Factor (Bluepoint Games, SCEE)
    - flOw (thatgamecompany, SCEE)
    - Go! Sudoku (Sumo Digital, SCEE)
    - Go! Puzzle (SCEI, SCEE)
    - Gripshift (Sidhe Interactive, Sony Online Entertainment)
    - Lemmings (Team17, SCEE)
    - Super Rub'a'Dub (SCEE)
    - Tekken: Dark Resurrection (Namco, SCEE)

    Accessories such as the Sixaxis wireless controller, Blu-ray Disc remote control, official HDMI cable, AV cable, component AV cable, and S-video cable will be available at launch. A new System Update will alo be available for download when the machine goes on sale.

  • PS3 patched to 1.5, backwards compatibility remedied

    [ps3]

    PlayStation 3 owners can now download newly released version 1.50 system software, which Sony states makes a few fairly minor changes to the system's interface. Wi-fi encryption methods are now streamlined, Korean text input is supported, photos can be selected as user icons, and backup data can be deleted.

    Most crucial, however--and bafflingly not mentioned on Sony's official update page--is a fix to the system's previously broken backwards compatibility feature. Prior to this fix, in an issue that seemed to stem from PS3's lack of dedicated scaling hardware, many PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games suffered from extremely low-quality scaling, introducing prominent jagged edges and artifacts and in some cases making text extremely difficult to read on many HD televisions. Now, fortunately, this graphical bug has been addressed, giving PS3 owners the ability to actually appreciate the breadth of the system's legacy game support.

  • Sony and Namco Bandai get serious about Cell with Cellius

    [ps3]

    In an announcement that is still seemingly being parsed by the press, Sony and recently merged Namco Bandai Holdings are creating a new company focused on content developed for the Sony/IBM/Toshiba-developed Cell chip. With a total investment of about 100 million yen (US$822,707) between them, Namco Bandai will hold a controlling stake of 51%, with Sony taking the remaining 49%. Heading up the company (as translated by Game|Life) will be Namco Bandai's Isao Nakamura, with part time directorial duties shared between Namco Bandai VP Shin Unozawa, Sony Computer Entertainment VP Akira Sato, and Sony Computer Entertainment chairman/group CEO Ken Kutaragi.

    An early Bloomberg story painted the alliance as being focused on PlayStation 3 development, but it is unclear if this is actually the case. Other reports seem to stress the Cell chip in general, which will also be used in a broad range of other consumer-level products such as mobile phones, over PlayStation 3 specifically. Furthermore, the total investment in Cellius is only a fraction of what would be required to develop a showcase PS3 game. In statements reported by the press, Sony representative Satoshi Fukuoka seemed to decline to give specific details of products in developments, but indicating that they are in the works for various entertainment devices such as PCs and mobile phones.

  • Tenchu Z coming to North America

    [xbox360]

    Microsoft sent word that it will be handling North American publishing duties on K2 Interactive's Tenchu Z for Xbox 360, the latest entry in FromSoftware's long running Tenchu franchise. The game was previously released in Japan as Tenchu Senran.

    Tenchu Z will feature several dozen missions requiring the player to conduct stealthy ninja activities using ninja weaponry and equipment including a grappling hook. The game features what Microsoft describes as a "stealth kill system," and also includes a character edit feature and online cooperative play.

    Microsoft has not yet announced a release time frame for Tenchu Z in North America.

  • Harmonix moving past Guitar Hero

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

    Last week, it became fairly clear that development of Harmonix's Guitar Hero franchise had switched over to long time Tony Hawk studio Neversoft. This week, speaking to Gamasutra, Harmonix producer Daniel Sussman confirmed that the series is out of Harmonix's hands and briefly spoke on the company's further ambitions.

    "We are instead working on a different music game project, one that is a bigger and more ambitious endeavor than we felt we could pursue within the bounds of the Guitar Hero franchise," said Sussman. Prior to Guitar Hero, Harmonix was known for its original Frequency and Amplitude rhythm games for PS2, as well as several Karaoke Revolution titles for Konami. Harmonix was purchased last year by MTV.

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Crackpots for the Atari 2600. "Sort of like Kaboom in reverse, but nowhere near as fun. Still, smashing spiders can't be all bad." (submitted by jwhanson@speakeasy.net)