Marble Blast Ultra

XB360 / Platform / Release: Jan 25, 2006 / ESRB: U

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No XBLA Release This Week, Upcoming Titles Listed and Pictured (Updated)

Update: New screenshots of the various upcoming titles have been added, including new pictures of Rez HD and N+.

Original Story: There will be no new Xbox Live Arcade release this week due to the launch of the Xbox Live Arcade Hits program, Microsoft has announced. The initiative, which permanently lowers the price of popular XBLA games, begins tomorrow alongside the debut of the fall system update. Read more »

"I'm so glad there are demos for ALL arcade games, I don't know any of these games... Still ..."
- razorblade79    See all 19 comments


GarageGames to Focus on In-browser 3D Gaming; Majority Stake Acquired by IAC

Related Topics – Marble Blast Ultra, XBLA, Games: PC

GarageGames plans to announce today it will be working with interactive media company IAC/InterActiveCorp on a new service providing in-browser 3D action gaming. The move is part of a deal that sees billionaire Barry Diller's IAC take a majority stake in the developer. The Wall Street Journal broke the news early; Shacknews has verified its accuracy with GarageGames. Currently, the InstantAction website consists of only a form to submit an email address to be kept updated with news regarding the service. The company plans to launch a test program before the official launch early next year. Shacknews has learned that though GarageGames is spearheading the effort and developing a browser-based gaming platorm, several other notable developers have signed on as well. The studio plans to elaborate on its plans in the near future. It may make further announcements at its yearly IndieGamesCon event to be held October 10-11. In recent months, the company has more than quintupled its staff, allowing it to retain its existing Torque support while taking a more proactive role in original game development. GarageGames was founded in 2000 by former Dynamix developers responsible for multiplayer classic Starsiege: Tribes. Best known for its PC and Xbox 360 Torque game development tools, which recently expanded to Wii, it also developed the Xbox Live Arcade game Marble Blast Ultra.

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"Will we be lucky enough to get a Tribes revival type game out of this? Can you at least give ..."
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Late Night Consoling

Whoops, Microsoft. Whoops, Nintendo. Two blunders today.

  • Konami to Microsoft: "Excuse Us?"

    [ps3] [xbox360] [nintendo]
    This week, Microsoft made headlines when it declared that it had secured a year of next generation exclusivity for major upcoming soccer titles FIFA 07 from Electronic Arts and Winning Eleven Pro Evolution Soccer 6 from Konami. "I'm really pleased to be able to announce today that Pro Evolution Soccer 6 will be an Xbox 360 next-generation exclusive for the next twelve month," said Xbox Europe head Chris Lewis during its Games Convention press conference. "I'm also really happy to be able to announce that FIFA 07 will also be a next-gen exclusive on Xbox 360 for the next twelve months. So, whether you prefer FIFA 07 or Pro Evolution Soccer 6, as a football fan you need look no further than Xbox 360 because you won't be able to get them on any other next generation platform. Xbox 360 owns football." Microsoft later issued a press release confirming the news. However, speaking to 1UP today, Konami's Winning Eleven creator and producer Shingo "Seabass" Takatsuka stated that Konami has no such agreement with Microsoft, and that apparently Microsoft's announcement has "caused some issues" with Konami, which has for many years enjoyed a strong relationship with Sony. "The presentation was misleading," he said, referring to Microsoft's press conference. "We never said exclusive for one year on the next-gen platforms. We said this year. We were agreed that it was this year." Apparently, the reason Konami will not be launching the PS3 version of Pro Evolution Soccer 6 alongside its Xbox 360 version is simply that the game is not far enough along. Though it will definitely not ship in calendar year 2006, it may be released next spring. 1UP goes on to claim that, according to unspecified sources, EA's FIFA 07 may also not be next-gen exclusive to Xbox 360 for Microsoft's promised twelve months.
  • No Third Parties Online on Wii in 2006?

    [nintendo]
    Buried at the end of a hands on preview of Toys for Bob's Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam (Wii) (which we also previewed), IGN has a rather discouraging rumor regarding third party support for Nintendo's upcoming online service for Wii. "IGN has separately learned from multiple development sources that Nintendo will not release Wii Wi-Fi Connection libraries until early 2007," reads the preview, "which means that no third party launch title will have an online mode." This runs contrary to previous indications that Ubisoft's Red Steel would have an online multiplayer mode, but to date it is true that no third party publisher has explicitly detailed online plans for Wii launch games. If this rumor is true, it may be that Nintendo's online multiplayer solution for Wii is not yet developed enough for widespread distribution to third parties, which may bode ill for the initial state of the service. Nintendo had not responded to Shacknews' inquiries as of press time.
  • Xbox Live Arcade Comes to Retail, Officially

    [xbox360]
    Back in June, word leaked out of a retail collection of Xbox Live Arcade games for Xbox 360, dubbed Xbox Live Arcade Unplugged Volume 1. Today, Microsoft has officially announced that collection. It will consist of six currently available Xbox Live Arcade games: - Bizarre Creations' Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved - Reflexive Entertainment's Wik: Fable of Souls - NinjaBee's Outpost Kaloki X - PopCap's Bejeweled 2 Deluxe - Silver Creek's Hardwood Backgammon - TikGame's Texas Hold 'em It will also come with a free one-month trial to Xbox Live Gold, as well as demos of Carbonated Games' UNO, GarageGames' Marble Blast Ultra, and Sprout Games' Feeding Frenzy. The package will be available worldwide on September 5, 2006, with retail price in the US of $39.99.
  • You'll Get Caught Up in the Crossfire

    [ps3]
    Namco Bandai today announced the official subtitle for its upcoming PlayStation 3 game based on the Gundam mecha franchise, which the company revealed earlier this month. Now known as Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire, the game is in development by Bandai Entertainment Company. - Screenshots. BEC's Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire is set to ship for PlayStation 3 later this year.
  • Say Hello to My Little Release Date

    [ps2] [xbox]
    Vivendi today announced a the official release date for Radical Entertainment's Scarface: The World is Yours. The game will ship for PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC on October 8, 2006. PS2 owners will have the choice of standard packaging or a special Collector's Edition of the game, which includes a DVD with a "Making of the Game" documentary, interviews, a map of the game world, concept art, and a walkthrough with commentary, packaged in a metal case. The standard PS2 and Xbox versions of the game will retail for $49.99, PC for $39.99, and Collector's Edition for $59.99. - Interview, screenshots.
  • LEGO Star Wars II, Criterion Get Webbed

    [ps2] [xbox] [xbox360] [gamecube] [ds] [psp] [gba]
    LucasArts has announced that the official website for Traveller's Tales LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (PS2, Xbox, GCN, X360, NDS, PSP, GBA, PC) has gone live, featuring character and enemy profiles, wallpapers, screensavers, and other game-related content. Electronic Arts today announced the official website for developer Criterion Games, the studio behind Black (PS2, Xbox) and the Burnout franchise. The site includes interviews with development personnel as well as a Mailbag feature allowing gamers to ask questions of Criterion staff members.
  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Leipzig Games Convention coverage continues from sites such as GameSpot, IGN, 1UP, Pro-G, and HEXUS.

Misc. Media/Previews

Xbox/X360
Screenshots: Space Giraffe (working title) (X360). F.E.A.R. (X360, also PS3, PC). Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Double Agent (X360, also PS2, Xbox, GCN, PS3, PC). Movies: Test Drive Unlimited (X360, also PS2, PSP, PC).
GCN/Wii
Screenshots: Red Steel (Wii).
Portable
Screenshots: Bomberman Land Touch! (NDS). Earthworm Jim (PSP). Movies: NBA Live 2007 (PSP, also PS2, Xbox, PS3, X360, PC).
Multi
Screenshots: Samurai Warriors 2 (PS2, X360). Turok (working title) (PS3, X360). Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas (PS3, X360). Rayman Raving Rabbids (PS2, Xbox, GCN, PS3, X360, Wii, NDS, PSP, GBA, PC).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Willow for the NES. "Based on the movie by Lucasarts, this action RPG is surprisingly good. Its VERY difficult and has some of the best music on the NES." (submitted by avatar_58)

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"So Fred Garvin, looks like I was right. Sony WILL hand MS it's ass in the long run, we both know ..."
- 5150Joker    See all 49 comments


Microsoft Gamefest 2006: GarageGames Interview

During its Gamefest event this week, Microsoft announced plans to make entry-level development with XNA available on the PC for free, and on the Xbox 360 for a yearly fee of $99, via a C#-based suite called XNA Game Studio Express. While such a move is not unprecedented--Sony has offered its own hobbyist development channels for both PlayStation and PlayStation 2, for example--Microsoft seems to planning to offer a level of support and accessibility that is uncommon to officially sanctioned homebrew console development. Development studio and affordable middleware provider GarageGames also announced that it will be releasing an XNA-compliant version of its Torque game development environment, which consists of the Torque Shader Engine for 3D development and the Torque Game Builder for 2D development. GarageGames' goal is to eventually allow Torque X to achieve complete feature parity with its Torque Shader Engine and Torque Game Builder brethren, such that users can do everything possible with those engines in the C# environment of Torque X, and even export games directly from TSE or TGB. I had the chance to chat with GarageGames CEO and CTO Joshua Williams and company president Mark Frohnmayer about what GarageGames and Microsoft hope to achieve with these recently announced tools, what it all means for hobbyist and independent developers, what exactly these technologies do, and what GarageGames has coming out in the near future. Shack: Yesterday and today's announcements were quite significant. What do you guys see as the big step forward in terms of this as compared to existing open PC development, where people have always been able to pick up a compiler? Joshua Williams: There are a few pieces, I think. The first is that, as a hobbyist, there's quite a bit of cool factor in being able to run your games [on Xbox 360]. Right now, sure, you can get a compiler and make a game and share it with your friends over email. They can play it on their PC, but it's pretty cool to be able to run it on your 360, and invite people over to come and see it. I think that'll get a lot of people hopped up on making games. I imagine if I were in high school again, learning games and game development, and I heard this announcement, I'd be rushing home as soon as it was available to make a game and show it off to my friends. So that's the cool factor, but for indies, and people who are more aspiring to become game developers, getting actual experience on a console is a pretty huge change. There are a lot of similarities between PC development and console development, but there's nothing quite like being able to run your game on the console hardware. So you can run your games on the actual hardware threads available on the 360, you can get experience with the CPU, you can get used to having to do all the different resolutions that you have to do to make it an Xbox game. If you're serious about doing games in a cross-platform way or for the 360 in particular, you can get the actual experience you need there. Not only that, but you can prepare demos, so if you're trying to get your game picked up by publishers, or Microsoft itself, actually having a demo that runs on a 360 is a huge advantage as compared to just having something up and running with a mouse and keyboard where you can't demonstrate that the game mechanic works on a console. That's another piece as an indie game developer, that you can actually make sure your game idea is going to work on the console, or that it works both on the PC and the console. There are a number of advantages for those guys, and also for educators. Game programs are becoming more and more popular, and game programming turns out to be a really good way to give students interest in computer science and help retain students. One thing that we see, because Torque is used in about a hundred courses for game development, well, most of the [jobs] in the industry are for console development because most of the titles come out for consoles. So how can we teach our students console development techniques? Right now, there's no way to, unless the university is going to pay to get a development kit, or they work out a deal with the console manufacturer, which is very rare. Only a couple of universities have ever done that. There's no way for them to teach their students actually how to do console game development, which is the most applicable for actually getting jobs in the industry. With this, now you can. So I think it's a pretty big change across the board for game developers. Mark Frohnmayer: I would add to that, when you look at the full articulation of the vision of actually being able to have people make console games--[Microsoft's] Chris [Satchell] alluded to this towards the end of his address--and allow them to sell their games through networks and to friends, all of the sudden you can have people making a living building console games without having to be a part of a major publisher. Without having to go through the gatekeepers that exist. I think it's a huge potential win for indie developers. Shack: Even now though, presumably smaller developers would be able to use these tools to present prototypes to Microsoft to obtain a Live Arcade deal. Mark Frohnmayer: In the short term, that's absolutely possible. You could build your prototype, and you could take it to MS, and say, "My friends love this, I've got the gameplay all hammered out, it already works on your platform." One of the challenges, even for indie developers, has been really proving that they can make a title work on that platform, and to be able to have this as a stepping stone to get there is a huge deal. Shack: Speaking of the Torque X engine, of course when Microsoft announced their XNA Game Studio Express, GarageGames also announced Torque X. Do you want to give a brief overview of those tools? Joshua Williams: Sure. Our plan over time is to have complete feature parity between the Torque engine suite of technology, both the 2D technology and the high end 3D technology, and Torque X with managed code. In C++ we have our 2D tech which is build on top of our 3D tech, and it's the most powerful 2D engine out there. It's all scene graph driven, it's hardware accelerated, it's got a particle system, you can do really cool effects with it, it's got continuous time collision detection against polygons, it's got tile maps that you can do crazy effects with, it supports super high res graphics. You can just do really cool 2D games with it. On the 3D side, with the Torque Shader Engine, like Mark says, it's totally buzzword compliant. Normal maps, specularity, HDR, bloom and glow, all the standard rendering effects you expect to see in a modern high end game engine as well as we think some of the best terrain technology in the industry. You're able to load arbitrarily large terrains and page them from disk and collide against them. Then there are a lot of other nice game engine features like character animation, art tool support so we have exporters for Maya and [3D Studio] MAX and standard art creation tools. We have a world builde so level designers can get missions together and all that. We want all of that, all the featuers of the 3D engine, on Torque X too. We already have key portions of it up and running. A lot of the 2D stuff is already set. As you saw with Marble Blast Ultra, enough is already up to do that game in managed code, which is nice. Mark Frohnmayer: What's really amazing to me, watching our dev team bring our technology over, is just how quickly we've been able to bring our tech over to managed code and how performance has been. To me, it suggests another win for development under this framework, that using both a competent engine technology as well as the managed environment, it just makes game development that much more fun. Joshua Williams: We got them done really quickly. This port of Marble Blast Ultra took about three man-weeks to get done, which is really fast. The 2D demos we did took a few days each, which is cool. Obviously, we're game developers and we know our tech really well, so I'm sure we're getting it done more quickly than someone starting out, but the fact that you can do stuff that quickly with Torque X and the managed environment is super exciting to me, because I think it means a lot of people are going to get projects done a lot more quickly and be able to express their ideas sooner rather than later. Shack: You mentioned some groups that will be most affected by this. You've got the hobbyist developers who think this might be something they want to pursue, and the smaller developers who do have some kind of budget. In terms of the hobbyist developers, what can they expect to see when they start to dive into this whole thing? Joshua Williams: There are a couple things. If you're just using XNA Game Studio Express, what that gives you is what looks like a low-level game making API. It's sort of similar to Visual Studio now, with a C# code editor. Using that, you can make games on your own by writing a bunch of C# code, talking to the XNA framework, importing art assets, and getting your gameplay up and running. That's using the basic XNA framework and tools. If you use stuff like Torque X, or the Torque Game Builder tools which can talk to our XNA implementation, then you get much more of a quick experience. For 2D game development, you can actually drag and drop art assets onto the screen, set behavior parameters for how you want your scrollers and your sprites and your tiles to behave, and get your interactivity up and running, then deploy that to the XNA platform using the exporter tool. If you're trying to do a 3D game, when we launch you can essentially write to the Torque X engine, and it gives you a bunch of built in features so you don't have to recode, say, a collision detection system all on your own in C#, which is what you'd have to do if you were doing a game [without a pre-existing engine]. You'd have to do your own collision detection, you'd have to do your own shader-based rendering, you'd have to do optimize your scene graph. Using an engine on top of the engine just saves you a lot of time. So, as a hobbyist, what you see is the IDE, which looks similar to Visual Studio, and then an API that you're writing to, and that can either be the XNA-based framework, or a higher-level API that does more work for you like Torque X. If you so happen to be doing a 2D game, it's our plan that at launch you'll be able to export games from Torque Game Builder, which is totally a visual game creation tool, and you can deploy them on 360 with XNA. Continue to page 2 to learn about the benefits of managed code, what you'll get with Microsoft's $99 annual "creator's club" membership, and what GarageGames has in the pipeline. _PAGE_BREAK_ Shack: Do you want to speak a bit on the concept of managed code, and what that means in terms of usability and efficiency, and potential hits on performance? Joshua Williams: Sure. So, what managed code means is that, whereas with C++ or native languages you're talking direectly to the metal and there's nothing between you and your executable, in a managed environment you have this layer between you and the hardware. That gives you a lot of nice benefits, like you don't have to worry so much about your low level memory management stuff. I guess in layman's terms, it cleans up a lot of the nasty work you have to do even in high level languages like C++. It also gives you a nice safe execution environment, so the output from managed platforms like .NET is generally more secure than output from arbitrary code execution like in C++, so there are some wins with managed platforms. One thing is that, in business development and application development, it's pretty commonly heard that developers are about 50-100% making managed apps than they are making C++ apps, just because there are less headaches. The downside that people talk about is usually that for managed languages such as C# or Java, there's less performance than with C++. But, Microsoft has done a really good job of making the C# platform, and XNA in particular, really perform. Our game engine is up and running, and the framerates we get in our demos are comparable to what we see with our C++ engine. That actually blew us away. When Microsoft first approached us about this stuff, we thought it was kind of an insane idea, because we believed in the misconception that everyone else does, that managed code is not performant enough to do realtime 3D or high end games, but it turns out it is. Shack: In that vein, what would you say to those who maintain that someone who's starting out in development should be learning assembly and low level languages as grounding, the sort of approach prescribed by people like John Carmack? What's your take on that? Mark Frohnmayer: I would say that there's a place for that kind of person, too. You have that option, even with Torque running in C++. The question I would have is, how many people actually fit that mold? I mean, John Carmack is one of the most brilliant programmers in the games industry. I think for the vast majority of people starting out, things like memory overwrite bugs, where the application crashes and they can't figure it out, are simply going to turn them away from games. I think one of the problems we've had in the games industry, especially with getting new people and new ideas as well as retaining people with talent, is that there are a lot of things that are hard, and there are a lot of things that are hard that don't need to be hard. The more that we can do to make that process easier, the more we can include people not just as consumers of our games, but as creators of the gaming experience. To me, the most fun in games is making games. It's bringing your own creation to life, then playing it and having a good time with it. Really, the purpose of what GarageGames is in business for is to allow that to happen. Managed code is a super awesome piece of that whole puzzle, of making games more fun and easier to make. That's only going to result in good things both for game makers and game players. Shack: Could you explain specifically what users will be able to do with just the free downloaded version of XNA Game Studio Express and then what you get with the $99 annual fee? I've noticed some people have been a little unclear on that. Joshua Williams: Sure, so with just the free version you get the whole IDE, so again it's similar to Visual Studio in the way it's laid out, and you can make games on it and play them on the PC. The subscription piece that Microsoft offers gives you the opportunity to deploy those games to your 360 and play them. Also that creator's club gives you early access to some starter kits and stuff that they're putting out, early access to some content that they'll be putting out over time. They haven't revealed a lot of details as to how that stuff is going to work, but that's what they're saying their plan is. To us, that's exciting, because we do the same sort of stuff already in the GarageGames community. We have art content packs and starter kits and stuff to help you get up and running, and we see each time we do one of those it helps people's productivity a huge amount. As soon as a content pack comes out, which is a bunch of prepackaged art that you can use in your game, we see demos coming out using that art and you can tell it gets people up and running more quickly. Likewise, starter kits are a huge leg up for when you're trying to do specific kinds of games. So with some of the demos we have for Torque Game Builder, we shipped demos that are like starter kits for doing sidescrollers, or top down games, or whatnot. The fact that Microsoft has taken the same tactic is encouraging to us because it will give people a big leg up from just getting started at the baseline. So that's what you get with the subscription: deploy to the 360, and access to the creator's club. Shack: So while the big news here is the greater accessibility of console development, Microsoft has recently been taking a very strong stance about where they want to go with Windows gaming. What are your thoughts on the future of PC development and PC gaming? Mark Frohnmayer: I would say that PC development up until now has been kind of a nightmare. If you think about what we go through as PC game developers, dealing with everything from driver compatibility issues to hardware differentials between systems ends up being a huge part of the hassle of getting games out on the PC, as well as having a good system on the back end that's simple for consumers to download games or get them on the system and install them. What I've heard from Microsoft as far as their initiative on Windows gaming is to make it a much more console-like experience. You go to the store, it's very clear what titles are appropriate, you can take them home for a much easier installation process and there's a much easier process for game developers to build those games. It seems like they're moving in the right direction in that regard as well. But I think it's all about making our end user experience as gamers more pleasant. I think the opportunities that exist on the PC currently for people to make money are wide and varied, as far as being able to make a living making games, so the more we can encourage a common platform to develop our games, the easier it will be for people to bring them to market and make a living at it. That's really kind of closing the whole loop on the independent game idea. It's all well and good to be able to make games, but then also to be able to make a living at it if you really enjoy it, without necessarily having to go to work for an established game studio and to do it yourself as an indie, is really great. I think people more and more are being able to do that. Shack: On that end user side of things, does GarageGames have any new games in the works, or are you guys pretty full up with work on your development tools right now? Mark Frohnmayer: For games? We do have a couple things that we can't talk about just yet. [laughs] Joshua Williams: We got a couple things brewing. Mark Frohnmayer: We're about to release our first actual legimitate casual game that we developed in house. It just went into beta last week. We're about to release a new set of levels for Marble Blast Ultra on Xbox 360. We did a whole new set of multiplayer maps that are actually a lot of fun. Then we have another game that's in the early stages of development that's going to totally rock. We will give you much more information on that as we get closer. Shack: Anything related to Tribes? I'm sure you guys get asked that every day. Mark Frohnmayer: It actually is in a lot of ways a gameplay homage to Tribes, but it's a very different genre. Joshua Williams: It's going to be cool. Mark Frohnmayer: It will be cool. Shack: Thanks for talking to us.

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Garage Games Q&A

Related Topics – Marble Blast Ultra, XBLA, Games: PC

One more from FiringSquad as JCal has also posted a new Q&A with Jay Moore of Garage Games. Moore is asked about the success of Marble Blast Ultra on the 360, upcoming Xbox Live Arcade titles powered by Garage Games technology, upcoming Torque Engine plans, the Tribes-like Legions tech demo, and the future of indie development.

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"Ooooo, i want to hear more about spiritual successor to Tribes or any other games they may be ..."
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Sunday Afternoon New Releases and ShackReviews

New releases, come get your new releases here.

This Week's New Releases

PS2
Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (Kojima Productions | Tue. | PS2)
Xbox/X360
Rainbow Six: Critical Hour (Ubisoft Quebec City | Tue. | Xbox; also PS2 in Q2 2006) The Outfit (Relic | Tue. | X360)
Portable
Daxter (Ready at Dawn | Tue. | PSP) Mega Man Powered Up (Capcom | Tue. | PSP) Neopets Petpet Adventures: The Wand of Wishing (Neopets, Inc. | Tue. | PSP) Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror (Sony Bend | Tue. | PSP) Yu-Gi-Oh! Ultimate Masters: World Championship Tournament 2006 (Konami | Tue. | GBA)
PC
Crime Stories (Artematica | Tue. | PC)
CSI Three Dimensions of Murder (Telltale Games | Tue. | PC)
Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (Capcom | Tue. | PC; also PS2 in Mar. '04) Red Orchestra: Ostfront 41-45 (Tripwire | Tue. | PC)
Multi
Driver: Parallel Lines (Reflections | Tue. | PS2, Xbox) Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (VU Games | Tue. | PS2, Xbox, GCN, DS, GBA, PC).
Midnight Club 3 DUB Edition REMIX (Rockstar San Diego | Tue. | PS2, Xbox)
Additional Database Entries Featured ShackReviews:
  • We've got another week with just our two most frequent reviewers. Masem takes a look at Namco's Tales of Legendia (PS2), and...
  • SixDemonBag checks out the latest escapades of Jack Bauer in SCEE Cambridge's 24: The Game (PS2), as well as Criterion's Black (Xbox).
I took some time off from Marble Blast Ultra (X360) because seriously, the last level is impossible. You Garage Games guys are going to be at GDC, right? If I run into any of you, remind me to punch you in the face. Your game is really fun, by the way. I also went back to Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (DS) because I realized I never beat the fifth and final case. Let me just say holy crap. This case is absolutely amazing. It's by far the longest one in the game, and the amount of close calls and crazy plot twists is absolutely through the roof. I've been working on it for a few days, and I can tell I'm about to finally piece everything together. Man, it's incredible.

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"I think you forgot the Syphon Filter game on PSP, least I hope you did because I was thinking of ..."
- DarkWolf5    See all 10 comments


Sunday Evening New Releases and ShackReviews

The Xbox 360 steps it up a bit this week with some new releases. That should continue for the next few weeks as well.

This Week's New Releases

PS2
Shadow Hearts: From the New World (Nautilus | Tue. | PS2)
Xbox/X360
Burnout Revenge (Criterion | Tue. | X360; also PS2, Xbox Sep. '05) College Hoops 2K6 (Visual Concepts | Tue. | X360; also PS2, Xbox Nov. '05) Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (Ubisoft Montpellier | Thu. | X360; also Xbox Mar. 16, PS2 Mar. 30; PC May '06)
GameCube
Naruto: Clash of Ninja (Tomy | Tue. | GCN)
Portable
Dragon Ball Z: Shin Budokai (Dimps | Tue. | PSP) Naruto: Ninja Council (Tomy | Tue. | GBA)
Pokemon Trozei (Genius Sonority | Tue. | DS) Pursuit Force (Bigbig | Tue. | PSP) Samurai Warriors: State of War (Omega Force | Tue. | PSP) Tales of Phantasia (Namco | Tue. | GBA)
PC
CSI Three Dimensions of Murder (Telltale Games | Tue. | PC)
Additional Database Entries
  • Dora the Explorer: Journey to the Purple Planet (Monkey Bar, 2006, PS2/GCN)
  • DJ Max Portable (Pentavision, 2006, PSP)
Featured ShackReviews: Okay, so I can't seem to get past the 8th temple in Zuma (X360), and I've beat every single level under par in Marble Blast Ultra (X360) except 60, the last one. Also, that level is impossible.

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"REMO SIGNAL TURN ON! I heard the rumor that Phoenix Wright is not going to be released in ..."
- Mad Brahmin Disease    See all 22 comments


Sunday Evening New Releases and ShackReviews

You know, it's a bit hard to really justify purchasing an Xbox 360 at full price if Live Arcade is your primary interest. That said, if you do happen to purchase an Xbox 360, I for one would fully endorse that usage of it.

This Week's New Releases

PS2
MS Saga (BEC | Tue. | PS2)
Portable
Super Monkey Ball Touch & Roll (Sega | Tue. | DS) Yu-Gi-Oh! Double Pack (Konami | Tue. | GBA)
PC
EverQuest: Prophecy of Ro (SOE | Tue. | PC) EverQuest II: Kingdom of Sky (SOE | Tue. | PC) Galactic Civilizations II: The Dread Lords (Stardock | Tue. | PC) Maximum-Football (Wintervalley | Tue. | PC)
Neverend (Mayhem | Fri. | PC) RF Online (CCR | Tue. | PC) Tycoon City: New York (Deep Red | Fri. | PC)
Multi
Fight Night Round 3 (EA Chicago | Tue. | PS2, Xbox, X360, PSP, PS3 TBA) Sonic Riders (Sonic Team | Tue. | PS2, Xbox, GCN)
TOCA Race Driver 3 (Codemasters | Tue. | PS2, Xbox, PC)
Featured ShackReviews: I finally had some time to play video games towards the end of the week, and I think the less said about my horrible addiction to Zuma (X360) and Marble Blast Ultra (X360), the better.

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"Should I trade in my gamecube and games for a PS2 slim? Or hold onto the games and wait for the ..."
- jonin    See all 21 comments


Late Night Consoling

That CGOTE down there is dead on. Star Control had great strategy, but I never hear anybody talk about the awesome melee mode. With two players, it was great. I played it on PC, not Genesis, but you could get two people in there on one keyboard and it was awesome.

  • Special Update: New DS Revealed

    [ds]
    I'll have a full writeup of this in tomorrow's LNC, but for you morning LNC readers, here's a quick edit. Nintendo has updated its web page with details on a redesigned Nintendo DS system that is smaller and lighter than the original. It will go on sale March 2 in Japan for a price of 16,800 yen, or $146. The full English announcement is here. There are no details of a North American or European launch date or price.
  • Konami Announces Stuff

    [ps2] [xbox] [ds] [psp]
    Konami made a variety of announcements at its annual press event today, and here they are: A collector's edition DVD called Metal Gear Saga will be given to those who preorder Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (PS2) starting in mid-February. The disc will include a variety of documentary content, including an interview with series creator Hideo Kojima as well as concept art and "making of" information. It also has a chronological summary of the five main Metal Gear games to date. GameSpot has a preview here. Konami is developing a strategy game for DS and PSP entitled Steel Horizon. The game will feature both realtime and turn-based elements, and in addition to a single-player campaign will also support local wireless multiplayer. There was no word on whether online functionality would be included. A few details were revealed regarding the mysterious Metal Gear B.D., the "interactive comic" project heading to PSP. It will be illustrated by Ashley Wood, who worked on the Metal Gear Solid comic as well as covers for Todd McFarlane's Spawn. Metal Gear series head Hideo Kojima and producer Noriaki Okamura will handle writing. The comic will feature animated elements and sound, as well as unspecified interactive elements. Konami is currently developing a DS RPG entitled Tao's Adventure: Curse of the Demon Seal. A magician named Tao must save his home from falling under a deadly curse. The game has realtime 3D models and environments on the top screen with the interface and map on the touch screen. The game will be released this March. In addition to Metal Gear B.D., Konami will also be producing an interactive comic-type project based on the Silent Hill franchise. It will be based on the upcoming film rather than an existing game, and will be illustrated by Steve Perkins and Alex Shibao. The UMD will also include stills from the film and games, as well as interviews with the film's crew and other content. A collection of the Gradius side-scrolling shooter games will be heading to PSP. It will contain Gradius, Gradius II, Gradius III, Gradius IV, and the new-to-US Gradius Gaiden. It will arrive this spring. Konami will be bringing a Live-enabled poker game to Xbox. All-In Poker will include five types of poker as well as various tutorial modes and online options. It will ship in March. Leviathan Games is working on Konami Chess Battle, a chess game for PSP that will feature some kind of story mode as well as local and online wireless play. The game will hit stores this fall.
  • Marbles Blast to Xbox Live

    [xbox360]
    The Xbox 360 may not be seeing much in the way of new retail releases, but its excellent Live Arcade service shows no sign of slowing down. Originally scheduled for a Februrary release, GarageGames' Marble Blast Ultra has appeared for download early. The game is available for 800 marketplace points, equivalent to $10.
  • Microsoft Still Backwards-Compatiblizing (Slowly)

    [xbox360]
    Various sites recently reported on "confirmation" that Microsoft has abandoned its efforts to support Xbox games on Xbox 360 for a few months. IGN, however, has received official word from Microsoft that this is in fact not the case. The backwards compatibility team is apparently still at work, but the statement given to IGN had no estimate as to when further updates would arrive.
  • Phantom Still Hanging in There, Sort Of

    Infinium Labs, the company behind perennial vaporware Phanton Gaming Service and what appears to be the more tangible Phantom Lapboard, announced that it has somehow obtained a $5M investment from Golden Gate Investors. In case you are worried that this would mean the end of Phantom jokes, however, fear not; that $5M is going towards launching the Phantom Lapboard portable keyboard/mouse package, not the console itself. Gamasutra points out that the company "has recurring losses from inception of $57,570,723, has a working capital deficiency of $10,085,662, a stockholders deficiency of $9,470,271 and has a negative cash flow from operations of $14,888,265 from inception." That along with all of the practical costs involved with launching a new system suggests we'll be waiting for the Phantom for a while yet to come.
  • Leisure Suit Larry Likely Lifeless

    [ps2] [xbox] [psp]
    GameSpot has a rumor from a former employee at Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude (PS2, Xbox, PC) developer High Voltage Games that publisher Vivendi Universal has dropped the Larry franchise and two in-development Larry titles. Apparently, another home console game was in development as well as a PSP spinoff title. After checking with the company's VP of creative content Eric Nofsinger, the site received an official confirmation that two games from the same (unnamed) series were recently cancelled. Leisure Suit Larry began his life in a graphic adventure called Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (PC), designed by Al Lowe at Sierra On-Line. Lowe designed five more main entries in the series before the set of legal shenanigans that led to Sierra ceasing to exist as an autonomous company. Vivendi, the current owner of Sierra's huge library of intellectual property, released Magna Cum Laude--a mini-game-driven game with more in common with modern teen comedies than the relatively more charming innuendo of the earlier games--in 2004 to middling critical reception. Lowe publically expressed his frustration with the direction taken by Vivendi and High Voltage.
  • WV Slims Down With DDR

    [ps2]
    The state of West Virginia is moving forward with a plan to outfit its public schools with Dance Dance Revolution setups. The state has one of the worst obesity rates in a country where obesity is already seen as an increasingly worrying issue. State officials hope that by providing schools with the option to use DDR as an in-school exercise method, students with an aversion to sports or other physical education activities will be more willing to stay in shape. West Virginia's 157 middle schools will receive copies of the game first, to be followed by the remainder of the state's 753 public schools in the next three years. The overall cost of the project is $500,000, with DDR publisher Konami donating $75,000. Oddly enough, the article says that the cost of each individual package--containing a console (likely a PS2), two or more pads, and the game--is $740. That seems a bit excessive considering the same products could be picked up at retail for well under half that.
  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Ben Andac, a professed anti-Nintendo sort of guy for most of his life, shares his opinions on why Nintendo has the right idea for the next generation in The Man Who Was Tomorrow. By the way, if you happen to like the revolutionary WaChe design in that article's banner, t-shifts featuring the emblem are available from the Idle Thumbs Company Store. Keith Schofield, a music video director whose work tends to encourage being sent around the internet, has filmed a video for a band called Wintergreen; it's all about the infamous E.T. licensed Atari game. Informative! Perhaps you've heard about the stricter regulation on "booth babes" this year at E3. Personally, I'm rather glad about it. E3 is in many ways a big stupid circus, and the more that's done to reverse that, the better. If you need more convincing, here's a good editorial on the subject by Next Generation.

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2
Previews of Konami's Beatmania (PS2) come to us from GameSpot and IGN. GameSpot takes a look at Konami's Metal Gear Saga (PS2), the bonus disc available with preorders for Kojima Productions' Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (PS2). IGN checks out Konami's Suikoden V (PS2) and Square Enix's Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (PS2). Screenshots: Karaoke Revolution Country (PS2).
Xbox/X360
GameSpot goes hands on with the Xbox 360 multiplayer of Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter (X360, also PS2, Xbox, PC). Screenshots: All-In Poker (Xbox). Jewel Quest (X360).
Portable
GameSpot goes hands on with Konami's Gradius Collection (PSP), Konami's Tao's Adventure: Curse of the Demon Seal (DS) (so does IGN), and Kojima Productions' Metal Gear Ac!d 2 (PSP). 1UP checks out Sonic Team's The Rub Rabbits (DS). IGN looks at Konami's Ys: The Ark of Napishtim (PSP). Revo-Europe has details on the multiplayer modes in Nintendo's Metroid Prime: Hunters (DS). Screenshots: Steel Horizon (DS, PSP). Konami Chess Battle (PSP). Movies: Drill Dozer (GBA).
Multi
Screenshots: Fuel (Xbox, PC). Movies: Sonic Riders (PS2, Xbox, GCN).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Star Control for the Sega Genesis. "The great Star Control on a console in 16-bit days! A fun strategy game, but the sheer beauty was in it's multiplayer Melee. *Launch Fighters!*" (submitted by famine101)

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"So with regards to the Metal Gear Solid series, we here in America look at the plot of MGS2 and ..."
- Schnapple    See all 116 comments


Late Night Consoling

There's some crazy Next Generation News today. Are you ready for the next generation of news?

  • Zelda Joins the Revolution

    [nintendo] [gamecube]
    Various sources are reporting on a story in the latest issue of Europe's NGC Magazine, which states that Nintendo's upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GCN) will have enhanced features when used with the next-gen Revolution console. Note that the game is still on track for a GameCube release. This merely indicates that, at least for this particular game, Revolution will go beyond its standard GameCube backwards compatibility and allow the game to make use of the unique motion-based controller. Revolution also has four GameCube controller ports and will support a GameCube controller-like "shell" into which the standard Revolution controller can be fitted for more traditional control. Nintendo has not yet offered official word on what kind of extra functionality will be made possible, assuming the report is in fact accurate. Most speculation has been that the "freehand" controller will allow the player to control Link's targeting and sword slashes, while the "nunchaku" attachment will be used for movement. The NGC article predicts a November release for the Revolution console in Europe. Given Nintendo's recent stated hope to launch the system worldwide within a window of a few months, this would suggest an overall Fall release assuming Europe is among the last to receive new hardware, which is typical in the game industry (sorry, guys!). As far as we know, Twilight Princess itself is still on track for Nintendo's most recent Spring 2006 release estimate.
  • PS3 to Launch With UT2007

    [ps3]
    Since E3, it's been suspected that Epic would be bringing its next main entry in the Unreal Tournament series, Unreal Tournament 2007, to PlayStation 3, and recent comments by Epic's Cliff Bleszinski corroborated that suspicion. According to the January issue of PlayStation Magazine, not only is the game coming to PS3, it will be a launch title. The console is still set for a vague "Spring 2006" release, though that probably refers to the Japanese launch; traditionally, Sony consoles take several months to reach territories such as North America and Europe. This time around, Sony may try and tighten up the schedule since Microsoft pulled off a semi-worldwide simultaneous Xbox 360 release and Nintendo wants to do the same with Revolution, but with the no doubt enormous volume of units Sony is going to want to produce don't expect it to actually be "simultaneous." With this move, Sony may be trying to court the hardcore shooter segment of the market, which last generation largely sided with Microsoft's Xbox due to its high number of action titles and well-received Live online service. Sony has indicated in the past that gamers will be able to hook up a mouse and keyboard to PS3 for gaming use via USB. UT2007 is of course also set for release on PC, and likely on Xbox 360 as well.
  • Metal Gear Online, Coming...Eventually

    [ps3] [xbox360]
    In a recent Famitsu interview, Metal Gear overlord Hideo Kojima has hinted at the eventually possibility of a full Metal Gear Online game, though he did not identify a specific type of gameplay or platform. Apparently, designers at Kojima Productions have been working on online features for quite some time now, and the team eventually decided to just stick some of them into Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence (PS2), which comes out next March. Subsistence will feature the first online gameplay of any kind for the series, and Kojima hopes to guage fan reactions to it before proceeding with more complex ideas. As for a complete Metal Gear Online game, Kojima said, "Years from now, we'd like to realize this on the PlayStation 3, on the Xbox 360, or maybe on the PC." Stay tuned.
  • Okami Has a Date

    [ps2]
    Clover Studio's upcoming Okami (PS2), the stunningly gorgeous action/adventure tale of a Japanese sun god who takes the form of a wolf, has received a release date. The game will hit Japan on April 20, 2006, and will follow in North America the next month. And you will play it.
  • Get an Xbox Live Diamond Card

    [xbox360] [xbox]
    Microsoft has launched a somewhat odd promotion for Xbox Live subscribers. If you register your Live account and fill out some demographic information, Microsoft will send you an Xbox Live Diamond Card in 6-8 weeks. It doesn't seem as though an Xbox 360 is required, as Live subscriptions carry over between Xbox and Xbox 360. The card offers deals at retail locations such as Hollywood Video, SamGoody, and Carl's Jr. And there you have it. Play games online, get a discount on a sandwich. Whatever works, I guess.
  • Mad Catz Moves to Games

    [xbox]
    Longtime peripheral manufacturer Mad Catz announced that it has signed a deal with Microsoft allowing the company to publish software for Microsoft's Xbox. The games in question will make use of Mad Catz' custom gaming accessories, though no details of what this entails were revealed.
  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Gamasutra's latest Question of the Week asks if HD is important to the future of video games. Plenty of responses were received with a broad range of answers, some saying HD is an important step, and some saying there are far more important advancements to sort out first. GameSpot speaks about the guns featured in Criterion's Black (PS2, Xbox) with producer Jeremy Chubb.

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2
Screenshots: MS Saga: A New Dawn (PS2). Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War (PS2).
Xbox/X360
IGN has a preview of Omega Force's Dynasty Warriors 5 Special (X360) as well as some Famitsu-sourced details on Mistwalker's Blue Dragon (X360). Screenshots: Marble Blast Ultra (X360). Frame City Killer (X360). Movies: Full Auto (X360, also PS3).
GameCube
GameSpy checks out Eighting's Naruto: Clash of Ninja (GCN).
Portable
Screenshots: Dr. Sodoku (GBA).
Multi
IGN has some Famitsu-sourced details on Artoon's Vampire's Rain (PS3, X360). Screenshots: Driver: Parallel Lines (PS2, Xbox). Movies: Final Fight: Streetwise (PS2, Xbox).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Renegade for the NES. "It's like Double Dragon, only bad... and available for my Apple II." (submitted by jake2000)

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"Metal Gear Multi and Zelda in March. Sounds like a very good month to me. Eagerly anticipating :)"
- silverlinkx2    See all 67 comments


Late Night Consoling

Today I got the new album from Minibosses in the mail. If you don't know these guys, check them out. They're an NES music cover band, but they're actually really good and talented instead of lame and...lame. Plus, there's no synth stuff, it's all electric guitars, bass, and drums. Their first album was excellent, and this one doesn't have quite the same punch but it's still great. The band has branched out a bit, and actually covered a Mario track, which they swore they'd never do (it's from Super Mario Bros 2). There's also Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, Punch Out, their always-fantastic Metroid rendition, and more. Hooray!

  • AQ Reveals Its Next-Gen Self

    [ps3] [xbox360] [nintendo]
    Japanese publisher and developer conglomerate AQ Interactive recently announced its upcoming next- and current-generation lineup at a Tokyo press conference. Most of the details were regarding Xbox 360 games. Even with Mistwalker apparently working on three upcoming Xbox 360 games and a DS game, studio head and Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi is also working on an Xbox 360 action RPG entitled Cry On for developer Cavia. Cavia is the studio behind games such as Drakengard (PS2) and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (PS2, PSP). Cry On is the story of a girl named Sally who is friends with a giant named Boggle, part of a race of underground giants that serve as war machines for humans. Longtime Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu will handle the game's music, and Drakengard's Kimihiko Fujisaka will handle character design. Cavia is also working on an Xbox 360 action/adventure called Bullet Witch. Set in 2012, the player controls Alicia, a witch out to free humanity from the shackles of a demonic race that has enslaved her people. Alicia is apparently able to manipulate weather phenomena in her quest. The game is set for a Spring 2006 Japanese release. Artoon, the studio behind the Blinx (Xbox) series and Yoshi Topsy-Turvy (GBA), is developing an action/adventure for PS3 and Xbox 360 entitled Vampire's Rain about a special forces vampire hunter named John Lloyd. The game will feature online versus play and, thankfully, online cooperative play. It has a Japanese release estimate of Winter 2006. AQ also announced several other games, some of which do not yet have a name. For Nintendo Revolution, AQ is developing "A game based on a major comic book" and "Original action game" (exciting!). For PS3 they're working on "Major 3D game" (nice!). DS is getting "Edutainment game" and "Adventure game" (whoa!). PS2 will see "A game based on a comic book for female audiences" (okay!). In the works for PSP are "Original RPG" and "Jitsuroku Oniyome Nikki." Finally, a name! That latter PSP game is based on a popular Japanese blog by a husband who was being abused by his wife. It was a very popular blog. The name translates to "Devil Wife Diary." Don't be surprised if we Westerners don't get our hands on that one.
  • FFXI for X360 with OXM in MMVI

    [xbox360]
    Square Enix has announced that a beta copy of the Xbox 360 version of Final Fantasy XI (PS2, X360, PC) will be included with the next issue of Xbox 360: The Official Xbox Magazine in the USA, UK, France, Italy, and Germany. The beta servers will be completely open for an unspecified limited period. To play the game on Xbox 360, users will need a hard drive and broadband internet access. It is not clear whether Xbox Live is required.
  • Xbox Modders/Pirates Charged

    [xbox]
    Three owners and employees of the Los Angeles-based ACME Game Store have been charged with copyright infringement for selling modified Xboxes loaded with pirated games. They sold the consoles at prices ranging from $225 to upwards of $500 depending on what kind of modifications and how many games were included. Federal investigators managed to purchase an Xbox with a mod chip and 77 preloaded games for $265. Whoops.
  • EA Offers Replacement Madden UMD

    [psp]
    More than two months after the initial complaints that Madden 06 for PSP causes random crashes, loss of save game data, and other problems, EA is offering replacements. In an announcement made via the EA forums, a moderator stated that "while we know the workaround we provided earlier works" (users who actually tried EA's fix said it didn't work at all), the company is offering a new game disk along with a $15 EA Store coupon to those affected by the problem. Just send in your defective disk, wait 10 business days, and hopefully you'll be all set.
  • Kong Lives (and is Cheaper)!

    [ps2] [xbox] [gamecube]
    Ubisoft sent out notice today that Michel Ancel's game based on Peter Jackson's recently released King Kong remake has an alternate ending. "I wanted the game to be able to take the audience a bit further than what the film could," said Jackson. "And the final climax of the game gave us an opportunity to do something that the film could not do, which was to have an alternate ending--obviously everybody pretty much knows how King Kong ends." So, if you'd like to see Kong back on Skull Island rather than dead at the end, you can. It does seem to somewhat defeat the film's message, but it is after all a video game. To achieve the new ending, beat the whole game, then start over and achieve what is an apparently easily obtainable 250,000 points. Joystiq also points out that the three current-gen console versions of the game have had their prices dropped from $49.99 to $29.99, making them fully half the price of the $59.99 Xbox 360 version. If you were looking for an excuse to pick it up, there you go. The movie apparently didn't do quite as well at the box office as its studio was hoping, and the game may be suffering a similar fate. Surely that wouldn't be great news for designer Ancel, whose last project, the excellent Beyond Good & Evil (PS2, Xbox, GCN, PC) was met with critical acclaim but lackluster sales. Show him you care.
  • You Love to Mash Buttons

    [xbox360]
    Official Xbox 360 Magazine UK has posted a rumor that the classic button-mashing button-masher Track and Field might be coming to the Xbox 360 over Xbox Live Arcade. It's an extremely unsubstantiated rumor, but it should come as good news to button-mashers who love to mash buttons.
  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Edge Magazine has a rather extensive interview with Microsoft's J Allard, the new head of the company's Experiences and Design for Gaming and Entertainment Group. He has a lot to say about Sony, describing the company as "alienating," and somehow manages to avoid saying anything about Nintendo Revolution despite there being two questions mentioning it. GameSpot has a developer interview on Reflections' Driver: Parallel Lines (PS2, Xbox).

Misc. Media/Previews

Xbox/X360
Screenshots: Marble Blast Ultra (X360).
Multi
1UP previews EA Canada's MVP 06 NCAA Baseball (PS2, Xbox) Movies: Sonic Riders (PS2, Xbox, GCN).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Top Gear Rally for the Nintendo 64. "First really good rally game I played. Awesome tracks and weather actually mattered! Great fun with two players." (submitted by SilverSnake)

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"I thought the Minibosses despised Mario music.. why do their mustaches (and a hat in some of the ..."
- inarius    See all 87 comments


Late Night Consoling

It's Thursday, and you know what that means! It's time for Late Night Consoling!

  • Katamari Confirmed for PSP

    [psp]
    Namco has sent official confirmation that a version of the acclaimed Katamari Damacy (PS2) series will be coming to the PSP. Tentatively titled Me and My Katamari, the game once again casts the player into the role of the diminutive Prince, son of the decidedly not dimunitive King of All Cosmos, in his quest to roll up pretty much everything into a huge ball. Series creator Keita Takahashi is apparently not involved in the production of the game, by his own volition. Takahashi was forced into designing the PS2 sequel We Love Katamari after employer Namco threatened to go ahead with the project regardless of his lack of involvement. When it was revealed that Namco's plan was to simply release what amounted to the first game with added Christmas textures, Takahashi signed on despite very public dissatisfaction with the situation. He has recently announced his intention to ultimately leave the video game industry due to a frustration with its sequel-based mentality and the creative limitations placed on its developers. However, he gave a wide window for his exit, indicating that he hopes to be designing playgrounds in the next decade, so there's hopefully still time for him to think up a new design or two while he still sticks around. Takahashi was trained as an artist, with a concentration in sculpture. A previously rumored Nintendo DS version of the game, mentioned in an issue of Nintendo Power, has been unaddressed for quite some time and at this point can probably be assumed cancelled or indefinitely delayed.
  • European 360 Backwards Compatibility Revealed

    [xbox360]
    Following up on its Xbox 360 backwards compatibility lists for North America (212 games) and Japan (12 games), Microsoft has now released its European list. The list contains 156 titles, all of which are also on the North American list. Sadly, Respondesign's Yourself!Fitness is one of the titles that did not carry over despite its inclusion in the 212-game lineup.
  • Ralph Baer Awarded an Award

    Industry pioneer Ralph Baer, creator of original home video game console Magnavox Odyssey, has been honored with a National Medal of Technology award. The prize is the United States' most distinguished commendation for innovators in technology and has been awarded since 1985 to companies, teams, or individuals.
  • Kameo Comic Coming

    [xbox360]
    Microsoft has been quite enthusiastic with licensing of its top-shelf game properties, with several novels based on Bungie's Halo (Xbox) and a forthcoming series based on Rare's Perfect Dark universe (N64, X360). Now, publisher Prima Games has announced that it will be publishing a comic series based on Rare's Kameo: Elements of Power (X360), a 360 launch title. Prima is widely known as a publisher of strategy guides and hint books for games. No doubt spurred on by the easy availabilty of walkthroughs and FAQs on the internet, Prima has supplemented its traditional business with the occasional foray into products such as books of game concept art, and now this upcoming comic. The series will be a monthly series to comprise six issues in total, and will be illustrated in a manga style by Mobile Suit Gundam's Hiroyuki Kitazume. Sunmin Park, the director who recently signed on to helm the Kameo film adaptation, will be handling the writing duties for the strip.
  • Xbox 360 to Support Dubly Dolby

    [xbox360]
    To nobody's great surprise, Dolby has announced that its Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound technology is supported by the Xbox 360, as is Dolby Digital decoding for video playback. Upcoming Xbox 360 games supporting these sound capabilities include Neversoft's Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, Infinity Ward's Call of Duty 2, Rare's Perfect Dark Zero, and Bizarre Creations' Project Gotham Racing.
  • Activision to Make Kung Fu Panda Game

    [ps2] [xbox] [gamecube]
    A Reuters press release announces that Activision and DreamWorks have entered an agreement that will allow Activision the exclusive license to several upcoming DreamWorks films, including Kung Fu Panda, Rex Havoc, any new Shrek films, How to Train Your Dragon, and the imaginatively titled Bee Movie.
  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    GameSpot previews some of the Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade titles, and also has a designer diary for Bizarre Creations' Project Gotham Racing 3 (X360). 1UP talks with Tomonobu Itagaki about the use of a female Spartan in Team NINJA's Dead or Alive 4 (X360), as well as Hiromichi Tanaka about the Xbox 360 version of Square Enix's Final Fantasy XI (PS2, X360, PC).

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2
Screenshots: Samurai Champloo (PS2). Drakengard 2 (PS2).
Xbox/X360
Screenshots: Marble Blast Ultra (X360). Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII (Xbox). NBA Live 06 (X360, also PS2, Xbox, GCN, PSP, PC).
GameCube
IGN checks out Tomy's Naruto: Clash of Ninja (GCN).
Portable
Screenshots: Battles of Prince of Persia (DS). Dogz (GBA).
Multi
GameSpot checks out Midway's Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows (PS2, Xbox). Screenshots: MVP 06 NCAA Baseball (PS2, Xbox).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Ubisoft's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory for the Xbox. "One word: co-op. One of the best gaming experiences available on any platform right now. "I'm in position!"" (submitted by Acid Gumball)

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"i'm really looking forward to playing "How to Train Your Dragon" . Maybe it will be a ..."
- bosst0ne    See all 59 comments


Late Night Consoling

Well, this is going to be a pretty limited LNC. Most of the news has probably happened in the time between me finishing this and you reading it. Right now I've probably just arrived in Anaheim for BlizzCon. You know, in case you were wondering.

  • X360 Launch Lineup Revealed?

    [xbox]
    Eurogamer reports that USK, the German software ratings board, is featuring a list of Xbox 360 games on its website that it has been evaluating. One can assume that if such an organization has these games, they are essentially complete and should be able to hit the launch target. Present on the list are such titles as Ridge Racer 6, Kameo: Elements of Power, King Kong, Call of Duty 2, Project Gotham Racing 3, Dead or Alive 4, Gun, and a number of Xbox Live Arcade titles such as Hexic, Marble Blast Ultra, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, and Gauntlet. Conspicuous in its absence is Rare's much-hyped Perfect Dark Zero.
  • PS3 to Have Limited Backwards Compatibility?

    [ps2]
    With Sony's recent confirmation that its new silver model PS2 will have compatibility issues with 38 PlayStation games and nine PS2 games, including Tekken 5 and Hitman: Contracts, it now seems that there is some doubt as to whether the PS3 will be fully backwards compatible. Sony spokesperson Reiko Sakamoto said to IDG, "It's hard to say the PlayStation 3 will be 100 percent backwards compatible but as we said earlier this year we aim to make it so as much as possible." She noted that there are a variety of factors causing the issues, which include crashes and save errors, but they are primarily due to the use of a new chipset in the most recent PS2 model. Presumably, assuming Sony uses hardware emulation in its next console, the PS3 will have similar problems.
  • Full Auto Misses Launch

    [ps2] [xbox]
    As the Xbox 360 launch approaches, the games are finally starting to reveal whether they're launch titles or not, and it looks like Full Auto (PS3, X360) is not. Sega has announced that Pseudo Interactive's vehicular combat title, originally planned to launch alongside the new console, has been delayed until February 2006. (It was also missing from the USK list reported by Eurogamer). Sega of America PR director Brent Blount explains, "With any new franchise, you don't have a second chance to build momentum and make an impression. As with most console launches, publishers will be betting on sequels from established franchises; several of which will be racing games." Blount made sure to add that Monolith's Condemned: Criminal Origins (X360, PC), also published by Sega, will in fact be hitting the console's launch.
  • Growlanser V Announced

    [ps2]
    Atlus has announced the fifth title in the Growlanser series of PlayStation strategy RPGs. Growlanser V (PS2) is set for release in Japan some time during 2006, and moves the series into full 3D for the first time. The series' usual game mechanics will otherwise likely remain fairly intact. It is not known when the game will make it to North America and/or Europe. At the end of last year, Working Designs published Career Soft's Growlanser Generations in North America; the compilation included the first three games of the series, the first of which was originally released on the original PlayStation. Atlus has yet to release Growlanser IV here, so V might be sneaking in at the end of the PS2's life cycle.
  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    1UP continues its week-long NES restrospective coverage, Power Play. The features I've been forgetting to link since Monday are NES Turns 20, an EGM feature which looks at some of Nintendo's marketing, accessories, and competitors of the NES; Solid Gold, which compiles a list of 1UP readers' top 15 NES games; Hidden Gems, which showcases some more great titles that 1UP readers missed; The Sublime Seven, looking at the top third-party developers on the NES; and Good Nintentions, which looks at some exceptionall bizarre NES tie-ins and "homages." 1UP is in retrospective mode, it seems; with this week's release of Gunstar Super Heroes (GBA), there's also a feature on venerable independent studio Treasure, undisputed masters of the 2D action arts. Peruse a history and complete gameography with 13 Years of Treasure: A Retrospective, and marvel at how may awesome games these guys have made. GameSpot has a feature on the less-hyped North American version of Microsoft's X05 event, which was just held in Toronto.

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Adventures in the Magic Kingdom for the NES. "Simple, yet addictive and at times quite hard. Ride the rides at Disneyland and help Mickey solve a mystery." (submitted by dognose).

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Late Night Consoling

If you missed it, check out my The Movies interview. It will help you learn about the game The Movies! I'm glad that nutcase Jack Thompson finally got some flak from the people he always claims to be cooperating with. I figured it was just a matter of time before his supposed allies spoke up.

  • Jack Thompson is a Crazy, Crazy Man

    [ps2] [xbox] [gamecube]
    You may have heard about the challenge issued by fanatical anti-game activisist Jack Thompson, who dared the games industry to create a game in which a raging vigilante goes on a killing spree, murdering the employees and management of the only slightly fictitious game publisher "Take This." Were a game company to develop, publish, and distribute such a game, Thompson claimed he would donate $10,000 to the favorite charity of the real company Take Two's real CEO Paul Eibeler. Well, when the Penny Arcade guys found out about this, PA's Mike Krahulik (Gabe) felt he should let Thompson know that the comic's Child's Play charity has already donated over $500,000 to benefit hospitalized children around the country. Thompson responded in turn: he called Krahulik on the phone and "screamed at me for a couple minutes." Well, the situation reached new levels of hilarity today, as Dr. David Walsh of America's National Institute on Media and the Family has told Thompson to leave his organization alone and stop trying to claim false associations. In an open letter to the the games industry and to politicians, Walsh revealed that despite Thompson constantly claiming to be cooperating with the institute, the institute has no relationship with Thompson, and in fact is offended by his publically outrageous and offensive techniques. In addressing Thompson, Walsh's letter states:
    "Over the past few months, I and members of my board have a growing concern that your use of our name, without our permission, has had a negative influence as we try to educate the public on this important issue. Your commentary has included extreme hyperbole and your tactics have included personally attacking individuals for whom I have a great deal of respect... Some of the people that you have publicly criticised are not only people of integrity, but are people who have worked to improve the lives of children."
    Walsh continues to say that he and his organization do not "condone these tactics," and he demands that Thompson "cease using the institute's or my name in any way that would give the impression that we support your efforts." He even wants his organization's link off of Thompson's site. Thompson just responded, with an accusatory and conspiratorial link that is tenuous at best and laughable otherwise:
    "Dr. Walsh's efforts are funded by Target and by a foundation run by Best Buy lawyer and Best Buy Director Elliot Kaplan. This was revealed in a recent article about Dr. Walsh in the Pioneer Press... I am suing Target and Best Buy over [Rockstar's] Bully game, which both Target and Best Buy are pre-selling. You connect the dots."
    Very incisive. Thompson goes on to accuse Walsh's open letter is an attempt to "protect his relationship with portions of the video game industry and its reckless retail network." After years of criticizing an entire industry for supposedly being overly violent, unreasonable, and petty, it's nice to see Thompson taking some of what he so routinely dishes out.
  • Xbox 360 to Work With Windows

    [xbox]
    Microsoft announced today plans to more fully integrate Xbox 360 with Windows. The company's update, which will only be available for Windows XP Media Center Edition users, will give the console such features as the ability to stream media files from the PC, including HD content. The Windows software, helpfully titled Update Rollup 2 for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, will allow management of up to 200 movies, have new DVD burning functionality, and add support for external HDTV tuners. Media Center Edition users who wish to download the update may do so for free from Microsoft's Windows Update site. Microsoft plans to ship Xbox 360 consoles compatible with the technology "later in the year," though it was not specified whether that implies that the first batch of machines will support it out of the box.
  • GUN Gets ARG

    [ps2] [xbox] [gamecube]
    It looks like Neversoft's upcoming western GUN (PS2, Xbox, GCN, X360) has jumped on board the alternate reality game (ARG) craze, a tactic that is becoming more and more popular lately in the marketing of upcoming games and game industry announcements. Gamasutra reports that the recently-launched Last Call Poker may very well have been created for the purpose of promoting GUN. Last Call Poker, while at first glance appearing to be a fairly straightforward gambling site, is upon closer inspection riddled with hidden clues and puzzles suggesting that it is the launching point of an ARG. Of course, some clues are a little more obvious. The front page contains an inconspicious anonymous plea for players to help save his niece from being murdered. In addition, watching the static (at first) header on the page eventually reveals the flashed text, "If you're reading this, I'm already dead." So, probably not just a poker site then.
  • Microsoft Reveals Live Arcade Titles

    [xbox]
    Microsoft has already announced that Alexey Pajitnov's puzzle game Hexic will ship on the Xbox 360 hard drive, and that GarageGames' Marble Blast Ultra will be available over the Xbox Live Arcade service for 360, but today they revealed a full list of the first wave of games that will be available the Live Arcade service. The list contains 21 games to be released in the "launch window" of the upcoming console, which is considered to be from the release date until the "holiday season." It lists several card games and puzzle games, including popular titles such as Popcap's Bejeweled 2, as well as classics like Midway's Joust and SmashTV. Each game will have a free downloadable demo available. Microsoft expects about 35 more games to launch by next summer.
  • Alien Hominid Downloads Over Live

    [xbox]
    Those of you who own an Xbox copy of The Behemoth's gloriously frenetic old-school throwback shooter Alien Hominid (PS2, Xbox, GCN) will have a few downloads available for the game through Xbox Live. The level packs are additions to the PDA-style minigames, rather than the main component proper, but extra content is extra content. The two new games are called "Chicken Pack" and "Ultra Hyper Load", each with 25 levels. Zoo Digital, the game's publisher in Europe, claims more content will be available early next year. There's just one catch: the Xbox version of the game didn't make it to North America, which got the PS2 and GameCube verions, so this announcement should only affect our European friends.
  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Microsoft has Designer Diary #1 for Bizarre Creations' Project Gotham Racing 3 (X360). Gamasutra has a video lecture from Game Developers Conference, entitled "Recreating the LAN Party Online: The Networking and Social Infrastructure of Halo 2." Bungie's Chris Butcher shares his experience. (free reg. required)

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2
1UP finishes up its weeklong Shadow of the Colossus (PS2) coverage, topping it off with the game's first review. GameSpot previews Amusement Vision's Shining Force (PS2). Screenshots: WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006 (PS2, PSP). Movies: Devil Kings (PS2).
Xbox
Screenshots: Operation Flashpoint: Elite (Xbox, also PC). Movies: GUN (X360, also PS2, Xbox, GCN).
Portable
GameSpot checks out Namco's Real Time Conflict: Shogun Empires (DS).
Multi
GameSpot has some character profiles for Sega's Shadow the Hedgehog (PS2, Xbox, GCN), and goes hands on with Treyarch's Call of Duty 2: Big Red One (PS2, Xbox. GCN). Eurogamer checks out Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (PS2, Xbox, GCN, PC).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Pokemon Puzzle League for the Nintendo 64. "The remake to Tetris Attack without all of the slowdowns. Really it had nothing to do with Pokemon...but it was the most addictive puzzle game I've ever played (and still play)" (submitted by ButterTaco)

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Late Night Consoling

Weekend time! Hooray! I hope nobody gets offended by that J Allard story. I'm just reporting the facts. Mainly.

  • Upcoming 360 Shortage?

    [xbox]
    Microsoft has been very vocal about its plan to supply plenty of Xbox 360 units when the machine is released in November, ensuring a lack of widespread shortages. However, the always-informative Chris Morris over at CNN/Money is reporting that the company may be running into problems generating enough supply. Multiple analyst firms have lowered their estimates of how many units the manufacturer will ship. The hope has been that Microsoft will get over two million consoles out worldwide in 2005, but American Technology Research's P. J. McNealy believes Microsoft will hit between 1.8 million and 2 million, while Banc of America's Gary Cooper expects only 1.4 million to 1.6 million. With Microsoft planning on a global launch, a shortage of supply would be even more detrimental, since the initial batch of consoles must be divided among the various territories. Many retailers are already taking advantage of the situation by requiring customers to purchase the 360 as part of a larger bundle. When questioned about manufacturing numbers in an X05 roundtable interview, Microsoft Chief XNA Architect J Allard responded, "We have a term for this. It's a very technical term. It's called a very hard problem. It's just hard. I can't comment on numbers at all. You can try all you want. I'm not going to give you any numbers partly because we're only in the beginnings of manufacturing and the rate that we're aiming for is very, very steep."
  • Allard Invents Revolution Controller, is "Wise"

    [xbox] [nintendo]
    Microsoft's ever-outspoken Chief XNA Architect J Allard has spoken his mind regarding Nintendo's Revolution controller, indicating that he himself thought of a similar concept four years ago, and determined that "there wasn't that much enthusiasm around it" from gamers and developers. He does not seem concerned with whether the actual execution of the idea has anything to do with its reception. Though he does think Nintendo will find uses for the controller in its first party games, he notes, "I don't think most Electronic Arts games are going to be played with that thing." Allard went on to incisively question "How am I going to watch a movie on Revolution [using its controller]?" Engineers at Nintendo were heard to exclaim, "Shit! That's the type of thing we didn't take into consideration!" He then claimed that customers want choice, which is why the dual pricing scheme for Xbox is a sound decision, though he asks, "Are there developers who are disappointed?" and answers, "Yeah, sure." He contrasts Microsoft's approach with Apple's non-upgradable iPod strategy. Allard explained that iPod Shuffle owners are "screwed" if they want an iPod Photo. The architect also reassured customers that "There isn't a game on 360 that you can't play without a hard drive," apparently forgetting about Final Fantasy XI and, presumably, any other upcoming MMOs. However, it seems he is technically correct in that the Xbox 360 version of Final Fantasy XI does not actually exist yet. In another interview, Allard admitted that "What we learned with Halo [2] is you don't ship a game before it's ready." He then hastily added, "Not that we shipped a game before it's ready, but because we were very wise to wait until November. I put in the capabilities that we wanted." Good save there, Allard, putting in those capabilities. I've always said he's a wise guy. Also, thanks to Bungie for actually making the game.
  • 360 Backwards Compatibility List Soon

    [xbox]
    Though there's not much news about it yet, Microsoft's Peter Moore revealed that gamers can expect a list of Xbox 360-compatible Xbox games in about two weeks. As previously stated, a certain number of "bestselling" Xbox games will have 360 compatibility code preloaded onto the 360's hard drive. Moore also reiterated that Microsoft will continue to release backwards compatibility patches for other games, "Until consumers show lack of interest--then we will move on." Moore stated that the backwards compatibility team is progressing well.
  • Schwarzenegger Signs Game Bill

    [ps2] [xbox] [gamecube]
    Today, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill which will legally prohibit sales of particularly violent games to minors. The governor had not previously indicated whether he was in support of or against the bill. Today, he explained, "I am a big believer in those video games. I mean they're terrific, a lot of them are manufactured in California and they're doing a great job. We just want to make sure it doesn't go into the wrong hands or children under the age of 10 start playing those things because it does have an impact on our children." He did not address the issue of children between the ages of 11 and 17, though his signing of the bill would indicate he is against certain games going into their hands as well. According to the bill, "exposing minors to depictions of violence in video games, including sexual and heinous violence, makes those minors more likely to experience feelings of aggression, to experience a reduction of activity in the frontal lobes of the brain, and to exhibit violent antisocial or aggressive behavior." The law will take effect January 1, 2006. The Entertainment Software Association plans to launch a lawsuit in opposition to the new law.
  • Nintendo Earnings Drop, Profits Hold

    [gamecube]
    Pointing to falling GameCube performance in North America, Nintendo announced a 6.9% sales drop in the first quarter over last year's results. The company also cited high research and development costs on its upcoming Revolution console as a contributor to slimmer profit margins. However, strong DS performance and the weak Yen have led Nintendo to keep its revenue forecast unchanged and raise its profit estimates substantially.
  • GameStop/EB: The Circle is Now Complete

    [ps2] [xbox] [gamecube]
    The two biggest gaming retail chains, GameStop and Electronics Boutique, have completed their long in the works merger after shareholders, as expected, approved the transaction. The deal will become set in stone this weekend, and the resulting company will keep the name GameStop Corp. The company is far and away the biggest presence in the used game market, but Best Buy, which is controlling a growing part of the overall gaming retail market, was recently determined to be moving into used game sales.
  • Misc. Q&As/Features

    Marek Bronstring of Idle Thumbs delivers his X05 game impressions, covering Ubisoft's Peter Jackson's Michel Ancel's King Kong (PS2, Xbox, GCN, X360, PC), Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (X360, PC), Epic's Gears of War (X360), and Bioware's Mass Effect (X360). IGN has a developer interview on Creative Assembly's Spartan: Total Warrior (PS2, Xbox, GCN).

Misc. Media/Previews

PS2
Screenshots: WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006 (PS2, also PSP).
Xbox
IGN looks at Neversoft's GUN (X360, also PS2, Xbox, GCN), Volition's Saint's Row (X360), Rare's Kameo: Elements of Power (X360), and Indie Built's Amped 3 (X360). Screenshots: Tomb Raider Legend (X360, also PS2, Xbox, PC). Marble Blast Ultra (X360). Movies: NBA 2K6 (X360, also PS2, Xbox).
GameCube
GameSpot checks out Konami's Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix (GCN).
Portable
1UP previews Nintendo's Metroid Prime Pinball (DS) and the PSP version of Pandemic's Star Wars Battlefront II (PSP, also PS2, Xbox, PC). GameSpot also checks out Metroid Prime Pinball (DS). Screenshots: The Sims 2 (DS, GBA, also PS2, Xbox, GCN, PSP, PC).
Multi
IGN previews EA Canada's SSX On Tour (PS2, Xbox, GCN), Taito's Taito Classics (PS2, Xbox), and Pandemic's Star Wars Battlefront II (PS2, Xbox, PC, PSP). 1UP checks out Midway's Blitz: The League (PS2, Xbox). Movies: Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (PS2, Xbox, GCN, X360). True Crime: New York City (PS2, Xbox, GCN). America's Army: Rise of a Soldier (PS2, Xbox).

Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]

Earthworm Jim for the Sega Genesis. "Probably one of the most unlikely action heroes ever, Earthworm Jim was a great combination of humor and excellent gameplay." (submitted by Uncle Slappy)

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"Though he does think Nintendo will find uses for the controller in its first party games, he ..."
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Top Games

  1. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
  2. Resistance 3
  3. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
  4. MX vs. ATV Supercross
  5. Space Pirates and Zombies 2
  6. Hearts of Iron IV
  7. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
  8. Grand Theft Auto V
  9. DayZ
  10. Batman: Arkham Knight

Most Anticipated

  1. Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
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  4. Hearts of Iron IV
  5. DayZ
  6. Batman: Arkham Knight
  7. Survarium
  8. Kerbal Space Program
  9. Dragon Age: Inquisition
  10. R.B.I. Baseball 14

Top Rentals

  1. Grand Theft Auto V
  2. Beyond: Two Souls
  3. Batman: Arkham Origins
  4. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
  5. Call of Duty: Ghosts
  6. Battlefield 4
  7. NBA 2K14
  8. Diablo III
  9. Madden NFL 25
  10. The Last of Us