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June 2005

Rock The Xbox Vote

Xbox360IGN's Xbox 360 division is asking readers to vote for which games they want to play on the upcoming Microsoft Xbox 360.  The theory is that the votes will help IGN and their partners map out future coverage of games and even influence retailers on which titles to carry when the system is released later this year.

I normally don't endorse skewing the results of a survey such as this, but considering that one of the stereotypical Xbox player types is a young teen aiming to act tough and "mature", I'd love to see the reaction in the IGN forums if the voted-upon most anticipated Xbox 360 titles are nauseatingly cute kiddie fare: Fluffy Bunny's Garden Adventure, Happy Hamster's Big Day, and other such blatantly kid-friendly titles.  "Rated M for Minors" indeed.

Smash Bros. Bundle Not Multiplayer-Friendly

Super Smash Bros Melee bundleNintendo's still pushing the Nintendo GameCube into new homes and the company's latest salvo is a bundle package that includes a GameCube, the best-selling system-launching multiplayer fest that is Super Smash Bros. Melee, and... one controller.  One... single... controller.  Nintendo is pushing a bundle that features the best multiplayer brawler of this gaming generation on their console, and they're only including one controller.

Granted the idea is for new customers to pick up extra controllers themselves and spend more money, but I'd think if one were offering a game that is known for its multiplayer goodness this late in the GameCube's life, one would toss an extra controller into the package to at least let two players battle it out with just the initial bundle purchase.  The days of getting two controllers in the box with a new console are long gone, but I just have to shake my head at failing to include a second controller with the Super Smash Bros. Melee bundle.

Anyone Looking Forward To 25 To Life?

TaserNow another organization has come out against the upcoming cops 'n gangs game 25 To LifeThe Taser Foundation says that the game trivializes the the dangers faced by police in the real world.  People speaking out against this yet-to-be-completed video game is nothing new at this point, but I mention it because I'm wondering if anyone is eagerly looking forward to 25 To Life.

Are any of you out there in Internetland anxious to get your hands on this title?  Is your cash set aside in a jar and the release date circled on your calendar?  Let's hear it; who wants 25 To Life?

Game Boy Micro Has Aesthetic Aim

Game Boy Micro The next iteration of Game Boy Advance, the Game Boy Micro, is expected in stores later this year.  Next Generation has a brief look at the new l'il handheld, citing that this is the first GBA model to drop support for the original Game Boy and cousin Game Boy Color.  In a way the decision to do so makes sense; Nintendo is looking to grab potential customers who are all about cool, and stereotype dictates that "cool people" don't have an old Super Mario Land sitting in their closet.

The target market, according to Nintendo of America's George Harrison, is “image-conscious folks who love videogames, the ones who want the look of their system to be as cool as the games they play on it.” It's an interesting angle, considering that the content of Nintendo's handheld games---a rotund plumber, an electric rat, a tie-wearing ape--have never seemed overly troubled by being cool.

I played the Game Boy Micro at E3 this year and liked the feel of the unit, although the small screen makes it difficult to read onscreen text.  RPGs could be an issue on the GBM which makes me wonder if Nintendo thinks that style-conscious people do not play RPGs.  However, if that was the case then why did the GBM I played have the upcoming Dynasty Warriors Advance on it?

I'd rather have seen a game I'm familiar with on display so I could compare the GBM against the other members of the Game Boy line.  Either way though, I don't see myself buying one.  My Nintendo DS plays GBA games already and as someone who has been enjoying the exploits of Super Mario and other games that are supposedly "for kids" for years, how cool I look in the eyes of those around me is not an issue worth my concern.

Super Mario Bros. Super Show DVD Delayed

MarioTVShowsonDVD has a blurb about Shout! Factory teaming up with DiC to released 1980s animated television shows on DVD.  Bad news for Mushroom Kingdom fans, however: the Super Mario Bros. Super Show and The Legend of Zelda DVD release dates listed at online retail sites are incorrect.  The DVDs are still coming, but exactly when is unknown at this time.

Please note than some etailers have begun listing The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. Super Show, however we're told that the dates are incorrect, and that nothing has been announced from the companies involved. This has become normal for Shout! Factory releases; sales are done through Sony Music, and they often solicit orders before a date is set.

So those of you out there who have been waiting nearly fifteen years for these cartoons to appear in digital format will have to wait a little longer.  You're welcome to make your own "DVDs are in another castle" joke if you want.

Sony To World: "Stop Talking About PS3!"

PlayStation 3Sometimes CEOs say surprising things.  Take David Reeves of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe for instance.  While speaking at ELSPA's International Games Summit in London last week, Reeves declared that the Sony PlayStation 3 is going "underground" until next year.  You heard the man: no more talk of this PS3 nonsense.  Everyone go pick up a new PlayStation 2, I guess, and stock up on PlayStation Portables while you can.

"I told the troops: OK now we go underground. The PS3 goes underground until it comes out next year."

But I kid David Reeves.  Sony's looking to keep the PS3 overload on hold until they're actually ready to release a product to the marketplace.  If everyone becomes weary of PS3 coverage well before the final product is ready, then Sony can't expect to drum up a media maelstrom next year.  Besides, the PS2 is just breaking into new markets in some places.  Sony estimates that the aging console has only completed 10% of its lifespan in Iran.  No, seriously.  There's a Sony office in Iran.  Stop laughing!

(via Joystiq)

Meet The Major Players

Press hatThe wonderfully cynical mind behind Game Politics has compiled a list of the major players in the video game violence debates that seem to be making news on a weekly basis these days.  The list also includes thoughts on just what each person or organization has to gain by holding their respective views.  Some names you know (Leland Yee, Deanna Demuzio, Charles Schumer) and others you probably do not (Adrian Fenty, Julia Boseman).  The last entry on the list is what caught my attention, however.

The gaming press... are primarily enthusiasts who tend to dismiss legitimate concerns about games out of hand. There are notable exceptions, of course, but listening to hundreds of media-credentialed "reporters" cheer wildly during a Nintendo E3 press conference tells you all you need to know about the current state of video game journalism.

Continue reading "Meet The Major Players" »

Xbox Baseball League Crumbles

MVP Baseball 2005Remember last week's article about a real baseball game that would take place after two innings of MVP Baseball 2005 on a Microsoft Xbox?  The commissioner of the Northern League, Mike Stone, has canceled the event citing that it is "not in the best interest" of the league.

"Any promotion that could affect the outcome of a regular season game is not permissible. Ultimately, such an event could have an influence on the final standings, and this certainly challenges the integrity of the league."

Fans of Xbox baseball will still have their evening in the sun; the video gamers will instead play two innings of MVP Baseball after the conclusion of the T-Bones / Flyers game, picking up where the real game left off.  Next year the team will play an all-Xbox game during an exhibition game so as not to dishonor the holy creature that is official minor league baseball with a little polygonal fun.

Interview With 1080up's Jeff Rivera

1080upVideo game fans have always been a vocal group and the newly organization 1080up is about to become the most vocal in recent memory.  Through the group's website,, they aim to inform Nintendo that the company's core fans want high definition support in the Nintendo Revolution console.  As you'll recall, Nintendo recently announced that the Revolution would not ship with HD capability, whereas the upcoming Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 will.

I had the opportunity this past weekend to ask one 1080up's creators, Jeff Rivera, a few questions about the organization's goals and mission.  Here's what he had to say.

Continue reading "Interview With 1080up's Jeff Rivera" »

From Workstation To Wal-Mart

Nintendo DS units are prepared for shippingNext Generation has been producing some excellent articles since returning last week.  This piece brings a look at just how video games go from being completed at a development studio to the shelf at your local store.  Using a hypothetical game, Chortle Wombat, the processes of approval, manufacturing, and distribution are outlined.

Specialist retailers such as GameStop (and formerly EB) either pay for their own overnight shipments direct to the stores, or even at times pick up the goods in their own trucks for redistribution to the store level. The key here is that their consumer absolutely must have the game the first day it is available anywhere, and they don't want to lose those critical early adopter sales. Blockbuster, similarly, takes shipment early on many games, but it often takes shipment on spools (unpackaged goods) so that they can repack them into their tamper-resistant shelf boxes.

There are many articles floating around out there that describe how video games are created, but it's not often that someone takes a look at "the boring part" of the process.  With all of the potential pitfalls in the distribution process, I think it's amazing that more games aren't delayed.