What we lack in decent page design, we make up for with lackluster articles and late reports.
Friday, March 05, 2004
Interactive Achievement Awards
Another awards ceremony for the game industry has come and gone. This year, the seventh annual Interactive Achievement Awards (put on by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, or AIAS) chose Call of Duty for the game of the year, and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time for best console game of the year. Nintendo managed to grab a few awards this year as well. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker received the Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction award, and Mario Party 5 was declared to be the Console Children's Title of the Year.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance received the honor of being Handheld Game of the Year, and Namco's Soul Calibur 2 was the Console Fighting Game of the year... both titles which did fairly well on Nintendo's systems (with FFTA being published by Nintendo).

Yes, yes... we're all wondering how FFTA beat out games like Fire Emblem and Wario Ware too.

Thursday, March 04, 2004
River City Ransom Trivia
Lost Levels, an online gaming magazine, recently posted a story about a mysterious River City Ransom sequel. What makes the sequel so bizarre is that it wasn't going to be designed or published by the current owners of the original game. It seems that the American trademark on the title "River City Ransom" had run out. A young game tester had discovered this and registered the trademark himself, then began plans and designs for "River City Ransom 2"... a game which would be a spiritual successor to the original, albiet different enough to avoid "look and feel" copyright infringement. To make a long story short, he pulled the plug on the idea once he heard that Atlus was releasing a GBA port of the original game. Go read Lost Level's story about it to find out much, much more.
Tiny D.I.C.E. Conference Tidbit
At the D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Communicate and Entertain) summit , Perrin Kaplin (Nintendo's V.P. of marketing and corporate affairs) was on hand to represent Nintendo's view of marketing games. During the "Targeting Tomorrow's Consumer Today" conference, she reiterated that Nintendo wasn't interested in charging consumers for online extras on top of the purchase price of the game. Other companies appear to be keen on the idea of selling additional components for games (or releasing more titles with monthly fees), especially on home game consoles, but it appears that Nintendo is still against the notion of "paying twice" for games. That would imply that Nintendo either plans to release online games with free playing time, or simply not release online games.

International News Night
Sega plans to rerelease Skies of Arcadia Legends as a budget title. Now we just have to hope that they plan to do the same thing over here in North America.

Nintendo's released a page with the winners of their Mario Kart: Double Dash time trial tournament. Visit the web site of the tournament to download video clips of people blasting through the courses in amazingly short periods of time.

Nintendo of Europe will be releasing a special metallic pink version of the GBA SP, although it might just be for the Spanish market. Nintendo of Spain has a short information page up about it on their site. It seems that Nintendo polled the fine folks of Spain and discovered that 94% of the girls asked expressed a desire to buy an SP. With this in mind, Nintendo was appalled by the lack of game systems designed "exclusively for girls" -- and so they created the "Game Boy Advance SP: Girl's Edition"... thus filling the void so cruelly felt by the entire gaming community. It is scheduled for an April 1st release date ... unless, of course, it's an elaborate hoax.
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
NES Colored GBA SP Rumor
After the recent release of the Famicom colored GBA SP in Japan, along with a series of emulated Famicom titles, rumors have spread that NOA might be thinking of releasing an NES colored GBA SP here with a similar collection of budget GBA NES titles. Nothing is official yet, although a few magazines and websites are treating the rumor as if it were a confirmed fact.

The problem still seems that as GBA titles retail for $30 in the USA, Nintendo would have to release the series of NES ports at $10 to $15. $20 seems much too expensive for a portable Super Mario Bros., but it seems unlikely that NOA would release $10 GBA games. In Japan, the Famicom Mini series sold for about $20 each, but the price of a new GBA is higher in Japan than it is over there, meaning that the Famicom games were (roughly) half the normal retail price.
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Games People Play Seminar with Miyamoto
For $40, you can attend a seminar featuring Shigeru Miyamoto. It seems that this May, the Smithsonian Institution (in associated with Nintendo) will be holding Games People Play, a gaming and technology seminar. The seminar will feature a variety of important folk from the world of games and gaming technology, although there is currently little solid information on what the seminar will focus on. Miyamoto will be there, along with Doug Church of Eidos (designer of Ultima Underworld), Richard Garfield (designer of the Magic: The Gathering card game, and the moderator Bernard Yee. Yee teaches game design at Columbia University, and was formerly associated with Sony Online Entertainment and Disney.
Donkey Konga in June?
Recent retailer release lists have shown an early June listing for a GC title simply known as "Donkey Kong". Given that the only known GC Donkey Kong game in development is Donkey Konga, this may indicate a summer release of the game here in the USA.

(Recently, IGN ran a story alluding to much the same thing, although claiming to have industry insider information an an estimated price of $50. They seem more confident than we do, so you might want to believe them for the moment -- that way, if Donkey Konga never comes out, you can unleash your wrath and hatred upon IGN instead of us.)
Monday, March 01, 2004
GC Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow May Feature Online Capabilities
During a recent interview with 1up.com, Ubisoft's Xavier Fouilleux was asked about the possibility of the GameCube version featuring online gameplay. Rather than directly answer the question, he replied that he could not speak about "anything related to that platform" because of the delay of the GameCube version. As he did not directly say that the GC version would not have online functionality, it seems that there is still a fighting chance for a third online GameCube title.
Free Radical's New Projects
Free Radical, developer of TimeSplitters 2, revealed details on two of their projects last week. TimeSplitters 3 was confirmed to be in development for the GC (as well as the PS2 and Xbox), and the new game Second Sight was revealed. Second Site appears to be a suspense/action game, with a plot revolving around amnesiac prisoners with psychokinetic powers. At this point, the general assumption is that Second Sight is being developed for the GC, PS2, and Xbox -- but the destination platforms have yet to be announced.

In case anyone had forgotten, Free Radical was founded by members of Rare's Goldeneye development team.
Wireless Gaming: GBA and DS Style
It seems that the upcoming Japanese of Mario Golf for the GBA will come packed with a free wireless adaptor and feature full wireless capability; in fact, using the wireless adaptor will unlock additional clubs and options within the game itself. You will also be able to train a golfer in Mario Golf for the GBA and upload him or her into Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour on the GameCube.

In other wireless news, it seems that the Nintendo DS (Dual Screen) will have wireless gaming capabilities built in. NCL president Satoru Iwata (of Kirby fame) mentioned this during a recent interview, but didn't go into great detail as to what sort of functionality it would be. He did reiterate that the DS will probably not impress most people until they have a chance to play it.
GameCube Shortage Officially Confirmed?
It seems that Nintendo of America is running low on GameCube systems, and claiming that nearly half of all stores carrying the system are completely out of stock. NCL will be increasing production to match the U.S. demand, and NOA plans to import systems from other regions.
Denis Dyack Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes Interview
Once again, the powers that be have decided to only grant interviews with "reputable" gaming news outlets. Some of Dyack's more interesting comments include...

  • "Prince of Persia, I think that's cool. Beyond Good & Evil was neat. I think those two will hopefully find an audience. The world needs to be complimented by new franchises as well as older ones. It's a really terrible thing to see bad games do incredibly well, like in 2003. In the end of the day, the longevity will hopefully go to those who are creative. Creatively, Ubisoft had a great year."

  • "When these hardware wars become meaningless . . . people will look back at Nintendo and think quality games."

  • "The differences between the different platforms will become smaller and smaller . . . I think it's inevitable that there will be no perceivable difference between them, in fact. It's going to come down to who makes the best games and who tells the best stories. It's going to become 100% a software race ... When I go to buy a book, I look for authors. I don't look for what kind of paper it was printed on."

  • "If people are searching for how Nintendo is being really aggressive in the future, look to how we're reaching out for collaborations. Domination isn't going to happen overnight. Kojima says that he wants to do another collaboration, so after we finish our prospective projects, we're going to get together again and make something great."

  • "I'd love to do a realistic, mature take on Zelda."

    New Goldeneye?
    It seems that EA has leaked some information about an upcoming Goldeneye sequel. The story so far is that the game centers around an ex-M16 agent who ends up working for Goldfinger, and the general evil and mayhem that follows. It's a Bond game where you play as the bad guy, and it's in development at EA's Los Angeles development studio.
    Majesco's GBA Video Cartridges
    It appears that Majesco will finally be unleashing their GBA movie cartridges upon the world. The cartridges, first displayed at e3, can be used in any GBA unit and will play up to 45 minutes of heavily compressed video and sound. Majesco plans to distribute various Nickelodeon cartoons on these cartridges. There must be some sort of market for these things... too bad Majesco seems more confident in releasing video cartridges than importing the GameCube Star Soldier, Adventure Island, Bonk's Adventure, or Lode Runner.
    Factor 5's New Trademarks
    It seems that Factor 5, the development house behind the Rogue Squadron series, registered some new trademarks this year. In the catagory covering video games (and PC software, arcade hardware, and a slew of other topics), Factor 5 registered the names Animal Wars, Battle Squadron, and The Right Stuff.

    At this point any guess at to the nature of these trademarks would be rampant speculation (a new Rogue Squadron game -- Battle Squadron? Some sort of jet fighter simulation game -- The Right Stuff?). Expect more information to come much later in the future... or, perhaps, at e3.
    New Releases
    Another week is upon us, and another batch of games becomes available for purchase.

    GameCube: Scooby Doo Mystery Mayhem and Phantasy Star Online Episode III C.A.R.D. Revolution.
    Game Boy Advance: Mega Man Chip Challenge.

    In theory, Majesco's budget GameCube title Blowout might arrive in some stores this week as well, although it seems to be floating in limbo between cancellation and a stealth release.
    PSP Delayed
    Sony has announced that the PSP's USA release might not be until the first half of 2005. How this will impact the Nintendo DS system or any future Game Boy system has yet to be determined. If the Nintendo DS does launch this year, it would have a several month head start on the PSP, which could be a very good thing.
    Midway Ends GameCube Support?
    At the recent Midway Gamer's Day, Midway Games let the news slip out that the GameCube won't be receiving the latest Mortal Kombat title. In fact, it seems that Midway has no immediate plans for any future GameCube production. Officially, projects for the GameCube will be considered on a "case by case" basis. Upcoming Midway titles that will probably not arrive on the GameCube include Mortal Kombat: Deception, Narc, Spy Hunter 2, and Midway's Arcade Treasures II (with Narc and Mortal Kombat).
    N-Run Returns
    After a little over three months on hiatus, N-Run has returned... or so we believe. If it survives more than a week, expect to see N-Run around for quite a long time.

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