In an interview with, Jack Tretton, co-chief operating officer of Sony Computer Entertainment America showed that Sony's recent insanity isn't just restricted to Europe and Japan. When asked about the poor perception of Sony's E3 presentation, Tretton stated that Sony was very pleased with their performance and that they accomplished everything they set out to do at the show;

"If we were trying to do a PR blitz on our announcements, we would have perceived it a little bit differently. But we really saw this as an opportunity to announce some very important details to the trade. And I think if you ask the trade, meaning the retail constituency and the third parties, they came away pretty pleased with how everything went." -Jack Tretton

When pressed on the fact that the general public came away with an apparently different opinion than Sony, Tretton stated that Sony is now in the process of trying to explain to consumers why the system is right for them;

"We are in the process of reaching out to the consumers to try to explain what our platform's all about and why they're going to want one between that May and November time frame. But I think six months out of any platform launch, it's a little bit early in terms of being able to roll out all the details." -Jack Tretton

On the price difference between the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360;

"Well, I guess if price is the only consideration, then we've won the war, because we've got a $129 PlayStation 2 that outsells the Xbox 360 today.

If you look at the cost of the components and more importantly, the value to consumers, you have everything in the box at $399 on the Xbox 360; and it still falls well short of what the PlayStation 3 offers at $499. " -Jack Tretton

On Microsoft's early lead in units sold;

"It ultimately came down to the system and what consumers preferred. At the end of the day, what you do in the first year, and whether you do 6 or 10 million units does not determine whether you're successful or not. We're looking to sell 100 million-plus worldwide. We're looking to sell 50 million plus in North America." - Jack Tretton

On Microsoft's ability to compete financially with Sony;

"There's no question they have a higher pain tolerance. I think most companies, if they'd lost the billions that Microsoft has lost on the Xbox, would question whether or not they belong in the business. Obviously, they have a different standard of success." -Jack Tretton

And finally, on the impact of Grand Theft Auto IV releasing simultaneously on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3;

"There's no question that having the Grand Theft Auto franchise helped us a lot and helped us sell some units, but I don't think the battle would be any different with or without Grand Theft Auto.

If you look at our first-party library and the franchises that we've brought to market over the course of PlayStation 2, we have a very formidable first-party library of exclusive software that will help define us. " - Jack Tretton

Well you certainly wouldn't expect him to have anything negative to say about his own company, would you? Still, regarding the comments about public perception of the PS3, you have to wonder just what exactly they're putting in the coffee over at Sony. Check out the full interview here and judge for yourself.

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We're reporting that Kotaku found a post at that says someone over at Codename Revolution is reporting that based on an article at, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has stated that Wii development kits would be sold to developers for as low as $1,732;

"Nintendo President Satoru Iwata along with the Board of Directors answered many questions at a corporate management policy briefing held last week which revealed that the price of the Wii development kits would now cost as low as $1,732. Iwata expects to increase funding for research and development to prepare for launch."

If Nintendo can pull off a development kit for that low of a price, it's sure to attract legions of independent developers to the system. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing depends on what safeguards Nintendo puts in place to prevent shoddy games from making it onto the system as well as preventing the market from being glutted with said product. That said, it's definitely still a move that could pay off with huge dividends for Nintendo.

Yes, it's a lot of links, but here they are; Get the Kotaku article here, the Wiivolution article here, the Codename Revolution article here and the N-Sider article here. If your fingers haven't cramped up from all that clicking, feel free to click on the comment link below and tell us what you think!

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Gamespot took the time to talk with Brad Wardell of Stardock about the upcoming expansion to Galactic Civilizations II and what players can expect to see in Dark Avatar. According to Wardell, the campaign mode revolves around the splintering of the evil Drengin Empire into 2 factions. One wants to conquer the galaxy as usual, while the other wishes to exterminate all other life.

Wardell stated that while the campaign mode is relatively short and mainly serves to get players comfortable with the game, he reiterated that at least one race will be wiped out in the campaign and as a result will not be returning for future games in the series. He also touched on several new features that will be introduced including worlds that can only be settled by specific races as well as the addition of resource generating tiles, such as asteroid fields, near planets;

We wanted to give players some additional things to consider when conquering a star system or planet. Right now, it's all about how good the planet is. In Dark Avatar, we want players to also consider what resources might be near that planet. Asteroid fields will let players construct bases on them, which can provide resources to the closest colonized planet. Some asteroids will be special and hence be another thing that players will fight over. -Brad Wardell

Finally, Wardell also stated that due to the costs involved in getting a retail product onto shelves, Dark Avatar will only be available via digital distribution. Call me old-fashioned, but I'm just not a fan of downloaded content - I like to have something I paid for be a physical object I can hold - which is also one of my complaints about Xbox Live Arcade. Sure, you own it and can re-download it whenever you want, but what happens if the company goes out of business or stops supporting the product? Hopefully an option to burn the download to disc will be made available as well. You can check out the full Gamespot Q&A session on Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar here.

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UK game site Britbox is reporting that a source close to Microsoft has told them that the company is working on redesigning the hardware for the Xbox 360 in hopes of lowering the price in time for the holiday season and the launches of both the Sony Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. As per their source;

"A new version of the Xbox 360 would be cheaper to manufacture and debut about a year after launch.

"If they hit their targets, the Microsoft would be able to cut the costs of its console in the autumn of 2006. Microsoft would have the option of slashing the price of its console, just as rivals come out with their first consoles.

"That would put a lot of pressure on Sony and Nintendo."
-Britbox unnamed source

I'm not sure what to make of this one. While I'm sure Microsoft is working hard on lowering the production costs of the 360, the wording of the quote above strikes me as odd. It almost sounds as if it was said much longer ago than this week - you'll note how it doesn't talk about "this holiday", but rather "a year after launch" and "in the autumn of 2006" rather than this fall. It just strikes me as odd. While the price drop certainly would be welcome to many people still on the fence about the 360, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it. Check out the BritBox article here.

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Yup, more Gears news, because once you get me going about it, I just can't stop. The official Gears of War website has been updated with a set of links to the personal blogs of several members of the design team. I'll be looking over all those sites in the coming days to see if I can find any more juicy tidbits about just what we can expect come Emergence Day. Check it out here

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You didn't think a week was going to go by without me having something to report on Gears of War, now did you? Videogamesblogger is reporting that in a Yahoo News chat session, when asked what his next project for Epic would be once Gears of War is completed, CliffyB responded "Gears of War 2, I'd imagine."

While certainly not a revolutionary bit of news, as I'm sure we all realize that if Gears of War does as well as it's expected to it would inevitably get a sequel, it does make a point that whatever is going to happen in Gears won't be limited to just the first game. CliffyB mentioned in his podcast interview with OXM that Gears of War would start dark and only get darker, and this could be an indication that the entire story arc may take more than one game to complete. Check out the Videogameblogger report here and be sure to get your copy of Gears of War reserved asap. You can also check out our write up of that OXM podcast interview here.

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GameDaily recently scored an exclusive interview with Namco Bandai Chief Producer Daisuke Uchiyama. In the course of the interview, Uchiyama let slip that Soul Calibur IV is already in production. GameDaily also added some speculation that the title may go direct to home consoles and may be the rumored Xbox 360 Soul Calibur game that was hinted at back when Soul Calibur III was released exclusively on the Playstation 2. It should be noted that Uchiyama did not give any further details regarding the general release window for the game or what consoles it would be appearing on.

As one of my all time favorite games, and certainly my all time favorite fighting game series, I for one could not be more stoked. Find out more by heading over to GameDaily at this link.

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Electronic Arts announced tuesday that they have reached a tentative agreement to acquire Mythic Entertainment, makers of Dark Age of Camelot as well as the upcoming Warhammer Online, for an undisclosed sum. Fans of both DAoC and Warhammer can breathe a slight sigh of relief as the press release indicated there would be no cutbacks in Mythic's development team;

" Upon completion of the acquisition, Mark Jacobs, the President, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Mythic, will become Vice President, General Manager of EA Mythic. Rob Denton, the Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Mythic will assume the role of Vice President, Chief Operating Officer of EA Mythic. Mythic's 175-person development team will remain in Fairfax, Virginia." - EA Press Release

While I'm sure this will mean an added big push for Warhammer Online when it's released, I have to wonder if this bodes well for Dark Age of Camelot and it's chances for long term survival. You can check out the full press release here.

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If you remember, back at E3, Sony stated that the Playstation 3 would not feature vibration technology as it interfered with the new motion sensing system they added to the PS3 controller. Most inside the industry scoffed at the idea and hinted that it most likely had more to do with the current litigation between Sony and Immersion, the current holder of the patent for variable speed, motor vibration.

Shortly after E3, Immersion went on the record as saying they felt that it was possible to mix the 2 technologies and that they would be willing to work with Sony on implementing both vibration and motion sensing in the PS3 controller if Sony would drop their appeal of the judgement in the case. It appears Sony never took Immersion up on that offer.

It's been a busy week for Immersion. They first demonstrated a new vibration technology behind closed doors for the staff of Gamepro magazine (as reported by and have now announced that they have in fact, completed the mix of vibration and motion sensing in one controller and are beginning the process of shopping it around to prospective customers.

"The new TouchSense technology is compatible with motion control and tilt sensing that allow players to control certain game actions by moving or tilting a handheld controller. Because the speed at which a user moves the controller is much slower than the frequencies generated by TouchSense technology, the two signals can be differentiated using filtering and other techniques. Immersion also offers engineering services to implement the technology within a particular console system." - Immersion Corporation

As Microsoft bought a stake in Immersion as part of their patent infringement settlement with the company, it certainly wouldn't surprise me to see a new Xbox 360 controller with TouchSense should the motion sensing features of both the Wii and Playstation 3 catch on with gamers.

You can check out the Immersion TouchSense press release here, the article here and our posting about Immersions earlier offer to Sony here.

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Stardock has released v1.2 of Galactic Civilizations II, and the update is a big one feature wise. As per the official Gal Civ 2 website;

"Owners of Galactic Civilizations II can now get the latest update to the award-winning strategy game.

Galactic Civilizations II v1.2 has a TON of new features, enhancements, tweaks and fixes based on player feedback.

There are hundreds of changes to the new version, some of the highlights include:

  • A myriad of user interface enhancements. Basically we listened to what users wanted improved in the game's UI and made dozens of updates to the various screens to make managing your intersellar empire and fleet much easier.
  • A new combat system. Previously the combat system overwhelmingly favored the attacker to the point that there was little reason to focus on defenses on a ship.  The new system has ships attacking at the same time.
  • Updated Computer AI.  The AI has been further enhanced to provide not just a challenge at higher levels but to play more intelligently at all levels.  As a reminder, at difficulty levels lower than "tough" (AI set to "intelligent") the computer players are actually penalized in resources.
  • A Modding User interface.  Players can now create their own mods more easily and users can easily select between them.
  • Stardock also has provided a very detailed example mod that includes an alternative game interface, an alternative set of aliens to play against, an alternative tech tree, and more.  Total conversion mods should be very easy to do with the new system.

On top of those changes include hundreds of minor tweaks. To get an idea of the scope, THIS LIST is only a partial list of changes we made to the game from v1.11 to v1.2.

Galactic Civilizations II should be at most retail outlets in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia.  You can also purchase it directly on-line from here and download the game immediately while waiting for your box (or you can select download only). 

The update is available through Stardock Central or as a stand-alone download.  Players will need their serial #s to register the game before playing."- Galactic Civilizations 2 website

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Gamespot is reporting that the NHL has signed non-exclusive, multi-year licensing deals with both Electronic Arts and 2K Sports, eliminating the possibility of a repeat of the battles for exclusivity seen with both Major League Baseball and the National Football League.

It had been reported late last year that EA had scooped up the exclusive player name rights from the NHLPA, but that the NHL refused to license their end of the game unless 2K Sports was cut in on the NHLPA deal. For those unaware of how the system works, the NHL holds the licensing rights to the teams, logos, arenas and uniforms while the NHLPA holds the rights to the players themselves. The NHL released the following statement following the signing of the current licensing deals;

"NHL fans and consumers want more choices and extending our relationships with EA Sports and 2K Sports offers them the ability to choose the quality games they want to play," -Brian Jennings, NHL Senior VP of Consumer Product Marketing

I can't begin to tell you how happy this makes me, not because I love hockey, but because someone finally stood up for the fans. Apparently the NHL gets it and doesn't want to see the loss of any momentum they've gained with fans following the labor issues of the previous season. We've all seen what the exclusivity agreements in both football and baseball have wrought so far, and it hasn't been pretty. Simply put, when you've got to beat the other guy, you try harder. Take that away, and you wind up with lackluster, sloppy titles. Kudos to the NHL for a job well done.

Check out the Gamespot article here and rejoice that at least one sport will remain competitive in the gaming arena for years to come.

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The sixth intermediate version of MAME v.106 has now been released to the public. If you like to use the interim updates, head over to and get the new files. There are still a lot of changes to the code going on, so as I've advised frequently during this time of transition for MAME, unless you have feel the need to test the recent changes to the source code, I'd suggest that you stick with V.106 proper to be safe. Click here to see what's new in this update.

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In honor of Father's Day, AOL Games ran a short feature on 7 game designers and the games they play with their children. Included in the feature are such prominent names as Sid Meier, Brian Reynolds and Will Wright. It's not exactly the most in depth look into the home life of game developers, but it's always nice to see a pro-gaming article that refers to families playing games together.

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Shedding some more light on the reasons behind the cancellation of the Core Design version of Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition, Gamespot has reported that Eidos Interactive has reached an agreement to sell Core Design's assets, including it's staff contracts and physical assets property to UK developer Rebellion. It should be noted that Eidos will retain all the rights to both the Core Design name as well as all their intellectual property.

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Well, we're still in the post E3 slump, so there's nothing to get overly excited about releasing this week. Here's what you can expect to find hitting the shelves this week;

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Awhile back we reported that there was rumor floating around for some time now that Eidos has been working on a 10th anniversary version of Tomb Raider that would basically be a re-make of both the original Tomb Raider as well as Tomb Raider II.

Eidos confirmed the existence of the game last friday, but added a slight twist to the story. It seems the game was being designed for the PSP by Core Design, the original developers of the series, but following an internal review, their version of the game was cancelled and the reigns were handed over to current Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics. While no release date was provided by Eidos, they did confirm that the game will be appearing on the PSP, PS2 and PC.

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As you may have noticed, the image of my Xbox Live Gamercard on this page has changed to something a bit more customized than the one I had been using via That's because there's a new site, XboxLC, that has taken the design of the card a bit further. Using their system, you can customize colors as well as the image you display for your gamer picture. Of course, it only works for internet use and will not change the actual appearance of your Xbox Live Gamercard. Definitely worth checking out though. Click here to head on over and sign up for your custom Gamercard image.

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There have been a lot of rumors of late that Sony is going to wind up further downgrading the specs on the Playstation 3 for a variety of reasons ranging from not being able to fit all the components into the form-factor and low yields on the Cell Processor at 3.2ghz to overheating issues. While all of these are certainly believable as they sound like production problems and are certainly within the realm of possibility, Sony spokesman Jonathan Fargher categorically denied the rumors of any PS3 downgrades while speaking with EuroGamer;

"Developers have been working with PS3 dev kits for anywhere between eight and 12 months, and to suggest that we'd now take the decision to downgrade the hardware at such a late stage, is, well, ridiculous. Worse still is the suggestion that we couldn't fit all the technical components into a plastic box. Granted, whilst all products are not perfect, we do have over 40 years of experience making consumer electronics equipment, and therefore, extensive experience in making things fit - PSone and Slimline PS2 being just two examples of that." -Jonathan Fargher

While I've been quick to dismiss a lot of the Sony rumors in the past because they've been so ridiculous, I'm still not quite ready to fully let this one go, and I'll tell you why. Most of the problems, as I stated earlier, sound like production issues, which would certainly explain the low available launch numbers Sony has claimed for the PS3. They're also all things that could still be corrected without significant downgrades.

If you look back to the Xbox 360 launch, there were stories of units overheating to such an extent that they would actually melt the form-factor cases they were in while running. While the 360 still runs hot, it certainly doesn't run that hot anymore. That's why while I'm willing to believe that Sony has no plans to downgrade the PS3 at the moment, and keep in mind that could change if the problems persist, I don't believe that development is going as smoothly as they claim, just because history has shown us that it never does.

Check out the Eurogamer article at this link and hope that the Sony public relations team gets a really long vacation once the system launches... or at least that Kutaragi can keep his mouth shut for a week or so.

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This site's layout hasn't changed much in the seven years it's been active, and while there's a certain level of comfort in the familiar, if this site is to grow it's got to put on a new face. As such, I'm currently working on a few redesigns which should class the joint up a bit. No worries though, the site will continue to be updated as normal while this work is going on, and there should be no downtime when it occurs.

I'm not going to give any kind of an ETA on the change at this time, as it really depends more on my schedule and the coding of a few features I'd like the site to have. Just giving you all some advanced warning if you hit the link and things look a bit different. It's not you, it's the site.

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In his latest attempts to remove any shred of sanity the Sony public relations department has left, SCE President Ken Kutaragi took the company line that the Playstation 3 is a computer one step further. GamerNode is reporting that in another interview with Japanese newspaper Nikkei BP Kutaragi expanded his thoughts on the subject and raised the spectre of required upgrades;

“As the PlayStation 3 is a computer, we might even offer it on a built-to-order basis, customized to the needs of each and every user,” the hardware components have been designed in a modularized format with this possibility in mind.”- Ken "Nutty as a Snickers Bar" Kutaragi

Now don't get me wrong, but even after you consider the fact that most people who would be interested in the Playstation 3 have a computer already, there are still other major flaws in this line of thinking. The most glaring one is the fact that most people who play consoles will tell you that the one feature consoles have that PC's can never beat is that a game console never requires you to upgrade it to play the latest releases. Needless to say, the idea of a fully upgradeable Playstation 3 is going to rankle a few, even if Kutaragi is just talking out of his ass. Hopefully all this talk is just to bolster Sony's claim that the PS3 is really a computer, thereby allowing them to avoid paying certain entertainment taxes in Europe.

You know, the sad part is that I was originally interested in the Playstation 3. I wasn't sure if I'd buy one due to the price, but they at least had my attention. Now, every time Kutaragi opens his mouth I find my desire to own a PS3 diminished just a bit more. You can check out the GamerNode article here.

The Sony Playstation 3 - It's a Blu-Ray player, it's a personal computer and it's a home entertainment center. Too bad it isn't a game console, I really like those.

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Bethesda has announced that the latest content add-on for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is now available for both the Xbox 360 and PC. The content can be obtained via the Xbox Live Marketplace at a cost of 250 points ($3.13) for Xbox 360 users and via the Elder Scrolls Download Store at a cost of $2.99 for the PC. As per the content description;

"The lost Ayleid City Varsa Baalim has been unearthed by a rogue Telvanni arch-mage, in pursuit of a fearsome Daedric Artifact, Mehrunes Razor, which he believes will give him the power he needs to topple the Imperial reign - but what horrors lie in wait beneath the Valus mountains; and can you overcome them to claim Mehrunes Razor as your own?


Unlike previous expansions, this one will require the most recent patch in order to be used, so be sure to download the patch before you pick up the pack just to make sure everything goes smoothly. Personally, I'll hold off on this one until the reviews are in - too many of the Oblivion add-ons have been disappointments to just buy it sight unseen.

PC users can pick up the content pack here while Xbox 360 users can obtain the download via Xbox Live.

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DrkphreakX sends word to us that on June 28th, Sony Online Entertainment plans on opening a "progression" server for their classic EverQuest mmog. This server, named Combine after the long lost empire, will attempt to bring back the feel of the "old" EverQuest by initially limiting the game to the the "core" EverQuest game and only opening up the plethora of expansion packs that came afterward as time goes on. I don't know about you folks, but as an old-school EverQuest player who couldn't stand what the game became, I'm definitely intrigued by the idea. My only question now would be if they plan on rolling back the world to it's original state so that I could once again take a Shadow Knight into Cazic to quest for a suit of Darkforge Armor. Those were the days...

DrkphreakX, You're my boy, Blue! (No, I couldn't resist making an Old School joke, ok?) Check out this post over in the official EverQuest forums for more details on the Combine server and the rules for early sign up and name reservation. I may just see you there.

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While out hunting for more Gears of War news last night, I came across this booklet in BeyondUnreal's Gears of War section. Epic apparently sent out this full color booklet to give people (or the press) a look at the story behind Gears as well as a brief look at the history of Sera some time ago. While you may already be familiar with the story, the art alone makes it worth a look. Better late than never, I always say. Check it out here.

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The Official Xbox Magazine had a chance to talk with Gears of War's CliffyB on a recent podcast about Gears, E3 and everything in between. As usual, CliffyB makes for one hell of an interview subject, and doesn't dance around the subject when talking about the industry or Gears itself. Here's a small sampling of what the 30 minute interview touched on.

The wait until Emergence Day just feels longer and longer with each passing day, but the more I hear about how much effort is being put into making Gears something special, the more that wait seems worthwhile. you can check out the full (NSFW) OXM podcast here, the Gears of War official website here, and CliffyB's personal website here. Now get moving!

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The Unreal Community Map Pack Team has released their final set of maps for Epic's Unreal Tournament 2004. The pack, titled Community Bonus Pack 3, includes 4 Deathmatch maps, 1 Capture the Flag map and 1 Assault map. As always the pack is provided free of charge, the trick currently is finding it online at an unburdened server. According to this post over at Beyond Unreal, right now they are the only ones hosting the map pack, so start your search there.

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ArsTechnica is reporting that In comments to Japanese website PC Impress Watch, Sony Computer Entertainment President Ken Kutaragi hinted that online matchmaking and gaming will be provided for free on the Playstation 3, and that Sony plans on keeping the service profitable by selling online content, much the way Xbox Live does.

"We don’t charge for the basic functions of the network like matching services. Things like that are taken for granted on a PC, aren’t they? There’s the feeling of why a game console gets to charge for a service that’s normal on a PC. So, we just made the basic services available, and based our business on the contents," -Ken Kutaragi, Sony Computer Entertainment as translated by ArsTechnica staff

Sony has apparently been bouncing back and forth on what they plan on offering for free and that statement seems a little vague to me, specifically as it's based on what Sony would consider "basic services", but if free online play holds true, it could be the first weapon Sony has come up with in their battle against the Xbox 360 that hasn't blown up in their faces.

The real question here is, does digital distribution make enough profit to cover the expenses of running a free online service would generate, and if it doesn't, will Sony scrimp on the online experience to cut costs. Either way, it's nice to see something positive announced about the Playstation 3, especially when it comes to something that's not going to further increase the buy-in price.

Check out the ArsTechnica article here and keep your fingers crossed. Who knows, with Microsoft having bought online advertiser Massive, maybe they'll respond by killing the fees on Xbox Live Gold membership and relying on advertising revenue and content downloads to make their money back. (Yeah, right)

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Still stinging from the can of whoop ass Xbox 360 owners and his own employees opened on him when he declared that no one cared about backwards compatibility on the 360 anymore, Peter Moore made an appearance on Major Nelson's most recent podcast to clear up... and backtrack on the matter. Moore stated that his comments regarding backwards compatibility were misconstrued and that he assures us that Microsoft does indeed care about playing original Xbox titles on the 360.

"I want to be clear that my comments were not about 'nobody cares.' Of course we care, and we're going to continue to get as close as we can to our stated target of every Xbox game being back compatible to the Xbox 360." -Peter Moore

The oh-so-contrite Moore also stated that the next long anticipated (and apparently) much desired backwards compatibility update should be hitting Live sometime next week and would add about 20 games to the current list of 360 playable titles. While he didn't name all the games Microsoft will be adding, he did state that both Doom 3 and Lego Star Wars would be part of that group. I do hope that ESPN NFL2K5 made the list, but since I guess Electronic Arts would probably throw a fit if it did, I don't think we'll be seeing that happen anytime soon.

Now lets all remember that Moore has officially stated that they plan on continuing to try and make every Xbox game playable on the 360. Why? This way was can all share a chuckle as we watch and wait months and months for the next update after this one. If we're lucky, we may even go so far as to get some shits and giggles out of it. Check out the Major's podcast here.

Now that I think of it, I wonder if this whole thing pissed me off so much because it was an ex-Sega executive who was saying they were going to drop support for something... not that Sega ever did something like that before or anything. You know what I'm saying. ;)

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While I'd like nothing better than to regale all of you with tales of my DS-Lite launch adventure and give you the lowdown on Nintendo's newly streamlined portable, I can't. Like many of you, the fact of the matter is I don't have one and probably won't be getting one for a month or two at the least. However, far be it from me to keep those of you who need to know the ins and outs of the DS-Lite from finding out all you can, and so I direct you to this full review of the redesigned system over at ArsTechnica.

For those who don't feel like doing the required reading, I'll quote their summary directly;

"Are these changes worth an upgrade? Easily. If you're a casual gamer or a hardcore fan who takes your portable everywhere, you'll like the way your games play and look on the DS Lite. It doesn't take long to get spoiled by the improved screen and smaller size.

Nintendo does it again, and I have a sneaking suspicion many gamers won't be able to resist trading in their old systems for the new hotness. If you don't have a DS, this is an even better purchase. Nintendo may do this product refresh stuff a little bit too often for some tastes, but it's hard to argue they don't know what they're doing when it comes to portable gaming." -Ben Kuchera, ArsTechinca

While there do seem to be some rough spots with the redesigned DS, the overall impression I've seen it that it makes the old one look like a pile of... well, you fill in the details. Check out the full ArsTechnica article here, and then join me in the corner for the "No DS-Lite for me" pity party a little later. Bring booze. Lots of it.

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There are a lot of reports coming in from around the 'net about fresh out of the box DS-Lites with dead pixels on screen. Whether this is a case of a widespread problem or just the fact that those who wind up with dead pixels are going to gripe while those with perfect units remain silent remains to be seen, but it certainly casts a slight pall over the DS-Lite launch. The good news is from most of the sites I read about people trying to return their DS-Lite's for a replacement, no one seems to be giving consumers a hard time yet. However, I'm sure as the available supply of DS-Lite's gets lower, that could change pretty fast.

My advice? If you wound up with a less than perfect DS-Lite, and feel the problem is bad enough that you want a replacement, do it as soon as possible, otherwise you may run into hassles. If you've got a story about your return experience at a particular retailer, be it good or bad, please feel free to share it in the comments section - I'm sure people would like to hear about it.

Nintendo hasn't made any official comment on the situation as of yet, but if you read this article over at Kotaku, it appears that retailers aren't exactly thrilled with the situation.

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Gaming site ClubSkill is reporting that they've obtained a leaked magazine article showing Microsoft's plans for Live this summer. While normally the summer is caught up in the post E3 dearth of games, if the article is to be believed, Microsoft plans on exploiting this slow time of the year. According to the page scan, here's what summer has in store for Live and the 360;

While nothing on that list would be a major surprise even if the article is false, I somehow get the feeling that unlike the other classic arcade ports, Street Fighter II is going to hit at a higher price than 400 points ($5). I also think that at 1,200 points, Lumines Live had better have an option not to be forced into watching the artists Microsoft plans to feature via their agreement with Warner records. I'm not familiar with the reliability of ClubSkill, but check out their article here.

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There hasn't been much word on Forza Motorsport 2 since E3, however an update on the official Forza website states that the game is currently being prepared to be shown to automobile licensees for approval

"In last week's Pitpass Report, I mentioned that the team was busting ass on finishing a build to use for licensing purposes, meaning that we have to show manufacturers what the final car models will look like in their pristine and damaged forms. If they like what they see -- everybody happy. If not, our 3D vehicle artists bear the brunt of the revisionist labor." -Che Chou, Community Manager

It's nice to hear that the game is at least moving along at a pace as I was worried when Microsoft had nothing to show beyond a CGI trailer at E3 when the game is scheduled for an October release. Looks like they were just too busy trying to get the game done to make a full demo. Here's to hoping the manufacturers like what they see.

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THQ ACQUIRES RIGHTS TO PUBLISH TETRIS ON THE 360 is reporting that THQ has settled their dispute with The Tetris Company with an agreement to publish Tetris for the Xbox 360 in the United States and Europe. I can only assume a Xbox Live Arcade version should follow this news shortly. Check out the news blurb here for further details.

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Firing Squad has posted an interesting article on the way gaming is treated by mainstream media outlets, and how those outlets are trying to expand their coverage of the industry without turning off their core audiences. They pose an interesting question, if gaming is becoming as big of a business as the entertainment and music industries, why doesn't it get the same amount of coverage from the press?

Obviously, the answer is because while just about everyone has watched a movie or listened to a CD, there are in fact, people out there who don't play video games. I know, shocking, isn't it? While many of the big news outlets are now rushing in to cover the gaming revolution, for the most part, they understand that a good percentage of their readership doesn't particularly care about games one way or another. What they also understand is that those people that are interested in the subject probably already get their gaming news from a more hardcore source, such as the internet or dedicated game magazines.

Getting back to the article in question, Firing Squad contacted several major news sources to get some comments from them on how they handle gaming news and their approach to the industry as a whole. I kind of found it funny to hear many of those outlets discussing how they do in fact know a lot about the industry but "dumb-down" their articles for fear of alienating readers.

"But will gaming news ever be as popular as TV news? No way. A side note here, also… consoles will likely continue to grab a more sizable portion of the gaming news spotlight, since they have a lower price point and wider distribution as pure gaming machines." -Chris Morris, CNN

I always thought that a lot of the hack jobs you read about gaming in the media were written by the uninformed. It turns out many of these "experts" aren't just uninformed, but they're trying to pass "uninformed-lite" on to the public.

I can only hope that as these reporters accept their roles as game columnists, they'll begin to understand the industry a bit more and lean away from the tabloid sensationalism mentality many of them take currently. You can almost hear the screams of "I wanted to be the music editor" in some of the articles you read in the mainstream news. Before you start writing in, I'm not down on all of the game coverage in the media, there are some places that are getting it right, they're just not the ones you hear about endlessly.

"A good question. It's not as if we unaware of video games and their very real significance as both a pop cultural and economic force. Without giving away too much, we've discovered that game coverage is just not that important to our particular readership. And reader scores bear this out., There seems to be a public perception that console gaming is a pastime of the chronically adolescent or the perpetually stoned-that it is an artless product served up to a largely unsophisticated audience. And perhaps there is some truth to that. Another reason is pretty obvious: gaming is not a star-driven business. Movies, music, TV shows-they all have very public faces. Even books have their celebrity authors. People have heard of J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown and Tom Clancy. But Will Wright? Hideo Kojima? Cliff Bleszinski? Not so much." -Wook Kim, Entertainment Weekly

It's that false public perception that hopefully will begin to change in a few years as more people who grew up with games take their places in the business world. Truth be told, I'm a little sick of the attitude people have about gaming and gamers in general, and the sooner people get past those false preconceptions of gamers, the better.

The Firing Squad article goes much deeper into the subject matter than I have here, and has quite a bit more to say on the whole thing. It's a pretty good read and gives a good bit of insight into how the major media outlets view gaming. Check it out here.

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For those who didn't get a chance to pick up the DS-Lite yesterday, there may be a reason to smile. BestBuy currently has a coupon (good at retail only) for a free copy of Brain Age with the purchase of a DS-Lite. The coupon is valid from June 11th through the 18th, or until supplies are exhausted. Head on over to BestBuy's website here to get a PDF file of the coupon for printing. (It's currently on page 4 of the front page item display)

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Due to the amazing reviews of the first Waaahmbulance post over at Bungie's website, Content Monkey Frankie has seen fit to give us more stories from the Land of the Banned from the current week. It's not as entertaining as episode 1, but there are some gems to be found - like this one;

"this is the only email address about xbl, so im gonna email you. I was banned form xbl, and i dont know why, i was doing more stuff on my other account that was against the rules rather than the account that got banned." -Some Cheating Moron

While you're reading the current weekly post to get to that wonderful nugget of wisdom, be sure to check out the references to Halo 3's multiplayer game and the comments regarding the redesign of familiar vehicles for Halo 3. Check out this week's update thread here for all the fun. In case you missed the original Bungie Waaahmbulance story, you can click here to check it out.

On a related note, do you think the kid I quoted above was dumb enough to give them the name of his other account too? I weep for the future.

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For those of you desperately searching for more information on Halo 3 and what Bungie plans to do after it's released, there's a nice video interview with Marty O'Donnell, Bungie's Audio Director and the composer of the music for Halo, over at In addition to talking about scoring the E3 teaser, O'Donnell discusses life after Halo and what it may mean for gamers.

As stated previously, this will not be the final game set in the Halo universe, only the final game in the current story arc. That said, it may be awhile before a fourth Halo title comes along. You have to imagine that after 8 years or so of strictly Halo development, Bungie is itching to try something different. Penny Arcade had probably summed the feeling up best as a level of hell in which developers are forced to make Halo game after Halo game for all eternity, or to put it as Tycho only can...

"As a mental exercise:  I really like caramel, but if I had to bathe in fucking caramel and eat it for every meal and fucking wear caramel for clothes, and then go to a building made out of caramel and work with sentient hunks of caramel I may find my taste for caramel diminished." - Jerry "Tycho Brahe" Holkins

But I digress, According to O'Donnell, one of those things Bungie would like to try it's hand at would be games for the Xbox Live Arcade. Given the quality we've come to expect from Bungie, I could only view that as a good thing. Check out the video interview at this link.

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The good folks at Pandemic have a two threads up on the official Mercenaries 2 forums that those seeking more information about the game may wish to check out. The first is a thread where fans can post questions for the dev team and get some feedback on what's going on with Mercenaries 2. Needless to say, that's become a very long thread. The second is simply a frequently updated thread that takes all the questions and answers from the aforementioned thread and posts them in one place so you don't have to fish through 65+ pages of comments to get a bit of info on the game.

Based on information from the site, Pandemic is still shopping around for a distributor for the game and has still not made a final determination on what systems Mercs 2 will be appearing on. Here's to hoping it goes multi-platform so no one has to miss out on the kaboomy goodness. After all, like the game says... "Everybody Pays"

Check out the Mercenaries 2 website here, the "Ask a question" thread here, and the question summary thread here.

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While certainly not a new story, I came across this while reading Tom's Hardware yesterday and felt I should share. It appears that certain models of Intel's Pentium D 805 2.66ghz processor can safely be overclocked to an amazing 4.1ghz, putting them on par with some of the higher end processors on the market today. Don't believe me? Well, Tom's Hardware has about 45 pages of information that backs that statement up. It's a long read, and if you plan on trying it, be sure to read the entire article to make sure you've grasped all the things you'll need to do and check for before you begin.From Tom's Hardware;

"There are still some situations in life that are guaranteed to put a grin on anyone's face, even hard-boiled technical skeptics like us. This particular story borders on being a sensation unmatched in our last eight years of hardware reviews. The news, for those who just can't stand the wait any more, is this: Intel has offered a budget Pentium as part of its processor line-up for a little while now. With a simple modification, however, this CPU can outperform every top-of-the-line processor around.

The bottom line is that the Athlon FX-60 and the Pentium Extreme Edition 965 have both met their match - there's simply no escaping this conclusion! This is bound to cause lamentation among the elite circle of users who've invested big bucks in their high-end systems, if not outright wailing and rending of garments. The basic stats for this insignificant-seeming budget processor read as follows: Pentium D 805 clocked at 2.66 GHz, equipped with two processor cores both with 64 bit support. At your friendly neighborhood retailer you can pick up this secret weapon for pocket change - right now, for example, it's available at for just under $130. We were quite amazed as the first performance figures emerged from our test labs: stable operation was possible at 4.1 GHz, and without even the need for substantial boosts to cooling!"
- Tom's Hardware

As always, keep in mind that overclocking your PC can be hazardous to your PC's health, especially if you have no clue what you're doing. Check out the Tom's Hardware article - all 45 pages of it - here.

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The fifth intermediate version of MAME v.106 has now been released to the public. If you like to use the interim updates, head over to and get the new files. While there are still a lot of changes to the code going on, the current comments would make it appear that some level of stability is returning to MAME.

Personally, unless you have feel the need to test the way this version handles multiple threads, I'd suggest that you stick with V.106 just to be safe. Click here to see what's new in this update.

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The official Gears of War website has posted a short interview with Eric Nylund, current story advisor to Epic Games on Gears of War and author of Halo: The Fall of Reach, regarding the story behind the game. The latest revelation? Despite the claim in the E3 trailer that "For a time, the humans of Sera knew the illusion of peace", Nylund states that the the people of Sera have been involved in a long-standing war over valuable energy resources when the Locust attack;

"The humans of Sera have been fighting a decades-long war over the miracle energy source known as Imulsion when a new enemy appears: The Locust Horde. Erupting from underground warrens, the Horde attacks humanity, and overnight more than a quarter of the planet’s population is massacred. What remains of the human military flees to Jacinto Plateau, where they make a final desperate stand against overwhelming forces." -Eric Nylund

While it's a short interview to say the least, I think by now anyone who follows this site should know by now that I'll jump on just about any Gears of War news I can find. Check out the full interview here.

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Normally I wouldn't call a store starting to take preorders on a few games must read news, but there are two reasons why I felt this one should be posted. First off, if we're to believe BestBuy, the price point for Wii games will be the current $49.99 standard, not the $59.99 "Next Gen" pricing we've seen on the 360. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I saw this bit of news over at Kotaku and nearly burst out laughing at the way it was presented.

The games currently available for preorder are Red Steel, Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Brothers Brawl. BestBuy has a release date of 12/01/06 on them as well, but I would probably chalk that up to a placeholder date at this point rather than an indication of the Wii's launch date.

Check out the BestBuy Wii game pre-order page here and the aforementioned Kotaku posting here. Here's to hoping Gauger can somehow escape the offices with her dignity and sanity intact. My advice? Put that training you've gotten through years of Resident Evil to good use. Come to think of it, it would make a great game - Resident Evil: Kotaku - you could play as Eliza Gauger trying to escape the Kotaku offices or as Brian Crescente coming back from vacation and trying to discern exactly what happened while you were gone. Hell, I'd buy it.

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A posting up at Kotaku states that is reporting that during Nintendo's Management Policy Briefing, company president Satoru Iwata stated that Nintendo would be announcing the ship date for the Wii this September.

Iwata also gave a price range for the Wii Virtual Console games ($4 - $8), noted that the Nintendo DS would be able to be used as a touch-screen controller for the Wii, commented that Nintendo planned to ship 6 million Wii consoles by April 2007 and noted that those consoles would be sold at a loss.

Check out the article over at Kotaku here and if you can read Japanese, the Famitsu article here.

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Bethesda has released a patch for both the PC and Xbox 360 versions of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The patch covers a wide range of bug and exploit fixes as well as addressing several performance issues. Of more importance to some PC owners will be the options to tune the graphic settings even lower in some categories to improve performance on low end machines - I guess they took notes on the Oldblivion mod or something.

PC users can download the patch here, while Xbox 360 users will be prompted to download the patch the next time they play Oblivion while connected to Xbox Live. Those interested in the specifics can also check out the full list of changes for both versions here.

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A demo for Konami's Rumble Roses XX is now available for the Xbox 360 in the Xbox Live Marketplace. The download weighs in at 854.31mb and is probably as bad as the full version of the game.

I rented it back when it first came out because I had played and enjoyed the first Rumble Roses on the Playstation 2, call it a guilty pleasure if you must, but it was a decent wrestler. However, I was greatly disappointed by XX. The game was all about the jiggle while the gameplay itself seemed to have been neglected as a result. Still, I sense a grave disturbance in the force, as if millions of horny teenage gamers suddenly cried out in glee and then started downloading.

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Major Nelson dropped a note in his blog to let everyone know that the first premium map pack for Perfect Dark Zero is now available in the Xbox Live Marketplace for 500 points ($6.25). The map pack contains four new multiplayer maps: Plaza, Rooftops, Trench, and GasPlant.

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With the wild success of the Nintendo DS and the related drop in Gameboy Advance sales, the fact that the Gameboy Advance's life cycle is beginning to come to an end isn't really in doubt. It's not a question of if the GBA is going to be put out to pasture, but more a question of when it will happen.

Along those lines, I received an e-mail from Nintendo today asking me to participate in a survey regarding both of their handheld consoles, and most of the GBA questions seemed to revolve around if I thought it was still a viable option and whether or nor I planned to make any purchases for it in the coming months. The feeling I took away from the survey was that Nintendo is trying to gauge exactly when the best time to kill off the GBA will be by referencing how much more money GBA owners plan to put into it balanced against their plans regarding their next handheld purchase.

Keep in mind this is just pure conjecture on my part, but I think we all know the GBA has to die sometime, and I've got the feeling Nintendo is beginning to try and set a timeframe for it that will minimize any damage done in the transition. That shouldn't be a major revelation to anyone, as it would simply be good business practice, but I figure it was worth a comment or two.

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If you know me, you know I have a mixed opinion of Peter Molyneaux. I certainly believe the man is a visionary game designer and that he honestly wants to push the boundaries of gaming to their absolute limits. On the other hand, the man has never really known when to keep his mouth shut and has overhyped his games and promised so many features that it's nearly impossible to ever live up to them. Black & White and Fable, and all the broken promises clearly come to mind anytime I hear his name.

Anyway, Kikizo Games had a chance to talk to PM one on one, and came away with some tantalizing hints about Lionhead Studios upcoming sequel to Fable while finally managing to keep his word and not promise the world. It's a great read, and touches on both where Lionhead is going now that they're under the Microsoft Games umbrella and the difficulties being faced by independent studios in the industry.

Perhaps most interesting are the small hints about possible features we'll be seeing in Fable 2 - the one which I found the most interesting is when asked about if he'd ever consider making Fable a MMOG, Molyneaux had the following to say;

"I can't really answer the question in detail, but you know, personally, I'm more fascinated in what Live means to you and your friends. I think that's a really exciting thing. I think of MMO games as being a way to make new friends, and what fascinates me as a designer, at what I found when I was playing on the 360 with the friends list, I really found that there was a very interesting bond that happened when you played the same game together, and I found that fascinating. So it's a bit of a mysterious answer, but, you know... I can't really give any examples." -Peter Molyneaux

Now this is just a guess on my part, but looking at the above comment and seeing how the E3 teaser showed TWO heroes killing a creature as a team, I'm thinking we're going to be looking at some type of co-op mode in Fable 2 via Xbox Live. Again, there's nothing official behind that, that's just how I'm calling what I've seen and read. Check out the full interview with Peter Molyneaux at Kikizo Games here and be amazed.

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Bungie has released a short behind the scenes video about the making of the Halo 3 E3'06 trailer which includes both comment and impressions from the Bungie staff as well as alternate angle footage of the trailer itself. It's a nice, short look at what Bungie was trying to convey in the presentation and serves as a bit of proof that the trailer was rendered in game and wasn't simply a CGI render. I might also add, it may be the only time you hear the term "Monkey Shit-Fight" in an official company video. That alone should be worth your download time.

It's definitely worth a look if you're a Halo junkie, though I would advise against the full HD (720p) version of the video unless you have a somewhat uber PC. Bungie has also stated that the video will be appearing in all it's HD glory in the Xbox Live Marketplace within a few weeks. Check it out here and join me in hoping this time you won't have to play as the damned Covenant too.

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Kotaku is now reporting that the techies over at Slashdot are currently debating the story and what exactly the specs mean. As I stated earlier, I'm not a master programmer, nor am I an engineer, so take anything I say here with a grain of salt, but the gist of the debate seems to be whether the specs are in fact horrible, if it's just a bad benchmark or if the problem is moot because the Cell Processor doesn't have to read information coming from the problem area anyway. Of course, the argument has also broken down into a fanboy argument in some areas, so expect plenty of mindless stupidity to interrupt what seems to be a very technical argument. I think I'm going to take the advice of Kotaku's Florian Eckhardt and just wait for the games to determine whether or not the PS3 is slow.

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5:00am... Before my blanket leaps up, grabs me and drags me off to my waiting pillow, I want to mention this interesting article over at Curmudgeon Gamer where an excellent point is made about the way gamers get their information now as compared to the last console generation launch cycle and the overall affect it's having on the industry.

"I think more importantly we have all changed and Sony's playing catch-up. Six years ago most of us probably got our information and opinion from the big videogame media sites. Magazines were more important for breaking news stories. And as a result, I think people were a little too caught up in the Emotion Engine hype.

Now I almost never see news stories through GameSpot or IGN. Rather, I see them linked to by a blog, and along with that link comes some nugget of commentary. Actually, not just one blog, but dozens of blogs. The result of this filter is that I'm less likely to get the company line first and more likely to hear news with an instant shot of opinion."
-Curmudgeon Gamer

You know, I've got to agree with the guy. Back when the 4th generation started, I remember checking sites like IGN, Gamespy and Gamespot religiously, as well as relying on print gaming magazines for all my news. Over time, there's been that subtle shift to where I find myself reading more and more of the news from the outskirts, where there isn't as much apparent corporate interference and writers can feel free to give you their own, fully biased opinion just the same as your buddy next to you can. Hell, it's part of the whole concept behind this site. Either way, the Curmudgeon article is a pretty good read, and if what I said sounds interesting to you, you can check it out here. As for me, I'm going to bed.

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The Inquirer has an interesting article up currently where they reveal what appears to be a massive dent in the Playstation 3's armor. According to the article, it would appear the Cell Processor has a massively slow read speed, which bogs down the performance of the console and makes code checking very difficult. Allow me to let the Inquirer explain it a lot better than I can right now... (It's almost 5am here now! *Double Yawn*)

"For local memory, the measured vs theoretical bandwidth is missing, I wonder why? RSX is at a solid 22.4GBps for both read and write, good job there green team. Then comes the blue team with Cell. Local memory write is about 4GBps, 40% of the next slowest bandwidth there. Then comes the bomb from hell, the Cell local memory read bandwidth is a stunning 16MBps, note that is a capital M to connote Mega vs a capital G to connote Giga. This is a three order of magnitude oopsie, and it is an oopsie, as Sony put it "(no, this isn't a typo...)".

If you can write at 250x the read speed, it makes Cell local memory just about useless. That means you do all your work out of main memory, and the whole point of local is, well, pointless. This can lead to contention issues for the main memory bus, and all sorts of nightmarish to debug performance problems. Basically, if this Sony presentation to PS3 devs shown to us is correct, it looks like PS3 will be hobbled in a serious way." -The Inquirer

Now I'll be the first to admit that my knowledge of game programming is pretty much limited making simple Macromedia Flash based games and time spent as a kid changing around the text files in games to be a bit more... amusing, but if the above is true and not coated with some anti-Sony slant that's hiding some way this does work out, that seems like a screw-up of monumental proportions. If anyone has some further insight into this, feel free to comment on this article at the appropriate link below.

Check out the full Inquirer article here to read about all the gory details.

UPDATE 1: 9:15am 6/06/06 -Kotaku is now reporting that the techies over at Slashdot are currently debating the story and what exactly the specs mean. As I stated earlier, I'm not a master programmer, nor am I an engineer, so take anything I say here with a grain of salt, but the gist of the debate seems to be whether the specs are in fact horrible, if it's just a bad benchmark or if the problem is moot because the Cell Processor doesn't have to read information coming from the problem area anyway. Of course, the argument has also broken down into a fanboy argument in some areas, so expect plenty of mindless stupidity to interrupt what seems to be a very technical argument. I think I'm going to take the advice of Kotaku's Florian Eckhardt and just wait for the games to determine whether or not the PS3 is slow.

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Just a quick note here, while reading The Frugal Gamer, I came across this posting that Circuit City has the following games on sale this week. As with the recent sale on Rise of Legends, I'm surprised at how fast some games are appearing on the cheap over there.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories - $14.99
World of Warcraft - $19.99 (not avail. online)
Tetris DS - $22.99
Final Fantasy IV Advance - $22.99
Hitman Blood Money (Xbox) - $27.99
Hitman Blood Money (PS2) - $27.99

Check out the original Frugal Gamer post here.

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IGN is reporting that Japan's Ultra One magazine states that despite initial reports, Sony will be achieving backwards compatibility on the Playstation 3 via hardware rather than emulation. According to IGN, the magazine's article states that each of the initial PS3 units will include the same combo CPU/Graphic chip that is currently found in the slimline PS2. Once Sony perfects the systems previously announced software based PS2 emulator, they would cut production costs by removing the chipset and simply adding the emulator to newer models of the PS3.

While this would certainly add to the cost to manufacture the system, it would also virtually guarantee complete backwards compatibility from the word go. By the same token however, it would also ensure that there would be little to no visual upgrade when playing PS2 games on the PS3. If you ask me, that's a small price to pay.

The article also details a few other features of the Playstation 3, namely that there may be other, higher priced versions of the console in the works (ed- Sheesh!) and that based on IGN's interpretation of the article, users will be able to swap out the PS3 hard drive using standard PC hard drives you can pick up in most stores.

"The PS3 comes equipped with, in addition to a default hard disk, a "large amount of flash memory," the magazine reveals. This is used to house the operating system and all future system updates. Based on the wording in the magazine, it seems that the hard disk is to be used exclusively for multimedia content and will not contain any system features; users will, after all, be able to swap the built in hard drive out with any standard drive they pick up at a computer hardware store." -IGN

While I'm left to wonder how much the price of the PS3 would drop without the inclusion of the PS2 combo chip, I can't say that I'm against it. With a user-base and library as strong as the Playstation 2 has, it would be foolish to scrimp on backwards compatibility early on. (are you listening, Microsoft? hint, hint)

Check out the full IGN article here for all the juicy details I may have missed at 4:30 in the morning. *yawn*

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According to Xbox Live's Major Nelson, Microsoft will begin systematically rolling out the Xbox Live Dashboard update this morning sometime between 5am EST/2am PST and 9am EST/6am PST. For those wondering, as per the Major, there is no way to force the download to begin - you just have to wait for Live to select you as ready for the update.

"While the update is being released at 0200 PT not everyone will receive it immediately. It can take up to four hours for a user to be prompted to receive this update, so please be patient. There is no way to speed up the process, every Xbox 360 will receive the prompt to upgrade sometime between 0200 and 0600 (or the next time you sign in to Xbox Live.) " - Major Nelson

To be clear, this is the big Dashboard update everyone has been talking about for the last few weeks, not the upcoming backwards compatibility update. Looking over the list of new features, I've got to say the following are the ones I find most exciting;

New Features

  • “Download manager” - Marketplace items now download in the background, queue up to six pieces of content.
  • “Boot to Dashboard” setting will bypass the loading of any disc in the drive and open directly to Dashboard during power-on
  • “All Arcade Games” added as a selection in the Xbox Live Arcade area
  • Personal gamer pictures allowed as Gamertiles – displayed only to those on your Friends List

DVD Playback

  • Improved visual quality
  • Improved playback smoothness
  • Repaired playback stutter during certain films

Memory Area Improvements

  • Improved overall performance, allowing quicker access to content

Miscellaneous Improvements

  • Show “Last Played Game” selection in Xbox Live Arcade first before enumerating all games (when Arcade game was last game played)
  • Improved download performance for popular content being downloaded through Marketplace
  • Total USB keyboard support

Looks like MS is hoping to keep people on the straight and narrow as far as gamer pictures go by restricting custom pics to people on your friends list. Not a bad idea, but I still see them getting complaints from people who may have a lot of people on thier friends list that they don't really know well.

While the above list may seem huge on it's own, it's only the tip of the iceberg. You can check out the full list of changes to the Dashboard here and the full text of the Major's message here.

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The fourth intermediate version of MAME v.106 has now been released to the public. If you like to use the intermediate updates, head over to and get the new files. A word of caution though, while not expressly stated in the comments this time, the latest build most likely continues the overhaul of MAME's video system, and as a result there may be many bugs and broken games.

Once again, we'd like to suggest that you stick with V.106 proper unless you really want to test out the changes. Click here to see what's new in this update.

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Kikizio Games is reporting on an interview trade magazine MCV had with Sony Europe's David Reeves in which Reeves not only claims that Sony had been working on the tilt technology they premiered at E3 for "around two and a half years" but quite interestingly stated that Sony is not concerned with market share with the upcoming Playstation 3;

"The name of the game is not market share, it's how fast we can grow the industry - our ambition is to grow 15 percent a year on hardware and software if we can, we want to try and double digital entertainment in the next five to six years. Whether we have 40, 50, or 60 per cent market share is not that important." -David Reeves

This is a pretty surprising admission coming from the industry market share leader for the last two console generations. It makes you wonder if Sony is preparing for the possibility that they could lose the top slot this time around. The interesting part of the quote however is that with Sony's current dominance in the industry, you would assume that the only way they could grow 15 percent a year would be by retaining that lead or expanding it.

One is left to wonder if Sony expects the video game market to increase in terms of installed base, software sales and advertising sales to such an extent that it would be possible for them to expand their earnings while losing the battle for the top slot or if they're simply blowing smoke to try and cover the possibility of losing to either Microsoft or Nintendo.

No matter how you look at the statement, it would at the very least seem that Sony is preparing for the possibility of losing some dominance this time around, and with the current missteps with the Playstation 3 and how it's being perceived, that's not overly surprising. As for the question of how long Sony had been working on that tilt technology, no matter what they may say about wanting to hide it for fear it would have been stopped by some patent maneuvering by the competition, you would think two and a half years of work would have looked a bit better in action. Click here to check out the Kikizo Games article.

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In an interview with Japan's Nikkei Business Publications, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata discussed a wide range of Wii topics, including the effect the Wii's Virtual Console feature will bring to the game industry. As per Iwata;

"When creating a packaged game to be priced at 5,000 yen, developers tend to feel the need to create a rich game. Yet it is possible to create a reasonably entertaining game in 2 months with a team of three. Offering such games for 500 yen over a network could lead to a reasonable number of people purchasing it. By offering an environment that allows this, we hope to encourage more developers to pursue basic yet enjoyable gameplay." -Satoru Iwata

For those unfamiliar with current conversion rates, that 500 yen comes out to about $4.50 U.S. One thing I've got to wonder on that end is whether Microsoft is going to view that feature as a threat to the Xbox 360 Live Arcade experience, which has similar goals and concepts, and end the current love-fest the two companies have been engaging in since E3.

Iwata also touched on several other insights into how the Wii evolved into it's current form, that the Wiimote speaker was added fairly recently, the reasoning for Nintendo calling the Wii a "New Generation" console as opposed to "Next Generation" as well as how Nintendo's recent struggles for market share in the industry has led them down the path of looking to innovate rather than just create;

"Nintendo once was the champion in the console market, yet is now the challenger. Challengers have a hard time getting the market to listen to them. Our intent was to revolutionize the user interface in the portable games market, where Nintendo is the reigning champion, and follow that up with the Wii's success in the console market. " -Satoru Iwata

Finally, to help use the widespread popularity of the Nintendo DS to help push the Wii, Iwata revealed that the Wii will wirelessly be able to download DS demos on it's own overnight and have them ready for the user to upload to his/her DS the next day.

"Let's say your Wii is connected to the Internet in a mode that allows activation on a 24-hour basis. This would allow Nintendo to send monthly promotional demos for the DS, during the night, to the Wii consoles in each household. Users would wake up each morning, find the LED lamp on their Wii flashing, and know that Nintendo has sent them something. They would then be able to download the promotional demo from their Wii's to their Nintendo DS's." -Satoru Iwata

Before you get creeped out about your Wii working on it's own without your consent, the statement implies that there are different online modes users can set on the Wii, which would control or curtail this ability. This feature also finally makes sense of the downloadable demo concept that Nintendo unveiled awhile back via retail outlets. It may have been somewhat of a useless idea at retail, but in your home it's one hell of a selling point - just ask Xbox Live users about the marketplace demos - they'll tell you all about their love of free demos.

Click here to head over to Nikkei Business Publications to read the whole article. For those who are looking for some first hand details on what Nintendo plans on having the Wii offer, it's a must read.

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Joystiq is reporting that they've been tipped on the retail prices of several Xbox 360 accessories by an insider at Microsoft. While Microsoft has not confirmed any of the following, here's the information they were given;

  • Xbox Live Vision Camera - $39.99 - The camera will be bundled with a wireless headset, the Xbox Live Arcade version of Uno and a month of Xbox Live Gold service. No word on if Microsoft will offer the camera separately for those who have no need of the extras.
  • Faceplates - Halo, Forza Motorsport 2 and Viva Pinata faceplates - $19.99 each.
  • Wireless Headset - $59.99 - 30 foot range
  • 256mb Memory Card - $59.99
  • Wireless Gaming Receiver - $19.99 - Allows you to use Xbox 360 wireless peripherals such as the wireless controller, headset and steering wheel with your PC.

With how well Uno has sold since it's release, I'm certainly hoping Microsoft will not shaft the folks who already picked it up and offer the camera separately. Of all the items listed there, I'm probably most excited about the Wireless Gaming Receiver. The ability to use my 360 wireless controllers on the PC is just to good to pass up. Click here to jump over to Joystiq for all the details.

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Microsoft's in-house employee blog, Gamerscore Blog has posted an update on the status of the next backwards compatibility update due to the explosion of comments caused by Peter Moore's recent comments on the importance, or rather lack thereof, of BC on the 360. According to the post, a large backwards compatibility update is currently in testing and should add "a few dozen titles" to the BC list. In what sounds like a direct response to Mr. Moore's comments, the posting states;

"We know for a fact that there are lots of people who continue to care about backwards compatibility, including the "Emulation Ninjas" who are working full time on the updates. And those of us posting on this blog. And, of course, many of you." -Gamerscore Blog

Nice to know at least someone at Microsoft isn't suffering from delusions. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for NFL2K5, Mercenaries & a few other titles.

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The third intermediate version of MAME v.106 has now been released to the public. If you like to use the intermediate updates, head over to and get the new files. A word of caution though, the latest build continues the overhaul of MAME's video system, and as a result there may be many bugs and broken games. Per the MAME Development Teams notes;

"A new update is now available. Please take special note of the warnings this time:

WARNING: As of this build, the new rendering system is enabled by default. The primary focus at this point is compatibility, not performance. Compared to the old -ddraw system, it will appear slower when fully unthrottled because there is not a good mechanism to skip the render if the graphics hardware is still busy like we used to do. If you have any trouble getting a correct display or if you get warning messages printed out when starting MAME, please post about them on

SECONDARY WARNING: The command line and INI parsing code was rewritten. If you notice any problems with handling of parameters in either case, please report the bugs on" - MAME Development Team

Once again, we'd like to suggest that you take the MAME development team's advice and stick with V.106 proper unless you really want to test out the changes. Click here to see what's new in this update.

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Wow, it sure has been a week of love for the Dreamcast, can you feel it? Joystiq is reporting that GOAT Store Publishing is planning on releasing 10 new games for Sega's little white box of joy. Now before you get your hopes up, from what I can see of their past efforts, they're going to be those usual average quality homebrew games you find for most "dead" consoles. Still, a new game is a new game.

My advice? If you want a "new" game for your Dreamcast now and have a little bit of technical know-how, I'd STRONGLY suggest you head over the homepage of the Senile Team and download/burn the files for their freeware game Beats of Rage. Think of it as a spiritual successor to the classic Streets of Rage series - it's not the most polished game you'll ever find, but it still damn good.

Click here to see the Joystiq article, here for GOAT Store Publishing and here for the Senile Team's Beats of Rage official site.

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The official Elder Scrolls IV Download Store has listed another add-on pack as "Coming Soon" for Oblivion. The pack, Mehrunes' Razor, seems to be geared towards the melee oriented characters and centers around a quest to halt the overthrow of the empire and obtain an extremely powerful sword. From the content description;

"The lost Ayleid City Varsa Baalim has been unearthed by a rogue Telvanni arch-mage, in pursuit of a fearsome Daedric Artifact, Mehrunes Razor, which he believes will give him the power he needs to topple the Imperial reign - but what horrors lie in wait beneath the Valus mountains; and can you overcome them to claim Mehrunes Razor as your own?


  • A fully-featured quest takes you deep into the fringes of the Niben.
  • Earn the fearsome Mehrunes Razor, with the ability to kill foes instantly.
  • 17 new magic items to discover!
  • Conquer the largest dungeon in all Cyrodiil.
  • Thwart a plot to overthrow Imperial rule in Tamriel.
  • 12 new books, notes, and journals to help you unravel the mystery.
  • Hidden treasures await! " - Official Elder Scrolls IV Download Store

While the pack certainly sounds interesting, I'll again hold off on my opinion until it's actually out there and it's value can be better judged. I will say that the concept of a sword with the ability to kill instantly sounds a bit "broken" to me. It's a little early for the game to be going Monty Haul. One last thing to note is that the information page states the download will be $2.99, an increase from the previous content add-ons. Hopefully that's more indicative of the quality and amount of content the download will provide and not just that Bethesda thinks that the previous content packs have sold well enough that they can justify a price increase out of pocket. Check out the full content description page here.

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37 news organizations got together following E3, as they do every year, and collectively voted for what they felt were the best "hands-on" experiences from the current year's E3 demonstrations. We've taken the liberty of listing both the nominees as well as the winners in each category. Check out the lists below - the winner is the game listed in bold with an attached link.

Best of Show
- Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft for PlayStation 3)
- Bioshock (Irrational Games/2K Games for PC and Xbox 360)
- Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studio for Xbox 360)
- Spore (Electronic Arts for PC)
- Wii (Nintendo)

Best Original Game
- Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft for PlayStation 3)
- Bioshock (Irrational Games/2K Games for PC/Xbox 360)
- Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studio for Xbox 360)
- LocoRoco (SCEJ/Sony Computer Entertainment for PSP)
- Spore (Electronic Arts for PC)
- Wii Sports (Nintendo for Wii)

Best PC Game
- Crysis (Crytek/Electronic Arts for PC)
- Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (Splash Damage/id/Activision for PC)
- Hellgate: London (Flagship Studios/Namco Bandai Games for PC)
- Supreme Commander (Gas Powered Games/THQ for PC)
- Spore (Electronic Arts for PC)

Best Console Game
- Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft for PlayStation 3)
- Bioshock (Irrational Games/2K Games for PC and Xbox 360)
- Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studios for Xbox 360)
- Mass Effect (BioWare/Microsoft Games Studio for Xbox 360)
- Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo for Wii)

Best Handheld Game
- Elite Beat Agents (Inis/Nintendo for Nintendo DS)
- Killzone: Liberation (Guerrilla/Sony Computer Entertainment for PSP)
- LocoRoco (SCEJ/Sony Computer Entertainment for PSP)
- Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (Kojima Productions/Konami for PSP)
- The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (Nintendo for Nintendo DS)

Best Hardware
- DS Lite (Nintendo)
- Logitech G25 Racing Wheel (Logitech for PC)
- PlayStation 3 (Sony Computer Entertainment)
- Wii (Nintendo)
- Xbox 360 Wireless Headset (Microsoft for Xbox 360)

Best Action Game
- Crysis (Crytek/Electronic Arts for PC)
- Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (Splash Damage/id/Activision for PC)
- Gears of War
(Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studios for Xbox 360)
- Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (Capcom for Xbox 360)
- Resistance: Fall of Man (Insomniac/SCEA for PlayStation 3)

Best Action/Adventure Game
- Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft for PlayStation 3)
- Bioshock (Irrational Games/2K Games for PC and Xbox 360)
- God of War 2 (Sony Santa Monica/SCEA for PlayStation 2)
- Super Mario Galaxy (Nintendo for Wii)
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess  (Nintendo for GameCube/Wii)

Best Fighting Game
- Heavenly Sword (Ninja Theory/Sony for PS3)
- Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (Midway Games for PlayStation 2/Xbox)
- Tekken: Dark Resurrection (Namco Bandai Games for PSP)
- Virtua Fighter 5 (Sega for Arcade/PlayStation 3)
- WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2007 (Yuke’s/THQ for 360/PS3/PS2/PSP)

Best Role Playing Game
- Final Fantasy XII (Square Enix for PlayStation 2)
- Hellgate: London (Flagship Studios/Namco Bandai Games for PC)
- Mass Effect (BioWare/Microsoft Games Studio for Xbox 360)
- Neverwinter Nights 2 (Obsidian/Atari for PC)
- World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (Blizzard for PC)

Best Racing Game
- Excite Truck (Nintendo for Wii)
- Formula One 06 (Studio Liverpool/SCEE for PlayStation 3)
- Gran Turismo HD (Polyphony Digital/Sony Computer Entertainment for PS3)
- MotoGP 06 (Climax/THQ for Xbox 360)
- Test Drive Unlimited (Eden Studios/Atari for Xbox 360, PC, PS2, PSP)

Best Simulation Game
- Microsoft Flight Simulator X (Microsoft Games Studio for PC)
- Sid Meier’s Railroads! (Firaxis Games/2K Games for PC)
- Spore (Electronic Arts for PC)
- The Movies: Stunts and Effects (Lionhead Studios/Activision for PC)
- Wii Music Orchestra (Nintendo for Wii)

Best Sports Game

- Madden NFL 07 (Tiburon/EA for PS3 / Xbox 360)
- Madden NFL 07 (Tiburon/EA for Nintendo Wii)
- NBA 2K7 (Visual Concepts/2K Sports for Xbox 360)
- NCAA Football 07 (EA Tiburon/Electronic Arts for X360/PS2/Xbox/PSP)
- Wii Sports (Nintendo for Wii)

Best Strategy Game
- Company of Heroes (Relic/THQ for PC)
- Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth II (EA for X360)
- Medieval 2: Total War (Creative Assembly/Sega for PC)
- Supreme Commander (Gas Powered Games/THQ for PC)
- World in Conflict (Massive Entertainment/Sierra for PC)

Best Puzzle/Trivia/Parlor Game
- Elite Beat Agents (Inis/Nintendo for Nintendo DS)
- Guitar Hero 2 (Harmonix/Red Octane for PlayStation 2)
- LocoRoco (SCEJ/Sony Computer Entertainment for PSP)
- Lumines II (Q Entertainment/Buena Vista Games for PSP)
- WarioWare: Smooth Moves (Nintendo for Wii)

Best Online Multiplayer Game
- Battlefield 2142 (Digital Illusions/Electronic Arts for PC)
- Enemy Territory: Quake Wars (Splash Damage/id/ATVI for PC)
- Gears of War (Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studio for Xbox 360)
- Huxley (Webzen for PC/Xbox 360)
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (Blizzard for PC)

For those wondering just who those 37 organizations were, here's the rundown;

TIME, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Business 2.0, Wired, Giant, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Gannett News Service, San Jose Mercury News, Comcast, Computer Gaming World, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Game Informer, Game Informer Online, Gamepro, GameSpot, GameSpy, Comcast GamesNet, Hollywood Reporter,, GamesRadar, IGN, Official PlayStation Magazine, Official Xbox Magazine, PC Gamer, Playboy, PSM,, Yahoo! Video Games,, Game-Revolution, CNN/Money, G4TV, MTV & Electric Playground

So there you have it, congratulations to all the nominees and winners, glad to see Gears of War brought in a few awards and here's to hoping someday this site is legitimate enough that we can add our hats to that panel. Check out the homepage for the Game Critics Awards here.

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Before you get your hopes up, no the beloved Sega Dreamcast is not coming back from the dead. IGN is however, relaunching their Dreamcast site to commemorate the little console that could. While they freely admit there won't be much in the way of fresh news on the site, they do plan on going back and re-rating all 250+ Dreamcast games to see how well they've stood the test of time. When discussing why they're doing it, they gave the following 10 reasons;

10. Our soul still burns
9. Samba de Amigo is proof the Wii is not revolutionary
8. Some wrongs (Oooga Booga - 9.4) must be righted
7. They wouldn't let us relaunch IGN Xbox 360
6. People (three of them) have been begging for this!
5. Ulala came to us in a dream and told us this was our destiny
4. Needed to justify bringing "mascot hedgehog" into the office
3. The Dreamcast didn't fail, we failed the Dreamcast
2. It's what Jesus would do (if he were a gamer and didn't have to die for our sins)
1. We're total idiots

#3 - so true, so true. Dreamcast, we hardly knew you. Click here to head over to IGN Dreamcast.

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While we're on the subject of corporate stupidity, Microsoft's VP of Gaming, Peter Moore, just couldn't let Sony bask in the warm glow of bad press alone. While giving the usual company lines about the future of the Xbox 360, the secret location of J Allard and the wonders of Live Anywhere in an interview with Kikizo Games, Moore essentially dropped the F-bomb on Xbox 360 backwards compatility.

"Nobody is concerned anymore about backwards compatibility. We under promised and over delivered on that. It's a very complicated thing... very complex work. I'm just stunned that we have hundreds of games that are backwards compatible.

More are coming, but at some point, you just go, there's enough, let's move on, or people aren't as worried about a game being backwards compatible - and I like to think we've upheld our end of the bargain in making at least two or maybe three hundred games backwards compat." - Peter Moore

Now if three hundred games were actually backwards compatible that wouldn't be that bad of a statement. But the current backwards compatibility list stands at 203 games, of which many do not work properly. I'd hardly call that over-delivering - especially when Microsoft has previously admitted that many of those titles are listed because they just happened to work with an emulator created for another game.

Tell you what Microsoft, you get Ninja Gaiden Black working, let me save in SSX3, add ESPN NFL2K5, Mercenaries and Soul Calibur II to the BC list and then maybe we can start talking about being done with BC. Click here for the Kikizo Games interview.

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Before I could stop laughing at Ken Kutaragi's comments in the previous article, I came across another great article over at Gamespot regarding an interview that Phil Harrison, Sony's president of SCE's Worldwide Studios had with German magazine Der Spiegel. Not to be outdone by Mr. Kutaragi, Harrison went as far as to state that the Playstation 3 will perform so well, it will make the PC, and by extension Microsoft's operating systems obsolete;

"We believe that the PS3 will be the place where our users play games, watch films, browse the Web, and use other [home] computer functions, The PlayStation 3 is a computer. We do not need the PC."- Phil Harrison as quoted in the article at Gamespot.

I don't know folks, is it really right to use a supercomputer for such mundane things as watching films and surfing the 'net? Shouldn't it be trying to map the human genome or something? I guess it's a moral dilemma for each purchaser to face on their own.

All this PS3 information just makes me wonder... will it make me breakfast in the morning too? Head on over to Gamespot here for all the details and to see Harrison essentially say "nuh uh" in reference to implications that Sony simply decided to just copy Nintendo's motion control idea at the last minute so they'd have something new to show at E3.

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Or at least Ken Kutaragi thinks you will. In a Fortune magazine article up at CNN Money about how Sony may be betting the farm on the Playstation 3's success, Kutaragi is quoted as having told a Japanese website the following;

" Conceding that the PS3 is "very expensive," Ken Kutaragi, head of Sony's games business, told a Japanese Web site earlier this year that he expects "consumers to think to themselves, 'I will work more hours to buy one.' We want people to feel that they want it, irrespective of anything else." -Fortune magazine article

You may be asking yourself why Sony feels people may want it at any cost? That's because it's not just a game machine, but a bona fide supercomputer. Just ask Mr. Kutaragi, he'll tell you the deal...

"He has also said the PS3 is "not a game machine." Rather, he says, it is a "machine with supercomputer calculation capabilities for home entertainment." -Fortune magazine article again

Wow, now I feel much better about the Playstation 3 price. Not only am I getting a steal on a Blu-Ray player, but a machine capable of performing supercomputer calculations. Just amazing. You know, if they make the thing able to play games, I could start getting really excited about it.

I wonder, if I combine it with the "so powerful, it could be used as a guidance system for missiles", Emotion Engine chip in my Playstation 2 if I could build my own robotic AI... or maybe play Metal Gear Solid 4 or something. You may now begin pointing and laughing at Mr Kutaragi. Click here to read it for yourself.

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