Archive for January, 2006

Japanese Brain Training games headed to US


One of Nintendo’s best new franchises is little known outside the US, and that’s cause, until now, it hadn’t had a release date for anywhere outside of Japan. Called the “Brain Training” series in Japan, these two titles charge you with doing mathematics, analysis, and memorization, as well as the ever-popular (in Japan) sudoku puzzles, and they are based on the works of neuroscientist Professor Ryuta Kawashima and use the abilities of the DS to full effect. Brain Age Box Art

The games have been extremely popular in Japan, matter a fact, they were among the top-selling titles of 2005 in Japan across all platforms. They will now be heading to the US with new names: Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes A Da and Big Brain Academy. The first title will be released on April 17 and the latter on May 30th.

So look forward to giving that unused muscle of yours quite the workout via your game system in a couple months!

Published on January 31st, 2006 under

4 million Dragon Quest VIII’s shipped worldwide


PS2 Dragon Quest VIIIDragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King is the latest game in the Dragon Quest series, which is one of the most popular RPG’s in Japan (the series originated on the NES, with this newest release on the PS2). The game was so popular that the Japanese government actually made sure the developer’s couldn’t release the game on a weekday, as too many school kids and adult workers were ignoring their civil duties to go buy the game, placing strain on the market. While that certainly sounds insane (and it is), the games have never reached any where near that level of popularity outside of Japan.

Formerly called Dragon Warrior in the US, Square Enix worked hard on the development of the US version of Dragon Quest VIII to make it one of their biggest titles and making it more appealing to US audiences by adding a bunch of new stuff for the US version in hopes that the game would come to be just as popular as Square’s Final Fantasy series is stateside.

PS2 Controller Dragon Quest SlimeWhile that still may not be the case, SquareEnix at least seems to be making progress, as they just announced that Dragon Quest VIII has shipped over four million copies worldwide. 3 million of those are in Japan, with 430,000 units shipped in North America as of Dec., helping to push the amount over the 4 million mark. While sell through data apparently hasn’t been announced, nearly half a million isn’t too shabby given that the game was only released in November.

In other DQ news, SquareEnix is getting ready to ship a spin-off of DQVIII in Japan called Dragon Quest: Shounen Yangus no Fushigi na Daibouken on April 20th. The game will follow DQVIII hero Yangus through his childhood. Like previous releases in the Fushigi no Dungeon series, it will feature randomly generated dungeon maps.

Also, at his Dragon Quest concert over the weekend, series composer Kouichi Sugiyama told the audience that additional DQVIII spin-offs aside from Shounen Yangus no Fushigi are in development at Square Enix. However, he told the crowd he isn’t allowed to disclose any details at the current time.

Well, here’s to hoping that Dragon Quest VIII sells well in the US, it’s a great RPG any way you slice it and new RPGs are never a bad thing.

Published on January 31st, 2006 under

EA announces brand new first-person shooter from maker’s of FarCry


XB Far Cry InstinctsFar Cry, a first-person shooter released for the PC in 2004, was one of Ubi-Soft’s (the game’s publisher) biggest games, and was hailed by critics garnering many awards. Knowing when they had hit on something good, Ubi went on to release a version of the game on the Xbox, and it’s soon coming to the Xbox 360 as well. Within months however, Ubi’s main rival, US-based behemoth Electronics Arts (which has a very large share in Ubi-Soft, one in which the French government actually stepped in to ward off a potential hostile takeover of the company) used it’s power of the force to lure Far Cry’s German developer, Crytek, into signing a development deal with EA, wherein Crytek would create a brand new franchise for the PC based on an original intellectual property.

And yesterday the game was finally announced. It’s called Crysis, and it’s a first-person shooter for the PC.

According to a joint statement from Crytek and EA, the title will sport “a new kind of gameplay challenge requiring adaptive tactics and customization of weapons and armor in dynamic, hostile environments as mankind struggles to survive in the face of a horrific alien invasion.” Far Cry won much praise for its enemies’ crafty artificial intelligence and its detailed levels, which sported far-reaching draw distances, so this new game is likely to make use and hopefully improve on those already good features.

However not much is yet known about the new game outside of it using Crytek’s proprietary “CryENGINE 2″ game engine. One thing is for sure though, EA’s world dominance is forever increasing, and this sounds like another Halo 2-sized game to add to EA’s reportiour of first-person shooters (PS2 uber-shooter Black also being on that list). But hey, as long as they are of this kind of quality, can we really complain?

Published on January 31st, 2006 under

Playstation 3 might get full Live online service


If the latest word from the Official US PlayStation Magazine is to be believed. Despite past assurances that Sony would leave multiplayer matchmaking to game developers and in the remit of individual titles, it now seems like a centralised Xbox Live-style service is almost certainly in the works.

PSM reports that Sony wants much, much more than a simple matchmaking and ranking lists service, and developers in possession of the PS3 dev kits will have to meet with Sony’s online compliance team to make sure their titles will work with the projected PlayStation Network.

Unnamed sources quoted by the magazine say Sony plans to develop a full PlayStation Network type service to compete head on with the current version of Live. They also say that the service will integrate the PlayStation Portable, which some have speculated may act as a controller for the PS3, and now as a portable connection to the online service.

The magazine suggests Sony has been plotting this service since just after the delivery of the PS2 Network adaptor. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to see if this will materialize like Live on Xbox 360.

Published on January 31st, 2006 under

Famitsu reports Capcom says Resident Evil 5 far off


One of the first Japanese publishers that announced Xbox 360 support was Capcom. Producer Keiji Inafune, best known as the creator of Mega Man, is currently working on Dead Rising for the Xbox 360. He revealed to Famitsu Xbox 360 that the project’s development has entered its final stages and that his staff is currently fine-tuning the game. Inafune also commented that the basic components have been completed for Capcom’s second Xbox 360 title, Lost Planet: Extreme Condition. Both games are scheduled for release during 2006 in Japan, and Dead Rising is set to hit the US in May.

When asked about Resident Evil 5, Inafune revealed that development on the game still hasn’t begun in earnest. He explained that his developers are working on the game’s graphics and going through a lot of trial and error to come up with ideas to make it play as an all-new game. Inafune hinted that RE5 wouldn’t be coming out anytime soon, commenting that Capcom has no plans to release it until it’s satisfied.

When asked about other Xbox 360 projects at Capcom, Inafune commented that the company is waiting to see how the Xbox 360 fares at retail before it makes its next move. He commented that making a next-generation game costs a lot, especially in terms of human resources. Inafune explained that Capcom currently has four next-generation games in development, and each requires a team of at least 50 staffers, or 200 total employees, nearly half the company’s designers!! Inafune thinks that the game industry may be entering into a new stage where it has to turn to outside investors to fund ballooning next-gen budgets, much like the film industry does.

There’s no doubt that many Japanese publishers will be announcing new Xbox 360 games at this year’s E3, and one company that’s already confirmed it is Sega. Sega consumer division sub-chief Hiroyuki Miyazaki commented to Famitsu Xbox 360 that his company will be announcing a number of new titles at E3 2006 targeted toward the European and North American market. Miyazaki also said that development on Chromehounds is going well, and it should come out before Mistwalker’s Blue Dragon.

When asked whether Virtua Fighter 5 and House of the Dead 4 would come out for the Xbox 360, Miyazaki commented that both are currently under consideration, given their popularity in arcades worldwide. If you want the long Famitsu read, check this GameSpot page.

PS: A person with wishful thinking might note the sentence I bolded to not just mean a better camera system and controls, but maybe features only possible with the Revolution’s controller…

Published on January 31st, 2006 under

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball 2 up next for Team Ninja


XB360 Dead or Alive 4In an interview, Itagaki also confirmed that his next Xbox 360 release will be Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball 2 (DOAXBV2), the sequel to the risqué 2003 sports game. Itagaki said Team Ninja is already working on the opening and ending scenes for the game, and he is currently implementing some new ideas to the original design. Itagaki avoided commenting on a release period.

After DOAXBV2, Itagaki say he will release an “action game.” However, he hinted that the title in question won’t be a sequel to Ninja Gaiden, which means it will either be Project Progressive, Dead or Alive Code: Cronus, or another title. He says the keyword for the game will be “interactivity,” which will also go for the next Ninja Gaiden. He did not elaborate.

Itagaki also mentioned Dead or Alive 4 (DOA4) updates…

Despite DOA4’s extended development, Itagaki confirms that there still are a few problems with playing the game on Xbox Live, and Team Ninja is working hard to fix the issues. He told the magazine that currently his team is having problems figuring out whether it’s Xbox Live or the game itself that’s causing the issues. He said the first update is scheduled for mid-February. Aside from bug fixes, it will also feature some minor changes to the game’s interface.

Itagaki also mentioned that plans to release new outfits for DOA4 characters via Xbox Live Marketplace have been put off due to budget and staffing issues. However, Itagaki did say that fans and Team Ninja members had expressed interest in new costumes, and that if such costumes are ever made, they would not be free. I’m sure he also ignored the nude outfit requests.

Published on January 31st, 2006 under

Final Fantasy XI coming to Xbox 360 in April


Final Fantasy XI Chains of PromathiaFinal Fantasy XI for Xbox 360 is the first game in the series to land on a Microsoft console. As such, it’s being watched closely, to see whether success will lead to more support from both the Japanese and Japanese developers – both of whom have been iffy on the console.

Square Enix has worked hard to get all the versions of the game working together, meaning Xbox 360 owners will be playing in the same world as the 500,000 people who have signed up for the PC and PlayStation 2 versions over the past 4 years.

The Xbox 360 version, which is in stores on 20 April, comes with both the expansion packs (Rise of the Zilart and Chains of Promethia) already out on PC and brings the upcoming third one, Treasures of Aht Urhgan, as well.

To play the game you’ll need to have a broadband connection (natch) and more importantly a hard drive as well. (Final Fantasy XI is one of the first Xbox 360 games to require the hard drive.)

PC owners won’t be left out of the fun. The Treasures Of Aht Urhgan expansion pack will be out for PC on the same day as the Xbox 360 version, 20 April. To play this new pack, you’ll of course need to have the original game. Visit Kikizo for pictures.

Published on January 30th, 2006 under

Suikoden V release on Playstation 2 set for autumn


After skipping Europe for its first two PlayStation instalments, Konami’s Suikoden series is now a regular player in the European RPG scene. Later this year you’ll get even more from the series when the Suikoden V comes to PlayStation 2.

The story, is that of most Japanese RPGs. With this time the world of Farlena in turmoil, it’s up to you to find a fabled stone called the Sun Rune, which will help restore order to the land. Suikoden V will be out only for PlayStation 2 this autumn in Europe and set for release in America February 1st.

Published on January 30th, 2006 under

Tourist Trophy looking great like Gran Turismo 4


tourist trophy the real riding simulator
Polyphony Studio, of Gran Turismo fame, have not just been working on their next racing car simulator. No, this time they’ve come out with a racing bikes sim called Tourist Trophy: The Real Riding Simulator.

Realism (obviously) and physics are once again the core parts of the experience, as is the expansive garage. At 80-strong, the bike line-up might not be as overwhelming as its four-wheeled counterpart, but it does include the biggest brands, including BMW, Ducati, Honda and more.

There are two modes to the game: Arcade and Challenge. While Arcade does just what it says (you and a friend race on one of 35 tracks), the Challenge mode is where the real meat of the game lies.

Here you’ll have to go through various license tests, earning your ride on bikes ranging from 250cc to 1500cc. As you progress through the career mode you’ll unlock new bikes and a range of add-ons. The game is set for a February 2nd PS2 release in Japan, the only date set outside that territory is the 2nd quarter of 2006 for America, but it’s a safe bet Sony will publish the game in Europe and everywhere else this year too.

Published on January 30th, 2006 under

Nintendo’s games for the European spring


DS Trauma Center: Under the KnifeNintendo has revealed its European line-up of games for Game Boy Advance, GameCube and DS for this spring. A lot of these games are already out in the USA, will soon come out there, or will be out a few months before Europe. Fun to mention is that Brain Training/Brain Age will come with popular Sudoku puzzles included.

* Prof. Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? (spring)
* Game Fortune Bag (spring)
* Megaman Battle Network 5 Double Team DS (13 April)
* Electroplankton (21 April)
* Tetris DS (21 April)
* Pokémon Link! (28 April)
* Trauma Centre: Under The Knife (28 April)
* Harvest Moon DS (spring)
* Metroid Prime Hunters (5 May)
* Super Princess Peach (26 May)
* Metroid Prime Pinball (June)
* Puzzloop (June)
* New Super Mario Bros (spring)
* Big Brain Academy (spring)

* Harvest Moon: Magical Melody (spring)
* Chibi-Robo! (26 May)

Game Boy Advance:
* Polarium Advance (7 April)
* Drill Dozer (26 May)
* Final Fantasy IV (2 June)
* Wario Ware Twisted! (spring)

Published on January 30th, 2006 under

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