Archive for January, 2007

Visual Concepts back at work on football games



2K Sports announced today that Visual Concepts is hard at work on their new game – All Pro Football 2K8 that will be released on next-generation systems this summer.

The press release also said gamers should expect legendary gameplay, innovative features and outstanding visual quality sports gamers have come to expect from 2K Sports Visual Concepts.

“Football gamers have been awaiting the return of the 2K series,” said Greg Thomas, president of Visual Concepts, a 2K Sports studio. “All-Pro Football 2K8 will deliver an authentic next generation gridiron experience and we are happy to give fans another choice in the football category.”

Yes, I fully realize Sega sold Visual Concepts and Kush Games shortly after EA acquired exclusive rights to the NFL, but VC will always be connected to Sega, at least in my little heart.

Who thinks we’ll see a return of first-person football?

Published on January 31st, 2007 under ,

Armored Core 4 site now live!



The Official website for Armored Core 4 has gone live! From Software’s next installment in the long-running Armored Core series will be published by Sega for the first time. If you have been living under a rock the past 10 years and haven’t heard of the Armored Core series, the game is all about blowing the snot out of each other with big-ass mechs you build from the ground up.

Don’t be fooled, though, this isn’t really the fourth game in the series. In fact, it’s all a big lie, its more like the 11th!

This is what Sega had to say about the game:

“SEGA of America, Inc. today announced that the official Website for Armored Core 4, the newest addition to FromSoftware’s mech-based combat franchise, Armored Core, is now live! The Website not only includes up to the minute news updates on Armored Core 4, but also features never before seen assets including screenshots, wallpapers, AIM icons and more!”

Excited? You better be!

Published on January 31st, 2007 under , , ,

Love and Berry gets an anime.



Best news you’ve heard all day right? I can’t start to imagine how exciting an anime aimed at little girls can be but thankfully the Japanese film studio Shochiku who are making the anime have provided some information!

Two 14 year old girls named LOVE and BERRY are trying to enter Magic school. Their task is to make a lonely girl, Yumi happy. They teach Yumi how to dance and have fun dressing up using their magic. Introduced in 2004 as a card game for girls, the popularity has expanded spinning off to books, music CD, dance DVD and other merchandising. Now comes a feature film of this popular franchise.”

Good god.

Published on January 31st, 2007 under ,

NY Times on Wii’s unexpected success


From the article: “Some of the video game industry’s smartest minds thought that couch potatoes wanted richer graphics and more challenging virtual worlds. It turns out that a lot of potatoes simply wanted to get off the couch… [But] is the Wii expanding the video game market, or is it stealing customers from Sony and Microsoft?”

Read on for some excellent discussion on how Wii is changing the game. It features claims that Wii is both stealing PS3/360 business and/or merely supplementing it.

Published on January 31st, 2007 under ,

Let it Bii


Not exactly an original idea, but the first time I’ve seen the Biitles on a t-shirt. Good form.

Published on January 31st, 2007 under ,

Penny Arcade covers Reggie’s Assistant


fesworks (our resident gone in 60 seconds podcast ninja) dialed in to the tip line today with this heads up about Penny Arcade:

“Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime cuts an imposing figure. Forum denizens are routinely shocked by the adulation this man receives, but if you have ever seen him, it isn’t especially shocking. He seems to project beyond himself, exerting a kind of Reggie Field that dogs and many birds find unpleasant. Hearing a man speak with this much drive and confidence about an imaginary plumber is sort of enthralling.

It sounds like he’s looking for an assistant – but even if you meet the considerable requirements, you should know that you’re up against some fairly tough competition.”

To the adjoining Comic:

And I know you’ll all big boys and girls, but be forewarned that the strip has some blue language, regardless.

[Thanks, fes]

Published on January 31st, 2007 under ,

Interview: Ken Westerfield, Sega arcade repair expert



Sega has a rich history within the arcade industry; heck, they’re practically driving the industry right now. And with the recent Amusement Trades Exhibition International in London recently, Sega displayed their dominance once again.

To continue the Sega arcade theme, we tracked down one of the foremost experts within the Sega arcade repair field to get his thoughts on the business and how it was like working for Sega.

Ken Westerfield has more than 20 years experience working in the arcade industry, and he spent more than 15 years working in Sega’s technical service department. Last year, Ken started his own repair center called Advanced Repair Center.

Sega Nerds: Can you please tell us a little about yourself and your business?
Ken: I have worked in the video coin-op industry for 24 years. For the first 7 years, I worked for a large nation-wide operator as a store manager for a few different locations they had in the San Francisco Bay area. Following that, for the next 16 years, I worked in the Tech Service department at Sega USA in both the video coin-op and gaming (gambling) divisions. When Sammy took over Sega and closed all California offices, I opened my own repair shop, Advanced Repair Center. I’ve been open for one year now. In the last 16 years, I have repaired well over 10,000 Sega boards and still going strong with this new company.

Sega Nerds: What experience do you have in working within the Sega community?
Ken: Truly, I really only worked with Sega USA’s video coin-op and gaming divisions. We had a great team for a long time, and it was a great experience working with that group. A couple times at trade shows like E3 I worked with a couple of Sega of America’s people, but that was a rare occasion. I worked with a handful of people in Sega Japan frequently, but unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to travel there.

Sega Nerds: You said you previously worked in Sega’s tech support area. Can you tell us about your experiences there?
Ken: Being in both the Coin-op and Gaming divisions gave me the opportunity to travel a lot. For gaming, I traveled to just about every island in the Caribbean and almost every country in South America as well as Europe. I’ve worked as far away as Turkey. Yes, I got to see all the places most people go for vacation. For the coin-op division, I traveled to just about every state in the U.S. and a few provinces in Canada. Yes, it was awesome.

As for the tech end of things, Sega was always the high-end games, like the Rolls Royce end of the spectrum. We had the most sophisticated proprietary computer systems in the industry. It was always our policy to service what we sold, so I got into a lot of high-tech rework. I learned BGA rework and have that down pat including reball technology.

This has got me into the position of currently being the only person on the planet that can do this type of rework on Sega boards, specifically the Hikaru system. Being part of this team also got me into the cross platform system with Microsoft called the Chihiro.

This put me into the position of being the only person in the USA, if not the world that services this system, including the Xbox Arcade CPU board down to component level. There are so many other examples of rework I’ve gotten myself into that they are too numerous to go into.

Sega Nerds: I’m sure you received some pretty humorous calls from time to time. Could you share a few of them with us?
Ken: This was a daily occurrence. I think I’d have to sum this question up with some words of wisdom.

  1. No, it’s not good to have critters like mice living in your game. Specifically, nesting on electronics like CPU boards, drive system boards or amplifiers.
  2. No, the game will not work anymore if it was in a flood. Especially if it was on at the time of the flood.
  3. Yes, air-conditioning systems leaking on your game is a bad thing, as well as dumping soda pop into them, operating them outdoors in the rain or in beach locations where swimmers can get on the game with wet-bathing suits. Oh yeah, and peeing on the game while sitting on it is probably not a good idea either.
  4. No, you if you’re in a different country and you only use 220, you cannot cut off the 110 AC plug and hook it up to a 220 plug and get the game to work.
  5. Yeah, the fuse may have blown, but putting a bigger fuse in is not really the best choice.

It’s amazing what people do in the field. I went on a service call once for the gaming division. The customer just received a used game and couldn’t get it running. It was a big money piece of equipment, and they needed a Sega tech to fix it. This machine was in LaPaz, Bolivia.

That was a nice trip with altitude sickness only to find two connectors reversed. Oh, and for number six: If you cannot figure out where the connectors should go, it’s a good bet the wires will be the same colors on both sides of matching connectors.

Sega Nerds: How is business?
Ken: I’ve been busy, but I can do a lot more. The biggest problem is getting my shop known. There are very few avenues for advertising in this industry. Mainly it’s just by word of mouth. One thing that’s nice is that I can work on anything I want now. I have branched out to a lot of different types of repairs than we did at Sega. I not only take in the CPU boards, but I also have been repairing card readers, GD-ROM drives, and a lot of other smaller assemblies that are part of Sega games. A lot of these other assemblies we would have just recommended replacement. Now I repair them.

Sega Nerds: We know you like to fix arcades, but how often do you play them?
Ken: Every item I repair gets fully tested played to verify it’s running fine. This sometimes takes a few minutes to maybe a half hour depending on what was repaired, and, of course, if I really like the game. For some reason, Initial D takes at least 15 minutes to check. I’ve sat over a weekend playing it for hours, though. I don’t really make it to arcades very often despite having many large ones close by. Normally if I go in, it’s hard for me to leave, thus I try to stay away.

Sega Nerds: So what’s your favorite arcade game and why?

Ken: Most any driving games, mainly Sega titles, but I would have to pick any of the Initial D series as my favorite. I’m a driver. I’ve been into cars all of my like. I built a relatively fast Eclipse GSX once, and I’ve built many other cars show and go. Driving is in the blood.

Sega Nerds: Do you build arcades on the side at all?
Ken: I gave quite a but of input when it came to building games at Sega, but I have never ventured into doing this on my own. Although, I really like the idea of putting something like Daytona into a NASCAR shell with something like a 10-foot screen sitting in front of it.

I could do this pretty much with my eyes closed knowing the systems as I do. Just never got into it, though. Maybe that’s something to look to the future.

Sega Nerds: What advice would you give a novice who’s interested in building their own unit?
Ken: We have really nice monitors and projectors now so as for video presentation, you can go pretty wild. I prefer a game outputting at VGA level, lets say … ok, Initial D. Alright alright, no we’ll use something like half of a Ferrari F355 Twin or an Airline Pilot Standard for the game. Hack off the monitor and add a DLP projector firing onto a 8-10 foot screen.

You maintain all of your original electronics and controls just as they were layed out from the factory and have this completely new type of game. I’m more into the wild than the little stand in front of boring types of cabinets. A lot of these games like this that were the smaller version sit-downs go pretty cheap at auction. The monitors are usually the first things to go anyways. For a couple thousand dollars you could make something awesome.

The main thing in building your own game is to pick a title you’ve always loved to play. The one you never ever get tired of playing. One game I really like to play and never get tired of is Club Kart. It was a really nice go-kart game. I would build up a newer go-kart frame with some fake parts, keeping it featherweight and integrate my control inputs to the actual controls from the kart. I could put all of the electronics around motor or gas tank areas (get creative).

For video, I would just run a VGA cable up to my big LCD TV that takes that input. Then run two RCA’s for sound into my Bose system. That would be pretty awesome, easy to store, and I would never get tired of it.

Sega Nerds: Do you play any console games?
Ken: I played the heck out of Dreamcast for a long time years ago. I have Xbox but never play it. In fact it’s in its original box. I’d have to say I’m not a big console player.

If you have an arcade system that needs repairing, Ken Westerfield is your man. You can reach him at or find out more information by visiting his website

Published on January 31st, 2007 under , , ,

IGN Shows Rez Some Lovin’



IGN’s Top 10 Tuesday this week features underrated and underappreciated games. Topping the list is Ubisofts brilliant Beyond Good and Evil, which bombed because the games female protagonist, Jade, kept her clothes on…or maybe it was the Pig Man? You gotta love Michel Ancel.

Enough about Beyond Good and Evil though, the most important game is 8th on the list: UGA and Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Rez! Part Panzer Dragoon, part rhythm game, all trippy; Rez finally gets the mainstream recognition it deserves. Now, if we can only get more people to understand the brilliance that is Dynamite Cop.

[Via IGN]

Published on January 31st, 2007 under , , ,

Nintendo Spotting: Icy Link edition


Looks like someone touched one of those spiky hockey puck things again…

[Thanks, Matthew]

Published on January 31st, 2007 under , ,

Rumor: Sega may support N-Gage 2



This story almost sounds good enough to base a movie on.

The plot: Nokia, developer of the ill-fated N-Gage, held a top-secret workshop in Santa Monica, California last week to unveil its plans for the N-Gage 2. Attending the event were representatives from Sega, Sony, Capcom, EA, Namco and other industry heavyweights.

According to Pocket Gamer, Nokia revealed its N-Gage Activation Code System, which will fail try to block piracy – something that was a huge problem for the first N-Gage. The system will also allow publishers the ability to track and manage their games. The article wasn’t too clear, but it seems like Nokia may be leaning towards a full digital distribution method for its games.

Also, attendees were able to get a first look at the next N-Gage’s development kits.

Pocket Gamer also said there will be another two-day meeting next week in Madrid, Spain for European developers.

I may be the only one out there, but I’m a huge fan of the N-Gage; in fact, I have mine sitting right here next to me. So if the N-Gage 2 could possibly have this many big developers interested in it, mark me down for excited.

Published on January 31st, 2007 under ,

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