10th January 2010 - Hello readers and welcome back to All Age Gaming’s “Week That Was”. I hope you all enjoyed the festive season, and to start off we’ll do a very quick recap of what happened over the two-week holiday period:


And now on to 2010!

After a couple of weeks without game releases, and despite January usually being a month devoid of decent games, 2010 is starting off with a bang. A couple of 360/PS3 blockbusters in Bayonetta and Darksiders were released this week. Bayonetta received a perfect score from Famitsu late last year, and even scored a 10 from local game magazine Hyper. Darksiders is also receiving solid reviews so far, so both games are worth a look. 


Xbox 360

We mentioned the possibility of a Natal-controlled version of Geometry Wars above, but this week saw the release of footage showing someone playing Half-Life 2 with Natal. The footage is a bit shaky and should be taken with a grain of salt but the possibility of it is intriguing. Microsoft definitely believe they’re onto something good with Natal, with Xbox Live general Manager Marc Whitten believing the combination of Natal plus Live will be groundbreaking. Whitten describes Live as being the core of everything they do, and says it will be no different when it comes to Natal.


And it looks like Natal will be out later this year. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, Microsoft confirmed a 2010 holiday launch (think Christmas time) for the technology. Various specifications were also revealed, with the Principal Researcher for Microsoft Research, Andrew Fitzgibbon saying, "What Natal does, is it evaluates effectively trillions of body configurations every frame. We've made it do that 30 times a second." This may or may not equate to 30 frames per second for the games.


In other Natal news this week, Microsoft’s Robbie Bach has stated that Natal will be for everyone. That includes the hardcore gamer even though the style of game they may be playing on Natal will be different to say, something like Halo: Reach. Bach has also revealed that 70 percent of publishers are now developing titles for Natal. Natal may also be cheaper than expected, with GamesIndustry reporting that Microsoft dropped a chip from Natal in an attempt to keep the price reasonable.


And finally, Microsoft revealed a virtual arcade for Live at CES this week. Given the name of “Game Room”, this virtual arcade will feature various classic arcade games such as Centipede, Asteroids Deluxe and Super Cobra. Set to be released in Spring (in the US, around our Autumn), it will come with 30 original arcade and console classics. New games will be released every week, with plans for over 1000 titles to be available over the next 3 years. Pricing should range from 240-400 points per game, whilst single play-throughs will cost 40 points. It will also support Avatars, Voice Chat, online multiplayer and cross-platform (with PC) leader boards and achievements.


Playstation 3

In PS3 news this week, the Home Theater in Home received a new “Home TV” channel (that’s a lot of homes... or should that be houses?). The channel is designed to keep you updated on everything related to the virtual community with the latest news and updates as well as details of upcoming events and gatherings. You can also forward your own photos to Sony, making them aware of parties and get-togethers, and Sony might even feature them on a Home TV episode.


Good news this week for fans of Naughty Dog’s games, with the developer believing they can get another 5 or 6 years out of the PS3. Evan Wells, co-president at Naughty Dog, has said to G4TV, “We’re getting comfortable [with the PS3], we’re not itching for new hardware.... I think there’s still a lot to get out of it”. He would further add that they made big advancements between the two Uncharted games, and that they’re not feeling limited by the Cell processor, instead describing it as a “bottomless pit of processing power.” However, they’re not too interested in a third party motion-controlled game.


And it looks like we may have release dates for two of the PS3’s biggest exclusives next year, with online game shop Geo E Shop leaking a possible release date Gran Turismo 5 and God of War III. The online retailer listed a March 25 release date for both games! This is in Japan only, but both games are likely to be released at a similar date worldwide. Meanwhile, a leaked copy of Official PlayStation Magazine has revealed more details about GT5, including the addition of Indy cars, 16 player online races, full weather effects, night/day on all tracks and over 1000 cars in the line-up.


And Sony were also prominent at CES, revealing various details regarding their PSN ID expansion and 3D technology. Sony confirmed the expansion of the PSN IDs beyond the PS3 and PSP, integrating it into their other products such as Bravia TVs and Sony Vaio laptops. Sony also displayed their 3D technology at the show, with three PS3 games (Avatar, Super Stardust HD and Gran Turismo) in action. Sony said that all PS3s will be 3D compatible via a firmware update, and the combination of 3D and Sony’s motion controller technology could result in the complete immersive experience. 


Nintendo Wii

We documented the Wii’s struggles last year (compared to the previous year), but it looks like December was much kinder to them. Nintendo have revealed that they sold 3 million units in the US in December 2009, a new monthly record for game consoles. This number is based on Nintendo’s internal estimates, but if correct it eclipses Sony’s record of 2.7 million PS2’s sold in December 2002. For the whole year, Nintendo dominated Amazon.com sales with 9 out of the top 10 videogame related sales for the online store. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was the only non-Wii related item in the top 10, with the 360 version coming in at number 9.


One area that the Wii is struggling in is the lack of success of “mature” games and third-party games on the Wii. As a result, Sega might stop producing mature games for the system. In a podcast with 1Up, Sega Studio Director, Constantine Hantzopoulos said, “are we going to do more mature titles for the Wii? And it’s like, probably not.” Dead Space Extraction was considered a “litmus test” for the system, and despite strong sales figures for the game on the PS3 and 360, Wii sales were extremely disappointing. House of the Dead: Overkill and Madworld have also had poor sales.


Earlier this week, Capcom also said that they were abandoning the Wii following average sales of Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles. But they were quick to reaffirm their commitment to the Wii, simply stating that they are still committed to being a multi-platform developer and publisher of interactive software. We’ll have to wait and see just how committed they really are.


And Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has revealed some details on the future of Nintendo. Iwata detailed the successor to the DS, which should include a sensor that captures player movements as well as being able to output high resolution images. But in terms of the Wii, Iwata mentioned Nintendo’s plans to announce games for the Vitality Sensor in July with the aim to release these games as soon as possible. Iwata also confirmed that the newest Zelda game will be released before the end of the year. 


And now for the week’s other news in brief:


And that’s the news. I hope you’re all looking forward to a huge year in gaming! 


Article written by Phong Nguyen