7th February 2010 - Welcome gamers to this 28th instalment of the “Week That Was”. A few game releases this week with Dante’s Inferno on 360 and PS3 headlining the list. Wii gamers were able to pick up Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers and also Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom: Ultimate All Stars (apologies if this was released last week, I’ve seen conflicting release dates!).


Xbox 360

Japan will soon be seeing a 250GB hard-disk drive add-on for the 360. The add-on will go on sale in the region from March 11 and retail for ¥15,540 (AU$195 at time of writing). This will be the first time the 250GB add-on will be sold as a separate unit anywhere, and looks to support the growing trend of downloadable content such as software, TV shows and movies. No word on whether this will be released outside of Japan at this point, but they have cut the price of the 120GB hard drive in Europe while stocks last.


For those wishing for Natal support in Halo: Reach, stop wishing. Bungie have quashed rumours of Natal controls in their next title stating, “Halo: Reach is NOT a Natal title and is being developed expressly with the traditional Xbox 360 controller in mind.”  Apparently a screenshot with an off-centre crosshair had people believing it was a sign of Natal controls, which Bungie attributed to a bug.


In local news, Australia has finally seen the release of the Inside Xbox channel over Xbox Live. The “free daily digital magazine service” provides free video content on Xbox Live, and includes previews, developer interviews, gameplay tips and quick editorials. So far, the service has a Bioshock 2 promo and some Mass Effect 2 tips. No local content has been planned as yet but there will be competitions and unique offers.


And Microsoft will soon be ending the Xbox Live service for original Xbox consoles and games. This will include disc-based versions and downloaded copies of Xbox Originals played on the 360. Support will end from April 15 with Xbox Live general manager Marc Whitten saying that Microsoft “need to make changes to the service that are incompatible with our original Xbox v1 games.” This makes Bungie sad.


Playstation 3

Sony Computer Entertainment’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and PlayStation Network Peter Dille had a lengthy interview with IGN over the last week, where he talked about various things such as PlayStation Home, downloadable content and the competition. One of the more exciting prospects may be the ability to download PS2 games. Dille says Sony are working hard on this and pushing the third party community as this is a great opportunity both commercially, as well as keeping people interested in these brands.


On a similar note, Dille ruled out having the full PS3 catalogue available for digital distribution. Dille believes Sony is at an advantage in terms of optical media as Blu-ray discs have a high capacity. Games of up to 50 gigs simply wouldn’t be feasible over the PSN. Dille also spoke about the competition, and believes Sony has what it takes to make a run at the Xbox 360. He mentions Sony’s ten-year strategy and their recent good form should propel them further to make up the 5.5 million unit difference between the two.


Meanwhile, Sony’s new reality series “The Tester” will be free to download on the PSN from February 18. The series involves 11 gamers from around the US battling it out in physical and mental challenges to win a position as a game tester for SCEA. The series will air every Thursday, running until April 8 across 8 episodes. You can catch the trailer here and make up your own mind about the series.

And for those looking forward to Heavy Rain, the game will require a hard drive install taking up 4GB. Just a single install for this one, unlike the multiple installs required for Metal Gear Solid 4. For those that hate waiting for game installs, you’re in luck! The game will teach you how to make the swan origami found on the game’s cover while you wait. This is quite a welcome novelty, and I would encourage other developers to do the same!


Nintendo Wii

Will they or won’t they? Rumours continue to circulate regarding a successor to the Nintendo Wii, with VideoGamer.com reporting that several developers are already working on a “new Nintendo platform”. The new platform is said to be announced at the upcoming Game Developers Conference, but there is no information as to whether or not it will be a home console, handheld or something else entirely.


Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata also happened to talk about “Wii HD” rumours this week. He was unsure how the rumours started, but said during a recent investors meeting, “If I were asked if a Wii that’s been made compatible with HD... would be bought by players throughout the world, I’d of course say, ‘Do you think it will sell with just that? It needs something new.” In other words, if there were to be a successor to the Wii, it simply wouldn’t involve just updated graphics, maybe a new gimmick to hook us all in again!


For those of you wanting to, but haven’t yet picked up a copy of Punch Out!! I would get a move on. It has been revealed that this game, despite good reviews, will be discontinued by Nintendo Australia so hurry up and purchase a copy before it’s too late!


And we’ve seen the Australian software charts from last year, now it’s time for the worldwide sales. Data compiled from the NPD group in the US, GfK Chart-Track Limited in Europe, and Enterbrain Inc. In Japan has shown Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to be the top selling game of 2009. That should come as no surprise, and there are no surprises that Nintendo dominated the rest of the chart with Wii Sports Resort, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Wii Fit Plus and Wii Fit rounding out the top 5. In terms of overall sales, there was an 8 percent drop in overall software sales, attributed to the 57% decrease in the PS2 software market.


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


· Nintendo has confirmed that the new Zelda will debut at this year’s E3.

· Final Fantasy XIII was originally developed for the PS2, and when moved to the PS3, it cost Square-Enix “a year-and-a-half” of development time.

· Meanwhile the next Final Fantasy game, FFXIV looks like it will also be on the Xbox 360 and PC.

· If you love your final Fantasy, and you love your hip-hop music, then you’ll love “Vinyl Fantasy VII

· Microsoft will be revealing some new games at a press conference next week.

· EA will be airing a Dante’s Inferno commercial during the Super Bowl. I hope the US$3million it’ll cost is worth it.

· Sega will be releasing the Sega Zone console in April, which will feature classic Sega titles with motion controls.

· Gran Turismo 5 is now expected to release in fall (around Spring in Australia), but Sony haven’t yet decided on the release date. At least we know who has won the GT Academy competition in Australia.

· EB Games have launched their own petition in support of the R18+ rating for games. You can sign the petition online or in various stores.

· Various sequels have been announced, including Saints Row 3, de Blob, and Darksiders.

· Splinter Cell: Conviction’s release date has been set in stone... literally.

· THQ has announced support for “PlayStation Arc”, further supporting rumours for the motion controller’s name. Sony insists this is a rumoured code name.

· Project Needlemouse has been revealed to be Sonic the Hedgehog 4, with the game returning to its 2D roots as an episodic, downloadable title.

· The next Fallout game, Fallout: New Vegas is set for a Fall 2010 release for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

· Gaming Accessories. It’s serious business.


Happy gaming everyone!


Article written be Phong Nguyen