16th August 2009 - G’day gamers, and once again welcome to All Age Gaming’s “The Week That Was”. My apologies for a mistake last week, where I mentioned that Ashes Cricket 2009 was available on PS3 and Xbox 360. It was only released on the PS3 and this week marks its 360 (and also PC) release. Madden NFL 10 was also released this week on the PS3, 360 and Wii. Worth checking out if you’re an NFL nut, otherwise give it a miss unless you want to wrap your head around the rules and plays of the game.

Nintendo Wii

This year’s E3 saw a strong showing from Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo however, weren’t as impressive. There were a couple of highlights from Nintendo such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Metroid: Other M, but overall it was a dull showing (seriously, the vitality sensor?). Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata would have to agree, and believes there is room to improve. He believed this year’s media briefing did not allow for Nintendo to “fully convey the charm” of their products such as in previous years with Wii Sports and Wii Fit. Keep an eye out for Nintendo’s media briefing next year. Hopefully there will be something more exciting than a pulse-sensing device.

Speaking of the Vitality Sensor, Iwata has indicated that the peripheral is due “not too late” next year. He is still optimistic about the device, comparing the scepticism received with the sensor to that of the Wii Fit. "Before Wii Fit launched, everyone doubted how well it could sell. As for Wii Vitality Sensor, I think it will face similar doubts as to whether such a product will sell well in the video game market," he said. Iwata also gave some insight on the types of “games” that could utilise the sensor. Iwata suggests relaxation games could use the device to “check the condition of your automatic nerve” and thus visualise how you feel. This would allow you to visualise how to unwind and relax.... I’m still not convinced, but hey, if an exercise “game” can sell millions, I’m sure a relaxation “game” could do the same.

And if you don’t think Nintendo are releasing enough crazy peripherals/controllers, how about their new horse-riding controller? The patent for the controller was found in a European patent database, and involves an inflatable seat which pockets the Wii-mote and senses movement via accelerometers. The nunchuk can be used to simulate holding the reins, or can be used as a lasso, a sword etc. Follow the link to check out the patent pictures and find out what else Nintendo has included in the patent... like the simulation of riding other animals....

And finally, Guitar Hero 5 will be the first game to be able to stream Wii downloadable content directly from an SD card. Previously, only Virtual Console games were able to do this, but starting with Guitar Hero 5, Nintendo will allow all retail games to have this feature. In GH5’s case, this will allow for full albums to be downloaded and the memory on the Wii’s limited storage space will no longer need to be juggled. The Wii can support up to 32GB SD cards, and this announcement could pave the way for large downloadable content similar to that already available on the PS3 and 360.

Xbox 360

This week saw the arrival of the NXE update for the 360, and one of the touted new features was the Games on Demand service. In last week’s “week that was”, there was mention of the titles available on the service. Pricing was also revealed last week, but was not reported by us in the hopes that the rumoured (and ridiculous!!!) pricing for Australians was incorrect. After having the update come through, it can be confirmed that most of the games are ridiculously overpriced. David Wildgoose over at Kotaku has done a nice summary of the price discrepancies between the online price, and in-store retail prices. Xbox Australia has responded to questioning over the prices, stating: "No one retailer has the lowest pricing for every product, and our program is about giving people 24 x 7 convenience and selection when shopping for Xbox 360 games” (more comments can be found here). And although the convenience is there, it doesn’t justify a $99.95 price tag for Mass Effect.

Over in the US, the latest Nielsen ratings for game console use were revealed, and the 360 has toppled the PS2 off the top of the list for overall percentage of minutes used. This was the first time the PS2 has not led this category since these ratings were recorded. The 360 also has the highest percentage of active users, with the PS3 coming in second. Surprisingly, the Nintendo Wii is bottom of this category and even trails the Gamecube in active use! I put this down to the possible higher percentage of “casual” gamers purchasing the Wii, and no longer playing games on it after the novelty wears off... that and the lack of major releases in the last 6 months.

Xbox may soon be invading your mobile space. A new job posting on the Microsoft careers site is looking for a LIVE Community Director in the Entertainment and Devices Division. Part of the posting reveals that, “This senior position will play a vital role in the community space as the LIVE Engagement team builds and program's Microsoft's next-generation, LIVE-enabled casual and social gaming platform across the Web, the console, mobile and beyond.” This hints at an Xbox Live platform available on mobile platforms, so will we see a Live marketplace appear on Windows based mobiles? It is something that may challenge the iPhone which has released many high-quality games of late.

And you may remember that last week we mentioned the possible phase out of the Pro bundle, leaving just an Arcade and Elite SKU for the 360. Well this week, further evidence has surfaced with a Meijer catalogue (in the USA, I did not spell Myer wrong!) advertising an Elite model for US$299, the usual Pro bundle price. This catalogue is due to start on August 30. This was quickly followed by news that UK retailer Argos has discontinued sales of the Pro model. Microsoft have yet to comment on any of the rumours.

Playstation 3

In PS3 news, Kazunouri Yamauchi has spoken about the eagerly anticipated Gran Turismo 5. Yamauchi confirmed the ability to carry over unlocked cars from the upcoming Gran Turismo PSP to GT5, which is exciting news for those looking to purchase both games. Yamauchi also said that GT5 could be released this year!..... if they wanted to. The notorious perfectionist said, “About GT5, specifications are not finalized, we can release it anytime now, but we can also spend an infinite amount of time polishing things..... We’ll release it when we’re totally happy with the result.” However, a few online retailers believe the game will be shipping in December. Amazon.com has listed the release date as December 29, whilst play.com and shopto.net both have it slated for a December 4th release date.

Sony has been playing catch-up to the Wii and Xbox 360 during this console generation. Next generation might be different as Id Software founder, John Carmack, believes Sony will be first to release a next generation console. By releasing the first console of the next generation, they would be able to duplicate the success Microsoft achieved by releasing the 360 well ahead of the PS3 and Wii. I wouldn’t expect a new console soon as Sony expect a 10 year life cycle for the PS3.

Along with the expected PS3 Slim and price cut announcements at the upcoming Gamecom, Sony may be announcing a “New Playstation Network.” Sony has sent out emails hinting at a new PSN to be launched on the 18th which may include “premium features.” Users would have to pay a flat rate for the premium service that would give them unlimited access to downloads. This could be an interesting development if the cost for the premium service is reasonable, especially considering that online play is already free.

And finally, Karl Hilton of Crytek UK has praised the PS3 saying, “The PS3 can do amazing things, and no one has pushed it as far as it can.” Crytek UK were responsible for the disappointing Haze, which was put down due to technical issues which they believe are irrelevant now. Hilton would go on to say “I don’t think we’ve seen the best out of the PS3 at all, and I definitely think one of the best things about Crytek and the CryEngine is that we’re now in the best position to get the most out of the hardware.” It’s good to see developers such as Crytek, Naughty Dog and Insomniac Games tackle the console head-on, unlike Valve. Although Valve boss Gabe Newell has apologised regarding the poor PS3 port for Orange Box, he has told GTTV that Valve are not working on anything on the PS3 at all. Maybe they should take a leaf out of Crytek’s book and try to rectify their errors.

And this week’s other news in brief:

·         EA Denmark has revealed the complete soundtrack for Brutal Legend, and it rocks. It rocks hard.

·         Following in Rock Band’s footsteps, Guitar Hero 5 will allow you to import older GH songs from World Tour and Smash Hits to the new game. 152 of the 158 GHWT songs available for download will also work on the new title. The fee for importing WT and SH songs has not been revealed, and no, you can’t rent the older games and then copy them over to get the songs for cheap.

·         Peter Jackson’s Halo movie was scrapped, but how about getting Steven Spielberg to produce one instead?

·         It seems like many of you guys want night-vision goggles.

·         Speaking of Modern Warfare 2, a boycott over the game has begun due to its inflated recommended retail price. The petition can be found here, and it doesn’t help matters when Activision CEO Bobby Kotick states, " You know if it was left to me, I would raise the prices even further"

·         What’s 20 cents worth for millionaire athletes? Well for this NHL 10 coverboy, it’s worth a lot!

·         Another game, the medieval RPG “Risen”, has been refused classification in Australia. Why Michael Atkinson, whyyyyyyyyy?!?!?!?!?!?! (Just in case you didn’t like Atkinson enough, he has cost tax-payers $200,000 in legal fees... nothing to do with games)

·         In an indirect follow up to Risen’s ban, Tom Crago (Game Developers Association of Australia president) has called Australia’s game classification system “a joke”.

·         Fight Night Round 4 to get its first boxer pack.

·         Codemasters don’t think Natal and Sony’s motion control wands will replace traditional controls.

·         44 of the 45 songs from The Beatles: Rock Band have been revealed.

·         This analyst doesn’t think price cuts will stimulate sales.

·         And just for fun – how do you enhance your Guitar Hero experience? Why, by solving a Rubik’s cube at the same time of course!

Thanks for reading gamers! Expect some exciting news next week and finally some confirmation on the PS3 Slim rumours (I think I’m getting sick of hearing the rumours!).


Article written by Phong Nguyen