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  • wraggster

    by Published on May 11th, 2004 20:01

    The capabilities of the Xbox Live service are set to be extended once again later this year, with new video chat functionality and the ability to download arcade style games being announced at Microsoft's pre-E3 conference.

    The new abilities were announced by Microsoft vice president J Allard at the conference, and are expected to be rolled out on the service later this year - although exact timescales aren't known, and it took almost a year for the new Xbox Live features discussed at last year's E3 to appear in the form of the Xbox Live 3.0 "Tsunami" upgrade.

    Xbox Live video chat is a similar idea to Sony's recently announced Eye Toy: Chat system, and will allow video conferencing over the service using USB cameras, along with a number of fun features such as the ability to send music. It's not clear whether the USB camera will also be used in games, as Eye Toy is, or if it's solely designed for video conferencing.

    The Xbox Live Arcade, perhaps more interestingly, will be the first time that players will be able to download standalone game content from the Live service - with small games such as arcade classics Galaxian and Dig Dug, card games including Poker and Bridge and popular web games like Bejeweled being made available to Live users.

    The Xbox Live Arcade is being backed by major players in the "small game" market including PopCap, GarageGames and uWink, but once again, details are thin on the ground - most notably, it's not clear how much these games will cost. More information should emerge ahead of the launch of the Arcade service in autumn.

    The bulk of the discussion at Microsoft's conference was all about Live - from EA's support of the service, through these new features and demonstrations of the Live multiplayer in Halo 2. The company is focusing heavily on its strength in the online arena - the conference opened with a video lampooning Sony's efforts in the online gaming space - a risky move, given that only a small fraction of console users are playing online games, but one which the Redmond-based giant seems determined to see through to its conclusion. ...
    by Published on May 11th, 2004 19:57

    A new edition of the Game Boy Advance SP modelled after the NES console is set to launch in Europe on July 9th, alongside eight classic NES software titles which are being released at a budget price point for the system.

    Although the launch follows the arrival of the very successful Famicom Mini range in Japan (where the NES was known as the Famicom), the design of the GBA SP will be different - reflecting the completely different design of the NES hardware in Europe.

    Also somewhat different is the line-up of software on offer, although there is significant cross over. The eight titles which will arrive with the NES Classic range are Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Ice Climbers, Excitebike, Legend of Zelda, Pac-Man, Xevious and Bomberman - the first five being from Nintendo, followed by two from Namco and one from Hudson.

    Each of the games will cost 19.99 Euro at retail, which is a little more expensive than their 2000 Yen price tag in Japan, but not significantly enough so for us to huff and puff about Europe being ripped off once more. We're not sure what the UK pricing will be as yet, but around £14.99 seems likely. ...
    by Published on May 11th, 2004 19:51

    News about Nintendos new DS Console:

    The DS will sell alongside today's Game Boy Advance, not replace it, according to the company. Nintendo has not announced a release date or price, though analysts predict it may sell in the $150 range.

    One of the two 3-inch screens is touch-sensitive and works with a stylus — like Palms and Pocket PCs — to control the action in some games. In one demo, players guide a toddler-age Mario as he falls from the sky by drawing clouds. Other games give multiple views of the action.

    The DS also has Bluetooth wireless communication to connect with other units within range for cordless competition. DS has separate slots for current Game Boy Advance cartridges and new, smaller DS game cards.

    Read more and see a screenshot at this page --> http://pdcovers.netfirms.com/dsnews.shtml ...
    by Published on May 11th, 2004 19:23

    News From Lik Sang

    It's out now in Japan, not arriving until August in the States and hasn't even got a firm release date in Europe. But with Action Replay for GameCube, you can play the Japanese version of Nintendo's fantastic Pikmin 2 on a UK console - and watch the cut scenes in English!

    As you know, Action Replay's FreeLoader technology allows you to play ANY region of games on ANY GameCube, allowing gamers to play imports. Pikmin 2 is no exception - with Action Replay, the Japanese version plays just fine on a European machine. But while researching codes and enhancements for the game, Datel's dynamic code-cracking crew discovered something no one expected. The Japanese game contains English-language versions of all the cut scenes, even though English-language play isn't offered as an option. Rumour has it this was included so Nintendo could show the game in English at E3...

    With these exclusive Action Replay codes, you can open up this hidden option and follow the storyline in English. Now there's no need to wait until August for the American version (and no European release date has been confirmed). Just grab an Action Replay and play it now, understanding every word! ...
    by Published on May 11th, 2004 19:17

    News From Lik Sang

    Easily Xbox's most anticipated game, Halo 2 is the sequel to Halo - the best-selling Xbox game to date.

    Halo, the original has sold more than 4 million copies worldwide, with over ½ a million of those just last Christmas season alone, and now the sequel is confirmed to arrive later this year.



    Pushing the Xbox hardware to its very limits and utilizing Xbox Live in a way that Bungie believes will redefine online play, "Halo 2" will expand on everything that made the original game great. At its heart a compelling and captivating story, "Halo 2" makes revolutionary advances in design and technology.

    Super solider Master Chief and his AI computer clone of a human, Cortana, are taking on the Covenant once again, but this time the battlefield is planet Earth. A quick run down of reported Halo 2 features include Xbox Live with new multiplayer games like Assault mode, having teams plant bombs at enemy camps, new weapons, including the ability to hold two different weapons at once, new vehicles, including flying units in multiplayer, new enemies, partly destructible environments, a whole new graphics engine, and much more already spilling out of E3 2004. Vehicles for example are totally destructible, and get harder to drive the more damaged they are, and multiplayer matches have been spiced up by letting players choose between master chief or a covenant alien. The Warthog has also been upgraded to include a rocket-launcher on-board.



    While many of us have been frustrated with the wait, it’s important to remember the original Halo was so rushed that some parts weren’t even designed to be in the final game. “The Library” level is a great example, which was originally created just for Bungie’s testers. Well they are taking their sweet time with Halo 2 to ensure that everything aspect of the game is perfect before Halo 2 releases in early November.

    No doubt this weeks E3 expo will blow the lid off a lot more, and bring anticipation for Halo 2 to an explosive point. Even at our offices, we are already planning a special LAN party for the release night! ...
    by Published on May 10th, 2004 22:22

    Market watchers in the United States expect the Xbox to have outsold Sony's PS2 in monthly sales for the first time ever in April's sales figures, as the effects of Microsoft's recent price cut continue to boost the console.

    Just as Nintendo's GameCube saw a huge sales boost towards the end of last year when the company slashed the price of the console, Microsoft's price-cut at the end of March has driven sales of the Xbox to new heights in the USA.

    If, as expected, it did outsell the PS2 in April, this would be the first time since the system launched in late 2001 that it has managed to surpass Sony's sales on a month to month basis - a significant milestone for Microsoft, even if it took a significant price drop, and as such a revenue hit, to achieve it.

    The sales rankings are likely to return to normal in May, however; Sony is expected to follow Microsoft's lead and cut the price of the PlayStation 2 this week, with an announcement expected at the E3 show in Los Angeles. ...
    by Published on May 10th, 2004 22:17

    Burgeoning consumer games expo Game Stars Live has signed up its first home platform holder, with Nintendo set to have a "major presence" at the five-day event which is to take place at London's ExCeL at the start of September.

    Nintendo joins a growing list of exhibitors at the show which includes mobile platform holder Nokia and key publishers Electronic Arts, Activision, Atari, Eidos and Vivendi Universal.

    However, as yet there's no word as to the plans of Sony and Microsoft - and while Game Stars Live's exhibitor line-up so far is impressive, there's a strong feeling that the "make or break" for the event will be which way Sony decides to jump.

    For the past two years, the PlayStation platform holder has had its own event at Earls Court, the PlayStation Experience, which has run in the venue at the same time as the ECTS trade show. Whether the giant company - which has since successfully exported the PlayStation Experience format to the rest of Europe - will be prepared to subsume its own brand into the Game Stars Live event will be interesting to see.

    Although Nintendo has committed to the Game Stars Live consumer event, the release announcing its intentions makes no mention of any support for the European Games Network trade event, which will be running in an adjacent hall of the ExCeL facility.

    "Game Stars Live presents a major opportunity to get the greatest games in the world in front of games in the run up to the busiest sales period of the year," according to Nintendo UK general manager David Yarnton. Which games exactly the Japanese giant will be able to showcase should become clear after this week - when a whole raft of new titles for the Cube, GBA and DS are expected to be launched in Los Angeles. ...
    by Published on May 10th, 2004 07:22

    Lantus has just released another port of a classic game to the Xbox, heres the news from the read me file:

    One of my favorite Amiga games in the 90's was Another World.

    raw is a re-implementation of the engine used in the game Another World. This game, released under the name Out Of This World in non-European countries, was written by Eric Chahi at the beginning of the '90s.

    Check out the info and screenshots here --> http://xhomebrew.netfirms.com/rawx.shtml (no downloads made with xdk) ...
    by Published on May 8th, 2004 10:34

    Monk has released a new Gamecube emulator for windows and linux, heres info from the read me file:

    This is the first release of gcube - an open source gamecube emulator. I'm writing it only for educational purposes. My aim is to make at least one commercial game fully emulated (that means with sound and original speed). This release is aimed at homebrewn programs. There is no gui and no gcm support (so no comercial games are running).
    Main target platform is Linux / x86. Windows is not fully supported at this point (emulator seems to work, debugger doesn't). I would also like to support Mac (at least with interpreter), but I don't have access to one, so it will have to wait.

    Download here --> http://pdcovers.netfirms.com/gcube.shtml ...
    by Published on May 8th, 2004 09:48

    News From http://xhomebrew.netfirms.com

    Both Nintendo and Microsoft have admitted that Sony's head start this generation has given Sony an almost unfair advantage with the PS2. Both companies have openly admitted that they will not let Sony launch before them as next generation approaches. Said Microsoft's Xbox boss, Robert J. Bach, in a recent interview: "We'll be there when Sony is there." Looks as if "there" may be sooner than we all think.

    BusinessWeek today claims that they have learned that Microsoft plans on launching their next generation console during the summer of 2005. The new console, code named Xenon, would break the typical five-year life cycle that console typically follow. According to Sony, PlayStation3 (PS3) is scheduled to launch around the same time, however, Sony has not really finalized key technical details. Game developers claim that without those details they can not begin making games, which takes at least 18 months. For this reason game developer believe that Sony plans on launching the PS3 in Japan during the Spring of 2006 and approximately six months after in North America. This would give Microsoft a year lead on it's biggest rival, Sony.

    If this news does turn out to be true, Microsoft's new console may be too appealing for developers to pass on. Many developers claim that having a full year jump on Sony will make Xenon more attractive simply because the user base will be bigger from the beginning. Second, Microsoft is actively attempting to make game development easier with new software. Said one developer "We can't believe this is Microsoft."

    Could we see something from Microsoft at E3 next week? If BusinessWeek is correct Xenon could very well be there. ...