Comic courtesy of Fat Gamers.
What the f$$k is that?
This week's Sunday Supplement was set to be headed by the Xbox 360 release date news, but Nintendo have kicked that down to second place with the unveiling of their Revolution controller. To say I was surprised is an understatement. Utter astonishment is more like it, and this seems to be the feeling that many people had upon first reading about and seeing the new controller. "It's a DVD remote," I said to myself after staring wide-eyed at press pictures. It took a little while for it to sink in.
After hastily writing a news article about this one handed controller, I had time to sit and think about it for a while and it might just be the best thing Nintendo has ever done. While Sony and Microsoft battle it out over the same customers, Nintendo can market the Revolution as a truly unique alternative. While Nintendo has stated that multiplatform development isn't going to be a problem, a quick look at the radical design of the controller would suggest otherwise. So, a console that is full of games that you simply can't buy for the other two seems like a very distinct possibility.
For most of this generation third-party developers have created games that will work across all three consoles. There have been a number of exclusives, but for the most part you could own a PlayStation 2 or Xbox and play the majority of games (the GameCube lost some third-party support late in its life). With the Revolution, developers will hopefully make games tailored to the system and its controller, giving the gaming public a console that is home to predominantly exclusive games. Assuming that the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 is first choice for most people, the Revolution could be a true second console.
Before the current generation of consoles each console had hugely different line-ups. Think back to the N64/PlayStation and SNES/Megadrive eras. Second consoles weren't just for a handful of exclusive games; they were for a truckload. I'm quite excited about it. There's no doubt I'll own all three next-gen consoles, but I'm hoping that Nintendo's will offer something totally different to the other two.
Of course, this could all go wrong. Developers may feel that ports of games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with added motion control are enough, giving us a similar situation to how many developers tack on some touch screen features in DS games, without really taking advantage of the hardware at all. This won't be good enough though and would be a real waste. Nintendo are onto something big. Publishers just need to go with it.
A release date at last
So, after months of waiting Microsoft has finally told the world when they can get their hands on the Xbox 360. For our European readers that will be December 2nd, over a week later that our friends in North America who will be enjoying the new console from November 22nd. While I shouldn't really moan about this (Japanese Xbox fans don't get the new console until December 10th) as it's pretty close to a simultaneous worldwide launch, it's ever so slightly annoying.
It might just be me being incredibly impatient, but on November 22nd when the console is released in North America those ten days or so are going to seem like an eternity. Five years ago, when the internet wasn't as widespread and people didn't discuss their every move on internet forums, this wouldn't have been a problem. Five minutes after launch on November 22nd every gaming forum on the planet will be full of early impressions of the console and its games.
It's going to be hard to resist reading these forum posts and the inevitable mix of glee and disappointment, but I wish I could. I'd like to be able to experience the console for the first time at the same time as everyone else - not after I've imagined every game in my head through the words of thousands of Americans.
For anyone who turns into a small child over the excitement of new gaming hardware it just isn't going to be the same. Sure, importing is an option, but with the ten day gap your mind says it's a stupid thing to do. Microsoft so nearly got it right. A simultaneous worldwide launch would have been a very beautiful thing, but it's not to be.
Astalavista for violent videogames in California?
In other news, the California state senate and assembly both voted in favour of a bill to stop violent videogames being sold to minors. This is probably a good thing, as children getting hold of violent videogames does the industry's image no favours, as was seen with the recent San Andreas 'Hot Coffee' fiasco. There is, however, some irony about who has to sign or veto this bill.
Before the bill can become law it must be signed by the Californian governor, who just so happens to be Arnold Schwarznegger, himself rising to fame for playing roles in violent films such as The Terminator and Predator. It's hard not to smile when thinking about how bizarre that situation is. A man who made a career and a fortune out of violent movies has to decide the fate of violent videogames in his state.
Most violent movies are rated 'R' in the US, meaning that an adult must be present for anyone under the age of 17 to see the movie. Only in very rare cases are movies totally off-limits to kids, with the NC-17 rating designed for only those aged 17 or above. An NC-17 rated movie has to contain some extreme content though and most violent videogames are no worse than the standard R-rated movie.
The ESA, who represents game publishers in North America, don't think the new bill is needed and are urging the governor to veto the bill and instead work "with the industry in our efforts to help parents make the right game choices for their unique families."
So, is it 'astalavista baby' for violent videogames for kids in California? We'll find out soon enough as the Governor only has thirty days to make his decision and the clock is ticking.
This week on Pro-G
It's been another busy week at Pro-G. While trying not to get too carried away with Tokyo Game Show hype we've had plenty of new articles on the site.
- Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition (PSP)
- Colin McRae Rally 2005 plus (PSP)
- The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (PS2, Xbox and Cube)
- 187 Ride or Die (PS2 and Xbox)
- Shattered Union (PC and Xbox)
This week's new releases
Some more great games were released this week, with three coming from industry juggernauts EA. They've released Burnout Legends on the PSP, Madden NFL 2006 on consoles (PC version set for next week) and NHL 2006 on PS2, Xbox and PC (GameCube version due next week). All three games have been receiving great reviews, with Burnout Legends in particular going down very well with critics. The racing game, which features tracks from the first three Burnout games, is competing with some strong competition on the PSP, but Criterion appears to have come up trumps.
Aside from EA, Atari has released Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy for our US readers). The story-driven murder mystery should be a big success for Atari and developers Quantic Dream. Total Overdose is the first game to come out under the Eidos brand since SCi acquired the company earlier this year and with some strong TV advertising this should do well in next week's chart. Expect reviews for all this week's new releases shorly.
- Burnout Legends (PSP)
- Fahrenheit (PS2, Xbox and PC)
- Madden NHL 2006 (PS2, Xbox, Cube)
- Meteos (DS)
- NHL 2006 (PS2, Xbox and PC)
- Total Overdose (PS2, Xbox and PC)
Next week will be dominated by the release of Burnout Revenge from EA, but there's also Heroes of the Pacific from Codemasters, WWE Day Of Reckoning 2 from THQ (Exclusive to the GameCube) and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn Of War - Winter Assault (Expansion Pack) also from THQ. DS owners also have a reason to be happy as Meteos finally hits UK shores.
Next week on Pro-G
Next week we've got a great two-part interview with Pseudo Interactive about their forthcoming Xbox 360 game Full Auto, reviews of Meteos and Total Overdose, another 'Top Ten' feature and more.