AAG Feature: The Week That Was #10

Welcome readers to All Age Gaming’s 10th instalment of “The Week That Was”.

This week’s game releases were all about the music! The Beatles: Rock Band strummed its way onto all 3 major consoles this week. Nice to see this get a local release despite the fact Rock Band 2 still hasn’t seen local shores. Singstar Motown was also released on the PS3 and PS2, whilst Wii (and DS) owners could pick up Ready Steady Cook. PC gamers didn’t miss out this week with the release of the superhero themed MMO, Champions Online, and PSP owners could play their favourite code of footy whether it’s AFL with AFL challenge, or NRL with Rugby League Challenge.

Xbox 360

Following on from a recent survey by Game Informer where there was a reported 54% failure rate for the 360, independent warranty provider SquareTrade has provided their own data from warranty claims. Over the last 24 months, the failure rate has been a more respectable (but still not acceptable) rate of 23%. The “Red Ring of Death” predictably accounted for a significant proportion of failures. Meanwhile, the PS3 had a 10% failure rate, whereas the Wii’s failure rate was approximately 2.5%. However, there may be a reason why the 360 rate is so high (at least in comparison to the Wii). Over the 24 month period, it was found that the 360 was used over twice as much as the Wii with an average of 17.6 days in accumulated gaming time, compared to 8.6 days for the Wii.

A few weeks back, there was leaked footage of a golf game using Xbox Live avatars. Well the game is now available in the Indie Games channel of the marketplace, creatively titled “Avatar Golf.” Available for 400 Microsoft points, this casual golf game includes six courses, a course editor and includes a multiplayer mode for up to eight players. (Only on the US marketplace. Anyone found it on the Australian marketplace yet?)

Speaking of Xbox Live games, it appears that they sell just as well as retail games in Australia. A Microsoft representative has said that XBLA games have done extremely well, with games such as Worms 2 and Battlefield 1943 topping all format charts when released which means they outsold Wii Fit! The recently released Shadow Complex would also have been in the top 10 charts down under. This comes as a pleasant surprise considering the slower broadband speeds and lower download caps in Australia.

And President Obama seems to be picking on gamers again, specifically Xbox gamers. In a speech regarding education, Obama discussed responsibility and went on to say; “I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.” In one regard, it is negative publicity for Microsoft, but you could also argue that the Xbox’s popularity in the US has made it synonymous with gaming, even for the President.

Playstation 3

And the results are in! The PS3 Slim has been a spectacular success in its first full week on sale. Preliminary data from VGChartz has the PS3 at well over half a million sales worldwide last week with a 400% increase week on week (likely inflated due to slowing sales in anticipation of the Slim). In the UK, there was a 999% increase according to Chart-Track data, with the PS3 selling over 40,000 units and outselling the 360, Wii and DS 3-to-1. This comes despite the 360’s strong sales, experiencing a 29% increase in sales as a result of the recent price cuts. In Japan, 150,252 of the Slim units were moved (150,832 overall) making it thehighest weekly sales figure for a console in the region.

The PS3 Slim launch didn’t go completely smooth though, with Messe Sanoh manager and Famitsu.com column writer Kazuyuki Inakoshi describing the demand for the system as “so-so”. His store in Akihabara did not have a line-up, and he blamed a “lack of preparation, lack of recognition and a weekday launch.” Inakoshi also described the ad campaign as “creepy” but that did not stop the store from selling out of their PS3’s.

Although not a PS3 exclusive anymore, this probably still counts as PS3 news. In a pre-TGS (Tokyo Game Show) Final Fantasy event, Square Enix has announced a December 17th release for Final Fantasy XIII in Japan. The game is still a PS3 exclusive in Japan (hence it being in the PS3 news), and will retail for a whopping ¥8,800 (US$95 / £58). A hardware bundle has also been announced, but minimal details have been provided. An announcement for the Western release is expected in the very near future.

Last week we mentioned the 3D technology Sony is planning to implement into their TV’s and also PS3’s by next year. Sony has back-tracked a bit on old PS3 titles being 3D compatible, and are “conducting a technological investigation” as to the possibility of it, and claim that there’s “no plan for the market launch” as yet. 3D is still planned for newer titles once the technology is implemented. And it is possible the technology will be implemented straight into the hardware according to a Sony rep. This may or may not come in by 2011-12, and would allow people to play 3D games on other stereoscopic TV’s that aren’t Bravias.

Nintendo Wii

In Wii news this week, Nintendo Europe has launched a new, free Wii channel known as ‘Today and Tomorrow’. Users of the channel will be able to check their daily horoscope which will update each evening. The horoscope will be broken down into the five categories of love, work, study, communications and money, as well as giving relationship, lifestyle and dietary advice! Up to six people can register their Mii’s for the channel… that’s right, the channel won’t provide all horoscopes for all twelve signs of the zodiac.

Last week I briefly mentioned the censoring in Metroid Prime Trilogy. Well this week, videos have surfaced to show that MPT has taken some steps back in terms of graphics! A comparison video has shown that some graphical effects such as reduced texturing and particle effects have been removed from the Wii version of Metroid Prime. Check out the comparison video here.

Over in the US, the University of Houston is offering college credit for playing Wii games! An hour of credit can be earned by playing Wii sports games, the same credit that can be earned through traditional physical activity classes such as basketball, soccer or weight lifting. Only twenty to thirty minutes of activity must be logged per class, and is aimed at attracting students that would otherwise not exercise at all.

And finally, Wii Guitar Hero players will soon be able to pick up premium music controllers courtesy of Logitech. The wireless guitar and drums will be constructed from materials that you’d expect to see in real guitars and drums. They will be compatible with the Guitar Hero games and the upcoming Band Hero game. They won’t come cheap, with the Guitar controller retailing for US$199.99 and the drums priced at US$229.99. Availability in Australia has yet to be confirmed, but in the meantime check out the pictures here.

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

Not all racing games promote hoon driving! The free iPhone game, CityGT is full of road safety messages. Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission has also been running road safety ads in games such as Guitar Hero and Forza Motorsport 3

Addicted to WoW? Well banish that addiction for the bargain price of $14,000.

Eidos has gone all Batman and foiled the plans of PC pirates, putting a bug in the game. It has not been released on PC yet, and a hook in the copy protection prevents pirates from gliding in the game, and falling to their doom instead.

Never have I been excited about a game going from 3D to 2D, but that’s the case with the recently announced new Sonic game. Can the franchise return to its former glory?

It appears that there have been some “The Beatles: Rock Band” supply problems in Australia, with only 4000 full instrument bundles released in Australia.

We recently had the Halo 3 energy drink, now we have the Final Fantasy XIII Elixir.

The Sega Dreamcast has just recently turned 10. And games are still being produced for it with Rush Rush Rally Racing available next month.

Toys’R’Us are joining the videogame trade-in party in the US. Will the same happen in Australia?

Courtney Love threatened to sue Activision for Kurt Cobain’s appearance in Guitar Hero 5….. yet Activision claim that she was the one that signed the contract to allow for it! Now they just want his likeness limited to his songs only.

The PAL versions of Ghostbusters on the 360, PC, DS and Wii have slipped back to November.

Two big exclusives, Uncharted 2 and Forza 3 have gone gold!

Microsoft believes cross-platform titles are better on the 360 because of Xbox Live.

Thanks for reading! Play me off keyboard cat!

Article written by Phong Nguyen

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