AAG Feature: The Week That Was #9

Welcome readers to All Age Gaming’s 9th instalment of “The Week That Was”.

There were quite a few game releases this week. Wii owners could pick up the soccer game “Academy of Champions”, whilst PS3 owners looking for a racing fix had “Supercar Challenge”. Other releases included chopper-combat game “IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey” on 360 and PS3, Metal Slug 7 on Nintendo DS, and fighting games “Dissidia: Final Fantasy” and “Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny” on PSP. Oh, and I think I’m missing something…… that’s right, “Batman: Arkham Asylum” on 360 and PS3… DO NOT MISS THIS ONE!!!!!1!111!!

Nintendo Wii

Following on from all the price-cut shenanigans of the PS3 and Xbox 360, and despite Nintendo claiming otherwise, analysts can’t help but speculate on a Wii price-cut. NPD analyst Jesse Divnich believes a price cut is necessary not because the 360 and PS3 currently pose a threat, but because they may eventually. Stern Agee believes an October price cut would make sense as it allows Nintendo to aggressively price the console for the holidays, but also give them a chance to review the impacts of the PS3 and 360 price cuts. Meanwhile, a couple of UK supermarkets have decided to prematurely cut the Wii price to around £150 in a current sale. While these are limited time only prices, it still presents a £50 saving from the RRP.

I don’t think many people use their Wii’s to surf the internet, but if they wanted to, it used to cost 500 Wii points. The Opera-based Wii browser is now free once again, rejoice! Anyway, for those (in Australia) that happened to buy the Wii Internet Channel, they will be reimbursed their 500 points. It will have to be used on a Virtual Console game from the NES library, and the offer runs from late October until the end of December.

Despite the fact that the Wii has had lacklustre software sales this year, Wii Sports Resort excluded, the average review scores for Wii games increased 10% over last year. This is the largest aggregate shift in scores over the last 10 years for any console. This may be attributed to developers grasping the Wii hardware better, and making the most of the control system. Nintendo just need the higher review scores to equate to more software sales!

And finally, the US will get black Wii peripherals later this year. This includes a black Wii Remote, Nunchuk and Wii MotionPlus accessory. However, the black Wii console that was launched in Japan on August 1st, is not yet available. Seems like Nintendo like to promote colour un-coordination, especially with the lack of black Wii MotionPlus accessories in Japan. Unfortunately there has not been any update on the release of black peripherals in Australia.

Xbox 360

Battlefield 1943 is the fastest selling multiplayer XBL (and PSN) game, but the fastest selling single-player game for XBL is now Shadow Complex. The $15 Metroid-like shooter was downloaded 200,000 times in the first week, setting a new week-one sales record for Xbox Live Arcade. Check it out if you haven’t yet… that’s if you’re not too busy playing BATMAN!

On the heels of the 360 Elite price cuts, Microsoft might be preparing to release a “super” Elite. The bundle is expected to include a larger 250GB HDD and include 2 wireless controllers. There is also speculation that the new Super Elite will actually be a Forza 3 Special Edition version, i.e. will include a copy of Forza 3. Keep an eye out for this in October when Forza 3 is released.

Speaking of Forza 3, V8 supercars will be making an appearance in the new title. Announced at an official Media Event in Sydney’s Lamborghini Showroom last week, eight V8 supercars will be in the new game. The cars available should please both racing camps with four Holden cars, and four Ford cars in the game.

And finally, in somewhat of a backwards step in terms of technology, 360 games no longer have to run at a minimum of 720p (1280×720 resolution). David Jefferies of Black Rock Studios revealed in his regular Develop column that Microsoft dropped the requirement which allowed for games to be released in standard definition resolutions. As a result, developers are “free to make the trade off between resolution and image quality.” This reveal comes as welcome news to those without HDTV’s, which is apparently more than half the Gears of War 2’s player base (If anyone has tried to read small text whilst playing a 360 game on a non-HDTV, you’ll know what I mean).

Playstation 3

Well last week saw the official release of the PS3 Slim, and with it Firmware 3.0 went live. The update brought new XMB functionality, updates to the friends list, avatars, dynamic themes and more. But like with previous firmware updates, it didn’t go off without a hitch. One of the problems involved “freezing” issues with Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, whilst others are experiencing issues with their DualShock controllers as well as third party gamepads. At this point it appears to only be in isolated cases, and Sony are already working on a solution.

If you were unaware, God of War III is set for a March 2010 release. For those that can’t wait until then for their next God of War fix, or for those that haven’t played any games in the series, then the God of War Collection should interest you. It will feature God of War and God of War II in a remastered form! The titles will run in 720p at a super smooth 60 frames per second. And for the achievement whores, trophy support will also be present. You can check out the cover here. Unfortunately the disc will not feature a demo of God of War III. It will be available later this year in the US, and in early 2010 for Europe (and probably Australia as well).

Sony have opened a casting call for gamers wanting to be in a new original program called “The Tester”. Details of the show have surfaced on the US PlayStation blog, and it will be a series of programs that “will follow a group of select gamers as they face-off in a series of elimination challenges designed to test their mental toughness, endurance, and video game knowledge as they compete for a job working as a PlayStation game tester”. The winner will get a new job in the PlayStation Quality Assurance department in San Diego. Currently open to US residents only, unless you can commit to living in the US during the series and for one year afterwards.

And finally, Sony have announced that they are working on 3D technology that will come into homes in 2010. Sony plan on implementing 3D into Bravia LCD TVs, Blu-Rays, Vaio PCs and of course the PS3. For PS3 owners out there, this will be made possible via a software update to the system that would allow for a 3D viewing experience for “all” existing games on the system. Maybe 3D could make improve on exclusive ‘duds’ such as Lair and Haze?….

And as usual, here’s the week’s other news in brief:

The PS3 and Xbox 360 have risen to the top of the US hardware sales in the week of 23rd-29th of August thanks to price cuts and PS3 Slim availability (some retailers well selling it earlier than the September 1st date). We’ll get a better idea of their success when we get worldwide sales figures, especially considering the crash in PS3 sales in Japan in anticipation of the Slim model.

Tetsuya Nomura is hinting at a Kingdom Hearts III

Perhaps the next Kingdom Hearts title could feature Marvel characters? It could be possible now that Disney have acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4billion

The PSP Go will not have a removable battery in an attempt to combat piracy.

Gran Turismo 5 will probably get a simultaneous worldwide release.

Ever want to actually feel like a rock-star while playing Rock Band? Well that will soon be available in the US with the launch of “Rock Band Bar Nights”. Is just as it sounds, Rock Band in bars.

In other Rock Band news, LEGO Rock Band tracks will be exportable to Rock Band. There will be a fee of course, but think of the convenience!

Not all Guitar Hero World Tour and Smash Hits titles will be exportable to Guitar Hero 5. Only 35 songs from World Tour and 21 from Smash Hits can be exported.

Playing Tetris regularly apparently improves the brain….. I haven’t noticed a difference.

The “Scene It?” franchise is no longer a 360 exclusive with the next title in the series, “Scene it? Bright Lights! Big Screen!” to debut on the Wii and PS3.

Remember the Halo 3 Mountain Dew Game Fuel? Well now there’s a Gears of War Imulsion Energy Drink.

When I think of unnecessary censorship, I think of this. However, Nintendo are taking unnecessary censorship too far, by switching the word ‘damn’ with ‘no’ in the Metroid Prime 3: Corruption port on Metroid Prime Trilogy.

That’s all folks!

Article written by Batman! I mean Phong Nguyen.

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