Monday, January 31, 2011

Third Rate Week: Week of January 23rd, 2011

This is Third Rate Week (3RW), a usually weekly video in which we talk about the events happening on 3RM's website, what gaming news has occurred, what games we've been playing, and what we can expect in the upcoming week.

NOTE: This was filmed on Sunday, before the week's announcements were known.

This week:
00:20 - 3RM Update (Nothing to show)
00:42 - Game News
-- Disney Restructure (Shift to Digital, Casual affair, Canceled Projects)
-- New Games (Rodea the Sky Soldier, Anarchy Reigns, Hybrid, Kirby, Pandora's Tower)
-- Sony NGP (OLED, Touch Panels, 3G, Motion Controls, Cameras, Games, etc)
12:42 - Opinion (NGP Reaction, NGP + 3DS Concerns)
20:25 - Games We've Played: Bonded Realities, Disney Epic Mickey, DKCR
21:00 - Next Week: Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, Namco Announcements

Weekly Releases: 1/30/11

As we venture into February, remember to prep your wallets for the upcoming storm of games which are hastily approaching. You could say you better get "Rearmed." Okay, that was bad.

Significant Releases

Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 (XBLA / PSN)

Developer: FatShark (Lead and Gold)
Publisher: Capcom

Bionic Commando has returned, but this time it is a brand new adventure! Nathan Spencer, the "daring elite soldier" from the original title is back again, complete with new abilities with his Bionic Arm (not to mention a rocking mustache). What truly makes the game different is the ability for Spencer to jump, introducing a number of platforming challenges combined with the game's already difficult grappling puzzles. Those who enjoyed the first one will be glad to know that the game's cooperative modes are still there, as is the retro-based soundtrack. Get ready for some old-yet-new-school action!

Other Releases:
Rock Band Country Track Pack 2 (PS3 /360)
About a Blob (PSN)
The Undergarden (PSN)
Who's That Flying? (PC)
Earthrise (PC)

Previous 10 Weeks:
1/23/11 - Dead Space 2 / Two Worlds II
1/16/11 - LittleBigPlanet 2
1/09/11 - DC Universe Online / Ghost Trick / Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded
1/2/11 - Lost in Shadow / ilomilo
12/26/10 - Raskulls
12/19/10 - Back to the Future: The Game
12/12/10 - Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition
12/5/10 - World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
11/28/10 - Disney Epic Mickey / Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
11/21/10 - Donkey Kong Country Returns / Gran Turismo 5


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nintendo Announces New Kirby, New IP

During Nintendo's investor briefing for the company's Q3 earnings report, President Satoru Iwata revealed that Nintendo was producing a new Kirby title for the Wii, as well as a new IP entitled Pandora's Tower.

Nintendo did well this past holiday season, although 2010 still saw a decline in DS and Wii software sales (specifically noted by Nintendo was Microsoft's growth in America and PSP's increase in Japan). As with every investor meeting, Iwata announced upcoming titles for Wii in order to stem some skepticism regarding the platform.

Originally thought to have been canceled, Nintendo and HAL are still working on a new Kirby title for Wii. A 2.5D platformer, the title originated as a GameCube title near the end of the console's life, in which up to four players could work together to fight against a myriad of foes. The game never appeared, however, and with the arrival of Good-Feel's Kirby's Epic Yarn last year, people assumed the project was dead. However, Iwata unveiled that the game is set for a release this year, with a few new twists.’s been a while since we launched the previous home console version of the Kirby game where Kirby can inhale enemies, spit them out and morph, but a team at Hal Laboratory, Inc. is developing a new Wii game from the "Kirby’s Dreamland" franchise now.
- Satoru Iwata, President, Nintendo
In the footage released alongside the announcement, Kirby is shown venturing across various places in Dream Land. Kirby occasionally creates massive attacks using a sword and a fire ability, attacking enemies on screen as well as destroying parts of the environment. New abilities were also shown, including a cannon ability, a whip ability, and a waterfall ability. Kirby seems to be capable of inhaling multiple enemies and items continually for a long period of time, releasing them as a giant star attack. No doubt we will see this game again at E3 in June.

The other announced title was brand new and even more unexpected. Unfortunately, as a Nintendo-published title, little is known about the game except its name and a teaser website. Entitled Pandora's Tower: Until I'm By Your Side Again, the game is expected for a release this half of the year in Japan. It is currently CERO C (the Japanese-equivalent of ESRB's higher-T rating), and the teaser site features an image of a woman's back sporting a tattoo. The character's voice asks a question: "To die in beauty, or live in ugliness, which would you be happier with?" Certainly cryptic enough. The game will most certainly have more details divulged in the coming months.

Other games discussed at the meeting included Rhythm Heaven Wii, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Japanese renditions of Just Dance and GoldenEye 007.

There are currently no words on when (or if) the two announced games will release stateside.

Trailer (Kirby) - Low Quality

SOURCE: Nintendo

5th Cell Unveils Some Details for Hybrid

5th Cell, developer of the Scribblenauts series, has unveiled some more details regarding its debut title for XBLA, a third-person shooter entitled Hybrid.

While the team has been quiet about the innovations behind Hybrid since its unveiling last year, this past week 5th Cell revealed that the game would be a constant, worldwide war, even while the player is away or playing other games.

The world of Hybrid is a post-apocalyptic future, after an asteroid strike creates chaos across the globe. Following the incident, two races emerge: the Variants, people who had become mutated by the effects of the asteroid, and the Paladins, people who were immune to the asteroid's effects. Players choose to be among one team and must protect their turf from the other race.

The game is an online third-person shooter, and players must fight together to ensure that their land is not taken by the other race. The overarching goal is to take back lost territory and eventually achieve world domination. Shown above is a screenshot depicting how the game displays the land taken by each race and the conflicts constantly at work over the course of the game's existence. A worldwide server has been created by 5th Cell to handle every battle in earnest, keeping tabs on the whole game world as the war continues.

Not yet shown is the game's other innovative component, Combat Focused Movement, which according to Eurogamer, is expected to be unveiled at February's Game Developer's Conference.

While no concrete release date is known, 5th Cell has been aiming for a summer release. Perhaps it will be among the titles for this year's Summer of Arcade? We will know soon enough!

SOURCE: Eurogamer

Playstation coming to Android

At Sony's Playstation Meeting 2011 in which it unveiled its upcoming handheld, the NGP, the videogame producer also unveiled Playstation Suite, a platform for its older and newly-produced Playstation products to be implemented onto the Android platform.

It had been rumored for months that Sony was going to produce a Playstation Phone: a phone which not only contained Android but also Playstation-specifc products. However, while Sony is indeed working on a special phone dedicated to Playstation gaming, entitled the Xperia Play, Sony's Playstation Suite will be available for many if not all Android devices to enjoy, provided they have Android 2.3 or higher installed.

The Playstation Suite is a platform on which Sony will release products onto Android Phones. Currently, the company will be releasing PSOne-emulated games onto the service, and it will also be providing new game experiences over time onto the platform.

Not only that, but Sony will be providing a Playstation Certified service in which Sony certifies and provides Quality Assurance on hardware platforms, ensuring a quality gaming experience on particular mobile devices.

Playstation Suite will, of course, be accessible on the NGP, too, when it releases within the next year. A launch date for the Suite itself has not been disclosed, but it appears close to completion.

SOURCE: Engadget

Friday, January 28, 2011

Sony Unveils NGP, the Next PSP

At its Playstation Meeting 2011, Sony Computer Entertainment unveiled its next portable gaming device this week, codenamed NGP, or Next Generation Portable.

The NGP appears to be a larger Playstation Portable from first glance, but there is more than meets the eye. For one, has a much larger screen; the NGP features a 5'' OLED screen, which not only allows for greater vision of the highly-detailed graphics, but also provides greater color contrast. In terms of medium, Sony has stepped away from UMDs in favor of solid-state SD cards to carry the data for its games. Gone is the single slide pad used on the PSP, and in its place are two thumbsticks which appear on either side of the handheld. It has a camera facing the player and one facing out, allowing for some augmented reality games as well as photo capturing to be done with the device. A microphone is also built into the device for game chatting and other gameplay purposes.

Sony has not missed the bandwagon for touch controls, either. The OLED screen allows for multi-touch inputs, meaning that players can not only poke, but also pinch and pull fingers apart at the screen. The tactile input additions do not stop there; on the back of the NGP is another touchpad, allowing gamers to use those gripping fingers to influence the game world in front of them. To complete the package, the NGP features motion control inputs, too. What else could they have added?

High-end graphics, of course! The NGP makes use of the OLED screen by producing graphics very similar to that of the Playstation 3. In fact, Sony has claimed that porting existing modelwork and engines from current consoles is easy to accomplish with the NGP. On stage, segments from Metal Gear Solid 4, Lost Planet 2, and Yakuza were shown using NGP technology, and Epic Games' Unreal Engine was also demoed.

Not only was the hardware revealed, but specific game software from Sony was introduced at the Meeting. Before showing off the games themselves, however, Sony unveiled the NGP's OS, which replaces the system used for both PS3 and PSP for something more open. Each item available for selection on the NGP appears as a bubble to press, and there are multiple screens to slide through in order to find which game or item to select, like most mobile devices nowadays. Before entering a game, players enter a subspace where they can find downloadable content, trophy data, and message boards specific to the game itself. Other non-game features were shown off using the OS, including Near, a product which maps the movement of the player with a GPS and 3G networking. Near further allows people to gather information on the travels of other NGP owners and friends, similar in some ways to the 3DS's StreetPass.

The first game demoed using the NGP was Hot Shots Golf Next, in which the player showed how moving the handheld around could allow him to see around the landscape of the game before taking a shot. A new game entitled Little Deviants was demoed on stage to show off the need for the new touchpad and touchscreen; pushing a finger into the back of the handheld created bumps in the terrain by which he could move the deviants around the demo level. Another game demonstrated was a new Uncharted title, developed by Sony Bend; the game not only showed how great the graphic prowess was on the NGP, but also how touch screen mechanics could be injected into the game experience Sony gamers currently enjoy on PSP and PS3. Also unveiled at the show were new Killzone, WipEout, LittleBigPlanet, and Resistence titles. Among newer titles shown off were Gravity Daze, Smart As, Broken, and Reality Fighters. A collection of these demos can can be seen at the source link and video posted below.

The NGP is expected to see a release by the end of this year in Japan. Other regions were not specified, nor was price on both it or the games demonstrated. However, word from Sony suggests that there are at least two models in development: one with and without the 3G wireless interface. No third party games were officially announced other than a new Call of Duty, but that was not shown in any form other than a logo. We can certainly expect a big showing from Sony this E3.

NGP Demos (Part 1: Includes Game Reel)

SOURCE: Gamespot / Playstation Blog

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Platinum Games Reign with Anarchy

Platinum Games and Sega have announced their next project, Anarchy Reigns, a multiplayer action brawler to be released by the end of this year.

Anarchy Reigns is a multiplayer brawler, in which players can join together or against one another to bring the hurt and reign supreme. In an interview regarding the game, Platinum Games head Atsushi Inaba stated that this game would bring a new genre into existence: Multiplayer Melee Fighting Action. While no specifics were made in regards to how many people will play in each battle, Inaba stated that many players would face off against each other in each match.

Those worrying about offline play will be glad to know that there will be an offline story mode on top of the many multiplayer modes, although details about both the story and specific gameplay modes are currently slim.
“SEGA are delighted to continue our collaboration with PlatinumGames, one of the most creative and critically acclaimed developers in the world. ANARCHY REIGNS is set to offer gamers a fresh multiplayer experience with the quality and innovation PlatinumGames are renowned for.”
-Gary Knight, Senior Vice President of Marketing, SEGA West
Despite the game's similarities with Platinum Games' first title, Madworld for Wii, including protagonist Jack's appearance, the game is not being directed by Shigenori Nishikawa, who left Platinum Games with Shinji Mikami's Tango. Instead, the game will be the directorial debut for Masaki Yamanaka, who has worked on Madworld, Resident Evil 4, and God Hand.

Anarchy Reigns is slated as a Fall 2011 release for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

Teaser (Japanese)

SOURCE: Andriasang, Sega PR

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Prope Announces Rodea the Sky Soldier

Prope, the developer headed by Yuji Naka which produced Ivy the Kiwi and Let's Tap, has announced its third major game project, Rodea the Sky Soldier, for Wii and 3DS.

Well, at least there was a logo shown...even if Japanese

Players assume the role of Rodea, a robot who has the power of flight. Players point to and press B where they want him to go, shaking the Wii Remote to get him flying toward that location. It is easier to understand watching the trailer, which released this week. Rodea's goal is to protect Garuda, a land of floating continents, from a reawakened ancient empire known as the Naga. Along the way, Rodea is accompanied by Ion, a Garuda girl with an interest in mechanics, and as the game progresses, players will learn why Rodea, a Naga soldier himself, is fighting against his own empire.

The story is being written by Takumi Miyajima, the person behind the story for Tales of the Abyss and Arc Rise Fantasia, so there can certainly be a bit more to the world than just the fantastic views across the adventure.

The game shown off is clearly the Wii version of the game, although a 3DS version is expected to be releasing as well, but there have been no details regarding the portable version. No release date has been given on the game, although it appears pretty far along in development.

Rodea the Sky Soldier comes as the second large project being published by Kadokawa Games, which formed officially in 2009. Its other major project is another Wii game, Earth Seeker, made by Crafts & Meister, the developer run by Noritaka Funami, designer of Street Fighter II. Kadokawa Games is part of the much larger Kadokawa group company which includes magazine publication Enterbrain.


SOURCE: Andriasang

Disney Shifting Focus, Mass Layoffs Ensue

Disney Interactive - the electronic entertainment division for the multi-billion dollar film producer - has been undergoing mass layoffs this past week in order to shift focus on its development position in the near future.

Last week, 3RM reported that Disney developer Propaganda Games had been shuttered, but it appears as though this was not the end of Disney's layoffs. Earlier this week, CNBC reported that Disney had begun to reduce the staff of its 700-employee division by as many as 200, and some believe that layoffs will continue to be distributed over the year. Affected, beyond the closure of Propaganda Games, was a portion of the team at Junction Point, the developer headed by Warren Spector which recently released Disney Epic Mickey for the Wii this holiday season.

Word of the layoffs spread through Twitter among local developers who shared condolences for those laid off from Junction Point. Since then, more reports of mass layoffs have spread around the Internet. Disney's official response in regards to Junction Point is that the layoffs from the company were minimal and part of a much larger shift in focus for the branch.

All of these layoffs are part of the plan to shift from the company's current retail and high-budget focus to one more concerned with digital distribution and social gaming platforms. The first sign of this arose when Disney purchased webgame developer Playdom back in July, but the first major hint at a full-blown shift in practices was the replacement of CEO Steve Wadsworth with Playdom CEO John Pleasants along with Jimmy Pitaro from Yahoo.

Disney Epic Mickey was the company's latest retail offering, and considering it sold 1.3 million copies in its launch month, it could be seen as a rousing success. Unfortunately, it has not fared as well in Europe, and considering that Disney appeared to be changing its ways well before Epic Mickey released, its sales did not matter much in the long-term.

To further complete the change within Disney's executive group, Disney Interactive's new Senior VP of Publishing is Adam Sussman, the ex-Vice President for EA Mobile.

The fates of other major Disney developers such as Wideload Games, creator of Guilty Party, and Blackrock Studio, the developer behind Pure and Split/Second, are currently unknown. Furthermore, it is still uncertain whether Junction Point will still be developing retail titles in the future or will cancel or downsize projects to fit into the social, downloadable, and mobile markets.

SOURCES: Gamasutra / CNBC

Third Rate Week: Week of January 16th, 2011

This is Third Rate Week (3RW), a usually weekly video in which we talk about the events happening on 3RM's website, what gaming news has occurred, what games we've been playing, and what we can expect in the upcoming week.

This week:

00:34 - 3RM Update (3DS Article, Setting up Third Rate Game Play)
02:06 - Game News
-- Company Closures (Bizarre Creations, Propaganda Games, Hudson)
-- Square Enix Event (FFXIII-2, FFXIII Versus, Type-0, Kingdom Hearts 3D)
-- Nintendo's 3DS Events (Launch Titles, Price Tag, Special Features)
- Games We've Played: MorphX and Hero Core
10:57 - Next Week: PSP2 Announcement and Dead Space 2 Launch

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Weekly Releases: 1/23/11

So darn cold out there! Best stay indoors and play games instead!

Significant Releases

Dead Space 2 (PC / PS3 / 360)

Developer: Visceral Games (Dead Space, Dante's Inferno)
Publisher: EA Games

Space is dead, again. Three years after the events which occurred on the Ishimura, players once again control miner Issac Clarke, who after being afflicted by the mysterious alien marker, is suffering increasingly with the resulting mental illness. The game takes place on the Sprawl, a highly-populated city built on Titan, one of Jupiter's Moons, and unfortunately for the inhabitants, the necromorphs enter the civilization and begin to wreak havoc across the civilization. The game is similar to the first adventure, although new monsters and antagonists are introduced. Furthermore, a multiplayer mode is also introduced with this game, in which players join the humans or the necromorphs for team-versus-team missions. The Playstation 3 Limited Edition comes with Dead Space: Extraction, a light-gun shooter prequel to the original Dead Space.

Two Worlds II (PC / PS3 / 360)

Developer: Reality Pump (Two Worlds)
Publisher: SouthPeak Games

It is time to return to the land of Antaloor, a world filled with magic and mystique. Thankfully, the developers have heard the concerns of glitches and uneven gameplay from players around the world, and the team has created a more streamlined engine, a refined combat system, more enemies, and highly-improved animation. The game takes place some five years after the first, in which the hero of the first title has been taken prisoner by the forces of evil and his twin is now under an evil spell. When all hope seems lost, he is freed by a rescue team comprised of Orcs, and now from the clutches of evil, he must figure out why the Orcs are helping him, learn of their new master, and save his sister once again.

Other Releases:
Lord of Arcana (PSP)
Breach (XBLA / PSN)
Dead Space: Extraction (PSN)

Previous 10 Weeks:
1/16/11 - LittleBigPlanet 2
1/09/11 - DC Universe Online / Ghost Trick / Kingdom Hearts Re: Coded
1/2/11 - Lost in Shadow / ilomilo
12/26/10 - Raskulls
12/19/10 - Back to the Future: The Game
12/12/10 - Super Mario All-Stars Limited Edition
12/5/10 - World of Warcraft: Cataclysm
11/28/10 - Disney Epic Mickey / Golden Sun: Dark Dawn
11/21/10 - Donkey Kong Country Returns / Gran Turismo 5
11/14/10 - Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood / Sonic Colors


Konami to Take Over Hudson

Konami has made it official that it will be taking over Hudson Soft via stock swap this upcoming fiscal year, turning the Bomberman developer into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company.

A Nikkei report stated that Konami had finished its preparations for a complete takeover of Hudson, which would switch over power as of the end of March. CEO Michihiro Ishizuka is expected to resign on March 31st, and the next day, Konami Digital Entertainment's Kazuhiko Uehara will replace him to control Hudson's activities.

Shifting resources, Konami states that the company will be absorbing the developer's knowledge on game distribution on mobile platforms, and it hopes it can bring Hudson's focus toward social gaming experiences. The company is still considering a complete brand change in Hudson to fit into its new direction.

Hudson Soft, formed in 1973, specialized in PC software as early as 1975. Nintendo's first third-party company, Hudson developed Bomberman and Lode Runner as its first major-selling IPs. In 1987, the developer helped create what is known in America as the TurboGrafx-16, a system known for its rare and unique games outside of the SNES and Genesis era. In the late 1990s, Hudson was best known for developing the Mario Party series in a development team set up with Nintendo (whose leads now work within Nintendo). In 2000, the company became publicly-traded, and Konami became the highest stockholder. By 2005, Konami owned 54% of the stock, thereby making Hudson a partial subsidiary. This purchase makes the company wholly-owned and completely controlled by Konami in the future.

Hudson is currently putting a large amount of support onto the Nintendo 3DS, with titles such as Bomberman, Deca Sports, and
Nikoli’s Pencil Puzzle expected within the year. It recently released Lost in Shadow for the Wii this past month, and it is still developing a new Bonk title for all downloadable distribution systems on the three current consoles. Whether these projects will change as a result of the purchase has yet to be discussed.

SOURCE: Andriasang

The Propoganda Ends

Tron: Evolution and new Turok developer Propaganda Games has been shuttered by publisher Disney, in the face of its changing structure toward social gaming.

IGN received an official statement from Disney representatives emphasizing that all work from the company had been completed as of the developer's final days, so no project had been canceled by the closure. Some seventy employees are effected in the closure.

Propaganda Games was formed by ex-EA Canada employees in 2005, notably Josh Holmes and Daryl Anselmo, creators of NBA Street, and Jorge Freitas, who helped create Def Jam Vendetta. The company developed the newest rendition of Turok which released in 2008 for PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. The company recently released the PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation tie-in game for Disney's newest action flick, Tron: Legacy. The studio's death had been brought up as the developer's biggest project, Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned, was canceled this past October. The official statement from Disney proves these predictions correct.

We wish the best for those affected.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Nintendo's 3DS: The Lineup

Nintendo held press conferences this week regarding the launch and some other information on the Nintendo 3DS, but a number of people are most interested in the launch lineup. Unfortunately, Nintendo declined to emphasize what titles would be available exactly at launch this March, but here are the games listed to be arriving around that time. Click the links to related videos, or just browse the images (click for better quality, too)!

First-Party Titles:

Pilotwings Resort

nintendogs + cats

Steel Diver

Third-Party Titles:

Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked

Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D

Madden NFL Football

The Sims 3

Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars

Ridge Racer 3D

Dual Pen Sports

Super Monkey Ball 3D

Thor: God of Thunder



Samurai Warriors Chronicles

Dead or Alive Dimensions

Asphalt 3D

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Shadow Wars

Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D

Rayman 3D

Rabbids Travel in Time

And here are screens of the games also shown but not expected for launch window, or so we think.

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Star Fox 3D

SOURCE: Nintendo 3DS Page