Thursday, November 02, 2006

Wii Play - Preview (From Wikipedia)

Wii Play (はじめてのWii Hajimete no Wii, or My First Wii in Japan ) is an upcoming video game for the Wii. It will feature minigames that will use characters in the Mii Channel. Several of the games featured are from E3 2006 demos such as the Duck Hunt-styled shooting demo and Table Tennis, as well as all new mini-games.
The game will be sold with a Wii Remote (though no nunchuck attachment) in Japan, Australia and Europe.

Table Tennis - The game is two players and is basically a game of Pong, rallying back and forth by moving the Wii remote. The Mii characters are supported, and are represented by the audience. As the game progresses, the audience grows larger.
Laser Hockey - Played like air hockey, this is a two player game where the players move the Wii remote up and down to deflect shots and try to score in the opponents goal. Twisting the paddle aims the ball. According to developers, the physics engine used to calculate the velocity and position of the shots is extremely advanced, with Shigeru Miyamoto even stating that it rivaled the Havok (software) physics engine in its realism.
Fishing - Players use the Wii remote in a fishing fashion to hook specific paper fish and then yank upwards to grab them.
Find Mii - Crowds of Mii characters will gather on the screen and the player is given certain details to look for among them. The player then must pick out the proper Mii that matches the objective.
Pose Mii - Players move their Miis about with the Wii remote and place themselves in the exact location and position of floating transparent Miis to score points.
Shooting - Players go through various rounds of shooting with targets, ducks, etc. One to four players can participate in this game.
Pool - Played like traditional pool games found online. Players line up their shot in both an overhead 2D and behind-the-ball style 3D viewpoints. They pull the cue stick (Wii remote) backwards, then hit it forward to launch the ball.
Charge! - The player takes a bull by the horns, steers the wild steer by holding the Wii Remote sideways, as if gripping reins, and topple scarecrows to score points.
Tanks - The player controls a tank with the Wii Remote; aims the cannon, bounces shells off walls, and blast opponents.

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Metal Slug Anthology Preview - News

Metal Slug Anthology is a forthcoming video game compilation for Playstation 2, Playstation Portable and Wii. For Wii it will have unique controller functionality and online capabilities. It also marks the return of SNK Playmore as a third-party developer for a Nintendo console for the first time since the SNES era. It is currently in development by Terminal Reality in Lewisville, Texas. (Confirmed in the newest issue of Nintendo Power, December 2006) It will also be a launch title for Wii.

A video demonstrates six new ways of controlling Metal Slug Anthology:

"Nunchuk Control Stick" - movement and fire controlled with Nunchuk; grenades tossed by flicking Wiimote
"Tilt Wii Remote" - tilts control movement; d-pad "up" to jump (no nunchuk attached)
"Wii Remote" - classic controls; flick to toss grenades (no nunchuk attached)
"Arcade" - hold Wiimote vertical against surface (emulates joystick); nunchuk fires and jumps (flick it for grenades)
"Nunchuk Only" - Nunchuk controls all (except weapon switch and alternate attack)
"Gamecube Controller" - Gamecube controller connected to Wii, used for a more traditional control style.

Date, price for Nintendo Wii

NINTENDO has announced December 7 as the date its innovative Wii games console will go on sale in Australia, priced at $399.

The second of the so-called "next generation" games consoles to appear locally, the Wii will come packaged with a wireless, one-handed game control, a "Nunchuck" game controller and a disc with five games.
Users will also be able to play games designed for Nintendo's older GameCube console, as well as download games to the console's flash memory.

The first of the new consoles to be sold in Australia was Microsoft's Xbox 360, which appeared in March. Microsoft announced last week that it had sold more 100,000 Xbox 360 units in Australia.

The Wii will wear a big price advantage over the Xbox 360 into the battle for Christmas sales, with a tag of $399, compared to $649 for the full version of the Xbox 360 and $499 for the stripped-down Xbox 360 "Core" system.

Sony's entrant in the next generation console market, the PlayStation 3 (PS3), was also due to appear in November, but in September the company said it would delay the appearance of the PS3 in markets, including Australia, using the PAL television standard, due a shortage of components.

The PS3 is now expected to appear in March, priced at around $999 - making it by far the most expensive of the new machines.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Activision Braces for Wii, PS3

Robin Kaminsky, EVP of publishing at game maker Activision, talks about the next generation of consoles and emulating Switzerland.

With Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii debuting in less than a month, game industry folk are prepping for a holiday season that is shaping up to be the biggest in years. For game publishers, the next two holiday seasons will be the time to make some serious hay.

New consoles mean brand new games, and Santa Monica, California-based publishing giant Activision will be ready with launch titles for the latest systems. PS3 owners can look forward to Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Call of Duty 3, and Tony Hawk’s Project 8, while Wii fans will get their own versions of the first two games, plus Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam.

The company will release quarterly earnings soon, too, and analysts are raising their forecasts. Based on a stronger than expected second quarter, Wedbush Morgan Securites’ Michael Pachter bumped revenue expectations for the quarter ended September 30 to $145 million, up from $135 million.

Colin Sebastian of Lazard Capital Markets expects revenues to be slightly ahead of the firm’s $132-million estimate. Activision’s guidance for the period is $130 million, a loss of $0.13 per share.

Red Herring recently spoke with Robin Kaminsky, Activision’s executive vice president of publishing. We asked her about subjects including the new consoles, original versus licensed IP, and in-game ads.

Ms. Kaminsky joined the company in May of 2005 as head of global brand management, and in June of this year she became Activision’s executive vice president of publishing. Before joining Activision, Ms. Kaminsky spent almost eight years at PepsiCo. Excerpts from the conversation follow:

Q: When Sony’s PlayStation 3 and the Nintendo Wii debut next month, Activision will have some games ready. Why is making versions unique to specific consoles important, and what makes them special?
A: [For the Wii], games like Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam really reach beyond the core gaming audience. We’re using the controller in a new way. In Call of Duty 3, you get to use [it] as a gun. It becomes a very living, breathing experience because of the way you control the game.

When a title is multi-platform, we’ve really tried to use what makes each platform unique. Call of Duty 3 on the PS3 and Xbox 360 is very much the next-generation of what we did with Call of Duty 2. On those platforms you can present an experience that’s much more lifelike. Call of Duty 3 also has a robust multiplayer aspect on PS3 and 360.

How we get there is much different, but the end result is the same. As long as the platforms are successful, they will more than pay back development costs for us.

Q: Sony’s PS3 features a Blu-ray drive (50GB), while Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has a DVD drive (9GB). When will we start to see differences in the game play experience due to storage capacities—and limitations?
A: We’re Switzerland. We want every one of those first parties to be successful. We have a role in helping that [happen by] delivering great software that maximizes what each of those platforms can do.

Q: Fair enough. Activision has licensed a number of properties for use in video games. Spider Man, X-Men, and movies from Dreamworks are a few examples. How do you decide between original and licensed IP?
A: There’s a value and a place for both. The most successful titles are either licensed intellectual property or sequels. We’re looking for great IP, regardless of whether it’s original or licensed.

There’s a lot of great IP out there that’s already been built. Placing a bet on licenses or franchises is a good plan for a company… There are a lot more failures with new IP.

We’re very particular. We continue to develop and prove out new IP. You won’t see five to 10 [titles based on new IP] from us in a year, but you will see one to three.

Q: Among other things, firms like DFC Intelligence forecast consoles comprising a smaller share of the market in the future. What do you make of the future of the industry?
A: With each successive [product cycle], the console business has grown. We have no reason to suspect that won’t happen this time. The console business will grow, but other parts of gaming will grow too.

Gaming is a major form of entertainment now [and] no longer a niche product. If Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony are successful in what they say they’re going to do, the gaming pool is going to become much larger.

Q: What’s the future of in-game ads? They’re a hot topic lately.
A: They are an incremental revenue source in games. Our learning demonstrated that it actually enhances the gaming experience [when done] correctly. We think there’s enormous opportunity. Our strategy is brand partnerships and greater brand recognition.

The most powerful way is true hard-coded integration that engages the brands somehow. An example: use a phone partner [like Motorola] to make calls, or include a Jeep in Tony Hawk.

Q: In Electronic Arts’ boxing title Fight Night Round 3, for example, players can unlock a Burger King character. Many gamers want to fight him—something you currently can’t do. How do you see interaction with in-game brands evolving?
A: There are brands that have far more tolerance for what you’re describing. It’s all going to be about matching up [games and brands].

Wireless phone carriers, car companies, we’re starting to see beverage companies… Brand partners will become more savvy. What Burger King is doing is likely to change the fast food landscape. It happens with any new media format. A few categories get involved quickly.

Q: The Entertainment Software Rating Board oversees and rates games, but titles like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (from Take-Two Interactive) have spurred government interest in game regulation. What do you think about what’s going on?
A: I don’t want the government to tell me what games my kids can play. There’s a very specific rating system in games that’s far more limited and adhered to than rating systems in other media. We market and only test consumers that meet our rating criteria. This industry holds itself to a higher standard than any other form of entertainment I can think of.

Q: You worked at Pepsi—and before that Coke—for some time before moving to Activision. What makes the gaming industry unique?
A: It’s [producing] both entertainment and a good that’s being sold. The entertainment we deliver has a many-hour experience. The thing that makes it most exciting is the fact that it’s an industry that practically reinvents itself every year. It’s not art for art’s sake… It’s an art form that’s also a business.

Nintendo bets on Wii's novelty, but software rules

TOKYO/LOS ANGELES, Oct 12 (Reuters) - With the year-end shopping season approaching, expectations are running high that Nintendo Co. Ltd. (7974.OS: Quote, NEWS, Research) will repeat the success of its DS handheld machine next month with its new game console, the Wii.
Nintendo has developed the Wii not to please hardcore gamers with lifelike graphics but to entice game novices with innovative but easy-to-play games -- the same concept that helped the DS far outsell Sony Corp.'s (6758.T: Quote, NEWS, Research) PlayStation Portable.
But the novelty of Wii's one-hand controller may fade quickly if game makers are slow to come up with fresh titles, analysts say.

"Software makers and distributors are holding such high hopes for the Wii," Deutsche Securities analyst Takashi Oya said. "Their latest stance is like, 'Why don't we reallocate some of the resources from the PS3 to the Wii,'" he said, referring to Sony's forthcoming PlayStation 3.
Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS.O: Quote, Profile, Research), the world's biggest video game publisher, is working on seven Wii titles this business year ending March 2007, up from its previous plan for five, in a bid to capitalise on the unexpected buzz around the console.
In the year to March, Nintendo aims for global sales of 20 million DS units. The DS lets users navigate games by touching the screen with a stylus instead of manipulating a keypad, and carries a price tag of $129.99 in the United States.
Sony, in comparison, expects to ship 12 million units of the PSP, a basic model of which sells for $199, over the same period.
For the Wii, Nintendo offers a TV remote-like controller, which uses motion-detection sensors that allow players to control the game by swinging the device like a tennis racket or wielding it like a sword, opening up new avenues for game playing.

Nintendo's own "Wii Sports" software, which will be included with the console in the United States and Europe, makes it possible for grandparents to play a virtual tennis match with their grandchildren in the living room.
"(The Wii) is something that will appeal to a 7- to a 70-year-old," said Laurent Detoc, who leads French video game publisher Ubisoft Entertainment SA's (UBIP.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) North American business.
Reflecting blistering DS demand and mounting hopes for the Wii, Nintendo shares shot up 71 percent from January to September.
The Kyoto-based company is set to launch the Wii in the United States on Nov. 19 for about $250, roughly half the price of the PS3 model that comes with a 20-gigabyte hard disk drive and Blu-ray high-definition optical disc player.

Sony plans to start rolling out the PS3 in North America two days ahead of Nintendo's Wii. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) released its latest console, Xbox 360, late last year.
$64,000 QUESTION
Despite the game-changing controller, affordable price and strong software lineup such as "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess," the Wii launch is not without concerns.
"For the DS, whoever found it interesting carried it with them and showed it to people around them. That was a great demand driver," Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said last month. "We cannot expect that sort of push for a stationary console."
Analysts point out the possibility that the new controller, which requires substantially more physical movement than the traditional keypad, could eventually make game playing tiresome, causing gamers to turn their backs on the machine.

Japanese videogame maker Square Enix Co. Ltd. (9684.T: Quote, NEWS, Research) launched a game in 2003 in which players wield a toy sword in front of a sensor-mounted TV set to fight monsters on the screen, but it failed to become popular enough to spawn a sequel, casting a shadow over the Wii's prospects, Deutsche Securities' Oya said.
"Wii Sports is a fun diversion," said Sam Kennedy, editor-in-chief of videogame Web site "People will play it for a while, but it's not something that will capture your attention for weeks."
To make things harder for Nintendo, a boosting effect from PS3's Blu-ray player is likely to kick in next year, Oya said.
"There are quite a few people out there today who have no idea what Blu-ray is," he said. "But a year after its launch, at around this time next year, more people will start recognising the added value brought by a Blu-ray player, just as a DVD player function helped the PS2 to a flying start."

KBC Securities analyst Hiroshi Kamide said the Wii may start to show its age quicker than the PS3 or Xbox 360 as it is not a particularly powerful machine from a technological perspective.
The fate of the console comes down to depth and width of game software, he added.
"If it's just the same pointing and shooting all the time, it won't be particularly attractive," Kamide said.
"So to a certain extent, it's up to Nintendo software and software developers all over the world to try and think for themselves how best to utilise the controller."
Asked if the Wii's novelty would wear off, Larry Probst, chief executive of Electronic Arts, said: "That's the $64,000 question. I think it will do really well during the launch window."

Toys "R" Us to take Nintendo Wii pre-orders Oct 29

NEW YORK, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Toys "R" Us said on Thursday that it will begin begin pre-order taking for Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s (7974.OS: Quote, NEWS, Research) Wii video game console on Oct. 29 at its stores.
The toy retailer said a $50 deposit is required to reserve one of the consoles.
Nintendo's Wii will make its U.S. debut on Nov. 19 in what should be a hot holiday season for video game consoles, with Sony Corp.'s (6758.T: Quote, NEWS, Research) PlayStation 3 slated to hit U.S. stores Nov. 17.
But severe shortages are expected for the Wii and the PlayStation 3, as demand outstrips the companies' ability to turn out the new devices.

Earlier this month, GameStop Corp. (GME.N: Quote, Profile, Research), the biggest video game retailer in the United States, stopped taking pre-orders for the Wii the same day it started taking the orders.
"Due to extremely limited supply, we expect to reach our limit very quickly, most likely in minutes. We will not accept additional pre-orders at that time," GameStop said in announcing its pre-order plan.
The Wii, priced at about $250, features a motion-sensing controller that operates like a television remote control and lets players simulate swinging a bat, sword or tennis racquet.
In September, Toys "R" Us included the Wii on its "hot toy" list for the upcoming holiday season.
Nintendo has said it expects to supply 4 million Wii units worldwide by year end. Sony expects to ship 2 million PS3s in the same time period

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess - Wii Preview

When an evil darkness enshrouds the land of Hyrule, a young farm boy named Link must awaken the hero – and the animal – within. When Link travels to the Twilight Realm, he transforms into a wolf and must scour the land with the help of a mysterious girl named Midna. Besides his trusty sword and shield, Link will use his bow and arrows by aiming with the Wii Remote controller, fight while on horseback and use a wealth of other items, both new and old.

Arm Link: The Wii Remote and Nunchuk controllers are used for a variety of game activities from fishing to projectile-weapon aiming. The game features incredibly precise aiming control using the Wii Remote controller. Use the controllers for sword swings, spin attacks and shield shoves.
Thrilling Adventure: Players ride into battle against troops of foul creatures and wield a sword and shield with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controllers, then take on massive bosses that must be seen to be believed.
Mind & Muscle: Many puzzles stand between Link and the fulfillment of his quest, so players must sharpen their wits as they hunt for weapons and items.