What we heard: Right now, the powers that be at Intellisponse are wondering one of two things. They could be trying to sort out how a passel of top-secret game details leaked from their site and was quickly rebroadcast over the Internet. Or, they're wondering why someone has made them the victims of one of the most public pranks in game-PR history.
Regardless of the reality of the situation, Intellisponse isn't commenting as to why it is being pegged as the source of a series of Microsoft-related bombshells. These include the unofficial uncovering of a motion-sensitive karaoke game that may let players sing over their own music library, and a Mii-like Avatar system that could replace GamerPics on Xbox Live later this year.
Unsurprisingly, Microsoft is declining to comment on either story, and Activision is now giving reporters a similarly silent treatment. The current top third-party publisher appears to have had several secret projects of its own inadvertently revealed by Intellisponse, including the nature of the "reinvention" of the Tony Hawk series. Revealed last month in a postearnings conference call, the rework is so extensive that it is causing the typically annualized skateboarding franchise to skip this year on consoles. (A DS game is being released this holiday.)
"For competitive reasons, we're not going to talk about it today, but we're very bullish on the kind of innovation this will bring," said Activision Publishing CEO Mike Griffith last month. "And this won't be your father's Tony Hawk." If today's leak is to be believed, though, the next game to feature the X-Games champion on its cover will be like your mother's Wii Fit--as in, it will be based on its own balance-board peripheral.
According to a description sourced to Intellisponse, the game, called Tony Hawk's Adrenaline, will urge PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC owners to "put down the controller, step on the board, and feel the sensation of going big. ... Shift your weight to turn and balance grinds, kick back on the tail of the board to ollie, and lean into airs to pull off huge spins."
If it emerges as described, the board-enabled game would leapfrog the Tony Hawk series over its newfound archrival, Electronic Arts' Skate, in terms of realism. The 360 and PS3 editions of Skate drew critical praise for their "FlickIt" control scheme, which relied on thumbstick movements rather than button combinations. The inevitable Wii port, Skate It, appears set to expand on that scheme by adding Wii Remote motions and Balance Board support to the mix. (A scaled-down Skate It is also coming to the DS.)
Another reason that an add-on-driven Tony Hawk game sounds plausible is that Activision owns RedOctane, which manufactures the notoriously sturdy Guitar Hero peripherals. RedOctane will also be making the drum kit, mic, and guitar for Guitar Hero World Tour, which was also the subject of some Intellisponse-inspired news.
Besides pricing the game at $179.99--$10 less than what online retailers currently list it for--the leak described an innovation in the game's titular instrument. "[The] new touch-sensitive guitar Neck Slide opens up the entire guitar neck for unbound solos--shred how you want," it read, laying out the possibility that the series' arthritis-inducing button combination may be getting a new element.
Indeed, the writers of a recent Guitar Hero World Tour preview in Game Informer magazine were unable to see the game's controller for "legal reasons" because "it will have at least one major new feature which will impact the way you play." While playing the game, said editors also saw "strings of see-through notes," which Neversoft reps on-hand said were "[for] a totally new guitar mechanic."
Were that not enough Guitar Hero info, the leak also revealed a partial artist roster for the upcoming game, which will allegedly feature "Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, System of a Down, Ozzy Osbourne, Interpol, Muse, and dozens more."
The official story: As of press time, Activision had not responded to requests for comment.
Bogus or not bogus?: Given the hints from Activision executives and the suggestive evidence in Game Informer, both rumors are looking not bogus.