This week's retail release list for Sony systems is embarrassingly light, consisting entirely of Guitar Hero: Van Halen for the PlayStation 3. However, the PlayStation maker is compensating with an assortment of new releases and seasonal deals on its downloadable storefront.
Leading off the weekly PlayStation Store update is an offering gamers actually won't be able to play for a little while yet. Sony is letting users download the client program for the MAG open beta right now, although the actual testing period won't begin until January 4. Sony has the beta period slated to end the night of January 10, with the final retail release of MAG set for January 26.
PS3 owners looking for more immediate gratification have a number of new options at their disposal, starting with the fighting game Battle Fantasia from Arc System Works ($19.99). Although this marks the game's domestic debut for the PS3, Battle Fantasia was originally released on the Xbox 360 last year and on both platforms internationally.
The PlayStation Store is also adding the new PS3 block-based puzzler Polar Panic ($9.99) to its catalog, as well as a $19.99 PixelJunk bundle that includes the developer's first three games: PixelJunk Racers, PixelJunk Monsters, and PixelJunk Eden.
Sony is also padding out its selection of original PlayStation games with the 1997 port of the space combat game Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom. It turns out The Price of Freedom is $5.99, which buys a version of the game playable on the PS3, as well as the PSP, and features a cutscene-intensive storyline with live-action footage featuring the likes of Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell. The game's emphasis on video can be seen in its 2.25GB file size (nearly twice the size of Battle Fantasia).
Gamers on the go for the holidays can also check the PlayStation Store for new PSP releases, led by a portable edition of the tower defense game Savage Moon. The $9.99 download lets players protect a mining colony from vicious buglike creatures with the strategic placement of defenses. The PSP catalog is also bolstered by the arrival of Me & My Katamari ($19.99), Football Manager Handheld 2010 ($23.99), and Aedis Eclipse ($9.99).
Sony is also getting into the holiday spirit with price breaks throughout the PlayStation Store until January 7. Sega and Electronic Arts in particular have cut prices on many of their offerings, from add-on packs to full game downloads for both PS3 and PSP. A full list of the week's deals, new PlayStation Store content, including themes, wallpapers, demos, and add-on content is available on the official PlayStation Blog.