Rumor Control: GoldenEye 2's cancellation versus the Xbox Nextpod

A Siren sequel, Jason and the Argonauts, and the Nintendo war chest are among this week's scuttlebutt sightings.

RUMOR #1: The Xbox Next will come with an external, palm-sized hard drive, which can be used like the Apple iPod.

Source: Tech-toy enthusiast site Engadget.com.

The official story: No comment.

What we heard: Besides being a juicy rumor, this one is also an amusing story. Apparently, Engadget was contacted by a snowboarder, who claims he had an interesting après-shred chat with none other than Microsoft's J Allard in Whistler, British Columbia. According to the snowboarder, the newly dubbed chief XNA architect got quite gregarious after several rounds of Red Bull and Tequila concoctions, called "Hey Zeuses," and started gabbing about the Xbox Next. Allard supposedly said Microsoft was planning: to sell its next-gen console's hard drive separately, to have it be self-powered, and to infuse it with MP3 and WMA playback functionality. He allegedly boasted it would be an "iPod killer," as Microsoft would sell it at a loss for a mere $100. While optional HDDs are undesirable from a development perspective (just look at all those PS2 HDD-compatible games), the thought of a $100 handheld 40GB MP3 player and game storage device sounds like a geek's dream. However, a source at Microsoft laughed the story off. "Any story told over 'Hey Zeuses' is most definitely a rumor," said the source.

Bogus or not bogus?: We really hope it's not bogus.

RUMOR #2: Nintendo is amassing a huge fund to purchase cutting-edge technology for use in its next-generation console.

Source: Japanese site Game Online.

The official story: No comment.

What we heard: According to Game Online, the Japanese financial weekly Toyo Keizai recently quoted an unnamed Nintendo executive who said, "[We] keep capital on hand so that we can acquire new technologies before other companies do, which includes mergers and acquisitions funds." That one quote sent many gamers into a speculative tizzy about what companies Nintendo could be considering buying and how purchased technology would affect its next-gen plans (assuming it still has them). However, industry veterans downplayed the rumor, saying the fund has been around for years. "Nintendo is known to keep firm capital so that it can pull out actual money whenever it's in need. It's nothing really too newsworthy," said one.

Bogus or not bogus?: It's bogus that the fund is new, but it's not bogus insofar that it exists.

RUMOR #3: Following poor focus tests, Electronic Arts has halted development on GoldenEye 2.

Source: The endlessly entertaining UK site SPOnG.

The official story: No comment.

What we heard: This rumor started with a SPOnG story which cited an internal EA source as saying the publisher has "pulled all assets and canceled all coverage of the game" in the wake of negative feedback from game testers. Specifically, the source says the testers were unsatisfied with GoldenEye 2's intriguing premise, which puts players in the shoes of an aspiring Bond villain. "From what they said, almost all of the younger testers found the very concept totally confusing," the source allegedly griped. The article's author quite rightly bemoans the prospect of some uninformed teenagers' complaints scuttling what is the most original Bond-game idea to date. News of the ad-pulling quickly sparked rumors that the game itself was on hold. However, GameSpot's own internal source crushed the rumor like a golf ball in Oddjob's hand. "Rubbish," said the bemused EA mole.

Bogus or not bogus?: The ads might have been pulled, but as for the game being canceled: [As Sean Connery] "Bogus. Very bogus."

RUMOR #4: Sony is planning a sequel to its third-person survival horror game Siren.

Source: The official Siren Web site.

The official story: No comment.

What we heard: With Siren's April 20 release fast-approaching, GameSpot's Japanese correspondent was perusing the game's official site when he came across something interesting. In the staff section were job listings for character model developers, background model developers, character motion animators, and programmers for a new game at Sony Computer Entertainment. Though the game's title is currently secret, SCE has given it the quite cunning code name of "Project Siren." Draw your own conclusions.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.

RUMOR #5: UK studio SCi is making a game inspired by the 1963 classic Ray Harryhausen film Jason and the Argonauts.

Source: The always sleek-looking Eurogamer.net.

The official story: No comment.

What we heard: Earlier this week, keen-eyed Eurogamer correspondent Kristan Reed found out SCi recently registered a new game with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Guess what the title was? No, it was Jason and the Argonauts. We know what you're thinking: "But how do we know it's based on the movie and not on the original Greek-myth-thing?" Well, Eurogamer came to the conclusion by looking at SCi's checkered history of adapting movies, such as the original Italian Job (not the abominable 2003 remake) and Reservoir Dogs (which has yet to be seen, let alone released).

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus. Who feels like swordfighting some skeletons?!

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