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Source: Numerous Web sites citing a Yahoo Japan interview with Nintendo prez Satoru Iwata that has since been taken down.
The official story: "Nintendo does not comment on rumors or speculation."--Nintendo representative.
What we heard: As gamers prepare for the next generation of gaming consoles, one of the big questions on their minds is "How much will the darned things cost?" Microsoft set the bar with its $299 and $399 models of the Xbox 360, but the other two players in the industry, Sony and Nintendo, have not yet announced a pricing scheme for their machines.
Though nothing has been made official, it's widely believed that Nintendo's console, code-named Revolution, with its stress on innovation over processing power, will be the cheapest of the next-gen consoles. Conversely, the PlayStation 3, with its labyrinth of complex hardware, is expected to be the most expensive.
Several Web sites today are reporting that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has confirmed that the Revolution will be under $300. Apparently, Iwata told Yahoo Japan that Nintendo's next-gen console will be cheaper than any of its rivals, the cheapest being the US edition of the bare-bones Xbox 360 ($299.99). (The sole SKU offered in Japan sells for roughly $350.) The information apparently comes from an interview Iwata did with Yahoo Japan--however, tracing the source of the story yields empty results.
To get to the nitty-gritty, GameSpot contacted Nintendo of America on the matter. "Nintendo has not announced any price [for the Revolution]," a representative said. NOA told GameSpot that it believes that Iwata never announced a price and is unaware of the report by Yahoo Japan.
While we don't doubt the existence of the Yahoo Japan interview, red flags have popped up with the article's disappearing act. A meaty quote from the top brass of one of Japan's most beloved companies doesn't just vanish without reason. A source in Japan told GameSpot that the quote was from an Iwata interview with Jiji News and that he actually said, "It [the Revolution] will be at a different price range than the consoles from Microsoft and Sony Computer Entertainment."
Even without Iwata's direct quote, it's all but certain that the Revolution will be cheaper than its rivals. Both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 are being touted as multimedia devices, upping their price tags because of additional hardware. Nintendo's strategy with the Revolution takes a less expensive approach, sacrificing non-gaming functions for a more affordable system.
Late last year, Nintendo executive Reggie Fils-Aime told CNN/Money correspondent Chris Morris that he expects the Revolution to be "at a lower price point than our competition." Less than $299? Less than $199? Your guess is as good as ours...
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus on a price being announced, but almost certainly not bogus on the Rev being the cheapest of the big three.
Source: Euro Nintendo game magazine NGC by way of Gaming-Age.com.
The official story: "Nintendo does not comment on rumors or speculation."--Nintendo representative.
What we heard: One of the most anticipated games of 2005 became one of the anticipated games of 2006 when Nintendo announced that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess would not make its holiday ship date. The postponing immediately caused many to begin speculating that Link's latest adventure would be coming to the Revolution, Nintendo's next-gen console expected to be released later this year. Such assumptions are partly true, given that the Revolution will be backward compatible. However, as recently as last month, Twilight Princess was still being demonstrated on the GameCube.
Nintendo originally stated that the delay was to "enrich the game," according to Perrin Kaplan, vice president of marketing and corporate affairs at Nintendo. The development team apparently requested extra time "to add new levels, more depth, and even higher quality to Zelda: Twilight Princess."
The January edition of gaming magazine NGC is reporting that "more depth" for Twilight Princess includes compatibility with the Revolution's controller, according to Gaming-Age.com. When inserted into a Revolution, the game will "unlock the ability to use the Revolution controller."
From a business perspective, it makes perfect sense for Nintendo to include some exclusive Revolution features for its highest-profile release in years. The extent of these possible features isn't clear, though. Could gamers be able to flick the Rev controller and see Link chuck his trusty boomerang or see the game in a higher resolution? Or will next-gen controller support be limited to smaller options such as fishing minigames or simple bare-bones compatibility with the controller and its D-pad extension?
The gaming public won't be finding out anytime soon, if Nintendo has its way. The company is notorious for having more secrets than the NSA, and a company rep would neither confirm nor deny that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess would have any next-gen bonuses.
Bogus or not bogus?: Though Revolution-exclusive features are likely not bogus, it's too early to tell if they're anything of consequence.
Source: Bungie's Weekly Update, stating that portions of its next project were "surprisingly polished and playable."
The official story: See below.
What we heard: Bungie, the developer of the megasuccessful Halo franchise, is aptly named. The company is adept at dangling tiny morsels frightfully close to gamers' noses, only to snap them back out of reach before any concrete information can be grabbed.
The Redmond, Washington-based studio is at it again in its Bungie Weekly Update, a post on its Web site put up every Friday. According to the most recent news, the company's various camps met up for a "Bungie Fair," where they demonstrated what they've been recently working on in the company's next project. The presentations vary in media type, but "some gameplay tests, demos and experiments, are surprisingly polished and playable."
The mention that "It's amazing what you can do with higher resolutions and lots more power," all but assures what everyone already "knew"--that the project in question is destined for the Xbox 360.
Bungie couldn't sneeze without rumors of Halo 3 being in the works in the developer's bowels, but this isn't mere speculation--it's straight from the source. Unlike its parent company, Bungie is great at keeping secrets, and hasn't even once admitted to working on Halo 3. In fact, it has flat out denied it.
It would seem completely ridiculous that Bungie would be working on anything but Halo 3, particularly with Microsoft's shiny new console prepping to contend with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Revolution next year. Bill Gates even once told Time magazine that Halo 3 would be ready to counter the launch of the PlayStation 3 (rumored to be happening as early as spring 2006). Add to that Halo 2's lengthy development cycle and a story that seemingly stopped on a dime, and H2's delays make a little more business sense. Unfortunately, the only people who really know if Bungie is working on Halo 3--Bungie--ain't talking.
While it's nice to know that Bungie isn't simply spending all of its time tinkering with Halo 2 matchmaking lists, the hope that these playable demos are in fact of Halo 3 is simply that...hope.Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus that Bungie indeed has something playable in the Pacific Northwest, and probable that it is Halo 3...but you didn't hear that from us.
Source: Japanese media outlets, including Mainichi Interactive and Zakzak.
The official story: See below.
What we heard: Less than a week after the launch of the Xbox 360 in Japan, various news sites claimed that a new version of the console would be shipping as early as next year. According to the reports, the new and improved Xbox would reportedly sport a drive that runs HD-DVDs. HD-DVD media can hold approximately 15 gigabytes per layer (30GB for dual-layer discs), versus the DVD-9 standard's capacity of just 4.7GB per layer (8.5GB dual-layer discs).
The backers of HD-DVD, which include Microsoft, are currently in a battle with the backers of the Blu-ray disc, which include Sony. The Blu-ray format, also known as BD-ROM, can handle about 23GB per layer, or around 45GB per dual-layered disc, and will be supported by Sony's next-generation console, the PlayStation 3. An HD-DVD-equipped 360 would be able to compete with the PS3 in terms of storage capacity, which is becoming a major concern, given the massive amounts of data required for high-definition gaming.
For that very reason, Microsoft has taken criticism for not considering incorporating a next-gen media format for its next-gen console. The most likely reason for the omission is that adding an HD-DVD drive (which Toshiba hasn't even completely finished) would spike manufacturing costs for Microsoft, which reportedly already loses more than $125 on every 360 sold.
Though an HD-DVD-equipped Xbox 360 would make for some snazzy games, the reports from Japan were, sadly, a case of misinformation. Hours after the reports of the super-Xbox 360 went up, most sites pulled the news down on the heels of a brisk response from its maker. "Microsoft has not made any announcements in either America or Japan regarding possibilities of a next-generation disc drive to be equipped on the Xbox 360. We do not have any plans to release an Xbox 360 equipped with a next-generation DVD [drive] at the current time," the company said in a statement.
Given Microsoft's support for the format, will there ever be an HD-DVD Xbox 360? Not any time soon, according to Microsoft Japan's Xbox operation chief, Yoshihiro Maruyama, who has publicly stated that the format "won't be used for gaming purposes for a while."
Bogus or not bogus?: 15 gigabytes of bogus, unfortunately. Don't think that Microsoft isn't thinking about it, though.
Source: A BBC News interview with Ubisoft head honcho Yves Guillemot, and the resulting Web flak.
The official story: "Ubisoft stands firmly behind the impeccable quality of Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie on all platforms. Ubisoft is actively investigating isolated reports of resolution issues on specific plasma screens. Ubisoft believes that King Kong offers one of the best gaming experiences available on the Xbox 360 and encourages gamers to check it out for themselves."--Ubisoft representative.
What we heard: The so-called "HD Era" may have found its first casualty. Reports have hit the Web that the Xbox 360 version of Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie, published by Ubisoft, is "unplayable" on some monitors. The complaint stems not from gamers, but straight from the top of the Ubisoft food chain, CEO Yves Guillemot.
"We have a problem on the 360," Guillemot told BBC News. "The screen is dark on some TVs and it totally changes the experience. When it's dark, you don't see where you have to go. We are looking to see if we can fix the code. It is the beginning of the high-definition TV era for us. It's a shame, but it happens with new machines. I don't think we will have it anymore."
According to BBC News, the problem occurs when the Xbox 360 version of King Kong is played on standard-definition televisions. Apparently the developers at Ubisoft concentrated so hard on the high-definition presentation of the game that they neglected to pay ample attention to SD TVs.
The motivations for Guillemot's mea culpa seem unwarranted, not to mention untimely, given the film it is based on debuted in theaters today. In fact, he seems to steer people away from the 360 version altogether, recommending gamers play the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions instead. "When you play on an Xbox or a PlayStation 2, you start to see that it is beautiful," he said.
The notion of a company discouraging people to buy a version of its game--especially one that costs $10 more than other versions--is highly unusual, particularly since the King Kong kommunity is pleased with the game's graphics. With King Kong having been on the market for three weeks, one would think that flame-happy gamers would have gang-tackled a technical problem like the one Guillemot describes. But no such outcry has occured, and both the HD and SD presentations of the game have received high praise from critics.
Said GameSpot's own Alex Navarro, "Fantastic lighting, improved level geometry and textures, better fire effects, scarier-looking dinosaurs and beasts, and of course, a better-looking Kong, all reside on the 360 version. Those improvements are noticeable even in standard definition, but HD is really where they shine."
So what's the truth behind King Kong's possible fall off the 360's throne? Several GameSpot editors have played the game in both SD and HD, with few gripes. To call the game "unplayable" would be too harsh, unless the same tag could be applied to gloomy titles such as Doom 3 and The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay.
One theory is that the problem could simply lie with the PAL version of the game (Guillemot was speaking to the British press), we'll do Ubisoft PR a favor and change the word "dark" into "spooky and atmospheric." It's Skull Island, after all. Not Candyland.Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus. A gloriously modeled six-ton T-rex charging at your grill more than makes up for anything lost in a dark--pardon me--"spooky and atmospheric" cave any day.
Source: Several job listings on the Shiny Entertainment Web site.
The official story: Atari reps did not respond to requests for comment. As for Shiny...see below.
What we heard: This morning, Shiny sent out an e-mail blast to the games press announcing that it was hiring new programmers. But unlike most hiring spam, two of the job listings listed in the e-mail garnered interest beyond the usual job-seekers and headhunters.
First up was a listing for a "PSP Programmer." Though the listing gave no information about the game, it would be Shiny's first for Sony's portable. Given that most PSP games to date have been ports of existing PlayStation 2 games, odds are this listing is for an as-yet-unannounced portable port of the recent multiconsole release, The Matrix: The Path of Neo.
A second Shiny job listing is of particular interest to those watching the next-gen console race. Though ostensibly for an "Xbox 360 Programmer" position, the listing also asks that applicants be able to work "together with PlayStation 3 and Revolution programmers on converting existing code base to run on Xbox 360." Since CEO Bruno Bonnell told a 2004 investors' conference that a next-gen Matrix game was likely in the development pipeline, the Shiny ads seemed to confirm Neo would jack into all three consoles.
However, it appears now that a next-gen Matrix might not be happening. Though Shiny has specialized in games based on The Matrix films in the past, it could be on the verge of announcing an original intellectual property. At least, that's the impression given by the shop's founder and CEO, David Perry. "People keep asking what I will do 'after' Matrix," he told GameSpot. "The answer is I've got more new ideas than I have staff!" However, when asked about what project the developers being hired would work on, Perry began speaking in Morpheus-esque riddles. "This job posting is one of many for new things I have in the pipeline.... Over the next six months, it will become more obvious why I need to expand. I hope that's cryptic enough!"
Bogus or not bogus?: Given the ease of porting from PS2 to PSP, Atari would be crazy not to make a handheld Matrix. However, Path of Neo's underperformance may stop the franchise from going next-gen. That, or Shiny may simply not be working on the project....
Source: The official Ubisoft Web site for the game.
The official story: Ubisoft reps did not respond to requests for comment.
What we heard: Internet message boards were buzzing today after eagle-eyed surfers noticed that the release date for Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter on Ubisoft's official Web site had changed from February 2006 to March 2006. What seemed to be lost in the shuffle was that the site now makes no mention of the previously announced GameCube edition of Warfighter. Even the official Warfighter Web site has excised all mention of the GameCube, and on the game's messageboards, a Ubisoft community manager says the game is unlikely to ever hit shelves.
Originally scheduled for release on the PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, and GameCube sometime this holiday season, the game was first pushed to a February release back in October. By all accounts, the first four versions are still on the way, but the fate of the GameCube edition is apparently up in the air. Online retailer EB Games appears to have pulled the listing from its site, but GameStop still lists the game and is taking preorders for an expected February 1 release.
Bogus or not bogus?: Basically not bogus. Between the Ubi site, the Advanced Warfighter site, and the Ubi forum administrator, the GameCube version's fate looks pretty much sealed.
What we heard: The Nintendo DS isn't an ordinary handheld. With its built-in microphone, stylus, and touch screen, the system seems more like a plaything rather than a hardcore gaming machine. In Japan, the DS is also being used to teach users how to use their noggins a bit more with Brain Training for Adults. The game lobs various questions and brainteasers at the player in an effort to help gamers flex their brainpower.
So when reports began to surface about a DS game in development that would help female gamers stimulate themselves--SCREEEEECH!! What? Yep, stories abound about a game titled Lapis, in which a blue rabbit helps teach females the proper technique toward self-satisfaction.
The concept is simple: rub the bunny the right way and it will eventually fly into the air (and eventually land for a cigarette break, one would assume). Being the complex organism it is, Lapis won't get to flying with simple strokes or repeat maneuvers. What's more, sometimes he won't be in the mood to fly at all, leaving gamers with tired wrists all for naught.
The game was developed by Heather Kelley (picture 2, right), an employee of Ubisoft's Montreal Studios, as part of a competition at the Montreal International Games Summit. The game's subject matter was in part a response to the outcry over the Hot Coffee mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which allowed gamers to enter minigames that showed the main character fornicating with his in-game girlfriend. Kelley won first prize for her effort.
Before you go out buying new screen protectors for your DS, take note: The game was merely a prototype made for the event. It has not been--nor is it likely to be--officially certified by Nintendo, and it is not commercially available. That leaves amorously inclined DS owners with just one T-rated option for dual-screen romance: the dating game XY/XX.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus. The game exists alright, but don't EVER expect to see it on shelves.
Source: The film rumor and news site IESB.
The official story: Microsoft and Universal reps have not responded to requests for comment.
What we heard: Earlier this year, thousands of nerds' heads exploded when they heard the rumor that Peter Jackson was going to direct the film adaptation of Halo. While that turned out to be false, the Lord of the Rings director did sign up to executive-produce the high-profile project, which is being cofinanced by Fox and Universal.
Since then, speculation has run amok about which filmmaker would be entrusted to bring one of gamedom's holiest of holies to the big screen. This week, IESB claimed to have a possible answer. According to an IESB reporter named Chupacabra, as in the famed Mexican vampire creature, word was leaked at the recent King Kong press junket that Jackson is in talks with famed Mexican horror director Guillermo del Toro to helm Halo.
It's not surprising that Jackson and del Toro would collaborate. Both have similar backgrounds, having made their bones in horror (Dead Alive, Chronos) before moving onto big-budget blockbusters (Lord of the Rings, Blade II). Also, both have shown dramatic flair and characterization skills in the art house thrillers Heavenly Creatures (Jackson) and The Devil's Backbone (del Toro).
So will del Toro direct Halo? If he is indeed in talks, that will depend on two factors: First, whether he wants the job. Second, whether Fox and Universal executives are comfortable with a director whose last project, Hellboy, performed below expectations. Given Halo's high profile and del Toro's self-professed love of games, the answer to the first question would almost certainly be "yes." As for the second, the executives in question might do well to remember that Jackson's sole Hollywood project prior to Rings was the box-office dud The Frighteners. We know how that turned out...
Bogus or not bogus?: A del Toro-directed Halo would be visually interesting, at the very least.
The official story: "Microsoft does not comment on rumors, even on ones about pirates." --landlubbin' Microsoft publicity buccaneer.
What we heard: Bungie is renowned for being one of the more secretive developers around. Its modus operandi has been to eschew the press and address the public directly via weekly updates on its Web site, Bungie.net.
Bungie's silence has led to some confusion about its next project. Shortly before the blockbuster Halo 2 was released in 2004, Bungie studio manager Pete Parsons told the BBC that "after Halo 2 we are planning to do something different. We will do something else and we have a few ideas." However, seven and a half months later, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates told Time magazine that Halo 3's release would counter the PlayStation 3 launch. Since Sony's next-gen console is set to go on sale in spring 2006, that would mean that Bungie must currently be hard at work on Halo 3 (an assumption backed up by Halo 2's notoriously abrupt ending).
However, this week, a rumor began to spread that Bungie's next project might not be Halo 3 after all. At the end of a job listing for a "Generalist Programmer," the company says one "plus" is "a love of combat on the high seas." This got the rumor mill a-churnin' that Bungie was trading interstellar combat for intercontinental plunder in the form of a pirate game. The tone of the rest of the ad added to that assumption. "Bungie Studios is looking for skilled programmers, be they unblooded innocents or grizzled heroes...Come march under our black banner and share our inevitable domination."
Sadly, as appealing as a Bungie-made buccaneer-fest sounds, it is not happening anytime soon. Before its infatuation with annoying alternate-reality games began, Bungie had a penchant for pirate jokes aplenty--remember Pimps at Sea? Furthermore, a source close to the developer laughed off the notion that Bungie would forgo a surefire Xbox 360-seller like Halo 3 for an untested commodity. (Not if Bill Gates has anything to say about it, anyway...)
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus.
Source: The Nintendo.com forums.
The official story: See below.
What we heard: Through his endless endeavors of storming castles, slaughtering reptiles, and saving princesses, Mario's gaming legacy has expanded exponentially. The kid can play just about any sport and party down with buddies, and he has apparently gotten his doctorate in pharmacology. Because of his status as a renaissance man, it came to no one's surprise that the plumber by day could also do his fair share of "serving up some" on fleet-footed foes.
Konami and Nintendo teamed up to waltz out the GameCube-exclusive Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix, a Mushroom Kingdom version of the popular rhythm game, in late October. In it, characters from the Mario universe shake their cans to various tunes as players foil a plan by Waluigi to give citizens two left feet.
Now, it appears Mario's dancing days are done just over a month after the game was released, and gamers around the Web aren't exactly shuckin' and jivin' over the possibility that the game has been discontinued. Looking for the game online yields paltry results. Internet retailers EB Games and GameStop aren't offering the game anymore, and Amazon.com is showing only used copies and new copies from third-party sellers, all of which are selling for over $100. Even with the lofty price tag, the copies are selling--this morning there were six, and as of press time, there are now only three. On eBay, sellers are listing the game as "rare" and "hard to find" and are subsequently hoping to cash in.
Given Mario's popularity and surefire sales, what could possibly be the reason for yanking the game? Some forum posters surmise that the issue may be with the dancepads, and others cite possible poor sales, but it's all guesswork. Whatever the reason (Nintendo hasn't yet confirmed that the game is off the assembly line), it's apparent that copies of Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix are clearing out faster than a dance floor during polka hour.
[UPDATE] For its part, Nintendo said the shortage was due to the game's popularity. "Nintendo is very pleased with the success of Mario DDR. In fact, there has been such high demand that it has driven out-of-stock situations at retail." However, when asked about the future of the game, the company gave this semi-cryptic statement: "Nintendo is currently reviewing its plans to bring in more product in 2006."
Bogus or not bogus?: We'll just chalk this up to dancepad shortages--bogus.
Source: An article on tech-news site VNUnet.
The official story: Nokia reps did not return requests for comment.
What we heard: In 2003, the N-Gage launched with much fanfare--and even more derision. The original form factor of Nokia's hybrid game deck became a running joke for its clunky design, laborious game-switching process, and laughable "side-talking" mobile-phone functionality. Not even the lightning-quick introduction of the redesigned N-Gage QD could reverse the platform's fortune. Instead of selling an anticipated 6 million in two years, Nokia has sold only 2 million N-Gages to date.
Given the N-Gage's unpopularity, industry watchers have been predicting its demise for months. However, as recently as May, Nokia claimed the platform was alive and well. But over the weekend, headlines such as "Nokia Dis-N-Gages" and "Nokia Shifts Focus from Gaming" helped fuel rumors that the end was finally nigh for the handheld/phone.
However, most of the stories that bore the headlines did not explicitly say that Nokia has ceased manufacturing the N-Gage. Almost all cited the VNUnet article, titled "Nokia Holds Fire on Mobile Gaming," which says that the Finnish phone giant "will not be building new versions of the N-Gage gaming phone." That statement could easily be interpreted as meaning manufacture of the handheld/phone has ceased. However, the article does say that "the company intends to continue producing N-Gage devices primarily for the Chinese and Indian markets." But given the dismal-sounding quotes in the VNUnet article from Nokia vice president for corporate strategy Antti Vasara, you shouldn't expect to see future N-Gage publicity campaigns...unless you live in Shanghai or Mumbai.
Bogus or not bogus?: Technically this is bogus for now, though the platform's days are almost definitely numbered.
The official story: "We have received some isolated reports and calls of consoles not operating as expected. The call rate is well below what you'd expect of a consumer electronics product of this complexity."-- Molly O'Donnell, senior manager of global Xbox public relations.
What we heard: As was the case in the days following the launch of the PSP, reports have begun to surface about problems with the Xbox 360 hardware. Some people complained of games freezing. Some complained of systems overheating. Some complained of hard drives not working. Some complained of disk drives that scratched games.
There is little doubt that some of these things happened. It's a new console launch, after all, and historically problems happen at console launches, especially when there's a shortage of systems and the manufacturer is rushing to deliver them to retail. It's as predictable as people getting robbed for new systems.
So far, all the Xbox 360 units GameSpot staff members have bought at retail since launch have encountered no hardware-related problems. But the people with perfectly working 360s aren't going to be nearly as loud as the people who waited in line all night to blow hundreds of dollars on a bum system. They are understandably livid, and reports (like this one) that conclude with a "sucks to be you" are of little comfort to those affected.
To that end, O'Donnell says help is on the way--or at least will be soon. Gamers with console problems who call 1-800-4MY-XBOX and wind up needing repairs or a replacement 360 will have a prepaid shipping box overnighted to them. She said that typically said gamers will have a fixed or replaced 360 arriving at their door five business days later.
However, O'Donnell stressed to GameSpot that the problems with the system have thus far been very limited. "The most important thing to note here is that the vast majority of Xbox 360 owners are having an outstanding experience with their new systems," she said.
Bogus or not bogus?: Have there been some defective units? Not bogus. Are defective consoles prevalent? Bogus...according to Microsoft, anyway.
Source: Legend of Zelda fan site Thehylia.com
The official story: Nintendo reps were not available for comment.
What we heard: Gaming movies are currently all the rage. With the recent announcement of the Halo film, it seems as though Hollywood may actually do them right for a change.
Historically, though, the spirit of most games gets lost in translation onto the silver screen. Exhibit A: German director Uwe Boll's menagerie of cinematic cowpats, which includes House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, and the soon-to-be-released Bloodrayne.
Even gaming giant Nintendo has seen one of its properties, Super Mario Bros, bastardized into a universally hated movie. However, that may soon change. The rights to Metroid have become optioned by once-great, now semi-competent Hong Kong director John Woo, although no production start date has been announced.
This week, it looked like another beloved Nintendo game, The Legend of Zelda, might make it to the big screen. Mexican magazine Club Nintendo, the Spanish-language equivalent of Nintendo Power, quoted Nintendo executive vice president of sales and marketing Reggie Fils-Aime as saying that the company is indeed planning a Zelda film. Because Club Nintendo is published by Nintendo, there's zero chance of them misquoting Fils-Amie, let alone making up quotes attributed to him.
That said, Fils-Aime also said Nintendo is currently focusing all its efforts on the Metroid movie. Zelda is being considered as a following project, with the possibility of another Mario movie following that. Given that there's no timetable for a Metroid film, any hopes of pinning down a release for the Zelda movie would be pure guesswork. And many film projects that have been much farther along have wound up in development limbo for years--if not decades.
Bogus or not bogus?: Where there's a will, there's a way--if the Metroid film goes well, look for Zelda to get fast-tracked. If it bombs, don't expect to see Link's green tights on the big screen any time soon.
Source: Three now-blank pages on EBgames.com.
What we heard: It's been little more than a year since Sega released the last OutRun game, the Xbox-exclusive OutRun2. So when rumors began to spread about a new entry in the series coming to the PlayStation 2, PSP, and Xbox, Sony partisans took heart--and with good reason. The source of the rumor is three pages on EBgames.com (linked above). Though now blank, all three display "OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast" in their subject lines. GameSpot also got a screenshot of the PSP product page before it was pulled (pictured), which clearly shows the title.
Could the pages just be a data-entry error? Unlikely. Besides the fact that three separate product pages were created, the title looks a little too detailed to be a mistake. Then there's EBgames.com's long history of listing games before they are announced, including such high-profile games as the Xbox 360 Burnout and the Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack. So if you're the bettin' sort, a double-sawbuck says that Sega will be getting its OutRun on handheld and consoles next year.
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.
Source: An article on SPOnG recounts scuttlebutt that Sony was playing possum with the boomerang-style PlayStation 3 controller and that the final design of the controller could be revealed at January's Consumer Electronics Show.
The official story: A Sony spokesperson told GameSpot, "We have made no announcements regarding the PS3 controller, so any reports to the contrary are purely speculation."
What we heard: At first, CES seems as good a place as any to unveil the final design of the PS3 controller. If you consider Sony's announced spring 2006 release of the PlayStation 3, May's E3 2006 would be a bit late for a coming out party, and there's no bigger trade show in the meantime. There's even some precedent for a CES unveiling, as Sony revealed part of its American PSP launch plans at this year's CES in January. Combine that with the fact that Sony admitted the controller shown at this year's E3 was not a final design, and this rumor might have some grain of truth to it. Sony might well have been putting it out there to judge public reaction to the controller, and given that the reaction has been generally negative, it might be time for a complete overhaul. Right?
Probably not. First of all, Sony Computer Entertainment corporate executive and chief technical officer Masayuki Chatanai told Famitsu after the E3 unveiling that the controller might undergo "minor changes" but that the form factor would probably stay the same. And if Sony wanted feedback on the controller, why didn't it let E3 attendees get their hands on it? And what would Sony have to gain by "fooling" the competition with a phony controller at E3 when Nintendo's Revolution controller was already purported to be something radically different, in addition to the fact that Microsoft had already unveiled the 360's glorified Controller S pad?
You may not like the PS3 pad, and what you've seen so far may not be exactly it, but don't expect any kind of "Revolutionary" redesign on it before the system launches. Maybe a trigger here or some tweaked hand grips there, but it'll still look right at home hanging from a bright yellow utility belt.
Bogus or not bogus?: Holy Bogus, Batman!
The official story: "It's Ubisoft's policy to not comment on rumors." - Ubisoft spokesperson
What we heard: Upon hastily throwing these sites into the Google translation tool, we were beyond thrilled to read about Ubisoft's new project and "the juiceable scope it concerns." Ok, so the translation's not perfect, but the basics come through loud and clear: Ubi's working on a first-person shooter using the Nintendo Revolution controller, and the company has its talented Montreal studio (Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell series) working on the project.
Those with fingers crossed hoping that this one turns out to be not bogus have some reason to be hopeful. With its pointerlike functionality, the Revolution controller seems tailor-made for an FPS, and Ubisoft has shown Nintendo's current-gen GameCube console more FPS support than almost any other publisher with its Rainbow Six games.
On the other hand, the Spanish-language site (with the more-detailed of the two reports) says production on the game has been entrusted to "Ubisoft Canada." That would be problematic, as Ubisoft Canada doesn't actually make games. Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Quebec are the company's two development studios north of the border. Ubisoft Canada doesn't even oversee the two studios; it merely handles the local publishing, distribution, marketing, and other such concerns for the French publisher. Then again, such details could easily have been lost in translation.
As you might expect, Ubi's keeping mum on the subject. But given that the Rev's controller practically begs to be incorporated into an FPS, it seems entirely likely that Ubisoft (and numerous other companies) has Revolutionary designs for the genre in the works.
Bogus or not bogus?: The specifics of this particular rumor may be bogus (especially the bit about the juiceable scope), but there's no reason to be bummed, because a bevy of Revolution FPS games is almost certainly not bogus.
Source: The Circuit City Web site
What we heard: There are some hardcore gamers out there who are painstakingly eyeing their calendars, waiting until midnight each night to mark off another day. With the November 22 launch date of the Xbox 360 slowly inching closer, anticipation is getting the best of several 360 fans, who can't wait to get their hands on the console. So imagine their joy when they woke to reports that Circuit City would be selling Xbox 360 bundles this Friday at 2:00 p.m. EST.
Indeed, emblazoned on its Xbox 360 product Web page was the phrase, "Xbox 360 packages available Friday at 2:00 p.m. EST." Just underneath the bundle prices reads a box that says "available Friday."
Would-be line campers, no need to make that mad dash to fish out sleeping bags and tents just yet. While there are reports that Xbox 360s are currently arriving in stores, every retailer seems to be sticking to the strict 11/22 launch date. Why would Circuit City jump the gun? Selling the console before others would certainly raise some fervor, but it would also raise a big fat lawsuit from deep-pocketed Microsoft, which would probably sue, just as Sony did those who sold the PSP early in the UK.
In fact, the information on the Web site, as well as that given by Circuit City reps, was incorrect. Consequently, the site has since been updated. The head banner now includes the caveat "Web-only" and clarifies the date "11/18." A disclaimer at the bottom now states "Available in-store Tuesday, 11/22. Web-only packages not available for pre-order or in-store pickup. We are receiving shipments on a regular basis. Please check back frequently." Apparently, Friday is the first day the packages can be ordered over the Web from the retailer. By ordering Friday, the bundles will ship Monday with overnight delivery ensuring that the 360 will arrive at doorsteps on Tuesday.
Bogus or not bogus?: Sorry, HD era. A serious heaping of next-gen bogusness.
Source: A report on the Web site of UK trade mag MCV.
The official story: Elevation does not respond to rumors.
What we heard: It's no secret that Elevation Partners is looking to buy its way into the games industry. Earlier this year, it lost a bidding war with SCi for Tomb Raider publisher Eidos, but last week it picked up a mighty fine consolation prize in backing a merging of developers BioWare (Baldur's Gate, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic) and Pandemic Studios (Mercenaries, Destroy All Humans!) under a new holding company, of which former EA president and Elevation board member John Riccitiello will be CEO.
The MCV report says that Elevation's hunger for acquisitions has not yet been sated and attributes "sizzling senior-level chatter" as the source of suggestions that the firm's next target might be Peter Molyneux's Lionhead Studios (The Movies, Black & White). When asked by the magazine for comment, a Lionhead representative said that the company frequently receives buyout inquiries, but that there was more interest than normal of late.
The question here probably isn't whether or not Elevation has expressed an interest in Lionhead. The company's on the prowl for more developers, and Lionhead would be a prime pickup. But is Molyneux willing to sell? He chafed working within the Electronic Arts corporate structure after the publisher bought his Bullfrog Studios in the mid-'90s, and he left the company as a result. Riccitiello didn't come into the company until the year Molyneux was fed up and quit EA, so there's unlikely to be any personal rancor there, but the EA way of making games is the only way Riccitiello knows. And like with Pandemic and BioWare, any Elevation acquisition is likely to ultimately answer to Riccitiello. This very well may happen, and if it does, expect it to be solidly on Molyneux's terms.
Bogus or not bogus?: That Elevation is interested? Probably not bogus. That Lionhead would sell? Your guess is as good as ours.
The official story: "We have made no official statement regarding coding for PS3 games."--Sony spokesperson.
What we heard: Given the billions of dollars it sinks into its movie, music, and games divisions, it's little wonder Sony is big on digital rights management. The company has implemented anti-copying measures for years and has admitted it has been installing cloaking rootkits to hide DRM programs. (It has since issued a patch to remove the rootkit.)
Those familiar with Sony's CD DRM practices were unsurprised when Joystiq reported that the company has patented DRM software that could prevent PlayStation 3s from playing used or borrowed games. The site cites US Patent #6,816,972, which is for "a device and method for protection of legitimate software against used software and counterfeit software in recording media." Specifically, the patented technology would verify that when software was inserted into a "machine" (read: console), it was registered to that machine. If it couldn't, the technology would prompt the machine to shut down, preventing the software from being accessed.
Such measures would be fine and dandy, were they targeted at pirated software. But the patented tech--which bears the name of Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi--is specifically designed to prevent used software from being sold. "Since only titles for which legitimate software has actually been purchased and which have been initially registered in the machine table can be used, resale (so-called used software purchase) after purchase by an end-user becomes practically impossible," it reads. Such measures would also prevent lent or rented software from being played.
But would Sony incorporate technology from Patent #6,816,972 into the PS3? On one hand, doing so would guarantee that each gamer would buy a new copy of each PS3 game, theoretically meaning bigger sales to help defray the steep cost of next-gen development. It would also remove the PS3 from the used-game trade, a market from which Sony gets no revenue.
However, there would be some major drawbacks to implementing Patent # 6,816,972 technology into the PS3. It would mean forfeiting the rental market to Microsoft's Xbox 360. Though there are signs that the game-rental stories are in decline--Blockbuster Video is reportedly shopping around its GameRush subsidiary--Netflix-esque services like GameFly are gaining in popularity. Then there's the fact that many people can't afford to buy a whole lot of games. When presented with a choice between a console that does play rented games and one that doesn't, which way do you think they'll go? There's also the risk of sparking a blacklash like the one currently raging over the BMG DRM rootkit.
[UPDATE] While US Sony reps think the best way to deal with gossip is silence, Sony Europe spokespersons have apparently decided to put this particular rumor to rest. According to the London Guardian's
tech blog, SCEE PR manger Jennie Kong blasted the rumor as " false speculation." "PlayStation 3 software will not be copy protected to a single machine but will be playable on any PlayStation 3 console," she told the Guardian. [Thanks Lefein and stoner02]
Bogus or not bogus?: Now bogus, apparently.