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Chinatown Wars DS Sells Poorly

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Rockstar may have had high hopes with its first adult-oriented title on the DS handheld, but Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars has sold well below expectations. The recent NPD sales figures for March 2009 show that the game sold only a paltry 88,704 units in North America. This is despite the game having scored a phenomenal 94 overall on metacritic, wowing game journalists and bloggers alike. Chinatown Wars certainly brings the fun back to GTA, but why aren't people buying it?

Certainly, piracy has to be partly to blame. Many of the same adult gamers who own a Nintendo DS and might have bought this release also engage in piracy, thanks to the availability of devices like the R4 linker. A quick scan of popular torrent sites shows that GTA: Chinatown Wars has been downloaded at least 120,000 times since launch. Those are potential sales that, when added to the actual numbers for March, no longer look quite so depressing.

Still, we are used to the days when a new Rockstar release on any platform would be a guaranteed million seller within a few months. This doesn't appear to be ready to happen on the DS, even with its massive installed base of over 40 million users. Interestingly, another adult-themed release on a Nintendo console, Madworld, failed to sell impressive numbers last month as well. Perhaps core gamers really have moved away from Nintendo hardware, and mature game titles are no longer viable on either machine.

Given the huge sales disparity between GTA: Chinatown Wars and the two PSP titles Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories, we think another handheld PSP installment is almost guaranteed. And who knows, maybe if the rumored PSP 2 comes with a touch screen, a version of Chinatown Wars might even make an appearance on Sony's handheld.

Source : PVG.com

E3 2008 - DS news summary

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Another year, another E3. Just like last year, Nintendo's press conference was heavily unbalanced, portraying how the company is shifting the large majority of its gears towards Wii development. There are, however, a good amount of DS tidbits to report, including a few interesting surprises:

Grand Theft Auto hits the DS: Although it was barely mentioned, this is quite possibly the biggest surprise at this year's Nintendo media briefing. Grand theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is set to launch this December, bringing Liberty City to Nintendo's handheld, including clasic gameplay in a brand new engine', hinting at a 3D title to look forward to.


Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades is on its way: Somewhat of an expansion to this summer's big-seller, On Tour Decades is set to release very soon, including its own set of tracks and the ability to share music with standard On Tour players.


Cooking Guide: Can't Decide What To Eat coming to North America: Shipping this November, this digital recipe book allows your DS to invade the kitchen, with helpful tips and voice clips to help you prepare delicious dishes.


Rhythm Tengoku 2 / Rhythm Heaven to see the light outside Japan: Our prayers have been answered; Nintendo will be releasing this quirky DS rhythm title, a sequel to a GBA import-only masterpiece, in North America. A release window has yet to be given.


Pokémon Ranger 2 finally has North American release date: A sequel to a surprisingly fresh Pokémon spin-off, which was released in Japan almost ten months ago, is finally on its way to the US; titled Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia, the title has a November 10 release date.


Retro Game Challenge U.S.-bound: Game Center CX, based off a popular Japanese TV show, features a collection of many different takes on clasic old-school titles. The title received great praise in Japan, and is set to launch this winter as Retro Game Challenge.

And that's about it. Nintendo had previously confirmed Kirby Super Star Ultra and Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir for a September release, and surprisingly only the latter was found at the E3 show floor. No word on Fire Emblem DS, Pokémon Platinum, or Miles Edgeworth: Perfect Prosecutor; at least not yet

Source: [PVG.com]

Upcoming DS releases for July 2008

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I don't know about you, but it is way too hot over here. Depending on your location, you could be under the stings and arrows of our fellow fireball the Sun, you could be under the pleasant covers of the Northwestern clouds, or you could be in a midpoint situation. Regardless of the weather, though, the Nintendo DS keeps the good games coming, and this July is no exception. Check out the following titles releasing this month, including the anticipated release of a fantastic adventure, Final Fantasy IV:

Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 – July 2: At last, a true sequel to the Trauma Center series returns to its birthplace, the Nintendo DS. With a few new operations and the same challenging gameplay, the title has been praised of being good, although a bit non-innovative. For those looking for more E.R. action, TC:UTK2 won't disappoint.

Sid Meier's Civilization Revolution – July 8: A bit of a 'laid-back' approach on the hardcore Civilization gameplay, simplifying gameplay to expand the game's audience while keeping many gameplay aspects and tons of replay value. Although basic 2D graphics aren't impressive, the addictive strategy gameplay and tons of content make the DS version of Civ one worth checking out.

Carnival Games – July 8: The not-so-good-but-sold-a-ton Carnival Games for the Wii is attempting to cash in with the DS market. This game is a collection of carnival-themed mini-games for stylus play, featuring many prizes, a town to explore and customize, and microphone usage. It might not be great, but casual gamers keen to the Wii version will probably enjoy this.

Final Fantasy IV – July 21: Known as 'the definitive FFIV version' to many, this enhanced remake featuring gameplay enhancements, gorgeous 3D visuals, and connectivity features offers a challenging, old-school role-playing adventure for nostalgic fans or newcomers alike.

Izuna 2: The Unemployed Ninja Returns: July 22: Izuna's second DS adventure is on its way, with a lot of dungeons to explore, enemies to defeat and items to collect. Izuna's DS titles are dungeon crawlers similar to Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, titles that many consider repetitive but that have an increasing fan base that can't get enough of them.

Upcoming DS releases for June 2008

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Oh yes; June is here, the summer starts, and the controversial Guitar Hero: On Tour will rock your DS, or fail trying. Will players dig the concept? Is the lack of a fifth fret really all that important? We shall find out soon. As big as GH:OT is, though, there are other note-worthy DS releases for this month, from revivals to hardcore strategy / RPG blends. Take a gander at these DS titles set to ship this June:

Summon Night: Twin Age – June 3: Previously delayed and now shipping on June, this action / RPG hybrid features two playable characters and a decent-length quest full of dungeons to crawl through and a clean real-time, action-based battle system. Explore the world, level up, trade items; good stuff here.

Looney Tunes: Cartoon Conductor – June 10: Don't be so quick to dismiss this one; although not much is known, this title apparently plays just like Elite Beat Agents, a favorite among rhythm DS gamers. Expect a review soon after the game's release, for good or bad.

Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles – June 10: Solve three deep, intriguing cases full of murders, love and betrayal in this point-and-click adventure, a genre that suits the DS perfectly. Although initial reactions haven't been all that positive, the game's $20 price tag is a nice attraction.

Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard – June 17: The second installment to a fantastic, old-school RPG / dungeon crawler of yesteryear, with new character jobs, improved boss fights, and other tweaks here and there to make a good game even better. Will PVG review this game? You bet!

Arkanoid DS & Space Invaders Extreme – June 17: Two titles, two timeless ****c revived on DS, complete with touch screen controls, attractive new visuals and audio, boss fights, and DS Paddle support. Unfortunately, US copies of Arkanoid DS won't include said paddle; you can import one, or wait for a possible third-party substitute to become available.

Guitar Hero: On Tour – June 22: 25 songs, an interesting peripheral, and the concept of Guitar Hero on your DS; talk about surprising. Many have wondered just how well this game will do, considering the limitations of the system and the fact that you're not using a real guitar controller.

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift – June 24: A pseudo-sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, a series that takes a light-hearted approach to standard FF Tactics series, while retaining its hardcore RTS elements. Once again set in Ivalice, this whimsical adventure features all you loved of the GBA title—many character ****s, an artsy look, and the Law System—plus more.

Trauma Center: Under The Knife 2 – June 24?: A question mark? Well, you see, although the 'official' release is July 1st, a rumor floating around suggests a release date drawback of one week. Either way, you will soon follow up to one of the most beloved (and challenging) DS titles that lets you play doctor, in a good way. Join Derek and Angie Thompson as they deal with the after-effects of the deadly GUILT virus of the first UTK title, complete with new operations, tools, and patients to save.

Talk about a jam-packed month! And take a look at all the DS titles with colons in the title; this is quite a trend, isn't it?

Upcoming PSP releases for June 2008

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After a few months of slim pickings it is once again a very strong month for PSP releases in North America. It is difficult to choose a favorite among the upcoming titles, but there is definitely something for nearly every taste coming up in the next 30 days.


LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures — June 3:
Sure, the new Indiana Jones movie was a bit of a let down, but this video game adaptation of the first films won't disappoint. All of the insanity and fun of LEGO combined with the excellent gameplay that Travelers Tales are known for, in a portable package.

Secret Agent Clank — June 17: The next blockbuster action/adventure title for the PSP revisits the underdog sidekick theme to find out what kind of damage Clank can do when Ratchet is locked up for crimes he didn't commit. All signs point to this being a quality release.

Space Invaders Extreme — June 17: The DS is not the only system receiving the retro arcade treatment from Square Enix this month. Space Invaders Extreme on the PSP loses touch input, but gains a graphical upgrade. Having more in common with Lumines than a typical arcade shooter, we predict that this title could be a smash hit on the Sony portable.

Naruto Ultimate Heroes 2: The Phantom Fortress — June 24: We know there are some anime fans out there looking forward to this release from Namco/Bandai.

WALL-E — June 24: This game adaptation of the Disney-Pixar film will put players in control of a trash collecting robot through a variety of environmental puzzles and obstacle courses.

Upcoming DS games for May 2008

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Can you believe it? It's almost May already; time sure flies. This means that Mother's Day, the Kentucky Derby, and the Indianapolis 500 are approaching, among other events. According to Wikipedia, no other month of the year starts with the same day as May does; if true, no other month in 2008 will start with a Thursday. Cool, huh? Oh, and there are a few DS games worth your cash during this month. Check out the following DS titles set to ship this May:

Crosswords DS – May 5: A new member of the Touch Generations series, Crosswords DS offers a ton of crosswords with multiple difficulty levels and intuitive touch screen controls. Not only that, but anagrams and word searches are also available to add to the fun, and get this; $20 gets it for you. If you can get one DS game in May, make it this one and get more bang for your buck.

Super Dodgeball Brawlers – May 27: True to the NES, this dodgeball-inspired title puts you in charge of a team ready to knock out the competition. Level up your characters, master Special Moves, and use the ball to smash your enemies, as well as other items that land on the field.

LOL – May 2008: No, I'm not laughing; LOL is the game's name. This multiplayer-only title is like a piece of paper split into multiple DS systems; with a single copy of the game, a host can issue a challenge, such as asking for a certain picture, phrase, or even a mathematical equation, and the other players do the rest. Votes are then issued and the winner picks a new challenge. Simple, yes, but interesting and, well, funny as well (lol). Set to release sometime in May, this game will be sold online-only for $20. My advice? Pick up an extra copy, keep it for a few years, and sell it on eBay for some neat profits down the road. :D

Upcoming PSP games for May 2008

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Spring is in full bloom, and that means that gamers can come out of hibernation, bring along their favorite handheld, and venture outdoors to greet the sunshine. If you are one of the few people who won't be glued to Grand Theft Auto IV this month, or if you find you need to catch some fresh air, you may find something to satisfy your gaming tastes on the PSP for the month of May. Technically an April release, the SNK Arcade ****cs compilation contains an impressive array of old-school arcade favorites including Metal Slug. Echochrome has a lot of puzzle fans excited for its unique "perspective" on gameplay, and sports fans have an up-to-date roster of teams to look forward in EA's UEFA Euro 2008.

SNK ****cs Volume 1 — April 29: If you haven't already played (and enjoyed) Metal Slug, you probably aren't fit to be a gamer. Fans might not realize that SNK crafted some other great titles, however, including Shock Troopers and Top Hunter, available in this compilation.

Iron Man — May 2: Games based on movies which are based on comic books don't have a strong track record, but in preview videos seen online, Iron Man for the PSP seems to be a competent actioner with ground based fighting and flying levels.

R-Type Command — May 6: Irem strays from the shooter genre to bring a tactical turn-based R-Type to the PSP.

Echochrome — May 8: In this first-party puzzle title guaranteed to melt your brain, Sony asks you to guide a hapless wanderer through five dimensions of crazy perspective. The creative presentation and unique game design could make this another cult hit on the PSP.

World Championship Cards — May 13: Delyed by a month, this title features 30 different card games. If you are one of those that has to stay away from those addicting poker handhelds you might want to shy away from this one too, for your own health.

UEFA Euro 2008 — May 19: Almost as fun as watching the matches unfold live on TV, you can experience all the thrills of the Euro 2008 soccer tournament with this Electronic Arts release. Go Spain!

Its A Male Thing...

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For every man who's ever angered his girlfriend by his inability to shift his loving gaze from a video game to her eyes, a Stanford study has come to the rescue with an explanation. During the study, men and women were hooked up to an fMR machine (measuring which parts of the brain are in use) while playing video games. Although both men and women experienced activation in the region of the brain associated with reward and addiction, this was only a mild activation for women. Activation in this region of the brain was much higher for men, indicating that men are two to three times more likely to feel addicted to video games than women. So, gentlemen, even though you've already been accused of being a video game addict, now you have the research to prove it :D.

Thanks: [Computer Power User, April 08]

NPD study: Hard core gamers spend more on other media

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NPD's latest report, Entertainment Trends in America, reveals that hard core gamers spent most of their entertainment budgets on non-gaming things. GameDaily reports that of the 10,000 US consumer sample, the data showed that in the last six months 58% of hard core gamers (defined as someone who plays daily or several times a week) bought a DVD, 46% purchased a CD, and only 43% purchased a game for a console.

The NPD data also shows that consumer spending on music fell 10% and DVD revenues remained flat in the last year; similar data was recently reported in the UK. The most dramatic shift was a 41% increase in retail spending among teens in gaming and a 45% drop in music sales. But, just like the UK data, NPD doesn't have access to systems like iTunes or Xbox Live, which would further complicate the reported data.

[Via Press Release]

What if... Apple designed a handheld gaming system..

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Earlier this week it was revealed that Apple has filed to extend their trademark protection to include "toys, games and playthings, namely, hand-held units for playing electronic games; hand-held units for playing video games and stand alone video game machines". While this does seem like a clear sign that Apple is planning to develop and release some form of video game console, a trademark filing does not positively ensure that such a device will become a reality. Companies do this sort of thing all the time, extending their reach to include products and services that they may never actually produce, but want to stake a claim to, just in case. Here, however, there is some strong evidence to suggest that Apple might be planning to develop a stand-alone handheld gaming device.Today, I speculate on the features that would likely be included in an Apple handheld, in light of this intriguing news.

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Overall Look and Feel

Given Apple's emphasis on design, any handheld system they released would have to look beautiful as well as play games. The company has followed a broad, mass-market stretegy with their previous devices, and they would probably want to go with a design that was simple, appealing to a large amount of consumers (not just gamers) and useful. The device would likely be small and sleek, probably no bigger than the current-gen iPhone, which would make it the smallest new handheld on the market. They might go with a white, plastic exterior — a color scheme which seems to be popular for gaming systems these days — or they might go with something completely iconoclastic to set themselves apart from competitors. Whichever strategy they chose, you can bet that it would be the most beautiful handheld gaming system the world has ever seen.

Media Format

It is almost assured that any Apple-designed gaming system would feature a robust digital distibution service, probably piggy-backed on top of the successful iTunes store. Considering that the new MacBook Air doesn't even include an optical drive, it is pretty safe to assume that Apple would eschew any kind of solid media and go straight for digital downloads, similar to the mobile phone distribution model.

If we had to guess, we would say that games would probably weigh in the 100 - 500 MB range to keep download times reasonable, with 4-8 GB of flash-based storage on the device itself. If the device also moonlighted as a multimedia player, which seems to be Apple's prevailing strategy, the storage would likely be expanded to the 16-32 GB range, but remain flash-based to keep battery drain and moving parts to a minimum.

Games

Undoubtedly, any handheld system released by Apple would leverage the multi-touch capability of their popular iPhone. However, it is likely that a dedicated gaming system would have to include a minimal amount of buttons, to aid with games that did not exclusively use the touch screen. Designers would likely include, at the minimum, a standard d-pad and two face buttons. These controls are familiar to all gamers, and would help brand the device as a dedicated gaming system. Given the company's preference for minimalist control schemes, we doubt that Apple would include shoulder buttons or any sort of analogue stick, unless they planned to compete for the "hardcore" audience, which is unlikely.

Another possibility is that the device could include some enhanced motion-sensing controls, similar to the tilt sensor that is curently found in the iPhone. This would open up many new and interesting control possibilities for handheld games (imagine an updated version of Marble Madness!).

Price Point and Marketing Strategy

This all sounds pretty good, but will be able to afford it? Considering that it will probably be oriented toward the casual / download market, it will not require a monster processor or graphics chip. Apple could release a competent gaming system with the same basic architecture and OS used in their current iPod Touch, which retails for around $300 USD. Casual gamers would be unlikely to pick up a dedicated system at that price, however, so we imagine that Apple would strive to get the price down to the $200 range if possible. Even this would make it the most expensive handheld system currently on the market, but Apple has never been one to fight its battles on the merits of price alone.

Thanks: [PVG.com]

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