Retail Radar: No Spore 'til '07, Guitar Hero sequel $89.99?

Changes to GameStop's database hint that Will Wright's sim may be delayed--and Red Octane's rocker won't come cheap.

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Regular readers know that from time to time, retail Web sites leak information about upcoming games. Sometimes the info that slips gets it right (like when EBgames put up early pages for OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast, Burnout Revenge for the Xbox 360, and the Halo 2 Triple Pack), but often the information that gets posted consists of placeholder dates.

For example, the odds of Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, Gears of War, Mass Effect, Medal of Honor: Airborne, Too Human: Part 1, and WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2007 all shipping on November 1, as GameStop.com currently suggests, are beyond remote. So while nothing that pops up on the retail sites can be taken as concrete confirmation, it can still offer a "heads up" on developments in the gaming world.

A glance at the new and noteworthy changes to the Web sites of merged retailers EBgames and GameStop this week casts light on a number of new release dates. First and foremost, it seems Will Wright's Spore needs a little more time in the Petri dish, as the retailer is listing a February 1, 2007, release for the ambitious simulation game. Also in the PC section of the site, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade's unannounced release date is pinned down to October 2.

On the console front, GameStop has put up a listing for the PlayStation 2 Guitar Hero 2 bundle that includes the guitar controller. Neither the existence of that bundle nor the posted November 1 release date are especially shocking, but the package's price might raise a few eyebrows. Where the original Guitar Hero bundle ran for $79.99 on the site (and is currently backordered), GameStop is asking $89.99 for the sequel's bundle.

GameStop has new details for Sony's NBA 07 Featuring the Life, Vol. 2 on the PS2, and an apparently Life-free edition of NBA 07 on the PSP, both set to ship on October 3. According to the product descriptions, PS2 ballers will be able to take one of two players, The Kid or Big W, and lead them through the on- and off-court difficulties of a pro career, including agents, injuries, and endorsements. The page also lists a new "power boarding system" to better simulate the art of going up for a rebound and coming down with the rock, as well as a "true shot indicator" to give players more concrete feedback about just how stifling defense impacts their shooters.

Over on the PSP tip, NBA 07 is being offered with a handful of tweaks to last year's model. In addition to new play-by-play commentary and instant-replay features, the next portable version of Sony's hoops series will supposedly introduce a new conquest mode that lets you add the stars of defeated opponents to your squad as you attempt to dominate the league, and a variety of minigames, including skee-ball, pinball, and a rhythm-based dunk contest.

Beyond that, GameStop is now listing new release dates for a number of upcoming games for Sony's platforms. On the PSP, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth is listed with a July 18 ship date, with Killzone: Liberation expected to drop October 31. Finally, Sony continues support of its PS2 camera peripheral with the listed release of EyeToy: Play 3 on September 1.

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