Rumor Control: GoldenEye Redux and another Ninja Gaiden delay

Also this week: The PC Halo Edit tool non-controversy, the GPSDS, and the Nintendo ex-president's bizarre comments.

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This week, rumors spread across the Web like the unholy offspring child of SARS and avian influenza. Some were sicker than others, but we selected only the terminal cases for this week's Rumor Control.

RUMOR #1: Nintendo is not releasing a next-generation console.

Source: The Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun and its sister publication, the Nikkei Sangyou Journal.

The official story: "We will launch at the same time as our competitors. Our status hasn't changed."--Beth Llewellyn, Nintendo of America's director of corporate communications.

What we heard: By now, only a few pygmy tribesmen in the Congo basin haven't heard about Nintendo's very public flip-flop on its next-generation console's status. On Monday, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported that Nintendo had postponed the launch of its GameCube successor until 2007. Hours later, Nintendo of America reps shot down the rumor, and their Japanese counterparts followed suit Tuesday. Then today, the statement that sparked the rumor surfaced in its entirety in the Nikkei Sangyou Journal:

"As for game consoles, [we are] aiming to reveal something new at next year's E3, which will use the GameCube as its parent body. We won't release a high-tech machine that's commonly referred to as a 'next-generation game console'. People who talk about next-generation consoles are those that don't know about games, considering that customers aren't demanding for leading edge technology."

This almost deranged-sounding quote--whose authenticity was confirmed by multiple sources and translations--came from none other than Former Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi. While no longer at the reins of the game giant, Yamauchi still has a lot of influence over its boardroom, meaning that his statement might very well be true. Yamauchi also claimed he came up with the idea for the Nintendo DS, as opposed to the rumored "Game Boy Enhanced" portable GC game deck, which is what most people actually wanted (and a fan-made mock-up for which is pictured).

Bogus or not bogus?: Officially, it's bogus. But Yamauchi's comments will be keeping many-a-GameCuber up a night...

RUMOR #2: Electronic Arts is developing a remake of the N64 classic, GoldenEye.

Source: UK industry-watchers Gamesindustry.biz.

The official story: "It's EA policy not to comment on rumors, so we have no comment on that article."--David C. Lee, EA's Director of Studio PR.

What we heard: Numerous sites ran Gamesindustry.biz's article, which says GoldenEye redux is being developed at EA's Redwood Shores and Los Angeles studios. That would be surprising, because EA has a deal with Free Radical Design, the UK studio where most of the original GoldenEye team works. Nevertheless, Gamesindustry.biz quotes EA as saying the new GoldenEye might be the first of many 007 remakes, saying "we were going to exploit past, present and future Bond properties across a range of gaming platforms." When GameSpot contacted EA officially, we got the above non-response from Lee, who said the real news was the release of EA's newest bond adventure, Everything or Nothing, next Tuesday. ("I think that's the story the public is crying out for," he said.) However, unofficially, sources within EA refused to deny the existence of a GoldenEye remake--which is about as close to a confirmation as you're likely to get these days.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus. Looks like Xenia Onatopp is going to be mounting up again.

RUMOR #3: Ninja Gaiden has been delayed. Again.

Source: EB Games, which has changed the game's release date to March 2.

The official story: "I'm sorry but I can't comment on it until next Tuesday or Wednesday, when I should have a better idea on how the certification process is going."--Tecmo's ever-so-gracious John Inada.

What we heard: Ninja Gaiden had been selected as a nominee for 2003's Most Disappointing Delay even before its 11th-hour postponement on December 2, 2003. However, the series' first next-gen incarnation looked like it was on track for a release sometime in February. Rumors had been quashed by assurances from Tecmo, the game had got its ESRB rating, and the now-epic-length certification process looked like it was in its final stages. But the rumblings began early Friday, when keen-eyed forum posters noticed the date switcheroo. Judging by Tecmo's un-encouraging latest comments, gamers' hands may be old and arthritic by the time they get to grapple with Gaiden.

Bogus or not bogus?: Put those shuriken down, sonny! Not bogus.

RUMOR #4: Microsoft and Bungie are refusing to release the edit tools for the PC edition Halo, even though Gearbox has already finished them.

Source: Gearbox president Randy Pitchford, in a post on his company's forums.

The official story: "What I said was: 'Approval, testing and release of updates to the Halo PC software is entirely under the control of Bungie / MGS'"--Pitchford, in an e-mail to GameSpot. Microsoft did not comment.

What we heard: GameSpot staffers were contacted by PC Halo players on Monday who said that Bungie and MGS were holding up the release of the PC Halo edit tools. We traced the rumors back to Pitchford's post on a Gearbox PC Halo edit-tool thread, and were struck by its delicate wording. "I'm really eager to get our work out to everyone," it went, "Unfortunately, it's impossible for me to make specific commitments about when you can actually expect the official updates to be released and exactly what each one will contain." Pitchford then made the above reference to the fact Bungie and MGS, and urged PC Halo players to write in. "I think it could be helpful to direct some of your anticipation of new features, fast shaders, HEK [Halo Editing Kit], new content, bug fixes and improvements that you are looking forward to in future updates to the folks at Bungie / MGS. At least, I hope that would be helpful." When GameSpot contacted Pitchford for a clarification, he said gave us this response: "We get thousands of visitors posting on our forums each day. They are telling us what they want with Halo." He then carefully reminded us of the exact wording of his post--which has since vanished.

Bogus or not bogus?: Again, the official word is that it's bogus. However, if you want to see those edit tools anytime soon, it might be a good idea to let Bungie and MGS know.

RUMOR #5: The Nintendo DS will come with GPS functionality and a camera.

Source: The always entertaining and informative British game site SPOnG.

The official story: Nintendo said nada.

What we heard: With its proximity to the UK dev scene, SPOnG (which stands for Super Players Online Gamebase) picks up on some very interesting--and often totally wild--rumors. Many sound like they were cooked up in the back of a SoHo pub over several dozen pints of Boddington's. However, the SPOnG crew always say when something's fact or (likely) fiction, and they accompanied this bit of gossip with a fist-sized grain of salt. According to semi-plausible first part of the rumor, the DS camera will be a peripheral. However, the second bit is a doozy, saying GPS functionality will be built into the DS, and at least one launch title will incorporate it into gameplay. "We’ll endeavor to unearth more on this rather scintillating gossip in the run up to this May’s E3," was SPOnG's irony-drenched comment.

Bogus or not bogus?: A handheld GPS game? What is it going to be? Mario and Luigi Go Orienteering? Bogus.

To see the video edition of Rumor Control, tune in each week to Let's GameSpot!

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