Rumor Control: The Nintendo Nitro and Son of N-Gage

This week, these two gossip tidbits join Xbox Live espionage and an E3 Zelda preview.


RUMOR #1: The official name for the Nintendo DS will be the Nintendo Nitro.

Source: Nintendo's own development support site,

The official story: "We're investigating this." -- Nintendo's American PR

What we heard: If you ever wondered how fast news can spread over the Web, look no further. Early Wednesday morning, Dutch developer Martijn van der Meulen noticed that listed three formats: the Game Boy Advance, the GameCube, and a third format called "Nitro." He captured the pictured image advertising the Nitro (which has since been removed) and posted it on his blog with the rhetorical question, "Could this be the official title of the Nintendo DS?" Four hours and several million e-mails later, Van der Meulen's story was cited in (or ripped off by) countless game sites hungry for the latest scoop. Too bad only a few bothered to grab a Dutch speaker to read his whole story, which, as of midday PST, carried the following amendment: "Nintendo Europe has clarified that Project Nitro was the working title for the Nintendo DS...the Nintendo DS is the [current] official title."

Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus, baby, bogus.

RUMOR #2: Developer John Romero has seen Nokia's follow-up to the N-Gage and claims that it will remedy all its shortcomings.

Source: Russian games site Compulenta.

The official story: "No, the rumors aren't accurate." -- John Romero

What we heard: Despite widespread consumer disinterest and ridicule, Nokia hasn't abandoned the N-Gage. So it stands to reason that it's working on a way to improve the ill-fated device--and recoup the hundreds of millions of dollars it's sunk into it. Enter John Romero, the (in)famous developer who, until recently, was working on developing mobile phone games under his Monkeystone Games shingle. (Romero is now ensconced in sun-strewn San Diego, toiling for Midway games.) The Compulenta reporter said Romero told him that he has seen the new and improved N-Gage, which will let users easily switch game cartridges and use it as a normal cell phone (i.e., without totally side-talkin'). It's a great story with one problem: Romero claims he didn't say a word of it. "I've never seen a prototype of a new N-Gage, although I really would like to," he told GameSpot. However, Romero also issued the following caveat: "I can't discuss any future Nokia plans that I might know about simply due to [Monkeystone's] NDA with them." It would also be prudent to remember that Mr. Romero is one of the few people to have quite convincingly faked his own death.

Bogus or not bogus?: Probably bogus insofar as John Romero stating he's never seen the N-Gage 2. Not bogus that there's one in the works.

RUMOR #3: Microsoft is quietly scanning the hard drives of Xbox Live users to see if they have been modded.

Source: The well-written, skeptical, and sometimes wholly creative Spong.

The official story: "One of the ways Microsoft protects its intellectual property, in this case Xbox, is through the use of innovative technical solutions. We believe technology, in addition to education and awareness, can be effective in protecting publishers' rights while maintaining a rich product experience for customers--by ensuring the use of genuine hardware and software." -- official Microsoft spokesperson.

What we heard: When we started to hear the far-fetched but fairly numerous reports that Xbox Live users' hard drives were being remotely scanned by M'soft to see whether they were factory issue or illegally modified, we became curious and just a little paranoid.

Bogus or not bogus?: After additional reads of the Microsoft statement (especially the lead), which began, "As you know, intellectual property is very important to Microsoft," we knew it was not bogus.

RUMOR #4: Nintendo will reveal a sequel to Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker at E3.

Source: UK games site Gamesradar.

The official story: "Nintendo has not yet announced its E3 lineup." -- American Nintendo PR representative.

What we heard: Given the success of Wind Waker--which was GameSpot's 2003 Game of the Year--and the Zelda series' illustrious history, there was little question that Nintendo would make a sequel. The main question was when gamers would get their first looks at it. Gamesradar claims it got confirmation that Wind Waker II will be unveiled at this year's E3, along with a new Mario role-playing game and the previously announced Metroid Prime 2 and Animal Crossing follow-ups. Adding to this rumor was a recent comment in NGC Magazine by Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, who said he is working on an "unnamed" game in addition to Pikmin 2, which will be revealed "this year." Officially, though, Nintendo is having none of it. "The story is speculation on the site's behalf," a company spokesperson told GameSpot. However, said spokesperson also refused to deny that the new Zelda would be shown off at E3...

Bogus or not bogus?: Marginally not bogus.

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