June 2010 Archives

Deep Silver's game Secret Files: Tunguska is now in stores for the Wii and DS. This adventure game has players investigating the obliteration of the Tunguska region of Siberia following a kidnapping.
Winter Wolves recently released its game Vera Blanc: Full Moon as a download for the PC, Mac and Linux platforms. This is the first episodic adventure featuring Vera Blanc, a wealthy psychic in search of a serial killer.
Xbox Live Arcade has two new downloadable games this week. Read on for more details on Ancients of Ooga and Puzzle Quest 2:
777 Studios' Rise of Flight: The First Great Air War - Iron Cross Edition is now available for the PC. This "Iron Cross Edition" of the previously released game includes updated graphics, around twice as many planes and new dogfight modes.
Bohemia Interactive's compilation ArmA II: Combined Operations for the PC is now available in stores. This retail box includes both the original combat simulation ArmA II: Armed Assault and the (stand-alone) expansion ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead. The game is an exceptionally detailed combat simulation set in a fictional ex-Soviet state.
Sony's game Hot Shots Tennis: Get A Grip for the PSP is now available in stores. This Hot Shots game lets PSP owners engage in extreme tennis. Hot Shots Tennis: Get A Grip was also released today as a download through the PlayStation store.

THQTHQ's game Vampire Legends: Power of Three for the DS is now available in stores. The game has players controlling three siblings in their efforts to defeat a vampire. The game comes with additional mini-games that only work on the DSi.
Aksys Games' Deathsmiles Limited Edition for the Xbox 360 is now in stores. The game is a shoot-'em up in which players control attractive, underage-looking angels with demonic familiars. Aksys describes the game as a "Lolitastic" shmup.
City InteractiveCity Interactive's game Sniper: Ghost Warrior for the Xbox 360 and PC is now available in stores. This tactical first-person shooter has players aiming to liberate a Latin American island.
Warner Bros.' game Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is now in stores. The game is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PC, PSP and DS. The game has players exploring the world of Harry Potter's adventures as any of a broad variety of characters, while unlocking elements of the Lego game.
Sony has released a new slate of games for the PlayStation 3 and PSP, along with the premium "PlayStation Plus" membership. Read on for more details:
KonamiKonami's game N3II: Ninety-Nine Nights for the Xbox 360 is now available in stores in North America. This action game and sequel to the original Ninety-Nine Nights has familiar characters facing the Lord of Night on the 92nd night of his attempt to conquer the land.
Her Interactive's game Nancy Drew: Trail of the Twister for the PC and Mac is now available as a download and at certain retail stores. This adventure game has Nancy Drew investigating why a series of accidents is keeping a group of storm chasers from completing their tornado predictions.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts, together with Realtime Worlds, has shipped APB: All Points Bulletin for the PC to stores Worldwide. This persistent-world online shooter pits "Enforcers" (law-enforcement and vigilante types) against "Criminals" and bears a subscription fee or can be played based on hourly charges (and includes radio-style advertisements broadcast over voice chat).
505 Games, together with developer Artificial Mind and Movement (A2M), has released the game Naughty Bear for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. Mixing cute with carnage, players take on the role of Naughty Bear as he takes his revenge on other cutesy bears.
Activision BlizzardActivision Publishing, part of Activision Blizzard, has placed its game Singularity in stores worldwide. Developed by Raven Software, the game is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Singularity gives players a time manipulation device that has them jumping back and forth between 1955 and the present day on the Russian island base of Katorga-12. In this first-person action game players will confront Cold War secrets and time-altering aliens.
CCP Games, the Icelandic developer and publisher responsible for Eve Online has opened a studio in Newcastle, UK (to be called CCP Newcastle). The core founding engineers of the studio previously worked for Midway Games and have a reputation for familiarity with the Unreal Engine. As a result, CCP Newcastle will focus on console game development, particularly CCP Games' upcoming persistent online shooter for consoles, Dust 514. CCP Newcastle will collaborate with CCP Asia on Dust 514.
THQTHQ's game The Last Airbender for the Wii and DS is now in stores in North America. Based on the film of the same name (in turn based on the anime), the game has players re-living the events of the film from the perspective of Prince Zuko of the fire nation.
NIS America has shipped Trinity Universe for the PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. The game is a role-playing game crossover between the Atelier and Disgaea universes, featuring characters exploring a universe in which an entire lineage must transform themselves into gems that prevent objects in the Netheruniverse from colliding.
PlayStation 3Sony has launched its v3.40 firmware update for the PlayStation 3 hardware. Alongside the PlayStation 3 update is PSP firmware update v6.30, designed to ensure full compatibility with new features. Among the new features are security enhancements, support for the new PlayStation Plus program and Facebook support. For more details, read on:
TurbineTurbine, now part of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, has launched Update 5 for its massively multiplayer online game Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited. The update focuses on lots of enhancements for guilds, including a new guild user interface, guild trophies and guild airships. The update also includes a new adventure pack set in the Phiarlan Carnival, along with a variety of tweaks and class enhancements.

Mascot Park Now Live

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Mascot ParkSix Flags Entertainment, a company with 19 amusement parks across North America, has launched its Mascot Park game on Facebook to promote Six Flags' parks. The game allows players to create a customized mascot, hold a show and even disrupt other players' mascot shows with potentially lethal pranks.
NintendoAnother Monday is at hand, and (as is often the case) Nintendo has released another slate of downloadable games for the Wii and DSi, including:
NintendoNintendo has released Sin & Punishment: Star Successor for the Wii. Developed by the studio Treasure, this sequel to the Nintendo 64 game Sin & Punishment is an arcade-style rail-shooter game in which players battle their way through waves of enemies.
A new version of the massively multiplayer online game Fallen Earth, including the recent "Blood Sports" expansion is now available in retail stores. Fallen Earth: Blood Sports is available in both Walmart and GameStop locations in North America.

Linden Lab Ousts CEO

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Linden Lab, the company behind the persistent online space Second Life is furthering its restructuring efforts. Earlier this month, Linden Lab dumped 30% of the company's staff and focused on a browser-based version of the Second Life experience. Now, following the reported displeasure of investors with the company's stagnation, Mark Kingdon is stepping down as Chief Executive Officer. Philip Rosedale, founder of the company, is stepping in as interim CEO, while Chief Financial Officer Bob Komin will also serve as Chief Operating Officer.
GameStopGame retailer GameStop has hired Bruce Kulp as the company's Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Refurbishment. Kulp previously served in a variety of supply chain roles and will oversee 1,500 of GameStop's employees at the company's two distribution centers and refurbishment facility.
Activision BlizzardActivision Publishing, part of Activision Blizzard, has released Wipeout: The Game for the DS and Wii. The game, based on the reality TV show Wipeout on ABC, has players battling one another through a series of challenges based on the show.
Sega SammySega, part of Sega Sammy, has released an expansion for Napoleon: Total War as a download for the PC. Called "The Peninsular Campaign," this download has players exploring the conflict Napoleon's forces experienced in the Spanish Peninsula in 1811.
As happens on most Wednesdays, Microsoft has released more downloadable games for the Xbox 360 through Xbox Live Arcade. This week's two releases are:
505 Games' title Field & Stream: Total Outdoorsman Challenge for the Xbox 360 is now available in stores. The game has players tracking and hunting around 30 types of game in a variety of weather conditions.
Sega SammySega is pleased to let everyone know that its venerable videogame character Sonic the Hedgehog turns 19 today. At FI, we have to admit feeling somewhat astonished. Certainly, we've seen our share of two-year-olds rolling around and collecting shiny objects, but at 19 it seems as if Sonic should be hanging around and smoking with Tails while shouting surly epithets at Dr. Eggman (who couldn't possible understand, despite his advanced age and advanced degree).
Conspiracy EntertainmentConspiracy Entertainment has released its game Just Sing! for the DS. The game has players singing along to top hits in an effort to reach superstar status.
Sony has released more downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and PSP through the PlayStation Store. It's a light day, but today's downloads include:
ThinkSMART for the DS is now in stores in North America. This brain-training game features puzzles that test language, memory, mathematics, logic and spatial reasoning.
D3PublisherD3Publisher's game Puzzle Quest 2 for the DS is now in stores. Sequel to the original Puzzle Quest, this game refines the mixture between match-three puzzle play and role-playing game.
Namco Bandai GamesNamco Bandai's game Dragon Ball: Origins 2 for the DS is now in stores in North America. This fighting game explores the events of the original anime series as Goku and his friends search for the seven mystical Dragon Balls.
Telltale Games has released the third episode in the third season of The Adventures of Sam & Max. This episode in the season called The Devil's Playhouse is "They Stole Max's Brain!," and has rabbity-thing Max suffering an unthinkable crime. This adventure episode is now available for the PC and will be available this afternoon on the PlayStation 3.
Activision BlizzardActivision Publishing, part of Activision Blizzard, has placed its game Transformers: War for Cybertron in stores today. Developed by High Moon Studios and based on Hasbro's toys, the game is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. The game has players battling on the Transformers' home planet with customized transforming robots. Versions of the game called Transformers: War for Cybertron - Autobots and Transformers: War for Cybertron - Autobots are available for the DS that include single-player story missions.
Yet another Monday is at hand, marking the release of another pile of downloadable games for the Wii and DSi:
The concise, reductionist summary of E3 2010: Many games were shown. Some were sequels. Some will never see release. Others were delayed or downplayed. All were accompanied by trailers and screenshots. Most will excite gamers by completely transforming the genre or the "way we play games." Some crappy-seeming games looked better to attendees thanks to over-the-top parties. Many games rely upon motion-sensitive or video-capture technologies that will be released late this year. Of those games, most are gimmicky and aimed at casual gamers, rather than exploiting what is unique about these technologies. Oh... and people should be excited about 3D.
I-play has released Agatha Christie: 4:50 from Paddington as a download for the PC. This adventure game has players aiding Miss Marple as she solves a mystery through a series of minigames and hidden-object puzzles.

Toy Story 3 in Stores

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Disney's game Toy Story 3, based on the film of the same name, is now in stores. Available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PC, DS and PSP, the game has players taking on the role of Woody, Buzz or Jesse as they rescue their companion toys.
KonamiKonami's game Yard Sale Hidden Treasures: Sunnyville for the DS is now in stores. Released yesterday as a download for the Wii, this is a hidden object game that has players searching for objects hidden in local yard sales.
Scholastic has shipped its game I Spy Universe for the DS to stores. The game has players boarding a rocket to reignite the sun – a science-fiction process accomplished by playing a series of "I Spy" riddles.
UbisoftUbisoft's game Dance on Broadway for the Wii is now in stores. The game has players dancing along to 20 Broadway-style numbers.
Never mind the E3 activities, Sony has ventured ahead with yet another set of downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and PSP available through the PlayStation store, including:
Matrix Games, together with Slitherine Strategies has released Storm over the Pacific as both a download for the PC and shipped physical copy. Developed by Wastelands Interactive (who also developed WW2: Time of Wrath, the game focuses on World War II battles in the Pacific in which players can command individual nations or entire alliances on land, at sea and in the air.
At Sony's E3 event in Los Angeles today, the company added details to several expected announcements, including naming a date and price for the PlayStation Move accessories and a premium PlayStation Network service. Read on for more details:
NintendoNintendo's E3 conference fits the continuing trend of focusing on style of substance. The theme of the press conference seemed to be a cry of "We still have games core gamers might be interested in!" Yes, there was a big (and expected) 3D hardware announcement, but Nintendo primarily focused on games. Read on for more details:
505 Games' title Naval Assault: The Killing Tide for the Xbox 360 is now in stores in North America. Set in the North Atlantic during World War II, the game has players piloting submarines against the German fleet combining elements of stealth action and naval simulation.
MajescoMajesco's game Pirates Plundarr for the Wii is now in stores in North America. The game has players (with up to three friends) battling hordes of enemies as Caribbean pirates in search of plunder (I mean, "plundarr").
The ESAThe Entertainment Software Association (the ESA) released its annual survey profiling gamers. The ESA represents United States publishers, so the results reflect U.S. gamers. Read on for some of their findings:
MajescoMajesco reported its financial results for its fiscal second quarter ended April 30, 2010:
MicrosoftIt's truly amazing how little news actually seems to come out of E3 and its related events nowadays. So, we'll boil it down to a tiny train of text. Microsoft confirmed that the Kinect (renamed from Project Natal) will be released in North America on November 4 (reaching the rest of the world soon after). Yes, there will be a Star Wars game for the Kinect, along with a lot of other stuff that sounds like games already released on the Wii. Oh, and Microsoft plans to release a number of sequels to exclusive franchises that will (surprise!) remain exclusive. Finally, Microsoft has launched a new Xbox 360 including a shinier design, 250 GB hard drive, more USB ports, built-in WiFi at the same $300 price point as the previous Elite model.
NintendoNot to be daunted by this week's E3 conference, Nintendo is releasing yet more downloadable games for the Wii and DSi, including:
MicrosoftAt an acrobatic-themed event tonight (featuring Cirque du Soleil), Microsoft officially confirmed the name of Project Natal. Microsoft's upcoming control system that interfaces with the Xbox by observing the player's motions is called "Kinect." More details are officially forthcoming.
NintendoNintendo has launched 100 Classic Books for the DS. Now available in stores, this title includes classic books from authors such as Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Rudyard Kipling and Bram Stoker.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo

Platform: Wii
Reviewed on Wii

Princess Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser, the giant turtle-monster busy trying to conquer the galaxy. So what makes this game different from every other Mario game? Well... most of the levels are set on tiny planetoids, each with their own microgravity. Oh, wait... that's Super Mario Galaxy. This is Super Mario Galaxy 2, so all that stuff above holds true, but now there are more and different levels. For something so generic sounding, Super Mario Galaxy 2 is surprisingly fun and endearing.

Red27 Studios has released Awesome Soccer World 2010 as a download for the PC, Mac and Linux platforms. This soccer game includes 16 tournaments from around the world and highly customizable teams.
MajescoMajesco noted that Gui Karyo, the company's Executive Vice President of Operations is leaving the company. While Majesco's announcement hardly sounds panicked, it sounds very much as if Karyo has taken another position, and Majesco is "actively searching for Karyo's replacement."

E3 Approaches

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The Electronic Entertainment Expo is at hand. While the conference itself begins next week, events surrounding the conference begin this weekend, and many companies have already divulged their secrets at pre-E3 events. This upcoming week will be a major week for hype, and as FI has been moving away from covering hype and future releases, expect a quiet (or at least erratic) week. Don't fear though, we'll be sure to pass on any big news.
Mad CatzPeripheral manufacturer Mad Catz announced its financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter and fiscal year ended March 31, 2010:
Sega SammySega, part of Sega Sammy, confirmed that it plans to bring classic Dreamcast games to the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. These classic games, such as Crazy Taxi and Sonic Adventure will feature updated visuals and surround sound.
THQDoug Clemmer has resigned from his post with THQ's Kids, Family, Casual Games Business Unit. While he will remain until August to smooth the transition, THQ has promoted Martin Good to the post of Executive Vice President of Kids, Casual Games and Global Online Services (Good previously served as Senior Vice President of THQ Asia Pacific and Global Online Publishing). Related to this promotion, THQ's Online Services group will be integrated into the company's Core Games and Kids, Family and Casual Games Business. THQ has also moved Steve Dauterman to the role of Senior Vice President, Core Games Product Development and appointed Rodney Block as Managing Director of Asia Pacific.
Linden Lab, the company behind the online persistent space Second Life, announced a strategic restructuring that will see the company dropping 30% of its staff. Linden Labs will combine its product and engineering divisions in North America and will focus on transforming Second Life into a browser-based experience.
NexonNexon has officially launched its game Dungeon Fighter Online in North America. A version of the game has been live in Korea for some time, and the game has been in open beta testing in North America, but now the side-scrolling persistent online game is officially live in North America. The game has players joining together in the tradition of classic arcade brawlers to conquer hordes of foes while gaining equipment and leveling characters.
This week, two more downloadable games for the Xbox 360 arrive on Xbox Live Arcade:
MajescoMajesco has hired Chris Gray as the company's Senior Vice President of Production. Gray recently left Electronic Arts. At EA, Gray worked on Hasbro Games, making him suited to pursue Majesco's casual games strategy. To bring Gray over to Majesco's side, the company has granted him 200,000 shares of restricted stock that will vest over time and according to certain performance objectives.
Nyko Type PadAccessory manufacturer Nyko Technologies has shipped its Type Pad Pro for the Wii, now available at certain online and physical retailers. The Type Pad Pro attaches to the Wii Remote and allows players to perform thumbpad typing with Wii software that supports keyboard functionality, such as the Opera Browser, Animal Crossing and messaging.
UbisoftUbisoft has landed the PC version of Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands in stores. Console versions of the game shipped last month. In case you're confused by the regular reboots of this franchise, this is the game based on the film, based on the games that are based on those other games involving a jumping prince.
Sony has released more downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and PSP through the PlayStation Store, including:
Take-Two InteractiveTake-Two Interactive announced its financial results for its fiscal second quarter ended April 30, 2010:
CapcomCapcom's Mega Man: Zero Collection for the DS is now in stores. This title is a compilation of four Mega Man: Zero games previously released on the Game Boy.
Activision BlizzardActivision, part of Activision Blizzard, has launched Call of Duty: The War Collection for the Xbox 360 to stores in North America. The compilation includes Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 3 and Call of Duty: World at War for the price of one Xbox 360 title.
KonamiKonami's game Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker for the PSP is now in stores. This latest stealth/action Metal Gear Solid game explores events of the 1970s, set between Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, when Naked Snake fought in Costa Rica.
Tycoon Games has released Card Sweethearts for the PC, Mac and Linux as a download. With elements of a dating simulation, successful interactions culminate in a game of strip poker.
Harmonix (part of MTV Games), together with Electronic Arts, has shipped Green Day: Rock Band to stores. This Rock Band game features 47 Green Day tracks and is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. The game should reach stores in Europe later this week.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts' game Tiger Woods PGA Tour '11 is now in stores. Available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii, this latest Tiger Woods golf game supports up to 24 players competing on two teams.
NintendoNintendo has released another slate of downloadable games for the Wii and DSi, celebrating the arrival of another Monday:
Paradox InteractiveTo celebrate the 66th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy to strike back against Nazi forces during World War II, Paradox Interactive has launched Hearts of Iron III: Semper Fi. Semper Fi is an expansion for the strategy game Hearts of Iron III that allows players to determine their own hidden victory conditions, adds hundreds of new events and vastly improves the game's AI.
TurbineTurbine, recently purchased by Warner Bros., confirmed that it plans to transform The Lord of the Rings Online into a free-to-play game as it did with Dungeons & Dragons Online. Beta testing will begin on June 16, with the free-to-play version of the game launching later this year. As with DDO, players will be able to play for free, join the VIP program to get access to everything for a subscription fee, or purchase expansions, quest packs and services for individual fees.
This week's addition to Xbox Live Arcade is Snoopy Flying Ace. Downloadable to the Xbox 360 for 800 points ($10), this arcade-style flight combat game allows players to battle in 16 planes as any of the Peanuts gang, or using their own Xbox Live Avatar.
GameStopGame Retailer GameStop confirmed that it has promoted much of its senior executive staff. The promotions are only odd in that they bear the typical names of senior leadership in a company, but appear to split the company's leadership between objectives, with some focusing on physical retail and others focusing on online delivery. The split leads FI to wonder if GameStop's management will be able to take a coherent approach to game sales, especially in light of publishers' efforts to limit used game sales, GameStop's bread and butter. Read on for details concerning the specific promotions:
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts has chosen to rename its NBA-licensed basketball franchise from NBA Live to NBA Elite, such that the next game to be released will be NBA Elite '11.
MajescoMajesco, together with Tetris Online, has released Tetris Party Deluxe for the Wii and DS to stores in North America. The game expands on the previously released Tetris Party with even more features changing the way you play Tetris on Nintendo's platforms.
Bass Pro Shops: The Hunt from Griffin International and XS Games is now available for the Xbox 360 and Wii. Using gear available in the Bass Pro Shops stores, players hunt game such as deer in famous hunting locations.
Sony's game Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow is now in stores for the PlayStation 2. This sequel to Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror has Gabe Logan racing to recover a technology stolen by an extremist group of criminals. The game was released for the PSP in 2007.
Sony has released a new slate of downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and PSP through the PlayStation Store, including:
PSP GoSony continues to try to push the PSP Go with a fancy sales package and is launching a line of newly discounted games. Firstly, Sony is launching a "Favorites" line of PSP games, selling at $10. These are similar to the "Greatest Hits" games that retail for $20. Also, people who purchase a new PSP Go in North America will receive vouchers for three downloadable titles (Little Big Planet, Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters and SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs - Fireteam Bravo 3).
Crave's game America's Next Top Model is in stores for the Wii and DS. Based on the television series of the same name, the game puts players in control of an aspiring model competing in various challenges. Presumably, players of America's Next Top Model can use their DS stylus or Wii remote to purge.
Sega SammyAlpha Protocol from Sega, part of Sega Sammy Holdings, has reached stores in North America. This espionage game has players taking their own path to uncover the connection between a military contractor and worldwide terrorist activities.
UbisoftUbisoft's Pure Futbol is now in stores for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This arcade-style soccer game features five-on-five matches.

Alpha Protocol Review

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Alpha Protocol Publisher: Sega
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC
Reviewed on PlayStation 3

When the United States government needs dirty work done, they turn to Alpha Protocol, an agency with little oversight and plenty of resources. When gamers want to enter the world of international espionage, they can play Alpha Protocol and enter a world of covert agents where choices must be made in the blink of an eye and can mean life or death.

505 Games' title Backbreaker for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is now in stores in North America. This football game doesn't feature licensed teams, but does sport physics-based motion and brutal (but legal) plays.
Bigpoint GmbH, a game company that specializes in browser games, has acquired Radon Labs. Radon recently declared bankruptcy, after a string of gamer releases including two Drakensang titles. More than 30 of Radon's employees will join Bigpoint's Berlin office.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts has shipped The Sims 3: Ambitions expansion pack for The Sims 3 to stores worldwide (the game should be in stores by the end of the week). The expansion is also available as a download. The expansion adds plenty of new content, including new careers such as ghost hunter, sculptor, inventor, doctor and firefighter.
Mad CatzAccessory manufacturer Mad Catz Interactive has acquired 100% of the stock of Tritton Technologies, a privately-owned audio headset manufacturer. To acquire the company, Mad Catz has paid $1.45 million in cash, with up to $8.65 million in future payments depending on the performance of Tritton products over the next five years. Mad Catz will also continue to employ Tritton's founder and former Chief Executive Officer Christopher Von Huben along with several other key employees.

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