Editor: September 2010 Archives

In case you doubted that microtransactions are firmly part of the gaming landscape, Valve has jumped into the game with its online, multiplayer, first-person shooter Team Fortress 2. Team Fortress 2 now integrates the "Mann-conomy" allowing players to visit the Mann Co. Store and buy items using cash they've loaded into their (recently launched) Steam Wallet. Such purchased items confer bonuses that advantage the purchaser in online play. It's not that this is a dreadful surprise (although some players are angry about the purchased bonuses), it's that this is another nail in the coffin for the hope of avoiding micropayments everywhere. It's like when your great-grandmother got an e-mail account - you knew internet communication was firmly entrenched.
PlayFirst has released Cooking Dash 3: Thrills and Spills as a download for the PC and Mac. This Diner Dash time-management game has players preparing theme-park meals in wacky restaurants.
I-play, part of Oberon Media, has released Women's Murder Club: Little Black Lies as a download for the PC. This hidden-object-style adventure game is the fourth such PC game based on James Patterson's Women's Murder Club novels. Women's Murder Club: Little Black Lies sees a famous author discovered dead in her car.
Czech developer Bohemia Interactive (responsible for games such as Arma 2) has acquired three other Czech developers: Brno-based Altar Games and Prague-based Black Element Software and Centauri Productions. Financial terms were not disclosed, and Bohemia Interactive insists all the studios will continue to operate individually, just as part of Bohemia Interactive.
Square EnixThe regular edition of Square Enix's massively multiplayer online game Final Fantasy XIV for the PC is finally in stores. The collector's edition shipped to stores last week, but those who didn't want to shell out an extra $25 or more can finally get in on the fun. This is a new massively multiplayer online game experience set in the universe of the Final Fantasy games.
Nintendo's 3DSNintendo finally confirmed the launch date and price of its upcoming 3DS handheld that got so much attention for its portable 3D gaming capabilities (without glasses) at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. First the important details - the system will launch in Japan on February 26, 2011 for ¥25,000 and will come in blue and black. The launch in North America and Europe is expected to follow the next month, with prices widely speculated to be between $250 and $300. Read on for more details...
Korean publisher Gravity Interactive signed an agreement yesterday to acquire 50.8% of Barunson Interactive, a Korean online game developer. The transaction should close on October 25, when Gravity Interactive will pay 11.688 million Korean Won (around $10 million) to acquire a majority stake in and control of Barunson. Barunson was founded in 2003 and is responsible for Dragonica.
This week's Xbox Live Arcade release is Hydrophobia, downloadable to the Xbox 360 for 1,200 points ($15). Developed by Dark Energy Digital, this action game is built around the game's fluid dynamics engine, making water and oil more interesting tools than in standard action games.
THQTHQ's game Scripps Spelling Bee for the DS is now in stores. As the title suggests, players practice spelling words and can compete against other local players.
According to a survey by market research firm NPD, only 6% of gamers downloaded premium content through their online-connected consoles (compared to 15% of PC and Mac owners). There has been considerable criticism of NPD's methodology of late, but to the extent this survey reflects reality, it suggests both that there is tremendous income potential for game publishers to increase the base of players downloading content, and that the day of converting game content to premium downloads is further off than FI expected.
City InteractiveCity Interactive has shipped its game Farm Frenzy: Animal Country for the DS to stores in North America. This farming simulation has players raising animals and upgrading their farm to win a series of awards.
Sony has released a variety of new, downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and PSP through the PlayStation Store, including a new Lara Croft Adventure, further DeathSpank adventures and a 2D RTS. Read on for more details...
Frogster Interactive Pictures AG has released its interim financial report for the first half of its fiscal 2010 year. Read on for more details:
Kalypso MediaKalypso's compilation Tropico 3: Gold Edition for the PC has shipped to stores in North America. This compilation includes Tropico 3 along with the Absolute Power expansion. This dictatorship simulation allows players to lead the Caribbean nation of Tropico.
AtariAtari has released its game Haunted House for the Wii to stores. This game is a re-imagining of the classic game of the same name released on the Atari 2600. The game is also available as a download for the PC.

Quantum Theory Reaches Stores

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Tecmo KoeiTecmo Koei's game Quantum Theory is now available in stores for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game casts players as a warrior named Syd, entering a "Living Tower" to destroy it for good.
Activision BlizzardActivision Publishing, part of Activision Blizzard, has released Rapala Pro Bass Fishing for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PSP, PlayStation 2 and DS. The Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii versions are all available with controllers or peripherals to make the fishing experience feel more authentic. The game has players seeking freshwater trophy fish in seven prime North American fishing spots. The PSP version of the game can also be downloaded from the PlayStation Store.
Activision BlizzardActivision Publishing, part of Activision Blizzard, has shipped its Dreamworks 2-in-1 Party Pack for the DS to stores. This compilation includes the previously released Shrek's Carnival Craze and Madagascar Kartz.

Dead Rising 2 Reaches Stores

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CapcomCapcom's game Dead Rising 2 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC is now available in stores. Building on the zombie survival action of the original Dead Rising and following the events of Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, Dead Rising 2 has Motocross champion Chuck Greene striving to survive a zombie-filled reality show in casino filled Fortune City.
NIS America's game Atelier Rorona: The Alchemists of Arland for the PlayStation 3 is now in stores in North America. This Japanese-style role-playing game features turn-based battles and a complex alchemy system for converting found objects and loot into useful items.

MorphX Ships for the Xbox 360

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505 Games has shipped MorphX for the Xbox 360 to stores in North America. This third-person shooter has players defending the last remnants of humankind from an alien swarm. To do so, players may engineer their own genetic code to gain special abilities.
Square EnixSquare Enix has shipped Front Mission Evolved for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC to stores in North America. Developed by Double Helix Games, together with Square Enix, this Front Mission game is a third-person shooter featuring gigantic walking tanks called "Wanzers." This game makes a break with past Front Mission games, abandoning the series' turn-based combat in favor of real-time shooting action as players battle online or fight terrorism (with Wanzers) in the single-player campaign.

FIFA Soccer 11 Ships Worldwide

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Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts' game FIFA Soccer 11 is now available in stores in North America and will reach stores in Europe by the end of the week. The game is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, PlayStation 2, PSP, DS and a variety of mobile platforms. The Wii version should ship next week. This latest game in EA's soccer franchise features updated player and passing control. Owners of the game can also subscribe to services that will update the tendencies of real players so that their in-game avatars reflect real-world behaviors.
MajescoMajesco's game Greg Hastings Paintball 2 for the Xbox 360 and Wii is now available in stores in North America. The game features offline and online play with 10 modes and 62 paintball fields baed on real-world locations. This game qualifies as a first-person shooter, as long as you don't mind relying exclusively on non-lethal ammunition.
Activision BlizzardActivision Publishing, part of Activision Blizzard, has released Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii to stores in North America. This latest Guitar Hero game adds an "epic Quest Mode" and close to one hundred tracks on the disc (in addition to other content available for purchase). The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game were developed by Neversoft, while Vicarious Visions developed the Wii version of the game.

MySims SkyHeroes Reaches Stores

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Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts' game MySims SkyHeroes for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and DS is now in stores. This game is a The Sims-style take on aerial combat. The single-player campaign begins with an amnesiac pilot crashing on an island and joining fellow crash victims to take down Morcubus, a villain working to control the local skies. The game also supports online dogfights and races.
Take-Two Interactive2K Games, a label of Take-Two Interactive, has released Sid Meier's Pirates! for the Wii. Although other versions of the game were released an entire console generation ago, Wii owners can finally enjoy this game of Caribbean swashbuckling (based on a classic PC title), where every activity is a mini-game in its own right, tied together with broad exploration.
Frogster America announced that it has appointed Dirk Meyer zu Drewer as the company's interim Chief Executive Officer as the company searches for a permanent CEO. Previously, he has served as the company's Chief Financial Officer. This follows Frogster's announcement that it is distancing itself from several executives.
Ron Gilbert, a developer known for his work on the Monkey Island games and the recent DeathSpank, has joined Tim Schafer's Double Fine Productions. This is more than the typical changing-jobs announcement, since Gilbert and Schafer are two of the most talented developers around when it comes to putting humor in games. FI is excited to see what new game Gilbert will be working on at Double Fine.

The Sims 3 Deluxe Ships to Stores

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Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts has shipped The Sims 3 Deluxe to stores. This compilation includes The Sims 3 that shipped last year as well as the "Ambitions" expansion pack for this simulation game.
MicrosoftJust in case you were concerned that Microsoft isn't sufficiently exploiting the advertising potential of its services, rest assured that when its Kinect controller launches on November 4, Microsoft has substantially integrated advertising into Kinect menus and games. T-mobile ads will pervade Kinect Sports, Sprint will provide a "co-branded retail experience" and Chevrolet will let consumers test-drive Chevy vehicles in Kinect Joy Ride. Rest assured that Microsoft will find other ways to sell out your valuable eyeball space. At least until the company can force you to take an advertising suppository each time you download a new game.
NintendoThis week's downloadable games from Nintendo include a dangerous backyard toy, invading insects and an item-heavy role-playing game. Read on for more details:
NintendoNintendo has released Samurai Warriors 3 for the Wii, the first time that a Samurai Warriors game has been released for the Wii. This tactical-action game set in feudal Japan gives players the option to use the Wii Remote battle.
Frequent Video game players use different parts of their brains to perform "complex visuomotor tasks," meaning that when gamers manipulate images using controls, they process things differently. In an article called "Extensive video-game experience alters cortical networks for complex visuomotor transformations" in the October 2010 issue of Cortex (Volume 46, Issue 9), researchers from the Center for Vision Research at York University in Toronto, Canada (together with York University and the University of Waterloo) subjected a small population of young men to visuomotor tests while examining their brain function using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Non-game-players showed increased activity in the parietal cortex (associated with hand-eye coordination), while experienced gamers showed increased activity in the prefrontal cortex. While this was only a study performed on a small number of young, male individuals, it offers further evidence that gaming (in particular) helps the brain alter the way in which it performs tasks, potentially making it more efficient.
The President of Disney Interactive Media Group, Steve Wadsworth, recently resigned from his post. The Disney Interactive Media Group includes Disney's games business. Wadsworth ran the group since 1999, although video games only became part of his purview in 2008. His next move was not disclosed, but Wadsworth will stay on to help transition to his (unannounced) replacement.
SouthPeak GamesSouthPeak Games has released Lost Horizon as a downloadable game through a variety of online portals. This adventure game has players racing against the Nazis to find artifacts that might enable the Nazi's quest for world domination.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts has released The Sims 3: Barnacle Bay, a downloadable addition for The Sims 3 that includes 18 new objects and clothing items as well as the Barnacle Bay island getaway.
AtariAtari has launched its "Atari Games Online" ("Atari GO") initiative. The platform is designed to support the development and delivery of online games, particularly casual and social games. The initiative is aimed at connecting online portals and developers through an Atari unit led by Thom Kozik, Executive Vice President of Online and Mobile at Atari.
Alawar Entertainment has released a new hidden-object adventure-style game called Twisted Lands: Shadow Town for the PC and Mac as a download. This is the first game in a new episodic series that has players acting as a man in search of his wife, who disappeared when their boat capsized nearby.

Darksiders Ships for the PC

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THQTHQ's game Darksiders has shipped for the PC to stores worldwide. Darksiders already shipped in January for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The game has been re-engineered since the console release, but still has players taking on the role of War (one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse) as he punishes those who prematurely ended mankind's existence.
VTree has released My Golf Game Featuring Ernie Els in cooperation with golf pro Ernie Els. My Golf Game for the PC can be purchased directly from VTree, and is built using Electronic Arts' game engine. The difference is that this is a game built to be playable by PC owners with a wide range of disabilities, and supports extremely flexible input methods.
AtariAtari has hired consultant Alexander Chung as the company's new Senior Director of Digital Strategy and Distribution. "Mr. Chung will be responsible for Atari's casual and PC digital distribution strategy in North America."
Square EnixSquare Enix has released the Collector's Edition of Final Fantasy XIV, the latest Final Fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online game. Of course, only the Collector's Edition is available this week. The regular edition can't be purchased until next week. That's because along with the "behind-the-scenes" DVD and extra in-game items sold in the Collector's Edition, purchasers of this more expensive box get to play for a week before everyone else gets to start.
This week sees the release of three more Xbox Live Arcade games that can be downloaded to the Xbox 360. This week's releases allow players to shoot aliens on an injured space hulk, battle in search of magical thongs or shoot whatever the heck it is one shoots in Serious Sam games. Read on for details:
CodemastersCodemasters has shipped its game F1 2010 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC to stores worldwide. This is the official game of the 2010 Formula One World Championship and includes the official teams, drivers and circuits from this season's races. The game should hit stores in Europe by the end of the week, and North America slightly earlier.
Yet another bowling game has shipped for the PlayStation 3. High Velocity Bowling can now be purchased as a retail disc from stores, and includes PlayStation Move support. If you already owned High Velocity Bowling (previously available as a download from the PlayStation Network), then you can download an update that adds PlayStation Move support... but only if you are a PlayStation Plus member... for now.
Disney's game Disney Fairies: Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue is now available for the DS. Just in case gamers hadn't had enough of Tinkerbell's previous Disney Fairies outing, they can now have several fairies team up to bring summer to the English Countryside. The game interacts with Disney's Pixie Hollow portal.
Mumbo Jumbo's game Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allen Poe Conspiracy for the DS is available in stores. This is a hidden-object-style adventure game in which players are guided by Edgar Allen Poe to solve the mystery surrounding Poe's death.
Matrix Games and Slitherine Strategies, together with developer Forced March Games, have released Hannibal: Rome and Carthage in the Second Punic War. This turn-based strategy game is what its title says - a game covering the Second Punic war between Rome and Carthage.
CraveCrave Entertainment's game Brunswick Pro Bowling launched in 2007 for platforms such as the Wii, PlayStation 2 and PSP, but with the arrival of the PlayStation Move, Crave has shipped a new version of the game for the PlayStation 3, compatible with the PlayStation Move. This will certainly not be the last bowling game released for the PlayStation 3's Move accessory.
AtlusAtlus' game Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City is now available for the DS. This third Etrian Odyssey role-playing game features dungeon crawling and turn-based combat as they player leads five adventurers through the Labyrinth.
Take-Two InteractiveNew Carnival Games for the Wii and DS, from 2K Play (part of Take-Two Interactive) is now available in stores in North America. This compilation builds on the original Carnival Games with even more family-friendly games and attractions.
Disney's Club Penguin: Game Day! for the Wii is now available in stores. Based on the popular online property Club Penguin, this Wii game connects with the online game allowing players to compete with penguins in 12 winter sport challenges.
Take-Two Interactive2K Games, a label of Take-Two Interactive, has released Sid Meier's Civilization V to stores and as a download. This latest installment in the classic series of turn-based strategy and civilization simulation transforms the map from a grid to hexagonal spaces and offers a variety of changes from previous versions to make the game deeper for enthusiasts and simpler for newcomers to understand.
Not only has Sony released new downloadable games for the PSP and PlayStation 3, Sony has started releasing old Japanese games from the original PlayStation era for North American consumption. Add to that the fact that Sony is launching the PlayStation Store update a day early (in anticipation of network outages tomorrow) and it's a wacky day for the PlayStation Store. Read on for more details on the specific games:

King's Bounty: Crossworlds Review

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King's Bounty: Crossworlds Publisher: 1C Company
Developer: Katauri


Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: Pentium 4 2.6 GHz, 1 GB RAM, GeForce 6800 or Radeon X800 video card or better with at least 256 MB VRAM, 5.5 GB HD space, Windows XP or more recent operating system

Princess Amelie has the same problems she faced last year – she's stranded in an entirely different world, seeking out the hero who previously saved her and loyally served her father. With the release of King's Bounty: Crossworlds, orcs are swarming through that same alternate world, and while Amelie has more tools with which to find her father's savior, she also confronts more challenges and an entirely different race of soldiers that can be either powerful allies or deadly foes.

PlayStation 3Sony has released the v3.50 update for the PlayStation 3's firmware. This update adds support for the playback of 3D Blu-ray movies. The update also includes support for developers who want to integrate Facebook with their games. Perhaps most exciting is the addition of a grief reporting function that will allow PlayStation 3 users to report inappropriate messages.
Nintendo of America's Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Cammie Dunaway has resigned from Nintendo of America effective October 1. Nintendo has not named a replacement, but Nintendo reassured everyone that Dunaway is taking a job outside of the game industry (presumably to avoid speculation that Dunaway had jumped ship to another publisher or console manufacturer).
In a brief announcement, publisher Frogster Interactive declared, "The Frogster Group has separated itself ad hoc from Ralf Klöppel, Björn and Lars Koschin the days before yesterday. Ralf Klöppel and Björn Koschin were recalled with immediate effect at the subsidiary Frogster Online Gaming GmbH. Lars Koschin was releived [sic] from his duties at the subsidiary Frogster America. Inc. The consulting agreement with Rolf Klöppel had not been prolonged already back in spring." Lars Koschin headed Frogster's North American publishing arm. This is certainly related to Gameforge's acquisition of Frogster, surely reconsidering its senior staff appointments as it consolidates its new possession.
NintendoThis week's additions to Nintendo's selection of downloadable games includes "the most advanced recreational throwing game" and the perils of "Plan B." Read on for more details:
Phoenix Online Studios released the first episode of The Silver Lining in July. The Silver Lining is an adventure game and fan-made continuation of the King's Quest series of games published by Sierra Online (now owned by Activision Blizzard). The first episode was called "What is Decreed Must Be." The second episode, called "Two Households," is now available as a free download, as well.
PlayStation MoveThe PlayStation Move hardware is busy reaching stores, so Sony has a variety of games powered by the PlayStation Move also arriving in stores. Some of the games available today include EyePet, Kung Fu Rider, Sports Champions and Start the Party!. Read on for more details concerning each game:
KalypsoPublisher Kalypso has released Patrician IV as a download through Valve's Steam service and as a physical copy in certain stores in Europe. This is an historical trading simulation, and while it could be classed as a strategy game, it's more of interest to the merchants out there than the warmongers.
Encore Software, part of Navarre Corporation, has released Who Wants to Be a Millionaire for the PC, in case you haven't had enough of that title on television and in other game formats. So, here's another version that features 3,000 questions and the traditional help options like "Phone a Friend" and "Ask the Audience."
Storm City Games has shipped Alpha and Omega for the DS to stores in North America. The game is based on the film of the same name (also released today) and allows players to take on the roles of the two wolves as they complete four different mini-games.
Encore Software, part of Navarre Corporation, has released Hollywood Squares for the PC. The game can be purchased in retail stores in North America for $20 and is based on the long-running game show (it launched in 1965) of the same name.
PlayStation MoveSony's PlayStation Move is shipping to stores in North America and will be available, at the latest, on Sunday. This motion-sensitive controller system for the PlayStation 3 requires the PlayStation Eye camera to support full motion-capture in games. Plus, it has a nifty-glowing ball thingie at the end of the controller that can change color. Read on for pricing and bundle options.
1C Company, a Russian publisher, together with Katauri Interactive has released King's Bounty: Crossworlds as a downloadable game for the PC. This is a massive expansion for King's Bounty: Armored Princess that adds a lot of content to the previous game along with two new campaigns. The game can either be purchased as a "stand-alone" expansion for those who don't have Armored Princess or as an addition to a previous purchase of Armored Princess. The game has players exploring a fantasy world in real-time, and unraveling the plot and adventure through a series of turn-based tactical encounters. Our review is in the queue for posting, but it's very positive!

APB Shuts Down

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The recent bankruptcy of Realtime Worlds left the fate of its almost-as-recently-launched massively multiplayer online game APB in limbo. Now, APB is no more. The game is closed down, the servers are offline and there's no official word concerning anyone's unused payments. Presumably, if you gave APB money that you haven't used, you're out of luck. With APB launching on June 29, that makes it one of the shorter-lived MMOGs on the market. Even shorter than Fighting Legends.
SegaSega's game Phantasy Star Portable 2 arrived in stores this week (and is available as a download for the PSP). The game has players becoming mercenaries in the Gurhal system playing cooperatively or competitively online.
Flying Lab Software announced that it plans to join the crew of former subscription-based massively multiplayer online games that are converting to a free-to-play model. Pirates of the Burning Sea will become a free-to-play game later this fall, supplemented by a cash shop, when it releases its next major content update later this fall. Oh, and, by the way, today the game released a major content update called "Power & Prestige." The update brings new missions and port governance to the piratically-themed game.
The founders of Guerrilla Games, Martin de Ronde and Michiel Mol, have formed a new developer called the Vanguard Entertainment Group. Ronde and Mol sold Guerrilla (responsible for Killzone) to Sony four years ago. Now, their new studio merges Ronde and Mol's previous company, Karami, with W! Games (the developer of Greed Corp.). Vanguard intends to focus on the convergence of online social games and console-based gaming.
Square EnixSquare Enix is entering into a strategic partnership that will see Chinese online game publisher operate Final Fantasy XIV in China.
CapcomCapcom announced that it has purchased Canadian game developer Blue Castle Games. Previously known for sports games, Blue Castle Games has been working on Dead Rising 2 (including Dead Rising 2: Case Zero), and clearly Capcom is sufficiently pleased to engulf the studio. Blue Castle Games will be renamed Capcom Games Studio Vancouver. Financial terms for the deal were not disclosed.
GameStopRetailer GameStop's Board of Directors has authorized a $500 program to prop up the company's stock price. $300 million will be used for a share repurchase plan, with $200 million going to retire the company's Senior Notes. GameStop emphasized that the measures were to "increase shareholder returns." Generally, companies authorize stock buybacks when the company feels the stock is undervalued. Similarly, companies might have many reasons for retiring debt, including meeting certain financial covenants or just not having a better investment into which they can put cash.

Demon's Souls Joins Greatest Hits

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AtlusAtlus is thrilled to let everyone know that its game Demon's Souls for the PlayStation 3 is now a "Greatest Hits" title and can be purchased for $30. This brutally difficult dungeon crawl features online interactivity that allows players to interact with other players' online role-playing game worlds.
Activision BlizzardCabela's North American Adventures from Activision Publishing, part of Activision Blizzard, is now in stores for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PSP and PlayStation 2. The game has participants shooting trophy game from Alaska to Mexico, and is also available as a download for the PSP.
This week's downloadable games for Xbox Live Arcade are a remastered and a re-imagined classic. Sonic Adventure updates the classic Dreamcast game for the Xbox 360, while Space Invaders Infinity Gene takes the classic arcade shooter in a warped direction.
Sony Online EnertainmentSony Online Entertainment, in conjunction with LucasArts, has launched Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, a free-to-play massively multiplayer online game for the PC based on the animated television series of the same name. The game casts players as a hero of the Republic, exploring, attending social events and playing mini-games based on the animated series, with content updates linked to the release of new episodes.
Sony has released even more downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and PSP through the PlayStation Store, including:
Scooby-Doo! and the Spooky Swamp from Warner Bros. is now in stores. Available for the Wii, PlayStation 2 and DS, this game has Mystery Inc. investigating the mystery of a swamp girl by solving a series of puzzles.
The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest is now in stores for the PlayStation 3, with other versions (for the PlayStation 2, PSP, DS and Wii) hitting stores any moment now. The game is based on the recent film trilogy and has players battling through Aragorn's most exciting clashes with Sauron's forces. The PlayStation 3 version of the game supports the PlayStation Move accessory.
Disney's game Phineas and Ferb Ride Again for the DS is now in stores. Based on the animated series, the game has players exploring worlds inspired by the show and participating in a variety of mini-games.

Gladiator Begins Reaches the PSP

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Gladiator Begins for the PSP from Aksys Games is now available. This action game has players customizing their own gladiator and battling through a series of bloody battles for the pleasure of the Romans.
UbisoftUbisoft's game Racquet Sports for the PlayStation 3 is available in stores. The game supports five different racquet sports and requires the PlayStation Move motion control system for the PlayStation 3 to simulate the various games.

Top Gun Available for the PC

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Paramount Digital Entertainment has released its game Top Gun as a download for the PC through Valve's steam service. The game was previously released on consoles and is a flight combat game based on the iconic film of the same name.
MajescoMajesco announced the financial results of its third fiscal quarter ended July 31, 2010:
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts had Nielsen conduct a study of some of Nielsen's Homescan panel households to determine the efficacy of EA's in-game advertising. Not surprisingly, EA's conclusion was that everyone should purchase in-game advertising... with EA. Read on for details and to learn why Halo players will soon be purchasing more needlers.
MastiffMastiff's game Deer Drive for the DS has shipped to stores. This hunting game (previously released on other platforms) allows players to hunt a variety of wild game across five environments.
AtariAtari has hired John Hayase as Senior Vice President of Product Development, where he will oversee Atari's development studios and manage Atari's game development. Prior to joining Atari, Hayase worked as Executive Director of Development and Studio Head at Sony Online Entertainment. Hayase will report directly to Atari's Chief Executive Officer Jeff Lapin.
KonamiKonami has shipped Gormiti: The Lords of Nature for the Wii and DS to stores in North America. Based on the Gormiti animated show, the game has players exploring the island of Gorm while helping the Lords of Earth, Sea, Air and Forest battle the evil Magmion.
THQTHQ's game Fancy Nancy: Tea Party Time for the DS is now in stores. The game allows players to dress Fancy Nancy in six different fancy outfits for a tea party, play a few mini-games and create accessories using the DSi camera.
MajescoMajesco's game Swords for the Wii is now available at stores in North America. Swords uses the Wii Remote, together with the Wii MotionPlus, to train their virtual sword skills and then battle a series of eight opponents.

Truth or Lies Reaches Stores

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THQTHQ's game Truth or Lies for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii is now in stores in North America. This multiplayer party game has players answering a variety of questions verbally, and then using simple stress-analysis to suggest players are telling the truth or lying.

Dawn of Heroes Ships for the DS

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MajescoMajesco's game Dawn of Heroes for the DS has shipped to stores in North America. The game is a classic, dungeon-crawl-style game for the DS that lets players build up a party and pursue a variety of combat-heavy missions.
Warner Bros.' game Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and DS has shipped to stores in North America. Based on the animated film of the same name, the game has players flying as they fight and explore through a variety of levels based on scenes in the film.

Halo: Reach Now Available

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MicrosoftOnce the clock struck midnight this morning, Halo: Reach for the Xbox 360 went on sale in countries all over the world. This latest installation in the headlining franchise for the Xbox and Xbox 360 is a prequel to the other Halo games, depicting how the conflict with the Covenant began, following a group of Spartans on Noble Team as they resist the invasion of the planet Reach.
An article in the September 14, 2010 issue of Current Biology (Volume 20, Issue 17) demonstrates that players of action-oriented video games are better able to make snap decisions than those who do not. In an article entitled "Improved Probabilistic Inference as a General Learning Mechanism with Action Video Games", researchers at the University of Rochester showed that "action video game experience does indeed improve probabilistic inference."
Plants vs. Zombies Publisher: PopCap Games
Developer: PopCap Games


Platforms: Xbox 360, PC and Mac
Reviewed on Xbox 360

I'm a dismal gardener. I'm even less interested in gardening and farming simulations than I am in actually tilling the soil. But when that gardening is point-and-click, and purely in the interest of fending off waves of pole-vaulting, Zomboni-driving undead, there's nothing I'd rather be doing than sowing a few sunflowers. So, with seeds in hand and a horde of zombies ready to storm my lawn and scale my roof, it's time to get planting!

Battlefront.com has released Combat Mission: Afghanistan for the PC as either a download or a shipped version (both from Battlefront.com). The game uses the Combat Mission engine to cover the Russian-Afghan war, with campaigns available for both the 1980-1982 phase and 1985-1987 phase.

House M.D. Available for the PC

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Legacy Interactive has released House M.D. for the PC to stores in North America and as a download through Legacy's site. Based on the television series of the same name, this game mixes adventure-game style puzzles with mini-games and laboratory exercises to resolve plots in the style of the show.
NintendoIt's Monday, and that means there's a new supply of downloadable games from Nintendo for the Wii and DSi. This week, however, is light on releases:
NintendoNintendo has released its game Professor Layton and the Unwound Future for the DS to stores. The game is available today, allowing players to solve tons of puzzles to prevent the city of London from falling into disarray.
There is a long-running uproar in the gaming community concerning used game sales, with some gamers aghast that codes for downloadable content are diminishing the value of used game purchases. This Wired article has a marvelous overview of today's decision that software makers "can use shrink-wrap and click-wrap licenses to forbid the transfer or resale of their wares, an apparent gutting of the so-called first-sale doctrine." Read on for more details...
Carpe Fulgur has released Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale for the PC as a download through download portals Steam, Impulse and Gamer's Gate. The game has players running an item shop (the sort you find in nearly every role-playing game), managing inventory and dispatching adventurers to stock up the shop.
The Entertainment Software Association filed its brief asking the United States Supreme Court to find unconstitutional the 2005 California Law restricting the sale of video games. The Supreme Court will examine this issue, with oral arguments starting on November 2. As expected, The ESA is emphasizing that the California law is a violation of the First Amendment protections guaranteed by the Constitution, also emphasizing lower court precedents that have struck down several such laws. In the ESA's (understandably biased) own words:
BioShock 2: Minerva's Den Publisher: Take-Two Interactive (2K Games)
Developer: 2K Games


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

The "Sigma" model prototype Big Daddy has been reactivated to perform a critical task. He must back up the operating system of Rapture's computer system and transport the workings of this phenomenal machine safely to the surface world. In doing so, Sigma is trapped at the fulcrum of the power struggle between Charles Milton Porter and Reed Wahl, the co-creators of "The Thinker" – Rapture's computer system. Porter fell from grace and remains obsessed with his long-dead wife. Wahl is obsessed with probabilities and Hari Seldon-style mathematical predictions of the future. Will Sigma reach the computing core, or fall victim to the decaying infrastructure of Rapture and maniacal splicers.

TurbineTurbine, Inc. (part of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) has completed its official re-launch of its massively multiplayer online game The Lord of the Rings Online as a free-to-play game. Yes, these dates are always a little complicated with beta tests and head-start play time, but Turbine says it's now official, so we'll go with... wait for it... right now. The basic game is free to play, and cash can be used to purchase items, special classes and regional quest packs.

Dead Rising: Case Zero Review

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Dead Rising: Case Zero Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Blue Castle Games


Platform: Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360

Motocross Star Chuck Green is desperate to escape a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas with his ailing daughter. Only a regular dose of Zombrex will keep Chuck's daughter healthy, and just short of the quarantine perimeter, his Zombrex (and truck) is stolen. Chuck has 12 hours to find Zombrex in a town filled with the shambling dead. Fortunately, just about everything can be used to kill zombies, and searching for Zombrex is more fun when you strap chainsaws to both ends of a kayak paddle.

Frictional Games has released its game Amnesia: The Dark Descent as a download for the PC. This is a first-person horror game in which players awaken in a castle, striving to survive through a waking nightmare. We're not even sure we should mention another title from Frictional Games on a site with "Frictionless" in the name.
NCsoftNCsoft is planning to merge most of its remaining Lineage II servers. While that's a certain indicator that the population of this massively multiplayer online game has fallen, it will improve the game experience for the game's remaining players. On October 5, all of the North American servers will be merged, just as the European servers will be merged.
This week's downloadable games for Xbox Live Arcade include the ultimate battle between botanical and undead opponents, as well as a dancing game straight out of Germany:
Gravity Interactive reminded us that the joint venture between THQ and Chinese Game Operator Ice (called THQ Ice) has been dissolved. As such, Gravity has acquired the publishing rights to Dragonica Online (that was formerly being published by THQ Ice) and plans to publish Dragonica Online in September.
It's Tuesday, so Sony has released a few more downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and PSP through the PlayStation Store, including:
Andre Vrignaud, Microsoft's director of game platform strategy, announced on his personal blog that he's "...moving on from Microsoft to take a new role at Amazon." Rampant speculation leans toward Vrignaud either working on Kindle gaming applications or (fuelled by a previous job posting from Amazon) an online game aggregation service. FI is betting on both... unless Vrignaud ends up embedding pencil and paper puzzle games on the inside covers of paperbacks to prop up flagging sales of physical books.
AtlusAtlus' game 101-in-1 Sports Megamix for the DS is now available in stores. This compilation includes a ton of sports-themed mini-games for Nintendo's handheld gamers.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts has released the latest "stuff pack" for The Sims 3, this time called "Fast Lane." The Sims 3: Fast Lane Stuff introduces four types of vehicles (racing, intrigue, rockabilly and luxury) with associated styles of furnishings and fashions. The Sims 3 owners can also use the expansion to build fancy garages. This stuff pack is available both as a download or from retail stores.
Square EnixSquare Enix's game Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep for the PSP is now in stores. The game, previously released in Japan, has Terra, Ventus and Aqua exploring Disney-themed worlds as they explain the origin of the Kingdom Hearts saga.
Warner Bros. has released Batman: The Brave and the Bold for the Wii and the DS to stores. This side-scrolling platformer has players taking on the role of Batman as he teams up with his superhero friends in a game based on the animated television series.
UbisoftUbisoft has released Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. This flight combat game (and sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.) has players piloting a secret, cutting-edge fighter in aerial combat. The Wii version of this game is scheduled to be released in November.
THQTHQ's compilation, the Saint's Row Double Pack for the Xbox 360 is now in stores in North America. This compilation includes both Saint's Row and Saint's Row 2, allowing Xbox 360 owners to explore five years of Stillwater's violent history.
ZeniMax MediaBethesda Softworks, part of ZeniMax Media, has opened an office in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, to better serve Bethesda's customers in The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg. Menno Eijck, formerly of Namco Bandai Partners, has been hired to serve as Managing Director of the office.
UbisoftUbisoft has released R.U.S.E.: The Art of Deception for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. The PC version is available as a download. The game is a World War II-themed real-time strategy game that boasts extremely large maps to emphasize tactics and includes six playable Axis and Allied nations.
Gamigo, a German-based publisher of massively multiplayer online games, has hired Dilek Ilboga as the company's Vice President of Business Development. Prior to joining Gamigo, Ilboga has worked at True Games and K2 Network, and will work out of Gamigo's New York office where she will focus on growing Gamigo's properties in the United States.
NCsoftNCsoft has released , a major content expansion for its massively multiplayer online game Aion. Not only does this update have players battling an invasion by the Balaur, it adds eight new instances, useful pets, new zones, better flight mechanics and increases the level cap to 55. The game is also making efforts to be more accessible to Westerners, increasing the XP accumulation and drop rates.
Activision BlizzardSpider-Man: Shattered Dimensions from Activision Publishing (part of Activision Blizzard) is now in stores. The version developed by Beenox for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii allows players to restore the magical energy of the Tablet of Order and Chaos by playing as four different Spider-Men (the "Amazing," "Noir," "2099" and "Ultimate" versions). This version will soon be released on the PC. A version of the game developed by Griptonite for the DS is also now available, although it is a side-scrolling platformer rather than a 3D action game.
THQTHQ's game UFC Undisputed 2010 for the PSP is now available in stores worldwide. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions shipped to stores in May. The game has players taking on the role of one of around 100 Ultimate Fighting Championship fighters in a series of mixed martial arts matches.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts' latest hockey games are now in stores in North America. NHL '11 is this year's hockey game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, while NHL Slapshot has been released for the Wii. NHL '11 introduces a new physics engine and a revamped face-off system to the long-running franchise, while NHL Slapshot allows Wii owners to use the Wii Remote as a hockey stick and features a mode in which players begin as a peewee player on a frozen pond.

PlayStation 3 Gets v3.42 Update

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PlayStation 3Sony has released the version 3.42 system software update for the PlayStation 3. Sony says that the update "includes additional security features." Unconfirmed rumors suggest that this update is Sony's effort to combat those who would "jailbreak" their PlayStation 3 systems.
NintendoNintendo's downloadable game releases are a bit light this week thanks to the U.S. holiday. Still, Wii owners can explore the Wild West or battle samurai, while DSi owners can build a farm, play mahjong or play the guitar:
Far too many games are released, be they on PC or consoles, in a sadly buggy or unfinished state. Usually, publishers focus on an initial PR blitz to get as many people as possible to purchase the game before customers catch on to the game's problems. That's why it's so pleasant to see the recent launch problems with Stardock's Elemental: War of Magic not only acknowledged by Stardock, but met head on by the company's Chief Executive Officer Brad Wardell. In posts on the company's forum boards, Wardell acknowledges that the game's release state falls entirely on his shoulders. Admitting to a problem certainly shared by other developers, Wardell says that his love of the game and the world in which it is set led to "blindness, sheer blindness." He honestly thought the game was ready, simply because he (and his team) was too close to the game to see its obvious flaws. Wardell has pledged to dedicate his team to releasing substantial updates to the support the game over an extended period of time.
Kalypso MediaKalypso Media, together with developer Revolution Software, has released Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars - The Director's Cut as a download for the PC and Mac through Valve's Steam service. This remastered version of the classic adventure game features an additional story arc, new minigames, redrawn facial expressions and an improved help system.
Poker Night at the InventoryHere at FI, we've enjoyed Telltale Games' episodic approach to reinvigorating adventure gaming. Despite, other notable episodic failures, Telltale continues to produce engaging and hysterically funny games. Now, it appears, Telltale Games is delving into the gaming equivalent of reality television. Grossly mismatched celebrities playing poker sounds like the sort of reality dreck a network might air rather than pay a staff of writers. For Telltale, it's just a bizarre crossover featuring Penny Arcade's Tycho, the Heavy from Team Fortress 2, Max from Sam & Max and Strong Bad from Homestar Runner playing poker. Called Poker Night at the Inventory, the game will be released on Valve's Steam service for the PC and Mac, and will feature character-appropriate dialog and tells for each of the characters. Should Jerry Holkins even be allowed to play as Tycho? We're certainly not letting the rabbity thing out of the basement hamster wheel that powers FI to play as Max.

Mad Catz CFO Resigns

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Mad CatzThe Chief Financial Officer of Mad Catz Interactive, a peripheral manufacturer, has resigned (presumably to accept another, unspecified, position). Stewart Halpern will remain with the company through the end of this month to help transition Allyson Vanderford into her role as Interim Chief Financial Officer. Vanderford has served as Mad Catz' Controller since December of 2008.
Take-Two InteractiveTake-Two Interactive reported its financial results for its third fiscal quarter ended July 31, 2010:
Electronic ArtsThe Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - Ultimate Edition package from Electronic Arts is now available in stores in North America. Released six months after the original release of the game, this compilation includes the original game, onslaught mode, a variety of unlockables and Battlefield 1943.
Nyko Wand+Peripheral manufacturer Nyko Technologies has released its Wand+ accessory for the Wii to stores in North America. This Wii Remote-like controller includes the full functionality of the Wii Remote with the Wii Motion Plus technology built inside, allowing Wii Owners to play Wii Motion Plus games without a separate dongle. The controller retails for $40.
Developer Winter Wolves has released Vera Blanc: Ghost in the Castle as a download for the PC, Mac and Linux platforms. This adventure game follows the events of Vera Blanc: Full Moon and has players taking on the role of a wealthy psychic investigating mysterious events.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Editor in September 2010.

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