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News from February 2006

Sony's Answer to the DS Lite - the "PSP 2"?

PSPWorld, crediting a so-called "anonymous source", has reported that an upgraded type of PlayStation Portable might currently be in the works, likely as a means to better rival the dominating Nintendo DS and its approaching little sibling, the DS Lite, in the handheld market.

According to the article, the "PSP 2" (an unofficial title) should mitigate previous storage frustrations by including 4GB of standard space and, like the DS Lite, will be designed as a leaner system with black, white and silver models available. The rumored EyeToy may allegedly be another addition; besides granting "PSP 2" owners the use of a digital camera, the device is said to be key in potentially streaming video from the handheld directly to the PlayStation 3 with help from the contemplated "HUB" service.

While skepticism may run amok, Sony does have a reputation for modifying its current consoles, such as it did with both the PlayStation and PlayStation 2. Although limited as the info is, it's perhaps probable, if not ordained, that the company would strive to make improvements on its handheld. However, Sony's recent problems associated with the PlayStation 3 - not to mention the unwritten rule of caution dealing with anonymous sources - almost makes the possibility of a souped-up PSP launch nary a step above speculation.

Source: Total Video Games

PS3 Launch Delayed?

Playstation 3
Is it just me, or does this happen to everything I'm waiting for?

Though Sony claims that they're still aiming for a spring release of their new console, their interpretation of 'spring' is quickly stretching to include months like June, July, August, and even next December, according to some speculations.

The release date is said to be reliant upon decisions about hardware specifications for the Blu-Ray DVD technology. These decisions are made by industry consortiums, and are not within Sony's direct control.

This news does not bode well for game developers, either. Without firm specifications, they can only guess at exactly how to build their games. The final result is not likely to take full advantage of the PS3's abilities.

With soaring predicted costs and no firm release date in sight, how will Sony continue to compete in the console market? No one wants to see a repeat of the Dreamcast fiasco--but, more importantly, no one wants to own it. If Sony fans are too scared of a bust to invest in the PS3, the console is in real trouble.


Official Site Offers First Look at Mother 3

Head of the Mother series of quirky RPGs, Shigesato Itoi, has updated his Mother 3 website with a handful of new features, including screenshots of various scenes throughout the anticipated GBA game.

Judging from the screens, it appears as though the isometric view present in Mother 2 (EarthBound) has been replaced with the more standard overhead, fixed perspective used within most 2D role-playing video games. The three scenes also point out a small but satisfying amount of characters and locales, such as a blond-haired boy and his dog at a town park and museum, and a cowboy standing near a forest in the rain. At the moment it could be speculated that the game may contain some sort of day/night cycle and possibly changes in weather.

As for the additional updates to the site, there are a total of sixteen "gifts" displayed on the main page - each leading to new media. A different box opens on a particular day - about every week or so - up until the Japanese release of Mother 3, in a way similar to an Advent calendar.

There's still been no official talk of a North American or European release.


FF VII: AC's English Cast, Release Date Confirmed

Final Fantasy VII
The title says it all. You can see the full list here. Virtually every cast member from Kingdom Hearts 2 that portrayed an FF VII character has been recast in Advent Children. I say KH 2 rather than the original because Lance Bass (Sephiroth) and Mandy Moore (Aeris) declined to reprise their roles in the much-hyped and critcally acclaimed sequel, and have been replaced by George Newbern and Mena Suvari, respectively.

Also, the US release date was finally confirmed to be April 26th, 2006. The date is fairly concurrent with what Square-Enix had announced earlier this year. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children will be a 2-disc set released to DVD and UMD and has an estimated price of around $26.85 at release.

Source: RPGamer

Shadow Hearts: From the New World out in March

Playstation 2
The third (fourth if you count the PS1 RPG Koudelka) game in the Shadow Hearts series, subtitled From the New World, will be released for the PS2 in the United States on March 7th of this year at a retail price of $39.99. Developer XSeed released this information some time yesterday, along with releasing an American official website for the game. The previous two games (particularly the second, Shadow Hearts: Covenant) received critical acclaim and a strong cult following due to their unusual twists on real-life settings, bizarre and entertaining characters, deep and dark storylines, and unusual and innovative gameplay mechanics.

FTNW will play similarly to Covenant and will feature Shadow Hearts' signature setting and style, but there are a number of important changes being made. First of all, this game does not appear to be a completely obvious sequel. The first two games both starred the shapeshifter Yuri Hyuga and were set in World War I-era Europe. FTNW fast-forwards approximately fifteen years and travels a few thousand miles, being set in America in 1929, starring a young New York gumshoe named Johnny Garland, and featuring Native American bounty hunters, a American ninja-wannabe, a young vampire girl, a Mexican mariachi, and fat, alcoholic talking cat as supporting cast members.

FTNW brings back the Judgement Ring system, but also adds something called the Stock system to Shadow Hearts' gameplay. Stock meters work similarly to several other passive meters in other RPGs (ie Limit Meters, Overdrive Gauges, IP Bars) in that it will build up over time (in this case building up whenever a character deals or takes damage) to be spent later for special attacks. If you build up a character's Stock meter to maximum, they accumulate one Stock (maximum 2). Characters can spend one or two Stock to perform special attacks, or even combine Stock with other characters to perform combination special attacks. This should add a new element of strategy to the already-innovative and interesting SH battle system.

I personally really enjoyed the first two SH games (especially Covenant), so I have been waitng for this information for quite some time. I am extremely excited about this game, and consider the Shadow Hearts games to be one of the best RPG series of this current generation of consoles. Any of you with a PS2 would be doing themselves a service by checking this game and its predecessors out. With From the New World, Kingdom Hearts II, Tales of Phantasia, and Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion call coming out in March of this year, RPG players have a lot to look forward to next month.

Sources: RPGFan
Shadow Hearts: From the New World's official website
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Square-Enix Opens "Promotion Video" Podcast Site

Square Enix
Just yesterday Square-Enix unleashed their new Promotion Video Podcast website. The purpose of the site is to provide promotional trailers of the developer's many upcoming games for download and viewing on iPods or similar devices free of charge. At the moment the only available trailer is that of Front Mission 5: Scars of War, a title currently unreleased in North America, but the plan is to update the site on a regular basis, adding more and more trailers throughout each month.

The fact that the website is mostly in Japanese should prove not to be an impediment, but it is unknown at this time if an English version or a multiple language option will eventually be introduced.

Source: GameSpot
Posted in: Square-Enix News

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