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News from March 2006

Square-Enix, Gakken Create "Serious" Game Series

Square Enix
Announced at a Tokyo press conference Wednesday, Square-Enix and Gakushuukenkyuusha (aka Gakken) have teamed up to establish a new company, named SG Lab, designed to develop and publish "serious" game titles - that is, video games with teaching purposes such as educational research, government, medicine, and more.

As unappealing a move as this endeavor may sound, some of these so-called serious games will be unintended for regular gamers. According to the presidents of both companies, SG Lab will develop the educational software after receiving and accepting orders from various clients, a task they've only recently begun. Currently there's no telling just what sort of game themes SG Lab is likely to expect in the future, but they're already working on expanding their market to include topics ranging from health care to public relations dealt within private enterprises.

Due to the amount of expert knowledge required to tackle such a business, this is one field Square-Enix would not be able to handle alone being strictly an entertainment developer; therefore entailed the decision to partner-up. As Youichi Wada, president of Square-Enix explained, video games aimed at entertaining players and serious games are of two very different leagues. Gakken, in search of a skillful and influential company within the gaming industry, found the idea of an education-based joint effort by the two rather intriguing.

With an overall lack of competition in the genre as of now, it's extremely likely SG Lab's desire to be the global market leader will be well within reach.

Source: RPGFan
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Nintendo Revolution Virtual Console Updates

At the recent Nintendo conference Satoru Iwata revealed many things featuring upcoming Nintendo products, including of course, the Nintendo Revolution. Up until now all we've known is that it would support NES to N64 on the virtual console. Of course, there were hushed whispers and rumors about Sega really liking the idea and wanting to put their games onto it.

Well, it's no longer a rumor. The Revolution's virtual console will now offer downloads from not only Sega, but the TurboGrafx-16. It won't be every game, of course. But they're going to get all the best ones.

It's things like this that make me want a Revolution more than I already do. And I mean, I really want one.

Source: 1UP (Link courtesy of Phunbaba)

Nintendo Announces Zelda DS

Nintendo DS
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for the Nintendo DS was revealed a few hours ago by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. The game will use an esthetic very similar to Wind Waker, and is a truly remarkable demonstration of the DS's visual capabilities. The linked source has a short trailer and a number screenshots.

To me, this is only another reason to buy a DS. A new Zelda, a new Tetris, a new 2D Mario, a new 2D Castlevania, a new Advance Wars, a "new" Final Fantasy... man I wish I had an income....

Source: some British website, found via Digg
(6 Comments – Last by Kane)
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PS3 Controller To Be Redesigned

Playstation 3
The negative publicity of the early "batarang" build of the PS3's controller seems to have made an impact. Phil Harrison, president of Sony Computer Entertainment's Worldwide Studios division, announced that the PS3's controller would indeed be redesigned for the final product, but no official redesign has been shown yet and Harrison did not specify any particular date for revealing the new design. We'll be sure to keep you up to date on any new developments.

Source: Engadget (Note: the picture shown on this site is NOT an official redesign, but one of several unofficial user-redesigns from an engadget contest several months ago)

Sony PSP sees a price drop, but there's a catch...

Beginning March 22nd, the Sony PSP will be available in the United States at $199.99, a full fifty bucks lower than the initial launch price. This isn't a true price drop, however, because now the PSP is no longer bundled with a mandatory 32MB memory stick, carrying case, wristband, and earphones.

Sony's strategy here seems obvoius - reduce the PSP's price tag at little cost to themselves (consumers are estimated to save less than $5 overall if they were to buy each of the formerly prepackaged accessories seperately), but hopefully increase sales of their handheld to make it more competitive with the ludicrously popular Nintendo DS. Sure, it isn't much of a strategy, but the PSP needs all the help it can get.

Source: NForcer, via

Final Fantasy Gurus 3.0 Launches

Everything in the gaming world has to be delayed by at least a few months, and more is better, right? After discussing it since the summer of 2003, Final Fantasy Gurus has launched their updated site today.

FFG 3.0 features streamlined graphics and navigation as well as updated and expanded information about the games it covers.

Source: Final Fantasy Gurus

PlayStation 3 Launch Details Expected Next Week

Playstation 3
Koei president Kiyoshi Komatsu, who recently spoke to the Tokyo press of an unrelated issue, noted at the time that a Sony Computer Entertainment press conference is scheduled for the 15th of this month, suggesting that "some details about the PS3 might be announced there." Sony Europe, while not implying whether or not Komatsu's prediction was true, later confirmed that a largely important announcement will indeed be made at the conference next week.

With the company's fiscal year soon coming to a close, and the San Jose Game Developer Conference only a scant week away, a major announcement made by Sony on Wednesday - perhaps even regarding a definite target date for the PlayStation 3 release - would occur at the perfect time. By revealing the revised info as public knowledge, the head of Sony Computer Entertainment's worldwide studio, Phil Harrison, would greatly benefit by being provided with several topics to divulge during his essential GDC speech; the local press and businesses in Tokyo would also receive a head start on any related news prior to the San Jose conference.

On the other hand, although Sony's recurring stance is that their spring launch schedule will continue on despite difficulties with production, a more realistic viewpoint would be that these problems can indefinitely hold back the console's release from their projected time frame, thus resulting in a possible lack of any new information of the sort in the near future. Probably even less assuring is the latest word concerning COMPEQ, the manufacturer of the circuit boards for the PlayStation 3: As of now, the system allegedly will not be ready for launch until this fall at the earliest, seeing as COMPEQ reportedly plans to do their crucial part in either June or July.

Source: EuroGamer
Posted in: News from Japan

Final Fantasy XII Perfect Score

Square Enix
Famitsu Magazine, reputed to be the #1 gaming review magazine in Japan has recently reviewed and ranked Final Fantasy XII giving it a perfect score across the board, which apparently is a rare thing, when you consider that with this game included, they've only ever given 6 games a perfect 40 points.

The game looks, appears, and sounds better and better with every morsel of it I hear.

Source: Imgup (Thanks to Phunbaba for the link)

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