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News from February 2007

Sony Screws the European Market (Again)


Playstation 3
With the PS3's European launch finally approaching (but still a month away), our friends in Europe and Australia are finally close to Sony's next generation. But this eager anticipation may take a downward spin with the latest news from Sony.

Striving to cut costs, Sony has announced that the European PS3's backward compatibility will be far more limited than the North American and Japanese versions. Only a "limited range" of PlayStation 2 titles will play on the European PS3, while a "broad range" of original PlayStation titles will function. A short list of compatible games will be available at launch, and the list will be expanded as Sony gets around to it. Specifically, the PS3 will not ship with the Emotion Engine chip, which was essentially the CPU for the PS2.

Sony intends to focus on software emulation as a cheaper solution to providing backwards compatibility to European gamers.

Source: GameSpot

Sigh. Sony, Sony, Sony... You're going to charge European gamers the highest prices worldwide for your product, and now you're removing one of its most attractive features?

If this had happened to the US version, there'd be no way that I'd buy a PS3. I don't like making stacks of consoles, and, frankly, holding onto my older titles means a lot to me. And what about the people who were planning on making the PS3 their first Sony console? What games are they supposed to play? Launch titles? Oh, please.

Wii's Virtual Console Gets Two New Systems


Wii
Earlier today Nintendo announced that the Wii Virtual Console would support Neo-Geo and MSX games in future releases. There is no such announcement for the release of MSX or Neo-Geo games in Virtual Consoles of any other regions, but it may only be a matter of time at this point.

SNK's Neo-Geo is a very expensive cult-favorite system, with specs almost identical to SNK arcade machines; the Neo-Geo was probably most notable for featuring iterations of SNK's chief franchises such as King of Fighters, Metal Slug, and Samurai Spirits. The MSX was a personalized home computer borne from Microsoft's Japanese branch that had four different versions between 1983 and 1992; the MSX had a great deal of early successes but soon fell behind Nintendo and Sega's early systems in the 1980s. However, its legacy is significant, as several storied series such as Metal Gear, Dragon Quest, and Bomberman all had their debuts on MSX technology.

In related news, earlier today the European Virtual Console received the iconic N64 game The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It's probable that Ocarina of Time will become part of the North American Virtual Console when it undergoes its scheduled update on Monday.

Source: Japan's Virtual Console website

SEEDS is Born - No Relation to FF VIII


Around four months ago, Capcom dissolved its Clover Studios development team, citing financial reasons. Clover Studios had been behind Capcom's Viewtiful Joe series, as well as the 2006 hits Okami and Godhand.

However, we may have seen a new beginning for Clover Studios in the form of SEEDS - an independent studio run by Shinji Mikami (the mastermind behind Resident Evil), Hideki Kamiya (creator of Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe), and Atsuhi Inaba (of Steel Battalion fame). Those three developers, all of whom have produced blockbuster titles as part of Capcom's production studios and the late Clover Studios, announced yesterday that they were leaving Capcom to work as a freelance developer - given the track record of those three producers, and the fact that they are essentially severing official ties with Capcom, this is some pretty big news.

Also of interest is that they haven't assembled a team yet. The revealing of their new studio also came with sort of a casting call. Here's a translation of their announcement:
Quote
Atsushi Inaba. Hideki Kamiya. Shinji Mikami. And a specially selected staff.

We are the Seeds that caused the vibrant flowers Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Steel Battalion, Viewtiful Joe, and Okami to come into bloom.

Although we alight upon a different earth, even though the soil is different, our hearts -- closely pursuing the dream of "play" -- have not changed.

Now, with a renewed spirit, we want to once again challenge the world of entertainment. But to do this, we need many, many more seeds.

So, we are currently searching far and wide for people who want to work alongside us. For people who want to build their future. People who are currently making games elsewhere.

Would you like to make some "preposterously amazing" games with us?

Sounds a little self-indulgent, doesn't it? Of course, even though they are no longer iwth Capcom, it isn't out of the question for any of these designers to work on Capcom games, or even further sequels to their signature franchises. If Nobuo Uematsu can still provide musical numbers to FF games (he was credited as Smile Please Inc. for his work on FF VII: Advent Children and his contributed song to FF XII) and Masahiro Sakurai can direct and design SSB: Brawl despite leaving Nintendo and HAL Laboratories nearly four years ago, then the SEEDS team can still work for Capcom, but not as part of Capcom.

SEEDS hasn't revealed any games in development, as they are still working on personnel, after all.

Sources:
WIRED
SEEDS official website (Japanese)

Jack Be Nimble


Jack Thompson, scourge of the first amendment and enemy of personal responsibility, might finally be facing some legal repercussions for his questionable behavior in legal matters involving violent video games.

Thompson, who has made a legal career out of blaming violent behaviour on video games such as Grand Theft Auto, has recently been involved in several lawsuits against the companies that produce these games. He is also known for his hyper-sensitivity regarding any coverage of his involvement in these matters, threatening parties that criticize him with lawsuits, threatening ethics complaints when judges don't rule in his favor, and even calling the police to file harassment charges against websites.

Finally, someone is fighting back. The Florida Bar Association, of which Thompson is a member and which he has previously sued, has filed a forty-page complaint alleging numerous violations of professional conduct and protocol. The complaint recounts many of the hilarious episodes in Jack's legal sagas, such as the time his temporary license to practice law in Alabama was suspended for misconduct, making inflammatory and unfounded statements about opposing lawyers and the judges that presided over his cases, and of threatening ethics charges because he wasn't getting his way in a civil case.

Thompson, of course, has already counter-filed with motions to force mediation and stay any disciplinary proceedings the bar association may bring against him.

Personally, I'm rooting for Jack. After all, if he gets disbarred, the comedy would come to an end!

Source: GamePolitics.com

Castlevania Compilation Coming to the PSP


PSP
If a Final Fantasy Tactics remake wasn't enough to make you want a Sony PSP, maybe a Castlevania compilation will do the trick.

Konami is planning a special remake of Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, originally for the Japanese counterpart of the Turbo-Grafx16, and never before released for English-speaking audiences. The remake will feature updated 3D graphics but retain the original's 2D gameplay.

Unlike the Castlevania Chronicles release for the PlayStation, the original version of the game isn't in the spotlight, but it can be unlocked through completion of the remake. And if that's not enough, Konami is including a second unlockable game: the best Castlevania game ever, Symphony of the Night. This will be the same version of SotN that was made available for the X-Box Live download service, which had a few graphical improvements and other slight adjustments from the original release.

Source: GameSpot

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