The great man behind Nintendo's success is finally leaving the company. Since he stepped down as president of the company three years ago, a post now occupied by Satoru Iwata, he had had a seat in the board of directors. At the age of 77, he will now retire from this position on June 29, but will still remain an adviser for the company. Hiroshi Yamauchi led Nintendo for 52 years and it is thanks to him as much as it is thanks to Shigeru Miyamoto that the company has been shining for some many years in the heart of gamers. And his final gesture was nothing less than you'd expect from a great man, he left the amount of his retirement funds, believed to be around 9 or 14 million dollars, all to Nintendo. Thank you for everything Mr. Yamauchi !
And after several time-wasting entries, Broken Saint's blog has finally unveiled the "big secret" behind the Revolution, or at least what it is supposed to be: the next Nintendo console would offer some kind of 3D projection. Could it be that we were right
Sales in Europe for Resident Evil 4 have been doing very well, 200.000 units have been sold since the launch of the game and several shops report to be out of stock, including Amazon, whose game shipments have been delayed as far as May or June !
Wallace & Gromit.
The boys are back in town. Nick Aardman's famous duo will be back soon in a new animated feature entitled The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (like in Werewolf, got it ?) and also, as you may have guessed, in a new GameCube title following the not very succesful Project Zoo.
Nintendogs for Nintendo DS received the perfect score from Famitsu magazine: 40 out of 40, which means that four different reviewers gave the game the highest possible score ! Quite a surprise which will help to boost the already excellent sales of the game (more than 160.000 units in the first week). On top of that, recent sales results indicate the DS has been selling 5 million units worldwide.
50 Years of Gaming.
Namco will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary, and what's best for a game company for celebration than releasing a new game ? This one is a compilation of classic Namco titles, Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Arcade Collection, featuring: Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Galaxian, Dig Dug, Pole Position, Pole Position II, Rolling Thunder, Rally X, Bosconian, Dragon Spirit, Sky Kid, Xevious and Mappy.
Prince of Persia 3.
Although not shown at the E3, Prince of Persia 3 will come on GameCube. It's announced to release in the last quarter of the year.
Nintendo Japan's website offers some nice-looking desktop wallpapers (the ones for the GBA version of Fire Emblem were better though), three are available for now, and there are three more to come:
» Free Fire Emblem wallpapers
The current number one of our Hype Ranking is indeed generating a lot of hype. Every tidbit about the next Legend of Zelda on GameCube is almost as precious as every single clue regarding the revolution within the Revolution. For those who thought Nintendo was greedily keeping his best assets out of sight until the big show next month, a surprise awaited them this week: Nintendo had plenty to communicate about the new Zelda. But not for us, websites, all the precious information was for the good old (reliable) paper press. Not so reliable it seems, as those well-guarded secrets were not supposed to be unveiled until next month, as an E3 follow-up.
A leak much more serious than the few boring pictures of Microsoft's next box. Samurai Nintendo has compile all these latest details in a comprehensive fact sheet below. However, before starting, here's a piece of advise: do not read it. What's the use to spoil surprises ? and imagine how much you would gain from this title by discovering it from a fresh pespective, which, after reading what follows, will simply be impossible. Up to you.
As suggested by The Wind Waker, every new Zelda is a different story, but involves the same protagonists in a struggle against evil. This time, Link is a farm boy, whose village, Taoru, provides the livestock for the kingdom of Hyrule (quite much like the relation between Cebalrai and Pherkad in Baten Kaitos). One day, the mayor of Taoru, unable to attend the important annual meeting of the villages, askes Link to take his place and go there. It is during the trip that something unexpected happens and changes Link's fate, from the quiet farming life to a perilous adventure.
Similarly to The Wind Waker, Link starts the game wearing a different outfit than his usual green tunic. Judging from the pictures, his farmer dressing looks very Japanese, like samurai when they don't wear an armor. He also handles a wooden sword which he uses against a scarecrow for practicing his sword skill. We already know some of the other characters who live in Taoru: the mayor (a strong-looking bald man), some children (three at least), a pregnant woman (Link has to help her) and some animals, cattle and chicken; the former one being used in a training task (on horse's back, gather the cattle into the barn), while the chicken, a classic Zelda trademark, have returned and can still be used for gliding as in Ocarina of Time.
More importantly, Eiji Aonuma, the game director, made one major confession: Ganon and Zelda will be in the game. It is a little sad to know Nintendo doesn't manage to create Zelda stories with another vilain or female character like they did in the brilliant Link's Awakening on Game Boy. An enigmatic character also appears in one artwork, dressed in a black robe bearing a strange drawing in the back. IGN thought of Zelda, hopefully they are wrong, Zelda wearing disguise three times in a row would be a bit too much... About Zelda, a new artwork shows her wielding a long sword. Fans will also notice a major shift in the drawing style, even more accentuate than with Link: she looks much thinner (elfin ?), her hair is light brown instead of blonde and her profile is completely different but, except for the magnificent clothing, she certainly looks less "beautiful" than before, she actually looks quite much like Penelope Cruz, with her rather long nose, doh.
Something has definitely changed regarding the graphics. Aonuma explained this Zelda's style will be more manga-oriented. This is a very debatable choice and could account for some uneasy changes, taking the series too far away from its roots, or, more precisely, from its soul.
In term of gameplay, as we know, this Zelda should have common points with The Wind Waker, the fights especially, with moves and techniques the game initiated, along with the classic locking system from Ocarina of Time. But new techniques will also appear, such as the jumping downward stab, and the emphasis will be put on case sensitive special attacks: press the button at the right time during a fight to allow Link to perform special moves. Straight from the Nintendo 64 version is also the fishing mini-game. Yes, it's back. Annoyingly. "Annoyingly" because some things are coming back way too often in video games, and in Nintendo games especially, to be interesting anymore. Fishing was fun once, like taking pictures. But since then, in so many games do you have to fish or take pictures that it's becoming redundant. We fished in Breath of Fire, in Link's Awakening, in Ocarina of Time, in Animal Crossing, we took pictures in Pokemon Snap, in Super Smash Bros Melee, in The Wind Waker, in Baten Kaitos. Quit it, please, find something else ! We're getting sick of fishing and taking pictures.
Will riding your enemies' steeds be more fun ? Perhaps. That's what at least Aonuma promises to happen in the final game (one extract from the video already showed Link riding a giant boar). Aonuma, unlike Miyamoto, talks easily about his current work and is inclined to reveal things before they are done. Not necessarily a good point. For instance he explained how they could possibly integrate fishing into the storyline, with a boss fight. He also admits that some key elements haven't been disclosed yet, items possibly as important as the Wind Waker or the King of Red Lions sailboat in the former title. Another instance of the gameplay was introduced in the form of a boss fight: link riding his horse follows a leader boar with colored horns, while dodging attacks from weaker enemies, jumping over trunks and fighting with his sword and bow ! The player needs to keep up with the boss pace by using a 6-levels boost meter.
Finally, it is rumoured that the two different gameplay scenes we've been talking about during this article will be the demos available during the E3: Taoru exploration and boss fight.
» Additional information and pics in the forum
Although the number 1 spot escaped from its reach, Nintendo occupies all the places from 2 to 8, except number 6. Nintendogs on DS scored big, but it's a GameCube title which ranked the highest among the Nintendo consoles.
» See this week ranking
Nintendo has divulgued some more information about their first world store in New York. This paradise spot for all Nintendo fans will open on May 14 and kicks off with a big party outside the Rockfeller center. May 14 seems quite close to the beginning of E3... this should make you think. Even if you're not on the West coast, there might interesting things to see on the opposite side of the US as well. The store will be open 7 days a week (mamma mia !) and will also be the new place for all-things Pokemon including an Ultra-Pokedex. Sweet.
Some time ago in the forum, I was horrified to report Hello Kitty games coming for PS2 and Xbox but not for GameCube. It was the end of time, the GameCube was not even a kiddy console anymore, the cutest kitten and her most kawaii characters refused to come on our fun-loving console. Yesterday though, Namco saved the day by announcing Hello Kitty Roller Rescue, not only does it come to GameCube, but it comes exclusively. The game, developed by XPEC features more than 20 Sanrio characters (Badtz-Maru, Mimmy, Keroppi...) in a 3D world where kitty and friends take part in an adventure to save their homeland from Block-O and his troops, invaders from Planet Cube (!). On a funny note, the game is described as "90% action and 10% puzzle-solving", haha, it's brain-safe. To be released in North America (and hopefully Europe too says my girlfriend) on August 2005.
Several tidbits about Nintendo's upcoming Revolution have surfaced in the past couple of days, at this time though, it's difficult to separate truthful clues from sheer speculation. So far, the only entirely reliable information is the one we can read in press releases. Thus, on tuesday, when Broadcom, a Californian company expert in broadband communications semiconductors, issued a press release about a partnership with Nintendo to work on wireless features for the Revolution, we had a fact.
"Nintendo's next generation console (codenamed "Revolution") will feature an advanced wireless platform that integrates multiple technologies to enable a new and exciting gaming experience"
, that's what the fact sheet told us. There are two important adjectives which catch attention in this sentence: wireless and multiple. After the success and critical acclaim of the WaveBird, it seems Nintendo he's eager to dig into the possibilities of wireless gaming. Even more important perhaps, the Revolution will include "multiple technologies", just like the DS. When Satoru Iwata said that the DS was an example of what the Revolution would be, could it be that he was refering to this ? Not to the touch screen specifically as some believed, but to the use of multiple technologies (double screens, touch screen, voice recognition, wireless gaming, etc.) into one system ? Then, perhaps, the Revolution will integrate, like the DS, different types of small innovations rather that just a big one.
Earlier this week, before Broadcom's announcement, came some less welcomed news which shattered the expectations of the Revolution's intrigued crowd: the Revolution would not be shown, nor be playable at the E3 next month, there'll only be "a few rolling demos of games currently in development, but no console and no revolutionary controller on display." These are the words from Eurogamer who was the first site, and only one for a while, to report this information which they themselves heard from "reports from Japan", without anymore details. It's hard to take this news seriously though, because no exact source is given "reports from Japan" sounds just as trustworthy as "Spong said", and because the main page of Eurogamer for some reason displays news from August 2001. However, we could take the Broadcom announcement in favor of this rumored E3 absence, because if technology partnerships are only made now regarding the Revolution, perhaps it implies the console is not ready at all to be shown. Although we will note the reason for not showing the console is, according to Eurogamer, that Satoru Iwata is afraid of good ideas being stolen by the competition. Sounds strangely too reminiscent of Nintendo's older declarations.
Finally, the latest of the three Revolution news which rocked (?) the week came yesterday from the least expected source: not a hobbit, but a blog. The blog of a person called Brooke Burgess whose exact importance I still haven't figured (it has something to do with a programme called Broken Saints, that I personally never heard of) but who's somehow related to game making because he has worked at EA in the past and this makes him (supposedly) a pretty reliable source. So when he says that he knows something about the Revolution that we don't know, when he says "Iím ready to put my mouth where my limited funds may be and reveal the big secret behind the Big Nís next gen console. Dead serious. No shit included." All the gamers out there are too curious to know what it is. Problem is, he will reveal the secret: "...not today. Not yet. Youíll just have to check back regularly until monthís end for clues to the lingering mystery." Now if we were in a cynical state of mind, we would just think this guy is trying to increase the number of visits on his product-related blog. However, he gave a clue: a link going to a picture on IGN which reminded us a lot of things and made me start a much-read thread on our forum
. This guy was maybe trying to increase his visits, and he surely did, but at least he also increased mine, haha-
Anyway, today he posted another entry which doesn't tell us much again but at least clarifies some things: "my big ísecretí - the one Iíd pieced together from press releases and patents - the one cobbled from closed-door party speak and movie effects guru blatherings."
Basically, like our thread, his secret is all about speculation and what he thinks, right or wrong, could be the truth. If we all try to figure out what the Revolution might be, helped by deductions, in the end, one of us will reach the truth, but there's no big secret or particular knowledge involved. And that's probably as much we can get from this so-called exclusive revelation.
Three GameCube titles and nothing more. But next weeks the ranking will heat up: Fire Emblem was released yesterday in Japan.
» See this week ranking
If you're among the rare species interested in importing Japanese cartoony baseball games, you might be pleased to read Konami announced the yearly episode of its neverending sport franchise, Jikkyou Pawafuru PuroYakkyu. Powerful Pro Baseball 12, as it is known in the west, is set to release on July 14 in Japan alongside its PS2 counterpart.
Famitsu reviewed Fire Emblem: Souen no Kiseki, and the game grabbed a 34, a gold award, with the four journalists giving it 9, 9, 8 and 8 again. It's very good, and yet, of course, we always hope for a game which could equal The Wind Waker's performance which received a perfect 40.
The ranking is emptying, big titles are on their way: 6 days left before Fire Emblem, 15 days left before Homeland.
» See this week ranking
Two big news have shaken up the industry yesterday. The first one is probably not the most important, but it might still have some bad consequences in the future: Konami acquired Hudson, it used to be a majoritary shareholder in the company, it is now the major shareholder. Hudson has been an active supporter of the the Game Boy Advance and one of the few companies to provide the GameCube with original and sometimes exclusive titles such as Bomberman and their classic titles collection. Will it continue ? If the company molds its behavior on its new parent company, it's unlikely.
The other news item that stunned everybody is EA's pursue of power. This time again, another sport association fell into their clutches, it is the NCAA, which represents the college sports both for football and basketball, titles are now all EA exclusive. There is one very important thing to realize now: people only can change things before it's too late, before EA shapes the industry the way it wants it to be. Sport games are really not what makes video games an art... then, be smart, open your eyes, boycott EA games and widen your gaming horizon.
Fire Emblem commercial.
Nintendo Japan has posted a movie to the TV commercial of their upcoming Fire Emblem, here's the link for direct download:
» Download Fire Emblem: Souen no Kiseki Japanese TV spot
EA's 3 sequels.
"Imagination is dead" EA reminds us again. Electronic Arts has announced three new multiplatform games since monday, and even though we are kind of happy to see them coming on GameCube (better these 3 three than nothing, right ? right ???), we're not so happy to see a sequel to SSX (SSX 4), a sequel to Need for Speed (dubbed Most Wanted) and a sequel to the Harry Potter nightmare game series (this time it's Goblet of Fire's turn).
Talking about sequel... Well, this one took much longer to come and hasn't arrived yet anyway. It's been reported, through the Trademark and Patent Office, that Nintendo registered a new trademark for the term "Punch-Out!!" (all caps) on April 1. Do they have April Fools too in the trade industry ? No, it has been confirmed to be true. Hopefully this time it has nothing to do with a EA game.
Chibirobo, now to be published by Nintendo instead of Bandai, is set to release in Japan on June 23. Check other releases for the next months in the freshly updated Japanese planning.
» See this week planning
When Fire Emblem Souen no Kiseki releases in two weeks in Japan, some lucky players will receive two collectible bonuses: the game's soundtrack featuring 5 songs including the main Fire Emblem theme and a special calendar commemorating the series. Fire Emblem is expected to be quite a big hit on GameCube in Japan, the game being more popular than the new Zelda on some charts. Here are some pictures of the bonuses:
Click to enlarge
We now have the front cover boxes for Geist and Fire Emblem, and they happen to be quite good-looking. A few new screenshots have also been added to Fire Emblem.
» Fire Emblem : Souen no Kiseki
Viewtiful Brawl. Unexpectedly, Capcom's tough super hero, Viewtiful Joe will be back one more time on GameCube, not in a beat'em up for a change, but in a free-for-all combat title. The game is entitled Viewtiful Joe: VFX Battle and set to release this year.
Cocoto. Cocoto are defined as "friendly imps" on Neko's site. The good thing is that they want to befriend with the GameCube with four titles coming to our favorite system ! Those four have some noticeably unimaginative titles: Cocoto Kart Racer, Cocoto Platform Jumper (oh my god, dullest title ever !), Cocoto Tennis and Cocoto Fishing Master, yet, any title increasing the GameCube's tiny, tiny release schedule is most welcomed, especially when the retail price is only 20 euros ! Kart Racer will come out on April 21, followed by Tennis and Fishing Master on September, Platform Jumper should be already released.
Time to Kill. Hopefully, Capcom finally made up his mind as to when release the long-delayed hyper violent adventure title, Killer 7: June 7 in US, June 9 in Japan and July 15 in Europe, are the latest dates. Cross your fingers and hope this is the last change.
Another Day. A week ago, THQ discreetly announced a sequel to Day of Recknoning for GameCube, which is likely to be the last wrestling title to hit the console. The game will try to expand and improve on the existing features of the original game such as the story mode and graphics rather than setting new standards.
Last year, for the first time in decades, Nintendo was losing money, 13 million dollars to be exact, and failed to be a profitable company. Even though sales were not at the best, the losses were blamed on the fluctuations of the dollar. This year, thanks to foreign exchange gains, Nintendo will be largely profitable with a 14 billion yen (130 million dollars, 100 million euros) net income, beating the company's own projection by 17% percent. A very good news indeed, cheers for Nintendo !
Nintendo World Store.
If you're a New Yorker, or plan to go to the Big Apple soon, there's a new attraction in town you don't want to miss, it's the Nintendo World Store. The two-storey shop is located in the Rockfeller Center and is currently under construction with an opening date set for this Spring. All sort of Nintendo goodies will be available to purchase and visitors will have a chance to try the latest and upcoming games for the different Nintendo consoles. The new store will also merge with the former Pokemon Center. Additional details will be unveiled in two weeks, you can already visit the official site:
» To Nintendo World Store official site
Continuing our series "better late than never", here is the test of Konami-SK-Nintendo's The Twin Snakes. I was just reading a few opinions about the game on Amazon UK, it was shocking. Many people gave it the maximum five or six stars and praised it a lot, saying how terrific it is. The only ones to complain were obviously big fans of the Sony versions (fanboys ?). Anyway, I don't understand why anyone can be fond of this game, it's beyond my understanding, how can anyone love a game where you have to spend so much time watching stupid scenes ? People might need to see what good movies are all about to figure what is so bad about Metal Gear's own story. Frankly, how could you take seriously a game where the super bad guy proposes, at a crucial moment, to pull your ear in the Esquimo's way ?
» Review of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes