Nintendo and McDonalds go Wi-Fi with a deal which will let users connect and play online games with their DS in McDonalds fast food restaurants, at no cost, well, except for the food of course. McDonalds partner, Wayport, which currently provides Wi-Fi access for laptop, is in charge in establishing the service. 6.000 american McDonalds restaurants are concerned by the deal, no plan yet for the rest of the world. It sounds like a great convenient idea though we can foresee two big inconvenients, that it won't help kids to eat more healthily and restaurants are going to be crowded and slow to empty.
The first game to use Wi-Fi will be Mario Kart DS, to be released on November 14, followed by Animal Crossing: Wild World and the politically renamed Tony Hawk American Sk8land (used to be called American Wasteland, guess they didn't like the idea to join America and Waste in the same sentence). Nintendo also revealed a rumble pak (which looks like a GBA cartridge) for DS, to be first used in Metroid Prime Pinball and then also featured in Mario & Luigi 2: Partners in Time.
All sort of news have been popping up in the past hours, some important, some less so, we have them all for you anyway.
Mario Jeopardy ? Nintendo had a surprise up their sleeves, the kind of surprise they could have left in their kimono's sleeves. They have a new game coming this winter in Japan, but it happens to be a quiz game ! Some may think it's another attempt from Nintendo to reach a borader, older audience, this time on GameCube instead of DS, but to us, it's just one more downer from Nintendo. Nintendo suddenly seems to realize the crappy ideas from third-parties were not all that bad after all because they are cheap and profitable. Ok, the idea is a complete waste, but honestly, who cares ? Welcome to the new Nintendo ! Of course we have to wait and see how the "game" turns out to be but expectations so far are as high as the game's originality.
Release Hints. Although they do not yet appear in the Japanese planning, it has been reported that Naruto 4 will release on December 21, Need for Speed on December 20 and that Baten Kaitos 2, as we suspected, has been reported until next year.
Odama Completed. Via a blog of the makers, Nintendo Inside is reporting that Odama's development has been completed some days ago and that the game will release next year. Yoot Saito seems to have also a secret game under development, but it's unknown at the moment if it's for a Nintendo console or not.
Naruto in US. Naruto is finally coming stateside. The choice which was made is however a little bit debatable as the US publisher, D3, chose to release the two very first Gamecube games. Fans might think that it was absolutely necessary to release the first game, but was it, really ? Two Naruto GBA games are also coming, all releases are set in 2006.
Praise the Revolution. If you can't play it, you can praise it at least and that's just what Time magazine has been doing in their latest issue. According to them, the Revolution will be one of the 5 new things to blow your mind next year. Hopefully they don't mean the thing is so bad you'll end blowing your head off with a gun.
Not much to say about the ranking. The planning, on the other hand, has been once again updated with two small changes. Well, one of them actually is quite significant: a brand new, unannounced game from Nintendo ! Wow, what a shock. But read the next news and lower your expectations, lower them very, very much. The other change is that Konami's stupid usual winter Memorial Edition of their Jikkyou Baseball games (the number twelth ! Somebody stop them !!) has been scraped, or if not, has been reported. That'll be one game less for the Gamecube this season but at least it'll make less trash.
» See the Japanese ranking
» See the Japanese planning
The front cover art from the box of Zoids Full Metal Crash has been added.
» Zoids Full Metal Crash
And here's a bonus to all the fans of Harvest Moon who are waiting for an official statement as when Harvest Moon: Poem of Happiness will release in the West. It's an artwork, perhaps from the game box too, of Harvest Moon: Poem of Happiness for World which will come out on November 10 in Japan.
Click to enlarge
SD Gundam. Gundam robots return ! But this time, they are Super Deformed, mini and cute if you prefer. Bandai had announced SD Gundam Gachapon Wars for GameCube in early September, now the game's final release date has been set to December 1st. Interestingly, the game is not a one-company project but involves Bandai, BEC (who worked on Senshitachi no Kiseki, considered as one of the best Gundam games ever made) and even Nintendo ! According to IGN, Custom Robo's producer Tsutomu Koganezawa is overseeing the development. As for what type of game is SD Gundam Gachapon Wars, it seems to be a tactical RPG primarily focusing on action, then perhaps, best described as an action game with tactical elements.
A better Christmas. As unlikely as it may seem, winter 2005 will be a better season for the GameCube in Japan than 2004 in terms of the number of games released. While there has been a steady decrease in software production during the lifetime of the GameCube, it will not happen this year. In november and december 2004, 10 games were released in Japan for GameCube, this year, already 12 games are announced and maybe more will come. It seems the XBox 360 has no negative effect whatsoever on the GameCube titles in development, it's interesting and perhaps the sign Nintendo's console is not quite dead.
Mario Party 7 Bundle. Nintendo seems much more enthusiast about Mario Party 7 than gamers are. They are indeed so confident about the game's potential that they will release this December yet another special bundle including a GameCube, Mario Party 7 and the GC microphone. The bundle will retail at 100$, in North America only it seems. Mario Party 7's particular feature this time around is to allow 8 players simultaneously. (note: curiously, the official press release does not mention the microphone is included, instead the bundle comes with two controllers.)
Few sites have the ability to test games as late as we do. This makes us unique, doesn't it ? Perhaps not unique in a way many wish they were, but unique anyway. Today's very late review is Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike. I've had this game on my desk for more than a year, I didn't play it a lot because I didn't like it much, though it was still better than Rogue Leader. Reviewing it means I'm finally through with this group of games I had hard time playing with because I really didn't like most of them (Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Pokemon Channel), or because I've been waiting damn too long between completing the game and writing the review (MGC: The Twin Snakes, Tony Hawk's Underground, Pitfall). So, hopefully, in the next weeks, you might get some fresher, more interesting reviews. And if I get lucky enough, I might even be able to review some recent releases. Well, we'll see about that...
» Review of Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike
This was probably one of the biggest surprises of the Tokyo Game Show last month, Namco would release a sequel to Baten Kaitos on GameCube in 2005, despite announcing also earlier this same year a Baten Kaitos game for DS. The GameCube is (not) dead, long live the GameCube !
But is it such great news ? Baten Kaitos was an excellent game (yes, yes, a review will come some day soon on Samurai Nintendo, do not worry), but did it need a sequel - which moreover is a prequel - so early ? We know what's the motivation behind this choice: profit, to be sure to use the Baten Kaitos engine to its full extent, like Nintendo did for instance with the Zelda 3D games.
We know for long that "profit" has rarely been responsible for great games and this decision might deal a fatal blow to what could otherwise become a great RPG series. Besides, why, o why, a prequel ! PREQUELS SUCK ! People are tired to go backward when they'd like to go forward. We had had all sorts of prequels in the past few years, it's becoming the most irritating idea in video game history along with fishing and taking pictures (and card RPG actually).
Another matter of concern is that Namco claims to release the game this December. That sounds impossible or suicidal, depending on the points of view. If the game is not delayed till next year, it's very likely we'll end up with a poorly directed prequel. Some of the in-game screenshots seem to hint the game will reuse a lot of elements from the first game (cards, backgrounds-style, characters and so on) which adds to the growing number of worries and doubts. For all these reasons, the game scores only a 8 on our impatience level and our generosity might even go lower in the coming months.
Please Monolith and Namco, don't doom your new born RPG series to failure.
» Fact sheet preview for Baten Kaitos 2
Who's hot ? Well, the ten games at the top of our Hype Ranking are ! Who's not ? All the others. That's some radical thinking, but surprisingly, it might not be so far from the truth. So, who is number 1 ? No way you haven't guessed, it's still The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, the only game so far with more than a 100 points. It also benefits of a 30 points margin before game number 2.
Second in the ranking is Harvest Moon: Poem of Happiness, the latest Harvest Moon game in Japan, so far unreleased (and unannounced) in the West. There are many fans waiting for it though, as you can see in the comments the game received. Third is another Japan-only title, it's Naruto 3. A sequel will come out later this year and will soon be added within our pages, will it manage to outperform Naruto 3 ? Fourth is another Harvest Moon game, no wonder so many have been released, players seem to love them. This time it's Another Wonderful Life, which gives a girl's perspective on the series.
Below, we find another game which has just been released in the US, Battalion Wars. The game has surprised critics by being better than expected so it's no wonder to find it ranking so high. It's a draw at the 6th place, between two very Japanese heroes, Captain Tsubasa, star of a very famous soccer manga series, and Megaman, that you all know. Megaman X Command Mission was released last december, while Captain Tsubasa - Ougon Sedai no Chousen is a three-years old game released only in Japan !
Number 7 is another Naruto game, but the first one, not the second one ! Go figure. Pehaps the greatest GameCube game of all time is number 8, yep, it's Super Smash Bros. Melee. It is followed by another Japan-only game, Zoids VS III. Starfox Assault ends the top 10 and shows that despite being short, Starfox's adventure was appreciated.
That's all for now and remember to keep voting for your all-time favorite !
Because of a weak yen currency against the dollar, Nintendo almost doubled its forecast of net profit for the first half to September, from 19 billion yen to 36 billion. Current profit also rose from 33 to 56 billion. But all is not bright for Nintendo as sales for the GameCube have dropped by 40% in the US since last year, with Nintendo's total revenue falling from 188 to 175 billion, a 6.9% drop, despite a 190 billion forecast earlier in May.
Even target sales for the DS were not met in the first half. So, what does this all mean ? Basically, it means Nintendo is being lucky at the moment: even though they've been doing less well than last year, they manage to get more money than expected thanks to a market which favors their trade. It might not last though. Even if it does, Nintendo is facing another problem, people seem to be less and less interested in the games they release.
Was it predictable ? Absolutely ! That's what we've been repeating here for a long while now. Except Capcom's Resident Evil 4 earlier this year, there's been nothing but poor, unengaging games coming from Nintendo, or games which will appeal mostly to a limited number of people, fans of a game series such as Dance Dance Revolution or Advance Wars. It's just the proof Nintendo's obsession with its own licences is paying less and less, literaly, and fail to achieve their new goal, conquering new audience. With a line-up such as the one announced for the Revolution so far, they shouldn't expect things to change for the better.
A bunch of new DS games has been revealed by Nintendo yesterday during a press conference, that looks like a middle finger raised to Microsoft's X05 if you ask me. Good old Nintendo didn't have anything very original except 4 games but they will all, presumably, deliver quality. But first, the original games:
- Ash (Mistwalker)
- Wish Room
- Detect Hacker
Now, the non-original games (based on a licence, sequel, dumb software, etc):
- Mario Basket 3 on 3 (developed by Square-Enix)
- Crossword Puzzle (grrrrreat...)
- Jigsaw Puzzle (help !!)
- Custom Robo DS
- Tingle RPG
- Starfi 4
- Wario 2D platformer
- a sequel to the brain training software
- English for beginners, or some crap like that
The Japanese chart has been updated and, o surprise, there's a new entry.
» See this week ranking
For once, this week, I'd like to show an interesting comparison here, rather than in the ranking section. The two titles currently representing the GameCube in the top 50 of best software sales are Pokemon XD and Super Mario Stadium: Miracle Baseball. Each of them has been there for about 10 weeks and both are key Nintendo's licences, Pokemon and Mario, and sequels or byproducts.
When you compare with original or previous games though, the strategy of the sequel/byproduct doesn't seem to be succesful at all for Nintendo. Pokemon Colosseum, after 8 weeks in the chart had sold a total of 537.000 units, Pokemon XD in the meanwhile, after 7 weeks, has sold 185.000 units; 352.000 units less. That's huge, a 60% drop.
The same can be said about Mario Baseball compared to Mario Tennis. After 9 weeks, Mario Baseball sold 170.000 units, compared to 313.000 units in the same period for Mario Tennis. Again, big drop, 50%. Mario Baseball's sales are actually more like Mario Golf's, a sport not really appealing to the younger gamer crowds.
One might argue that Mario Tennis and Pokemon Colosseum were released closer to Christmas than those two titles have been, which definitely helped to boost their sales. However, one might argue back by saying that the current period should have profited to Pokemon XD and Mario Baseball too, given that they have been the only new games available for weeks now ! No real competition, but no real profit either.