Friday, October 28, 2005

New little addition to the blog template

So ... did you happen to notice the new little addition to the site? Yeah, that little card underneath my profile. That's my Xbox Live card, a new feature of the upgraded Xbox Live. Now you can broadcast your info for the world to see. "So David", you ask inquisitively, "why is your info pretty threadbare right now?" Well, that's because the Gamerscore, Reputation, etc. don't officially make their debut until the release of the Xbox 360 next month. So just consider this as me getting a little bit of a head start on things to come.

The latest round of gaming news

Here we go again, courtesy of my work for the folks over at GameSpy. Just click on a headline to read the full news article:
  • Microsoft Unveils the Mystery of Hex 168
    No, this isn't the plot of a new X-Files motion picture, nor is it the mad ramblings of a crackpot. Actually, it's the latest viral marketing campaign coming out of Microsoft. So what exactly does "Hex 168" mean? For you uber-geeks out there, the hexadecimal code 1-6-8 translates to the binary code of 0001 0110 1000, which (besides being an interesting palindrome) translates from binary code into decimal code as "360". That's right folks. If you haven't guessed it already, the mystery of Hex 168 is all about the Xbox 360. And now that the secret has been exposed, the real fun begins.

  • Dead Or Alive 4 Calls In for Some Halo Support
    For weeks now, the rumor mill has been buzzing over the word that Tecmo's upcoming Dead or Alive 4 would be featuring a special guest star added to the fighting fray along with the regular cast of characters. Well, the official word came down on Wednesday as it was announced that the game would be featuring special material straight from Microsoft's best-selling Halo franchise.

  • GameStop and Nintendo Give Dog Owners A Halloween Treat (DS)
    Owners of Nintendo's hugely successful pet simulator, Nintendogs, are in for an added treat this Halloween weekend, courtesy of Nintendo and GameStop. Nintendo has announced that it is teaming with the video game retailer to host its Nintendogs Tricks and Treats Weekend, running from Friday, October 28th through Sunday, October 30th. During this time, virtual dog owners will be able to visit their local GameStop store, and walk away with an exclusive in-game item.

  • Electroplankton Gets Exclusive U.S. Debut (DS)
    Electroplankton, Nintendo's curiously unique experience for the DS, has been entertaining Japanese gamers for months. Now the company has announced that the game will make its U.S. debut on January 9th. However, if you're a DS owner looking to get your plankton groove on, don't go looking on store shelves for a copy of the game.
As always, comment on what you see and let me know your opinions.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More reviews

Here you go ... more work to look over. Lots of sports this time around.

News updates

Hmm ... so you've probably noticed I haven't done many news updates here lately. Wondering why? Well, I'll tell ya. Things have been nuts. More importantly, I've started writing news for GameSpy lately. So what does that mean for the news here? There's a couple of minor tweaks coming.

Here's the deal ... I'll still be posting various news stories here in the normal format. But, since I'm writing news for GameSpy as well, I'm going to also be linking some news articles over to their site. Why? Because I really don't feel like trying to write the same news articles up twice, once for GameSpy and once for here. So, I've gotten the okay from GameSpy to quote snippets of my articles here and link to the full articles over there. I'm going to try this out for a little bit and see how it works out for everyone. And like I said, I'll still include full news articles here as well, just not duplicates of what I'm already writing for GameSpy.

And just so you know what to expect, here's the first round of GameSpy news.
  • Nintendo and Waypoint Go Online With McD(S)
    It looks like DS owners will soon be getting some Mario Kart or Metroid Prime: Hunters game time with their Happy Meals. According to a statement released Tuesday, Nintendo has partnered up with Internet provider Wayport to bring its Nintendo WiFi Connection service to DS users at more than 6,000 McDonald's restaurants throughout the United States.

  • Game Companies Get Into The Holiday Spirit
    The Christmas shopping season is fast approaching, and with it comes the usual round of special deals from meant to entice consumers to choose one product over another. For gamers, that means being on the lookout for a host of new and sometimes fashionable console deals as well.
Let me know your thoughts.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Another round of news ...

It's long past due, but yet again here I am with some recent happening in the video game industry. Check it all out and let me know your thoughts.
  • EA & Spielberg Phone Home

    Electronic Arts announced on Friday that it has signed a new long term development deal with Hollywood mastermind Steven Spielberg. According to EA, the deal calls for Spielberg to collaborate on site with EA's Los Angeles Studio (EALA) to develop three new original franchise properties. Spielberg will work directly with EA's development teams on the concepts, designs, stories, and artistic visions of the new games. Meanwhile, EA will own the intellectual properties, as well as handle the publishing and distribution of the new titles.

    For his part, Spielberg stated:
    "I have been playing EA games for years and have watched them master the interactive format. Having watched the game industry grow from a niche into a major creative force in entertainment, I have a great deal of respect for EA's understanding of the interactive format. I'm looking forward to working closely with the team in Los Angeles."
    The financial details of the deal weren't disclosed, but it's a safe bet that EA shelled out more than a couple of bucks for Spielberg's expertise.

  • Video Killied the iPod Star

    Last week, the Apple sent the press a cryptic email stating "Just one more thing." Well, Steve Jobs finally officially announced one of his company's worst kept secrets, the new iPod Video. The new iPod boasts a 2.5-inch, 320 x 240 pixel TFT display, 20 hour battery life, and up to 150 hours of video storage capability. Apple also took the opportunity to announce a new deal with ABC which will allow iTunes users to buy episodes of hit ABC television series Lost and Desperate Housewives the day after they initially air on the network.

    Now, the announcement of the iPod's new video capability is interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, Apple seems to be shooting itself in the foot by bringing this new iPod to the market hot on the heels of its iPod Nano. The new iPod could seriously cut into the iPod Nano's sales. Of course, it may also help to alleviate some retailer frustration, as the Nano's demand seemed to be severely outweighing its supply.

    Another gaming related spin on the iPod announcement relates to Sony's PSP. iTunes has already established itself as the jukebox software of choice for many MP3 owners, and now Apple will be releasing videos through the service. Meanwhile, over at Sony, the PSP has been seeing more and more success based on its multimedia capabilities. Though the PSP's library of games has been light until recently, sales of UMD movies have been through the roof. In Japan, Sony has started up an online service which allows PSP owners to download videos straight to their PSPs via an online WiFi connection. The service has seen a pretty favorable public response, and is now in the early stages of development here in the States.

    Can Sony's service carve out a niche for itself out of the large iTunes consumer base? Will consumers be content to watch video on the iPod's 2.5-inch, 320 x 240 display? Or would they rather go the route of the PSP's 4.3 inch (16:9 ratio) 480 x 272 display? These questions, and many more, will be answered in the next installment of "As The Video Turns".

  • And Speaking of the PSP

    Sony quietly released the latest firmware update for the PSP this week, bringing the system up to version 2.50. The new update adds a few new features, including the ability to update the time and date via the internet, support for playback of copy-protected video, the ability to save information entered into online forms, and other minor tweaks to the interface. One potentially sizeable update is the addition of Sony's LocationFree Player software to the PSP. This mean that if you own a LocationFree base station, you can use the PSP as a wireless television. Okay, so many of us may not yet own the $200+ base station required to actually USE this feature, it still shows that Sony is really pushing the PSP as true portable entertainment device.

  • "The Beginning Is Nigh"

    Oh look ... yet another cryptic "viral marketing" campaign. *sigh*

    Earlier this week, unusual photos began appearing in various Xbox themed online forums from a mysterious poster under the name "Lutz". These pictures, supposedly taken in various location around the United States, feature a circular design containing the Roman Numerals 1, 6, and 8. Immediately, fans began to wonder if this might mark the first rumblings of Halo 3 for the Xbox 360 ... with some even assuming that the numbers represented a release date of 8/1/06.

    So far, there's no word on what the symbols actually mean, but the website HEX 168 purports to be a tabloid-like "Lutz World Report" written by the mysterious Jason Q. Lutz. In it, Lutz maintains that he "cannot track down and document the mounting evidence of the power of Hex 168" and that soon he "will enlist the help of the truly committed, bring them together to witness the New Beginning before the rest of the world, and reward them with a physical manifistation of the power of Hex 168." The site also features a countdown clock which will run out on Tuesday, November 18th at 3pm EST (12pm Noon PST).

    On an interesting uber-geek note, the hexadecimal code 1-6-8 translates to the binary code of 0001 0110 1000, which (besides being an interesting palindrome) translates from binary code into decimal code as "360". A couple of math savvy posters threw this info out there, and yes ... I DID take the time to double check behind them before reporting it. So, is this a hint at something big coming for the Xbox 360? Who knows? I guess we'll all find out more on Tuesday.

    Here are copies of some of the pictures showing up online:

And on a final note (for now), I usually don't simply post press releases when I get them sent to me, but this is one time I'll make an exception because I think it's a good cause:


Games Needed For Kids Wish Network's Hospital Programs

Donations of Teen Titles Make Big Difference for Kids Suffering from Chronic Illness

OLDSMAR, FL – October 14, 2005 - Kids Wish Network, a nationally recognized charity dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children suffering with life-threatening illnesses, needs video game donations for their in-hospital support programs for kids with chronic illnesses. The charity is currently experiencing a critical shortage of much needed items for their hospital gift-giving programs and is hoping that you can assist them in continuing their mission of bringing joy to children in need.

At this time, Kids Wish Network is seeking games and entertainment items for children ages 3-18, but particularly for those in their teens, more specifically ages 13-18. Unfortunately the needs of older children are often overlooked, and the hospital can be just as frightening and stressful at 18 as it can be at eight! Items for this age group are difficult to secure, and Kids Wish Network's Distribution Center is running seriously low on their teen-oriented inventory. Your generous contribution is desperately needed to help fill our giving event teen gift bags!

In addition to granting the wishes of children suffering with life-threatening illnesses, Kids Wish Network brings gifts, entertainment, special guests, and a much-needed break from medical treatment to hospitalized children all across the country through its Holiday of HopeTM gift-giving program. During these events, Kids Wish Network staff and volunteers also distribute age appropriate gift bags full of toys and other treasures to the young patients and their often-forgotten siblings.

A new toy or game can quickly dry the eyes of a frightened child and distract them from stinging needles, scary machines and the loneliness of being in a strange place. Pediatric doctors and nurses all agree that sometimes a smile can be the very best medicine.

"Most of our patients are medically indigent, with very limited resources," said Martha Benzor, Volunteer Coordinator at LAC+USC Women's & Children's Hospital in Los Angeles of the Kids Wish Network Holiday of HopeTM held at their hospital. "The wonderful toys they received helped enlighten their lives!"

The entertainment items and toys that we receive are never sold or distributed to other organizations. There is no middleman; they are given directly to the children.

Your donation is tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law, and WE PAY THE FREIGHT in the continental U.S. If you would like more information on Kids Wish Network, please visit our website at, or call toll free at (888) 918-9004.

If your company is able to assist Kids Wish Network with any of these items, please contact Barbara Askin at 813-814-0788 or by email at

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Spoilers and such

Remember how you felt when someone ruined the ending of a really cool (or even not so cool) movie? Like when your friends blabbed that Darth Vader was Luke's father? Or that Bruce Willis was really dead in The Sixth Sense? Or that the boat in Titanic actually sinks? (Okay, so the last one was a gimme). Well now, thanks to entertainment trade magazine Variety and the Sci-Fi Channel's website, you can relive that feeling in the world of video games.

As everyone should know, I cruise all sorts of places to get my information on video games. That includes press releases, news sources, interviews, etc. And then there are those times I just stumble across stuff. This is one of those "stumbling" moments.

There ... with that out of the way, here's what happened. I was checking out some interesting news bits on the Sci-Fi. One of these mentioned (by way of an article in Variety) that Warner Bros. is developing a film titled Species X. This movie centers around a detective investigating a series of murders. Over the course of the investigation, he is thrown into the middle of a battle between good and evil alien forces, and that in fact, he may not be a human himself. So far, it sounds like your standard scifi fare, right? Nothing to get gamers cranky just yet, right?

Okay folks, it's time for the obligatory:


Tha article went on to mention that Warner Bros. "will simultaneously develop videogame 'The Condemned: Criminal Origins' based on the concept". The thing is, promotions for the game itself (a launch title for the Xbox 360) have not given this key little plot twist away. In fact, every piece of info about the game has alluded to this being a "normal" story, with an FBI agent facing off against a collection of serial killers in a race to clear his name. In fact, even when devloping promo materials for the game, artists were emphatically told that the game had no ghost, no supernatural elements, etc., and that the hero was fighting off just a bunch of deranged humans. Now, thanks to the movie announcement, the cat is out of the bag And apparently serial killers will no longer cry out "The Devil made me do it" ... instead it'll be those damned little green men.

I'm curious to see how long it takes for other gaming sites to pick up on this little tidbit of info.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Big things in small packages

Let me start off by saying that I have a Nintendo DS, which has slowly become the handheld of choice for me. When the DS first came out, nobody seemed to be doing anything impressive with the dual screened system. But now, games like Jump Super Stars, Mario Kart DS, Kirby: Canvas Curse, and Meteos are proving that Nintendo is still the reigning king of the handheld industry. Another key selling point for the DS has been its ability to play Game Boy Advance games. Having said that, you'd think that there's really no reason for me to pick up Nintendo's new Game Boy Micro system. What can I say? I'm a slave to marketing.

So yeah, I picked up a Game Boy Micro today. I could try to justify it to everyone by saying things like "The DS can't use a Link Cable", or "I need to be able to review the new system." ... but that would just be me making excuses. The truth of the matter is, I just think it's pretty damned cool. It's like the iPod Nano ... if you HAVE an iPod already, what purpose does the Nano serve for you? Even so, it's just something really frikkin' cool and you just wanna have it. Well, the Game Boy Micro was MY iPod Nano. Oh, and the Micro DOES do more for GBA games than the DS can. Specifically, the system supports multiplayer games via a Link Cable or Wireless Adapter. Also, I do like the idea of the interchangable faceplates. I'd be willing to bet that it's only a matter of time before companies start offering up promotional collectors edition faceplates marketing their hottest games.

The early buzz about the Micro seems to indicate it's going to be yet another success for Nintendo. Truth be told, so long as companies continue to support Nintendo and the little system that could, the Game Boy line will likely continue to thrive for the foreseeable future. And in the meantime? I'll be kicking back with my cool new fashion accessory ... umm .. for work pruposes of course.