Wednesday, March 28, 2007

BREAKING: Sonic and Mario go olympic on Wii

The old rivals Mario and Sonic will appear in their first videogame together, entitled ´Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games´. The press release reads:

Developed for the Wii (TM) video game system and the Nintendo DS (TM) system, this momentous agreement marks the first time these two renowned stars have appeared together in a game.

Published by SEGA across Europe and North America, and published by Nintendo in the Japanese market, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games will be available for Christmas 2007 and is licensed through a worldwide partnership with International Sports Multimedia (ISM), the exclusive interactive entertainment software licensee of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, players will compete in events that take place in environments based on the official venues of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Using a supporting cast of characters from the amazing worlds of both Mario and Sonic, gamers will be able to compete as or against a range of lovable personalities including Mario, Sonic, Luigi (TM), Knuckles (TM), Yoshi®, Tails (TM) and more. Innovative usage of the Wii and DS control systems to maneuver a favourite character will allow players to race the likes of Mario and Sonic down the 100m track, engage in exhilarating rallies in table tennis and churn water in a swimming heat, all while competing for the much sought after gold medal.

In late 2005, SEGA acquired the rights to games based on the 2008 Olympics.

I have known about this announcement for a few days now - and this is set to become a huge exclusive for both Wii and DS. More info and media as it becomes available.

EDIT SEGA of America has included a quote by Shigeru Miyamoto:

“Mario and Sonic have been respectful rivals since the early days of video games,” says Shigeru Miyamoto, Senior Managing Director and General Manager, Entertainment Analysis and Development Division, Nintendo Co., Ltd.. “In fact, for a long time they have been discussing the possibility of one day competing against each other. Now that they have been given the perfect opportunity to meet at the Olympic Games, we may finally learn who is actually faster, Mario or Sonic?”

EDIT It looks as if this title will be online. The good people over at GameOn Revolution have picked up on a comment by IGN´s Matt Casamassina on his blog.

I think some of you were expecting a Mario and Sonic platformer of some sort, but really, this title makes much more sense to me. It is, when you break it down, Wii Sports + Olympics + Mario + Sonic + online. What the hell is not to like about that?

Finally, Next-Gen has received word that the game, while being developed by Sega Sports Team, is under direct and intense supervision of Miyamoto and his team.

Sources: SEGA of Europe, SEGA of America

Monday, March 26, 2007

´Pokemon Battle Revolution´ friend code rumour fake

The UK version of ´Pokemon Battle Revolution´ apparently "will not have the restrictions of the friend code system", an IGN board thread claimed, citing the country´s NGamer magazine (originally attributing it to the now defunct NGC mag).

I just got off the phone with the newsroom concerned. The magazine´s staff writer has categorically ruled out that such news is in the current issue - or, in fact, in any of them.

EDIT This story may very well not be fake, after all. The good people over at GoNintendo have published a scan of the article in question. Here it is.

I have just spoken to the editor again and mailed him the image. He will get back to me as soon as possible. So I am forced to withdraw my earlier statement that this rumour is definitely fake. Please bear with me while I get the official word in writing.

I must stress here that in the earlier conversation the editor left me in no doubt regarding the authenticity of the quote.

EDIT The scans are real, but the story is not. Here is the magazine´s reply:

Unfortunately, the curse of the magazine lead time has struck again. Since we wrote this piece -- with the understanding that our information was correct -- Nintendo has seemingly confirmed that Pokemon Battle Revolution *will* use game-specific Friend Codes.

Sorry for any confusion. The original IGN poster put quote marks around words we never actually used, which is why we weren't too sure what he was referring to at first.

Source: foxrmf, foxrmf
Thanks to: Codename Revolution

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Microsoft buying Take-Two, ´GTA´ to become Xbox360 exclusive?

A rumour was posted over at WorthPlaying that, if true, would turn out to be the industry coup of the year.

Word has reached us through the grapevine by means of an inside source at Rockstar Vancouver, that "the buzz" in the hallways is that Microsoft might have put in a bid or expressed interest in purchasing the ailing publisher/developer. While this is a mere rumor, albeit from a reliable source, it is to be taken with a grain of salt. Just imagine the ramifications....

This comes in the wake of concrete evidence that the company´s Board of Directors is considering a sale. A press release, explaining why the company´s annual meeting had been pushed back six days had noted that the Board wanted to "evaluate alternative courses of actions that could potentially be presented to the shareholders, including a possible sale of the Company."

Allow me to spell the ramifications out for you. Such a buyout would lead to Microsoft adding Rockstar to their First Party list and the ´Grand Theft Auto´ series becoming Xbox360 exclusive... forever.

Undoubtedly, Microsoft would want to buy them. But can they afford to? The entire Xbox venture has cost them billions with little in return. And the last studio acquisitions were not exactly good investments for the company, I should add.

Buying Rare was, in hindsight, a mistake. The studio cost Microsoft almost half a billion US dollars, graced the console with a number of overhyped titles (two of which had been ported twice in their development cycle, to be fair to Rare) and the buyout started a huge exodus of employees which recently culminated in the company´s founders leaving.

I would have thought that Microsoft had learned that throwing money around is not everything in this industry. But I could be wrong.

Sources: WorthPlaying, Games Industry
Thanks to: Karma Kramer

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

´Devil May Cry 4´ no longer PS3-exclusive

Capcom today confirmed that ´Devil May Cry 4´ will also be released on Microsoft´s Xbox360. The game was previously thought to be a PS3-exclusive.

Each version of the game will be maximized to take advantage of the systems’ strengths, leading to a breath-taking visual and gameplay experience. Devil May Cry 4 will be released simultaneously for the PS3 and Xbox 360 system.

“Capcom is committed to making its titles available to as wide an audience as possible, and has been building its technology base to meet that goal,” said Mark Beaumont, executive vice president, officer and head of Capcom consumer software publishing in the Americas and Europe. “This announcement means that PS3, Xbox 360 and PC owners worldwide will be able to experience the latest instalment of one of Capcom’s pillar franchises.”

Mark my words: this is not the end of it. More games, previously thought to be PS3-exclusives, will go multi-platform. For a start, there have been plenty rumours about ´Metal Gear Solid 4´ going multi-platform, too. And I strongly believe so. Why? PS3 exclusives do not make any business sense at the moment and for the foreseeable future.

According to the current sales estimates (be it via NexGen Wars or Videogame Charts), the PlayStation3´s entire installed hardware base amounts to not much more than two million units, if that.

And a high profile game on that platform needs to sell half a million units just to break even. So you currently need every fourth PS3 owner buying your game only in order for you to get your development costs back. That is the economics of the madhouse.

On top of that, consider the PS3´s rough ride in the mass media, which continued today in USA Today (thanks to Joystiq).

Sony's new PlayStation 3 video game has gone from top dog to underdog in record time. Despite the buildup and hype around its arrival in November, the PS3 has been outsold so far — at a rate of almost 2-to-1 — by the Nintendo Wii. (...) For Sony, that performance "is simply abysmal," says Newsweek's N'Gai Croal.

Source: Capcom
Thanks to: Neo, Joystiq

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Spanish Wii site posts huge rumour list

Spanish Wii site RevoGamers (translated by Google) has posted a whole list of rumours, which apparently come from an inside source, but are highly contentious.

I have been in contact with user B. (anonymized for the time being) who has close ties to the site and has kindly been able to clarify some points and add some detail. I have known him for some time and think of him as a reliable enough source to post this.

However, I would like to remind everyone that all of these rumours are entirely unfounded. I have not been able to verify anything posted below. If true, the content must be classified as highly confidential, so I am led to doubt its authenticity altogether. I suggest you do the same.

GameBoy successor cancelled

Nintendo had been working on the ´Gameboy Advance Next´ which was to become a third pillar (alongside the Wii as a home console and the DS as a portable). The handheld was to feature hardware comparable in power to that of the GameCube.

It was to offer online gaming and downloadable titles, do away with physical media altogether and be compatible with the Virtual Console. Apparently, concerns over media storage and too high a price point caused the project to be scrapped.

DS successor in the works

Nintendo is working on ´Project 3´ which is to become the successor of the DS. It will be a handheld console without buttons. Instead, it is just one big touchscreen, comparable to Apple´s ´iPhone´.

New Miyamoto IP

Miyamoto is working on a new IP on a similar scale to Zelda. It is codenamed ´The Rise of Darkness´.

It is said to be an online-only title, perhaps an MMO. Miyamoto wants every day to be different in the game. An older rumour on the same site pointed to a game that mixed elements of the real world with science fiction and spritual elements, loosely inspired by Buddhism. Gameplay-wise it was described as mixture between Zelda and Shenmue.

Nintendo developing MMO

More talk about an online game, codenamed ´Project Live´. This sounds very much like an MMO. It is said to be a big city, in which you can kidnap players from another team and leave clues for them to find you. No word on whether this is connected to Miyamoto´s new IP.

Miis used in future games

´Animal Crossing´ on Wii will be based on Miis, ´Mario Party 8´ and even the Wii version of ´Mario Kart´ might feature them, as well.

More channels coming

The next Wii system update will feature both a ´Movie Channel´ and a ´Talk Channel´. No further information is given other than the names. Also, there will be some improvements to the ´Mii Channel´, as far as I can make out.

Brain training may become dedicated channel

Some talk about a game that is based on the Latin phrase ´Mens sana in corpore sano´ (Latin for: ´a healthy mind in a healthy body´). This sounds very much like Braining Training or Big Brain Academy. Apparently, this could become a channel of its own.

Wii mic takes shape

The Wii microphone will plug into the controller, just like the Nunchuk extension.

N64 blockbuster titles coming to VC

´GoldenEye 007´ and ´Donkey Kong 64´ will make their appearance on the Virtual Console this year. Apparently, the contracts between Nintendo and developer Rare work in Nintendo´s favour. It looks as if no other Rare games will become available, though.

Also, ´Star Fox 64´ (aka Lylat Wars), Ganbare Goemon (aka Legend of the Mystical Ninja) and ´Mischief Makers´ will make it to the Virtual Console soon.

Sources: B., RevoGamers (translated by Google)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

´NiGHTS into Dreams´ sequel Wii-bound

The sequel to the Sega Saturn classic ´NiGHTS into Dreams´ is being developed for Wii, the British Official Nintendo magazine seems to claim.

The current issue is promising to blow the lid off a new Wii title in its next issue. The teaser page reads "World Exclusive! Step back in time as a classic game makes a long overdue return." and shows the following images (the scans come courtesy of GoNintendo).

The stars in the picture above seem to suggest an outline. And the top would fit the game´s main character - ´NiGHTS´ wears a jester´s hat. Here is a still taken from the game´s ending.

And here is an image of the character superimposed onto the starry outline in the magazine´s teaser, courtesy of the NeoGAF forums (thanks to Vasuba and TSE).

Also, NGamer magazine is promising a big Wii exclusive. Here is their teaser (again via GoNintendo).

Both magazines belong to the same British publisher. It is likely that they will both reveal that a ´NiGHTS into Dreams´ sequel is in development for Wii.

EDIT A Sega or Nintendo representative who wishes to remain anonymous has confirmed this story to UK gaming site SPOnG (thanks to Cubed3 and ExtremeGamer3).

EDIT The story has been confirmed by way of an article in a Portuguese gaming magazine called ´Maxi Consolas´, including detailed screenshots.

Sources: Official Nintendo magazine (scanned by dc12iscool, via GoNintendo), NGamer magazine (scanned by Adolson, via GoNintendo)
Thanks to: Vasuba, TSE, GameOn Revolution, DigiHatesMakingNames

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wii tops February hardware sales in US

The Wii is continuing to outsell all of its competitors in the US by a clear margin. Here are the latest NPD figures (via 1UP). Figures in brackets are last month´s sales.

Wii: 335.000 (436.000)

Xbox360: 228.000 (294.000)

PlayStation3: 127.000 (244.000)

While PS3 results are again poor, Sony is doing well with another console. The PlayStation2 sold 295.000 units, more than twice the amount of its successor.

After the shocking news about Nintendo´s flawed online platform two days ago, this should convince us that the Wii is selling phenomically well and clearly beating all competitors - at a time when there are no online games available yet.

Also, Nintendo stocks seem to have recovered from their first serious blip (in early February) in well over a year. The underlying trend (200-day average, shown in red) proves a continued upward trend.

Source: Kreissparkasse Cologne

Sony Corp. stocks are much more volatile in comparison. After an impressive recovery since Christmas, the underlying trend (again shown in red) has turned from negative back into positive.

Source: Kreissparkasse Cologne

Both graphs show the stock as traded on the Frankfurt stock exchange.

So will it matter, in the end, that Nintendo´s online platform looks as if it will be flawed? Not as much as we thought, perhaps. Because the numbers clearly show that the console is a runaway success - with the first online game more than three months away.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

BREAKING: No unified gamer tags or codes for Wii online

There will not be unified gamer tags or codes for Wii online games. Users will have to register with each title separately, as is already the case with the DS and the Wii´s first online title, ´Pokemon Battle Revolution´.

This exclusive information comes from GameSpy´s PR people after I asked them to go into the details of them providing the Wii´s online service. Here is the correspondence:

Falafelkid: I would like to know if I am right in assuming that the features mentioned (friend rosters, advanced matchmaking capabilities and comprehensive rankings data) suggest a single, unified online platform for each console, rather than one which is dependent on individual games (as is the case with the DS).

GameSpy: GameSpy’s technology does allow for features that could span multiple games. With the Nintendo Wii, however, the multiplayer features are title-specific.

Falafelkid: But is that the case for all Wii online titles across the board?

GameSpy: Yes, that is the case for Wii titles.

Falafelkid: Just one last question to make absolutely sure I have got this right, please. If I have a friend roster in one game, that roster will not be available to me in any other game. I have to build up an entirely new list for each title, right?

GameSpy: The answer to your question is yes, for the Wii friend lists are game specific.

Now, I must say that I am baffled. The Wii itself already has a friend list. Online games could simply tap into that list. Why make things more difficult? Of course, difficult is not always bad. I have previously said that I believe friend codes are at least partially a good idea, if only to differentiate Nintendo´s ´Wi-Fi Connection´ from Microsoft´s fantastic ´Live´ service.

They do, in fact, even enable certain gameplay elements that would not work in any other environment. Consider the tacit exchange of user-generated content in games like ´Animal Crossing: Wild World´. A good example of that is your animals automatically picking up slogans your friends taught their animals. If it was not for friend codes guaranteeing a common denominator, your animals would suddenly start to say things you would not want them to say.

So friend codes can be a good idea, I believe. But it is entirely unnecessary to use individual codes and lists for each game. That only complicates online communication further without any tangible benefit as far as the service or the gameplay offered by it are concerned.

Commenting on ´Pokemon Battle Revolution´ in December, IGN did not understand that decision either.

Strangely, despite the Wii hardware having its own friend list, Battle Revolution uses its own, independent friend list. (...) We're not sure if Nintendo's policy of minimizing interaction with strangers will change, but future titles will hopefully include chat features, get rid of the lag, and tap into the Wii's built in friend list.

Any such hope that remained seems to have died today. However, we do not yet know if Nintendo will indeed use friend codes across the board. Remember that this exclusive information contains no news about the use of friend codes.

If Nintendo were to do away with such codes for most games, the service could be likened to the state of the PlayStation network up until the current generation (each PS3 apparently has a unified online identity which is used for all online games).

However, if Nintendo were to go ahead and implement friend codes for most of their online games, alongside the game-specific system we have just learned about, building up a friend list would simply become a chore with every new title you purchase.

EDIT As might have been expected, the news sent shockwaves through the community. Here is some guest commentary from other sites that carried this story and kindly linked to it.

For Nintendo to doggedly approach online gaming in this manner is inexcusable for a next-gen console manufacturer. Let's hope the backlash from the official announcement of this issue will help to convince them of that.

Nintendo should send free batteries for the time it's going to take to punch the numbers in. But, will the inevitable hardcore uproar cause Nintendo to change their stance on this? Probably not.

Oh dear. (...) We were hoping Pokemon Battle Revolution, confirmed to have an individual code would be a freak occurrence, it seems not.

Uh-oh…I think this is going to make a lot of people angry... myself included.

The mere prospect leaves us depressed and in a need of a rainbow or something to cheer us up. The Wii maintains an internal friends list as is; why can't games simply access said list and use it universally across the platform? Why, Nintendo, why?
Nintendo Wii Fanboy

There will not be unified gamer tags or codes for Wii online games. Users will have to register with each title separately, as is already the case with the DS and the Wii´s first online title, ´Pokemon Battle Revolution´.

If this is the case, why has Nintendo waited so long to get things running? It makes absolutely no sense to delay online gaming if it was simply the same system as the DS’s…

Sigh…I understand the whole basis for using the Friend Code system. Really, Nintendo has good intentions in doing so. Then again, the politicians had good intentions with the No Child Left Behind Act. Unfortunately, the Friend Code system, like NCLB, is not practical.
The Tanooki

Nintendo have kept very quiet regarding the online multiplayer features of the Wii, so we still need some kind of confirmation from them.

Ew. The first online title in the US will be Pokemon Battle Revolution, coming June 25. Hopefully Nintendo will work out a better solution, or at least allow you to individually import friends from your Wii master list. Because if not, this bites.

All has been going astoundingly well for Nintendo and its Wii thus far, however the company has now dropped arguably the biggest ball yet.

Well damn it, Nintendo. If this is actually the case, my aspirations of playing any Wii games online are dead to me. Nintendo won't even let their own forum users share friend codes via private messages, for God's sake.

Wii games will utilise a game-specific friends list - that means you'll need your mummy and daddy's permission to exchange codes with you friends. Tripe!
Wii UK

This awkward system is unlike the Xbox 360 and PS3, both of which apply a single friend list, stored within the console's front-end firmware, to all online games.

Is this likely to be changed in a future system update? We're awaiting a reply from Nintendo UK but we seriously doubt it.

Were not just talking certain games that also connect to DS here (i.e. Pokemon Battle Revolution), we're talking all games. Our team on the inside has yet to penetrate the GameSpy vault to confirm or deny the rumor, but what a rancid, partially substantiated rumor this is. Keep hope alive?

We asked Nintendo UK whether we were missing something; whether there was some obvious reason for going down this route rather than adopting the unified approach that has become a console gaming standard, but were simply told, "Nintendo has taken this step as we believe it's the right thing to do."

If this is true, it's a tragedy. I have trouble remembering my apartment number.

This means that your buddies in Mario E Revolution: Mario Hits Ibiza won’t be able to find you in Unresponsive Racing Game GT. (...) What is the result of this fairly innocuous news? SHOCKWAVES, friends. SHOCKWAVES in the community. Fanboys! To the ramparts!

Rather than provide one friend list applicable for all Wii online games though, as is the case with many of the other formats, Nintendo has decided to stick with the current set up: users still have to make their friends list for every game played.

Considering that the Wii already has an established online community by way of the Miis, the decision to make friends lists game-specific is coming off as rather strange.

Time to figure out who your friends really are, because you're going to be spending a lot of time entering them onto your lists over and over again.

I'm not sure how backlashes begin, but I think they may start with posts like this one and end with all of us in a group shouting "rabble rabble rabble!" at Nintendo headquarters. So get ready for that. There may be torches involved.
Ars Technica

UGH (...) What will Ozy* say?
N´Gai Croal´s Level Up

* Microsoft´s André Vrignaud

EDIT As far as friend codes are concerned, GameSpy has refused to comment, stating: "We really can’t speak for Nintendo and their plans."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Matchmaking confirmed for Wii online

Nintendo will again turn to GameSpy as a provider of its online service, a press release has revealed. Also, there will be matchmaking capabilities, which appears to be proof that Nintendo will expand its current online offering with the DS, mostly requiring users to exchange friend codes.

As part of an ongoing partnership with Nintendo, GameSpy has developed middleware technology to enable Wii titles to offer community features, such as friend rosters, advanced matchmaking capabilities and comprehensive rankings data.

EDIT Actually, the above wording need not necessarily embody an advance on the online features currently used in DS games. The original press release concerning GameSpy and Nintendo collaborating for the DS read:

Now developers can easily and confidently add advanced matchmaking, community and other multiplayer services to their Nintendo DS games.

It remains to be seen just what is meant by ´friend rosters´ and ´comprehensive rankings´. I am in touch with GameSpy´s press agency to get you more details.

Source: Business Wire
Thanks to: Vook, ANANAG12

Xbox360 price drop unlikely

German gaming site AreaGames claims to have quite the scoop on the Xbox360. The premium bundle will see a €100 ($130) price drop while the core bundle will be discontinued, they claim. Also, a HDMI-compatible console including a 120GB hard drive, previously codenamed ´Zephyr´, will be launched in May.

In fact, the site claims that many retailers are already selling the premium pack for €299, the previous price point of the core bundle, as Xboxic translates.

First up, they investigated a bit on why German megastores MediaMarkt and Saturn are all of a sudden selling the Xbox 360 Premium pack at 299 euro. While wholesale price is still at around 350 euro, the included games can also be sold separately. Combined with gross purchase discounts awarded for stocking lots of Xbox 360 games besides the consoles, the total wholesale price easily drops below 300, resulting in many if not all retailers now being able to offer the Premium pack at 299 euro and still make a modest profit. Even if the new price doesn’t become official, who cares if all retailers use it?

This is wrong. An on-the-spot check with my local outlet revealed that this was a one-off sales campaign which ended Saturday. The German site´s assessment that Microsoft selling more bundles to retail and various other bonusses will make for a permanent price drop is not true. Retail prices of both versions are back to normal.

However, local sales reps hoped that Microsoft would now correct their recommended retail prices in the wake of the sales campaign. One thing is clear, though: a permanent price drop will only happen this way.

I have also placed a call to the holding company of those two retail chains and will update the story with their reply as soon as I get it.

Also, remember what Peter Moore told me at X06 when I asked him about a possible price drop. If you listen to his answer, you will find that most of his reasoning still holds. While the console´s components have undoubtedly have come down in price, Microsoft will be more than keen to actually make a bit of money with this whole Xbox venture, I am sure. Do not expect a price drop from Microsoft while Sony sticks to its original price.

Sources: AreaGames (German), Xboxic
Thanks to: MaxConsole, Xbox-Archiv (German)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Nintendo considering speech recognition for Wii

Nintendo is considering implementing speech recognition technology into Wii games, according to the company´s middleware developer Takeshi Shimada. NintendoWorldReport has attended a GDC session hosted by him and summarize the contents of his speech:

He highlighted a development tool called NintendoWare, developed by Nintendo and HAL, that emulates Wii hardware on the PC so that artists can view an accurate representation of their special effects without loading their code onto a Wii development kit. He also noted that his group is working on easy-to-incorporate fur-shading middleware and predictive input (so the game can guess what you're about to do based on prior motion). NCL is also looking into the utility of text-to-speech for Wii.

There have been both rumours and patents suggesting some kind of speech recognition and conversion technology in the past. Taken alongside the recent microphone rumour below, this makes perfect sense.

Source: NintendoWorldReport
Thanks to: Kairon, Ziran

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wii microphone confirmed, channel rumoured

A microphone peripheral for Wii has been confirmed. EB Games has listed a Disney Interactive title called ´High School Musical´, a Karaoke title which will ship in August with a microphone peripheral included.

On top of that, Rumor Reporter has learned of many microphone-based games already in development, as well as an entire channel which will make use of the microphone:

Rumor Reporter has exclusively learned from several insider sources that Nintendo will be releasing a microphone peripheral for the Wii. This once-rumored accessory is already being developed in co-junction with several game titles, some of which was shown at Game Developers Conference and previous events. Recent conferences at GDC 07 also indicate that this is the first official public showing of the peripheral to numerous press outlets. (...)

Furthermore, Rumor Reporter has learned that many more titles and experiments are also planned, including a brand-new channel based on the microphone’s capabilities. Karaoke singers should definitely take notice.

The latest rumour conerning a microphone for Wii is just a week old, a summary of the various rumours of the past is included. Again, I have always thought of a mic as a given.

What a possible microphone channel might be like is another thing, though. I myself am hoping for a fully-fledged voice messenger using Miis.

Sources: RumorReporter, Nintendo Wii Fanboy, EB Games
Thanks to: ConsoleWars (German)

Monday, March 05, 2007

No third party online games until 2008?

Nintendo may not be ready to offer its online infrastructure to third party companies until 2008, the US head of Japanese developer SNK, Ben Herman, revealed to UK gaming site SponG.

Nintendo is still not letting Wii third-party publishers include online capabilities in their games and it doesn't look like they will during 2007. So the best chance they have at building an online presence appears to be what they're doing with Virtual Console.

If true, this information should come as a surprise. In early February, NOA president Fils-Aime clearly stated that 'Pokemon Battle Revolution' will be the first online game in the US. It being already available in Japan, a US release is imminent. And why should third party online titles not follow soon?

Of course, Pokemon is using game-specific codes just like the DS, which are theoretically unnecessary for regular online games (each Wii having a console-specific code, which the DS does not have). So I strongly expect following online games to do away with individual codes. And the implementation of such a system may indeed explain a significant delay between Pokemon and what I expect will be the proper online games to follow. In this sense, 2008 might be realistic, after all.

However, Reggie went on to note that online development kits were already in third party publishers' hands. So is there a contradiction between the SponG information and Fils-Aime's comments? Perhaps developers have the online kits but simply have not yet been given the green light by Nintendo to implement online functionality. Perhaps implementation simply takes the better part of a year. Those explanations are a bit of a stretch but they may reconcile the two statements.

Otherwise, one of the two sources must be wrong. The SponG interview, it should be noted, is riddled with spelling mistakes, drawing the authenticity of Herman's alleged words somewhat into question.

EDIT There have been two recent developments regarding this story. Firstly, NSider user Kezay has come across some information (via the NeoGAF forums) pointing to Sega releasing a Pachinko game for Wii that will feature both online and Mii support. It is also slated for release this year. So it seems that at least some third party developers have access to online kits, as Fils-Aime stated.

Secondly, IGN has been able to confirm that Pokemon Battle Revolution, the first online title for Wii, will be published June 25th (coincidentally that is my birthday).

With Pokemon Battle Revolution paving the way just four months from now, Wii gamers can expect the previously announced lot of online-enabled games (such as Mario Strikers and Battalion Wars) to follow shortly after.

Source: SponG
Thanks to: MaxConsole

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Microphone rumour

GoNintendo posted a possible scoop on a Wii microphone and decided to take it back down due to allegations of it being fake. The original story is still up on Wii Nation.

The rumour has it that a hidden option button ´Add Mic´ becomes barely visible when you do the following:

* Run Wii in 480p mode
* Insert ´Zelda: Twilight Princess´
* Press ´Home´
* Wait for the screen saver to dim the screen

Here is an image:

I have always considered a microphone for Wii a given. The GameCube had one, for a start. Also, there was plenty circumstantial evidence already. Early last year, the Wii´s hardware was proven to feature an audio input.

In late November, Reggie talked about a microphone, though that may have been a slip of the tongue.

Source: GoNintendo, Wii Nation
Thanks to: The Tanooki