PS3 Launching Spring 2006: Sony At E3

PS3 Launching Spring 2006: Sony At E3Sony has unveiled prototypes of their new Playstation 3 console at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.

Not so much a games console as a mo’fo’ media machine, the PS3 contains a veritable beast in the box, with the Cell processor – jointly developed by IBM, Sony Group and Toshiba – capable of producing two teraflops of computing power. That’s twice that of the Xbox 360.

Like the XBox, home entertainment convergence is the big story here, with the PlayStation3 offering high quality TV output and the ability to play digital music, Blu-ray high-definition DVD, as well as show off home movies and digital pictures.

The powerful new microprocessor allows many of the functions to be carried out at the same time, allowing gamers to record TV shows or listen to music while playing a game.

Sony’s curvy silver unit comes with more connections than the StereoMCs, serving up six USB sockets; Ethernet and Wi-Fi wireless technology; BlueTooth support for up to seven wireless controllers and a removable hard drive.

The new BD-ROM (Blu-ray Disc ROM) offers a thumping great 54 GB (dual layer) storage capacity providing ample space for storing full high-definition (HD) quality movies with two HDMI high-definition sockets allowing games to be played on one screen and video conferencing on a second.

With an almighty 2 teraflops of computing power on call, the box should be capable of rendering landscapes and virtual worlds in real-time with super-smooth characters and object motion.

PS3 Launching Spring 2006: Sony At E3Sony are currently collaborating with the world’s leading tools and middleware companies, to provide developers with extensive tools and libraries to make the best of the Cell processor and enable efficient software development.

As is now the custom, every new product has to represent a ‘new era’ in something or another. Last week, Microsoft was describing their XBox launch as “a dawn of a new era in entertainment.”

Ken Kutaragi, President and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc was ready to go a little bit further: “Empowered by the Cell processor with super computer like performance, a new age of PLAYSTATION 3 is about to begin. Together with content creators from all over the world, SCEI will accelerate the arrival of a new era in computer entertainment.”

Sony’s announcement came with a long, long list of partners enthusiastically effervescing about the new Playstation. We can sum up their opinions thus: “We think it’s great!”

Consumers will be able to find out for themselves when the PS3 launches “in the spring of 2006,” although old-school gamers will be pleased to learn that PS3 will offer backward compatibility for the 13,000-title strong PS and PS2 back catalogue.

With the two big guns XBox and PS3 showing their hands, all eyes are on Nintendo’s next-generation machine, code-named ‘Revolution,’ which will be revealed at E3 later today. We’ll be filing a report shortly.

Watch the amazing PS3 technical demos: 1UP
Sony Playstation

PSP UK/ European Release Date, 1 September: Sony Official

PSP UK/ European Release Date, 1 September: OfficialBig sighs of disappointment are heard all around Europe, as Sony officially announce the released date of the handheld gaming/media dream machine, the Sony PSP. It’s going to be 1 September 2005.

The only cheers will be from the companies that are supplying imported PSPs from the US and Japan, where is has been available since the start of the year.

The PSP, or PlayStation Portable to give it its full title, not only plays games, but can show films (playing from its UMD disk) and play music using MP3 or Sony’s proprietary ATRAC-3 format.

Many current users have been finding that by applying a little ingenuity and using the built-in WiFi support, they are able to use the machine as a Web browser and more.

I had my hands on one a little over a week ago and can attest that it is indeed a product of desire. Not only is the design of the device great, but it’s solid feel only accentuates the flimsyness of the Nintendo DS. The screen performance is highly impressive, making the graphics look stunning. We think it will sweep all in front of it.

The DS has its own market of enthusiasts; the Nokia N-Gage QD has the benefit of being a mobile phone and Nokia behind it. Sadly the Gizmondo has none of these advantages and despite our best wishes, we can’t see anything but hard times ahead for them.

PSP UK/ European Release Date, 1 September: OfficialSony have announced the PlayStation Portable Value Pack at €249 (£179/US$323), which includes headphones, a 32Mb Memory Stick Duo, power supply, protective pouch, etc. The hit film Spider-Man 2 will be available on a UMD disc, free to early purchasers of PSP when they register on

Sony have created a new disk format with the 60mm wide UMD discs which holds 1.8Gb of data. Initially, Sony were very secretive with it, not even disclosing the capacity of the disc. Following a major change of heart when they opened their music players up to MP3 format, Sony has now opened the format of the disc, letting anyone put their content on it, providing they aren’t a rival games company. Many feel by not letting the public write their own data to these discs is a mistake – but perhaps following this line will boost the sales of the Memory Stick Duo.

PSP UK/ European Release Date, 1 September: OfficialThere are many tales of PSP-owners modifying their pride and joy to browser the Internet via Wi-Fi, or indeed run Instant Messaging client software.

It’s unclear if this opening up to the PSP as a homebrew platform was intended by Sony. What is sure, is they’re not doing anything to try to stop it. We’re waiting for the release of the Skype client for the PSP – that would really put the cat among the pigeons.

With the almost unbearable delay for the PSP in Europe, London chuck-away free “newspaper”, Metro, has been running a competition to win the PSP – Looks like those lucky winners have turned out to be more lucky than was originally thought.
Your PSP

Space Invaders Revolution Coming To Nintendo DS

Space Invaders Revolution Coming To Nintendo DSEveryone’s heard of Space Invaders haven’t they? Those who haven’t, will surely have been sitting in a very dark room with their fingers in their ears, singing “La, la, la, la” very loudly to themselves since 1978.

It’s a game with fantastical legends surrounding it, like the one about the Bank of Japan having to increase the circulation of 100-yen coins to cope with them sitting in Invader machines.

Since the original release, it’s been remade a quite a few times with varying success. Until now, the most recent release was the 25th Anniversary edition in 2003, where they went hell-for-leather releasing all sorts of branded goods as diverse as watches, bags, shoes and even cushions.

Space Invaders Revolution Coming To Nintendo DSNot wanting to let a good thing go by, Nintendo has announced the latest version of Invaders – Space Invaders Revolution for the Nintendo DS.

The games original creator, Mr Tomohiro Nishikado, oversaw the development of the DS version at his development company, Dreams – how times have changed, he was originally responsible for creating the whole of the game.

It’s not just a copy of the original, Nishikado describes it accordingly, “With Space Invaders Revolution, I wanted the team to take the game back to its roots – whilst at the same time adding features which would appeal to modern gamers.”

Space Invaders Revolution Coming To Nintendo DSThe new version sounds like it has some of those interesting features, such as rules that change as you pass between levels.

Of course, for fans of the original, there’s an exact duplicate, rewritten for the DS, not a version running the original code in an emulator as we assumed.

We’re pleased to report that some of the scoring strategies from the first version, work in Classic mode. The Nagoya-uchi (the “Nagoya attack”), or “death row” technique works perfectly (this is when the invaders have reached the very last row, just before the ground, the player’s base is immune to bullets from the bottom row of invaders). We can’t report the same for the 22 shots = 300 points from the UFO technique, as each attempt to date has lead to a loss of counting.

Space Invaders Revolution Coming To Nintendo DSIn normal play, the DS version doesn’t make a great use of the dual screens. You can use the lower, touch screen as a controller, tapping the on-screen buttons, in some of the games and sometimes graphics do pass between the two.

New Era Mode has plenty of challenges in it, as you fight your way through 60 levels, bringing in puzzle elements to the tried and tested formula.

It’s published by Rising Star Games with a license from Taito (the original developers) and will be available in the shops during Q2 this year.

Nintendo DS
Space Invaders, 25th Anniversary edition

Hironobu Sakaguchi Snagged By Microsoft Xbox Shock

Hironobu Sakaguchi Microsoft Hires Final Fantasy Creator For Xbox 2 Next Gen GamesMicrosoft is teaming up with one of Japan’s hotshot video game developers to create games for its next-generation video game console, XBox2 – a sure-fire sign that it’s determined to grab a fat slice of the Japanese market.

Having created compelling games for both Nintendo and Sony in the past, renowned Japanese video game developer Hironobu Sakaguchi has been signed up by Microsoft in the hope that he’ll sprinkle some fairy dust over their next-generation Xbox system.

Sakaguchi’s new company, Tokyo-based Mistwalker, will work with Microsoft’s game studio in Tokyo to make the games.

“This is a shot across the bow that we are serious about the Japanese market,” said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of worldwide marketing and publishing at Microsoft. “This is but the first salvo in what is going to be an interesting year.”

Things haven’t worked out too well for Microsoft’s XBox so far in Japan: disappointing sales followed its launch in 2002, with just 1.7 million units being shifted in all of Japan and Asia Pacific, placing it a distant third behind market leaders Sony and Nintendo.

Microsoft hopes that the collaboration with Sakaguchi’s game development studio, Mistwalker, will send sales soaring.

“Lately, we’ve seen only sequels released on the domestic game market,” Sakaguchi said. “I want to create something gamers can immerse themselves in and recall for a long time afterward by offering a new type of fun that only next-generation machines can provide.”

Hironobu Sakaguchi Microsoft Hires Final Fantasy Creator For Xbox 2 Next Gen GamesA founding member of former video game software developer Square Co., the 42-year-old is famed for creating the role-playing series, ‘Final Fantasy’, which has shifted more than 60 million copies to date.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Sakaguchi however. His attempt to cross into film with a US$210 million (€158m/£109m) movie using state-of-the-art computer animation to create lifelike human characters didn’t hit pay dirt.

Released in 2001, “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” proved to be a box office flop and Sakaguchi resigned from Square as a result.

Microsoft is hoping that Sakaguchi’s experience in both role-playing games and high-end animation could provide the leverage to persuade gamers to upgrade to its next system, which will support high-definition TV formats and improved computer graphics.

“Sakaguchi has taken role-playing games – traditionally a niche market – and introduced them to a broad and diverse audience across the globe,” Peter Moore, corporate vice president of worldwide marketing and publishing at Microsoft, said in a statement. “We are ecstatic to work with Sakaguchi.”

The industry remains rife with rumours about when the XBox2 might finally launch, with some suggesting that it may try to surprise the gaming world by showing its Xbox 2 console well before this May’s E3 show in Los Angeles.

According to online sources, the Redmond software giant has an Xbox 2 conference of ‘significant importance’ slated for some point in March 2005.

“Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within”

RSA to Secure Nintendo DS for Wireless Gaming

Nintendo DS protects wireless gamers with RSA encryptionGames console maker Nintendo is adopting encryption technology developed by RSA Security to encrypt wireless traffic between its new Nintendo DS portable game console.

The game console is the company’s first major mobile gaming product since the popular Game Boy Advance, and contains the embedded messaging and communication tool, Pictochat with its wireless networking technology.

According to Nintendo’s press release, the DS’s wireless capabilities will initially allow up to four players to virtually blast the living daylights out of each other (and send taunting instant messages to their victims) on DS units up to 100 feet away.

The wireless feature uses both the standard 802.11 wireless technology and Nintendo’s own proprietary digital rights management protocol and will also allow certain games to be shared and played interactively among users.

Naturally, with all that expensive software flying through the air, game publishers and developers needed to be assured that their games wouldn’t be disappearing into the ether, so the RSA BSAFE technology has been brought in to protect the digital rights of game publishers for titles shared wirelessly.

Nintendo DS protects wireless gamers with RSA encryptionThe same technology has also been employed by Nintendo to protect game demos that are issued on a trial basis for play in retail stores and other demo environments.

Nintendo also intends to introduce an Internet ‘hub’ to allow users to challenge fellow DS gamers anywhere on the planet.

RSA Security
Nintendo DS portable game console

Nintendo DS – Big US Ad Campaign Due

Its efforts to spread the word about the innovative, touch- and dual-screened Nintendo DS may reach Biblical proportions, and will certainly be the largest launch program ever for a Nintendo product, as well as the first outside of Japan.

Pre-launch television ads for the Nintendo DS started on Oct. 25. And in fairness, a new level of sophistication incorporating voice recognition, wireless features allowing multi-user play using one DS game card, and the PictoChat chat function catering for up to 16 simultaneous users, has been brought to the handheld game console market.

A series of three provocative ads presents a static-filled screen with a female voice-over inviting viewers to interact with two blue boxes on the screen, while MTV have produced a custom ad featuring the stars of Wildboyz using the Nintendo DS wireless features.  In December, Nintendo will run ads on more than 5,000 movie screens, and to add the icing to the cake, Nintendo DS is being featured on the multi-city Nintendo Fusion Tour.

While Nintendo DS goes on sale in the US on 21 November and in Japan on December 2nd, Europe must wait until early 2005. It will sell at $149.99 (~£84, ~€122) and comes bundled with a playable demo of Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt.

Before the end of the year, Nintendo DS users will be able to enjoy the following eclectic mix.  Super Mario 64 DS, Madden NFL 2005, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 2005, The Urbz: Sims in the City, Spider-Man 2, Ping Pals, Feel the Magic XY/XX, Rayman DS, Asphalt Urban GT, Ridge Racer DS, and Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits. In addition to this more than 120 games remain in development for Nintendo DS around the world. New games will come from 100 different companies, while Nintendo itself is developing 20 titles.

Ben Hur won the chariot race and Spartacus ended up being crucified – how will Nintendo DS and Sony PSP fare in battle?


Nintendo DS debuts in US on 21 November

Nintendo DSAnnounced last January, the Nintendo DS goes on sale in the US on 21 November and in Japan on December 2nd, with a price tag of $149.99 (~£84, ~€122), while Europe must wait until early 2005.

The Nintendo DS has heralded a season of innovations.  It will be a two active screen portable gaming device (building on their game & watch dual-screen history), and the first time such a launch is happening outside of Japan. A new level of sophistication incorporating voice recognition and multi-player wireless features has been brought to the handheld game console market. As well as the touch screen allowing for touch input using a stylus, and embedded microphone for voice recognition control, it has chat software that caters for up to 16 simultaneous users. A flip-top cover protects both screens, while two speakers on the unit’s face let you hear virtual surround sound.

At 148.7mm (5.85 inches) wide, 84.7mm (3.33 inches) long, and 28.9mm (1.13 inches) tall, the Nintendo DS has a wireless range of 30 to 100ft (nine to 30m), so that multiple users can play multi-player games using one DS game card.

While it is not meant to be successor to the GameBoy Advance, it can play games from the current
GameBoy Advance series. New games will come from 100 different companies, while Nintendo itself is developing 20 titles.

If you have no more spare cash after splashing out on the Nintendo DS you can still get stuck in immediately because it comes with a free software feature, PictoChat, embedded in the system hardware.  PictoChat allows you to write messages using the on-screen keyboard or the stylus, and send them wirelessly to other DS users nearby, as well as getting started on text chat.  The  Nintendo DS doesn’t snooze on the job either.  When in sleep mode it will wake up if it senses another DS in transmitting range.

Nintendo will have a battle on their hands as Sony will be releasing the equally heralded portable entertainment device, the PSP.