BitSnark

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Archive for February 2008

And now for a bit of anime news… New Trigun movie set for 2009

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Yasuhiro Nightow’s famed sci-fi Western Trigun which did so well on it’s release as a manga and then later as an animated TV series in 1998, is due to recieve a theatrical movie based on a original storyline sometime in 2009.

The revelation comes from the final volume of Nightow’s Trigun Maximum manga, which depicts Vash and everyone’s favourite gun toting priest Wolfwood on the back cover, pointing to a confrontation between the two in the 2009 theatrical film. Directoral duties appear to be handled by Satoshi Nishimura, who not only directed the original Trigun TV series, but also a number of other shows too such as Fighting Spirit and Shin Cho Bakumatsu Shonen Seiki Takamaru.

With animation duties supposedly handled by Madhouse studios too, it looks like the old gang is back and I for one, couldn’t be happier. There was always something very likeable about Trigun, in particular how it juggled the goofyness of the main character with the serious events that happened around him.

Let’s hope they continue to nail that juxtaposition or the film and give us a well-animated fun movie too.

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Written by bitsnark

February 27, 2008 at 6:30 pm

The Haze is clearing…

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Yet again, Ubisoft have committed to a release window for their oft-delayed, platformed confused FPS, Haze, this time ladies and gentlemen, we have May.

Haze has had quite a storied history, originally being announced as a PS3 exclusive, and then later confirmed to arrive on the 360, Haze finally went back to square one again, and was re-confirmed as a PS3 exclusive.

Like the change of platform, the change of release dates was also mirrored, with the game slipping several times from April of last year, to November and now to May this year.

Whether or not the game makes it’s expected release date window is another thing, and certainly something up for question, but as with any title that gets delayed, one can only hope that the delay benefits the final quality of the game ^_~

Written by bitsnark

February 26, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Phil Harrison is gone from Sony Computer Entertainment

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Phil Harrison, the target of hatred for every anti-Sony fanbuy ever (well, next to Ken Kuturagi anyway), has announced his resignation effective from the end of Feburary. Phil Harrison, has been instrumental in the cultivation of the Playstation brand, as he was on hand from it’s inception in 1995 when the original machine launched in Western territories.

Now, he leaves Sony as their Executive Vice President, byt still insists he will help the future of Playstation as much as he can. That said, his future plans as to what his new position will be, are currently unknown.

Written by bitsnark

February 25, 2008 at 5:49 pm

The Great GDC 08 Tidbits Section!

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I’ll be updating this particular message regularly with bullet pointed announcements and stuff that come out of GDC 08 as it happens.

Enjoy 🙂

XBOX 360

– Gears Of War 2 announced but no in-game footage shown. Utilises the most up to date version of the Unreal 3 engine, which includes soft body physics, wider environmental deformation and more realistic shadowing and particle effects. Release date of November 2008 was given, along with confirmation of a limited edition version. The game itself is also a 360 Exclusive.

– Ninja Gaiden 2 was shown, looking almost complete. It was revealed also, that you could save videos of your gameplay and upload clips to XBOX Live, much like Halo 3. A release date of June 3 2008 was mooted (a bit specific?). Best of all, demo due on the marketplace before the end of the week.

– Fable 2 (anyone hungering for original IP yet?) was also on display. A much more complete version of the game was shown, illustrating the relationships between characters (such as husband and wife) and how this affects gameplay. Intriguingly, Peter Molyneux said that money in Fable 2 isn’t accrued through questing but rather through doing jobs and gambling in an XBLA game that will release prior to the game. Accrued riches may then be transferred over to Fable 2 itself, potentially meaning you start the game incredibly rich. Another intriguing factor that was revealed, was co-op. Two players can tackle the world of Albion together, and when they split up, they take all their riches, loot and status back to their own respective single player game. No release date was announced for Fable 2.

Nintendo Wii

– Mario Kart Wii due out in European territories ‘sometime in April’

– Square Enix showed off it’s first contribution to the Wii ware program with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life As A King. No other details were given, but the game seemed very similar to the Gamecube Crystal Chronicles title.

– Wii Fit price suggested at under $100.

Written by bitsnark

February 20, 2008 at 9:19 pm

Naruto: Rise Of A Ninja Review (XB360)

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Naruto: Rise Of A Ninja (XBOX 360) Review

If you haven’t passed over this review already because of the assumption that Naruto is kiddie anime trash, then pat yourself on the back. The reason for this is quite simple, although Naruto does have its fair share of issues, it manages to put enough ticks in the right boxes to make it a worthwhile experience. While the subject matter may produce groans from those who generally shun anime and the games associated with them, the fans of the series will find much to enjoy here as Naruto: Rise Of A Ninja is the best game the franchise has produced thus far.

It all begins with you playing the loud mouth ninja of the title in Konoha Village, which is essentially the game’s hub. From the offset we realise that all of the villagers pretty much despise Naruto for a very specific reason and it becomes his obsession if you will, to prove himself to them and earn their friendship. In gameplay terms, this whole respect system doesn’t actually add up to a whole lot, as the happy villagers simply point Naruto in the direction of his next objective… which you can find out yourself by bringing up the in-game map. Making friends in Konoha Village does have one thing to offer though, it unlocks more side missions for you to participate in.

Frustratingly the side missions tend to be as cookie-cutter and uninspired as they come, usually involving racing through checkpoints, playing hide and seek or collecting things. It’s especially the latter which grates the most, as not only are the collection missions banal to say the least (Oh, I lost my scarf when I was nosing around the temple, can you fetch it for me?) but each time you collect something from a location, you get another mission to collect something else from the exact same place. Fantastic. As annoying and basic as they maybe however, the side missions, like the main missions in the game itself, improve attributes like your health, chakra (essentially the same as a mana bar in an RPG) and give you a bit of cash to spend in the shops also, to buy new weapons and scrolls to augment your abilities.

It’s here really that Rise Of A Ninja begins to shine a little, as the character improvement system is pretty well thought out. It’s an RPG-esque system of improving Naruto’s abilities that’s is essentially a two-tiered system, one system is built around improving your abilities for combat (more on that later), while the other is built for aiding Naruto’s exploration of the village and encourages you in that warm, fuzzy, old Metroid kinda way, to use your new abilities in areas that you couldn’t previously access.

The exploration side of things, which pretty much forms the backbone of the game is a bit of a mixed bag. While it’s cool to collect as many coins as you can, and seeing where you can get to in the city, it all feels a tad clunky as the leaping from surface to surface doesn’t feel natural at all, unless your leaping from flat surface to flat surface. For instance, if you try a long jump but miss the ledge, with visible outcroppings below you, Naruto will simply just slide down the wall, as if there was nothing to grab onto. Perhaps in a sequel, more work is needed on the collision detection methinks.

Besides exploration, the other main gameplay element in Rise Of A Ninja, is the one on one fighting duels that occur every time a random encounter is stumbled upon (to convince you that this IS an RPG because it has random encounters), or a story battle occurs against a character from TV show. The fighting system that Ubisoft has in place here, is very reminiscent of what we have seen in previous Gamecube Naruto titles, that is to say it’s easy to use with just the right amount of depth for those who want to go a little further with it.

In these fights, you are able to use standard fighting combos which are learnt from various trainers dotted around the map in Konoha Village, throw various types of Kunai and of course, use bad-ass ninja techniques. Where the similarities end with the Gamecube titles though, is with the cack-handed QTE inspired mini games that crop up each time a primary jutsu or ninja technique is used. It’s such a shame, as the fights have a nice flow to them and it just feels intrusive when you have to press, up or ‘A’ when you’re told for about 10-15 seconds in the middle of a fight Silly QTE sequences aside, the fighting is fairly enjoyable and puts out a good impression of what an actual ninja duel from the TV show looks like.

On the topic of aesthetics, another reason why Rise Of A Ninja on 360 is the best Naruto title to date is because quite simply it looks pretty much just like the TV show itself. The cel-shading that is used for the character models, pretty much have no peer outside of this game. All the models look like they have been pulled straight from the show and they move with the kind of grace you would expect them to.

The environments also, are pretty darned impressive, Konoha Village in particular looks amazing, encompassing all the shops, buildings and landmarks that you remember from the TV show. My only complaints about the visual side of things in this game, is that there really isn’t much variation in the models you encounter, both in Konoha City and in combat situations and also the video clips lifted from the TV show, look very low-res and out of place compared to the crispness that abounds in the graphics everywhere else.

In addition to the features mentioned previously, Rise Of A Ninja also sports a mandatory online mode, which is essentially just one-on-one combat, in either single matches or in a tournament, against other players. Yep, that’s every bit the afterthought that it sounds like. Naruto Otaku however, will be pleased with the downloadable content that the game has to offer ranging from a Japanese language with subtitles option (except for the video clips pulled from the show strangely) and extra characters to use in the Vs mode.

Like any title which is based on a licence, particularly an anime like this, fans will ostensibly get more from this title than non-fans, that said however, Rise Of A Ninja, is still able to stand up on it’s own merits as an action RPG in it’s own right. Sure it has it’s fair share of flaws, but for those who aren’t familiar with the spiky blonde haired ninja lad, there are far worse gambles you could take then simply disregarding it because of it’s license.

Overall Score: 7.7

Written by bitsnark

February 18, 2008 at 1:15 pm

Whats that? HD-DVD is dead? Say it ain’t so..

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Sure seems like it. Two days ago, sources within Toshiba hinted to media outlets that production of HD-DVD drives would be ceasing imminently, with prices of the machines and the discs to crash in due course.

Well, that just means there is one format now – Blu Ray. While their greatest foe is now vanquished, Sony need to pull their socks up and encourage the kind of mass-shift from DVD to Blu-Ray, that was done with VHS to DVD back in the day.

Now everyone, buy a Blu-Ray player (or a PS3, depending on how far your pockets stretch).

Written by bitsnark

February 18, 2008 at 1:07 pm

Misinterpretations & Salt Shakers… No Bioware developed KOTOR Sequel

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Knowing that another title KOTOR developed by Bioware was too good to be true, EA has now said that Bioware is only working with Lucasarts on the forthcoming Star Wars MMO.

Bollocks.

Ah well life goes on I guess.

*Goes off to sign the ‘We want Shenmue III’ petition*

Written by bitsnark

February 15, 2008 at 8:22 pm

Assemble comrades, Red Alert returns on PC, 360 and PS3!

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EA have announced that Red Alert 3 is in developement for the PC, 360 AND also the PS3, giving Playstation owners the first taste of C&C (or any half-decent RTS for that matter) since the old PSOne days.

Utilising the same engine as the recent C&C3: Tiberium Wars, Red Alert 3 seems avowed to continue the wackiness that the Red Alert series is famed for, with bigger more OTT weapons, silly Sci-Fi kitsch storylines and now, for the first time in a C&C game, two or more players can play the single player campaign co-operatively.

Always the cult favourite among many gamers when it came to the C&C franchise, Red Alert 3 seems to continue with that lineage at this early juncture. Oh and a bonus for PC owners, if they buy the C&C3 Expansion Kane’s Wrath, they get early access to the Red Alert 3 Beta.

Sweet.

Click the link to IGN for the skinny on the game and the second link for the first in-game piccies:

http://uk.xbox360.ign.com/articles/852/852229p1.html

http://uk.media.xbox360.ign.com/media/142/14235401/imgs_1.html

Written by bitsnark

February 14, 2008 at 7:58 pm

And for those of you wondering about the Bioware developed Sonic RPG for the DS….

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Yes, i’m speaking to all three of you, it’s still going ahead as the development agreement is with Sega and not EA, hence why it didnt turn up in their financials.

An obvious point perhaps, but then I guess others dont think so when you see them moaning about it on message boards elsewhere.

Bioware though… quite the busy bees eh?

Written by bitsnark

February 13, 2008 at 10:58 pm

EA sets its plans for the next 18 months including a Bioware developed KOTOR?

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For those of you drooling at that concept like me, 1UP.com reports that EA’s latest set of financials has revealed a number of titles that have been suspected to be in development, but are now due out in the next 18 months including:

Mass Effect 2 & 3 (360/PC) (Bioware)
KOTOR sequel (Unknown) (Bioware)
Star Wars MMO (PC) (Bioware)
Lord Of The Rings RPG (360/PS3) (Pandemic)
Black 2 (360/PS3)(Criterion)
Skate 2 (360/PS3) (In-house)
New Burnout (360/PS3) (Criterion)
New Need For Speed (Everything, ever.) (In-House)

Thats a lot of heavy hitters there. As far as the KOTOR situation goes, it’s interesting that both the MMO and the much wanted KOTOR sequel are listed as seperate games, effectively dispelling the fact that they are one and the same game.

Still, being the kind of cyncial soul that I am, i’ll have my salt shaker at the ready until I get more concrete info on any kind of KOTOR sequel that isn’t an MMO, before EA chalk it up to a ‘misinterpretation’ by the media.

Oh also, on the subject of the Lord Of The Rings title, it seems as if many (including myself) were perhaps eager to latch onto the fact that it was developed by Bioware, as it appears that Pandemic is handling the duties for this one, leading many to believe that the title will rediscover it’s action roots from the old EA titles (less action, more RPG please).

Hopefully though, with Bioware and Pandemic in such tight cahoots these days, we’ll get a decent bit of both.

Written by bitsnark

February 13, 2008 at 8:27 pm

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