SEPTEMBER 2002 NEWS

September 29, 2002

    Sales
    The latest Australian Top 10 chart has been release by Inform for the week ending 22nd September 2002. A reminder that this chart only includes games priced over $50, so exclude the Platinum range.

    Games
    A couple of days ago I mentioned that Acclaim no longer have the rights to release BAM! Entertainment's titles here in Australia. Today THQ announced that they have picked up the rights to release the companies titles. Here's the official statement from THQ:

      THQ ANNOUNCES DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT WITH BAM! ENTERTAINMENT

      THQ to distribute BAM! Entertainment titles in Australia and New Zealand

      MELBOURNE, Victoria, September 27, 2002 - THQ Asia Pacific, a division of THQ Inc. (NASDAQ NMS: THQI), today announced an exclusive distribution agreement granting THQ Asia Pacific rights to distribute Bam! Entertainment (Nasdaq: BFUN) products. Under the terms of the agreement, THQ will perform the sales, marketing and distribution of all BAM titles, for all consoles and personal computers in both Australia and New Zealand through 2003.

      The line-up includes the highly anticipated Reign of Fire on PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube and Game Boy Advance. Based on the upcoming movie, Reign of Fire is scheduled for release in November 2002. The first titles released, Chase on Xbox and Riding Spirits on PlayStation 2, are scheduled to release in October 2002. Other products include children's favourites, Cartoon Network's The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory.

      Reign of Fire is an action-strategy game set in London. Players can choose to play as either a human or a dragon. As a human, you take the role of a resistance fighter, controlling a variety of well-equipped vehicles. Your purpose is to defend the last remaining humans from attack and eventually to make your way to the site of the sole male dragon - London now lying in ruins. As a dragon, the player will take the role of an infant led by instinct to attack its foe at any opportunity and attempt to eradicate the human race. The plot follows the maturing of the dragon, gradually getting more powerful, as the game progresses.

      Martin Good, Managing Director, THQ Asia Pacific, commented, "We are really excited to add these titles to our portfolio. This deal highlights an ongoing diversification of our product portfolio and our commitment to tailoring our line-up for the Australian market."

      "Reign of Fire looks fantastic. We expect it to be well-received on all formats, particularly with its release coming just after the October movie release." "Likewise, Chase's unique and innovative design will definitely impress the Xbox consumer market."

      In response to the deal, Anthony Williams, Managing Director, Bam! Entertainment said, "With a strongly established sales and distribution base in both Australia and New Zealand, THQ Asia Pacific is the perfect partner to help us introduce our upcoming titles. We are looking forward to working together with THQ to release our quality games directly to these markets."

    Konami Japan obviously aren't overly impressed with the sales of XBox in the territory. The company has suspended the release of all games, including Metal Gear Solid 2 indefinitely. Apparantly the company will only release games if hardware sales improve substantially. Could this result in more development in Japan moving back to Playstation 2? Almost certainly.

    Preview
    Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is almost certain to be this years hottest title with over 4 million pre-orders to date. That doesn't mean it will be the best title, but it looks much better then last years great game. With more detail, more cars, more weapons and more style this game deserves attention. Check out the preview now for the latest screens and information.

September 27, 2002

    Games
    Capcom have confirmed that they are working on Auto Modellista 2. The sequel will have support for broadband racing. No release date has been seen.

    THQ have confirmed that the original Auto Modellista will be released in Australia in November. While online gameplay is still in question C&VG have confirmed that the game will not include online gameplay. Perhaps when the sequel is eventually released.

    Sony Europe have put up a web site dedicated to This Is Soccer 2003. You can locate the official web site right here. Just a small note that I am having trouble getting to the Australian section of the site, seems to have errors, but the UK section is fine.

    To follow on from yesterdays news about The Sims being delayed Maxis have put the following on their web site:

      The SimCity 4 and Sims PS2 Release Dates Moving

      Maxis is moving the launch of SimCity 4 and The Sims for the PS2 to January 2003. We know you're looking forward to both games and that this might be a disappointment. You should know that both titles are looking great and are a blast to play. Moving them to the beginning of next year will give us the opportunity to do a little extra fine-tuning and polishing of the games. We'll also be revamping SimCity.com and posting the most up to date information regarding both games on our websites. Thanks for your continued support and be sure to visit TheSims.com and SimCity.com for the latest details.

September 26, 2002

    Games
    According to this article on Gamespot, Maxis and EA Games have delayed the release of The Sims on PS2 in America until January for marketing reasons. The article also mentions that the extra time will be used to polish off the game even further. I am still awaiting confirmation from Electronic Arts Australia with regards to the PAL version being delayed as well.

    Although a release date was never set in stone initial plans were for Indiana Jones & The Emperor's Tomb to be released aroudn Christmas. LucasArts have just changed their web site with a Spring 2003 release date now set for the game (Autumn 2003 in Australia). Given that there are a couple of other games from Lucasarts including Star Wars: Bounty Hunter and Star Wars: Clone Wars it comes as little surprise.

    Sega have announced a deal with Michael Crichton - the author of Jurassic Park, Congo, Twister and Rising Sun - to work on a game together. The game won't be based on an existing work of his, but something entirely original. As yet no details as to what type of game, or what platform it will be released on, have been announced. Expect to hear more about the title in 2003 with a release set for 2004.

    Preview
    Colin McRae Rally 3.0 looks set to continue to dominance of the series in the rally game market. With the detail from the PSOne game being increased dramatically (the Ford Focus has gone from 800 to 14,000 polygons) it will come down to the gameplay to ensure this title is a winner. The development team has never failed to deliver in the past so I'm betting on a big winner.

September 23, 2002

    Games
    The Tokyo Game Show was on this weekend and it was surprisingly quiet on the announcements side. By far the biggest announcement at the show was from Blizzard who announced Starcraft: Ghost. Rather then a strategy game, as with the PC original, this is a 3D action/adventure title developed in conjunction with Nihilistic. Only the XBox version was shown at the TGS, although Blizzard are stating it will hit next-generation consoles, with the Playstation 2 a likely system. Surprisingly there are no plans for a PC version of the game, which has the PC community up in arms. Expect a release sometime in 2003.

    THQ and Volition have announced some voice talent for their upcoming Red Faction II. Firstly Lance Henriksen, who is most noted for his role as Bishop in the Alien movies, will be the voice of Molov the leader of your squad, and the most common voice in the game. Jason Statham will also provide a voice in the game, that of Shrike the deranged vehicle specialist. Statham is best known for movies including The One, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and the brilliant Snatch. Red Faction II is set for release on November 15th in Australia.

    There has been some question about my recent preview of This Is Football 2003 as to the final name. While the game will go by that name in Europe the game will be titled, and packaged as This Is Soccer 2003 in Australia, although the games will be identical. The great thing is that even the discs are identical but the game recognises which country you live in and changes to the correct code accordingly. Impressive. Expect a release this Friday.

    Sales
    Sony have released a press statement with regards to Playstation 2 shipments passing 40 million units worldwide. Here's the press release.

      PlayStation 2 Shipments Reach 40 Million Worldwide

      Sydney, September 19, 2002. Sony Computer Entertainment Inc (SCEI), the Tokyo based parent of Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCE Aust) today announced that cumulative worldwide factory shipments of the PlayStation 2 Computer Entertainment system had reached 40 million units.

      Since its launch in PAL territories in November 2000, demand for PlayStation 2 across Europe (including Australia) has been phenomenal. Such is the global success of PlayStation 2 that it has taken just four and a half months for lifetime shipments to increase from the 30 million units announced in May 2002, to the 40 million units announced today. To meet the active worldwide demand of the peak-selling season, SCEI plans to increase monthly production and shipment in September to over 3 million units.

      The breakdown of shipments by regions is:
      Worldwide PlayStation 2 Shipments by Region, as of September 17, 2002:
      Europe/PAL (Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited) 12.06 million units
      North America (Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc.) 17.01 million units
      Japan (Sony Computer Entertainment Japan) 10.97 million units

      "With just under 500,000 units shipped in Australia, PlayStation 2 is firmly established as the console of choice for all those who are serious about their entertainment options." said Michael Ephraim, Managing Director of SCE Australia. "The recent and forthcoming line up of new software titles on PlayStation 2 is the best in PlayStation history and we are looking forward to the future with enthusiasm and confidence."

    Preview
    Ratchet & Clank is an impressive looking platform game, possible the best of the year - or even all time. Time will tell how good it is as an overall package, but the demo is simply stunning. Developed by Insomniac, the team behind the Spyro series, this game looks like a winner. Check out the preview with all the latest details and screens now.

    Sly Raccoon has just been released in America, but the PAL release won't happen until January 2003. In the game you play Sly Cooper a raccoon who is trying to become a master thief. With some impressive visuals, an interesting storyline and some great gameplay this game also looks set for big things. Check out the preview now.

September 21, 2002

    Games

    Electronic Arts have send out word that Need For Speed Hot Persuit 2 has gone gold and will hit the targeted release date of late October. I haven't done a preview of this game but can tell you from a demo of the game that its looking spectacular with some super fast and super smooth graphics.

    Acclaim released their financial report last week, and also announced a new game for release in Q'1 2003. The game Paris-Dakar Rally 2. Not too exciting considering the original, but there is certainly room to improve. Check out the review of the original Paris-Dakar Rally now.

    Well after all the bad news about cancelled games recently Electronic Arts have come through with some good news today that they will be publishing Disney Golf for release in Australia on October 25th. The game sees you playing, ermm golf, with all your favourite Disney characters including Mickey Mouse.

    Companies
    It's been confirmed that Microsoft has bought Rare. Along with the deal this means that Microsft no own properties such as Perfect Dark and Banjo Tooie while Nintendo still own the rights to their properties including Star Fox and Donkey/Diddy Kong. This will almost certainly result in Rare becoming an exclusive XBox developer.

September 19, 2002

    Games
    Acclaim have confirmed that they will not be distributing BAM! Entertainments products over here in Australia. As a result games inlcuding Reign of Fire, Riding Spirits, Ecks Vs Sever and (shock horror) Powerpuff Girls: In A Pickle do not have a distributer. As yet no other Australian distributer has picked up the rights to the titles, although discussions are apparently underway with several companies. Expect more news soon.

    UbiSoft have confirmed that Harvest Moon 3: Save The Homeland will not be released in PAL territories after all. The game was expected out within weeks. In another blow to RPG fans UbiSoft have also confirmed that Legend of Alon D'Ar has been scrapped only days from the expected release. No reasons for the cancellations have been given.

    In brighter news UbiSoft have confirmed that Pamela Anderson in VIP has shipped to stores. The quantities are very low so if you are interested in this title you may want to pick it up quickly.

    A couple of big titles have been released today. They include Namco's Tekken 4, THQ's MX Superfly, and Capcom's Dino Stalker.

    Preview
    Lord Of The Rings: Two Towers is based on the first two Peter Jackson movies, Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. This license has allowed the development team to use all the artwork, music and even actor likenesses from the movies. However, instead of a RPG styled game (Electronic Arts are apparently considering that for the future) this game is a third person action/adventure title with an emphasis on tactical sword fighting. Sounds exciting, well it looks pretty impressive as well.

September 17, 2002

    Games
    Apparently Krome Studios have completed work on Ty The Tasmanian Tiger for NTSC consoles. The game is going to be published by Electronic Arts. The PAL version should go gold within weeks ensuring the anticipated late November release in Australia will be met. So confident of the success of this game, Krome Studios, are already in the planning stages for a sequel, and after seeing video footage of the first game I have little doubt it will be a hit.

    Preview
    This Is Football 2003 includes many improvements designed to enhance the experience of last years game, and remedy the few shortfalls of the original. The 2003 version includes over 600 teams and 13,500 players as well as an all new career mode to take a team from the little leagues right up to the premier division if you are good enough. Check out the preview now for all the details.

September 16, 2002

    Games
    According to C&VG SCEE's The Getaway has cost over £5 million (approx. $AU15 million) to date, with some rumours putting the cost at double that at £10 million ($AU30 million). More concerning is that C&VG are reporting that the game may be delayed until 2003. Some press raised control issues at ECTS a couple of months ago I have heard absolutely nothing about a delay with the Australian release which is scheduled for November.

    Did you realise that Grand Theft Auto 3 has earned more money then Forrest Gump and would be 13th on the all time money list for movies. The game has taken in a staggering $US350 million (or $AU550 million) worldwide. With Grand Theft Auto Vice City just around the corner you may be interested to know that there are already over 4 million pre-orders accross America. Talk about pressure to live up to expectations, something which the game looks like doing upon release just prior to Christmas.

    One of Australia's most wanted games should be on shelves now, or early next week at the latest. Acclaim have confirmed that AFL Live 2003 has shipped to stores accross the country, just in time for the finals over the next couple of weeks. Expect a review soon.

    Release Schedule
    Something that has become apparent to me over the last couple of days is that many of you don't realise the Future Gamez has a complete Australian release schedule. It's available by clicking on the Preview button on the menu to the left. I update it every week with the latest update today. Click here to check out the schedule.

    Preview
    Ferrari F355 Challenge is a port of Sega's hit arcade game released in the arcades in late 2000, and then on Dreamcast in mid 2001. The game is yet another of Yu Suzuki's masterpieces, which should translate very well to the Playstation 2. Check out the preview for this impressive looking game right now.

September 13, 2002

    Games
    Back in the early 1990's there was one TV show that everyone watched. No, not that dribble known as Home and Away, or the tripe known as Neighbours, but rather the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Now, with a new animated cartoon in the works Konami have confirmed that once again they have picked up the rights to develop video games based on the the series. Konami were the developers of the original games in the arcade and on consoles back in the 1990's and did a terrific job. Expect to hear more about the new games at the 2003 E3 show.

    Last week we reported that video games in Greece had been banned with harsh penalties for those the break the law. Well according to this article on BBC News the case agains two Internet Cafe owners who allowed people to play Counterstrike has been thrown out of court with the Judge ruling the law as unconstitutional.

    Level 5, the developers of the under appreciated Dark Cloud on Playstation 2, and it's upcoming sequel have confirmed that they are working on yet another Playstation 2 title quashing rumours of becoming an XBox developer after the announcement of True Fantasy Live Online on Microsfot's system. As yet there are no details, or even a name, for this third Playstation 2 title from the Japanese developers.

    Companies
    Well Rare is in the news again. Just prior to E3 the company was heavily rumoured to have been purchased, or very close to being purchased, by Activision which would have seen the company developing on multiple platforms rather then just Nintendo systems. According to this article the company looks now to have been bought by Microsoft almost ensuring the developer will become an exclusive XBox developer. Apparently the developer sold for between £250 and £350 million. An official announcement is expected within weeks.

    Apparently Blizzard, developers of the hit Warcraft and Diablo series on PC, are apparently considering porting at least one of their titles to a console, and most liklely the Playstation 2. Apparently the annoucement will be made at the Tokyo Game Show on September 20.

September 11, 2002

    Personal Note
    Well today is a date forever etched in history. One year ago today America was attacked by a shameless coward who killed over 3,000 people from 83 countries. Those tragic events have been replayed on TV several times over the last couple of days, and it's quite graphic at times. While we should never forget the events my only hope is that families with young children reduce their TV viewing. How many children need to see people jumping out of the 100th floor of a building to escape the fires? Just be a little considerate.

    Games
    Apparently Vivendi-Universal is looking at selling off its entire publishing arm. According to Reuters the company is approaching other companies to buy out the games division. It's till unclear how much Vivendi wants for their games division, and what will happen with their upcoming schedule, although most, if not all games, would likely be a part of the package.

    Capcom have apparently set a release date of January 30 for Devil May Cry 2 in Japan. Capcom have reported the American release date to be simultaneous with the Japanese date while PAL gamers will likely wait an extra couple of months as usual.

    Review
    Atari Stuntman should hit most retailers across Australia by the end of the week. There are plenty of good, and original, ideas in this game and Reflections have a knack for developing solid car based games with a history including Destruction Derby and Driver on PSOne. Check out the review to see how this game rates as their first PS2 title.

September 9, 2002

    Games
    Well Codemasters have released Prisoner Of War in the last couple of weeks to moderate success and now SCi have announced plans to develop a game called The Great Escape. The company has also secured the rights to use the likeness of Steve McQueen, the star of the classic 1960's movie. The game is being developed by Pivitol Games and is expected to be released in late 2003.

    Apparently Interplays oft-delayed Run Like Hell has gone gold. That should result in a late September early October release here in Australia from Vivendi-Universal.

    Companies
    Something which I neglected to mention the other week is that Ozisoft will be changing their name to Infogrames Australia from the 1st of this month. Likewise Ozisoft New Zealand will change its name to Infogrames New Zealand. This comes after Infogrames bought out the remaining stake of the company to have a 100% share. The name changes won't affect the everyday workings of the company in any way.

    Review
    Soldier of Fortune Gold is a port of the PC game release over 2 years ago. The game is most noted for it's extreme violence and ability to shoot off limbs etc. It received some pretty strong reviews back upon the PC release and you would expect a port to Playstation 2 to go pretty well. Wouldn't you? Read the review to see how it went.

September 5, 2002

    Games
    It should be something out of the X-Files, or the dark ages anyway. Occasionally we here in Australia complain about games being banned. Night Trap on the Mega CD was one, as was Postal on the PC and more recently (until modification) Grand Theft Auto 3. But imagine this - no games at all. Sadly for those living in Greece it's now law. Video games have been totally banned with fines and even imprisonment being the punishment. Be it an arcade game, home console or even the trusty Gameboy anyone found with a game and/or game system can now be punished, even if only being used within your own home. Enter this forum now to have your say on the issue and get more details, it's certainly going to be a hot one.

September 3, 2002

    Games
    Tecmo have confirmed that Dead Or Alive 4 will be released in Japanese Summer 2003 (mid next year) and that we can expect some major changes to the game. As yet a system has not been announced and while the XBox is the favourite bet the Playstation 2 can't be ruled out as Microsoft's system struggles to sell in quantities in Japan.

    Review
    Vampire Night is a joint effort between Sega and Namco. This light gun game has been highly anticipated by gamers due to each companies light gun game strengths. However, can the game live up to the potential, and possibly re-invent the genre at the same time? Read the review to find out.

September 2, 2002

    Review
    Iron Aces 2: Birds of Prey is a flight simulator developed in Japan. The game allows you to fly old World War II planes such as the classic Spitfire right up to the most modern fighter jets. But will flight fans really get a fix from this game? Read the review to find out.

September 1, 2002

    Games
    One of the big stories over the last couple of weeks in Australia is the massive price drop for the XBox. It's now possible to buy a XBox with the game Halo and the DVD remote for $AU399, a saving of $149. However this still hasn't stopped Sony as according to this article the Playstation 2 still outsold Microsoft's system 5804 to 4321 units. Worried about the Gamecube dominating? Well that poor little system only managed 575 units. Sony have also just release the V8 Supercars bundle for $459 which should help keep them in the lead.

    Also reported on the Australian News site is this article in which Sony Australia confirm that online plans will be announced sometime in October. All that is known at this stage is that unlike America PAL gamers will only be able to play through a broadband adapter with no dial up modem compatible gaming. In my opinion it's a good move as there is nothing worse then playing a game online with a couple of modem people having ping times about 10 times slower then yours. Expect more information in October.

    THQ and Volition have confirmed that Summoner 2 has just gone gold in America and will make the September 13th release date. The game is due out in September in Australia and other PAL territories.


OLD NEWS
2002 :
AUGUST  JULY  JUNE  2002 E3 SHOW  MAY  APRIL  MARCH  FEBRUARY  JANUARY 

2001 :
DECEMBER  NOVEMBER  OCTOBER  SEPTEMBER  AUGUST  JULY  JUNE  2001 E3 SHOW  MAY  APRIL  MARCH  FEBRUARY  JANUARY 

2000 :
DECEMBER  NOVEMBER  OCTOBER  SEPTEMBER  AUGUST  JULY  JUNE  MAY  APRIL  MARCH  FEBRUARY  JANUARY 

1999 :
DECEMBER  NOVEMBER  OCTOBER  SEPTEMBER  AUGUST  JULY  JUNE  MAY  APRIL  MARCH  FEBRUARY  JANUARY 

1998 :
DECEMBER  NOVEMBER  OCTOBER  SEPTEMBER  AUGUST  JULY  JUNE  MAY  APRIL  MARCH  FEBRUARY  JANUARY