NOVEMBER 2002 NEWS

November 27, 2002

    Games
    It looks like there has been some movement on the BMX XXX front in Australia. Although refused classification in Australia Acclaim have just put the title back on their release schedules with an MA15+ rating. Unfortunately I have been unable to reach Acclaim for comment regarding this mysterous re-appearance which may be due to an appeal, or a PAL version of the toned down US game. The game is now listed for release on January 16, 2003. More news as it comes about.

    UbiSoft have confirmed that their cel-shaded First Person Shooter XIII has been delayed from Q'2 2003 to Q'3 2003 to allow more time to polish off the title.

    Companies
    In a surprising move Japanese developers Square and Enix have announced a merger while will take effect from April 1, 2003, the start of the next business term in Japan. The new company will be known as Square Enix. Square are most well known for their Final Fantasy series while Enix have the Dragon Quest RPG series. Current Enix chairman Yasuhiro Fukushima will serve as the new chairman with current Square president Wada Youchi assuming the new president role. Current Enix president Keiji Honda will be new firm's vice president.

    While two gaming giants are merging, others look like parting. Apparently Sega is looking at selling their 5.9% stake in CSK worth about 10 billion yen (approximately $125 million) with CSK apparently looking to buy back their shares. CSK on the other hand will keep their 22.8% stake in Sega - for now.

    Sales Figures
    Well those doubting the power of the Playstation 2 need only look at the lifetime sales of each system in Australia. The Nintendo Gamecube has sold a paltry 46,145 systems while the Microsoft XBox has moved along to a respectable 126,111 units sold. But way ahead the Playstation 2 has sold a massive 555,163 units in Australia, ans is still outselling the other systems on a weekly basis.

    Review
    Ratchet & Clank is Sony's big platform game for 2002, and it doesn't disappoint. Developed by Insomniac, the developers of Spyro the Dragon on PSOne, this Playstation 2 game takes a new direction but is choc full of splendid graphics and some magical gameplay and humour. Check out the review, then go and buy Ratchet & Clank.

November 25, 2002

    Review
    eJay Clubworld isn't a game, but rather a music creation program. If you've ever wanted to become a world class dance music DJ then this may be the title for you. With help from Carl Cox this software has a professional feel to it. Check out the full review now.

November 22, 2002

    Console Price Drop
    Sony Japan have announced a new price for the Playstation 2 in Japan to celebrate the 8th Birthday of the Playstation console. From November 21 the company will lower the Model SCPH-39000 from 29,800 yen to 24,800 yen. They will also be releasing a bundle which includes Ratchet & Clank for 26,800 yen which will be released on the first week in December. Sony has already shipped over a million units of Ratchet & Clank in Europe and Japan. Expect a review on that aweseom title soon, suffice to say if you like platform games you won't be disappointed.

    Games
    Team Soho and Sony Europe have confirmed that The Getaway has gone gold and will be release in PAL territories on December 13th. Whats more the game appears to have passed classification in Australia and has been given an MA15+ rating for medium violence and medium level language.

    Reuters are reporting sales of 200,000 network adapters in America and are expecting this to double by the end of the year. Interestingly 57% of gamers are using a broadband rather then 56k connection. Australia is heading online in mid 2003.

    Review
    Turok Evolution is the first time the series has been released on anyting other then a Nintendo console. With Acclaim promising to return the game to the dinosaur hunting roots there is plenty of potential. Read the review to find out how the game stacks up against other First Person Shooters.

November 18, 2002

    Games
    Sony Japan has announce they will be holding their annual Playstation Party in Japan in December with several new title to be announced and/or shown at the event. One of those strongly rumoured to make an appearance is ICO 2, the sequel to this years stunning adventure title, ICO which, by the way, should be in every serious gamers collection. I'm still playing it.

    Capcom has announced their latest sales projections. On a worldwide basis they are expecting Devil May Cry 2 to sell 1.66 million units, Clock Tower 3 to sell 450,000 units, Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter to sell 485,000 units (in Japan and America - no PAL release is planned yet) and Auto Modellista to sell 400,000 units after only selling 230,000 of a projected 450,000 units in Japan.

    Capcom have confirmed they are planning on showing off Onimusha 3 early next year. Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny was only release in Australia recently with the review being put up on Future Gamez only 3 days ago.

    Thanks to strong sales of Final Fantasy X and Kingdom Hearts Square has posted a profit of 400 million yen ($AU5.89 million) for the first half of 2002. The company was projecting a loss of 700 million yen ($AU10.31 million).

    Sales Figures
    Sony Australia have confirmed the sell through sales figures in Australia for the week ending November 10th and the Playstation 2 is still well ahead of the competition. Hell, even the PSOne is still outselling the Gamecube. Here's the figures:

      GameCube 897
      Xbox 1,866
      PS one 1,155
      PlayStation 2 12,855

    Review
    TimeSplitters 2 is the sequel to Free Radical Design's FPS launch title, which remarkably is still regarded as a benchmark title on the Playstation 2. This sequel includes a much improved single player mode, better graphics, sound, gameplay and 16 multi-player modes. What does this mean? This is one of the most exciting and engrossing titles ever. Check out the full review now.

November 15, 2002

    PS2 Bonus
    Sony have announced plans for a new deal for purchasers of the Playstation 2. Here is the official press release.

      PlayStation 2 Blitz's Competition and Launches the PlayStation 2 Xtra Pack
      Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 EXCLUSIVE for one week with the PlayStation 2 Xtra Pack.

      Sydney, November 13, 2002 - Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCEA) today announces that it continues it's market dominance following the release of the latest sales figures from independent research company Inform*. PlayStation 2 console sales reached 12,885 units in the week ending 10th November 2002. This reflects a 7:1 sales ratio over the closest competitor.

      Following these results, SCEA announces the release of the PlayStation 2 Xtra Pack to be sold in conjunction with the PlayStation 2 console from 15th November 2002. This limited edition pack contains Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 (for PlayStation 2) available exclusively in the PlayStation 2 Xtra Pack, one week prior to the launch of the game on the 22nd November 2002.

      Valued in excess of $170.00, the Xtra Pack will sell** for an additional $59.95RRP when you purchase a PlayStation 2, offering a saving of over $110.00. In addition to Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4, it also features an Official DVD Remote Control (for PlayStation 2), three free Blockbuster rental vouchers and an Official PlayStation 2 Mini Magazine, providing a taster of the most accurate source for all your PlayStation 2 needs.

      The exclusive inclusion of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 highlights the relationship and dominance that the series has had on the PlayStation platform as the world's most successful skateboarding game. This latest release from Activision delivers the deepest and most challenging gameplay experience in the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series. "The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater franchise is the single largest independent American video game franchise (cited by NPD Funworld), which has locally sold over 500,000 units to date. Activision look forward to the promotion being a sell-out this holiday season. Existing Tony Hawk fans will benefit from the online-ready fourth instalment in the Tony Hawk franchise, on-sale 22 November, 2002." stated John Watts, Vice President/Managing Director, Activision Asia-Pacific.

      "We are extremely excited about this special pack", comments Michael Ephraim, Managing Director of Sony Computer Entertainment Australia. "Thanks to this joint initiative with Activision Australia, we are able to offer a game such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 to consumers in a fantastic pack. It's a plus for people thinking about purchasing a games system. To be able to make it available before the release of the game is a real advantage. PlayStation 2 is the clear market leader due mainly to the strength of the game titles available, and this is further evidence that we are committed to providing Australian game enthusiasts with the best games and true value for money".
      * source Inform
      ** while stocks last.
      PlayStation*2 RRP (as of 15 November 2002):
      PlayStation*2 $399.95
      PlayStation*2 with 'Xtra' Pack $459.90

      'Xtra' Pack Contents:

      * Tony Hawk's Pro Skater* 4 (for PlayStation*2) Featuring a new free-roaming career mode, the player starts as an amateur and chooses which goals to take on to build skills and work up to becoming pro. Earn respect and pro status by conquering a skater-specific Pro Challenge - before opening an entirely new set of difficult Pro Goals. RRP $99.95

      * DVD Remote Control (for PlayStation*2) The official PlayStation*2 DVD Remote Control from Sony allows you to enjoy four additional play options, three speeds of fast forward and reverse, search functions, plus basic game control functionality. RRP $49.95

      * Three FREE Rentals at Blockbuster Take home the latest entertainment from Blockbuster with three coupons for FREE rental of your next new release DVD or choose from a wide range of PlayStation*2 games. RRP $21.00

      * Official PlayStation*2 Mini Magazine Get a taste of the only PlayStation*2 Magazine that includes a playable demo! The mini magazine features a wicked giveaway, a review of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater* 4 and an exclusive interview with the man himself!

    Games
    Well we all know that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has had a massive 7 seconds cut to be released here and BMX XXX has been refused classification, well the other dubious title for classification is in front of the OFLC in the coming days. The game - The Getaway. Many of you have been concerned about the title but the big difference with this game is the lack of sexual violence and nudity which should mean it will pass the censors. And before you ask, it is still set for release on December 6.

    Review
    Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny was a surprise smash hit from Capcom last year and now returns for the second chapter in the reported trilogy. Onimusha 2 improves even further on a wonderfully crafted adventure title and should be at the top of every action fans list. The game is on store shelves now.

November 12, 2002

    Games
    Contrary to reports on the official Playstation 2 web site, Take 2's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City will be censored in Australia. Take 2 have removed some scenes involving prostitutes which totals about 7 seconds, the same amount removed from last years Grand Theft Auto 3, which is still one of the systems top sellers on a weekly basis in Australia. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is now expected to hit retail shelves on November 29, with 100,000 units to be shipped, and already 30,000 pre-orders Australia-wide. In and interesting twist Take 2 confirmed that even if the was an R18+ rating for games the scenes would still have to be removed due to sexual violence. Click here for the full report on Australian IT.

    Review
    Lord of the Rings: Two Towers is an action title brought to you by EA Games. But as well as levels based on the second movie in the trilogy, EA has included location and events from the first movie, Fellowship of the Ring. If you like your slash 'em up then this game must be on your list this Christmas. Check out the review now.

November 10, 2002

    Games
    According to reports on Australian IT a meeting of federal, state and territory ministers have rejected proposals for an R rating for video games in Australia. At the moment the highest rating possible for a video game is MA15+ with the main reason for games being refused classification is nudity, as was the case with the original and Grand Theft Auto 3 and more recently Acclaim's BMX XXX. Unfortunately it will be several more years before the R rating in video games will be re-considered.

    Speaking of BMX XXX, I spoke with Daniel Armstrong at Acclaim last week regarding having the American toned down version released here. He stated that while that version would likely attract an MA15+ rating they are looking at having it ported, although the costs will likely be prohibitive. Another problem is that the developers of the game Z-Axis are now owned by Activision so the port would have to be done elsewhere. Still, it is being looked into.

    Sega of Japan have released their sales forecasts for several upcoming Playstation 2 titles in Japan. Considering their financial situation detailed below they company will be hoping these targets are met.

      Shinobi (Dec 5, 02) - 250,000 units
      Let's Make a Pro Baseball Team 2 (Feb 2003) - 250,000 units
      Sakura Taisen: Atsuki Chishioni (Feb 2003) - 350,000 units
      Let's Make a J.League Pro Soccer Club 3 (Mar 2003) - 600,000 units

    Companies
    Sega have struggled to gain a large market presence since moving to software development only a couple of years ago. Their shares plummeted to a 22 month low last week after the company revised estimated profits down by 72%. The company expects to make a profit of 5 billion yen (compared to a loss of 17.83 billion yen the previous year) but well below the original forecast of 18 billion yen. Sega have pointed the finger primarily at Sega Sports NFL 2K3 which despite favourable reviews and a marketing budget of $US17.5 million managed to sell only 300,000 copies instead of their expected 1.6 million units.

    Review
    NHL 2003 is yet another EA Sports title to receive its yearly update. Can the best ice hockey game get even better? Are there enough additions to have you coming back? Check out the complete review to see if this game is worthy of purchase.

November 7, 2002

    Games
    According to the Official Australian Playstation site there is some great news for Australian gamers. Apparently Take 2's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City will make it to our shores complete and uncut, unlike the previous game in the series. There were a lot of rumours that some scenes in a strip club would be removed, however it now looks like the game will be intact. Take 2 are anticipating the game will be released in the third week of November (so before November 21st). Click here for the full story.

    We all know by now that Acclaim's BMX XXX has been banned here in Australia by the OFLC, but the news doesn't stop there. Apparently, the American version of the game has also been censored with all nudity removed. What makes this even more amazing is that the XBox and even the Nintendo Gamecube versions will remain unchanged and will include nude female riders. Amazingly, the European PAL version of the game on Playstation 2 will retain the nude riders. While the American game would likely get a release in Australia with the clothing, because the European game remains uncut Acclaim won't re-port the edited American game to PAL format for Australia. Still, there are some importers around who I'm sure would like to take your call.

    Movies
    Well we all know how many video games are coming to the cinema. We've had duds like Double Dragon and Street Fighter. Disappointments like Tomb Raider (admit it - it was an Indiana Jones rip-off with tits) and some surprise with Resident Evil following the game closely, but managing to hold a bit of suspense. Now comes the news that Mindfire Entertainment are making a movie based on Sega's Shinobi, which is being updated for release on PS2. This film studio is also working on movies based on House of the Dead and Crazy Taxi. What next, Pac-Man? Actually, now that I mention it, someone is looking at turning that into a movie too.

    Preview
    GTA: Vice City is only weeks away now and as reported above looks like making it out here uncut which is great to hear. Here is the preview of what is certain to be the biggest game of Christmas 2002. If you don't get this you don't deserve a Playstation 2.

November 3, 2002

    Personal
    Well I have a little story to tell - a comedy of errors perhaps. Last night (Friday) my fiancée and I were heading off to the Rhythm of the Night show at Jupiter Casino on the Gold Coast. Cruising down the highway a considerate driver managed to dropped a large chunk of concrete or brick on the highway. No sooner did I see it then there was a couple of loud bangs and the car goes haywire. Pull over to the side and notice that out Daewoo Lanos (don't laugh - it's a pretty good car) had a pretty much destroyed front tyre with the rim bent to pieces. While waiting for RACQ I decided to walk back to see what I hit. Not a fun thing to do on a 4-lane motorway at night with no lights except the headlights of cars heading for you at over 100km/hour. Get about 100 meters from the car and I rolled my ankle on the edge of the bitchamen and ended arse up on the side of the freeway. I managed to limp back to the car, blood pouring out of my knee, unable to stand on one ankle which was sprained, and had cuts on my hand, much to my fiancée disliking.

    Anyway, 40 minutes later a RACQ tow truck comes and he dumps us up at a servo off the highway, 30 minutes later a service vehicle rocks up and tells us that because both tyre rims are damaged we need to be towed. 40 minutes later the friendly tow truck driver rocks up again (same guy) and he informs us that because the car is undrivable it's now classed as an accident with a $218 towing fee. Well, you can guess what I said about that. Anyway after waiving off any liability he decided to tow us home about 8km away, without a fee.

    The moral of the story. I have none. But now I can't walk on one foot, I have a nice gash in my knee and my hand is now twice the size it usually is. Oh and it's bloody hard to type with one hand. Oh, and to my fiancée, I hope you had a great birthday. :)

    Games
    Playmore, who own the rights to the Neo Geo catalogue have confirmed that they will be releasing Metal Slug 3 on PS2. As yet there is no release date, price or territory announced.

    Online Gaming
    I have had a couple of e-mails regard exact start dates for online gaming in Australia, with many people suggesting March 2003. What I can tell you is that the March 2003 is supposedly the UK launch date. Australia is still set for Winter 2003 meaning somewhere around June to August, although I personally believe it may be slightly after that - but that is just speculation on my part. Expect more news as it becomes available.

November 2, 2002

    Online Gaming
    Well, I wasn't planning on updating the site today due to two uni assignments due in a couple of hours. But I have to get my priorities straight so here I am. Today Sony has officially announced details about the Playstation 2 going online in Australia. I can't add much more to the press release but here it is.

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: PlayStation 2 Australian Broadband Network Gaming Plans Announced

      Sydney, November 1st, 2002 - Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCEA) today announced its plans for the introduction of a network gaming service for the PlayStation 2, in Australia, in Winter 2003 through partnerships with Broadband Internet Service Providers (ISP's).

      In North America, SOCOM: US Navy Seals, the first online console game with voice communication between players, and Electronic Arts' Madden NFL 2003, have become instant online hits with thousands of regular players taking part. In Japan, there are already over 100,000 PlayStation 2 Computer Entertainment Systems connected to the network.

      The key components of this new PlayStation 2 network gaming experience from SCEA are:

      * A Broadband Gaming Pack, which includes a PlayStation 2 Ethernet Network Adaptor, an online game and a start-up disc featuring demos of upcoming online games, will be sold at a similar price as a PlayStation 2 game through existing retail and ISP channels, and will enable PlayStation 2 owners to access online multiplayer games through a participating Broadband network.

      * From Winter 2003 going forward, an exciting range of network enhanced games will be launched. Available through retail and ISP channels, titles include SOCOM: Navy Seals, Hardware: Online Arena, Destruction Derby Online Arena, Twisted Metal Online, Frequency 2, My Street, ATV Offroad, as well as This is Football and World Rally Championship Online from Sony Computer Entertainment studios.

      * A completely new PlayStation 2 version of Everquest, the world's most successful on line game, from Sony Online Entertainment.

      * Tony Hawk 3, which already includes network features, and Tony Hawk 4, which launches this November with significantly, enhanced network features from Activision.

      * An exciting range of network enhanced games from key SCEE partner publishers such as Capcom, Electronic Arts, Activision, Take 2 and Eidos.

      * A highly diverse network platform that enables content companies, game publishers and ISPs to provide gamers with the broadest selection of new online experiences and entertainment. The network will not be constrained by any one company acting as a gatekeeper of the content or the consumer.

      Commenting on the plans for the launch of network gaming, Chris Deering, President of SCEE said, "PlayStation 2 owners with broadband internet access will be able to purchase a Network Adaptor and immediately start playing a great selection of multiplayer games online. It will be simple to set up, exciting to play and affordable. Our philosophy is to have a very diverse and inclusive platform that will enable content companies, games publishers and ISP portals to provide consumers with the broadest selection of new online experiences and entertainment from a variety of sources."

      The existence of a secure online environment is a crucial long-term consideration for gamers and content providers alike. The PlayStation 2 network platform will benefit from the proprietary Dynamic Network Authentication System (DNAS) that will offer a secure environment for business partners and consumers.

      Michael Ephraim, MD at SCEA said, "The introduction of network gaming further expands the capabilities of PlayStation 2. I have no doubt that the launch of online gaming will also expand the PlayStation community in Australia, and help further position PlayStation 2 as the entertainment device of choice for Australian households".

      The PlayStation 2 network gaming experience will be accessible through broadband network partners and consumer trials are expected to commence in Australia early in 2003.

      More details on the development of PlayStation 2 Broadband network gaming will be posted on www.au.playstation.com as they become available. The PlayStation website will also act as the focus for recruitment of PlayStation 2 gamers for the initial trials in Australia.

November 1, 2002

    Release Schedule
    Just a note to let you all know that I have done a major update to the Australian release schedule and Preview Page with the latest dates. Also note that I am now marking the recent titles that have been released on the page so you know what's just come out.

    Games
    THQ have confirmed that their highly anticipated title, Red Faction II, has been brought forward a week or so and will now be released in Australia on November 15th.

    Some confirmation today from Namco that they are working on a 5th Ace Combat title as well as a new Ridge Racer title. At the recent Tokyo International CG festival Kazutoki Kono, the art director of Ace Combat 4, stated that the development team are working on a game called Project Aces which is rumoured to include online gameplay. He also confirmed that more details about the next Ridge Racer would be announced in Summer 2003 (Q'1 2003) and may include a name change.

    Well, another massive release has been announced with Electronic Arts confirming development of a new Rugby title. I won't say much more as I know nothing apart from what's in the press release below. Enjoy.

      ELECTRONIC ARTS TO RELEASE EA SPORTS RUGBY 2004 EXCLUSIVELY FOR PLAYSTATION 2 & PCCD

      Sydney, Australia. - Tuesday 29th October 2002, - Electronic Arts Australia and Sony Computer Entertainment Australia Pty Ltd today jointly announced the next instalment in the hugely successful EA SPORTS Rugby franchise. EA SPORTST Rugby 2004 will be exclusive for PlayStation 2 and PC formats. Now if you miss out on getting to an international test match this year, there is no need to despair, you will be able to live all the action right in your living room. If you are lucky enough to get to a game, then relive the action anytime you like.

      "Developing EA SPORTS Rugby 2004 reinforces our commitment to the local sports fan, particularly Rugby supporters. Investing in local sports adds local depth and variety to what is already a spectacular and growing EA SPORTS lineup", said Bob Katz, Managing Director of EA Australia.

      EA SPORTS Rugby 2004 will be launched in July 2003, well in time for the International Rugby Season in Australia, and will once again feature licenses from the Australian Rugby Union, New Zealand Rugby Union, South African Rugby Football Union, Rugby Football Union, Scottish Rugby Union and the Federation Francaise de Rugby.

      "The ARU is thrilled to be involved in a game that will help to familiarise sports fans in general and Rugby lovers alike with the sport of Rugby. With the Rugby World Cup being played in Australia in 2003, rugby will be showcased to millions of Australian sports fans. We are always looking for new ways to promote the growth of our sport, particularly through new and exciting means such as interactive entertainment", said Brian Thorburn, General Manager of Australian Rugby

      EA SPORTS Rugby 2004 will be a sports fan's dream. Featuring over 1500 players, 20 international teams, as well as all the Super 12 and European domestic teams. Play out all of your favourite competitions in over 75 stadiums from across the globe, along with expert play-by-play commentary by world-renowned commentators, John Inverdale and network 7's Gordon Bray to update you at every moment. Combine this with stunning graphics; sophisticated physics models and AI (artificial intelligence) gamers will be immersed into the big hitting and fast paced world of international rugby.

      "We are extremely excited that EA have chosen PS2 as the exclusive console format for EA SPORTS Rugby 2004. This is further evidence that PS2 is the console of choice among the world's leading development studios. When you combine the sport of rugby, prestigious international rugby tournaments, EA development expertise and the dominant market share held by PS2, I am confident this game will be a real winner. Not only that, many Australians will not get the chance to attend an international Rugby game and EA SPORTSTM Rugby gives them the chance to feel the excitement in their own home." said Michael Ephraim, Managing Director of Sony Computer Entertainment Australia.

      EA SPORTS Rugby 2004 is the culmination of many years of research and development. EA, using motion capture technology, were able to capture all the real time rugby player movements, adding greater realism to the game play. Running, passing, tackling, jumping for the ball and packing into scrums all show fantastic level of detail, movement and animation. Casual gamers and rugby fanatics will appreciate the level of detail captured from the subtle animations right through to the in-humane tackles!


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