RESEARCH firm DFC Intelligence in a recent study has suggested that companies pursue offerings through digital distribution if they intend to grow their business in the online gaming industry. The report, entitled Online Game Market Forecasts 2007, noted that by 2012 revenues from advertising, digital distribution and virtual item selling or trading will be equal to revenues from game subscriptions. Likewise, in 2006, subscriptions were the leading revenue source for online games but the fastest growing segment of the market was digital distribution and virtual item sales. Broadband penetration will increase by 48 percent from 2006 to 2012 in several countries that have large online gaming communities. This would also parallel the growth of online gamers to 51 percent growth from 2006 to 2012. DFC Intelligence also said in its report that revenues from online games will reach $13.1 billion by 2012, from $4.5 billion in 2006. While online PC games will dominate the market, console-based online games will also show significant growth as well. Massively multiplayer online games and casual online games will be the two leading categories for the online gaming market worldwide. Surprisingly, DFC Intelligence said first-person shooters and sports or racing games will show the fastest growth in terms of market share from 2006 to 2012. In terms of geography, the company said North America will remain the largest market for online game advertising. It also said console systems will account for 35 percent of online game advertising in this region. Japan will also show the fastest growth in terms of online game subscription revenue. East Asia will be the leading market for virtual item sales and is expected to continue to be the leading market for digital distribution in 2012. However, between 2006 and 2012, Europe is expected to be the fastest growing market for digital distribution and virtual item models.
May 2007 Archives
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net ORGANIZERS of World Cyber Games Philippines have started the local elimination of the WCG Asian Championship, the regional version of the WCG 2007 Grand Final.The Philippine eliminations will be held on June 9 and 10 at the Viramall Store in SM Megamall’s Cyberzone. Among the games to be included are WarCraft III: Frozen Throne, Defense of the Ancients All-Stars (DOTA), football game FIFA 2007, Age of Empires III: The War Chiefs and Dead or Alive 4, which is the only official console game for the Philippines. Only one representative for each of the games will be sent to compete in the Asian Championship but the DOTA team will be composed of five players. Offline games will be held for WarCraft III, DOTA and Dead or Alive 4 but special games will be held for FIFA 2007 and Age of Empires III: The War Chiefs. Filipino players who wish to join for FIFA 2007 and Age of Empires III: The War Chiefs would have to play through the WCG Zone. Currently, at least 3, 000 registrants have signed up for the Philippine elimination. Winners in the local games will be sent to Singapore from August 2 to 5 to compete against other Asian players. The countries joining the Asian Championship include Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, India, China, Hong Kong and South Korea.
By Erin Chupeco, hackenslash Contributor INQUIRER.net NARUTO has been a breakthrough anime hit all over the world; Konoha headbands are bestsellers, and both anime and manga volumes of the series consistently top the bestseller lists both in and outside of Japan. Several video games have been spawned, and while these were mostly fighting games that enabled friends to pit a favorite character against another, the most recent offering of the Naruto franchise has produced a single-player action game entitled Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles. The story begins dattebayo! In the game, Naruto is pretty much the same: still loud, still unpredictable, and still determined to become strong enough to become the next Hokage leader. With the aid of his friends Sasuke, Shikamaru, Choji, and Neji, Naruto undergoes a series of missions not only to increase his skills as a ninja, but also to aid the elder Leaf Village ninjas in defending their territory. Unfortunately, the only way to increase his ranks and his abilities is by performing and finishing missions that may range from menial chores and trivial errands, to critical situations, all the while going through hordes of random ninjas who want nothing more than to destroy Konoha and its members. Missions found within Uzumaki Chronicles are mostly nonlinear; players are free to choose any available mission at random, which can range from delivering supplies to training less experienced ninjas, to hunting down bandits, depending on their preferences. In almost every mission, no matter how simple the duties assigned to him, Naruto always seems to be encountering random ninjas along his travels, all intent on preventing him from accomplishing menial tasks such as finding missing Tamasaburo candy, or preventing him from volunteering to be a stuntman in a local television show. Apparently, Naruto's enemies consider the lack of candy or the absence of stunt ninjas in TV dramas essential tools for world domination. Men on a mission Players normally start out with D and C missions, and eventually work their way up the ranks as more and more of these missions are accomplished. Unfortunately, the variety doesn't significantly change even at higher leveled missions, making most of the tasks that Naruto has to finish to increase his skills tedious, rather than interesting. Most missions will also require much traveling, and Naruto will spend much of his time going from village to village, as random enemies appear at intervals on the world map. Though opponents are numerous in battle and frequently spawn, the enemy AI leaves much to be desired. Rather than serve as a challenging battle for our protagonists as would be expected, most opposing ninjas seem content to stand still and come after the heroes in twos and threes like generic opponents in typical B-movie scenarios, enabling players to pick them off one at a time, and at their own pace. And since these random encounters happen almost every time Naruto sets foot outside his village, fight sequences can turn boring after awhile. The fact that some of the missions require that you not leave every stone unturned to seek out all the needed items, can also be tortuous. While the missions are disappointing, Uzumaki Chronicles almost makes up for it with their engaging version of skill trees, called "skill plates" in this particular game incarnation. Over the course of fighting enemy ninjas, Naruto can find health item drops, stamina-replenishing boosts, and virtue orbs. Virtue orbs are one of the important aspects of the game, as it allows the blonde protagonist to buy more health items and buffs, or skill chips, which can then be used to fill up these skill plates. There are several skill plates in the game that can help Naruto and his friends define the type of skills that they will eventually develop. Each skill chip can have a certain effect, such as resistance to certain damages, or an increase in jutsu techniques. Filling up a whole skill plate can also result in more additional bonuses. The gang’s all here! Uzumaki Chronicles wouldn't be complete without some of Naruto's friends along for the trip, and one of the best parts of the game are the different moves that can be executed by the characters. Each available character have their own special jutsu and skills, and can even work together to deliver a stunning barrage of attacks. (And yes, Naruto's trademark, the sexy jutsu is available for use, and can be combined with the shadow clone jutsu for humorous effect -- if there is anything funnier than a scantily clad female Naruto running around and distracting enemies, it must be several scantily clad female Naruto clones running around and distracting enemies.) Coupled with a good balance of different melee and long range attacks, learning to activate these skills is an easy task, and will require very little button mashing for the most part. Naruto can even tag in some of his other friends, such as Sasuke Uchiha, Shikamaru Nara, Choji Akimichi, or Hyuuga Neji, all of whom can be controlled during battle for short periods of time, a treat for fans of the other Naruto cast members. Charge up enough power, and Naruto can even summon enough fox chakra and transform into his powerful nine-tailed demon fox persona. Unfotunately, these five characters are the only ones that players can control; given the large Naruto cast available in the series, this is disappointing. Popular characters such as Sakura Haruno, Kakashi Hatake, or Gaara take a back seat in Uzumaki Chronicles. Coupled with the slightly shallow storyline, many Naruto enthusiasts who love the compelling plot twists from the series will find very little in this game to meet their expectations. After being accustomed to the pretty graphics in previous Naruto fighting games, the current aesthetics of Uzumaki Chronicles can also be something of a letdown. While boasting 3D graphics with some changing scenery, many of the polygons seem dull and uninspired. The American voice work provided for is adequate, though these might feel a little overdone for those familiar with the characters' Japanese voices, and while the music carries with it a distinct feel of feudal Japan, there is no one score that distinguishes itself from the rest. Not bad for a first try Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles is a refreshing change of pace from the other Naruto fighting games available, but much work still has to be made to make the game an outstanding title in the franchise. The skill customizations and basic gameplay holds much promise, but much work still needs to be done in integrating engrossing storylines and plots, as well as a much more intelligent AI system to make these chronicles stand out.
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash reporter INQUIRER.net NEARLY three months after showing a glimpse of Perfect World, Philippine online game publisher Level Up! has announced that it has started its closed beta test of the massively multiplayer online game in the Philippines. By early July Level Up! will start Perfect World's open beta test and finally, a commercial launch of the game by August. In a telephone interview, Level Up! CEO Jane Walker said they are expecting between 10,000 to 12,000 accounts to be activated in at least 250 Internet cafes for Perfect World's closed beta test. Perfect World was developed in mainland China by Beijing Perfect World. It is a full 3D game that plays similarly to Blizzard's extremely popular World of Warcraft. One of Perfect World's main features is its character modeling aspect wherein a player can create a unique character down to the facial appearance. Walker said that while Perfect World is considered a premium title, it will not compete with Ragnarok Online, currently their oldest and most popular game to date. However, she said some Ragnarok players may shift to Perfect World while others might go back to Ragnarok after playing Perfect World for a while. "There would be loyal players to Ragnarok and some would be loyal to Perfect World. What's important to them is not just the gaming experience but the community of players that they have built," Walker said. Walker said they are awaiting the arrival of Ragnarok II, a totally new game from South Korean firm Gravity. "We would be launching it before the end of the year," she said.
By Yuri Kageyama Associated Press TOKYO--A free download upgrade for the Sony PlayStation 3 enhances the image quality of movies and old video games and allows people to check out stored video, music files and digital photos through the Internet with the handheld PlayStation Portable. The upgrade, available for download worldwide Thursday, will improve the visual quality of PlayStation 2 games, as well as original PlayStation games, although it won't be quite as dazzling as the quality of PS3 games, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. officials said. The software will also work to adjust the image quality of movies so they will look much better on the PS3, which is equipped to deliver higher image quality through next-generation Blu-ray disc technology. Up to now, people could use the PlayStation Portable to watch content stored in their PS3 through a wireless local area network. With the upgrade, users will be able to use PlayStation Portables to check out music, photos and video stored in their PS3 machines at home, while on the go, even from abroad, wherever there's an Internet connection. But they won't be able to play PS3 games on their portable console. The PlayStation 3 has been losing the battle of next-generation video game consoles to Nintendo Co.'s Wii, which has surprisingly won over the elderly and other newcomers with a wandlike remote-control that can be used for fishing, tennis and other easy-to-play games. The PS3 went on sale in November in Japan and the US, and in March in Europe. Tokyo-based Sony Corp. shipped 5.5 million PS3 machines in the fiscal year through March 31, fewer than the six million the company had targeted. Nintendo shipped 5.84 million Wii machines worldwide during the same period. Sony isn't expecting to post a profit in its game business until the fiscal year ending March 2009.
HE'S making his debut on the silver screen in the next Fantastic Four movie, so of course you can expect Marvel to give the Silver Surfer a big push in the comic books. Check out this image of Silver Surfer: Requiem #1 (of 4) that Marvel sent us: And here's an image from the Silver Surfer Omnibus Vol. 1 hardcover. Here's the Marvel press release:
In Silver Surfer: Requiem #1 (of 4), the titular hero returns to Earth to consult with his old friends -- the Fantastic Four -- about something that just might mean the end of his life. Journeying the entire galaxy, and the vast depths of his own soul, the Surfer must come to terms with his own life and the choices he’s made, in this poignant Marvel Knights limited series from acclaimed author scribe J. Michael Straczynski (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, Babylon 5), with breathtaking painted art by Esad Ribic (HOUSE OF M, LOKI). For a man who’s seemingly seen it all, how will he react when death stares him in the face? Meanwhile, over in the Ultimate Universe, the Ultimate Fantastic Four are about to come face to face with Ultimate Silver Surfer… for the first time! Ultimate Fantastic Four #42 begins an all new storyline, a perfect jumping on point for new readers, as Reed Richards tries to solve the mystery of the Cosmic Cube, actions that warrant the attention of a certain surfboard riding superhero! But just who is the Ultimate Silver Surfer and what are his intentions? Surfer fans will thrill to the Ultimate Galactus Trilogy HC, collecting the trilogy that brought us a bold new interpretation of the classic villain and set the stage for Ultimate Silver Surfer’s debut! Readers new and old won’t want to miss Marvel Spotlight: Fantastic Four And Silver Surfer, going behind the story of these five classic Marvel Characters. From interviews with the multitude of creators who’ve contributed to the development of these characters, to previews of what’s next, there’s something for everyone in this jam packed special look at some of the most enduring superheroes in history! And if you want to see where it all began, then you have to pick up Silver Surfer Omnibus Vol.1 HC, the oversized hardcover collection collecting the Surfer’s earliest adventures in his own solo series! Don’t forget to check out Essential Silver Surfer Vol.2 TPB, the black & white softcover collection that’s also packed full of early Silver Surfer tales. Then in Silver Surfer: Rebirth Of Thanos TPB, the Surfer and his cosmic allies must team together to stop Thanos in the story that led up to the classic Infinity Gauntlet series!MARVEL SPOTLIGHT: FANTASTIC FOUR AND SILVER SURFER Written by JOHN RHETT THOMAS SILVER SURFER OMNIBUS VOL. 1 HC Written by STAN LEE Penciled by JOHN BUSCEMA with JACK KIRBY Cover by JOHN BUSCEMA SILVER SURFER: REQUIEM #1 (of 4) Written by J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI Paints and Cover by ESAD RIBIC ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #42 Written by MIKE CAREY Pencils and Cover by PASQUAL FERRY ULTIMATE GALACTUS TRILOGY HC Written by WARREN ELLIS Penciled by TREVOR HAIRSINE, STEVE EPTING, STEVE MCNIVEN, TOM RANEY & BRANDON PETERSON Cover by BRANDON PETERSON ESSENTIAL SILVER SURFER VOL. 2 TPB Written by STAN LEE, JOHN BYRNE & STEVE ENGLEHART Penciled by JOHN BYRNE, MARSHALL ROGERS, JOE STATON & RON LIM Cover by JOHN BYRNE SILVER SURFER: REBIRTH OF THANOS TPB Written by JIM STARLIN & SCOTT EDELMAN Penciled by RON LIM & MIKE ZECK Cover by RON LIM
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net IN PART 1, Shrek was funny for his ogre attitude and irreverent sarcasm that merged quite well with Donkey's fast-talking effervescent jibes. In Part 2, Shrek had to deal with a Spanish-speaking, swashbuckling Puss in Boots but he was still funny. In Part 3, well, Shrek was simply not funny enough to compensate for a sequel that attempted to cash in on the popularity of the fat, green fairy tale monster. Just imagine: kids yanking their parents to the movie house to watch "Shrek 3," even if the parents wouldn’t expect as much fun watching it. It should be understood, though, that movies like these are not meant for tired and jaded adults. It's for kids who marvel at the 3D rendered antics rather than the jokes, which are most often, subtly adult in nature. OK, so I do sound cynical about "Shrek 3" but that's because this new installment in the DreamWorks franchise puts too many characters in the movie. Sure there was a motley crew of fairy tale creatures in the first two movies but at least they remained funny and consistent throughout. In Part 3 the producers had to give some airtime to the three fairytale princesses, namely Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Rapunzel who acted more prima donna than their antagonists in their respective fairy tales. Plus, these three princesses’ acting was, to say the least, bad. They could win the Razzies for worst supporting virtual actresses if ever there was such an award. Anyway, "Shrek 3's" plot revolves around the search for a new heir to the Frog King (and father-in-law of Shrek) of Far Far Away. Apparently, Shrek is reluctant to take the reins so he searches for the cousin of his wife, Princess Fiona. Not surprisingly, the cousin is a young Arthur who is taunted in high school. Shrek's mission is to take back the equally reluctant Arthur and make him king. Their journey is a close reference to Shrek’s first adventure when he saved Fiona from her curse. However, this is not the only plot in the story… Meanwhile, the disgraced Prince Charming plots to take over Far Far Away while Shrek is away by employing the services of other villains in fairy tales who haunt a drinking hole in the outskirts of the kingdom. There's a multitude of these villains and it's difficult to get them to act together because there is no character build up, just like with the three prima donna princesses. A subplot involving Shrek’s fatherhood is revealed in the first 10 minutes of the film. Shrek dreams about having a ton of ogre children and is afraid to be a father. All throughout the film, Shrek returns to the idea of being a father and sometimes tries to interject it with Arthur’s own reluctance to be king. I have nothing against two ogres’ parenthood, but this subplot would have been better left off in a fourth sequel, if not the main plot in Part 3. But then again, the producers needlessly shoved it into the film. There are funny moments in "Shrek 3" but these are mostly limited to the dialogues among Shrek, Puss in Boots and Donkey. Eddie Murphy’s voice talent as Donkey is irreverent and is a saving grace for the seemingly un-funny Shrek. Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) tries to employ his cute, wide-eyed look that worked wonders in the second Shrek movie, but not in this one. Consequently, Puss made a second attempt to seem cute but tried it in the body of Donkey (when they were accidentally switched after being teleported by a crazy Merlin). This was the only scene that drew a laugh in the entire movie when I watched. From a child's perspective, the funny faces and antics of the characters in "Shrek 3" are just as funny as the previous movies, without understanding some of the dialogue. But for adults who will watch this film, they would only have fun less than half the time and would have wondered if it was better if they watched another film instead. Seriously, I'd rather watch the first two movies twice over than watch Shrek 3 again.
By Agence France-Presse LOS ANGELES -- They were part of one of the biggest movies in history but almost without exception the cast of "Star Wars" faded from view after lighting up cinemas during the 1970-80s. While George Lucas' intergalactic fairytale proved to be a launch pad for the career of Harrison Ford, other prominent members of the blockbuster franchise have not come close to enjoying Ford's iconic status. Mark Hamill, who played the boyish hero Luke Skywalker in all three of the original films, appeared in numerous television series and stage plays and now is best-known as a voice-over actor for cartoons such as "Batman." But for Hamill, 55, "Star Wars" remains inescapable, 30 years after it first hit cinema screens on May 25 1977. "I still see mothers in supermarkets who berate me because their son has just blown his college fund on buying a replica light saber," he told AFP. "People are insane. I will never come to terms with it." Hamill, largely unknown before he landed the part of Luke in 1975, said he had not known what to expect when he signed on. "I saw the script and thought if no-one gets it, it's going to be hysterical," Hamill said. "It's going to be the 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' in space. I thought it could be a comedy. "So I decided the only way to play it was to be completely convinced of it, otherwise it would be a comedy." A highlight for Hamill was working with Sir Alec Guinness, the late British actor who played Skywalker's Jedi knight mentor, Obi Wan Kenobi. "Without naming names, you meet some stars and afterwards you go 'Gee, I wish I hadn't met him,'" Hamill said. "With Alec Guinness you loved him like he was a relative. He was like the grandfather you always wanted. One of the first things he ever said was 'Don't ever call me 'Sir Alec.'" Carrie Fisher, who played Princess Leia, said in a newly published book about the making of "Star Wars" that she could never grasp that the film had become such a huge hit. "'Star Wars' got an amazing response," Fisher said. "I used to drive by and look at the lines and think, 'what?.'" Fisher has continued to work as an actress, taking small roles in films such as Woody Allen's 1986 film "Hannah and Her Sisters" and 1990's romantic comedy "When Harry Met Sally." She has enjoyed most success as a writer, authoring the best-selling and semi-autobiographical "Postcards from the Edge," later made into a movie starring Meryl Streep. It is an irony that some of the biggest roles in "Star Wars" went to actors whose faces were never seen by the audience. And in the case of former British weightlifter David Prowse, who played Darth Vader, he was neither seen nor heard, Lucas opting for classically-trained actor James Earl Jones to provide Vader's menacing voice. Prowse, 71, said in a 2006 interview that he has not spoken to Lucas for over 20 years since a falling out during the third film "Return of the Jedi." "I've been sort of politely ignored by everybody," Prowse said. "I've not spoken to George Lucas since 1983, to give you some idea. "The only time they get in touch with me is to send me solicitors letters about things which I'm doing that they think is offending them." But while Prowse was frozen out for a reappearance in 2005's prequel "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith", both Kenny Baker, the meter (three foot, eight inches) tall actor who played chirping robot R2-D2, and Anthony Daniels, the sidekick C-3PO, remain the only two actors to receive credits in all six films.
By Agence France-Presse BRUSSELS -- Tuesday marks the centenary of the birth of the man who gave the world the immortal boy reporter Tintin, along with his faithful companions Captain Haddock and trusty little dog Snowy. The eternally youthful creation of Belgian cartoonist Herge has never lost his charm throughout seven decades, his unmistakable tuft of hair growing into one of the great emblems of popular culture, continuing in popularity around the world long after his creator's death 24 years ago. Herge, born May 22, 1907 in Brussels, was set to be celebrated here on Tuesday by faithful Tintin fans just days after movie heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson announced they were joining forces to direct and produce a digital 3-D trilogy based on the comic-strip reporter. "We could not wish for a greater tribute," said Nick Rodwell, head of Moulinsart, a company managing the rights and legacy of Herge. Herge's name is simply a phonetic rendering in French of the two initials, reversed, of the creator's real name, Georges Remi. As early as age 17 he was signing his cartoons RG, developing this later into the more fanciful "Herge" -- the French pronunciation of the letters "RG." By 1926, aged only 19, he had created a cartoon character for the Belgian Boy Scouts called Totor, a forerunner of Tintin who first saw the light of day in January 1929 in the pages of Petit Vingtieme, a youth supplement of the Belgian Roman Catholic newspaper Le Vingtieme Siecle (20th Century). The first adventure was entitled "Tintin in the Land of the Soviets," and by the time of "Tintin in the Congo," in 1931, Tintin already had a huge following. Then after "Tintin in America" and "The Pharaoh's Cigars," Herge sent his hero off to China, helped by a Chinese student in Brussels called Chang Chong-jen. The outcome was Herge's first cartoon book containing a particularly strong narrative called "The Blue Lotus," in which our hero fights on behalf of the Chinese people against Japanese occupation. Then come World War II and the occupation of Belgium by the Germans. Herge was to make a grievous error of judgement. He published Tintin's adventures in the Brussels newspaper Le Soir while it was under Nazi control. Worse still, in 1942, there also appeared a story of his called "The Mystery Star," which prompted charges of anti-Semitism, a charge Herge denied. But this dark period also saw the appearance of some of Herge's best work, including "The Crab With the Golden Claws," "The Secret of the Unicorn," "The Treasure of Rackham the Red" and "The Seven Crystal Balls." Herge and his Tintin were quickly back in favor after the war. Tintin, who had his own newspaper by 1946, now achieved new fame among a growing international public. But Herge, under pressure of work and suffering from personal problems, began to suffer fits of depression that slowed down his output. Nevertheless Tintin pressed ahead with his adventures, reaching the moon a full 15 years before astronaut Neil Armstrong. "Tintin in Tibet" (1960) finds Herge turning to oriental philosophy, evoking existential angst in what is considered his most personal statement. Honors were heaped on the veteran cartoonist throughout the 1970s. But some of his earlier genius began to fade in the later cartoon books, and he died of leukemia on March 3, 1983. Fans are going to have to wait a while for the Spielberg version of the Tintin saga. The first of the trilogy is not expected for cinema release before 2009 or 2010. Meanwhile Belgium is issuing a special commemorative stamp to mark the centenary of its celebrated son. Tuesday also sees the laying of a foundation stone for a new Herge Museum at Louvain-La-Neuve, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Brussels. And a special exhibition at city hall in Brussels will be open until June 3.
By Agence France-Presse LOS ANGELES -- A long time ago, in a Hollywood era far, far away, the story of an intergalactic battle between good and evil took the world by storm -- and changed the movie industry forever. Thirty years after Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and Han Solo were introduced to the world in "Star Wars" on May 25, 1977, the seismic impact of George Lucas's science-fiction saga is still being felt. Steven Spielberg's "Jaws" might have been responsible for ushering in the modern-day blockbuster era two years earlier, but "Star Wars" was the first film to become a fully-fledged cultural phenomenon. "'Jaws' was a scary movie, but 'Star Wars' became a mania," said Lew Harris of movies.com. "It was the first film that ever did that. "It single-handedly created the merchandising industry, it changed the face of science-fiction, it changed special-effects, it changed the way we look at sequels. A lot of things about 'Star Wars' were completely ground-breaking." As "Star Wars"' 30th anniversary approaches, the film remains one of the highest-grossing movies of all time. As well as six movies, "Star Wars" has spawned a cottage industry of spin-off television series, books, comics, video games, toys and other merchandise. Forbes magazine estimated in 2005 the franchise has generated as much as 20 billion dollars in revenues over the past three decades. Ironically, however, Lucas had to fight tooth and nail to persuade the film's backers, 20th Century Fox, to continue bankrolling the project during a troubled production. Fox slashed the budget for the film from 7.5 million dollars to 6.9 million just four months before shooting began, and it was only the intervention of legendary studio production chief Alan Ladd Jr that prevented further cuts. "Why did I believe in George Lucas? That's easy -- George Lucas," Ladd told Agence France-Presse. Despite Ladd's confidence in Lucas, doubts swirled around the film almost up to the moment of its release. An initial screening of a rough version of the movie, for an audience of studio executives and fellow directors that included Spielberg and Brian DePalma, received an icy reception. According to past interviews, Spielberg was one of the few who could see that Lucas had struck gold. "George, it's great," he told his friend. "It's gonna make 100 million dollars." Later Ladd sought Spielberg's opinion on the film and was told simply: "You're gonna be the happiest film studio executive in Hollywood." Ladd, talking to Agence France-Presse at a recent gala evening for Star Wars at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles, said he first realized the studio had a smash hit after a test screening in San Francisco. "It was about 9:30 on a Saturday morning and we had a pretty mixed audience," Ladd said. "As soon as the picture started rolling and you've got that fantastic opening shot of the rebel spaceship being chased by the Imperial Destroyer people in the audience were screaming. That's when I knew." The film opened in only 32 theatres across America but quickly became a monster hit, leaving Lucas free to dictate terms for the subsequent sequels, 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back" and 1983's "The Return of the Jedi." According to Harris, the "Star Wars" sequels were revolutionary for being individual pieces of a larger puzzle. "There had been sequels before. But things like the James Bond movies were always self-contained stand alone movies," he told Agence France-Presse. "What Lucas did with 'The Empire Strikes Back' is leave the story hanging in mid-air. No-one had ever dared to do that. But it kept people coming back for more." Harris said "Star Wars" appeal was derived from its simple story line and strong characters. "It's an updated fairytale," he said. "And as much as 'Star Wars' was revolutionary because of its special effects, it is easy to overlook the fact that it has character. "That was its crowning achievement. Inside of this fantastic, outer-space adventure he created a whole world that transported and immersed the audience." The final three films in the "Star Wars" sequence, while massively successful at the box-office, will be less fondly remembered because special effects took priority over character, Harris said. "If you look at the later 'Star Wars' films, there's nobody that compares to Han Solo, and you aren't engaged emotionally in the same sort of way. "The critics complained that the films looked like giant video games and there is some truth to that," Harris said. Lucas meanwhile has repeatedly rejected the notion that "Star Wars" was responsible for dumbing-down the film industry, persuading studios to favor blockbusters over serious, art house-type pictures. "'Star Wars' didn't kill the film industry or infantilize it," he said in a past interview. "Popcorn pictures have always ruled. Why do people go and see these popcorn pictures when they're not good? Why is the public so stupid? That's not my fault. I just understood what people liked to go see, and Steven (Spielberg) has too, and we go for that."
HMM, didn't anybody ever tell Dr. Strange, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic and Black Bolt that you won't like the Hulk when he's angry? It's World War Hulk, everyone, and here's what Marvel has to say in the press release.
The wait is almost over -- World War Hulk #1 (of 5) ships this June and nothing in the Marvel Universe will be the same when it's done! This double-sized issue features fan favorite Planet Hulk scribe Greg Pak teaming with industry legend John Romita Jr to bring you the Hulk Smash you never thought you'd see! Looking for revenge on Dr. Strange, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic and Black Bolt, the Hulk is finally unleashing his true anger.and there just may be no force in the universe that can stop him! Drawn into this conflict will be the Hulk's closest friends and enemies from his past, all of whom will be forced to take sides -- but will anyone stand by the Hulk when he means to tear apart the world to quench his thirst for vengeance?
And don't miss out on the upcoming Hulk: Planet Hulk HC, which collects the sold-out storyline that told a pivotal chapter in the Hulk's life, setting the stage for Hulk's terrifying return to Earth.
This year, the biggest event of the summer is coming straight from the House of Ideas -- and it's called World War Hulk! And did we mention that World War Hulk #1 is now 64 pages... and still only $3.99!WORLD WAR HULK #1 (of 5) Written by GREG PAK Penciled by JOHN ROMITA JR. Cover by DAVID FINCH Variant Cover by JOHN ROMITA JR.
STORM'S back! Nope not Halle Berry, but the one, true Ororo Munroe in the comic book. Here's the preview that Marvel sent us:
After the shocking events of the last issue, the Uncanny X-Men are no longer the same as they head into all new, all different storyline! In Uncanny X-Men #487, one of their greatest members returns for a brand new story arc -- and her name is Storm! Fresh off her appearances in Fantastic Four and Black Panther, the mutant master of the weather rejoins her old teammates to investigate a rash of murders in the Morlock tunnels.
Who would kill these innocent mutants? And how does this tie into the big X-Men event coming this fall? Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Salvador Larroca know, as they kick off the new “The Extremists” storyline with a bang you won’t want to miss! And don’t miss the hardcover collection of Ed Brubaker’s first year on Uncanny X-Men, along with Young Gun artist Billy Tan, coming this July in the form of the Uncanny X-Men: Rise & Fall Of The Shi’ar Empire HC, collecting Uncanny X-Men #475-#486 in one must-have volume that reveals just how the team has been changed forever! The end is near…but is it for the Morlocks, the X-Men, or both? Find out this June in Uncanny X-Men #487.UNCANNY X-MEN #487 Written by ED BRUBAKER Pencils and Cover by SALVADOR LARROCA UNCANNY X-MEN: RISE & FALL OF THE SHI'AR EMPIRE HC Written by ED BRUBAKER Penciled by BILLY TAN & CLAYTON HENRY Cover by BILLY TAN
By Agence France-Presse SYDNEY--An Australian man has sparked a storm of protest after creating an online computer game based on the murderous shooting spree at Virginia Tech in the United States last month. Players control an image of Korean-born gunman Cho Seung-hui, who killed 32 people before turning a gun on himself, and screams can be heard on the soundtrack as shots are fired at the other characters. The creator of V-Tech Rampage, 21-year-old Ryan Lambourn, said he made the game "because it's funny," the Sydney Morning Herald reported Thursday. The unemployed Lambourn responded to outraged calls for him to remove the game from the Internet by demanding $1,000 for each of the two sites it is on and said that for another $1,000 he would apologize. But he said later that was a joke to "make more people angry" and he would not remove the game from his own website or seek to have it removed from amateur game sharing site Newgrounds.com. The game, described as offering "three levels of stealth and murder" is set on a facsimile of the Virginia Tech campus and can be freely downloaded from either site. "I've done offensive things before but they're not usually this popular," he said. Lambourn said that while he had sympathy for those who had lost friends and relatives in the massacre, he also had sympathy for the gunman. "No one listens to you unless you've got something sensational to do. And that's why I feel sympathy for Cho Seung-Hui. He had to go that far." Lambourn told the national AAP news agency that he would not take down the game under any circumstances, even if he received a request from the victims' families. "I'm afraid not," he said, but added: "I hope they'd never do that." He said he empathized with the killer and that he, like Cho, had been a victim of abuse and bullying at high school. Lambourn was born in Australia but grew up in the United States before returning to Australia when he was 14. He said he left school in the eighth grade having been bullied and abused at several institutions in Texas, Maine, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina. He described himself as a self-taught animator supported financially by his mother, who still lives in the United States. Later Thursday, attempts to access Lambourn's website, Googumproduce.com, met with a note saying "this account has been suspended." The website provider, Michigan-based Liquid Web, declined to comment when asked whether it had been responsible for the site's removal.
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash reporter INQUIRER.net AFTER three weeks in the preliminary games, the World Cyber Games Philippines has identified five players for the racing game Need for Speed: Carbon who will compete in the national finals. Topping the list is Israel Magante, the country’s bet to the WCG World Final for the past three years. His competitors are Darnel Tamondong, Oliver Magsakay, Richard Matias and Brent Dizon. The five gamers will be facing off on July 13 to 15 for the national finals and the top player will represent the country in the WCG Grand Final on October 3 to 7 in Seattle. Other games included in the WCG Philippine leg are Warcraft III: Frozen Throne, Starcraft: Brood War and Counter-Strike. The preliminary events for the other games are scheduled from May 19 to July 1.
By Alexander Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net WAIT, so it took two years before this Japan-made arcade classic actually arrived in the US ? HmM, is it worth it? Arcade lovers will remember Raiden, one of the most renowned scrolling shooter games, which first came out in 1990. It spawned only two other arcade games and a PlayStation I version. Playing this game didn’t take too much skill except for quick eyes in discerning between floating power-ups and slow-moving enemy fire. This time, Japanese developer Taito has brought the much-loved arcade classic to the PlayStation 2, and in an apparent attempt to prevent Raiden fans from scrutinizing any difference from the original arcade version, the company just kept everything as is. For newbies, Raiden is a 2D top-view scrolling space shooter wherein a pixilated fighter jet (or two, if played in two-player cooperative game) shooting different types of abnormally powerful weapons against other spaceships that appear from different parts of the screen. Despite these powerful missiles, lasers and bullets that fire from all directions, the most important skill in this game is simply not to get shot since a single bullet can be fatal. It does sound simplistic but with so many planes exploding in the screen the player may have difficulty identifying those fatal enemy missiles and bullets. All of the Raiden series are cartoony in design. The backgrounds range from earth-base military facilities to moon base maps. The most obvious aspect of Raiden III for the PS2 is the use of three types of tried and tested weapons types: the Vulcan that shoots out a hail of bullets in a 140 degree angle; the Laser that shoots a continuous straight shot of blue light towards the front; and the Proton Laser, which is a modified version of the Laser that strikes straight into enemies in an arching motion, thus destroying other enemies that are in its path. Of course, not all of the weapons have the same destructive effect. For example, the Vulcan is effective against hordes of incoming enemies but is weak against bigger boss planes. The Laser is extremely powerful against the most powerful bosses but leaves the plane vulnerable against other enemies. The Proton Laser can destroy nearby enemies but is uncontrollable and is actually the weakest of the three main weapons. On the other hand, the player is not left with only one weapon but has sub-shot weapons and these are effective against enemies that are too close to the player’s ship. These weapons include Nuclear Missile that spread out and blow up after a certain distance with the explosions having a radial effect against other enemy planes. The Homing Missile, as implied by its name, are missiles that search-and-destroy enemies. Radar Missile is almost similar to the Nuclear Missile but this shoots straight out. Both the main and sub-shot weapons can become more powerful as the player collects colored items that float after enemies and destroyed. However, when dying the player has to start over again in collecting weapons and power-ups, which is quite a challenge as the game becomes difficult in later stages. There are other items in Raiden III that help the player go through the missions such as the very limited Bombs that are used to destroy all enemies in a single attack, which is quite useful if the player is overwhelmed by enemies. The Bombs also destroy the bullets that are fired by the enemies. There is also a secret Fairy that helps the player destroy enemies. This one doesn’t have any significant importance but it does its job well of protecting the spaceship from nearby enemies. The Extra Life is one of the more special items in the game and as its name implies, the player will be given another chance at life to get through missions. The game is expectedly short and largely because it’s a direct port of an arcade game and is no different if it were played in two-player cooperative. Graphics-wise, Raiden III doesn’t do much justice to the processing power of PS2. The first two Raidens were launched in the PS1 but it would have been good if Raiden III was given some better graphics or perhaps a longer gameplay. Likewise, Raiden III should be better put as one of the classic games in a Taito game collection. If not, the PS2 would have been better off with a new and much more improved version of Raiden and not just a direct arcade port. Incidentally, Taito already has plans of coming up with Raiden IV but this one will come out in the Microsoft Xbox 360.
LET'S hope Halo 3 will live up to the hype and not turn out to be a disappointment like "Spider-Man 3." Then again, considering that "Spider-Man 3" is breaking all sorts of box office records despite earning the ire of fans and critics, maybe Microsoft and Bungie won't worry too much about this. Here's an excerpt from the CNETNews.com article:
Microsoft gave a sneak peek at its Halo 3 video game on Friday, saying the next chapter of the fast-paced shooter trilogy will help it fend off competition from Sony and Nintendo. Gamers at the invitation-only preview gave mixed reviews. "The graphics can use some work...They're not much different than the previous Halo," said Nicholas Puleo, editor of gaming news Web site Evilavatar.com. "They've got five, six months until release, so they'll add some polish...When I compare it to other things in the platform, it's not standout." Microsoft staged previews in New York and San Francisco on Friday in advance of the public test, or "beta," of the game, which goes live Wednesday.
I LOVE the Soul Calibur series, so it's pretty exciting to hear that Namco Bandai is coming out with a new third-person action game called Soul Calibur Legends exclusively for the Nintendo Wii. Here's an excerpt from the Gamasutra story:
Soul Calibur Legends will follow Siegfried and other Soul Calibur characters as they quest to save an empire from destruction. Using the Wii remote and nunchuk, players will perform moves and combos as they combat "scores of enemies and large bosses," according to an official statement announcing the game's development.
GOOD news: your mom or grandma might get to enjoy a free copy of the best-selling casual game Bejeweled Deluxe this Mother's Day. Here's an excerpt from the press statement from our friends at PopCap Games:
PopCap Games, the leading developer and publisher of casual games, today announced that will give all subscribers to its free monthly e-newsletter one copy of Bejeweled Deluxe, the biggest-selling casual game of the past six years, at no cost. To obtain a free copy that can be presented to one's mother or grandmother, consumers simply sign up to receive The Fizz, PopCap's monthly digital newsletter, via the link on the company's homepage www.popcap.com. Beginning tomorrow and continuing through May 23, 2007, existing and new subscribers to The Fizz will receive an e-mail with a special link and unique registration code for a free copy of the full retail version of Bejeweled Deluxe, which must be redeemed by May 30, 2007. Presenting that as a gift to mom is as simple as forwarding the e-mail or printing out the salient information and including it in a card.
The Bejeweled franchise has sold more than 10 million units and consumed approximately 2 billion hours of leisure time, and company surveys peg the Bejeweled user base as being 75% female and 89% age 30 or older. 44.6% of PopCapâ€™s customer base has at least one child, which equates to nearly 100 million downloads of PopCapâ€™s games by parents over the past six years. Bejeweled Deluxe carries a suggested retail price of $14.95 and is available at all major games portals as well as at retail chains including Wal-Mart, Target and CostCo. "Moms, grandmothers, and women in general have supported PopCap in many significant ways since we founded the company in 2000," noted Jason Kapalka, co-founder and chief creative officer at PopCap. "We wanted to repay that generosity in some fashion, and giving away free copies of the game that launched our success seemed like a fun way to do that."
HERE'S a preview of Sonic the Hedgehog #176 from our friends at Archie Comics:
"Cracking the Empire": The greatest heroes of Mobius have been captured, their homes destroyed and Sonic defeated… but you can't keep a good hedgehog down! With only Tails, Knuckles and Amy Rose at his side, can Sonic manage to recover in time and save his friends and family -- or has Dr. Robotnik truly won the day?SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #176 Script: IAN FLYNN Art: TRACY YARDLEY Cover: SPAZ
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net SIX Filipinos will be competing against representatives from seven countries for the top prize in the O2Jam Jammin' Jakarta international contest. The top ranking winners are Jopet Agcaoili, Mark Joshua Estoque, Charmaine Ferro John Klient Uy, Patrick Pelino and Vee Jay Mark Pakinggan, all of whom are already preparing to compete with international players in O2Jam during the 2007 Asian Online Gaming Tournament in Indonesia. The six all won in the O2Jam competition during the recent Dom1Nation first anniversary celebration of game publisher IP e-Games. IP e-Games product manager for Casual Games Paolo Obles told hackenslash that the players have already been given unlimited accounts to practice. "We're also working on their passports and documents for the trip," Obles. Incidentally, the Asian Online Gaming Tournament was supposed to be held on May 5 but was postponed after some security concerns were raised over Jakarta. "It was a good thing, too, especially since most of the players didn't have their passports yet. We were told that the event will be held in June," Obles said. Online gamers flocked to Le Pavillon in Pasay City on April 28 for Dom1Nation. Hundreds of players joined in the different competitions in Dom1Nation, which included the games RAN Online, Audition, O2 Jam and Supreme Destiny. Emerging as champion in the first RAN Online Battle Royale grand finals was RR "Psychoneurotic" Florida who took home a P50,000 cash prize and a +9 Armor set and any +9 weapon of his choice. Placing second was Samuel Palacio, a.k.a. LiLkILaLa. He won P30,000. The third placer was Adrian Magtoto a.k.a. Aiustha. The winner of the BR Grand Finals will represent the country in the 2007 RAN World Championship. RAN Online also held the Mob Attacks wherein the teams compete to hold the fastest time to clear away areas full of monsters. Topping the dance game Audition was Arnel "PussyfierNOD" Dimaandal, followed by Matt "Mikolit123" Guillermo and John Christian "Trinity" Tagulao. The other winners in Audition were Gino Adeva, Jan Frivaldo and Michael Makabenta. Likewise, winners for the Supreme Destiny party battle were Eugene Santos, Arjay Navarro and Victor James Castigo. Castigo also won in the Supreme Destiny War of the Gods category. Joining him were Edwin Antonio, John Michael Diaz and Howard Gambayan.
OK, we're all passionate about games, but disagreements should never come to this. Here's an excerpt from the Agence France-Presse story:
LOS ANGELES -- One person was killed and two others wounded after a California college student opened fire following a row over a PlayStation 2 video game, police said Tuesday.
The shooting took place late Monday near the campus of California State University in Fresno, 219 miles (352 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles, police said. The gunman, identified as 19-year-old criminology student Jonquel Brooks, was at large Tuesday after police had initially surrounded a campus apartment complex believing he was inside.
GOOD news for Muslim gamers: a Malaysian student has designed software that will allow the Koran to be downloaded to the PlayStation Portable. According to the Agence France-Presse report, the software will be available for free download after May 19 from the student's site. Here's an excerpt from the article:
Student Ikhwan Nazri Mohamad Asran, 21, designed the software after seeing a similar version of the Bible. "They did the Bible, so why not do the Koran ... This application can help younger people to read the Koran," Ikhwan told Agence France-Presse Tuesday. PlayStation enthusiasts, more used to playing games such as Ridge Racer and Metal Gear Acid, can download an English-language version of the Koran, with displays in Arabic script, from the Internet.
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net I KNOW almost every Spider-Man game out there. I'm a big fan of the wall crawler. But why is it that almost every Spider-Man game based on a movie becomes such a headache (and heartache) to play? The Spider-Man 3 video game is based on the "Spider-Man 3" movie. I'm actually surprised that with all the time used to make the movie, developer Treyarch (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) and Vicarious Visions (Wii, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 2 and Nintendo DS) did not have the time to improve the game. It's also weird that two developers were used for the game yet there was almost no change in the graphics for both the PS2 and Xbox 360. Treyarch and VV must have shared code somewhere along the development period. Both the Xbox 360 and PS2 versions share the same gameplay concept as well as storyline largely based on the movie. The game features Spider-Man swinging through a sprawling but awfully drab New York City, in what might be Lower Manhattan. Spider-Man starts off saving people inside a burning building and this is where players will be given a comical tutorial by Bruce Campbell, the ever-present B-movie actor, who gets to have his fair share of funny dialogue in this video game. The tutorial would only give the basic fighting techniques, web-slinging and wall crawling. After which, the player will have free rein over how to proceed with Spider-Man's adventures. The storyline is pretty straightforward and borrows heavily from the movie. But there are a few slight changes in the progression of the story and it does not include much of the dramatic sequences that defined the movie. Instead, Spider-Man 3 the game includes some of the original Spider-Man foes such as the Scorpion, Rhino and Kingpin. Not surprisingly, Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus aren't included here; they already had their chance to swat Spider-Man in their own game when the first two Spider-Man movies came out. Aside from the story progression in the game, Spider-Man will also have to act on the city's criminal activities. These are gangs that are causing a lot of destruction. This plays out much like the Grand Theft Auto series where there are side quests. However, Spider-Man has to take on these gangs to receive Action Points, which are distributed to unlock Spider-Man's powers. The more sub-quests Spider-Man takes on, the more Action Points he gains and the more powers and skills he can unlock. There are over two dozen skills that can be unlocked which include longer life bars, attack combos, throws, webbing skills, and faster movement, among others. However, not all of them are necessary for Spider-Man to survive and I finished Spider-Man 3 for the PS2 and Xbox 360 without unlocking all of them. The combat system is a bit of a nuisance especially since the enemies are not that difficult to defeat. Even the bosses aren't exactly fearsome and just require players to learn their patterns for about a minute to find the technique to defeat them. Beating enemies does not require skills as much as button mashing. More often than not, Spider-Man is too agile for his own good. Some of his attacks let him fly off from one side of the screen to the other side and it's difficult to control especially when all of the buttons of a particular attack combo are pressed already. He sometimes punches thin air and is stopped only when an enemy slices his back. It's recommended that players press only the right buttons to bring down enemies to avoid missing. With the difficult combat system comes the exceedingly irritating camera system. Spider-Man 3, like its predecessors, uses a third-person camera. The camera does not follow Spider-Man when he's on the ground and players will have to constantly move around to keep the camera from freezing in one place. This is frustrating especially when faced with multiple enemies -- not that the enemies are that difficult to beat. The best use of the camera is when Spider-Man is swinging or zipping high up the buildings in the city. This is not the first time that this type of camera has been used and incidentally, the problems have not changed a bit. Why can't they get it right? There are also parts of the game that were copied straight out of the PS2’s God of War, particularly the mini-game. Spider-Man has to follow certain button patterns to execute an action and an unsuccessful press means a lower health bar or game over. While God of War required speedy eye-and-finger coordination, players here can take time pressing the right button. The graphics in the PS2 is plain and simple but it's surprising that the Xbox 360's graphics is not all that good either. Even the facial expressions are no different from the PS2 version, which are just ugly in comparison to other PS2 games. It's as if they just copied the entire PS2 game onto the Xbox 360. Spider-Man 3 is something that PS2 or Xbox 360 owners do not need to play even if they are big fans of Spider-Man or the movies. It has no continuity from the movie and is clearly an attempt by the developers and Activition to cash in on the movie and the Spider-Man franchise. If ever anyone wants to play a 3D Spider-Man game, I would strongly suggest the previous PS2 game, Ultimate Spiderman, which is based on the original comic book of the same name. Spider-Man 3 is stretching the web too thinly. Spider-Man 3 Genre: Action Developers: Treyarch (Xbox 360), Vicarious Visions (PlayStation 2) Publisher: Activision ESRB Rating: T (Teen) Editor's Note: Check out Alex's review of the "Spider-Man 3" movie.
IF you never got to read Sonic the Hedgehog's earliest comic book adventures, now's your chance to see what you've been missing with the release of Sonic the Hedgehog Archives #5. Here are the details from the press release provided by our friends from Archie Comics.
Back in 1993, Sonic the Hedgehog sped his way from video games to comic books. Almost 200 issues later, "the blue blur" can lay claim to having the most successful comic book career of all video game heroes.
Now, SONIC THE HEDGEHOG ARCHIVES, a thrilling series of upscale reprints, lets you revisit Sonic’s early days in a premium yet affordable format. These special 5 x 7 & ½ inch editions contain 112 action-packed pages, faithfully re-colored and printed on superior stock, with a low cover price of only $7.49 US! Picking up where the SONIC THE HEDGEHOG ARCHIVES #4 left off (which reprinted the original Sonic series issues #13 through #16), SONIC THE HEDGEHOG ARCHIVES #5 brings fans these classic tales from issues #17 through #20 -- including the first… and last appearance of Julayla, an early, important event in Sonic mythology! Stories include:SONIC THE HEDGEHOG ARCHIVES #5 Scripts: MIKE GALLAGHER, ANGELO DECESARE, MIKE KANTEROVICH & KEN PENDERS Art: DAVE MANAK & ART MAWHINNEY Cover: SPAZ
- “Gorilla Warfare/The Apes of Wrath” (issue #17): Robotnik sends King Gong to do battle with Sonic, but when the 800-pound gorilla-bot meets Sally, he decides he’s a lover, not a fighter!
- “Sally’s Crusade Part 1: First Star I See Tonight” (issue #17): A mysterious orb falls from the sky… what does it mean for Princess Sally?
- “Wedding Bell Blues” (issue #18): Sonic & Sally’s “wedding” brings Robotnik into the open… precisely the result the ruse was intended for!
- “Sally’s Crusade Part 2: In the Still of the Night” (issue #18): Sally is called to the bedside of her dying mentor Julayla… is the mysterious orb from the previous installment somehow connected?
- “Night of a Thousand Sonics” (issue #19): It all starts with one Sonic Cyborg stepping through a dimensional doorway in the Great Forest. Before it ends, the battle will involve thousands of Sonics, bots, Robo-Robotnik and even an uneasy alliance between the original Sonic and the real Robotnik!
- “That’s the Spirit!” (issue #20): When an antimatter explosion renders Sonic invisible, Sally and the others think that he has died and become a disembodied spirit.
- “Deadliest of the Species: Prologue” (issue #20): The lead-in to the popular Princess Sally mini-series. The intrigue starts here, as Sally comes face-to-face with Geoffrey St. John, who identifies himself as part of the rebel underground!
THE ANIME series "Death Note" will become available for digital download via Direct2Drive after US publisher VIZ Media announced a partnership with Direct2Drive owner IGN. Here's an excerpt from the VIZ Media press statement:
The subtitled version of the series will debut May 10, 2007 and fans may go to www.direct2drive.com to download the first episode.
VIZ Media secured the rights to "Death Note" from Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV) and anticipation for the launch of the series has built steadily since the company first announced it earlier this year. The launch is also significant because it marks the first time a well known anime property will be made legally available to US audiences for download while the title still airs on Japanese television. "The technology for delivering digital content quickly, securely and with the highest possible quality has come of age and we see DTO as an important extension of our video business," says Daniel Marks, senior vice president, Strategy & Business Development, VIZ Media. "'Death Note' is a smash in Japan and we very much appreciate NTV providing us with the opportunity to make episodes available so soon after broadcast in Japan. We see this as an important first step in getting our content to fans where, when and how they want it." “VIZ Media is one of the most technologically savvy and forward-thinking anime companies in the industry and we are pleased to team with them to make a hot property like 'Death Note' available via digital distribution on Direct2Drive,” says Jamie Berger, senior vice president of Consumer Products for IGN Entertainment.
By Erin Chupeco, hackenslash Contributor INQUIRER.net IF there is anything more difficult than being a Norse princess, then it is being a Norse princess with a fallen Valkyrie soul in your body. When the soul of the Valkyrie Silmeria awakens within Princess Alicia, she is deemed insane and banished from her kingdom. To make matters worse, the god Odin, who was responsible for the rebellious Silmeria's forced reincarnation in the first place, has decided to recall Silmeria at the cost of Alicia’s life. Escaping both imprisonment and her immortal assassins, Silmeria/Alicia realizes that a war between man and god is brewing, and the only way to prevent this is to find a special orb to restore the peace. The subsequent search for said orb (and the chance to strike back at Odin) makes up the main premise of Square-Enix's Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria. The first Valkyrie Profile was a cult classic that revolutionized strategy in 2D gameplay, and its sequel (though actually it's a prequel in terms of chronology) ups the ante by delivering a beautiful 3D battle environment that allows its characters to run around and engage the enemy at all points -- and how you attack, where you attack, and how fast you attack the enemy, plays a crucial role in the game. Midgard beauty It goes without saying that Valkyrie Profile 2 is one of the more beautiful games to play. Every attention to detail has been rendered with the utmost care, from the way hair moves against the wind, to facial expressions of characters as they contemplate the journeys that lie ahead of them. Weather and background scenery are top-notch, considering that the game still uses a predominantly 2D setting, with the exception of its battles. Fans of the original game may be pleased to learn that a few familiar faces from the previous game will be making their appearances (remember Lezard Valeth?) and the beautiful symphony and good voiceovers round out the experience. Silmeria smash! Up to four characters can be played simultaneously in battle, with each corresponding to a certain button on the player’s controller. Button-mashing to inflict as many blows as possible against enemies may seem the ideal strategy, especially in light of the fact that your Attack Points (which determine the frequency of your assault) deplete with every movement your character makes. But charging in before your opponents can attack, or splitting your party in two to engage enemies from all sides, can have a profound effect on how quickly you can take them down, and take them down quickly you must -- monsters grow almost exponentially stronger with every level, and the faster they are defeated, the easier you can acquire experience with minimal health risks. Mixing attacks among your characters may also trigger Soul Crushes once your Special Meter fills, delivering devastating amounts of damage than normal. It is a good idea to invest in learning character attack combinations, to speedily dispatch opponents and lessen your time spent in battle. Valkyrie Profile 2 also implements a Break Mode system, where strategic positioning in fights can allow your characters to attack enemies repeatedly without depleting your Attack Meter. The result is satisfyingly realistic; bits and pieces of armor fly off monsters with every successful blow, and this offers greater rewards in the form of additional experience, more money, even a pretty item or two. Monster leaders are present in almost every battle, so players wishing for a speedy battle are encouraged to target them instead; all other monsters flee once their leader has been vanquished, giving you the victory. Certain battles also require some level of intelligence and an appreciation for sound strategy. Silmeria's photons, for example, freezes the enemy on its first hit, and allows her to swap places with them on the second. Unfortunately, all these nifty new moves only work if you maintain a high enough level, as some monsters have a good chance of wiping out your whole party at times. This means constantly returning to the same dungeons over and over again in an attempt to increase your abilities. While leveling is good practice to master the break modes and figure out character combinations, it may be a little too much work for the casual gamer not willing to spend over 40 hours just to grasp the concept. The soul collector Valkyrie Profile 2 has four main characters, but also allows players to use einherjars for their party -- souls that valkyries collect to return to Valhalla, though given that Silmeria is not on speaking terms with Odin at the moment, these souls are instead reincarnated as mortals once the necessary level requirement is reached. While the downside of using einherjars are that they eventually leave your party once their stats have been raised high enough, rewards for accomplishing this goal includes nifty armor and bonuses that more than make up for it. Character strength is no longer dependent on stat distribution, but rather on the equipment each character possesses; certain combinations of armor also allow characters to acquire special skills for use in fights, but the headache revolves around figuring out which particular armor combination invokes what skill, which sometimes make trial and error more frustrating than challenging. One other major disadvantage with the einherjar system is the lack of empathy the game has for its characters. Valkyrie Profile fleshed out details and complex back stories of the poor souls Lenneth meets along the way shortly before they are entrusted to Valhalla; Valkyrie Profile 2 treats these souls as second-class citizens. There is not much information on each new einherjar you acquire, from the time you collect them until the time they are ready for reincarnation, and eventually, players would rather place them in their party for the item rewards, rather than for any interest in viewing their character development. Another noteworthy feature of the game would be its sealstones; these collectible stones affect the party when carried, and affect nearby enemies when placed on dais found throughout the dungeons -- another strategy to be considered and mastered, to combat the game's slightly high learning curve. Placing these stones on dais (permanently or temporarily) can affect the degree of difficulty of a monster encounter, as a sealstone has as much chance of lowering the party's defenses as much as it would lower a wandering band of monsters. Valkyrie Profile 2 is one of the few games that can boast of its being much different from its predecessor, yet still retain many of the qualities that endeared gamers to the original. Given its difficulty, patience, a love for unusual rpg elements unheard of in its genre, and a lot of hours are necessary to see this game to its conclusion, but it’s definitely worth the investment. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria Genre: Role-playing Game Developer: Tri-Ace Publisher: Square-Enix SRB Rating: T (Teen)
A NEW US initiative funded by a $1.1-million grant from the National Science Foundation aims to encourage more female students to play and design computer games. Here's an excerpt from the Santa Cruz Sentinel story:
Lisa Wilson-Brown, 12, enjoys playing computer games, particularly those involving puzzles or strategy, but she doesn't always like to follow rules imposed by their creators.
So when the Watsonville Charter School for the Arts sixth-grader was given the chance to build a game of her own, she jumped at it. "Now I can make up my own rules," Lisa said, grinning as she sat before a computer screen in a classroom at Lakeview Middle School on a recent afternoon. She gets to design the game in a new after-school program aimed at getting girls — especially from rural and Latino communities — to pursue careers in technology.
THEN GAME Developers Association of the Philippines founding president and now International Game Developers Association Manila Chapter chairperson Ranulf Goss jams with the hackenslash crew in hackenslash: the podcast, Episode 11: Goss and Effect. Episode hosted by Joey Alarilla, Claire Chan and Alex Villafania.
By Alexander Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net IT can be easily said that the Spider-Man movie franchise has already been squeezed dry of its last drop of webbing. Fortunately, the third installment of one of the most popular movies in history still has a lot of webbing to weave as far as the story and action is concerned. It was over-hyped but nevertheless delivered the excitement that it promised, save perhaps for some lengthy dramatic overtures that weren’t present in the previous Spidey films. Filipinos got to be among the very first in the world to watch the movie, just three days before the US. The lines weren't exactly long outside the movies houses largely because the movie was being played in 90 percent of all cinemas in Metro Manila. Likewise, the movie was shown on Labor Day, May 1, which is a public holiday. Still, the cinemas are packed down to the last showing. Warning: this review will contain spoilers, OK? "Spider-Man 3" is the continuation of the first two movies and ties up some loose ends. Actually, some of these loose ends are not really known until some flashbacks -- in particular, the death of Ben Parker from the first movie. Also, the movie puts a lot of emphasis on the conflict between Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Harry Osborn (James Franco) after the latter finally discovers that his best friend is Spider-Man, whom he believes to be his father’s killer. It is these two stories of Ben Parker's death and Harry's discovery of Peter's alter ego that seem to be the main themes in "Spider-Man 3." Spider-Man fanboys may have some trouble reconciling with director Sam Raimi's interpretation of Spider-Man in this third installment as it violates quite a number of elements in the original comic book material. The first 15 minutes of "Spider-Man 3" revolves around Peter Parker who is living a wonderful life as a journalist, a masked superhero praised by the New York populace, and a loving boyfriend to Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). He still has unresolved issues with Harry, who already knows his secret identity and tries to subdue Peter by donning the uber-cool livery of the Green Goblin that his father wore. He is knocked unconsious and seems to have lost much of his short-term memory. Trouble worsens when a wayward meteorite crashes near a park where MJ and Peter were, well, making out. This meteorite turns out to be an alien life form that first looks like a slop of sticky black goo reminiscent of the 1958 horror flick, "The Blob." But this living goo does not make any move until after the first 50 minutes in the film. The movie continues with escaped criminal Flint Marko (Thomas Church) escaping from prison, tries to reconnect with his dying daughter and frigid wife, is chased by police but then falls into a radioactive testing site where he is dissolved into sand. Marko reconstitutes himself to become Sandman and starts a series of bank thefts but is beaten by Spider-Man. This is followed by Peter and his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) being told by Police Captain George Stacy that Ben Parker's real killer was not the thief in the first film but Marko, whom Peter tackled only recently. This discovery sends Peter into a personal turmoil and he seeks vengeance. Later, the black goo, a symbiotic creature, finally bonds with a sleeping Peter in his Spider-Man costume, which creates the Black Spider-Man. The symbiote increases Spider-Man's powers but also makes Peter more aggressive towards MJ. Harry, after recovering from his amnesia, tries to make it bad for his friends as revenge for his father's death. But Peter in his Black Spider-Man costume takes him down and has seemingly destroyed him after lobbing a Goblin disintegration bomb towards Harry. A remorseful Peter lets go of the Black Spider-Man suit, which then bonds with newcomer Eddie Brock, whose professional career as a photographer has been previously ruined by an angry Peter/Black Spider-Man. Brock then becomes Venom who knows Peter by way of the alien suit and also becomes much stronger than Spider-Man. The movie goes into a frenzy from this point and it would be too much of a spoiler to mention the last scenes. Largely because of a few unexpected turns that will make fanboys ask if these actually happened in the comic book. As I've earlier stated, the movie ties together loose ends from the two earlier films but in itself weaves a web of questions, especially with regards to Peter and MJ's relationship, as well as the source of the alien symbiote, which inexplicably stuck to Peter and turned him into Black Spider-Man. Even with the explanations of Peter's physics professor Curt Connor, the origin of the symbiote still does not meld well with the story. As with all Spider-Man movies, the incarnations of his archenemies are just as important as the web-slinger himself. Harry Osborn/Green Goblin whom Peter faces in the first few scenes, wears a costume that does not conform to the original Green Goblin suit (which I personally think was among the best villain costumes ever made). Harry's costume is more fit for an extreme athlete and even his glider is a rocket-propelled snowboard. On the other hand, the snowboard design seems to be more effective in chasing down Spider-Man. Even so, I expected a tint of Green Goblin in the new costume. Sandman isn't exactly an appealing character to most viewers primarily because he's been built up as a petty criminal who cares for a dying daughter. Likewise, his powers aren't as fantastic as those of Spider-Man's other enemies. I will also have to state that his sand-like special effects feature the best use of computer graphics. His reconstitution from sand to man is similar to those used in the movie "The Mummy" but is way better. The hype surrounding "Spider-Man 3" is well justified and gives some closure to an already successful movie franchise. This is also the longest Spider-Man film at just a little over two hours, which was ample time to develop the rift among the three best friends, as well as the Sandman and the Black Spider-Man suit. But this length of time isn't enough it seems to develop Venom, who should have been better left off as a new villain in another movie. But then again, a "Spider-Man 4" movie may be stretching his web too thinly. Editor's Note: Read Alex's review of the Spider-Man 3 video game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2.
IN AN EXCLUSIVE EETimes.com interview that we got wind of via GameSpot, outgoing Sony Computer Entertainment head honcho Ken Kutaragi talked about his vision for what would have been the PlayStation 4, PS5 and PS6. Here's an excerpt from the EETimes.com article:
TOKYO — Playstation inventor Ken Kutaragi, who will retire as chairman and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. on June 19, is already thinking ahead to Playstation 4 and beyond.
In an exclusive interview with EE Times, Kutaragi said: "As a matter of course, I have the vision of Playstation 4, 5 and 6, which will merge into the network." Thursday's (April 26) announcement of Kutaragi's "graduation" from SCEI was widely viewed here and across the consumer electronics industry with surprise. Kutaragi said he proposed his resignation to Sony's board of directors on Thursday. Kutaragi said he previously turned over to Sony's PS3 design team his vision for reducing costs along with design models extending about two years into the future. "Now I'm ready to start working with a much wider world," Kutaragi said.Meanwhile, BusinessWeek talked to Sony's new video games chief Kazuo Hirai. Here's an excerpt:
Sony's new video games chief might best be described as the anti-Kutaragi. On Apr. 27, the Japanese electronics and entertainment giant tapped Kazuo "Kaz" Hirai to take over Sony Computer Entertainment after founder Ken Kutaragi says his final sayonara this summer. The promotion of Hirai, a marketing whiz who got his start in the music business, underscores how Sony (SNE) is steering the gaming unit away from its roots as a semi-independent startup run by the autocratic Kutaragi. But when he assumes the gaming unit's top post, Hirai will have one of the hardest jobs at Sony. Since the launch of the PlayStation 3 console in November, Sony's ultra-high-tech machine has trailed the competition from Microsoft (MSFT) and Nintendo (NTDOY). Lately the gaming unit's cost overruns and ongoing technology investments have hurt Sony's bottom line. They have also caused a headache for Chairman Howard Stringer, who has spent the past two years pushing through reforms and selling off assets aimed at turning around the company's key electronics division. The game division's bigger-than-expected losses appear to be the impetus behind Stringer's reshuffling of the unit's management last November.
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net WHILE the Microsoft Xbox 360 is enjoying a slight advantage over its primary competitor, the Sony PlayStation 3, it should be more worried about chasing after the Nintendo Wii, which is gaining ground. Its attempt at introducing a high-end version of their game console, the black-tinged Xbox 360 Elite, could also have a negative effect on the price-sensitive mass consumer base, which may be pushed to buy the much cheaper Nintendo Wii, considered by most buyers as the "second system." Video game research firm DFC Intelligence said buyers with a budget of just a little over $300 will have a hard time convincing themselves to buy a more expensive unit, particularly the $480 Xbox 360 Elite. This is compounded by the fact that Sony also announced that it is phasing out its $500 20-gigabyte PS3 to favor the more expensive $600 60GB model. In the meantime, Nintendo retains its original pricing scheme for the Wii, which despite its lower processing power, has mass market appeal due to its $250 pricetag. "Consumers don't want to spend $400 on a piece of hardware and be told they are not 'elite' and only getting second best. At that range the tendency is to want to spend the money on the best or else wait until you can afford the best," DFC Intelligence said in its report. DFC Intelligence even stressed that Microsoft's attempt to introduce the Xbox 360 Elite is a "power race that Microsoft simply can't win" since it does not have much of the features included in the high-end model of the PS3. Neither does the Xbox 360 Elite have an HD-DVD (still sold separately) and a built-in wifi antenna that should justifiy the $80 increase. All it has is an additional 120GB hard disk and the inclusion of an HDMI port, which DFC Intelligence said is Microsoft's biggest problem. "It is fine [for Microsoft] to try and satisfy the high-end consumer, but if doing so alienates your mass market base it can spell doom. Sony has more flexibility to go with a high-end strategy because they are still satisfying their core PlayStation 2 consumer base. With hot new products like God of War II, Sony Computer Entertainment is showing existing consumers they don't need to rush to upgrade to the PS3 (or competing system). Compare this with Microsoft that basically slammed the door on the original Xbox and is now basically telling initial Xbox 360 purchasers they need to buy a whole new system if they truly want to do high-definition," the group said regarding the new HDMI port in the Xbox 360 Elite. On the other hand, DFC Intelligence said that the Xbox 360 will still be competitive enough against the PlayStation 3 and that hopefully, the upcoming Halo 3 title will make more money for Microsoft's game console business.
HERE'S the press statement from Marvel:
One of Spider-Man’s classic foes returns in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Annual #1, as readers are treated to Sandman: Year One, featuring the origin of the Sandman. The man who would become Flint Marko, and later the villainous Sandman, wasn’t always a bad seed, so what set him down this path? And how does Spider-Man figure into it?
These answers, and more, arrive in a story by fan-favorite writer Peter David and artists Ronan Cliquet, which shows the Sandman in quite a different light than ever before! Then in a backup tale by David and artist Colleen Doran, you’ll be moved by this story about a homeless girl who loves Spider-Man in a story entitled “LEAH.”
With a sensational battle between Spider-Man and Sandman, new secrets revealed about Flint Marko, a touching tale of love and a dynamite creative team, how can you say no to the double-sized Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man Annual #1?Here's a Slide Show I made using the photos provided by our friends over at Marvel:
YUP, Asia has shown the West the true meaning of horror with such gems as "The Ring" and "The Grudge." And more Asian horror flicks are headed Hollywood's way. Here's an excerpt from the Agence France-Presse story:
The next 12 months will see the Hollywood version of the Oxide and Danny Pang-directed Hong Kong shocker "The Eye," among others, as re-make rights are being snapped up almost as soon as the originals hit the screen. "We make these films for our people. But it is also why they seem more original to people from overseas," says Thailand's Genwaii Thongdenok, who produced the local hit "13-Beloved." "In Thailand, and in Asia, horror films are about more than just ghosts. They are often about things we think are real," says Genwaii, who has seen the remake rights to his hit bought up by the powerful Weinstein Company. The future of the horror genre was one of the topics under heavy discussion at last week's ninth edition of the Far East Film Festival in the Italian city of Udine.How about you, what's your favorite Asian horror movie and why?
AS expected, "Spider-Man 3" is off to a strong start in Philippine cinemas. Here's an excerpt from the Agence France-Presse story:
Although total ticket sales were not immediately available, managers of some of the 150 theaters screening the movie across the country said it looked likely to be one of the biggest hits of the year.
"All of our cinemas that are showing 'Spider-Man 3' are sold out," said May Felipe, manager of the theaters at the "Market! Market!" mall in suburban Manila where five of the seven screens are showing the movie. People were even willing to stand throughout the movie when there were no longer any seats available, Felipe said. "All tickets are sold out. It is amazing," said Henry Balingit, advertising official of the Power Plant mall where five of six theaters are showing 'Spider-Man 3.'
SUSAN SARANDON has joined the cast of the "Speed Racer" movie. Here's an excerpt from the Agence France-Presse story:
Sarandon, 60, will appear as the mother of the title character, a young racing car driver played by Emile Hirsch, in a cast that will also include Christina Ricci and John Goodman.