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Video Game News from January 2008

We play a lot of games here at Lunabean. Because of this we're well positioned to offer you our favorite five games of the year.

Keep in mind that we have a bit of a different outlook on games than the "mainstream" media. In other words, you won't find Halo 3 on our list.

Without further adieu, here is our list of games which debuted in 2007 that we think were the most fun to play.

5. Mass Effect (Xbox 360) - Although it's no KOTOR II the BioWare (developer) magic is still there. If you're not sure whether you like RPGs or not, this is a great game to try. It rewards you with a stunning story, emotional gameplay, and hours of extra exploring...if you're in to that sort of thing.

4. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) - Arguably more of the same, in this case, that's not a bad thing. Metroid games do a great job of combining action, puzzle solving and exploring. It was also a ton of fun to play it on the Wii.

The Top 3

Continue reading "Top 5 Games of 2007"
Posted by Jeremy on January 1, 2008 9:55 AM | | Comments (0)

The Seattle Post Intelligencer has an article up on their website detailing what they think are the top video game disappointments of 2007.

Despite coming up with fifteen complaints it really wasn't that disappointing of a year. I mean we had some great games, the PS3 dropped in price, and the future of gaming has never seemed so bright.

So ignore my sad face and play some games that you missed!

Top Video Game Disappointments of 2007

Posted by Jeremy on January 2, 2008 10:48 AM | | Comments (0)

UPDATE - It seems the NYT got a few things wrong, including this important detail:

An article about the Nintendo DS video game system in the Dec. 31 Business Day section of the New York Times incorrectly referred to future capabilities of the device. The statement that complete Nintendo DS games will eventually be able to be downloaded into the device via a wireless connection with the company's Wii game console is incorrect. Users can download games to play on Wii, and, in the future, the Nintendo DS will be able to receive demo versions of some DS games from Wii, but not the entire game. The demo will be erased once the Nintendo DS is turned off.

The New York Times today, in an article lauding Nintendo's Wii and DS has an interesting little tidbit from Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aime.

"Mr. Fils-Amie [their misspelling] said that future DS device will be more tightly integrated with its Wii console. Complete games as well as game samplers will be able to be downloaded into the Wii using its broadband connection, and then transferred wirelessly to the DS." (NYT)

What I find interesting is the "future DS device". It's not as if Reggie is saying that the current DS Lite and DS have this capability, although they do have WiFi. The main problem is storage...where to put the games.

A future version of the DS may have an internal flash drive (think of an iPod Nano) or it may come with a memory cartridge on which to store several games.

Posted by Jeremy on January 2, 2008 1:25 PM | | Comments (3)

The latest video game sales numbers are in. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that 4.3 million Xbox 360s were sold in the fourth quarter of 2007, bringing the grand total to 17.7 million.

Both Halo 3 (8.1 million units) and Mass Effect (1.6 million) have helped sales.

Meanwhile, Nintendo is reporting that it is on track to sell 17.5 million Wiis by the end its fiscal year in March, 2008. Sony is on track to sell 11 million PS3s by that same date.

Posted by Jeremy on January 4, 2008 11:50 AM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: PS3 | Sony | Video Game Business

Kaz Hirai, chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment, is suggesting that the PS3 may turn profitable in fiscal year 2008 (April 2008 - March 2009).

Currently, Sony loses about $300 per machine, depending on who you believe (costs...note it's a Feb. 2006 cost estimate).

Anyhoozle, the point is that as Sony sells more and more systems (1.2 million in the holiday quarter) and the cost of manufacturing and parts come down, Sony may actually see a profit on their system.

Now, if they could actually get some good games.

Read the article.

Posted by Jeremy on January 7, 2008 9:31 AM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: Video Game Business

Despite having a record fourth quarter, with same store sales up 20% and sales during the 9-week holiday period up 35% to $2.3 billion, shares of the Grapevine, TX company dropped 5.15% at close today.

The reason behind the drop in share price is a lower-than-expected rise in guidance. Also factoring in is the general feeling that the economy is about to tank and take down the retail sector with it. Here is a good article from Money.Cnn.com if you're really interested.

What I wanted to get at, also from the same article, is what Michael Pachter, everybody's favorite video game analyst, feels is contributing.

"He thinks growth will slow as more people buy gaming consoles from mass retailers instead of specialty shops like GameStop."

What? Does this even make sense? When it comes to video game consoles the price is set. It's the same whether you buy an Xbox 360 at Target or at GameStop. So, why would somebody who has been buying at GameStop all of a sudden turn to Wal-Mart?

I just don't understand his quote. And, if you factor in that GameStop pretty much has the market on used (aka, cheap) video games, then doesn't that bode well for them even in desperate times?

Posted by Lunabean on January 10, 2008 2:36 PM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: PS3 | Sony | Xbox | Xbox 360

If you're one of those poor souls like me who thought they could just pick up a couple of drum sticks and instantly become Rick Allen of Def Leppard (oh wait, that'd be one drum stick) then you need to read this very helpful Wired article detailing how to get better at Rock Band drumming.

Apparently, it truly does take practice. Rats. Well, pour some sugar on me and call me an animal...just don't tell me I'm two steps behind.

Posted by Lunabean on January 11, 2008 11:14 AM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: PS3 | Sony | Video Game Videos | Xbox | Xbox 360

It's titled 'A Big Problem". Eegad. Perhaps, 'A Deeply Disturbing Problem' would be more fitting.


Posted by Lunabean on January 14, 2008 12:22 PM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: Nintendo | Nintendo Wii

Perhaps my Valentine will read this and purchase for me this perfect gift for his gamer girl, 'Wii belong together, you and mii' chocolates. Mmm. Chocolate.

Purchase 'Wii Belong' chocolate for your Valentine

Posted by Lunabean on January 14, 2008 1:00 PM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: Nintendo | Nintendo Wii | Xbox | Xbox 360

Call this the first gaming tragedy of 2008.

1Up has both confirmed and destroyed the rumors that a handful of Rare's fantastic Nintendo 64 titles, (007 Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, and Banjo-Kazooie to name a few) would soon be made available for download on Xbox Live Arcade.

According to 1Up's source, the Goldeneye conversion was a mere two months away from completion when it had to be scrapped, as Microsoft (which now owns Rare) and Nintendo could not agree on "the financial side of things".

Want some salt for that wound? Kotaku is today reporting that it was Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata who axed the deal, despite a proposed deal from Microsoft which would have allowed Goldeneye and other unnamed Rare titles (Jet Force Gemini anyone?) on the Wii Virtual Console.

Heartbreaking, isn't it?
Posted by Lunabean on January 14, 2008 1:11 PM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: Nintendo | Nintendo Wii

First the highly anticipated Super Smash Bros. Brawl was heartbreakingly pushed back from December 3rd to February 10th. To most of us, this meant Christmas would be a bust, but, at least we'd have something to do on Valentine's Day. Today we learn we'll have to find something else to fill the hole in our hearts on V-Day, as the game has been pushed back to Sunday, March 9th.

Nintendo's statement regarding the delay lays blame on the sheer awesomeness of the title, "As we're sure you have seen on the Dojo site, the game contains an unprecedented number of characters, options, and experiences."

Posted by Lunabean on January 15, 2008 1:53 PM | | Comments (2)

Filed Under: Video Game Videos | Xbox | Xbox 360

While one rarely looks to TownHall.com for editorial based on any sort of fact (after all, the site boasts Ann Coulter as a columnist), I have to admit Kevin McCullough's opinion on Mass Effect has, incredibly, lowered TownHall's credibility even further.

In a piece titled, The 'Sex Bot' Race for President, McCullough begs for a Presidential candidate to promise to sign an imaginary bill that would severely punish the creators of video games that include "simulated sex excess".

What video game's "simulated sex excess" has caused Mr. McCullough to champion the cause of video game censorship? Mass Effect. That's right. The game that provides a sex scene as scandalous as one you might have seen on NYPD Blue in 1994 is what has Mr. McCullough in such a tizzy.

Now, I'm not going to tear apart the many mis-truths and flat out lies McCullough tells about the game (GamePolitics provides that). However, I do feel the need to make this clear to every gamer and/or every gamer parent out there: The sex scene in Mass Effect is no worse than something you would see in a PG-13 movie (and keep in mind, the game is rated M, for 17+). There is a momentary glimpse of a naked bum, but that's it. There is no "full digital nudity", as McCullough writes.

What's more, it is a cutscene. You do not control it. You create a character at the beginning of the game, and, near the end of the game you encounter the scene. The only "active" role you play in the scene is deciding with whom you are going to have sex. This is a far cry from McCullough's claim that one can customize the game so they can, "sodomize whatever, whoever, however, the game player wishes."

Also, there is no online play, so, the "virtual orgasmic rape" McCullough claims is a mere button push away, is also a no go.

What I find most interesting about the editorial is not the number of inaccuracies it contains, nor the fact that McCullough prefers violent war games to those that contain a benign sex scene. No, what I find most interesting is how telling such a piece is about this man's own psyche. There is no sodomy, nor is there rape, but the second he hears that there is a way for him to virtually control sex, this is where his mind goes? Hmmm.

Finally, if any of you dirty birds want to see what the scandal is really about, here's the Mass Effect sex scene, uncensored (if you dare):

Posted by Lunabean on January 15, 2008 2:31 PM | | Comments (1)

Filed Under: Xbox | Xbox 360

As we reported yesterday, conservative writer Kevin McCullough showed off his journalistic skills by writing a piece about Mass Effect that was so full of distortions and lies, it wasn't even worth a rebuttal.

With that being said, many did opt to contact McCollough with their opinions of the editorial, which led to a hilarious follow up, proving McCullough to be even more misinformed and more angry than previously thought, referring to his critics as perverted "Gamer-Nerds" who, "started hiding their collection of Hustler Magazine under their beds when they were eleven". Classy, no?

Anyway, Penny Arcade has, perhaps, the best response to McCollough that I've seen online. This, of course, comes a day after publishing a comic about the situation that predicted McCollough's lame attempt at using this situation for personal gain.

Case closed.

Posted by Lunabean on January 16, 2008 11:41 AM | | Comments (0)

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the Industry's public affairs group, has formed a political action committee (PAC) to lobby lawmakers who champion the cause of video games.

Seeing as video games are currently the go-to "society is crumbling" example, I think it'll be hard to find politicians to take the money. Wait, hard to find politicians to take money? Hah! I laugh at the notion.

Well, it will be interesting to see who will end up receiving the money. Anybody want long odds on Leland Yee or Hillary Clinton?

More than the trite politicians and money jokes to which I just digressed, what this does say is that video games are continuing to become more mainstream and gamers are gaining an ever more vocal say in politics.

Posted by Jeremy on January 16, 2008 12:10 PM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: PC | Video Game Business

Okay, so the title pun just didn't really work out. Why don't you try to come up with one?

Having recently joined the Mac revolution (we still have a few PCs) I can say that I'm quite excited that more and more publishers are taking the Mac seriously and releasing AAA titles for it.

Most recently is news that EA's and Will Wright's Spore will debut on the Mac as well as the PC and that Activision's Call of Duty 4 will be available in May.

Posted by Jeremy on January 16, 2008 12:36 PM | | Comments (0)

The numbers are in and there's no getting around that it was a record year for video game sales in the US.

Non-PC hardware and software totalled $18 billion, which also does not include online revenue. The big hits this year were, of course, the DS and Wii, although the 360 and PS3 really did do quite well.

On the software front Halo 3, Wii Play, Call of Duty 4, Guitar Hero III, and Super Mario Galaxy round out the top five games of the year.

For all of the nitty gritty details, you can go here.

What I find shocking is that of the top 10 best selling games, none are really great games. Of course, this is my opinion, but Halo 3, Assassin's Creed, Wii Play, Super Mario Galaxy, and Mario Party 8 were all kind of "meh" games.

This just goes to show that the bigger the ad budget, the better the game will sell...despite its merits.

On the bright side of things, there were some truly spectacular games last year like BioShock, Portal, Zack and Wiki, Mario Strikers Charged and Zelda: Phantom Hoursglass.

Posted by Jeremy on January 18, 2008 3:57 PM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: PC | Video Game Business

In an effort to break out of the current video game paradigm of $60 games with no further revenue, EA is set to launch Battlefield Heroes this summer; a game which will be a free download to your PC as part of a new "Play 4 Free" initiative.

So how does EA make money on these games? With in-game advertising and micro-transactions, that video game buzzword which essentially means players buy stuff, like clothes, better weapons, or better stats, for example.

EA also plans to dumb-down games such as Battlefield Heroes so that an inexperienced player can play the game without much of a learning curve.

You can see the influence of the Nintendo strategy in EA's designs. That is, make games approachable, easy to play, and playable in quick chunks of time, like 10 or 15 minutes at a time. The "let's make games fun again" mantra.

You can also sense that EA has confidence in the new plan, particularly since Rock Band has now garnered 2.5 million downloads of additional songs.

Personally, I'm all for this. I think EA is right in putting some of their eggs into this new model of a basket. I also think it's a smart play with a dwindling economy. Seriously, free game or $60 for a game?...you decide when the rent payment is due next week.

What's more, you know they're wicked pissed that Activision is the #1 publisher.

Battlefield Heroes Site

Posted by Lunabean on January 21, 2008 2:28 PM | | Comments (0)

I wonder if Mario will be a presenter? I can see it now, "and zee winner iz...it's a meeee...Mario!" For all of the various nominees, you can check out the Interactive Achievement Awards website.

Posted by Jeremy on January 23, 2008 10:49 AM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: PS3 | Sony | Xbox | Xbox 360

A lot of new Grand Theft Auto 4 information came out this week, but most important is today's news that GTA4 will debut on April 29! Let's hope Rockstar can stick to that date.

There is also a new trailer up at Rockstargames.com and a recap of previews.

Posted by Jeremy on January 24, 2008 7:49 AM | | Comments (0)

I'm a rational and informed cable news junkie. It's for that reason that I know where to place Fox "News" on the continuum of accuracy (low) and sensationalism (high), but sometimes it still shocks me just how stupid they are.

Case in point, the video above. Every time I hear arguments such as those given all I can think about is how appalling it is for a certain mindset to hear "full digital nudity" and fear for civilization.

It always comes down to the person's own internal fears and desires, as Allison so aptly explained here.

For the record, Mass Effect is a wonderful and emotional game. The "sex" scene is PG-13 and is nothing that isn't on TV. You don't control the sex scene, it is a movie that plays (a cutscene). If you don't interact with your fellow characters, you won't get the cutscene. Finally, the only character you control the look/gender of is the main character, aka, you. The other characters are what they are. There is no virtual boob enhancement.

Honestly, I don't have any problem with people criticizing video games. Just get the facts straight or you'll end up sounding like an idiot. I guess you get used to that after a while, though.

Read the response from Electronic Arts

PS - If I was EA, I'd sue for slander. You gotta hit corporations like Fox "News" where it hurts...in the pocket book.

Posted by Jeremy on January 25, 2008 10:53 AM | | Comments (0)

We have begun work on the LB No More Heroes Walkthrough and Strategy Guide for the Nintendo Wii.

Per usual, you can check in on our growing guide as it's being written. Enjoy!

LB No More Heroes Game Guide.

Update: For those who need No More Heroes help beyond the current scope of the walkthrough, please post your questions in our No More Heroes Help Thread in our forums.

Posted by Lunabean on January 26, 2008 11:56 AM | | Comments (1)

Filed Under: Nintendo | Nintendo Wii

The year, 1999. Allison and I, recently out of college, discovered our mutual love of video games. Never was this more apparent than with 1080, the groundbreaking snowboarding game from Nintendo.

Watching the above video brings back some wonderful memories, akin to what I imagine normal people would experience by watching a vacation video, of Michelob Light, Ricky Winterborn (which we always pronounced Wicky Winterborn), and "work you body, work, work your body."

Yes, this game sucked up a great many hours of our time and we actually got quite good at the game. If only it was online at the time. We may have been ranked in the top 100! Oh, what could've been.

Why this trip down memory lane? Because the Wii Virtual Console game for the week is 1080!

Experience the best that the late '90s had to offer! Just make sure to begin your jumps nice and flat and angle your board perfectly to land.

Posted by Jeremy on January 28, 2008 12:40 PM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: Xbox | Xbox 360

Capcom's Devil May Cry 4 is set to hit retail shelves on February 5, but you can get a taste for it now via download on Xbox Live. While the Devil May Cry series just isn't my cup of tea, I understand that it is a much-loved game.

The demo allows you to play through two different scenarios: a 10 minute time trial (which I played) and some other challenge which has you fight enemies....crazy, I know.

For more info: DevilMayCry.com

Posted by Jeremy on January 28, 2008 1:40 PM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: PS3 | Sony

Gamespot has a good "Rumor Control" article up dissecting the rumor that Sony is set to launch a 120 GB or 160 GB PS3, with the DualShock 3 controller, in lieu of the current 80GB model, which they would phase out.

It seems likely that this will occur within the first half of the year, perhaps near the launch of GTA IV, so what to do? Wait to buy the new version or strike now?

First, there is no word yet if the new (rumored) model will have backwards compatibility with PS2 games. Currently, only the 80GB model has that capability, as explained here, via software emulation.

Second, we can only assume that the price point will remain at $499.

Third, this rumor may not be true. The 80GB model has only been in service since Oct., 2007. That would be an awful quick turn around to replace it.

Fourth, you'll have to factor in the cost of buying a stand-alone DualShock 3 controller if you go with the current 80GB model once they hit stores this spring.

My advice is to wait and see. Once the announcement hits (if it hits), and you are armed with all of the information, you can strike quickly and grab one of the remaining 80GB models before they sell through, or wait until the new model arrives.

We'll keep you up to date on any action on that front. In the meantime, start saving your money (hey, you're getting $600 in tax rebates, right?).

Posted by Jeremy on January 29, 2008 11:22 AM | | Comments (3)

Filed Under: Nintendo | Nintendo Wii

So what if I'm in my early 30s. I want this guy to do my next birthday party! Kudos!

Flickr of Mario themed birthday party

Tip of the hat to Wired

Posted by Jeremy on January 29, 2008 11:42 AM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: Video Game Politics

"I play video games and I vote!" So reads the t-shirt that I've been wanting to get printed for over a year now.

Those of you lucky enough to be in a state that holds a meaningful primary (Oregon sure does get the shaft!) need to know all of the facts, particularly when it comes to your favorite pastime, video games!

Today, Yahoo! Games has a breakdown of where each candidate stands on the issue.

If you're not registered to vote, then, by all means, register now! It's easy and it's the only way you'll have a say in our democracy, and how that democracy treats video games.

Posted by Jeremy on January 31, 2008 11:50 AM | | Comments (0)

Filed Under: PS3 | Sony | Xbox | Xbox 360

Yukka! Well, you know it had to happen sooner or later. A video game based on the popular, horrifying, and disturbing Saw movie franchise is set to hit next-gen consoles in 2009.

I can hear the anti-video game violence crowd rubbing their hands together now.

If you're into this sort of thing, you can check out the Saw game website.

As for me, I'll stick to my Resident Evils, Silent Hills, Rule of Roses, and Condemnedseses, thank you very much.

P.S. - I spared you from a disturbing picture of Saw and decided just to go with a picture of a saw. I figured that got the message across without causing any unnecessary nightmares.

Posted by Jeremy on January 31, 2008 12:31 PM | | Comments (30)

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