Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Soundstream's X-ITE MP28 codec-happy touchscreen player

In the me-too world of obscure DAP manufacturers, there's one sure-fire way to make sure you stand out in the crowd, and that's codec support. Soundstream took that to heart with its new X-ITE MP28 touchscreen player, which supports MP3, WMA, ASF, WAV, FLAC, OGG, and APE for audio playback, and MP4, DIVX, XVIDV, AVI, and MTV for video. AAC is notably absent from that list, but uncompressed audio aficianados should have a field day. Other features include a 2.8-inch touchscreen, FM radio, voice recording and a miniSD slot. The player comes in 2GB and 4GB capacities, and Soundstream is based in the good old USA, so we might even end up seeing this one around. No word on price.
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Vista SP1 officially released

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Looks like all those rumors yesterday were true -- Microsoft has just posted up the official standalone version of Vista SP1. Sure, you've been able to get it in one way or another for a while now, but if you're into silly things like "legit OS updates," the wow (SP1) is now.

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Mana Khemia gets PSP port

It looks like PS2 RPG Mana Khemia is getting ported to the PSP after all. Today, a scan from this week's Famitsu (pictured above) pretty much confirms those suspicions to be correct.

The port will have additional content such as new bosses and an all new co-op mode for two players. The title is slated for a Japanese release sometime in Q3 2008. While a North American announcement will be far off at best, NA gamers can get a taste of Mana Khemia on the PS2 once it hits retail shelves on March 31.

Call of Duty 4 patch now available for PS3

nfinity Ward spokesman Robert Bowling said that PS3 players should be receiving a new feature patch for Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat this week. But according to a few tipsters and commenters on his blog, it's now up and ready for your enjoyment. The patch includes better sniper rifle and ACOG accuracy, as well as host migration and playlist changes.

Atlus USA reveals Summon Night: Twin Age for DS

Summon Night: Twin Age has finally escaped Japan with the aid of increasingly prolific publisher, Atlus, USA. The DS action RPG tasks players with guiding summoner Reiha and summoner Aldo through a "richly woven tale of adventure," one complete with multiple endings, sidequests and improbably named garments.

In this action RPG is entirely initiated by the stylus with attacking, healing, using items and navigating all done through the power of touch. Summon Night: Twin Age touches down on DS May 20th.

The Onion spoofs game violence - HAHA, PAW IS RIDICULOUS

Satire site The Onion has made its take on video game violence the headlining story today. In a piece entitled "Wii Video Games Blamed For Rise In Effeminate Violence," activist group Parents Against Wii (PAW) is suing Nintendo for $52 million in damages following sissified violence spawned from the Wii remote. Colorful language aside, the article follows pretty accurately the usual template of "violent video game" pieces.

Our favorite statistic from the article is "a shocking 200-percent increase in wuss-on-wuss violence." If you happen to be affected when Wii games "use disturbing pastel imagery, graphic representations of adorable characters, and disorienting kaleidoscopes of color," this is a must-read.
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Report: Mexican game industry worth $1B by 2010

Mexico is often treated as the neglected stepchild of the North American video game market, trying its best to garner the attention of publishers while the U.S. and Canada get showered with releases just for existing. That situation might not last for long, though, as the analysts at Research and Markets say the Mexican video game business could be worth over $1 billion by the end of the decade.

Of course they have good reason to talk up the Mexican sector, as they're trying to sell a new, expensive report about it. But they make a good argument that an aging population of Mexican "young, unmarried gamers, or YUGS" could drive growth. In short, Mexican youths are getting married older and older on average, meaning they live with their parents longer and have more disposable income to use on games -- what the report calls "a decade of cash-flush YUGGIES of prime gaming age." Just what we need ... another country full of socially reclusive gamers living in their parents' basements.
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Famitsu Announces:Persona 4

This week's Famitsu magazine arrives in Japan with tons of information about Persona 4, the next installment of the quirky Atlus RPG series for the PlayStation 2. The sequel to one of the best RPG experiences on the PS2 so far moves the action from the city to the countryside, with the story taking the form of a murder mystery, chock full of twists and turns that will leave you guessing. The game includes a weather forecasting system that indicates when a murder is going to occur. Atlus is packing tons of gameplay into the new title, with 60-70 hours of gameplay and over 180 Personas (Personae?) for you to play with. Persona 4 is slated for a July 10th release in Japan.

Cooking Mama makes Majesco profits rise

Majesco Entertainment's Q1 sales (period ending Jan. 31, '08) saw $18.7 million in sales and $2.7 million in profit. The publisher's got nobody to thank more than dear sweet Cooking Mama for the cash. The company saw 77% of its sales from handheld titles, like Cooking Mama 2: Dinner with Friends on DS, and made 22% off console sales, with a heavy showing by Wii titles.

Majesco CEO Jesse Sutton says the quarter was exceptional and in line with the company's plan to focus on the casual market; he continues that Cooking Mama delivered revenue increases of 47% compared to the same period last year. The company's projections have it staying the course set by this first quarter throughout the year and here's hoping Majesco can find some franchise beyond Cooking Mama and her broken English over the next year
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Guitar Hero: Beatles Edition a possibility

Aerosmith is one thing, but a version of Guitar Hero packed with Beatles songs would be the holy grail for many classic rock fans. Unfortunately, that possibility has seemed as ephemeral as the holy grail itself, as Sony/ATV has been extremely protective of digital distribution of the Fab Four's back catalog (it's not even available on iTunes).

There is some reason to hope though, with L.A. Times reporting that Sony/ATV CEO Marty Bandier has said putting Beatles songs into a Guitar Hero game is "something we have talked about and something I'd like to pursue." Whether that possibility is something Activision would also like to pursue is not yet clear, but if the companies can Come Together, they'd both have a Ticket To Ride right to the bank.

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PSP Firmware Update (3.93) Hits Tomorrow [PSP]

 Sure does. March 18. Sony just said so. On the gaming side of things, it's a minor one, with only expanded "support for PlayStation Network titles" new to the table. On the internet radio side of things, though, it's a bonanza. Twenty new PSP Internet Radio players will be made available, and will now be categorised by things like genre, making your experience all the easier.

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PSP Skype Headset Coming In April [PSP]

skypeheadset.jpg As it stands, Skype on the PSP is useful, but problematic. Biggest problem being you need two separate accessories to run it: headphones and a mic. That'll be sorted next month when Sony release their official Skype headset, which while still lacking an official price is currently listed on Amazon for the all-too-affordable price of $20.

Skype headset for PSP coming April, for $20 [PSP Fanboy]

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UK 360 Sales Spike 40% [Price Drop]

 What a surprise! Turns out that Microsoft's tactic of dropping the price of the Xbox 360 a significant amount resulted in more sales! Who'd have thought? According to Chart-Track, sales of the Xbox 360 were up 35-40% over the weekend, starting on Friday when the price drop kicked in. With such a short lead time between the official announcement and the price drop, UK retailer HMV spokesperson Gennaro Castaldo is convinced that the sales surge will continue.

"That's obviously fairly significant, given we didn't have too much time to communicate it to our consumers. So with a lot more of the marketing kicking in now we expect it to grow even more in the coming days and weeks."
I'm sure Microsoft welcomes the jump as Sony prepares Gran Turismo 5 Prologue for European release later this month, and the June return of Solid Snake hanging heavy in the air. Interesting times indeed.

UK Xbox 360 sales up 40% [GamesIndustry.biz]

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