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Guitar Hero II The launch of the Guitar Hero series on the Xbox 360 has been going less than smoothly for RedOctane, with complaints about the functionality of the whammy bar on the guitar peripheral to objections to the cost of downloadable content. A quick timeline of the issues:

  • April 3: Guitar Hero II goes on sale for the Xbox 360
  • April 3: Complaints surface online about defective whammy bars.
  • April 4: RedOctane states that they are “looking into the issue.”
  • April 7: RedOctane isolates problems with the controller to two model numbers, offers RMAs for defective guitars, lists workaround on support site.
  • April 11: Xbox 360 downloadable content launched at over $2 per song, gamers complain about price gouging
  • April 14: Software patch posted to Xbox Live to fix whammy bar problems
  • April 14: Reports surface online about Xbox 360 consoles getting “Red Ring of Death” after applying software update.
  • April 16: RedOctane investigating console issues with patch

While there has not been a conclusive link found between RedOctane’s update and the Xbox 360 problems, this does mark the latest in what has been a fairly long list of issues with the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II. There doesn’t seem to be a good way to resolve the problems: if there is no link between the update and the Xbox 360 consoles dying, then this just adds a further black eye to Microsoft’s ongoing issues with the 360. If there is a link, then confidence in RedOctane will only drop further and the company may be facing repair bills for dozens of consoles.

Read More | Eurogamer


Guitar Hero 2The first Guitar Hero II song packs have hit the Xbox Live Marketplace, according to the Major Nelson blog, and they aren’t cheap. 500 Microsoft Points will get you a song pack of 3 songs. At $6.25 per song pack, this translates to a little over $2 a song. Not only that, but these songs are not original to Guitar Hero 2 for the Xbox 360; all of the songs are from the original set list of the original Guitar Hero. If Red Octane and Activision price the rest of the set list like these first three packs, the whole batch of songs from the original game will cost Xbox 360 gamers over $95. For those still interested, these are the songs included in each pack:

  • Track Pack 1: Bark at the Moon as made famous by Ozzy Osbourne, Hey You as made famous by The Exies, Ace of Spades as made famous by Motorhead
  • Track Pack 2: Killer Queen as made famous by Queen, Take it Off as made famous by The Donnas, Frankenstein as made famous by The Edgar Winter Group
  • Track Pack 3: Higher Ground as made famous by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Infected as made famous by Bad Religon, Stellar as made famous by Incubus

Read More | Major Nelson

Xbox 360 Guitar Hero IIWe all know that microtransactions, small payments for incremental additions to games, are the way of the future. But you don’t have to brag about how much of our money you’re going to take! In a recent interview with IGN, Ted Lange, Associate Producer on Guitar Hero II, bragged that the game for the 360 will have “more online content than anyone has ever seen”.

While I’m excited about getting tons of new songs for the game, I often wonder how many of these songs could simply be squeezed onto the original disc if they tried. My guess is that the advent of microtransactions has made some programmers sloppy - there’s probably a fair amount of blank or wasted space on the GHII disc, but why bother putting more on the disc when you can just charge for it later!

Read More | IGN.com

DescriptionEven with a strong launch and a significant amount of buzz, it’s still too early to say that Nintendo will necessarily become a favorite of third-party publishers. If today’s news is any indication, though, they’ve definitely made some headway. Yesterday, Rockstar Games (yes, THAT Rockstar Games of GTA fame) announced that they will be producing Manhunt 2 for the PSP, PS2, and Wii. While Manhunt definitely isn’t the best game Rockstar’s ever produced, this might mark the company’s first baby-steps towards producing more games for Nintendo’s consoles. Similarly, Activition recently announced strong support for the Wii, including a version of Guitar Hero that will likely be tailored to take advantage of Nintendo’s motion-sensitive Wiimote. From the company conference call:

The key difference in our strategy versus the prior cycle, is that in addition to full support on Sony and Microsoft platforms, we will aggressively target the Nintendo platforms consistent with our multi-platform strategy and Nintendo’s expected growth. In fiscal 2008, we will double our offerings on the DS and the Wii, including Spider-Man, Shrek, Transformers, and Guitar Hero.

With production costs for “truly” next-gen titles on the Xbox 360 and PS3 skyrocketing, it’ll be interesting to see if studios decide that they can make more money producing content for Nintendo’s fledgling console.

Read More | Take2 Games

Update: Fixed the headline, Killzone is definitely NOT heading Wii-ward. What was I smoking…

Read More | Activision Investor Relations via The Tanooki

Guitar Hero It was revealed earlier in the week that the Guitar Hero franchise was going to change developers from Harmonix to Neversoft. RedOctane talked with GameDaily Biz about the change. Basically this seems like a creative control and financial move; moving the development in-house allows RedOctane more control over the development process, and may allow the company to save some money by leveraging existing assets. Still, there are concerns that the move will mean the popular title may change for the worse. RedOctane’s response does little to really allay those concerns; time will tell to see how the franchise changes in the future.

Read More | GameDaily Biz

Call of Duty 3 Valor Map PackGaming blog 2old2play is reporting that the Valor Map Pack, the 800 point content add-on for Call of Duty 3 shipped in a non-functional state. Referring to multiple complaints on the Xbox forums, it appears that a small percentage of people have gotten the content working by deleting previously downloaded content, but a majority can not get the maps to work. A post by a Treyarch employee indicates that they are working on the problem, but this appears to be an ongoing quality assurance issue for Xbox Live content. Xbox Live Arcade games and downloadable add-on content for other games have shipped in partially functioning states, and retail games have also seen issues. It appears that Microsoft’s certification testing team can find some issues; anticipated releases like the Crackdown demo have been delayed because of problems found during certification. Balancing the release process against the risks of not finding issues can be difficult, but it seems like major issues are going unnoticed.

Read More | 2old2play

Guitar HeroGameDaily BIZ has discovered that the developer of the next Guitar Hero entry will be Neversoft, and not Harmonix. With Harmonix being acquired by MTV, and Activision’s acquisition of the Guitar Hero franchise and publishers Red Octane, gamers might have suspected that changes were in the works. Now, confirmation comes from Neversoft’s website, which is now seeking positions for both the Tony Hawk and the Guitar Hero franchises. Neversoft generally has developed strong titles, but the development of a Guitar Hero sequel will be a fairly large departure for the company; gamers might have reason to worry about the future of the franchise.

Read More | GameDaily Biz

DescriptionWe’ve all heard about just how big the latest Zelda installment is - Nintendo earlier reported that the land of Hyrule takes about 45 minutes to get across on horseback, and the company also estimated that the game would end up with about 70 hours of play time for most gamers. So you’re probably feeling pretty high-and-mighty, having completed the game in only 35 hours, right? Well, here’s something to cut you down to size - the Zelda: Twilight Princess completion calculator. Simply enter the dungeons you’ve made it through, the number of hearts you have, and some other vital stats, and it’ll spit out a number telling you exactly how close you are to truly doing everything that can be done in the land of Hyrule.

Having not had a lot of time to play recently, I’m still only at about 25% after 16 hours of play time, so the 70 hour mark is looking pretty accurate for me. Anyone else have some especially good (or especially bad) numbers?

Read More | Zelda Completion Calculator via digg

Kids love Guitar Hero
It’s been a crazy week for all things Guitar Hero related. While nothing seems able to stop the juggernaut that is Guitar Hero 2 from being released on time, some of the other news we’ve been seeing might be bad news for fans of the series. First off, MTV announced Monday that they’d be purchasing Harmonix, developer of the series, for $175 million dollars.

MTV had this to say about the acquisition:

The acquisition of Harmonix will deepen MTV’s connection to its audience via on-line, mobile and console music gaming, and expand the relationship with both labels and artists through the creation of games based on classic songs as well as future album releases.

If MTV’s responsible with this property, that could be good news. It sounds like we can expect Guitar Hero to be ported to a variety of systems. It also sounds like we’ll be “treated” to something like a micro-transaction-based system for downloading new content. Of course, there’s always more money to be made by charging $50.00 for hastily-made sequels, so we’ll have to wait and see how MTV treats their new baby.

In other news, you might not be able to play with that fancy wireless guitar in the future, at least if Red Octane has anything to say about it. On the 20th, Red Octane sued The Ant Commandos, the company that produces the wireless guitar controller “compatible with” (read: made for) Guitar Hero. Not one to take it lying down, TAC has countersued, saying that RedOctane is actually at fault and stole the design of the guitar controller during a tour of Topwave factory (Topwave is TAC’s parent company).

Harmonix must be having a field day with this - it’s got to be flattering to produce a game so popular that EVERYONE wants in on the action. Now please guys, can we all just get along so that we can start rocking out again? Please, think of the children…

Read More | Joystiq

Read More | Opposable Thumbs

Read More | DigitalTrends

Tony Hawk Project 8

Last year’s next generation work for the Tony Hawk series was somewhat lackluster; the game really didn’t take advantage of the power of the Xbox 360 and was generally held up as an example of a quick port. This year, Neversoft hopes to turn that around with the release of Tony Hawk Project 8, which the company claims will be a ground up rebuild of the series for the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. The game should be a launch title for the Playstation 3, and according to a preview from IGN, the game is looking virtually identical to the Xbox 360 version. However, it appears that online play will not be available for the Playstation 3, mainly due to the fact that Neversoft only received its PS3 beta kits three weeks ago. Neversoft will try and include things in the PS3 version to make up for this, but online play seems like a big feature to be missed. It seems a little strange that a higher-profile developer like Neversoft wouldn’t have access to the software libraries any sooner; if the same is true for other PS3 developers, this could mean that fewer of the launch titles for the Playstation 3 will have online support than were planned.

Read More | IGN