In the midst of all the hype about the Halo 3 launch, one thing that is often overlooked is that not everyone who has a 360 is necessarily equipped to play the game in its entirety. Whether you’re staunchly against paying for an online service like Xbox Live or you just can’t afford it, for a few days at least it won’t matter.
Best Buy is sponsoring a three-day free-for-all granting all Xbox 360 users access to the Gold Service starting on September 25th and ending on the 27th. That means that Silver members get to experience Halo’s online multiplayer without charge for at least a handful of days after they pick up their copy of the game. Even if you’re not into the whole Halo thing, that doesn’t exclude you from taking advantage: Best Buy’s “the first hit is free” style promotion extends to all parts of the service so those without full access to Live could use the time to play some Gears of War online, check out the Call of Duty 4 beta (if it’s still up and running) or just use the time to play some free Uno.
Read More | Bungie.net
There once was a game named Rez. Developed by Tetsuya Mizguchi’s division within Sega, Rez was a hybrid music-shooter for Dreamcast and PS2 that sputtered in sales but turned some heads in the process. Before long, the game was out of print and new copies were fetching a pretty penny on Ebay. Many gamers kicked themselves over that twenty-dollar copy that they didn’t pick up at the time, because now the chance to play the game was pretty much gone.
Well now we all get a second chance. Mizguchi, now of Q Entertainment (who brought us Lumines), has announced that Rez HD is coming to Xbox Live Arcade.
“We are excited to announce that Rez will be given a new life, this time in digital form. The game will be presented in hi-definition and will be accessible to those who did not have a chance to experience Rez the first time around,” said Mizuguchi. “Personally, Rez has been and will always be a lifelong concept. I hope to take what I learned from the experience of creating the original game and look forward to taking it to a whole new level in the future.”
Featuring 5.1 sound and the usual HD enhancements, Rez HD will hit XBLA early next year.
Read More | 1UP
Koji Igarashi, creator of the popular Castlevania franchise, is featured in an interview with Game Informer where he talks about what’s next for the series.
[Next,] I will be working on a DS version, but I am thinking of moving to the home consoles for the future. I will continue to use 2D for the DS version, but I’m still trying to figure out which console to do the home console versions. I think the Xbox 360 would be the best platform for the U.S. market.
Another DS Castlevania wasn’t really a bold prediction, but focusing on the 360 is a little unexpected. Igarashi goes on to clarify, “The U.S. market is the biggest market for the Castlevania series, so I will give the first priority to the U.S. market. The platform will be the Xbox 360, since the PS3 isn’t doing well everywhere in the world.” He does later suggest that he thinks Metal Gear Solid 4 could easily increase the PS3 base in the US which would make it more attractive as a target for a Castlevania game.
As for the Wii, which represents an even larger market than 360, Igarashi says he hasn’t quite figured out how to make the gesture controls work with the game saying that the motion for cracking a whip might be too hard on users but some kind of abstraction would be “not so good.” “I will have to think about a way to accomplish this,” he concludes.
Read More | Game Informer
Wow, these came out of nowhere. Xbox Japan has posted the first screens of the highly anticipated Xbox 360 action sequel. Things have been so quiet on the game’s development front that some of us were wondering if it was even happening. Well wonder no longer. Judging a game’s graphical finesse on a handful of still shots is always a fool’s errand, but I’ll bite anyway. Ninja Gaiden 2 is looking nice…really nice. The game doesn’t look like a monumental jump technically over Ninja Gaiden Sigma, but then remember the finesse and the still shots and the fool’s errand thing. Itagaki’s latest will surely be a thing of beauty in motion. For now, enjoy this little taste and expect to hear a lot more at this month’s Tokyo Game Show. Oh, and hit the link for the rest of the screens, and gallons of arterial spray.
Read More | NeoGAF
Microsoft has known how important Halo 3 will be to their success this generation since before they even announced the Xbox 360. Halo 2 sold $125 million on the first day, but then the original Xbox was just struggling for recognition in the wake of the PS2 juggernaut. Now the 360 holds a tenuous lead in installed base and isn’t selling the way Microsoft may have hoped. If it’s possible Halo 3 may have become even more important to Microsoft’s strategy than they originally hoped. Fortunately, they’ve been planning ahead.
In an article released today on Brand Week, the calculated ten-month marketing efforts behind Bungie‘s trilogy finale is dissected starting from the Starry Nights TV spot launched last November through the public beta this spring/early summer. They talk about the Project Iris viral campaign and the efforts they’ve gone to secure strategic branding partners. This has included the Mountain Dew Game Fuel limited edition soft drink that comes plastered with Halo 3 imagery plus a total of $5 million from Pontiac to help push the launch of the game on September 25.
And they aren’t done yet. Microsoft will begin the full blitz with the new Believe campaign that will lead up to the launch taking place at midnight in over 10,000 stores to give Halo fans a chance to grab the game as soon as possible. It’s an interesting read about the science behind building a monster.
The Official Xbox Magazine’s podcast has an interview this week with Harmonix co-founder and president Alex Rigopulos about their upcoming game Rock Band. In the interview he talks about the game bundles, although light on concrete details he does confirm a band-in-a-box bundle that will include a guitar, drum kit and microphone. However, he goes on to say that the PlayStation 3 version will include a wireless guitar controller while the Xbox 360 version will have to include a wired guitar because Microsoft‘s wireless technology is too expensive to make the bundle reasonably priced. Since the 360 also has only two USB ports, the 360 Rock Band bundle will also be packed with a USB hub.
Rigopulos goes on to discuss the game’s career modes a little, saying there will be both solo career mode that progresses in a linear fashion similar to what Guitar Hero players are used to, but they are also including a less linear band career mode. In this mode you traverse to various venues trying to build up your fan base and in some cases return to previously played locations to maintain your fame there. Also it’s worth noting that the solo career mode will not include a bass career track so your options are vocals, guitar and drums in solo career mode. But Rigopulos did reveal that the finale songs for each career path (and therefore likely the difficulty distinctions throughout) will be different for each instrument, and he even said that at this point the drum finale will be The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”
Read More | KOXM Podcast
Check out the video featuring footage and interviews with developers of the upcoming spook-fest sequel, Silent Hill V. Development of the game has been handed off to The Collective, but they seem to be determined to return the game to territory more akin to Silent Hill 2 than the mixed reception of IV. They’ve got a pretty solid looking engine running that features a lot of the familiar effects now rendered in real-time plus they’ve worked to enhance the combat which was always kind of a series weak point.
Unfortunately the interview doesn’t dive too deeply into how well The Collective can manage to retain the creeping psychological unease Silent Hill is famous for (versus rival series Resident Evil‘s shock and gore approach).
A research paper from Electronic Entertainment Design and Research has been released that suggests that games with online support can be crucial to a game’s retail success. Not surprisingly, another way to boost sales is to create a quality game (defined as those with a 90+ score on Metacritic), with these well-reviewed titles outselling the average release well above 5-to-1.
While making good games typically means making good money, naturally, it is a bit surprising to see the report indicate that sales can be doubled by dropping in an online mode. With online games selling twice the number copies that offline titles do, it’s curious to note that over half of games released don’t offer even basic online support.
Read More | Ars Technica
In an interview with Develop, Realtime Worlds, developer of the titular Xbox 360 sandbox action game, revealed that a sequel to Crackdown is not in development at this time. Why would Realtime Worlds abandon its hot new IP that has already topped a million sold? Producer Phil Wilson explained, “Microsoft were a little late in stepping up to the plate to ask for Crackdown 2, and by then we had already started working on bigger, better things.”
Wilson let slip that the studio is busy working on two projects: a cops-and- robbers-themed MMO called APB, as well as a top secret project planned for a 2009 release. In other words, a Crackdown sequel could happen someday, but don’t hold your breath.
Read More | Develop
There are six new games to choose from this week on Xbox Live Arcade and Virtual Console, though none of them are original games (which you expect from VC but even XBLA is arcade ports this week). Plus, most of this week’s games are relatively inexpensive with one exception.
Games this week include Bonk 3: Bonk’s Big Adventure, Adventure Island, Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole, Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Cyberball 2072 and Fatal Fury Special. Details for the releases are below.
Read More | Nintendo Press Release