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Lego Star Wars II CoverThis past weekend we visited the absolutely crazy floor of the Penny Arcade Expo in Bellevue, WA. The floor was chock full of some great looking MMORPGs and FPS titles for the hardcore gamers, but there were some really great looking less serious games as well. Chief among them was the highly anticipated LEGO Star Wars II, the sequel that tells the stories of Episodes IV-VI in brickalicious format.

See our full thoughts after the jump…

Click to continue reading LEGO Star Wars 2 Looking Great at PAX


Madden Commodore 64 1989

It’s that time of year again! Time to go out, be a good little drone, and pick up a copy or three of this year’s Madden iteration. This year you’ll be able to pick up the ubiquitous franchise on PC (Windows), Playstation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360, Gamecube, DS, PSP, GBA, and yes, even your mobile phone (hey, where’s my BeOS version??!?). And of course, when the Wii and PS3 launch in a few months, you can get your Madden on with them too.

The good news is the console versions at least seem to be garnering fairly respectable reviews across the board - IGN.com, Gamespot, and 1up.com all give the franchise fairly high marks (7.7 - 8.5) for its notably improved graphics, online play and added features like Create-A-Player. The bad news, of course, is that you probably won’t be able to play the game online for more than about a year and will have to fork out another $60-$70 next year to keep playing.

Still, the popularity of Madden is absolutely staggering - analysts predict that the title could become a million-seller within as little as 5 days, and could earn EA about $210 million in revenue for the year (about 7% of its total annual revenue of $3 billion). Click below for the Reuters news brief.

Read More | Reuters

Xbox 360 Sales ChartTodd Bishop at the Seattle Post Intelligencer has pulled together some interesting data about how the Xbox 360 has impacted video game console sales. By pulling together publicly available data for a few of the largest game publishers, one can get an idea of how the Xbox 360 market is shaping up. This isn’t going to be perfect because first party sales figures aren’t going to be reported and there are many other game publishers that aren’t represented on the list. Also, because not every title released on the Xbox is available on the Xbox 360 and vice versa, there are going to be some gaps in reporting in this area as well. But this does give a really high level view of the console market, and how marketshare is shaping up.

Over the first nine months, it appears that most of the Xbox 360 marketshare is coming at the expense of owners of the original Xbox. A small percentage of Playstation 2 sales appear to have shifted to the Xbox 360, but overall, the console still remains the dominant force on the market. Gamecube sales dropped off, but this may have had more to with the fact that fewer titles are being released on the Gamecube than on the other platforms. Total sales of game titles released for either the Xbox or the Xbox 360 grew year over year, but this may be in part to the 20% premium that Xbox 360 titles claim over their counterparts.

Despite all of the limitations of the data pulled, this gives a really interesting look into which consumers are pursuing platforms. With the Playstation 3 and the Wii releases coming up, one wonders how much brand loyalty is going to play into the success of the next generation.

Read More | Seattle Post-Intelligencer

WalMart Evil SmileyEarlier we reported on a great deal on the slimline PlayStation 2 over at Wal-Mart, and the great deals just keep on coming. If you can accept the “the high cost of low prices”, then this online sale could keep you occupied for the rest of the summer.

A quick sampling of some of the better titles currently being offered at Walmart.com for $10.00 and below include:

  • Grand Theft Auto III
  • Jak III
  • Black and White II
  • Castlevania Curse of Darkness
  • Max Payne 2
  • Def Jam: Vandetta
  • Time Splitters: Future Perfect
  • Hitman 2
  • Space Channel 5

Just click the link below for a handy-dandy query of the Wal-Mart database for titles priced below $20.00.

Read More | Wal-Mart.com via Joystiq.com

Lego Star Wars 2 gamecube boxThe original LEGO Star Wars was a rare treasure—an action game that oozed style and creativity and was easy enough for kids but enough fun for any gamer. Based on the new trilogy (Episodes I-III), the game LEGO-ized scenes from the movies and even improved on them in some instances. (Thank you, Traveller’s Tales, for NOT including voice work!)

So how do you make a sequel that’s even better? Well, for starters, you base it on the original trilogy, but from the looks of it Traveller’s Tales has also improved the gameplay in several ways, including things like adding greater freedom of movement to the vehicle-based missions and a create-a-character mode. But don’t take MY word for it (insert Reading Rainbow jingle here). You can now download a demo of the game for your PC to tide yourself over until September 12th.

And may the Force be with your ‘net connection.

Read More | 3D Gamers.com via Opposable Thumbs @ Ars Technica

From Russia With Love Movie PosterWith months to go until the rest of the next-gen consoles are released, and a relatively slow summer release schedule, I’ve found myself spending more time searching around on forums like Cheap Ass Gamer and going back to look at old reviews for game-buying ideas. Especially given the fact that most of this generation’s PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube games will still be playable on the PS3, 360, and Wii, respectively, there’s no reason to not go sorting through your local game store’s bargain bins for some of the great titles you may have missed. With that in mind, we’ll be hosting a new feature here on Playfeed, currently dubbed “Bargain Bin Gaming”, where we’ll look at whether any of those $19.99 and below titles are worth your hard-earned pocket change.

Here are the two main ground-rules I’m setting for the first issue, and we’ll see how this goes:

1) I will not pay more than $19.99 for any game I review. However, this does not have to be the “standard” MSRP for the game. Well-publicized sales, like Circuit City’s past 4th of July weekend inventory blowout, are perfectly acceptable ways to get gaming deals. If I find a mint copy of Final Fantasy X-2 for $1.00 at a yard sale though, that doesn’t count - I want you, our readers, to be able to pick up a game for the same price I do!
2) For the most part, I’ll try to pick more “questionable” titles that you might not notice otherwise. Chances are if you’re reading this site, you already know by now that RE4 for $19.99 on the Gamecube is a steal. But not everyone knows that Tak 3 might actually be a really good deal for $9.00. A lot of folks know about the “diamonds in the rough”. I want to help you pick out the rubies and sapphires as well.

So with those notes in mind, click below for our first review, which I hope you’ll enjoy - James Bond in From Russia With Love by EA for PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube.

Click to continue reading Bargain Bin Gaming #1: From Russia With Love for PS2, Xbox & Gamecube

Super Monkey Ball AdventureSuper Monkey Ball Adventure will be one of the few games in the series to not be developed by either Sega or Amusement Vision. The task of developing the platform-based version of the game was handed to Traveller’s Tales, who are currently riding high on the success of Lego Star Wars. The adventure game is scheduled for release in August, and will hit the GameCube, Playstation 2, and PSP platforms. Siliconera was able to sit down with Marty Caplan, lead producer, and get some details about this new instance in the franchise. Fans of the game series might be concerned that the game has moved away from the “quick play” mentality of the original, but Caplan moves to assuage those concerns. While platform-style adventure gaming is the core of the game, there should still be enough puzzles and mini-games to keep Monkey Ball fans happy. Hopefully, Traveller’s Tales will be able to keep true to the spirit of the original and extend that into a more fully rendered universe.

Read More | Siliconera

A trailer is now out for LEGO Star Wars: The Original Trilogy.  The trailer definitely showcases the fun factor of the LEGO Star Wars games and makes me want to find a copy of the first LEGO Star Wars.  The game is set for a September 12th release on all platforms except the Wii.

Read More | YouTube

Nintendo Wavebird and Gamecube(With apologies for the gratuitous use of alliteration in the title) The good folks over at WiiFanboy have posted an interesting question based on some recent quotes from the August issue of Nintendo Power. A survey in that issue supposedly asks as part of a Player’s Poll Sweepstakes:

Which of the following Wii control features or functions is of the greatest interest to you?

And then goes on to list the following as an option:

6. Compatibility with WaveBird for playing Gamecube titles.

It’s not clear exactly what that means - this could just mean that yes, the Gamecube controller ports on top of the Wii will be placed such that the Wavebird receiver still fits. However, it leads some folks to an interesting bit of speculation that perhaps the Wii could support the Wavebird controller without a receiver plugged in. Such functionality would definitely be a neat touch and would give the console a much cleaner look for Wavebird owners. Given that the Wavebird controllers use RF communication unlike the Wiimote, which uses Bluetooth, this would require a little extra engineering and probably some more FCC approval. Still I for one hope that Nintendo realized what a good idea this could be.

Read More | NintendoWiiFanboy.com

X-Play Logo with Morgan WebbThe summer months are always a slow time for video game releases, but compound that with the fact that many companies are dedicating the majority of their resources to the yet-to-be-released next gen consoles and you have a summer gaming drought of epic proportions. As such, it’s an especially good time to look back on the games that made the current generation worth owning. X-Play, on G4 tech TV, has decided that ‘tis the season for top ten lists and thus presents us with their picks for the top 10 games for the Playstation 2, Xbox, and Gamecube.

Overall, it looks like they’ve done a fairly good job at catching the major, well-reviewed titles that sold millions - your Halo 2s and your GTAs of course are on the list. There are some great games on this list that didn’t sell as well though - like Beyond Good and Evil, Psychonauts, and Eternal Darkness - and it’s nice to see X-Play remind folks of some overlooked gems (especially now that you could get most of them for $19.99!).

If you missed the original broadcast on G4TV, the episodes are segmented up into nice, bite-sized podcast chunks available through either iTunes or the G4TV podcast RSS feed.

See the full list after the jump. Did they forget any of your favorite games?

Click to continue reading G4TV Counts Down the Best for PS2, Xbox and Gamecube

Read More | X-Play at G4TV.com