The Last Word #1

It’s been quite a hectic week in the gaming industry – especially for Microsoft who finally revealed the launch line-up and backwards compatibility lists for the upcoming Xbox 360. First thing’s first though. Possibly the most iconic character in all of video game land celebrates his 20th birthday soon. Mario first appeared back in the 80’s starring as Jump Man in one of Nintendo’s first arcade games, Donkey Kong. In 1985, Jump-man was renamed Mario and given his own franchise. Fast forward 20 years and the Mario franchise has sold a staggering 190 million games worldwide, across 8 Nintendo consoles and he has even has his own film. It has been a great adventure so far and here’s hoping for many more adventures with our portly Italian friend.

This week there have been many announcements made by Microsoft, so we had better dive straight into it. Microsoft started this week by finally putting gamers out of their miseries and announcing the European launch titles that will accompany the system on the 2nd of December. Of all the games that were expected to be there, only Ridge Racer was absent – which apparently will launch just after the launch period.

The Launch line-up in full:

• Perfect Dark Zero
• Project Gotham Racing 3
• Kameo: Elements of Power
• FIFA 06: Road to the World Cup
• NBA 06 Live
• Madden NFL 06
• Tiger Woods 06: PGA Tour
• Need for Speed Most Wanted
• Condemned: Criminal Origins
• King Kong: the Official Game of the Movie
• Quake 4
• Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland
• Amped 3
• GUN
• Call of Duty 2

Microsoft also released information on the full range of accessories to launch alongside the Xbox 360. No surprises here – extra wireless and wired controllers, HD and VGA cables, media remotes, network adapters hard drives, and memory units will all be available alongside other accessories. Along the way Microsoft has been beefing up the inclusion of the “Marketplace”. They also announced details of how this will work and what exactly it will feature. Using a system known as “Microsoft points”, players will be able to buy various things such as game trailers, game themes, game demos, and different assortments of player pictures. It was also announced that things such as extra cars for Ridge Racer 6 will be available. Gamers will be able to purchase these “Microsoft points” at retail outfits and also on the Dashboard.

Microsoft also revealed that more than 15 Xbox Arcade games will be available for purchase on “Marketplace”, including games like Bankshot Billiards 2, Gauntlet, Mutant Storm Reloaded, and many others. Furthermore, it was also revealed that gamers will be able to download fully playable trial versions of each Arcade game, as a sort of try-before-you-buy scheme. You might have thought Microsoft would have been all out of big announcements, but oh no, they were not; they also finally revealed the list of Xbox games to be backwards compatible with the Xbox 360. There were three versions of the list; one for each region. The North American list features over 200 games that will work on Microsoft’s new baby and the European list features 156 games. If you feel angry about our list being shorter than the North American’s, then do spare a thought for the poor Japanese people. Their list contains only 12 measly games that will work on the 360. A Q&A with Todd Homdahl is also available on every Xbox territory website in which he answers a plethora of questions regarding the backwards compatibility mode. One thing that must be pointed out however is the fact that none of the lists are by any means complete, Microsoft have stressed that more games will be added as in when they pass testing. (European BC List) (American BC List) (Todd Holmdahl Q&A)

There is just enough time left to fill you in on some of the other stories making the rounds this week. Nintendo announced they will implement a “Play Control System” in their next home console, codename “Revolution”. This will allow adults to set what age rated games younger players can play, such as 3+, 7+, 12+, 16+ or 18+. The feature will be present in every Revolution console worldwide and will work at software level with each game disc containing a code that tells the console what rating it has, allowing the console to restrict younger gamers’ access accordingly.

In other news that will shock the gaming world, EA has announced a new expansion pack for the Sims 2 on PC. Titled “The Sims 2 Holiday Edition”, it will allow the gamer to get up to all the usual Sims antics, as well as including 40 holiday themed items from several festive occasions, such as Christmas, New Years, and Easter. In other news, the Katamari Damacy series will have its first outing on a portable system. 2K sports have snapped up the rights to produce a game on the 06 Winter Olympics and another portable outing was announced, with Capcom revealing that their famed Street Fighter series will be heading to the PSP. I leave you this week with one final bit of news; and am afraid it isn’t good. It was revealed on Thursday that the soon to be most-hated video game, Crazy Frog Racer has reached gold status. It will be with us in December and I can only advise you stay well clear of it for your own sanity if nothing else.

15. The Number of Xbox 360 launch titles you have to choose from.
14. The number of days you will have to wait to chose (if you reading this Friday 18th)
2. The age DarkZero will be on the 20th of November
0. The Number of people that are sure Perfect Dark Zero will be a good game!
53. Shigeru Miyamoto’s Age as of the 16th of November
156. The number of Xbox titles that will (at the moment) work on European 360’s
1. The Number of ideas we stole from Revolution Europe to write this fair article.

What are the main goings on at our forums this week? Well first off is the intense dislike of gameplay.com as many of our users have just found out that they have not been allocated an Xbox360 for December 2nd even though they had pre-ordered the console long ahead of time. DeltaTri360 has been quoted as saying “[I AM] NEVER ORDERING FROM THEM AGAIN!” We are sure he has settled down since then and may yet be experiencing a 360 come launch thanks to Woolworth’s of all people. (Check Thread)

The Age of Empires thread that has been in existence since Tuesday, Nov 01 is still going strong with lots of our members still loving the game. Space is so happy he declared “We can play with Smalldude too.” We think we may have taken that quote out of context but all is fun in love and war while you’re building an empire. If you want a game with any of the DZ team then feel free to set up a game in the AOE thread (Read Thread) (Read Review)

The “which is the greatest – Perfect Dark or GoldenEye” thread has popped back into view again thanks to our newest member, Tael. The peoples’ opinion however is still very one-sided with GoldenEye getting 16 votes and Perfect Dark only amassing 6. Stubbietubbie showed wisdom beyond his years in the thread by going against everyone else’s opinion and saying “GoldenEye redefined the console FPS, Perfect Dark perfected it, hence the name.” (Read Thread)

Keep an eye out for next week’s installment of The Last Word.