Tag Archives | E3

Konami Has Its Own Plan for PSP-to-PS3 Gaming, And It’s Called “Transfarring”

At a pre-E3 press event Thursday night, Konami announced a couple of game compilations that will be playable on both the Sony PSP and the Playstation 3, with the ability to transfer your progress between both systems. And unfortunately, Konami is calling this gimmick “Transfarring.”

Strange name aside, Transfarring is a neat idea. You connect the PSP to the PS3, and your saved game transfers from one to the other. The first games to include this capability will be Metal Gear Solid HD Collection and Zone of Enders HD Collection. Eventually, Konami wants to expand Transfarring to Sony’s next-generation portable.

If this all sounds kind of familiar, it’s because Sony announced a similar PSP-to-PS3 feature a couple of weeks ago. Konami stressed that Transfarring is a separate creation, although it’s not clear why the publisher has decided to go it alone. I suppose it doesn’t make a difference as long as both systems work well.

For now, I’m wondering whether people will have to buy two versions of each game to use Transfarring or otherwise pay extra for the privilege. I’m also curious how Konami will deal with the control differences on Sony’s large and small devices. The PSP, after all, lacks a second analog stick and has only one pair of trigger buttons. (Sony has said it will rework the controls for its own PSP-to-PS3 remakes.) As with most video game news that’s trickling out ahead of next week’s E3 expo, I’m hoping to get some answers soon.

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Smartphones May Finally Show Up At E3

Contests aren’t something I’d normally report on, but T-Mobile’s “Battle for E3” contest strikes me as newsworthy.

Entrants must upload a 15-second video to T-Mobile’s Facebook page, explaining why they are ultimate gamers and should therefore be chosen as an E3 “correspondent” for the company (i.e., play lots of video games before they’re released). The top prize, aside from the trip to Los Angeles, includes LG’s G2x Android phone.

Without reading into this too much, I think it’s interesting that a wireless carrier is taking such a keen interest in E3. This, combined with other signs, make me think smartphones could finally have a strong showing at the trade show.

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Rumor: New Xbox May Be Announced Next Month

Nintendo might not be the only company showing off a new game console at E3 in June. An anonymous source told Develop that Microsoft could announce a new Xbox console at the trade show.

The source supposedly spotted a very early build of the Xbox 360 successor at Electronic Arts’ offices, stored inside a PC shell.

“Quite often when new consoles come around they’re packaged into a PC shell, but actually what’s inside is an entirely new console,” said the source, who Develop described as “a senior, trusted, well-placed” individual who is not employed at Microsoft or EA.

(Props to Develop, by the way, for qualifying its anonymous source with a bit of detail for readers — a rarity in games and tech journalism.)

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New Nintendo Console Confirmed

The rumors were spot on. Nintendo confirmed in its latest earnings report that it’ll launch a new home video game system in 2012, and will show it off at this year’s E3 trade show.

As for details, there are none. But according to Bloomberg, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata suggested that the new console won’t simply be a more powerful piece of hardware than the Wii. “We would like to propose a new approach to home video game consoles,” he said. Iwata added that it’s “difficult to make 3-D images a key feature, because 3-D televisions haven’t obtained wide acceptance yet.” Cryptic.

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Wii 2 May Debut At E3

Well, this might explain this week’s rumored Wii price cut: Both Game Informer and IGN cite unnamed sources who say Nintendo will reveal a Wii successor at this year’s E3 trade show in June.

Neither story provides much detail. IGN’s Jim Reilly writes that the new Nintendo console is “significantly more powerful” than Sony’s Playstation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and will be backwards-compatible with the Wii. Game Informer’s Matthew Kato says he’s heard conflicting reports on whether the console will match its rivals on performance, and can’t confirm backwards compatibility.

Both journalists agree that the console will support high definition gaming, and that Nintendo is showing off the console to publishers in preparation for a 2012 launch, although IGN also says there will be a “pre-announcement” this month.

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E3 in Photos: Blood, Sweat, and Hardware

The Floodgates Open

I’m no veteran of E3–this was my second show–but I know that this year’s major video game expo was profoundly different from the year before. There were tons of games to play, but hardware was the big attraction, with the Nintendo 3DS, Playstation Move and Kinect for Xbox 360 making their debut on the show floor. A large portion of these folks are headed straight for Nintendo’s booth.

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OnLive's Online, But What About Gaikai?

On the opposite side of the Los Angeles Convention Center from OnLive’s glitzy E3 booth, Dave Perry held a small briefing in a cubicle to talk about his own cloud gaming service, Gaikai.

Perry wanted to clarify that Gaikai is “the ultimate lead ever for a publisher,” as opposed to a full-blown gaming service for consumers. He’s positioning Gaikai as a try before you buy service, kind of like the InstantAction service that debuted in April, but with all the heavy graphics processing done on remote servers, allowing for immediate access to the latest PC games. The idea is to let publishers, and eventually gaming websites, embed video games directly into the browser, so readers can instantly try the game instead of watching trailers or looking at screenshots.

This stands in stark contrast to OnLive, which on Thursday launched its subscription service. Though OnLive subscribers can play demos for free, the service is less of a promotional tool for publishers and more of a final stop for gamers who have committed to spending money.

In my meetings with OnLive and Gaikai, each company displayed a gentle animosity toward the other. Perry said his data centers are going to “end up in rings around [OnLive’s],” and claimed that each of his servers can run many more virtualizations. He also questioned OnLive’s subscription model; Gaikai won’t charge anything to consumers, and will instead charge publishers, likening server time to advertising.

OnLive’s director of games and media development, Joe Bentley, said he has yet to see Gaikai in action. Though Perry showed embedded streaming games — along with software such as Adobe Photoshop — on a PC and an Xbox 360, the server was in the same room. OnLive’s E3 demos were running on a server in Silicon Valley.

My problem with Gaikai is the disconnect between trying a game and buying it. Let’s say you play the first 20 minutes of a game through your Web browser and are persuaded to buy. Then what? Do you start a lengthy download through Steam? Run to GameStop to buy the boxed version? The ideal solution would be a full cloud gaming service that players could easily jump to once their trials end, because once you’ve experienced instant gratification, it’s hard to go back.

That’s why I think Gaikai’s advertising service and OnLive’s subscription package would work wonderfully together, if only they could stop sniping at each other.


Sony Looks to Playstation 3 for MMOs

Massive multiplayer online games never held my interest for long, but perhaps that’s because I’m a console gamer, and MMOs are mostly relegated to the computer. At E3, Sony Online Entertainment showed a slow crawl towards the console with a few upcoming MMORPGs for Playstation 3.

Only one of these games, DC Universe Online, was actually playable on the PS3. It’s a third-person beat-em-up that lets players build their own super powers and interact with famous DC heroes and villains, and it’ll be out November 2. The Agency, a first-person shooter with an open world for players to interact , also arrives this year, but only the PC version was on the show floor. Free Realms, out now as a free-to-play PC game for kids, is scheduled for next year.

Separately, Square Enix is working on Final Fantasy XIV, a subscription-based MMO under the brand of its most popular role-playing game franchise.

If you want to play MMOs on a game console now, the options are limited. Square released Final Fantasy XI to North America in 2004 for Playstation 2 and 2006 for Xbox 360. Everquest Online Adventures for PS2, a watered-down version of its PC counterpart, launched in 2003. Then there was 2006’s Phantasy Star Universe for PS2 and Xbox 360. And I suppose you grant MMO status to MAG, a large-scale shooter with ever-evolving factions that launched for PS3 this year.

But the games Sony Online Entertainment is working on now break the tired fantasy genre mold, and they should all be up and running in 2011. Console MMOs have their naysayers, but the PS3 may find success by seeking a broader audience than the World of Warcraft crowd.

The big question going forward is pricing. SOE spokeswoman Taina Rodriguez wasn’t ready to give specifics, saying that microtransactions, monthly subscriptions and tie-ins to the Playstation Plus online service are all on the table. But if Sony brought the popular free-to-play model of Free Realms to the Playstation 3? I could become an MMO fan in a hurry.


E3's Video Game Remakes: Faithful or Not?

With the games industry in a downturn, the time is right for publishers to bring back forgotten games or return long-running franchises to simpler roots. Indeed, the lure of the reboot was strong at E3, with classics such as NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat making comebacks.

But how true do these games stick to their 8-bit, 16-bit and 64-bit roots? Do they preserve the feel of their ancestors, or merely capitalize off name recognition and cheap nostalgia? Here are my impressions:

NBA Jam: The game felt a little funky with the Wii remote and Nunchuk combination, but once I flipped the remote on its side and used it as a classic controller, I was back in the 90s. Bonus points for bringing back Tim Kitzrow, voice of the original game’s signature boomshakalakas. Faithful.

Goldeneye 007: Better referred to as Call of Goldeneye. Activision’s Wii remake looks like the Nintendo 64 classic, but feels a lot like the Call of Duty series, with twitchy instant kills instead of drawn out gunfights. On that note, the original GoldenEye’s distinctive red health and blue armor indicators are gone — who needs them with action this fast? — and the demonstrator had no idea what I was talking about when I asked whether they’d appear in the final game. Unfaithful.

Mortal Kombat: The gory fighter went astray in recent years with 3D arenas and a tedious system of lengthy combos to memorize. The new Mortal Kombat returns to 2D with sky-high jumps, crazy uppercuts and sone truly gruesome fatalities. the addition of a power meter for extra special moves doesn’t sit well, but otherwise this is the MK you remember politicians screaming about. Faithful.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Sega’s been churning out Sonic games for years; the number 4 signifies that we’re picking up from the last old Sega Genesis platformer. The physics are way off — there’s a jarring lack of momentum when you turn Sonic around in mid-air — and a new ability ball up and home in on enemies when falling takes some the danger out of moving too fast. But it looks like old Sonic games, and I’m told physics are subject to change. Somewhat Faithful.

Rush’n Attack: Ex-Patriot: Why Konami is rebooting this forgettable platformer as a downloadable Xbox 360/PSN game is a mystery to me. The old game was like Contra with knives, and the new one is more of a stealth game in 2D. There are some homages, like the occasional blaring siren and gun pickup with limited ammo, but otherwise the game feels nothing like the original. Unfaithful, but probably for the best.


Kinect for Xbox 360 vs. Playstation Move

The more time I spent with Playstation Move and Kinect for Xbox 360, the more I’m convinced that they’re both hitting the market about six months too early.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the hardware. Kinect, a special camera that tracks motion, worked fine — if not a tad laggy — in the games I played on the show floor. Same goes for the Move, which behaves a lot like a Wii remote, but also with a camera that traces the positioning of the controller in 3D space, and of course the benefit of better graphics. But before the show, I vowed to be skeptical without killer software, and neither the Move nor Kinect have it — yet.

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