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January 8, 2013

Nvidia Entering The Handheld Business

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During Nvidia's CES 2013 presentation, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang unveiled the company's newest chip: the Tegra 4. Once again a quad-core affair, the "erratic" keynote (according to ExtremeTech) "bounced from a relatively quick treatment of the architecture's specifications to a long discussion of Tegra 4′s camera capabilities."

So what manner of mechanical beast will be be graced by this new chip? As revealed at the end of the presentation, Nvidia is indeed launching its own handheld. No stranger to the world of gaming hardware, its GeForce graphics cards are already well-known - as Time notes, "Nvidia's only rival is AMD/ATI and it's well ahead in terms of discrete graphics market share" - its Tegra processors have become commonplace on mobile phones, and its technology makes up the PS3's "Reality Synthesizer" GPU. Reportedly codenamed "Project Shield," the device will run Android Jellybean, and have 5-10 hours of battery life.

The rest of the specs, according to The Register, is as follows:

There's a quad-core Tegra 4 chip incorporating a "custom 72-core GeForce GPU" and quad-core ARM Cortex-A15 CPU; enough battery power for "five to ten hours" of gameplay; Wi-Fi; Android Jelly Bean; MicroSD storage; a 5-inch 294ppi 1280 x 720 display; a "bass reflex, tuned port audio system with twice the low-frequency output of high-end laptops"; and HDMI output.

As the handheld market seems to be on permanent deathwatch, it is suggested that the device might not be a direct competitor to Vita and 3DS. Rather, Google Play and Nvidia's "Tegra Zone" will be the preferred method of game distribution, though interestingly, the device is said to have Steam integration. This means that games from one's Steam library could be run remotely over an "ultra-low latency wireless link."

What do you think, gamers? Does the thought of an Nvidia handheld strike your collective fancy? Sound off in the comments section below!


December 31, 2012

Japan Bids Farewell To The PS2

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Over the years, I've poked fun at Japan. Partly it's because of the of the destroying of our collective innocence with its twisted brainwrongs; partly it's because of the theory the only nation on Earth that treats its water with the "brown acid," and is generally a 150,000 mi2 factory for the world's night terrors. Yet I kid because I love, and aside from adoring its weird creations, our friends across the pond have given us some mighty fine game systems: among the being the NES, Sega Genesis, and of course, the PlayStation line - the most notable of which, arguably, being the PlayStation 2.

Have rolled in the digital hay for over twelve years, the PS2 and Japan have decided to part ways. Indeed, after selling over 150 million units (according to Joystiq) and being the best-selling console of all time, production has ceased . With its final shipment on the way to retailers, gamers will have to suffice with used version of the popular system.

So alas, we bid adieu to the PS2: its rectangular, black profile standing tall above its peers, like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. As our dear friend - one which served me with admirable reliability until the optical drive failed after 14 months god f*cking d*mmit - is being put out to pasture, I cradle it in my arms and say, "Leave this world with pride, brother. You gave us MGS3, Silent Hill 2, and Shadow of the Colossus. Now rest, my old comrade; you've earned it."

via Kotaku

October 17, 2012

Xbox 360 Gets A Holiday Price Cut

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Guys and gals, Christmas is fast approaching. Naturally, "fast approaching" is relative - by 2025, I imagine the pre-holiday rush will start around April - but that doesn't detract from the loveliness of the season. Gifts will be given, drinks enjoyed, and as a yearly tradition, the "concerned citizen" crowd will resurrect their "War on Christmas"-inspired persecution complex, before remembering that Christians have a monopoly on political power.

That aside, there are deals to be had, one of which involved our old friend, the Xbox 360. Indeed, the popular console is hopping on the Christmas Train, with a $50 discount for the "Holiday Bundle." $250 will get you either a 250GB unit, or a 4GB with the Kinect peripheral. Big spenders of the world can shell out an extra $100 for both the 250GB hard drive and Kinect. Whether this will be indicative of a permanent price cut is unknown - being a "Holiday Bundle" and all - but as Game Informer notes, console season is fast approaching, so Microsoft might be inclined to make the discount permanent.

So while capitalism marches toward Yuletide bliss, and working class fatalities related to discount Blu-Ray players reach an annual high (causing the ghost of Ayn Rand to experience sensations typically reserved for the bedroom), I would recommend ordering online. Your unbroken sternum will thank you.

via Gamestop

August 18, 2012

OnLive Crumbles, Will Continue New Ownership

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When the idea of "cloud gaming" first reared its binary head, we all heard whispers about "the death of traditional gaming." System requirements would be made a thing of the past, by streaming content from a much more capable machine than your pitiful, underpowered, proletarian computer. Console titles could be streamed to your television through OnLive Game System, eliminating the need for physical media altogether, and saving consumers money on more expensive game systems. Indeed, with the magic of a broadband connection, the pantheon of gaming loveliness could be at one's e-fingertips.

So how is the slaying of traditional gaming coming along? In the case of OnLive, not so well.

Read more after the jump!

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August 9, 2012

"Ouya" Kickstarter Well Exceeds Funding Goal

For those that have missed the coverage, OUYA is a budget-priced ($99) console, built on the popular Android platform. It goes without saying that mobile gaming has experienced a boom since the rise of smartphones, but the creators of the OUYA wax nostalgia about the traditions of console gaming - in particular, those halcyon days (which haven't really left us) of plopping down in front of the television and playing one's favorite titles with a proper controller, rather than frantically tapping one's pocket-sized screens.

While the OUYA aims to be another outlet for "mainstream" developers - Square-Enix has committed to hawking some of its wares, and Mojang "could see all current Mojang games go on the platform if there's a demand for it - the prevailing focus seems to be on indie development. In the Kickstarter pitch, OUYA Product Designer Yves Behar highlights the appeal for aspiring game designers, stating that "You're able to build things right from the start: You don't have to pay outrageous amounts of money for the dev kit, or don't have to have a lot of credentials - just good ideas." Some of the hype surrounding OUYA has been the "free-to-play" claim, as noted on the Kickstarter page. If this sounds like an incredibly lofty goal, that's because, plainly put, it's not exactly the case. As noted in the same section of said Kickstarter, the requirement for developers will be that "at least some gameplay has to be free [...] Developers can offer a free demo with a full-game upgrade, in-game items or powers, or ask you to subscribe."

As has become almost sickeningly commonplace, the OUYA well exceeded its $950,000 funding goal, with a grand total of just under $8.6 million. From the Kickstarter page:

Our Kickstarter campaign is over, but you can still get an OUYA. Head over to www.ouya.tv for more info and to place an order. We just added game streaming through OnLive! Final Fantasy will be on OUYA...and we have an exclusive game! And VEVO has agreed to put their music videos on OUYA, XBMC adds a streaming media app, with TuneIn and iHeartRadio adding music! We're honored by all of you who are backing us -- THANK YOU. We are focused on delivering for you, first come first served. We can only promise OUYA by March to our Kickstarter backers.

What do you think, gamers? Is the OUYA a worthy addition to the realm of console gaming, or is this box-like abomination (extra points to anyone who gets that reference) nothing but that? Sound off in the comments section below!


July 24, 2012

PS3-4000 Not Appearing At Gamescom

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With the PS3 Slim nearly three years old, and the specter of its successor looming on the horizon, one wonders what will become of our old friend. Perhaps it will live out its twilight in quiet dignity; perhaps it will be cast out onto the nearest ice floe. In any event, Sony's console will see one last hurrah, in the form of the PS3-4000. Despite sounding like the Illuminati's dream-thieving machine, the system is, in fact, the successor to the PS3 Slim: bringing with it a smaller size, sleeker profile and, hopefully, a much more wallet-friendly price.

While rumors had suggested that the new whiz-bang would be announced at Gamescon, VG247 has learned that this is not the case. According to their article, "A gamescom reveal had been planned, but stock levels of the current build are said to be too high for Sony to move onto what is probably the last take on PS3 before PlayStation 4 is announced next year."

The 16 GB model, the existence of which has been the topic of rumor has been confirmed, according VG247's source. The unit features as "flip-lid disc input" and will use flash memory, coming with it all the loveliness of faster speed, at the expense of storage capacity. While we will have to wait for Sony to reveal the system's price, VG247 has been informed that the slimmer PS3 may be granted a price cut, bringing the system as low as $150. No information is available as to what the price of the latest incarnation might be without such a cut. SKUs with higher storage capacity have also been rumored, but not confirmed as of yet.

What do you think gamers? Have you forgone Sony's giant, black monolith, and if so, does the promise of a smaller, cheaper monolith entice you to jump on the PS3 train? Sound off in the comments section below!

June 6, 2012

Wii Saves And Purchases Transferrable To Wii U (And Other News)

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So you're planning to buy a Wii U, brushing off the ridicule of your uber-hardcore friends with a casual "haters gonna hate," and treading, with a confident swagger, into a world of next-gen goodness. Perhaps you're interested in the Nintendo exclusives; perhaps you have a bag full of money and nothing on which to spend it, thus granting you the privilege adding to your collection of systems, while we plebs subsist on salt & pepper sandwiches, washed down with a glass/soup can full of spoiled milk.

In any event, you will inevitably be faced with the questions of save games, Virtual Console purchases, and the like. Luckily, for those concerned about their vast e-fortunes, Nintendo is currently developing a system to transfer content to the Wii U. While this compliments the system's backwards compatibility rather nicely, Nintendo's Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Scott Moffitt told ABC News that the Wii U "will have an individual account based system. Each member of your family might have their own account." This brings into question whether prior purchases can be accessed by all accounts, or if Wii U owners will need to tie each purchase to a single account - hopefully the former.

The company also revealed a more substantive "classic" controller, the "Wii U Pro." The device will be a wireless, with a built-in battery that can be recharged via micro USB. No word on how this will factor into the larger Wii U experience - not being terribly fond of the Wii Remote, i'd love to see the Wii U Pro widely supported by game developers - but it's a welcome gesture. Nintendo also detailed the "Miiverse," which aims to connect Wii U players through the magic of friendship the online realm. The announcement, courtesy of Gaming Age, is as follows:

Miiverse is a brand-new network communication system that lets gamers from around the world share experiences, discuss games and discover new content. Using their personalized Mii character, players enter Miiverse and see games, applications or entertainment content that either they have interacted with recently, expressed interest in learning more about or that their friends are using or discussing. From here they can challenge their friends to play together, ask a question about a difficult level or discover new elements of their favorite games they never knew existed. After a notable achievement or other share-worthy moment, players can pause their game or application and seamlessly post messages to the Miiverse community.

So what do you think, gamers? Is the Wii U hold the key to this Brave New Next-Gen World, or is this simply part of the Japanese conspiracy to rob our grandmothers of their social security money? Sound off in the comments section below!

May 21, 2012

Make your Wii Remote more Retro-Friendly

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During my intermittent, yet passionate trysts with Dame Wii, there has been one nagging point of annoyance. No, it's not the graphics, nor her refusal to kiss on the mouth; rather, it is the Wii controller. Having waved that ghastly wand until my arms could wave no more, I grow tired of its charms - favoring instead the warm, familiar comfort of "conventional" controllers.

Yes, one can always purchase the aptly-named "Classic Controller;" yet for those of us that crave old-timey goodness, its solid white frame and clear buttons stink of modernity. Thus, Nintendo sought to satisfy the craving of gamers - by which I mean only Japanese gamers - with the Super Famicom Classic Controller attachment for the Wii remote. Indeed, this gem of yesteryear is available only to Japan's Club Nintendo owners, leaving we Westerners feeling left behind, and reminded that however advanced we humans may believe ourselves to be, the specter of racism still haunts the land.

Luckily, thinkgeek.com has a rather convincing substitute. Priced at $20, the device seeks to mimic the look and feel of the classic Super Nintendo controller - on that left my thumbs thoroughly blistered when I was but a lad - connecting to the Wii controller to allow gamers to get the most retro goodness out of their Virtual Console purchases. So if you have some spare money lying around, and find yourself without the benefit of being Japanese, check out the controller at this link!

April 23, 2012

New Valve Project Aims For "Terminator Vision" (Hail SkyNet)

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As the 3DS, PS Vita, and smartphones have shown us, augmented reality is a rather interesting prospect, casting aside the dull veil of reality and peppering our visual field with software-added loveliness. Google Glasses has sought to advance this trend, proposing wearable hardware that, integrated with Google Voice, provides features found in the Android OS - amongst which is photo/video, text messaging, and navigation. Now, it seems that Valve wishes to join the fold, as its new project does indeed look to be wearable computing.

Read more (much more indeed) after the jump!

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April 2, 2012

Details Emerge On Xbox 360 Successor

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Console season is fast approaching, and with it, an abundance of questions about the fabled "Xbox 720." Will it offer a graphical jump of the caliber we've been hoping for? Is the Kinect here to stay? Shall all humanity coalesce into a vast, hive mind, forever concerning itself only with the outcome of the latest Halo deathmatch?

Read on after the jump!

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March 17, 2012

Neo Geo Handheld Makes Its Brave Return, Failure Forthcoming

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When I was a lad, the game-scape was kicking into high gear: Nintendo and Sega were locked in a battle, the 3DO introduced the masses to this "compact disc" sorcery, and the Atari Jaguar - well, I've been assured that the Jaguar did something. Yet no star shone brighter than the Neo Geo. Like a, gigantic, black monolith in the games section of Toys R' Us, it's daunting presence inspired fear and reverence from us kiddy-winks, allowing our little boy mind to imagine a future carved by these lords of the craft: SNK.

Sadly, it was doomed. The Neo Geo AES's comically-high $650 price point, complimented with games that ran around $200 a piece - Neo Geo was a sort of miniaturized arcade system, complete with those giant game cartridges - kept it out of range for most people. SNK tried to appeal to cost-conscious consumers with the Neo Geo CD (thus drastically cutting game prices), and despite the company's attempts to enter the handheld market with the Neo Geo Pocket and Pocket Color, it became clear that the Neo Geo was simply not to be.

Enter Blaze: A UK company with an affinity for retro gaming. Having made its foray into the portable realm with the "Sega Megadrive Ultimate Handheld," the company how sets its sights on larger prey, in the form of the Neo Geo X.

News of the handheld had surfaced in January, with promises of a 4.3 inch screen (more recent articles claim 3.5 inch, roughly the same size at the 3DS screen), 2 gigs of internal storage, an SD card slot, and an AV out slot. Featuring a form factor similar to the iPhone 4, it's an interesting device. Unfortunately, the handheld is reported to have a £500 price tag. I'm no whiz when it comes to currency conversion, but I can't imagine the price seeming quite as steep as it see--holy f**k.

Read more, and read the list of pre-loaded games, after the jump!

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March 15, 2012

Microsoft Addresses Rumors Of New Console At E3

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As the rumor mill is alight with speculation a successor to the Xbox 360, many hope that E3 2012 will serve as a prelude to the next generation (not forgetting the Wii U, of course) of consoles. A great rift shall appear in the firmament, and out therefrom, heaven's trumpets shall fill the ears of mortals with sonic rapture. The Virgin Mary herself shall descend - bathed in the radiance of a thousand suns - looking upon the multitudes with maternal kindness. Then, as the light dissipates, man shall lay eyes upon the Madonna, clad in immaculate robes and clutching at her breast the greatest treasure of the hereafter - prayers innumerable, made manifest by divinity's grace and formed by God's omnipotent hands - the Xbox *insert name of next-gen console*.

Sadly, it seems that such fanfare isn't in the cards - at least for E3. Countering speculation that the fabled 360 successor would make its debut at the event, Ryan James (Group PR Manager for Microsoft Studios) gave the following statement to Game Informer:

While we appreciate all the interest in our long-range plans for the future, we can confirm that there will be no talk of new Xbox hardware at E3 or anytime soon. [...] For us, 2012 is all about Xbox 360--and it's the best year ever for Xbox 360. The console is coming off its biggest year ever--a year in which Xbox outsold all other consoles worldwide.

Still, with the Wii U out on the horizon, it's getting nearer and nearer to "new console" season. While Microsoft won't be showing off any future-tech at E3, one can only assume that the company has something in the works.

What do you think, gamers? Is there anything in particular you're hoping for in the next Microsoft console? Sound off in the comments section below!

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