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Gamentia Weekly #4

Nich Maragos

Gamentia Weekly #4 Japanese developers speak out on their PSP plans in this week's column. And, as ever, there's the free games.

The joys of being an ink-stained wretch. DON'T YOU KNOW THAT THIS IS YOUR DAY Nothing like reader mail to start a column. And now that you guys are graciously providing some, I can do just that!

hey dr. nich!

i did not play any games over break myself, though unlike you i write papers for a living and had to write a paper over break even though it wasn't on my christmas list. i did get one game for jesus' b-day and that was mojib ribbon, a game never to be released in the states probably due to its dependency on japanese orthography. if i had the capacity to write about things other than physics or linguistics i'd proffer a review but it suffices to say that for a game that uses only the right analogue stick, it's pretty damn nerve-wracking. and that chalks up to F-U-N in my book.

the only other game i've occupied myself with recently is yoshi's island on my tiny pink gameboy sp. there's something gratifying about owning a gameboy in a color no one on this side of the pacific owns, and to answer the inquisitive with "it's from japan." although i've already beaten the game i've been torturing myself with the bonus stages. there's just something irresistible to me about games where i can just poke around and not really do anything other than watch those little marshmallow guys wobble around. i love them.

the end.

- pamu

It's a real shame that there's absolutely no way to localize Mojib Ribbon into English, since I think it could be a really big hit. It's a simple concept everyone can understand, it uses only one button (but uses it well) so you don't need to be a hardcore gamer to play, and the ability to create new levels just by exchanging emails could make it a really big deal among the Friendster or LiveJournal set, who are in constant Internet text-based communication anyway. Maybe the guys at Harmonix could take a break from ripping off Beatmania long enough to come up with an English-language equivalent ...

I just bought the Game Boy Advance SP, and this is the best game boy ever. My only other gameboy is Game Boy Pocket, so it was quite the advancement for me. I love the built in light, the rechargeable battery, the lab-top sheek style, the placement of the buttons, everything about it is a dream come true! I couldn't imagine owning a normal Game Boy Advance, since 95% of the time I have the light on. You only recharge the battery for a couple hours before playing again. The L and R shoulder buttons are really well designed with this system, since it isn't as wide as the normal Advance, and can be reached easily. The only games I have right now are Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Metroid Fusion and Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3. All this games are excellent though, especially Final Fantasy. I've played this game for 25 hours now, and still have about 250 missions more to do. It's so great of a game, if it was a console release, I would buy it. (They did have it for Playstation, but this one is redesigned better.)

I really hope the new Playstation Portable, also known as PSP, dosen't copy every idea in the Game Boy Advance SP, or dominate sales. Playstation seems to be taking every quality idea from Nintendo and putting it into their own system. But, I have to say I love Nintendo games. Wind Waker, Super Mario Sunshine, Super Monkey Ball (this was by Sega, but it's an exclusive to Gamecube), Metroid Prime, Super Smash Bros. Melee, F-Zero GX, I love all these games so much! Gamecube has the most unique, innovative and interesting games, and they have the most experience at it. I really hope the next-gen Nintendo system is able to stay in the game, because they put out the games that keep me loving video games. For their next system, they should make more online-capatible games, more new games (there were a lot of recreations for Gamecube, such as Mario Kart, Mario Party, Mario Golf, F-Zero, you get the idea.) I really hope they put their intelligent minds into creating some wonderful, new games.

Thanks for your time!

Dylan-M

First, congratulations on winning The Sims: Bustin' Out; send me your mailing address and I'll get it out to you soon.

As regards your letter, I wouldn't worry about Nintendo too much. Even if Sony does step in as true competition, there's probably little fear of Nintendo going away; after all, this is the second console generation now where they've been trailing Sony, and yet they continue to make money quarter after quarter. (They posted a loss last time, but it was their first ever, and the reasons weren't game-related.) You don't have to be #1 to be profitable.

This is a pretty good thing, though, since there's more word coming out about the PSP, and it's looking more like some deadly serious competition for the GBA. Read on for developer comments on what we can expect in the way of games when the PSP launches.

Not necessarily the PSP, but close enough for government work.

JUST WAITING FOR THE LITTLE BUSTERS The big, formal unveiling of the PSP at this year's E3 is still a few months away. We don't know exactly what it'll look like, what it'll do, or (perhaps most crucially) how much it'll cost. That doesn't mean some early news isn't trickling out, though: this week's Weekly Famitsu in Japan featured comments from several top Japanese developers on how they'll approach Sony's new portable.

All Masatsuka Saeki at Sony had to say was that they definitely would launch PSP by the end of the year, probably in December, and that some games would be revealed at E3. He didn't comment on their own software plans, but a few others did: Yoichi Wada at Square Enix said that if they decide to make PSP games, they'll be original titles and not ports from other platforms.

Representatives of Koei, Konami, Capcom, and Namco all expressed a desire to provide games for the PSP at launch, though Namco admitted that any games they release that early in the system's life will most probably be ports and not original games. The only company polled who remained mum on the subject (besides Nintendo and Microsoft, obviously) was Sega, who described a game in a "brand-new genre," but didn't specify which platform.

All taken together, it's quite the lineup for a young system, especially if Square Enix makes a commitment. If they're still weighing the options, don't expect any launch titles from them, but it's looking pretty likely that everyone else will have something to show at the Staples Center in May. The possibilities are fun to speculate on: Konami mentioned that for them, this is "a year of MGS," so might not they show a portable entry in the series? Could one of Namco's ports be a handheld Soul Calibur? Maybe Capcom will finally get a small-screen Resident Evil right? I don't know. But I'm looking forward to finding out.

EVERYONE TOLD ME THAT I WAS WRONG I've been experimenting with the "other media" portion of the column for a while and haven't found an approach that I like yet, but I think I'll be sticking with this method: simple suggestions with simple reasons why. This week's recommendations:

Movies: Big Fish. Tim Burton remembers how to make movies (or, if you prefer, just finds better material) after sleepwalking through Sleepy Hollow and Planet of the Apes. Music: The Pixies, Doolittle. Old, yes; already acknowledged classic, yes. But I noticed it on sale at Virgin for $10, so everyone who doesn't have it, get it now. Comics: My Faith in Frankie #1. A great Vertigo writer (Mike Carey) and a great Vertigo artist (Marc Hempel, who did the climactic arc of Sandman) collaborate on an expectedly great Vertigo series. Books: Harlan Ellison, Spider Kiss. Occasionally overwritten, but nicely fast-paced and pulpy, this crime story about a monstrous 50s pop singer is an interesting reminder in a time of American Idols and such.

WITH THE KIDS SING OUT THE FUTURE I couldn't decide which game I thought people would want more, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (PS2) or Mission: Impossible: Operation Surma (also PS2). So for next week's prize, the winner will get his choice of the two. How can you be the winner? Write in with your reactions to the stuff here, whether it's this column, my reviews, or a particularly juicy piece of news -- possibly something developing out of Konami's Gamer's Day this Friday. For full contest details and legalities, click the "Next" link at the bottom of the column. See you in Gamentia #5!

Gamentia Archives

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