Headline Of The Week
Nintendo is to close down the Wi-Fi Connection services for all DS, DSi and Wii consoles on May 20th 2014.
The decision, which will affect all regions worldwide, means that online services including multiplayer, leaderboards and matchmaking will be permanently removed, although browser and shop functions (along with applications including YouTube and Netflix) will remain open. A full list of games that will be affected is available on Nintendo’s website, but among the biggest casualties are Mario Kart Wii, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and every Pokemon game from Diamond & Pearl through to Black 2 & White 2.
Nintendo have offered no comment on why the services are being shut down now, but common sense suggests that with the new versions of Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. in particular set for release on the Wii U this year, the Big N wants people to upgrade to the new versions, and removing online functionality acts as a cattle prod towards the new games. Besides, if truth be told the aging Wi-Fi Connection was awkward to use and inferior to both PSN and Xbox Live for content.
In Other News…
The moment it was revealed that the Xbox One would cost £429.99, the wiser punters began counting the days that Microsoft would be forced into a price cut to defend itself from the significantly cheaper PS4 (RRP £349.99). That day has now come – Microsoft have permanently reduced the price of the Xbox One in the UK by £30 to £399.99, and a new limited edition bundle will include a digital copy of the highly anticipated Titanfall for free.
Amazon are offering an alternative deal by where customers can get FIFA 14 instead of Titanfall for the same price, and GameStop were offering the Titanfall bundle for £369; a deal which quickly sold out. UK representatives at Xbox have denied that the price cut has anything to do with sales performance, but the PS4’s higher sales figures worldwide since launch must surely have been a factor.
In the meantime, there has been dissent from early adopters of the Xbox One that Microsoft have cut the price just four months after release (historically, even the worst performers like the Sega Saturn in the mid 90s only cut prices after a period of roughly six months) with some angry customers demanding a refund. It’s the risk you run by buying electronic hardware on day one I’m afraid.
Completing the trio of console news, Sony has been able to finally celebrate the release of the PS4 in its home region of Japan. The console was delayed to give developers in the East a bit more time to create software for the Japanese market, and according to reports from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, the PS4 sold 322,083 units in the first two days of availability – for reference, the PS3 sold just 88,443 units during the same time period in 2006.
The figures mean that Sony superseded the Wii U’s launch figures of 308,750 units as well, but they were still well off the sensational launch that was the PS2 in 2000 (where 630,552 units were sold). On the software front, by virtue of being bundled with the console Knack was the best seller, followed by Yakuza Ishin and Killzone: Shadowfall.
Remember when I reported that the developers of Candy Crush Saga had successfully applied to trademark the word ‘candy’ in regards to games and merchandise? Well, after all the effort to try and make the best of that ruling, King has now filed to abandon that very same trademark.
The U.S Trademark Office received the paperwork this past Monday, while King confirmed the legitimacy of the move. The developers received a barrage of criticism when they first trademarked the word ‘candy’ after they filed legal warnings against a number of perceived copycat games on the App Store and even tried to protest against Viking RPG The Banner Saga. A week or so ago, the casual game developer also filed for an initial public offering of $500 million on the New York Stock Exchange which revealed the player base of Candy Crush Saga stood at 128 million users.
There have been no reports on whether King will abandon the trademark it also holds in the EU region; so keep those Candy Trademark Saga rip-offs on hold for a while longer.
Pokemon, alongside PlayStation, Formula One and football, was one of the driving forces of my childhood years in the late 90s. As well as investing a stupid amount of hours into Red & Blue, I would be up in front of the television every Saturday morning to watch the cartoon/anime on SMTV – remember that, with Ant & Dec and the Poke Rap? Good times all round.
Anyway, when Ash left Charizard behind in one episode, I kind of fell of out love with the show and never kept up. Without my viewership though the cartoon kept going, and now stands at over 800 episodes. The Pokemon Company has now announced that the excellent first season of 80 episodes (first broadcast in 1997) is coming to Netflix, along with the 48 episode Black & White series (2010) and the Black & White movies.
There’s rarely been a better opportunity to gorge out on some serious Pokemon nostalgia. Also, if like me you’ve been out of the loop, I would highly recommend the four part Pokemon Origins animation that aired last year that follows the story of the game much more closely than the original anime. If not, just to see a great scrap between Blastoise and Charizard.
Persona fans rejoice! Fresh from confirming their own future under Sega’s ownership, Atlus have confirmed that Persona 5 is coming to North America in 2015 exclusively on the PS3. There has been no word on Europe yet, but generally if the Yanks get an Atlus game then it winds up here eventually.
A number of Persona 3 & Persona 4 spin-offs are also coming to North America. 3DS exclusive Persona Q: Shadow Of The Labyrinth and Persona 4: Arena Ultimax will arrive later this year, while Vita exclusive Persona 4: Dancing All Night (where the characters defeat evil monsters with the power of dance…yeah) is coming in 2015.
The Lego Movie Videogame remains top of the UK Game Sales Chart; a list which this week features NINE Lego games in the Top 40. Read from that what you will about the popularity of the franchise in the UK.
Wii U exclusive Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze debuted in a disappointingly low ninth place, while the next gen versions of Rayman Legends ensured its return to the top ten.
Top Ten For Week Ending 22nd February 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)
1 – The Lego Movie Videogame (Traveller’s Tales)
2 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)
3 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)
4 – Battlefield 4 (DICE)
5 – Lego Marvel Superheroes (Traveller’s Tales)
6 – Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (4J Studios)
7 – Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North)
8 – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Ubisoft Montreal)
9 – Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (Retro Studios)*
10 – Rayman Legends (Ubisoft)
(* signifies a new chart entry)
There is a book set for release in August 2014 called Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo And The Battle That Defined A Generation, written by a chap called Blake Harris. As a game fan and a historian, I’m naturally interested by this – and so is Seth Rogen it seems. According to multiple reports, the comic actor wishes to transform the book into a motion picture.
Along with regular collaborator Evan Goldberg, Rogen will write and direct the film which will be distributed, in an instance of delicious irony, by Sony Pictures. The producer of The Social Network has also signed onto the project, and Harris will work as an executive producer. According to a press release from the publishers of the book, Console Wars is a “behind-the-scenes business thriller that chronicles how Sega, a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary, took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video game industry”. The revolutionary in question is Tom Kalinske, who became CEO of Sega Of America is 1991 and is often credited with much of Sega’s success during the early 1990s.
Mixing games and Hollywood is often ill advised, but I suppose this concept could work in a structure similar to The Social Network, focusing on the personalities rather than the products – in short, I’ll be following the development of this film closely.
Certainly, it will be out before the World Of Warcraft film makes it to the stage…