NewsPro Archive

March 2004

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The Next Xbox Revealed With Screens: Xbox Streamline
Steve @ 11:12 PM EST
April Fools! Ya Fools!

Yes, we know it was cruel, but this was an April fools joke. Sorry if we got anyone excited or mad about this fake announcement.

While some of this information may actually be true, the purpose was for April Fools.

Bottom line: This isn’t real! A clever joke (it was clever right?) is all it was. The joke’s over!

Xbox Exclusive is now back to normal. Glad all of you got a kick out of our little joke, but continue checking back daily for all the latest REAL information and reviews.

Microsoft today announced the official name for their next Xbox system. Entitled “Xbox Streamline«,” which is the name given not only for it’s compact design, but also for what’s to come from it. Xbox Streamline« will launch Q3 2005, with many great titles, such as Project Gotham Racing« 3, Brute Force« 2, Eidos’ Hitman« 4, Sega’s ESPN Football« 2K6, EA Sports’ Madden« NFL 2006. The console will have a MSRP of $299. Following in 2005 will be the all new XSN Sports™ titles from Microsoft. NFL Fever, NBA Inside Drive, and NHL Rivals are among the many sports titles that are in the beginning stages of development. Many 3rd party developers and publishers are behind the Xbox Streamline«, and have kept all development in secret for more than a year. All launch titles will make full use of XNA technology.

Microsoft is giving gamers what they want, and what the market suggests. Since the Software Development Kit (SDK) for Microsoft’s forthcoming Xbox has been released to developers, the first screen shots will be released this May at E3. The prototype for the Xbox Streamline« screenshot has been released, but the gaming press can expect to see a working console with demos come this May.

Tentative Specifications of Xbox Streamline:

512 MB of RAM
5Ghz IBM 64-bit Power Processor
ATI Technologies-designed graphics chip
2GB of flash memory
Built-in Ethernet

Expect a much more detailed report this May.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

This was an April Fools Prank!

NBA Ballers on MTV: Making of the Videogame
Steve @ 9:01 PM EST
Midway Games Inc., a leading interactive entertainment publisher and developer, today announced that MTV’s “Making of the Videogame: NBA Ballers” will debut today at 8PM PT/EST and 7PM CST. The official schedule of run times is listed below. “Making of The Videogame: NBA Ballers” will also air several times on MTV 2 and mtvU - Viacom’s college oriented network that pipes student-oriented programming into more than 700 U.S. college campuses. Check your local listings for dates and times.

Wednesday, March 31st at 8:00 PM PT/EST (7PM CST)
Thursday, April 1st at 11:00 PM PT/EST (10PM CST)
Saturday, April 3rd at 3:00 AM PT/EST (2AM CST)
Sunday, April 4th at 7:30 AM PT/EST (6:30AM CST)
Wednesday, April 7th at 12:30 AM PT/EST (11:30PM CST)

Officially licensed by the NBA and NBA Legends, NBA Ballers is the only basketball game to deliver the pure essence of basketball by highlighting the excitement and intensity of the one-on-one confrontation, along with the necessary additions of a true NBA baller including: chromed-out rides, an entourage, ice, ladies, tatts and more. Featuring online play for the PlayStation 2, as well as 60 current and 24 NBA player legends, NBA Ballers takes the game out of the arenas and into some of the most lavish NBA player “cribs” for an up-close and personal one-on-one experience that will leave the wannabes at home while determining who owns the title, “Greatest Baller of All-Time.”

NBA Ballers will be available April 5, 2004 for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft. For additional game information and assets visit

Creating a Fable Website? Official Fan Site Kit Available
Steve @ 8:51 PM EST
Microsoft Game Studios announced today that the official Fable Fan Site Kit (FSK) is now available for download at The Fable FSK (35 MB) includes all the materials webmasters will need to create a compelling Fable-themed Web site, including buttons, background tiles, screenshots, logos and forum avatars. Fable, the highly anticipated role-playing game, will be available late summer 2004, exclusively for Xbox.

In Fable, the groundbreaking role-playing adventure game from game designer Peter Molyneux, the players’ every action determines their character's skills, appearances and moralities. Character's life stories are created from childhood through adulthood and on to old age. They can grow from an inexperienced child into the most powerful being in the world, spoken of by all and immortalized in legend. Players may choose the paths of righteousness or dedicate their characters' lives to evil; observing as they transform into reflections of their actions and decisions. Age leaves characters wizened, battle leaves them scarred, gluttony affects obesity. With experiences come advancement and physical change; whether it is by expanding muscles, a keen eye and nimble form or the buzz of magical energies around their finger tips. As players' characters develop, the world reacts to them and their actions. People comment on their successes, failures, appearances and behaviors. Their many opinions are expressed through applause, mockery, trepidation, panic and even flirtation. With each person characters aid and every creature they slay, the world is changed forever. In Fable, gamers decide: “Who will I be?” For more information about Fable, visit the official site at

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

New Courses for Amped 2: Slopestyle
Steve @ 3:35 PM EST
New courses for Amped 2 are now available via Xbox Live download today. The download, entitled Slopestyle, features three new courses: Sky, Pioneer and Slopestyle 2003. Screenshots of the new courses can be found here:

Monday, March 29, 2004

It's Official: Xbox Price Cut to $149.99
Steve @ 3:39 PM EST
REDMOND, Wash. - March 29, 2004 - The console dubbed the sexiest video game system is becoming even more attractive. Effective March 30, the Microsoft« Xbox« video game system will be available for a handsome $149.99* in the United States and $199.99** in Canada, representing a significant savings of $30 for consumers in both regions. In addition, Microsoft will reduce the price of the Xbox console in Mexico to $1,999*** pesos, which translates to a consumer savings of $500 pesos or roughly $45 (U.S.).

With a fantastic new price, more than 400 games, an active online community of nearly 750,000 Xbox Live™ subscribers, and DVD and CD playback capabilities, Xbox validates its competitive advantage while adding a whole new breed of Xbox players to its ever-increasing community of gamers from broad and diverse backgrounds, including many of the world's most well-known celebrities.

"I love playing Xbox games and believe that the system's cultural influence as a social entertainment brand has only just begun," said P. Diddy, musician and Xbox fan.

New Prices on Great Games for Everyone

Microsoft goes one step further in broadening the appeal of Xbox today by lowering the price of several popular software hits. "Xbox Music Mixer," a pioneering product that broadens the system's audience with stellar karaoke features, an interactive media player and PC-to-Xbox connectivity functionality, taking the console video game experience beyond gaming, will be available for $19.99* effective March 30. In addition, "Project Gotham Racing« 2," "Crimson Skies«: High Road to Revenge™" and "Counter Strike" will be available starting tomorrow for $29.99,* while "Voodoo Vince™" and "Grabbed by the Ghoulies" are available today for $19.99.*

"We have always been committed to providing gamers with the best entertainment experience available," said Mitch Koch, corporate vice president of Microsoft worldwide retail sales. "At this lower mass market price point, we're opening up this great system to an even broader audience of people who can experience Xbox for the first time."

Not to be outdone, Microsoft's Platinum Hits program has added branches to its family tree with the launch of Platinum Family Hits earlier this month. The Platinum Family Hits program, the first of its kind in the video game industry, offers the most proven and critically acclaimed Xbox titles that are targeted toward a more family-oriented audience. The inaugural titles, available for $19.99,* include "Finding Nemo" (THQ Inc.), based on the Walt Disney Pictures presentation of a Pixar Animation Studios film, and "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" (Electronic Arts Inc.). Several qualifying E-rated titles will be added to the Platinum Family Hits product line each calendar year.

Now at its new price, Xbox is setting the stage to continue its trend of being the only video game system to experience console unit growth in 2004 in the United States. In February, according to recently released data from NPD Funworld,**** Xbox console sales grew 2 percent year over year, while Playstation 2 declined 29 percent and GameCube declined 18 percent.

* Estimated retail prices; actual retail prices may vary.
** Canadian estimated retail price. Actual retail prices may vary.
***Mexican estimated retail price. Actual retail prices may vary.
**** The NPD Group/NPD Funworld (February 2004)

Friday, March 26, 2004

Atari Ships Trivial Pursuit Unhinged
Steve @ 3:52 PM EST
Atari today shipped the Trivial Pursuit(R) Unhinged(TM) videogame, based on the most popular trivia game in the world, for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft to videogame retailers nationwide. The famous trivia game comes to life on console with innovative online play, multimedia clips and entertaining question topics that are presented by six celebrity hosts from both television and movies.

"The Trivial Pursuit(R) Unhinged(TM) game offers gamers and board game fans alike the opportunity to challenge themselves and other trivia buffs online in a battle of wits," said Nancy MacIntyre, vice president of marketing for Atari. "The Trivial Pursuit(R) Unhinged(TM) game stays true to the spirit and essence of the classic board game while fully embracing the pace of console gaming. Now players can win if they know their opponent's strengths and weakness and not just the annual rainfall of Brazil."

The Trivial Pursuit(R) Unhinged(TM) game features sports personality Terry Bradshaw, along with television personality Brooke Burke, comedians John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg and John Ratzenberger, plus Bill Nye "The Science Guy," as celebrity hosts.

The Trivial Pursuit(R) Unhinged(TM) game delivers incredible new game features that turn a familiar classic into an amazing new experience where a crafty move might outdo a correct answer. The game includes three modes - Classic, Flash and Unhinged, which features bonus points and special board moves. In Unhinged mode, players can now steal wedges, bet as to whether other players will answer correctly, earn and spend bonus points, as well as a plethora of additional special moves and squares. In this battle of the wits, being smart helps, but being crafty wins.

Developed by Artech Studios, the Trivial Pursuit(R) Unhinged(TM) game will be available for a suggested retail price of $29.95 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

The Dukes of Hazzard Announced
Steve @ 12:52 PM EST
Ubisoft, one of the world's largest video game publishers, today announced that The Dukes of Hazzard(TM): Return of the General Lee will be available for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft in October 2004. Licensed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, The Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee is a humorous action racing game that combines a mission-based adventure and arena-style driving.

"Based on the success of the first two Dukes of Hazzard games, we are working with a great property that has stood the test of time," said Tony Kee, vice president of marketing for Ubisoft Entertainment. "This game will appeal to a wide audience of both fans of the show and racing game enthusiasts."

About The Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee

Set in Hazzard County, players step into the shoes of Bo and Luke Duke as they race to win prize money in order to save the local orphanage from Boss Hogg's latest crooked scheme. With the help of the ever-popular Daisy Duke, Uncle Jesse and Cooter, the good ol' boys go up against the villainous Boss Hogg, his bumbling cohorts Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane and Deputy Enos in order to win the Hazzard County Derby. Just like the television show, The Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee is filled with wild off-road action, gravity-defying stunts and adrenaline-pumping car chases.

Game features include:

  • Dukes World: The game captures all the joyriding thrills and homespun action of the original television show.

  • Dukes Celebrity: Full cast represented from the show, with voice-overs and likenesses from John Schneider (Bo Duke), Tom Wopat (Luke Duke), Catherine Bach (Daisy Duke), James Best (Roscoe P. Coltrane), Ben Jones (Cooter) and Sonny Shroyer (Enos Strate).

  • Variety of Playable Vehicles: Players can control a variety of vehicles including the General Lee, the Black Charger, Uncle Jesse's Pickup, Daisy's Road Runner, Cooter's Tow Truck, Rosco and Enos's Police Cruisers, and Boss Hogg's limousine.

  • Variety of Gameplay: Features a single-player Adventure Mode containing over 18 missions and an unlockable multiplayer mode that features destruction derby battles, head-to-head competition and cooperative play.

    Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow Ships
    Steve @ 12:50 PM EST
    SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 25, 2004--Ubisoft(TM), one of the world's largest videogame publishers, announced today that Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow has shipped for the PC, the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft, and Game Boy(R) Advance system and will be on store shelves nationwide, March 27. Developed by Ubisoft's Shanghai and Annecy studios, Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow tells the conspiracy-ridden story of black-ops agent Sam Fisher as he explores the shadowy world of international espionage.

    With a single-player story as compelling as the original Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell(R) and a revolutionary multiplayer component for the Xbox and PC, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow is one of the most anticipated games of 2004. Follow Sam Fisher through a variety of incredibly tense moments, as a storyline that seems ripped from the headlines leads him through lush Indonesian jungles, the realistically rendered Los Angeles Airport (LAX), the underworld of Jerusalem, and a high-speed passenger train as it travels through France. No matter how confident you are in your skills, that white-knuckled tension and tense fear of being detected never wavers.

    On Xbox(TM) Live or over the Internet through, gamers will experience a revolution in multiplayer gameplay. Not only is Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow the first ever stealth-action game to feature multiplayer gameplay, but, for the first time in gaming, players can play from a third-person perspective against others playing in first person. In third-person perspective, play as a SHADOWNET spy achieving Third Echelon's objectives as you infiltrate hostile ground. From a first-person point of view, play as an ARGUS mercenary, tracking and eliminating the intruding SHADOWNET spies. But watch out! You never know when a spy might quietly drop down behind you, grab you in a hold, and whisper into your ear! This innovation in perspectives combined with some of the best thought-out maps ever designed create an incredible tension entirely new to multiplayer gaming.

    "Once again, gamers will credit the Splinter Cell franchise with changing the face of gaming," says Tony Kee, Ubisoft's Vice President of Marketing. "Once hard-core game fans taste the intense spy vs. mercenary 'hunt-or-be-hunted' gameplay in Pandora Tomorrow, plain old deathmatches will be like watching a late-night talk show -- something you do to fall asleep, not the thing you crave most when you need a hit of pulse-pounding gameplay!"

    Wednesday, March 24, 2004

    Microsoft: Next-Gen Software Development Platform: XNA
    Steve @ 2:46 PM EST
    SAN JOSE, Calif. — March 24, 2004 — Microsoft Corp. today announced XNA™, a powerful next-generation software development platform. XNA empowers developers to deliver breakthrough games while combating rising production costs and ever-increasing hardware complexity. Games for future iterations of all Microsoft« game platforms — including Windows«, Xbox« and Windows Mobile™-based devices — will be unleashed by tools and technologies from the XNA development platform.

    XNA is the catalyst for a new ecosystem of interchangeable, interoperable software tools and technologies from Microsoft, middleware and game development companies. By integrating software innovations across Microsoft platforms and across the industry, XNA forms a common environment that liberates developers from spending too much time writing mundane, repetitive boilerplate code. Instead, XNA frees game creators to spend their time where it matters most —on the creativity that differentiates their games.

    “Software will be the single most important force in digital entertainment over the next decade,” said Bill Gates, founder and chief software architect of Microsoft. “XNA underscores Microsoft’s commitment to the game industry and our desire to work with partners to take the industry to the next level.”

    The industrywide XNA initiative will be unveiled today in a keynote speech delivered by Microsoft’s Robbie Bach, senior vice president of the Home and Entertainment Division, and J Allard, corporate vice president, Xbox platform, and chief XNA architect, to hundreds of game developers at the annual Game Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif. In the speech, Bach will outline some of the challenges that game developers will face in the near future.

    “Silicon advancements and new features like high-definition and pervasive broadband will send game development costs skyrocketing,” Bach is expected to tell conference attendees. “The video game industry must band together to find a solution that ensures vitality and sustainability for years to come, while responding to consumer desires for bigger, better games.”

    As part of the XNA unveiling, Microsoft also announced Allard’s responsibility for overseeing and driving the XNA initiative companywide. “At the heart of XNA is choice. No game today is built with just one tool, and no game tomorrow will be either,” Allard said. “By creating an environment where software innovations flourish and work together, XNA will allow game developers to redefine what’s possible in games and give gamers the freedom to pursue their own paths. XNA closes the gap between what gamers want and what developers dream.”

    Illustrating the potential of the XNA development platform, Microsoft will make a series of announcements about its own video game tools and technologies in four key areas: online, input, graphics and audio.
    In response to strong customer demand, Xbox Live™ development tools for functionality such as billing, security, login, friends and matchmaking will be made available to Windows developers. The tools will make it easier to create the same social, unified online gaming experiences on Windows that game players have come to expect on Xbox.
    On the input front, as part of XNA, Microsoft will develop a common controller reference design and unify input APIs and button standards across multiple platforms. The result will be a family of common controllers for Windows and Xbox game players. In addition, the move will fuel a whole new wave of compelling, cross-platform input devices from peripheral manufacturers.

    In graphics and audio, many tools such as PIX (an analysis tool) and XACT (an audio authoring tool) — previously available only to Xbox developers — now will be available on Windows as part of the XNA development platform. Likewise, innovations from Windows such as High-Level Shader Language (HLSL) will come to Xbox. The DirectX« API and the Visual Studio« development system will continue to be the baseline environment for both platforms. Collectively, these tools and technologies will enable movie-quality graphics while forming the impetus for new software that will help developers cope with the looming complexity of high-definition video and audio.
    “On the PC we have tools like HLSL. On Xbox we have tools like PIX. These are both really powerful, and XNA combines the power of the PC and the power of the console into a best-of-breed platform,” said Gabe Newell, founder and managing director of Valve Software LLC.

    More than 20 game development and middleware companies already have recognized that XNA will drive advancements in the industry. David Lau-Kee, chief executive officer of Criterion Software, said, “We are pleased to see that Microsoft shares our vision of helping developers make better games, faster, through use of their favorite middleware. We look forward to leveraging XNA in the RenderWare tool chain to implement Windows- and Xbox-specific features.”

    “Because it’s software, we can add new and improved XNA tools consistently, spurring continuous innovation in games. Developers won’t have to wait for new silicon to enjoy the latest advances,” said Dean Lester, general manager of Windows Graphics and Gaming Technologies at Microsoft. “The benefit to gamers will be dramatic leaps in production quality and gameplay for the next-generation Xbox and the next generation of Windows. And it starts today.”

    GameOn NY Announces New Video Game Consumer Show
    Steve @ 2:29 PM EST
    NEW YORK, NY, March 24, 2004 - Acknowledging the huge consumer appetite for interactive entertainment, GameOn NY, a division of Expo International, today announced the launch of the first-ever video game consumer show. Scheduled for November 12-14 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the show promises unprecedented consumer exposure for its sponsors and exhibitors.

    "With more than $11 billion in revenues in 20031, the interactive entertainment industry has become the entertainment choice of America. The response from high-level sponsors and publishers has been overwhelmingly positive." said Martin Currie, Director of Business Development for GameOn NY. "This event will not only allow fans to get hands on exposure to games before they hit the stores, but will also give the publishers national media exposure during the crucial holiday selling season."

    The expo will allow attendees to try new and unreleased video game products, engage in exciting cash and prize-based tournaments, and enjoy live music and celebrity appearances. GameOn NY is currently speaking with several broadcast media partners, as well as sponsors from the soft drink, urban apparel and music industries.

    Additionally, GameOn NY has appointed three experienced industry professionals, Bernard Stolar, Paul Eibeler and Sarah Anderson, to the Company's Advisory Board. Bernie Stolar, recognized as a prolific leader in the video game industry has held leadership roles at several of the industry's foremost companies, including Executive Vice President Sony« Computer Entertainment of America, president and Chief Operating Officer of Sega« of America.

    Notably, he was an integral member of the launch team for the Sony Playstation(tm) in 1995 and drove the introduction of the Sega Dreamcast(tm) in 1999 -- helping to position video games as the future of entertainment and cross over into mainstream culture. Eibeler brings a wealth of industry experience to the position having held a variety senior management posts including Chief Operating Officer for Acclaim North America, as well as President and Director of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Anderson is a veteran of the game business with more than 10 years experience in such strategic positions as senior Vice President of Brand for Acclaim Entertainment, and Vice President and General Manager of SegaSoft Networks and the online game network. Anderson is currently VP of Marketing at Kuma Reality Games.

    More information about GameOn NY can be found online at

    Namco Enters PC Games Market, Partners With Flagship
    Steve @ 2:53 AM EST
    Note: PC Related.

    NAMCO Hometek and Flagship Studios are teaming up for the publication of an exciting new PC title. This secret new PC release has been quietly in development since Flagship Studios’ formation in 2003, and this partnership marks Namco’s official entry in to the PC games publishing business. Click here to find out more:

    Tuesday, March 23, 2004

    Win a Year of Xbox Live With Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow
    Steve @ 10:25 PM EST
    REDMOND, WA. – (March 23, 2004) – Xbox™ Live and Ubisoft, one of the world’s leading publishers of entertainment software, announced today that the companies will participate in a two-part promotion involving Xbox Live and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow.

    As printed in the review of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow by premiere game publication, Electronic Gaming Monthly: "Embrace your inner geek and proudly don that Xbox Live headset. Your world's about to be rocked with the best multiplayer game in quite some time. Folks, this is the reason to get on Xbox Live." The magazine’s three reviewers gave the game a 10, a 9.5, and a 9.5 out of a possible 10, christening it “Game of the Month” and giving it a Gold Award.

    Those who purchase one of the first retail copies of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow have a chance of winning a 12-month Xbox Live subscription card, good for free online play on Xbox Live! With a 1 in 13 chance of winning, gamers have a fantastic opportunity to play an entire year of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow on Xbox Live ($49.99 retail value) for free!

    Out of the first 650,000 copies of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow sold, copies that do not include a 12-month subscription card will contain a two-month Xbox Live free trial. Either way, gamers can’t lose as they embark on their journey to experience the world’s first truly global online console gaming service.

    “Ubisoft makes some of the most played games on Xbox Live and we are excited to bring the rich world of Live to more of our fans,” said Tony Kee, Ubisoft’s Vice President of Marketing. “Gamers who play Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow over Xbox Live will discover the true meaning of hair raising tension when, as a mercenary focused on hunting a spy, you suddenly can’t control your own movements. You’ve been grabbed from behind! Your information systems have been shut down. And now, somebody is whispering in your ear—taunting you. And you never even saw it coming. It’s really intense!”

    Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow fans will also have the opportunity to win one of five golden tickets, awarding them a state-of-the-art Kenwood home theater system, including Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES, Dolby Pro Logic II and DSP surround sound, six matching speakers, an 8-inch powered subwoofer and 750 watts of system power—everything you need for the ultimate gaming experience! The sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the United States and Canada (excluding NY, RI, FL, QC and Puerto Rico) who are over the age of 18. Full official rules can be viewed at at the start of the promotion, which runs through December 31, 2004.

    Xbox Live is the ultimate gaming arena, allowing players to play Xbox games and communicate in real-time. With gamers in 19 countries, it’s easy to meet and compete against people from all over the world. Whether you’re downloading new maps, missions or vehicles, or playing against hot bands like Outkast, Korn, New Found Glory and Thrice, Xbox Live lets you test your skills on the world’s first truly global online console gaming service.

    In Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow, in stores nationwide March 31, 2004, Sam Fisher™ is a lone field operative, supported by a remote team, who has been deployed by a top- secret wing of the NSA (National Security Agency) known as Third Echelon. Saving the world is a high-stakes game, and now gamers in 19 countries who have longed to be Xbox Live competitors can help Fisher defend the U.S. military 24 hours a day for however long it takes. Playing as mercenaries or spies over Xbox Live, gamers can communicate with teammates using their headsets to create strategy. There are even tense moments in the game when you can drop in on the other team – shoot an enemy with a spy bullet to hear his private conversations, or, when playing as a spy, sneak up on an unsuspecting mercenary and grab him from behind, putting him into a headlock. While you have him in your control, you can taunt him directly. Whisper in his ear. He never even saw you coming!

    Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Dawn of Destiny Ships
    Steve @ 10:15 PM EST
    REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. - March 23, 2004 - Konami Digital Entertainment - America, a division of Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc. today announced it has shipped Yu-Gi-Oh!(tm) The Dawn of Destiny(tm) for the Xbox(tm) video game system from Microsoft(r), to retail outlets nationwide. Reaching a new audience of gamers, Yu-Gi-Oh!(tm) The Dawn of Destiny(tm) brings the worldwide trading card game phenomenon to Xbox owners for the first time.

    Yu-Gi-Oh!(tm) The Dawn of Destiny(tm) features the highly popular trading card game in a beautifully rendered 3D world. With more than 1,000 of the latest Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dawn of Destiny seamlessly integrates the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game gameplay and rules with spectacular 3D monster battles. Players can construct three different decks to implement multiple dueling strategies for the ultimate card battle.

    Yu-Gi-Oh!(tm) The Dawn of Destiny(tm) also features new duel modes including Link Duel Mode and Triple Duel Mode. Using the System Link Cable in the Link Duel Mode, players can connect two Xbox consoles together allowing for exciting head-to-head competition. For gamers looking for a bigger challenge, players can test their skills against a three-duelist team in the Triple Duel Mode. Players must defeat all three opponents in a row to win new cards to add to their collection.

    Yu-Gi-Oh!(tm) The Dawn of Destiny(tm) will ship with three exclusive limited edition official game cards, including Widespread Ruin, Dark Sage and the Egyptian God Card, The Winged Dragon of Ra.

    Yu-Gi-Oh!(tm) The Dawn of Destiny(tm) is rated E for Everyone by the Entertainment Software Association and is available at retail outlets nationwide for an SRP of $39.99.

    To learn more about the Yu-Gi-Oh! games, please visit:

    NBA Ballers Goes Gold
    Steve @ 10:10 PM EST
    CHICAGO – March 23, 2004 – Midway Games Inc., a leading software industry publisher and developer, today announced that NBA Ballers(TM), the only videogame to deliver the pure essence of basketball by highlighting the excitement and intensity of one-on-one competition set within the alluring lifestyles of NBA superstars, has gone gold and will to ship to stores on April 5, 2004. NBA Ballers will be available for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft.

    NBA Ballers features 60 current and 24 all-time NBA legends, taking the game out of the arenas and into some of the most lavish NBA player "cribs%2%2" for an in-your-face and heated one-on-one experience. NBA Ballers brings the bling, ice, tats and rides to those deemed worthy and dishes out current NBA All-Stars such as Tracy McGrady, Chris Webber and Kobe Bryant, along with NBA Legends including George Gervin, Magic Johnson and Wilt Chamberlain.

    NBA Ballers Features:

  • Realistic Player Attributes and Skills - Each NBA baller and NBA Legend has more than 10 different off-the-hook skills, which determines their player rating, creating a genuine representation of each NBA superstar's mad skills.

  • In-Depth Create-A-Player Mode - Personalize the game by hooking-up a player with the skills and attitude to take on the best in the NBA. Select from multiple hairstyles, body types, on-court attitudes, gear, shoes, jewelry, cars and even your groupies to construct the ultimate Baller lifestyle.

  • Multiple Game Modes -Take your player from "Rags to Riches" by building your own mansion with winnings, or battle through “TV Tournament” mode to unlock your favorite NBA stars and discover each players special moves.

  • Lifestyle courts - Play at Vince Carter's "Toronto penthouse," Scottie Pippen’s "luxurious Lake Michigan yacht," or Tim Duncan's "pad in the Virgin Islands.

    Midway Games Inc. is a leading developer, publisher and marketer of interactive entertainment software. Midway videogames are available for play on all major videogame platforms including the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube(TM) and Game Boy(R) Advance.

    Please visit: for more information

    All-Star Baseball 2005 Ships
    Steve @ 1:00 PM EST
    GLEN COVE, NY, March 23, 2004 – Before the first official pitch of the 2004 Major League Baseball season crosses the plate fans can begin enjoying America’s favorite pastime, as Acclaim Entertainment, Inc. today announced that it has shipped All-Star Baseball™ 2005 for the Xbox« video game system from Microsoft. Coming soon for PlayStation«2 computer entertainment system, All-Star Baseball 2005 offers an array of new features this season, including online head-to-head play and downloadable rosters, FielderCam™, BroadcastCam, analog-control batting, Spanish play-by-play and the exclusive T.W.I.B.« (This Week In Baseball«) Challenge.

    “Our All-Star Baseball brand continues to push the envelope in offering consumers the most realistic and deepest baseball experience available for today’s video game systems,” said Marc Metis, Senior Vice President of Brand Management for Acclaim. “FielderCam™ is an innovative new feature that brings defense – the other half of the game – to life by putting you in the shoes of the fielder. This is also the first edition of All-Star Baseball that brings the excitement of online head-to-head gameplay to this highly respected franchise.”

    All-Star Baseball 2005’s features include:

  • Exclusive new FielderCam™ and BroadcastCam offering the most realistic “between the lines” experience available;

  • Online head-to-head play and downloadable rosters on both Xbox« Live and the PlayStation«2 computer entertainment system;

  • Analog batting, which lets players hit for average and power with the greatest of ease;

  • All-new Franchise mode, including Spring Training, Expansion Mode, Create-A-Team and random season schedules;

  • T.W.I.B.« Challenge lets players relive or change the outcome of historic moments from the 2003 MLB™ season, including the infamous NLCS™ Game 6 Moises Alou “catch” Vs. the Marlins;

  • Two-man commentary from Steve Lyons and Tom Brennaman, and Spanish Play-By-Play by Oscar Soria, commentator for the Arizona Diamondbacks;

  • Video gameplay tutorial from Steve Lyons;

  • Over 80 fully animated stadiums, including current MLB™ parks, legendary stadiums, Spring Training stadiums and fantasy parks;

  • Enhanced Create-A-Player mode, featuring all new textures allowing players to make their own personalized MLB™ All-Star;

  • Over 50 Hall of Fame™ and MLB™ legends, including Yogi Berra, Willie McCovey, Nolan Ryan and Reggie Jackson;

  • Authentic MLB™ uniforms, including alternates and more than 60 throwback styles.

    All-Star Baseball 2005 is currently available for the Xbox« video game system from Microsoft at a suggested retail price of $39.99. The game will be coming soon for the PlayStation«2 computer entertainment system. For more information on All-Star Baseball 2005 please visit

    Friday, March 19, 2004

    Logitech Announces Cordless Precision Xbox Controller
    Steve @ 3:34 PM EST
    HANOVER, Germany--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 19, 2004--Logitech, a leading provider of gaming controllers for PCs and consoles, has added another new member to its growing family of cordless controllers for gaming consoles -- the Logitech(R) Cordless Precision(TM) Controller for the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft. Modeled after the original top-selling Logitech(R) Cordless Controller for Xbox, the Logitech Cordless Precision Controller for Xbox, announced at the CeBIT tradeshow in Hanover, Germany, and scheduled to be featured at the Computer Game Developers' Conference in San Jose, Calif., offers the same precision and lightning-fast response with its 2.4 GHz cordless radio frequency (RF) technology. However, the new controller features a lower price, smaller size, and half the battery requirement (two AA batteries). Due to ship later this spring, the Logitech Cordless Precision Controller for Xbox carries a suggested retail price of $49.99 in the U.S.

    "Xbox fans have been asking for a smaller, lighter controller that doesn't sacrifice quality or accuracy," said Fred Swan, director of marketing for Logitech's Interactive Entertainment Business Unit. "Our newest cordless controller meets these needs at a very attractive price. We believe this combination of affordability and performance will convert even more gamers to the fun and flexibility of cordless play."

    The Logitech Precision Cordless Controller features a standard Xbox button layout and dual analog sticks. Powerful 2.4 GHz cordless radio frequency technology developed by Logitech provides complete freedom of movement and lag-free gameplay within a radius of 30 feet. The unit offers dual vibration feedback for enhanced gaming realism with a battery life of at least 50 hours (using two AA batteries). To ensure maximum battery life, the controller enters sleep mode if it goes out of range or remains unused for more than five minutes.

    National Goof-off Day?
    Steve @ 3:32 PM EST
    This is more of a Nintendo press release, but we figured it's still cool to know this information.

    A national survey conducted in advance of the March 22 National Goof-Off Day finds that playing video games ranks highest among the ways young men like to goof off and spend their time. The online survey, conducted by Jupiter Research and Nintendo, finds that 39 percent of men ages 18 to 34 like to play video games to goof off, beating surfing the Internet at 36 percent, watching TV at 31 percent and going to the movies at 23 percent.

    "The numbers show playing video games surpassed all the most popular forms of entertainment, including TV, movies, music and the Internet," explains George Harrison, Nintendo of America's senior vice president, marketing and corporate communications. "And a prime choice for guys who goof off, at home, on the go or anytime they choose, is the No. 1-selling Game Boy Advance SP."

    Playing video games also beat out other traditional goof-off activities like listening to music (27 percent), eating (15 percent), playing golf (11 percent) and talking on the phone (7 percent). In the online survey, 2,713 men ages 18 to 34 chose their favorite goof-off activities. Respondents selected up to three of 11 possible choices, or added their own suggestions.

    National Goof-Off Day is an appropriately goofy holiday on which observers are reminded to sit back, relax and spend time goofing off.

    New Executive Appointments Announced for MS
    Steve @ 3:30 PM EST
    Amid surging Xbox sales and global business expansion, Robbie Bach, senior vice president of Microsoft and head of Microsoft's Home and Entertainment Division, today announced a number of new executive appointments. Shane Kim, currently acting general manager of Microsoft Game Studios, has been named permanently to that position and will report to Peter Moore, corporate vice president. To create additional synergies between game content and marketing, Moore, in turn has been named head of worldwide content and marketing for Microsoft games and game products. Bach also announced that Mitchell (Mitch) Koch, corporate vice president, will lead Microsoft's global retail sales efforts.

    Moore and Koch, along with other members of the executive team, including J Allard, corporate vice president of the Xbox platform, and Bryan Lee, corporate vice president of finance and business development, will comprise a leadership structure that will focus on building on an integrated strategy for continued growth in the gaming and retail arenas, according to Bach.

    As head of Microsoft Game Studios, Kim will continue his responsibility for content planning and development management of games for Xbox, Xbox Live and Windows, including the overall supervision of several development studios. Kim has held management roles in Microsoft Game Studios for the past 8 years. He joined Microsoft in 1989 as an intern before starting full-time in 1990.

    In his new capacity, Moore will assume strategic responsibility for worldwide marketing and content, including games development in Microsoft Game Studios, as well as third party relationships with game publishers and developers around the world. "Peter Moore has been a key figure in the games industry for several years. Having him at the helm of our global marketing and content business is a natural fit," said Bach. Moore joined Microsoft in January 2003, bringing with him more than 20 years of consumer marketing experience and leadership. Most recently, Moore was president and COO of SEGA of America, where he was responsible for overseeing SEGA's video game business in North America.

    Mitch Koch assumes worldwide retail sales responsibility across Microsoft's range of consumer products. "Mitch Koch has a vast knowledge and expertise in go-to-market strategies and sales execution and will expand his focus across the division to grow our overall worldwide presence at retail," noted Bach. Koch joined Microsoft in October 2000, bringing over 20 years of sales and marketing experience. Previously, he was president of Buena Vista Entertainment, a division of the Walt Disney Co.

    Official Psi-Ops Website Launches
    Steve @ 3:21 PM EST
    CHICAGO – March 19, 2004 – Midway Games Inc., a leading software industry publisher and developer, today announced the launch of the official website for Psi-Ops. Players can now access all of the latest news and updates for Psi-Ops by visiting The site will continue to be updated over the upcoming months, so be sure to stay tuned for the latest on Psi-Ops.

    Your mind is the ultimate weapon(TM) in Psi-Ops, an action/adventure game that melds the extensive use of Psi (mind) powers with traditional weapons combat. Providing gamers unique gameplay attributes that set it apart from others in the genre, Psi-Ops casts players as Nick Scryer, an elite American Psi-operative soldier that must take down The Movement, a terrorist organization set to overthrow world order. Scryer must fight strategically against The Movement by using his Psi powers; Telekinesis, Mind Control, Pyrokinesis, Mind Drain, Aura View and Remote Viewing, in order to win a very serious “mind game” against an amassed army of brainwashed terrorist super soldiers and powerful Psi agents.

    Top 10 Xbox Games - February 2004
    Steve @ 3:03 PM EST
    Official numbers from NPD have been released for February 2004.

    1. Halo - Microsoft
    2. James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing - EA
    3. NFL Street - EA
    4. Grand Theft Auto Double Pack - Rockstar
    5. Unreal II: The Awakening - Atari
    6. Need for Speed: Underground - EA
    7. Rainbow Six 3 - UbiSoft
    8. Sonic Heroes - Sega
    9. Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II - Interplay
    10. MX Unleashed - THQ

    Danny Elfman Composer for Fable
    Steve @ 2:25 PM EST
    Microsoft Game Studios announced today that musician Danny Elfman has composed the theme for the upcoming Xbox role-playing adventure game, Fable™. Elfman, three-time Academy Award«-nominee and GRAMMY Award winner, is best known for his unique musical style and has contributed to the soundtracks of dozens of popular films including Chicago, Batman, Spider Man, Men In Black, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Beetlejuice. For his work on Fable, Elfman worked with a hand-picked orchestra and recording team to produce a magical theme.

    In Fable, the groundbreaking role-playing adventure game from game designer Peter Molyneux, the players’ every action determines their characters' skills, appearances and moralities. Characters' life stories are created from childhood to death. They can grow from inexperienced children into the most powerful beings in the world, choosing the path of righteousness or dedicating their lives to evil. Muscles expand with each feat of strength; force of will increases with each work of wit. Obesity follows gluttony, skin tans with exposure to sunlight and bleaches bone-white by moonlight. Players earn scars in battle and lines of experience with age. With each person they aid and every creature they slay, they change the world forever. In Fable, gamers decide: “Who will I be?” For more information about Fable, visit the official site at

    Thursday, March 18, 2004

    Atari Announces Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone
    Steve @ 1:38 PM EST
    Atari and Stormfront Studios, under license from Hasbro, Inc., have announced plans to develop "Forgotten Realms(R): Demon Stone(TM)," an action adventure game set in the popular "Dungeons & Dragons(R)" world created by Wizards of the Coast. "Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone" will place players in the middle of a heated battle between two demonic armies set to overrun the world of Faerun. The intense story setting in "Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone" will highlight the game's use of an enhanced version of Stormfront's powerful game engine, allowing for greatly improved graphics, faster gameplay and even more intelligent enemies. Scheduled for release in the fall of 2004, "Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone" will push action adventure on the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system to an entirely new level.

    "Stormfront Studios has proven itself to be one of the preeminent console developers with its work on `The Lord of the Rings(TM): The Two Towers(TM)'. In our search for a development partner that could bring an intense, action-oriented and cinematic "D&D(R)" experience to the PlayStation 2 there was no equal," said John Hight, executive producer, Atari's Los Angeles studio. "`Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone' will raise the bar several notches with new engine technologies allowing for greatly enhanced gameplay. The next-gen engine will also allow gamers to play multiple characters with varying abilities throughout each encounter, as well as the ability to switch characters on the fly -- a first for an action game of this nature."

    In "Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone," the player directs a party of three characters -- Fighter, Sorcerer and Rogue. The player controls one party member at a time -- switching between them on the fly -- while the other party members are controlled by the engine's sophisticated artificial intelligence. For example, when the player controls the Fighter, the Sorcerer and Rogue will continue to engage in combat, cast spells and assist the player in defeating all challengers. In many situations, the characters will be able to divide and conquer difficult objectives -- while the Fighter holds back a horde of Yuan-Ti snakemen with brute force, the Sorcerer supports him with devastating ranged magic while the rogue sneaks above and behind them for a coup de grace. The player participates seamlessly in each critical moment as they are cinematically switched from one perspective to another.

    This real-time, on-the-fly character switching design allows "Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone" to challenge players with innovative and compelling encounters. In true "D&D" fashion, each of the characters excels at a certain type of gameplay. The Fighter thrives in melee combat, the Sorcerer is excellent at ranged and magical combat and the Rogue excels at jumping, sneaking and disarming traps. Players will be continually tasked with choosing the best character for each challenge as well as using each character's gameplay specialty to maximum effect.

    "Console action game fans will be blown away by the depth and beauty of `Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone'," said Don Daglow, president of Stormfront Studios. "The technology improvements, the fantastic gaming universe of "D&D"'s "Forgotten Realms," and the wide variety of exciting cinematic gameplay all add up to one thing -- a fun and compelling action-adventure."

    "Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone" will utilize an extensive fighting system which is both easy to learn and visually stunning. Characters will perform amazing attacks and feats at the simple touch of a button, but the system has sophisticated features for advanced players who want to tailor their attacks to maximize their damage in specific situations. Unique special attacks, combinations, linked combos, super attacks and even group super attacks allow advanced players to excel against their most fearsome foes.

    In addition, "Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone" will allow players to upgrade their characters with a branching path of new feats and combos as they gain experience and levels. Each character will feature a number of unique abilities, such as the Fighter's combat skills and strength, the Rogue's stealth and lock-picking abilities and the Sorcerer's plethora of new spells. For example, when upgrading the Fighter, the player might have the choice of upgrading his Strength, his Melee Skill or his Hand-to-Hand skill. Within those choices, there will be other dependencies, such as the requirement to earn Power Attack before Cleave can be acquired.

    "Demon Stone"'s intense, cinematic action is set entirely within the visually stunning "Forgotten Realms" fantasy world. Familiar characters, such as the famous drow Drizzt Do'Urden(TM) and the legendary mage Khelban "Blackstaff" Arunsun; terrifying monsters, including Dragons, Orcs, Slaadi, Yuan-Ti and Trolls; as well as geographical locations straight from the popular "D&D" campaign setting, will make appearances and serve as backdrops throughout the game. The story of "Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone" revolves around the adventuring party's unwitting intrusion into an age-old conflict between two warring demonic armies; one led by a Githyanki Princess and, the other, a Slaad Lord. After inadvertently releasing both demons back upon the world after eons of imprisonment, it becomes the adventurer's quest to right their wrong and restore order to the world of Faerun.

    "Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone" is scheduled for release in the fall of 2004.

    Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict Announced
    Steve @ 12:40 PM EST
    Unreal Championship is returning to Xbox, as Microsoft Game Studios today announced that Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict for Xbox« is currently in development and is scheduled to arrive on retail shelves in fall 2004. Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict is being developed by Epic Games, the creators of the best-selling Unreal franchise.

    Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict will revolutionize the shooter genre with its high intensity melee combat system, optional third-person perspective and unique character combos. No longer solely bound to the first-person perspective, players can switch to third-person mode for lethal melee attacks and defensive combos; including the devastating reflect move, which sends an incoming attack back to the sender with interest.

    Characters in the game will also be more mobile and agile. Each Unreal character will use their own personalized arsenal of jumping, flipping and spinning moves to help players make full use of the new environments. Unique Adrenaline combo-powers supercharge the strength and deadliness of character attacks and defenses, while cranking up character speed and mobility to superhuman levels.

    Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict will offer gamers two new single player experiences to challenge their Unreal combat skills. In the single player campaign, players will fight their way through new cities and arenas as they take on the role of Anubis in his attempt to retake his people’s Nakhti Rite of Ascension Tournament from the machinations of the omnipresent Liandri Corporation. In the single player tournament, gamers will fight through a tournament ladder as one of the many unlockable characters in the game. Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict will also offer players the chance to fight head-to-head in eight player tournaments over Xbox Live or System Link. The game will take advantage of Xbox Live's leaderboards, making it obvious who the ultimate tournament champions are.

    Tuesday, March 16, 2004

    Breakdown Begins Shipping
    Steve @ 6:09 PM EST
    San Jose, Ca., (March 16, 2003) – Leading video games publisher and developer Namco Hometek Inc. announced today that its unique first-person action/shooter, Breakdown, has begun shipping to retail outlets nationwide. Developed for the Xbox« videogame system from Microsoft, Breakdown is rated M for Mature and has an ESRP of $49.99.

    Breakdown is a science-fiction thriller combining the advanced elements of shooters and fighters into a unique and comprehensive first-person action/adventure game. Breakdown delivers an intense storyline that is revealed through its astonishing real-time rendered graphics, bringing an unprecedented level of realism to the game play experience. The lethal combination of fierce hand-to-hand and weapons-based combat allows players to evolve past an army of mechanically enhanced super human warriors into unsheltered territories. Mixing challenging puzzles, surreal dream sequences, advanced A.I. and massively detailed environments, gamers can expect the ultimate in an advanced fighting game system.

    “An explosive first-person gaming experience, combining hand-to-hand combat, state-of-the-art weaponry, a powerful story line and unbelievable graphics is what Breakdown offers,” said Rod Nakamoto, Executive Vice President of Research and Development. “Breakdown takes mystery and uncertainty to the next level. What more could a gamer want?”

    In addition to a compelling scientific/conspiracy themed story line, Breakdown features stunning, meticulous and immersive 3D environments. Combining exploration, combat and puzzle solving all through a 1st-person perspective, Breakdown blows away the competition and leaves players wanting more. For more information about Breakdown, visit

    ESPN Major League Baseball Release Date Set
    Steve @ 5:48 PM EST
    SAN RAFAEL, CA (March 16, 2004) - ESPN Videogames is proud to announce several new original features found only in ESPN Major League Baseball. Key features include Power Pitching(tm), First Person Baseball(tm), and online play. ESPN Major League Baseball will be available across North America on April 15, 2004.

    The completely revamped pitching system, Power Pitching(tm) gives the gamer supreme control in the movement and speed of pitches. An improved pitch arsenal includes baffling knuckle-curves, crafty circle change-ups, and staggering slurves for the most complete array of pitch types in any baseball game. The new pitching interface incorporates an 'Effort' meter where a pitcher can increase the speed of the pitch or apply more movement to the ball. Pitching is about upsetting the batter's timing and with Power Pitching(tm), complete control is in the hands of the player.

    In ESPN Major League Baseball, fans will experience what it's really like to play in a big league game with First Person Baseball(tm). Users can bat, pitch, field, and run the bases all through the eyes of a Major League Baseball player. In First Person Baseball(tm), players will comprehend the true speed of a fastball at the plate, witness the soaring flight of fly balls, and feel the roar of the crowd after hitting a game-winning home run. No game has ever come this close to delivering the experience of major league play.

    The continuing rivalry between major league teams can finally be experienced in the video game world as ESPN Major League Baseball delivers online play for both the PlayStation«2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(tm) videogame system from Microsoft«. Online competitors can heckle their opponent into submission through full voice chat support as they battle to cement their team's winning tradition.


    * Power Pitching(tm) - New pitching system and interface delivers complete control on the mound with new pitches, pitch animations, pitcher confidence, and great variations of pitch speed and movement.

    * First Person Baseball(tm) - With this new mode, gamers will see, hear, and feel what it's like to be a major leaguer. See first-hand the blazing speed of a fastball, jump to take away a home run at the wall, and experience the roar of the crowd upon hitting one out of the yard - all through the eyes of a baseball player.

    * Online Play- ESPN Major League Baseball offers online gameplay for both PlayStation«2 and Xbox(tm) -- complete with downloadable rosters, voice chat and more!

    * ESPN Presentation - Similar to an ESPN Major League Baseball broadcast - including the insightful game analysis and commentary of veteran ESPN talents Jon Miller and Karl Ravech. Also included - TV broadcast-style flybys, stadium-specific cut sequences and ESPN's K-Zone pitch analysis - all in the recognized style of the "Worldwide Leader in Sports."

    * Field Drama - ESPN Major League Baseball includes hundreds of breakthrough animations including broken bats, barehanded grabs, mound conferences, curtain calls, and player reactions.

    * Confidence Meter - Emotion plays a bigger role with the new Confidence Meter that increases or decreases depending on pitching, hitting, and fielding performance.

    * New GM Career Mode - Users can control a baseball franchise as the general manager and keep temperamental owners satisfied by completing goals. Completing these goals will ensure job security and open up future opportunities, while failure brings a greater risk of being fired.

    * Clutch Gameplay - Users can utilize turbo boost when fielding to get a quicker jump on the ball or to get the ball to a base faster. Brand new diving and wall-jumping catch animations bring a new level of on-field excitement.

    THQ's MX Unleashed Ranks in Top Charts
    Steve @ 12:40 PM EST
    CALABASAS HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 16, 2004--THQ Inc. today announced that it ranked the #2 independent videogame publisher for February 2004, according to The NPD Group, Inc./NPD Funworld/TRSTS Video Games Service.

    In just two weeks at retail, "MX Unleashed" for the PlayStation(R) 2 computer entertainment system and Xbox videogame system from Microsoft drove the company's strong performance. "WWE Smackdown! Here Comes the Pain!" for PlayStation 2, "SpongeBob SquarePants(TM): Battle for Bikini Bottom" on Nintendo(R) Gamecube, as well as "Sonic Battle and Advance 2" on Game Boy(R) Advance were also key titles for February.

    "The initial success of `MX Unleashed' underscores our commitment to delivering top quality gaming experiences through our internal development studios," said Brian Farrell, president and CEO, THQ. "Leading racing developer Rainbow Studios delivered the preeminent MX gaming experience, winning wide critical acclaim and tremendous response from consumers."

    NPD Funworld(R), a division of The NPD Group, provides sales and marketing information for manufacturers and retailers in the toy and videogame industries. NPD Funworld provides the most accurate market intelligence available, including what is selling, where, to whom and why. All of this information is delivered online in a secure, Web-based environment by easy-to-use tools that make information accessible and actionable to a wide range of users from executives to sales and marketing to research. Today a host of market-leading companies in the industry rely on NPD Funworld for the knowledge they need to drive better, more fact-based decision making.

    Monday, March 15, 2004

    IndyCar Series 2005 Announced for Consoles
    Steve @ 8:29 PM EST
    NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 15, 2004--Codemasters, a global interactive entertainment software publisher and premier developer of racing video games, today announced the return of the fastest race on earth with "IndyCar(R) Series 2005." Shipping this summer for the next generation console systems, "IndyCar Series 2005" is officially licensed by the Indy Racing League(R) and gets a boost with a host of all-new features, including head-to-head online play, improved graphics and more.

    "Now racing fans everywhere can compete online against their friends and real drivers from their own living rooms," said Steven Lux, senior vice president of U.S. marketing for Codemasters. "Imagine meeting up online with Dan Wheldon or Sam Hornish Jr. and racing against them at the Indianapolis 500(R). We've made that all possible in 'IndyCar Series 2005.'"

    It is the only game to feature the full IndyCar Series season including the Indianapolis 500, allowing drivers to compete from Pole Day to Bump Day to race day as one of the 33 drivers in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing(R). Racing action is realistic, accessible and authentic down to the very last detail, including TV-style presentation with race introductions by ABC Sports broadcasters.

    A completely authentic and realistic IRL(R) racing experience, "IndyCar Series 2005" features:

    -- Head-to-head online play with up to 12 players simultaneously

    -- 15 IndyCar Series tracks, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway(R), Texas Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Pikes Peak International Raceway and the newly featured Twin Ring Motegi Speedway in Japan

    -- All-new steering wheel support

    -- Realistically functioning rear-view mirrors so drivers can watch their back

    -- Official drivers, tracks, rules and sponsors of the IndyCar Series

    -- Ability to re-create a full season competing as a favorite driver, including Sam Hornish Jr., Gil de Ferran, Al Unser Jr., Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Sarah Fisher and more

    -- Up to 33 cars on the track simultaneously

    -- Updated Masterclass training mode narrated by 2003 IndyCar Series Bombardier and Autosport Rookie of the Year Dan Wheldon

    "IndyCar Series 2005" features an advanced and updated genetic "AI" system that renders each race as a unique experience. The "AI" drivers actually race and make dynamic strategic decisions, defend their position, draft to pass other drivers and even make mistakes.

    Friday, March 12, 2004

    Mafia Ships to Retail Stores Nationwide
    Steve @ 3:19 PM EST
    NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 12, 2004--Gathering, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., announced today that Mafia for the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft has shipped to North American retailers.

    The English language PAL version of the title will ship to stores in the UK on March 26th and the non-English language versions will be available in Europe on April 2nd. Mafia for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system is available now.

    In the United States, Mafia is rated M for Mature and is available for the SRP of $49.99.

    For more information on Mafia please visit the official website at:

    Tuesday, March 9, 2004

    Race With Michelle Rodriquez In PGR 2
    Steve @ 5:34 PM EST
    She ruled the roads in The Fast and The Furious, and now she's ready to show off her racing skills in Project Gotham Racing« 2. Actress Michelle Rodriquez, star of such action films as The Fast and the Furious, S.W.A.T., Resident Evil and Blue Crush is the latest celebrity to challenge gamers in Xbox Live's "Game with Fame" contest series. Michelle's Gamertag will be announced on, so that gamers will be able to join her Friends List and challenge her for a game of Project Gotham Racing 2, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. PST on March 12.

    Project Gotham Racing 2 is the follow-up to the smash hit Project Gotham Racing. Rewarding drivers for racing with speed, style and daring, Project Gotham Racing 2 offers circuit-based racing through highly detailed city environments. Racers can choose from more than 100 of the hottest cars - from speed-drenched exotics to sweet import tuners - while power-sliding through the streets of 10 exciting cities, drifting around corners and accelerating through the straightaways before moving to a different venue. PGR 2 now sets the standard for online racing via Xbox Live online game service. Players can match up against seven other friends online utilizing Xbox Live for intense grudge matches, or play the entire single-player game with online-enabled downloadable ghosts, real-time scoreboards, and soon, new downloadable cars and tracks. Nearly 200,000 gamers are playing PGR 2 on Xbox Live worldwide.

    Xbox Live's "Game With Fame" promotion gives game fans the opportunity to play on Xbox Live against some of today's hottest stars. Past "Game with Fame" celebrity players include Big Boi from OutKast, Jonathan Davis from KoRn and the members of New Found Glory.

    Tenchu: Return from Darkness Released
    Steve @ 1:59 PM EST
    Santa Monica, CA – March 9, 2004 – Activision, Inc’s Tenchu stealth ninja series is back with Tenchu: Return from Darkness on the Xbox videogame system from Microsoft. Based on the best-selling Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven, Tenchu: Return From Darkness brings the acclaimed series to Xbox gamers with several new enhancements including Xbox Live gameplay featuring two-player cooperative stealth ninja action and online death match with 20 playable characters across six maps. Tenchu: Return From Darkness has been rated “M” (“Mature” – intense violence, blood and gore - content suitable for persons ages 17 and older) by the ESRB and is available for $49.99 at North American retail outlets.

    “Tenchu: Return From Darkness gives Xbox gamers the most authentic ninja stealth action adventure available on the platform,” states Takehisa Abe, general manager, Activision Japan. “The addition of Xbox Live cooperative gameplay offers players a truly unique gaming experience.”

    The game features several new enhancements such as re-tuned enemy intelligence and placement, the ability to drag and hide dead bodies, an interactive training mode, restart and continue functions, new unlockable abilities such as wall camouflage and the Grand Master “viper drink,” new bosses and two new single player maps - a Samurai mansion and three-story pagoda.

    Monday, March 8, 2004

    The Suffering Now Shipping for Xbox
    Steve @ 5:12 PM EST
    Midway Games Inc., a leading software industry publisher and developer, announced today that The Suffering, the all-new, action horror game today has shipped for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft.

    "The Suffering captures the disturbing and terrifying nature of the horror genre in a compelling third-person action/adventure game set in the mature and gritty world of a maximum-security prison," said Steve Allison, chief marketing officer, Midway. "The Suffering has already generated massive awareness and backed by a multi-million dollar marketing campaign, we are confident that the game will be well received."

    By alternating periods of tense and terror-filled exploration with frenetic combat sequences, The Suffering creates the ultimate experience of terror. In the dark world of The Suffering, creatures jump out of shadows, fall out of trees, and erupt out of the ground, attacking the player in the most frightening ways possible. Along with a cast of uniquely hardened criminals and guards, players must battle not only the ghoulish apparitions besieging the prison but also the demons of their own forgotten past.

    The player controls the prisoner Torque, a hardened inmate in his late 20s, sentenced to die for a murder he may or may not have actually committed. Underneath Torque's tough exterior hides a man who is not quite psychologically balanced, who fears far more than he would ever admit to. As a side effect of his mental instability, Torque has flashbacks to the events from his past, throbbing images that depict the events that lead up to the crime for which he was imprisoned. Torque is also subject to black outs where he becomes extremely violent and transforms into a massive monster hell-bent on destruction.

    Friday, March 5, 2004

    Race with Fefe Dobson on Xbox Live
    Steve @ 3:29 PM EST
    She can sing, but can she rule the roads in Project Gotham Racing« 2? That's the question several lucky gamers will face in the newest Xbox Live "Game with Fame" contest, featuring pop rock musician Fefe Dobson. Gamers who register at by March 7 will get the chance to be one of the lucky hundred who are added to Fefe's Xbox Live Friends List. On March 10, Fefe will personally invite a few of those hundred gamers to race against her in Project Gotham Racing 2 between 5:00 and 7:00 PM EST. This event marks the first time a female celebrity has taken part in "Game with Fame," and Fefe intends to prove that girl gamers can tear up the tarmac with speed and style.

    Hailing from Toronto, 19-year old Fefe Dobson has been impressing everyone for whom she meets and performs. Equal parts spunky punk, thrusting rock, and melodic pop, Fefe's self-titled debut has garnered major critical acclaim and spawned the hit singles, "Take Me Away" and "Everything".

    Microsoft Game Studios Wins Two AIAS Awards
    Steve @ 3:24 PM EST
    Microsoft Game Studios today announced that two MGS titles received Interactive Achievement Awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS), as well as a Hall of Fame award for Fable creator Peter Molyneux. Seven MGS titles were nominated, with Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge and Zoo Tycoon: Complete Collection taking home awards. The award ceremony took place last night, March 4, 2004 at the D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas. Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge took home the award for Console Action/Adventure Game of the Year, while Zoo Tycoon: Complete Collection earned the award for Computer Family Title of the Year.

    At the D.I.C.E summit, the AIAS also inducted Peter Molyneux into the AIAS Hall of Fame. Molyneux, creator of such groundbreaking games as Populous and Black and White, is currently working on the highly-anticipated RPG Fable for Xbox.

    The annual AIAS Interactive Achievement Awards are determined by a vote of the Academy’s membership. The awards recognize and honor outstanding interactive content and creative and technical achievement in the creation of interactive software entertainment.

    Thursday, March 4, 2004

    Colin McRae Rally 04 Now Shipping
    Steve @ 3:27 PM EST
    New York, NY – March 4, 2004 – Codemasters, a global interactive entertainment software publisher, announced today that its internationally acclaimed rally game, Colin McRae Rally 04, has shipped to North American retail outlets for the Xbox« video game system from Microsoft. The title is available at a suggested retail price of $19.99.

    Rally racing is back with more action than ever in the latest installment of the award-winning series. Improved physics and car handling combined with new championships, custom rallies, new single and multiplayer gaming modes, and unique car part testing result in an intense and realistic racing experience.

    "The demand for the latest installment of our Colin McRae series is unprecedented. Both the retail and gaming community are excited that a game of this quality is available at such a competitive price point," said Steven Lux, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Codemasters. "Codemasters continues to deliver the most superior and realistic racing games to our fans."

    Colin McRae Rally 04 offers up more than 20 vehicles constructed in stunning detail including Mitsubishi EVO 7, Subaru Impreza and Citroen Xsara, alongside classic rally cars. An advanced visual engine creates dramatic replays in jaw-dropping detail.

    Additional game features include:

    … 48 tracks and 4 shakedown stages through 8 countries including the U.S., UK, Australia and Japan.
    … Player can compete in a full rally season or specialize in a 4 or 2 wheel drive championship.
    … New Expert Championship Mode demands the best performance from the most die-hard rally fan with its tough damage settings and ultra-competitive AI drivers.
    … Car part testing helps the player acquire new technology increasing the chance of success.
    … Stages and Rally modes allow the player to race against the clock or go multiplayer with split screen play with up to four players. Saved runs can be seen on the stage as a ghost car.
    … Create a Custom Rally with favorite or themed stages that can be compiled, saved and played at any time.
    … Players can compete for best stage times and upload their times online using Xboxü Live.

    For all the latest screens and movies and to join petrol-heads on the game's forums, visit the website at

    MTX: Mototrax Races Into Stores
    Steve @ 3:25 PM EST
    Santa Monica, CA - March 4, 2004 - Activision, Inc. is taking the inside line to retail stores nationwide with the release of MTX: Mototrax(tm), the fastest, most complete motocross game, and the first to ever take the intense racing action online. Players embark on a quest to become the ultimate MX athlete, using their skills and savvy to beat the pros and up to seven of their friends in motocross, supercross and freestyle competitions. MTX: Mototrax has already received critical acclaim, earning a 90% rating from Play magazine, which described the game as "impossible to beat" and "a racing force to be reckoned with." MTX: Mototrax is available in retail stores nationwide for the PlayStation«2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox« video game system for a suggested retail price of $49.99 and has been rated "E" - (Everyone - with mild lyrics) by the ESRB.

    "MTX: Mototrax groundbreaking non-linear career mode lets players use their skills to progress through different motocross disciplines as they become king of the track, earning the fame and fortune of a true champion," states Dave Stohl, vice president, Activision Studios. "The game's comprehensive online multiplayer capabilities offer high-speed racing action on more than 20 different tracks, delivering the ultimate motocross competition."

    MTX: Mototrax delivers an exhilarating mud slinging, fast-paced racing action at 60 frames per second that includes authentic environmental effects, realistic engine sounds and heart pounding rock music. Players can compete online against up to seven other opponents, challenge friends in split-screen multiplayer games or immerse themselves in a single-player career mode in 24 different locations such as the Hawaiian Islands, the Bayou and the Australian Outback. Gamers will realize their freestyle fantasies as their careers culminate in an exclusive ESPN X Games level where they will compete against the top pros.

    MTX: Mototrax offers deep customization features that allow players to create their own riders, build their own race tracks, and upgrade bikes and gear from manufacturers like Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha. In their quest to become the ultimate athlete, gamers must steer their careers into the winner's circle to gain sponsors and earn money to purchase new equipment. The game features legendary racer and freestyle rider Travis Pastrana, as well as 12 other top pro riders.

    MTX: Mototrax is developed by Left Field Productions, makers of the critically acclaimed Excitebike 64.

    Eidos Acquires IO Interactive
    Steve @ 3:13 PM EST
    Eidos, one of the world’s leading publishers and developers of entertainment software, announces that it has reached agreement to acquire IO Interactive, the Danish based studio responsible for the hugely successful Hitman franchise.

    The acquisition of IO secures the future rights of the Hitman series and significantly strengthens Eidos’ European creative base and development resource. In addition, the deal will facilitate the use of IO’s leading edge technology platform across the Group, which will play a key role in the development of next generation titles.

    Hitman: Contracts, the third instalment in the multi-million unit selling series, will be released on April 30th for PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC.

    Mike McGarvey, CEO of Eidos, says:
    “We welcome the IO team of outstanding, technically creative
    developers, who we know share our vision and values. The relationship and experience we have already shared over the past five years gives us great confidence in their ability not only to maintain the outstanding success of Hitman, but also to develop new titles of unique IP. In addition, their market leading technology will be a key element in the Group’s transition to next generation platforms.”

    Janos Fl÷sser, Managing Director of IO Interactive, says:
    “Eidos is an ideal partner for IO with an inspired and successful management team who share a similar production and development ethos to our own. We are delighted to take our existing relationship to the next stage. We will look to continue producing successful franchises, such as Hitman, and help to define a winning technology platform which has the potential to be more widely used across the Eidos studios.”

    Wednesday, March 3, 2004

    Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage Signs for Showdown
    Steve @ 2:52 PM EST
    GLEN COVE, NY, March 03, 2004 – The “madness” that captivated the world of professional wrestling will once again rule the squared circle, as Acclaim Entertainment, Inc. today announced that it has exclusively signed Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage to appear in SHOWDOWN™: Legends of Wrestling™. Currently under development with Acclaim Studios Austin, SHOWDOWN™: Legends of Wrestling™ features signature entrances and taunts for each of its 70+ Legends and an array of bone-breaking matches, including Table, First Blood, Iron Man, Hardcore, Ladder, Cage and Battle Royal.

    “Every sport has a handful of legendary athletes who possess an extraordinary ability to connect with the fans,” said Brian Shields, Brand Manager for Acclaim. “Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage is one of those athletes and we’re thrilled to announce his involvement in SHOWDOWN™: Legends of Wrestling™. Wrestling fans of all ages have been waiting to see this legend back inside the ring and heat things up the way that only the Macho Man can.”

    “OH YEAH! The Madness is back! The thought of returning to the ring with Acclaim for SHOWDOWN: Legends of Wrestling gives the Macho Man goose bumps,” said Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage. “Don’t be mistaken; I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to drop the big elbow on anyone who gets in my way. I’ve been on one side my whole career and that’s mine. I’ve made it clear who I’m gunnin’ for - the only question is, ‘will he accept my challenge?’ Find out this June, as the most dangerous man in the history of professional wrestling returns. Dig it!”

    Exclusive images of Savage can be viewed at Acclaim’s SHOWDOWN: Legends of Wrestling Web site ( Fans can visit the site and register to become part of “The Legends Legion,” a free membership that qualifies them to receive ongoing email updates highlighting the latest gameplay and talent announcements. The SHOWDOWN™ site also provides visitors with exclusive product information and free downloadable content.

    A second-generation professional wrestler since 1975, Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage is a six-time World Heavyweight Champion. One of the sport’s most successful and popular wrestlers, Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage has also achieved mainstream celebrity status outside of the squared circle. Recognized by many as the official spokesperson for Slim Jim products, Savage also starred in Sony Films’ “Spider-Man” and most recently released his debut Rap album titled, “Be A Man.”

    Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage is the latest addition to the roster of more than 70 legends who appear in SHOWDOWN™: Legends of Wrestling™, including Sting, Diamond Dallas Page, ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes, Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and Ultimate Warrior. Additional wrestlers will continue to be announced over time, and join such all-time greats as:

    Mr. Fuji
    Bret “Hitman” Hart
    Rocky Johnson
    “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart
    Owen Hart
    “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
    Harley Race
    “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner
    Rick Steiner
    Big John Studd
    Kerry Von Erich
    Abdullah The Butcher
    King Kong Bundy
    Rick Martel
    Nikolai Volkoff
    ‘Hot Stuff’ Eddie Gilbert
    Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan
    The Dynamite Kid
    ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham
    Iron Sheik
    ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff
    British Bulldog
    Dory Funk, Jr.
    Hacksaw Jim Duggan
    Ivan Putski
    Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler
    Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka
    Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat
    The Sheik
    Terry Funk

    SHOWDOWN™: Legends of Wrestling™ will be available in June 2004 across the next-generation systems at suggested retail process to be determined. For more information on this game, please visit

    Tuesday, March 2, 2004

    Dead Man's Hand Released From Atari
    Steve @ 12:38 PM EST
    The thrill of the Wild West has arrived on the Xbox(R) video game system from Microsoft! Dead Man's Hand(TM), a western-themed first-person-shooter, has shipped to retail outlets nationwide, Atari, Inc. announced today. The only first-person-shooter that turns gamers into cowboys, Dead Man's Hand features dramatic saloon fights, horseback chases and exploding gun powder barrels. Developed by Human Head Studios, the creators of the Rune(R) series, Dead Man's Hand uses the Unreal(R) technology from Epic Games to provide amazing graphics, non-stop action and enhanced multiplayer capabilities through Xbox(TM) Live. A PC version of the game will be released later this month.

    "Dead Man's Hand really capitalizes on the fun and folklore of the Old West with classic elements and storyline," said Nancy MacIntyre, vice president of marketing for Atari, Inc. "We are excited to bring this theme to the Xbox for the very first time."

    In Dead Man's Hand, players become El Tejon, a master gunslinger on a mission of vengeance after his gang, The Nine, betrays him. Once one of the most feared bandits in the west, El Tejon now comes seeking justice - and revenge.

    Utilizing the power of the Unreal technology by Epic Games, Human Head has developed an amazing recreation of the American Frontier, ranging from sprawling vistas and rustic canyon towns to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The sophisticated in-game physics engine has hats flying off enemies, bad guys falling off roofs and bullets shattering windows and bottles.

    A variety of competitive and cooperative play modes lets players compete against friends and other Xbox owners via Xbox Live. Western style options include classics like Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch and favorites with a new twist including Bounty and Posse multiplayer modes.

    In the Old West, nothing helps fuel revenge like firearms and gambling. In Dead Man's Hand, players have nine different authentic western-style pistols, shotguns and rifles to choose from as well as dynamite, whiskey bottles, Gatling guns and cannons to blow evil vermin into the afterlife. By shooting with accuracy and skill, players can build up their "Legend" score and unlock special trick shots for each weapon. Between showdowns, players can test their luck with the cards to win bonuses including health, ammo and additional "Legend" points.

    Dead Man's Hand for Xbox is rated 'T' for Teen and is available at retail outlets nationwide for a suggested retail price of $29.99. The PC version will have a suggested retail price of $19.99 and will be available at the end of this month. Additional information about the game can be found at or at

    Scooby-Doo! Mystery Mayhem Ships
    Steve @ 12:32 PM EST
    CALABASAS HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 2, 2004--THQ Inc. today announced that Scooby-Doo!(TM) Mystery Mayhem, licensed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and based on the classic Scooby-Doo!(TM) television series, is now available for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, Xbox(R) game console from Microsoft and Nintendo(R) GameCube(TM) at retailers throughout North America.

    "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Mayhem is the most captivating Scooby console game to date," said Eric Doctorow, chief operating officer, THQ. "Not only does it have the quirky humor and ghoulish fun of the classic cartoon, but it also features a new style of adventure gameplay that calls for cooperation between Scooby-Doo and Shaggy, leveraging character-specific skills and friendship to successfully solve the mystery."