411 Games Rumor Down-Lo 03.04.03

411 Games Rumor Down-Lo 03.04.03
411 Games Quote of The Week
411 Games’ boss, Chris Pankonin, kept telling me to say my prayers and eat my vitamins before ripping up his shirts. At first it was funny, but then it got creepy when he started yelling half-naked, “LOOK AT ME! Pankomania is running wild!”
— Joseph Stanley (The Weekend Wipe-Up 03.01.03)

(411 DOWN-LO ONLINE 03-04-03: BEGIN TRANSMISSION…)

What? That’s it? Ashish and Widro merely color swap the background from black to white, add a screenshot, draw a ugly looking controller in the top left corner of the Games Zone, and they expect us to get all excited? Wow. THE “MANIA” HAS BEGUN, BY GAWD! Give me a break. It’s barely worth mentioning. *rumor monkey frantically waves to Bebito* Huh? What is it monkey? *rumor monkey whispers to Bebito* Please tell me you’re kidding. You mean we’re on the AIR!? *rumor monkey nods* I am so fired.

Hi, I’m Bebito Jackson, and this site redesign is the greatest in the history of all site redesigns! Yes sir! *Ashish slips Bebito a pink piece of paper* Sorry, Ashish. No time to read fan mail. I have to do these game rumors! Gotta keep the MANIA going ya know! *avoids eye contact with Ashish*

In all seriousness, I could not begin work on this weeks Down-Lo without first getting on my hands and knees, as the rest of my 411 brethren are doing, and begin pressing my lips against the derrières that are Ashish’s and Widro’s. They’ve done a splendid job and I’m proud to be part of their “new” site. However, just because the surroundings have changed doesn’t mean that I’m not the same old Bebito. To all those that were worried or concerned, you can rest easy at night. I still suck

Even though it’s a big week with the relaunch and everything, I just want hurry up and get this over with. Why? One word, four syllables: Xenosaga. Final Fantasy, Star Ocean, and Grandia got nothing on this baby. It’s been compared to Star Wars (the good ones I mean) because it tells that epic of a story. Gameplay can be a little slow towards the beginning, so be prepared to watch lots of cinemas. But if anyone was on the fence about buying this masterpiece, it’s time to take the plunge. As matter of fact, forget the rest of the opening monologue this week. Let’s get directly to the rumors. I’m sure you won’t mind, considering the circumstances.

Behold the “MANIA BY GAWD!” edition of the Down-Lo. In case you’re new or prone to brain farts: The higher the DOWN-LO RATING the more accurate these mistruth could end up being (scale 1-10). As always these are just rumors (which is why you read me in the first place), so don’t come to me whining about them not coming true. Enjoy. I do.


This is the Down-Lo.

MIYAMOTO REVEALS ALL
Nintendo’s Miyamoto has been quite looselipped lately. While in Europe he let out Nintendo’s and Konami’s plans to do a remake of the original Metal Gear Solid for the GameCube. I’m pretty sure that he was supposed to keep his fat yapper shut until E3. Now Shigeru is up to it again because according to GamesAreFun.com, ‘at an on-going Nintendo press event held in Las Vegas, Nevada, Shigeru Miyamoto spoke plainly about the development of several games that may interest more than a couple people.’ Here’s the Down-Lo straight from them:

‘First up, a new Donkey Kong game is in development for the GameCube. However, the last announced title, Donkey Kong Racing, was being handled by RARE, a company that is now owned by Microsoft. Nintendo’s own EAD team is working on the DK game, but there’s no word as to whether it’s a racer or a platformer. It could be something completely original.

The company is also considering an F-Zero bonus disc, similar to the one recently released by pre-ordering The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Miyamoto wouldn’t specify on what the extra would include, but it’s safe to assume that F-Zero X, the N64 installment in the series, would be on it in some form.

GameCube games based on the Game Boy Advance’s Pokemon Sapphire and Ruby may be shown at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3), though not many games that feature online play will show up.

Another Nintendo internal development group, HAL Laboratories, has grown significantly in size and is currently working on a few projects, some of which are secret.

Finally, there were hints that the company may be working on a closed network for the GameCube. Thus, people would be able to play games across several GCs and televisions under one roof. Most interesting is the idea that the network will be similar to the WaveBird controller, with no wires.’

Lots of great stuff there coming down the pike, with me most interested in the supposed F-Zero X pack-in. It’s reliable info too because even though a little bit is speculated here, for the most part it’s from the man himself. Put under good authority.
DOWN-LO RATING: 10

UPDATE: DRAGON QUEST REMAKE
In a rumor that’s sure to make our resident Game Boy Advance fanatic Alex Lucard quite happy, GamesAreFun.com is agreeing with what I predicted about three months ago in a previous Down-Lo. They say ‘there’s a report that Enix is working on a Dragon Quest V remake. No console has been specified, but word has it that the game will be a straight port; GBA comes immediately to mind.’

I’ll keep you guys updated with details as I get them. But don’t be surprised to see Nintendo spilling the beans on this one soon enough.
DOWN-LO RATING: NONE FOR UPDATES

ROMANCE ON THE ROCKS
Can’t we all just get along? We hear for months and months about how two companies could possibly merge together. Then when they finally get hitched, within the first two weeks you hear about a billion problems between them that make you wonder whether they should have even come together in the first place. Square and Enix had plenty of growing pains. It’s Sega’s and Sammy’s turn now apparently.

According to Spong.com, ‘the merger between Sega and Sammy could well be in jeopardy, due to differences in opinion concerning the structure of the new firm. Allegedly, Sammy has stated that as part of the deal, Sega must look to “significantly restructure” key elements of its notoriously fragmented central business hub. This restructure would, according to reports, impact heavily on Sega’s 11 research and development arms, with talk of team mergers rife. Sega, intent on keeping its branded studios, disagrees.’ And thus, the honeymoon was officially over.

Seems like Sammy must be trying to do something drastic here. Like make money. Give Sega some time Sammy. They’re not used to those types of high concepts just yet. Ease them into it by teaching them how to break even first. Then slowly transition them into making a profit. Baby steps people. Baby steps.

Adding more confusion to the foray was information that Joseph Stanley reported on earlier this week in the excellent Weekend Wipe-Up concerning the respected financial paper Asia Wall Street Journal which was cited as saying that ‘both Electronic Arts and Microsoft are in discussions with Sega, looking to buy the firm before the previously announced merger with Sammy can fully take place.’ Man. More suitors? Sega must have the ill na-na, because everyone in the game industry supposedly wants to get into bed with them. ‘The report says that although there have been no formal discussions, talks have been taking place. What’s more, Microsoft has approached at least one investment bank asking for it to look into the best way of acquiring all or part of the firm.’

When confronted by Sammy about Sega’s alleged infidelities, Sega was animate in denying those rumors. ‘Sega president Hideki Sato has blasted reports that both Electronic Arts and Microsoft are poised to make some kind of bid for the firm.’ He went on to say earlier in Tokyo, “It is not true at all that Electronic Arts of the United States has sounded us out on a capital tie-up. There is also no truth in the Microsoft capital tie-up talk. We will give the top priority to the earlier announced (sic) integration of operations with Sammy and work towards it.”‘ Way to slide yourself out of that one Sega. Just hope Sammy doesn’t smell EA’s cologne on you when ya come home.

So bottom line? I doubt that the rocky relationship with Sega and Sammy will end in a divorce. According to Hideki, Sega seems committed to making it work, despite the prospect of other mates. I wish them both the best and offer my condolences to all acquisition hungry mega-companies out there who just lost the gaming industry’s most eligible bachelorette… Sega.
DOWN-LO RATING: 4

CONKER’S BAD INTERNET CONNECTION
Ah, Conker. How my image of you has been tainted over the years. I remember back to the good old days of Diddy Kong Racing on my N64. It was such a simpler time then. You rode around in your cute vehicle, happy as could be. Smiling. Innocent. Carefree. And when news came up that you’d be getting a game of your own, how I exulted! Forget Diddy and the gang, you became my favorite character. Yes Conker, you. The best squirrel buddy a guy could have. *grimaces* Little did I know just how big a pervert you really were.

Only those who have played Conker’s Bad Fur Day for Nintendo64 know how sick, twisted, and morally depraved the game truly is. They also know how purely awesome a gameplay experience Rareware packed into that little cartridge of theirs. As of the very start of the game where you wake up drunk, you know you’re in for a platform adventure like none other. From animals biting people in the crotch, to flying poo balls, to Conker pissing all over the place, this game caused all types of controversy (especially for a Nintendo title) and yet remained a bright point on the system (No really. It wasn’t half-bad. Most expected it to suck worse this column when it first was announced due to the “so juvenile it has to be M-Rated” reputation it was garnering, similar to what BMX XXX was going through earlier this year. But to everyone’s surprise, it came out pretty darn good.)

Of course, history shows us that Rareware left Nintendo’s abode and got whored out to the Bill Gates brigade. And while the characters that directly relate to the Donkey series stayed with their plumber housing owners, Conker on the other hand left with Rare. Is he going to be put to good use there? Oh… I’d say so.

Spong.com is on a roll this week, as it reveals that ‘Rare is currently working on a Conker’s Bad Fur Day sequel that will be almost entirely online. Senior sources at the firm confirmed that the game, as yet unnamed, would debut at this year’s E3, alongside several other high profile Rare games. The details of the game were not disclosed, other than it will be massively multiplayer, and feature a significant amount of team-based play along with a plethora of mini-games.’

Interesting way to use the Conker series, I’ll give you that. Of all the games to go “massively multiplayer” Conker wasn’t the one I or anyone else for that matter, was expecting. Not sure how I feel about this one other than intrigued.

Pay close attention to this year’s E3 kids. It’s going to be known as the Rare show. Between Conker, Kameo, and Perfect Dark maybe that ludicrous amount of money Microsoft paid for Rareware will be justified.

Ok, no. Not really… I can’t back that up.
DOWN-LO RATING: 7

GRAND THEFT AUTO 4
ComputerAndVideogames.com is commonly regarded as one of my most unreliable source. I swear that those guys just make up stuff. And that’s the one thing that I can’t stand: Baseless rumors. Coming up with speculation based on happenings within the industry is one thing, but just flat out making crap up is something completely different. So lately, I’ve had my eyes on them closely whenever one of their “exclusive stories” comes to light.

That being said, this story seems on the up and up, though. According to C&VG.com, while ‘Rockstar is focusing on developing the follow up to Vice City, “key members” of Rockstar North are beginning development of Grand Theft Auto 4. A highly placed inside source operating under conditions of anonymity told them: “GTA 4 is being designed now by a team of five.” The source also confirmed that the next GTA game on console – widely believed to be based in San Andreas – will be the last iteration in the present format. “Expect more of the same as Vice City for that, but GTA 4 will be completely different. The designers have basically looked at what they want to do and realized they cannot do it with current technology, so they’re building it from scratch.”‘

“Whatever,” you say? “We all knew that Rockstar was working on GTA4. What’s the big deal about that?” you ask?

I’ll tell you.

Because GTA:San Andreas ‘will mark the last use of the GTA3 engine, unsurprisingly, it’s believed Rockstar North is looking to the next-generation of hardware to realize its vision.’ That’s right. There’s a strong possibility that GTA4 won’t even show up on the aging PS2. Sources claim that the PS3 will be home to the future most anticipated sequel ever. (How do I know it will be the most anticipated? Well 8.5 Million Vice Citys sold is no joke.)

As always, I’ll keep you updated.
DOWN-LO RATING: 6

And that’s the Down-Lo.


THE GAMING LONG-SHOT
We all have them. Those games that no matter how much we dream, wish, and hope, will NEVER be made. Whether it’s a game series that a developer has given up on, a remake of an old school favorite, or a completely awesome original idea that doesn’t have a chance at ever coming to fruition. And it hurts your heart every time you think about it, doesn’t it? *hands reader a tissue* It’s ok. You can let it out.

That’s what this feature is about. The Long-Shot Games. These are mine…

I must warn you, however. For the first time in this column’s history I get into something that could be considered “Fantasy-Booking for the Videogame World”. Not only do I tell what game I desire made. I tell you how it could or should have been done. So those who don’t care can click the back button on the browser now.

(GAMING LONG-SHOT: Sonic The Hedgehog RPG)

Sega has this nasty habit of alluding to games that they have no intention of making. What this generally serves to do in most cases is completely piss everybody off. Example being the first Long-Shot Game I would like for Sega to put out: Sonic The Hedgehog RPG.

How did Sega first allude to this game? When talking about the next game in the Sonic series oh so long ago for Sega Dreamcast, Yuji Naka referred to the as of yet unnamed game as “Sonic RPG”. BOOM! The Internet gaming forums EXPLODED with tons of speculation and excitement that this would be Sega’s equivalent of Nintendo’s and Square’s masterpiece, Mario RPG. Oh how wrong they were. Yuji unveiled Sonic Adventure instead; not a disappointment within itself by any means, but those looking forward to some true Role-Playing action were left in Sonic’s metaphoric dust. Apparently, Mr. Naka took those portions of Sonic Adventure in which you were running around having no idea what to do next as the “RPG” parts. Go figure.

Take a second, however and imagine how awesome a true Sonic Role-Playing game could be for a moment. No wait let me do it for you…

The current crop of Sonic games are already story intensive, so a plot wouldn’t be hard to come up with. Have Dr. Eggman try to take over the world as usual, and run into some sort of power that is beyond even his control (also as usual). Sonic and Tails band together to do some damage control and then go from there. Incorporate characters from all over the Sonic universe like Knuckles, Amy, etc. Maybe even add a few from the comics to add depth. Make some playable, make other there just for story. I’m sure if Sega development studios Sonic Team & Overworks collaborated (or Overworks might not even be needed), it could end up being a truly epic tale.

Make the main world 3d with pre-rendered backdrops in a few places. Base areas of the game from previous levels in the Sonic series, like Casino Night, Speed Highway, and so on. Put in as many familiar areas from Sonic’s history as possible.

Enemies would be seen before hand, so as to give the player the choice to avoid combat. With the intention to keep the game’s focus on speed (as all Sonic games should be), adding on to the normal standing still battles that most RPGs employ would be a good measure of combat taking place while Sonic’s is party running down corridors with the enemies either running along side or hovering above them. Of course this wouldn’t be feasible in all areas, but in strategically placed parts of the game it would be excellent.

As for the battle system itself, they could put in place a semi-intricate turn-based system that centers around four fractions of fundamental gameplay: 1.) basic attacks which can be performed by anyone in your party, 2.) character specific normal attacks and abilities, 3.) the RPG standard array of flashy special moves earned through the course of the game from experience, and 4.) customization options by equipping members of your party with different Chaos Emeralds containing specific abilities (such as a Green Chaos Emerald granting healing “magic” or a Red granting use of fire based attacks). Even throw in “event” special moves that can be done depending on what state the character is in during combat. For example: If “Tails” or Knuckles were in a position where they had to fly or glide respectively or if Sonic was grinding on a rail or snowboarding down a mountain (during dramatically placed events within the game), then when confronted by enemies they would have a varying diverse moveset to reflect their capabilities within those states. Special items, critical attacks, and status abnormalities are a given.

In addition to normal combat and exploring, in key areas there would be actual 3d action levels for the player to go through (ala the Sonic Adventure series). It would break up the gameplay and keep up the speed that Sonic games are known for, making sure to keep the player on their toes. Of course there would be NO crappy Knuckles find the freaking impossible to find emerald levels. Those are banned from this game. As they should be from ALL Sonic games.

To put it lightly, the possibilities here are endless as they are with all RPGs, but the difference here would be that the audience already has an attachment to and familiarity with the characters, making the players enjoyment potentially that much richer.

Then again, maybe I just have too many ideas in my head and too much time on my hands. As a matter of fact this is the most amateurish piece of writing I’ve ever done. Let me know what you all think. And I’ll be back soon with my next Long-Shot Game: Shining Force Online.


(411 DOWN-LO MAIL: YOU HAVE 2 UNREAD MESSAGES…)

Quick one this week. And I’m actually happy about it, because I’m eager to get back to Xenosaga.

APPRECIATIVE READER
Hey, very nice Bebi. You’re too cool for words. I have a question though. Witch answer on the
quiz did people miss the most?

Oh, and tell Scott thanks for me. Going out of his way to sign the book and all.
(FILE FROM… greydragon / Down-Lo Contest Winner)

Glad you enjoyed the special surprise. They’ll be tons more like that for future contest. The question that was missed the most from the Down-Lo Questionnaire was, “Who are the official sponsors of the 411 Game Rumor Down-Lo?” Most gave me the people that I had said sponsored the Lo-Down! Awards (which were two completely different things). So it was close but no cigar. And I’ll be sure to let Scott Keith know that you said thanks for signing his book.

PRAISE FROM A PEER
Dude, you got ripped off! That’s amazing! You are now the official king of the world. You should be awfully proud! (not to mention furiously pissed) Seriously, if someone’s going to think so much of your shit to totally steal it, that says a hell of a lot about your work. As in, it’s f*cking good. I guess you’ve “made it” now, eh? Later man.
(FILE FROM… Bryan Berg / 411 Games)

Thanks Bryan. I don’t know about that meaning that I’ve “made it”, Bryan. But the fact that someone would rip off my column just means that there are some truly unoriginal people out there. I would be lying though, if I didn’t say it was sort of flattering. I just hope that when EVERYONE with a computer starts doing this, they’ll remember who the original was. And most of all, I hope they remember how much the original sucked.

(411 DOWN-LO-MAIL: SIGNING OFF…)


THE DLV OF THE WEEK
To go along with our rumor about Shigeru Miyamoto spilling the beans on practically everything, including the rumor that the new F-Zero GameCube game may come with a pack-in game, I’ve decided to show you this pee inducing video of F-Zero GC in action. When Sega and Nintendo come together… it’s truly a beautiful thing.

(DLV OF THE WEEK: F-Zero GC)

I’d like to take a moment to say goodbye to Jason Masters, as he leaves 411 Games to tread new ground over at TheNextLevel.com. He will be missed. Wish ya all the best bro.

What, you thought I was going to say something sarcastic? Grow up.

Read all of my colleagues. We’re the best group of game writers on the net. Or at least we will be in a month or two if I’m not around anymore. Until next week, enjoy the Mania. Peace, I’m out.

(411 DOWN-LO OFFLINE: END TRANSMISSION…)