Thank God It’s Thursday News Report 03.11.04

Hello, and welcome to this week’s Thank God It’s Thursday News Report! Great to have you here. I’m Bryan Berg, and this page will keep you up to date with all the latest happenings in video game news. Hopefully, you’ll get something out of it.

Got a lot of feedback from last week’s column (if you’re still waiting for a response, don’t worry – I didn’t forget!) and all of it dealt with the Chappelle’s Show bit. The letters confirmed two things that I already believed to be true – Season Two is killing Season One, and the Rick James sketch was the best one of them all.

Another thing that the feedback showed me that I already knew is that aside from the Chappelle’s Show stuff, the rest of the column pretty much sucked. I’m not terribly proud of last week’s column, and I can’t imagine what a more frusturating one to write would be like. Sometimes you’re feeling it, and sometimes you’re not. Last week, I was definitely not feeling it. I apologize if it did not hold up to the standards you’ve come to expect from this column, and I assure that a similar result will not be occuring anytime soon.

Having said that, it’s a pretty slow news week, with a few important bits that require your attention and one pretty big one. Let’s get it on!



Viewtiful Joe… on PS2?
Before it became commonplace to ditch the GameCube like it had some sort of STD, Capcom agreed to create five GameCube-exclusive games. These games included Killer 7 and Viewtiful Joe and ensured that these five games would be released solely on the GameCube to start. Rumors have already swirled about a potential PS2 version of Killer 7, which would really surprise nobody.

However, more rumors persist regarding Viewtiful Joe. Ign.com reports that Capcom-sponsored site Fanpimp stated that the title IS in development for Playstation 2. And while it doesn’t sound like a lot, this HURTS Nintendo.

The lack of solid third-party exclusives is a major flaw in the GameCube’s overall package, and Viewtiful Joe is one of the big third-party hits that Nintendo has. When people think of Viewtiful Joe, they think of the GameCube. To have a game identified with one system is pretty rare in today’s gaming climate, and for a game with such universal appeal to be connected with Nintendo’s GameCube, it really does a lot for the system’s rep among gamers. A game that showed up on many writers’ 2003 Game of the Year ballots, Viewtiful Joe helped the GameCube to dig out of the sizable ditch the system found itself in a year ago.

Now, Sony is attempting to change all of this. Why would Sony want Viewtiful Joe? That is, aside from the obvious rationale of “It’s a good game!”…

Because they can. Sony has sold infinitely more units of Playstation 2 than Nintendo has with the Cube. It’s got a lot of bargaining power and can guarantee Capcom some pretty sweet sales figures.
To hurt Nintendo. Sony now realizes the threat, however small it may be, that Nintendo possesses. Taking away one of Nintendo’s strongest third-party exclusives not only makes the GameCube a weaker system, but it also…
Lays the groundwork for a future relationship. Sony’s potential thinking: Once Capcom sees what kind of numbers it can do in business with Sony, why would Capcom want to waste its market potential as a GameCube exclusive? This doesn’t help Sony as much as it helps Capcom and damages Nintendo – if the scenario played out like this, Nintendo will have lost ANOTHER third-party exclusive license. And a good one to boot.

Why beat this to death? Because it’s worth doing. A lot of people view this as “Here we go again…” and they’re right to do so. But this is more important than the average third-party publisher leaving Nintendo in the lurch. This isn’t Sega Sports refusing to release ESPN NFL Football for the GameCube. It’s the potential loss of a serious bargaining chip for Nintendo. Viewtiful Joe was, and still is, a great reason to buy a GameCube. Now that the game may be available on the PS2 as well, it’s lost that exclusivity that Nintendo NEEDS. A system can’t survive when its biggest third-party exclusives are wrestling games. And Nintendo knows it.

What needs to happen now is that Nintendo has to pull out all the stops to keep Capcom as an exclusive partner, or at least keep Capcom from bringing Viewtiful Joe to other systems. Or, at the very least, ensure that the rumored Viewtiful Joe remains a GameCube exclusive for at least 12 months after its release, and have this game come out before the PS2 release of the original Viewtiful Joe title. This will make the PS2 version look outdated and give the GameCube the advantage in having the latest adventure in this popular franchise.

Nintendo DS = “Project Nitro”
Nintendo has confirmed that it has coded the upcoming Nintendo DS as Project Nitro. Which means what, exactly?

Well, Nintendo has made a habit of using “project” names in the past. The Nintendo 64 began as Ultra 64. The GameCube began as the Dolphin. Will the DS eventually be released as a system called “Nitro”? It’s possible. But doubtful. It would be foolish for Nintendo to change the name of a system that’s being released in 9 months (at the most). But if Nintendo were to change the name, now would be an okay time to do so (as in, it’s before E3, when the hype REALLY begins).

Would a name change really benefit Nintendo at this point? If so, would Iwata or George Harrison say something about the name meaning “excitement”? Would any gamer take a system called Nitro seriously? Would people confuse the system with the Great Adventure ride or the former WCW television program? We’ll find out by E3 time!

In any event, 411 Games has accessed a document initially released by IGN detailing some of the system’s specs. Here are the important parts from this document…

Nintendo DS/Project Nitro Specs
– ARM 7 processor to be used for compatibility with Game Boy Advance
– Screen resolution: 256×192 on both screens (as opposed to 240×160 of GBA)
– One screen will be touch-sensitive
– Controller layout: Same as GBA, with additional X and Y buttons being considered
– Wireless components: 802.11-style with potential to link up to 16 systems

Question – When does Nintendo address the “This system will not replace the GBA” stuff? Because it’s certainly sounding like a better, more sophisticated system that will play the same games that the GBA can. So how does Nintendo sustain the GBA as a viable handheld when it’s simultaneously releasing a BETTER system? Guess we’ll find out about that at E3 also.

Quick Hits
Super Collapse II To GBA. The uber-popular Yahoo game will be appearing on Game Boy Advance by the end of the month. I’m wondering how this game will play without a mouse, though the D-Pad will probably do just as well.
EA Secures Rights For Godfather Game. A game based on the Francis Ford Coppola Godfather trilogy will be appearing – and probably with a M-Rating. This adds another solid movie franchise to EA’s already impressive portfolio (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc.)
Max Payne 3 Confirmed. Take-Two Interactive confirms the third part in the Max Payne series; the question of who will develop the game remains. Rumor has it that Remedy Games (developers of the first two) will not participate in the title’s development.



Plugs
The Plugs section is on vacation this week…

Seriously, the Plugs are missing because the site (except for the main page) is down as I write this. The Plugs will most certainly be back next week. Sorry for the inconvenience… and if you’re looking for someone to blame, it’s Brock Lesnar.



Commentary of the Week
Yes, it’s been talked to death… but today I want to talk about Todd Bertuzzi.

Unlike most of the articles you’ve read about this subject, this is being written by someone who actually watches hockey and cares about the sport. This is not an article by a writer who doesn’t care about hockey unless there’s a reason to bash the sport, nor is this a contrived effort to add fuel to a fire that needs no help from anybody. Read on if you’re interested.

Odds are good that you’re reading this after the NHL ruling has been handed down. But if I had the chance to offer my opinion (under the assumption that it’d make a difference), here are the factors that I would consider.

Severity of the Injury. Let’s face it – if Steve Moore got right up after being decked by Todd Bertuzzi, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now. Bertuzzi would have gotten a game misconduct at most, and there would be no controversy. That Moore ended up with a broken neck warrants the obvious question of not only the punishment of Bertuzzi, but the place of violent altercations in hockey in general. Moore’s out for the season – Bertuzzi should be out for at least as long, and probably a good amount longer.

The Fighter’s Code. There’s a way to handle situations like these, and Bertuzzi went outside the code of honor here.

Let’s recap – Moore took out Bertuzzi’s teammate Markus Naslund in a prior game between the Avalanche and Canucks. The two teams played in a 5-5 tie last week with no major incidents. Monday, they went at it again, this time in Vancouver, where sparks flew. Moore took on Canuck Matt Cooke in the first period. In the third, with Colorado holding a solid 9-2 lead, Bertuzzi went after Moore.

Many have claimed that the “instigator” rule is to blame here – that is, Moore should have been dealt with immediately after he took out Naslund, and the instigator rule prevented that. There’s some validity to this, but by most interpretations of the code, Moore got his when he fought in the first period. That should have been the extent of it. That was a fight that meant something, and Moore definitely got the message. There should have been no more incident involving him in this game.

Unfortunately, Bertuzzi went outside the limits of the code. Bertuzzi, as a player who will drop the gloves at any given time, is well aware of the code. Two seasons ago, he breached it when he jumped off the bench to join a fight. He got a 10-game suspension for that. This one will be far longer than 10 games, and he most certainly will face retaliation in Colorado whenever the Canucks visit after Bertuzzi’s suspension.

Precedent – Sending a Message. In 2000, Marty McSorley got a year for a slash to Donald Brashear’s face. This suspension not only kept McSorley out of hockey for the year, but ensured that he would never get back into the NHL (due mainly to age). Bertuzzi is still young enough where his career won’t be in question, but his punishment should definitely reference the McSorley incident.

The NHL needs to show that it’s serious about punishing those who break the rules, and anything less than a year will draw comparisons to McSorely with negative connotations. With all the heat on the NHL for other issues (labor agreement, TV ratings, etc.), the league cannot afford to give Bertuzzi anything less than what he deserves.

***

So what does Todd Bertuzzi deserve? Clearly, he didn’t mean to snap Steve Moore’s neck. But he meant to hurt Moore, and that’s exactly what happened. Now Bertuzzi must pay the price. He was slapped with an “intent to injure” penalty during the game, which the NHL will probably stand by in its ruling. It will also look at Bertuzzi’s record in terms of past suspensions. That there already is a sizable one doesn’t help the case of Todd Bertuzzi. If you add up all of these factors – the tragic injury, the skirting of what’s “acceptable” in terms of extra-curricular activity, and the past of the NHL in these situations – Bertuzzi should be looking at one year out of hockey.

To me, that’s a shame. Todd Bertuzzi was, in my eyes and in the eyes of many, the Most Valuable Player in the NHL last season. For the most part, he is the guy you’d love to have on your team. Unfortunately, he also has a short fuse which can hurt the team more than it helps at times. Obviously, this is one extreme case where the team is hurt in a major way. The Canucks can no longer be considered a serious favorite to come out of the West, and now Colorado has more to play for than just the Stanley Cup – the pride of a teammate.

But in the end, nobody benefits from this. This is just another black eye on the game that I love. And hockey purists will be missing one of the game’s best for a long time.



I hope that, at the least, you found this TGIT to be better than last week’s. Next week’s will be even better – after all, the goal is to always improve, right?

Anyway, thanks for reading. Have a great week. See you next Thursday!