The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video Games 08.10.04

Greetings, gamers everywhere! To those of you who made the migration from 411 Games, welcome back. For those of you who are new around here, well…

Let me please introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste

I’m Misha, Brit gamer and multi-classed New Geek1. My companion, here, is Marvin
*Hello
He’s a Reploid, from the 20XX era of the “Mega Man X” series. There’s a story behind how he came to be in our era
*Which doesn’t need exploring at this juncture
But let’s just say it involves fights and drunken timelords
*And that’s more than enough
He’s a bit down in the dumps usually, but he’s consistent, and he helps commentate on the news.

So, here’s the lowdown. Together, the two of us compile The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video Games, the best Tuesday-based video game news column anywhere on the net (probably). We find out what’s going on, and we serve it up to you with a healthy helping of commentary.
*Oh, and expect the odd snippet of other Geek-related content, too

Pleased to meet you
Won’t you guess my name?

And with that, let’s get down to business

News

Edios takeover bid: latest

Yet more twists in the Eidos saga; financial analysts have begun to question whether the interest in the flagging company have artifically inflated the bid prices. Best estimates place UbiSoft’s $215 million offer as an overpricing of around 40%; It seems that shareholders are beginning to question the wisdom of the bid, as UbiSoft’s own stock price fell sharply yesterday. Some pundits are beginning to suggest that if UbiSoft went ahead with the takeover, and the combined company floundered for too long, the joint conpany could find itself being sharked by the same heavy-bidders who are circling round the Eidos boat.

Furthermore, reports from UK industry publication MCV suggest that UbiSoft are considering a move for Codemasters instead, which would leave Eidos open to other bids, such as EA’s reported $300 million offer.

Misha: And the plot thickens…
Marvin: Any thicker, and it’ll look like a California smog cloud
Misha: Let’s hope Bryan can make some sense of it all on Thursday…

credit: SPOnG.com

The Worms return

Sega have just unveiled the lastest game to feature Team 17’s gang of killer invertebrates. In Worms Forts: Under Seige, players have to take charge of a team of four worms, building up your own base, while simultaneously destorying your enemies’ forts. Gamesradar have the movie up for download here

Misha: Well, it’s all fun and games. But couldn’t they just go back to the classic Worms style?
Marvin: Evidently not

credit: Gamesradar

First Degree Gamers

Sheffield Hallam University in the UK has announced that it will be launching its new BSc degree in Software Development (Games) at this year’s ECTS. This new course will stand alongside the university’s MSc in Entertainment Software Development, and other similar degree programmes.

Marvin: Well, that’s nice to know… Game Development needs more degree courses, if you ask me
Misha: Yes, but it’s at Hallam!
Marvin: So? Just because your course is at Sheffied University.
Misha: Exactly. “University”. Not “Polytechnic”
Marvin: And who won the Varsity this year?
Misha: Shut up.2

credit: ECTS.com

PSP: All-Turismo Vehicle

Gran Turismo developers Polyphony Digital have confirmed that the PSP version of GT will contain a full port of the PS2’s Gran Turismo 4, rather than being a smilled-down version as many had speculated. Talk is also emerging of the capacity for wireless LAN competition between players using a mix of PS2 and PSP versions of the game.

Additionally, Sony have released some new shots of the PSP, which can be found here thanks to gamesradar.

Marvin: Well, that surprises the hell out of me
Misha: Agreed. It really tells you something about the PSP
Marvin: What? That it’ll be stupidly overpowered and overpriced, with a battery life measures in milliseconds?
Misha: Ouch, that’s vicious… I was going to go for “very powerful”…

credit: Gamesradar

No Fantasy: the Dragon returns

More screentshots have been released of the latest instalment of the Dragon Quest series, Sky, Sea, Earth & The Cursed Pincess (DQ is Square Enix’s *other* big RPG franchise, for those not paying attention). Courtsey of The Magic Box, they can be seen here. Release date is November, for PS2.

Misha: And lo, there was much rejoicing in the land of the rising sun.
Marvin: Provided there’s an English translation in the works somewhere…
Misha: Heaven forbid!! We can’t have RPGs other than Final Fantasy ones released in the west! Customers might start demanding quality roleplaying video games…

S is for Surgery

The Nintendo DS’ already-eclectic game lineup appears to have taken another unusual direction with the anouncement of Caduceus: Surgical Operation, a new “sci-fi surgery action game” in which the player takes advantage of the DS’ stylus to perform a variety of surgical operations. Only one screenshot exists so far, seen here courtesy of gamesradar.

Marvin: Advantage of being robotic: repairs are far less squishy.

credit: Gamesradar

Commentary

Those of you who’ve been following The Guide closely may have noticed its presence (and lack thereof) the past few weeks. That’s because I was on holiday/vacation in the US, and my ability to get hold of a computer to write on was limited.

But now, I’m back, and to begin the new era, I thought I’d give a UK Gamer’s perspective on the US gaming scene.

The first thing that struck me is how corporate it is. In all my travels, (which includes well off-the-beaten-track) the closest thing I saw to an Independent Games Store was a place that sold “second-hand everything” (CDs, DVDs, Games, etc). Everything else was part of one chain or the other, and I think that’s a shame. Big shops don’t tend to carry the smaller, obscure titles, and they certainly don’t stock any imports.

The second thing that caught my eye was the number of arcades everywhere. Not a huge amount, but they’re certainly more prolific (and infintely mmore visible) than in the UK.

Third thing was the choice. So many games!! Most of them being totally ignored!!! The US games scene is blessed with an overabundance of quality titles.

Which brings me to my fourth impression: How ungrateful US gamers seem to be. Their ignorance of just how good they have it. They get all these AAA releases offered to them on a silver platter, but just continue buying Tomb Raider games in their droves, whereas UK gamers have to jump through hoops just to get our hands on copies of games like Front Mission 4.

Fifth impression: For all the hype about online gaming, there was surprisingly little in the way of hype around for X-Box Live, and only occasional mentions of the PS2 broadband adapter… Over here, in the UK, Live seems to be everywhere…

Sixth, and final impression. It seems that the proportion of Idiot Gamer to Knowledgeable Gamer is roughly the same in the US as it is in the UK. I suppose that America has more Gamer-Morons because there are more gamers overall (large populations… who’d have ’em, eh?)

The Usual Plugspects

…..aren’t here this week. Things are still a bit up in the air here, so it’ll be next week before I can begin the usual shameless cross-promotion.

And there we have it. Another Hitchhiker’s Guide.
*That was relatively painless
I told you it’d be business as usual…
*Just with a better colour scheme
OK. We’re gone.

1 Glossary: A multi-class geek is one who makes a deliberate point to aquire knowledge of, and an interest in, many different streams of Geekdom, usually at the expense of specialisation in one field. A New Geek is a member of the recently-emerged social strata of “Geeks who break the stereotype”, a more thorough explanation can be found here in a piece I wrote in my 411 days.

2 If you don’t get it, don’t worry. It’s a British higher-education-system in-joke