It sounds crazy, but McDonald's restaurants in Japan believe using the Nintendo DS as an employee training tool will cut training time by half when compared to conventional methods. They are currently developing a proprietary software for the DS known as "eSmart". New part-time employees will be trained using software.
Nintendo already has strong ties to McDonald's over in Japan by offering the Nintendo Zone service in its restaurants, which allows customers to grab game demos, information and other exclusive content directly to their handhelds. I guess the employees wanted in on the action too! McDonald's plans to place two DS consoles at each of its locations in Japan, which totals up to about 7,400 new consoles. Excluding the software development, they estimate the program will cost about 200 million yen ($2.2 million USD).
I wonder which edition of the DS they will be using (DS/DSi/DSi XL), and if the systems will have a cool custom skin. Probably not. I hope we get a peek at the software once its ready, I am curious what it will teach and how this will be more effective then 'traditional' training.
Nintendo has brought us some remake goodness today, officially releasing two new Pokémon games to the Nintendo DS line-up in North America, dubbed Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver. If you haven't guessed yet, these are enhanced remakes of the 1999 video games Pokémon Gold and Silver for the original GameBoy. These new games were previously released in Japan back on September 12th, 2009 and have been commercially successful thus far, selling over 2 million units in the first six weeks. The game is still awaiting release in Australia (March 25th, 2010) and Europe (March 26th, 2010).
This time around the games are bundled with the Pokéwalker, the pedometer device pictured with this article. It interacts with the Nintendo DS game card via infrared signals and can hold one of your Pokémon characters. Walking with the Pokéwalker while it contains one of your Pokémon increases its experience and closeness. The device cannot be used to transfer Pokémon to other games however, as it will only return the Pokémon to the game card it came from. As you walk, you also earn "watts," a type of in-game currency that can be used to catch wild Pokémon and shop for items. The Pokéwalkers can also communicate with each other, allowing each player to get a free gift! So far it appears that this added bonus has not increased the retail game price as compared to previous titles.
Some rom dumps of the North American versions of the games were spotted online a few days prior to their official release by the release group Xenophobia. So far however, it seems that Nintendo's anti-piracy protection has been effective in causing random crashes for gamers trying to dive into the adventure early.
Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver can access the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and are also fully compatible with Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum games. Feel free to post your friend codes in the comments, as I plan to play through the SoulSilver version and wouldn't mind battling fellow visitors!
Gotta catch 'em all!
The day has finally come, we have counted the days. Final Fantasy XIII is now out! Quick, run to your nearest video game retailer and pick up a copy. Wait! Have you really heard what this game brings to the table? Let me share my first few hours of FFXIII experience with you.
Let me start with some basic information. For starters, I am playing the Xbox 360 version of the game, however I don't believe the actual game content differs between the two consoles. Also, I have only clocked a few hours of actual gameplay, so this is kind of a first impressions rant... if you will call it that.
My version of the game came on multiple discs, and some of the content is compressed so I expected some longer load times while playing. I haven't played the PS3 version, but I can say that I was fairly pleased with the game in this aspect. The load screens were brief and mostly just when changing maps or scenes. Battles flows smoothly and the videos present themselves with shine. That's another plus point: the game definitely struts its stuff. The opening video was great and it dives you right into the heat of battle.
But what is this? Instead of gaining experience and money for fighting, I get an arcade-style score and a rating out of 5 stars. This rating seems to be solely based on how fast I complete the battle like its a race, and the rating has some influence on item drops after the fight. Oh, and I forgot to mention I only control the leader of the party. You can have other party members in the fight with you, but they are computer controlled and you really don't have any say in what they do. Oh, and there are some rules you need to be aware of as well: the main character can't fall in battle. Your allies can die and you can revive them, but if you are down its game over, even if the rest of the team is still kickin'.
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I'll keep this one short.
Like I posted just a few days ago, based on the GameInformer article, Portal 2 is coming to PC, Xbox 360 and Mac. Some days before that I posted about the beta testing of the Steam client, which has a new gui, but also dumps the Internet Explorer backend it has been hooked on since the beginning. Valve guys were also teasing us with various pictures that put well known Valve properties in Mac-like situations. And now, since Steam is no longer tied to Windows and IE, Valve has finally officially announced that it's bringing the Steam platform and the Source game engine to Mac. Full news article at the link, but I'll sum it up here for your convenience.
So, all these older Source games, and the Steam platform will be available for Mac in April. That's pretty soon. I don't know anyone who has a Mac, and quite frankly I don't know anything about them. Can you even play games on them? I guess you can. If Valve says so, I must believe it. If Gabe Newell says so, who am I to disagree. Valve considers Mac to be "Tier-1" platform for them, along with PC and Xbox 360. Total zinger at the PS3 camp right there! BOOM!
Additionally, they are introducing a feature called Steam Play. Basically it's a fancy term for your digital copy of a game carrying over from PC to Mac, or vice verca. You buy just one copy, but can play it on both platforms, and with the help of keeping your save games in the Steam Cloud, you can continue the same game from where you left it on the other platform. Apparently this also extends to multiplayer things, so both Mac and PC guys will be able to play against each other in Team Fortress. None of this Steam Play stuff works in Xbox 360, so the console guys will have to continue to play with themselves, err, I mean amongst themselves?
So look forward to it, if you own a Mac.
You may have heard during the last week that Valve was teasing us with some Portal related mysteries, and the community and fans of Portal went completely bonkers trying to solve all the things Valve threw at them. First they updated the game a few times, added a new Steam Achievement to the game, extended ending, all kinds of crazy things. You can read more about it elsewhere on the internets, there is too much to recap for the purposes of this little news posting.
Well guess what it all was leading to? Yeah, you guessed it (or read the title of this post), Portal 2 is coming, officially. GameInformer magazine has the scoop in the latest print, but you can already find scans of the mag on the internets if you are too cheap (or too foreigner) and can't get your hands on the print. They also have this hub set up to reveal more things about it during the month. So, if you are interested, I'm pretty sure you won't have trouble finding more info about this game.
So, what have they revealed so far? It appears that it's going to be a full priced game this time, co-op multiplayer of sorts at least, starring two robots. Yep, robots. Chell is still the protagonist of the single player experience, don't worry. And that's about all I know right now. I haven't read the GameInformer story myself yet, but based on the images on it that don't seem to be concept art, it seems to be running on a new Valve engine, and looks extremely sharp. Source Engine 2.0 or something? Who can say.
Quite frankly I would have been more excited if they had announced a new Half-Life game in the Portal game. How awesome would that have been? I mean, I'm totally pumped that a new Portal game is coming, but HL2:Ep3 would have been even more awesome. Though Gabe Newell is set to receive the Pioneer Award at GDC next week, so who knows, maybe they'll have more announcements to coincide with that. Maybe? Hopefully.
Hey! Steam interface bogging you down since 2003? Does it depress you that it hasn't really changed at all in the following 7 years?? I guess you (and I) are in luck, because Valve is finally redesigning the UI, and doing some other pretty significant back-end work for their Steam digital delivery/community/multiplayer/store thingamajig. As I implied on the post title, this new UI is not out yet as is, but you can opt-in for the beta right from your Steam app. Just head to settings, and choose the UI update from the beta participation drop-down menu, right in the account tab. This will prompt you to restart Steam, at which point it will update to the beta. Couldn't be easier.
The first thing from the list of changes that really stands out to me, aside from the shiny new look, is that they have finally gotten rid of the Trident rendering engine dependency. For those who are not in the loop, that means Steam will no longer use Internet Explorer to display their shit in. Before, for example, if you would browse a gallery of screenshots through Steam, it would open in a window that would say Internet Explorer on it. This is no more. Their new rendering engine is based on WebKit, which also powers Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari browsers, so that side of things is in good hands now.
Anyone who knows me probably also knows how I feel about web standards, Internet Explorer, etc etc, so I'm all for this change. The major UI changes that come with it is a bonus, but not why I'm excited about this. If you feel like there is something that you don't like about it, you can click the neat button on the upper right corner that says beta on it, which redirects you to the support forums. I'm not entirely sure, but you probably need a separate account for the forums (NOT your Steam account) to actually post in there, but if you really want to get yours heard, that's the way to do it. But keep in mind that this is beta, so if you are uncomfortable with such things, maybe it's not for you, yet.
Here's a little shrunken down image of one of the possible ways that you can use to view your (or mine, in the case of the image) game library now. Click on the image to check out the full list of changes and a scrolling slideshow of other screenies of the interface.
Borderlands continues to grow larger as the third downloadable content arrives this week. If you are willing to cough up another $10 (or 800 MS points) you can grab yourself Gearbox's third addon, The Secret Armory of General Knoxx. It has been announced that this should be released today for the Xbox Live Arcade and will come on Thursday for PlayStation Network and PC. Here is a brief list of what this new content brings with it, as well as a few new screens after the break. If you want to see a full list of fixes, check out the official release notes.
|* Almost twice the size of The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned|
* A brand new class of ultra-rare / kick-ass weapons
* Three new vehicles: the Monster, the Racer, and the Lancer
* the Racer allows for four players to ride at once!
* 40+ new missions
* An exciting story line that picks-up where the original game left off
* Close to 30 new villain types
* A level cap increase from 50 to 61
* More difficult villains and smarter AI
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Hey, ever played this fun game called TrackMania on the PC? Well I have! Quite a while back I played the free (yes, free) TrackMania Nations, with crazy custom loops, jumps and weird weird tracks. Well, as you may know (because we posted about it), TrackMania is coming to Wii, and now they have released a debut trailer for it.
Looks like everything that made TrackMania what it was on the PC is also in the Wii version. Yes, that means track editor as well. I wonder what kind of plans they have for custom tracks though. On the PC you could just run dedicated servers with your own custom tracks and let people join in, but with the way Wii handles the whole internet gaming (friendcodes, gah), it's interesting to see what kind of set up Nadeo is cooking up for this.
The game is going to support Wiimote + Nunchuck combo, Wii Wheel and a "gamepad". Presumably this means only Classic Controller, and not GameCube controller, but the jury is still out on that one. I'd personally instantly opt for the classic pad option, steering a car with a floating wheel just isn't my thing, Wiimote + Nunchuck sounds even less appealing.
For the past two days, we have been completing some maintenance on the Magicite server (which hosts our torrent tracker and IRC chatroom, as well as a few sub-sites) to try and recover data from a damaged hard disk. I did manage to recover some data, but the disk is now toast, and new hardware has been installed. Unfortunately this has also caused the server IP to change, but DNS changes should already be propagating for our domains, and there should be no further downtime regarding this situation.
I also just wanted to post a little blurb letting you all know that we are actually making some progress with the control panel and site back-end. Although most of the changes in the last few weeks are not visible to our general readers, we have been making many fixes and tweaks around the site. For instance, you can now search the news at the bottom of each news page, and can also subscribe to our RSS feeds. Custom feed options such as category sorting will come soon as well. The lyrics search function has also been re-written and works a little better. The control panel is coming along, and has also been given a bit of a facelift. Hopefully we can have it fully functioning soon. (I won't dare guess a date, or we certainly won't make it!) Anyways, just wanted to say that we are not dead!
Couple weeks ago Ubisoft announced that it would push the release date of Splinter Cell Conviction back a few months, but didn't give any specific date to when exactly. The reason for the slight delay was, and I quote "The game looks brilliant, but we want it to be awesome". There is just no way I could argue with that, the quote alone speaks straight to my own heart, which is filled with awesomeness. So basically they though it could benefit from more polish, which never has hurt anyone. The new release date has now been revealed to be April 13, a little over two months from now.
If you haven't been following, Conviction is the 5th game in the tales of Sam Fisher, and without spoiling any of the things that happened in earlier games, some things went badly for Sam, and now he is very angry. From all the footage I have seen, this game takes a significant direction change from the earlier games, with much more action oriented gameplay. And in truth, the changes are welcome. The earlier games didn't really evolve from the first game all that much, with only refinements from the concepts to make them work better. In that sense it reminds me of the Hitman series, which had great ideas and concept right from the first game, but the gameplay execution took some time to catch up.
I'm excited about this game, it looks like it will be super awesome and tons of fun. And Michael Ironside is still the voice of Sam Fisher, and he still delivers.