Tuesday, May 22, 2007

PS3 Outsold by GBA in April, Yikes!

Here are the numbers for video game console and handheld sales from the NY-based NPD Group for the month of April 2007:

Nintendo DS: 471,000

Wii: 360,000

PlayStation 2: 194,000

PlayStation Portable: 183,000

Xbox 360: 174,000

Game Boy Advance: 84,000

Playstation 3: 82,000

I'm not sure what these numbers are saying more about. Are they saying more about Nintendo dominating in both handled and console sales? Or, are they saying more about the PS3 putting up pitiful numbers for April?

Hmmm, I guess they are saying a little of both. Sony really is caught between a rock and a hard spot. Sales are lagging, partially due to a poor selection of games and partially because of the $600 price tag. My guess is that the sticker shock has more to do with the PS3's sluggish sales than anything. $300 is still the magical price point. The Xbox 360 has sold reasonably well at $400, but it won't really take off until is gets down to $300. I'm sure Microsoft thought they would have a much bigger lead over both the PS3 and the Wii by now.

But Sony is really stuck. If the reports that they are losing $200+ on every PS3 sold are to be believed, then dropping their price won't help. Can you imagine cutting the price by $100 and then losing $300 per unit? They may sell a few more PS3s at $500, but they will be so far in the hole, they may never recover this generation.

Sony's best hope is to have enough compelling software that is unique to their system, that people will start to fork over the $600. But like I said earlier, at $600, they are from from the consumer friendly $300 price point.

I'm sure Sony is shocked that not everyone 'got a second job' to pay for their system. But now they are in an unfamiliar position. They are sitting third in a 3 system race. The next year is crucial for them. If sales don't improve, developers could move along to better selling systems. And who could blame them? Even the soon-to-be-dead GBA is selling more systems.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Gameboy Advance Twist?

Nope. This isn’t a breaking news story. It’s just a question.

From everything Nintendo has said in the past year or so regarding the Gameboy Advance’s future, the system seems doomed. But why? I know the DS is selling gangbusters, but Nintendo could reinvent the Gameboy brand. Gameboy is still a very powerful brand name in the video game industry. It sells well despite it’s obvious demise. So here is the idea...one of the very best games on the GBA was Wario Ware Twisted. The controls in this game were amazing. They were fun, easy and were dead-on every time.

So why not build an entirely new system with a gyro sensor built in, so every game could take advantage of this control scheme in one way or another? This type of built-in control could do for the GBA what the touch screen did for the DS. Think about it for a minute. One reason the GBA seams to be dying is that there is no reason for it anymore. The DS can do the same as the GBA and more. But if a new GBA had a built-in gyro sensor, then it could then produce unique games that could only be found on the new GBA. That type of uniqueness is what helped the DS stand out. The same thing could happen again to the GBA. Every gaming genre could get a boost being on the GBA Twist. Some games could be controlled strictly with the gyro sensor, but the majority could incorporate the control scheme into their game to complement the standard controls. The ways the gyro sensor could be used for new innovative game play is endless, much like the touch screen on the DS.

I know the odds are against the venerable Gameboy brand, but it can still put a new twist on games if Nintendo is up for it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

TurboGrafx Ordyne Preview for Nintendo Wii Virtual Console

Hudson has announced 4 new games in May for Nintendo's Virtual Console on Wii. With one of them being Ordyne. Ordyne is a personal favorite of mine. This game was loads of fun, so I can't wait to play it again on the Wii.

I have included a pic of the cover and also some copy taken directly from the original manual. Please take a look, as I believe it gives a very good preview of the game for anyone who has never played it. So here it goes...

Page 1 Story

May Day! May Day! Is Anyone Out There?

Listen closely. There isn’t much time. My name is Felix. Felix Mockle. I am the assistant to the famous Dr. Tomari, inventor of “Ordyne”, the colossal Nuclear Reactor. Nobody knows this yet, but Dr. Tomari’s fiancee, Miss Kana, has just been kidnapped by an outer-space gang of bad guys. Led by a creep named “Kubota”, little do they know that hanging around Miss Kana’s neck is the key to Ordyne! If they find this out, believe me, the whole universe could be in big trouble! Dr. Tomari and I are going after Kubota. We intend to rescue Miss Kana and get that key back. Well, what do you say? Are you a man or a smouse (a small space rodent!)? If you’re a man (or a woman!) pick up that TurboPad controller now, jump into your ship, and blast off as myself or Dr. Tomari. Better yet, find a friend and we’ll take on Kubota together. First stop? A little air-to-air combat just to warm up for the really big stuff to follow!

Page 2 Object of the Game

As Dr. Tomari, or his faithful assistant, Felix, blast off in search of Miss Kana. Journey through seven separate stages of the game, using laser beams and bombs to defeat Kubota’s followers and evil Bosses. Pick up “crystals” along the way and turn them in for “power-up items” at the Space Inn. Take your chances in the “Space Lottery” and maybe win other power-up items. Finally, in “Kubota World”, face the evil Kubota himself. Play alone or with a friend. Score as many points as possible. When an enemy or enemy’s bomb touches you, or when you run into an obstacle (building, rock, iceberg, etc.), you lose one ship. The game is over when all of your ships are destroyed, or you manage to destroy Kubota.

Pages 3 and 4 Stages of the Game

Ordyne is divided into 7 separate stages. At the end of each stage you must defeat an enemy “Boss” before you move on to the next. Stages and bosses are as follows:

Stage 1: Air-to-Air Combat
You’ll get just a taste of enemy here.

Boss: Airship
This ship has regular guns as well as a super gun emitted from the exhaust port. Aim for the exhaust port to defeat this bad guy!

Stage 2: Magma Cave
Watch out for hot lava rushing out of the cave. You’ll face a fair number of enemy ruffians during this stage.

Boss: Giant Blue Turtle
This boss attacks in two ways! First, he uses forward missiles and heavy armor to wear you down. Next, he hides inside his shell and increases his laser fire! The Giant Turtle is vulnerable all over his body.

Stage 3: Water Castle
Get ready for underwater warfare! Enemy subs, mines and mechanical fish will attack. You move more slowly in the water, so be careful.

Boss: Hot Top
Watch out for this huge column that rises up and down, launching flaming particles from the top. Avoid these fireballs as they cascade down the screen and concentrate your shots on the spiraling power beads occupying the center of the column.

Stage 4: Overwater
You’re over the water again, but you can still take a dip if you want to. More airships appear in this round.

Boss: Hover Ship
This huge hover base bristles with forward gun turrets on the left side, and moves slowly up and down while an exhaust port fires an even more powerful weapon. Aim for this port to destroy the ship, but first shoot off the guns to keep the air free from alien bullets.

Stage 5: Crystal Caverns
Crystal forests appear everywhere. Shoot through some obstacles to reach valuable treasures. Face jumping robots, armored turtles with guns, bouncing rocks and other small and larger fighters.

Boss: Crystal Palace
A crystal ship waits for you at the end of level five! As it expands and contracts, small pods are released in all directions. Shoot the pods and aim for the crystal ship’s center!

Stage 6: Gallery
You must face some of the Bosses again, only this time they’re more powerful! Go against the Airship, a Blue Turtle, Hot Top (which now launches enemy ships), the Crystal Ship and a new Boss!

Boss: Mr. Roboto
A robot monster with a broken heart appears after the other bosses. Destroy the ring shield that circles the robot, and then concentrate on the machine itself. Watch out because it will change form and fire powerful lasers everywhere!

Stage 7: Kubota Palace
The lair of your arch-nemesis is near! First you must negotiate a path through spinning discs, blocks, and past all types of enemy ships. Can you make it?

Boss: Kubota
The final Boss appears in a specially built Mega-Jumper! As smaller jumpers are released, the machine will jump high into the air to defeat you! Shoot for the head - it’s the only way to win!

Page 12 Playing Tips
At the end of the Playing Tips page, it mentions a secret mode. Here is what it says:

There is a secret mode in Ordyne that lets you play Kana! To initiate the trick, press the “A” Button while holding the “Select” Button during the title screen and the word “Kana” will appear on top of the Ordyne title screen. Press “Run” and you will be treated to a new character as well as a new ending...if you’re good enough!