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Games shipping this week: bouncy edition

The 360 holiday assault continues this week with several long awaited games. Chief among these -- and certainly not for its gameplay merits -- may be Dead or Alive Xtreme 2. We've covered its excessive bounciness before -- the infamous trailer generated many, many comments. Will the game succeed despite its shallow nature and godawful looking hair? Only time will tell.

Other games of note this week include Sonic the Hedgehog and WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2007. Also worth mentioning, Bionicle Heroes is made by Traveller's Tales, the folks behind the Lego Star Wars series. Can Bionicle Heroes live up to its cousin's success?

Shipping this week:
- Bionicle Heroes
- Blitz: The League
- Dead or Alive Xtreme 2
- Eragon
- History Channel: Civil War
- Pimp My Ride
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- World Championship Poker: All In
- WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2007

So, who's getting what?

Lost Planet MP demo + turkey = awesome

If you we able to focus at all when you opened your copy of Gears of War, you may have noticed a flier advertising a multiplayer demo for Lost Planet. The card merely reminds you to "Check out Xbox Live Marketplace for new multiplayer demo!" and does not bother with specific dates. Enter Capcom with this announcement: the Lost Planet multiplayer demo will arrive on November 23rd, an obscure American holiday we call Thanksgiving, during which we collectively ingest thousands of turkeys. Some of us even eat the giblets ... *shudder.* The multiplayer demo supports 16 players online, and should give eager gamers a chance to see what Lost Planet has to offer.

Also, in a move probably inspired by Dead Rising's phenomenal demo-to-sale conversion rate, retailers will begin taking pre-orders for the game starting the next day, cleverly dubbed "White Friday" by Capcom. Should you opt for the now obligatory collector's edition, you will be given access to a new map, which will available to the regular edition schmucks for free by summer 2007. And, if that wasn't enough Lost Planet for you, expect to see trailers for the game before this holiday season's biggest movies like Casino Royale.

The revelation of the extra map's availability answers some questions we raised about the collector's edition. Basically, you're paying ten extra dollars for a metal case, art book, and early access to a free map. Is that worth it? Is anyone still planning on getting the collector's edition?

[Via Joystiq]

XNA developer contest blogs

Earlier we mentioned that there are 60 homebrew games already in developement using the XNA Game Studio Express. 53 of those are part of a contest at Mark Coffman's in which developers blog their progress. If you thought these guys were tooling around at Pong level, prepare to be impressed. The blogs offer a detailed look at the creative process, not to mention a tantalizing glimpse of what the XNA community has in store for us. Hint: Ninjas vs. Pirates! Check it out.

Harker hopes to draw blood

Halloween would be the day to announce your new next-gen survival horror game based on a classic undead character. Harker, from Foundation 9 Entertainmen, draws inspiration from the original Dracula novel while taking us back to the 18th Century to do battle with the famous blood-sucker himself:

In the game, players take on the role of a very different Jonathan Harker - hardened and ruthless - who is on a very personal mission to destroy all vampires after his beloved Mina falls prey to Dracula. Gameplay involves a combination of hunting these ferocious killers through tracking and exploration, along with an up-close and personal combat system, brutally-effective in the execution of the vampires; using a variety of weapons and environmental factors.

Harker is scheduled for a 2008 release. I'm interested to see how they bastardize the literary work. Fortunately, 1up has some "exclusive" video from the game.

[Thanks Scott]

Just Cause sequel on the way

Swedish gaming rag Kong reports (via GameSpot) that the relative success of Just Cause in the UK has inspired Avalanche Studios CEO Christofer Sundberg to announce a sequel. This time the open-world game will remain exclusive to next-gen platforms while ditching the tropical theme for a "VERY large city environment." Are you thrilled by this news, or just curious to see how they improve a flawed, but reasonably entertaining, product?

Def Jam isn't alone, new fighter from EA

1UP is reporting that EA Chicago, in addition to Def Jam: Icon and the next Fight Night, is working on another fighter. The announcement from EA declares that they are working on "a licensed title and a new intellectual property in the fighting videogame genre." We have no idea what the licensed title could be, but 1UP suggests that the new IP might be the rock and roll version of Def Jam, allowing players to pit the likes of David Bowie and Gene Simmons against each other. While the idea is interesting, we'd rather see EA create an entirely new fighter so they can spend time tuning the gameplay instead of the concept. How about the rest of you? Would you like to see Green Day face off with Metallica, or would you rather have something new?

Releasing this week: it's back edition

It's been a while since we've done a weekly release list, but it's high time we brought it back. So here are the US Xbox 360 releases for this week.

- Cars
- Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
- Phantasy Star Universe

It's no secret that I'm into Phantasy Star, as the number of stories about it have gone up exponentially ever since I started here, but Marvel: Ultimate Alliance looks like it will be a lot of fun as well. These are the same people behind X-Men Legends after all. It will be interesting to see how well it's reviewed, especially in light of how poorly Justice League Heroes has done. Anybody out there plan on picking one of these up? By the way, if anyone knows a reliable source for European releases, let us know. We wouldn't want our friends across the pond to feel left out.

MS to announce new Bungie game at X06?

Dean Takahashi, the San Jose Mercury News scribe who wrote The Xbox 360: Uncloaked, blogs about Halo 3 happenings and a new Bungie game that will supposedly be announced at Microsoft's X06 event in Barcelona later this month:

Halo 3, meanwhile, is well underway and just went through a script rewrite. The game is slated for 2007 still. recently went out on a limb and talked about how Halo 3 will be the last game in the Halo series and that Microsoft is likely to announce a new non-Halo Bungie game at the X06 event in late September in Barcelona, Spain. Spong says various tidbits suggest that Halo 3 brings the story to its close. That makes sense since others have told me that Jason Jones is "not a sequel kind of guy" before. I wrote in my latest book that Jones toyed with other games such as a "castle siege" game and another game that involved Minotaurs, a subject of an early Bungie game, but both were canceled. Jones wound up returning to help finish Halo 2 while it was in midstream.

If the title ends up being Minotaur Castle Siege, Dean should win some sort of award. Keeping in mind this thing is supposed to be non-Halo related, what kind of game would you like to see from the gods at Bungie? X06 kicks off on September 25 by the way.

[Via Xboxic]

Epic's big GoW announcement decoded?

Here's an update on that GoW viral marketing scheme from last week. Amateur cryptologists at the Gears of War forum think they've decoded three mysterious messages from Xbox Live member "Mfenix" and come up with a date: November 12 -- presumably "Emergence Day" for the highly anticipated game. How they arrived at that conclusion is equally mysterious. Something about Ghengis Khan and a saxophone. Before you waste any mental energy on that one, keep in mind that we're still expecting a "big announcement" from Epic this week regarding the title. And now, with the seeds of hype firmly planted, Mfenix seems ready to turn things over to the rest of the marketing department. His final message says we can expect "confirmation" today.

[Thanks hyJack]

Fusionnnnn Frennnzyyy!!

Microsoft announced today that the sequel to Fusion Frenzy -- creatively titled, Fusion Frenzy 2 -- will be released in the US in time for the holidays. The title is being developed by Hudson (Mario Party, Bomberman) and published by Microsoft Game Studios. For those unfamiliar with the original Xbox title (pictured above), Fuzion Frenzy is a party game full of frantic minigames and eXtreMe! character designs. It's kind of like Mario Party without all the boring board game sections (oh, snap!).

It will be interesting to see what Hudson does with the franchise -- the original game was developed by Blitz games, who are currently working on another 360 game, Possession. Anybody itching for a good 360 party game?

[Thanks, Paul]

Assassin's Creed finally official, probably.

Format Xbox 360
Developer Ubisoft
Publisher Ubisoft
Genre Action, Adventure

The above is a snippet from Computer and Videogames' latest preview of Assassin's Creed. In case you haven't made the connection yet, this more or less confirms the constantly shuffling status of the once almighty PS3 exclusive. That is to say, it's hitting both PS3 and 360, which almost everybody expected anyway. Now, lest this was merely a typo on the part of some poor soul at Computer and Videogames, I will sit here and wait to be shot down by Ubisoft.

The rest of you can dance in the streets.

[Via Evil Avatar]

See Team Fortress 2 and Portal in action

Lest you missed the news on Joystiq, Valve is releasing Half-Life 2 for the 360. Not only that, but the game will be packaged with Episode One, Episode Two, Team Fortress 2, and Portal. In celebration of this momentous news, we bring you precious trailers for Team Fortress 2 and Portal.

Team Fortress 2 is, of course, the sequel to the original Team Fortress. You may view a trailer for it at Xboxyde. Portal, a first person puzzler in the vein of Lode Runner and Solomon's Key, may prove to be the most interesting of the bunch, and you can see a video of it embedded in this very post.

I have just one word: gimme. Anybody else excited for this massive package of gaming goodness?

Grand Theft: MS robs Sony of GTA exclusivity

Console war vets nearly spilled their hot coffee Tuesday morning when Peter Moore's GTA tattoo-baring stunt at Microsoft's E3 keynote was over-zealously interpreted to imply exclusive rights to Grand Theft Auto IV. It quickly became clear that Sony didn't get jacked quite that badly. The first next-gen installment in Rockstar's amazingly popular yet politically touchy series will be released on both consoles simultaneously in October 2007. It's still great news for 360 owners, who won't have to wait an extra 12 months to run over high-polygon hookers. Conversely, it's a potentially signifcant blow to the golden kneecaps of the pricey PS3. Loyal Sony fanboys who go into usurious debt in order to purchase that caviar console would presumably prefer a little alone time with those dead prostitutes, at least until they get their credit card paid off. So much for what was once a major selling point. Sony may not have an edge when it comes to grand thievery, but they still have a license to steal -- from their customers.

F.E.A.R. confirmed for 360 this fall

We already knew it was coming, but Vivendi finally let us know that they know that we know and officially confirmed Monolith's spooky FPS. The port was originally anticipated due to developer Monolith's other creepy FPS, the Xbox 360's Condemned: Criminal Origins, having a similar code base to F.E.A.R. When Condemned was ported to PCs, the logical assumption was that F.E.A.R. could be ported to the 360.

The port is being handled by "Chicago-based Day 1 Studios, who worked on both MechAssault and MechAssault 2: Lone Wolf" and is due out this fall and will be on display at E3 next week. We'll let you know if the graphically demanding title appears to be making the transition smoothly.

[eM] -eNCHANT arM- becomes Enchanted Arms

[em] -eNCHANT arM-, the bizarrely named JRPG that snuck up on us in January, is coming to North America this summer with a shiny English translation (we assume) and a new, easier typable name, Enchanted Arms. IGN says, "As Atsuma, an Enchanter-in-training, you'll caper through 50 hours of gameplay adventuring with more than 75 unlockable creatures in turn-based strategy warfare."

Combined with the upcoming Japanese titles announced at last month's press conference, Hironobu Sakaguchi's Mistwalker games, and the recently announced Phantasy Star Universe, Microsoft's plan for Japan is looking increasingly strong.

[Thanks, Master X 24]

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