Sony dishes out … promotions

Sony management chaos! Ken Kutaragi, the outspoken Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. president, has been benched. Actually, he’s been “eased” out of his position, and Kaz Hirai of Sony’s US branch will replace him. You may remember Hirai as the man you brought us the famed “Riiiidge Racer” sound bite. Plus, he’s also recognized as the “face” of the PS3 North American launch, which was plagued by a lot of negative press.

Here’s a story from Digital World Tokyo:

In a shock move, the PlayStation godfather, Ken Kutaragi, has been eased out of his position as president of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) and will be replaced by Kaz Hirai, the head of SCEI’s US division.

Kutaragi loses day-to-to control of the division responsible for the PlayStation lineup, instead becoming chairman and group CEO. The move is likely to be seen as connected to the PS3 launch delays and poor PlayStation Portable (PSP) sales.

So, Kutaragi gets moved to CEO and group chairman, and Kaz Hirai gets a promotion and a ride to Tokyo. Are they trying to get Hirai the hell out of the U.S. by promoting him? Who knows? It certainly looks like that.

Sony put out a pair of press releases mapping out a wave of simultaneous promotions. Here’s one of them. Enjoy (cough).

Capcom tweaks ‘Lost Planet’ eye exam

Well, we saw the eye-straining mini-text in “Dead Rising,” and now in the demos for “Lost Planet,” where gamers with -10 vision spoke out about the microscopic text. The following is a release I got from Capcom, which essentially assures that the final product will be easier to follow text-wise and won’t make you blind.

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We have noticed the recent concern about the text size in Lost Planet for SDTV users, in particular the Elimination? mode of the multiplayer game where players scores are displayed on the top left of the screen. We want to assure gamers that we have already implemented a solution for text display in Elimination, which will be reflected in the final game (although its unfortunately not in the demo).

Lost Planet will automatically detect if you are playing on an SDTV and change the score display settings for this mode automatically. For the benefit of both you and your readers, weve included before and after shots of the text adjustment. In screenshot LP SD BEFORE?, you see how the text would have appeared before we implemented the change. In screen LP SD FINAL?, you can clearly see how the rankings text has been greatly enhanced, making it much easier for players to quickly determine scores and standing during a match.

We would also like to remind you that demos on Xbox Live Marketplace do not completely reflect the final product, as they are still early works in progress.

Additionally, steps have been taken within the single player game to make objectives more easily understood. New objectives are delivered to the player as both voice over and text. Once a new objective has been given, players can pause the game at any time to consult the in-game PDA.

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Here are some shots as examples:

Before: (note the text in the corner)

LP - SD BEFORE.JPG

And now, after:

LP - SD FINAL.JPG

Wii elbow? Yeah!

That’s according to a story in the Wall Street Journal about the first recorded cases of so-called “Wii elbow.” Essentially, the piece outlines what happens when gamers who’ve let their bodies coagulate from marathon sessions of stationary gaming suddenly find themselves vigorously slashing away with a fake sword. I, for one, have slight soreness in my shoulder from trying to bring the heat in Wii baseball. But I suck at baseball, so it’s a wash.

Naturally, some log bumps are going to complain about Wii work, but I love the response of Nintendo marketing VP Perrin Kaplan in the story: “It was not meant to be a Jenny Craig supplement,” she says. “If people are finding themselves sore, they may need to exercise more.” I don’t know her, but I get the sense she was tempted to say, “Get off your a–,” but took the high road instead.

Somewhere, the DDR folks are shaking their heads.

Euros cancel ‘Rule of Rose’ release

I thought the whole hoo-hah about “Rule of Rose” was over and done with … but not in Europe.

Eurogamer reports that 505 Games isn’t going to publish the horror title in the UK, with the Mayor of Rome and the European Justice and Security Commissioner furrowing their brows and wagging their fingers (surely tired from all the gaming they do) at the game’s content. If you’re in America, you can find “Rule of Rose” (published by Atlus) in stores.

What is the problem? People who have never played it have concocted images of little children slaughtering each other with scissors or having scandalous lesbian trysts during recess. Wrong. Sure, they’re twisted, “Children of the Corn”-like mongrels who are indeed evil, but it’s nowhere near as scary (or as bloody) as “Siren” or “Silent Hill.” I wish some of these critics would play these games — and by play, I mean a few hours, not just feebly wiggling the stick and bumping into walls like someone hit with a stun grenade.

If you play something for a while and still think it’s trouble, fine. No beef there. At least you’ll have an idea of what you’re talking about, and it makes it much easier to engage in meaningful discourse. Can’t do that with someone who’ll hold a 360 controller like its a chicken sandwich.

Give me the Kryptonite

I’m glad I played “Superman Returns” before Thanksgiving, because football and food were the only ways i was going to forget about it. My goodness — I filed the review today, and I can’t remember the last time I was so completely and wholly disheartened by a game experience.

I’m sure other things happened to me, but the only thing that sticks in my head is the sheer monotony of the missions. I don’t want to see any more robots — robots in the air, robots on the ground, big robots, small robots — I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt like Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange,” when he was sitting in a room with his eyelids pryed open and forced to watch wicked images and listen to music. Except it was robots and repetitive gameplay. What kills me about the game is that it was DELAYED. What happened? Why can I get through half the game in two hours?

You know what? I don’t care. What’s done is done. And I’m done talking about this game. Where’s the Wii?

This CANNOT be right …

supermansave.jpg

What you see before you is my first visit to the “Superman Returns” save screen. According to this, I’ve gone through half the game in roughly the time it takes to watch “Kill Bill”. As you would imagine, I’m a little confused by this. So confused that the following thoughts actually crossed my mind … not all of them make sense. That’s where I’m at.

- Perhaps the copy I got was garbled in some way, and I’m actually through 10 percent of the game.
- The game is finished when I reach 200 percent, since the math is different on Krypton (unlikely).
- The second half will go by very slowly, since it contains the meat of the game — two more hours might only net me 3 percent from now on.
- In reality, this game — which has already been delayed, mind you — could be one of the shortest gaming experiences ever.

Really, I don’t know what to think. The words are gone. Someone tell me I’m missing something.

A very Kal-El Thanksgiving — and more ‘Gears’

I got Superman in the mail today, and I’m hoping — no, praying — that I end up liking the game more than I liked the demo. The demo, which I thought was too short, wasn’t bad, but the deadpan dialogue and some early gameplay struggles watered down the experience for me a little bit (combat was a struggle) However, I enjoyed using Supe’s full arsenal of powers with little or no limits. And of course, I could fly around and break the sound barrier all day — though I need to stop hitting buildings and strafing the good people of Metropolis with errant heat vision blasts.

In the precious spare time I have, I’m also working though “Gears” on Insane difficulty. The biggest difference? The Locust can take more shots to the FACE, while a mere two to three good shots will lay you out. One Troika round chunks you instantly, and even the exploding Wretches now have fatal power. So another difference for me was … I die a lot more.

Yo quiero PlayStation 3?

I just saw on various news outlets that Taco Bell is offering a lifetime supply of food for anyone willing to donate a PlayStation 3. I also just realized that I wrote the word “lifetime” and “Taco Bell” in the same sentence.

The donated PS3 is going to the Boys & Girls Club, and the gift-giver gets more than 10,000 Taco Bell bucks. Who wins here? The Boys & Girls Club (thumbs up) perhaps, since steady ingestion of game system entertainment won’t quite speed you to the grave the way a diet of fourthmeals would.

Check out the whole story here.

New York Times review pwns PS3

Times tech writer Seth Schiesel showed the PS3 his pimp hand in a piece where the first sentence tells Howard Stringer that the system “just isn’t that great.”

Schiesel spent more than 30 hours worth of time with the much-hyped monolith, and it sounds like he came away with the feeling that Sony spent more time juicing up the engine instead of actually focusing on the entertainment. Here’s this nugget:

“Measured in megaflops, gigabytes and other technical benchmarks, the PlayStation 3 is certainly the worlds most powerful game console. It falls far short, however, of providing the worlds most engaging overall entertainment experience. There is a big difference, and Sony seems to have confused one for the other.”

Schiesel then goes on to break down his odyssey of wading through the “clunky” nature of the system and comparing it to — in his opinion — much easier to use counterpart, the Xbox 360. He comes up with a gem of a line, saying it seems that the PS3 “can’t walk and chew bubble gum at the same time.” He (and others) also mentioned that the system, even after its delay, still feels unfinished.

Click here to see the rest of Schiesel’s Hanzo sword of a review.

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PTA and ESRB join forces

The Parent Teacher Association and the Entertainment Software Ratings Board are banding together to educate parents about the video games rating system and what it all means. The method? A nationwide campaign to hand out more than 1 million brochures to PTA chapters, with the brochures outlining what the ratings are and how you can interpret them.

Full press release awaits your clickage, if you want to know more.

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