Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Skinny, The Word on the Street, Scuttlebutt

I take advantage of any time I can use the word scuttlebutt. Here's the latest word on the gaming world street.

New Games Added to Xbox Live Arcade - I've written about this great feature before, so I'd like to thank game developer Midway for making me look like Nostradamus. Soon to be added to the great library of classic titles on Xbox Live Aracade are: "Paperboy", "Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3", "Defender" and "Cyberball". I'm particularly excited about "Cyberball", one of my all time favorite arcade games - right up there with "Ms. Pac Man" and "Karate Champ". The release dates and prices haven't been confirmed but since most Xbox Live Arcade games are free or dirt cheap (around $5), I'd expect them to be very affordable.

Best of Platinum Hits - Most gamers are familiar with Platinum Hits - best selling, slightly older, video games offered for $20. Now Microsoft is announcing its Best of Platinum Hits, this time selling for only $10. Its a great way to pick up some classic games on the cheap. Here are the first wave of titles, most of them available this month.

Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (Bethesda Softworks)• Enter the Matrix (Atari)• Fuzion Frenzy (Microsoft Game Studios)• Project Gotham Racing 2 (Microsoft Game Studios)• Shrek 2 (Activision)• Soul Calibur II (Namco)• Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon (Ubisoft)• Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Island Thunder (Ubisoft)• Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3(Ubisoft)• Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow (Ubisoft)• Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Ubisoft)• Tony Hawk’s Underground (Activision)• Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 (Activision)• True Crimes: Streets of LA (Activision)• MechAssault (Microsoft Game Studios)• Counterstrike (Microsoft Game Studios)

Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD - The long awaited battle between these two new home movie formats is about to get under way. From May through July, Lionsgate will release 10 movies (Punisher, Saw, Terminator 2, Total Recall, Stargate, Dune, The Devils Rejects, Crash, Lord of War, Reservoir Dogs) on the Blu-ray format. They'll range in price from $29.99-$39.99. I'm sure HD-DVD movies will cost about the same.

I know what you're thinking, "$40 for a movie? Are they crazy?". The answer is yes. At least for now. Don't rush out and get one of these new players, the price will come down just like it did when CD and DVD players became commonplace. Besides that, Blu-ray and HD-DVD movies are only worthwhile if you have the appropriate system to play them on - in other words, a state of the art home entertainment system. So don't panic. The good news is, this should drop the price of DVD's pretty soon.

But how does this effect gamers? Good question. Sony and Microsoft have taken opposite sides to the Blu-ray/HD-DVD battle. Sony (PS2) is betting on Blu-ray, Microsoft (Xbox) on HD-DVD. One of them is wagering on the wrong team. This could end up as bad as the Beta/VHS war in the 80's. Right now, Blu-ray has more studios signed up with them. Whether or not that means anything is still up in the air. We'll all just have to wait and see.

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