Sega will cut jobs and cancel titles as it attempts to "streamline" the home video games business in Europe and the US.
Parent company Sega Sammy released a statement announcing the "structural reform" today. It comes as Sega braces investors for an "extraordinary loss" for the full financial year ending 31st March 2012.
"The Consumer Business centred on Sega Corporation is expected to post operating loss in the year ending March 2012, due to the challenging economic climate and significant changes in the home video game software market environment in the US and Europe.
"Given this circumstance, the companies determined that in order to actualise earnings recovery of the Consumer Business in the following period and after and return to a growth path, it is essential to streamline organisations in the field of home video game software in the US and European markets, while shifting to a structure that corresponds to change in environment, including strengthening development in the field of digital content."
Games that will be cancelled weren't named. Eurogamer has asked Sega for clarification.
"[We] decided to narrow down sales titles from the following period and after to strong IPs such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Football Manager, Total War and Aliens."
Sega Sammy said this on the matter: "We conducted detailed reviews of earnings projections for titles targeted toward the US and European markets and decided to narrow down sales titles from the following period and after to strong IPs, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Football Manager, Total War and Aliens, which are expected to continue posting solid earnings.
"In accordance with this, we are cancelling the development of some game software titles."
Sega's "extraordinary loss" for the year will be 7.1 billion yen (-£54 million). The majority of that, 4.9 billion yen, has been incurred by the streamlining operation.
Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition will also be released on Mac OS X this summer, developer Overhaul Games has announced.
That takes BG:EE platforms to three: PC, iPad and OS X.
"The Enhanced Edition will include a variety of Mac OS X specific features, including widescreen and iCloud support," promised Overhaul on the BG:EE website.
Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition will be released via the Mac App Store. Therefore, you'll need Snow Leopard version 10.6.6 (or newer) to access it.
The Enhanced Edition of the renowned 1998 PC RPG will be powered by an "upgraded and improved" version of the Infinity Engine. The original BG adventure plus Tales of the Sword Coast expansion pack will be included, as will "never before seen content" - a new party member and adventure.
Overhaul Games is made up of former BioWare staff, and located "right down the street from the original BioWare office".
The current generation of consoles aren't powerful enough to host the Total War series, says developer The Creative Assembly - but it's optimistic that the next generation will be able to, and the Horsham studio has a plan that could see its successful strategy series finally making the jump.
"We've probably always talked about [Total War on console]," studio director Mike Simpson told Eurogamer. "I've always said that there's no fundamental reason why that kind of game couldn't work, but there are various problems that have to be overcome. You can't just take Total War on PC and then port it over to console."
"The current generation of consoles just can't cope - they don't have enough memory, by a large factor. Those technical reasons are probably the only reasons. A lot of people think that UI's a problem, because no one's really done it well before. I don't think that's a fundamental thing - I just think it's simply that no one's really done it very well before. A lot of the games have been ports of PC games without too much thought having gone into it."
Notable strategy games on this generation of consoles have included Stormrise, developed by The Creative Assembly's Australian studio, as well as Eugen System's Ruse and Ensemble's Halo Wars.
"It's not a huge genre on console right now," said Simpson. "But I think that's likely to change, for all sorts of reasons. The next generation of consoles, whenever they appear, will be more powerful than the current generation."
Simpson also acknowledged that should Total War come to console it'll likely be a different proposition to the PC experience, which recently saw another well-received expansion.
"The way people play on console is different to the way that you play on PC," Simpson said. "You don't sit down for four or five hours at a time, generally. It's much smaller play sessions, but we do have some very clever ideas in the pipeline for things we could do to make that happen. That applies not just to console, though - that's more about broadening the appeal of the game in general."
The original Apple 2 source code for Prince of Persia (1989) has been found by Jordan Mechner's father during a spot of spring cleaning.
A chuffed Jordan Mechner will now try to convert the archaic disks into a readable format for today's computers. And then he'll share what he can of the original Prince of Persia code on his website.
"My dad called from New York to tell me he was doing some spring cleaning and had shipped me a carton of old games and other stuff of mine he'd found in the back of a closet," Jordan Mechner wrote. "The carton arrived yesterday. My jaw dropped when I saw what was inside.
"No, I don't mean the stacks of Spanish Drosoft versions of POP and Karateka," he added, referencing the picture. "I mean those three little plastic 3.5" disk boxes nestled among them, which appear to contain the original Apple 2 source doe of Prince of Persia that I've been searching for, off and on, for the past 10 years, pestering everyone from Doug Carlston to Danny Gorlin and everyone who ever worked at Broderbund, and finally gave up hope of ever finding [it].
"I knew it wasn't like me to throw stuff out!"
The original, Apple 2 Prince of Persia game was released in 1989. It was ported wide and far. But it wasn't until 2003, and Mechner's Ubisoft collaboration on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, that the brand gained the status it enjoys today.
Ubisoft released a not-rubbish remake of the original Price of Persia game for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in 2007.
Mechner also wrote the story for the Jerry Bruckheimer Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time film, which aired in 2010.
The Collector's Edition of Guild Wars 2 costs €150/£130 here. But in North America it costs $150, which converts at today's rates to £95/€115.
Why has £35 been added?
"Currency fluctuations, distribution costs, taxes and market conditions in addition to the cost of goods are all contributing factors when setting pricing," publisher NCsoft explained to PC Gamer.
"These vary dramatically between NA and EU, and our pricing is competitive and adjusted accordingly."
The Collector's Edition comes stuffed with a 25cm statue of lore-iconic Charr warrior Rytlock Brimstone, and his eye-catching flaming sword. There are five art prints and a frame, too, plus a 112-page Making of Guild Wars 2 hardcover book and a Best of Guild Wars 2 CD soundtrack.
Collector's Editions and Digital Deluxe Editions (£65/€75) both give five in-game items. These are a Golem Banker, Chalice of Glory, Tome of Influence, Miniature Rytlock and Summon Mistfire Wolf Elite Skill.
You'll be able to pre-purchase (pay up front for) any of the three editions - Standard (£50/€55), Digital Deluxe, Collector's - from 10th April. Doing so nets you a Hero's Band item that boosts your character's statistics.
You also get guaranteed entry into all future Guild Wars 2 beta weekends, plus a three-day head start when the servers eventually go live.
Pre-orders (reserve the game for a small deposit) bestow a one-day head start when the servers go live.
Calling it a collection is pushing it, given the number of Silent Hill titles excluded from this package. But with HD makeovers all the rage these days, it's hard to argue with the appeal of a full refresh for the second and third instalments of Konami's beloved horror series.
The problem for the team tasked with such a remastering job is in managing the expectations of two distinct audiences: those coming to the experience for the first time, and those wishing to relive a classic. For the former group, elevating the presentation to acceptably modern standards might be enough, as long as the game holds up. But the latter's hawk-like glare will be checking that every pixel preserves the integrity of the original.
There's been a right old hoo-ha over this release and the quality of the conversions. Forums are aflame, rage fuelled by comparison images and videos ostensibly highlighting the shoddy, careless work that has destroyed these masterpieces. Even the original art director has joined in, expressing astonishment on Twitter that a screenshot of the PS3 update was taken from a "released version", branding it "poor". So, is all of this fair comment or more entitled whining from spoiled babies?
The short answer is that Hijinx Studios has turned in a package that is very sloppy in places, inexcusably inattentive in others - and yet, the games themselves still enthral and chill with such twisted brilliance, I couldn't help but fall for them all over again.
2001's Silent Hill 2 has suffered the most in transition. I'll leave the technical dissection to the more capable hands of Digital Foundry (who will look at the much-derided PS3 release, as well as the 360 version reviewed here, in a future article) - but the main problem is that they've buggered up the fog.
I don't really understand how or why, but the original's thick, dense clouds of mist have lifted and lightened to reveal a little bit more of the environment at any given time. For the most part this has no significant negative impact on the experience, though it remains a greater mystery than anything in either game why it looks worse now than it did on PS2 11 years ago.
There are, however, a few key scenes where the whole does suffer: a cut-scene by the lake, for instance, where the lighter fog exposes unfinished environments; or, worst of all, a sequence in which a boat is rowed across a lake, where the water now appears ridiculously luminescent, with embarrassingly visible joins.
Otherwise, the HD upgrade captures the lugubrious despair of this stiflingly sinister game rather well on a big modern telly. 2003's Silent Hill 3, meanwhile, fares far better overall. The visual leap between the original releases was striking enough; here, the added definition is very effective for the most part, vividly realising some of gaming's most horrifically gruesome scenes.
Playing the games side-by-side, I was struck by how different they feel in tone despite employing what are effectively the same mechanics and structure. In Silent Hill 2, James Sunderland's weird search for the wife he believes is dead unravels at a funereal pace, its chills coming from the psychologically oppressive story and setting, its dark secrets lurking menacingly in the mist. Silent Hill 3's horror is delivered with greater shocks, but its predecessor is scarier in part because of what it holds back, allowing the player to fill the darkness with their own terrible imaginings. It also features the magnificently terrifying Pyramid Head, an evil figure whose awful presence is rarely far away.
The story of Heather Mason, in Silent Hill 3, is more explicitly obsessed with matters of the occult, which the game's artists have seized upon with unsettling relish. Once past the rather boring first couple of hours, the visual inventiveness on display is staggering: a blood-spattered paean to the infinite possibilities of gore, with images that will haunt the mind long after the disc is back in the box.
Silent Hill 3 is the more varied title and the more accomplished game by modern standards. But the narrative is a bit too silly for its own good, its barking-mad conclusion memorable mainly for the grotesque visual climax rather than any character resolution. That said, for those on board since the PlayStation original, there are lots of neat incidental details chucked in to help make more sense of the universe.
In the context of today's games, the most arresting feature in both is the puzzle-solving. You will not be held by the hand in your journey around Silent Hill. Often you'll have little idea what to do or where to go next. Solutions can be obtuse, to say the least, and items essential to progress can be missed with dispiriting ease.
I have a dreadful memory for games I haven't played in years, a bonus here. Having to think, struggle and backtrack so frequently was a real jolt to the system - and a timely reminder of how linear action games are today, even those that purport to offer freedom. Silent Hill's lack of direction can be enormously frustrating, but it also helps this pair of oldies feel freshly engaging.
Inevitably, not everything has aged well. The bad old days of fighting against the in-game camera are back, and I lost count of the times I ended up going back on myself by mistake in confusion. And the standard of the translated dialogue in both games is, how shall I say, very 'video game from the early noughties'.
A quick note on the voice acting. All parts have been re-recorded for the HD Collection, with the original voices an option in Silent Hill 2 alone. From a purist's perspective, I can perfectly understand a preference for the original. But the performances were spectacularly awful first time around, and I much prefer the new takes - although there's still some appalling delivery from the new cast, most strikingly in Silent Hill 3.
Lip-syncing is another matter. Plainly, matching new dialogue with old animations must be a fiddly business. But there were too many occasions where I was left wondering whether Hijinx actually bothered trying to line them up at all. It's all over the place, to be honest, the worst instance coming at the climax of Silent Hill 3 - quite an important bit of the drama - where my characters lips were moving, but the words didn't come until seconds later.
None of the mishaps I've described were game-ruining for me (note: I haven't played the collection on PS3, which reportedly comes off worse). But we really should expect better treatment for titles of this calibre. Nothing better sums up the sheer laziness of it all than a glaring typo scrolling past in the new credits.
Silent Hill HD Collection is a product that screams "will this do?", when it should be a loud celebration of two gaming greats. And yet in spite of all that, the games themselves have aged far better than I would have expected, their foreboding atmosphere and striking imagery as impressive now as they were over a decade ago.
I can see why some fans will hate the way this collection has been handled. And I can also see how much there is for newcomers to enjoy. As a standard for HD remasters, it really isn't good enough. Lucky, then, that the games still are.
Last year's quirky Xbox 360 Summer of Arcade entry Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is coming to PC, developers Michel Gagne and Joe Olson have confirmed.
The pair broke the news on a Nintendojo podcast, confirming that the game will be available on Steam with full keyboard and mouse support included.
What's more, you'll get the multiplayer Shadow Hunters DLC expansion thrown in too.
The Metroid-inspired adventure divided the critics when it originally launched on Xbox Live Arcade last August.
"There is no metagame driving you forward here, other than the drive to explore for exploration's sake," read Simon Parkin's 6/10 Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet review.
"So what's left is the nucleus of a Metroidvania game, mechanically functional and regularly interesting, but a shadow of its inspiration nonetheless."
Double Fine's hugely successful Kickstarter initiative to fund a new old-school adventure game has brought the crowdsourcing hub a massive increase in pledge numbers.
A lengthy blog post from Kickstarter published earlier today revealed that Double Fine Adventure brought more than 60,000 first time backers to the site, and they've stuck around to help get more projects off the ground, both gaming-related and otherwise.
Before Double Fine came along, Kickstarter's games category averaged 629 pledges a week. That's soared to 9755 a week since Double Fine's drive went live, not including pledges to Double Fine itself.
A total of $1,776,372 had been pledged to video game projects in Kickstarter's first two years, but $2,890,704 has been pledged in the six weeks after Double Fine - or $6,227,075 if you count Tim Schafer's project too.
Pre-DFA, only one video game project had exceeded $100,000, but post-DFA, nine have.
What's more, of the 60,000 newcomers who donated to DFA, 13,715 have since pledged an additional $875,000 across 1200 different projects. Around $250,000 of that total was given to projects that are not game-related.
"Projects aren't fighting over a finite pool of Kickstarter dollars or backers. One project's backer isn't another project's loss," argued the post.
"The backers that one project brings often end up backing other projects as well. Each project is not only promoting itself, but the Kickstarter ecosystem as a whole."
New video game Kickstarters seem to be popping up almost weekly. We've had Brian Fargo's successful attempt at launching Wasteland 2, Halo Reach designer Christian Allen's not-so-successful attempt to fund old-school tactical shooter Takedown and, most recently, MonkeyPaw Games has called for financial help with localising JRPGs.
Ubisoft's survival caper I Am Alive is the most downloaded game on Xbox Live Arcade three weeks after it launched, Microsoft has announced.
As detailed in Major Nelson's chart rundown, Gotham City Impostors is showing impressive legs at two, followed by perennial seller Pinball FX2.
Rayman 3 HD is the highest new entry at four followed by critically lauded shoot 'em up Sine Mora at five.
Here's the full top 20:
Nelson also published the weekly Xbox Live activity chart, but there are few surprises there. Modern Warfare 3 still rules all, followed by Black Ops, FIFA 12, Battlefield 3 and Halo Reach.
The only game released this year to feature in the top 10 is Mass Effect 3 at 7. The only new entry in the top 20 is Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City at 14.
The full rundown:
Two UK distributors are refusing to ship the groundbreaking Raspberry Pi Linux microcomputer until it gets a CE mark to prove it complies with EU regulations.
A post on the the official Raspberry Pi site explained that RS Components and element14/Premier Farnell won't distribute the device until the mark has been awarded.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation initially disputed whether the device needed the mark, as it was not a "finished end product". However, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has since confirmed that it does.
The Foundation duly announced that it is "working with RS Components and element14/Premier Farnell to bring Raspberry Pi into a compliant state as soon as is humanly possible." It's unclear exactly how long that might take.
For a more detailed look at exactly what the device does and what its potential impact could be, head on over to Eurogamer's in-depth Raspberry Pi interview with project figurehead David Braben.