Some interesting news on the homebrew front this morning. According to posters at PSP Updates (via EvilAvatar) the two most recent firmware updates for Sony’s handheld have included code that seems intended to allow launching ISO files from a memory stick. Though this has been a possibility in Dark_Alex’s custom firmware for a while now, having it appear in an official firmware suggests Sony may be preparing to release games directly to the PSP, without the need for the UMD. Wild speculation suggests this hints at downloadable PS1 games, and also that I am the king of Prussia. It’s important to note that this potential ISO loader is inaccessible to PSP owners who don’t possess near-godlike coding abilities.

GWN has an extensive preview of Puzzle Quest for the Xbox Live Arcade. The game still has a solid residence in my PSP, but I think I may be swayed to double-dip on this one. The features being added into the already-addictive game include local multiplayer, ranked multiplayer over Live, free-play heroes outside the story, and, of course, achievements!

GamaSutra has a fascinating interview with Bill Roper of Flagship Studios, formerly of Blizzard. Flagship are continuing to work on their street-level successor DiabloHellgate: London. Topics of discussion include why Roper and his team left Blizzard in the first place, and the controversial subscription model for Hellgate. In Roper’s words, the latter almost seems like a reasonable imposition on the game. "…I think some people believed they were somehow getting a lesser experience than subscribers out of the box, and that simply isn’t true. The subscription model is there for players who want more and are interested in enjoying a steady stream of continuing content." Hellgate: London is sure to be a blast, what with the established gameplay and all, but I predict the economic experiment of the subscription model will fall as flat as $2.50 for horse armor.

Yay! Mass Effect has partial nudity and sexual themes! More importantly, Mass Effect has an ESRB rating, which means the ratings board has had a chance to see (presumably) complete portions of the game. We can’t be that far behind. I hope that the sexual themes are contained in a deep flirting minigame, in which the dynamic dialogue system presents you with dozens of synonyms for, "If you know what I mean."

A little eyecandy to wrap up your Monday: Donkey Kong DS, courtesy GameBrink. It’s kind of fun to have a console so capable with 2D games as such a presence in the gaming community. Between New Super Mario Bros., Sonic Rush, and DK, we get some decent sequels to games whose franchises have long since evolved past 2D.

The week releases things, but not many of them:

Jewels of Cleopatra

Ninja Gaiden Sigma

XBOX 360:
Vampire Rain (whut?)

Chicken Shoot

Chicken Shoot
Platinum Sudoku
Vegas Casino High 5!