Castlevania fever is in the air. Actually, it’s more like a mild trend toward Castlevania-like symptoms, but whatever. Portrait of Ruin came out recently for the DS, Symphony of the Night is expected before the heat-death of the universe on Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade, and now Sony’s getting their mucus membranes exposed. Castlevania: Dracula X Chronicles has been announced for the PSP, containing the stateside-absent Dracula X: Rondo of Blood in its original form, in a remastered and gussied-up version, and also a remastered port of Symphony of the Night. 1up.com has a preview here, but I wouldn’t trust them; they’re infected.
Electronic Arts has publicly announced its intention to be considered the second-best developer for Nintendo’s platforms right behind the Big N itself. This coming just a week or so after rumblings from certain developers that publishers didn’t want to risk the potential frustration of designing for the Wii. With one of the Western world’s largest publishers committing (in a non-binding resolution) to support, it’s not hard to believe that others will gladly follow. Along with this comes official confirmation from the developer that Will Wright’s forthcoming Spore will have a version released for the DS. We’ve got SimCity coming, and Spore… now how about SimAnt? I wanna spread my angry scent, guys.
True stories have been circling around for a few days that Sweden is planning to open an "embassy" within the Second Life virtual world. It’s not exactly an embassy, though, since there will be no diplomats on staff, and it’s probably not considered the sovereign territory of the country. It will exist primarily for tourism purposes, advertising the wine, women, and song of the Norseland. This marks, I believe, the first time a nation has targeted its tourism advertisements to those least likely to get up off their asses and visit a foreign nation. What is encouraging is that the country considers Second Life a viable form of communication, which it certainly is.
In keeping with the spirit of digital communication and virtualized meetings, one of Reuters’ representatatives in the Second Life world, Adam Pasick, covered the recent World Economic Forum. The coverage was all performed in the real world, but was re-broadcast to a digital audience at Reuters’ stretch of property within Second Life. GamePolitics is running a story speculating on the future of political and social interaction via Second Life right here.
Right around the time that news hits of Japanese game Aquazone requiring a significant investment of MS Points (5,000, reports Joystiq) to unlock base achievements, Gamerscore Blog is conveying some new policies being enacted by Microsoft for future games regarding the acquisition of those achievements. The relevant quote: "All regular disc-based games MUST have 1,000 Gamerscore in the base game. This means that any consumer who buys a retail game will have the opportunity to unlock the full 1,000 Gamerscore without having to pay for any add-on content. Note that a publisher may decide to deliver a portion of this Gamerscore via add-on content, but the add-on content will always be free to the consumer." Emphasis mine, so don’t even think about it. Get your own emphases.
Paul Cuisset, creator of the near-classic Flashback, is rumored to be working on a new game for the Wii. I loved Flashback, and its spiritual cousin Another World/Out of this World, with their minimal stories and Prince of Persia platforming vibes. There’s no indication of what Cuisset’s new game will be like, but I’m hoping for something that retains the narrative feel of Flashback and dispenses with everything about Fade to Black. I also want amnesia.
I mentioned last week that Ritual Entertainment might be abandoning its SiN Episodes now that the company has been purchased by Mumbo Jumbo. Well, Ken Harward, the developer’s studio director, has confirmed that to be the case. "…we’re not focusing on the SiN franchise right now," he said to GamesIndustry.biz. "We need to put all of our energy towards the new games." Those new games are casual properties. It is expected that few of them will feature in-jokes for the forum denizens at Something Awful.