Guitar Hero
shares a lot with the Madden games: both franchises are based around activities that you could conceivably do beyond your console; both offer "variation on a theme" gameplay; and now it looks as if both will be locked into a yearly release schedule. RedOctane president Kai Huang has stated that fans can expect a
new iteration of Guitar Hero every year. This is in addition to content packs and musical sidequests, such as the upcoming 80s edition. Because nothing pleases the fans like endless repeat purchases of what is essentially the same game.

Incidentally, the same article mentions that Huang is aware of the outcry over how additional songs are priced on the Xbox Live Marketplace. He makes it known that his company will consider changing the pricing structure, since the fans have started frothing at the mouth.

Most of my experience with Neo Geo games came from the (various, defunct) arcades around town. I knew one kid who owned the console. He also owned a solid gold puppy. Now, in an interview with IGN, SNK president Ben Herman has announced that the Wii Virtual Console will starting distributing Neo Geo games this summer, bringing the greatness into the houses of a good many more people than the original console ever reached. Even better, the games won’t cost $500 individually, or whatever they were, but instead will land somewhere just Northwards of the $8 SNES pricing per game.

I’ve got to throw in a couple bucks of my opinions on the recent Virginia Tech shootings and the expected (unreasonable) condemnation of violent videogames. Joystiq has a well-meaning declaration by Kyle Orland right now, which implies something worthwhile but doesn’t quite make it there. What the carnival of pundits crying out against videogames are trying to do, with their many armchair degrees, is draw a cognitive link between densensitization and insensitive action. That represents a huge leap in brain function. Issuing a statement such as Orland’s, which claims that the author knows the difference between fantasy and reality, misses one key factor: we don’t even have to drag fantasy into this. The human brain just doesn’t function on opposites, such as the insistance that passive receipt of violence can be the source of the action of violence. This is a good time to trot out this fascinating body of work by prominent sociologist Karen Sternheimer.

What if the pundits are right? What if our mirror neurons make the semi-active process of gaming identical to participating in original violent acts? In that case, this lengthy and enjoyable article by Richard Cobbett on the topic of the Leisure Suit Larry series has reminded me that I, too, think quite highly of my prowess in bed and ought to really get on seducing all the eligible ladies around here. I also think that lounge music is cool.

A little blurb here for an upcoming PSP game called Zendoku, which aims to do for Sudoku what Puzzle Quest did for Bejeweled. The gameplay trailer in the link hasn’t done much to sell me on the concept, but I blame that at least partially on the inclusion of weird, off-topic minigames that seem to feature heavily in the gameplay. That shit looks as though it ought to be done with a stylus. In a Wario Ware title.

Finally today, Shacknews brings us word of yet another nifty community-building measure being undertaken by Microsoft. The Big M, along with their sponsor the New York Television Festival, would like budding creative types to submit "pilot episodes" in the form of 5-15 minute shorts. The show with the most potential will get a $100,000 budget to make a six-episode run for distribution via the Xbox Live Marketplace. I love each and every effort that Microsoft makes to involve end-users and amateurs in the Marketplace. An entry kit is available in the link. Snap to it!