MIA: FreeOn

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I got the idea last night – there’s a lot of stuff we’ve reported about that hasn’t been talked about many other places, and subsequently disappeared. I figured it’d be nice to bring these things out into the open again, with fresh eyes. I may do another deeper post with news bits that have since dried up, but for now, I’ll focus on things we saw at tradeshows and did full reports on. Let’s begin! Just one for now, perhaps another tomorrow.

Here’s the FreeOn. This was a korean handheld we saw at E3 2003, which had cellphone properties to it, but was a dedicated system with bluetooth and a 32bit ARM 7 Core CPU, and actually used carts. It was touted as the ‘first bluetooth handheld,’ but of course wasn’t, as it didn’t come out. Here are some things about it, according to, well, me when I wrote it! “The voice recognition device (though called a voice recorder above), allows you to tell the game to do certain things. Like if you want to drop a bomb, say ‘bomb’, and the game does this. Very curious thing to do with a handheld.

The SDK is free, and games can be downloaded online, though most will come in the rom carts. There’s a Virtual Machine in the hardware, though it’s not JAVA. It’s a proprietary VM, and java games must be ported to it in order to work. Again, a very odd choice.

We used to have a video of it, I’ll have to see if it’s still around somewhere. The website for the handheld has long since disappeared, but we had updates on november 27, 2003 and april 4, 2004 showing new hardware revisions. You can find those images here and here via the wayback machine. That last one I linked was basically the final update, and that original link is pretty much the only available english-language account of the thing.

What we saw was an actual playable version, which was a bit uglier than some of the concepts, but at least it worked. I also remember that the president of the company had really bad breath, so I didn’t get as much information as I otherwise would have. You can check out some of their own videos here, which mostly consist of zooming in on blonde girls, and setting up their booth. If you want to see a bit of the system in action, check the video 6.wmv – not much though. I’ll keep you updated as to whether the insert credit archives actually still contain any FreeOn videos, and anyone who knows more about the whereabouts of the hardware or the company, please let me know!

Link: SEGA fires up AC Ravens

ac_ravens_logo1.jpgFollowing on from a news post I did over a week ago, SEGA have created a new community site for Armored Core in the US. Called AC Ravens it’s got a semi-interesting currency system going on. Much like in Armored Core missions, where you complete the objectives to earn cash, this community offers AC$ to those that complete certain tasks on the site. You can also use these AC$ to buy real world goods, such as games and toys in the Gear section (though bear in mind that you start with 100 clams and most items require about 30,000 or more).

Slightly disheartening news on the cover art however; the original Japanese box art is being dropped in favour of “Revenge of Roboman“, which is a nasty composite of desktop publishing mediocrity. Apparently, the Roboman cover is “locked down” and “can’t be changed”. This despite protests from the people, who are now used to shiny From Software artwork since Nexus. Honestly though, why ship a game with a crap cover when a far better one already exists?

News: Welcome to the Rash (Road Rash fansite)

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Here’s a very nice site devoted to the Road Rash 16 bit series. Recently at the 1up awards I asked a group of folks to guess the one EA game I ever liked (the ones they published in japan, such as Soukyuugurentai and Rabbit don’t count against this – and that wound up being a bonus question later). The answer, of course, was the original Road Rash. Good game! I even stumped EA’s head of corporate communications.

If your feelings toward the game are similar, this site is probably for you. It’s got profiles of all of the characters, screens from each stage, weapons, and of course…the sounds. The complete stage soundtracks are all here, though I can’t direct link the section, as the webmaster knows more about html than I do. The Road Rash CD sounds section isn’t working at the moment, but I’m sure he’ll fix it.

And incidentally, if you want to hear about how EA initially got in with Sega, and then started hating them (which basically killed the Dreamcast, hurrah), you can read about it in this nifty history of EA feature. Most of the good stuff is on page 3.

News: Saturn system disc

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The Saturn (#5,980 in amazon’s sales ranking, sadly) was notoriously tough to crack, and even harder to emulate. Far more difficult than the Dreamcast on both counts. Initially, it seems, each developer was to be given specific boot discs so that they could run their dev burns on retail systems. But that ultimately never happened – what did happen is the system disc, which a white hat hacker by the name of programming ace has checked into. In the end he winds up stumped, but it’s an interesting piece of Saturn lore nonetheless.

News: Pocket Pad

pocketpads.jpgYet another version of the SMS handheld has surfaced, in addition to the two we already mentioned. This one’s got an MP3 player in it, and supports SD cards. Likely you can’t load SMS roms on it, but wouldn’t that be nice? It only comes with 10 games, versus the Coleco/PlayPal’s 20, but certainly has a nicer general design.
Plus it’s got both ‘start’ and ‘stop’ buttons, which is clearly the best thing ever. They’re obviously for different purposes, but I like having them so close together.

No word on whether the games are merely half the ones you find in the others, or if there are different titles found herein, but we do know that it’s sold exclusively via British Airways. You can either click a reminder to purchase it on the plane, or you can get it sent through mail order. It’s discounted to £65 from £75, but that’s still around $120, so quite an investment. I’ve asked to be sent one, we’ll see if I can get additional info. That 1gb of internal memory just begs to be filled with SMS roms…if only! Thanks to sweater fish for the link, though apparently some of this info was around the block a bit before the unit was released…

Incidentally, the day after I posted about the Coleco version of the handheld at Target, it went on sale for $20. I’m guessing all of you who clicked the link a bit late noticed this, because now it’s completely sold out. That’s that, then!

Music: Sega Bass Fishing

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An oldie but goodie, and a worthy addition to our previous music posts. And I realize, compared to some of the other stuff that’s been posted, it’s a bit newish! This ‘cover’ of Sega Bass Fishing is on the grindcore band’s our last day album, which is pretty good if you like your grindcore a bit more progressive. It’s under a meg, and I’ve uploaded it right here. If you want to hear the next song on the album, entitled ‘Ikaruga,’ well…I guess you’ll just have to buy it, won’t you?

News: SNES outselling PS3

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Nevermind that this looks a bit like a blog post, I found this humorous. Reading some UK Resistance comments today, I came across something interesting – the SNES is outselling the PS3 on amazon’s video game sales section right now (which realistically means very little in the grand scheme of things, but who can resist?).

I took screenshots, because of course this isn’t going to last. When I checked the SNES was at 15, and the PS3 was at 51. Right now it’s more like 13 and 32, but still! Must be a virtual console-inspired resurgance. Also worth noting that the Wii, DS, and 360 are all still selling better than the SNES. But where’s the Genesis? As of right now, Model 1 is #148, Model 3 is #829 (but that’s its own fault). The superior Model 2 is at a ridiculous #1,968 – probably due to not having a picture by it when you search.

News: Treasure Gaust DS

treasure_gaust_kid1.jpgI remember the dark days of the Barcode Battler, ruffians ripping barcodes off packaged goods to find the most uber monster they could. Bandai, it seems, have outdone themselves with a range of toys that detect natural magnetic fields which then unlock uber monsters to play with. Entitled, Treasure Gaust (I am assuming the latter is an Engrish attempt at spelling gaussed) these toys are pretty rudimentary.

However, there’s a DS game now on the way that uses the same technology. Yes, that’s right; the terrifying popularity of the DS Lite in Japan coupled with kids fervently searching the country for the ultimate magnetic field…I…I can’t comprehend that level of merchandising carnage. Just…can’t. Personally, I think it’s a novel feature to use in a game mainly because you can’t see magnetic fields and kids (predominantly) will be forced to search for them (unlike games such as Boktai that worked off, well, sunlight).

No release date is set but it’s penciled in as Q1 2007, so that should give people in Japan enough warning to fortify their homes and don body armor (preferably de-magnetised body armor, obviously).

feature: the insertcredit.com 2006 fukubukuro: GAME OF THE YEAR EDITION

she'll cut you in two Greetings, princes and princesses of the universe and/or the internet! It’s just me, tim rogers, tired after a long journey and lots of iron pumping. I’m here bearing a gift — the insertcredit.com fukubukuro 2006: GAME OF THE YEAR EDITION.

If you recall, I have, on previous occasions, written articles called “fukubukuro”, which is Japanese for “lucky bag”, and made big events out of putting those on the website. A real-life fukubukuro, sold at various retailers all over Japan on New Year’s Day, might have a Tonka truck tire, a handful of kitty litter, a couple of Tootsie Roll Pops, and an HD-DVD player in it, though you’ll never know when you put down the money for it.

This fukubukuro is a little late for New Year’s, and maybe that means that we’re not just getting rid of overstock — maybe it means we (and I) have something to say. Or maybe it doesn’t!

See for yourself! Expect very long reviews of at least three major games, and maybe a giant, rambling, world-changing essay of sorts. It’s bursting with content — ten full-length articles totalling roughly 80,000 words, written in sentences and paragraphs, here and there, over the course of 2005 and 2006 (though mostly in the closing weeks of 2006). The reason I never put them on the website, uhh, as I was actually writing them is because, uhh, HTML is a hell of a lot harder than doing nothing.

Thanks for reading, and send me an email at tim at this website dot com to let me know what you think. I’m personally not poor anymore, so you don’t even need to send me money to guarantee a response! What a bargain!

You simply have to realize how much value you’re getting here. 80,000 words! That’s like 27 issues of EGM! Or thirty-five days of CNN!

Goodnight, then, and continue to be gorgeous!

And oh yes! Before I twinkle off into Fairyland, let me inform you that the official insertcredit.com fukubukuro 2006: GAME OF THE YEAR EDITION discussion is right over here, at the selectbutton.net forums.

Toodles, then!

News: Armored Core Championship Battle 2007

ac_champ_2007_1.jpgMuch like with almost every game in the Armored Core series, Armored Core 4 is being treated to a large tournament. The main differences now are that instead of having the tournament held in a real world location it is instead being hosted over the ether first, the second big difference is that the winner will receive 200,000 yen in prize money. The tournament starts on March 1st and lasts for 21 days. Those that find themselves in the top 30 in the online rankings will then have a showdown in Tokyo. Entry into the tournament will be free.