Currents Top Ten I Namco Creates New Subsidiary I Pro-Family Institute Attacks Jack Thompson I PSP Firmware Updated to 2.5 I GameStop + EB = Unemployment I Nintendo DS Gets Venereal Disease I Jack Thompson Fires Back I Stock Ticker
Issue #24 Assault and Battery October 15, 2005

Front Page

I've just returned from watching the new Wallace and Gromit movie. Now, I had never seen a Wallace and Gromit movie before, nor had I even heard of such a pair prior to seeing aired television advertisements announcing the advent of said film. Why, you ask, did I then commit an hour and thirty-four minutes of my life to this event? I'm not quite certain myself. The film was, no doubt, entertaining, but I would probably have found it more humourous had I been fifteen years younger. Oh, and the small children running about the theater, whooping and hollering whilst their guardians "yelled" at them through hoarse whispers didn't quite make for a comfortable night on the town.

Ah yes, I now remember why I went. For whatever reason, the love of my life finds this Wallace and Gromit most entertaining. I went as moral support. Needless to say, she owes me big time. And she owes you all as well. For were it not for this film, you'd have received this column much earlier and would likely be reading a Front Page devoted to another topic entirely. That being said, do with this what you will -- and don't miss an upcoming opportunity to have your letter published in the column. Details are in the Back Page section.

 Currents Top Ten

Since last week's Top Ten featured game rentals, I won't be comparing this week's issue to it. Instead, I shall give props to EA Sports for once again monopolizing the list. Five EA Sports titles (more or less) grace the list this week as well as a double entry for an RPG down at the very bottom there.

X-Men Legends II comes in at 9th and 10th this week and yours truly is currently playing through RPGamer's copy of the game with high hopes of getting a review out to you all promptly. But this has nothing to do with the Top Ten so let's move on, shall we? Sly Cooper's third escapade debuts at 5th place, Mortal Kombat's adventure game at 8th, and FPS Far Cry for Xbox at 4th.

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 NBA Live 06 EA Sports
2 FIFA 06 EA Sports
3 Far Cry Instincts Ubisoft
4 NBA Live 06 EA Sports
5 Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves Sony Computer Entertainment America
6 FIFA 06 EA Sports
7 Madden NFL 06 EA Sports
8 Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks Midway
9 X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse Activision
10 X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse Activision

Source: GameSpot

 Namco Creates New Subsidiary


This week, Namco America, Inc., a well-known publisher of wireless content in the western hemisphere, announced the opening of a new subsidiary with a somewhat new name: Namco Networks America, Inc. As might have been deduced from the name, this new subsidiary will be dedicated to providing both American continents with mobile entertainment, mainly games.

Kenji Hisatsune, the current executive vice president and COO of Namco America, will helm the new company as president, COO, and CEO beginning on January 1, 2006 -- the day the subsidiary opens for business. Namco Networks America will officially operate under its parent company, Namco Bandai Holdings (USA) Inc.

"The mobile games industry is thriving, and the establishment of Namco Networks shows our dedication to the mobile and network industry," said Hisatsune. "Through quality titles, strong partnerships and revenue growth, we have created a reputation of excellence, a reputation which is maintained by our team of dedicated professionals."

Gamers can expect classic Namco titles such as PAC-MAN and Dig Dug to continue to be available via their mobile phone service provider. Namco has also released PAC-MANIA, a 3D version of PAC-MAN and plans to release other 3D games for the mobile market in the future. RPG titles, however, were not mentioned, but that doesn't mean that RPGamers can't cross their fingers for Tales of Phantasia or some other such unlocalized title.

In addition to games, Namco Networks will also provide video game music and images for mobile phones. This should widen gamers' ringtone libraries quite liberally.

Said Hisatsune, "We are looking forward to expanding our business offerings to allow for growth and opportunity in all aspects of the mobile and networks industry."

 Pro-Family Institute Attacks Jack Thompson

Attorney and anti-video game advocate Jack Thompson claims that the National Institute on Media and the Family supports his campaign against all things fun. And the NIMF is not happy about that one bit. Though both Thompson and the NIMF are critics of violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt, the founder of the NIMF, Dr. David Walsh, wrote an open letter to the attorney discussing his dislike of Thompson's claims about his company. Several copies of the letter were also sent to such people as Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, and the ESA's Doug Lowenstein, whom Thompson likes to compare to Adolf Hitler.

Walsh begins the letter by explaining to Thompson that he founded the NIMF "to engage in research and education about the effects of media on children's health and development." Walsh continues, "I know that you share that common concern and I am well aware that you have frequently cited me and our organisation as a source of scientific information.

"However, over the past few months, I and members of my board have a growing concern that your use of our name, without our permission, has had a negative influence as we try to educate the public on this important issue.

"Your commentary has included extreme hyperbole and your tactics have included personally attacking individuals for whom I have a great deal of respect... Some of the people that you have publicly criticised are not only people of integrity, but are people who have worked to improve the lives of children." Walsh goes on to say that the NIMF does not condone "these tactics."

"The result is that our position and reputation as a research based, non-partisan, solution-focused organisation has been jeopardised.

"Consequently, I ask that you cease using the institute's or my name in any way that would give the impression that we support your efforts." Walsh also asked to have any links to the NIMF's website removed from Thompson's site.

You can bet that Mr. Thompson didn't take this letter quietly. Not to worry, though. I'll have his response for you right after these next few stories.


 PSP Firmware Updated to 2.5

Within weeks of the discovery of a security loophole in Sony's PSP firmware version 2.0, the handheld has seen its second upgrade. The loophole allowed gamers with the right tools to downgrade their PSP version 2.0 systems back down to version 1.5.

Why would anyone do that? Well version 1.5 allows users to play homebrew applications, emulators, and pirated games on the PSP, an ability that was stopped with subsequent version upgrades. Since, however, version 2.0 is specifically required to downgrade, Sony quickly released version 2.01, which did nothing but remedy the security loophole in 2.0.

The brand new version 2.5 release, though, adds some new features to the PSP's growing library of functions. Though 2.5's features may not be as impressive as the web browser and wallpaper support that 2.0 brought it, they're a step up from 2.01's virtually nothing.

2.5 adds support for copyright-protected video, the ability to set the clock directly from the internet, the ability to watch video over wireless networks using Sony's proprietary LocationFree technology, a few glitch fixes in the web browser, and stiffer security.


 GameStop + EB = Unemployment

GameStop has just finalized its acquisition of Electronic Boutique and has revealed what should come to pass in the transitionary phase of the next several months.

For one, GameStop plans to close EB's headquarters offices in Philadelphia, at which currently hundreds of people are employed. Furthermore, the new company plans to steadily close warehouses associated with EB in a staggered process, ending in July of 2006.

576 full-time employees will lose their jobs in this transitionary phase, as well as 159 seasonal employees. GameStop has mentioned no plans for closing any of EB's retail stores, however. After all EB stores are renamed with the GameStop name, the closing of EB's headquarters will be the final nail in the company's coffin, officially destroying the brand name.

As far as what the company plans to do to help its hundreds of severed employees, some workers will be offered jobs in GameStop offices located in Grapevine, Texas.

GameStop's executive offices will also see some changes as four new additions from EB's offices, including EB founder James J. Kim, join the company. The four will become part of the new company's board of directors.


 Nintendo DS Gets Venereal Disease

Nintendo DS

Similar to the PSP's virus mentioned last week, Nintendo's DS handheld has come under attack from a trojan that wipes the system's firmware and renders it useless.

Though the PSP's virus was disguised as software application, this DS trojan tricks users into thinking it's a pornographic homebrew program.

Actually, that's a bit misleading. The virus is actually programmed into the pornographic program, supposedly designed for viewing hentai - erotic anime. The program doesn't even need to be run for it to do its damage; it takes effect the instant it is uploaded into the DS. Those who have dumped their DS firmware files onto a flash card, however, should be able to reactivate an infected DS. PSP infectees are less fortunate in that regard.


 Jack Thompson Fires Back

Let's just cut to the chase, shall we? You know what the head of NIMF, Dr. David Walsh, has said to Thompson. Here's what Thompson had to say in response.

"Dr. Walsh's efforts are funded by Target and by a foundation run by Best Buy lawyer and Best Buy Director Elliot Kaplan," he said, adding, "I am suing Target and Best Buy over the Bully game, which both Target and Best Buy are pre-selling. You connect the dots."

Thompson then went on to deny the claims made by the NIMF that he suggested the Institution supported his campaign. "The fact is, I have never suggested that Dr. Walsh approves of what I do," Thompson replied. "I have countless times told people that I believe he is an expert about the dangers of video games. The mistake I made, apparently naively, is in thinking that a person of his expertise would use it actually to help some bereaved families rather than choose to protect his relationship with portions of the video game industry and its reckless retail network."

In response to Walsh's forwarding of the letter to politicians, retailers, and game publishers, Thompson said, "I am a Christian. As far as I know, Dr. Walsh is as well... There is a very clear passage in the New Testament in which believers are admonished that if they have a problem with someone, to go to that person in private and try and work it out. He didn't do that. He did not want to do that. What he wanted to do, it seems is ingratiate himself with some of the folks that fund his organization, so that he will continue to be considered 'a responsible critic'--one who can be counted upon not to go too far with his criticism." Now, I'm no biblical expert here, but wouldn't it be safe to say that Thompson is doing the same thing here that he's accusing Walsh of doing? Should Jack not have responded to the doctor privately, as he is suggesting?

And in conclusion, Jack Thompson once again laid into Walsh by finishing off with, "A child psychologist who would give a heads up to Doug Lowenstein in such a matter without confronting me directly man-to-man is a person who has lost his way, in more ways than one. He is the latest casualty in an escalating war started by a reckless industry whose socipathic [sic] poster child is [Take-Two Interactive president] Paul Eibeler. Dr. Walsh has now cast his [lot] and his efforts, whether wittingly or unwittingly, with him."

Make what you will of that. I'm not quite sure what to think of it, myself. I'm a bit surprised to hear a man of law attacking someone so feverishly in a professional public statement. He even questioned the doctor's faith, which to me sounds like a personal character attack -- a cheap shot akin to a kick in the groin, perhaps. Maybe the man behind the campaign against violent video games has some violence issues of his own to work out.

Source: GameSpot

 Stock Ticker

Awesome. The market is certainly sporting a pretty shade of green today, despite Thompson's wrath. Every company is up, and up by quite a bit, from yesterday, except one. This is reason for celebration. Everyone gather 'round -- I'm making s'mores. Unfortunately, however, Square Enix won't be getting any treats. They were the only company down this week by a total of 8 cents.

Not only are most companies up for the day, but all but three are up from last week. Square Enix, Konami, and Ubi Soft have all dropped during the course of the week. The high of the day goes to Electronic Arts, if the Top Ten list wasn't any indication. Their stocks rose $1.66 from yesterday. We've already discussed the low, so let's not add any more insult to injury for Square Enix, all right? Poor guys.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market closing 10.14.2005

Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 33.47 0.64
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 24.67 0.08
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 14.35 0.20
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 54.06 1.66
SQNXF Square Enix PNK 27.16 (0.08)
KNM Konami NYSE 21.20 0.20
ATVI Activision Nasdaq 20.55 0.89
MWY Midway NYSE 16.29 0.18
SGAMY Sega PNK 19.25 0.15
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 50.28 0.24

Source: CNN Money

 Back Page

That'll be it for this week. I'm planning another special comments section next week, so I had better get piles of e-mail. I've only done this once before, so I'll give you all a quick recap on what goes down. I give you a topic, you send me your thoughts and opinions on the topic, and I post it in next week's column. This time, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the latest goings-on involving Jack Thompson. He's clearly not a popular guy in the video game corner of the universe, but I'm sure that not everyone hates him. Why do you hate him? Why do you love him? Is he a saint or is he insane? Do you agree with what he's doing? Tell me what you think by shooting me an e-mail at

Remember though, no questions because they won't get answered. Just give me thoughts.

See you all next week.

Elliot "Taking on Apocalypse one X-Man at a time" Guisinger

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