Currents Top Ten I Minnesota Passes Game Bill I PSP Updated to 2.71 I 360 Backwards Compatibility to Continue I Alienware Assembling PCs with Blu-ray I Video Games: Olympic Sport? I Stock Ticker
Issue #38 Wha? June 3, 2006

Front Page

What? What's going on here? Currents? Sounds familiar, but I can't put my finger on it. What was it exactly? Huh? Elliot Guisinger? Who's that hoser? And why should I listen to what he has to ramble about? Again, sounds familiar, but not enough for me to care.

If you asked yourself any of the above questions, then thanks for the love. Thanks for having my back like you said you would. I've met man-eating alligators more loyal than you. If you, however, asked none of the above questions and instead jumped with glee and clicked your heels together, then thank you. You're a true friend and I will be a surrogate mother to your child should you require one.

Yes. It's Currents, your source of hardware and gaming industry news here at RPGamer. Welcome back, folks. It's been a while for me, but I think I can fill my old shoes in enough to keep you sane for the next 10 minutes. If I can't, then I'll testify at your aggravated assault trial. Yes, even if I'm the victim. Let's get down to business now, shall we?

 Currents Top Ten

Remember this part, the Top Ten? Or did you forget it along with the rest of the column? This is where I list for you the top-selling video games of the week as told by Best Buy. I also compare the sales chart to the one from the previous week. But since there was no Currents last week... or the last several months, I'll cut it short with just this week's sales chart.

Well things sure have changed since the last time I did a column. Nintendo games are claiming the top 2 spots this week. I wonder if New Super Mario Bros., which is an outstanding game by the way, will ever get knocked down. I hear it's been up there since it was released a few weeks ago. Kudos go to Microsoft for having a whopping 6 Xbox360 titles in this week's list. Sony rounds out the bottom with the teflon-coated Kingdom Hearts II.

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 New Super Mario Bros. Nintendo
2 Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix Nintendo
3 Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter Ubisoft
4 Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day Nintendo
5 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion 2K Games
6 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Collector's Edition 2K Games
7 Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis Rockstar Games
8 Madden NFL 06 EA Sports
9 Call of Duty 2 Activision
10 Kingdom Hearts II Square Enix

Source: GameSpot

 Minnesota Passes Game Bill

It wouldn't exactly be a Currents issue without some rogue state attempting to burn the Constitution, now would it? This time, Minnesota jumps on the burning bandwagon that Illinois and Washington have already jumped out of. There's a bit of a difference with this bill, however. Unlike the Illinois and California game bills, which fine retailers for selling violent games to minors, this Minnesota bill fines minors for purchasing violent games. The retailers are left unscathed. Shop owners still have to post signs to warn minors about the fines, though.

Scheduled to go into effect August 1, the bill fines minors up to $25 for the offense of purchasing an M (Mature)- or AO (Adults Only)-rated video game in Minnesota. As expected, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has announced plans to fight the bill in a court of law. ESA president Doug Lowenstein said the following in a statement: "We believe that [the bill] is unnecessary and will restrict the First Amendment rights of Minnesota's citizens... To enact 'feel good' bills knowing they're likely to be tossed by the courts is the very height of cynicism."

The ESA has challenged the constitutionality of previous game bills in the past and has had them all overturned in court. The law and the Constitution have seemed to favor the ESA and the rights of consumers in the past. We'll know in a few months if this trend will continue.

Source: GameSpot

 PSP Updated to 2.71


Once again, Sony has updated the firmware on its multi-talented handheld, PSP. This update graduates the system from version 2.70 to 2.71. Not a huge step numerically, but let's see what's under the hood of this additional 0.01. First of all, the new firmware allows users to download PSP game demos directly from the PSP browser to be saved on to and played from the memory stick directly. Those who downloaded the Loco Roco demo a few weeks ago had to manually retrieve it with their PC and put it onto their PSP. The 2.71 makes the process much simpler.

The other addition is a fix for the seldom-used LocationFree Player. Now video output will be displayed correctly when external tuners are selected. Now if only the LocationFree Players weren't several hundred dollars -- streaming live TV to my PSP would sound pretty cool otherwise. So it looks like there isn't a whole lot of new features being offered with this update, but at least its more than the monotone "security issue fix" that comes out every other week. Enjoy those PSP demos.

Source: GameSpot

 360 Backwards Compatibility to Continue
Xbox 360

A recent blog post by Microsoft Games' global marketing team seeks to reassure Xbox 360 fans that expanding the console's backwards compatibility is still a major goal for the company. This comes shortly after company vice president Peter Moore downplayed the importance of the program and hinted at its termination. "Nobody is concerned anymore about backward compatibility," he said in an interview with Kikizo. "More are coming...but at some point you just go 'there's enough,' or 'let's move on.'" It is apparent, however, that his customers didn't agree with him.

In contradiction to Moore's statement, the blog post, in an effort to control the damage, stated that "it looks like they're hoping to add at least a dozen titles." It continues with, "But rest assured, we're not done yet... We know for a fact that there are lots of people who continue to care about backwards compatibility, including the 'Emulation Ninjas' who are working full time on the updates. And those of us posting on this blog. And, of course, many of you."

Source: GameSpot

 Alienware Assembling PCs with Blu-ray

Though PS3 devotees are still several months away from their Blu-ray-playing consoles, PC developer Alienware is now taking orders on two high-end desktops with the DVD drives swapped out for Blu-ray drives. The only models allowing the swap at this time are the Aurora 7500 and the Aurora ALX, but it's a good start.

A 2x read/write Blu-ray drive bumps up the final price of the machine by $999. Alienware is also offering blank Blu-ray discs for those with deeper pockets. A single one-time-write 25 GB disc will go for $20. For a rewritable 50 GB disc, consumers can expect to pay $50 a pop.

Source: GameSpot

 Video Games: Olympic Sport?

It could happen, and it might come sooner than you think. Ted Owens from the Global Gaming League, a media company with concentrations in the culture of competitive gaming, has begun working with the Chinese government to bring video gaming to the 2008 Beijing Olympic games as a demonstrative sport.

By demonstrative, they mean that no medals will be awarded to the winners. But that doesn't mean watching the best gamers of two countries go at it in Street Fighter on national TV won't be fun. Obviously, though, gaming would be quite different from the other more physically-demanding Olympic events, so some skeptics are criticizing the attempt. Considering that the USA TV network will begin airing the first video game competition show later this year, however, an Olympic sport may be a logical next step after all. Only time will tell what becomes of this.

Source: GAF

 Stock Ticker

Stock Ticker time! I hope you're all as thrilled as I am about the Fed and its interest-rate-hiking tendencies. There's nothing like that warm feeling you get when you pay more for your student loans than you were expecting. Anyway, enough rambling. The Fed has nothing to do with video game company stock prices, so let's get back on track.

Interesting. Looks like a decent day for the gaming industry if stock prices have anything to say about it. Except for Midway. Midway has certainly seen better days. If they keep this up, I'll consider replacing them with a more worthy company. In fact, I should revamp this whole list someday. Someday. But for now, Sony, despite all the heat for the PS3 pricing, has the biggest increase of $1.34. On the other end, Ubi Soft has the biggest decrease of $0.52. They should let that get them down too much, though, because they've still got the highest stock price on the list.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market closing 06.02.2006

Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 46.04 1.34
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 22.76 (0.06)
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 21.50 0.30
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 42.41 0.54
SQNXF Square Enix PNK 21.97 0.70
KNM Konami NYSE 24.10 1.00
ATVI Activision Nasdaq 13.01 0.00
MWY Midway NYSE 6.87 (0.11)
SGAMY Sega PNK 9.85 (0.05)
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 50.89 (0.52)

Source: CNN Money

 Back Page

That's it for my first issue back. But am I back for good? Who knows. I plan to do next week's issue, so you could say I'm back for the time being at least. I'm still doing soundtrack reviews over at the Sound Test section. I guess I'll be pretty busy this summer.

Quick gaming update: I'm on case 5 in Phoenix Wright and in the final dungeon in Kingdom Hearts II. Good stuff. I also got 100 percent completion on New Super Mario Bros. last week (3 stars now adorn my save file). I'm quite proud of that. All fantastic games. Anyway, whatever dudes. I'm out.

Elliot "Hoser" Guisinger

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