For starters, Microsoft has dropped the price of all three versions of the Xbox 360 effective this Wednesday. From Gamasutra.com:
Microsoft has announced that all its models of Xbox 360 will see a price drop, with the premium model now set at $349.99, the core at $279.99, the new Elite at $449.99 and the forthcoming Halo model set at $399.99, to coincide with the launch of EA's Madden NFL 08.
Secondly, there is a very interesting article in today's Seattle Times about Halo 3 with a focus on the Bungie's top dog, Harold Ryan. I'm not a fan of the Halo series at all. To be honest, I found the single-player experience boring and the multiplayer "community" loathsome to say the least. That said, I am a big fan of quality games and I really appreciate Ryan's philosophy concerning bugs.
It's telling that Microsoft put a tester in charge of "Halo 3," a game that it has to get right. Ryan said eliminating bugs is especially important with a game such as "Halo" "that sells 8 or 9 million units or something."
"With 100 testers in the building, [if] you can find a bug one time, 8 million people are going to find it a hundred or a thousand times a day," he said. "In my opinion there's no room to let that bug you only find once go, and that's really the model we follow. We have a system that logs every single crash the game ever has and we investigate and fix all of them."
Bungie has spent three years developing "Halo 3," which is the first version of the series developed specifically for the Xbox 360 console. Microsoft wanted the game delivered in late 2006, to give Sony's new PlayStation3 console a knockout punch, but that didn't give Bungie enough time. "We looked at what we could do by last
Christmas and it wasn't the game we wanted 'Halo 3' to be," Ryan said.
Lastly, and the news that I'm most excited about, is that Microsoft released a schedule-of-sorts for the summer's remaining XBLA titles. I'm a bit torn on this week's release, the button-mashing arcade & NES classic Track & Field by Konami. I can't imagine tapping a button as fast as you can in this day and age could possibly be fun -- it was barely fun when I was 12 years old -- but at the same time, curiosity may get the better of me. The prospects of listening in over the headset to a bunch of strangers tap-tap-tapping until veins pop from their foreheads may just prove too hard to ignore.
Also, according to Xbox.com, we'll also see each of the following this month: Ecco the Dolphin, Hexic 2, and War World. Of these, I'm most excited about Hexic 2. The original Hexic HD came pre-loaded on the Xbox 360 harddrive and both Kristin and I played it constantly for over a year. I was thrilled to see there was going to be a sequel to this fantastic puzzle game (with head-to-head multiplayer) and knowing that it will be available this month makes it even sweeter. They're also promising to release each of the following in the coming weeks (i.e. September and October): Geon: Emotions, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, Space Giraffe, Streets of Rage 2, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.
Geon: Emotions looks like it could be something really unique and Space Giraffe looks positively mesmerizing. And of course, who can pass on Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, even if it does violate the cardinal rule of games marketing -- never put more than 3 words in the title of your game. It's going to be a great time to be gaming on the cheap. But with all these XBLA releases, when I am I supposed to find the time to play the retail games?