Thursday, September 14, 2006

Minna no Tennis

Developer Clap Hanz directs their design conventions and creative animus at another sport and comes up with yet another winner. Minna no Tennis follows the simplicity and elegance of Minna no Golf except players now swing a racket instead of a nine iron.

Upon starting the game, a rotary menu appears which allows access into a single-player Challenge Mode, a multi-player Minna Mode, Training Mode, Options, and Data. To get a feel for the game, NCS recommends a few sessions in the Training Mode where an automated ball launcher tumbles onto the court and shoots balls at the player to hit. When returning the serve, portions of the court are highlighted and designated as the areas to aim for. When swinging the racket, the L-analog or D-pad may be maneuvered to aim the ball. The strength of the swing may also be controlled by pressing one of three buttons. The TRIANGLE serves up an overhead lob, the CIRCLE thrashes out a topspin ground stroke, and the X-BUTTON may be tapped for a weak slice shot which sends the ball sailing low and slow. By mixing up the different swings and adjusting for the opponent's return volleys, players may match the natural rhythm of tennis where the tempo changes during the course of play. «NCS Game Notes»

Ridge Racers 2

A radiant Reiko Nagase returns as race queen for the Ridge series and looks more realistic than ever. Check her out in the stylish intro of the game where she's decked out in a frilly white dress and feathery hair. It's her eyes and smile that give her a semblance of humanity...

Before the proper action starts, players may enjoy a game of Rally X where a car runs into flags to collect them while avoiding a rampaging racer. Once in RR2, the first track is called "Seaside Route 765" which is a perfect course to practice drift mechanics and get a feel for the game. The action is smooth with responsive controls and a jive talking announcer who states the obvious when certain events are achieved. There's a point in the Seaside track where a plane passes directly overhead and the whine of the jet engine sounds exactly like the planes that pass over us when we're approaching JFK airport in NYC. Nice.

Ridge Racers 2 features 62 cars, tune-ups, 42 courses, and new modes in ARCADE, DUEL, and SURVIVAL. Up to 8 players may link up in wireless mode for racing tourneys where drift kings and conventional racers battle for top rank. To provide audio pleasure, 42 songs are featured in the game for a variety of driving music - 12 of the songs are new. To please the Furious crowd, nitro boosters (tap the R-trigger) may be used to rocket a vehicle up to 200km/h in an instant.

Some early preorders will include a bonus Ridge Racers 2 Special Megamix CD which contains thumping tracks from the game. «NCS Game Notes»

Wii Launch Details

Nintendo held press conferences in Japan last night and issued a press release in the USA this morning. A proper press release is scheduled to start in New York City at 12:00PM EST.

The Nintendo Wii will debut in the States first on November 19 at the price of US$249. Two weeks later, the Japanese Wii launches on December 2 at JPY25,000. Note that the USA Wii will include Wii Sports as a pack-in game but the Japanese Wii does away with a game pack-in.

Zelda is scheduled to be a launch title along with Excite Truck for a total of nearly 30 titles for the USA launch and 16 titles for the Japanese launch. Game prices in the USA are expected to retail at US$49.99 while prices in Japan will range between JPY4800 and JPY6800.

Nintendo expects to ship a total of 4 million Wii consoles by the end of the year. This may bode well for readily available supplies to retailers and customers. There is no information on territory lockouts but based on the ease in which Ninty's previous consoles have been modified to play USA/JPN games, we're expecting another simple jumper toggle if the Wii is territory locked. Edit at 12:30PM EST: Wii to be region-free.

Please wait for updates on preorders. USA and Japanese distributors have not started them yet but news should be forthcoming in the next few days. Despite the 4 million unit target, strange things can happen between official announcements and actual shipments...