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Critical News Rundown

Andrew Fletcher's picture

This week we're burning any remaining holiday fat with the Wii Sports diet, debating whether politicians really need to play games in order to legislate against them, and feeling betrayed in advance at rumours that Microsoft might raise the memory limit for Live Arcade games. And the iPhone gets a quick look-in for all Apple lovers and haters alike.

  • Get thin on the Wii Sports diet
    I find it a little worrying that often the first thing people say upon seeing the Wii in action is "It's good exercise too, isn't it?" To be honest, no, it isn't very good exercise. In fact, of all the games machines I've ever used, Wii is without question the one most likely to give you repetitive stress injury or muscle cramps through overuse. The fact that such comments are usually made with a wry smile makes me hope that they are saying so half-jokingly, playing on the knowledge that videogames are typically seen as bereft of health benefits. So I was surprised when I read this story of one man's calorie-burning success with a Wii Sports fitness regime. Of course, even 15 minutes of Boxing (the most efficient calorie cutting game) is no match for a good 15-minute run, and if you actually want to get in shape through gaming then I would suggest EyeToy: Kinetic over Nintendo's new toy. But if these results are accurate, then I ought to eat my words and admit that a little Wii Sports every day can actually do you good. But Dr. Fletch would still advise you to stay away from Baseball (or Shoulder May Cry as I like to call it).

  • What will iPhone do for Gaming?
    We may as well get such a speculative article out of the way while it's fresh, but the general consensus (at least from the comment responses to this article) seems to be that iPhone is likely to be as unconnected to gaming as the iPod has been for the last couple of years. It seems to have the power and OS capable of running more advanced games than the average phone or MP3 player, but the apparent limits imposed by the control options would suggest that only the most modest of casual games would find a suitable home on it. And that probably suits everyone just fine unless Apple unveils some bold new gaming strategy, as was admittedly hinted at in news reports last year.

  • Politicians don't have to be gamers to have an opinion about them, says ELSPA
    Politicians playing games before sounding off on them? Unlikely, but I agree that they'll never have a fully balanced view of the medium unless they understand it, and that goes beyond just being shown videos of the worst Mortal Kombat fatalities, GTA hooker genocides or Manhunt executions. These things must be viewed in context for a fair debate to be on the cards, and I'm not only saying that to try and let games off the hook. While Manhunt's execution scenes can be seen as wholly necessary elements of its artfully dystopian snuff satire, that powerful context might itself be considered an even more psychologically damaging and dangerous immersive space than the 5-second snippets of grainy cut-scene gore.

  • Microsoft Expands XBLA File Size to 250MB
    Most of the reader comments I've read on this subject seem to be praising Microsoft's alleged decision to raise the memory cap on Xbox Live Arcade games, even calling for a higher cap or no cap at all. But doing so looks like it'd be bad news for the indie developers Live Arcade was always kind to, with rising budgets and rising player expectations likely to uneven the playing field to the detriment of smaller products. How many potential Mutant Storms might be crushed under the weight of PSOne re-releases and higher-budget, content-rich competition? You can't help but feel that while Symphony Of The Night was the official explanation for bending the rules, the fact that Sony's EDI (e-Distribution Initiative) memory limit for PS3 is much higher might well be a consideration Microsoft have been a little too eager to worry about. [To reiterate, however, at the time of writing, no official statement has been made from Microsoft on a definite raising of the memory cap.]

  • The Ten Most Important Videogames Patents
    A somewhat fallacious title given that this article actually outlines only the types of patents important to videogames today. Nevertheless, this is an interesting look at something that, whilst perhaps not directly impacting on game players, many hardware and software developers are having to become ever more aware of in the midst of their creativity, as our litigation culture shows no sign of abating.

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Xbox Live Arcade limit blurred by Lumines extras!

Just to follow up on the semi-rumour of an XBLA memory cap rise, I thought I'd mention that Eurogamer today reported that one of the forthcoming Lumines Live expansions "weighs in at 124.50MB".

Is this another "exception" or should we expect an official announcement soon?

Incidentally, check my blog for coverage of a recent PR event with Lumines creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi. [Nice guy. He shares a translator with Miyazaki, dontcha know...]

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