At a pre-Tokyo Game Show press briefing in Shibuya, Tokyo, Microsoft announced specifics on the HD-DVD player price and dating, 1080p output for all, and a new limited-edition Xbox 360 Blue Dragon hardware bundle.
The two major Xbox 360 hardware bundles showcased were the Core Bundle, to debut November 2nd for 29,800 yen ($254) with bundled copies of Project Gotham Racing 3 and Ninety-Nine Nights, and a special limited-edition Blue Dragon hardware bundle for the same price alongside the December 7th game release, featuring a Core version of the Xbox 360 alongside a copy of Hironobu Sakaguchi's much-anticipated RPG.
Final Fantasy creator Sakaguchi also took the stage to demonstrate Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey in some detail. The rest of Microsoft's specific announcements, including new product announcements, are listed below.
Xbox 360 HD DVD Player and 1080p Support
Microsoft announced pricing and availability details for the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player in Japan. The accessory will launch on Nov. 17, 2006, priced at 19,800 yen ($169), and will come with an Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote.
“Xbox 360 and the HD DVD Player together deliver the most powerful and affordable games and movie system for Japanese consumers,” Microsoft's Peter Moore said. “The freedom to choose their entertainment experiences is extremely important for consumers as they enter the next generation.”
In addition, Microsoft announced that its fall software update, scheduled for release later this year, will allow all Xbox 360 consoles around the world to output game and movie content in 1080p resolution.
Xbox 360 Games Shown
The Xbox 360 games showcased include “Blue Dragon” (Microsoft Game Studios), “Lost Planet: Extreme Condition” (Capcom), “Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2” (Tecmo Inc.) and the newly announced “Trusty Bell” (NAMCO BANDAI Games), and a number Xbox Live Arcade titles. For 2007, Microsoft also announced a pipeline of games that include the RPG “Infinite Undiscovery” (Tri-Ace/Microsoft Game Studios).
Many game titles, including Sakaguchi's epic RPG “Blue Dragon,” will be playable for the first time in the Microsoft booth at the Tokyo Game Show. Other playable titles include “Lost Odyssey” (Microsoft Game Studios) and “Viva Piñata™” (Microsoft Game Studios).
Xbox Live Arcade and the “Pac-Man” World Championship
With the creator of “Pac-Man,” Toru Iwatani, onstage Peter Moore announced that Microsoft and NAMCO BANDAI Games will host the first “Pac-Man” World Championship in early 2007. The top 10 players in the world for “Pac-Man” on Xbox Live Arcade will compete for the title in New York City. More details, including how to qualify for the championship, will be made available in the coming months.
Continuing its tremendous momentum, Xbox Live Arcade has also announced in Tokyo a number of games, including some that will be exclusive to the Japanese market. including classic side-scroller “Contra” (Konami Corp.), the space-shooter “Gyruss” (Konami), the enemy-popping classic “Dig Dug” (NAMCO BANDAI Games), arcade favorite “Track & Field” (Konami), “New Rally-X” (NAMCO BANDAI Games) “Rush’n Attack” (Konami), a favorite 1980s side-scroller, and the inimitable “Ms. Pac-Man” (NAMCO BANDAI Games). In addition, the Japan-exclusive Xbox Live Arcade game “Yie Ar Kung Fu” (Konami), one of the very first fighting games, was announced for release in 2007.
XNA Infiltrates Japan
Microsoft announced that four Japanese universities will use its XNA Game Studio Express software in educational material and research within their course offerings. The XNA software allows hobbyists, students and independent game developers to create games for Windows and, for the first time, Xbox 360 with the goal that user-generated games made with XNA will arrive on Xbox Live Marketplace.
Tokyo University, Tokyo Polytechnic University, Ritsumeikan University and Osaka Electro-Communication University join other universities worldwide that have pledged support for Microsoft’s XNA vision and are recognizing the potential of XNA Game Studio Express as an educational tool. As a result, these four schools will integrate XNA software into their game development curricula, labs and games-related research.
“As I turn my attention and passion toward teaching the next generation of game developers, I am thrilled with XNA Game Studio Express and related products,” said Toru Iwatani, a lecturer at Tokyo Polytechnic University and original creator of “Pac-Man.” “I believe that these products are attractive and effective because they create a development environment that matches the skill level and area of expertise, widening the entry of future developers into game development.”
XNA Game Studio Express beta was made available to users worldwide on Aug. 30, 2006. The final version of XNA Game Studio Express will be made available this holiday season.