Features// SPOnG's Review of the Year: July / August

Posted 8 Jan 2008 18:21 by
SCEE's David Reeves... smiling.
SCEE's David Reeves... smiling.
“We owe a debt to Nintendo for keeping the industry going in the last couple of years; they're the ones who have kept it going.”
David Reeves - President of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe – 13/07/2007
Sony's Reeves "Surprised" That People Buy PS3?

Summer arrived! Except it didn't really, did it? (No, it bloody well did not. Ed) That was neither here nor there, though. July meant that it was time for E3, albeit in a stripped down form and with much whinging and whining from journalists as well as real industry figures – after all, it wasn’t really in Los Angeles and the hotels weren’t nice enough and you had to get out of bed and all that… anybody would think it was a real job.

It was also a month of baffling PS3 price shenanigans, but Sony got its act together eventually.

Before all that, however, Microsoft had a bitter pill to swallow. Namely, the platform holder admitted it has had "an unacceptable number of repairs" to make to Xbox 360s with the Red Ring of Death. The result? A cost of $1.05 - $1.15 BILLION. Not only that, but it also extended the warranty of the 360 to three years.

That costly admission was soon to be overshadowed, however, by the huge swirl of speculation, rumour and confusion that emerged around the PS3's price before and during E3. It all got going with a leaked ad from US retailer Circuit City indicating it would be cutting the price of the 60GB PS3 to $499. This, of course, got folk to thinking that maybe a more widespread price slash was in the offing.

When speaking just before the weekend, Sony's USA president and chief operating officer (COO!), Ryoji Chubachi, knew nothing about such a price cut, however. "At present we have no plans", he said.

He must have felt pretty embarrassed by the time Monday rolled around when the parent company announced (pre-E3 and no doubt not in the way it had wanted thanks to that Circuit City leak) – the price cut was indeed across the board. Not only that, an 80GB model was on the way. SPOnG was also told by Sony that an announcement would be on the way for Europe that Thursday.

Unfortunately, Sony didn't make it to Thursday before the news got out. The very next day SPOnG found out that the 80GB PS3 would not be getting announced for Europe, so that was out of the window. Then, not a day later leaked email spilled forth detailing a bundle rather than a price cut.

Then, lo and behold, the official announcement turned up and confirmed that Sony would indeed be offering a bundle, featuring one PS3, two SIXAXIS controllers and one first-party game. We got there eventually... For more on what was going on over at Sony at the time, see SPOnG's interview with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's President and CEO, David Reeves.

Miyamoto and Toru Iwatani ... from the good old days.
Miyamoto and Toru Iwatani ... from the good old days.
In the midst of all that, Nintendo had held its E3 keynote. It announced that the Wii Zapper would indeed be making its way into the world and gave us our first showing of Wii Fit, reminding us that sometimes games news could, in fact, be straightforward… even it’s not really ‘a game’, well it is and it isn’t… oh, read the review.

This very same keynote and ‘game’ did, however, also give pause for horrified intakes of breath by the true games afficianadi. This was because Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto explained that it wasn’t Super Metroid Prime 3: Corruption nor even Super Mario Galaxy that he was most looking forward to demonstrating… it was Wii Fit (or Wii Fitness, depending on where you are in the world).

It was as if Frank Miller had said that he was looking forward less to the next issue of All-Star Batman & Robin but instead by psyched by the idea of Tony The Tiger and the Frosty Pals. Or it was as if jazz legend John Coltrane had said that he preferred Frosties to heroin… or it was like…

You get the idea. But this split from the hardcore didn’t stop Ninty ‘going forward’ with a passion.

July was also the month that we got to see the titanic tussle that was noted American film critic Roger Ebert square off against the master of the macabre, Clive Barker, on whether games are art. The world trembled and then got on with its life.

Furthermore, SPOnG first got its grubby mitts on GTA IV in July. The month, we felt, went pretty well.

July also saw the release of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, Mario Party 8 and... well, not a vast amount else.

It was July! What do you want from us?
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