Features// SPOnG's Review of the Year '09: April

Posted 28 Dec 2009 09:06 by
This is a continuing SPOnG retrospective of the year’s events.


Spring’s totally kicking in now at this time of year, and the famous April showers give 2009 a good enough pounding. So why not stay inside and play a game instead? Be careful though - you could be exhibiting symptoms of a recluse, sexually charged gaming addict.

Dr. David Walsh of NIMF
Dr. David Walsh of NIMF
This was the most popular SPOnG story this month - the USA’s National Institute on Media and the Family provides some ‘research’ to The Washington Post that says that 8.5% of North Americans - or three million kids - aged between 8-18 “show signs of behavioural addiction” (“USA: Game Addict Kids in Sexual Danger!?”, 20th Apr 2009).

“For the computer or video game addicted person, a fantasy world on-line or in a game has replaced his or her real world. The virtual reality of the computer or game is more inviting than the every day world of family, school or work. With the increased access to pornography... this fantasy world may be highly sexual,” reads the NIMF’s fact sheet on the matter.

A shame, then, that The Washington Post’s referencing of the aforementioned research is a bit weak for the NIMF to be hammering home its point. The Institute’s research is basically one study, by a chap called Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University, whose report actually says that, “the frequency of video game play appears to hold relatively steady from ages 8 to 13, then decrease further.”

So much for that idea.

April was an interesting month for sports it appears, as many people flocked to see what features would be announced for Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 ("Masses of New PES 2010 Details", 8th Apr 2009). Konami’s footy game had largely been seen as the better title against EA's FIFA series, but in recent years the Japanese development studio had been slow to adapt to changing trends. As a result the reputation of PES was waning, and all eyes were on Konami this month to see if it could pull something special out of the bag.

Apparently the new and improved features included updated licensing rights, more realistic graphics and a sharper AI system. The latter of which brought around “Teamvision 2.0”, where midfielders and defenders are more aware and even work together to close down open space.

In other sporting news, recent reports of rally driver Colin McRae’s untimely passing had shocked fans and casual driving nuts the world over. Codemasters, in particular, had close ties to the star in its Colin McRae Rally and DiRT games, and had announced plans to present a tribute to him in the announced DiRT 2.

Unfortunately, this led to a Scottish newspaper reporting that Colin’s family had pre-announced a brand new commemorative game from Codies (“Codemasters and the McRae Misunderstanding”, 20th Apr 2009) incorrectly. “We believe this is a misunderstanding in the article,” a studio representative told SPOnG. “The forthcoming game Colin McRae DiRT 2 will include a tribute to Colin but we’re not going into further details.”

Nintendo broke its traditional silence in April to hit the headlines in two ways. The first was typical Nintendo protocol - take a core Japanese-developed game that might find some niche interest in the West and deny it any chance of localisation. The poor victim this time was Fatal Frame Wii (“Fatal Frame Wii Never Leave Japan?”, 8th Apr 2009), which to this day we reckon some shenanigans were afoot.

In America, Nintendo said they wouldn’t publish because it had no rights to do so in that territory. But the owner of the property, Tecmo, thought otherwise, stating that NOA did (and still does) in fact hold the publishing rights but they just can’t be bothered. “Tecmo feels very unfortunate that the fans of the series in North America will not have a chance to play the game, but respects the final decision made by Nintendo of America,” read an official statement.

In Europe, Nintendo wouldn’t even commit to a buck-passing. “There are currently no plans to release this game in Europe.” Thanks, guys.
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