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There are a lot of questions you could raise when a developer decides to take an existing franchise and run with it in a completely different direction. Banjo Kazooie isn’t the platform games you remember on the N64 anymore. All the old school nonsense has been thrown out (or rather, onto the Live Arcade,) and replaced with user-generated-content-friendly vehicle creation game. The first thing that will strike you about this game is that a considerable amount of effort has gone into making the game come across as not only self-aware, but rather quite aware of its context in the pantheon of Rare titles. The premise is that this weird Pong face type of guy shows up called the Lord Of Games (commonly referred to as LOG,) breaking up a brawl between the now-podgy Banjo and the lone head of the witch Gruntilda. With a brief reference to the collect-a-thon of the games past, the main characters are transported to Showdown Town which acts as the hub world of the game, filled with NPCs which have a single line to say (via text because there’s no voice acting,) when you happen to run them down in your trolley.

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In a week when every man and his dog (except DoubleMANTIS :D) will be at home battling their way through Killzone 2 in an effort to boost their skills and climb the online ranks,it could be easy to overlook the releases on the PS Store.

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Here’s what is out this week so you can minimise you Killzone 2 downtime and get back into the action as soon as possible.

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Noby Noby Boy, Halo Wars and Killzone 2 get a bit of a thrashing along with some more obscure titles such as Progress Quest.

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No fancy interviews but there are a few prizes to be had and GaR’s cold makes his voice extra sincere which makes it worth that bandwidth and then some.

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It was already rumoured to be happening and god knows that common sense would have seen it created eventually but the announcement is good news none the less. The title will be an Xbox exclusive (at least on release day) and will feature 4 person co-op as well as a multiplayer system.

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Lost Planet 2 is set to pick up 10 years after the events in the original with players taking control of customisable Snow Pirates. There are also a bunch of screenshots which I will add later this afternoon but i have included one past the break for good measure.

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EA and DICE recently released some downloadable content for Mirror’s Edge in the form of a map pack. It consists of seven new maps which lets you do nine more time trials. That is to say, there is no new singleplayer content. What you get is some bat shit crazy courses to run through as quickly as possible. While the routes are not quite as difficult as a lot of the time trials you unlock in the “on disc” game, I found that i played through each multiple times. The map designs are minimalistic for sure, but the geometry is set up in beautiful and messed up ways. Continue reading

Sony has announced some new PSP titles for this year, two of them will be existing franchises making their PSP debut. Motorstorm: Arctic Edge will be available on the PSP as well as the PS2, while LittleBigPlanet will be PSP only but will still contain creation tools and some form of sharing option.

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Also announced is Buzz!: Brain of New Zealand for the PSP which will also be headed to the PS3. Also promised in the press release are new PSP3000 colours.

I’m not usually a fan of Limited/Collectors edition versions of whatever game there might releasing at the time. Figurines are cool but there are usually trinkets or “The Making Of…” DVD’s that fail to inspire me, the Halo Wars Limited Edition is a peculiar exception.

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The hard back Comic Book and the Rubber Seal type thing as well as the overall presentation and styling of the two sided “tin game case” are delightfully tasteful. I’ve included a crappy cell phone pic after the break along with the official snapshot which makes the rubber emblem look like a bumper sticker.

BTW it releases on Thursday.

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Since the franchises inception Karaoke fans have clamoured for Sony to release wireless microphones for SingStar, the initial offering with Microsoft’s Lips made the corded agony all the more bitter. Now the call has been answered and Sony will be releasing, along side Singstar Pop Edition, wireless microphones that will function on both the PS2 and PS3. The wireless mic’s will also feature a word recognition feature that will allow players to navigate the menu without a controller, here’s hoping it is more intuitive than most Telco IVR’s.

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Also announced today are the SingStar Song Packs that will be available for PS3 users from the SingStore. The people in this image are obviously enjoying the Song Pack that they selected but have yet to purchase the Wireless Microphones, which I am led to believe makes the experience even more enjoyable.

The Song Packs consist of 5 songs each and while some will be themed by type(Pop, 80’s, Rock) there will be Artist specific packs available starting with two Queen song packs. (see here for specifics)

Click past the break to check out what the wireless mic’s will look like.

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Sometimes you might believe some things will happen, maybe even secretly wish for it, but when it does you don’t expect to be the last to know. This weeks podcast is proudly brought to you by the reuniting group of the century.

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We interview the developers of Killzone 2 then talk about Resident Evil and Street Fighter IV, then we ramble on for the rest of the time either about games that we haven’t played or simply know little or nothing about.

Did anyone else not realise that Marky Mark Wahlberg’s big brother was in the NKOTB?

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SimAnimals is the latest game in the “Sim” franchise, and is obviously targeted at a younger audience. Available for the Wii and DS, it allows players to get up close and personal with the forest and its inhabitants. While younger players will not be able to play through the game on their own, an older sibling or parent can easily pick up a second Wii-remote (up to 4 supported simultanously) and share the experience.

The game started in a small corner of the forest, from which a tutorial guides players into the games basics. The tutorials are goal orientated, teaching players how to feed the animals of the forest as well as how to make them happy in other ways. Once the tutorial is out of the way, the game becomes more open-ended, and while there are suggested tasks which can be performed to win medals, younger players are welcome to just play around in their surroundings, interacting with the animals.

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