Wii Celebrates 200 Titles with Launch of Retro C64 Channel

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This week has seen the Nintendo Wii reach an important milestone in establishing itself as a console that can compete with more established brands that are responsible for the likes of the PS3 and the Xbox 360.

This week Nintendo released the 200th title for Nintendo’s Virtual Console service, and as part of the celebrations is releasing a sequence of revamped titles not seen since the days of the Commodore 64.

Originally promised back in February ‘International Karate’ and ‘Uridium’ are due to be released after Commodore teamed up with Nintendo of Europe to launch the games that were integral in the revolution of computer gaming.

Released on the new C64 channel Nintendo have said there will be plenty of updates following these initial two titles, so retro gaming fans can be sure to experience more Commodore nostalgia soon.

A little closer to the modern day ‘Cruis’n USA’ is also to be released a game which was originally released in 1998 on the N64.

Each of these commodore 64 titles will cost 500 Wii points which is the equivalent of around £3.50, whilst the N64 title will cost 1000 Wii points.

To get some heads up on extra Commodore titles that could soon feature I have found a link to some Commodore 64 Classics. Enjoy!

Miss Bimbo Game Sends Out The Wrong Message

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An online game that has been launched aimed at young girls, has come in for a wave of criticism from parents this week after it was said to be encouraging children to diet and seek plastic surgery.

Launched in the UK last month, the game is titled Miss Bimbo and is aimed at nine to 16 year olds. The game gives each player an unique avatar which then competes against other players with the aim of becoming “the most famous, beautiful, sought after bimbo across the globe”.

Within the game players register and compete in beauty contests and send text messages to the site to earn currency which then can be used to buy lingerie, diet pills and a range of plastic surgery operations within the game. Alternatively an avatar can attract the attention of a rich celebrity.

The game states among its objectives to “Become a socialite and skyrocket to the top of fame and popularity.” With another stating “Even resort to meds or plastic surgery. Stop at nothing to become the reigning bimbo”.

The site has over a quarter of a million registered users in the UK and over 1.2 million play it in France, its country of origin.

It is not surprising that some parents are concerned about the mixed messages the game sends out. One parent said “It sends out all the wrong messages about what it takes to get ahead. I would rather my daughter learned that brains are more important than looks.”

It is not just parents jumping on the messages being sent out by the game either, it seems that the site is also being heavily criticised by groups working with vulnerable children.

“This is as lethal as pro-anorexia websites,” Dee Dawson, medical director at Rhodes Farm Clinic.

Chris Evans business partner of founder Nicholas Jacquart countered the criticisms saying: “It’s a fun game, many positive areas are being overlooked.” He added “members can send their Bimbo to university and are encouraged to love and nurture her”.

Personally I can’t help but question whether this game is as bad as games such as the immensely popular Grand Theft Auto series, which itself sends out the message that gun crime and grand theft auto is a reputable and cool way to make a living. This title is not on its own either with the recently banned Manhunt 2 due to be released in the UK.

I realise that these games are certified for 15+ but this is still leans towards the older age bracket of Miss Bimbo’s target audience. Is the nature of this game not meant as a fun spin off of celebrity tabloid magazines that spawn the idea of a Miss Bimbo!

Would like to hear your thoughts on this.

Google Pushes for Wi-Fi 2.0

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In a step to increase wi-fi hotspots to the American public Google were today reported to have approached the US government for permission to you unlicensed TV frequencies known as ‘white noise’ to be used for wi-fi.

The approach from Google was made a week after the Federal Communications Commission completed the nation’s landmark 700 megahertz auction.

Made to industry regulators, Google described proposals for potential access to the unused white space as a “once in a lifetime opportunity”. Google has called the proposals part of a “wi-fi 2.0 age”, an informal, loosely regulated low cost wirelss broadband network that could offer customers “data rates in the gigabits-per-second”.

White space describes the unused frequency blocks that lie between regulated television channel broadcasts on analogue airwaves. There has been an argument for some time that these parts unused spectrum could be assembled to support a new high speed wireless service.

“The vast majority of viable spectrum in this country simply goes unused, or else is grossly underutilised. Unlike other natural resources, there is no benefit to allowing this spectrum to lie fallow, ” - Google’s Richard Whitt

It has very much been the case that existing broadcasters have been opposed to such moves amid fears that use of this white space would interfere with the quality of existing television programming. However, with the development of several spectrum sensing technologies designed to prevent signals interfering with each other Google is pushing the authorities in the US to reconsider.

Microsoft has had an embarrassing failure with such moves last year when its prototype broke during FCC testing. It later was said to have worked adequately with a repaired version of the technology.

Of course expanding wi-fi capability will have major implications for mobile search and if the FCC accepts the request and Google wins airwaves, devices supporting the technology could be out as early as next year. Let mobile monetization commence.

Telecoms Regulator Clamps Down on Cash Back Mobile Deals

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It seems that in relation to a post back in December on The Shelf titled ‘Using Mobile Phone Contracts To Your Advantage’, telecoms regulator Ofcom are due to take increased action on mobile phone retailers offering cash back deals, after increased numbers of complaints have proved a voluntary code of practice that was put in place has failed to work.

Ofcom stated that complaints have risen from 460 to 700 complaints a month since the voluntary code of practice was put in place in the summer of 2007. In moves aimed at protecting consumers, Ofcom have now stated that tough action will be taken against mobile phone operators who fail to pay cash back that was offered when the contract was first taken out.

A general condition has now been proposed that will mean it is the network operator’s duty to “to ensure that the terms and conditions of cash back deals offered by their retailers are fair.” If operators fail to do this it could result in firms being fined as much as 10% of there turnover, a move that surprisingly some mobile operators have welcomed.

“We think Ofcom should be tough on offenders but not burdensome on those that are trading responsibly,” – O2 spokeswoman Emma Hart.

Operators are also responsible for carrying out due diligence and a number of checks in respect of their retailers.

In the voluntary code of practice that has seemed to have failed, there was a list of banned sales and marketing tactics, which were later agreed to by Britain’s biggest mobile phone companies. One technique that was featured on the list was the provision of inaccurate information to shoppers when purchasing mobile phone contracts.

“Strong competition is no excuse for marketing malpractice,” – Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards.

Xbox Price Drop Puts Pre-Easter Sales Up 36%

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In the latest news in the battle of next generation consoles, Microsoft has announced that thanks to its price drop it has recorded a 36% increase in sales of its Xbox 360 games console.

In the same healthy pre-Easter period, Sony’s Playstation 3 also recorded 6% rise in sales, but it seems that the price drop has given the Xbox 360 hardware the biggest boost.

Since the price drop came into effect on the 14th March, making the entry level Xbox 360 available for as little as £159.99, ChartTtrack told MVC that sales in Xbox 360 consoles were up 36%. Other models saw around £40 knocked off their retail price.

In the same period it seems that the Playstation 3 was the only other console to buck the trend, with consumers opting out of buying hardware, with every other games console recording sales drops. Software sales also dropped in the same period after the release of big titles such as Army Of Two and Bully last week were said to have tempted gamers out to the shops early.

However impressive this pre-Easter jump, Microsoft couldn’t get anywhere near the 260% rise in Xbox sales seen in after price cuts in August 2007.

“We need to wait two or three more weeks to see if the 360 sales surge will carry on,” Bloch sated.

He continued “I would predict that it will increase again over the Easter period. It’s a bit of an odd year for the industry – Easter is early, and doesn’t coincide with the end of Q1 – when publishers traditionally release very big games – like it usually does.”

With news elsewhere stating that Chinese firm OEM has just sealed a contract to build 500,000 Xbox units a month, the same company making the PS3 unit, it may well be part of Microsoft’s long term aims to under cut the PS3 whilst ensuring supplies remain plentiful.

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