Rumor Killers: Portable Xbox, Saints Row PSP, and Portal on the iPhone

It’s a handheld-packed edition of Rumor Killers this week. Adam Standing questions whether he’ll be collecting GamerScore, rampaging through Stilwater, and travelling through portals – all on the go.

Portable Xbox confirmed?

Rumors of a Microsoft handheld have been circulating for some time now, partly because they’re the only one of the big three platform holders to not have one, and partly because it’d be so awesome to earn achievement points at the office. But last week Kikizo spoke to Microsoft’s Corporate VP Shane Kim, who pretty much confirmed that a handheld console based on the Xbox would be coming in the future:

"For us, it’s a matter of focusing on ‘when’, because if we chased after a mobile or handheld opportunity, we would not have the resources and ability to do things like… Project Natal. So we’ve chosen to focus on the living room experience from a hardware standpoint, if you will, but we’re building a service in Live that will extend to other platforms. So the question will be, how do we enter into that market — do we do our own device, do we create our own phone — that’s a question for the company itself."

So it sounds like once Natal gets released and the boy wonder Milo is let loose on the world, we might see some more movement towards a handheld device that incorporates Live. What that actual device will be still seems up for discussion, and I suspect that a gaming system might still be some time away. It was as far back as 2006 that Microsoft promising Live Anywhere, the service that would bring online gaming and their entertainment network to mobile devices, and we’ve still seen nothing of it. My guess is that the integration of the Live service onto a future Zune (HD) will be Microsoft’s focus after Natal’s released, as I can’t see Microsoft investing in such an expensive venture for quite a few years yet. The handheld market is swollen with the DS, PSP and iPhone, and we’ve already seen the N-Gage and Gizmondo go up against strong, established competition and splutter to a painful death – I wouldn’t like to see Microsoft do the same.

TGR says: Very unlikely – for now

Saints Row PSP dated for March 2010?

GTA has had proven success on the PSP, is it now Saints Row’s turn?

There was nothing quite like shooting raw sewage onto houses in Saints Row 2. The crazy array of missions and the amount of carnage you could dole out to the city of Stilwater was impressive – now just imagine being able to carry that kind of game around in your pocket… oh wait, you can! Yes, THQ’s open-world, GTA clone looks to be getting a portable version of its very own for the PSP as soon as next March – so say the blabbering mouths of a Swedish metal band called Opeth. In a statement on Opeth’s official website, the metal group spilled the beans:

"We may not like playing video games all that much but we do like it when our music is featured on them! Makes us a bit proud even when it’s a game as big as Saints Row for the PSP and even prouder when the nice developer people show excellent taste by picking ’The Lotus Eater’ for it. So if you love playing video games: the game is expected to hit the streets around March 2010."

Although it feels a little wrong to be getting breaking video game news from a Scandinavian metal band, it sounds convincing and genuine enough to be real. With Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars coming to Sony’s portable system, it only seems right that it should have some competition from its nearest rival. It’ll be interesting to see if it tries to copy the Chinatown Wars model of focusing on a different story within the same city of its console sibling, or if it’ll try to emulate the console game completely.

Either way, I’m sold on this happening. It makes sense to transfer the multi-million dollar success of Saints Row to a portable device, and it seems the type of game to be comfortable on the PSP. The fact that this statement hasn’t been forcibly removed gives it a bit more credibility, and the game would fit in with the renewed rush of quality PSP releases scheduled for the coming months. Let’s face it, if I’m going to be shooting raw sewage at houses all over again, I can’t think of a better soundtrack to my depraved actions than the delicate tones of Opeth.

TGR says: Highly likely

Portal on the iPhone?

Portal for iPhone is a lie. Or is it? Lego Portal probably is, sadly.

Just when you thought it was from any more ’the cake is a lie’ memes, the Internet geniuses have been working hard to get Valve’s first-person puzzler Portal onto the iPhone. Using the open-source Unity 3D engine, the video posted on TouchArcade looks remarkably convincing, with general use of the portal gun and movement acros the room demonstrated by using the touch screen. More importantly, the video shows you can actually travel through these portals – a sight that always sends tingles down my back.

What I’m not convinced about is if the entire game can be ported over successfully. The level shown is merely a single room with a few objects scattered about it, and the demonstration was of basic portal mechanics. That’s all very impressive, but what about GLaDOS? What about the more complex, twitch-based levels that made the game so great in the first place? As awesome as this version looks, I have to question whether the game’s true essence would survive the clunky iPhone controls.

What also raises my concerns for this game is the fact that it’s not a mad. Valve are as liberal-minded as you like when it comes to modding their existing games – nude version of Left 4 Dead’s Zoey notwithstanding. But this iPhone version of Portal is a new game, not to mention that it’s made entirely with the Unity engine. That opens up a very different legal can of worms compared to, say, the Portal Prelude project, which needed the orignal game to run, and was fully supported and endorsed by Valve.

But there’s also a chance that Valve could gobble these up, just like they did with the students who made Narbacular Drop. The makers of that game went on to make the real Portal, so maybe, just maybe, the iPhone version stands a chance. Unfortunately, if Valve has anything to do with it, we might have to wait five years before we ever see it. By that time the iPhone will have iterated itself forward to be directly implanted into the brain, and we’ll be bending time and space with our thoughts anyway.

TGR says: Unlikely

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