Rumor Killers: Dead Space 2 on PSP, Gran Turismo 5 in Fall, New Nintendo Hardware

Disclaimer: Rumor Killers is a speculative opinion piece and is by no means intended to disclose as fact whether a rumor is true or false – even though the Rumor Killers team are usually right (usually…) 

Dead Space 2 coming to PSP?

Dead Space was tightly-paced, full of atmosphere and pant-soakingly spooky on Hard. It was brilliant. It might not have set the charts on fire, but it has successfully perpetrated a burgeoning cult following as dedicated as the Church of Unitology weirdos who helped everything go completely screwball on the USG Ishimura in the first place.

It comes as no surprise, then, to see EA revisiting the franchise, with Dead Space 2 looking like it’ll be released this time next year. Super! This week, for the record, is the time for all the publisher financial reports, so gamers who like to watch corporate suits discuss the fiscal bottom line of their cherished hobbies will be ecstatic. One of the nuggets that has dropped out from EA’s penny-pincher conference is news that Dead Space 2 will be appearing on undisclosed "handheld" platforms.

Some sources across the interweb superhighway have interpreted this as firm confirmation of the series making a debut on the PSP. I’m not so sure. It makes a good headline, I’ll give it that, but I just don’t think it would make a whole lot of sense.

Whilst it’s undeniable that the PSP packs enough of a processing punch to produce a low-fi rendition of Dead Space’s sinister and spooky corridors, it’s been a notoriously difficult platform for third-party developers to succeed on. When it comes to mature games, the DS hasn’t fared much better. Both platforms are ace, but I just don’t see EA going to the expense of porting a title that will inevitably be critically maligned and commercially unspectacular. Nobody wants another Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines, after all.

Releasing neutered handheld versions of big-name titles has been an industry norm for generations, but the success of the DS has caused trends to shift. Now most developers leave handheld titles to their dedicated handheld divisions. I’d also argue that EA are unlikely to go for another risky investment after Dead Space: Extraction bombed at retail despite receiving critical acclaim.

Enter EA Mobile, which EA classify as part of their handheld department. EA Mobile, for the record, is currently swimming in voluminous oceans of cash. With high-profile App Store releases for Mass Effect, FIFA, Spore, The Sims, Red Alert and Rock Band, EA Mobile is the perfect way for the publishing giant to make a quick buck from a low-priced, impulse-purchase games behind a flashy license that you find yourself accidentally buying when going for an extended No 2 (we’ve all done it – Ed).

My personal money is on it being an iPhone game akin to something like Metal Gear Solid Touch or the iPhone port of Doom 3. It’ll cost £5.99 at first but will be reduced to £1.19 in a two-week sale after three months. And I’ll almost definitely buy it without realizing it.

Martin’s Verdict: False

Gran Turismo 5 in the Fall?

Gran Turismo is certainly one of Sony’s most cherished properties. Die-hard fans have been waiting for the fifth iteration for absolute yonks now, whereas I’m quite content just playing the superb Forza Motorsport 3 instead. Not that I wouldn’t mind giving GT5 a go, of course.

The problem with delaying something as valuable as Gran Turismo 5 indefinitely is that it makes people grumpy. Understandably so. So when fansite GT Planet spotted a quote on Spanish website Canarias Al Dia of CEO of Sony Entertainment Portugal James Armstrong saying (via Google Translate) “We believe that launching the product this fall, before Christmas, but not yet decided”, it can’t help but cause some upset.

Still, with Rumor Killers favorite Duke Nukem Forever finally canned, the gaming community has been left desperately searching for perpetually-in-development games to ridicule. Enter Gran Turismo 5, now entering its fifth year of development. Polyphony Digital is convinced that the tortoise will beat the hare in the long run, as the game (originally scheduled to finally be released this March in Japan but recently delayed indefinitely) has had to go for another pit stop. Armstrong’s unverified claims of a holiday launch can only give the franchise’s most ardent fans another scoop of potentially false hope.

What can Polyphony Digital possibly be doing? Developing a whole range of in-game waxes to change the way light reflects off the game’s impossibly shiny bonnets? It’s particularly maddening when you recall that all three Forza games have been released in the gap between Gran Turismo 4 and 5.

Polyphony Digital has obviously been given carte blanche by Sony to take as long as they want: the developer has proven themselves time and time again in the past. And with sales figures that manage to stomp all over Forza’s it’s unlikely Sony are too worried about the competition.

At the same time, I can’t imagine Sony isn’t trying to push for a holiday release for the venerated series. God of War III is released next month, and then GT5 will easily be Sony’s biggest property still in development. With no Forza on the horizon for this holiday period, it’s also a prime chunk of the calendar to bring the game to market.

Martin’s Verdict: True

Nintendo to Launch New Hardware?
The Wii HD – pronounced ‘weed’, I imagine – has been doing the rounds for a while, and I fully expect it to reach critical mass this year. Rumors are guaranteed to kick off when ol’ Shigsy himself is offering up his opinion, as Andriasang reported (translated from the Japanese 4gamer) earlier this week.

Miyamoto confirmed that the company was developing new hardware alongside an admission he was crafting “a motion-based game (or possibly games) that uses Wii Motion Plus”. Whilst almost every single Rumor Killers reader would much rather hear about the new Zelda game, it’s always comforting to hear that Shigeru is hard at working creating video game magic and happiness. And hopefully not Wii Music 2.

Of course, none of that is a confirmation of a HD-capable Wii. The rumor has also been attacked by Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata very recently, and he went on record (via Andriasang again) to completely dismiss such a device appearing. "If asked if making the Wii compatible with high definition – just making it compatible with high resolution – will get players throughout the world to buy it, I would of course say, ’Do you think it would sell with just that? It needs something new,’" he told a bunch of investors at a recent Q&A.

Iwata’s opinion mirrors that of Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime, who said “that’s not the way we at Nintendo do things” when grilled by Kotatu in November.

But, still, the rumors of a Wii HD will persist. Because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to play that new Zelda in HD? Reggie has also started talking about Nintendo’s next console, which leads me to believe it’s on the drawing board, but was quick to emphasize that Nintendo would be do more than “simply make it HD”.

Nintendo, obviously, have a solid track record of introducing new hardware. Even the chunky DSi LL (XL in the West) managed to sell bucketloads in Japan during its November 2009 launch. The LL/XL is also a perfect example of Nintendo’s business strategy: reworking existing, affordable hardware to satisfy a particular group of customers. My big fat hands are certainly keen to get hold of one, anyway.

It’s obvious that Nintendo are working on the proverbial something, but without more information it’s hard to come to a definite conclusion. I don’t see how it can be another incremental update to the DS, though – surely the DSi and the LL/XL are enough for the time being?

Martin’s Verdict: True (but it could be anything)

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