Rumor Killers: Duke Nukem Again, Even More Halo, Scribblenauts 2 for Wii

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…)

Duke Nukem to Rise Again?

Otherwise known as the living dead of video game rumors, it looks like everyone’s favorite kicker of alien ass, one Duke Nukem, is back on the scene – just when you thought it really was all over. New speculation has emerged regarding yet another possible Duke Nukem title. Duke’s official Facebook page (groan – Ed.) has been updated with a screenshot and a caption stating ‘D-Day’. The screenshot doesn’t look aged in any way, which suggests it’s is a recent publicity shot, but what of?

There’s no denying the Duke’s tumultuous history in recent years. The latest title, Duke Nukem Forever, was originally announced in 1997 with the aim of a release by mid-1998. By 1998 there was no sign of it, with a change of game engines to Unreal and then an announcement of its release in 1999. Over the next 10 years many similar changes were announced, typically related to the game engine and promises of new release dates. By 2009 there was still no sign of it and the game was terminated by developers 3D Realms when the firm closed down due to lack of funding. However it wasn’t strictly all over for Duke Nukem Forever, Take-Two still owned the publishing rights to the title (after much legal wrangling)… they just didn’t want to fund the development. This gave some small hope to fans that maybe one day Duke Nukem Forever would finally see the light of day, assuming someone was willing to provide funding.

Amongst all the chaos of rumors and speculation, legal documents appeared stating that Take-Two was suing 3D Realms for the source code of Duke Nukem Forever. This surely suggests that Take-Two are actually interested in releasing Forever at some point. There was even evidence of significant game footage suggesting that maybe it was closer to release than originally thought. Finally, there were even rumors that another Duke Nukem game, Duke Nukem Begins, was in development, this time by Gearbox Software, but that this had been halted too by Take-Two. That’s not forgetting the rumor of Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project coming to Xbox Live soon.

This D-Day screenshot could be quite a lot of things. It could just be another example of what Forever would have looked like, an example of the title developed by Gearbox Software, or even just a PR stunt to make people take notice of the big man again. Simply put, as is often the way with Duke, it’s all a bit of a mess with no certainty in sight. We know that Take-Two own the publishing rights to the series, but is there a great need for Duke anymore? With funding presumably getting harder to acquire and the franchise becoming distinctly ancient now compared to more recent IPs like Halo and Killzone, is there even room for him? I’m not so sure. Duke Nukem was a character of his time, the early 1990s when gaming was full of misogyny and wafer-thin plotlines. Now that the industry has become so much more mainstream, there’s a lot more competition when it comes to first-person shooters. Duke Nukem might be able to compete, but it’s a very risky venture and something that I suspect might not be profitable enough after 12 years of development.

As it currently stands there simply isn’t enough concrete proof to suggest that this is anything more than the usual cycle of rumor mongering for the franchise. The screenshot could still just be a concept piece or part of a very small segment of a game. So don’t expect to see the Duke any time soon, if at all.

Jen’s Verdict: False

More Halo on the Way?

To state the obvious for a moment, the Halo series is huge, scarily so in fact. So it’s no surprise that even before Halo: Reach has hit consoles that the rumors have begun regarding future titles for the franchise.

Thanks to the wonders of LinkedIn, the business equivalent of Facebook and an increasingly useful source of accurate rumors, it has been noticed that Allen Murray, producer at Bungie Studios, has listed that he is working on an “unannounced title” after Halo: Reach. But just what could it be? Murray hasn’t done anything for Bungie other than Halo titles, then again Bungie seems to be uncertain as to whether it has finished with the Halo series or not.

Back in August it looked as if Halo: Reach would be the last Halo title. Then sought some clarification from PR Director Brian Jarrard. He was quick to sit on the fence, stating that Reach might be the last Halo title, or it might not be – useful, Brian, real useful. As HipHopGamer noticed recently, Bungie is currently seeking new employees, specifically stating it is looking for a new writing lead who can “define Bungie’s next game universe”, surely a suggestion that Bungie is moving on from Halo. Having said that, LinkedIn has subsequently revealed more details thanks to Senior Art Lead Richard Lico’s profile which states that he is Senior Animation Lead across multiple unannounced projects. So perhaps Bungie is working on a few different games instead of just one sole project.

I really can’t see Bungie giving up on Halo anytime soon. The series has continued to sell phenomenally well with Halo 3 achieving sales of 8.1 million and Halo 3: ODST looking to eclipse that having reached 2.5m just in its first two weeks of release. With demand like that, surely it would be foolish to stop. If the next title after Reach is a full, new release or whether it’s DLC or a spin-off title like ODST is another matter. A spin-off would keep fans appeased while still allowing Bungie to concentrate on other projects, if it is trying to spread its wings a bit. Considering Halo: Reach isn’t set to reach our consoles until the Fall of 2010 though, don’t get too excited about the prospect of more Halo titles just yet. It looks like Bungie has its hands full for now.

Jen’s Verdict: True (but not anytime soon)

Scribblenauts 2 on the Wii?

Scribblenauts was arguably the most hyped and then the most divisive DS game of them when it released in September this year. It offered a wonderfully creative concept where players were limited only by their imagination, able to create any object to help solve the game’s various puzzles. However, while many sites declared it one of the best games ever for the system, others criticised it for being a great concept that was poorly implemented with an awkward control system. Whatever the critics may think of it, it was released to tremendous commercial fanfare. The Nintendo World Store in New York City even had a special launch event offering free Rooster Hats and other promotional items to launch day buyers. In its first month of release. it achieved better-than-expected sales figures of 194,000 units, a significantly high figure for a third-party title for the DS, a system which typically only achieves strong sales through Nintendo titles. It even sold 60k more than the PS3 version of The Beatles: Rock Band.

So it makes a lot of sense that rumors of a sequel and a Wii conversion have appeared. Warner Bros mistakenly sent out an e-mail detailing their European catalogue for 2010 which stated that ‘Scribblenauts 2’ was coming to the DS, Wii and PC next September, as well as F.E.A.R 3 for the 360, PS3 and PC. Interestingly Warner Bros later requested that take down the table listing this information, attributing it to a mistake, but a number of others sites have retained the information. More evidence came via Official Nintendo Magazine‘s recent interview with Scribblenauts‘s Technical Director Marius Fahlbusch who stated that it would be interesting to do the game for the Wii, although he then commented that he would rather work on something new at this point. 5th Cell has switched from the DS to the Wii before with the likes of Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter but it’s still looking a little uncertain for this to be the case with Scribblenauts.

Having played Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter, I can see how a Scribblenauts game could build upon this structure quite well. The main failing for Drawn to Life was its control system; it was simply too awkward to draw complex objects with the Wiimote. However, in the case of Scribblenauts it would be a matter of writing names of objects on screen which would be much simpler for the Wii to implement. There is also the hope that 5th Cell would take note of the DS version’s flaws and ensure this was the definitive version of the game. The very fact that Fahlbusch suggests he enjoys working on new ideas makes me hopeful that if a Scribblenauts sequel came to fruition on the Wii then new concepts would be taken on board, building upon the comprehensive database that is available in the game engine.

I have no doubt that a sequel will happen for the DS considering the great reaction to it, but I’m not so sure about a version for the Wii. Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter didn’t exactly have a great response from the critics upon its release and presumably development costs and time for the Wii are much greater than for the DS. Hopefully 5th Cell will focus on the flaws in Scribblenauts on the DS and focus on rectifying those rather than make a full franchise of the game just yet. For now, this is going to have to be a negative.

Jen’s Verdict: False

Author: Jennifer Allen