Published June 08, 2007
News from the virtual world:
— BEAM ME DOWN: In the six months since its debut, Nintendo's Wii has been breaking records and racing past milestones at a breathtaking clip.
This week's achievement: the 100th game offered for downloading from Nintendo's online Virtual Console service.
Game 100 is 1988's "Zelda II: The Adventure of Link" — frankly, one of the weaker "Legend of Zelda" adventures. (If you're going to download a "Zelda" title, make it "Ocarina of Time.")
Nintendo says 40 percent of Wii owners are connected to Virtual Console, and they've downloaded more than 4.7 million games.
But how do Nintendo's online offerings match up with those from its competitors?
But a good portion of Xbox Live's games — like my current addiction, the board-game adaptation "Catan" — are originals rather than revivals of "classic" games.
Until Nintendo and Sony catch up in that regard, Microsoft will retain its reputation as the online gaming leader.
— GRIMM FUTURE: If you want a really enormous library of classic games, however, you need to turn on your PC and head over to GameTap.
The online service owned by Turner Broadcasting System has more than 850 titles, 30 of which are free to play even if you don't pay the subscription fee.
However, GameTap's biggest success over the past year has come from its commitment to episodic games — namely, the six-episode run of Telltale Games' "Sam & Max."
GameTap's next episodic project is even more ambitious: "American McGee's Grimm" is a 24-chapter game scheduled to launch in the first half of 2008.
It's an action-adventure game based on the Grimm brothers' fairy tales, from Rapunzel and Rumpelstiltskin to Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood.
"My interpretation of these classic fables will provide gamers with an entertaining and interactive way of experiencing how the stories were originally meant to unfold," said American McGee, who's best known for his work on "Doom," "Quake" and an earlier kid-lit project, "American McGee's Alice."
And yes, that is his real name.
— UNWIRED: Nintendo's other machine — the portable DS — also has some nice numbers going for it.
Nintendo says that since the product's launch in November 2005, more than 5 million players have challenged each other over the DS' Wi-Fi connection. Those gamers, the company says, have racked up more than 200 million Wi-Fi game sessions.
And what are DS users playing over Wi-Fi?
You could probably guess four of the top five games: "Mario Kart DS," "Metroid Prime Hunters," "Pokemon Diamond" and "Pokemon Pearl." And then there's "Animal Crossing: Wild World."
Don't get me wrong — I love Tom Nook, K.K. Slider and the whole beastly crew, but I had no idea there were so many "AC" maniacs out there.
It's scheduled for June 23, although the location has yet to be announced. Keep an eye on wiimbledon.net — or, better yet, start your own tourney.
A more prestigious competition, the World Series of Video Games, has gotten so big that CBS Sports is covering it.
The network will be covering four events in this year's circuit, beginning June 21 in Louisville, Ky., then editing them down to one-hour segments of "CBS Sports Spectacular."
The games involved in this year's World Series are "Guitar Hero II," "World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade," "Quake 4" and "Fight Night Round 3."
— NEW IN STORES: Eidos celebrates a decade of Lara Croft with "Tomb Raider Anniversary" for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable. ... Ubisoft's Wild West shooter "Call of Juarez" comes to the Xbox 360. ... Like brainteasers? Nintendo brings "Planet Puzzle League" to the DS, while Got Game delivers "Puzzle Scape" on the PSP. ... And a popular anime franchise gets its own card-battle game, the mellifluously monikered "Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Densetsu" (Atari, for the DS).