The look, logo, staff, and consoles may have changed, but there's one thing that has remained the same since the very first issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly nearly 20 years ago. And that is Quartermann, the man you call on when you want rumors, gossip, and speculation. Although his write up has gone under a number of different titles, a rumor section has appeared in every one of EGM's 200 plus issues. But what if I were to tell you that this rumor monger's facts were spotty, at best? What if I were to tell you that the rumors, while juicy, are often incorrect? Well ... that's precisely what I'm about to tell you, and to prove it we're prepared to look at his rumors one magazine at a time.
After spending the last few episodes looking at recent issues, we thought it would be fun to go a little further back and look at an Electronic Gaming Monthly from 2003. This was before anybody knew what a Wii was, before we all fell in love with fake plastic guitars and before people started Twittering. It was a more innocent time, when we still thought that Castlevania would work in 3D. How foolish were we? In this issue we talk about building game engines, Sega's Halo killer, video game mergers and much, much more. Find out just how wrong the Quartermann is when we check in on EGM's 168th issue!
Rumor #1 - Sega's Mysterious Halo Killer?
Headhunter was neither a first-person shooter nor a Halo killer!
"I know, I know ... the words "Halo" and "killer" have appeared together so many times they've lost all meaning. And I really don't want to use them here ... but what the hey, too late now. Sega's working on (if The Q's spies are to be believed) an awesome first-person shooter so top-secret it won't be revealed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). I wish I could say more, but ..."
It's always fun with the Q-mann hints at something, but doesn't actually give us a name or any information that would actually help pin down what he's talking about. This rumor doesn't really say much; instead it tells us that Sega is working on a first-person shooter that will be announced sometime in the future. Really? That's
The Conduit IS a first-person shooter, but it's not a Halo killer!
your rumor? First-person shooters are superhot, so Sega is bound to tap into that genre at some point in the near future, right? It would be like saying that in the near future Electronic Arts will make a football game.
But I digress; let's see if we can actually figure out what game they're talking about. We know that this mystery game won't be out in 2003 and wasn't announced at that year's E3. That means that the game would have been released in 2004 ... at the earliest. Unfortunately Sega's 2004 line-up didn't offer a lot of big name FPS titles. We had Headhunter: Redemption and Sonic Heroes, but neither of those would be considered first-person shooters. Unfortunately 2005 wasn't much better. And unless the Quartermann is talking about House of the Dead 4, you can forget about 2006, too.
The truth is, Sega hasn't released many big name first-person shooter games in the last few years. Certainly nothing that would be considered a "Halo killer." They have The Conduit, the hotly-anticipated Wii first-person shooter, but I can't imagine that being the game the Quartermann was referring to. Perhaps I missed something, but as far as I can tell no Sega shooter has given Halo a run for its money.
Rumor #2 - Sony's Magical Engines?
"When the PS3 hits, Sony wants developers to be ready for future shock. To help them cope, the company will offer a huge amount of middleware code -- like a generic driving game engine, a first-person shooter engine, etc. -- developed by its own studios. Jak & Daxter creator Naughty Dog is doing the honors on the platformer engine, using the bits and pieces it has from its secret PS3 platformer already
The Sony engines allowed third-parties to create unrealistic target videos that get savaged by the mainstream media!
in development. If lots of games are running on the same underpinnings, though, might they start to look and feel a bit similar?"
It's common knowledge that to ease the learning curve, first-party hardware makers would make various libraries available to the third-parties. This way it would allow the Segas and Namcos of the world a leg-up on making product for whatever upcoming super system is around the corner. However, this rumor suggests that Sony did more than just open up a few libraries, suggesting that Sony is making entire engines for the third-parties. While there would be more to it than that, these Sony engines would allow game developers to simply insert their own information and ignore the tedious task of building all of the tools that are needed.
There's just one problem, there's no way for me to prove that Sony didn't actually do this. This may have been one of those things that Sony attempted, but nobody gravitated to. Or perhaps these engines simply became part of the libraries that Sony gave the third-parties. Either way, it clearly didn't help improve product on the PlayStation 3. With very few exceptions, the first year of the PlayStation 3 was an utter failure. More than the price and availability, the PS3's biggest weakness was the lack of quality software. Many of the games were delayed because they used the Unreal 3 Engine, while other games that shipped on time ended up failing when stacked up against what the Xbox 360 was releasing. So even if Sony did spend the time creating these engines, they didn't seem to be very useful in the long run.
Rumor #3 - Dororororororororororororo?
There Won't Be Blood!
"If you claim to be an anime or manga fan, then you know that Osamu Tezuka (aka the "god of comics") is the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney, thanks in part to Astro Boy, his excellent series of graphic novels. Well, Sega's Wow Entertainment is doing a game based on one of Tezuka's other classic titles -- Dororo (try saying that one five times fast). This 3D actioner follows samurai Hyakkimaru as he hacks and slashes through hordes of monsters, while on a search for his, er, stolen body parts."
This is yet another Sega rumor, apparently the Q-mann really thought he had the inside scoop at the house of Sonic. The good news is that this time around Quartermann ended up getting it right. The same team that made Project Altered Beast and Nightshade (the poorly-received sequel to the Shinobi reboot) developed Blood Will Tell, the official Dororo video game. Designed as a survival horror game, Blood Will Tell was completely ignored by gamers around the world who chose Resident Evil 4, Doom 3 and Onimusha 3 over this Sega action game. Things weren't helped any by the game's poor reviews and generic art style. You got this one right, Quartermann. But will you get the next?
Rumor #4 - Grand Theft Spider-Man?
This screenshot is better than any moment in Spider-Man 3!
"The Q's spies hear that the next Spider-Man title from Activision will take a cue from the free-roaming gameplay of Grand Theft Auto and allow you to wander the crime-ridden streets, going wherever your web-slinging takes you. Tingling yet?"
This is two, two, two in a row for the Quartermann. It looks like he may pull out of this yet. The gossip guru was 100% right, the next Spider-Man game did indeed employ a sandbox-style of gameplay. This style shift pumped new life into the lackluster franchise and really set Spider-Man apart from the rest of the superhero games. It was so successful, in fact, that Activision has stuck with the open-world approach for all of its Spider-Man games. And others are taking notice, see The Incredible Hulk and EA's Superman game for just two examples of open-world superhero games inspired by Spidey. Good call, Q-mann.
Rumor #5 - More Merger Crap!
"How about we just say in five years there'll be one software publisher and leave it at that, eh? No? Ah well ... the most recent rumors of consolidation (depending on who you believe) have Namco
Chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp ...
and Sega merging, or Microsoft buying Sega, or EA buying Sega, or everybody buying everybody. Stop the train, I wanna get off ..."
On the same day that new broke about a possible Apple takeover of Electronic Arts (see my my Twitter feed for an exclusive Apple/EA haiku), we're forced to debunk a bunch of merger rumors from six years ago. Talk about a momentum killer. The good news is that we can go through each of these extremely quickly, because the last thing I want to do is spend the next ten minutes talking about business mergers that never happened.
In order: Namco and Sega didn't merge. Instead Namco and Bandai merged (hence the name Namco Bandai). Microsoft didn't buy Sega, instead they bought Rare (who has since had a lot of trouble making good games). And Electronic Arts didn't buy Sega. Instead we got Square merging with Enix and then buying up Eidos. If the Quartermann had predicted that he would have been right about something, but as it is he's all wrong ... as usual.
Rumor #6 - Not Another Pilotwings Rumor!
"Speculation abounds that a new installment of Nintendo's arcade-style flight simulator Pilotwings is coming to the Cube. Word has it the as-of-yet-unnamed developer is Star Wars Rogue Squadron maker Factor 5, though by the
It looks and plays like a next-generation Pilotwings, but this Sim game isn't what the Q-mann is talking about!
time you read this, the cat may already by outta the bag. Hey, don't yell at me, my fingers are flyin' on this column weeks before E3 goes down in the City of Angels. Would someone please hurry up and invent a telepathy machine already?"
Do you remember last episode when we debunked the rumor of Pilotwings on the Nintendo Wii? Well, this is basically the same rumor, only three years earlier and about the Nintendo GameCube. It just goes to show, the Quartermann really had a thing about Pilotwings. But no matter how many times he brings it up, it always ends up being wrong. The last time we saw a Pilotwings sequel was back in 1996, with the release of the Nintendo 64. At that time it was a showpiece for what Nintendo's 64-bit hardware was capable of. Apparently Nintendo hasn't felt the need to prove the worth of their hardware, because there has been no word on a possible third Pilotwings game. That doesn't mean that they won't eventually make one, but I can tell you right now that it won't be on the GameCube. This is yet another busted Pilotwings rumor, it makes me wonder how many more there could possibly be. Tune in next time to find out.