News from the video game industry for the week of March 22
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista takes a moment to gather together some notable stories from the world of gaming. In today's Weekly Game Replay, Atari blocks the man behind Tempest 2000's programming from making similar games, Final Fantasy XI will be heading to mobile devices, rumors of a Metal Gear Solid rift, and the transfer of ownership of Hawken.
Geeksphone cuts price of Revolution, updates to Android KitKat
The Geeksphone Revolution is receiving a software update, with the company adding Android 4.4 and CyanogenMod 11 to the dual-booting device in the coming days, and Firefox OS 2.0 set to be added in the future. The Revolution has also received a price drop to 199 euros ($275) from May 1st, with the mobile device also becoming available more widely in Europe through Amazon.
Commodore 64 firm's founder dies after illness
The computing industry has lost one of its larger figures following the death of Commodore founder Jack Tramiel on Sunday. He died at 83 of unmentioned causes. He leaves behind his wife Helen and three sons.
ThinkGeek unveils iCade 8-Bitty at Toy Fair
ThinkGeek picked the American International Toy Fair to bring out the iCade 8-Bitty, a much more portable alternative to the iCade cabinet. The wireless iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch gamepad is conspicuously styled like (though not identical to) the original NES controller with four face buttons, Select and Start, although it also has two shoulder buttons. It works with the same iCade-friendly titles, such as Atari's Greatest Hits, as well as any others wanting to use the freely available support.
Titles that are too close to Atari's IP targeted?
An unconfirmed report from an app developer claims that Apple has removed its Battle Zone clone games Vector Tanks and Vector Tanks Extreme because of pressure from Atari, and says the company has a "special relationship" with Apple that has resulted in "hundreds of apps" that are too similar to well-known Atari titles being pulled from the App Store. The developer, Black Powder Media, claims its app was removed without any opportunity for rebuttal or review.
Steve Wolfram, UK Prime Minister add comment
One-time Apple CEO John Sculley is praising the company's most famous chief, Steve Jobs, in the aftermath of the latter's death. "His legacy is far more than being the greatest CEO ever," Sculley comments. "A world leader is dead, but the lessons his leadership taught us live on." He adds that Jobs was a "brilliant genius who transformed technology into magic," and that a part of the Apple co-founder "still lives within all of us through his beautifully designed products and his no-compromises media experiences."
Early Apple founder Wayne reminisces on Jobs
Apple's only sometimes mentioned third co-founder, Ron Wayne, offered his thoughts on the death of Steve Jobs in an interview late Wednesday. He told AppleInsider that working with Jobs was "one of the great privileges" of his life, first at Atari and later in a brief stint for Apple's earliest days. Many of the traits that would define Jobs were still present in 1976, including his emphasis on the future.
Atari Arcade Duo Powered joystick escapes in code
A quiet update to Atari's Greatest Hits app has revealed early details of just the second retro arcade gaming stick for the iPad to arrive in earnest. The Atari Arcade Duo Powered stick, which gets support in the update, recreates the analog buttons and feel similar to the iCade but exchanges some of its vintage feel for more flexibility. Instead of recreating a cabinet, it represents a simpler joystick and dock combo that lets players more freely swap out the iPad and isn't as focused on the original iPad design.
Apple has necessary information, defendants say
Four major parties defending themselves against Lodsys' legal accusations are actively petitioning the court to accept Apple's intervention request. Game publishers Atari, Electronic Arts and Square-Enix were joined by Quickoffice in sending a letter to the court yesterday, urging it to grant Apple's motion. All four companies are being represented in the matter by the same lawfirm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. The first three have yet to even be served their summons however, and state that they are stepping in early to "ensure that their voices are heard in connection with the pending motion to intervene."
Lodsys tries to stop Apple intervention in case
Lodsys hoped to reduce resistance to its lawsuit on Wednesday and filed an opposition to Apple's motion to intervene. The 22-page reply, some of which is redacted for public viewing to protect confidential info, maintains that Apple's licensing of Lodsys patents would limit its scope for acting on behalf of others. It goes on to claim that Apple's reason to fight back is "purely economic" at most and that the reduced profits or losses for third-party developers didn't meet the legal threshold for stepping into the case.
Lodsys expands to target major game developers
Lodsys continued its rapidly widening lawsuit campaign Thursday by trying its hand at attacking major game developers. A larger complaint (below) now adds Atari, EA, Rovio, Square Enix, and Take Two over in-app purchases in their mobile games. The expansion singles out major games and isn't limited to just iPad and iPhone titles, going so far as to target Rovio's versions of Angry Birds for both Android and iOS.
ThinkGeek, Atari, deliver classic arcade gaming
ThinkGeek has placed its iCade iPad game controller up for pre-order. The iCade is compatible with the iPad and the iPad 2 and has been given official third-party app support by Atari. Atariís Greatest Hits (App Store) recently launched and has been developed to work with the iCadeís classic arcade-style controls.
Jerry Lawson, inventor of game cartridge, dies
Jerry Lawson, one of the early pioneers in the video game industry, died on Saturday at 71. Lawson was credited with inventing Fairchild Semiconductor's Channel F, one of the earliest home video game consoles, along with the programmable game cartridges that defined the genre up until the original PlayStation in 1995. Before the Channel F in 1976, game consoles were only usually capable of playing games built into the firmware.
Heck puts Xbox 360 into 1977 Atari console
Element 14's electronics modder Ben Heck has now been commissioned by Atari to create a piece of hardware that will play Atari's new games while reminding gamers of its hardware-building past. To achieve this, Heck tore out the brains of a brand new Xbox 360 and installed them into an emptied 1977 Atari console. The creation is also portable, as it has an integrated LCD screen.
Game features 6 cross platform multi-player modes
Atari and Virtual Programming have launched The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena. The game includes a HD remastering of the previous game in the series, The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. Both games are prequels to the movies Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick. The games feature the voice of Vin Diesel, reprising his role from the movies. Other voice talents include Lance Henricksen (Aliens), Wade Williams (Prison Break) and Michelle Forbes (Battlestar Galactica).