Pokemon the conqueror

Next Generation reportsthat in just four days, the latest Pokemon game -Pokemon Diamond and Pearl- has sold 1.58 million copies in Japan, instantly becoming the fastest-selling DS game ever. Is anyone surprised? Nope. Nintendo sure isn't, or it wouldn't have printed over and a million and a half copies for the first shipment. The scary thing about the DS has always been how popular it was before Pokemon came out. Now that it's out... the DS is a terror that stalks in the night, PSPs crushed beneath its cloven hooves. Or something like that.

Make sure to check out ourhands-on with the import version.

Before the emergence

Gears of War - hype storm or hyper awesome? You'll find out soon enough... but even earlier if you win Microsoft's latest contest:Gears of War: Backstage Pass. Two lucky gamers will win the chance to travel to North Carolina to visit the game's developer, Epic Games and get to meet the game's Lead Designer, CliffyB - we've done so and we can't recommend against the experience, though he does smell of styling products. Most important is the fact that - if you win - you'll be able to play the damn thing, on October 27, which is almost two weeks beforeEmergence Day(the game's release date, aka November 7 in Earthspeak).

Head over to the Gears of War: Backstage Passcontest siteto enter.

No reason to buy an import PS3...

Top online import game shop NCS has openedpreordersfor the Japanese PlayStation 3. The 20GB version, that is. Releasing on November 11- less than a week before the US launch - the system will set you back $689. That's a hefty markup from the49,980 yen(around $424) it'll cost Japanese gamers. Though it sounds like a hell of a scalp, NCSpoints outthat the speedy US launch is actually helping keep prices down. The PS2 went as high as $780 when it launched in Japan, almost double its 39,800 yen price tag ($378 in March 2000). Aren't launches wonderful? This is just an appetizer for the horrible eBay gouging we can expect for the US console. Get ready.

Rumble poses

Sonysaysthat including rumble in the PS3 SIXAXIS controller would have been hard to do well and cheaply. The guy who controls the tech - CEO of Immersion, the company behind rumble -saysit's simple. The company has been trying to stir up a lot of muck online... not because it cares too much about how gamers feel, we suspect, but because it wants millions of dollars in licensing fees for putting rumble technology in the PS3's controllers. Here's the question we pose: does anybody really care? We've asked around the office. Some guys like rumble, but some go so far as to turn it off. Outside a few genius uses - Metal Gear Solid is always great - does it really matter? No? Then shut up, guys. Thanks!

Next Generation talks it up

Next Gen's industry focus is the perfect complement to our love of games. So why not spend the better part of an hour with itspodcast, listening to opinions on the PlayStation 3's overheating problem, Halo and, of course, the latest on the Wii. They also spend some time talking to Chris Charla, one of our favorite guys in game development (he just so happened to be the Editor in Chief of the Next Gen print magazine for a while, back in the day.) Now, he's instrumental in putting games like Death Jr. together, so you might just want to hear what he has to say... and you can do ithere.

Football? Soccer? Whatever

The internet makes a lot of things possible, like enabling Sega to sell its massively popular soccer management simulation - Worldwide Soccer Manager 2007 - to the handful of North Americans that care, without having to worry about getting stores to stock it. You really can't argue with that, even if you don't really care. But if you think you're interested, head over to Sega'sdownload siteand grab the demo - PC or Mac - and find out if you have the chops to take your team to the top.

New screens

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PSP)
Pokemon Diamond / Pearl (DS)
Medieval II: Total War (PC)
Tabula Rasa (PC)
Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony (PSP)
SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Combined Assault (PS2)
Culdcept Saga (360)
TotemBall (360)

New video

Final Fantasy XII(PS2)
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom (PS3)
Star Wars: Empire At War - Forces of Corruption (PC)
Tabula Rasa (PC)
EA Replay (PSP)

October 4, 2006