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The funky fresh intro of Phantasy Star Portable

Wow, it's really coming. Phantasy Star Portable is finally coming, after months of silence. Features like connectivity with previous PSU games is a plus, although the lack of Infrastructure gameplay has us a bit bummed. (Hopefully Sega will add that to the inevitable US release!) Here's the intro movie from the game, which reminds us a lot of Persona. Man, wouldn't it be great if there were a Persona game for PSP? ...

Bleach: Soul Carnival trailer hidden in Heat the Soul 5

A trailer for an unannounced PSP Bleach game was hidden away in the latest handheld brawler, Heat the Soul 5. As seen by the video, this chibi 2D game is a strong departure for the franchise. This teaser is admittedly short, but we're pretty sure that Sony Japan will release more details shortly.

(And, when are we ever going to see a Bleach PSP game in the US? Please?)

PSP maintains easy dominance in Japan

Japan sure does love their PSP. Week after week, PSP has been the top-selling console in Japan, and this week is no different. In fact, it more than easily bests the rest of the competition. It's strange to see how different the American and Japanese markets are. To think: PSP is outselling the Wii? Insanity!

PSP - 89,884
Wii - 67,308
DS - 51,228
PS3- 8,054
PS2 - 7,464
Xbox 360 - 1,298

Pre-order Naruto Heroes 2, get bonus figurine

If you're planning to pick up Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2 on its June 24 release in North America, then make sure you put down a pre-order ahead of time. Why do that? Well, don't you want to snag for yourself a free figurine? You could be eligible to win one of these six figurines pictured above. There is one catch though; you'll have to do slightly more than just pre-order.

To get your figurine you'll have to register as a member of Hokage's Room -- the official Naruto website. Then you'll have to join a special "pre-order mission." If you've pre-ordered on GameStop's online store you could also win one out of ten Naruto PSP skins in addition to a guaranteed figurine.

This all sounds a little too much like a hassle, if you ask us. Anyway, if you're really interested make sure you check out the full details over at Hokage's Room.

SCEA announces US releases for PS3/PSP games

Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) just announced some release dates and timeframes for their first-party 2008 titles. PS3 looks to be getting a lot of love. PSP? Not so much.

Hot Shots Golf: Open Tee 2 - June 3, 2008
Secret Agent Clank - June 17, 2008
NBA 09 - Fall 2008
BUZZ! Master Quiz - Fall 2008

wipEout HD - Summer 2008
Elefunk - Summer 2008
PixelJunk Eden - Summer 2008
SIREN: Blood Curse - Summer 2008
SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Confrontation - September 16, 2008

SOCOM: US Navy SEALs Confrontation - September 16, 2008
LittleBigPlanet - October 2008
NBA 09 - Fall 2008
BUZZ! Quiz TV - Fall 2008
MotorStorm Pacific Rift - Fall 2008
Resistance 2 - Fall 2008
Killzone 2 - February 2009

Fading Shadows coming to US, courtesy of Agetec

The unique PSP-exclusive puzzler, Fading Shadows, is coming to America, courtesy of Agetec. In the game, players must direct a mystical beam of light to help a magical orb traverse various trap-filled puzzles. There are fifty levels to try when the game comes out this Summer.

One of the more intriguing aspects of Fading Shadows is the game's detailed story, an unusual addition to the puzzle genre. With such an inspired style, we can't help but be a bit intrigued by the game. (See video here.)

"We're very happy to be publishing this game as we think many people will be fascinated by the story," says Agetec's producer Mark Johnson. "It's an incredible, one-of-a-kind game that features an intriguing story, brain teasing puzzles, and unique gameplay. Puzzle fans will not be disappointed."

Gallery: Fading Shadows

SCE Worldwide Studios gets new president

Ever since Phil Harrison shocked the games industry by leaving Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) for Atari, there has been a crucial void in Sony's management. In the interim months, Kazuo Hirai was the acting President of the Worldwide Studios, but effective today, there will be replacement.

Shuhei Yoshida has become the new president of the SCE Worldwide Studios. He began his career with SCEI in April 1996 as one of initial members in establishing the PlayStation business. Since then, he moved on to Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), where he ultimately became Senior VP of the US Studios.

In a press release from Tokyo, Kazuo Hirai, President and Group CEO of SCEI commented about the new position. "SCE WWS has been developing global hit titles, sharing resources and know-how within SCE Group since its foundation, and we will reinforce our software business by further enhancing coordination among the studios under a new leader. Under the leadership of Yoshida, who has proven track record in managing creative talent, SCE WWS will accelerate the software development for the PLAYSTATION(R)3 and PSP(R) (PlayStation(R) Portable) platforms and vigorously expand the gaming market."

The PS3 and PSP are both trailing behind competing home and portable platforms. It will take refocused leadership on Sony's part if it wants to reclaim its former glory in the games industry. We wish Yoshida the best of luck in his new role at Sony.

April NPD: hardware sales rising, no bestselling software

PSP hardware continues to sell incredibly well, outpacing both the PS3 and Xbox 360 on a monthly basis. April's NPD figures have come in, and PSP sold 192,696 units last month. That's an increase of 5.6% from April 2007, although a significant plummet from March 2008. Considering the lack of high-profile new releases, a drop in hardware makes a lot of sense.

Software sales were at a million units for the month, a respectable figure. However, God of War and Crisis Core quickly dropped out of the bestsellers list, after a brief appearance last month. These two titles are unsurprisingly the top sellers on the PSP platform this month.

Check out the numbers, after the break.

Continue reading April NPD: hardware sales rising, no bestselling software

Details on Phantasy Star Portable, import PSU characters

Finally, more information on Phantasy Star Portable has surfaced. The biggest reveal involves the ability to import characters from Phantasy Star Universe -- the console game that PSP is based on. Players of the PS2 and PC versions of Phantasy Star Universe may import their characters and carry over their character's name and personal data as well as currently equipped cloths and parts. Level, however, will be capped at level 20 and spare equipment, special items, etc. will not be carried over. Those with a 360 PSU will not be able to import any data at all.

Also, the game has an all-new story mode with new missions. A four player co-op mode through an ad hoc connection will also be included. Phantasy Star Portable is currently set for release in Japan on July 31. A North American release has yet to be announced.

American PC Store updates for May 15th

Theme lovers will enjoy today's American PC Store update as there are now three more to add to your collection. Not only that, but (perhaps more importantly) a demo for the recently-golden Secret Agent Clank has been made available. While it probably won't tide you over until the game's release in June, it will give you a taste of this Summer's hottest PSP release. Here's the full release list:
  • Secret Agent Clank demo
  • Secret Agent Clank theme
  • 2x echochrome themes

More Monster Hunter DLC terrorizes Japan

Capcom, leave these people alone! We're pretty certain that Japan's economy must be coming to a screeching halt, as millions of Japanese are turned into mindless zombies who crave not flesh ... but more Monster Hunter Portable. The streets must be empty as everyone stays glued to their PSPs, hunting as many monsters as possible.

To make matters worse, Capcom is releasing even more DLC for the game, adding a new quest to ensure that the hypnotized denizens of Japan won't dare think about anything but the game. Who knows how many will skip work to hunt down the new Tigarex?

Crisis Core coming to Europe in June

As usual, Square Enix took their time localizing a game to Europe. Crisis Core, the exciting PSP-exclusive prequel to Final Fantasy VII, is finally coming to Europe in June. Of course, the delay may be worth it for those picking up the Special Edition version of the game (pictured, above).

John Yamamoto, president and chief executive officer of Square Enix Ltd. commented in the press release, "CRISIS CORE -FINAL FANTASY VII- is one of the most anticipated FINAL FANTASY releases of all times. Pushing the boundaries of the PSP hardware, it offers a truly fantastic gameplay experience to not only existing fans, but new ones as well."

Gallery: Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core

Metal Gear Solid digital comic may skip PSP, go to DVD

Those anticipating the next Metal Gear Solid digital comic on PSP may be sorely disappointed. The first comic was released on UMD and retold Snake's Shadow Moses adventure, through stylishly animated comic panels. A sequel, based on the events of Metal Gear Solid 2, was supposed to be released on PSP as well, but has mysteriously vanished since we last saw it. This new comic would be presented in the same style as the first, but would include voice acting from series vets.

Japanese retailer Game Star has listed a 2-disc DVD release for a new Metal Gear Solid digital comic, which includes both retellings. The planned release is June 12th, the same day as the PS3-exclusive Metal Gear Solid 4. Certainly, a DVD release would be more viable, and there are ways to get DVD content on to a PSP. We'll have to wait for more details.

[Via PSPHyper]

Secret Agent Clank goes gold, demo available today

The ninja espionage skills of Clank will be tested today as a free downloadable demo will hit the US PLAYSTATION Store. Secret Agent Clank has just finished production -- it's finally "gold." Poised as PSP's biggest game this summer, this taste of Clank should whet anyone's appetite for more.

Gallery: Secret Agent Clank

European PC Store update for May 15th

We have to say, we expected there to be more than a week between Sony announcing full PSP games being made available on the PSN/PC Store and it actually happening. We are, however, pleasantly surprised. Not only that, but there's another PS1 game available today -- specially for all you RTS fans out there. Here's the list:
  • WipEout Pure full PSP game (£14.99/€19.99) (Review)
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert PS1 game for PS3/PSP (£3.49/€4.99)
The PlayStation Store certainly becomes a much more interesting place once there's stuff to buy. Don't you agree?

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