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European Naruto Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2 release set for July

No doubt Europeans have been following our recent Naruto Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2 coverage with frustrated anticipation. "That's all very well, but when's it coming out?" Atari has announced that Europeans can get their hands on the game in July -- a month after its release in America. Importing is obviously an option, if you're impatient for that extra month of play time. Be sure to check out our hands-on preview of the game from New York ComiCon for more info on the game.

[Via press release]

echochrome on UMD in Europe says official site

Information on the European version of echochrome has been sadly lacking, especially considering all the fun and games surrounding the game's method of release in America. A Pocket Gamer reader has stumbled upon the official product page on the official PlayStation website, which clearly states that echochrome will be "available on UMD for PSP and to download on PLAYSTATION 3 in May 2008." No word on pricing for the PSP version or if it will also be available via the PC Store, but it's nice to know Europeans will be able to get their hands on a physical copy.

We suspect the reason for this might be that the European PC Store hasn't really taken off, with SCEE saying very little about the service since it was launched. As for the release date, we've had echochrome penciled in for May for a wee while now, so no surprises there.

[Via Pocket Gamer]

Slim PSP comes to Europe early [Update]

Europe continues its love affair with the PSP. The new PSP Slim & Light will be available for €169 "at the beginning of September." The goal is to have the system available before the Japanese launch, September 20th.

For those of you hankering for the redesigned PSP early, you'll want to have a European friend to get one for you. [Update: The launch is now confirmed for September 6th. Very early, no?]

[Via Joystiq]

PSP to get three exclusive services in Europe

Whoever's handling the European PSP is doing a fantastic job. The territory has always offered more colors than in the US, and has offered a greater variety of services, such as VoIP. Now, it appears that Europe is going to get three more exclusive services, to be unveiled at the Leipzig Games Convention next month.

We'll be at the GC to offer the latest on-site information. Until then, would you like to make a few guesses on what the new services will be?

[Thanks. Karl!]

Europe finally gets PS1 downloads

After months-long delay, Europe is finally getting a chance to download and play PS1 classics on their PSP and PS3 systems. Although there's no way to directly download games to the PSP yet, those fortunate enough to have both Sony machines will be able to access the following content next week, according to Three Speech:
  • Crash Bandicoot
  • Wipeout
  • Medievil
  • Jumping Flash
  • Syphon Filter
Of these titles, we recommend Crash Bandicoot and Jumping Flash the most. These games will be available in the European PS Store on 6/22.

Whoops! Metal Gear Solid forgets rating; no longer on sale

Months after the US and Japanese release, Europeans were supposed to enjoy Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops today. To make up for the excruciating delay, the PAL version will feature new content not available in the other releases, such as new characters, maps and missions. However, it appears Europeans will have to wait a little bit longer, as the game has been delayed yet again. Why? According to Pocket Gamer, it appears that the box art artist forgot to include the BBFC (the UK equivalent of the ESRB) rating for the game.

Without a rating on the box UMD, the game will not be sold at retailers. Whoops! This is a strange mishap, to say the least. It looks like European gamers will have to wait just a little bit longer as Konami fixes this mistake--but you guys are used to waiting, right?

PSP experiences price cuts worldwide

America isn't the only country enjoying a PSP price cut. This time, it's for our friends across the Atlantic. Starting May 4th, PSP will go for a paltry £129.99, a savings of £20. A "Platinum" range of titles is also being released: Ridge Racer 2, Tekken: Dark Resurrection, KillZone: Liberation, Loco Roco and Moto GP will all be available for £14.99 each.

The UK is not the only territory experiencing a PSP price drop. Korea also announced a discounted price for the system: 198,000 won, a savings of 50,000 won. The savings will take place starting April 26th.

Finally, our northern neighbors have also experienced a price drop. Canadians can now get their PSP systems for $199.99, a savings of $30. These global price cuts are showing a more aggressive stance from Sony--something all PSP fans can be thankful for.

[Via TVG, PSP-Vault, Extreme Gamer]

Spectral Vs Generations: when strategy characters brawl

NIS America has released several Idea Factory games so far, including Generations of Chaos and Spectral Souls. But one game they haven't released on PSP is the fighting game Spectral versus Generation, which features characters from both series duking it out. I certainly can't say I ever predicted seeing strategy RPG characters throw down in a 2D fighter, but here it is. Ironically, Midas Interactive is bringing this unique crossover title to European stores.

Wait, what's so ironic? Previous titles in the Generations of Chaos and Spectral Souls series have never come to Europe. This makes it quite likely that the average European gamer won't even be aware of any of the characters involved. Don't worry Idea Factory fans! Since your PSP can play games from any region, you just need to find an importer, and you're good to go.

[Via Siliconera]

Monster Hunter Freedom 2 announced for Europe [Update 1]

No surprise here. After selling 700,000 copies in its first week in Japan, Monster Hunter's sequel is set to dominate the rest of the world. Or, at least Europe. According to a new press release from Capcom Europe, "Capcom plans to release this game as Monster Hunter Freedom 2 across PAL territories in September 2007."

While no US release has been announced yet, we're expecting an official statement soon. Certainly, Capcom USA wouldn't want to miss this excuse to literally print money?

[Update 1: The US press release states that the game is coming to the States in September as well.]

Sony wants you to watch 24, Lost on your PSP

Sony Computer Entertainment of Europe is in talks with Sky, trying to get it to distribute content for PSP users. Programs that are broadcast by Sky in the UK and Ireland include 24, Lost, The Simpsons, Deadwood, and more. This partnership will be crucial for Sony's plans in educating the general public about the multimedia functionality of Sony's handheld.

The service will supposedly launch by year's end. There's no indication that Sony Computer Entertainment of America will follow suit with a similar program.


StateShift announced for Europe

DCEmu has the press release for a new PSP game titled StateShift. An original sci-fi racer being developed by Engine Software and development is almost complete. Set in a not-too-distant future where illegal racing takes place on future Earth, a place of economic instability and depleted resources. StateShift features various single player modes like a career mode and ad-Hoc multiplayer.

The CEO of Engine Software had this to say of StateShift; "The development of StateShift has been highly productive and a great experience for the team and myself here at Engine Software. Now we are close to completion, I am personally very happy to announce the partnership with Midas Interactive Ltd and anticipate hugely successful release of StateShift into the European market."

The press release made no mention of StateShift being released outside Europe, but considering that the PSP can play games from other regions, it likely won't matter to those interested in the game. On a side note, what is going on with the game logo? It looks like "SD", but the game clearly is not called StateDiff, so I can't really make sense of it. Hopefully the logo isn't indicative of the quality of the title.

4GB Value Pack not such a good value

Sony has to start making "Value Packs" that live up to their name. The latest effort in the bundle-crazed European market is a new "Value Pack," going for €329 ($425 US). This package, a mark-up of €130 contains a 4GB Memory Stick and Sony's Media Manager 2.0. Considering how most freeware makes Media Manager unnecessary, and how Memory Stick prices are plummeting, there's no reason for Sony to charge as much as they are. Educated European customers will obviously avoid this bundle, and simply buy the Core system, with a Memory Stick of their own choosing.

[Via kingplayer]

Lik-Sang goes out of business, tells their side of story [Update 1]

Lik-Sang gives their side of the storyIt was just a few days ago that popular import gaming site, Lik-Sang, was rocked by a judge's ruling that it could no longer sell Sony's systems out of region. Now, Lik-Sang is giving their side of the story.

Lik-Sang said, "Hong Kong's laws are clear when it comes to parallel trade, and the company has no ties whatsoever with the UK." However, ruling Judge Michael Fysh saw things differently by saying "The acts of which the complaint is made have, in my view, been perpetrated not in Hong Kong but here in the EEA, and without Sony's consent."

[Update: Lik-Sang has officially closed its doors. Here's an excerpt from the press release:

", the popular gaming retailer from Hong Kong, has today announced that it is forced to close down due to multiple legal actions brought against it by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Sony claimed that Lik-Sang infringed its trade marks, copyright and registered design rights by selling Sony PSP consoles from Asia to European customers, and have recently obtained a judgment in the High Court of London (England) rendering Lik-Sang's sales of PSP consoles unlawful. As of today, will not be in the position to accept any new orders and will cancel and refund all existing orders that have already been placed."

Lik-Sang notes that many individuals of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe received their PSPs via a Lik-Sang import:

"The list of PSP related Sony Europe orders reads like the who's who of the videogames industry, and includes Ray Maguire (Managing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Alan Duncan (UK Marketing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Chris Sorrell (Creative Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Rob Parkin (Development Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited), just to name a few."]

[Update: Sony denies responsibility for the closure, according to "Lik-Sang did not contest this case (i.e. they did not turn up and therefore incurred no legal costs). We have been awarded substantial costs against Lik-Sang which have not been paid... The purchasing of PSP consoles by SCE employees would be for investigatory purposes. We would also like to express our surprise at a company releasing personal information about its consumers." +1 Sony, -1 Gamers]

Nintendo Europe manager speaks, fanboys argue

Remember that song, "Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?" Yeah, it was a classic, wasn't it? Well, I've adopted the song for Sony and Nintendo representatives. It goes like this:

Who sold marginally less handheld systems?
Sony sold marginally less handheld systems!
Who me?
Yes YOU!
Couldn't be!
Then, who?

Who sold marginally less handheld systems?
Nintendo sold marginally less handheld systems!
Who me?
Yes YOU!
Couldn't be!
Then, who?

Rinse, and repeat, folks. Rinse and repeat. If you couldn't tell, I'm somewhat sickened by this constant use of sales figures to somehow prove a system's superiority. Once it starts affecting me as a gamer, I'll start worrying. In the latest round of executive fanboyism, Nintendo product manager James Honeywell spoke out about the success of the DS, and how it's theoretically affecting the PSP: "Up until the end of last year sale between the two formats were fairly evenly matched, with DS slightly outselling PSP," he said. "Since the beginning of the year, with our stellar line-up of releases, we have pushed our sales through the roof. Then with the fantastic launch of DS Lite in June we have begun to pull further and further away."

"Right now, with the combination of DS and DS Lite we are outselling the competition by a ratio of 3:1. This increase in hardware sales has also driven an increase in DS software sales, moving ahead of PSP in the total number of units and also, more interestingly, we have now seen that the same third party titles are selling more on the DS than on other formats. We are seeing publishers start to rethink their strategies switching development from other formats to the successful DS platform and, more importantly, creating bespoke titles that fully utilise the DS features rather than simply porting content without taking advantage of the great things you can do on DS."

Once again, I haven't really seen third parties run away from Sony's handheld. Once quality games stop coming for my system, that's when I'll start to get worried. Until then, I'll enjoy my underappreciated PSP, just as much as I've enjoyed my Gamecube and Dreamcast (I have a real knack for choosing underdogs, huh?).

[Via DS Fanboy]

Killzone Liberation PSP bundle invades France

One of our French readers, kingplayer, sent us a tip about a brand new PSP bundle hitting France (and maybe the rest of Europe?). Like the previous Korea-only Tekken pack, this bundle features some pretty sweet box art and... well, nothing else, really. Killzone will obviously be included in this particular bundle. It appears that Sony will also be providing a new bundle featuring Vice City Stories for release the week after. Our European fans can look out for the new packages on November 8th (for Killzone) and November 15th (for GTA).

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