Apologies for the lack of recent updates. Team Consoul have been busy with the release of their next-gen handheld. As is common in such cases, the release date slipped due to a longer than expected internal development cycle, and the launch was consequently two weeks late. The project formerly under the working title "Pumpernickel" was officially released as "Jack" (aka "P-Jack") on October 19.
Jack is a bit bigger than your average handheld, weighing in at ten pounds, but provides an entirely new range of visual, aural and err...olfactory experiences. Jack has been warmly received by shareholders and is showing great potential.
In other news, the next generation of home consoles is finally kicking off with Microsoft's XBox360 going on sale in the US today. Two versions are available: the cheaper "Core System" (US$299 without hard drive) and the full "Premium System" (US$399). Games for the 360 have actually been on shelves (and on sale) for some time now. They were distributed to stores early to ensure gamers weren't left without games when the system launched. While there are a respectable number of 360 launch titles (more than a dozen), reviews have been lukewarm on the whole. Most of the 360 launch titles aren't jumping out and screaming next-gen - rather they feel more like current generation games with a high definition makeover. In some cases, that's precisely what they are, though a few new titles like Call of Duty 2 and Sega's Condemned are showing a clear jump above what current generation consoles can offer. Having said that, gamers who have seen Call of Duty 2 on a high end PC won't be blown away by the 360 version.
The Premium XBox360 (bottom) is distinguishable from the Core system (top) by it's dark disc tray cover and the removable hard drive enclosure (left).
Microsoft have launched XBox360 just in time for the US holiday season, in the hope of translating the Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping sprees into a well established user base before Sony get PS3 out of the gates. At this early stage, I imagine the XBox360 will prove popular with owners of high definition sets, who will appreciate its native 720p output. The vast majority of gamers (who still have only standard definition displays), will probably adopt the wait-and-see approach. To say there's a high level of awareness and anticipation of Sony's Playstation3 in the gaming community is something of an understatement. Many will resist investing in a 360 until the actual relative capabilities of 360 and PS3 become apparent. Some media outlets have already taken sides, such as Fox News, with their brilliantly subtle piece entitled "Don't buy XBox 360".
Software sells hardware. This is day one for XBox360, so it's a bit early to expect a killer app of Halo proportions, but realistically, that's what Microsoft are going to need in order to maximize their early start advantage.