Well, it’s April 1st and TV is going to be exciting tonight, with new episodes of Game of Thrones and River Monsters airing, as well as WWE WrestleMania XXVIII.  What does any of that have to do with video games?  Not much, really, but it does paint a nice contrast to the boring week in video games.  Yup, another spring week with little noteworthy news has gone by, though there is some decent stuff to report.  Last week in the “Roundup,” I noted that Capcom producer Yoshinori Ono had been hospitalized; this week, Ono-san announced via Twitter that he is temporarily stepping down from his role at Capcom so he can recover.  Last night marked the official end of Bungie’s involvement with the beloved Halo series that the studio created.

Will the Wii U be more powerful than the Xbox 360 and PS3? Darksiders II director Marvin Donald says no.
  • Wii U hardware “on par” technically with Xbox 360/PS3Darksiders II is set to be a launch title for Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U console, and now the game’s director is telling people what they should expect from the new system on a technical level.  Speaking with GameReactor, Marvin Donald said the Wii U’s hardware “has been on par with what we have with the current generations.”  He also said that the system’s been easy to develop for and that the Wii U version of Darksiders II will “have a few new features” because of the system’s tablet-like controller.

-Nick’s take:  Early speculation had been that the Wii U was a bit more powerful than the Xbox 360 and PS3.  If the Wii U is only as powerful as the current gen systems, I’m not sure how successful it will be when Microsoft and Sony unveil their next-gen systems.  Still, the Wii U may have the best versions of multiplatform games for at least a year.

These birds don't look too angry. It's probably because their game sold over 10 million downloads in only three days.
  • Angry Birds Space already downloaded over 10 million times:  The official Angry Birds Twitter account sent out a tweet on Monday that read, “10 million Angry Birds Space downloads in less than 3 days!  Thanks to our fans, stay tuned for more!”

-Nick’s take:  10 million downloads in only three days is very impressive.  To put that into perspective, Angry Birds Space sold as many copies in three days as Skyrim and Battlefield 3 did last year.  Angry Birds is still better than those wretched Facebook games, at least.

Unit 13 on the PS Vita was developer Zipper Interactive's last game.
  • Zipper Interactive shut down:  Zipper Interactive–the developer behind the original SOCOM:  U.S. Navy SEALs games on PS2, SOCOM 4 on PS3, and recently released PS Vita shooter Unit 13 has been shut down after 17 years of developing games.

-Nick’s take:  I was never a big fan of the SOCOM series and MAG disappointed me, but I’m still saddened by the studio’s closure.  Zipper was one of the PlayStation brand’s highest-profile developers.  I’m sure those affected will find new jobs in the industry.

Microsoft will be showing off the new Kinect 2.0 sensor at E3 this year (original model shown).
  • Microsoft reveals new Kinect sensor, says it will work better than the previous version; more news to come at E3:  In an official press release that is circulating today, Microsoft has announced a new version of Kinect for Xbox 360 that will be available “later this year.”  Apparently, this new Kinect sensor–called “Kinect 2.0”–will do a much better job of tracking player’s movements and recognizing their voices.  Kinect 2.0 will also require less space to function properly.  More info–presumably including pricing and an exact release date–will be revealed at E3 in June.

-Nick’s take:  With all of the rumors surrounding the next Xbox and how it would supposedly feature a new version of Kinect, I’m pretty surprised by this announcement.  Hopefully, Kinect 2.0 will actually work as intended this time and will have a wider range of compelling software.

Award-winning indie platformer Fez is coming to XBLA on April 13.
  • Indie platformer Fez coming to XBLA in two weeks:  On Friday, April 13, indie 2D/3D hybrid platformer Fez will be available for download on Xbox Live Arcade for $10.

-Nick’s take:  Fez should be on your radar because it won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize award at last month’s 2012 Independent Games Festival, the highest possible honor for an unreleased indie game.  Fez is a 2D platformer built using Microsoft’s XNA tools that allows the player to rotate the game world in 3D.  To me, it sounds similar to Nintendo’s overlooked Super Paper Mario, although without the RPG elements.

SEGA is going through a rough restructuring period.
  • Sega cancelling games and restructuring due to the “rapid change” in the gaming market:  Sega is going through a rough patch.   It is cancelling unspecified upcoming games, although Sega made clear that upcoming games in the Sonic the Hedgehog, Aliens, Total War and Football Manager franchises are not being cancelled.  Sega is expecting huge financial losses and will be streamlining its business organization to better position itself for “sustained profitability.”    Lastly, Sega is looking into becoming involved in the digital market in some unspecified fashion.

-Nick’s take:  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  Sega went from a console maker and fantastic developer to a third-party studio that has all but destroyed its most popular franchise.  It’d be a shame to lose Sega, though; hopefully, that won’t happen.

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