US Gunpey this Christmas

Namco Bandai lines it up.

Fans of the Internet may recall news last week that Tetsuya Mizuguchi's Q Entertainment studio is developing PSP and DS versions of Gunpei Yokoi's little-known WonderSwan puzzler Gunpey.

You do? Good news, then, because Namco Bandai's just announced that it plans to release both - albeit shorn of their full Japanese titles for the moment - in the USA this Christmas.

Who is Gunpei Yokoi, you ask? Why, he's the chap who created the Game Boy. He also did the WonderSwan, and the Virtual Boy, although we're not talking about that one obviously.

And what about Gunpey? And wouldn't it have made sense to clear some of this stuff up a bit earlier rather than padding things out with "fans of the Internet" and Virtual Boy twaddle?

Well, Gunpey is a simple 2D puzzle game played on a grid, a bit like Tetris or Lumines. Except in this case, the idea isn't to create shapes out of blocks; it's to flip tiles that have little lines in them - diagonals and so on.

As the grid fills with tiles it's possible, through the process of flipping them, to link the points together. Once you've connected lines horizontally all the way across the grid, those tiles disappear and the others fall down.

In Japan, the DS version is called Oto Wo Tsunagou! Gunpey Reverse - and that's a link to some screenshots by the way. It's controlled with the stylus, and as you clear panels you'll unlock new sound effects which can be strung together into tunes by flipping relevant tiles. It is a Mizuguchi game after all.

The PSP version, meanwhile, features similar skin elements to Lumines, and more than 40 of them should be unlockable as you make progress. That one's called Gunpey-R in Japan, and that's a link to - yes, screenshots, you got it.

All of which just leaves the question of what's happening to Gunpey in Europe. After all, if it's out in Japan this autumn and the USA by Christmas, surely we'll be playing it sometime in 2007 - but thanks to whom?

Well, Namco Bandai doesn't traditionally publish its own titles here, and while that may change, the likelihood is that the company will defer to its usual partners. So for PSP that's Sony, which is already handling games like Tekken Resurrection on PSP, and for DS that's Nintendo, which did the job for Q's last DS title, Meteos.

Another possibility being tossed around is Buena Vista Games, which recently signed four Q titles - Lumines II, Lumines Plus, Meteos Disney Edition and Every Extend Extra. Although since that was a direct deal between BVG and Q, and Namco Bandai's already involved in Japan and the USA, it seems a tad unlikely.

So, our money's on Nintendo and Sony. Except, when we asked Sony, they didn't seem to think it was likely. And none of the others have got back to us. And Ubisoft might do it too - they brought us Lumines after all.

Anyway, if we ever find out what's going to happen to Gunpey over here, so will you.

Update: More fun! Buena Vista says: "We are only publishing the four titles from Q Entertainment and nothing else." Ubisoft says it doesn't know. Nintendo hasn't said anything yet. Namco Bandai is going to get back to us. So - we'll know more soon, Eurogamers.

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