Xbox 360 HD-DVD dated, 1080p promised

Plus, new XBLA titles, dates.

The Xbox 360 HD-DVD player will be released on 17th November in Japan and cost 19,800 yen (EUR 133 / GBP 89).

The drive, which Microsoft maintains will be used to play movies only, will also come bundled with a Universal Media Remote.

Meanwhile, the company's autumn software update for the Xbox 360 dashboard will allow the console to output movie and game content in 1080p resolution. 720p games will be able to upscale to 1080p, although there will be no HDMI output.

Speaking in Japan ahead of the Tokyo Game Show this week, Microsoft also unveiled new titles for Xbox Live Arcade from Konami and Namco Bandai, showed off game trailers and offered release dates for titles including Dead or Alive Xtreme 2.

DOAX2, in development at Tecmo's Team Ninja studio, will be released on 22nd November in Japan following a 15th November US release - although European gamers were told simply to expect it "soon".

Trailers for several titles were shown, while recently announced Tri-Ace RPG Infinite Undiscovery and Namco Bandai's Trusty Bell were offered as examples of Japanese developers getting behind the next-generation format.

The first fruits of Microsoft's collaboration with Hironobu Sakaguchi and his Mistwalker studio will become apparent this year too, with Blue Dragon set for Japanese release on 7th December.

Lost Odyssey, Mistwalker's other title, remains in development, although Sakaguchi showed off both titles during Microsoft's Japanese event, and said playable demos of both would feature at the Tokyo Game Show on Friday.

Konami and Namco Bandai continue to offer their support to the 360 platform, specifically Xbox Live Arcade, with a number of new titles from each promised.

Konami will bring Contra, Gyruss, Track & Field, Rush'n Attack and Japan-exclusive Yie Ar Kung Fu to the service (the latter in 2007), while Namco Bandai has pledged Dig Dug, New Rally-X and Ms. Pac-Man.

Microsoft also plans to put on a Pac-Man World Championship in early 2007 to celebrate the game's August release on Xbox Live Arcade. At the event in New York City, the top ten worldwide players will be brought together to compete.

Finally, Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani, now a lecturer at Tokyo Polytechnic University, spoke eloquently on the appeal of XNA Game Studio Express, which he said were "attractive and effective because they create a development environment that matches the skill level and area of expertise, widening the entry of future developers into game development".

Microsoft then announced that Tokyo University, Tokyo Polytechnic University, Ritsumeikan University and Osaka Electro-Communication University have joined the ranks of institutions supporting XNA as an educational tool.

Yesterday Microsoft said that it would release content including playable demos and trailers to Xbox Live Marketplace between 20th and 29th September to coincide with TGS and its own X06 event in Barcelona, the first elements of which should appear today.

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