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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

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This And That: Wednesday News Roundup

Poker on the DS, Namco's Hugo GBA games, Cross Racing Championship signed to Project 3, WOW launches in Korea, EyeToy Chat freebie, Pilot Down Euro date.

Californian publisher Crave has announced its first Nintendo DS game, World Championship Poker: Deluxe Series, which is currently available on PS2, Xbox and GBA in the US of States. The DS effort features "over 12" poker variants including Texas Hold'em, Five Card Draw Baseball and Hi-Lo, six-player muliplayer (which is presumably WiFi-based), four themed casino environments (with blackjack and video poker distractions), and a career mode with Casino Lane, Tournament Tables, a loan shark and a gift shop. Which, as you can tell from our regurgitation of the press release bullet-points, we're very excited about. A US release on April 5th is, er, on the cards.

Last time we wrote about Namco and the GBA, we were full of excitement about the likes of Klonoa 2 and Ace Combat. You probably were too when you read about them. Now - try and remember that sense of excitement and interest and if you're lucky you might be able to apply it to the forthcoming releases of platformer Hugo - The Evil Mirror (June) and kart racing title Hugo Bukkazoom (March), which are being produced in conjunction with Danish interactive TV firm ITE. They're aimed at children aged 12 and under, and based on the Hugo the TV Troll interactive TV show, which has apparently driven sales of some 8.5 million Hugo games on Sony, Nintendo and PC formats. Who knew?

Moving away from Denmark we find ourselves in Holland, where Dutch publisher Project Three Interactive announced yesterday that it has snapped up the Euro publishing rights to PC title Cross Racing Championship, which is in development at Invictus Games in Hungary - giving today's roundup a nicely pan-European feel. CRC is aimed at both rally and road-racing fans and takes in races split across environments ranging from icy mountains to deserts and beaches. More here.

Meanwhile, back over in California, Blizzard has announced that World of Warcraft has launched in Korea (our heads are now officially spinning), although the news of its arrival seems to have been overshadowed somewhat by the widespread problems affecting the American version. Originally Blizzard planned to launch the American and Korean versions simultaneously, but even though it didn't manage that the Korean launch is still something of a milestone for the developer, which has created a local office, hosting and support structure in the region to help the millions of Blizzard fans in Korea settle in to Azeroth. All that remains now is a release on that long-forgotten European continent, where a handful of Blizzard fans are still said to reside.

UK-based users of PS2 Online (listen up, you two) will be pleased to learn that the next issue of Official PlayStation 2 magazine in the UK will include a second disc in addition to the usual DVD of demos featuring a time-limited version of webcam-based video chat software EyeToy: Chat. Dubbed EyeToy: Chat Light, the demo version will allow you to see and talk to your mates for up to 100 hours, which sounds like terrific value for us, as well as play games like Battleship and Chess face-to-face. The issue in question will also feature a demo of TimeSplitters Future Perfect on its main disc. You can expect to find it at your local newsagent around 27th January.

And, as we continue to regain our footing back in Blighty, another UK-based mini-empire, Oxygen Interactive, has revealed that Kuju Entertainment's three-years-in-development World War II third-person shooter Pilot Down: Behind Enemy Lines ought to be with us in May. Pilot Down sees US airman Bill Foster stranded alone in Germany (argh! No more countries!) in winter 1944, forcing him to use all manner of skills to evade detection and reach the Swiss border. Although we'd probably chide Oxygen for its assertion that a third-person perspective WWII game is "refreshing", we seem to remember this looking vaguely promising at E3 millions of years ago, and the comic book style is certainly something new. Hopefully we'll like it when it pitches up on PS2, Xbox and PC.