PUNKED ROCK: Yes, the Nintendo Wii is going to be hard to find before Christmas, but there's another piece of game hardware that's even more elusive: the Rock Band drum kit.
For now, the drums are being sold in a $169 bundle that also includes a guitar, a microphone and the software, but most retailers have sold out of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 bundles -- and many gamers who waited in line the night before Rock Band went on sale last week were disappointed when expected deliveries didn't show up.
There's still hope. Amazon says it's expecting more bundles by Sunday, and the PlayStation 2 Rock Band bundle arrives Tuesday. And there's always eBay. If you just want to buy the drum kit (or the guitar, or the microphone), you'll have to wait until February.
Of course, you could just buy the game itself and use your old Guitar Hero controllers to jam. But wait -- that only works if you're playing on the Xbox 360, since PS3 Guitar Hero controllers won't work with Rock Band . To make everything more confusing, Xbox 360 Rock Band controllers won't play Guitar Hero III .
Rock Band publishers Electronic Arts and MTV Games and Guitar Hero publisher Activision had promised their controllers would be interchangeable. Now they're blaming each other for compatibility issues, and gamers get the shaft.
ROMANTIC COMEDY: The pop classic What I Like About You is a staple at wedding receptions and sporting events, and has been used to sell everything from beer to car insurance. But I had completely forgotten the band that performed it until Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the '80s included a cover version -- "as made famous by The Romantics."
Activision properly secured permission to record the song, but the band members are angry that the GH cover sounds, well, too good. They've filed a federal lawsuit against Activision, claiming unspecified damages.
"I was very upset because the band had worked very hard over many years to develop and use its distinctive sound," singer Wally Palmar told the Detroit Free Press .
The Romantics' lawyers said that because the GH cover sounded so much like the original, Activision had infringed on the group's rights to its own likeness.
"It's a very good imitation, and that's our objection," attorney William Horton said.
BLOOD SIMPLE: The fuss over Rockstar Games' violent Manhunt 2 was fun for a while. Rockstar cleverly defused the controversy by releasing a game that was so lousy that there's little danger anyone, child or adult, would want to play it.
Now that the hubbub has died down, it's time for the politicians to weigh in. Four senators -- Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; Sam Brownback, R-Kan.; Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. -- sent a letter to the Entertainment Software Rating Board protesting the game's M (for "mature") rating.
The senators were particularly bothered by the Wii version of Manhunt 2 , which requires players to physically act out its torture and murder scenes. "We ask your consideration of whether it is time to review the robustness, reliability and repeatability of your ratings process, particularly for this genre of 'ultra-violent' video games and the advances in game controllers," they wrote.
SEE WHAT DEVELOPS: Been thinking about creating your own PlayStation 3 game? Sony has just made it easier, slashing the price of PS3 software development kits to a little more than $10,000.
The PS3 is generally regarded as the most difficult console to design for, and studios have been racing to produce software for the less sophisticated Wii. But the PS3 needs games -- and Sony is hoping that lower development costs will bring more creators on board.