Hoo boy–our man in Japan, Lance Kwok (who, by the way, looks just like Light-Weight a.k.a. "Lazy Swine" in Shaolin Soccer ), just got back from Sony's pre-Tokyo Game Show conference and has a few nuggets of info to report.

[Thank goodness for cell phone IM capabilities, btw.]

<HHGoCKwok> Heyyy, I just bought a beer from a vending machine!

1) The PSTwo is for real. But Sony won't be calling their revamped PS2 unit the "PSTwo." Instead, they'll continue using the PlayStation 2 name for the smaller console and just phase out the older, larger model. New model is 3cm tall (as opposed to 8cm for current unit), weighs half as much as the older model, uses a flip-top loading mechanism as opposed to a motor-based drive, has a bulkier brick-style AC cord, and will have the Ethernet and Modem ports (aka Network Adapter) built-in. The smaller PS2 will go on sale in North America on November 1st (USA model #SCPH-70012CB) at the current retail price point of $149.

2) Due to the revamped dimensions of the 70012 model PS2, many current PS2 accessories, such as vertical stands, the multi-tap, and the Hard Disk Drive (!) will NOT be compatible with the smaller 70012 model PS2. Sony plans to release newer versions of the vertical stand and multi-tap, but didn't mention an updated hard disk.

3) Still no hard date set for the PS3 launch, but Sony's slide-show confirmed that their next-gen console will be backwards compatible with both the PSOne and the PS2.

4) Sony has officially adopted the Blu-Ray ROM format for its upcoming PS3 console. BD-ROM format has a huge memory size of 54 GB, which is 6 times larger than that of DVD.

5) The PSP was shown, but no new information was given. However, new video footage was revealed that showed a couple PSP games in action. The display looks crisp and vibrant, and games are being designed to make full use of the wide screen format.

BONUS) Folks in the hotel who attended Nintendo's pre-TGS press conference are saying that the Nintendo DS handheld will come out in the USA for $149.99 on November 21st, and come with the Picto-chat program pre-installed. A 4-player WiFi-enabled demo of Metroid Prime: Hunters will also be included. The system will release in Japan on December 2nd.

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