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Hyrule Warriors review: Moblin warfare

Though The Legend of Zelda series includes some of the most beloved games of all time, Hyrulean protagonist Link has seen some less than stellar adventures in the hands of developers not named Nintendo. Capcom's Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages Game Boy games were excellent, but both relied on gameplay elements and graphics borrowed from Nintendo's own The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening. More notorious are the three CD-i games which transplanted Link into a wholly new gameplay style that's best described as a hybrid of the sidescrolling stages of the second Legend of Zelda game and an unending litany of poor design decisions. The less said about the games' baffling take on Nintendo character design, the better.

Despite this disappointing history, Nintendo has now granted Koei Tecmo – more specifically, its most notable developers, Omega Force and Team Ninja – the rights to craft their own Legend of Zelda entry, a melee-focused Wii U spin-off dubbed Hyrule Warriors. It would be difficult to match the depressing legacy left by the CD-i entries, but it seems an even more daunting task to match Nintendo's pedigree of sterling high-fantasy adventures. Fortunately for fans of both The Legend of Zelda and Koei Tecmo's flagship musou brawlers, Hyrule Warriors is successful on nearly every level.

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Nab a free copy of Bejeweled 3 on Origin

Bejeweled 3 is the latest entry in Origin's On the House program, meaning the normally $5 tile-matching puzzler is free for Windwos PC and Mac until October 28. As with the other On the House freebies, once you claim the game, it's yours to keep.

PopCap's super-successful series may be in its teens, but it's only seen five releases to date, including two spinoffs. Bejeweled 3 added four new modes to the mix which you unlock as you play through, but as Joystiq's Richard Mitchell put it in his 2011 XBLA in Brief video, "Why are you still watching this? It's Bejeweled. It's the same game it's been for a decade, except it's prettier and it's got more stuff."
[Image: EA]

The Elder Scrolls Online pushes players to Upper Craglorn in Update 4

I'll up YOUR Craglorn!  I... no, wait, please don't draw your weapons, adventurers.  I'm... I'm so lonely.  I don't know what I'm saying any more.  My life just hurts, and every time I think it's not going to hurt any more it keeps going.  I walled myself away so I could live better, but all it did was make me long for contact I don't know how to have.  I just want friends.  All I need is for you to hear me out, and maybe we - oh.  Okay, you can stab me.  Maybe it's better this way.
You've been to Craglorn? Pff, that's boring now. Upper Craglorn is where the real action is these days. And by complete coincidence, Upper Craglorn is now open on The Elder Scrolls Online's servers, as the game's fourth major update has just dropped. The zone will wrap up the Celestial storyline as your character takes on the Scaled Court. That also ties into the new trial, Sanctum Ophidia, which is a direct strike against the heart of the Court; players will take on the minions and end up fighting the Celestial Serpent.

The new Dragonstar Arena also debuts with this patch, asking players to fight against waves of oncoming enemies. Plus there's a new crafting trait available, improved grouping mechanics, various bugfixes, the usual assortment. So if you can't wait to go knife up a really important snake and check out the places that all the hip new kids are heading for, go check out the update.

Destiny's Vault of Glass already cleared

The Primeguard clan of Destiny guardians were the first to break through the Vault of Glass, some 11 hours after the raid launched yesterday. The six-person team posted proof of their exploits on Twitter, and soon after Bungie acknowledged them as first to finish the mission, while coyly suggesting they now do it on the harder difficulty.

Bungie posted Primeguard's Vault of Glass stats, and they show the marathon mission was tough going for the team. As DestinyDB elaborates, the sextet of three Titans, two Hunters and a Warlock, all across level 26 to 28, died a staggering 1,606 times in total with a combined kill-death ratio of 3.59. The team's average lifespan? Just 2 minutes and 22 seconds.

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Battleborn and the rise of the friendly shooter

"We are absolutely, deliberately targeting the idea that we want a game that people can just pick up and play," says John Mulkey, design director on Gearbox's new shooter, Battleborn (PS4, Xbox One, PC). His team's latest design, which favors collaboration, community input and a heavy focus on testing and tuning, couldn't be more different from the cult classic he built levels for – years ago.

Just how much community input and playtesting went into No One Lives Forever anyway, I ask Mulkey. "Oh, god," he says, briefly thrust back into a previous life. "None."

Propelled chiefly by the strength of its clever vision, a game like No One Lives Forever seems to be an outlier now. It was a game made without a steady stream of analytics, feedback and pushback, though meant to be consumed more succinctly, and for what was then a much smaller audience. "A game like this, we hope, it's not just this game that hits and fades away," says Scott Kester, the man in charge of Battleborn's look. "We want this to go. We want to keep making it."

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Goat Simulator gives us the billies on iOS, Android

Goat Simulator puts the dumb into smartphones starting today, and it's available to purchase on iOS and Android now. The ports of Coffee Stain Studios' ridiculous phenomenon are priced $5, and the studio proudly proclaims they include "all the bugs from the PC version."

Goat Simulator can be boiled down to causing as much physical destruction as possible with a goat... or other animals which Coffee Stain claims are goats too. The Sanctum dev admits it's a "completely stupid game" with "millions of bugs," but it's also a game with almost one million sales, largely thanks to an inspired marketing campaign that riffed on Dead Island's own viral trailer. The buck doesn't stop with the mobile ports, because Goat Simulator is also flying onto Xbox One, courtesy of LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developer Double Eleven.
[Image: Coffee Stain Studios]

Sony ups loss forecast to $2 billion following smartphone struggles

Sony is now forecasting a 230 billion yen ($2.15 billion) loss for the fiscal year ending in March 2015, a revision nearly five times more than the company previously projected. The Japanese electronics giant was expecting a 50 billion yen loss, but today it announced it's downgrading the value of its mobiles business by 180 billion yen ($1.68 billion) following an internal review.

Sony began the review in July after cutting forecast smartphone sales by 14 percent following a sluggish opening quarter. The mobile business' "mid-range plan" is now no longer focused on growth, but instead designed to "reduce risk and volatility, and deliver more stable profits."

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Report: Final Fantasy 15 demo in 2015, Type-0 HD release date

Players can sample Final Fantasy 15 next year through a downloadable demo, according to a now removed Game Informer post. The report claimed the demo is titled Episode Duscae - a name Square Enix trademarked earlier this year - and it features some opening sections from the PS4 and Xbox One game. Square Enix hasn't as yet announced a Final Fantasy 15 demo, and we've reached out to the publisher for clarification. The JRPG wasn't included in Square Enix's announced Tokyo Game Show line-up, but today's report will fuel speculation that'll it'll nonetheless appear in some form at the Japanese expo this week.

Game Informer also reported a March 17 release date in North America for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, the PS4 and Xbox One port of the 2011 PSP game released only in Japan. The post said the game includes a voucher for the Final Fantasy 15 demo, adding, "A representative from Square Enix could not confirm that the demo will be available the exact same day as Type-0 HD, but it will be coming to both PS4 and Xbox One when it does release."

We'll update this story as we learn more.

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Blood Bowl dev launching football simulator next week

Blood Bowl developer Cyanide Studio announced the impending launch of its new sports management game today, Front Page Sports Football. The PC simulation game has players managing a fictitious football team, picking from over 2,300 plays to lead their franchise to gridiron glory. Squad members rely on over 20 skills such as speed, agility and morale, each influencing the effectiveness of plays called by armchair coaches.

The game marks a resurgence in Sierra Online's American football management series of the same name that spanned 1992 to 1999, though Sierra is not involved in the latest game. Cyanide Studio announced Front Page Sports Football in July, and is also working on a Blood Bowl sequel in addition to its stealth game, Styx: Master of Shadows. Images of Front Page Sports Football's menu-heavy interface can be seen in the gallery below, or when the game launches next Thursday, September 25 for $19.99 (€19.99, £14.99). It's not the only upcoming football simulation game, as the developers behind the Out of the Park Baseball management series plans to launch Beyond the Sideline Football in 2015 with full NFL licensing support.

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Dementium series developer obtains sequel rights

Developer Renegade Kid has reacquired control of its Dementium series, a horror-focused intellectual property that birthed two frightening games on the Nintendo DS. Renegade Kid co-founder Jools Watsham took to Twitter to announce the deal:

The first game in the series, Dementium: The Ward, was distributed by publisher GameCock, which has since shuttered. Its sequel and the IP was then handled by SouthPeak Interactive, which had published the first game in Europe. Developer Renegade Kid has since gone on to create the Mutant Mudd series and the episodic 3DS game Moon Chronicles.

"We have always retained ownership of the Dementium IP," Watsham told me. "SouthPeak used to have first right of refusal on sequels, but that is no longer the case."

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Monaco, Race the Sun join Humble Indie Bundle 12

Three new games have been added to Humble Indie Bundle 12, the digital distributor has revealed. Monaco, a co-op heist game; Race the Sun, a super-fast minimalistic racer; and The Bridge, a 2D logic puzzle game.

All three games have been added to the "pay more than the average" category for the pay-what-you-want bundle. Spending more than $7.76 – the current average price, as of press time – earns the three bonus games along with the bundle's initial offerings of SteamWorld Dig, Hammerwatch and Gunpoint.

In all, buyers have the potential to land ten independent games for $10. Proceeds of each sale can be split between game developers, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation and the charity organization Child's Play.
[Image: Pocketwatch Games]

Borderlands reclaims its online co-op prowess via Steamworks

With just weeks to go before Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel! brings people back to the Skag-infested wastes of Pandora, now's the perfect time to revisit the original Borderlands. Thanks to a fresh migration to Steamworks servers, PC players can actually get the full four-player co-operative Borderlands experience again.

Borderlands was in danger of going offline earlier this year when Glu Mobile announced that it would be closing GameSpy's online gaming services once and for all. 2K Games had a sizable catalog of online games that were scheduled to shut down alongside GameSpy in May 2014, but Borderlands was one of the few that 2K planned to salvage and migrate to a new platform by Summer 2014. With less than a week left in the summer, 2K announced that Borderlands is now playable online via Steamworks.

Borderlands has been updated for Steam in a number of ways, small and large. In addition to a news ticker offering updates on tweaks to Steamworks support for the game, SecuROM copy protection has been removed. Support for retail disc versions of the game meanwhile has been added, so anyone with an actual physical copy won't be left out.
[Images: 2K Games]

Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai Deluxe is Japan's Remix

Hatsune Miku is all about music and love, and she wouldn't want anyone – or any country – to feel left out. Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai Remix is due out on 3DS in western territories in 2015, but it's also heading to Japan as Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai Deluxe, scheduled to launch in spring 2015.

The new Project Mirai is a "complete" version of Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2, which launched in Japan in 2013. Project Mirai Remix is the first time Hatsune Miku will appear on 3DS in the western world, following recent series launches on Vita and PS3 with the Project Diva games. Project Diva F 2nd is due out on western PS3s and Vitas this fall.
[Image: Sega]

Mortal Kombat X controllers from PDP are lopsided, not final

Gaming accessory manufacturer PDP is working on new gamepads designed specifically for Mortal Kombat X, and the company showed off designs for Xbox One and PS4 at GameStop Expo last week. Iron Galaxy Community Manager Alex Jebailey snapped some photos of the gamepads and posted them on Instagram.

The controllers displayed at the conference featured six big buttons on the stumpy right side of the gamepad – A, B, X, Y, LB and RB for Xbox One – and a directional stick on the left side. It's not an analog stick, PDP told IGN. "The stick that you see is actually a series of micro-switches as well (just like the buttons), not an analog stick. It helps to bring the player closer to the classic arcade feel."

PDP clarified that the gamepads shown at GameStop Expo were not final products. "The Mortal Kombat X controller that we showed at the GameStop Expo is still in development, so platforms have not been finalized," PDP said. "We like to work with the manufacturers to get a licensed product when possible. The controllers are designed along the lines of our VS Fight Pads which came out for the Xbox 360 and PS3 a few years back."

Mortal Kombat X is due out on April 14, 2015, for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.
[Image: PDP]

PSN Tuesday: Murasaki Baby, Fibbage

This week's PlayStation Store update brings a handful of games to PS4 that began life elsewhere. The future-set strategy game Anomaly 2 arrives ($14.99) after first emerging on PC and mobile platforms, alongside a "special edition" of the originally PS3/Vita exclusive rhythm game, KickBeat ($9.99). Fibbage ($6.99), a local co-op party game that first launched on Xbox One, is also now available for PlayStation platforms.

The marquee game of this week's release list is Murasaki Baby ($14.99), a Vita-only platforming title that Sony put in the spotlight during its Gamescom 2013 presentation. A Joystiq review for the game is forthcoming.

For more PlayStation Store updates, including details on a number of discounted items across all platforms, check the official PlayStation Blog.
[Image: Sony Europe]

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The Joystiq Podcast

Super Joystiq Podcast 112: Danganronpa 2, Azure Striker Gunvolt, downtime & future games

Latest episode: Friday, September 12th, 2014

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