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Ghosts, pools, Darth Vader coming to The Sims 4

Hoping to appease fans upset that The Sims 4 lacks a number of features that have long been a standard of the series, publisher EA has outlined plans to add a host of new content to the virtual life simulation over the next few months.

In the October update, The Sims 4 will receive costumes based on iconic Star Wars characters, as well as new ghostly forms for your deceased Sims. According to EA, these ghosts will behave much as they did prior to death, but the manner in which they died will grant the apparition wholly new behaviors. Those ghosts will come in handy once the November update arrives, as the mortality rate of your Sims is expected to skyrocket once pools are finally added to The Sims 4. Then, in December, EA and developer Maxis plan to introduce new career paths that are slightly less likely to result in your Sims drowning in the backyard.

There's no word on when exactly these updates might be released, but they will each be free additions, requiring only that players log onto EA's Origin digital distribution service to download each update.

Grab a Super-Size Punkaboo in Pokemon X/Y for Halloween

Nintendo is offering a spooky treat for Pokemon trainers this Halloween. Throughout the month of October, Pokemon X and Y players can receive an exclusive Super-Size Pumpkaboo via the Nintendo Network, granting access to the upcoming Trick-or-Treat Friendly Online Competition.

To get Pumpkaboo, players must choose the "Mystery Gift" option on Pokemon X/Y's main menu, then select "Get Via Internet." The Pumpkaboo comes equipped with Halloween-themed moves like Trick-or-Treat and Scary Face, and evolves into a competition-ready Gourgeist when traded with a friend.

Pumpkaboo is available as a free download starting today, and will be up for grabs through October 31.

[Image: Nintendo]

Bungie patches Destiny, Cryptarch now feeling more generous

The 1.0.2 patch has reached Destiny, making the open-world shooter far more likely to reward players with useful loot instead of green trash that will immediately be smashed into glowing bits of Glimmer.

We covered the additions included in 1.0.2 last week, but to reiterate, the Cryptarch is now guaranteed to award players a Legendary item when presented with a Legendary engram. Likewise, Rare engrams will always produce a Rare item, though the likelihood that they might instead produce a Legendary item has been increased. Additionally, Bungie has added the possibility that Rare and Legendary items might be awarded for completing both Daily and Weekly Heroic Missions as well as the Vanguard: Tiger Strike playlist.

As with all Destiny patches, the update is free of charge. For full details on the patch visit Bungie's blog.
[Image: Activision]

South Park Pinball rolling in this month

The pinball wizards at Zen Studios announced today that two South Park pinball tables are rolling out in October (this month!) for the Zen Pinball 2 platform. The publisher currently has no further details to share.

Fine, fine. Well, If we were to guess, the South Park tables will likely be on most major devices, as was the case with the Guardians of the Galaxy and The Walking Dead tables. The price will also likely be around the $2.99 mark. Also, Kenny will likely die.

Sakurai: Zelda, Sheik couldn't be one Smash Bros. fighter on 3DS

Character transformations in this year's Super Smash Bros. were nixed due to Nintendo 3DS hardware limitations, director Masahiro Sakurai told Famitsu this week (via Siliconera).

Previous series entries featured characters that could switch outfits mid-battle; Zelda could turn into Sheik, for instance, and Samus could shed her armor and fight as Zero Suit Samus. In the latest sequel, however, Zelda and Sheik are only available as separate characters. "It's basically due to the 3DS' limitations," Sakurai said. "It was impossible to have both characters exist together [as one] on 3DS."

"However," Sakurai continued, "reaching that limit can sometimes lead in good directions. Transforming characters had the drawback of ambiguous tactics and such, and I believe that they have become more fresh now."

Former Smash Bros. brawlers Popo and Nana were also cut from this year's game due to hardware restrictions, as Sakurai found that the Nintendo 3DS was incapable of rendering both Ice Climbers at once in multiplayer battles. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS premieres this Thursday in North America, and a Wii U version is due out this winter.

[Image: Nintendo]

LittleBigPlanet 3 PS4 console bundle spotted on Amazon UK

A new PS4 bundle appeared on Amazon UK this week, packing LittleBigPlanet 3 in with the 500 GB console. While the bundle has yet to be confirmed by Sony, it is listed at £386.78 ($627.26) on the retailer's site. One other listing for the bundle surfaced last week on Amazon's Spain site, though without a price attached.

LittleBigPlanet 3 is the next entry in Sony's popular platforming brand, first announced at Sony's E3 2014 press conference in June. The game will launch on November 18 PS3 and PS4. Likewise, the Amazon UK listing for the bundle includes a November 21 release date for the console package. We reached out to Sony to confirm the bundle's existence and whether it will launch in North America.
[Image: Amazon UK]

PS4, Vita versions of Skullgirls delayed to 2015

The PlayStation 4 and PS Vita versions of indie 2D fighter Skullgirls have been delayed to 2015, developer Lab Zero Games announced this week.

Lab Zero's Peter Bartholow notes that the delay comes as a result of the ports' newly expanded scope, which will introduce several new features not found in the game's initial PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC releases. "Unfortunately, these awesome new additions have necessitated a delay until early 2015, but I'm confident that everyone will find the additions worthwhile," Bartholow said.

The announcement follows up on this week's launch of Eliza, a new character funded by Lab Zero's successful Indiegogo campaign. Eliza is currently available as a free download for all Skullgirls players, and will be released as paid DLC starting next year.

[Image: Lab Zero Games]

NHL 2K faces off on iOS, Android today

The mobile return of NHL 2K takes center ice today on iOS and Android, 2K confirmed to Joystiq. Announced last month, the game is the first in 2K Sports' hockey series to launch in four years since NHL 2K11 for Wii and iOS. The "complete and portable All-Star NHL experience" costs $7.99 and will receive live roster updates as the hockey season carries on.

Developed by Visual Concepts and Virtuos, NHL 2K includes 2K's trademark multi-season My Career mode (which WWE 2K15 will also feature in its own way) as well as a quick Mini-Rink three-on-three mode. Players can also participate in asynchronous turn-based shootouts with one another or take their favorite teams through a full NHL season. NHL 2K also includes a Winter Classic outdoor arena as well as a Free Skate mode for players to practice their skills.
[Image: 2K Sports]

Battle Chef Brigade creates Iron Chef and platforming emulsion

Cooking competitions Iron Chef and Top Chef cross over into the realm of a fantastical fantasy platformer in Battle Chef Brigade. Developed by Trinket Games, a band of digital cooks made up of vets from Disney Interactive's Wideload Games, Battle Chef Brigade recently blew by its Kickstarter goal of $38,000.

The game finds players participating in a cooking competition, where they will experience the ultimate farm-to-table preparation techniques. That is, they must go out and farm the monsters themselves, then slice, dice, season and prepare the meal with magic for a panel of expert judges. A la cadabra cuisine!

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Skylanders Trap Team review: Broccoli Guy's unjust desert

Skylanders' success is borne of equal parts solid game design and marketing savvy. Its central conceit – buy small plastic figurines in order to summon in-game characters – is instantly appealing for kids, and its Gauntlet-styled action-RPG gameplay makes it a guilty pleasure for adults.

The franchise's "toys to life" mantra, despite its potential for audience exploitation, rewards dedicated fans with bonus content and unlockables that mirror the size of their toy collections. There are now hundreds of Skylanders toys to collect, but to date, the series has maintained a delicate balance that ensures a fun experience both for hardcore collectors and for casual fans.

Skylanders Trap Team, the fourth major entry in the series, is the first Skylanders game to upset this balance. Trap Team still offers a fun journey at its core, but longtime fans will be disappointed to find out that they need to purchase several new figures in addition to an expensive starter set in order to explore the game to its fullest.

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Civilization: Beyond Earth before planetfall 10-minute trailer

Image Civilization: Beyond Earth is all set to begin colonizing retail and digital distribution channels on October 24. Here's a deeper look at many of the strategy game's initial features. Key tactic: Don't attack the aliens (at least, not at first)!... Continue Reading

Minecraft: Xbox One Edition blocks shelves in November

A boxed, retail version of Minecraft for Xbox One is slated to hit shelves on November 18 in the US, Microsoft announced today. In-store, Minecraft: Xbox One Edition is $20.

The digital edition of Minecraft hit Xbox One early in September. Those who own Minecraft on Xbox 360 are able to upgrade to the digital Xbox One version for $5 – to be clear, that trade-up system doesn't apply to the retail version.

Microsoft purchased Minecraft studio Mojang for $2.5 billion earlier this month, and Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson announced he'd step away from the company to return to his experimental, Ludum Dare roots.
[Image: Microsoft]

PSN Tuesday: Shadow of Mordor, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Today's PlayStation Store update rolls out with a large selection of featured games, marking the digital debuts of Monolith's stealthy action-RPG Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Atlus' 2D fighter sequel Persona 4 Arena Ultimax.

The PlayStation 4 and PS3 share a number of premiering titles this week, including NIS America's tactical RPG Natural Doctrine, Koei Tecmo's large-scale brawler Warriors Orochi 3, and Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments. Notable Cross-Buy releases include the retro-styled RPG Pier Solar ($14.99) and vibrantly colorful rail shooter Futuridium EP Deluxe ($12.49).

This week also brings a handful of retro arcade compilations to Sony platforms, marking the PSN debuts of featured classics like Pole Position, Mappy, Gaplus, and The Tower of Druaga. Today's five Namco Museum releases are priced at $5.99 apiece.

[Image: Warner Bros]

Hearthstone's first expansion will add more than 100 cards

A forthcoming expansion for Blizzard's mobile and PC CCG Hearthstone will add more than 100 new cards for players to collect, Polygon reports.

Hearthstone's first fully fledged expansion follows up on the recent launch of Curse of Naxxramas, a single-player add-on that introduced new bosses and a handful of exclusive cards. Production director Jason Chayes told Polygon that the expansion's new content will roll out in waves, to preserve the game's pacing and to ensure accessibility for newcomers.

"One of the things that we spend a lot of time talking about is pacing," Chayes said. "Not just the pacing of the game as it is, but pacing of the rollout of new content. We really want to make sure the pacing is great not just for seasoned Hearthstone players but for new players coming into the game too."

Chayes notes that further details regarding Hearthstone's expansion will be announced "very soon."

[Image: Blizzard]

Hackers charged with Xbox One, Valve, Call of Duty data theft

The United States has charged four members of an international hacking ring with stealing up to $200 million in intellectual property and other data from Microsoft, Epic Games, Valve, Zombie Studios and the US Army. The hackers are charged with stealing software related to Xbox Live, Xbox One, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3.

"Specifically, the data cyber-theft allegedly included source code, technical specifications and related information for Microsoft's then-unreleased Xbox One gaming console; intellectual property and proprietary data related to Xbox Live, Microsoft's online multi-player gaming and media-delivery system; Apache helicopter simulator software developed by Zombie Studios for the US Army; a pre-release version of Epic's video game, Gears of War 3; and a pre-release version of Activision's video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The defendants also allegedly conspired to use, share and sell the stolen information," the US Department of Justice says in a press release.

The hacking group used SQL injection and stolen usernames and passwords to break into the targeted companies' networks. The men charged are Nathan Leroux, 20, of Bowie, Maryland; Sanadodeh Nesheiwat, 28, of Washington, New Jersey; David Pokora, 22, of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; and Austin Alcala, 18, of McCordsville, Indiana. Pokora and Nesheiwat have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit computer fraud and copyright infringement, both scheduled for sentencing in January.

"Pokora's plea is believed to be the first conviction of a foreign-based individual for hacking into US businesses to steal trade secret information," the Department of Justice says. Authorities in Australia have charged an Australian citizen in relation to this conspiracy.
[Image: Microsoft]

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The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

Super Joystiq Podcast 114: Super Smash Bros. 3DS, Shadow of Mordor, Destiny

Latest episode: Friday, September 26th, 2014

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