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Tetris Ultimate stacks exclusive challenge modes on 3DS

Ubisoft announced that its upcoming revamp of the classic block-stacking puzzler Tetris will feature platform-exclusive challenge modes when it hits the Nintendo 3DS this fall.

The 3DS version of Tetris Ultimate includes a "Master" mode inspired by Arika's Tetris: The Grand Master, challenging players to form lines with blocks that drop instantly and appear at the bottom of the screen. Tetris Ultimate also features a "Rotation Lock" mode that freezes falling pieces in random orientations, an "Escalation" mode that demands players clear more lines as levels ramp up in difficulty, and an "Invisible" mode that turns blocks invisible as they approach the bottom of the screen.

Tetris Ultimate is also slated to launch for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this summer. A digital release for the PlayStation Vita and PC platforms will follow in the fall.

[Image: Ubisoft]

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Hori's 3DS accessory gives one hand a second circle pad

One of the bigger issues with playing a Monster Hunter game on the 3DS is the hand cramping that accompanies the game's camera controls. As discussed in our Deja Review of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, the Circle Pad Pro add-on is essential for the 3DS version of the game, and now Hori is taking the concept for the accessory and tweaking it for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (4G in Japan) players.

Dubbed the Extended Slide Pad, Hori's new accessory adds an extra shoulder button to the right half of the 3DS or 3DS XL and a second circle pad to the left half for players' nimble index fingers to take hold of. The controller add-on also adds a "ZL" shoulder button to the underside of the 3DS near its Monster Hunter 4G branding, turning compatible games into a workout for players' left hands. There are two versions of the Extended Slide Pad controller, one for 3DS and another for the 3DS XL, and each cost 2,980 yen ($29). The accessory will arrive in Japan on the same day Monster Hunter 4G launches, October 11.
[Image: Hori]

PSA: Nintendo eShop undergoing maintenance today

Nintendo's Wii U and 3DS eShop services are intermittently down this evening until 5:00 p.m. Pacific (8:00 p.m. Eastern), the company noted in an update on its network status and maintenance site. Additionally, the Wii Shopping Channel and Nintendo DSi Shop will be down at that time.

Today's maintenance on Nintendo platforms affects all services on Wii U and 3DS for a five minute period at 2:30 p.m. Pacific (5:30 p.m. Eastern). Likely, that brief interruption is over by the time you, dear friends, are reading this. So while it'll be a little longer before you can browse the eShop, you may resume your online Mario Kart 8 races.
[Image: Nintendo]

UK charts: Watch Dogs stands guard, market melts in heat

Watch Dogs notched its fifth UK number one this week, the most for any game in 2014, and that's all well and good. Frankly, the entire country is just too exhausted from the relentless summer heat to notice. Brits are so used to rain, clouds, rain and more rain, so prolonged heatwaves like this one tend to take their toll.

Maybe the heat's even affected games retail in the country, with nationwide sales enduring a 14 percent drop in revenue from the week before as the heat ramped up. Then again, it really doesn't help when you're having a summer drought of new releases.

Since the UK charts refuse to play - it's another week of tiny changes - we're continuing our run of music below the break. In the words of Avicii, wake us up when it's all over.

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Here in my Pika-car, I feel safest of all from Team Rocket

Toyota chose our hearts when it unveiled two Toyopet Pokemon cars at this year's Tokyo Toy Show, because they're freaking delightful. The Pikachu car is lovely, even if the ears aren't the most streamlined design, but it's the Fennekin model that has our number. Check it out below the break, and there are more shots of the 'dorable duo over at Japan Trends. Toyota also has a shot of an Oshawott model, but we're not sure about that one, honestly.

Fennekin stole the show in last year's Pokemon X and Y, while this year the critter-catching series goes back in time with Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. The 3DS remakes hit North America on November 21 and Europe on November 28.

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Best Buy offers buy one, get one free on Pokemon, Zelda, more

Those looking to catch 'em all might want to head down to and/or log on to Best Buy this week, as the store's current promotions include a buy one, get one free deal on select Nintendo 3DS games, including Pokemon X / Y. Of course, if you're less about monster wranglin' and more about helping manage the lives of your friends, the recently-released Tomodachi Life is also included in the promotion, as are quite a few other, quality titles.

Here's the full list: Bravely Default, Disney Magical World, Kirby Triple Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Mario Golf: World Tour, Pokemon X, Pokemon Y, Tomodachi Life and Yoshi's New Island.

"I don't have a 3DS," you say. "Best Buy is also offering $30 off the silver 3DS that comes with Mario & Luigi: Dream Team pre-installed," we say. "Also, it's amazing that we heard your spoken word through the internet when we're not connected to a call service," we say. Oh boy, maybe we're finally developing our mutant superpowers! Here, let's put it to good use:

We foresee these deals ending on July 26. And we're definitely psychic, didn't just read that off Best Buy's website or anything.
[Image: The Pokemon Company]

Azure Striker Gunvolt drops English voices, hitting Japan August 20

Inti Creates' Mega Man-inspired side-scroller Azure Striker Gunvolt will not feature English-language voice acting when it hits the 3DS eShop in North America later this year, the game's official Twitter account confirmed this week.

Citing a last-minute change in product specifications, Gunvolt's development team revealed that Japanese voice acting will replace a planned English-language dub during battle scenes. The decision was made in order to ensure a quicker worldwide release, as additional localization would result in a delayed launch overseas.

Azure Striker Gunvolt will hit the Japanese eShop on August 20. A North American release date has not been announced.

[Image: Inti Creates]

Sonic Boom speeds to the printed page in upcoming comic book

Alongside an upcoming Sonic Boom cartoon series and games for both the Wii U and 3DS, Sega's favorite speedy blue rodent has also earned a new comic book from publisher Archie Comics.

Appropriately titled "Sonic Boom," the comic will be written by Ian Flynn with art by Evan Stanley. Both Flynn and Stanley have worked extensively on Archie's long-running Sonic the Hedgehog comic series, which should make them qualified for this new book (assuming Sonic's new, lankier dimensions and superfluous yet jaunty scarf don't throw everything off). "I'm really excited to be writing the series since it's a very different Sonic than our other books, Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Universe," Flynn told IGN. "It's a more casual read with a focus on comedy and adventure than an on-going action-adventure drama."

According to IGN, the first issue of Sonic Boom will debut this October. Following in the grand promotional tradition of the 90s comic bubble, it will be released with four unique variant covers which can be aligned to form the image seen above.
[Image: Archie Comics]

June NPD: Hardware sales up, Watch Dogs and Mario Kart top games

June was a big month for the gaming industry, according to the NPD, as hardware sales shot up by more than 100 percent, and collective sales of hardware, software and accessories grew by 24 percent.

"The 106 percent increase in hardware sales was lifted entirely by console hardware sales, which were up by over 200 percent," notes NPD analyst Liam Callahan. Sony claims the PlayStation 4 was yet again the highest-selling console (for the sixth consecutive month), and Microsoft says that the Kinect-less Xbox One doubled its sales in June. Nintendo's Wii U has experienced a 48 percent growth in hardware sales for the first half of 2014, a feat the company attributes primarily to the success of Mario Kart 8. Despite a decline in overall portable console sales, the 3DS saw a 55 percent increase in sales over May, according to Nintendo.

Though Mario Kart 8 has been very successful, it did not take the top software sales spot for June.

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New Nintendo eShop releases: Strike Force Foxx, Mr. Driller 2

It's one of those weeks on the eShop where the headline covers two-thirds of the new releases. The missing part of the triforce? Collavier Corporation's Comic Workshop, a game that doesn't, sadly, teach you how to become the next Kevin Hart.

There's not much to say about the other two games, really. Mr. Driller 2 keeps the Game Boy Advance train advancing along with its diggable puzzling, while Strike Force Foxx harkens back to 1982 classic Choplifter, albeit with a villain wearing underwear on his head.

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This year's Club Nintendo elite rewards are all downloadable games

Marking a change from the calendars, posters and other Nintendoodads, the 2014 Club Nintendo elite rewards for North America are all downloadable games. While that'll disappoint some of you, as a European I have to note on our side of the ocean it's all physical - and personally, not the most appealing selection either. So if you want to swap places... well, we can't, but you get the drift.

As before, qualifying Platinum members can have their pick of one Gold or one Platinum gift, while Gold members have to make do with the golden selection. If I were so lucky, I'd pick one of Game & Wario, Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, Dr. Luigi and Earthbound from the Platinum games. On the Gold side, I'm totally in the mood for some Zelda 2. Sigh.

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Holy cameo, Batman: Adam West as himself in Lego Batman 3

The official Lego Batman Twitter accounted posted the above image this week, while the San Diego Comic Con Lego Batman 3 panel features one Adam West as a special guest star. Furthermore, the Lego Batman account retweeted this mysterious message from the user @warhev: "Adam West plays himself in Lego Batman 3?! Day one purchase, lol!"

But what could this riddle mean...? Lego Batman 3... if you take the L away from Lego, you get ego... or "I." I Batman 3... or, maybe... I'm Batman No. 3. The third Batman... would be Adam West. Ergo, Adam West must play himself in Lego Batman 3! Quick, to the Joymobile!

Is the TV show's superheroic actor truly in Traveller's Tales' new Lego adventure? Find out this fall on all bat-channels, namely Xbox 360, Xbox One, Vita, PS3, PS4, PC, Wii U and 3DS.
[Image: Warner Bros.]

Six retailers, six pre-order bonuses for Lego Batman 3

If you're planning to pre-order Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, you've got some homework to do. Publisher Warner Bros. Interactive is rolling out a bevy of pre-order bonuses, but all six are retailer exclusive.

In nearly alphabetical order: Amazon offers players a Lego Batgirl keychain, Best Buy hopes to pull in pre-orders with the official Lego Batman 3 digital comic book, while GameStop has a Lego Plastic Man minifigure and Toys R Us is promoting its pre-orders with a Lego Joker keychain. Target and Wal-Mart are the only retailers offering Lego minisets, a Lego Batwing for Target, and a Lego Tumbler for Wal-Mart.

Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is currently slated for release on nearly every platform (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC, Wii U, 3DS) toward the end of 2014.
[Image: WBIE]

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Pikachu as a southern belle in Pokemon Omega Ruby, Alpha Sapphire

In Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, due out on November 21, players will meet a new Mega-evolved Pokemon, Mega Metagross, in the final battle before becoming the Pokemon League Champion. Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire also marks a return to the Hoenn Region, where trainers must defeat eight gym leaders and the Elite Four.

Yeah, whatever - most importantly, players will be able to dress up Pikachu in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire with the Cosplay Pikachu feature. Trainers can also feed, pet and play with their Pokemon in the Pokemon-Amie mode, and those dressed-up Pikachu can snack on Poke Puffs in Pokemon-Amie. Check out the adorableness in the new video (above) and images (below) from Nintendo.

"Meet Pikachu Rock Star, Pikachu Belle, Pikachu Pop Star, Pikachu Ph.D., and Pikachu Libre! They seem to have a connection to a kind of Contest Hall," Nintendo says in a press release. Pikachu Belle! More information about Cosplay Pikachu is due in August.
[Images: Nintendo]

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Binding of Isaac may still survive on Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo 3DS owners may yet help a kid survive his mom's attempt at ritual sacrifice, Legend of Zelda-style. Binding of Isaac creator Edmund McMillen gave Nintendo portable players new hope in a Sunday post to Tumblr. "Has Isaac on the 3DS definitively fallen off the monkey train of possibility?" asked one intrepid follower. "No," was McMillen's succinct response.

The question is certainly warranted. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, a full remake of McMillen's game, is expected out on PlayStation 4, PS Vita and Steam sometime this year, letting folks guide a terrified pink blob of a boy through a horrific basement hell. Back before Rebirth brought co-op, a new art style, and a substantial expansion to the 2011 original, there was talk of Isaac getting a Nintendo 3DS version. In February 2012, though, talks with Nintendo broke down and the 3DS port of Isaac was scrapped because of "questionable religious content."

When Rebirth was announced in 2013, possibility of a Nintendo 3DS or even Wii U version emerged as McMillen said he was in talks with Nintendo again. As of early 2014, though, an updated Rebirth FAQ said that the game's religious themes were still causing friction with Nintendo. "We want to release on 3DS, and will if given the option," read the FAQ. "Isaac currently goes against Nintendo's publishing rules due to its religious aspects. But stuff might change, you never know."

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