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New Nintendo eShop releases: Super Mario 3, Golden Sun, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity

Virtual Console games are out in full force this week, with heavy hitters landing on both Wii U and 3DS. The biggest of the bunch is Super Mario Bros. 3, available on 3DS and Wii U. Meanwhile, the Wii U picks up even more Game Boy Advance games with Golden Sun and F-Zero: Maximum Velocity. Starting April 22, LEGO The Hobbit makes the long journey to Wii U as well.

A pair of Ubisoft Wii U titles are also getting a permanent discount on Wii U, namely Assassin's Creed 4: Blag Flag and the excellent ZombiU. Starting April 21, Black Flag drops to $39.99, and ZombiU's price is gnawed down to $29.99.
[Image: Nintendo]

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March NPD: PS4 leads hardware sales, Titanfall rules software

PlayStation 4 console
The PS4 sold more than the Xbox One or any other console in March – making it the hardware leader for the third consecutive month – market research group NPD reports. The Xbox One and PS4 pushed US hardware sales in March up 78 percent from 2013, from $222 million to $395 million. Overall game sales in March were up 3 percent year-over-year.

Five months in, the PS4 and Xbox One are out-performing initial sales of the PS3 and Xbox 360, NPD Group's Liam Callahan says: "When comparing the first five months of sales for the Xbox One and PS4 to their predecessor's first five months, total Xbox One and PS4 sales are up close to 60 percent."

Xbox One has shipped 5 million Xbox One consoles, with 311,000 sales in the US in March alone, Microsoft announced today: "Of course, we're just getting started with this generation and the months ahead will bring several announcements we think you'll love. The team will continue to deliver regular improvements and new features based on your feedback through frequent system updates .... We can't wait to share more games with you in June at E3."

On April 16, Sony announced that PS4 sales had passed 7 million.

Titanfall was the top-selling game for the month, launching for Xbox One and PC on March 11. It is the second-highest selling game for Xbox One after just one month on the market. It was followed by Infamous: Second Son, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Dark Souls 2. See the complete game sales list below. On PC, Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls sold the most on a unit and dollar-amount basis.

Software sales declined 27 percent overall. "Year-over-year sales of every platform declined from March 2013, with the exception of the PS Vita, which saw sales grow due to the release of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster," Callahan said.

Sales of video game accessories in March rose 4 percent, led by sales of controllers for Xbox One and PS4, NPD says. Other notable accessories included Turtle Beach headphones and headsets for next-gen consoles. Turtle Beach sales grew 50 percent year-over-year.
[Image: Sony]

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Greninja, Charizard fight it out in new Super Smash Bros. screens

Following up on a recent Nintendo Direct feature, Nintendo has released a new set of Super Smash Bros. screenshots showcasing Sheik, Yoshi and Zero Suit Samus alongside newly announced Pokemon challengers Greninja and Charizard.

Nintendo outlined its plans for online play in Super Smash Bros. earlier this month, revealing that gameplay will be split between casual-focused "For Fun" and tournament-styled "For Glory" modes. Nintendo also announced that the 3DS version of Super Smash Bros. will feature a new dungeon-diving Smash Mode that replaces the Wii U's traditional Adventure Mode.

Super Smash Bros. will launch for the Nintendo 3DS this summer. A Wii U release will follow in the winter.

[Image: Nintendo]

Nintendo turned down Skylanders exclusivity deal

Nintendo reportedly turned down a deal that would have launched Activision's highly successful toys-come-to-life series Skylanders exclusively for the Wii. A report from Polygon on the Toys for Bob franchise notes that, despite Activision's confidence in the product, it was looking for a partner to spread the risks of the venture.

"[Nintendo] spent a long time looking and looking," Toys for Bob co-founder Paul Reiche said. "They were just like 'we have never seen anything like this before.' I've always wondered about the full meaning of that comment [laughs]." Nintendo opted out of making a full commitment to the project, though the two companies did enter a co-marketing agreement for the series. "Clearly, they have got properties well suited to this world," Reiche added. "Why it is that they didn't rush in here will probably haunt them for the rest of their days."

Activision's Skylander series has since surpassed $2 billion in sales worldwide. The franchise has found its way to ten different platforms, including the recently launched Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Though Nintendo would later experiment with a similar game in the disappointing Pokemon Rumble, it would be Disney that would eventually invest in the genre with its Disney Infinity series, leveraging the company's multitude of popular characters.

"Nintendo could have kicked Disney's ass," Reiche said. "If I was running Nintendo I would have jumped on this."
[Image: Activision]

Final Skylanders Swap Force character debuting next week at Times Square

Hundreds of ravenous Skylanders fans will swarm the streets of New York next week to herald the arrival of final Swap Force series character Doom Stone during a special giveaway event at Times Square.

On Wednesday, April 23, the first 500 customers who line up at Toys 'R' Us Times Square will receive a free Skylanders toy and a chance to own Doom Stone before the figure is released to the public at large. Costumed Skylanders characters will also be in attendance, giving players the chance to meet some of their questing buddies in real life.

Attendees are advised not to break costumed employees in half and attach them to other Swap Force characters. They probably wouldn't appreciate that.

[Image: Activision]

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Conception 2 coming to Europe in May

European role-playing game fans will be able to enjoy Spike Chunsoft's Conception 2 in May, publisher Atlus has revealed. Though Atlus has yet to solidify dates, an email blast revealed both a demo for the game and the official release will come to the region next month.

"If you pick up the game, but haven't played through the demo, you may want to give it a shot! Your save data transfers over, and you'll get a set of free goodies," the promotional email noted. For the first month of release players can download the Disciple Weapon Pack DLC for free, which offers five weapons for players to distribute within their game's party. Additional quests will be released as free DLC in May, Atlus says, with more content rolling out each week.

Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars launched in North America yesterday for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita. The Joystiq review said of the game, "none of its elements manage to rise above a general feeling of mediocrity."
[Image: Atlus]

Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars review: If you love a baby, set it free

A game doesn't need to be perfect in order for you to keep playing it, so long as there's some kind of tradeoff that provides something good in exchange for the bad. Maybe the voice acting is iffy, but you can deal because the combat is fast-paced and exhilarating. Perhaps the level design is pedestrian, but the story is enchanting enough for you to overlook it. In the case of unusual 3DS and Vita turn-based RPG Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars, that exchange never quite happens. Although it contains some genuinely interesting ideas and even some charming weirdness, overall Conception 2 is disappointing and disjointed.

The situation is a familiar one: A select few are given the power to fight an invading evil. In this case, the Star God blesses certain teenagers with his energy so that they might slay the monsters spewing out of dark portals across the land. It's pretty standard gather-your-party-and-sally-forth-into-the-dungeon stuff, reminiscent of series like Pokemon and Shin Megami Tensei, except some of your party is made up of Star Children, which you create by "Classmating" with the other students at the school where you've been sent to hone your combat abilities. As "God's gift," a nickname you're given because the Star God has given you an astonishing amount of power, it's your obligation to Classmate as much as possible to improve humanity's odds for ridding the world of darkness. You're the world's most important pick up artist.

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Nintendo 2DS and Pokemon X bundle currently $100 at Target

Target is offering a Nintendo 2DS and Pokemon X hardware bundle at a steep discount this week, pricing the set at just $99.99 while supplies last.

The package includes a black-and-red Nintendo 2DS and a digital copy of 2013's Pokemon X. The bundle is regularly priced at $149.99, and the 2DS hardware itself normally retails for $129.99.

If you'd prefer to manage your Pokemon collection on a larger pair of screens, Target is also offering a $40 gift card with Nintendo 3DS XL purchases through April 19.

[Image: Nintendo]

Five Nintendo 3DS games receive permanent price cuts

Handson with the 3DS XL
Beginning April 22, Nintendo will permanently cut the price on five of its stand-out 3DS games. Super Mario 3D Land, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, Mario Kart 7 and Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D will all be $29.99, a 25 percent drop.

If you've missed out on any of these games and want some help making a choice on which to pick up, we've placed links to all their reviews after the break.

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Titanfall reclaims UK No. 1 after landing on Xbox 360

Titanfall became the second game to return to the top of the UK charts in 2014, after forcing FIFA 14, the first game, to eject and drop into third. Respawn's mech-crammed shooter saw a 220 percent boost in sales following its arrival on Xbox 360, and that was enough to see it keep Lego: The Hobbit just beneath the summit in second place.

It's a sign of a quieter April that retailer promotions helped South Park: The Stick of Truth rise up to fourth. That said, last week wasn't quiet enough to take Kinect: Sports Rivals into the top ten, and Rare's motion-controlled latest had to settle for 14th place. Football Manager 2014 placed 18th thanks to its spring transfer onto Vita, and the coaching sim is just ahead of The Elder Scrolls Online in 19th, which saw a sizable drop after debuting the week before in the No. 2 spot.

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New Nintendo eShop releases: More GBA games, Conception 2

Joystiq: Hey Reggie Fils-Aime, what do you think about this week's new eShop releases?
Reggie: Tomodachi Tomodachi Tomodachi Tomodachi Tomodachi Tomodachi Tom...

Couldn't have said it better, Reg, although you could've noted Kirby and the Amazing Mirror and WarioWare Inc on the Wii U, and Conception 2 and Lego: The Hobbit on 3DS.

If your body is ready for more info, head past the break for the full list of new releases. Also, look out for some eShop sales, including DuckTales: Remastered sproinging to half-price at $7.49 - that offer's good until April 17. Between April 12-27 you can get Escape from Zombie City at 50 percent off, which should equal to $2,. Finally, G-Style Co has a sale on its collection of games including Chain Blaster and Undead Bowling, and that's also running for a couple of weeks starting April 12.
[Image: Nintendo]

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Atlus elects to publish non-Kickstarted Citizens of Earth


Atlus announced plans to publish Citizens of Earth, a quirky RPG that follows the Vice President of the World on his quest to investigate the bizarre happenings in the town. Developed by Eden Industries, Citizens of Earth fell short of its $100,000 CAD ($91,600 USD) goal on Kickstarter in October 2013, raising just $36,875 CAD ($33,778 USD).

The modern RPG takes after popular SNES classic Earthbound, with its humorous approach to world-saving adventures and includes recruiting mechanics in line with the Pokemon and Suikoden series. The Vice President brings "regular characters into the spotlight as heroes" for them to do his dirty work in battle, continuing their day jobs when not engaged in combat. The game includes 40 citizens, though ambitious fans are encouraged to enter a contest by Friday, April 18 on Atlus' site to create the 41st one for the game.

Citizens of Earth is in development for PS4, Vita, 3DS, Wii U and PC and is expected to arrive on each platform's digital channels in North America and Europe in September 2014.
[Image: Atlus]

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3DS sim Tomodachi Life brings weird to the West in June


Even if you're not interested that Tomodachi Life is making the journey from Japan to North America and Europe on June 6, you'll want to watch its announcement video. If Nintendo Direct were to get its own sitcom, this would be its pilot. And it'd probably get greenlit.

The 3DS game is known as Tomodachi Collection: New Life in Japan, where it's been a hit with 1.82 million sales since its launch this time last year. It takes its cues from games like The Sims and Animal Crossing, but adds its own distinctive Nintendo flavor by letting you play with Miis in a diversity of activities, from the casual and simple to the totally bizarre. Also, if you've ever wanted to hear your Miis talk in a weird synthesized voice, Tomodachi Life goes one better by letting you hear them sing in a weird synthesized voice.

We'd say more, but really you should just watch the video. We're not going to top Nintendo execs dancing in a circle and hailing the Virtual Boy.
[Image: Nintendo]

3DS soccer RPGs Inazuma Eleven GO: Shadow, Light reach Europe in June

European 3DS owners hoping soccer was less of a sport and more of a histrionic anime drama will be pleased to hear that two entries in the Inazuma Eleven roleplaying game franchise have just received the greenlight for release later this year.

According to a tweet from the UK branch of Nintendo, Inazuma Eleven GO: Shadow and Inazuma Eleven GO: Light will reach the 3DS in Europe on June 13. Despite the naming scheme, Inazuma Eleven GO: Shadow and Light tell the same story with minor differences, much in the same way that Pokemon X is complementary to Pokemon Y. Both Inazuma Eleven GO games center on the trials and tribulations of a fictional soccer team populated by typical anime tropes, and both feature the immediately recognizable artwork of Dragonball creator Akira Toriyama.

While Japan received the two Inazuma Eleven GO games in 2011, there's no word on either game reaching North American retail shelves. This isn't terribly surprising in light of America's apathy toward soccer, but is disappointing given the recent 3DS eShop release of Inazuma Eleven.
[Image: Nintendo]

Read up on Azure Striker: Gunvolt at its new English website

To whet the appetites of prospective players, developer Inti Creates has launched an official, English-language website for upcoming 3DS action-platformer Azure Striker: Gunvolt.

If the site reminds you of any number of Mega Man games, that's to be expected. Azure Striker: Gunvolt is being developed by much of the same team responsible for Mega Man spiritual successor Mighty No. 9, and Mega Man character designer Keiji Inafune serves as the game's director. Likewise, both games center on heroic, idealistic young men battling foes with agile jumps and projectile weapons while wearing almost exclusively blue clothing. We'd mention the similarities between Mega Man's "Blue Bomber" nickname and the "Azure Striker" of the title, but you get the idea.

Unfortunately lacking from the newly-launched Azure Striker: Gunvolt website is a specific release date. Like our earlier report, the site is only willing to assign a nebulous "Summer 2014" window to the platformer's debut.
[Image: Inti Creates]

Pokemon brawl: Charizard, Greninja join Super Smash Bros. roster

Super Smash Bros. will include the Pokemon Charizard and Greninja when it launches on 3DS this summer and on Wii U in the winter. Nintendo saved the announcement as an after-Direct snack, showing off Charizard and Greninja in a video following Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai's sign-off.

Super Smash Bros. includes the Masterball, a shiny new form of a Pokeball with rare Pokemon inside. Nintendo also revealed a list of non-playable Pokemon that can be summoned during battle in today's Nintendo Direct: Meowth, Electrode, Evee, Staryu, Metagross, Fennekin, Meloetta, Gogoat, Entei, Deoxys, Palkia, Kyurem, Victini, Keldeo, Xerneas.

Yeah, we read that like the Pokemon Rap, too.

Smash Run replaces Adventure Mode in Super Smash Bros. 3DS

In lieu of the classic Adventure Mode, the upcoming Nintendo 3DS Super Smash Bros. sequel will feature Smash Run, a new gameplay type announced during today's Nintendo Direct broadcast.

According to director Masahiro Sakurai, Smash Run pits four players against each other in a cross between a platforming marathon and standard Super Smash Bros. combat. The initial section of each game will see players racing through a labyrinthine dungeon stocked with power ups where they must use each character's individual skills to navigate obstacles and defeat AI-controlled enemies. Players will plumb these depths for five minutes, then they face off in combat, using the power ups they have collected.

Sakurai fails to mention how many stages will be available for Smash Run, though the map shown during the broadcast appeared quite large and complex. Smash Mode is exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS Super Smash Bros., though Sakurai made no mention of what might takes its place in the Wii U version of the game.

Edit: Originally this piece described the new mode as "Smash Mode" when it is actually called "Smash Run." We apologize for any confusion and have amended the error.

Super Smash Bros. online play split between 'for fun' and 'for glory' modes

Nintendo announced today that its upcoming Wii U and 3DS brawler Super Smash Bros. will feature online play split between casual and hardcore fanbases, with specific measures taken to minimize cheating and abusive play.

When joining Super Smash Bros' online mode, players will be asked to join either the "For Fun" or "For Glory" gameplay modes. "For Fun" matches players with random stages and items, and only wins are counted on a player's record. "For Glory" appeals to series fanatics and tournament players, disabling items and restricting play to the "Final Destination" stage. Both wins and losses are counted in this mode.

Nintendo also announced that many themed stages will now feature "Final Destination"-style variants that eliminate platforms and other gameplay-altering gimmicks, allowing greater stage variety during tournament play.

Nintendo plans to heavily moderate Super Smash Bros. online play, and will issue bans to players who repeatedly cheat, abuse glitches, or harass other players. Nintendo Network IDs will be displayed during online play, and while players aren't ranked in a traditional sense, player skill will be taken into account when searching for matches online.

Super Smash Bros. will launch this summer for the Nintendo 3DS, and in the winter for the Wii U.

[Image: Nintendo]

Super Smash Bros. brings the fight to 3DS this summer, Wii U in winter

In a tweet posted immediately prior to today's Super Smash Bros. Nintendo Direct broadcast, the company revealed release windows for the next two Super Smash Bros. games. The 3DS game will make its debut this summer, while the Wii U version will appear in "winter 2014," presumably in time for the holiday shopping season.

The two latest entries in the fan-favorite fighting series see the return of familiar faces such as Mario, Link and Samus, but also welcome newcomers like the Animal Crossing villager and Capcom's long-absent Blue Bomber, Mega Man.

Watch today's Smash Bros Nintendo Direct right here


Well, we now know today's Super Smash Bros-focused Nintendo Direct is going to reveal a release window for the Wii U and 3DS brawler. We guessed that the 2014 window was due a narrowing, and with E3 around the corner, maybe that's when we'll see a concrete date.

So, what other things will today's Direct reveal? For example, we'd be amazed if there wasn't at least one new combatant announced - if you were Nintendo, wouldn't you hold back a few top-draw reveals for a Direct? What else might we learn about Smash 4 today?

You'll be able to find out the answers to all those questions right here on Joystiq, and in this very post no less. Be sure to take your ringside seats by 3PM PT/6PM ET/11PM UK time, because that's when the broadcast goes out live. As ever, we've got Nintendo of America's stream up top, and ones for Europe and Japan posted below the break.

Don't worry if you miss the livestream, because we'll endeavor to have the replay up for you to watch as soon as possible, and all the news as and when it happens.
[Image: Nintendo]

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