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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]

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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Joystiq Giveaway: 12 Skylanders Trap Team Legendary Starter Packs

Bet you thought we were done after Destiny! Nope. Joystiq is all about doling out the gaming goodness. We're shifting away from the go go grim gun fantasias for our next big giveaway, though! This time, it's all about action figures.

Joystiq is giving away 12 Skylanders: Trap Team Legendary Starter Packs, three each for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and for the first time in the series, a tablet version of the game that is feature complete.

Every Legendary Starter Pack comes with that console's version of the game, the new portal, two Skylanders figures, two traps, sticker sheets with secret codes, posters, and trading cards. What's more, every one of our 12 winners will also get a random assortment of Skylanders Mini figures, standard figures, and a lucky few will also get deluxe Trap Master figures as well.

All you have to do to enter is "Like" Joystiq on Facebook using the widget below between September 26 and October 10, and also be an American or Canadian citizen over the age of 13. You can extra earn extra chances to win by following us on Twitter and Twitch.tv/Joystiq.

Full prize list and giveaway rules after the break.

Joystiq Giveaway: 12 free copies of Skylanders Trap Team
[Images: Activision]

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Indie Fund goes for artistic award-winner Gorogoa

Gorogoa is heralded for its intricate, hand-painted art and unique approach to puzzle gaming, aspects that have earned it the top prize from the Good Game Club in 2013 and an award for Excellence in Visual Art from the 2014 IGF. These have also helped make Gorogoa the next game to receive support and financial assistance from Indie Fund. With the Indie Fund backing, Gorogoa is due out on PC and Mac in early 2015, with a mobile launch to follow.

Gorogoa is the first major release from developer Jason Roberts. On the surface, the game appears to be a straightforward point-and-click puzzler, but it becomes more complex as players pull scenes from one panel into the others, crafting tightly woven stories as they go.

"Gorogoa is just jaw-droppingly beautiful, and this is especially remarkable because it's one person doing the programming, design and artwork," Indie Fund partner Aaron Isaksen says. "If this was a children's book it would win the Caldecott Medal. The gameplay is also quite intriguing; the connections that you make between locations, objects, and visuals is deliciously non-linear in a way we don't experience in the real world."

Download a demo of Gorogoa on the game's official website.
[Image: Jason Roberts]

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Fruit Ninja to see major overhaul in next mobile update

Hit produce-gutting action game Fruit Ninja will soon see a major update across iOS and Android platforms adding several new gameplay elements and unlockables, developer Halfbrick announced this week.

"The team has thrown away the tired menu and UI designs, ensuring the steps between playing, equipping new gear, and using social features are all streamlined," Halfbrick said in a recent statement. "Now, almost every item will have a unique effect on gameplay, which has effectively broken the score ceiling and added an exponential amount of depth and strategy to slicing."

The update allows players to pair unlockable Blades and Dojos for various game-altering effects, similar to the gameplay structure adopted by the studio's endless runner Jetpack Joyride. The new "Great Wave" dojo spawns large groups of fruit during each session, for instance, while the Autumn Blade summons a screen-clearing tornado after players slice a pineapple.

Fruit Ninja's update is slated to launch in October.

[Image: Halfbrick]

Humble Bundle discounts Thomas Was Alone, Surgeon Simulator

Humble Bundle rolled out a new collection of games this week for PC and Android for a pay-what-you-want price, including Thomas Was Alone, Bridge Constructor Playground, Cubemen and Cubemen 2. Those that pay more than the average bid (currently $6.12) receive Small World 2 as well as the first three episodes of the Blackwell adventure games. Players will also get Small World 2's Royal Bonus DLC, which was previously only available to the game's Kickstarter backers.

By paying at least $11, players will also score copies of Surgeon Simulator and Anomaly Defenders. The Humble Bundle PC and Android 11 collection will add more games next Tuesday, September 30 and ends on Tuesday, October 7 at 2:00 p.m. EST (11:00 a.m. PST). Proceeds from the bundle support the Electronic Frontier Foundation as well as the Child's Play charity. Humble Bundle noted that over $46 million has been pledged to charities to date.
[Image: Humble Bundle]

Goat Simulator gets 100,000 sales on iOS, Android

Coffee Stain Studios has sold more than 100,000 copies of Goat Simulator across Android and iOS, after launching on those platforms five days ago. That's not baaah-d. Sorry, we really rammed that joke in there, didn't we? We kid, we kid.

"It feels really amazing that so many people like our game!" designer Armin Ibrisagic writes on the Coffee Stain blog. "We're also really happy that we can now reach out to even more goat fans, and that people without a computer can now also enjoy the life of being a goat!"

In terms of updates, Coffee Stain is currently focused on squashing any crash bugs on mobile. The studio is aware of the issues on Android devices listed here. "While we realize you might be super curious of our future plans, the truth is actually that we don't plan much ahead at all [....] But after a couple of weeks we'll see how it goes! Hopefully we'll be able to give you more information then."

Goat Simulator hit "almost 1 million" sales in August, and Coffee Stain recouped the game's development costs within ten minutes of launch on Steam (on April 1, of course).
[Image: Coffee Stain Studios]

Project Scissors is a spiritual successor to Clock Tower

Nude Maker, a Japanese developer led by Clock Tower series creator Hifumi Kouno, has begun development on a new horror-focused franchise. According to the studio's press release, Project Scissors is meant to be a spiritual successor to Clock Tower, and will involve Masahiro Ito, creature designer for the Silent Hill series, Takashi Shimizu, director of the Ju-on films, and other "well known talents in the Japanese game industry" that will be announced later on.

In Project Scissors, a luxurious cruise ship has a murder mystery problem. Once enough of the crew fall victim to the killer, the ship is essentially adrift at sea, leaving passengers to share an inescapable space with whatever is keen on knocking them into the afterlife. Solving the mystery is the player's focus, although the increasingly-difficult goal of not dying is of comparable importance.

Project Scissors will eventually welcome aboard iOS, Android and Vita owners, but a release date and a glimpse of the game itself are currently as elusive as Project Scissors' killer.
[Image: Nude Maker]

Mojang drops price, doles out freebies for Scrolls tablet launch

Scrolls, Mojang's - or is it Microsoft's? - card battle game, will see a price drop of more than 75 percent when it launches this fall, the developer announced on its blog this week. This means that the normally $21 game will drop to $5, regardless of platform. If you've already dropped a Jackson and Washington on the game, that might sound like bad news - but there are several upsides.

First, those who have already purchased the game will receive the $20 shard package, which allows players to purchase new scrolls, pre-constructed decks and player avatars, free of charge. Also, not only will the price be the same across platforms, but so will gameplay; Scrolls players on tablets will be able to compete with those on PC and Mac, as well as have their collections and progress transfer from one version to the other.

"Our current price of $21 isn't feasible for tablets," Owen Hill of Mojang wrote. "As you probably already know, games are cheap on those things. Free-to-play would be an option, but we're not keen on the way that that form of monetisation can affect gameplay."
[Image: Mojang]

Most Hearthstone players remain above Rank 15

Those of you perpetually stuck at Rank 23 in Blizzard's hyper-addictive faux card game Hearthstone shouldn't get too discouraged. Not only are you not alone, you happen to be in the same position as the vast majority of other Hearthstone players.

According to an infographic revealed by the developer (which you can find below the break), 75 percent of all Hearthstone players fall somewhere between Rank 25 and Rank 15 - a far cry from the envy-inducing upper echelons of the game's leaderboards. Furthermore, 17.5 percent of Hearthstone players are located somewhere between Ranks 15 and 10, 5.5 percent are found between Ranks 10 and 5 and a mere 2 percent can legitimately claim to have placed within the top five ranks. The number of players who have reached the rank of "Legend" is almost too small to mention, as it represents only 0.5 percent of all Hearthstone players.

If you're hoping for a noble, academic use for this data, sorry, but Blizzard is seemingly sharing these figures purely to bolster player morale. "Whether you're a Legend or an Angry Chicken or anywhere in between, Hearthstone players are passionate about the game, creative in deck-building, and best of all – a part of the ever-growing Hearthstone community," reads a message from the developer. "If you ever feel that your Rank in Ranked Play is the end all, be all of Hearthstone, don't worry – you're doing better than you think!"
[Image: Activision Blizzard]

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Just Dance Now grooves on mobile devices later this month

For all those moments when you desperately need to bust a move, but the nearest dance floor (virtual or otherwise) is inaccessible, comes Just Dance Now, the latest entry in Ubisoft's hit rhythm game franchise.

Unlike its console predecessors, Just Dance Now is the first Just Dance sequel exclusively available for mobile devices. As it result, it boasts a few unique features. Gameplay is largely the same, with players keeping rhythm to a popular tune alongside a virtual dancer, but in lieu of a controller players use their smartphone or tablet to control the game while watching the action as it is projected onto the nearest wifi-connected television.

According to Ubisoft's official announcement, Just Dance Now will make its iOS and Android debut on September 25. Unfortunately, the publisher offers no information on what price will be attached to the mobile rhythm game.
[Image: Ubisoft]

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NHL 2K series returns to mobile this fall

2K announced the return of its NHL 2K hockey video game brand today with the aptly-named NHL 2K. The game is in development for iOS and Android devices as a "premium mobile game" slated to launch this fall for $7.99. Players will take to the ice in classic NHL Winter Classic, Free Skate and Shootout modes, a three-on-three Mini-Rink mode, a "detailed" My Career mode and turn-based multiplayer shootouts.

NHL 2K is the first entry in the series to surface in four years, the last being 2010's NHL 2K11 for Wii and iOS. The latest game is the result of a cooperative effort between NBA 2K developer Visual Concepts and Virtuos Games, the same studio that lent a hand to Square Enix with Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster in January. NHL 2K will include iCloud support on iOS devices, NHL GameCenter Live connectivity and MFi controller support.

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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]

A peak at one of Monument Valley's new levels

Yes, that is a pun in the headline. Thank you for noticing.

Monument Valley is getting new "lost scenes" designed to double the average gameplay time of 90 minutes, and this is one of those levels. Well, it's part of one of those levels, as this one appears to be fairly grand. Developer ustwo shared the photo on Twitter (view it in full below).

There's no word on a launch window for the new levels. Monument Valley recouped its cost of development in one week, reached 1 million sales in four months and won an Apple Design Award since launching in April.

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Joystiq Deals: Mobile game dev training, Steam week-long sale

The School of Interactive Design offers a comprehensive training plan for up-and-coming mobile game developers through Joystiq Deals this week, bundling eight professional-quality courses for only $99.99. No prior coding experience is required, and you can produce playable results in just a few hours after starting the program. The course covers game development for iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac and PC platforms, so if you've ever wanted to make your own game, this is a great place to start.

PC gamers, meanwhile, can pick up a collection of cheap games on Steam this week, including Crimzon Clover: World Ignition for $7.49, Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut for $5.99, Avadon: The Black Fortress for $1.99, and Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition for $1.49. The sale also features several games priced at under $1, including Two Worlds, Desert Gunner, and Postal. Sale prices are effective through next Monday.
Joystiq Deals is a partnership between AOL and StackSocial. A portion of sales goes to funding this site. Deals are curated by StackSocial independently of the Joystiq editorial team.

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