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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]

New Nintendo eShop releases: Guacamelee, Armillo

To coin Sony's term, Squids Odyssey is the first 3DS and Wii U "cross-buy" game, but it's only supported by Nintendo of Europe. Over in Europe, customers who buy the underwater RPG on 3DS can download the previously released Wii U version for free, as long as their Nintendo Network ID is linked across the two systems.

However, Siliconera confirmed the promotion isn't coming to North America. We wonder if there's an element of testing the waters going on, but we'll have to wait and see.

That's all very interesting, as is 3D rolling platformer Armillo (pictured above, check out its trailer below the break) and the excellent Guacamelee, both of which are now on Wii U. Yet our eyes are inexorably drawn to Bombing Bastards. Not because of the game, which has an undeniably familiar whiff about it, but the name itself, which Nintendo is apparently cool with. Remember when Stealth Bastard Deluxe became Stealth Inc on Sony platforms? Looks like Nintendo doesn't care so much, which is not the way round we pictured that.

As ever, you'll find all the new eShop releases below the break. Sales-wise, Kung Fu Rabbit is half-price at $2.49 until July 10, while Just Dance 2014 is permanently down to $40. Also, you can visit the weird and wacky world of 3DS sim Tomodachi Life through a new demo.

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New Nintendo eShop releases: Shovel Knight, Castlevania 3

The gardening tool-wielding Shovel Knight makes his debut on Nintendo platforms this week, joining Konami's NES classic Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse on the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console. Who would win in a fight, you think -- Shovel Knight or Trevor Belmont? I'm guessing that a shovel would do a lot more damage to a leather-clad vampire hunter than a bullwhip would do to a suit of armor, so we'll give this round to Shovel Knight.

Other Wii U highlights this week include the 3D Arkanoid-like Brick Breaker 3D and the intriguingly-named Monkey Pirates. 3DS owners get a broader selection of choices with games like Skypeace, Toy Stunt Bike, and Mysterious Stars: The Samurai.

This week's update also gives eShop users the chance to save some cash with price drops for Code of Princess, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked, Urban Trial Freestyle, Darksiders 2, and a collection of Ubisoft-published games. You can read more about this week's eShop releases here.

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Retro Game Challenge 2 fan translation released

A fan-made translation patch for Indieszero's classic gaming-themed Nintendo DS compilation, Retro Game Challenge 2 (aka Game Center CX: Arino no Chousenjou 2), has surfaced, rendering it fully playable in English for the first time.

Like its officially localized predecessor, Retro Game Challenge 2 features a quest that takes players back to the 8-bit era, where they must complete difficult challenges across several included games while scouring faux gaming magazines for hints and cheats. While the original game featured simple action games and straightforward challenges, Retro Game Challenge 2 includes multiple text-based adventure games, making the Japanese version a difficult playthrough for players who are unable to read the language.

Though Retro Game Challenge met with acclaim from players stateside, publisher Xseed declined to translate and release its sequel in North America, citing low sales of the original game. Instructions for applying the Retro Game Challenge 2 patch are available at the translation team's website.

[Image: Indieszero / RGC2 Translation Team]

Wii U plugs first DS game into Virtual Console in Japan

Puzzle-poser Brain Age is the first DS game to arrive on Wii U Virtual Console, and it's out now in Japan for free until June 30.

Nintendo revealed plans in January to add the DS to Virtual Console on Wii U, but it's unknown if Brain Age is headed West or when other DS games may come to the system. When approached on the matter, a spokesperson for Nintendo UK told Joystiq, "We have nothing to announce at this time."

To use its oh-so-catchy full title, Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! hit Japan's store shelves back in 2005. The West didn't see it until 2006, but that didn't stop the brain-teaser going on to notch 19 million sales worldwide.

It also didn't stop our love affair with Dr Kawashima's floating polygonal dome, even if he couldn't understand our thick Manchester accent.
[Image: Nintendo]

Wii and DS online play lives on through homebrew server

Pro-tip for life: Don't tell the Internet it can't do something. Case in point, Nintendo shut down its official servers for Wii and DS online play just three days ago, and already there's a community running their own service in its stead. While it may take some extra work and tweaking on your end to configure a DS or Wii system to be compatible with the unofficial server, it is theoretically possible to still get in a race or two of Mario Kart.

We say "theoretically" because, being unofficial and all, the server isn't as stable or reliable as Nintendo's was. Not every game with online play has been tested for compatibility, and even those that have been tested could crash under server stress. Still, the project's wiki page notes that it is being actively developed, so it's possible things will improve. In the meantime, wear a hard hat and watch for falling goombas.
[Image: Nintendo]

2009 patent lawsuit over Nintendo DS dismissed by court

Nintendo emerged victorious this week from a patent infringement lawsuit filed five years ago, after a US District Court dismissed the case outright. Alleged patent troll Wall Wireless sued Nintendo as well as Sony and Nokia in 2009, claiming the companies contravened its patent for the "method and apparatus for creating and distributing real-time interactive media content through wireless communication networks and the internet."

Unfortunately for Wall Wireless, the US Patent and Trademark Office canceled all of the company's relevant patent claims upon re-examination, leaving the case without a leg to stand on. According to Nintendo, the Japanese Patent Office found the company's products didn't infringe on Wall Wireless' patent either. While there's no word from Sony or Nokia on the matter, it seems unlikely either company has much to worry about.

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PSA: Wii and DS online play shutdown imminent

As it was foretold, the end is upon us - or at least, it's upon those of us using a Wii or DS to play online games. Nintendo announced back in March that May 20, 2014 would signal the end of online service for games on the Wii and DS systems, and that day has come. Or, depending on when you read this, is rapidly approaching.

If you want to get in one last match or download any DLC for the games affected by the blackout, this is your last chance. Not sure if your favorite game is affected? Check Nintendo's full list. Note that this is not your last chance to watch Netflix or Hulu using your Wii. Those services will continue, at least for the prophesied foreseeable future.
[Image: Nintendo]

50 EA games going offline due to GameSpy shutdown

EA's efforts to transition its GameSpy-based games have been in vain, after the publisher revealed 50 of its titles are going offline once the matchmaking service shuts down. Not only is it a big list of games, but it includes casualties like Battlefield 2142 for PC and Mac, and Star Wars: Battlefront on PC and PS2.

Other games on the list include Battlefield 2 (PC), Command and Conquer 3 (PC and Mac), C&C Generals (PC and Mac), Red Alert 3 (PC and Mac), Crysis (PC), Crysis: Wars (PC), Crysis 2 (PC), Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (PC and Mac), Neverwinter Nights (PC, Mac and Linux) Neverwinter Nights 2 (PC and Mac), and Star Wars Battlefront 2 (PC and PS2). EA's service site has the full list of affected games, all of which lose their online services on June 30.

"Unfortunately, due to technical challenges and concerns about the player experience, we do not have a solution at this time," EA said on its service page.

The company noted some of the games retain sizable audiences, and it's "investigating community-supported options" in a bid to retain online functionality. However: "Significant technical hurdles remain, and at this time we don't have anything to announce."

If EA doesn't come through, users may turn to services like GameRanger, which provides server support for some of the games in question. However, for many games it'll likely be so long and thanks for all the online fun soon after GameSpy's services go dark on May 31.
[Image: EA]

Joystiq Discussion: How do you like your Nintendo?

Nintendo isn't in peak condition. The 3DS recovered from its debut slump back in 2011, but the Wii U hasn't found a sizeable audience. As the House of Mario announced on Wednesday, it's sold just over 6 million Wii Us since the console hit in November 2012, significantly less than the PlayStation 4 managed to sell in just five months. Even with Super Smash Bros Wii U and Mario Kart 8 on the way, Nintendo only expects to sell 3.6 million Wii Us by the end of fiscal year 2015.

Maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Market defining sales of the Nintendo DS and Wii as well as the popularity of mascots like Mario may have skewed the world's expectations of Nintendo. Not just in terms of the scale its business, but as a creative force. Machines remembered as mighty hosts for genius games like the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube sold roughly 33 million and 22 million consoles apiece over their entire lifetimes, just a fraction of the 101 million-selling Wii. Both had scant few third party exclusives, but they did have an arsenal of spectacular Nintendo-made games, games far weirder and arguably more lovable than the bland exclusives like Wii Party and Wii Fit that fueled Wii's ascendance. Working on a smaller scale and as an underdog, Nintendo gave us Animal Crossing, Wind Waker, Super Smash Bros, Doshin the Giant, and many more.

Maybe, just maybe, Nintendo is at its best when it's not in peak condition, when it's smaller. Little Mac rather than Mike Tyson, if you will.

The question, then: How do you like your Nintendo? Do you want the market giants of the Wii and DS era, raking in cash like never before and pumping out massive family hits like Wii Sports Resort? Or do you want the scrappy weirdos that came up with WarioWare the same year they reported their first ever fiscal loss? Take the poll, talk in the comments.

[Images: Nintendo]

Twitch Plays Pokemon gambles with Pokemon Stadium 2

Gone are the days when Twitch Plays Pokemon was just a random crowd-play experiment based on a popular Game Boy RPG. Not only has the livestreamed game moved on to Pokemon Platinum for Nintendo DS, but it now features another game on the stream entirely: Pokemon Stadium 2 for Nintendo 64. Now, Twitch chatters can bet on battles between creatures in Pokemon Stadium 2, which act in completely random ways, all while participating in Twitch Plays Pokemon's ongoing quest to catch 'em all.

The livestreamed game began in February with Pokemon Red, in which thousands of viewers were able to control the game using Twitch's embedded chat. The first game ended after two weeks, garnering 35 million viewers and countless memes and pieces of user-created lore. Now hovering around 2,500 concurrent viewers, Twitch Plays Pokemon is slowly approaching 60 million total viewers after having beaten four games in the Pokemon series.
[Image: The Pokemon Company]

Joystiq Streams Special: Smash Bros Melee, Virtual Console Giveaway [UPDATE: Relive the stream!]

So they're finally here/Performing for you/If you know the words/You can join in too/Put your hands together, if you want to clap/As we take you through, this Joystiq rap!

Huh! JS! Joystiq Streams!!

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Whoa. That got weird fast. Bet you thought we were going to do an entirely new version of the "Donkey Kong Rap," didn't you? For shame! We're above such things, and it's not like we're not printing the rest of the rewritten lyrics because they were stupid. Stupid and not really about the fact that we're streaming Super Smash Bros Melee on Joystiq Streams at 4PM today while giving away codes for a bushel of Virtual Console games on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. Which we are. Those things are happening.

We're streaming Super Smash Bros Melee at 4PM EST on and right here in this post on The recent Nintendo Directs for Super Smash Bros Wii U and Mario Kart 8 have stoked our inner Gamecube fires. What better way to fan the flames than by streaming the classics directly to you? Also, if you'd like to get your hands on some recent Virtual Console releases like Advance Wars and Super Mario Bros 3, come on by as the codes will be handed out gratis in the chat.

Joystiq Streams regularly broadcasts at 4PM EST every Tuesday and Thursday on the Joystiq Twitch channel.

[Images: Nintendo]

GTA 4, Red Dead multiplayer gameplay unaffected by GameSpy closure

Rockstar's collection of games are some of the many to be affected by GameSpy's closure next month, although for the most part the studio's latest releases won't suffer. Rockstar plans to transition out of GameSpy's matchmaking service when it closes on May 31, and for some of the studio's older games, that will signal the end for their online features.

The closure means Rockstar is removing all the online features from Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition and Dub Edition Remix, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on DS and PSP, and Beaterator. The racers are losing all online multiplayer as a result, while Chinatown Wars and Beaterator are dropping their Social Club features. The music mixing game is also ditching track uploading and downloading.

No surprises: Grand Theft Auto 5 is totally unaffected, and online multiplayer gameplay remains intact in GTA 4, too. However, GTA 4 is dropping multiplayer leaderboards on PS3, while all platforms are parting with Social Club stat tracking and leaderboards. By the by, all of that also goes for the Complete version of GTA 4 and the Episodes from Liberty City.

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The Great E3 2014 Giveaway: 14 free games each week until E3

Upon returning from PAX East, the Joystiq crew breathed a deep sigh of relief, content in the knowledge that some totally sweet games were being made. From Evolve to Below, from Project Morpheus to even lonely old Wii U, video games' immediate future filled us with patient curiosity. Then we got home and it hit us: badump bedump brodump tish BOOM I CAN FEEL E3 COMING IN THE AIR TONIGHT! It's coming June 10th through June 12th as a matter of fact. Oh yes, the E3 2014 engine is revving up as we speak. Just thinking about it has us all a little misty for the E3 mania of old, and you know what happens when we get misty: We start giving video games away.

Every Friday between now and the end of E3 2014, Joystiq is giving away 14 games. Each week we'll bundle a selection of games around a specific theme. In turn, we want you to write to with the subject line "E3 2014 Giveaway Week (insert number here)" and share your favorite moment from E3s past related to that theme, all entries must be received by the following Monday at 10AM EST. For Week 1: Nintendo Freak Outs.

Nintendo has a history of legendary E3 showings. There were exciting game announcements, but even more truly baffling performances. Sure, the Twilight Princess trailer was bananas good, but that Wii Music reveal? Pac-man Vs.? The Wii Vitality Sensor? Those were bananas in a totally different way. Write to us and tell us about the Nintendo E3 moment that made you think, "No way can this possibly be happening."

What 14 Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, Wii, and DS games will one lucky winner get their hands on? The full list and contest rules after the jump.

Note: Contest runs from Friday to Monday 10AM EST.

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Assassin's Creed series tops 73 million in sales

Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series reached a total of 73 million in sales according to the publisher's corporate website, which lists its "worldwide best-selling franchises." Assassin's Creed, which has featured six releases in the main series since its 2007 debut and eight additional games on browser and portable platforms, leads Ubisoft's second-best-selling property Just Dance (48 million) by 25 million units.

Assassin's Creed will likely continue to sell by the millions given that the next game, Assassin's Creed: Unity, will arrive on PS4, Xbox One and PC this holiday season. Unity was just announced in March and takes place in Paris during the French Revolution of the 18th century, a setting that was vaguely foretold at the end of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.

The next three series in the publisher's top five in sales bear the late Tom Clancy's name: Splinter Cell (30 million), Rainbow Six (26 million) and Ghost Recon (25 million). Head past the break to see the rest of Ubisoft's sales list.

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