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Xeodrifter review: Snacktroid

3DS, PC

There's a purity to Xeodrifter that I really admire. The 2D action exploration game is brief, but Xeodrifter explores its simple, well-executed mechanics to a T. It takes the best elements of other exploration-driven action games like Castlevania and Metroid and packs them neatly into a handful of hours.

Nimbly rewarding you with health extensions, gun upgrades and special abilities along the way, Xeodrifter plays something like a "greatest hits" compilation of the genre, though not without adding a few B-sides of its own. Before long, you'll be running at turbo speed, soaring into the sky with rocket-propelled leaps and cleaving your way through enemies with enhanced firepower.

There's no cruft, no filler – just a competent, compact adventure.

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Skylanders Trap Team Light and Dark expansions hit retail this weekend

Skylanders veterans will soon be able to master in-game elements never previously seen in the series via a pair of new Skylanders Trap Team expansion packs premiering at retail this weekend.

Trap Masters Knight Mare and Knight Light join the Skylanders roster as part of Trap Team's new Light and Dark Element Expansion Packs. Each pack includes a character figure, a Trap accessory that allows players to trap and control Light and Dark villains, and a location piece that unlocks new levels featuring Light and Dark element-specific content.

Players who ventured through Skylanders Trap Team likely noticed deactivated element gates scattered throughout specific levels. These gates can only be accessed using the new Light and Dark element characters, opening up a significant portion of the game that was locked off since launch.

Trap Team's Light and Dark Element Expansion Packs will launch exclusively at Toys"R"Us stores on December 21 at $29.99 apiece.

[Image: Activision]

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This week's UK charts are last week's UK charts

It's nearly the time for merriment, which means it's nearly time for the Christmas Doctor Who special. The UK gaming chart is already getting into the festive mood by re-enacting the "Blink" episode. The chart managed to keep its eyes wide open for the whole week, meaning the top five games have stayed in exactly the same position, and nobody's going to get eaten and sent back to the 1920s by sharp-toothed gargoyles. For now.

So, it's (gasp) FIFA 15 on top for the second week running, followed by Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Grand Theft Auto 5, Far Cry 4 and Lego Batman 3. There aren't even any new releases to holler about, so the only real action comes courtesy of Destiny. Bungie's shooter planet-hopped seven places into ninth, no doubt boosted by the new Dark Below expansion.

The top ten below the break may be almost the same, but the customary (and lovably roguish) music video isn't! Don't worry, it's not at all festive; we'll save that ear-bomb for next week.

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Team up with Chun-Li, Blanka-themed Palicoes in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate


Lest you somehow be underwhelmed with the crossover wardrobe planned for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate's Felyne Palicoes, Street Fighter-themed outfits inspired by Chun-Li and Blanka are the latest garment options announced for your sidekicks. The above announcing trailer was shown during yesterday's Capcom Cup tournament, and yes, that Blanka Palico is wielding a giant fish for its weapon. Would you have it any other way?

While the hunter outfits shown in the trailer's player cards resemble Dhalsim and Guile, Capcom Unity notes that they're "not a special bonus or anything" – rather, they "show how versatile the character creation system can be."

If you're wondering what MH4U's crossover collection is up to at this point, announced hunter and Palico outfits will play tribute to Mario, Luigi, Link, Samus, Isabelle, Mr. Resetti, Sonic, Taiko Drum Master, Mega Man and the design strengths of Tetsuya Nomura. Hunters and Palicoes can start trying things on when MH4U reaches the States next year, complete with a collector's edition.
[Image: Capcom]

Rosalina amiibo exclusive to the Target Galaxy

Lucario, Shulk and Meta Knight aren't the only amiibo figures to sign exclusivity deals with various retailers across the country; now Princess Rosalina and her Luma buddy (which are packaged together as one figure) will also take some extra effort to track down. According to an online listing, the figure - which is due for release in February - will be sold exclusively at Target.

Who knows how popular this particular amiibo will end up being or how many units Nintendo will ship, but if it's got your eye, it might behoove you to grab it while you can; Nintendo recently announced that, while the company may return select amiibo to shelves after their first run has sold out, "other [less popular] figures likely will not return to the market once they have sold through their initial shipment."
[Image: Nintendo]

Weekend deals include GOG bundles, Shadow of Mordor, Wii U bundles, 3DS XLs

Should you be looking for a few good gaming deals, this weekend holds plenty of promise. For starters, Good Old Games is finishing off its Big Winter Sale with an encore offering of every daily bundle that was featured in the two-week sale. Deals focused on The Witcher, Rayman, Prince of Persia series and others can be had, with titles ranging in support for PC, Mac and Linux platforms. Flash deals and general discounts will also be offered until the sale's conclusion later today at 2pm GMT.

If you're willing to deal with limited availability of physical goods, deals on several notable console games are also available to the swift; Among Amazon's batch of sales is Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Xbox One) for $27.99, Driveclub (PS4) for $34.99, Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Xbox One) for $44.99, The Last of Us: Remastered ($29.99), Forza Horizon 2 and Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One) for $39.99, and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 (Xbox 360, PS3) for $14.99. Xbox owners can also snatch up Destiny (Xbox 360) and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Xbox One) for $30 apiece from the Microsoft store.

Lastly, leaked details concerning Target's weekly ad suggest that starting on Sunday, the retail chain will offer the 32 GB Wii U with Super Mario 3D World and Nintendo Land for $250. Shoppers should also be able to pick up a 3DS XL for $149.99.
[Image: GOG]

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Bandai Namco on board with amiibo, One Piece gets Nintendo-themed costumes

Bandai Namco has signed on as the first third-party publisher to offer amiibo support with its recently launched Nintendo 3DS action game One Piece: Super Grand Battle X.

Nintendo Everything (via a Shonen Jump magazine magazine scan captured at Arlong Park Forums) reveals that Nintendo's figurines will unlock exclusive costumes within Bandai Namco's manga-based brawler as part of a forthcoming update. Series protagonist Luffy will wear Mario and Luigi costumes after players scan matching amiibo, while Sanji boasts an optional Fox McCloud outfit and Zoro can dress up as Link.

Amiibo support is enabled in 3DS games via the NFC-compatible New 3DS hardware revision or a standalone peripheral. North American releases for the New 3DS and One Piece: Super Grand Battle X have not been announced.

[Image: Bandai Namco]

Nintendo: Amiibo sales on par with Smash in the US

Nintendo's amiibo toys are selling 1 for 1 in the US with Super Smash Bros. Wii U, according to the publisher. In November, the console fighter sold "nearly 710,000" units going by NPD data, and Nintendo of America said amiibo sales are "approximately equal" to those of the game.

This week's seen Nintendo tiptoe around the subject of some amiibo not returning to market, but the company's kept firm on the most popular toys staying available. Nintendo of America reported the best-sellers to date are, in order, Link, Mario and Pikachu. Sorry, Wii Fit Trainer.

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PBS' Game/Show probes the endless popularity of Smash Bros.


Multiplayer mascot fighter Super Smash Bros. is one of Nintendo's biggest franchises and only seems to be growing in popularity with each new entry, but why? The latest episode of PBS' thoughtful YouTube series Game/Show aims to answer that question.

The footage above offers numerous possible reasons for the series' swelling fanbase, from the unintentional foresight of introducing one of the first major crossover games to an industry that would soon fall in love with the notion, to Nintendo's efforts to create a fighter that's less reliant on memorization and tight execution than Street Fighter or Tekken.

In just over nine minutes, Game/Show offers a wide range of solid, objective reasons why the Super Smash Bros. series remains a massive hit, but the truth is that the popularity of these games has a different origin for everyone. Some enjoy Smash Bros. because it allows them to recall fond memories of late night battles against their siblings, while some just like to see Mario get punched in the face. If you're a Smash Bros. fan, what's your reason for remaining loyal to the series? Leave your responses in the comments below.
[Video: YouTube]

November NPD: Xbox One leads consoles, Call of Duty tops software

Overall retail sales for new hardware, software and accessories saw an 11 percent drop in November 2014, versus the same reported period last year. For most of 2014, software sale declines have offset year-over-year hardware spending, however, this November, "hardware declines totaled $294 million while software declined $17 million or 2 percent," NPD Group analyst Liam Callahan said.

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Castlevania precursor Vampire Killer coming to Wii U Virtual Console...in Japan


One of the earliest entries in Konami's long-running Castlevania series is due for resurrection via the Wii U's Virtual Console service in Japan on December 17, Nintendo revealed this week.

Originally released for MSX home computers in 1986, Akumajou Dracula (aka Vampire Killer in European territories) resembles the 8-bit NES Castlevania aesthetically, but takes a more open-ended approach to its gameplay. This exploration-focused style returned in 1988's Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest, and became a defining element of later series entries like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

Unfortunately, given that MSX games are not featured in the Virtual Console's catalog stateside, it's unlikely that Vampire Killer will see a North American eShop release. Castlevania fans will have to be content with recent Wii U Virtual Console releases like Dracula X and Aria of Sorrow instead.

[Video: World of Longplays]

Bidding tops $25,000 on Peach amiibo with missing legs

The only thing Nintendo fans love more than the highly collectible amiibo are amiibo with massive factory defects. For proof, look no further than eBay, where a Peach amiibo with no legs recently attracted bids as high as $25,100.

Described as "factory sealed and in mint condition," the amiibo features the same flowing dress found on normal Peach figures, but in this apparently valuable defect, the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom appears to have misplaced her legs within all of that pink fabric. Despite the aesthetic oddity, this defect has no effect on the NFC chip that allows the amiibo to transfer data to and from Wii U games.

While all eBay auctions are suspect until money actually changes hands, this is not the first time an oddly constructed amiibo has drawn huge bids on the auction site. Earlier this month, we reported on the auction of a Samus amiibo equipped with an extra arm cannon that reached $2,500.
[Image: Nintendo/usmik_72rcplxb]

New Nintendo eShop releases: Bob Loblaw Law Blog Edition

When you take a moment to really think about it, isn't it odd that Arrested Development came up with the name "Bob Loblaw" before the wordplay-stuffed Phoenix Wright did? When you start replaying the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy this week, try to imagine Scott Baio at Phoenix Wright's desk, repeatedly closing a book from different angles - doesn't it just fit?

Capcom's updated trilogy is this week's headline debutante on the eShop, even if Bob Loblaw is this week's headline. That said, it sure ain't the only new release. As ever, you'll find the full list of newbies below the break, and if you're after eShop sales then drop that law bomb here.

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Nintendo issues further statement on Amiibo shortage

"Certain sold-out Amiibo may return" to store shelves at some point, according to a new Nintendo of America statement provided to Joystiq last night. That may offer hope to those hunting down the rarest toys, but it doesn't necessarily run counter to earlier statements indicating "other [less popular] figures likely will not return to the market once they have sold through their initial shipment."

Nintendo of America's full statement reads:
"Some Amiibo were very popular at launch, and it is possible that some Amiibo in the United States, Canada and Latin America may not be available right now due to high demand and our efforts to manage shelf space during the launch period. Certain sold-out Amiibo may return to these markets at a later stage. We are continually aiming to always have a regular supply of Amiibo in the marketplace and there are many waves of Amiibo to come."

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Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 3DS remake arrives stateside next year


Atlus announced today that it will publish a revamped version of its 2011 Nintendo DS strategy-RPG Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 for the Nintendo 3DS next year in North America.

The publisher notes that Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker "nearly doubles the content of the original Devil Survivor 2," offering a re-localized script, voiced story mode dialogue, and an all-new episode that continues after the events of the game's initial release. The new chapter slots into Devil Survivor 2's narrative by default, and veteran players can jump immediately to the new content at the game's outset.

Record Breaker follows up on Devil Survivor Overclocked, a remade version of the first game in the series that launched for the 3DS in 2011. Devil Survivor 2 Record Breaker is slated to hit retail and Nintendo's eShop in North America in "early 2015."

[Video: Atlus]

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