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Smash Bros. creator Sakurai also has trouble tracking down amiibo

If you've been unsuccessful in finding an amiibo of your favorite Super Smash Bros. character, you're not alone. Series creator Masahiro Sakurai recently vented similar frustrations on Twitter, noting that he went home empty-handed when he hit up local retailers in Japan in the hopes of tracking down Meta Knight, Sheik, Lucario, and Rosalina & Luma.

Nintendo of America announced last year that it would phase out many amiibo after an initial print run, leading to shortages and price hikes on secondary markets like eBay and Amazon. The Lucario figure also remains elusive in the weeks leading up to its release in North America, with exclusive distributor Toys R Us recently raising confusion over whether customer pre-orders are still valid.

First-wave amiibo figures Wii Fit Trainer, Villager, and Marth have not yet seen a second print run in North America, leading Nintendo fans to import cheaper equivalent figures from Japan. Amazon additionally sold out of its initial allotment of Sonic the Hedgehog figurines after opening pre-orders last week, hinting at another impending post-launch shortage.

Adventures of Pip is modern cute plus classic challenge

I'm calling it now: the Kickstarted Adventures of Pip from developer TicToc Games is going to win cutest game of 2015. I don't care that we're not even to the end of January; Pip is so cute that I want him in a kids' TV show. He's so heart-meltingly precious that I want plush figures and a breakfast cereal themed after him.

Pip is so gawl-darned lovable and sweet that it makes me deeply, deeply angry.

The game's charming aesthetic masks a sinister beast. For despite the playful bounce of our square-shaped hero and the bright colors that surround him, this is a world looking to commit straight-up pixelated murder.

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Theatrhythm's new DLC Beat stars The World Ends with You

Theatrhythm Curtain Call continues to ignore its Final Fantasy prefix by adding The World Ends with You music as part of the latest DLC batch. "Twister," the 2007 JRPG's theme song , and "Calling" are two of six new tracks available now in the 3DS rhythm game.

As per the Shibuya-infused DS game, Twister is a Battle Music Sequence in Curtain Call while background tune Calling is a Field Music Sequence. The three other new BMS tunes are "Liberi Fatali" from Final Fantasy 8, "Final Confrontation" from Romancing SaGa 3, and "World Revolution" from Chrono Trigger. The sixth song and second FMS is "Wind Scene," also from Chrono Trigger. All six DLC songs are priced 99 cents (£0.89/€0.99).

To remind yourself of TWEWY's J-pop music - your humble author would argue it's one of the best soundtracks you'll find on the DS - do the Twister again below the break. By the way, don't think the Curtain Call DLC train is stopping just yet. According to Square Enix, the game's next dollop of add-ons is planned to arrive on February 19.

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New Nintendo eShop releases: Half-price Punch-Out!!

You can grab a Little Mac takeaway right now, because Punch-Out!! is on the Wii U eShop with a $10 price tag. Like last week's Wii re-releases, the 2009 boxer is available at 50 percent off in its first week, but be warned: After 9AM PT/12PM ET on January 29 it goes up to $20.

That offer is part of Nintendo's Throwback Sale, which you can check out here along with the last week of the current Super Indie Collection Sale. Otherwise, you'll find the complete list of this week's new eShop releases by ducking and weaving below the break.

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Moon Chronicles DLC episodes touch down on 3DS February 5

After releasing its first episode last May, Renegade Kid's Moon Chronicles is finally ready to receive episodes two, three and four. Creator Jools Watsham revealed on Twitter that Nintendo has approved the episodes and "it's looking like" all three will hit the 3DS eShop on February 5. A "season pass" will be available for $9 to purchase every episode or, according to Nintendo's Moon Chronicles page, individual episodes can be had for $4.50 apiece. The first episode, which also includes special VR missions, remains $8.99.

For those who missed its debut last year, Moon Chronicles is a remake of Renegade Kid's DS first-person shooter, Moon, with improved visuals and 3D support. Also, as Watsham points out, the DLC arrives a week before the launch of the New 3DS, which should give players a reason to use that fancy C-stick.
[Image: Renegade Kid]

Evo 2015 line-up announced, double helping of Smash

Super Smash Bros Wii U and Melee are two of the nine games already confirmed for this year's Evolution Championship Series. As revealed during last night's Twitch stream, the line-up for Las Vegas this July also includes returning games Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Ultra Street Fighter 4 and Killer Instinct, The remaining four games are new for this year, and they are Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, Guilty Gear Xrd Sign, Mortal Kombat X and Tekken 7.

Recent years have seen more games added closer to the event, though a roster of nine is already on the high end for an EVO championship. Whatever the full line-up proves to be, it's coming to the Bally's/Paris Las Vegas Casino, where the world's fighting game specialists will duke it out across July 17-19.

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Club Nintendo closing, 'new loyalty program' on the way

'Club Nintendo is dead, long live the new loyalty program,' is the message from Nintendo this morning, after the company announced it's closing its current rewards service. Users in the US and Canada have until the end March to earn Club Nintendo Coins and until the close of June to redeem them, signalling when the service will finally hang up its brown boots.

"We thank all Club Nintendo members for their dedication to Nintendo games and their ongoing love for our systems and characters," said Nintendo of America executive VP Scott Moffit in the company's press release. "We want to make this time of transition as easy as possible for our loyal Club Nintendo members, so we are going to add dozens of new rewards and downloadable games to help members clear out their Coin balances."

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Drive through this Project Cars trailer

Bandai Namco offered a new trailer for Project Cars today, the upcoming racing game from World of Speed and Need for Speed: Shift developer Slightly Mad Studios. In development for PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U, the game features both competitive and asynchronous online multiplayer as well as a "freeform career mode" in which players sign endorsements and complete historical challenges. It also supports Oculus Rift, the nVidia Shield and Sony's Project Morpheus on PC and PS4, respectively.

Project Cars was delayed in October to March 2015 following a number of changes to the game's destined platform choices. Its Wii U version was revealed in January 2012, then Project Cars' Xbox 360 and PS3 versions were scrapped in November 2013. The PC, PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game are confirmed to launch on March 17 in North America and March 20 in Europe and Australasian regions, with the Wii U game set to arrive sometime this year.
[Image: Bandai Namco]

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GTA 5 continues to hold off FIFA & CoD in this week's UK charts

And now for something completely similar: Right now you'd need a microscope to find the week-to-week changes in the UK charts. Nonetheless, it's interesting to see Grand Theft Auto 5 stay ahead of traditional front-runners FIFA and Call of Duty, especially since Rockstar's game is a re-release on current-gen. At this new release-less time of year, we'd normally be talking about a 28th consecutive No. 1 for FIFA [Insert Year Here].

The current top three are the same trio that sold the most in the UK last year, though FIFA 15 won out overall in 2014. Moreover, seven of this week's top ten are in the 2014 top ten, and most of those hit store shelves in the second half of the year.

Right, stop that UK charts analysis! It's silly. This week's full top ten can be found below the break, along with the customary music video that's a bit suspect.

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First 4 Figures teases a Wind Waker Ganondorf statue

First 4 Figures, makers of highly detailed - and highly priced - video game collectibles, has set its eyes on the Triforce of Power wielder, Ganondorf. Specifically, the villainous version which originally appeared in 2003's The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Though maybe you prefer the 2013 HD remaster?

The company released a small teaser image to whet fans' appetites via their Facebook page this week, and those so tempted to make the evil-doer a part of their collection will be able to pre-order the figure starting on January 20. The figure's price has yet to be revealed.
[Image: First 4 Figures]

Oddworld: New 'n Tasty on Steam next month; Vita, console ports still underway

Just Add Water, developer of Oddworld: New 'n Tasty, is getting ready to distribute the remaining ports for its revisit of the series' origins, and Steam users are next in line. A cloud save-compatible version of New 'n Tasty will be offered on PC, Mac and Linux via Steam on February 25 for $20 (£15, €20). A 10 percent discount will also be available for those that place pre-purchases, though further details and recommended specs will be shared at a later date.

The related press release also notes that PS3 and Xbox One arrivals will follow sometime in early March, and a note from the Oddworld Staff states that the above versions will feature post-launch improvements that have been made to the existing PS4 version, including "old school" control settings.

Series creator Lorne Lanning assured fans the remaining ports were being "adamantly worked on" about two months ago. At that time, Lanning also spoke of problematic limitations concerning the Wii U hardware, but the post from Oddworld Staff explains that work "continues on the Wii U and PlayStation Vita versions," adding that "recent progress is encouraging."

If you're wondering whether all this waiting and extra development time is really worth it for a remake, consider Sam Prell's review of the PS4 version: "This HD remake is more than a simple reskin of nostalgia, and offers a compelling adventure with contemporary design that will satisfy most anyone's puzzle-platformer appetite."
[Image: Just Add Water]

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Rock Band survey hints at modern console sequel

Following the recent release of the series' first new DLC in nearly two years, it appears that Harmonix might be gearing up for a new entry in its Rock Band series, if an online survey is anything to go by.

"Hello friends! You should fill out this important Rock Band survey," reads a tweet from the official Rock Band Twitter account. "Sharing the link is encouraged. DO IT NOW!" The link attached to that message leads to a three-page survey regarding your history with the Rock Band series to date. It's pretty typical stuff - What Rock Band game did you play most?, Which console do you use to play Rock Band?, etc. - but the third page is where things get interesting.

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3D After Burner 2: M2's quest for port perfection

"Arcade-perfect" is a term that was bandied about in the '80s and '90s as developers struggled to port state-of-the-art arcade games to significantly less powerful console hardware. Compromises were made, features were removed, and many ports that were billed as "arcade-perfect" still needed to be scaled back quite a bit compared to their cabinet counterparts.

These days, consoles boast enough horsepower to emulate classic games at a software level - virtually recreating arcade hardware in order to run original programming code, rather than porting graphics, sound, and gameplay components from scratch. Purists argue, however, that straightforward emulation lacks a certain appeal specific to original hardware. Playing the classic racer Daytona USA using an Xbox 360 controller, for instance, is a vastly different experience compared to sitting in the cockpit of the original arcade cabinet and gripping a force feedback-equipped steering wheel that fights you at every turn.

Arcade-perfect ports still elude many publishers. Japanese porting studio M2, however, sets its sights higher than mere perfection.

M2's 3D After Burner 2, released in the Nintendo 3DS eShop in North America this week, is more than an arcade-perfect port. Not only does it make great strides toward simulating the look and feel of a classic arcade game, but it also improves on the game's original design in ways that its creators planned but never fully achieved. The result is perhaps the first "complete" look at After Burner 2 as it was originally envisioned, and it's a rare treat for classic gaming enthusiasts.

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Nintendo Direct Japan: New Rhythm Heaven, Style Savvy games announced

Nintendo fans in Japan saw a slightly different Nintendo Direct presentation earlier this week than their compatriots in North America and Europe, as the company revealed a handful of upcoming Japanese games that are unlikely to see release elsewhere in the world.

First up is a 3DS Rhythm Heaven compilation that collects a large number of music-driven minigames featured in previous series entries. The collection will feature 30 new minigames in addition to 70 graphically updated stages previously seen in Rhythm Heaven, Rhythm Heaven Fever, and the Japan-only Game Boy Advance series debut Rhythm Tengoku.

A new Style Savvy sequel is also in the works, following up on predecessor games released stateside on the DS and 3DS. Girls Mode 3, as it's called in Japan, will offer fashion-focused gameplay that challenges players to manage their own boutique and create ensemble outfits for picky customers.

Other games featured exclusively in Japan's Nintendo Direct presentation include the HAL Labs-developed 3DS puzzle-platformer Hako Boy (Box Boy), 3DS RPG The Legend of Legacy, cross-platform online mahjong sim Yakuman Houou, and Rodea: The Sky Soldier, a 3DS and Wii U aerial action game created by Yuji Naka's studio Prope.

Games omitted from the North American and European Nintendo Direct presentations are not currently scheduled for release in either region.

[Video: Nintendo / NintenDaan]

Nintendo: Amiibo sales outpace Smash Bros. Wii U

Mario Kart 8 sold 1.7 million copies in 2014 both digitally and at retail in the United States according to the NPD Group, Nintendo revealed in a press release. The publisher also noted that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U sold 1.3 million copies during the year, though sales of the company's amiibo figurines were "nearly twice" that of Nintendo's Mario brawler on Wii U. Nintendo said that total hardware and software sales increased "by more than 29 percent and more than 75 percent, respectively, over sales in 2013." As of December, the publisher said that amiibo sales were "approximately equal" to that of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

On the handheld side of Nintendo's lineup, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS eclipsed 2 million copies sold since the game launched this past fall. Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby also combined to sell 2.6 million copies in the remastered games' first six weeks. Nintendo recently offered a worldwide launch date for the company's new 3DS system during this week's Nintendo Direct presentation; the C-Stick-sporting console will arrive on February 13 for $200. The improved console will be accompanied by The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate along with each game's respective special edition 3DS systems.

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