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Castle of Illusion free on PlayStation Plus this week

Mickey Mouse tackles a remade 16-bit classic this week on PlayStation Plus, as the PlayStation 3 version of Sega's Castle of Illusion is this week's featured entry in Sony's Instant Game Collection.

Developed by Sega Studios Australia, Castle of Illusion expands on Mickey's classic platformer with new exploration elements, 3D platforming sequences, and retooled boss encounters. The result retained the playful spirit of its inspiration, earning 4 out of 5 stars in our review. The PlayStation Plus version of Castle of Illusion also includes a downloadable copy of the 1990 Sega Genesis edition of the game, previously available exclusively for pre-order buyers.

PlayStation Plus members can download Castle of Illusion for free starting tomorrow, and the bundle will remain available through April 28.

[Image: Sega]

Take a good look at the leading lady of Beyond Good & Evil 2 [update]

Update: Ubisoft claims the art is an early concept of Jade, pre-dating Beyond Good and Evil. Whether or not she'll appear that way in Beyond Good and Evil 2 is unknown, but this tease suggests a return of that old, graceful appearance (which matches leaked screenshots). The article below has been updated to reflect the image's origin.

Original:

While Beyond Good & Evil 2 remains in the same nebulous development limbo it has called home for the last half-decade, creator Michel Ancel recently offered fans a look at a design for series protagonist, Jade, seemingly as she will appear in the game.

Below the break you'll find footage of a recent Q&A session broadcast via YouTube. At the 2:05 mark, Ancel unexpectedly produces a glossy poster offering a very clear look at Jade's conceptual aesthetic. While Jade maintains the laid-back, almost "grunge" style of her debut in the original Beyond Good & Evil, there are definite differences in the character's design. This version of Jade has almost samurai-esque elements, combined with the kind of DIY aesthetic you'd expect from a hero living a hardscrabble life in an unfriendly world.

Unfortunately, Ancel offered no information on when we can expect Beyond Good & Evil 2 to reach store shelves, so we'll all go back to waiting patiently - at least until the next tiny nugget of information reminds us all how long we've been waiting for this sequel.
[Image: Ubisoft]

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One-handed riding looks easy in Road Redemption alpha footage



Alpha gameplay footage of Road Redemption shows off the high-speed brutality players can enact on fellow motorcycle-riders on a strip of desert highway. We're not sure if the sound effects are final, but that thump when the player hits an enemy rider is already quite satisfying.

Road Redemption is a spiritual successor to the Road Rash series, and was funded on Kickstarter in May with $173,803. It's due out for PC, Mac and Linux from developer DarkSeas Games, and the alpha is available to play now for $40 (or $70 for a special edition) via the game's official site.

Guacamelee dev trades chicken powers for amputation with Severed


Drinkbox Studios displayed its knack for 2D sidescrolling adventures in last year's Guacamelee!, but its next project will bring its audience a little closer to the action. Severed is a first-person, gesture-controlled adventure game planned for release in 2015. Platforms remain a mystery for now.

Severed's world is open, but defending yourself from its inhabitants is handled through "natural-motion based mechanics," according to Drinkbox. Different enemies will have different strengths, weaknesses and tells, so you won't be able to just Fruit Ninja your way through every encounter. Packs of monsters can also surround players, calling for strategy as they decide who to face and deal with first.

Like Guacamelee!, players will accumulate abilities as they progress through Severed, including the addition of spells and items to upgrade the main heroine. There won't be transforming goat men to teach you new tricks this time around – instead, Severed will have players lopping off parts of enemies and attaching them to their character.

Basically, anyone that thought allowing players to turn into chickens was as weird as Drinkbox Studios was going to get? Doesn't seem like the case anymore.
[Image: Drinkbox Studios]

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Slugcat lives: Rain World coming to Vita courtesy Adult Swim

Crowdfunded stealth-platformer Rain World is headed to the PlayStation Vita as part of a newly established publishing agreement with Adult Swim Games, developer duo Joar Jakobsson and James Primate announced this week.

Initially announced for Windows, Mac, and Linux, Rain World is a side-scrolling, exploration-focused platformer starring an adorable slug-cat hybrid and its offspring. Rain World took in more than $63,000 when it wrapped up its Kickstarter project earlier this year, more than doubling its initial funding goal.

Rain World's developers teased in their latest update that the game is coming to "PSN, PS Vita and well beyond," though additional platforms have not yet been announced.

[Image: Project Rain World]

Fantasia: Music Evolved adds Rocket Man and Ffffff-orget you

Harmonix's Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved wants you to rock out with your Amadeus out. The Kinect rhythm game has revealed that Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," Gorillaz'zs "Feel Good Inc," Cee Lo Green's (sanitized) "Forget You," Elton John's "Rocket Man," and the original rock star Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" will be added to the previously revealed track list. Our German is a little rusty, but we believe that Mozart song translates to: "A Little Pimpin' in the Night."

If you'd like to see what Fantasia is like, check out our own Reviews Director Richard Mitchell playing it at GDC in this flailtastic video.

Vita online combat game Freedom Wars makes a break for the West


A year after being announced for Japan, multiplayer action game Freedom Wars gets a surprise confirmation that it's coming to North America and Europe later this year. Co-developed by Devil Dice and God Eater 2 studio Shift and Sonic veteran Dimps, Freedom Wars blends unusual sci-fi with fast-paced combat for up to four players ad-hoc and eight players online.

Players take on the role of people suffering a dystopian totalitarianism, where the world is depleted of resources and population growth. These people are born into a sorry life of imprisonment and a rather harsh, somewhat impossible 1 million year sentence. They are doomed to spend their lives in penal communities called Panopticons, which as they sound are filled to the brim with surveillance.

To become free of their lengthy incarceration, players complete rescue missions with their friends to reduce their sentences, bit by bit. Maybe not the most well-thought out regime, but it makes for an interesting-sounding game. Freedom Wars is due to hit Japan on June 26, while today's news didn't bring word of a concrete date for the West.

Today Sony also confirmed suspicions it's bringing Soul Sacrifice Delta to the West - May 13 in North America, May 14 in Europe - and that it's also ferrying RPG Ore no Shikabane wo Koete Yuke 2 to Western shores at some point as Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines. The Vita game is a follow-up to the 1999 PlayStation game, and it's based around yet another set of cursed individuals, this time a Japanese clan of people who only get to live for 2 years each.

So, if you're in a Japanese Vita game you either get 1 million years in prison or 2 years of living - good deal.
[Image: Sony]

CCP shuttering World of Darkness

World of Darkness
After a weekend full of Reddit rumors, CCP has formally announced that it is ceasing development on World of Darkness.

The company laid off 56 employees from its Atlanta-based studio and will now focus exclusively on games set in its EVE Online universe. "To our current and former employees and fans of World of Darkness, I am truly sorry that we could not deliver the experience that we aspired to make," CEO Hilmar Petursson said in a statement. "We dreamed of a game that would transport you completely into the sweeping fantasy of World of Darkness, but had to admit that our efforts were falling regretfully short. One day I hope we will make it up to you."

Soul Sacrifice Delta confirmed for North American Vita release


SCE Japan Studio's PlayStation Vita action-RPG Soul Sacrifice Delta is headed stateside in May, Sony announced today.

Delta is an enhanced and expanded version of Sony's Monster Hunter-like Soul Sacrifice, adding a number of new quests, explorable areas, and magic spells to the game's core campaign. Delta also boasts overhauled enemy AI and a third faction, giving players options beyond saving or sacrificing defeated creatures for stat boosts and other bonuses.

Soul Sacrifice originally launched for the PlayStation Vita in North America last year, and later made its way to the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection. Soul Sacrifice Delta will launch in North America on May 13. A European release will follow on the 14th.

[Video: Sony]

Xbox France goes soccer crazy with Paris Saint-Germain Xbox One bundle


Microsoft is looking to tempt French soccer fans to the Xbox One with a new bleu bundle tied to the country's leading team, Paris Saint-Germain. The package includes the system, a subscription to the club's TV channel, a special jersey, and some unique stickers to adorn your Xbox One with so your gaming pals can know exactly who you support - if they hadn't worked it out from the jersey.

French retailer Micromania says the bundle launches on May 7 for 580 euros, compared to the regular 500 euros the system costs in the country. For reference, our French friends are paying what converts to around $690 for their Xbox One systems, and that goes up to $800 for the PSG bundle. Sacre bleu! Also, if you're a PSG fan who prefers your hardware flatter, Microsoft's France has a themed Surface bundle that's launching in May, too.

The hardware packages are part of a sponsorship deal that Microsoft and PSG forged in November 2013, and Microsoft's already been taking advantage of its tie to one of Europe's most prominent sporting names. The company made superstar forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic a Xbox ambassador last year, a role he's taken to with his famed panache and narcissistic pomp. Earlier this year, the Swede gifted each of his teammates a custom "Zlatan Limited Edition" Xbox One bearing their squad numbers, names, and of course his own signature.
[Image: Microsoft]

OlliOlli eyes up JulyJuly for jumps onto PlayStation consoles, PC

Roll7 says the plan is to kickflip OlliOlli onto PS3, PS4, and Steam in mid-July, bringing the Vita 2D skateboarder to other platforms for the first time. Speaking to Den of Geek, Roll7 Director Simon Bennett said "We are looking at July 22nd, [which is] my birthday!"

The ports aren't in development at Roll7, with Spelunky Vita porter BlitWorks grinding out the PS4 and PS3 versions, and Devolver Digital on board for the Steam transitions to PC, Mac and Linux. As for Roll7 it's busy with 2D (or 2-and-a-quarter D...) pixelated cover-based shooter Not a Hero. Expected in late 2014, the PC game stars a mayor-in-the-making from the future called BunnyLord who tasks players with cleaning up crime in election season by going on a murderous rampage. So it's not much like OlliOlli.

As long as it's as good as OlliOlli, we'll take all the BunnyLords Roll7 can throw at us. We gave the Vita game four stars in our review, deeming it "easy to pick up, with enough depth to warrant getting back up on your board whenever you tumble down the stairs."
[Image: Roll7]

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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Capcom investing around $80m into two new R&D buildings

Capcom announced it's spending approximately 8 billion yen, which converts to just under $79 million, on two new research and development buildings located near its head office in Osaka. The investment is part of Capcom's ongoing focus to make more of its development internal and centralized with the aim of making higher quality games at lower costs. Work on the smaller eight-floor building began in May 2013, shortly after Capcom announced a $73 million special loss on game cancellations following what the Japanese company called an "excessive" outsourcing of projects overseas.

The two buildings will house a significant number of the 1000 further employees Capcom is bringing in as part of its 10-year plan to increase its workforce, and the aim remains to amass a total staff of 2,500 by 2022. Today the company noted the majority of these hires will be recent graduates.

"Capcom believes that these actions will give the company a competitive advantage due to the more powerful development capabilities in the rapidly growing mobile and PC online games markets," the company summarized in today's announcement.

The 8-floor building will cost around 2.5 billion yen ($24.5 million) to build, and Capcom expects to complete construction in January 2015. Work on Its larger 16-floor sibling begins this month, with total costs of approximately 5.5 billion yen ($54 million) and a planned ETA of January 2016. As for what you'll find in the two new offices, Capcom notes a (probably very fancy) sound effect studio, a new motion capture room, and "multi-purpose" spaces that can hold 100-plus people.
[Image: Capcom]

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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Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn PS4 launch trailer is simply the bestiary

Image There's no messing around with fancy CGI for FF14: A Realm Reborn's welcome on PS4; just some big ol' monsters - lots of them - and the game's flashy combat and sci-fi fantasy backdrops. Square Enix's MMO launches in full on PS4 today, and PS3 players can transfer across for free. [Image: Square... Continue Reading

Stiq Figures, March 31 - April 6: Do we want more remakes edition

Welcome to Stiq Figures, where the sales data is after the break and the posts don't matter.

Remakes can be a great excuse to revisit classic games, or they can serve as a second chance for people that missed out on the project's original release. There are plenty of recent ports that will help fill the calendars for newly-launched consoles, but that's not quite what I mean. Full-on remakes like Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix or The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD are what I'm focused on, and my question is: Do you want more?

I mean, I can understand wanting a polished redo of games that run terribly on their original hardware or that are burdened with poorly-aged visuals. Beyond those exceptions though, it's tough for me to hope for remakes when there are so many interesting projects in the modern space. Watching Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus grow into the market is exciting to me, and I think the indie-developed standouts of today are much more exciting than potential high resolution re-releases of iconic games.

I'd rather hear your stance than go on about what interests me, though. Would you rather studios spend their time on new projects, or is there a game you've been dying to see someone take another swing at? Would you hope for changes beyond the obligatory visual boost, like revamped controls or extra content? Maybe your perspective sees an opportunity that I've totally missed. Share your general thoughts on remakes and the titles you'd most like to see redone in the comments, right after you check this week's Japanese hardware sales after the break!

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Bound by Flame combat trailer is feeling hot, hot, hot

Image When possessed by a flame demon, you have to ask yourself a question. No, not "Why am I possessed by a flame demon?" You need to ask how to channel it. Thankfully, Bound By Flame's combat trailer breaks down how you can do just that. Spoiler: They all involve fire. [Image: Focus Home... Continue Reading

The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot adds loot-fetching pets

The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot's playerbase knows well the busywork of sorting heaps of loot to find great items, but now they can leave the task to a sidekick and focus on earning glory. Ubisoft Montreal has added four pets to the free-to-play dungeon crawler, which tag along for castle raids if you're willing to part with the involved funds.

Players can pick between Lil Flameo, a miniature crimson dragon, Lil Arachbro, a spider Ubisoft describes as "adoragross," Snugglemuffin, a hamster that rolls around in a protective ball, and Mr. Squiddlins, a bucket with an eye and a tentacle. They all serve the same purpose, but Mr. Squiddlins can be purchased with 7,000 gold, while the other three pets are available in exchange for 575 Blings, the game's currency that's exchanged for real-life money.

Adventurers seeking a particular grade of loot can tell their pet which types of items to covet and which to ignore via the Options menu. If you're ready for a sidekick, you can adopt a pet at the in-game Cornelius' Emporium.
[Image: Ubisoft]

MMO Week in Review: PAX East 2014

Blizzness
At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

Massively took on the wilds of PAX East 2014 this weekend. Here's what we've seen so far:
PAX East 2014: WildStar's panel was all about the endgame
PAX East 2014: First impressions of Warlords of Draenor
PAX East 2014: Landmark's current tools and future crafts
PAX East 2014: The Repopulation's Josh Hall on the future of the game
PAX East 2014: Hands-on with Infinite Crisis
PAX East 2014: State of Decay eyes multiplayer, stays offline
PAX East 2014: Guns of Icarus Online's expanding environment
PAX East 2014: PlanetSide 2's Matt Higby on weekly updates
PAX East 2014: Hearthstone reveals Naxxramas single-player adventure
PAX East 2014: Star Citizen and the DFM are 'more than just PvP'
There's more to come over the next few days. Read on for the rest of this week's top stories!

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Microsoft announces Age of Empires: World Domination for mobile


We've known since last summer that Microsoft was looking to bring its Age of Empires series to mobile, but earlier this week we were given an official announcement and title. The game, which is being developed by KLab, is called Age of Empires: World Domination. It's coming to iOS, Android and Windows devices this summer. You can check out the announcement trailer above.

Unfortunately, there's not much else to go on at the moment, other than the game will feature Celts, Huns, Vikings and Franks. It's not clear if gameplay will follow in the series' traditional real-time strategy footsteps or be something else, but the trailer promises "an all new battle system reimagined for mobile."

Cry havoc and let slip the fingertips of war.
[Image: Microsoft]

The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

Super Joystiq Podcast 090: Metal Gear Solid 5 Ground Zeroes, Infamous Second Son, Ether One

Latest episode: Friday, March 28th, 2014


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