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Bite-sized Minis figures invade Skylanders Trap Team

Activision is preparing to launch an army of adorable miniature Skylanders toys alongside Skylanders Trap Team later this year, giving players the chance to send pint-sized versions of their favorite characters into battle.

Trap Team's "Minis" characters boast the same abilities and upgrades as their full-sized counterparts, but they have one advantage: They're cute as heck. Sixteen Minis figures will be available after Trap Team's launch, including Spyro's miniature cousin Spry, a tiny Gill Grunt named Gill Runt, and the Trigger Happy variant Trigger Snappy.

You can see the Minis in action via the galleries below. Skylanders Trap Team launches for consoles and tablets on October 5.

[Image: Activision]

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Skylanders: Trap Team bridges the gap between console and tablet

Skylanders: Trap Team will be revolutionary, for both the series and potentially for Activision's entire publishing operation, when it releases on October 5th. It doesn't dramatically change the central play of Toys For Bob's popular action figure adventure games. Catching villains in teensy crystal toys like sinister Pokemon isn't, in practice, so different than just using a regular Skylanders action figure even if it is a charming shift in the fiction. What is a dramatic change, however, is that Trap Team will be available on iPad and Android tablets the very same day it hits PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Not a spinoff, either. Activision's bringing the full console game to mobile devices.

Playing the game on an iPad Mini, Trap Team is a handy demonstration of just how far mobile game development has come in the past five years. While it may not have the graphical flash of the PlayStation 4 version of the game Activision showed Joystiq shortly before San Diego Comic Con, the exact same level plays just as smooth and looks every bit as nice as a polished Xbox 360 game. New character Snap Shot pops into the stage when you put his figure on the Skylanders portal and fights off a soda-swilling monster with the same aplomb. Developer Vicarious Visions, a studio with a long history of adapting Activision's big console games to portable devices, has brought Trap Team to tablets with no sacrifices to the action.

But it's the touchable technology surrounding tablet Trap Team that's most impressive.

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Fashion thesis dresses you like a thoroughly modern Link

Andrew Shields, a student at Parsons the New School of Design, believes that while it isn't easy being green, Link still looks spectacular decked out in viridian. Hyrule's chosen warrior and his companions in The Legend of Zelda are the inspiration for Shields' BFA thesis, a men's clothing line that will be ready-to-wear provided he acquires the necessary funding to see it complete.

"When I was young I wasn't really allowed to play with Barbies or draw dresses in my notebook, so I stopped and played on the computer, and I learned to play video games," explains Shields, in a brief video on Kickstarter. "My thesis is based on The Legend of Zelda, a game that helped shape my childhood and taught me how to explore and navigate through life."

Navigation Awaits, the name of Shields' line, includes 21 items making up seven different outfits. These range from leafy t-shirt and jeans combos that look like Link's preferred outfit for an Avicii show to more avant garde numbers right out of a Cirque de Soleil adaptation of Twilight Princess.

"The Hyrulian wardrobe is pretty diverse and proportions are pretty well developed so I think most people could pull it off," Shields told Joystiq via email. "If there really was a big difference I would say the addition of synthetics and metal notions like zippers."

"I did think on changing the theme of my collection, by taking inspiration from only Majora's Mask, and doing a really dark, twisted collection. Ultimately, I decided a lighter collection would represent the greater whole and thats more what I wanted to do."

The real question: Will you get to wear these designs?

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FIFA 15 won't feature Brazilian clubs due to licensing

Unlike FIFA 14, Brazilian domestic clubs and the players belonging to them don't feature in FIFA 15. EA revealed this week that, because of changes to how Brazil's domestic league licenses players - the company didn't note what those changes might be - it failed to reach an agreement that would let players feature in its latest sportsballer.

So, while players in Brazil's national team and Brazilian players based abroad still feature, it's adeus to the likes of Palmieras, Santos and Flamengo.

After Brazil's disassembling by Germany at the World Cup, we wonder if the country's fans would have things that way 'round. With that elephant in the room crudely dealt with, all that's left to say is FIFA 15 is coming to another bevy of platforms this year, starting with Xbox One, PS4 and PC on September 23 in North America, and September 26 in Europe.

Wii version of Skylanders Trap Team includes Wii U digital copy

The Wii edition of Skylanders Trap Team will include a download code for the Wii U version of the game, the series' official Twitter account revealed this week. Fans can pre-order the Wii version (seen above) for $75, which includes a Traptanium portal, two traps, two Skylanders figures and, well, two copies of the game.

Activision announced Trap Team in April as a follow-up to last year's successful Skylanders game, Swap Force. Developed by Skylanders Giants lead studio Toys For Bob, Trap Team will launch on October 5 for Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Wii U and 3DS. The game has players trapping 40 different enemies into trap crystal, turning them into usable characters. Trap Team will usher in 60 new Skylanders as well, including a new class known as the Trapmasters. The developer showed off a Dark Edition of the game at the San Diego Comic-Con event this week.
[Image: Activision]

Skylanders Trap Team to introduce 'Eon's Elite' premium toy line

Activision announced that it will roll out a new collector-oriented series of Skylanders toys following the launch of the multiplatform sequel Skylanders Trap Team this fall.

The new "Eon's Elite" figures feature a metallic finish, and sit atop a golden base inside a premium-packaged foil display case. If you can bring yourself to crack open the packages and ruin their aftermarket value, you'll find that the Eon's Elite toys summon in-game characters who are up to three times more powerful than their non-premium counterparts.

Today's announcement follows up on Activision's recently revealed Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition, a bonus-bundled special edition of the game that will carry a premium price tag at retail. Recent announcements suggest that Trap Team will move beyond the series' traditional youth-oriented focus in order to appeal to an expanding collector market.

The first Eon's Elite series features relaunched characters from 2011's Skylanders Spyro's Adventure, including Spyro and Chop-Chop. Prices for the new toys were not announced, but given their focus on packaging and presentation, they're likely more expensive than currently available figures.

[Image: Activision]

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Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition debuting at Comic-Con this week

Developer Toys for Bob will showcase the upcoming figure-powered action game Skylanders Trap Team this week at San Diego Comic-Con, giving showgoers an early look at the collector-oriented Dark Edition prior to its launch in October.

Skylanders Trap Team's Dark Edition is a special starter bundle that features the Ultimate Kaos Trap, an accessory that allows players to capture and control series antagonist Kaos for the first time. The package also includes two additional trap accessories, a redesigned Portal of Power, a poster, sticker sheets, trading cards, and exclusive black-and-silver variants of new characters Snap Shot, Wildfire and Food Fight.

Toys for Bob will additionally host a Skylanders-themed panel discussion and costume contest starting on July 24. The Skylanders Trap Team Dark Edition retails at $99.99, and is set to launch on October 5 for the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Wii U, and 3DS platforms.

[Image: Activision Blizzard]

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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]

Joystiq Streams: Fatal Frame 4's ghoulish Kodak moments [Update: Watch the replay!]




Update: The stream is over, watch the replay above! Twitch was being a little twitchy, so the stream was split into three videos. Follow the annotations to move onto the next videos.

It's fitting that Fatal Frame: Nuregarasu no Miku, the first HD entry in the series, would find its home on Nintendo's Wii U. Like Fatal Frame's haunted villages, Wii U is also full of Japanese ghosts, with once dead games like Bayonetta 2 and Devil's Third getting new life on the box. Plus the tablet controller, so difficult to find appropriate uses for even for its creators, is a natural fit for the Camera Obscura. As Fatal Frame is reborn, we lay the Mid-Summer Terror Train to rest with Fatal Frame 4, the long lost entry that never made it out of Japan. Officially at least. Don't worry if you're not fluent in Japanese - we've got a patch that translates the game into English.

Starting at 4PM EST on Joystiq.com/Twitch, we'll be streaming a solid hour of Fatal Frame 4. Will ghosts devour Richard Mitchell's soul as he plays? Will Anthony John Agnello and Susan Arendt be able to stop talking about how awesome Fatal Frame 2 is long enough to learn about this obscure horror game? [Note from Susan: "Probably not."] Will the chat start posting pictures of ghosts that are really just their cats? [Other note from Susan: "Man, I hope so."]

These questions and more will be answered when we go live at 4PM EST on Joystiq.com/Twitch.
[Images: Nintendo]

Sony to 'welcome back' Wii owners with PS4 remakes

Sony is positioning the PlayStation 4 to capture a returning audience who skipped the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in favor of the Nintendo Wii during the previous console generation, Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House told Eurogamer this week.

"Our big opportunity is to welcome back an audience much earlier in the lifecycle that possibly bought into the Wii previously," House said. "[O]ur consumer data suggests some of those people are already coming in now and that's what's contributing to the really great sales we've had."

Sony plans to introduce the returning audience to a slate of remastered and rereleased games from the last console generation, starting with this month's launch of The Last of Us Remastered for the PlayStation 4. Sony's PlayStation Now service will also offer a number of streamed classics upon its launch.

"I hesitate to say this because I know committed gamers may roll their eyes about it," House admits, "but there's an opportunity with some of the remastering or re-imagining from PS3 franchises that will potentially find an audience that hasn't played them in the previous generation because they skipped that generation."

House continued: "That bodes well for us as a platform, but it bodes well for developers and publishers as well. I've always looked with envy at the movie industry about what a great job they're able to do with taking content and making it work. Disney is the best example of this, right, of taking classic content and reintroducing it to audiences over time."

[Image: Naughty Dog]

Sega's plans for Wii U Virtual Console are non-existent

The age-old rivalry between Sega and Nintendo may be all but over, but that doesn't mean the two companies are sharing everything with each other. Case in point: the distinct lack of Sega games on the Wii U Virtual Console. Case in sad point: that situation may not change anytime soon, if ever.

In response to a Twitter user's question about plans to bring Sega games to the Wii U Virtual Console, Yosuke Okunari - a company producer who has worked on 3DS conversions of classics like Outrun and Space Harrier - said plainly that "there are no such plans." Not all hope was dashed however, as Okunari suggested the fan make their desires known to Sega West.

So the bad news is the Wii U Virtual Console shall be sorely lacking Sega favorites like Sonic The Hedgehog, Golden Axe, Altered Beast or - let's face it, everyone's favorite - Vectorman, at least for now. The good news is you can still play most games released for the original Wii's Virtual Console by going through the Wii U's emulation software by selecting the "Wii Menu" channel on the console's start menu. You'll have to use a Wii Remote or Classic controller to play the thing, and you won't have access to that game's Miiverse or off-TV options like you would if it were native to the Wii U Virtual Console, but technically you can still play.

So on the bright side, you're not actually missing out on access to some of these games, it's just time-consuming and inconvenient! Yay?
[Image: Sega]

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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FIFA 15 offers world's favorite game a virtual facelift

Image Even if you believe soccer consists solely of Uruguayans chomping nearby shoulders, this latest FIFA 15 trailer demonstrates that the game should render those ravenous attacks in gorgeous fashion. [Image: EA]... Continue Reading

Just Dance is now an eSport

The realm of eSports isn't confined to fighting games, competitive FPSes, and MOBAs anymore. Ubisoft's Just Dance series has joined the Electronic Sports World Cup as the organization's first casual game.

Just Dance competition finalists will be chosen during qualifying rounds taking place globally and online between June 24 and September 21. A group of 20 top players will then compete in a final round at Paris Games Week to determine the world's best money-maker-shaker. Awards will be announced soon.

Players who would rather cavort in the privacy of their own homes can submit entries for the Electronic Sports World Cup through Just Dance's World Dance Floor mode during qualifying sessions on July 13, July 20, July 27, August 3, August 31, September 7, September 14 and September 21.

[Image: Ubisoft]

UK court rules against Nintendo in patent infringement case

A UK court has found Nintendo's reasons for creating devices with both a camera and motion-sensing technology "unconvincing," and has ruled against the house that Mario built in a patent infringement case brought forward by electronics company Philips. The decision impacts the Wii and Wii U consoles, as both systems utilize such technology via Wii Remotes and the Wii U GamePad.

"The common general knowledge did not include a device combining a physical motion sensor with a camera and the reasons advanced by Nintendo for putting those two sensors together in one unit are unconvincing," judge Colin Birss wrote in his decision, possibly channeling his inner Ron Burgandy. What this means for fines and damages is currently uncertain, as Nintendo has said that it will appeal.

Philips filed against Nintendo in the US last month, seeking damages for Nintendo's "deliberate and willful" patent infringement, as well as a ban on the Wii family of products.
[Image: Nintendo]

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