Welcome to Joystiq Weekly, a "too long; didn't read" of each week's biggest stories, reviews and original content. Each category's top story is introduced with a reactionary gif, because moving pictures aren't just for The Daily Prophet.
If machinery works the way The Brave Little Toaster suggests, you gotta feel for the Kinect - the solid experiences it supplements are often drowned in complaints about its underwhelming games, as well as its general inaccuracies as a listening, motion-tracking controller. We imagine Microsoft reassured the device about its playground reputation by including it with every Xbox One out there, but then ... well, this week happened. Kinect might be destined to just stay at home now, waiting for a band of appliance-shaped adventures to accept his flaws so it can tag along with for their straight-to-Blu Ray sequel.

Hey, on the upside, at least that terrifying air conditioner died off before Kinect was ever able to meet him. Can you imagine being left alone in a house with that thing as a kid? Talk about new legitimate fears.

Anyway, now that we're done painting a bleak picture of Kinect's secret social life, there's a lot more to this week than technological popularity contests. It's financial season, with Ubisoft, Take-Two and the NPD Group throwing numbers everywhere, we've got reviews for Mario Kart 8 and Super Time Force, and there's also a dip into Godzilla's past of ruining virtual metropolises. It's all stacked neat and orderly for you after the break!

News
  • Remember how the Xbox One was going to feature Internet check-ins and require a connected Kinect, with one of the motion-and-voice-sensing peripherals packed into every box? Now that Microsoft has announced plans to offer a Kinect-less Xbox One for $400 on June 9, the past is certainly getting harder to recall. The Xbox Live Gold landscape is changing too, with Microsoft planning to drop the Gold subscription requirement for streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu.
  • Of course, options are great for consumers, but when you're building a game to support a peripheral that once had a 1:1 pack-in ratio - like, say, developer Harmonix with Fantasia: Music Evolved - learning that plans are changing can't exactly be a great time. Initial reactions from Harmonix team members were followed with an official press release that recommitted the studio to "building innovative, compelling and well-designed motion experiences."
  • 343 Industries will take another swing at the Halo series with Halo 5: Guardians, due for the Xbox One in the fall of 2015. We've got little more than a logo and some concept art to stare at for now, but at least it's something we can definitively anticipate, unlike the yet-to-be-confirmed Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One, which supposedly bundles Master Chief's first four outings into a single offering.
  • The NPD reports April as the PS4's fourth consecutive month at the top of the sales charts, with 115,000 more copies of Titanfall leading the way in software sales. Call of Duty: Ghosts, NBA 2K14, Minecraft and LEGO The Hobbit round out April's top five highest-selling games, but overall, software sales were down 10 percent from last year.
  • If you've been wondering what the deal is with Watch Dogs' resolution and frame rate count, which was initially listed as 1080p and 60 fps on a website before the stats were taken down, here's the official word: On PS4, you can run around Ubisoft's version of Chicago at 900p. On Xbox One, you can scour through personal data at 792p. Whichever console you buy for, protagonist Aiden Pierce will move at 30 fps. Now that that's sorted, you can decide whether you're buying a copy for most modern consoles on May 27, or if you'll wait out the Wii U version, due sometime this fall.
  • Online components of games don't live forever, and that unfortunate truth is about to dawn on 50 of EA's past games, including Battlefield 2142, Star Wars: Battlefront and Battlefield 2. EA cites technical challenges as the obstacle for most titles and is looking into community-supported options for the games still serving sizable audiences, but the publisher has nothing to announce at this time.
  • There's been plenty of time to play through Killzone: Shadow Fall's offerings since it launched last year, but developer Guerrilla Games is still working on content, including a newly-announced, four-player online co-op mode called Intercept. Though it will be a "standalone version" released later this year, it will be free to those who purchased a season pass for the game. Intercept will offer four combat roles: The long range-oriented Marksman, the defense-savvy Tactician, the self-explained Medic and the close quarter Assault style.
  • Take-Two is definitely doing okay for itself, reporting a net revenue of $2.35 billion for fiscal 2014, which ends March 31. That's a 94-percent rise in comparison to its $1.21 billion net revenue in 2013. Grand Theft Auto 5 was a clear contributor, moving 33 million copies and earning an extra shoutout from Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick for Grand Theft Auto Online being the "single largest contributor" to the publisher's digital revenue growth.
  • Take-Two might need to invest in that Scrooge McDuck vault soon, but Ubisoft's fiscal year wasn't quite as lucrative. The publisher revealed a $68 million loss for the year, which is worse when compared to last year's $95 million profit. Ubisoft related the dip to operating costs, business acquisitions and sales of Gameloft shares, but sales figures for its bigger titles are certainly promising - last year's Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag sold 11 million copies, with Far Cry 3 giving 9 million sets of tattoo powers to its tourists. Ubisoft's digital figures have also increased by 32 percent from last year, resulting in $226.6 million in sales.
  • In case you were worried about the million-selling series' future, Ubisoft's financial report announced Far Cry 4, due on November 18, 2014 for Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4 and PC. This year's installment will tour the Himalayas, and its reveal was accompanied by images of a vividly-dressed blond man, perched on a decapitated statue and flanked by weaponry. So y'know, he seems nice, probably well-mannered.

Reviews
  • Clementine has proven her survival capabilities long ago, but "Guts," the third episode of the second season for Telltale's The Walking Dead, raises a different question: "security or freedom?" Senior Reporter Jess Conditt juggled the choice as the pieces of "Guts" fell into place, feeling saddled with the duty in protecting Sarah and dealing with the rest of the cast. After persevering through the obligatory cliffhanger, Jess muses that while it's "clear that Clementine can handle whatever is thrown at her, it's harder to say if the rest of us can."
  • Mario's reckless disregard for traffic laws pairs with a newly-acquired "Screw you!" to gravity in Mario Kart 8, twisting together to form the Wii U's new kart racer. Weekend Editor Thomas Schulenberg drifted through the new set of tracks in our video review, finding the perspective-shifting drives to still feel "incredibly slick after dozens of laps." Aside from a botched battle mode that feels like sort-of rounds of jousting, Thomas described MK8 as a "solid extra lap on a series with a great foundation."
  • FMV-heavy games aren't exactly common anymore, but Weekend Editor Sam Prell assures us that Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure's vintage mechanic is "retro and a bit dorky, but it's also fun to see real people surrounded by CG environments that are not at all convincing." Aside from an uneven distribution of dialog-driven detective work and block-sliding puzzles, Sam reminds us that "the most beloved adventure games in history are those with strong charisma. Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure has it."
  • Time travel gets complicated on its own, but when you start cloning people and having them fight alongside their seconds-into-the-future counterparts, and then hang a one-minute timer above everything, you start to grasp Super Time Force's complexity. Community Manager Anthony John Agnello played time wizard in Capybara Games' hectic side scrolling shooter, bettering society by traveling to destroy the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs and fighting off mer-dudes to keep Atlantis from sinking. Despite great personality, Anthony found the sprints in Time Force's pace to be "overwhelmingly frustrating," adding that there's "often just too much happening too quickly, and it can feel impossible to keep up."


Featured Content
  • Sometimes licensed games are kinda garbage, but fans don't have to just live with that. Larry Ellis certainly isn't - he's spending much of his free time adding content and generally upgrading Jurassic Park: Trespasser, a 1998 release that didn't fare well with critics or fans. Though the project started as a spiritual sequel on the Nintendo DS, Ellis is now building a full remake of Trespasser for the PC.
  • Crowdsourced games saw a bit of a revitalization in the April edition of Crowdfund Bookie, pulling in $1,920,268 across 35 games. Contributing Editor Mike Suszek also crunched data for the spending average per backer, finding a noticeable reduction in this month's $38.01 average in comparison to September's $54.35.
  • Apocalypses don't have to be a total drag, and Insomniac Games' Sunset Overdrive would like to prove that with its vibrant palette and ridiculous weaponry. Feature Content Director Xav De Matos and Editor-In-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann discussed the game's eccentric methods of survival in our video preview, drawing comparisons to Jet Grind Radio and the Ratchet and Clank series' inspired arsenal.
  • As you've seen with Microsoft's plans to drop the Gold subscription requirement for Netflix and Hulu, times are a-changin' in the realm of neon green-branded gaming. Free-to-play and MMO games are a different story, though - Xbox head Phil Spencer reaffirmed the current policy of requiring Gold to play either genre, citing "engineering constraints, policy constraints and partner constraints" for some games that stand in the way of Gold-less play.
  • Our real-life infrastructure is safe from towering monsters (for now), but video game urbanites have had their fair share of being treated like a field of fluffy white dandelions, just begging to be trampled. We dug up some totally-legitimate files on Godzilla's virtual campaigns of destruction, revisiting the beast's retro appearances and also exploring the efforts of city council members to stop the rampages forever.
  • So, let's get this sorted - the Xbox One doesn't have to ship with a Kinect anymore, Far Cry 4 will terrorize the Himalayas later this year, and Nintendo's being Nintendo about the whole E3 thing? Yeah, we've got stuff to say about all that. Managing Editor Susan Arendt and News Content Director Alexander Sliwinski join Anthony and Jess around the Super Joystiq Podcast water cooler this week, revisiting Far Cry 3 (and Jess' undying love for sharks) before delving into this week's topics.
[Image: Microsoft]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.