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.
Did you see that the Koopalings are going to be new
characters targets in Mario Kart 8? The Koopalings, the brats responsible for loads of deaths dealt to Mario and Luigi with lava, twirling hoops and rings of death from magic wands? Yup, we've got new rivals. You're annoying, Baby Mario, but you haven't stopped us from moving on to the next world of a Mario game before. Watch your back, Koopalings.
There's something about family-friendly, inclusive Nintendo games that bring our most competitive spirit. Have you ever calmly congratulated a friend after their star thievery earned them the title of Party Champion in Mario Party 2? Have you nodded in admiration of your opponent's strategy in Mario Kart Wii, right after they steal your victory with a red shell a few feet away from the finish line? We have a feeling your dialogue might have been more ... "spirited" than civil. We're not judging though - heck, we just threatened a bunch of baby turtles one graf above this!
Of course, a lot more happened this week beyond the Koopalings opening themselves up for a world of hurt. This week brought NPD data for January, a review of The Last of Us' "Left Behind" DLC and video previews for Titanfall and Evolve! There's lots more beyond that after the break though, so jump the break and dive into the biggest stories of the week!
Another month, another Spin Contest between Microsoft and Sony. The PS4 is leading overall hardware sales in NPD data, but Microsoft points out that the Xbox 360 and Xbox One collectively led US game sales in January. Usual suspects Call of Duty: Ghosts and Grand Theft Auto 5 help populate the top-10 selling games of the month, with the definitive version of Lara Croft's reboot joining the party.
This week's Nintendo Direct revealed Punch-Out!! champion Little Mac's first bout in the Super Smash Bros. ring, with Bowser bringing the Koopalings to Mario Kart 8. NES Remix is also getting an encore in April with NES Remix 2, which will feature challenges from Super Mario Bros. 3, Kirby's Adventure and more. Lastly, Nintendo showed its first free-to-play efforts in Rusty's Real Deal Baseball, in which players can haggle for deals with real-life money, and Steel Diver: Sub Wars, which is currently on the eShop.
Lots of people would happily help Respawn Entertainment test its Titanfall beta, but for most of this week, that privilege was reserved for those with beta codes. Not anymore, though! Major Nelson announced an opening of the Xbox One beta's flood gates last night, with the PC beta to follow suit soon after. Go forth! Stomp around in death machines to your heart's content!
Jealous that Europe is getting the slimmer Vita 2000 model on February 2? Cheer up - the Vita 2000 is also due to reach the US this spring, and it will be bundled with an 8GB memory card and Borderlands 2 for $200. Six pieces of DLC will be included with the Vita version, which means you'll have plenty of sources for experience points on the go!
If you haven't already changed your Kickstarter password, you should probably get on that - the project-funding service had a security breach on Wednesday, resulting in hacked accounts. Kickstarter claims that no credit card data was accessed, but especially if you use your Kickstarter password elsewhere, do yourself a solid and update your account(s).
Feature Content Director Xav De Matos braved "Left Behind," the first and only narrative DLC for The Last Of Us. While those wary of spoilers for the base game may want to finish their campaign before reading, Xav found that Ellie and her friend Riley's relationship "represent everything the world of The Last Of Us lacks: hope, faith, compassion, fun."
All things must come to an end, and in the case of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13, that includes the world. Managing Editor Susan Arendt guided Lightning through her final challenge in the Final Fantasy 13 trilogy: a mission from the God of Light to save as many souls as possible during the world's final days. Despite taking some getting used to, Susan found the combat "immensely satisfying" and praised Lightning Returns for "sticking to what really matters."
Contributing Editor Danny Cowan fought off waves of enemies in the chaotic TxK, a cylindrical shooter on the Vita that recalls Tempest 2000. Despite feeling that TxK was a little too safe creatively, Danny found it to be "challenging and thrilling throughout," especially for anyone that missed out on Tempest 2000.
In recent years, the indie scene has increasingly found success in the console and mobile space. Senior Reporter Jess Conditt takes a step back to look at how far indie developers have progressed from 2008, as well as risks posed by saturation and severe sales. Jess' piece includes perspectives from Braid creator Jonathan Blow, Retro City Rampage creator Brian Provinciano and Threes co-creator Greg Wohlwend.
During a conversation at DICE, Susan Arendt spoke with Austin Wintory about his process for scoring The Banner Saga. Complimenting scenes without the music feeling heavy-handed with its conveyance was a focus right up to the battle music itself, which Wintory noted was initially a "big question mark" for him.
Tired of watching monster films instead of personally getting in on the hunt for beasts? Well, Turtle Rock Studios' Evolve has a solution of sorts, provided you've got a friend willing to be the prey. In our video preview, EIC Ludwig Kietzmann and Xav De Matos explore what sets the 4 vs. 1 first-person shooter apart.
If any incoming game has a whirlwind of hype enveloping it, it's Titanfall. Respawn Entertainment's team-based, robot-accompanied firefights have generated lots of buzz, and Ludwig Kietzmann and Xav De Matos discussed what keeps it from being just another online shooter in our video preview.
Roguelikes - games that randomly generate levels and reward valiant efforts with permanent deaths - are pretty common nowadays, but Jess Conditt took some time to preview Dungeon of the Endless' alpha build in a recent Tiny Stream. After running through game mechanics, Jess ventures through dreary corridors in space and learns to keep Pequeno away from the food supply.