Joystiq Weekly: Amazon Fire TV, Reaper of Souls review, Mario Kart 8 video preview and more

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Joystiq Weekly: Amazon Fire TV, Reaper of Souls review, Mario Kart 8 video preview and more
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.

With this week's announcement and release of the gaming-capable Amazon Fire TV, we're starting to think we'll need a spreadhseet to keep track of all the gaming platforms that aren't from Sony, Nintendo or Microsoft. Want to check Instagram after a round of Super Hexagon on your TV? Okay, there's Mad Catz's MOJO for that. Want something a little beefier that you can take on the go? Alright, Nvidia's Shield might be your thing.

Spreadsheets are boring though - maybe a mock Pokedex would work better? Come on, it'd be fun! We could assign attributes, treat future improvements as evolutions and pit them against each other in battles! There could a category for dual-type devices like the Ouya, a console that's both its own thing and associated with a storefront on other platforms. We'd even have ghost-type entries, for efforts that have returned from the grave.

We'll let this idea stew for a bit longer, but you can read this week's bulletpoints of news, previews and original content right now! Amy Hennig is now serving as creative director of a Star Wars game, Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls has been properly reviewed and we've got glimpses of Mario Kart 8 and Soma to share, too. It's all waiting for you with more stories after the break!


  • Amazon joined the fight for our living rooms this week with the Amazon Fire TV, an Android-based, multimedia streaming box with 2 GB of RAM and a dedicated GPU for $99. Fire TV includes a remote, but a $40 gamepad is also available to support the device's gaming capabilities, which will include Minecraft, Telltale's The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, and efforts from You Don't Know Jack developer Jackbox Games. There's also Amazon's recent acquisition of Double Helix to consider, as well as Kim Swift and Clint Hocking's joining of Amazon Games Studios.
  • Microsoft Studios' former VP, Phil Spencer, is now the head of Microsoft's Xbox division, a role that involves leading the Xbox, Xbox Live, Xbox Music and Xbox Video efforts. Spencer spoke with us about his new title, explaining that he's approaching the platform "with a gaming focus," a view that he hopes will help fans understand that "Xbox is a gaming brand."
  • Amy Hennig, writer and creative director of the Uncharted trilogy, has been appointed as the creative director for Visceral Games' Star Wars-related project. Visceral VP Steve Papoutsis commented on Hennig joining the team, explaining that what "really excited her about this opportunity" was the chance to work with the Star Wars license, given that she's a big fan of its universe.
  • Capcom has adjusted its profit forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, predicting to pull in ¥3.3 billion ($32 million) in comparison to its initial forecast of ¥6.8 billion ($65 million). The company cited restructuring costs and below-expectation performances of products, including the mobile-oriented Monster Hunter Frontier G, as central influences to the readjustment. A focus on developing better games for less money was shared with the new forecast.
  • Part of Capcom's plans to turn a profit appear to involve releasing projects they announced a while ago, judging by the incoming addition of Mega Man's Game Boy and Game Boy Color games on the 3DS Virtual Console. Fans can vote for the title they want to appear first out of Mega Man 2-5 and Mega Man Xtreme 1-2, with the winner reaching the 3DS eShop on May 1.
  • In a recent interview, Square Enix President Yosuke Matsuda discussed the company's development practices, including a potential shift back to developing for core players instead of building with a global audience in mind. Matsuda listed Hitman: Absolution as a project that failed to resonate with audiences due to its development focusing on a global audience. In contrast, Bravely Default's success has spurred talks to develop future projects as "heavy JRPGs," though Matsuda admitted that may be a bit extreme.
  • We've survived another year's April Fools, a day where almost every article on genuine news is preceded by double or triple-verifying announcements with swamped PR personnel. This year's standout efforts include Google's simulation of the catch-em-all Pokemon experience, which sent users on a real-life hunt for pocket monsters via Google Maps. There was also Sony's attempt to power more than just humans with food, as well as an unfortunate misfire from the Frostbite Engine's Twitter account.

  • There's always a new baddie to furiously click toward, a truth that Feature Content Director Xav De Matos explored in our Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls review. The new expansion leads adventurers to Malthael, who endangers all living things in his efforts to absorb the world's demonic essences. Between a more generous Loot 2.0 system, Adventure Mode's bite-sized quests, the new Crusader class and the gambling nature of upgrading items via the Mystic, Xav remarked that Reaper of Souls "doesn't reinvent the wheel in the dungeon crawling genre - it reinvents Diablo 3 itself."
  • You don't have anything against goats, do you? Then why would you leave them to deal with the wealth of traps in Goat Escape 2? Weekend Editor Sam Prell took on the heroic task of guiding a goat through a sprawling tower of deathtraps, breezing through Goat Escape 2's central campaign before finding welcome complexity in its optional stages. While it's possible to over-think solutions, Sam noted that once a revelation strikes, "you feel smart and worthy of having earned your goatly freedom."
  • Strategy games have a dangerous knack for drawing hours of your life without it feeling like more than 30 minutes, a talent Contributing Editor Earnest Cavalli experienced firsthand while spending time with Age of Wonders 3. Abilities unique to unit types added complexity to a rock-paper-scissors format that Earnest appreciated. Outside of the campaign's offerings, Earnest thought the game's randomly-generated maps manage to avoid feeling like fragmented experiences. Earnest's time with Age of Wonders 3 revealed a "deep experience backed by intricate mechanics and a concerted polish that makes gameplay immediately intuitive and rewarding."
Original Content

  • We won't be able to start infuriating Mario Kart 8 rivals with triumphant comebacks until May 30, but our video preview covers new tracks and items to help make the wait more tolerable. Reviews Content Director Richard Mitchell and Editor-In-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann discuss the series' long-running appeal and Mario Kart 8's blatant disregard for natural gravity.
  • Amnesia series developer Frictional Games has helped us associate fear with exploration for a while, a connection they certainly aren't neglecting in the upcoming Soma for PC and PS4. Richard chats with Frictional's Ian Thomas to see how the studio's vision for Soma compares to their previous efforts in our video interview from GDC.
  • A quick glance at Ubisoft's Child of Light will likely focus on its visuals, but Contributing Editor Sinan Kubba spent some time with the RPG to see what's beyond that first impression. Sinan describes Child of Light as a game with many layers, from its fondness for rhymes to a combat system that's comparable to Grandia 2.
  • It's easy to feel a bit overwhelmed when diving into an MMO. If that's the case for you with The Elder Scrolls Online, let our latest 'Stiq Tips serve as the pair of floaties keeping your head above water. Our starting guide begins with advice for picking a character class and offers strategy reaching near the level 50 point of play.
  • The relatively-smooth launch month for Titanfall's servers continues in its third week, as noted by our most recent State of Service update. With no major issues to report and Respawn Entertainment's impending plans to balance out the game's matchmaking, fans should be clear to call down Titans on each other for the foreseeable future.
  • With all this news and preview material, there's plenty to talk about on this week's Super Joystiq Podcast. Ludwig and Richard are joined by Managing Editor Susan Arendt and Contributing Editor Mike Suszek as they chat about the Amazon Fire TV, Mario Kart 8, MLB 14: The Show and the looming PAX East, which kicks off on April 11.
[Image: The Pokemon Company, Amazon]
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