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Joystiq Weekly: The Cryptarch grows a heart, Alien: Isolation review, N64 turns 18 and more

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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.
Between the Nintendo 64's birthday and the Pokemon TCG iPad app reminding us that our childhood card games no longer have to be played with expensive, holographic pieces of paper, we're teetering toward a slight meltdown. When did we swap out our trapper keepers for a stack of bills? Why did we have to give up Saturday morning cartoons, again? What do you mean there's more to save up for in life beyond booster packs and video games?

Sorry, we'll do our best to get a grip. This week brought more than a halting reminder of time's unstoppable march, though! Bungie tweaked a few loot-related settings in Destiny, we reviewed Alien: Isolation, Skylanders Trap Team and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and we explored the weirdest stages of the N64's now-adult life. Those stories and more are waiting for you after the break!


News
  • To all Guardians feeling burned out over loot problems, there's hope for being spared from further crushing disappointment! Now that Bungie has applied another patch to Destiny, you should fare a little better when presenting Legendary engrams to the Cryptarch.
  • You'll probably need to recalculate your strategies once Hearthstone's impending, full-fledged expansion hits: More than 100 new cards are due to shuffle into the card battler in waves.
  • This week we learned that, like the recently-explained absence of Popo and Nana, two-in-one characters were dropped from the latest Super Smash Bros. due to technical limitations with the 3DS version.
  • You don't have to hunt for Destiny's public events if you don't want to – there's now a handy website that offers locations and countdowns for each spectacle.
  • The Pokemon Company now has an official app on iPad, which is a decent chance to recall your childhood memories with the Pokemon Trading Card Game. Sure, there are a bunch of new Pokemon you may not recognize, but at least getting with the times starts with a free download!
  • October is crammed full of new releases, but upcoming offerings from PlayStation Plus offer a fair selection if you'd rather stick to a budget. You might have already played Dust: An Elysian Tail and Batman: Arkham Asylum, but have you touched that free version of Driveclub yet?
  • PlayStation Plus' monthly portions of games are great, but the price of admission is set to rise in several regions, including South Africa, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and India.
  • You're always free to graze outside of PlayStation Plus' fields of course, and if you jump through the right hoops, you'll earn $15 in PlayStation Store credit while you're at it.
  • Turns out, stealing software from the US Army (along with Microsoft, Epic Games, Valve and Zombie Studios) isn't a smart move. Four members of an international hacking ring have been charged with stealing up to $200 million in intellectual property form the involved parties, with data relating to the Xbox One, Xbox Live, Gears of War 3, pre-release games and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
  • Ian Milham, creative director at Battlefield: Hardline developer Visceral Games, explained his confidence that Hardline's cops-and-robbers shooting frenzy will work at launch. Rocky beginnings for online-intensive games aren't completely unheard of, but Milham's reassurance is likely needed by series fans after Battlefield 4's disastrous launch.
  • Ever finished a round of Tetris and thought "Man, this would make a coherent, sensible movie"? Well, someone at Threshold Entertainment must have, because the studio is envisioning a "sci-fi epic" in its handling of the iconic puzzler's cinematic adaptation. Yup. This is really happening.
  • Over the coming months, updates will address what are arguably The Sims 4's most noticeable shortcomings: ghostly haunts and a general lack of death by swimming pool. Both additions, as well as Star Wars-themed costumes, will be free to anyone that logs onto Origin.
  • Anyone getting a little tired of their Vita's wallpaper should look into the themes added by update 3.30, which are priced from $1 to $3. Themes will supply makeovers for your Home and Start screens, as well as a new style for your icons and fresh background music. 3DS owners, there's probably hope on the way, given the update due in Japan this month.

Reviews
  • Alien: Isolation is a different kind of scary than what series fans endured last year: Editor-in-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann stuck to Isolation's shadows, crawling through death traps crafted with "fanatical adherence to the original film, right down to the lo-fi CRT screens." Problems arise beyond the whole Xenomorph thing though, with AI inconsistencies and Isolation's tendency to go "on and on and on to the point of exhaustion and maximum contrivance" hindering a perfect escape.
  • Contributing Editor Danny Cowan fired up his Portal of Power once more for Skylanders Trap Team, praising the trap-and-swap nature of controlling enemies as an element that "makes combat more eventful and strategic than before." While Danny adds that Trap Team "offers a fun journey at its core," he notes a nagging annoyance of having exploration tied to additional toy-based purchases.
  • Reviews Content Director Richard Mitchell loved his time with The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, a first-person puzzler with a splash of murder mysteries, but he doesn't want to "spoil a single second of the stuff that really shines." While there are tiny, example-sized spoilers in Richard's review, he seems most enamored with discoverable vignettes, moments when Ethan Carter "transcends being 'good' and becomes something that borders on magical."

Feature Content
  • Now that the Nintendo 64 is 18 years old, we wouldn't be so shocked if it tried out a few experimental phases. The thing is, the N64 made its crazy decisions well before it hit pre-teen status, and we decided to reminisce about its craziest times in celebration of its new-found adult status.
  • Many a fighting game fan can appreciate an intricately-detailed background, but what about those that study more traditional mediums? Community Manager Anthony John Agnello presented locales from classic fighters to artists established in educational facilities, gathering insight from those focused more on a scene's details than the mind-melting combos on display in the foreground.
  • Aside from color-coded engram woes, Joystiq's band of Guardians had little to complain about during Destiny's third week of service. Bungie has worked to minimize instances of previously-known errors and had a talk with the Cryptarch that should help his patrons leave a little happier.
  • Oddly enough, surviving a lengthy shared living experience with a Xenomorph inspires some thoughts on the whole experience! On this week's Super Joystiq Podcast, Ludwig decompresses with fellow survivor Anthony, while Richard and Feature Content Director Xav De Matos take notes on all the reasons they should never go to space. Once the awfulness of alien life is established, the group also talk The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Desert Golfing and the Oculus Rift.
[Image: Nintendo]

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