Joystiq Weekly: New 3DS XL, The Talos Principle review, no more review scores 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.

This was a busy week, but our decision to drop numerical review scores is probably what will have the longest-lasting effect on Joystiq. While not everyone has expressed support of the decision, we immensely appreciate the effort and thought many have put into discussing the topic with us. We hope our transition into using "In Other Words" text summaries and the new Joystiq Excellence Award will be more effective at conveying our stances and better at helping you find games that you'd actually enjoy.

Even if you're indifferent about the discussion of reviews though, plenty happened this week beyond our shift in examining games. The New 3DS XL will reach us next month, Xbox One consoles slipped back to their $350 holiday price, The Talos Principle surprised us with its depth, and 3D After Burner 2 transcended the fabled "arcade-perfect" status of arcade ports. All those stories and more are waiting for you after the break!


  • We realize this is a recap of the week, but if we were to recap the noteworthy stories from this week's Nintendo Direct, this news section would get a little ridiculous. You can parse through the event's page to see what might interest you, or if you want a gist of what all went on, well; Some of us will pay $199 for the New 3DS XL next month, some of us are ready to spend $10 apiece on great Wii games in the Wii U eShop, and others are kissing their savings goodbye due to the reveal of another series of amiibo.

  • If you regret snoozing on those discounted Xbox One holiday bundles, you've hit a patch of luck. Microsoft announced a promotion this Friday that has pushed the price of new Xbox One consoles back to $349. We hope you like the Assassin's Creed series ...

  • Three monsters will await anyone that purchases Evolve, but those who preorder the game will get an extra monster in the form of Behemoth as a reward for their pre-emptive planning. It's a steep incentive for anyone looking for variety in their monster closet too – Behemoth will be priced as a $15 add-on when purchased on its own.

  • Want to get the rock band back together? If we're lucky, you'll have a decent reason to do so some day – Harmonix has sent out a survey quizzing Rock Band fans about what they'd like to see in a current-generation addition to the party-favorite rhythm game series that littered thousands of living rooms with plastic instruments.

  • Speaking of Rock Band, a new portion of DLC featuring Avenged Sevenfold, Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys hit the Rock Band Store this week! ... Huh.

  • Having the archive audio for your two-hour livestream muted because of the bangin' Taylor Swift tracks you've got in the background is just the peak joy in life, isn't it? It's not your fault that "Blank Space" is incessantly catchy, but now you can avoid having all that work go to waste by digging into Twitch's free-to-use music library.

  • This month's NPD report crowned the Xbox One as the United States retail king, with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare beating Grand Theft Auto 5 to the throne for software sales at retail.

  • Nintendo's venture into NFC-compatible toys seems to be going well – the amiibo line of figurines has moved "nearly twice" the amount of copies Nintendo has sold of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Of course, buying a dozen copies of Super Smash Bros. to line your shelves with probably doesn't have the same effect as gathering Nintendo's cast of collectibles.

  • Hotline Miami 2 has been refused classification in Australia, and while publisher Devolver Digital has expressed its disappointment with the ruling and contested a claim in the Australian Classification Board's report, that doesn't do much to allow Australian fans the chance to play developer Dennaton Games' violent followup. Developer Jonatan Söderström's encouragement for Australian fans to "just pirate it" if the game is never released in their country might help, though.

  • For those that have been patient enough for Grand Theft Auto 5's PC release, good news – Rockstar's pre-order incentives include a free game from a selection of its previous titles, with Max Payne 3, Bully and L.A. Noire among the options.

  • You might have strong opinions about Destiny, but regardless of their tone, publisher Activision has announced that Bungie's sci-fi, sorta-MMO was second "among all titles in the U.S." in 2014, based on revenue. We'd say "tough luck, so close," but Activision is the publisher of sales champion CoD: Advanced Warfare as well, the latest entry in the number-one selling gaming franchise in the US for the last six years. At least now we know who to contact for help with our bills, huh?


  • Senior Reporter Jess Conditt contemplated lots of physics and logic-based puzzles in The Talos Principle, but she also reflected on her personal view of the world and her robotic capabilities. Under the presence of an apparent god called Elohim, Jess found that The Talos Principle "peers deeply at people as an idea, including the players, and it tests their humanity and intelligence in a series of beautiful riddles and spatial-awareness tests."

Featured Content

  • In an effort to better convey our thoughts and more effectively serve our readers, Joystiq decided to drop numerical scores from its reviews this week. In the announcing editorial, Reviews Content Director Richard Mitchell explains what led us to this decision, why we added scores back into our review process in the first place, and what we believe reviewers and readers alike stand to benefit from saying goodbye to our review stars.

  • The visibility of minorities in the gaming industry can be problematic, as demonstrated by Senior Reporter Jess Conditt's gathering of several perspectives that give a sense of what it's like to seek representation of black voices in the gaming space.

  • It's tough to get a sense of how fun a board game is just from reading the back of the box, right? If you're at all interested in XCOM: The Board Game, Feature Content Director Xav De Matos has you covered - joined by Jeff Cannata and Christian Spicer, Xav demonstrates what it's like trying to manage the budget for the world's salvation in the latest edition of our video-supplemented Off The Grid board game series.

  • The speed and skill-focused Awesome Games Done Quick 2015 marathon wrapped up last weekend, pulling in more than $1.1 million in donations for the Prevent Caner Foundation. If you missed the action, no worries – Contributing Editor Danny Cowan compiled some of the most impressive feats from the entire event, including a one-handed bout of Vanquish and a blindfolded run of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D will look a little more crisp when it brings a terrible fate to the 3DS next month, but its updates extend beyond Termina's visuals. Editor-in-Chief Ludwig Kietzmann donned some masks at a recent press event, finding time travel and sidequests a bit easier to manage in this version.

  • Code Name S.T.E.A.M. is a turn-based strategy game featuring an elite force formed by Abraham Lincoln, and thanks to its compatibility with amiibo, it's also a prime option for Fire Emblem cameos. Ludwig enlisted the help of Ike, Marth, Robin and Lucina while curbing squads of an alien race, but even in President Lincoln's alternate dimension history lesson, permadeath plagues the Fire Emblem cast.

  • "Arcade-perfect" ports were the golden standard when developers were tasked with porting games onto less powerful home consoles, but Danny learned that M2's take on 3D After Burner 2 goes above and beyond what the game's cockpit cabinets managed to offer in 1987.

  • Yes, dropping review scores is a pretty significant change. If you'd still like to hear our reasoning beyond Richard's editorial, Community Manager Anthony John Agnello joined Jess, Richard and Ludwig on this week's Super Joystiq Podcast to dive back into the reviews conversation. There's also discussion of The Talos Principle, our new Excellence Award and the slew of Nintendo news that came from this week's Nintendo Direct.

[Image: Joystiq]