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Adventures of Pip is modern cute plus classic challenge

I'm calling it now: the Kickstarted Adventures of Pip from developer TicToc Games is going to win cutest game of 2015. I don't care that we're not even to the end of January; Pip is so cute that I want him in a kids' TV show. He's so heart-meltingly precious that I want plush figures and a breakfast cereal themed after him.

Pip is so gawl-darned lovable and sweet that it makes me deeply, deeply angry.

The game's charming aesthetic masks a sinister beast. For despite the playful bounce of our square-shaped hero and the bright colors that surround him, this is a world looking to commit straight-up pixelated murder.

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New Nintendo eShop releases: Half-price Punch-Out!!

You can grab a Little Mac takeaway right now, because Punch-Out!! is on the Wii U eShop with a $10 price tag. Like last week's Wii re-releases, the 2009 boxer is available at 50 percent off in its first week, but be warned: After 9AM PT/12PM ET on January 29 it goes up to $20.

That offer is part of Nintendo's Throwback Sale, which you can check out here along with the last week of the current Super Indie Collection Sale. Otherwise, you'll find the complete list of this week's new eShop releases by ducking and weaving below the break.

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Evo 2015 line-up announced, double helping of Smash

Super Smash Bros Wii U and Melee are two of the nine games already confirmed for this year's Evolution Championship Series. As revealed during last night's Twitch stream, the line-up for Las Vegas this July also includes returning games Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Ultra Street Fighter 4 and Killer Instinct, The remaining four games are new for this year, and they are Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, Guilty Gear Xrd Sign, Mortal Kombat X and Tekken 7.

Recent years have seen more games added closer to the event, though a roster of nine is already on the high end for an EVO championship. Whatever the full line-up proves to be, it's coming to the Bally's/Paris Las Vegas Casino, where the world's fighting game specialists will duke it out across July 17-19.

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Club Nintendo closing, 'new loyalty program' on the way

'Club Nintendo is dead, long live the new loyalty program,' is the message from Nintendo this morning, after the company announced it's closing its current rewards service. Users in the US and Canada have until the end March to earn Club Nintendo Coins and until the close of June to redeem them, signalling when the service will finally hang up its brown boots.

"We thank all Club Nintendo members for their dedication to Nintendo games and their ongoing love for our systems and characters," said Nintendo of America executive VP Scott Moffit in the company's press release. "We want to make this time of transition as easy as possible for our loyal Club Nintendo members, so we are going to add dozens of new rewards and downloadable games to help members clear out their Coin balances."

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Drive through this Project Cars trailer

Bandai Namco offered a new trailer for Project Cars today, the upcoming racing game from World of Speed and Need for Speed: Shift developer Slightly Mad Studios. In development for PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U, the game features both competitive and asynchronous online multiplayer as well as a "freeform career mode" in which players sign endorsements and complete historical challenges. It also supports Oculus Rift, the nVidia Shield and Sony's Project Morpheus on PC and PS4, respectively.

Project Cars was delayed in October to March 2015 following a number of changes to the game's destined platform choices. Its Wii U version was revealed in January 2012, then Project Cars' Xbox 360 and PS3 versions were scrapped in November 2013. The PC, PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game are confirmed to launch on March 17 in North America and March 20 in Europe and Australasian regions, with the Wii U game set to arrive sometime this year.
[Image: Bandai Namco]

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GTA 5 continues to hold off FIFA & CoD in this week's UK charts

And now for something completely similar: Right now you'd need a microscope to find the week-to-week changes in the UK charts. Nonetheless, it's interesting to see Grand Theft Auto 5 stay ahead of traditional front-runners FIFA and Call of Duty, especially since Rockstar's game is a re-release on current-gen. At this new release-less time of year, we'd normally be talking about a 28th consecutive No. 1 for FIFA [Insert Year Here].

The current top three are the same trio that sold the most in the UK last year, though FIFA 15 won out overall in 2014. Moreover, seven of this week's top ten are in the 2014 top ten, and most of those hit store shelves in the second half of the year.

Right, stop that UK charts analysis! It's silly. This week's full top ten can be found below the break, along with the customary music video that's a bit suspect.

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First 4 Figures teases a Wind Waker Ganondorf statue

First 4 Figures, makers of highly detailed - and highly priced - video game collectibles, has set its eyes on the Triforce of Power wielder, Ganondorf. Specifically, the villainous version which originally appeared in 2003's The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Though maybe you prefer the 2013 HD remaster?

The company released a small teaser image to whet fans' appetites via their Facebook page this week, and those so tempted to make the evil-doer a part of their collection will be able to pre-order the figure starting on January 20. The figure's price has yet to be revealed.
[Image: First 4 Figures]

Oddworld: New 'n Tasty on Steam next month; Vita, console ports still underway

Just Add Water, developer of Oddworld: New 'n Tasty, is getting ready to distribute the remaining ports for its revisit of the series' origins, and Steam users are next in line. A cloud save-compatible version of New 'n Tasty will be offered on PC, Mac and Linux via Steam on February 25 for $20 (£15, €20). A 10 percent discount will also be available for those that place pre-purchases, though further details and recommended specs will be shared at a later date.

The related press release also notes that PS3 and Xbox One arrivals will follow sometime in early March, and a note from the Oddworld Staff states that the above versions will feature post-launch improvements that have been made to the existing PS4 version, including "old school" control settings.

Series creator Lorne Lanning assured fans the remaining ports were being "adamantly worked on" about two months ago. At that time, Lanning also spoke of problematic limitations concerning the Wii U hardware, but the post from Oddworld Staff explains that work "continues on the Wii U and PlayStation Vita versions," adding that "recent progress is encouraging."

If you're wondering whether all this waiting and extra development time is really worth it for a remake, consider Sam Prell's review of the PS4 version: "This HD remake is more than a simple reskin of nostalgia, and offers a compelling adventure with contemporary design that will satisfy most anyone's puzzle-platformer appetite."
[Image: Just Add Water]

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Rock Band survey hints at modern console sequel

Following the recent release of the series' first new DLC in nearly two years, it appears that Harmonix might be gearing up for a new entry in its Rock Band series, if an online survey is anything to go by.

"Hello friends! You should fill out this important Rock Band survey," reads a tweet from the official Rock Band Twitter account. "Sharing the link is encouraged. DO IT NOW!" The link attached to that message leads to a three-page survey regarding your history with the Rock Band series to date. It's pretty typical stuff - What Rock Band game did you play most?, Which console do you use to play Rock Band?, etc. - but the third page is where things get interesting.

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Nintendo Direct Japan: New Rhythm Heaven, Style Savvy games announced

Nintendo fans in Japan saw a slightly different Nintendo Direct presentation earlier this week than their compatriots in North America and Europe, as the company revealed a handful of upcoming Japanese games that are unlikely to see release elsewhere in the world.

First up is a 3DS Rhythm Heaven compilation that collects a large number of music-driven minigames featured in previous series entries. The collection will feature 30 new minigames in addition to 70 graphically updated stages previously seen in Rhythm Heaven, Rhythm Heaven Fever, and the Japan-only Game Boy Advance series debut Rhythm Tengoku.

A new Style Savvy sequel is also in the works, following up on predecessor games released stateside on the DS and 3DS. Girls Mode 3, as it's called in Japan, will offer fashion-focused gameplay that challenges players to manage their own boutique and create ensemble outfits for picky customers.

Other games featured exclusively in Japan's Nintendo Direct presentation include the HAL Labs-developed 3DS puzzle-platformer Hako Boy (Box Boy), 3DS RPG The Legend of Legacy, cross-platform online mahjong sim Yakuman Houou, and Rodea: The Sky Soldier, a 3DS and Wii U aerial action game created by Yuji Naka's studio Prope.

Games omitted from the North American and European Nintendo Direct presentations are not currently scheduled for release in either region.

[Video: Nintendo / NintenDaan]

Nintendo: Amiibo sales outpace Smash Bros. Wii U

Mario Kart 8 sold 1.7 million copies in 2014 both digitally and at retail in the United States according to the NPD Group, Nintendo revealed in a press release. The publisher also noted that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U sold 1.3 million copies during the year, though sales of the company's amiibo figurines were "nearly twice" that of Nintendo's Mario brawler on Wii U. Nintendo said that total hardware and software sales increased "by more than 29 percent and more than 75 percent, respectively, over sales in 2013." As of December, the publisher said that amiibo sales were "approximately equal" to that of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

On the handheld side of Nintendo's lineup, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS eclipsed 2 million copies sold since the game launched this past fall. Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby also combined to sell 2.6 million copies in the remastered games' first six weeks. Nintendo recently offered a worldwide launch date for the company's new 3DS system during this week's Nintendo Direct presentation; the C-Stick-sporting console will arrive on February 13 for $200. The improved console will be accompanied by The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate along with each game's respective special edition 3DS systems.

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Guacamelee, Runner, Teslagrad and more join Nintendo eShop sale

Nintendo's Super Indie Connection Sale #2 is so on. Own or buy any participating 3DS or Wii U game and get all other games in the sale for 60 percent off. Games included in the sale are Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition ($6), Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien ($6), Swords & Soldiers ($1.20), SteamWorld Dig ($4), Chasing Aurora ($4.80) and Teslagrad ($6).

The Super Indie Connection Sale #2 is live now through January 29.
[Image: Nintendo]

December NPD: Xbox One leads consoles in December, hardware sales surge in 2014

Video game hardware sales saw a significant uptick last year in comparison to 2013, but software sales at retail continue to chart a decline, the NPD Group's latest report states.

Hardware sales saw a slight drop to $1.31 billion in December compared to the $1.37 billion earned during the same period last year. Annual hardware sales for 2014 peaked at $5.07 billion, however, representing a 20 percent increase over the $4.24 billion reported in 2013.

Software sales at retail channels totaled $5.30 billion in 2014, dropping 13 percent compared to 2013's reported $6.11 billion.

Though console-specific sales numbers are not available, Microsoft notes that the Xbox One emerged as 2014's "best-selling console in the U.S. in November and December."

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New Nintendo eShop releases: Get ready, it's 3D After Burner 2

Rrrrrrrr... Vroooooooooooom! Whooooooooom! Fire! Boom! Fire! Boom! Whooooooooooom! Thwoooooooosh! Fire! Boom! Beep beep beep! Be careful! Wooooooooooooooosh! BOOM!

Fine... we'll put down our arm-wings and stop running around the room, but only to tell you 3D After Burner 2 is out on the eShop today. The latest in Sega's 3D-enhanced Classics range includes 23 stages, new difficulty settings, visual additions like smoke transparency, and multiple arcade cabinet styles.

Also, there's a new "special mode" that's unlocked after you beat the game. In it, shooting down planes builds up a meter that, when full, lets you slow down time to avoid attacks and take down foes with ease. So it's a bit like the Climax Gauge in After Burner Climax, or Neo in The Matrix. Whichever you prefer.

Alright, that's too much time not playing Human After Burner. Don't worry, we've included the full list of new eShop releases below the break and you'll find all the new eSales here.

Get ready! Whoooooooooooooooooosh!

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Nintendo Direct wrap-up: New 3DS on Feb. 13 and more

Today's Nintendo Direct dropped some huge news for both the Wii U and the upcoming New 3DS. The biggest announcement is that the New 3DS, which features a second analog stick, faster processor, amiibo support and a number of other improvements, will arrive in North America on February 13. The basic bundle, available in red or black, will retail for $199. Nintendo also revealed special Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate Edition and Majora's Mask bundles, the latter of which is apparently already sold out at GameStop. Friendly reminder, these bundles do not include an AC adapter, presumably with the expectation that early adopters will be upgrading from the current 3DS models.

In other big news, Wii games are coming to the Wii U eShop starting today with Super Mario Galaxy 2. Each game will be available for half price ($10) during its first week of availability. To put that another way, you can snag Metroid Prime Trilogy on January 29 for the ridiculously low price of $10.

Find a breakdown of all the Nintendo Direct news, as well as a heaping helping of trailers, after the break.

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