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In a Nintendo Direct Mini presentation yesterday, Nintendo announced the follow up to their popular DSi software program Flipnote Studio, again. Yes, Nintendo announced Flipnote Studio 3D two years ago, but since then we've heard nothing. Now Satoru Iwata has announced that the title will be available in Japan this summer, and presumably elsewhere in the world shortly after.

The program itself is free to download, but access to the online Flipnote Gallery World, where you can share your works with other users, will incur a small subscription fee. However, this service comes with a 30-day free trial period. Check out the video for the full details on all of the new features.

We know Yarn Yoshi is on it's way to the Wii U eventually, so it's more prevalent than ever to take a look back at some of the series roots. Yoshi's Island is often considered a rather iconic game for the other "green" hero who's name doesn't start with an L. Nintendo 3DS Daily is doing an in-depth analysis of the entire game, starting with part one of a long series. Here's an excerpt:

Whether this intro scene was a holdover from the “prerendered graphics controversy” or whether it was always intended to look distinct from the rest of the game, it certainly stands out. While it looks radically different, it carries a storybook feel, which fits the rest of the game’s style nicely. The intro is actually rather dark and subdued, depicting a “dusky, pre-dawn sky,” Yoshi walking through a dark jungle, and Kamek in his castle before finally showing some broad daylight. The music-box-inspired tune is simple and emotional, and hilariously comes to a halt early and needs to be rewound.

The title screen is truly a memorable one: a rotating view of the bright, colorful inviting island. Even as the game shows off its graphical muscles (in a friendly, incidental way, not like an intimidating bully), the standout here is the music. Initially, we hear only the sounds of waves crashing onto the beach. The music slowly and quietly makes itself heard, a gentle, relaxing piece lazily drifting through your ears.
There is just a lot of great stuff in this. To think, it's only the beginning! What are some of your fondest memories of Yoshi's Island?

The Pikachu Themed 3DS XL is making it's what to the states according to a PR email. It releases the same day as Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity, March 24th. It will cost the standard XL price of $199 and come packaged with a 4gb SD card. I am actually a bit sad it wasn't a packaged deal, including Mystery Dungeon which would assuredly increase sales immensely. Fire Emblem was packaged with a themed 3DS, but it could be they are waiting for Pokémon X and Y before doing such a bundle. It's neat looking, but it's just not enticing enough to make it become my 3DS console purchase this year (yup, I need a new one).

I don't think anyone truly thought EA was being honest with consumers when they stated that only a complete overhaul of SimCity would allow the game to not be online (aka, have offline single player). Mounting evidence, and now finally access to a completely offline debug mode where the entire game is playable, suggest EA is just talking out their ass.

First, Rock Paper Shotgun had an anonymous inside source explain this:

"The servers are not handling any of the computation done to simulate the city you are playing," claims RPS' source. "They are still acting as servers, doing some amount of computation to route messages of various types between both players and cities. As well, they’re doing cloud storage of save games, interfacing with Origin, and all of that. But for the game itself? No, they’re not doing anything. I have no idea why they’re claiming otherwise. It’s possible that Bradshaw misunderstood or was misinformed, but otherwise I’m clueless."

Of course, anonymous inside sources don't mean a whole lot... that is until a fan proves these sources to be 100% correct. More inside.

I definitely have had some fun with Call of Duty: Black Ops II on my Wii U. It has a fairly active online community and all of the modes are very pick up and play. It's nice when I don't want to take things too seriously or when I don't have a lot of time to game. In many ways, that makes it sort of a casual experience, since anyone can really play and feel like they are accomplishing something. It reminds me a lot actually of Goldeneye back in the N64 days.

John Gibson, President of Tripwire Interactive (Folks behind Killing Floor and Red Orchestra 2), talked extensively to PC Gamer about how Call of Duty is ruining the FPS generation of players these days. The main reason? It's taken what was previously a hardcore only experience and turned it into a mainstream casual style genre. Don't believe that? Think Call of Duty is a hardcore gamer's game? Hop inside to see why that's not the case.

Anyone remember when we reported Nintendo was being sued by Seijiro Tomita over the 3D technology used in the Nintendo 3DS? Many of us, myself included, scoffed at the lawsuit as so many various 3D technologies exist. Well, as it turns out, Tomita is the one getting the last laugh as the US Federal Jury ruled in favor of Tomita to the tune of $30.2 million dollars. This is obviously a very "small" hit for billion dollar company, but it's definitely something no one, including Nintendo, seemed to take seriously enough. Is it possible Nintendo did steal the technology? Of course, but who really knows how likely that is.

Nintendo has issued an official response which is after the jump.

A fan of Famitsu magazine wrote in to talk to Masahiro Sakurai about online play in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and how little fun the online experience was for him.

"The other day, I had my first run at Smash Bros. Brawl online play. What I found was that nobody ever went on the attack; it was like everyone was taking the approach of waiting for the other guy to take the offensive. There were no items, either. I wanted to shout at them 'This isn't how you do Smash Bros.'! As the producer, what do you think of fights like this?"

Of course, this style of fight is rather common in the professional fighting game world because the focus is on countering and attacking in specific ways, and the items are shut off because of some cheap kills you can get. In essence, it's a skills test and less about the fun aspects that make Super Smash Bros. what it is. The real issue with online play to me is the lag, but I digress. Hop inside to see Sakurai's response and hints to the future of online play in Smash.

Corocoro magazine, a Japanese magazine where we often get our Pokémon news, has just released some info about Pokémon Rumble U, which comes out in Japan on April 24th. It turns out that on the day the game launches, they will also launch a series of Pokémon figurines; much like Skylanders, those figures would work with the gamepad to make the respective Pokémon appear on screen. Each figure would cost 200 yen, which is about $2, and in the game your goal is to return these little toys to the toy shop they were lost from. Of course, you're going to have to kick the crap out of some other Pokémon along the way.

This looks about as cute as you'd expect a Pokémon game to be; with 6 standard figures and 1 special figure set for launch (one of them confirmed to be Pikachu), it looks like there's going to be a lot of room for growth over the years, which could bring the game some longevity. Pokémon Rumble U itself will sell for 1800 yen, which isn't too pricey, so this could be a nice little timewaster for several years to come.

What other Pokémon are you hoping to see? I'm operating under the assumption that the Gen 5 starters and Victini will be available at launch, but that's really more due to their presence on the box art than anything else.

It's no secret that the modern gaming market is a lot less stable than it was a few years ago. I was hoping to write a lengthy editorial on this very subject, but the brilliant minds at CleverNoobs have just done so in video form! This feature takes an in-depth look at the gaming crash of 1983 and the parallels between it and today. Discussing the effects of DLC, online gaming, and retooling old games, CleverNoobs explains why the current market is in a state of upset and what we can all do to try to avoid it—and even why a crash may ultimately be a good thing. CleverNoobs has done a wonderful job at explaining the state of the industry, and as educated gamers, this is an essential video to watch.

Donkey Kong is a huge cornerstone in video game history. It gave birth to one of our most iconic video game characters, Mario, and is still played quite a bit today; more than any other arcade game I can think of aside from other iconic titles like Pac-Man. However, while Donkey Kong himself also grew to be quite famous, there was another character in the game oft forgotten--Pauline. Enter Mike Mika, a man who plays a lot of games with his three year old daughter. When she found out that she couldn't play as Pauline (the way that she could play as the princess in Super Mario Bros. 2) he decided to cheer her up and spent the night hacking the game. This may not be the most difficult or impressive hack, but it's definitely one of the sweetest.

We mentioned the indie platformer A Hat in Time a few weeks back; if you're subscribed to MechaBowser's YouTube channel, you'll notice that he frequently uploads videos showing progress made in the game's development. He recently added one showing how the hookshot will function, as well as some of the HUD and what appears to be a new hat; he also reminds us at the beginning that the game is still extremely early in development. This means that there are several changes and tuning-ups to be made; personally, I hope the camera is modified before release. The hookshot is the real star of the show, though, and it seems to function pretty nicely already. What do you think?

Remember that cute little Pikmin video that kicked off Nintendo's E3 last year? Well, according to an interview with Miyamoto at Polygon, it was only a test for much bigger plans. For a while now, they've been considering how well a series of animations based around the Pikmin franchise would fare; so far, there are no plans to make a full animated series, but instead Miyamoto said the primary focus was to create a series of short videos with the feel of four-panel comic strips.

It's an interesting idea, and one that they plan to launch before the release of Pikmin 3 later this year to build hype. So far there are no plans to sell them, but if they do it'll be through the eShop for 3DS viewing. None of the videos have been shown publicly yet, but Miyamoto previewed it during the interview. 

For a description of the short, hit the jump!

Shigeru Miyamoto sat down with some folks at the New York Times to talk about the gaming industry. It's a short interview, but it covers a few key principles. For starters, Miyamoto isn't too worried about the slow Wii U sales right now, though he would love to see a little bit of momentum. However, one particular aspect of the interview seems to be getting some interesting conversations going. Of course, this revolves around the prospect of online gaming.

Q. What’s most exciting to you about video games right now?
A. For a long time at Nintendo we didn’t focus as much on online play because for many years doing so would have limited the size of the audience that could enjoy those features. But certainly now we see that so many people are connected to the Internet. It opens up a tremendous amount of possibilities.

More inside.

Pandora's Tower is the third and final game highlighted by the Operation Rainfall movement, all three of which were released to huge success in Japan while having little to no chance of localization. After testing the waters with Xenoblade Chronicles and further fanservice with The Last Story, Pandora's Tower is finally being released to western audiences. In fact, some locations have already gotten their hands on it. Knowing very little about the game, this trailer has already convinced me to cave—the visuals, the music, the voice acting, and more are absolutely stunning, and the plot and themes are no child's turf.

Even if you have no interest in Pandora's Tower, I strongly recommend you give the trailer a watch. It's very powerful and only takes two minutes of your time—and who knows, maybe it will convince you to buy a great new game.

SimCity's launch has been extremely shaky, to put it mildly. Some claim its the worst video game launch of all time; but either way, things sure have been troublesome. The critical consensus on SimCity thus far is that it's a good game, if it works. Getting it to work being the key factor.

SimCity has been struggling with back-end server issues, to such an extent that EA even halted advertising on the game. The good news is that huge strides are being made in improving the underlying issues. The number of players in the game has now doubled; server response is 40 times faster; and server down times have been reduced.

For the full progress report, straight from the blog of Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw, read on.