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updated: 8/1/2013 6:42 AM

A double dose of Nintendo nostalgia

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  • Video: "Passion" trailer

  • Video: Catchy tune from "Kid Icarus"

  • Video: "Pikmin 3" trailer


Nintendo gives us a reason to care about the Wii U on Sunday when "Pikmin 3," the latest installment in the colorful strategy franchise, hits stores. The game puts you in control of an interstellar explorer who commands his minions -- or Pikmins -- to solve puzzles and find food in lush environments.

The capabilities of the Wii U bring a few new features to the game, including the ability to use your gamepad as an in-game camera. Your pictures can then be shared in the Miiverse.

Gamers can battle the Pyroclasmic Slooch and other wonderfully named creatures for $59.99.

If your Nintendo fandom goes back even further than "Pikmin" -- and you want to spend a small fraction of "Pikmin 3's" price -- an '80s classic has finally come to the Wii U's Virtual Console.

"Kid Icarus," an uncommonly difficult platformer that had me throwing NES controllers around my basement in 1987, is now available to download for $4.99. You pilot Pit, a winged archer, through a fantasy world inspired by Greek mythology and toward a final showdown with Medusa. Along the way, you'll encounter crazy-eyed Reapers (accompanied by maddening music and sound effects), floating EelEyes that look like they came straight out of the original "Legend of Zelda," and the aptly named Eggplant Wizard, whose magical powers can turn you into -- you guessed it -- an eggplant.

This unique, divisive game was developed by many people who worked on the original "Metroid," including composer Hirozaku Tanaka. (I've been humming his background music from the first level the whole time I've been typing this.) Anyone who has completed both games without maps or cheats should hold his or her head high.

De Palma's newest

But enough of this kid-friendly stuff. Howzabout a new erotic thriller from Brian De Palma?

"Passion," starring Rachel McAdams ("Mean Girls") and Noomi Rapace ("Prometheus"), is now available on demand four weeks before theatrical release. The remake of the French film "Love Crime" follows the tumultuous relationship between McAdams' advertising executive and Rapace's assistant. The advertising for the film hasn't been coy about what it feels is the main attraction of the film: a love affair between the two women.

"Passion" is De Palma's first film since the little-seen Iraq War film "Redacted" in 2007, and certainly reminds me of some of his steamier fare. (Did you ever see "Femme Fatale," with Rebecca Romijn and Antonio Banderas? You might be surprised by how good it is.)

Speaking of steamy, Paul Schrader's "The Canyons," a film besieged by production problems and the presence of one Lindsay Lohan, is also available on demand this weekend. It's based on a Bret Easton Ellis novel and also stars porn actor James Deen, so ... yeah. Keep the kids far away from that one.

Blu-ray bounty

Tuesday's a big day for Blu-ray releases, beginning with Tom Cruise's sci-fi romp "Oblivion," which boasts beautiful production design and an eyebrow-raising plot twist. Cruise and director Joseph Kosinski ("TRON: Legacy") team up for the audio commentary, and there are 48 minutes' worth of behind-the-scenes footage to enjoy.

The disc also has a feature that I wish every movie had: an isolated music track. The score by Anthony Gonzalez of the French electronic band M83 is undoubtedly the best thing about "Oblivion," and I like the idea of letting the images wash over me while listening to it again. I can think of a lot of movies that would vastly improve if we could turn down all the dialogue and turn up the music -- starting with the "Star Wars" prequels.

Also on Blu-ray this week: Matthew McConaughey's acclaimed coming-of-age picture, "Mud"; a trio of releases from the Walt Disney vault: "Robin Hood," "The Sword in the Stone" and "Oliver & Company"; Ryan Gosling's "A Place Beyond the Pines"; the infamous Warren Beatty/Dustin Hoffman bomb "Ishtar"; and Terrence Malick's latest film, "To The Wonder," starring Ben Affleck.

Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor, a tireless consumer of pop culture and a hopeless nerd. He writes about television and digital entertainment every Friday.

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