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Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The New Year is already here, so bring on the New Year sales. Yes, it's another weekend, and another squillion PC games are on sale at digital distributors. Tuck in!

Green Man Gaming's New Year sale kicks off on New Year's Day, promising cuts on over 200 games, so that'll be something to keep an eye out for.

Here's our selection of this weekend's PC deals:

Amazon

Liable to disappear whenever Amazon feels like it:

Direct2Drive

Friday:

GamersGate

GamersGate has many, many video games on sale for New Year, but here are a few of them:

Get Games

Good Old Games

Almost every game at GOG is on sale right now. The full list is this-a-way, but here are a few highlights:

IndieGala

Pay what you want for a bundle with Hacker Evolution: Duality, inMomentum, Saira, Your Doodles Are Bugged! and Zombie Shooter 2. Pay more than the average price to receive Hacker Evolution: Untold and Zombie Shooter too. All games are redeemable on Steam.

Impulse

Little Big Bunch

Pay what you want for a bundle with Explodemon, Frozen Synapse, New Star Soccer 5, Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee, Serious Sam: Double D.

Matrix Games

Specialist strategy publisher Matrix is offering around a third off most of its games. I would select a few highlights if I had the slightest clue about hardcore, esoteric strategy titles.

PopCap Games

PopCap is offering 50% off all its PC and Mac games.

Steam

Steam's holiday sale is big. Really big. Huge. Colossal. There are discounts on publisher catalogues, bundles, and heaps of individual games. Think of a game, then go check and you'll probably find it on sale.

The real treat, however, is the daily sales. A dozen or so games receive mega-discounts every day, so you might want to want until Sunday, when it ends, before pouncing on games which haven't yet appeared in dailies.

Until Saturday, 2pm Pacific:

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Lumines: Electronic Symphony is, put simply, more Lumines. And that's probably a good thing. While games like Touch My Katamari have worn out their core gameplay over numerous sequels, Lumines has yet to outstay its welcome.

Electronic Symphony for Vita does introduce a few new gameplay mechanics for those that wanted a bit more depth in the puzzling side of things. However, most people will be drawn into the game for the things that have remained unchanged: Lumines is still a mesmerizing fusion of interactive music and visuals.

I'm sure that Lumines would look brilliant on the Vita screen, even if it were unchanged from the PSP iteration. The high-resolution OLED screen the Vita sports is brilliant, and Lumines does a great job of showcasing it. Q? Entertainment's James Mielke tells me that the Vita game has better graphics than its predecessors, thanks to fully-rendered polygonal blocks and real-time lighting effects. I couldn't notice the difference--they still looked like blocks to me.

The gameplay will be immediately familiar to anyone that's played a Lumines game before. There are a few Vita-specific additions, however. For example, you can tap on the rear touch panel (in tandem with the music, if you'd please) to boost an energy meter. Once your energy meter is full, you can touch your avatar to activate your character's special ability. These abilities always make it easier to clear the board. For example, my power allowed me to clear one color off the board.

These powers will come in handy, especially if you suffer one of the game's trick blocks. Randomly, a block will appear that will rearrange the colors on your board. When you see it coming, you'll want to isolate it from the rest of the blocks as much as possible, to minimize its effects. This latest addition makes Lumines feel more like a "game"--but this may make an otherwise relaxing experience a bit more stressful.

For better or for worse, Electronic Symphony won't include a single track from the previous games. If you want to relive "Heavenly Star," you'll have to dust off your PSP. Electronic Symphony promises to feature a much more focused tracklist than Lumines II--you won't find any Black Eyed Peas or Gwen Stefani here. As the title suggests, this Lumines will focus exclusively on electronic music.

Lumines was easily one of the must-have titles at the PSP launch. While Electronic Symphony may not seem as innovative and fresh anymore, it's still one of the most captivating experiences Vita will offer at launch. Expect it at retail and PSN in February.

Shacknews - Shack Staff

Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II finally gave Star Wars fans the power that they've always wanted: the ability to use a lightsaber. Released as a follow-up to LucasArts' first shooter, Dark Forces, it continued the story of the mercenary Kyle Katarn as he raced against Sith Lord Jarec to find the legendary Valley of the Jedi, and realize his true Force potential.

Today we add 1997's classic shooter, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, to our growing list of video game classics, presented by MobyGames.com.

MobyGames reviewer Chris Martin highlights two of his favorite aspects of Jedi Knight: the high-quality soundtrack and effects. "John Williams," he states. "The name alone means that LucasArts was smart enough to put REAL soundtracks from the movies into the game, and not just MIDI recreations of them. The weapon fire, the whine of Tie Bombers, and Crunching sound of AT-ST's walking around give the game that much more 'authentic' atmosphere than most 3D-shooters."

While fans were excited to try out the lightsaber, LucasArts certainly left some room for improvement. "The game's biggest selling point is, of course, is the chance to brandish a lightsaber, and it is precisely here that the game blows it," notes MobyGames reviewer Zovni. "When it comes to lightsaber fights the game really comes apart," he explains, "since the collision detection between the swords is poorly realized and you simply go at it smashing all the buttons you can and praying that you hit and don't get hit."

Tell Us Your Stories! We want to hear about your experiences with Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. Tell us your stories. Why did you love it? What drove you crazy? Remember it fondly with us in the comments below. We'll select some of your thoughts and memories and add it to a Weekend Update to this feature.

Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II on MobyGames.com

Kyle Katarn, a former mercenary and now an ally of the rebels, discovers that he is in fact a Jedi, and is on a quest to find his lightsaber and learn the techniques of the Force. The evil Sith lord Jerec, who was responsible for the death of Kyle's father, is on a quest of his own, searching a mythical place called Valley of the Jedi, where his dark powers could be unleashed. Will Kyle be able to stop Jerec and become a true Jedi without falling to the dark side?

Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II is a sequel to Dark Forces. The game is set in Star Wars universe and its events occur after those depicted in the movie Return of the Jedi (Episode VI). Primarily a first-person, 3D shooter, the game also allows the player to switch to third-person perspective. Kyle can use blasters and rifles to take care of his enemies, and later in the game is also able to fight enemies with a lightsaber.


    Moby Games Classic is our chance to look back at the games that helped shape the video game industry with the help of our sister site MobyGames.com. It combines a short history lesson on the title and anecdotes from the Shacknews community.

    Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

    Have you bought The Binding of Isaac yet? Indie Jeff has covered Edmund McMillen's dungeon-crawling roguelike quite extensively.

    "But Shacknews," you hypothetically say. "I don't have a gaming PC capable of playing this low-tech indie game." To our surprise, you even note that "I'm reading this post from the 3DS web browser." Well, imaginary 3DS fan. You might be able to play The Binding of Isaac on your Nintendo portable.

    Speaking on Formspring (via Joystiq), McMillen said that "a publisher I know is currently asking Nintendo if they would be OK with Isaac on the 3DS." Should Nintendo approve the game, the publisher will then begin the porting process.

    Unfortunately, if Nintendo doesn't approve the port, it's unlikely we'll ever see Isaac escape to consoles and other platforms. McMillen notes that 3DS is "the only other system you might ever see Isaac on," showing his continued dedication to Nintendo--in spite of never being able to release Super Meat Boy on WiiWare like originally intended.

    Shacknews - Garnett Lee

    Weekend Confirmed wraps up 2011 and rings in 2012 with a New Year's special. Andrea Rene of Clevver Games and Ariel Angelotti join Xav, Jeff, and Garnett for a recap of the many games that became somewhat hidden gems in the shadow of the heavyweights. It's filled with titles like Bulletstorm, Alice: Madness Returns, LA Noire, and infamous 2. Of course, the big games get their due as well, and the group discusses the biggest stories of the year like the hacker attack that took the PlayStation Network offline for weeks and the launch of Nintendo's newest handheld, the 3DS. And we couldn't resist topping it all off with a few thoughts on what may lay ahead in 2012.

    Weekend Confirmed Ep. 93: 12/30/2011

    Subscription Links:

    If you're viewing this in the GameFly application, you can play Weekend Confirmed Episode 93 directly.

    Weekend Confirmed comes in four segments to make it easy to listen to in segments or all at once. Here's the timing for this week's episode:

      Show Breakdown:

      Round 1 00:00:00 to 00:25:54

      Whatcha Been Playing Part 1 00:26:26 to 00:52:00

      Whatcha Been Playing Part 2 00:53:02 to 01:22:25

      Listener Feedback/Front Page News 01:23:17 to 02:00:46

    Catch Andrea Rene everyday hosting ClevverGames on YouTube. And you can keep up with her on twitter.

    Original music in the show by Del Rio. Get his latest Album, The Wait is Over on iTunes. Check out more, including the Super Mega Worm mix and other mash-ups on his ReverbNation page or Facebook page, and follow him on twitter delriomusic.

    Jeff Cannata can also be seen on The Totally Rad Show. They've gone daily so there's a new segment to watch every day of the week!

    Follow the Weekend Confirmed hosts on Twitter, too! Garnett Lee @GarnettLee, Jeff Cannata @jeffcannata, and Xav de Matos @xav.

    Remember to join the Official Facebook Weekend Confirmed Page and add us to your Facebook routine. We'll be keeping you up with the latest on the show there as well.

    Shacknews - Steve Watts

    Like the game that inspired it, FortressCraft for the Xbox Live Indie Games Channel is continuing to update and add new features. The game just releases 1.1 Alpha, with several new features and a few more promised on the way.

    The update adds eight new light channels, doors, and a copy and paste function for building. The landscape also now includes trees, and players can choose a climate like tropical, alpine, desert, or grassy plains.

    Most notably, this patch includes a test of the "Fight, Protect, Survive (FPS)" mode. You'll be given a lightning gun to kill harvesters and wasps to collect metal resources, but each kill raises your threat level more and makes the enemies more aggressive. This is in the testing phase with a full release to come later, so the developers invite feedback on their forums.

    The game is available on the Xbox 360's Indie Games Marketplace for $3 (240 MSP), and set a indie sales record on the platform. To find the game in the new dashboard you'll need to enter the "Games" tab, then the "Games" sub-tab, and then "Game Type" for indie games; or you could use the built-in Bing search.

    Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

    We just can't seem to outrun zombies. The undead have run amok in movies, television shows, and games. But who would've imagined they would end up infecting the futuristic Wipeout series?

    No, Wipeout 2048 won't come with a Carmageddon-inspired zombie mode where you run over zombies. Instead, game director Stuart Tilley describes an axed game mode where people haven't been zombified--the cars have. "These are 1000mph steel and carbon fibre machines of menacing evil, and they want you dead," he described.

    ZOMBIE was a new survival mode crafted for the upcoming Vita game, where players must race against an ongoing onslaught of enhanced zombie ships. "You can pick up Cannons and the occasional (but very rare) Quake to defend yourself, but it’s only going to delay the inevitable â€" you will die," Tilley described on the PlayStation.Blog.

    But don't expect this mode to come with 2048. "Almost every game has at least one cool feature that sadly finds its way to the cutting room floor, and WipEout 2048 is no exception," Tilley admitted. So, if it's not coming with the game, why bother telling fans about it? Because it's pretty obvious that it's coming as DLC. "Like a real-life Zombie, ZOMBIE mode is dead, but it’s not completely dead," he teased with a smiley-face.

    Wipeout 2048 will be available during the Vita launch in the US.

    Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

    Both the Android and iOS editions of Grand Theft Auto III support user mods originally made for PC, cunning players have discovered. It's a bit wonky, but people have had luck bringing in new cars, textures, songs, and more.

    The Tech Erra has a video tutorial on how to mod the iOS version, while a member of the xda-developers forum (via Droid Gamers) shared the Android secrets (also available in video form.)

    Certain mods don't entirely work, suffering graphical glitches, but such is the nature of experimentation. If you're looking for mods to try out, GTA Garage is full of 'em.

    Here's the Android edition with a few custom textures and cars:

    Shacknews - Steve Watts

    Minecraft spent years on the PC slowly evolving and adding features to its current state. When Mojang Specifications released Minecraft Pocket, it was more akin to the early days of the game than a sign of all the progress since. Business developer Daniel Kaplan isn't sure how the mobile version will evolve, but says the goal isn't to make it a direct copy of the PC version.

    Kaplan bluntly told Gamasutra that he doesn't know what version 1.0 of Minecraft Pocket will look like. He says that the goal is to give players a variety of platforms for Minecraft, "but also to update the game in a way that fits the audience."

    That means Minecraft Pocket is essentially starting from scratch, and Mojang plans to update based on the demand they see. If a feature makes sense for the mobile version but not the PC version, the company isn't trying for complete parity. Kaplan says differences "will be revealed as we move forward... It is still in an early state and I don't want to promise anything at this point." Though the company invites community involvement, he notes that "in the end it is our call."

    For now, Mojang can only promise that the iOS and Android versions will be on par with each other. Any slight timing differences will come from the submission process. Previously, the company has promised the addition of Survival mode, a crafting system engineered for touch, and generated caves.

    Shacknews - Steve Watts

    The team behind the original 1990s classic Little Big Adventure is working on a remake among assorted other projects. Thanks to the active fan scene, the game has enjoyed a long shelf life, and the team says they'd like more community involvement in their future projects.

    In a fan Q&A session on Good Old Games, the trio of Frédérick Raynal, Sébastien Viannay, Didier Chanfray give collective answers. "We were often very impressed [by fan content]," they said. "The amount of work done and your fidelity keep us excited and thankful. So, we definitely want to involve the LBA community in our future work."

    That may also be because even fans who didn't create content gave valuable feedback on problems with the first game. "Criticisms helped us to improve some mistakes from the first opus," they said. "Some of these mistakes were done on purpose: LBA1 was planned also for the SNES, so we tried to keep the advantage of not worrying about the saving system for the PC. As we said above, we wanted to have a human like behavior in all situations, and you don’t run into your houses. But OK, this was wrong for the gameplay, that’s why LBAWin tried to fix that kind of players' feedbacks."

    ...

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