Shacknews - Steve Watts

We're going to go out on a limb and say Trials Evolution will probably have enough challenge to keep you busy for a while. If you're some kind of Trials prodigy and run out of stages too fast, though, at least you'll have user-created stages to rely on. A new trailer highlights the feature.

Developer RedLynx says that the tools shown off in the video are the same ones used to create the actual game tracks. "We did not use any other editor," said creative director Antti Ilvessuo. "This thing is a monster and the limits are not known even to us! We're very excited to see what people will be able to create and share with the entire Trials community using this powerful tool."

If the taste piques your interest in creating some tracks yourself, RedLynx is putting video tutorials on its YouTube channel. It will be releasing several per day to make a total of 32 before the game launches next week as the kick-off to Microsoft's Arcade Next promotion.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

StarDrone Extreme may have missed its promised release alongside the PlayStation Vita launch, but the game now has a new release date. It will hit next week, April 17, for the somewhat surprising price of $3.99.

The PlayStation Blog revealed the new date and price, along with word that the PlayStation 3 version will get an update. You'll be able to use Cloud Save and Load features to swap your progress between the two games.

The Vita version has made some tweaks based on player feedback, including revamped stages, improved visuals, a new user interface, adjustable skill settings, and the ability to skip a level if you're stuck. We highlighted the game as an IndieCade pick last year. Four bucks seems like a pretty good deal.

Shacknews - Garnett Lee

Happy Friday 13th, everyone. Today, Valve is working on hardware to enable "whole new gaming experiences." Could the "Steam Box" be in the works? Then, Skyrim gets Kinect support. Don't worry, though. You won't be flailing your arms to fight dragons. Finally, March was a busy month for games, but Mass Effect 3 takes the crown in this month's NPD charts.

Check out today's episode of Shacknews Daily.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Movie studios and video game publishers are still looking for a way to profit off of some cross-media synergy. According to a new report, Electronic Arts has been shopping one of its more recognizable franchises for a Hollywood adaptation: Need for Speed.

A movie adaptation of the game would be able to compete with Universal's still-popular Fast and the Furious series. Paramount is supposedly the frontrunner in the bid, but all major studios minus Universal.

Variety (via Joystiq) reports that George and John Gatins are attached to pen the adaptation. They previously worked on Real Steel.

EA's last entry in the franchise, The Run (pictured above), could give us an idea on what the movie will be like. The Run featured the most detailed story in the franchise, and featured Sean Faris and Christina Hendricks in starring roles. An adaptation of The Run would be an easy sell for a Hollywood adaptation.

Apr 13, 2012
Shacknews - Steve Watts

Guacamelee is difficult to describe; it's not so much a singular, vital concept as it is a pastiche of various gameplay mechanics and influences. This approach could easily make for a hot mess, but a brief look at the game shows plenty of potential in the ideas coalescing into a whole game that is both fun and funny.

The plot focuses on Juan Aguacate, a luchador who sets out to save the daughter of El Presidente from the evil El Charro. The focus on Mexican wrestling means it's often a melee brawler in the style of classic beat-em-ups. Slathered on top of that like a fine 7-layer dip is the so-called "Metroidvania" elements. My time with the game at PAX East 2012 was a fairly straight-forward set of introductory areas, but I was assured that the full game will feature a larger map with more emphasis on exploration and opening new pathways.

"Luchador meets Metroid" is a novel enough concept, but the game isn't finished mixing in disparate elements just yet. Beating enemies grants XP for upgrades. At the moment, that manifests itself as health boosts, but Drinkbox is considering purchasable upgrade paths. The game features 2-player offline co-op, and XP is shared among the players so one isn't left behind if they join the drop-in play midway through.

Finally, Juan and his co-op partner can switch between dimensions -- an enemy might be an invincible white shadow in one plane, but vulnerable in the other. When enemies from more than one plane appear at once, the game becomes more complex as the player is forced to dodge both enemies while swapping between the two dimensions to deal damage.

What may be most impressive about this hodge-podge of concepts is how Guacamelee feels like it owns them all. It's openly borrowing from various sources, but it puts its own stamp on the proceedings so well that it doesn't ever feel derivative or forced. The writing was genuinely funny, the cheeky references were well-placed, and the combat system is easy to pick up and intuitive. Drinkbox hasn't given release details yet, but it's certainly one wrestling match to watch.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

The Darkness II for a paltry $12.49 leads another cracking weekend of sales at PC digital distributors. You'll also find Crysis 2 for $7.49, L.A. Noire for $4.99, Serious Sam 3 for $12, Alan Wake for $20.07, Might & Magic Heroes VI for $24.99, and Interplay classics including Fallout, Freespace, and Shogo for $2.99 apiece.

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

Amazon

Amazon's holding a huge sale, which you really should root around in yourself, but here are some highlights:

GameFly

GamersGate

Get Games

Good Old Games

Bags of Interplay games are going cheap, including these nice things:

Green Man Gaming

Some decent daily deals and regular sales are in effect this weekend.

Friday:

Weekend:

  • Mount & Blade + M&B: Warband + M&B: Fire and Sword (Steamworks) - $7.49 (75% off)

  • Red Orchestra (Steamworks) - $3.99 (60% off)

  • Total War: Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai (Steamworks) - $20.10 (33% off) with the voucher code COLLA-PSEOF-NINJA

Impulse

Indie Gala

Pay what you want for a bundle of Future Wars, Greed: Black Border and Trapped Dead. Pay above the average price to also get Flatout, Grotesque Tactics, and Twin Sector.

Steam

As well as being on sale, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes is free to play until 1pm Pacific on Sunday. Click here to install it if you have Steam.

Shacknews - Andrew Yoon

Crytek has released an update to their CryEngine 3 SDK. Now at 3.4, the latest version of the middleware engine promises a number of updates that promises to "increase the creative power at developers' fingertips." For us gamers, though? It promises to make games just a tad bit better.

The main highlights of the 3.4 update include revamped DirectX 11 tessellation, advanced character rendering options, and an improved AI system.

For more details on the SDK update, you can visit Crytek's official website. You can also download the free SDK from us right here if you want to check out the new features for yourself.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 carry the dubious distinction of being the first main series Pokemon games to carry a numbered sequel. The announcement even called them "Version 2," so it's fair to wonder how much new content will be included. Some new details from a Japanese magazine shed more light on that subject.

Coro Coro Comics (via Andriasang) reveals that character Akuroma, a mysterious Pokemon researcher. The game will also introduce new gym leaders, two of which were detailed in the magazine. Homika will focus on poison-type Pokemon, while Shizui is a water-type master.

The game features a new area called Hiougi City, to the south of the Isshu region. The game will be set in that region like the original Black and White, so we may see some locations repeat. The game is due on June 23 in Japan, and later this fall in North America.

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

United Front's Sleeping Dogs, the open-world crime 'em up formerly known as True Crime: Hong Kong, has been dated for August 14. As ever, there are a variety of retailer-exclusive pre-order bonuses to thrill, confound, and irritate.

Pre-order bonuses for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions include exclusive outfits, vehicles, missions, and, oddly, clobber and moves inspired by MMA fighter Georges St. Pierre. Check out the Sleeping Dogs site for more on what you get where.

Goodies for the PC edition are to be announced "at a later date," publisher Square Enix says.

Here's a recent look at some vehicular Hong Kongfoolery:

Shacknews - Steve Watts

It's hard to find a current generation series with more goodwill than Portal. Anything even tenuously connected to Valve's first-person puzzler will probably have good vibes extended to it. In the case of Quantum Conundrum, a game from Portal designer Kim Swift with some striking similarities, that goodwill has resulted in plenty of attention. And while it seems to have all the pieces in place, a hands-on with the PAX East 2012 demo only scratched the surface of what this concept can accomplish.

The puzzle element in this particular first-person title comes from various dimensions, each with its own physical properties. The Fluffy dimension turns everything light and plush, the Heavy dimension does just the opposite, and so on. It's an easy idea to grasp at its core, and that simplicity could make for a staggering amount of puzzle applications.

This demo showed off three of the dimensions: Fluffy, Heavy, and Slow-Mo. An introductory puzzle had me blocking a deadly laser by picking up a Fluffy safe, and then turning it into a Heavy safe. From there, I had to time the Heavy/Fluffy change to allow a laser to destroy some safes in a stack, but not others, in order to make a staircase. This was the most difficult part of the demo, but that was due to its precision timing, not figuring out what to do. Finally, the demo played with some Slow-Mo, as machines spit out furniture haphazardly and various "bubbles" of the slow-motion effect made them mountable as platforms.

A look at the game provided a nice breadth of the dimensions, but it only provided the basics of each of them. I would have liked to see hints of more complex iterations for one or two dimensions, rather than the absolute basics of three. It's possible that developer Airtight Games didn't want to overwhelm the player, which is understandable. Still, this is a game that will live and breathe on brain-teasers. I'm confident that Swift and her team can pull it off, but I'd like to have seen more of it on display here.

The world is well-realized and funny, thanks in no small part to the sharp dialogue and delivery by John de Lancie. The spirit is more chipper and animated than the darkly humorous Portal, so I can imagine it being a good fit for younger players as well -- especially since the protagonist is 12 years old himself. I also noticed that the furniture looked large as a matter of perspective, which was a nice touch for seeing the world through the eyes of a kid.

In many ways, Quantum Conundrum feels like Portal's little brother. It's cuter, more colorful, relies on broader comedy, and judging by the demo, it may be a bit easier as well. This simple taste may have wanted to ease us in for more complex puzzles. If not, an easier, kid-friendly puzzle experience with this much personality can't hurt.

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