Diablo 3’s retro anniversary event returns Jan. 1

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Diablo 3’s retro anniversary event returns Jan. 1

Blizzard Entertainment is bringing back its homage to the original Diablo in Diablo 3 for 2018. The annual Darkening of Tristram event will return to Diablo 3 on Jan. 1, 2018, at 12 a.m. PT.

The Darkening of Tristram, originally held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Diablo series, sends players back to the dungeons of Diablo — or a pretty good impersonation of them — to score some retro loot. The Darkening of Tristam is presented in “retro vision,” a pixelated filter than makes Diablo 3 look more like a game from the mid-’90s, and with tinny audio and chunkier animation to match.

Indie game Tiny Metal can't escape the shadow of a massive Kickstarter failure

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Indie game Tiny Metal can't escape the shadow of a massive Kickstarter failure

When role-playing game Project Phoenix first hit Kickstarter in 2013, it sounded a dream project. The Japanese RPG brought in more than ten times its crowdfunding goal based on its top-tier talent. But there's no end to the project in sight, and the man behind Project Phoenix has since moved on to another project altogether, a strategy game called Tiny Metal.

Sony’s indie publishing label, Unties, launched Tiny Metal on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC earlier this month. Now, Tiny Metal is mired in the ongoing controversy that has surrounded Project Phoenix for nearly past five years.

SpongeBob speedrunner offers up $100 for game-changing tricks

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SpongeBob speedrunner offers up $100 for game-changing tricks

SpongeBob SquarePants: Revenge of the Flying Dutchman may not ring a bell for anyone but the most hardcore fans of the Nickelodeon cartoon. But for a dedicated group of speedrunners, optimizing runs through the game has become a new obsession — one that talented players could even make money from.

Cosmeme, a member of the Revenge of the Flying Dutchman speedrun community, took to Reddit this week with a challenge: The first person or people to execute one of two glitches that, in theory, should vastly shorten playthroughs of the game will receive $50 in exchange for their finding.

These were the biggest stories in video games in 2017

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These were the biggest stories in video games in 2017

At Polygon, we write and read thousands of news stories each year. There’s a value in revisiting them, examining them not just as stand-alone events but part of a whole. Collectively, these stories tell us about where games have been, where they’re going, how the form grows and stumbles — sometimes both at once.

It takes time to really understand what these stories have to teach us. But I think that an accumulation of 2017 news is already yielding useful lessons, possibly even revelations, about gaming’s future.

Nintendo Switch eShop’s final 2017 update goes out with a whimper

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Nintendo Switch eShop’s final 2017 update goes out with a whimper

This week’s Nintendo Switch eShop update — the last one of the year — is a bit disappointing compared to recent weeks. But, in fairness, the eShop has received more than 50 games throughout the month of December, so consider this week’s dearth as encouragement to plow through your backlog.

Most notable this week is the release of SteamWorld Heist: Ultimate Edition, an updated version of the fan-favorite, turn-based strategy game. This marks SteamWorld Heist’s Switch debut, two years after it first won acclaim on Nintendo 3DS. The Ultimate Edition includes the game’s previously released downloadable content right out of the gate, as well as a new campaign.

World Health Organization moves closer to recognizing ‘gaming disorder’

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World Health Organization moves closer to recognizing ‘gaming disorder’

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made another step forward in formalizing the concept of video game addiction. Draft language published earlier this week would add an official description for “gaming disorder” to the WHO’s diagnostic manual for the first time.

The International Compendium of Diseases (ICD) is the WHO’s version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, commonly referred to as the DSM. The 11th version of the ICD is due out in 2018, and experts have finally settled on a first draft. It is the first time that the ICD has included an entry for gaming, placing it in the same category as the disorders related to drugs, alcohol and gambling.

Smash Bros. 4 mod tries to recreate that Melee feel

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Smash Bros. 4 mod tries to recreate that Melee feel

The developers of 4XM, a mod previously known as Super Smash Bros. Melee HD, are trying to recreate the beloved gameplay of Super Smash Bros. for GameCube in its Wii U sequel. This week, 4XM’s creators released a playable beta of that mod for download.

As seen in the trailer for the beta release of the mod, and similar to the popular Project M mod, the goal of Super Smash Bros. Melee HD is to make Super Smash Bros. for Wii U play like Melee. That means Melee-style techniques like wave dashing, L-canceling, dash dancing, jump canceling, regrabs and Smash directional influence, among other gameplay tweaks. Returning characters have been modded to play with older move sets, while characters who didn’t appear in Melee will have new tech and GameCube-era mechanics.

Switch’s hidden Iwata tribute removed in latest update

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Switch’s hidden Iwata tribute removed in latest update

Nintendo Switch’s hidden copy of Golf, a Nintendo Entertainment system game from 1984, appears to be gone from the console as of its latest firmware update. Members of the Switch’s datamining community found that Nintendo appears to have wiped Golf’s source code from the game, removing what many thought to be a loving tribute to its programmer, former Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata.

“Switch update 4.0.0 stubs ‘flog’ — all code to launch it removed, and flog executable overwritten with (signed) garbage,” wrote user SciresM, who often shares findings from Switch hacks on Twitter.

Star Citizen’s 3.0 update is finally here

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Star Citizen’s 3.0 update is finally here

Star Citizen, the ambitious collection of spacefaring games, has reached a major milestone. The latest update to the project’s online multiplayer game, the so-called “persistent universe,” represents the largest addition of new content in several years. It is now available to all backers.

The Star Citizen persistent universe (PU) is an online multiplayer game that includes space combat as well as first-person shooting. The latest update, called Alpha Patch 3.0.0, includes a number of new locations to explore, including three planet-sized moons, as well as atmospheric flight. From our preview in October:

Destiny’s original soundtrack, ‘Music of the Spheres,’ is leaked online

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Destiny’s original soundtrack, ‘Music of the Spheres,’ is leaked online

Music of the Spheres, the original soundtrack to Destiny that, despite the collaboration of Paul McCartney, was shelved and never released by Activision, made its way online over the weekend.

The soundtrack is currently available on Soundcloud (where it may be downloaded) and YouTube (below). It’s 50 minutes long, comprising eight tracks. Martin O’Donnell, the longtime Bungie composer, collaborated with McCartney and Michael Salvatori on it.