Oct 15
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

The retail sector has been hit hard recently with physical sales of FIFA 19 and AC Odyssey down considerably over last year’s iterations. Amazingly, or perhaps alarmingly, not even the almighty Call of Duty can fill retailer’s coffers with cash – Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII’s physical sales were the franchise’s lowest in eleven years.

This doesn’t necessarily mean CoD is suffering for franchise fatigue, however. Quite the contrary, in fact – it has performed exceptionally well on the digital stores. The PS4 version became the fastest selling PSN download of all-time, while the Xbox One version was Activision’s biggest ever digital launch, beating Destiny 2. Sales of the PC edition were twice as high as CoD: WWII, meanwhile.

Our theory is that news of Black Ops IIII’s 50GB day one patch ushered many towards digital this year. The series’ MP-only focus likely played a part in this, too.

GI.biz also reports that WWE 2K19’s sales have slumped over last year, this time by 37.5%. It still managed to chart at #4, though.

Typically, sales of FIFA, Call of Duty, WWE and Assassin’s Creed see a boost in the run-up to Christmas due to new promotions, such as TV advertising. So there is some hope to regain some lost profits. Black Friday will doubtlessly give the retail sector a sizeable cash injection too, and let’s not rule out RDR2 breaking sales records.

As you may have guessed, Black Ops IIII’s sales were still strong enough for it to take the UK chart top spot.

FIFA 19 fell to #2, while AC Odyssey also dropped one place down to #3. Forza Horizon 4 wasn’t as lucky, falling two positions to #5.

Marvel’s Spider-Man swung in at #6, Super Mario Party dropped to #7 during its second week on sale, Crash Bandicoot held onto #8, while Shadow of the Tomb Raider fell to #9. Then at #10 it’s Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Square-Enix’s The World Ends with You on Switch was the week’s only other top 40 new arrival, taking #22. Goosebumps: The Game did manage to take #20 in the Switch chart, however. Not bad going for a full price (!) conversion of a three-year-old game.

Oct 11
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

While Xbox One and PS4 owners get busy with Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII (and continue to flood our Twitter feed with images of Zeus’ dong) Switch owners have a slew of time-consuming gems to crack on with. Pull the curtains, grab a hot drink, and get ready to be glued to your Switch.

Firstly, there are two remastered JRPGs to consider – Square-Enix’s anticipated The World Ends With You -Final Remix- and the slightly more strategic Disgaea 1 Complete. Both seem to be going down well, although some critics couldn’t get on with TWEWY’s newfangled controls. Thankfully they’re optional.

Then we have not one, not two, but three management games from Kairosoft – Dungeon Village, Game Dev Story, and the luxury resort sim Hot Springs Story. If you’ve never played these before then you’re in for a treat as all three are ample timewasters.

2D stealth adventures Mark of the Ninja: Remastered and The Swindle are also worthy of your time, as is the Mexican Metroidvania Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. Its arrival presumably means the sequel isn’t far off.

Also of note: the Bomberman alike Bombing Busters, Ubisoft’s whimsical role-player Child of Light, motion-controlled brick breaker Boom Ball: Boost Edition, and the physics-based tower stacker Tricky Towers.

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Oct 10
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Unless Activision is holding back their promotional campaign until the very last minute, it’s fair to say this year’s Call of Duty is being treated to a quiet launch. The Black Ops games have always been strong performers, so perhaps it’s believed Black Ops IIII (ugh!) will sell by the lorryload on name alone.

For those not keeping tabs, Black Ops IIII jumps on the battle royale bandwagon with an all-new Blackout mode. Those who gave the beta a whirl were left pleasantly surprised by how polished it is – it’s certainly no last-minute inclusion.

Zombies mode has been expanded too, with 3 adventures available at launch. As for traditional MP, the press release mentions the word ‘grounded’ numerous times so we’re guessing it’s sticking to ‘boots on the ground’ once again. i.e – no jetpacks.

Who dares go against Activision’s juggernaut? Not many publishers, that’s for sure – the Switch gets two well-received JRPGs, while new sci-fi shooter Evasion lands on PSVR. It looks far better than Farpoint, with scores mostly clocking in at 8/10.

On the download services Mark of the Ninja Remastered is off to a flying start, gaining 9/10 from The Metro. “Still one of the best stealth games of recent years and an accomplished 2D platformer in its own right, with a near perfect balance of depth, accessibility, and bloodshed,” they said.

Memory of Us – a reminiscence of a friendship between a boy and a girl – hasn’t scored too highly so far, however, with GameSpot’s 5/10 being the first score out the gate: “My Memory of Us feels misguided; a concept that doesn’t sit well, marred by puzzle gameplay that fails to challenge or excite.”

Cutsey 2D shooter Maria The Witch, developed by Naps Team, makes a belated appearance on the Xbox One store too, just in time for Halloween. But while the £3.99 asking price may seem like a good deal, the Switch version from 2017 gained something of a critical mauling. Boo!

We were also expecting the intriguing Stranded Deep this week, but it looks like Telltale’s demise has thrown a spanner in the works. To quote Xbox Wire “We hope to have more news to share soon.”

New release showcase:

The World Ends With You- Final Remix

Reviews:
4.5/5 – Vooks: “Its story, presentation, battle systems, and music are all incredible, and there’s nothing out there quite like it. Whether you’re a newcomer to the game or a veteran from the DS days, there’s no better time than now to play TWEWY”

8/10 – Pocket Gamer: “[…] when played on a touchscreen, The World Ends With You is a truly wonderful JRPG. For first-timers, this is a chance to finally see what everyone’s been talking about over the years, and enjoy the gorgeous artwork, intriguing story, and bizarre combat system”

7.8 – IGN: “The World Ends With You: Final Remix is as good as ever in handheld mode, but it loses much of its appeal with motion controls”

Disgaea 1 Complete

Reviews:
8.0 – God is a Geek: “It isn’t as polished gameplay wise compared to Disgaea 5 Complete but it is still a great game. You can never have too much Disgaea”

8/10 – Nintendo Life: “This remaster is a great introduction for series newcomers, provided you can forgive the odd mismatching texture and an inflexible camera”

7/10 – The Metro: “Still one of the best strategy role-playing games ever made and a great place for newcomers to the franchise to start – assuming they’ve got the dedication necessary”

Evasion

Reviews:
8.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Evasion is another example of a fast-paced VR game that doesn’t seem like it could work in theory, but has been executed with a care and precision befitting of a developer that has a lot of expertise in the VR field”

8/10 – Upload VR: “Evasion does a lot right. The chaos and intensity of combat is second-to-none in the VR shooter space from what I’ve seen, particularly when compared to other cooperative VR shooters”

7/10 – Push Square: “It’s unlikely to leave as much of an impact as Farpoint did, but Evasion offers a competent and entertaining shoot ‘em up campaign for those looking to bring devastation to the next alien race”

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Oct 09
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The announcement of a fishing mini-game in Red Dead Redemption 2 caused much jubilation. This excitement came as no surprise – fishing is the ultimate pastime for those seeking a means to relax and unwind. A gentle breeze, the calming sound of birdsong, the tranquil stillness of the water, the grating ear-piercing alarm from a fishing rod’s motion detector, a countdown buzzer to inform that there are only five minutes left to beat the competition…wait, this isn’t relaxing at all.

Fishing Sim World makes the world of fishing more exciting – and less relaxing – than it actually is by presenting players with four quick burst 20-minute tournaments. They each have different scoring methods, amongst other minor variations. Bass fishing involves using a boat to find the best fishing spots, with the winner determined by the total length of the five biggest bass caught. Predator fishing is a tad more complex, using floats and lures. Here, the total length of all fish caught is used for scoring. Carp fishing goes by total weight, while the Match Series is essentially the game’s ‘quick fire mode’ set in narrow canals and such – the gold mdeal goes to whoever catches the most fish.

You’re up against AI opponents in all four tournaments. Their presence is reduced to nothing more than a ticker on the side of the screen, informing of current placings on the scoreboard. This leads us onto our first gripe: the AI will, quite simply, catch a fish every 2-3 minutes. This, of course, means that you must do the same or risk falling behind. It also means that the outcome of every tournament is rather predictable.

With only 20 minutes to spare having a few fish escape your grasp or accidentally catching the wrong breed can cost dearly, and there’s little time for experimenting with new bait and such. The against the clock nature does, at least, make things reasonably thrilling, constantly trying to catch one last fish before the timer runs out.

The developers clearly understand that casually waiting for fish to bite isn’t the most dramatic of pursuits as most modes involve using four rods at once: three in a stationary rig, and one in your hand (so to speak). The rods in the rig must be cast out in the usual way – there’s a choice of casting methods and both realistic and basic settings – and the aforementioned motion detector will sound if a fish bites. The noise of one alarm soon grates, let alone the sound of all three chiming at once. It’s akin to a car alarm going off in your living room. A carp alarm.

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Oct 08
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

EA’s FIFA 19 has claimed a second week at no.1, forcing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to settle for #2.

According to GamesIndustry.biz, physical sales of Odyssey were down 25% over AC Origins. All signs point to the digital early access edition proving rather popular.

In an attempt to avoid Red Dead Redemption 2 mania, this year’s AC also launched a month earlier than Origins. This may have impacted sales likewise.

At #3 it’s another new entry – Forza Horizon 4. Microsoft must be thrilled with the sales figures are they’ve already issued a press release reporting of the game’s specular UK launch – it’s the fastest selling game in the franchise to date. GamePass subscriptions also saw “a huge uplift”.

Marvel’s Spider-Man dropped to #4. Then at #5 it’s Super Mario Party, which also tops the Switch chart. To make way for the new arrivals Shadow of the Tomb Raider dropped a few places too, now at #6.

Tekken 7 is back at #7 due to hardware bundling, while Crash Bandicoot continues to perform well holding onto #8. Project Cars 2 – another title currently being bundled with hardware – re-surfaced at #9. The evergreen GTA V sees us out at #10.

SEGA’s Fist of the North Star: Paradise Lost made #21 while the acclaimed PSVR platformer Astro Bot Rescue Mission took #22. Given the glowing review scores, we expected Astro Bot to chart higher.

Oct 05
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

There really ain’t no party like a Super Mario Party. Thanks to touch-screen centric mini-games, multi-screen play and new Joy-Con controls, reviews of Mario’s latest knees-up have been full of praise with scores mostly clocking in at 8/10.

Mega Man 11 has been well received too, gaining 9/10 from Nintendo Life and an 8/10 from The Escapist. Not all reviewers were entirely sold on it, however, with GameSpot opting for a 7/10. “Mega Man 11 is a good action game that you can easily identify with, but it’s far too uneven and bumpy to hold up against some of the best installments in the venerable franchise,” they said.

Amusingly, Party Crashers is also out this week. How perfectly timed. It’s a retro style battle racer that seemingly mixes Super Off Road and Rock ‘n Roll Racing with Tron, offering deep customisation options.

This week also sees the release of quite possibly the last ever Telltale published title – Batman: The Enemy Within. For reasons obvious, no review code has gone out. Cross your fingers that it has arrived in a decent state, as it’s highly unlikely to receive any updates or patches in future.

On that note, here’s what else you’ll find on the eShop this week, including two (count ‘em!) new releases for the Wii U. Say whaaa?

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Oct 04
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

Brandon Cobb must be a Supervision super fan as they’ve just launched a new fan site dedicated to “the handheld of the less fortunate”. It’s a project fifteen years in the making, in fact.

The Supervision launched in 1992 as a low-cost alternative to the GameBoy. While it gained a fair amount of press attention – it was featured in video game magazines of the era and made routine appearances on gaming show Bad Influence – it eventually vanished without a trace. Its software catalogue was notoriously poor, lacking any third-party support or big-name titles whatsoever, and the screen was easily the of worst out of all ‘90s handhelds as fast moving objects were prone to blurring.

The Diskman hosted site is about as comprehensive as humanly possible, including scans of pack shots and box art, music files, and in-depth descriptions of all 66 games.

Where possible, Cobb has provided the ending screen of each game too, many of which feature amusing typos and mistranslations. Heck, even some of the game names raise a grin. This is the system that gave us such gems as Recycle Design, John Adventure and Linear Racing. That last one was a puzzle game, would you believe?

If you’ve never delved into the mystical, and occasionally baffling, world of the Supervision then here’s the perfect chance to become acquainted with the largely ignored handheld.

Oct 03
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

There are far fewer new releases than what we’ve seen in recent weeks, but it’s no cause for concern – every new major title due out this week has received almost universal acclaim.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey sees the franchise ‘on the up and up’ once again, quite possibly being the finest entry in the series to date. A rich, inviting and colossal open-world that pilfers a few ideas from The Witcher 3 is what’s on offer here – we haven’t seen praise this universal since Assassin’s Creed II.

Thanks to skilful implantation of Joy-Con and touch-screen controls, Super Mario Party gives Nintendo’s once proud franchise the shakeup it desperately needed too. This is one party you don’t want to miss. Sony’s Astro Bot Rescue Mission also allegedly feels rather Nintendo-like, being a serious contender as the best PSVR game so far.

Then we have SEGA’s Fist of The North Star: Lost Paradise, which as you may have guessed, is the greatest thing to happen to the celebrated anime series in quite some time. Fans of the Yakuza games should take a look, as it apparently shares more than a few similarities.

Mega Man 11 continues the theme of this week’s round-up. Yes, the blue bomber is back with a bang – it’s a worthy addition to the series that has been worth the wait. Not all critics were entirely smitten, but the mixture of 7s and 8s it has received is nothing to sniff at.

All this good stuff and WWE 2K19, too. Expect reviews to surface before the week is out.

New release showcase:

Astro Bot Rescue Mission

Reviews:
9/10 – Push Square: “Stunning presentation elevated by insanely good animation ensure that you always feel present in the release’s virtual world, while tight controls and genuinely clever level design will keep you engaged. This is the kind of game that will leave you beaming long after you’ve taken the headset off – and we can’t give it higher praise than that”

9/10 – The Metro: “The most visually impressive and entertaining game on PlayStation VR, with an incredible sense of scale and boundless imagination”

7.5 – Destructoid: “It’s polished and responsive, it just plays it safe with its subdued level design, with the occasional VR “wow” factor” sprinkled in”

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Reviews:
5/5 – GamesRadar: “No-one’s made an open-world RPG with this much depth and brilliance since The Witcher 3. This really is the ultimate Creed”

9.2 – IGN: “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s open-world adventure through ancient Greece is a gorgeous thrill, and the best the series has ever been”

8/10 – VideoGamer: “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey sees the franchise at its strongest and most ambitious yet. With a compelling story, solid RPG mechanics, and heaps of content to soak up, you’ll be spending months immersed in its sprawling Greek sandbox”

Mega Man 11

Reviews:
9.0 – EGM: “A misstep in the sound design keeps it from perfection, but it’s only a small blemish on an otherwise fantastic entry in the series”

8.5 – Destructoid: “Despite its reserved approach, it undeniably slots in very nicely with the classic series while bringing our old friend into a new era. The big finish could have been a little more mega, but it succeeds in pulling off the gargantuan task of getting people to care about Mega Man again”

7.5 – IGN: “It’s not revolutionary, but Mega Man 11 feels almost like a classic Mega Man game, and is a good foundation for the next 10 games”

Fist of The North Star: Lost Paradise

Reviews:
8/10 – GameSpot: “RGG Studios has done a splendid job at evoking the justice-fueled power fantasy Kenshiro represents, succeeding in revealing more about the historic and beloved character in amusing and unexpected ways”

7.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “It’s somewhat awkward at first, as it struggles to introduce the characters and world in a compelling way, but once it leans on its strengths, it’s easy to lose plenty of time with the various side activities and snappy combat”

7.0 – GameInformer: “Even without knowledge of the source material, Lost Paradise showcases an interesting world and story full of twists and turns, but it’s held back by a lethargic pace and repetitious combat”

Super Mario Party

Reviews:
9.0 – EGM: “From two-console minigames to the Joy-Con motion controls, the new Switch features elevate the entire experience, making Super Mario Party the best in the series so far”

8.5 – God is a Geek: “This is a Mario Party that more than deserves that ‘Super’ prefix that’s been coming for so long, and that’s rather amazing”

8/10 – Nintendo Life: “This isn’t a cash-grab with Mario’s face on the front; this is a well-constructed and beautifully realised Mario Party game which takes the series right back to its roots, but without being a straightforward rehash”

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