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Jul 22
By Matt Gander In Mobile Games No Comments

Thanks to the ability to transfer critters via a link cable, and later infrared, the core Pokémon games have always had a social aspect. Try as Nintendo might, though, this idea hasn’t extended much further than school playgrounds due to the franchise’s demographic. It pains us to say it, but there’s a slight stigma against playing Nintendo handhelds in public too. That’s unless it happens to be an original Game Boy, which in this day and age will doubtlessly earn extra hipster cred. Unkempt beard optional.

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Now Nintendo has finally embraced mobile gaming, Pokémon’s social aspects have become fully realised. All it took was moving their games away from their own hardware; who would have thought it?

By featuring generation one ‘mon, Pokémon Go draws heavy on nostalgia to create something that anybody can play anywhere. There is no stigma in whipping your mobile out for a few minutes as if you were merely checking Twitter or seeing what year old memes have finally found their way onto Facebook. Perfectly suited for on-the-go-gaming, a few minutes is all it takes to load up Pokémon Go (servers permitting), catch a critter or two and grab some extra consumables from nearby PokéStops.

With an attractive entry point of sweet nothing, Pokémon Go has become a worldwide sensation in just one week. This success can also be attributed to a simple core mechanic. It’s one that’s perhaps even a little too simple for its own good, bearing an uncanny resemblance to 2009 mobile hit Paper Toss.

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I Am Setsuna
Jul 20
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

We feel conflicted as to whether releasing a game set during winter in the middle of summer is a brilliant idea or not. It’s certainly something up for debate – we recall Nintendo delaying the N64’s 1080 Snowboarding in Europe from summer to winter, believing it would do better when the weather is chilly outside.

That game in question is Square-Enix’s I Am Setsuna, a digital-only role-player that appears to have snuck up on a lot of gamers. Designed to appeal to fans of the early Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games, it sees Square-Enix going back to basics with a classic battle system and simple storytelling. It will no doubt appeal to fans of Bravely Default, too, seeing that series was also influenced by RPGs from days gone by. The plot, however, has more in common with Sony’s ICO, involving a maiden who’s about to sacrificed. That’s Setsuna, if you haven’t guessed.

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“It’s not a new classic by any stretch, but I Am Setsuna demonstrates a great understanding and mastery of what made Square Enix’s past successes work so well,” said Polygon before handing out an 8.5. It also gained a thumbs up from Kotaku. “If Tokyo RPG Factory’s goal was to create a sad, stirring adventure that evokes memories of the past without feeling too antiquated, they nailed it” claimed their reviewer.

Sword Coast Legends is an altogether different role-player, coming from the now defunct studio n-Space – the console conversions were handled by publisher Digital Extremes. Set in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms universe from Wizards of the Coast, it’s available now on both PS4 and Xbox One for £15.99 with free Rage of Demons DLC. Fresh features for this console iteration include a new Warlock class, additional skill trees, enhanced visual effects and additional areas.

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In a bizarre twist of fate, two games seemingly influenced by Capcom’s Ghouls ‘n Ghosts series turn up this week. Maldita Castilla EX – Cursed Castile is the more obvious, and expensive (£9.59), of the two while Cast of the Seven Godsends – Redux (£5.59) goes for a more modern direction with sharper visuals. Having played the first two stages of Redux we can say that although the artwork is a little amateurish in places, the difficulty level is the right side of challenging. Give the demo a go.

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Jul 18
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

We haven’t seen a great deal of Virtual Console games lately, save for the odd New 3DS SNES re-release here and there. This week makes up for that – Hudson Soft’s A Shadow’s Tale (aka Lost in Shadow) has been granted a rather unexpected Wii U eShop re-release.

A game popular with collectors, this Wii platformer from 2010 is known to sell for as much as £50 on eBay. At £17.99 for the new digital version, it proves to be a far cheaper option.

Reviews were generally favourable upon release, including 7.5s from both IGN and GameInformer. “Shadow is absolutely a solid experience, albeit one that has some darkness of its own” said the former.

The rest of this week’s Wii U releases are significantly cheaper. The colourful auto-runner Buddy & Me: Dream Edition launches for £3.89 this Thursday alongside 2D Egyptian puzzler Defend Your Crypt (£2.69), Atari 2600 Combat clone Toon Tanks (£1.79), the top-down Hot Rod Racer (£2.69), and good old Jewel Quest (£3.49).

Then on 3DS there’s the rogue-like Adventure Bar Story spin-off Adventure Labyrinth Story (£4.50), the cutesy Ninja Smasher! (£2.93) and Defend Your Crypt again (£2.69).

The New 3DS meanwhile gets Wind-up Knight 2 (£4.00), a runner that arrived to a lukewarm reception on Wii U. We have a feeling that it may fare better on handheld, being a better fit and all.

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Jul 18
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Consider last week’s Amazon Prime Day a success – the UK chart has seen a good old shake up off the back of Amazon’s one-day discounts.

Not so much in the top ten – where LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens claims its third number one – but rather just outside, with Zoo Tycoon, Kinect Sports Rivals and Guitar Hero Live re-entering at #11, #12 and #15 respectively. To reiterate, there’s a Kinect game at #12 in the chart. A Kinect game.

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This is more than likely due to Amazon clearing out the Xbox One Holiday Bundle, as it’s known. Fellow Xbox-exclusives Quantum Break, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Forza Motorsport 6 are back in the chart too, while Batman: Arkham Knight is up from #32 to #13 and MGSV: The Phantom Pain returns at #34.

Moving back to the here and now, Capcom’s Monster Hunter Generations is off to a flying start debuting at #3.

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is at #2, Overwatch drops to #4 and then at #5 it’s GTA V.

Activision’s Ghostbusters tie-in wasn’t anywhere near as lucky as MonHunGen, and neither does it deserve to be, failing to break even the individual format charts.

As for other recent releases, the dismal 7 Days to Die drops from #11 to #21 while Mirror’s Edge Catalyst – a game so tedious we couldn’t even bring ourselves to review it – falls to #35.

Wegeek
Jul 18
By Adam Philbin In Blog No Comments

Our friends at WeGeek have started up a monthly gaming meet-up for London-based gamers. And yes there’s Dreamcast.

This month’s event is being held on Friday 22nd July at Base King’s Cross, with a limited supply of tickets still available to book online. Gamers will have the chance to win prizes in Super Smash Bros, Marvel vs. Capcom and Counter Strike tournaments, as well as generally mashing pads to Goldeneye, Mario Kart, FIFA and many other titles both new and retro.

You can find full details and ticket booking info here. Come along if you’re around town, you might even spot some of us or at the very least a few Pokemon.

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Jul 16
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

By combining too many elements from different genres, some games feel like they’re unsure what they want to be. Being a relatively straight-forward ‘boss rush’ hack and slasher, The World II: Hunting Boss doesn’t suffer from this. Instead, it’s simply confused about what it wants to be called with variations of its name appearing all over the place. We’ve gone for the name it’s referred to on the title screen, but you may know it as The World II: Empire in the Storm – the name used in the achievement list, and also name it had when it debuted on mobile. Consider us confused.

Yes, this is another mobile conversion that’s ended up on Xbox One. All the way from China this time, which would (partly) explain why the dialogue is riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. Fortunately, the problems within the presentation are easy to look past. You could even say they help to give the game a hint of personality – we’re rather fond of the nonsensical, almost haiku-like, boss descriptions.

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Less easy to look past; the huge attack icons on the side of the screen, which acted as virtual buttons in the mobile version. Now they simply act as cool-down timers. Really large, predominantly placed, cool-down timers. Each of the three playable characters – one male, two female – has a trio of attacks with a different range. It boils down to luck as to whether these attacks will find their target though as there’s no ability to lock onto foes.

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Jul 14
By Matt Gander In Blog 1 Comment

Nintendo has always acted shrewdly when it comes to re-releasing their back catalogue, opting for single premium-priced downloads rather than exhaustive retro collections.

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It’s something that often frustrates hardcore fans, but as a result the Kyoto giant has never risked devaluing older games in a similar manner to SEGA, who seems quite content to bundle dozens of past hits together for compilations or re-release standalone games for literally pence.

The closest we’ve ever got to a full blown Nintendo retro collection is the NES Remix series,

Providing we exclude Animal Crossing on GameCube, which included dozens of NES games – a fact that Nintendo would seemingly like the world to forget – the closest we’ve ever got to a full blown Nintendo retro collection is the NES Remix series. With this in mind, it’s understandable why gamers young and old are excited about the just announced Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition. Or Nintendo Classic Mini, as it’ll be known in the UK.

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Due out 11th November for $59.99, thus making it a likely candidate for Christmas lists, the palm-sized console features 30 built-in games and a HDMI output, plus the ability to save game progress at any time.

It comes bundled with a NES Classic Controller, which can also be used to play Virtual Console releases on Wii and Wii U. A second controller will set you back $9.99. Alternatively, you can dust off a Wii Classic Controller or Wii U Classic Controller Pro for two-player shenanigans.

As for UK pricing, both GameSeek and The Game Collection currently have the console available to pre-order for £49.95. Only Zavvi has the controller listed individually at the time of typing, priced at a surprisingly reasonable £7.99.

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Jul 14
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

While the Ghostbusters movie has surprised naysayers by gaining a steady string of 3 star reviews, most of which bill it as a fun ride, Activision’s console tie-in hasn’t been quite as lucky.

The first review to surface was a miserable 2.0 from Polygon, who claimed that it “wouldn’t be worth the $50 asking price if the instruction manual were printed on a $50 bill”. That was then followed up by a marginally better 2.8/5 from Cheat Code Central. To quote: “If you’re looking for an inoffensive movie cash-in to play with your couch co-op partner and you’re tired of Lego games, well, here ya go.”

Having watched a few streams on Twitch earlier this week, it appears to be far better than Atari’s Sanctum of Slime. Unlike that game however, which was an inexpensive digital-only release, Activision wants £30+ for this notably slow-paced top-down shooter. It’s a low budget game being paraded as an almost full price release, and that alone is a cause for concern, nevermind the reported 6 hour runtime.

Other retail releases for this week include MX Vs. ATV: Supercross Encore on Xbox One, Insomniac’s Song of the Deep, plus Disney Art Academy and Monster Hunter Generations on 3DS.

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For those who don’t keep tabs on gaming news, Song of the Deep is the first game to be published by retailer GameSpot. That’s to say, if you want a physical copy you’ll have to head over to the GS site where it’ll set you back a modest £12.97. Reviews of the 2D underwater Metroidvania have been good, but not great, including a 7.0 from Polygon and 6/10 from The Metro.

Eurogamer meanwhile had this to say: “This isn’t a bad Metroidvania, but it is also far from being one of the best, and if you’ve played any recent Metroidvanias, let alone an undersea offering like Aquaria, you’re not going to see much that you did not expect in here.”

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