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Nov 27
By Matt Gander In We've Got Issues No Comments

The Official UK PlayStation Magazine achieved miraculous things for Future Publishing, with one issue in particular – issue #42, which came with a playable Metal Gear Solid demo – selling over 450,000 copies.


The monthly publication ran from November 1995 until March 2004, even sitting alongside The Official PlayStation 2 Magazine on newsagent’s shelves for a number of years. Amusingly, this caused a few letters of complaint from PS2 owners who mistakenly picked up the wrong magazine, claiming that they’d “wasted a fiver” and that Future should make it clearer it was dedicated to PSone, not PS2. You’d think the front cover would be the giveaway – later issues featured images of the PSone and the original PlayStation in the top right corner to prevent potential confusion.

Another reader also wrote in to complain that one issue featured Crash Bandicoot on the cover, yet there was nothing about a new Crash game inside. That cover feature? A look at the PSone’s greatest games of all-time.

Towards the end of the PSone’s life new releases started to become thin on the ground, prompting the writers to fill pages with features such as the above instead of usual reviews and previews. During one quiet month the budget price re-release of James Pond 2: Robocod even managed to take the cover. By the time the final issue rolled around it was painfully evident that the PSone was on its deathbed. Just two new titles were reviewed – budget games Ford Truck Racing and XS Junior League Soccer, which was described as being “easier than Jordan”. New demos were scarcer still, sometimes two or three issues apart.

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We can only speculate figures for OPM’s twilight years, but we imagine that they were moderately healthy for Future to keep it going for such a long time. The Official PlayStation 2 Magazine, in comparison, ended in 2008 despite a fair few releases still in the pipeline. Apparently it was becoming frustratingly difficult to acquire screenshots and preview code of PS2 releases from publishers.

Like OPSM2, OPM (née PSM) was geared more towards younger gamers in its final days, such was the current demographic. This didn’t stop the writers from sneaking in a few lewd jokes however, making it an enjoyable read. They had no qualms about dishing out 1/10 review scores either, with many Midas Interactive and Phoenix Games titles garnering this score. On the other hand, the magazine had something of a reputation for penning exceedingly positive reviews – particularly during its heyday – with all five Tomb Raider games gaining perfect 10/10s. Yes, even The Last Revelation and Chronicles.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace was another game that gained an overwhelmingly positive review, resulting in an unexpected 9/10. This review ultimately damaged the magazine’s credibility, as it was later revealed that staff members were whisked off to Skywalker Ranch prior to the magazine hitting newsstands. An all-expenses paid trip, no doubt. Some fifteen years on, grease palming is still a major issue within gaming industry.

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Nov 26
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

The easiest way for a company to get their product ‘out there’ is to give it away for free. Manufacturing cost depending, of course. Turns out the Raspberry Pi Zero is both small and cheap enough to be given away with the new issue of The MagPi magazine.

This isn’t an older, now redundant, model that the Raspberry Pi Foundation simply wants to get shot of – the Raspberry Pi Zero officially launched yesterday.


Roughly half the size of a credit card, it features a 1GHz ARM11 core processor (40% faster than Raspberry Pi 1), 512MB of SDRAM, a micro-SD card slot and a mini-HDMI socket for 1080p60 video output.

Running on Raspbian, it has more than enough juice to power the free Minecraft: Pi Edition. Bet that piqued your interest.

The magazine – available now for £5.99 – features guides and tips for getting your shiny new plaything up and running, including a tutorial showing how to turn it into a NES emulator.

Although the Raspberry Pi Zero only has an official RRP of £4, the device is currently sold out and exchanging hands for several times that amount on eBay. We had no trouble finding a copy of MagPi in our local WH Smiths though. In fact, it was the first (and last) place we had to look. Maybe we got lucky.

A tiny programmable computer available free with a £5.99 magazine. Welcome to the space year 2015.

Nov 25
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

If it wasn’t for Bloodborne – Game of the Year Edition this week would be an utter write-off as far as retail releases are concerned, leaving us with physical releases of Tiny Troopers Joint Ops and Pure Hold’em World Poker Championships on PS4 and some 3DS Fireman Sam game. We thought he’d retired long ago.


Remember when publishers would be falling over themselves to get their big Chrimbo releases out the door? That’s something we haven’t witnessed this winter due to new releases being spread out and also fewer in number. Having said this, we have still seen a few new releases go under the radar, such as the console versions of Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut and Divinity: Enhanced Edition. Both deserved more attention than they received.

Anyway, back to what’s out this week. Bloodborne – Game of the Year Edition includes the new The Old Hunters expansion plus the original game. Don’t mistake it for a cut price re-release – it’s arriving at full price (£49.99) on both PSN and at retail. The Old Hunters features three new locations and a variety of outfits, over 10 weapons – including a ranged weapon known as Simon’s Bowblade – and the ability to transform into various beasts. Reviews have been alarming positive so far, with scores including 4.5/5 from The Escapist (“a shining example of how DLC should be made”) and 9.25 from GameInformer.

“If you have already experienced Bloodborne, this add-on is absolutely essential. If you haven’t, it’s the perfect time to join the Old Hunters and journey through the streets of Yharnam and the new nightmares that follow” they said.

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Nov 23
By Matt Gander In UK Charts 1 Comment

We all knew Star Wars Battlefront would take the UK chart top spot this week. Chart-Track has made this event a tad more exciting with a few choice facts.

Not only is it the fastest selling Star Wars game of all-time, beating previous best seller Star Wars: The Force Unleashed by 117%, but it’s also the fastest selling non-sequel PS4 game ever, beating the console’s Destiny launch week sales. It also had the fourth biggest launch of 2015 behind Fallout 4, FIFA 16 and Black Ops III.

Is there enough steam behind it to remain #1 until Christmas? With only Just Cause 3, Rainbow Six Siege and Xenoblade Chronicles X due between now and then it doesn’t have a great deal of competition. We may see significant price drops on Black Ops III and/or Fallout 4 before Christmas though – a tactic that once helped Skyrim become Christmas no. 1.

Coming as a mild surprise, both Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash and Animal Crossing: amiibo Festival failed to enter the top 40. They have to settle for #7 and #4 in the Wii U chart. Both received less than positive reviews.

Going back to the top ten, Call of Duty: Black Ops III holds onto #2. Last week’s chart topper Fallout 4 falls to #3, FIFA 16 drops one place to #4 and then at #5 it’s Rise of the Tomb Raider.

LEGO Dimensions moves up two positions to #6, AC Syndicate rises to #7, Minecraft: Story Mode drops to #8, WWE 2K16 re-enters the top ten at #9 and then at #10 it’s Need for Speed.

Halo 5: Guardians and Football Manager 2016 both departed the top ten this week.

There were no other new top 40 arrivals.

Nov 23
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

A quartet of Virtual Console releases brighten up an otherwise quiet week for the UK Nintendo eShop. It’s looking like a quiet week for Xbox One and PS4 too, due to a lack of big name releases. A quiet gaming week in November. Now there’s a thing.

When we say quiet, we mean really quiet. The eShop doesn’t see a single indie release this week, just three retail downloads and demos of recent 3DS titles I Love My Pony and Johnny’s Payday Panic.

Those retail downloads are movie tie-in Kung Fu Panda: Showdown of Legendary Legends (£24.99 – Wii U/3DS), Monster High New Ghoul in School (£24.99 – Wii U/3DS) and Fireman Sam To The Rescue (£24.99 – 3DS).

Amazon has the retail release of Kung Fu Panda down as 4th December, so it’s a little surprising to see it launching on the eShop a week in advance. It’s a rather blatant clone of Super Smash Bros, developed by Vicious Cycle. We understand that some content is being held back until after the release of the upcoming third movie, presumably due to potential spoilers and whatnot.

There’s not much we can say about Monster High New Ghoul in School or Fireman Sam To The Rescue, save for the fact that the eShop pricing is reasonable. Monster High on Wii U is £27.99 on Amazon, so the download version is actually a few quid cheaper. Just like it should be.

Onto the main event – four Virtual Console releases, all for Wii U. From Koei Temco we have the recommended Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos and Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom. Back when IGN reviewed the Wii VC releases from 2007 they were given 8.5 and 8.0 respectively. Be warned though – both are tougher than frozen toffee.

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Nov 20
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Thanks to a sizeable marketing budget – not to mention the runaway, and surprise, success of Fallout Shelter – it’s highly likely that Fallout 4 will attract many franchise newcomers. Fallout greenhorns are arguably going to get the most out of this long awaited adventure as there’s an unshakeable sense of overfamiliarity.

That said, Fallout veterans will find comfort in that familiarity too. For many, Fallout 3 was one of the defining games of the last-generation. Fallout 4 simply takes everything that made Fallout 3 great while adding a few next-gen bells and whistles. And a hulking great suit of weaponized armour.

No time is wasted getting players settled and back into the swing of shooting and looting. Actually, that’s a lie – there’s plenty of room for potential time wasting during the game’s opening due to the character creation tool proving to be curiously entertaining. Hideous freaks, celebrity likenesses, creations closely resembling ones self – it speaks volumes that even something as fundamental as a character creation tool can leave a positive first impression. Stepping away from the bathroom mirror, the protagonist reacquaints with their family before their homely little world is literally torn to pieces by a nuclear explosion. Quickly ushered into Vault 111 before being cryogenically frozen, our intrepid adventurer awakens 200 years later. Not only are they are a man (or woman) out of time, but also without child – tiny tot Shaun was forcibly snatched while thawing out from 200 years of slumber.


While without child, they aren’t without hope. After returning home with a shiny new Pip-Boy in hand (well, on an arm) our hero quickly starts to pick up clues and trails leading to Shaun’s whereabouts and his kidnappers. This is the main story quest, and it’s not long until the location of Diamond City – a shanty town built inside a well-defended baseball stadium – is added to the map. This instantly gives something to focus on; somewhere to head to. It wasn’t until roughly 20 hours in that we first stepped foot in Diamond City however, as Boston’s vast wasteland just begs to be explored. When heading out on a mission it’s impossible not to become distracted by venturing into far off buildings, or attacking packs of mutated creatures in hope of rare items and materials.

Materials now serve a far greater purpose than before, all thanks to the introduction of a new crafting system. Not only is it possible to craft and upgrade weapons, armour, foodstuffs and medicine but also entire communities. Fans of The Sims – of all things – will be in their element as Fallout 4’s base building mode is essentially The Sims: Post-Apocalyptic Edition. There’s a strong emphasis on forming communities throughout, and once settlements far and wide have been unified – which usually entails repelling nearby Raiders or felling Feral Ghouls – they can then be built and improved upon by adding power, food and water resources and bolstering defenses with turrets and traps. It’s a task as consuming as it is compulsive. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine that some players will spend more time painstakingly creating the perfect town rather than questing. Poor old Shaun will have to wait a while longer.


base building mode is essentially The Sims: Post-Apocalyptic Edition

There’s hidden depth to crafting too, a la Minecraft, as it’s possible to hook up electrical circuits with switches and whatnot. Over time settlements also become larger, requiring additional resources and more hands on deck to help with gardening or guard duties. These jobs can be assigned to your settlers as you see fit and they can also be kitted out with any unwanted weapons or pieces of armour. The potential is pretty staggering; it’s entirely possible to create fully self-sustained shanty towns full of hardworking individuals. The requisite to gather resources also ensures that players keep a beady eye out for vital supplies while completing quests. We found ourselves returning to our shanty homestead after every successful mission to offload loot, a task that often lead to an hour of tinkering before hitting the wasteland once again. Incidentally, some missions – such as those that entail venturing into a vault or similar indoor environments – can take well over an hour to complete.

After crafting, the Power Armour suit is the next major new addition. It’s introduced shortly after meeting your first companion – loyal mutt Dogmeat, who can sniff out stashes of goodies – and it proves invaluable when under heavy firepower. There’s no fall damage when using the suit either, allowing you to descend from cliff tops and rooftops without fear of breaking both legs. The suit cannot be relied on for lengthy periods though as it requires rare and valuable fusion cores, calling for it only to be used sparingly or when mood for (mini)gunning down enemies takes. Just don’t be surprised when the suit runs out of juice mere meters away from your next objective, because – and trust us on this – that’ll definitely happen.

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Nov 18
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

How many hours of entertainment do you expect to get from a full-price video game? With many critics claiming that Star Wars Battlefront is light on content, that’s a question you should probably ask yourself before blowing fifty big ones on EA’s latest shooter. It’s a decent game that’s surprisingly accessible, but you may be bored even before Episode VII rolls around this time next month.

That’s the general consensus, anyway – as our review round-up shows, its yet to receive a review score higher than 8.5 with most reviews around the 7/10 mark. Not a bad score by any means, but it’s not hard to imagine that EA was hoping for a waft of 9/10s and even a few 10/10s.


Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash on Wii U is another that suffers from limited content – the core game is sound enough, but with just one stadium and restrictive online features it’s hard to justify the price tag. God is a Geek described it as a “budget game being sold at full price” before giving it a miserable 4.5/10. IGN followed suit, giving it an equally mediocre 4.8. “Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash is a bare-bones, lacklustre [sic] addition to Mario’s sporting adventures” was their verdict.

The Metro meanwhile reports that if you treat it as a HD remake of the N64’s Mario Tennis then some of its flaws can be overlooked. They gave it 7/10.


Animal Crossing amiibo Festival also hits Wii U this week, leaving just December’s Xenoblade Chronicles X to fly the flag for Wii U this winter. Sadly, amiibo Festival‘s review scores have been nothing short of abysmal. “It’s a blatant attempt to get you to buy more Amiibo, and it’s not even a good one at that” said GamesBeat before dishing out a dire 33/100.

Nintendo Enthusiast gave it an even lower score – 2.5/10. “I can win by pressing the “a” button for 45 minutes straight” claimed their reviewer.

It’s not all doom and gloom on the Nintendo front though – New Style Boutique 2 – Fashion Forward on 3DS is apparently pretty good. Guys? Hello?

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Nov 17
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Word has it that Star Wars Battlefront is stunning to look at and provides some brilliant – and incredibly authentic – Star Wars moments but the fun doesn’t last for long, with many critics claiming that after 10 hours or so tedium was starting to settle.

A lack of content, then, is its biggest failing. Surprisingly though, reviewers found that being a relatively simple and straightforward shooter was a strength rather than a downfall. Accessibility is something DICE has seemingly nailed.

At the time of typing the space-bound shooter is yet to receive a score higher than 8.5 from Metacritic’s pool of 20+ reviews.

This makes us wonder if EA will reconsider their estimate of 13 million copies sold by March 2016 – we’re sure they were expecting to see a few 9/10s and perhaps even some 10/10s to whip up a last minute pre-order frenzy.

A review round-up follows:

8.5 – God is a Geek: “Accessible, well made and full of really, really cool moments, it’s hard not to love it”

8.1 – Game Trailers: “Despite the lack of battlegrounds, characters, and a story-driven, campaign structure, Star Wars Battlefront is an epic, cinematic experience. If you’ve felt the force awakening in you this year, let it in”

8/10 – The Metro: “One of the best-looking video games ever made and although relatively shallow the spectacle and excitement of the Star Wars universe comes across superbly well”

8.0 – IGN: “Star Wars Battlefront captures the essence of the original trilogy, but applies it to an uneven set of modes”

4/5 – Time: “By stripping out the story and making the whole affair a leaner grab bag, DICE is pitching an immaculately visualized arcade-casual experience”

4/5 – GamesRadar: “A beautiful recreation of Star Wars, and a solid if simple shooter. This is a game you’ll love intensely albeit for a short space of time”

4/5 – The Telegraph: “This is not an armoury for the hardcore, for the 200-hour player. This is a glass display case for Star Wars fans, a relatively simply playset offering accessible tactical combinations that are always things from the movies first, things to play with second”

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