DizzyT
Apr 17

Codemasters remained loyal to the 8-bit cassette formats right up until the market diminished almost entirely. They were so heavily devoted, in fact, that technology had way surpassed humble cassette tapes – they were even able to release a ‘greatest hits collection’ for the Spectrum and Commodore on CD, simply requiring an everyday CD player and a cable to run.

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The 30-strong collection failed to sell however, on the grounds that those who were able to afford a CD player in the early ’90s, had almost certainly already ‘upgraded’ to a PC, Amiga or one of the flasher cartridge-based consoles.

It was time to jump ship, and soon Codemasters struck a deal with Camerica. The US publisher produced the Aladdin Deck Enhancer – a gizmo that allowed unlicensed games to be played on the NES. Micro Machines, Big Nose the Caveman, Cosmic Spacehead, The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy and more were released on unofficial cartridges that could only be used in conjunction with the peripheral, and as such not a single dime ended up in Nintendo’s pocket. Nintendo sued on grounds of copyright law, but every time the courts ruled in Camerica’s favour.

Even with steady support from Codemasters, the Aladdin Deck Enhancer failed to sell. The likes of Dizzy, Cosmic Spacehead and Big Nose the Caveman may have been relatively well-known in Europe, but over in the US those characters did perhaps come across as a little too peculiar. By 1992/1993 the NES was also starting to so its age, and SEGA’s aggressive Mega Drive marketing – mostly focusing on a certain hedgehog – only attributed to this.

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Codemasters went on to find themselves with three unreleased NES titles – Dreamworld Pogie, Go! Dizzy Go! and Wonderland Dizzy. Pogie was, for the uninformed, Dizzy’s fluffy purple pet. Footage on the Oliver Twin’s website suggests that it was going to have more in common with Mario than Dizzy.

Plans were afoot to release the trio on Master System and Game Gear, but the publisher felt that the titles weren’t strong enough to be released at full price. A Dizzy compilation cartridge was then considered, which resulted in Dreamworld Pogie getting the chop.

Another problem then occurred – Codemasters didn’t want the collection to contain two adventure games, and so Wonderland Dizzy also ended up on the digital scrapheap. The loss isn’t quite as bad as it sounds – it was merely a revamp of Magicland Dizzy, with alternative puzzles and a few new rooms.

Eventually it was decided that Dizzy the Adventurer, Panic Dizzy and Go! Dizzy Go! would form The Excellent Dizzy Collection.

Just like the axed Wonderland Dizzy, these weren’t entirely new games. Dizzy the Adventurer was an enhanced version of Dizzy Prince of the Yolkfolk, the game that came bundled with the Aladdin Deck Enhancer. Panic Dizzy meanwhile was known as Dizzy Panic on the Spectrum, C64 and Amstrad. This leaves us with Go! Dizzy Go! which was first found the four-strong Quattro Arcade NES collection cart, alongside CJ Elephant Antics, Stunt Buggies and F16 Renegade.

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LinesipadScreens5
Apr 17

For a game that’s resoundingly simple, Lines (or Lines – by That Wonderful Lemon Co. to give it its full name) is tricky to explain. It’s a ‘match-five’ puzzler in which row of coloured dots make their way down a cylinder. They descend at an incredibly fast rate, and just a few precious seconds are given to match up dots of the same colour. When matching five or more dots they become a solid shape that can be added to, effectively turning the cylinder into some sort of orgy of Tetris-like pieces.

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It’s not so much a ‘match-five’ puzzler then, but a ‘match as much as you can’ puzzler. Levels are brief, lasting around two minutes, and each has target scores to beat along with a potential three stars to unlock. It’s a pretty typical set-up, although there are few games out there as bold is this when it comes to presentation. We can’t even remember the last game to feature a mellow jazz soundtrack.

For all its good intentions, Lines soon emerges to have a problem. A catch-22 situation, if you will. The rows of dots descend so rapidly that you don’t really get time to think. We’re talking just a few seconds here. The cylinder can be rotated, but in the time it takes to spin it around the next row of dots will already be on their way. Sometimes you just have to hope for the best, and more often than not ‘lady luck’ will be on your side – the rows usually contain three or four dots of the same colour, and so elaborate shapes start to form even if you find yourself without time to turn them. Your score keeps on increasing, and all you’re really doing is watching the dots fall and match themselves. You won’t get a three star level rating this way, but you may beat some of the earlier stages with a one star rating.

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Now here’s the thing – if ample time was given to turn the rows and rotate the cylinder, Lines would become ridiculously easy. Forming a shape from the bottom to the top of the cylinder every single game probably wouldn’t be out of the question. Like we said, it finds itself in a catch-22 situation.

The developer seems to be aware of this – the focus is on beating certain scores, and not forming certain amounts of lines. Those target scores soon escalate, and so on several occasions we found ourselves reaching the top of the cylinder and still way short of the target score. To begin with the game is quite generous with power-ups, including a score multiplayer that will get you out of said jams. Once these have been used up though, you really have to knuckle down and try your best to work with the game’s light time-limit. Focusing on joining dots of just one or two colours helps, but it’s not long until different coloured dots are added into each row.

We may be painting a pretty bleak picture about Lines here, but that’s really not the case. It’s likeable enough, certainly, even if you do have to wait a short while for additional retries once your stockpile has been depleted.

This is one is cruel yet colourful mistress. It’s also one that you should consider trying. Just be sure to search for Lines – by That Wonderful Lemon Co. otherwise you’ll never find it on iTunes.

Version: iOS
iTunes App Store: Free

EASportsWorldCup
Apr 16

Eurogamer was keen to mock the very existence of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, poking fun at its cumbersome name on a handful of occasions, before calling it “a very, very well made promotional souvenir” and “a game many of its audience will already own”.

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It walked away with a solid 7/10. We whole heartedly agree that in an ideal world this would have been an add-on for FIFA 14. But then EA wouldn’t have been able to charge £40 for it, would they? Nope.

Expect it to chart highly next week, although it may not make #1. With the sprogs currently off school, we have a feeling LEGO The Hobbit is going to take the top spot. On a related note, all of this week’s releases are out today (Thursday) and as such will have an extra day’s worth of sales behind them.

TrialsFusion

One game that may struggle to break the top ten is Trials Fusion. Quality certainly isn’t an issue. It’s more to do with the fact that the retail version is almost twice the price as the download release – £30-odd in comparison to £15.99.

If you haven’t played a Trials game before, you’re in for a treat. They’re tough, requiring some gentle engine revs and an acute sense of timing, but they’re never unforgiving thanks to the impeccable course design. It’s out on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Xbox 360 (as a download only).

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BitcoinTycoon1
Apr 16

Unsure what a Bitcoin is? Don’t even bother looking for the answer – you may as well just spend those thirty seconds cleaning dirt from under your finger nails. Trust us, that’s a far more beneficial thing to do with your time. All you need to know is that they’re the currency in this Xbox Indie city building sim.

Bitcoin Tycoon is a game so simple that it doesn’t even have, or need, a tutorial. Your community starts off small with things like hot dog stands, pizzerias and market stalls. Soon more industrial looking buildings become affordable, including the Bitcoin Corporation itself.

It very quickly becomes clear that the game’s sole purpose is to amuse those who have mocked Bitcoins from day one. A good example here is the ability to “build” the Winklevoss twins – the Olympic rowers who spent $1.5 million funding some Bitcoin payment processor.

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Every structure generates something, be it Bitcoins, produce, popularity or red tape. Yeah, we’re confused by that last one too. Resources then have to be collected by moving the cursor over the top of each building. This task is about as demanding as Bitcoin Tycoon gets; neglect this duty your businesses will cease to produce goods and generate cash.

Just to illustrate how simplistic the whole thing is, only one button is used throughout. Buildings can’t be rotated. There are no roads, power lines, trees or anything of the sort – you place buildings, power generators and that’s it. Is your town not popular enough to unlock the next building on the list? Just build a few more building that generate popularity. Short on Bitcoins? Wait just a minute or two and then you’ll have more than enough.

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Darksiders21
Apr 16

Impatiently waiting for Nintendo to finally reveal Legend of Zelda on Wii U? You should definitely consider reaching for Darksiders II to fill the Hyrulian-shaped void.

Though rather than heading on a quest to save the princess or uncover the secret to a mysterious event; as Death, and his journey to free his brother War from a conspiracy to lay blame for the crimes of the Four Horsemen’s slaughter of the Nephilim. During his excursions, Death encounters the Corruption that is likely to destroy everything. The Corruption is revenge from the first Nephilim, for his downfall at the hands of the Horsemen. It’s a complex tale all throughout Darksiders II, but it never gets too confusing.

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As Death, you can swing, smash, hack, slash and swipe enemies with a variety of weapons, each crafted differently with a unique look; and the same goes for armour. Death is of an intimidating size anyway, but slap some cruel looking shoulder pads on him, you feel that he could bulldoze his way through anything. There are heavy influences from other franchises, which are mirrored in the combat system, such as God of War or Devil May Cry.

Couple this with some nifty skills like wall running, and you’ve got a veritable Prince of Persia on steroids on your hands.

The levelling system works fine insofar as making your character stronger, and it opens skill pathways for you to strengthen yourself, giving new abilities or passive skills to put to use, such as summoning.

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At your disposal is War’s trusty steed, the aptly named Despair, who serves as a mode of transportation from which you can launch attacks from. One small niggle we encountered while attempting mounted attacks was the wide arc in which you travel around the enemy, making successful hits somewhat difficult.

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mydream_top
Apr 15

It appears voxels are in this season. California-based indie developers MyDream Interactive have recently finished their successfully funded Kickstarter campaign for MyDream, a co-operative world building game that takes inspiration from the likes of Minecraft and LittleBigPlanet.

After surpassing their Kickstarter goal and receiving backing from high-profile figures such as Ultima Online creator Richard Garriott, the development team are eager to complete the project.

We talked to CEO Allison Huynh to find out more about MyDream.

Where did your inspiration for MyDream come from?

The founding team all had an amazing childhood exploring open world environments in Alaska or living in national parks. They wanted to create such a sandbox world, very expansive, with some traditional elements of RPG.

At first glance MyDream seems to build upon Minecraft, ramping up the co-operative and social elements. Aside from the world building, what other features are you planning to differentiate MyDream from Minecraft?

Our kickstarter stretch goal is to add unique elemental creatures to the worlds.

Our main differentiator is the ability to do questing and make quests for other people. We have caches and various items and treasures players can use to design their own virtual geocache.

Our kickstarter stretch goal is to add unique elemental creatures to the worlds. You can collect them, harvest them, even combine them to make new elements. At the bewitching hour, they turn into troublemakers. Players need to keep them happy or havoc may ensue. These monsters have dynamic properties and are not one-dimensional baddies.
We were very much inspired by the Gargoyles in Ultima 6.

The game seems to be largely based around player-created worlds, but will there be any narrative or main quests before easing players into the sandbox mode?

Yes, we will have the main quest, very much inspired by Myst. We stand on the shoulders of giants and we love that game. Players will go from world to world solving mysteries and clues and glue it all together. Our real measure of success, unlike Myst, is not if they solve all the main quests but how many narratives they make on the way.

Terrain in MyDream

You’re giving players amazing powers to shape the game world, are there any plans for player-made characters and items?

In the long term, there will be the ability to potentially evolve animals and plants from an initial configuration into something complex and unpredictable. These plants can be harvested to create dyes and paints for blocks. The plants can be pressed to make special oils to power interesting machines and tools.

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TitanfallReview3
Apr 15

EA wasn’t lying when they claimed the Xbox 360 version of Titanfall was in safe hands. Over the years Bluepoint Games have made a name for themselves by releasing a steady string of quality HD conversions, including Konami’s MGS HD collection and Sony’s pairing of Ico and The Shadow of Colossus.

Titanfall however is their biggest project yet. Bringing an older game with a HD makeover to a newer system is one thing. But to do the opposite? Now that’s a challenge.

Bluepoint’s expertise with conversions is notable from the outset. Save for some slightly less impressive explosions and a few grubby textures, it exceeded all expectations. To be handed a game that makes the Xbox 360 feel shiny and new all over again, especially this late in the system’s life, is something we never expected.

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As you’ll no doubt be aware, Titanfall wasn’t just intended to show off – ergo sell – the Xbox One, but to also to give the FPS genre the kick up the behind that it so sorely needs. The titular titans are the obvious unique addition. You’d think that the ability to stomp around in a mech would be a reward of gaining a certain amount of kills – just like Call of Duty’s killstreak perks – but that’s pleasingly not the case. Regardless of skill level, every player get a couple of chances to summon a Titan per match.

These hulking beasts are more vulnerable than you may expect. Not only does every pilot carry an anti-Titan weapon, and it’s also possible to boost jump onto their shoulders for a spot of Titan rodeo.

Moreover, their shields deplete quickly. Keeping your Titan alive for lengthy periods takes a degree of skill, and as you adapt to boosting out of harm’s way and using Vortex shields to fling bullets back at enemy Titans you’ll find yourself in the cockpit for much longer. If you don’t want to run around in a Titan, preferring to capture hardpoints and take out enemies on foot, the option to put your Titan into AI guard mode is there. They can also be instructed to follow you, which is highly useful during the final moments of a battle – a frantic dash to an evac point. Suddenly the players who have been hounding you the whole game become little more than fleeing rabbits.

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NintendoFootballClub
Apr 14

It’s a decent week for new releases on the Nintendo eShop, with Nintendo Pocket Football Club arriving just in time for the World Cup.

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Reviews of the 3DS soccer management sim surfaced last week, including 7/10 from both Eurogamer and God is a Geek.

Nintendo Life meanwhile felt it was worth an 8/10: “If you’re willing to invest hours of your time in building the right team, observing the unskippable matches and training up your rag-tag selection of players, then you’ll find it an engaging experience which is hard to put down”.

The pint-sized simulation will set you back £10.79 until 1st May. After that it’ll cost £13.49.

After launching alongside the PlayStation 4 itself, Putty Squad this week heads to 3DS. It was due out on Wii U at one point too, but that version seems to been quietly forgotten. Incidentally, the Xbox 360 version has also seemingly vanished into the thin air.

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With a Metacritic of just 36%, the PS4 version didn’t go down well at all. It may however fare slightly better on 3DS. £17.99 strikes us a much fairer price too. That’s actually less than the retail release is expected to launch for later this month.

Two demos will also be available on the 3DS eShop from Thursday – Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl and Mario Golf: World Tour. If you choose to purchase Mario Golf: World Tour from the eShop, you can claim a free download of Mario Golf on Game Boy Color. Deal ends 29th May.

Also out on 3DS this week: Tiny Games – Knights & Dragons, priced at £2.49. It’s a mini-game collection aimed at younger gamers.

GoldenSun

Another two GBA games are heading to Wii U – F-Zero: Maximum Velocity and the cult RPG Golden Sun. Both are priced at £6.29. On the 3DS VC meanwhile there’s the NES’s Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, at £4.49.

The GBA games above aren’t the only new Wii U releases – My Exotic Farm is also making an appearance. It would appear to be a simple re-skin of My Farm, which launched earlier this year. If you already own My Farm, you can get My Exotic Farm for £3.14 instead of £4.49.

Even the DSi gets a new release this week, in the form of the dully titled I am in the Movie. The £1.79 download got a kicking on Nintendo Life: “For an application designed for amateurs to edit video footage, it’s amazing to think how little effort was put into making it accessible to first time users”.

As always, our round-up ends with this week’s discounts. There are only three this week - Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion on 3DS drops to £8.99, Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two on Wii U is down to £14.99 while Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams will cost £7.79 until 24th April. Those brothers are history.

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