Hohokum
Aug 28
By Jake In Reviews No Comments

“An incredibly elaborate Lemon Jelly video with inflections of The Mighty Boosh.” I thought that was a suitably clever opinion about Hohokum, around which I could build a review. But it turns out that’s not really an opinion, so much as background information.

The graphic style – clean lines, bold colours, slightly wonky characters – is reminiscent of Airside, the now defunct design agency which counted among its founders Lemon Jelly’s Fred Deakin. That’s because the man behind Hohokum’s art, Richard Hogg, worked at Airside for several years. Not opinion, just fact.

Hohokum

The character you control, essentially a snake, is called the ‘Long Mover’, which I thought sounded like something Bob Fossil from The Mighty Boosh would have come up with. That’s because he did come up with it – and that’s where they got the name from.

So background information that may be, but it’s still instructive: like those influences, Hohokum is abstract and strange, which isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. And that’s not just on the surface.

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M2033REDUX-GAMESCOM-01
Aug 27
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games 2 Comments

As long as they’re handled with due care and attention, we have nothing against developers dusting off older games for a re-release. And that’s a good thing too, seeing just how many are due over the next few months.

Word has it Metro Redux is a shining example of how to remaster – to use a word that’s becoming increasingly common – an older game. Well, two older games in this case – Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light. We were a bit concerned about how the former would fare nowadays, but those qualms were crushed upon hearing that 4A Games didn’t just give it a visual overhaul but a general spruce up all around. In addition to new visuals effects such as improved animation, dynamic weather and enhanced lighting, the enemy AI, stealth mechanics, weapon handling and the controls have also been refined and tinkered with.

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All DLC is included too, such as the infamously tough Ranger Mode. Perhaps the real beauty though is the price – the retail version can be found for a very reasonable £25 online. Incidentally, they’re set to cost £15.99 separately on the download services or £29.99 for the pair.

Review scores for Metro Redux so currently include 9/10 from The Official Xbox Magazine, 4.5/5 from The Escapist and 8.6 from IGN.

Madden15

Then we have Madden 15, launching on PS4, PS3, Xbox One and Xbox 360 this Friday. General consensus has it that it’s a major step forward for the franchise.

“This year’s game is both exciting and reassuring that EA Sports isn’t wasting opportunities to improve the series” said IGN. Shacknews meanwhile had this to say: “EA Tiburon could be onto something, and if it continues to listen to fan feedback, we could be in for some glorious days of video game football yet. For now, this is definitely worth checking out, as it’s far from the same old thing.”

Be aware though – the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions apparently have a slight whiff of ‘legacy edition’ about them.

Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate is also heading to both PS4 and Xbox One. This one hasn’t been reviewed yet, which is never a good sign, but with a Metacritic of 70% on PS3 and 71% on Xbox 360 for the vanilla edition of Warriors Orochi 3 we should at least expect it to be…alright. Co-op and data sharing between PS4, PS3 and PS Vita versions is possible in this next-gen revamp, reports the press release.

WorldofTanks

Speaking of the PS Vita, Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited lands of the handheld this week. Expect it to perform well in next week’s chart – we’ve seen a few PS Vita RPGs chart highly in the past. Pocket Gamer said that “Disgaea 4 is an amazing game if you’re willing to commit a lot of time to it” while Digitally Downloaded claimed that it’s “The kind of game that can ruin sleep patterns and kill productivity”. You can always play it while on the toilet at work, we suppose.

Fans of the genre may also be interested to hear that two other RPGs are imminently arriving on PSN – Hyperdimension Neptunia ReBirth1 launches on PS Vita, priced at £32.99, while the ageing PSP is set to receive End of Serenity. That one will set you back £11.99.

The World of Tanks – Combat Ready Starter Pack is this week’s only other retail release. Available for around £14 online, it includes a 30 day Xbox Live gold pass and a handful of ‘premium’ content. We found much to praise in the free-to-play strategic shooter when we reviewed it back in February. “Some patience is required, but if you’re willing to experiment with the different units and learn their nuances, you’ll find the rewards are tenfold” we said.

As for the week’s downloads, it’s a toss-up between The Walking Dead: Season 2, Ep. 5, No Going Back and inFamous First Light as to what the ‘big one’ is.

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WiiUDS_SteamWorldDig_06_mediaplayer_large
Aug 26
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

After a month or so of very little, Image & Form ends the Wii U eShop dry spell with SteamWorld Dig. Although not a new game, its somewhat belated arrival on Wii U is no less welcome.

A heady mixture of Metroid, Mr. Driller and Spelunky, we found the 3DS version very hard to fault when we reviewed it almost a year ago.

It’s priced at £6.99, or £4.99 to those who already own it on 3DS (and have linked both consoles with their Nintendo ID).

Along with a software update on 27th August, Mario Kart 8 is set to receive the infamous Mercedes-Benz DLC. Three free cars are available in total – the modern Mercedes-Benz GLA, the 300 SL Roadster from the 1950s and the 1930’s Silver Arrow. If we spot any photos online of Reggie and Shigsy cruising around in a new Mercedes, then we’ll all know how this bizarre deal came about.

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Zen Pinball 2 is also due a huge dollop of new content. The Walking Dead, Doctor Strange, Deadpool and The Guardians of the Galaxy tables arrive this Thursday at £2.39 a pop. Trials for each table will also be available.

As for Virtual Console releases, Mario Golf: Advance Tour (£6.29) launches on Wii U, while just as predicted the 3DS gets Mega Man 5 (£3.59).

Then there’s Outback Pet Rescue 3D (£24.99) which appears to be some virtual pet thing set in Australia.

Only one discount this week, and that’s Secrets of the Titanic 1912-2012 on 3DS. The hidden object game drops to £4.99 until 11th September. Spoiler: the ship sunk.

Diablo3T2
Aug 26
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Back in July we were confident in saying that The Last of Us Remastered would hold onto the top spot of the UK chart until Destiny arrives. Turns out we underestimated Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition’s popularity somewhat.

Blizzard’s loot laden quest set tills ringing last week, becoming the UK’s number one in the process. If you’re thinking that’s likely to be because it’s a quiet time of year for new releases, think again – it has performed better than last year’s console launch, with the PS4 version outselling 2013’s Xbox 360 version of Diablo 3 by 500 units.

Chart-Track has broken down the sales data. 47% of copies sold were on PS4 and 32% on Xbox One, leaving 13% on Xbox 360 and 8% on PS3.

Last week’s PS4/PS3 release of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare has seen it shoot back up the chart – it’s at #3, up from #15. The Last of Us Remastered is now at #2. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition and Call of Duty: Ghosts round-off the UK’s top five.

At #10 it’s another new entry – Tales of Xillia 2. It also managed to become no.1 in the PlayStation 3 chart, beating both Diablo and Plants vs. Zombies.

Also of note is New Super Mario Bros. U re-entering the top 40 at #31. Super Mario 3D World departed the chart a long time ago, making New Super Mario Bros. U’s reappearance something of a surprise. It might be discounted somewhere.

Finally, it looks as if Ultra Street Fighter IV is about to leave the chart – Capcom’s budget-priced brawler sits at #40 this week, down from #22.

simpsopen
Aug 25
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

When it launched in 1989, Konami’s side-scrolling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game went on to become the biggest selling coin-op of that year. Clearly keen to repeat the success, Konami looked for other suitable licenses. In the years that followed Bucky ‘O Hare, The Simpsons, The X-Men and even quintessentially European hero Asterix went on to star in their own Konami side-scrollers.

The Simpsons Arcade Game

Out of all of these, it’s arguably The Simpsons Arcade Game that’s the most cherished. Released inbetween series one and two of the long running cartoon it became the first ever Simpsons game, narrowly beating Bart vs. The Space Mutants out of the door by just over a month. To be more specific, development began in February 1990, and after a successful trial in Chicago, it was rolled out in American arcades on March 12th 1991. Acclaim’s NES platformer Bart vs. The Space Mutants on the other hand didn’t make its debut until April 25th.

Acclaim went on to release numerous Simpsons games in the early ‘90s, but none could match the brilliance of Konami’s arcade classic.

Releasing so early in the cartoon’s life, Konami didn’t exactly have a huge amount of material to work with. Waylon Smithers – who had blue hair, as per the There’s No Disgrace Like Home episode – is portrayed as the main bad guy, running off with Maggie after her pacifier is accidentally switched with a diamond during a robbery. Quite why the mild mannered Smithers suddenly turned to crime is anyone’s guess. Another oddity is that Moe’s Tavern is found situated under Springfield Cemetery, requiring an elevator ride to access. These discrepancies don’t spoil the game, of course. In fact, they highlight just how determined Konami was to include as many faces and locations from the show as they could.

The Simpsons Arcade Game

Indeed, subtle nods and winks are pleasingly frequent, with one piece of trivia being that a pair of rabbit ears can be seen under Marge’s hair when electrified. For those not aware, Matt Groening originally wanted Marge to expose said ears during the eventual final episode. This was to be a reference to Groening’s Life in Hell comic strips.

The Simpsons Arcade Game

The Downtown Springfield opening stage does a brilliant job of drawing you in – the speech samples are crystal clear and there’s a dazzling array of colours on display. Moreover, it looks magnificent. It’s the cartoon in pixel-art form, pretty much.

All four key characters from the Simspons clan are playable. Marge attacks using a vacuum cleaner, giving her a wide reach. Homer uses his fists, Bart a skateboard and Lisa her skipping rope… which she occasionally gets tangled up in. Certain characters can additionally perform a ‘tag team attack’ together – Marge and Homer roll up into a ball, while Lisa climbs onto Bart’s shoulders.

Like all decent arcade games the first level is a breeze, giving players a chance to get acquainted with the controls. To be fair there isn’t much to learn – like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles it uses a simple two-button set-up of ‘jump’ and ‘attack’. Pressing both buttons at once performs a slower heavy move that’s very useful during some boss battles. Speaking of which, the first boss for this short opening level is wrester Professor Werner von Brawn, as seen in the episode Bart the Daredevil.

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DiabloXboxOne
Aug 20
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Even though it’s not entirely a new game, per se, Activision still chose to launch Diablo III: Reaper of Souls – Ultimate Evil Edition across the globe on Tuesday.

For the uninformed, it contains Diablo III and – for the first time on consoles – the Reaper of Souls expansion pack. The last-gen versions can be found for around £25 online, while next-gen versions are significantly more – you may even struggle to find them for less than £45. On the high street they’re priced even higher. GAME is currently charging £54.99 while HMV has it marked up at £52.99. Still, that’s cheaper than the digital version – a colossal £59.99 on both Xbox One and PS4. Eek!

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Both PS4 and Xbox One versions run at 1080p/60fps, thus preventing any tedious bickering from websites infatuated with resolutions and such. The Xbox One iteration however does need the day one patch to reach 1080p.

While there’s no doubting that Diablo III is a brilliant game, and a surprisingly accessible one at that, we’re not sure if we’d gladly fork out £50 to play it again with suped-up visuals. And that’s even bearing in mind that the expansion is present. At £25 though, we’d recommend the last-gen version to anybody who missed out on it first time round. The original Diablo III has held its price remarkably well, making this edition something of a bargain for those yet to make the jump to next-gen.

Also arriving at less-than-full-price this week – the belated PS3 and PS4 versions of Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare. Expect to pay around £20-£25 on PS3 and £25-£30 on PS4.

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Many gamers were left in dismay when EA first revealed that they were turning PopCap’s beloved Plants vs Zombies into a third-person online shooter. Thanks to some attentive nurturing though, PopCap HD managed to prove us all wrong – Garden Warfare turned out to be refreshing, fast-paced and fun. The character classes were well-balanced while the maps impeccably designed. We went on to call it “the year’s biggest surprise so far” when we reviewed it on Xbox 360 back in March.

Then we have JRPG Tales of Xillia 2 on PlayStation 3. The metacritic currently stands at 79% from 13 outlets; a score that’s dragged down slightly by a mauling from US Gamer. They handed out a mere 2/5, claiming that “It’s a 20-hour game in a 50-hour package, bloated to hell and back by a design engineered to recycle content”. They would appear to be in the minority though – other reviews have mostly been around the 8/10 mark, such as this one from IGN…and this one from God is a Geek.

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TrapTeam
Aug 20
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

New Xbox 360 and PS3 releases show no signs of slowing, but that’s not the case for the humble Wii and it hasn’t been for quite some time.

As noted in our weekly UK chart round-up, Chart-Track has struggled lately to compile complete top tens of full price Wii titles. Last week’s chart, for instance, was formed of just four games. Four.

After several quiet months – with How to Train Your Dragon 2 being the only notable release – half-a-dozen new Wii releases are lined up for this winter, thus giving a reason for those still clinging onto their beloved console to cling a little longer. It’s fair to assume these games will be amongst the system’s last.

TrapTeamWii

Skylanders Trap Team is the ‘big’ one. Whereas Disney Infinity 2.0 is skipping the Wii, Activison’s latest character collecting marathon is still Wii bound. Curiously, original series creators Toys for Bob are at the helm.

Trap Team made the gaming news recently after it was revealed that Activison are – rather kindly – including a code in the box to download the Wii U version for free. Presumably they’re expecting the few remaining Wii gamers out there to upgrade to a Wii U this Christmas. Nintendo is no doubt hoping this is the case, too.

FIFAwii

Then there’s good old FIFA, with an emphasis on the word ‘old’ there. EA hasn’t put any real effort into the Wii versions for FIFA for a couple of years now – they have simply received kit and transfer updates, yet still shoved out at almost full price. Sadly, this has also been the case for the 3DS and PS Vita versions, not to mention the PS2 and PSP iterations before that.

It’s amazing to think that FIFA 15 is coming Wii but not Wii U, isn’t it?

Just like EA, Ubisoft still sees the Wii as viable – Just Dance 2015 launches 24th October alongside the versions for other consoles.

With the Wii as long in the tooth as it is, we were expecting this to be a simple (read: lazy) track update and little more. However, the press release talks of features exclusive to both the Wii and Wii U versions including a new challenger mode, customizable workouts and an ‘on stage’ mode where two other players can become back-up dancers. We can’t be quite so positive about the track roster for this year though, especially when ‘The Fox’ by Ylvis is quoted as a “highlight”.

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adventures-of-lolo-1-02
Aug 18
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

For a third week running Nintendo’s eShop roster is taking us back to the past. That’s to say, it’s another week filled with Virtual Console releases and very little else.

double-dragon-2NES

On Wii U VC there’s HAL’s cult classic puzzler Adventures of Lolo (£3.49) and also the equally classic scrolling brawler Double Dragon II: The Revenge (£3.49). Acclaim published Double Dragon II back in the day; with that publisher long gone, you’ve got Arc System Works to thank for this re-release.

3DS owners meanwhile are being treated to yet another Mega Man game – the Game Boy’s Mega Man 4 (£3.59). Mega Man 3 was re-released last week and Mega Man 2 the week before. As such, logic dictates that we’ll soon be on the receiving end of Mega Man V.

Also arriving on 3DS this Thursday – demos of Tomodachi Life and the apparently mediocre Bit Boy!! ARCADE.

As for the week’s discounts, Nano Assault Neo and Chasing Aurora on Wii U drop to £6.70 and £2.99 respectively while Nano Assault EX on 3DS falls to £6.35. On-rails shooter VAN HELSING SNIPER ZX100 likewise gets a cut, from the highly amusing price of £6.66 down to £2.69. Well, that puts a temporary end to that joke doesn’t it?

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