Nov 13
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

It’s time to free up some storage space. This week sees more than a few big hitters, two of which come packing colossal install sizes; the kind so large that they’re deemed newsworthy.

Despite being a mere remake, Spyro Reignited Trilogy weighs in at 67GB – only 19GB of which is on the disc. The online focused Fallout 76 is larger still, launching with a 51GB patch on top of its standard 45GB install. Big game season is definitely upon us.

After last week’s early access Gold Edition, Hitman 2 finally falls into the hands of all and sundry. EA’s Battlefield V now follows suit, arriving this week via the Deluxe edition. Reviews started to surface over last weekend, mostly clocking in at 8/10.

In fact, it’s a case of 8/10s all-around – the Metacritics for Hitman 2, Pokemon Let’s Go, Spyro and Battlefield V currently stand at 82%, 82%, 85% and 84% (respectively). We’ve rounded up reviews below.

As for Fallout 76 reviews, the servers only went live this evening – a few hours ahead of schedule – so don’t expect them until the end of the week at the earliest. We’d like to think most gaming sites will hold out until early next week, giving plenty of time to acquaint, but that’s perhaps wishful thinking.

PSN is also awash with Playlink titles – Knowledge is Power: Decades, Chimparty, Ticket to Ride, and Just Deal With It! We wonder if Sony kept these on the backburner for a full Playlink assault.

New release showcase:

Battlefield V

Reviews:
90% – Xbox Achievements: “Battlefield V builds upon its predecessor in meaningful ways, DICE stripping away practically every one of the series’ fripperies to get to the nub of what truly makes the series tick. This is Battlefield at its most undiluted and raw, and it’s all the better for it”

9/10 – Press Start Australia: “Battlefield V retains heart in its single player War Stories mode and variety in its multiplayer modes. New & improved personalisation within ‘Your Company’ gives each of the classes a fresh, personal feel to your soldiers, while remaining authentic to the era. A solid road map of content is set to deliver new maps, modes and seasonal events to keep gamers coming back, which is a good thing as no other game does raw gun play and bullet physics quite like Battlefield. It just feels right and Battlefield V is no exception”

3.5/5 – GamesRadar: “Not as drastic a change up as its WW1 predecessor, nor as wild or wondrous, Battlefield 5’s deliberative design sidelines its strengths as a simulative sandbox”

Hitman 2

Reviews:
8/10 – VideoGamer: “Hitman 2 walks familiar ground and provides the type of delightful moments you expect in the maps on offer, as well as a multiplayer mode with bundles of potential”

8/10 – GameSpot: “The addition of other minor mechanical changes–like concussive weapons, a picture-in-picture enemy activity alert, and visible security camera sightlines–help to improve Hitman 2 overall as a dense and accessible stealth assassination game. But the new locations are the real stars, impressive and inventive sandboxes ripe for picking apart with exciting experiments”

7.7 – IGN: “Hitman 2 is like a hearty stew: not pretty, but so full of nutrition that you’re bound to walk away full and happy”

Pokémon Let’s Go

Reviews:
4.5/5 – GamesRadar: “Pokemon Let’s Go is a superb surprise, a fully-fledged Pokemon RPG with interactivity that brings the series to life in a way that’s never been done before”

8.3 – IGN: “Powerful friends and new mechanics make for a delightful return to the Kanto region in Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu and Eevee”

Recommended – Eurogamer: “Pokémon’s Switch debut deftly toes the line between returning fans and all-new ones, with a few small wobbles along the way”

Chimparty

Reviews:
7.5 – VideoChums: “If you’re looking for a fun party game that gamers of all skill levels can enjoy together then you certainly can’t go wrong with Chimparty. The intuitive gameplay, enjoyable mini-games, and cheerful graphics and sound make for one happening party”

5/10 – Push Square: “Chimparty is fun in places, but the repetition and occasional frustrations of its minigames means it’s not likely to stay that way for long. As a family game it’s too fiddly to be enjoyable for a sustained period of time, though its visual style is appealing enough to soften the blows of the substandard gameplay”

5/10 – TheSixthAxis: “Chimparty is fun enough to break out for an occasional bout of light-hearted multiplayer when you’ve got friends round, and accessible enough to cater for all ages, but its limitations soon being to show if you spend any extended period of time with it”

Spyro Reignited Trilogy

Reviews:
8.5 – IGN: “The Spyro Reignited Trilogy recaptures the magic of Spyro’s original adventures in one nostalgic package”

8.5 – GameInformer: “From a historical standpoint, you can clearly see the foundation for Insomnaic’s Ratchet & Clank series in each level. As a game, Spyro is a blast to control, and collecting gems is an oddly satisfying thing to do. You’ll watch the credits roll on each game before you know what hit you”

4/5 – Windows Central: “Overall, Spyro Reignited Trilogy is an excellent remake of the originals. It’s a lot of fun to play and looks stunning. Unfortunately, the lack of a 60 FPS option, even on the Xbox One X, and the awkward camera controls in some levels detract from the experience. Despite these issues, the remake pays homage to some of the best platformers ever created, and it’s evident that developer Toys for Bob spent many years crafting this package. It’s a labor of love and that shines above all else”

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Nov 12
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

It’s the busiest time of year for the gaming industry, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at this week’s chart. The top five remains unchanged, and there’s just one new arrival in the top 40.

This means Red Dead Redemption 2 claims a third week at no.1, with the usual culprits trailing behind – Black Ops 4, FIFA 19, Forza Horizon 4 and Marvel’s Spider-Man, in that order.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe rises to #6, Crash Bandicoot holds onto #7, while AC Odyssey dropped two places to #8.

During its second week of release LEGO Harry Potter Collection dropped one place, taking #9. LEGO DC Super-Villains isn’t far behind, seeing us out at #10.

Carnival Games – a reboot of the ridiculously popular Wii series – is the aforementioned new arrival, debuting at #20. We have a feeling it’ll be a slow but steady seller over the festive period.

Unfortunately, this means neither GRIP – the spiritual successor to Rollcage – or the Aardman Studios co-developed 11-11 Memories Retold managed to break the top 40. Both also failed to make appearances in the PS4 or Xbox One charts.

As for other recent releases, Football Manager 2019 saw just a minor dip in sales – dropping from #9 to #13. Diablo III: Eternal Collection also saw a similar drop-off, falling just two places to #17.

Nov 10
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

We’re confident in saying this week’s 42-strong assortment of new Switch releases is an unprecedented amount.

There’s the usual mixture of retro re-releases (URBAN CHAMPION, THRASH RALLY, Break Thru, and the Spectrum classic Saboteur!), belated conversions (Valiant Hearts, Battlezone Gold Edition, Rogue Legacy, Moonlighter and Road Redemption), new titles (GRIP, The Shapeshifting Detective, and WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY MAXIMA) and stuff to pique your interest (the Rampage-style Roarr! Jurassic Edition and THQ’s city builder Townsmen).

It looks like there’s a couple to avoid as well, with both Carnival Games and the budget-priced Superhot alike SkyTime receiving a critical mauling.

Here’s what you can expect to see on the eShop this week:

New Switch eShop releases

Carnival Games – £34.99
Carnival Games brings the party back for the entire family – now for the first time on Nintendo Switch! With both fan-favorite and brand-new mini-games all in one package, Carnival Games offers fun for everyone and can be played alone or with up to three others. Hit home runs, pile the highest stack of cakes, and take your horse to the finish line. 20 total mini-games will have you and your friends stepping right up to win again and again!

GRIP – £34.99
GRIP is a high octane, hardcore combat racer, packing ferocious speed and armed to the teeth with heavy weapons.

Minecraft: Story Mode – Season Two – £39.99
Now that Jesse and the gang have vanquished the Wither Storm, saved the world, and become totally super famous heroes, life has gotten a bit more…complicated. With more responsibilities and less time for adventure, old friendships have started to fade — at least until Jesse’s hand gets stuck in a creepy gauntlet that belongs to an ancient underwater temple. Together with old pals and new comrades alike, Jesse embarks on a brand new journey filled with tough choices, good times, and at least one temperamental llama.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War – £16.00
This is the story of crossed destinies and a broken love in a world torn apart. All of the characters will try to survive the horror of the trenches following their faithful canine companion. Choose your favorite control mode and experience the game with either a Joy-Con controller or the touch screen.

Syberia 1 & 2 – £29.99
This version includes two complete games: Syberia and Syberia 2.

ACA NEOGEO THRASH RALLY – £6.29
“THRASH RALLY” is an original racing game released by SNK in 1991. Two game modes “World Rally Championship Mode” and “Rally Mode” have been featured. Travel through cities and the countryside as you make your way through the various courses.

Arcade Archives URBAN CHAMPION – £6.29
“URBAN CHAMPION” is a beat ’em up fighting game, first released by Nintendo in 1984. True to its namesake, fighting men duke it out, fist to fist, for the title of “Urban Champion”! Go into battle with light and heavy punches, as well as dodging and other defensive maneuvers. Take on a 2 player battle, and try to read your opponents’ moves to become the victor!

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Nov 08
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Here’s an example of the age-old saying “as one door closes, another opens” – this month sees the final issues of both gamesTM and GamesMaster hitting newsstands, but just as word broke of their closure came the reveal of a new gaming magazine.

At a time when print is seemingly on the way out, its reveal came as quite the surprise.

Wireframe – published by Raspberry Pi Press – appears to be a response to the frequently heard criticism that gaming magazines are out of date by the time they reach stores. For not only is it a fortnightly publication, but it also mostly focuses on features that aren’t time-sensitive, ditching news and other gaming mag staples.

Wireframe promises to lift the lid on video games, filling its pages with development-focused features, complete with insight supplied by developers themselves. In this issue’s ‘Toolbox’ section, Howard Scott Warshaw – creator of some of the Atari 2600’s bestselling games – shares tips for great game design, while Will Luton examines the curves, probabilities and formulae that shape the likes of Fortnite, Hearthstone and similar games.

It looks like we can expect a pleasing amount of retro gaming content too. Issue #1 boasts features on the history of the British gaming industry, the C64 ‘demake’ of Portal, and a four-page piece on the celebrated Japanese developer Treasure. Reviews and previews still feature too, we should note, with this issue casting a critical eye on Darksiders III, AC Odyssey, No Man’s Sky Next, and more.

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Nov 07
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

HomeBearStudios are currently wrapping up work on NAIRI: Tower of Shirin, a story-driven puzzle adventure for Switch and PC, featuring hand-drawn 2D visuals and a cast of curious critters.

It stars Nairi, a troubled upper-class girl who’s forced to abandon her luxurious way of living after discovering the titular Tower of Shirin – a mysterious place with secrets and puzzles aplenty.

With just three weeks to go until the game’s launch, the developers kindly took time out of their undoubtedly busy schedule to take part in a mini Q&A session.

Games Asylum: Protagonist Nairi is forced to abandon her rich, sheltered life. What was the inspiration behind giving her this background?

HomeBearStudios: At first, we planned for Nairi to enter Shirin as a complete outsider, and discover the city that way, like the player would. But we eventually decided the current setup was more interesting with regards to Nairi’s character development.

We didn’t have any specific inspiration for this – we just wanted to put Nairi in a precarious situation where she’d be forced out of her comfort zone, adapt, and learn more about the world.

Did the characters exist on paper, or in your mind, before development began?

We took a month or two to really pin down the characters and world of NAIRI before we launched our Kickstarter and development process. So it wasn’t something we’d been itching to work on for years, but couldn’t for some reason. We really started working on our ideas almost immediately.

The JoyCons allow for a large range of inputs. How did you take advantage of this?

The most unique input method we took advantage of is the gyroscope inside of each of the Joycon. Because NAIRI: Tower of Shirin is a point & click game, we thought some people might prefer pointing at the screen over using the analog stick. With motion controls, we could do that.

Then another unique feature would be… you have two almost identical joycon – why not allow for left-handed controls?

It appears Nairi brings a hint of ‘visual novel’ to the adventure genre. What were the inspirations here?

NAIRI: Tower of Shirin is very story heavy, so we’ve always leaned very close to the visual novel genre as well the point & click genre. We didn’t really have any specific games or genres in mind when we made these design decisions.

We needed a budget-friendly way of telling our story, displaying a visually appealing world and implementing puzzles, so we just picked elements from several genres that would work well together.

Do you think the popularity of the ‘visual novel’ is on the rise?

I’m not sure. I do think more people could be attracted to the genre with stronger variations of art styles and narratives. Most visual novels I’m aware of showcase art styles that to me seem only anime fans could warm up to.

There are plenty of people with the patience for a visual novel; they just need something they can relate to.

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Nov 06
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

We have no qualms in admitting that we scoffed at Tetris Effect’s £34.99 price tag. “How can they justify charging almost full price?” we whined. After spending just ten minutes with last week’s demo all became clear – the production values are through the roof. You’ve never played a Tetris game this slick and polished before.

Reviews are yet to go live, but we have an inkling we may see a few 10/10s bandied about. It’s the greatest puzzler of all-time, turned into a stylish audio-visual experience that’ll stir long-dormant emotions. Or to put it more bluntly, it’s akin to being handed a 30-track compilation CD and finding every track is a banger.

We’re still waiting on reviews of World of Final Fantasy Maxima too, which is odd seeing it isn’t a new release per se – this new Switch and Xbox One release adds a bunch of new content and modes from the 2016 PS4 original, including a secret ending, a New Game+ mode, new bosses and dungeons and wealth of other nips and tucks. Outlook: positive.

Road Redemption on Xbox and Switch isn’t an entirely new game either – this spiritual successor to Road Rash made a name for itself on PC some time ago. This isn’t to be confused with 2017’s Road Rage, which we awarded a miserable 2/10.

We have, however, managed to round-up reviews of the Rollcage/WipEout spiritual successor GRIP – coming soon to Xbox One Game Pass – the FMV whodunnit The Shapeshifting Detective, From Software’s VR experience Déraciné, the curious roguelike RPG/shopkeeping hybrid Moonlighter, and next week’s anticipated SNK 40th Anniversary Collection on Switch.

Reviews of Carnival Games – out on Switch, PS4 and Xbox One – are also starting to trickle through now, making for interesting reading. “Motion controls, which seem like a thing this game was meant for, are unlockable bonuses. You have to play through a mini-game and earn a high score to unlock motion controls”, noted Nintendo World Report.

Friday also sees the release of the £79.99 Hitman 2: Gold Edition, allowing eager assassins to get their hands dirty a few days early. With dozens of big hitters out next week, those lacking in spare time may need to get a head start.

New release showcase:

GRIP: Combat Racing

Reviews:
9.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Jumping from floor to ceiling to wall and back sounds like it might be too hectic, but GRIP’s excellent camera handling ensures that players won’t lose track of what they are doing very easily. Four-player split screen, which is an absolute rarity these days, is a much-appreciated inclusion, and ensures that GRIP: Combat Racing will be played by groups for a while to come”

6/10 – Push Square: “GRIP has great racing mechanics, but they’re marred by inconsistent implementation. As a spiritual successor to a turn of the century combat racing IP that only a select few would recognise – Rollcage – it’s best enjoyed in short bursts”

5/10 – The Metro: “A no-thrills arcade racer that straddles the line between nostalgic throwback and outdated curio, and while fun in short doses it quickly loses its novelty”

Moonlighter

Reviews:
8.5 – Nintendo World Report: “There were a few technical hiccups that cropped up from time to time and the last few upgrades needed a bit of grinding to unlock. But despite that, I constantly found myself falling victim to the classic “just one more run””

8.5 – God is a Geek: “The gameplay here perfectly suits portable play and the port is mostly excellent. If you’ve been waiting on the Switch version, the wait has definitely been worth it. I hope the minor performance and visual issues get addressed in a patch to make this the definitive Moonlighter experience”

8/10 – Nintendo Life: “If you want to play a top-down Legend of Zelda game as a rogue-lite while also taking shifts as a shopkeeper then, hey, Moonlighter is about to scratch a distinctive itch for you. It hits a sweet spot somewhere between satisfying swordplay and nitty-gritty economic sim, although some players may feel it gets ‘grindy’ after a while in its mechanics”

Déraciné

Reviews:
4.5/5 – We Got This Covered: “FromSoftware steps away from brutal combat to deliver a touching, often heartbreaking adventure, and it’s one of the absolute best PSVR adventures currently available”

6/10 – PSU: “Déraciné has an interesting approach that only FromSoftware can deliver. At the same time, enough stands in the way of the overall package that diminishes what the game could have been. Fans of FromSoftware storytelling will find something interesting here, but others will dislike the pacing and execution”

5/10 – GameSpot: “Deracine has the buildings blocks of a good VR debut from Dark Souls creator FromSoftware, but it lacks the engrossing gameplay and mystique that has made the studio’s previous titles so successful”

The Shapeshifting Detective

Reviews:
8/10 – PSU: “A great FMV title to enjoy multiple times over and over. By changing the murderer each time I would restart the game I felt like I was playing a game of Clue with my PS4”

7.0 – God is a Geek: “Occasional repetition issues aside, The Shapeshifting Detective succeeds with strong character dialogue, a well-used morphing mechanic and its atmospheric setting”

6/10 – Push Square: “The Shapeshifting Detective is an interesting idea that seems to have love and care put into it. Unfortunately, it’s a little too basic, and despite the gimmick of changing into other characters, becomes dull after about an hour of play”

SNK 40th Anniversary Collection

Reviews:
9/10 – Nintendo World Report: “This celebration might only be focused on the first dozen or so years, but it’s a lovingly crafted and curated virtual exhibit that sets the standard for retro collections for the future”

8/10 – Nintendo Life: “Rather than just slapping a rudimentary menu over a bunch of old ROMs, it’s clear there’s been a lot of effort made here to catalogue an often forgotten period in one of Japan’s most important game developers. As with all compilations, there are a few misses, but the quality is generally high, and the supporting museum mode is an absolute treasure trove for retro enthusiasts”

8/10 – GameSpot: “For SNK and its fans, the team has elevated some of the company’s most important milestones. It’s responsible for more than just Neo Geo games, and though not every game that came before is worth replaying on its own today, the addition of supplemental materials and revitalizing modern gaming conveniences make them feel more interesting than they have in years, and in some cases, decades”

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Nov 05
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Red Dead Redemption 2 wasn’t able to become the fastest selling game of the year, failing to beat FIFA 19’s launch week sales, but it has achieved stronger second week sales than any other game this year. Or in fewer words: it’s still selling incredibly well.

Four new releases also break the top 40, with two arriving within the top ten: the budget priced LEGO Harry Potter Collection at #8 (technically a re-entry), and the physical release of Football Manager 2019 at #9.

Diablo III: Eternal Collection on Switch made #15, while Call of Cthulhu took #27.

Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! made #11 in the Switch top 20. That’s not bad going at all, considering the £90 price tag.

Going back to the all-formats top ten, positions #2, #3 and #4 remain unchanged, respectively occupied by Black Ops 4, FIFA 19, and Forza Horizon 4.

Marvel’s Spider-Man crawls up to #5, AC Odyssey fell to #6, Crash Bandicoot rose from #10 to #7, and then at #10 it’s a re-entry for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

LEGO DC Super-Villains, Super Mario Party and Shadow of the Tomb Raider depart the top ten this week, meanwhile. With Fallout 76, Battlefield V, Hitman 2 and Spyro on the horizon, they may struggle to make a top ten comeback.

Nov 02
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

When it comes to titles aimed at younger gamers, Climax Studios probably isn’t the first developer that springs to mind. But over the years, the Portsmouth-based outfit has created more family-friendly titles than you may expect, including tie-ins for Disney and some of the earliest LEGO-based games available for consoles.

With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to discover that Crayola Scoot – out now on Switch, PS4 and Xbox One – feels perfectly tailored for the young’ens.

Climax’s last release – Surf World Series – likely benefited Crayola Scoot’s development too, both being extreme sports titles with a focus on performing stunts and carrying combos. As the name suggests, scooters are the order of the day here. These aren’t any old scooters, though – after successfully landing a trick, or while boosting, a trail of fluorescent paint is left behind. If you’ve played Nintendo’s runaway success story Splatoon you’ll soon notice some more than a few similarities here. Not just within the match types, but also within the presentation.

Crayola Scoot never feels like a shameless clone, thankfully – due to the presence of scooters and the focus on performing stunts, it’s different enough to stand out from its inspiration. A match type involving covering a skate park in as much paint as possible – complete with a camera pan that shows off your messy handiwork – is about as cheeky as it gets.

Mixing things up, there are also checkpoint style races – which entail collecting crayons that appear randomly on the map – plus score attack matches, and tag battles in which bonus coins are gained for eluding the opposition for lengthy periods. Certainly, there are enough match types to keep things fresh while working through the single-player mode.

Prize money can be blown on new outfits and new scooter parts, and we’re pleased to report the former aren’t merely cosmetic – by rising the ranks and challenging the opposition (which includes a knight in golden armour, a feline witch, a robot, and a dim-witted zombie) access to their stat-boosting scooter parts is granted, which adds a welcome sense of progression. Kids are bound to enjoy the customisation aspects, allowing them to kit out characters with colourful – and daft – attire.

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