TransformersHumanAllianceT
Jul 22
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Some games are so bad they’re good. Judging by the trailer alone, SEGA’s new arcade shooter Transformers: Human Alliance is one of those games.

Bad voice-acting, comically poor cut-scenes, character models that don’t quite look right – this has all the hallmarks of a classic SEGA shooter. We all know deep down that The House of the Dead wouldn’t be anywhere near as memorable without the notoriously poor voice overs. Even the deluxe sit-down arcade cabinet looks delightfully tacky. The presumably cheaper upright cabinet, slightly less so.

TransformersHumanAlliance

Set during the original movie trilogy, it sees Optimus, Bumblebee and Sideswipe gunning down Decepticons while on the hunt for Megatron. Sam and Mikaela also appear – the trailer shows the Transformers saving their human hides on a couple of occasions. We assume that’s them, anyway – the human character models resemble something from the PlayStation 2 era.

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SuperToyCars
Jul 21
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

An intriguing assortment of new releases make their way to the Nintendo eShop this week. If none of these float your boat, a bunch of NES games are being offered at discount prices for NES Remix owners too.

To start us off there’s Neko Entertainment’s Wooden Sen’SeY (£8.00), a traditional platformer set in a “Japanese steam rock world”. The Official Nintendo Magazine handed out 65% back in April. The PC version passed a lot of gamers by, but chances are that it’ll perform a little better on Wii U.

Then there’s Super Toy Cars (£6.99) from Eclipse Games, which likewise was first released on PC earlier on this year. Although it didn’t receive many reviews, the few that can be found online are mostly positive. It’s a ‘table top racer’ similar to Micro Machines and other games of yore, offering local play for 4 players, 12 tracks and 16 different vehicles that each have their own handling models. It looks alright, this.

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white_pack
Jul 21
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Last week really was a poor one for UK game sales. So poor, in fact, that this week’s UK top 40 sees 2011′s Pokemon White and Pokemon Black resurface at #21 and #22. What are they doing there? Why, they’re reduced to £7.99 at Argos currently. Even with limited stock available they’ve still managed to almost break the top 20.

There were no new releases last week either, and so the top ten features all the usual faces.

Watch_Dogs is still #1, FIFA 14 moves up to #2 due to heavy discounting, Call of Duty: Ghosts is at #3 and then at #4 and #5 respectively it’s Wolfenstein: The New Order and Sniper Elite 3.

Mario Kart 8 is back in the top ten though, which Nintendo and Nintendo fans alike will no doubt be pleased to hear. It’s at #10, up from #16. Tomodachi Life meanwhile leaves the top ten this week, going from #9 to #14.

Elsewhere in the top 40, movie tie-in in disguise Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark rises up from #18 to #15. 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil continues its descent, plunging to #19, and GRID: Autosport moves down from #20 to #28. With very few new releases out, we would have thought that Codemasters’ latest racer would be performing a little better.

MajescoGameGearT
Jul 18
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

Best known nowadays for publishing the Cooking Mama and Zumba fitness games in the US, budget specialists Majesco have been around for far longer than most gamers realise. Back in the mid-‘90s, when the 16-bit market was entering its twilight years, the company purchased Acclaim’s Mexico-based cartridge manufacturing facility and begin to re-release Genesis and SNES titles in the US at bargain prices.

These re-releases are usually frowned upon by collectors as they came in flimsy cardboard boxes rather than hard plastic cases. Manuals were printed in black and white, while the cartridges themselves were mostly formed out of Acclaim’s unsold stock. It wasn’t uncommon to find the Acclaim logo on reverse of a Majesco re-release, even if the game itself had nothing to do with the now defunct publisher. Cart labels meanwhile had a cheap matte finish to them.

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The list of games Majesco re-released is a long one – everything from Disney tie-ins to first-party SEGA titles. There were a few EA games re-issued too – including Road Rash 2 – which did away with those infamous EA carts that featured a pointless yellow tab.

It’s fair to say that Majesco had a good idea of what games were worth re-releasing – the hard-to-find Castlevania: Bloodlines and Contra: Hard Corps both gained a re-issue, which probably prompted a degree of rejoicing back in the day.

Slowly but surely, gamers left their Genesis and SNES consoles behind to jump onto the 32-bit bandwagon – or 64-bit, as was the case for Nintendo fans. Majesco attempted to give the Genesis a new lease of life by releasing the Genesis 3 in 1998, but the fact that these units are little-known would suggest their attempt failed. Far smaller than the Genesis 2 – which was also re-issued by Majesco – they aimed to sell 1.5 million units of the drastically re-designed 16-bit system. An optimistic figure, considering the three-way console war between the PSone, Saturn and N64 was currently well underway.

Then in 2001 Majesco made a rather unexpected announcement – they planned not only to re-manufacture the SEGA Game Gear, but also publish new games for it:

“February 21, 2001
EDISON, NJ, February 21, 2001 – Further strengthening its position in the handheld arena, Majesco, Inc., today announced it has acquired rights from Sega Toys to re-manufacture the classic Sega Game Gear portable gaming console. The system will be available at Toys R Us stores and online a twww.toysrus.com and will be value priced at $29.99. Majesco additionally announced plans to support the system by publishing original Game Gear games, also value priced at $14.97.

Originally introduced in 1990, Game Gear features portable gameplay on a full color, hi-resolution 3.2 inch backlit LCD screen. Games display 32 blazing colors for arcade-quality graphics and vivid animation with 4-layer audio and 24k RAM.

Majesco will manufacture and publish 10 games for the Game Gear system. These titles include: Disney’s The Lion King, Aladdin, The Jungle Book, Deep Duck Trouble, Caesars Palace, Super BattleTank, Sonic Chaos, Sonic Spinball, Pac Man, and Ms. Pac Man.”

Presumably Majesco intended it to be a low-cost alternative to the Game Boy Advance. The mere $29.99 price tag must have also made it an appealing proposition to those who past the handheld by when it was first released.

MajescoScreen

In terms of build quality, the Majesco Game Gear was a mixed bag. The screen was brighter and clearer but as you can see from our images, the plastic
“lens” was prone to scratching. The notably darker plastic casing meanwhile had a cheap feel to it, while the Game Gear’s tri-colour logo was now in monochrome. This does at least make Majesco’s system easy to distinguish from the original model.

GGSideBySide

Majesco’s model wasn’t compatible with the TV tuner accessory either, while reportedly one of the Master System converters refused to work.

Thankfully Majesco didn’t make the same mistake that SEGA did and use cheap capacitors – whereas our original Game Gear now suffers from sound and screen issues due to the capacitors inside dying, our Majesco unit is still going strong some thirteen years later. For this reason alone, we would recommend the Majesco Game Gear over SEGA’s own. They can be tricky beasts to track down however – to the average gamer it is no more than your everyday Game Gear, and so they’re usually listed as such on auction sites. Like we said: look out for a monochrome logo.

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Professional FarmerT
Jul 17
By Lauren Relph In Reviews No Comments

There’s a surprisingly sizeable market for simulation games, and so you can’t blame UIG Entertainment for cashing-in on demand. The German publisher – also responsible for such riveting endeavours as Airport Simulator and Woodcutter Simulator – has recently released a ‘Platinum Edition’ of last November’s Professional Farmer 2014. Available as both a download and a retail release, it includes the ‘Good Ol’ Times’ DLC, plus new ‘America’ DLC that features additional crops and machinery.

Are you still with us? Good.

Those who played Professional Farmer 2013 will instantly notice a few improvements and changes. For one, tractors have gears so you can now choose to go either slow or really slow. Season changes are also a new addition, allowing you to get really get into the farmer role, planning crop rotations and harvesting cycles. Lord forbid you plant the wrong crops in the wrong season and they wither and dry up…just like the hopes you had of having any kind of fun here.

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Don’t get us wrong, it’s not that there’s anything inherently bad on show, it’s just that everything is just so tedious. To give you some semblance of the time scale we’re talking about, it once took us almost three real life hours to plough a field to a reasonable standard. The next objective, which is to presumably seed it, hadn’t even popped yet. That’s to say, we sat in the cab of the tractor, trundled about forever and were still within the parameters of one of the first objectives. If this doesn’t already smell of slurry to you, you’re made of sterner stuff than we are. We’re not asking for Need for Speed: Farming Edition, we just want to achieve something within a reasonable amount of time.

Ploughing is an ordeal in itself. After lowering the plough to the field, we found it a feat in itself to do the job it was intended for. The turning circle on the tractor is so wide, mimicking real life, that ploughing fields is impossible. And it only became more of an ordeal as time went on.

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1080678221
Jul 17
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

We were expecting Tropico 5 to arrive on Xbox 360 this week, but it would appear that the city building sim has been pushed back until later this month. As such, this week is a complete non-event for new retail releases. There’s literally nothing out. Literally.

Magic2015

If you’d rather remain inside instead of enjoying the sizzling summer sun, fortunately for you there are plenty of new downloads to tempt you away from the outside world.

On Xbox 360 there’s trading card battler Magic 2015. It’ll set you back £7.99 with additional card packs priced at £3.99. We can’t find any screenshots online, oddly, but there is a video here.

Incidentally, Microsoft promises that the Xbox One version isn’t far away.

We spent a few hours with the Magic 2013 when it was available for free and found it to be surprisingly engaging, although absolutely an acquired taste.

abyss

Magic 2015 is joined by Atlus’ 2D action-adventure Abyss Odyssey, available now on both XBLA and PSN. The XBLA version costs £8.03 while the PlayStation 3 is priced at £11.99 or £8.39 for PS Plus members.

This hack and slasher comes from indie Chilean developer ACE Team. God is a Geek gave the PC version 7/10 – calling it “a curious experiment, and one that’s well worth continued testing”.

Destructoid handed out the same score, claiming that “While it would be nice to see some more variety in the level layouts and early enemies, there’s still a really enjoyable and deep combat system that’s reason enough to descend into the Abyss”.

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WiiUVC_Earthbound_02_mediaplayer_large
Jul 14
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

The summer game drought has seemingly spread to the Nintendo eShop – there are only three new arrivals due this Thursday, and one of those is a yet another match-three puzzler.

There are some decent eShop discounts however. To celebrate its arrival on Wii U Virtual Console exactly one year ago, legendary SNES RPG Earthbound is receiving a 40% discount. This’ll bring the price down to £4.19 until 24th July.

Earthbound

Last year’s Virtual Console release marked the first time that the much-loved adventure was made available to European gamers. In order to give newcomers a helping hand, the originally packed-in player’s guide was also released as a PDF.

On 3DS meanwhile SteamWorld Dig – a game that we found very hard to fault – likewise gets a temporary price drop. Mixing Mr. Driller with Metroid, it’s one of the eShop’s finest. Until 31st July it’ll set you back £3.99 instead of £7.99.

Little Inferno on Wii U is also getting a cut – down to £4.59 – while escapeVektor on 3DS falls to £3.59 until the end of the month. Then there’s Nintendo’s Steel Diver: Sub Wars: Premium Version, down to £6.29 from £8.99. Finally, 3DS platformer Cubit The Hardcore Platformer Robot is not just getting a price cut – from £2.69 to £1.80 – but also a demo.

Gaiabreaker

As for new stuff, Japanese 2D shooter Gaiabreaker (£9.89) makes its way onto Wii U. A very traditional shmup, it would appear that developers Ubiquitous Entertainment are big fans of Raiden.

Then hot on the heels of Kirby Triple Deluxe comes Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land – the week’s only Wii U Virtual Console release. If memory serves, fans hoovered this one up when it was first released in 2002.

This leaves us with that aforementioned match-three puzzler. Entitled Pick-A-Gem, it looks colourful if nothing else. If you own a 3DS and haven’t had your fair share of these yet, then the £2.69 asking price doesn’t strike us as unreasonable.

GuacameleeT
Jul 14
By Matt Gander In Reviews 1 Comment

Here’s food for thought. By the time Nintendo gets round to releasing a new Metroid, they could find the bar for the increasingly popular ‘Metroidvania’ genre has been set so high that they may struggle to topple it. In the past couple of years we’ve had plenty of notable newcomers for Samus’ proverbial crown, including this indie effort that certainly has more than a little Metroid running through its veins.

It’s the Mexican setting that sets this adventure apart, helping to give it its own unique identity. You play as Juan, a simple Mexican farmer. The strong and silent type, Juan meets his maker mere moments after the get-go, only to be resurrected as an almighty Lunchadore. As such, grapples feature heavily in Juan’s special move roster, allowing him to piledrive and superplex the undead army – orchestrated by sinister skeleton Carlos Calca – that’s currently tormenting his hometown. As well as Calca’s plans to thwart, there’s also a damsel in distress to save.

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Juan gains dozens of new moves as the story unfolds, obtained by finding and destroying statues. One long running joke is that the owner of these statues – an elderly chap with the natty ability to transform into a goat – gets rather irate with Juan smashing up his property. Jokes like these are rife throughout – over the course of the game you’ll be treated to plenty of pop culture references, in addition to some subtle nods to other indie titles. Developers Drinkbox are clearly huge Nintendo fans too – there are dozens of references to Mario, Pokemon, Zelda and of course Metroid.

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