DefenseTechnica
Apr 24

Tower-defence/RTS hybrid Defense Grid managed to gain a sizeable cult following when it was first released, and no doubt after being made available for free as part of Microsoft’s Games for Gold promotion it managed to find more fans.

This week sees this release of Defense Technica, a game that we assumed is a sequel to Defense Grid. Turns out it isn’t – it’s simply “inspired” by it. Right.

Promotion has been thin on the ground, but we don’t doubt that the £7.99 download will go on to get an advert or two on Xbox Live. If it has managed to rip off Defense Grid successfully, it should be worth a look.

KickAss2

Kick Ass 2 is another that hasn’t gained much promotion. Unlike Defense Technica though, this is a retail release. Yeah, we’re kind of surprised by this too. The colourful brawler is out Xbox 360 and PS3, with a price tag of around £19.99. We were thinking of sourcing a copy to review, but then remembered how terrible Freedom Factory Studio’s last game was – the shoddy superhero adventure Young Justice: Legacy. We really can’t face playing another game as potentially bad as that.

PS Vita RPG Demon Gaze is definitely a safe purchase. US Gamer gave it 9/10, claiming that “Demon Gaze is an enjoyable and enormously addictive title that strikes a good balance between endearing JRPG-style narrative and compelling dungeon-crawling exploration, let down only slightly by somewhat repetitive combat”. It was also given an 8/10 from Pocket Gamer: “Tough, beautiful, and easy to lose yourself in, Demon Gaze is a polished dungeon crawler with tons of challenge and charm”.

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Hot on the heels of last week’s anime-inspired Short Peace, comes fellow PS3-exclusive Jo Jo’s Bizarre Adventure. Early reviews suggest that it’s a decent fighter marred slightly by cheeky DLC – out of the 41 characters, 9 have to be purchased additionally.

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A1cgZLucH5L
Apr 23

The current issue of Uncooked Media’s ONE Gamer magazine is to be the last. Fear not – the mag isn’t about to join the likes of Xbox World, PSM and NGamer in heaven’s paper recycling bin. It’s instead being transformed into a multi-format magazine known simply as GAMER, with the first issue launching 21st May.

The final editorial in ONE Gamer claims that GAMER will be “a magazine for everybody who considers themselves a gamer, whether they play games on an Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, PC handheld, smartphone or tablet”.

ONEGamer

Joint editor James Artaius then goes to assure that Xbox coverage won’t be minimised in the slightest. Considering that their readership will mostly comprise of Xbox owners – especially to begin with – that’s a smart move. Reading between the lines though, it could simply be the case that GAMER is going to focus heavily on multi-format titles in order to cover the broadest spectrum possible.

GAMER will also be supported by GAMER Interactive, a free digital magazine released every other Wednesday for iPad, Android and Kindle.

As much as it pleases us to see a hear of a “new” magazine being launched, the decision to go from Xbox-only to multi-format does have a whiff of desperation about it, as if this is a last ditch attempt to boost flagging sales. We certainly fail to recall any other magazine going from single-format to multi-format before.

Still, we’d rather this happened than see the magazine disappear altogether. And although ONE Gamer (née 360 Gamer) isn’t the most prolific magazine around they do give a lot of niche titles significant coverage. A good example of this is the current issue, which unexpectedly features city-building sim Tropico 5 on the reverse cover.

CabelasBGH_PH_Screen3
Apr 23

Those who believe Call of Duty is Activison’s most overworked franchise obviously aren’t aware of how often the publisher releases new Cabela hunting simulations. There are seventeen on Xbox 360 alone, three of which – we kid you not – were once released on the same day. That said, chances are the majority of gamers are blissfully unaware of series. Although the Cabela games have a sizeable cult following in the US, it’s fair to say that outside of Activision’s home turf people only buy them for one of two reasons – either out of sheer curiosity, or to unlock the easy achievements they usually contain.

CabelasBGH4

Just like Call of Duty, Activision alternates the series between two developers. In this case, Cauldron and Fun Labs. The former are behind this offering, and a quick glance on Google suggests that Cauldron’s games are the better out of duo. Indeed, this feels like it’s intended to be a franchise reboot of sorts. Previous Cabela games (or at least, the two or three we’ve played in the past) have had a rather amateurish look and feel to them, but here it’s clear that effort has been made to make it a much more comprehensive and engrossing experience. Maps are far larger and consequently time limits are longer. We were actually quite surprised to discover that some hunts can take almost an hour to complete.

If you thought Sniper Elite V2’s kills were grizzly, think again

Your hunt career begins with just a reasonable rifle and nothing more. Bows, shotguns, special ammo and hunting calls come at an additional cost and are often required to take part in certain hunts. If you want to carry enough firepower to effortlessly take down a grizzly bear, you’re going to have to take your time and make every shot count.

That’s no exaggeration. Miss a shot and the piercing noise of the rife alone will send herds running scared, leaving you with the choice of either following their tracks or going to a different area. Every shot fired triggers a slow-mo x-ray feature and emphasis is on quick and clean kills – shots to the lungs, heart and spine. If you thought Sniper Elite V2’s kills were grizzly, think again. Animals merely wounded will scurry into the undergrowth where they then have to be tracked down and finished off. Although it’s the humane thing to do, it’s also a vastly time consuming task. So much so that we often found ourselves simply re-starting hunts and trying again.

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WiiUDS_NESRemix2_07_enGB_mediaplayer_large
Apr 22

Usually Nintendo spaces their sequels years apart, but that’s not the case for NES Remix 2. The £8.99 download is due to arrive on the Wii U eShop this week, almost five month exactly after the original launched.

With a stronger line-up of NES classics broken into bite-sized bits – including Super Mario Bros. 3, Kirby’s Adventure, Metroid and Kid Icarus – reviewers claim that it’s a improvement over the first NES Remix.

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“NES Remix 2 feels like a step forward on most fronts, which almost seems more like a long jump considering where the series started” said Joystiq, who gave it a respectable enough 3.5/5.

Destructoid meanwhile felt that “NES Remix 2 is a solid follow-up with more “must have” games and a few extras to sweeten the deal. If you passed due to the ho-hum nature of some of the titles in the original offering, think about checking it out this time around”. They went on to give it an 8, whereas the original was given 7.5.

Japanese gamers have been treated to a retail release of NES Remix 1 and 2, complete with some rather appealing box-art. As much as we’d like to see it over here, there’s no word currently. With Wii U releases thin on the ground however there is a chance we could see it fill a void in the release schedule over the coming months.

Yumi-chan

The last of the announced Wii U GBA Virtual Console releases is also making an appearance this week – the evergreen egg-chucker Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 (£6.29). Hopefully Nintendo will now open the gates for third-party GBA games. We’re pretty sure SEGA would jump at the chance to re-release the Sonic Advance trilogy on Wii U.

Over on the 3DS eShop nautical platformer Sayonara UmiharaKawase leads the way. If the name rings a bell then you sir have fine taste – the SNES original was a popular choice with importers. Like the original, this 3DS revamp stars a female protagonist armed with just a fishing rod. Rather than for fishing, the rod is instead used as a grappling hook to navigate the sea-creature filled levels. It’ll set you back £19.99. If that price strikes you as steep, just bare in mind that it was a retail release in Japan. Why the US name – Yumi’s Odd Odyssey – hasn’t been used in Europe is a mystery to us though.

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42_1397657248
Apr 22

We wasn’t aware that the retail version of Trials Fusion includes the season pass – hence the inflated cost over the digital version – and so we didn’t expect it to chart highly this week.

There must be plenty of gamers out there more switched on than we are, as Trials Fusion has entered at a respectable #7 in the UK chart. Digital sales aren’t included.

According to the individual format chart, the PS4 version has proven to be the most popular.

Bolstered by the belated Xbox 360 conversion, Titanfall is still the UK’s #1. It’s a corking conversion and so we’re glad to see it doing well.

2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil enters at #2, and will no doubt take #1 in the coming weeks.

Moving down one place to #3 it’s LEGO The Hobbit, which was our tip for the Easter top spot.

FIFA 14 and Call of Duty: Ghosts finish off the UK top five for this week.

Aside Trials Fusion, the only other new release is Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on PS4 at #20.

Elsewhere we see 505 Games’ retail release of Terraria moving up the chart from #37 to #32 while handheld movie tie-in Frozen: Olaf’s Quest quite possibly enters the top 40 for the first time at #37.

There’s not much going on in the single-format charts either, although we do spy the anime-inspired 2D platformer Short Peace Rankos Tsukigime Longest Day entering the PS3 chart at #25.

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.

The_Excellent_Dizzy_Collection_Coverart

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.

Linesipad

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.

LinesipadScreens5

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”.

WorldCup2014

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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