Apr 18
By Richard In Reviews No Comments

Homage is difficult. Scott Pilgrim vs the World is a homage to 1980’s video games and the Toronto indie music scene. Both the novel and the film are wildly inventive and beautiful works which use the specificity of the premise and place to say wider things about love, responsibility and growing up. Mockbuster movie Transmorphers is a homage to Transformers. It’s absolute cack.

The difference is care and attention. The developers of Metagal clearly love Mega Man, and this homage to it feels affectionate and true. From the screen-scrolling to the way you upgrade your arsenal by stealing boss’ special powers, there’s a specificity to Metagal that’s hard not to admire. And there’s a lot of time to admire it. The game over screens provide a lot of time to reflect.

It looks the part, with nice, clean pixel graphics, although it feels a lot sharper in handheld mode. When blown up on the TV, it feels out of place and a little blurry. The sound design fares better, as the soundtrack is exactly how we remember NES games sounding (jaunty and twee) rather than what NES games actually sound like (monotonous and painfully high pitched).

Metagal isn’t a straight up copy of Mega Man, though, as it brings its own ideas to the table. Abilities utilize a charging system, as expected, but you start with a blast-shot and the ability to regenerate health. You can also collect cogs along the way that help you by allowing you to restart from the last screen, which helps with the problem of having to repeat vast parts of levels. They’re a valuable commodity.

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Apr 18
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

The Switch continues to prove that it’s the little system that could, placing an extremely competent conversion of Cuphead in the hands of run ‘n gun fans.

Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry was left entirely smitten. “Cuphead delivers a locked 60 frames per second on both docked and mobile Switch configurations, meaning that it’s absolutely on par with the Xbox One version in terms of fluidity and consistency – a boon for a sideways shooter like this one,” was their verdict.

Review scores are a mixture of 8s and 9s so far, with many critics claiming that’s an ideal game for the Switch, ergo one that’s more than welcome.

Reviews for Katana ZERO – a stylish, insta-death, samurai slashing platformer – are also starting to surface today, and in short, barely a bad word has been said. Screen Rant doled out top marks (5/5) before claiming that it’s one of the best games of 2019 so far.

“There’s so much to like about it – its sleekness, its bizarre plot, its beguiling soundtrack, the fluidity of its slashing-around – and so very little to take issue with. If Katana ZERO were to have a fault it would be its length which is on the shorter side. But what a wonderful problem, when a game’s only flaw is that there isn’t enough of it in the world.”

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster is another one of this week’s high scorers, and as you may have already guessed, it’s yet another retro re-release more than welcome on Nintendo’s platform. Two fan favourite JRPGs in one tidy package – there’s not much to dislike here. “It goes without saying that Final Fantasy X & X-2 HD Remaster is an incredible port of a pair of already incredible games. While both Final Fantasy X and X-2 have received numerous new releases over the past several years, it is apparent that the Nintendo Switch version holds up extremely well alongside the other available systems,” said the role-player lovers over at RPG Site.

The Harvest Moon alike ‘life simulator’ My Time at Portia is one you may want to approach with caution. It has gone down rather well on PS4 and Xbox One, praised for its relaxing nature, but the Switch version apparently has technical issues. Long loading times, input lag, and poor visuals reportedly put a dampener on the experience.

Konami’s eight-game strong Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection isn’t off to the best possible start either, with the first review off the bat being a lukewarm 6/10 from The Metro: “A seemingly random collection of Konami arcade games that’s so incoherent and bare bones it won’t please retro fans or newcomers.”

You’ll find the full list of new Switch releases below, with other notable new arrivals including the point ‘n clicker Trüberbrook, visual novel Our World Is Ended, the taxing isometric puzzler SlabWell: The Quest For Kaktun’s Alpaca, and the hypnotic, visually arresting, adventure Path to Mnemosyne.

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Apr 16
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

At a time when zombie games are a dime a dozen, it helps to have a little special something to stand out. Knowing this, Saber Interactive has associated their Left 4 Dead-alike with the 2013 movie World War Z. Having some sort of brand recognition is better than nothing.

Besides, WWZ did rather well at the box office. It seems WWZ (the game), borrows the movie’s penchant for colossal zombie hordes – showcased here using Saber’s Swarm Engine – so it isn’t just cashing in on WWZ’s good name either.

It’s a co-op shooter with missions set across the globe (New York, Jerusalem, Moscow and Tokyo) that’s been heavily likened to Valve’s L4D series. While critical reviews are yet to surface, user reviews on Metacritic are surprisingly positive, with both the level design and the XP-based character progression system receiving praise.

If you’d rather wait for Days Gone for your zombie fix, a few other notable new releases are available now. PSVR owners may want to check out Ghost Giant, another VR showcase that presents a beautiful world to explore. Recent Wireframe cover star Heaven’s Vault is aimed at budding archaeologists, meanwhile, being an adventure game with an entire hieroglyphic language to decipher.

Trüberbrook offers a different kind of adventure, influcensed by point ‘n clickers of yore. It’s set in an alternative 1960s and provides a sci-fi mystery to uncover. “While Trüberbrook suffers from a handful of technical issues and some occasionally sluggish gameplay, the story, atmosphere, and dry humour make for a largely enjoyable experience. However, if you don’t already love point-and-clicks, this one won’t change your mind,” said Switch Player before dishing out a 3/5 review score.

There’s also My Time at Portia, from good old Team 17. Taking inspiration from Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing and other relaxed ‘life’ sims, it’s apparently a little scrappy in some areas but bursting with personality. We’ve rounded-up scores below.

You’ll also find scores for Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, which is out on both Switch and Xbox One later this week. It’s fast become a cliché to say it, but it’s another fine addition to the Switch library.

Retro purists may also want to investigate Anniversary Collection: Arcade Classics – Konami – the first of three collections – which includes Haunted Castle, A-Jax (aka Typhoon), Gradius, Gradius 2, Life Force, Thunder Cross, Scramble, TwinBee, and an ebook full of sketches and design documents. We doubt we’re the only ones pleased to learn that Konami still possesses documentation on their older games.

New release showcase:

My Time at Portia

Reviews:
8/10 – PlayStation Country: Barring a few janky moments, My Time At Portia remains an engrossing, vibrantly colourful Sim-RPG with tons of charm, surprises and discoveries around each corner. There is plenty to see, lots to do and a fair amount to love about this charming and rewarding adventure.

7/10 – Push Square: The game is effortlessly simple, but it excels in almost everything it aims to achieve. It’s one of the most relaxing indie life-simulation games out there, and yet it still offers enough adventure and addictive crafting opportunities to keep you hooked. A totally new spin on the post-apocalyptic experience, My Time At Portia is vibrant, relaxing, and brimming with charm.

3.5/5 – Windows Central: My Time at Portia could use some polish to improve things like menus, positioning objects, and cursor positioning with a controller, but once you get used to its idiosyncrasies, it’s a relaxing and rewarding experience.

7/10 – Nintendo Life: My Time At Portia is an ambitious game that actually delivers on what it sets out to do. The crafting can be extremely overwhelming at first and the presence of some in-game timers can be a mild annoyance, but get your head round its detailed multi-step building missions and you’ll end up with a game that could end up racking hundreds of hours on your Switch.

6/10 – GameSpot: Time feels like it crawls by unless you’re occupying yourself with busywork, which unfortunately ends up detracting from the charm of the lively hustle and bustle of the town of Portia.

Ghost Giant (PSVR)

Reviews:
9.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: It’s not a difficult game, but that’s not the point. Ghost Giant wants you to play in its world, but also engage with its heart. It’s a beautiful experience that really highlights what not just VR, but games overall, are all about.

8.3 – IGN: Ghost Giant may look like something you’ve played in VR before, but has the character and emotional depth to invoke very real feelings.

8/10 – The Metro: A wonderful mix of cutting edge technology and nuanced storytelling that instantly becomes one of the best games for PlayStation VR.

Heaven’s Vault

Reviews:
8/10 – TheSixthAxis: Heaven’s Vault is a fantastic narrative experience that offers a genuinely mature and intelligent take on science fiction and the interactions between technology and religion. Superbly realised characters, fascinating architecture, and a wonderfully detailed new language to decipher combine to make this a truly original and rewarding game. It’s a shame that the sailing is so repetitive, but Heaven’s Vault will reward fans of slower paced and meditative games.

5/10 – Push Square: Heaven’s Vault will satisfy budding archaeologists and linguistic fanatics in fits and starts, but the overall experience that brings those mechanics together leaves a lot to be desired. Alongside technical frustrations and tedious movement between locations, this is hardly a game we can recommend with any sort of confidence.

N/A – Polygon: Heaven’s Vault does hold great potential; Inkle’s commitment to delivering an alternative (and more realistic) take on video game archaeology, and to encouraging players to decipher and learn a language, is inventive and mentally stimulating. But holistically, the experience is humdrum; there’s little incentive to keep on unpacking its world if I don’t buy into its fiction. And sadly, I do not. For a game that revolves around the beauty of languages, it’s a disappointment that Heaven’s Vault can’t find the right words to express itself.

FINAL FANTASY X/X-2 HD Remaster

Reviews:
8.5 – CGM: Final Fantasy X/X-2 make for a lovely addition to the Switch’s library – a touching experience for new and old players.

4/5 – Game Rant: The Switch’s visuals are on-par with the other remastered releases of Final Fantasy X/X-2, but with the added plus of custom controller binds and the Quick Recovery system. Gamers who want to play FFX and FFX-2 on the go have a great option here, but it’s still not an ultimate release, as some of the PC perks didn’t make it to this version.

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Apr 16
By Richard In Reviews No Comments

Flailing limb sims such as Surgeon Simulator and Octodad have become big business recently. The former, in particular, has sold over 2 million copies.

It’s easy to see why. Surgeon Simulator is hilarious, frequently making the slippery controls and the player’s incompetence the centre of its comedy making machine. Godly Corp is the latest attempt to introduce guffaws into games.

It makes a decent first impression. It has a nice icon (it shouldn’t matter, we know, but so many Switch games make such a bad go at this) and its basic premise of being an ancient Cthulhu charged with manning a desk in a drab office is ripe for laughs.

Unfortunately, that’s where the fun ends. Godly Corp is less ‘corrupted elder being’ and more ‘corrupted save slot’.

Let’s start with the controls. Frankly, they’re abysmal. But not abysmal in a fun way; more like in an H.P. Lovecraft racist essay way. In most limb simulators (this is a term I’m trying to coin, so go with me), the joy comes from flailing about, the fluid and quick movements quickly get out of control as you lose to momentum and inertia.

Godly Corp’s controls are way too slow. You control one single limb, rather than two, using the analogue sticks. The right stick moves up and down while the left moves left to right. It all results in a lot of frustration, jerkiness and clipping, but no joy.

The developers clearly want you to laugh. There’s a picture of Cthulhu on the wall with an ’employee of the month’ badge, as well as a radio that spews ‘satirical’ messages, but it thinks being difficult is enough to bring that about. It’s not. To compound the issue, most tasks make you do two things at once. Frustration alone isn’t enough for comedy.

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Apr 15
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

April’s quiet spell leaves its mark on the chart for a second week running, with the only new arrival in the entire UK top 40 being the Burnout spiritual successor Dangerous Driving at #34.

According to Chart-Track, the two Nintendo Labo Toy-Con 4 VR kits “just missed out” on breaking the top 40.

They both managed to make the Switch top 20, however – the £69.99 VR Kit took #11 while the cheaper (£34.99) VR Starter Set + Blaster made #13.

Back in the multiformat top ten it’s Ubisoft’s The Division 2 that claims the top spot, making it two weeks in a row. FIFA 19 also managed to hold onto #2 for a second week.

At #3 it’s Red Dead Redemption 2, up from #6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe remained at #4 while fellow Switch exclusive Yoshi’s Crafted World moved down to #5.

Retailer promotions help Assassin’s Creed Odyssey rise from #11 to #6.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice hangs around at #7, NSMB.U Deluxe is on the rise to #8, while the evergreen GTA V is at #9.

Marvel’s Spider-Man swings in at #10, up all the way from #29. A few other Sony exclusives also enjoyed a sales boost with God of War back at #26 and Detroit: Become Human re-entering at #33.

Apr 12
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

The Xbox One certainly isn’t short on twin-stick shooters. The latest to hit the digital store is different from most, however – it sees you controlling a bullet-spewing butterfly, engaging in garden warfare.

Flutter Bombs is available now for £16.74, and after giving the trial version a whirl, we can safely say like what we’ve seen. The controls are tight and responsive, destroying swarms of insects feels satisfying, and the fact that you have use “ammo” (nectar) sparingly prevents it from being brainless.

The power-ups also help to provide that all-important illusive sensation of being unstoppable, able to destroy everything in your path for a few fleeting seconds.

Collecting nectar replenishes ammo reverses, with bombs – used to kill spiders, mostly – requiring a hefty chunk. This forces you not only to constantly move around the map to gather nectar but also prioritise threats.

Visually it’s reasonably slick with some neat touches present, such as fish jumping out of the pond if you dare to fly too near. The general presentation is likewise decent, and in addition to the main campaign – which includes fire and ice worlds – there are also survival and boss rush modes.

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Apr 11
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

You won’t find this week’s biggest Switch release on the eShop. The Nintendo Labo: Toycon 04 VR Kit launches tomorrow, and to quote The Metro, it provides “a thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly engrossing mix of VR, handicraft, and edutainment.”

So, it’s nothing like the Virtual Boy, then.

If VR isn’t your thing, worry not as there are plenty other new games to get stuck into. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice leads the way, launching just one week ahead of another Xbox One-to-Switch release – the almighty Cuphead. While reviews of Hellblade are yet to surface, there are plenty of first impression videos on YouTube that prove its no slapdash affair – it’s a very impressive conversion, on par with Panic Button’s efforts.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is also something of a no-brainer, bringing together 14 chapters of Capcom’s courtroom drama. For those who’ve never played Phoenix Wright, this is an ideal place to start.

Review scores are mostly a mixture of 8s and 9s so far. “The Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy is a title that everyone who loves a great well-written story should have and one that current fans can still enjoy returning to once more,” said Hardcore Gamer.

Grid-based dungeon crawler Vaporum is getting good reviews too, offering old school strategy action. The Switch version apparently suffers from small icons and text when played in handheld mode, though. “The game is full of puzzles, exploration and a wonderful narrative all wrapped in some nice, basic RPG elements,” said GameSpace before dishing out an 8/10.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! is another of note. The offbeat restaurant management sim was a surprise hit on PC and mobiles several years ago. This long-awaited sequel makes sure no budding chef is left out, launching on all formats.

Reviews of the Switch version are slow to surface, but the PS4 version is off to a flying start with no review scores lower than 8/10 currently showing on Metacritic. “It’ll test your mental agility and finger dexterity to the full”, reports PSU.

Reigns: Game of Thrones launches a week ahead of the final series, currently available for a mere £3.05. This isn’t a new game, per see, but rather a rejig of the indie sleeper hit Reigns. We don’t think you can go far wrong with this.

Arcade Archives TIME PILOT is this week’s one and only retro re-release, meanwhile. Check back next week for more Konami classics, in the form of the eight-game-strong Anniversary Collection.

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Apr 09
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

It’s all been leading to this. No, this isn’t a reference to Avengers: Endgame, but rather Three Fields Entertainment’s Dangerous Driving. After releasing a few smaller, digital only, titles (such as the underrated Dangerous Golf) the indie studio has finally launched its magnum opus – an arcade racer that’s Burnout all but in name.

The general consensus is that even though it isn’t able to match Criterion’s much loved, and sadly dormant, racer it’s still a decent enough alternative. It’s available both at retail and on the download services, with the retail release available at around £30. The studio has seen fit to throw in Danger Zone 2 as a freebie, too.

While other parts of the world receive a physical release of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, us Europeans are forced to settle for digital only. It does at least appear to be worth the £30 asking price, with scores mostly being a mixture of 8s and 9s. The Nintendo DS classics have been remade with enhanced visuals, featuring all 14 episodes from the first three games.

Spike Chunsoft’s Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is another heading to both retail and digital storefronts. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, it’s part visual novel, part survival RPG. You’ll find a smattering of reviews below, along with scores for the (alarmingly) old-school steampunk dungeon crawler Vaporum.

Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! is almost ready to be dished up. The original comical restaurant simulator was a surprise hit but only made it to PC and mobile. All change for this sequel – it’s out on PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.

God is a Geek gave the Switch version a whirl, resulting in a lofty 9/10. “Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! Is a fantastic conversion on the Switch. The touchscreen controls are super and HD Rumble is excellent. This release is everything I wanted in a Switch port of the game,” they said.

Point-and-click adventure Shadowgate also receives a remake this week, complete with a retro mode featuring pixelated graphics and Hiroyuki Masuno’s original NES chip tunes. If you’re quick, you can get 20% off the asking price on the Xbox One store.

Switch owners are no doubt looking forward to Nintendo Labo Toy-con 04: VR Kit – Nintendo’s voyage into VR. Potentially, it could be the greatest Labo kit yet. On Xbox One, meanwhile there’s the rather brazen Stardew Valley clone Gleaner Heights and the insect-based twin-stick shooter Flutter Bombs.

This leaves us with Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain on PS4, which sees Yuke’s take the helm. Despite being geared more towards western gamers – with gritter visuals and a character creation tool – it seems its flying under the radar somewhat. Maybe once reviews go live it’ll start to generate more of a buzz.

New release showcase:

Dangerous Driving

Reviews:
8/10 – PSU: “Though Dangerous Driving doesn’t quite boast the budget it needs to properly do justice to the notion of bringing classic Burnout kicking and screaming onto contemporary systems, it absolutely does nail the fundamental core of that concept and in doing so provides both a highly enjoyable racer and an evocative blueprint for what developer Three Fields Entertainment will do next”

7.2 – IGN: “As a long-time Burnout devotee, I’m very glad Dangerous Driving got made. It is a wonderful complement to Danger Zone 2; together, they are basically Burnout 6 and the world is better off for it. That said, a drawn-out campaign and less-fun secondary events create a little too much drag on its standalone fun”

6/10 – GameSpew: “Like a cover band howling the tunes of your favourite but now defunct artist, it’s not a patch on the real thing, but you make do with what’s on offer. Dangerous Driving is good enough to provide some high octane entertainment, but it’ll still leave you craving a worthy Burnout successor”

Zanki Zero: Last Beginning

Reviews:
7/10 – Push Square: “Zanki Zero is a really entertaining blend of visual novel and survival RPG gameplay. The story is just as eccentric and zany as the Danganronpa series and features that grittiness fans have come to expect. The combat system is a little simplistic, but the human cloning makes it a really unique experience. However, the title doesn’t quite hit the same deliciously dark heights as Danganronpa”

6.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “While my stats got better, I was constantly looking for signs of real growth, and all I got instead was a hot plate of trauma porn garnished with dick and fart jokes. There’s a time and a place for that stuff, but as a reward for tenacious grinding, I’m not buying what Zanki Zero is selling”

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

Reviews:
9/10 – Nintendo World Report: “With little more than a new coat of paint, the Trilogy collection manages to be the perfect way to experience the story of Phoenix Wright whether you’re a rookie lawyer or a great ace attorney”

4.5/5 – Game Revolution: “Getting the original trilogy in a single package is not just a great value, but also fitting since it includes all of creator Shu Takumi’s original work on the series. Hopefully, the rest of the franchise and its various spin-offs will make their way to a wider audience next, but this is a great start”

7/10 – The Metro: “The sheer age of the games are beginning to count against them but Ace Attorney still remains exhibit A in how to make even the silliest story-based games fun and engaging”

Vaporum

Reviews:
8/10 – PSU: “Vaporum slaps a fun Steampunk skin on an old-school grid-based dungeon crawler, and the results are engaging and fun. With plenty of customization for players to dig into, numerous puzzles to solve, and winning real-time (but pause-able) combat, Vaporum hums along on all cylinders. Though the overly complex control system could be substantially streamlined, the charms of the game overcome the struggle to control it”

2.5/5 – Screen Rant: “For all its faults, Vaporum is a labor of love that does its best to pay homage to a forgotten era, and it largely succeeds in capturing an authentic dungeon crawler experience. However, it’s for that very reason that Vaporum will likely ward off a lot of players who are less familiar with the genre, as its flagrantly imperfect marriage of archaic gameplay to modern game design leaves much to be desired”

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