Jun 19
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Essentially Mr. Tickle: The Game – or Plastic Man, if you prefer – this physics-based puzzler involves guiding a constantly extending arm around hazard-filled environments in order to grab precariously placed bottles. There’s a paper-thin plot in place, covering the nameless lead character’s life story as they reach out to grab bottles as a baby, teen, adult, and OAP. It’s thirsty work being alive.

On paper alone, Grab the Bottle sounds like something that would be more at home on Google Play or the App Store rather than on a console. We even feared the simplistic premise may fail to keep us engaged. Thankfully, it isn’t long until a few curveballs start being thrown your way, revealing a puzzler with a deceptive streak. Each puzzle is suitably different from the last, with new ideas and playthings frequently introduced.

From the very start, precise controls are called for. Only three mistakes are allowed, each hit prompting the elastic appendage to recoil in pain. There’s plenty of room to twist and turn in the opening stages, but it isn’t long until narrow pathways are introduced, requiring gentle manipulation of the analogue stick. Comparisons with the cult classic Kuru Kuru Kururin aren’t entirely invalid.

Colliding with your own arm constitutes as a hit, so it’s essential to plan routes in advance. There is a way to rewind, however. When grabbing an object, the screen-filling arm recoils; a mechanic used countless times in puzzle solving, reaching out to grab a knife, hammer, or similar and then recoiling to the location where it’s required. T

There are see-saws to tilt, ropes to cut, and sandcastles to smash. Doors should always be opened with caution, as they may block a route. A push of a button is all it takes to start a puzzle anew, and as such, there’s no real punishment for failure.

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Jun 18
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

There’s a notable theme to this week’s UK top 40 – dozens of first-party PS4 titles have either risen by several places or re-entered the chart. This is all down to Sony’s current ‘Days of Play’ promotion, which sees numerous key titles discounted.

It seems a price cut to around £35 was enough to secure God of War the top spot, preventing Focus Interactive’s Vampyr from claiming a second week at no.1.

Popular PSVR pack-in PlayStation VR Worlds is back at #5, GT Sport shifts to #11, and Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition has risen to #17. Shadow of the Colossus, Wipeout: Omega Collection, Knowledge is Power, and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy all re-enter the lower end of the top 40, meanwhile.

Going back to the top 10, FIFA 18 remains at #2 thanks to World Cup fever. Possibly due to a strong E3 showing, Fallout 4 rises to #3. Detroit: Become Human stays put at #4.

GTA V moved up three places to take #6, and is followed by Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Vampyr, AC: Origins, and finally Call of Duty: WWII at #10.

All of the Switch’s big name-titles also moved up a few places this week, which makes us wonder if Fortnite’s arrival helped Nintendo shift a few more systems. Just an observation.

Also of note: Konami’s Super Bomberman R failed not only to make the top 40, but the top 20 individual format charts as well. The same goes for the retail release of Team 17’s Yoku’s Island Express, but that’s a slightly different story due to the delay between its digital and physical release.

Jun 18
By Richard In Reviews No Comments

Some games are about war. Some games are about exceptionalism and individual struggle. A few games are about fascism. Most games, however, are about numbers going up.

It sounds simple, numbers going up, but Dungeon Rushers proves that it’s a subtle mechanic, and one that’s easy to get wrong.

Let’s start with the basics. Dungeon Rushers is a dungeon exploration game. Each dungeon starts with one tile. You then guide yourself around uncovering new tiles. Under each tile could be a trap (which you have to deactivate or take damage), some treasure and an exit, a random buff or some enemies to fight. Fights are turn-based and surprisingly tactical.

It actually feels quite a lot like a board game. Instead of a character that moves around the dungeon, you move a token and the hidden parts of the dungeon flip as if they were cardboard. I could imagine playing it with chunky miniatures and dice rolling.

As you go through the dungeons you’ll unlock new characters and decide where each should stand and which enemies to hit and when is key to winning battles. Killing more enemies gains you experience, and all characters have comprehensive skill trees to invest their experience points in.

More dungeons unlock as you go and there’s absolutely loads of them to explore. There are multi-level dungeons and dungeons have special objectives that give you access to harder versions of each dungeon. You can also craft with loot you gain and create weapons and equipment for your adventurers.

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Jun 14
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Chances are even Capcom themselves would admit the first Street Fighter was downright terrible. An exercise in sheer frustration, it suffered from jerky animation, unreliable controls, and botched mechanics. Special moves, which rarely worked, could remove 70% of an opponent’s health in one swoop, making the regular kicks and punches almost redundant.

It’s a series low point, yet one that still made the cut on this compilation simply for the sake of comprehensiveness. After all, there’s no better place to start a trip down memory lane than with the game that kickstarted a ‘90s phenomenon.

Rather than include one entry from each title in Street Fighter’s long-running history, this collection gives the chance to take in the evolution of Street Fighter’s first decade, step by step.

Twelve arcade conversions feature, including all five iterations of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (1991), Champion Edition (1992), Hyper Fighting (1992), Super Street Fighter II (1993), and Super Street Fighter II Turbo (1994).

The jump between Hyper Fighting and Super Street Fighter II was pretty significant, with dozens of notable changes thanks to new hardware and the beginnings of the Super Combo system. However, outside of playable bosses and turbo speed settings, the differences between the first three SFII outings are negligible. Improved artwork, a few nips and tucks, and that’s about it. Still, it’s interesting to observe the changes made from one version to the next, no matter how minor.

Many expected Capcom to jump straight into Street Fighter III a year later – because that’s how sequels work, right? – but no, instead came the Alpha series. 1995’s Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors’ Dreams – which also saw the series jump from SNES and Mega Drive to PSone and Saturn, the obscure SNES conversion of Alpha 2 notwithstanding – expanded on the Super Combo system for a deeper, more technical, experience.

Each entry in the Alpha series feels more substantial than the last; they’re far from being mere yearly updates. In fact, two whole years passed between Alpha 2 and Alpha 3. Those years were well spent – Alpha 3 was an absolute belter and an undeniable highlight here.

The three-level Super Combo gauge really added a new layer of depth, and visually it nailed the anime-style Capcom was aiming for back in the original Alpha. The only downer is because this collection only features arcade renditions, the extras from the home versions are missing.

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Jun 14
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Nintendo didn’t show quite as many new games at E3 as expected. They had a valid reason for the slim line-up, however – they didn’t want to tease gamers with titles that are still a long way off.

This put the focus of their conference on the ‘here and now’ which has resulted in one hectic week for the Switch eShop.

Fortnite is the biggest game around at the moment, and so the new Switch iteration is more than welcome. We’d wager it has even helped shift systems, such is the appeal of playing wherever you please. It has already been downloaded over 2 million times, in fact.

Despite only launching a few days ago reviews have already surfaced. Destructoid went for an 8.5 (“Fortnite on the Switch is still Fornite, albeit with a few graphical concessions. And Fortnite is good”) while Pocket Gamer handed out an 8/10, calling one of the Switch’s best shooters.

As you may have heard already, it supports cross-play with the Xbox One version. Sadly, Sony isn’t willing to let PS4 owners join the fun, blocking accounts in the process. Maybe in the future, eh?

Fallout Shelter won’t set you back a single penny either. We sunk hours upon hours into the Xbox One version, even though it felt like it was on the wrong system. Most events and tasks are on timers, requiring you to log-in and check on progress and turn in quests every few hours. As the system’s portable nature lets you tend to your vault dwellers while on the move, we imagine it’s more at home on Switch. Get involved, we say.

Paladins has also hit the Switch. It’s Overwatch, basically, but with a few minor differences. The Founder’s Pack will set you back £24.99, arriving ahead of the FTP version. Pocket Gamer has reviewed this shooter too. “There’s plenty of depth to it, and the wide pool of characters and abilities means everyone’s tastes are catered for” they said before dishing out 7/10.

Hollow Knight (£10.99) meanwhile was one of Nintendo’s few E3 surprises. The PC version, which launched just over a year ago, gained a heady mixture of 8s, 9s and even a few 10/10s. It’s one of the best metroidvania games of recent times, sneaking in a few ideas from Dark Souls.

We’re also surprised to see LEGO The Incredibles (£49.99) on the Switch eShop this week as the PS4/XO digital releases aren’t due until 13th July. The story mode includes both movies, with missions accessed via a super-sized Municiberg hub world.

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Jun 12
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

EA’s Unravel Two launched last week. Bearing in mind it didn’t hit the digital stores until Sunday night though – and that this week is light on new releases due to E3 – we’re going to include it in this week’s round-up. Verdict? It’s good, but maybe a little unnecessary.

Fallout Shelter for PS4 and Switch, and the Prey add-on Mooncrash were E3’s remaining ‘surprise’ releases. The jury is still out on Mooncrash; Fallout Shelter meanwhile is worth a look. It’s addictive and isn’t too money grabbing. It probably suits the Switch rather well, we’d imagine.

The first Jurassic World movie launched alongside a LEGO tie-in. It’s a case of all change for the sequel – this time it arrives in cinemas alongside a new park building sim from Frontier. Most journalists were smitten by Jurassic World Evolution‘s PC version, dishing out a steady string of 8/10s. IGN was the only exception, disappointed by the lack of actual evolution and a curiously slow pace.

We’re still waiting on Super Bomberman R reviews, but we’d imagine they’ll fall in line with the Switch original – a mixture of 6s and 7s. The Switch version was panned due to being full-price despite being light on content. Sadly, Konami hasn’t seen fit to launch it as a budget title – it’s still £34.99 on PS4 and Xbox One.

Going back to movie tie-ins, LEGO The Incredibles is out in the US this week. European gamers have a few more weeks to wait. If only there was a way to change a digital store’s region…

New release showcase:

Jurassic World Evolution – PS4/XO/PC

8.0 – God is a Geek: “It’s quite slow to start and has a pretty harsh difficulty curve, but when everything clicks, it proves to be the best use of the Jurassic licence yet. Running a park isn’t easy, but incubating your first velociraptor makes it all worthwhile”

4/5 – GamesRadar: “Despite some opaque game mechanics and missing tutorials, turns out running a dinosaur park is brilliant fun and the best time sink you can play”

4.8 – IGN: “Sure, the dinosaurs look nice enough, but the process of unlocking new species is beyond tedious and actually running the business is shallow and quickly gets stale. It beats getting mauled by raptors, but after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to endorse this park”

Unravel Two – PS4/XO/PC

Reviews:
8.5 – IGN: “Unravel Two improves on the original in almost every respect, with better platforming and puzzles”

4/5 – Twinfinite: “There’s still not a whole lot of content here, and its additional Challenge levels will ultimately depend on if you’re desperate to put your skills to the test, but if you want to embark on another platforming adventure, you could do a lot worse than Unravel Two”

3/5 – Attack of the Fanboy: “Unravel isn’t a game that necessarily needed a second game in the franchise to solidify its legacy. The new ideas found in Unravel Two could have very well been a brand new franchise in itself as the inclusion of cooperative gameplay and challenge levels seems to have led to a lack of charm in this follow-up”

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Jun 11
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice wasn’t the only new From Software title to be revealed yesterday. Devolver Digital is also giving the 2004 Xbox-exclusive Metal Wolf Chaos a fresh coat of paint. Fans have long hankered for a new iteration, apparently.

A collaboration between From Software and General Arcade, the outlandish mech shooter – which sees a fictional US president battle enemies on American soil – is being “modernised” with improved visuals, retuned gameplay and new display modes.

The notoriously terrible voice overs are being retained however, and rightly so – they attributed to it gaining a cult following, with help from YouTube.

Despite featuring on an Official Xbox Magazine demo disk, the original Metal Wolf Chaos never left Japan. A small print run makes the Japanese release highly desirable these days, selling for as much as £200 on eBay.

Perhaps best of all though, Metal Wolf Chaos XD – due on PS4, Xbox One and PC – is due out this year. We shouldn’t have too long to wait.

Jun 11
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

The announcement of a new Battletoads didn’t come as much of a surprise. It was only last month Rare stated they’re open to sharing IP and characters with outside developers, and so it was only a matter of time before somebody took on the ‘toads.

That somebody is the Essex-based Dlala, who also lent a helping hand with Sea of Thieves. They’re perhaps best known for the multiplayer brawler Overruled, which hit PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2015. Since then they’ve assisted numerous well-known studios, helping bring the likes of The Escapists to console.

No Battletoads gameplay footage was shown at E3, suggesting it’s early days. We can, however, expect 4k 2.5D visuals and three player couch-based co-op.

It’ll be interesting to see how Dlala portrays the ‘toads, choosing either to keep things quintessentially ‘90s or a tad more modern. The green-hued dudes also went through a brief ‘toilet humour’ stage, with the arcade game featuring blood ‘n gore, crotch grabbing, fart jokes and more. It’s a side to Zitz, Pimple, and Rash – shown above, in Killer Instinct – we haven’t seen since, and perhaps mercifully so.

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