May 23
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Prior to playing it for ourselves, we were in two minds as to whether State of Decay 2 was being built on a sturdy foundation. The original showed great promise and potential but was let down slightly by the constraints of the XBLA platform. It was also notoriously glitchy, with zombies emerging through solid walls being a frequent occurrence.

Turns out SoD 2 has inherited some of the original’s faults, annoying bugs included, despite being slightly closer to the developer’s vision. This has led to incredibly mixed reviews, varying from as low as The Metro’s 4/10 to 4.5/5 from TrueAchievements. We’ve rounded-up scores below.

Sony’s Detroit: Become Human may end up receiving mixed reviews too. David Cage’s games tend to divide the critics, aiming to be mature, edgy and cinematic but often missing the mark due to cackhandedness. For those not keeping tabs, Become Human is a neo-noir thriller set in a world with human-like Androids, much like the currently airing TV show Humans. The review embargo lifts a day ahead of launch.

Dark Souls Remastered has gained glowing reviews, meanwhile. The Metacritic stands at 87%, compared to the 2011 original’s 89%. It may be missing some of the luxuries of newer instalments, but it remains fresh and inviting nevertheless. And Blighttown’s technical issues have been fixed. Hurrah!

The multi-format Tennis World Tour is currently eluding the critics, and it appears to be for a reason – according to those that took a punt it’s an outright stinker, with delayed controls and wooden animation to blame. Comparisons with budget label PS2 tennis games are being bandied about.

Disco Dodgeball Remix looks a better – and sillier – way for sports fans to spend their cash. Even then though, reviews are far from glowing. We’ve also rounded up scores of the 2D precision platformer Shio below, as it has generated a minor buzz this week. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon might be of note too, being an 8-bit spin-off – or taster, if you will – of the upcoming Kickstarter success story Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

Then on 3DS there’s Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers, which we’ll take a closer look at soon.

New release showcase:

Dark Souls Remastered – PS4/XO/PC

Reviews:
9/10 – Destructoid: “The feeling of zoning into Firelink Shrine is just as special the 100th time as it is the first, and the open-ended nature of the world is just as fresh”

9/10 – PSU: “Every bit as compelling as it was when it released on the PS3 in 2011, Dark Souls Remastered is the definitive version of one of the most groundbreaking action RPGs of this decade; a truly formative experience that while hasn’t been thoroughly remastered, nonetheless has been tweaked and tucked sufficiently enough to make it a no-brainer purchase for Souls fans new and old alike. Praise the Sun indeed”

8.75 – GameInformer: “All improvements aside, Dark Souls does feel its age in the face of From Software’s recent contributions to the genre. The drop off in quality in the second half of the game, bosses like Bed of Chaos and incomprehensible zones like Lost Izalith remain curious blemishes on an otherwise incredible experience”

State of Decay 2 – XO/PC

Reviews:
7.5 – IGN: “State of Decay 2’s survival RPG struggle against zombies is fun thanks to strong combat and fear of permanent death but repetitive and buggy, especially in co-op”

3.5/5 – GamesRadar: “State of Decay 2 confidently reaches the series’ potential as the ultimate zombie survival sim, even if it hits a few familiar bumps in the road on the way there”

3/5 – The Guardian: “This zombie survival game tries hard to stand out from the flesh-hungry crowd, but glitches will leave players groaning”

Shio – PS4/PC

Reviews:
8.5 – Gaming Trend: “I had a handful of small, niggling issues with Shio that by the end I was willing to overlook in the face of a game so expertly crafted that it shouldn’t be missed. I just wish there was more of it”

80% – COG Connected: “Shio provides you with the tools for success but refrains from any hand-holding. It demands perfection and doesn’t allow for even minor mistakes. Needless to say, no matter how excellent the story and the atmosphere are, the degree of difficulty present ensures this is not a game for everyone. For fans of the genre though, Shio is an adventure that simply begs to be experienced”

6.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “The good outweighs the bad for sure, but there are times when the somewhat floaty nature of the lead character’s leaps can lead to unwanted imprecision in a game that demands preciseness”

Disco Dodgeball Remix – PS4/XO/Switch

Reviews:
7.2 – VideoChums: “Disco Dodgeball Remix may look like a goofy multiplayer sports game and it is. However, the amount of fun to be had is impressive so here’s hoping that it attracts enough online players to make it a worthwhile download”

6.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “I want to like Disco Dodgeball Remix, I really do. In a post-Rocket League world, though, it simply pales in comparison to the competition. For all of the futuristic furniture and psychedelic platforms each match comes lumbered with, it still feels like a muted echo of a title that is sorely desperate for more things to do outside of throwing a ball across a brightly-lit arena whose aesthetics we’ve seen all too readily in recent years”

3/10 – TheSixthAxis: “In the competitive world of online multiplayer, a game must be special to stand out from the crowd. Disco Dodgeball Remix stands out for all the wrong reasons. It proves itself to be a nice idea stretched to breaking point and beyond. I played it, so you don’t have to”

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May 22
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

It dawned on us recently that today’s youth are probably unaware of how big Jurassic Park was upon release. It was more than just a summer blockbuster; it was a cultural phenomenon, ushering in waves of merchandise and single-handedly kick-starting the ‘90s dinosaur bandwagon.

JurassicParkMD

Shops were filled with dinosaur related goods, and the film’s buzz lasted long after the movie left cinemas. The special effects, in particular, set a new benchmark. The PSone, Saturn and Ultra 64 (as it was then known) were on the horizon and it was often stated that the next batch of consoles would be able to offer Jurassic Park quality visuals. Although the PSone did come packed with a reasonably impressive dinosaur tech demo, we can chalk this up to the unwavering excitement of the ‘90s gaming press.

The Jurassic Park video games were likewise hyped as the second coming, taking the cover of just about every magazine at the time. Unsurprising, given that every format going received a JP tie-in. Ocean handled the Amiga, PC and Nintendo versions while SEGA both developed and published their iterations internally. Ocean opted for a top-down adventure/shooter hybrid that also featured some ambitious indoor first-person shooting sections. Although the lack of a save facility in the SNES version did lead to frustration, reviews were mostly positive.

JurassicParkMD

The Master System and Game Gear JP games, on the other hand, were painfully generic, and so it’s fair to say SEGA focused their attention on the Mega Drive and Mega CD tie-ins. The Mega Drive hosted a 2D platformer with digitised sprites, in which it was possible to play as either a human or a velociraptor. The Mega CD version meanwhile was a slow-paced point ‘n’ click adventure with a degree of educational value due to the vast amount of dinosaur trivia. SEGA had apparently pumped a ridiculous amount of money into it, presumably intending it to become a much needed Mega CD system seller.

So lucrative was the JP license that both Ocean and SEGA squeezed additional worth out of it while waiting for 1997 sequel The Lost World. Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues was a run and gunner released on SNES and Game Boy in time for Christmas 1994, where it joined Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition on Mega Drive. This one did away with the dark and moody visuals SEGA’s first game featured in favour of a bright and colourful comic book vibe. Both were panned as being blatant cash-ins and as such, neither is particularly well remembered.

It’s also worth noting that the 3DO had its own JP game, and an incredibly weird one at that – it was a half-baked mini-game collection mostly comprising of Space Invaders and Asteroids clones. The majority of the budget must have been blown on the license.

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May 21
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Even a price drop to £20-£25 and an impending free World Cup update couldn’t help FIFA 18 dislodge God of War from the top of the UK chart.

Sony’s PS4-exclusive juggernaut celebrates a fifth consecutive week. Just one more week at no.1 will put it on par with The Last of Us, which held no.1 for six weeks in 2013.

It’ll be up against stiff competition though. Detroit: Become Human, Dark Souls Remastered, and State of Decay 2 all launch this week.

FIFA 18 rises two places to take #2. Curiously, it remains at #2 in the PS4 chart for the second week but rises all the way from #16 to #2 in the Xbox One chart.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition enters at #3, the same position as the Wii U version managed in 2014. It outperformed the 2016 3DS iteration, but not the Wii U version, which still boasts the strongest launch.

Fellow Wii U conversion Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze is still hanging around too, now at #4.

Far Cry 5 falls to #5 and is followed by the usual top ten stalwarts: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, AC Origins, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, GTA V, and finally Call of Duty: WWII at #10.

Lower down in the top 40 a couple of new titles make their debut. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux on 3DS took #31 – while topping the 3DS chart – and the PS4’s Dragon Crown Pro made #33.

Then over in the Switch chart Battlechasers: Nightwar entered at #12 while Little Nightmares: Complete Edition snuck in at #13.

May 17
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Another week, another Wii U conversion. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (£49.99) is the latest to make the jump, bringing a slew of 7/10 and 8/10 review scores in tow.

“If you only played the Wii U version without the downloadable content, or you haven’t touched Hyrule Warriors before, this game is definitely worthy of recommendation,” said Nintendo Insider, one of the few outlets to rate it 9/10.

The Metro and We Got This Covered were far from smitten by the Dynasty Warriors crossover, however, with the former awarding it a cautionary 4/10 and the latter opting for a mediocre 2.5/5.

A few other belated conversions also make a pitstops on Nintendo’s hybrid handheld this week. The Banner Saga (£17.99) brings fantasy tactical role-playing, and unless something has gone drastically awry, it’s well worth a look. Bear in the mind though that the third game in the series isn’t far off.

Battle Chasers: Nightwar (£34.99) offers a different kind of role-playing experience. It’s hampered by long loading times and the occasional framerate drop, but still deserving of your attention. Nintendo Life dished out an 8/10 earlier this week. “Disappointing performance dips aside, it feels at home on Switch. Ultimately, it’s the same old story – numbers go up! – but it’s shot through with an infectious exuberance and attention to detail that reinvigorates old tropes.”

French film noir survival horror White Night (£13.49) is a game that may be showing its age, first hitting Xbox One in 2015. Scores were wildly mixed, varying from as low as 4/10 to as high as 9/10. It’s probably wise to read up on reviews before opening your digital wallet.

2D shooter Ice Cream Surfer (£7.50) is another that may ring a bell. This colourful caper hit Wii U and iOS in 2014. Reviewers weren’t too kind on it back then, and it looks like little has changed – Nintendo Life gave this Switch version a lukewarm 5/10.

Then we have Little Nightmares Complete Edition (£29.99), a dark and twisted adventure offering physics-based platforming and the occasional stealthy moment. “Smart, grotesque and never-endingly weird, this is a very different, extremely welcome kind of horror game that left me wanting more than its brief five hours provides,” said IGN back in 2017.

The 3DS sees a new release of note, too – Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux (£34.99). This JRPG remake is off to a great start, with 11 of the reviews on Metacritic currently clocking in at 80% and above.

It garnered an 8/10 from Destructoid: “I really enjoyed it the first time around eight years ago, and replaying it today reminds of why it was the ideal game to introduce me to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise,” claimed their reviewer.

Below you’ll find a round-up this week’s remaining Switch releases, plus a list of discount highlights. Our recommendations include Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap – one of our favourite titles of 2017 – and the underrated Tumblestone, a clever take on the match-three puzzler formula. It’s Columns in reverse, basically.

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May 17
By Matt Gander In Cache in the Attic, Retro No Comments

Outdated football games are a common sight when scouring jumble sales, car boots and charity shops for bargain price video games. Entire shelves filled with decade-old FIFA and PES games spread across a dozen formats. Often they end up in bargain bins, sitting alongside unwanted celebrity fitness DVDs and seemingly random TV show box sets.

Generally, old football games are only good for one thing – cheap replacement cases, able to restore something of value to ‘almost good as new’ status. They are, effectively, of no worth at all. A quid is about as much as a charity shop, or even CeX, can expect to receive in return.

But here’s the thing. Not all football games gathering dust in the likes of Oxfam are in fact worthless. Later FIFA and PES games for PlayStation 2, PSP and Wii are starting to become collectable, being amongst the final few releases for their respective systems. Using Amazon Marketplace, eBay and CeX as resources, let’s sort the wheat from the chaff, bearing in mind that individual sellers set Amazon Marketplace prices, and so they tend to fluctuate.

FIFA 09 is the perfect starting point. It was in 2009 that the Xbox 360 and PS3 started to drop in value – partly thanks to the PS3 Slim making its debut – and so the last-gen stragglers finally jumped ship, handing down their PS2s to younger siblings or consigning them to the wardrobe.

FIFA 09 is – as you may have guessed – worthless. Whether it’s on PS2, PS3, Wii or Xbox 360, a copy will set you back 50p at the very most. FIFA 10 and FIFA 11 aren’t worth a great deal, either – the PS2 version sees a small hike to £3 at CeX and £3.50 on Amazon. Hardly bank breaking, although still a notable rise from the 50p asking price for the PS3/360/Wii versions.

For those curious, last-gen FIFA and PES games received little more than kit and squad updates from FIFA 09 onwards, although the occasional Amazon customer review reports of slightly tweaked AI from one iteration to the next. It’s debatable whether this is the case, however – very few critical reviews can be found online, as EA and Konami no longer fulfilled review code request for legacy systems by this point. It seems EA even stopped releasing screenshots of FIFA on PS2 after FIFA 11.

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

Those willing to stump up the cash for State of Decay 2’s ultimate edition get to play the eagerly awaited zombie survival game on Friday, four days ahead of launch. While this may sound a little cheeky, the £39.99 price tag isn’t exactly bank-breaking.

We really enjoyed the original, notching up almost 30 hours of play. With a bigger budget and a lengthier development period, this sequel should hopefully see the developer’s vision fully realised. The original was a humble XBLA game, lest you forgot, bound to the constraints of that platform.

Muddy downhill stunt racer Descenders also hits Xbox One this week. Don’t expect to see any reviews just yet, as it’s still in Game Preview status. We’re impressed with what we’ve played so far – it feels both fresh and pleasingly familiar, borrowing elements from classic extreme sports games as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, while adding such contemporary features like randomised course generation and realistic physics. Stylish presentation finishes off the package nicely. Those who have longed for a sequel to Downhill Domination on PS2 will be in their element.

18th-century set adventure The Council receives its second episode, meanwhile. Sadly, it appears to be missing much of the intrigue that made the first episode so compelling. Many faults that plague other episodic adventures are starting to surface, making some critics worry about where things are heading. Currently, the Metacritic stands at 65%, compared to episode one’s 75%.

Square-Enix’s anime-influenced adventure Forgotton Anne has garnered far more favourable reviews, skilfully combining elements from Japanese and Western developed puzzle/platformers. Scores so far are a mixture of 8s and 9s. A potential sleeper hit, this.

The same can be said for Omensight, a mystical murder mystery that puts a twist on the Groundhog Day-style storyline. Out of the five reviews currently showing on Metacritic, four are 90%+.

In addition to Dragon’s Crown Pro on PS4, we’ve included a review round-up for Wizard of Legend below. The Switch version of this Rogue-lite is going down reasonably well.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is arguably the biggest Switch release of the week, though. The embargo is yet to lift, although Nintendo World Report did give the Japanese version the review treatment last month, chalking up a respectable 8.5.

The belated Switch version of Battle Chasers Nightwar is finally out too, and well worth a look – it was one of 2017’s most unappreciated games, more than deserving of a second chance to shine.

New release showcase:

The Council – Episode 2: Hide and Seek – PS4/XO/PC

Reviews:
8/10 – PSU: “Despite a small handful of flaws, The Council Episode Two: Hide and Seek places an exclamation point on one of the cleverest narrative adventure games on the market”

3.5/5 – Hardcore Gamer: “Big Bad chose some of the best features of episodic gaming and successfully embedded those into the heart of The Mad Ones, but then it ultimately falls back on itself with Hide and Seek, whether it’s through the lack of teasing the next episode or even giving some form of recap for the story”

5.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “While i still have hope for later episodes, Hide and Seek does not leave the same good impressions that The Mad Ones did, and tempers my expectations for the remainder of The Council”

Forgotton Anne – PS4/XO/PC

Reviews:
9/10 – Push Square: “Forgotton Anne has thrilled us in every possible way. Its story is packed to the rafters with charm, amazement, tension, and doubt”

8/10 – The Metro: “A bizarre mix of weighty subject matter and cartoon presentation that somehow works perfectly in portraying a morally complex world and its characters”

7.5 – God is a Geek: “A gorgeous 2D adventure game with light puzzles, platforming and branching narrative choices. Some design decisions slow the pace down negatively, but the story and the reveal of your decisions have devastating impact”

Omensight – PS4

Reviews:
9/10 – GameSpace: “If a murder mystery action game sounds like a game you might like, I highly recommend playing Omensight. From beginning to end it just doesn’t stop on delivering a solid experience. Although the story seems to be straightforward and simple at first it opens into an interesting tale with complicated characters helming the ship the whole way through”

9.0 – Gaming Trend: “Omensight is an amazing twist on the “Groundhog Day” style storyline. Some thinking and planning is necessary, but The Witch makes this easier. The gameplay is fast, fluid, and very fun. It may seem repetitive to some, but slowly learning and altering the day is part of the journey”

6.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “I really like the story that Omensight sets out to tell, but I really wish that it was more fun to actually play. The characters and learning about their motivations made it worth seeing the game to its conclusion, but a finicky fixed camera and somewhat lacking gameplay made my playthrough less satisfying than it should have been”

Dragon’s Crown Pro – PS4

Reviews:
9.5 – PSU: “With everything you loved about the base game intact, and all presented in glorious 4K, both fans of the original and newcomers to the game can enjoy the adventure together with cross-play to both older systems”

8/10 – Destructoid: “Dragon’s Crown remains not for everyone. Some might consider it repetitive, vulgar and may even be left wondering what all the fuss was about. But, for those of you who ever fell in love with arcade brawlers, fantasy storytelling, and tabletop RPGs, then Dragon’s Crown Pro will shine oh-so-brightly as the unique and sublime treasure it is”

70% – GameSpew: “If you’ve already played Dragon’s Crown to exhaustion on PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Vita, you won’t find anything here that’ll get your juices flowing. For those who have not yet played Dragon’s Crown though, it’s the perfect way to enjoy what is destined to become a cult classic”

Wizard of Legend – PS4/XO/Switch

Reviews:
9/10 – TheSixthAxis: “While Wizard of Legend will be too difficult for some, but for those who love the Rogue-lite genre and enjoy a challenge it is definitely in the upper echelons. Consistently challenging but impossible to put down is certainly a cliche, but it’s a perfect description of this game”

7/10 – Nintendo World Report: “It’s not near the top of the genre, or even near the top of the genre’s Switch representation, but with the fun two-player experience, it’s a respectable addition”

7/10 – Nintendo Life: “Wizard of Legend has some novel concepts. Being able to swap and mix spells to create a seemingly unlimited amount of combinations keeps the action fresh and encourages you to experiment on each run”

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May 14
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

In a battle of the biceps between Kratos and Conan, Sony’s star came out on top.

God of War is the UK’s no.1 for a fourth consecutive week. It still has some way to go to beat the record held by a Sony published title, though – in 2001 Gran Turismo 3 took the top spot for 8 weeks.

Positions #2 through to #4 remain unchanged, meaning Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze sits at #2 for a second week.

The Switch re-releases is followed by Far Cry 5 and FIFA 18.

At #5 it’s good old Fallout 4, up two positions. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 dropped a place each, taking #6 and #7, while AC Origins is back at #8 – up from #17.

GTA V and Destiny 2 also re-enter the top ten, back at #9 and #10 respectively. Destiny 2 received new DLC last week, hence the resurgence.

Super Mario Odyssey, PUBG and Star Wars Battlefront 2 are this week’s top ten dropouts, meanwhile. Sea of Thieves is on a swift descent too, dropping from #11 to #20.

The Deep Silver published Conan Exiles makes its debut at a respectable #13. It also made #7 in the PS4 chart and #20 in the Xbox One chart.

May 11
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

Somebody far funnier than us once said life is about re-purchasing your favourite movies in higher definitions until you die. The same can also be said about Mega Drive compilations.

SEGA Mega Drive Collection – out on PS4 and Xbox One at the end of the month – is the fourth since the Japanese publishing giant departed the hardware biz.

2009’s SEGA Mega Drive: Ultimate Collection managed to live up to its name, containing all the renown hits ‘90s SEGA fans grew up with, alongside a handful of arcade obscurities such as Congo Bongo. FMV interviews rounded the package off nicely.

This latest iteration, however, has a few gaping holes in its library that the new additions (Wonder Boy, ToeJam & Earl, Landstalker, Bio-Hazard Battle, and more) can’t compensate for.

If you’re wondering where the following are, then you aren’t alone.

Ecco the Dolphin

Since the release of the PS2/PSP’s Mega Drive Collection we’ve gone from three Ecco games (yes, three – Ecco Jr. is an often-forgotten kid’s title, released in the US and Australia only) to zero.

Although the underwater adventure series is unquestionably a ‘Marmite’ affair it’s still an important part of the Mega Drive’s history, offering non-violent gameplay at a time when the industry was under fire for introducing increasingly adult themes.

Sonic 3/Sonic & Knuckles

There’s a reason Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are both absent – Michael Jackson and Brad Buxer directly sampled songs from their respective discographies, resulting in a licensing nightmare. SEGA has found workarounds in the past, giving the PC re-release alternative music, but they’ve clearly decided to omit them completely here, perhaps for authenticity’s sake.

Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude!

Greendog may not be fit enough to rub shoulders with the Mega Drive’s finest, but it was a big seller back in the day. As such, it’s bound to hit gamers of a certain age with a bout of nostalgia, despite numerous shortcomings.

It’s trash, but the best kind imaginable – quintessentially ‘90s trash. We’d happily take ol’ Greendog over Super Thunder Blade any day.

Virtua Racing

We can live with the fact that not a single sports title features on this compilation. The complete lack of racing games is inexcusable, however. Well, maybe not inexcusable – OutRun isn’t here because the Ferrari licensing deal expired decades ago. Super Monaco GP was also loaded with licenses, including billboards featuring Marlboro cigarettes, so that’s a no-no too.

As far as we’re aware though, all vehicles and tracks in Virtua Racing were entirely fictional. The only possible explanation for its absence could be emulation issues, as the cartridge included a dedicated 3D chip. But even then, that isn’t much of an excuse – Nintendo was able to include the Super FX 2 powered StarFox 2 on the SNES Classic Mini, after all.

The Ooze

While it’s great to see a few fresh faces on the new collection, a few more wouldn’t have gone amiss. The Ooze is something of a lost classic, released during the end of the Mega Drive’s life. It’s pretty hard to find, in fact, selling for between £50-£70 on eBay nowadays.

A very different experience to most Mega Drive games, it puts you in control of a slimy puddle of green goo that slithers across the ground while growing and shrinking in size. For the time, it was technically impressive. It’s more of a curio these days, but seeing many people overlooked it upon launch, it would have been a worthy addition.

Emulation can’t be an issue as it was included in a past collection – 2002’s Sonic Mega Collection Plus, where it was joined by Comix Zone in the bonus game section.

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