Oct 09
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The announcement of a fishing mini-game in Red Dead Redemption 2 caused much jubilation. This excitement came as no surprise – fishing is the ultimate pastime for those seeking a means to relax and unwind. A gentle breeze, the calming sound of birdsong, the tranquil stillness of the water, the grating ear-piercing alarm from a fishing rod’s motion detector, a countdown buzzer to inform that there are only five minutes left to beat the competition…wait, this isn’t relaxing at all.

Fishing Sim World makes the world of fishing more exciting – and less relaxing – than it actually is by presenting players with four quick burst 20-minute tournaments. They each have different scoring methods, amongst other minor variations. Bass fishing involves using a boat to find the best fishing spots, with the winner determined by the total length of the five biggest bass caught. Predator fishing is a tad more complex, using floats and lures. Here, the total length of all fish caught is used for scoring. Carp fishing goes by total weight, while the Match Series is essentially the game’s ‘quick fire mode’ set in narrow canals and such – the gold mdeal goes to whoever catches the most fish.

You’re up against AI opponents in all four tournaments. Their presence is reduced to nothing more than a ticker on the side of the screen, informing of current placings on the scoreboard. This leads us onto our first gripe: the AI will, quite simply, catch a fish every 2-3 minutes. This, of course, means that you must do the same or risk falling behind. It also means that the outcome of every tournament is rather predictable.

With only 20 minutes to spare having a few fish escape your grasp or accidentally catching the wrong breed can cost dearly, and there’s little time for experimenting with new bait and such. The against the clock nature does, at least, make things reasonably thrilling, constantly trying to catch one last fish before the timer runs out.

The developers clearly understand that casually waiting for fish to bite isn’t the most dramatic of pursuits as most modes involve using four rods at once: three in a stationary rig, and one in your hand (so to speak). The rods in the rig must be cast out in the usual way – there’s a choice of casting methods and both realistic and basic settings – and the aforementioned motion detector will sound if a fish bites. The noise of one alarm soon grates, let alone the sound of all three chiming at once. It’s akin to a car alarm going off in your living room. A carp alarm.

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Oct 08
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

EA’s FIFA 19 has claimed a second week at no.1, forcing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to settle for #2.

According to GamesIndustry.biz, physical sales of Odyssey were down 25% over AC Origins. All signs point to the digital early access edition proving rather popular.

In an attempt to avoid Red Dead Redemption 2 mania, this year’s AC also launched a month earlier than Origins. This may have impacted sales likewise.

At #3 it’s another new entry – Forza Horizon 4. Microsoft must be thrilled with the sales figures are they’ve already issued a press release reporting of the game’s specular UK launch – it’s the fastest selling game in the franchise to date. GamePass subscriptions also saw “a huge uplift”.

Marvel’s Spider-Man dropped to #4. Then at #5 it’s Super Mario Party, which also tops the Switch chart. To make way for the new arrivals Shadow of the Tomb Raider dropped a few places too, now at #6.

Tekken 7 is back at #7 due to hardware bundling, while Crash Bandicoot continues to perform well holding onto #8. Project Cars 2 – another title currently being bundled with hardware – re-surfaced at #9. The evergreen GTA V sees us out at #10.

SEGA’s Fist of the North Star: Paradise Lost made #21 while the acclaimed PSVR platformer Astro Bot Rescue Mission took #22. Given the glowing review scores, we expected Astro Bot to chart higher.

Oct 05
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

There really ain’t no party like a Super Mario Party. Thanks to touch-screen centric mini-games, multi-screen play and new Joy-Con controls, reviews of Mario’s latest knees-up have been full of praise with scores mostly clocking in at 8/10.

Mega Man 11 has been well received too, gaining 9/10 from Nintendo Life and an 8/10 from The Escapist. Not all reviewers were entirely sold on it, however, with GameSpot opting for a 7/10. “Mega Man 11 is a good action game that you can easily identify with, but it’s far too uneven and bumpy to hold up against some of the best installments in the venerable franchise,” they said.

Amusingly, Party Crashers is also out this week. How perfectly timed. It’s a retro style battle racer that seemingly mixes Super Off Road and Rock ‘n Roll Racing with Tron, offering deep customisation options.

This week also sees the release of quite possibly the last ever Telltale published title – Batman: The Enemy Within. For reasons obvious, no review code has gone out. Cross your fingers that it has arrived in a decent state, as it’s highly unlikely to receive any updates or patches in future.

On that note, here’s what else you’ll find on the eShop this week, including two (count ‘em!) new releases for the Wii U. Say whaaa?

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Oct 04
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

Brandon Cobb must be a Supervision super fan as they’ve just launched a new fan site dedicated to “the handheld of the less fortunate”. It’s a project fifteen years in the making, in fact.

The Supervision launched in 1992 as a low-cost alternative to the GameBoy. While it gained a fair amount of press attention – it was featured in video game magazines of the era and made routine appearances on gaming show Bad Influence – it eventually vanished without a trace. Its software catalogue was notoriously poor, lacking any third-party support or big-name titles whatsoever, and the screen was easily the of worst out of all ‘90s handhelds as fast moving objects were prone to blurring.

The Diskman hosted site is about as comprehensive as humanly possible, including scans of pack shots and box art, music files, and in-depth descriptions of all 66 games.

Where possible, Cobb has provided the ending screen of each game too, many of which feature amusing typos and mistranslations. Heck, even some of the game names raise a grin. This is the system that gave us such gems as Recycle Design, John Adventure and Linear Racing. That last one was a puzzle game, would you believe?

If you’ve never delved into the mystical, and occasionally baffling, world of the Supervision then here’s the perfect chance to become acquainted with the largely ignored handheld.

Oct 03
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

There are far fewer new releases than what we’ve seen in recent weeks, but it’s no cause for concern – every new major title due out this week has received almost universal acclaim.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey sees the franchise ‘on the up and up’ once again, quite possibly being the finest entry in the series to date. A rich, inviting and colossal open-world that pilfers a few ideas from The Witcher 3 is what’s on offer here – we haven’t seen praise this universal since Assassin’s Creed II.

Thanks to skilful implantation of Joy-Con and touch-screen controls, Super Mario Party gives Nintendo’s once proud franchise the shakeup it desperately needed too. This is one party you don’t want to miss. Sony’s Astro Bot Rescue Mission also allegedly feels rather Nintendo-like, being a serious contender as the best PSVR game so far.

Then we have SEGA’s Fist of The North Star: Lost Paradise, which as you may have guessed, is the greatest thing to happen to the celebrated anime series in quite some time. Fans of the Yakuza games should take a look, as it apparently shares more than a few similarities.

Mega Man 11 continues the theme of this week’s round-up. Yes, the blue bomber is back with a bang – it’s a worthy addition to the series that has been worth the wait. Not all critics were entirely smitten, but the mixture of 7s and 8s it has received is nothing to sniff at.

All this good stuff and WWE 2K19, too. Expect reviews to surface before the week is out.

New release showcase:

Astro Bot Rescue Mission

Reviews:
9/10 – Push Square: “Stunning presentation elevated by insanely good animation ensure that you always feel present in the release’s virtual world, while tight controls and genuinely clever level design will keep you engaged. This is the kind of game that will leave you beaming long after you’ve taken the headset off – and we can’t give it higher praise than that”

9/10 – The Metro: “The most visually impressive and entertaining game on PlayStation VR, with an incredible sense of scale and boundless imagination”

7.5 – Destructoid: “It’s polished and responsive, it just plays it safe with its subdued level design, with the occasional VR “wow” factor” sprinkled in”

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Reviews:
5/5 – GamesRadar: “No-one’s made an open-world RPG with this much depth and brilliance since The Witcher 3. This really is the ultimate Creed”

9.2 – IGN: “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s open-world adventure through ancient Greece is a gorgeous thrill, and the best the series has ever been”

8/10 – VideoGamer: “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey sees the franchise at its strongest and most ambitious yet. With a compelling story, solid RPG mechanics, and heaps of content to soak up, you’ll be spending months immersed in its sprawling Greek sandbox”

Mega Man 11

Reviews:
9.0 – EGM: “A misstep in the sound design keeps it from perfection, but it’s only a small blemish on an otherwise fantastic entry in the series”

8.5 – Destructoid: “Despite its reserved approach, it undeniably slots in very nicely with the classic series while bringing our old friend into a new era. The big finish could have been a little more mega, but it succeeds in pulling off the gargantuan task of getting people to care about Mega Man again”

7.5 – IGN: “It’s not revolutionary, but Mega Man 11 feels almost like a classic Mega Man game, and is a good foundation for the next 10 games”

Fist of The North Star: Lost Paradise

Reviews:
8/10 – GameSpot: “RGG Studios has done a splendid job at evoking the justice-fueled power fantasy Kenshiro represents, succeeding in revealing more about the historic and beloved character in amusing and unexpected ways”

7.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “It’s somewhat awkward at first, as it struggles to introduce the characters and world in a compelling way, but once it leans on its strengths, it’s easy to lose plenty of time with the various side activities and snappy combat”

7.0 – GameInformer: “Even without knowledge of the source material, Lost Paradise showcases an interesting world and story full of twists and turns, but it’s held back by a lethargic pace and repetitious combat”

Super Mario Party

Reviews:
9.0 – EGM: “From two-console minigames to the Joy-Con motion controls, the new Switch features elevate the entire experience, making Super Mario Party the best in the series so far”

8.5 – God is a Geek: “This is a Mario Party that more than deserves that ‘Super’ prefix that’s been coming for so long, and that’s rather amazing”

8/10 – Nintendo Life: “This isn’t a cash-grab with Mario’s face on the front; this is a well-constructed and beautifully realised Mario Party game which takes the series right back to its roots, but without being a straightforward rehash”

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Oct 03
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The recent Dead Cells sparked a debate as to whether the term ‘Metroidvania’ is still relevant, all because it has been some time since we’ve had a new traditional Castlevania or Metroid. It was even argued that today’s gamers are likely oblivious to Castlevania’s existence entirely. On this bombshell, allow us to introduce Pizza Titan Ultra – an eccentric combination of SEGA’s Crazy Taxi and Rare’s N64 sleeper hit Blast Corps.

From Crazy Taxi it takes numerous arcade-like sensibilities, including mission objectives set against tight time limits and the ability to add a few more seconds to the clock by completing deliveries and collecting pick-ups. The only difference here, as you may have guessed already, is that you’re delivering pizzas instead of dropping off passengers.

As for the Blast Corps comparison, it puts a tower block sized mech under your control and it also shares the focus on wanton destruction. The action is viewed from a similar isometric perspective too, accompanied by a fixed camera.

Despite the last-gen quality visuals, Pizza Titan Ultra’s presentation can easily be described as stylish. There’s a catchy ‘90s cartoon-style theme tune, the 2D artwork is well-drawn, and the mech can be kitted out with new parts – some of which feature pop culture references – and colour schemes of your choosing. While new parts don’t increase stats or such all purchases help fill up a gauge that’ll eventually unlock one of four new ultra-powers, with a super sprint being the starting ability.

The whole shebang is carried by a running joke. While dashing through brightly coloured towns, holiday resorts, and motorways to deliver pizza in record time, a path of destruction is left in the mech’s wake. The ground shakes and buildings crumble. Then comes the punchline: a colossal hole left in the side of every tower block, caused by the mech’s giant fist as it delivers piping hot pizza straight into a customer’s living room.

But like a child telling you the same joke repeatedly, it soon ceases to be funny. The daft premise is Pizza Titan Ultra’s lure, and it’s one that’s admittedly initially appealing, but it’s hard to shake the feeling the developers struggled to base a fully-fledged game around it.

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Oct 01
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

It seems the ability to play FIFA 19 early, via either the digital Champions Edition or Ultimate Edition, was a tempting proposition. While the sports sim has managed to take the UK chart top spot, becoming the fastest selling game of 2018 in the process, physical sales were down a colossal 25%.

The PS4 version took the lion’s share of sales with 64%. The Xbox One version accounted for 35%, leaving the remaining 1% on Switch. The Xbox 360 and PS3 iterations still managed to break the individual format top 40 chart, however, arriving at #20 and #31 respectively.

Incidentally, the Switch version managed to claim no.1 in the Switch top 20, dislodging Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Check back next to see if FIFA 19 remains at no.1 – it’s likely to face stiff competition from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

With FIFA 19 riding the chart high, Marvel’s Spider-Man drops to #2. Shadow of the Tomb Raider follows suit, falling to #3.

Crash Bandicoot is at #4 while GTA V rises to #5.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe fell one place to #6. At #7 it’s a re-entry for The Elder Scrolls Online, up from #21. We suspect hardware bundling. NBA 2K19 fell four places to #8 during its second week on sale, meanwhile.

At #9 it’s a new entry – SEGA’s Valkyria Chronicles 4. Then finally at #10 it’s good old Minecraft: Xbox Edition. Hello, old chum.

Sep 30
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Once the first part of an episodic adventure is out of the way talking about the ensuing episodes becomes a tricky task. You can pretty much guarantee at least one dramatic twist, an unforeseen discovery or a character death – or perhaps even all three – which in turn makes going into detail about an episode’s events almost impossible.

So much has happened since The Council began that we’re now in deep spoiler country. We can at least provide a recap for those unfamiliar with Big Bad Wolf’s political drama: Louis de Riche and several other important and influential individuals – including George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte – have been summoned to an elaborate gathering on a mysterious island for reasons even more mysterious. Upon arrival, not only had Louis’ mother – who made her own way to the island unfashionably early – gone missing, but the Lord of the manor was also suspiciously absent.

Episodes 2 and 3 shed more light on these matters while providing new parts of the manor to explore. To say new locations have been used sparingly is an understatement, however. Episode 4 follows suit with just one new location to investigate. We’re then left to casually stroll down the same corridors and attend gatherings in the dining halls, studies and lounges seen in the first episode. As such, the antique-filled manor has now lost its lustre. What was once a place to explore and marvel at, is now a place simply where on-going conversations take place.

Thankfully, this episode showcases and pushes the excellent conversation tools to their fullest, featuring half-a-dozen confrontations with storyline-altering consequences. Due to the presence of an RPG-style skill tree, the charismatic and mild-mannered protagonist has grown increasingly broad-shouldered over time – he now has enough skills at his disposal to completely change the tone and outcome of a conversation, lending a natural sense of progression and character development.

More than a few long-running traits are put to very good use here too, because – and as the episode’s title suggests – the time has come for Louis to make a decision he can’t go back on.

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