Aug 07
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

As per usual, Madden NFL rings in the yearly slew of annual sports updates. While critics are seemingly in agreement that it’s the best Madden in years, the Metacritic score (82%) is currently on par not just with last year’s edition, but also the edition before that. Read into that if you will.

There are plenty of other new releases of note this week. Highly noteable, in fact. Dead Cells, Overcooked 2 and Flipping Death are all worthy of both your time and money, with lofty 9/10 review scores popping up all over the place.

The 2D Dark Souls/Metroidvania hybrid Dead Cells is on track to become one of the highest rated games of the year, while Overcooked 2 improves on the already brilliant original, adding a new – game-changing – throw mechanic.

We’re slightly worried that Flipping Death – which retains the quirky visual style of Stick it to the Man – will be overshadowed by the above. If you like your adventures on the silly side, do give it consideration.

Currently, we’re waiting on reviews of We Happy Few – from one of Microsoft’s big E3 acquisitions, Compulsion Games – which is mildly concerning. The 1960’s set adventure has undergone a radical overhaul since it was first revealed, going from a survival game to a Bioshock style endeavour. Under Gearbox’s wing it also went from being a smaller ‘AA game’ to a fully-fledged full price release, deluxe edition and all. Hopefully it has survived its somewhat turbulent development cycle.

Finally, if you were put off by Atari’s pricing of Tempest 4000 then you’re in luck. Well, sort of – it’s available as a retail release from Friday. Shop around online and you can easily find it for a few quid less than the digital version. Now there’s a thing.

New release showcase:

Dead Cells

Reviews:
9.5 – EGM: “Its excellent melding of roguelike mechanics with tight platforming controls in an odd and quirky world is just what I love. I’ll be playing this game for years, and I can’t see it missing the mark with other fans of the genre once they get to play it”

9.0 – GameInformer: “Dead Cells is one of the more approachable and rewarding roguelikes I’ve encountered. Dying is never fun in games of this ilk, but the well-designed reward loop softens that blow and bolsters all subsequent runs, making the experience more about exploration and time committed than just player skill”

8/10 – VideoGamer: “Dead Cells is, at times, constrained by the genres it so heavily draws from, but its vibrant pixel art, furious combat, and rigorous execution make for a winning formula all its own”

Overcooked 2

Reviews:
9/10 – The Metro: “A delicious mix of old school multiplayer gaming and modern convenience, with a sequel that improves the original recipe in all the right ways”

9/10 – Destructoid: “If you enjoyed the original or skipped it purely because you needed online multiplayer support, Overcooked 2 should be a no-brainer. While the sequel runs the risk of being slightly too familiar and lacks any big surprises, it’s still a winning formula. Co-op gaming doesn’t get much better than this”

8/10 – GameSpot: “Overcooked 2 undoubtedly shines in local co-op and the versus arcade modes. New recipes and obstacles provide a fresh challenge for veterans, but it remains approachable for new players with simple controls and short playtimes”

Madden NFL 19

Reviews:
4.5/5 – GamesRadar: “A stunning return to form for the annual football franchise – and one of the finest all-round Madden packages in years”

8.9 – IGN: “Madden NFL 19 finds a new foundation for football gameplay on the back of its feel-good player handling”

8/10 – Push Square: “You’re right to be sceptical of EA Sports’ buzzwords by now, but Madden NFL 19’s headline Real Player Motion really does result in a more fluid game of football. The presentation may be familiar, but the game feels great on the field, and that consequently enhances all of its headline modes”

Flipping Death

Reviews:
9/10 – Nintendo World Report: “Flipping Death is Zoink’s best game to date. The humor is top notch like usual, but the game is such a refined product. The puzzles are clean and easy to grasp, there is some solid replay value, and every character you possess does something unique”

9/10 – Nintendo Life: “Flipping Death does share plenty of DNA with Stick it to the Man! – ranging from the floatiness of its platforming to the ability to read the minds of other characters – but that doesn’t stop it from being a far superior offering in almost every way”

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Aug 06
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Just one new title shows up in this week’s top 40 – the PS4/Switch release of Hello Neighbour at #16. Upon release, the Xbox One version only managed to make the lower echelons of the chart.

This means it’s a no-show for THQ’s Titan Quest on Switch. The remastered RPG didn’t even break the Switch top 20.

It’s a case of business as usual in the top ten. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy celebrates a 6th week at no.1, followed by LEGO The Incredibles once again.

At #3 it’s Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, up from #5. Incidentally, it’s no.1 in the individual format charts, both by units sold and value.

Ubisoft’s The Crew 2 takes #4. GTA V moves back up to #5.

Call of Duty: WWII holds onto #6, God of War falls three places to #7, while Super Mario Odyssey re-enters the top ten at #8.

Jurassic World: Evolution and Mario Tennis Aces then remain at #9 and #10 for the second week running.

Sonic Mania Plus leaves the top ten, meanwhile, falling from #8 to #13.

As for other recent releases, Go Vacation climbs one place to #22. The PlayStation Hits re-release of The Last of Us Remastered wasn’t as fortunate, dropping three places to #28.

Aug 03
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Sometimes You operates differently to most publishers, sniffing out PC indie titles from small teams and bringing them to console. These games tend to be low budget, often made by just a few people.

While the titles they handpick tend to suit the console market, mostly being 2D platformers, they haven’t had much success yet. Critical success, at least. State of Anarchy: Master of Mayhem (£7.19) is their latest endeavour, being a top-down twin-stick shooter with a sketchbook art style.

We took the Xbox One version for a quick spin earlier this week, and while we weren’t blown away, it’s still a decent enough shooter. There’s a nice sense of progression, with upgrades and new weapons unlocked regularly, and the missions are pleasingly brief.

Iconoclasts (£17.99) has a retro twist too, being a 16-bit style Metroidvania with impressive animation and memorable boss battles. Nintendo Life dished out 9/10 earlier today. “It may have been eight years in the making, but this one has certainly been worth the wait; don’t miss out on this one,” was their conclusion.

Then we have THQ’s Titan Quest (£35.99), a remaster of a cult PC RPG dating back to 2006. Like the PS4/XO versions from a few months ago, critics weren’t left too impressed – it’s definitely showing its age.

Code of Princess EX (£35.99) isn’t an entirely new game either, being an enhanced version of a minor 3DS hit. It’s a hack and slash beat’em up often referred to as a spiritual successor to Guardian Heroes. In fact, the back of the box even makes a sneaky reference to Treasure’s Saturn classic.

Salt and Sanctuary (£13.59) – from the creators of The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile and Charlie Murder – offers gameplay mechanics similar to the Dark Souls, albeit featuring action viewed from a side-on perspective. It was a surprise hit on PS4, and all signs point to this Switch conversion becoming another success story.

As for titles fresh and new, 1979 Revolution: Black Friday (£10.79) is out today and seems to be going down well, being an interactive drama based on true events. While critics did experience some technical issues, it was generally praised for its storytelling.

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Aug 01
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

While we enjoyed Holospark’s Earthfall – a homage to Left 4 Dead, only with gangly grey aliens instead of festering undead humans – we did feel that it was a little light on content.

Cast aside fears of premium-priced DLC being used to fill in the gaps, as all upcoming add-ons will be free. The roadmap was officially confirmed today, revealing the largest of the first three DLC packs will drop in October. It’ll include a fortification-based horde mode, and updates to ‘player progression’ allowing for outfits, new weapons and new abilities to be unlocked.

Two smaller DLC packs also launch later this month and in September, with next month’s pack including new levels, enemies, weapons and skins. As for this month’s update, expect a new level – Inferno – and two new fire-spewing enemies.

Games that provide an ongoing service are far more pleasurable to play when all DLC is free, keeping the playing field level by ensuring no players are left before. It also helps to keep player counts high, which is something Earthfall seems to be struggling with since launch – we get the impression it hasn’t found either its feet or its audience yet.

Jul 31
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

It’s one of those rare weeks where there’s no easily identifiable major new release. In fact, by our reckoning, there’s just one new release heading to retail – THQ’s belated Titan Quest on Switch, a remastered of a cult PC RPG that’s knocking on 12 years old.

Over on both PS4 and Xbox One there’s 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, a narrative adventure covering a world-changing historical event. Despite a few technical issues, it’s worth investigating. You’ll find review scores below.

Castaway Paradise is another multi-format release defying expectations. On first glance, it resembles a low budget mobile title. The reality? It’s a decent enough alternative to Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, stuffed to the brim with stuff to see and do, and a slight addictive streak.

Then on Xbox One only there’s the cheapy cheap (£4) FMV adventure #WarGames, based on the 1983 movie of the same name. Sadly, the price does reflect the quality – it’s a very simple affair, with stories simply altering based on how long you watch certain camera feeds. Think along the lines of Night Trap on Mega CD.

That’s joined by a surprise remaster of Acclaim’s tunnel shooter Forsaken. The jury is still out on how well it has stood the test of time. The studio’s re-releases of Turok 1 and 2 had notable effort put into them, so we’re hopeful similar magic has been worked here.

Gene Rain appears to be one to avoid, meanwhile – scores for this third-person shooter are as low as 3/10, with Xbox Tavern comparing the game’s voice acting to the original Resident Evil. Wow.

New release showcase:

Castaway Paradise

Reviews:
8.5 – PSU: “A charming and quirky simulation game in the spirit of Animal Crossing. Castaway Paradise is the virtual vacation that will end the summer gaming drought”

7/10 – Push Square: “Castaway Paradise is one of PS4’s more pleasant experiences, offering a tropical vacation that’ll keep you busy for hours on end. Although the game’s addictive qualities do wane over time, the process of steadily expanding and improving your island is both relaxing and satisfying”

6.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “While it’s nowhere near as in-depth as Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing, it is still a very relaxing and entertaining little adventure”

1979 Revolution: Black Friday

Reviews:
8.5 – PSU: “A brave and inspiring work that provides an evocative window into a world-shaping historical event, what 1979 Revolution: Black Friday lacks in audiovisual presentation it more than makes up for with sheer guts, heart and that most rarest of things – a soul”

7.5 – DualShockers: “Despite clunky mechanics and sometimes awkward visuals, the title goes above and beyond regarding storytelling by incorporating real-life pieces of media, making a nuanced and varied story out of literal history that most people know nothing about”

3.5/5 – Game Revolution: “1979 Revolution: Black Friday is a great first entry by developer iNK Stories. Technical hiccups and a few narrative shortcomings hold it back a bit but its honest look at the Iranian Revolution is unflinching, educational, engrossing, and hopefully inspirational for those trying to make games capable of enabling cultural empathy in its players”

Titan Quest (Switch)

Reviews:
75/100 – Gaming Trend: “Titan Quest is fun enough on its own, but playing multiplayer with a friend adds another layer of entertainment to the game. That being said, Titan Quest on Nintendo Switch is well worth your time if you can overlook its occasional graphical issues”

7/10 – Nintendo Life: “Disappointing visual glitches and the occasional crash give the impression that everything is held together with nothing more than sticky tape and a prayer, but it was never enough to stop us playing”

2/5 – Trusted Review: “Ultimately, this is a 12-year-old game, and no amount of spit and polish can overcome the dated mechanics and repetitive combat that lies at its core”

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Jul 30
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Out of all last week’s new releases, No Man’s Sky on Xbox One was the best performing. The belated conversion – published by 505 Games on Xbox – managed to make a respectable #12.

Train Sim World was the second highest charting new release, making #20. Go Vacation on Switch wasn’t far behind at #23.

Finally, WarioWare Gold on 3DS made #38. Waaah!

Over in the top ten it’s business as usual. Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy enjoy a 5th consecutive week at no.1, once again followed by LEGO The Incredibles.

The Crew 2 rises from #8 to #3 – presumably thanks to a spot of TV advertising – while God of War climbs from #7 to #4. Then at #5 it’s Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, up from #10.

Call of Duty: WWII is back in the top ten at #6, as is GTA V at #7. Recent new release Sonic Mania Plus drops to #8, Jurassic World Evolution is at #9, while Mario Tennis Aces sees us out at #10.

After re-entering the top ten last week, due to Amazon Prime Day sales, Sea of Thieves and Minecraft Xbox Edition have made a swift descent, now at #30 and #34.

A fair few titles did enjoy a sales boost, however, with PUBG, Octopath Traveler and AC Origins all rising several positions.

Jul 29
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

While PlayStation, Saturn and PC owners enjoyed playable demos of the latest games, often given away for free on the cover of gaming magazines, those who owned an N64 went without. A promotional VHS tape full of gameplay footage was about as much as a Nintendo fan could hope for.

The arrival of the GameCube saw Nintendo turn their back on expensive cartridges – for the console market, at least – but anybody expecting future issues of the Official Nintendo Magazine to come with a demo disc from thereon in was in for disappointment. Despite GameCube discs costing relatively little to produce, the platform holder reportedly wasn’t too keen on the idea of playable demos for first-party titles.

Nintendo simply believed demos may lead to a false impression of the final game. Their reasoning was, and still is, understandable. Games can change drastically during their final months of development – key features change, and in some instances are completely dropped. Later levels in some games can also look and feel remarkably different to the first few, being more action orientated or vice-versa.

A small amount of third-party companies were still keen on the idea of GameCube demo discs though, eager to get their upcoming games into the hands of consumers. Nintendo went as far to take this matter into their own hands, releasing a collection of “previews” on a single disc, available at certain retailers for a few dollars.

The untitled preview disc contained trial versions of Soul Calibur 2, Viewtiful Joe, Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Video footage of a few first and third-party titles also featured, along with Dr. Mario on NES and a trial of WarioWare that could be downloaded onto the GBA’s temporary storage via a link cable.

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Jul 26
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Bandai Namco’s Go Vacation (£39.99) seems the perfect way to distract yourself from the sun’s blazing heat, set in a paradise resort with sandy beaches, calm seas, and whatnot. For added realism why not play while splashing your feet in a washing bowl full of water?

It’s a Wii conversion we didn’t expect to see on Switch, fast approaching its seventh anniversary. With the game’s age in mind, it comes as no surprise to find that it doesn’t fare quite as well as most Wii U to Switch conversions. Scores for the mini-game package so far are a mixture of 5s, 6s and 7s, with many critics claiming that it’s decent enough for younger gamers, but it hasn’t aged particularly well and there are a few JoyCon control issues. One for the casual market, perhaps.

Other big-name titles gracing the Switch include the strategic adventure The Banner Saga 3 (£22.49), which reportedly sees the series end on high note, and the eight-game-strong Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 & 2.

Reviews of The Banner Saga 3 went live earlier today. “With multiple endings that your actions can steer your adventure towards, it delivers a thunderous conclusion to what, on the whole, has been a phenomenal trilogy,” said Nintendo Insider. As for Mega Man Legacy reviews, they’re mostly clocking in at 8/10. A few games in the package haven’t held up well, but critics agreed it was still great to see them all bundled together for the first time ever.

2D puzzle/platformer Candle: The Power Of The Flame is going down reasonably well too, gaining a respectable 7/10 from Nintendo Life. “The title may well be home to some clunky controls and ferocious difficulty spikes from the moment you take control of Teku, but the immense sense of achievement married with what feels more like a piece of art than a video more than makes up for its shortfalls,” was their conclusion.

After hitting the US eShop last week, Adult Swim’s Pool Panic (£10.99) should also be with us finally. This one has generated a bit of a buzz, putting a spin on the pool genre by turning swamps, jungles, deserts and cities into living, fully animated, pool tables.

GameSpace called it “a mash-up of the Mr. Men, Cuphead, and Rick & Morty” before awarding it a 7.8.

The 3DS isn’t without a new release either, with WarioWare Gold making its arrival. The lack of reviews is slightly concerning, but we’d wager that we’re in safe – if overfamiliar – territory, this being a ‘greatest hits’ package and all.

Here’s the rest of this week’s Switch releases, along with a round-up of summer discount bargains.

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