Feb 09
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Considering Capcom’s long-running Monster Hunter series hasn’t had much of an impact in the west, save perhaps for mild success on 3DS, this latest iteration generated a surprising amount of excitement prior to release.

Curiously, it wasn’t just the fans who were thrilled to see a current-gen Monster Hunter game – something a long time coming – but also those who had always admired the series from afar.

This is the entry Capcom hopes will push the series into the big leagues, achieving mainstream success by breaking down barriers to allow for an accessible experience. The draw, of course, being the ability to team up with online chums to track and take down colossal primaeval beasts, using a huge variety of weapons, poisons, and traps.

2K Games tried to tap into this ethos in 2015 with the quickly forgotten Evolve. Although there are similarities, especially when it comes to tracking down and chasing after creatures, MH: W achieves more than Turtle Rock could have ever imagined. A living, breathing, vivid world full of rampaging monsters, with a deep crafting system, a lively online hub and a remarkably long list of quests and other busywork to ensure 50 hours of play at the very minimum.

The whole thing centres around a carefully woven gameplay loop. Prepping for adventure with a hearty stat-boosting meal, taking down colossal beasts or completing side-quests, crafting new weapons and armour from the fruits of your labour, and repeating the process ad infinitum. With every passing quest, the unfolding story – which entails charting a new, unfamiliar, world – throws a new beast or two into the mix, putting the focus on upgrading equipment to deal with the next threat, be it a poison-spewing bird-brained foe, or a screen-filling giant that would make a tyrannosaurus rex whimper.

You aren’t alone in this pursuit either, joined by a feline friend known as a Palico. As well as collecting scraps and dealing a small amount of damage to enemies, they can also be commanded to place health stations. There’s no finer hunter than an inquisitive cat.

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Feb 09
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

It’s another busy week for the Switch eShop. Why would we expect anything less? Before discussing the new arrivals, PayDay 2 (£44.99), AQUA KITTY UDX (£6.49), and the soul-searching puzzle adventure Old Man’s Journey (£8.99) are all available to pre-order from today.

We really enjoyed the Aqua Kitty on Xbox One – it’s a frantic 2D shooter that borrows elements from Defender and Paradroid. As for PayDay 2, well, it all depends on the quality of the conversion. The fact that it was announced yonks ago (April 2017) bodes well, we suppose.

As for this week’s releases, Dragon Quest Builders (£49.99) is by far the biggest. It’s a little tardy (the PS4 version released in 2016) but it’s a welcome enough addition to the Switch library. Review scores echo this, including an 8/10 from Nintendo Life. “Both classic Dragon Quest RPG and Minecraft-style building sim, Dragon Quest Builders takes just enough ingredients from each side of the developmental kitchen and gently stirs them into a dish that never manages to overpower either of its core mechanics,” they said.

Reviews of Mercenary Kings Reloaded (£14.39), a 2D run and gunner, are starting to trickle through now too. So far they’re mixed – CGMagazine handed out a lofty 9/10 while GameSpace opted for a lukewarm 6.4.

Brazillian Metroidvania Dandara (£13.49) has gained steadier reviews, with most clocking in at 8/10. In fact, Metacritic reveals it has yet to receive a score lower than 7/10.

Crypt of the NecroDancer: Nintendo Switch Edition (£17.99) is another that may ring a bell. The PC original went down an absolute storm, garnering 5/5 from The Guardian and an equally impressive 9.5 from Destructoid.

Disc Jam (£13.49) is one we reviewed ourselves, back when it debuted as a PS Plus freebie. It’s a futuristic sports title that borrows from Speedball 2, Windjammers and the retro classic Discs of Tron, complete with colourful Rocket League-style presentation. It may sound great, but sadly we found it to be light on content. Off it trotted with a 6/10.

Of course, Hamster has a couple of retro releases waiting in the wings. Namely, ACA NeoGeo 2020 Super Baseball and Arcade Archives Crazy Climber (£6.29 each).

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

Sony’s ravishing Shadow of the Colossus remake reasserts Bluepoint as the go-to guys for quality remasters. An all-time classic made even better, it boasts of radically improved visuals and a new photo mode. The £25 asking price seals the deal.

After a quiet spell, the Switch bounces back with a trio of new retail releases. Dragon Quest Builders stands a good chance of breaking the top 20 next week, while Portal Knights is bound to prove popular. It’s a case of peculiar timing though, as both are remarkably similar to one another.

They’re joined by pixel art adventure The Count Lucanor, which will hopefully be easier to track down than the PS4 physical release – we had great difficulty locating a copy.

On the download services, it’s the gravity shifting Metroidvania Dandara – out on PS4, Xbox One and Switch – and the run and gunner Bleed 2 turning heads. Scores are mixed for the latter, so you may want to mull over purchasing this 2D shooter sequel.

Pirate party game Marooners has also gained mixed reviews. Everything from PSU’s 8.5 (“wonderfully mad”) to the Xbox Tavern’s 4.5/10, who scorned the poor AI and general lack of thrills. Well shiver me timbers!

New release showcase:

Shadow of the Colossus

Reviews:
10/10 – Destructoid: “It’s epic and majestic and emotional and imaginative and breathtaking. There are so many superlative adjectives you could attach. Shadow of the Colossus’ reputation is as great as some of its tallest colossi”

9/10 – The Metro: “A stunning recreation of one of gaming’s most enduring classics, and what remains a towering example of the art of interactive entertainment”

8.5 – EGM: “Remakes can seem like the low-hanging fruit of game development, but Bluepoint does Shadow of the Colossus justice with an evolution of the classic game that improves the overall experience while maintaining its familiar spirit”

Dandara

Reviews:
8.3 – GameSpace: “Dandara is a game all fans of Metroidvanias will want to try. It’s on the PS4, Switch, PC, and even iOS for a mere $12. Its adventure isn’t a super lengthy one, but for a game this unique, the handful of hours you’ll spend with the Brazilian-made game will be more than worth the price of admission. Recommended”

4/5 – Hardcore Gamer: “While it may not be the most narratively-engaging or atmospherically-consistent outing of the bunch, the gameplay stands front-and-center and provides a Metroidvania that’s immensely satisfying to approach and inevitably conquer”

7/10 – Nintendo Life: “Dandara is a 2D Metroidvania platformer that’s admirably intent on doing things differently, from its Brazilian folklore-infused narrative to its unorthodox and touchscreen-friendly controls. It can be a little awkward to play as a result, and it’s got its fair share of structural niggles, but Dandara provides a genuinely fascinating world to spend some time in”

Bleed 2

Reviews:
9/10 – The SixthAxis: “The only real issue is its length, which is remedied to an extent by additional characters, weapons, and modes. If arcade, Contra/Metal Slug action is your thing and you’ve been missing it, you could do much worse than Bleed 2”

6.9 – VideoChums: “Shoot ’em up fans especially should love replaying the boss fights and they can work on perfecting their strategy and achieving an S/SSS rank on every level. However, I have to admit that it definitely didn’t live up to the expectations I had after playing the fantastic original”

5.4 – Xbox Tavern: “Bleed 2 is an average bullet hell game that will be better appreciated by streamers and speedrunners. Those looking for a padded, in-depth, side-scrolling shooter, will be left in the cold. Despite some interesting gameplay design throughout the varying levels, Bleed 2 just doesn’t stand out”

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Feb 06
By Jake In Blog No Comments

Remakes, remasters, reboots, re-releases – they go by many names, but thrusting an old game back onto physical and digital shelves is proving both common and lucrative these days.

Sony have arguably been the most enthusiastic purveyors of that sort of thing this generation, the PlayStation 4 release schedule at times has looked like the PlayStation 3’s greatest hits. Their latest recycled fruit, Shadow of the Colossus, is out this week, and everyone’s pretty jazzed about it.

The critical reception has been outstanding, celebrating the fact that it faithfully retains the feel of the PS2 original – as Polygon put it, “warts and all”. Is this really something to be celebrated?

Disclosure: I’ve not played the PS4 version, and I’m not going to. And this is for why: I played the PS2 original, but quickly gave up, frustrated with and bored of the camera and controls. Polygon’s review of the PS4 version talks of having “battled with the camera and controls” – and goes on to slap a 9.5 score on it.

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Feb 05
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Following sightings of PS4 and Xbox One games in Poundland, it seems that the high street giant is about to tread on the toes of GAME and CeX.

Due to the nature of this story (can you imagine Poundland issuing a press release?) details are sketchy. It appears the retailer has opted for fixed prices, with PS4/XO games clocking in at a fiver, and Xbox 360 and PS3 games priced at £2 for common titles and £5 for more desirable games such as Call of Duty: Ghosts and Dark Souls II.

Current-gen games spotted so far include Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Destiny, Sunset Overdrive, Homefront: The Revolution, AC: Unity, Batman Arkham Knight, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Tour de France 2015, and WWE 2K15.

Curiously, stock is a mixture of new (factory sealed) and pre-owned.

Reports suggest Music Magpie is the supplier of Poundland’s new ‘Reload’ range, which is something to be thankful for – the online store refurbs discs before reselling.

Even though the likes of Destiny can be had for less than £5 elsewhere, Poundland’s new line is bound to prove popular. It’ll be interesting to see if Music Magpie can provide a steady flow of stock.

Images via HUKD.

Feb 05
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Capcom’s Monster Hunter: World remains the UK’s number one for a second week running, fending off both EA Sports UFC 3 and Dissidia Final Fantasy NT.

EA’s bold and brash sports sim made #2, while Dissidia Final Fantasy entered at #9.

Unusually, Chart-Track notes Dissidia sold around 5,000 copies. Unusual because sales figures are rarely outlined.

It’s a case of no-change for positions #3, #4 and #5, held by Call of Duty: WWII, FIFA 18 and GTA V respectively.

At #6 it’s Dragon Ball FighterZ, down from #2. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe shifts to #7, Super Mario Odyssey rises several places to take #8, while fellow Switch release Zelda: BotW takes #10.

PUBG and Rocket League: Collector’s Edition both depart the top ten, meanwhile. We don’t doubt both will return at some point, being as popular as they are.

Feb 01
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

This week’s UK eShop line-up has more than a few standouts. Before delving into the details, fans of all things retro might be interested in the four Tubrografx titles hitting the humble Wii U – 1988 RPG Necromancer, multi-directional shooter Battle Chopper (aka Mr. Heli) (£5.39 each), plus the IREM SOFT shooters ImageFight (£5.39) and ImageFight II (£7.19). Niche games for a niche system.

Those Switch standouts include the topical (Brexit!) point ‘n click adventure Her Majesty’s SPIFFING (£9.99), the original SteamWorld Dig (£8.99), sleeper hit adventure Night In The Woods (£17.09), and the superlative shooter Sky Force Reloaded (£8.99). Being belated conversions, all are tried and tested – you won’t have to stray far to find 8/10 and 9/10 reviews for any of these.

Colorful co-op sci-fi puzzler Shiftlings – Enhanced Edition (£8.46 until 15th Feb, £11.29 thereafter) may ring a bell too, first launching on PS4 back in 2015. Review scores mostly clocked in at 6/10. Hopefully the nondisclosed enhancements are substantial.

Metroidvania AeternoBlade (£13.49) didn’t review too favourably on consoles either, originally releasing on 3DS. Messy visuals and endlessly recycled enemies let this one down.

As for fresh and new releases, we have the Switch exclusive Mad Carnage (£4.49), a 2D strategic car combat shooter viewed from an isometric perspective. Reminds us of Mad Max on NES. That’s joined by D3’s The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya (£15.99), a graphic novel filled with love and romance.

Then we have Frederic 2: Evil Strikes Back (£3.59 until 15th Feb, £3.99 thereafter), a sequel to a game that hit the Switch just a few weeks ago. The PC version from 2014 gained positive reviews on Steam, suggesting it’s worth a look.

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

January ends with a couple of heavy hitters – UFC 3 and Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, two fighting games that couldn’t be further apart.

Despite launching on Tuesday, reviews of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT are worryingly thin on the ground. The only review online at present comes from Digitally Downloaded, who handed out an encouraging 4.5/5. “Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is not a fighting game. Not really. It’s a strategic action game and is a clear attempt by the publisher to spin the Final Fantasy franchise into something that can work in the world of eSports,” they said.

The fact that it’s very eSports orientated has riled fans – the Metacritic user score sits at 6.3, with several users complaining of weak fighting mechanics and a disappointing story mode. It’s a Dissidia game in name only, it seems.

UFC 3 meanwhile is a marked improvement over its predecessor, with scores being a mixture of 7s, 8s and 9s. A few critics complained about the robot-like animation, but most were impressed with the presentation and new campaign mode.

Call of Duty: WWII – The Resistance is generating a mild buzz on the download services, being the popular shooter’s first significant piece of DLC. Destructoid felt it was worth 7/10, reporting that it “doesn’t really stray too far from what we’ve been given in the retail version of WWII.”

The PS4 and Xbox One also receive Wulverblade, a cartoony beat’em up that hit the Switch late last year. Reviews were generally full of praise. “The action rarely becomes too repetitive because there are always multiple ways of dealing with the hordes of enemies which present a genuinely stern test, even for seasoned players who fondly recall pumping coins into the likes of Golden Axe and Final Fight all those years ago,” said Nintendo Life, who awarded it 7/10.

A trio of new PSVR titles also launch this week, including wild west shooter Cold Iron, the quintessentially British mini-game collection Pierhead Arcade, and the RTS/FPS hybrid Out of Ammo. You’ll find scores for that last one below.

New release showcase:

UFC 3 – PS4/XO

Reviews:
8.75 – GameInformer: “With an exceptional career mode and improved gameplay on top of its predecessor’s already-strong offerings, UFC 3 is the best MMA game ever released”

8.4 – Forbes: “With a focus on depth and functionality, the EA UFC 3development team has created the strongest version in their series. A few minor missteps and the reluctance to embrace or include a true-sim component keeps it from GOAT status. However, there’s no question it’s a titleholder”

3.5/5 – Trusted Reviews: “EA Sports UFC 3 is a fine attempt at recreating one of the most complicated sports on earth; a dynamic, exciting and often thuddingly violent fighting game that makes marked improvements to its striking game, but just like poor old Francis NGannou, still needs a lot of work on the ground”

Out of Ammo – PSVR

Reviews:
7/10 – PlayStation Country: “Out of Ammo is a great example of how to mix RTS and FPS gameplay into a viable package. It may be showing its early VR age now, but the gameplay is still as simple and fun as ever”

6/10 – The SixthAxis: “Out of Ammo is a decent experience that blends RTS and FPS together, and if can be fun if you want something quick and not too taxing. However, it’s a game that shows its hand very quickly and doesn’t offer much beyond that”

2.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “The pitch for Out of Ammo sounds interesting on paper, but the execution is probably the worst PSVR game that I have ever played”

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