Sep 26
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

To say SteamWorld Dig 2 is built on a sturdy foundation is an understatement. The original SWD was hard to fault without resorting to nit-picking. With this in mind, Swedish developer Image & Form must have found themselves in a fortunate position when it came to this sequel’s pre-production.

With few criticisms and complaints to rectify, they were presumably free to focus on improving every aspect that made the original a joy to play.

So, how do you improve on something remarkably close to perfection? Simply double down on the good stuff. It’s immediately apparent that production values are far more lavish, boasting sharper, more richly detailed visuals, and ambient lighting. The storyline is more heartfelt too, with robotic cowpoke Dorothy (Dot) out to discover the whereabouts of Rusty, the likeable lead from the original SWD. She’s soon joined by Fen, a powerful glowing orb of light who’s rather fond of destruction. But in a good way – excavating is Dorothy’s forte, after all.

A lead on Rusty’s whereabouts brings Dot to El Machino, a mountain town sitting directly under a sprawling complex of mines and caves. After being hit by a mysterious earthquake the mine is back to being clogged with dirt, and no time is wasted getting back into the swing of digging and drilling for riches.

Dot starts her quest to track down Rusty with an assortment of crude but effective mining equipment. That’s to say, it’s slightly more advanced than the tech Rusty started out with. As such, the opening hour feels like far less of a slog. Dot later gains the kind of upgrades that Rusty could have only dreamed of, lending a whole new set of skills.

Upgrades and new items unlock at such a rapid rate that it’s uncommon not to return to the mine without a bigger backpack, improved pickaxe or similar. This adds a wonderful sense of progression, almost making self-improvement the central theme.

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Sep 25
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

This week’s UK chart includes a couple of surprises. Firstly though, here’s something that doesn’t come as a shock – Destiny 2 sits astride the UK top 40 for the third week running.

This means Activision has spent 11 weeks at no.1 in total, split across a trio of titles – Destiny 2, Crash Bandicoot, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.

With the almighty FIFA 18 out Friday, chances are Destiny 2 won’t take the top spot for a fourth week.

Project Cars 2 put in a strong showing, arriving at #2. The original took no.1 on release, with 35% of its lifetime sales generated on day one. While it’s reasonable to assume Slightly Mad Studios hasn’t been as fortunate second time around, debuting at #2 is still something to be proud of.

Nintendo’s Pokkén Tournament DX made #5. More surprisingly, Pokémon Gold and Silver both managed to make top 40 appearances, with the code-in-a-box retail releases taking #18 and #21. Eurogamer notes that if sales were combined, they would have entered the top ten. Not bad going at all.

Capcom’s Marvel Vs Capcom: Infinite had to settle for #12. We imagine Capcom had it pegged for the top five, at the very least. The fighter has been up against a fan backlash, due to ugly art direction and a slim character roster.

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider and Metroid: Samus Returns both depart the top ten on their second week of release meanwhile, falling to #6 and (scrolls down…) #35. Poor Samus.

On the other hand, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is enjoying a resurgence – it’s up from #33 to #13 this week thanks to supermarket price promotions.

Sep 21
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

In the absence of a Virtual Console service for Switch, the Wii U continues to receive the occasional retro re-release or two. This week it’s the turn of Konami’s 2D shooter Detana Twin Bee (£6.29), an early entry in the Pop’n TwinBee series. Fun fact: it was given the name Bells & Whistles in the west.

The Wii U gets another shooter this week, in the form of Super Ultra Star Shooter (£1.79). The price tag definitely reflects the more than apparent low budget – it looks worryingly simplistic.

The same can also be said for RCMADIAX’s GUIDE THE GHOST! (£1.39) on 3DS. We had to do a double take when checking the screenshots for this one – it looks like it would be more at home on the Magnavox Odyssey. We aren’t even overexaggerating for comic effect – look for yourself.

After arriving on Switch last week procedurally generated platformer 36 Fragments of Midnight (£2.69) makes the jump to 3DS. Nintendo Life reports of a fleeting 15min competition time, which is a little hard to swallow even with the cheapy cheap price tag.

Onto bigger and better things we go. On Switch, two new fighting games are vying for your time and money. Reviewers claim that Pokkén Tournament DX (£49.99) is lacking in content but it’s a perfect fit for the Switch regardless due to its pick-up-and-play nature. The simple controls apparently transfer to JoyCon play perfectly. Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 (£54.99) has been tailored for the Switch too, gaining a host of new features such as wireless battles for up to six consoles.

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Sep 21
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

This Kickstarter-funded platformer makes its inspirations incredibly clear, name-dropping such games as New Super Mario Bros, Metal Slug, Joe & Mac, and Trine within its product description.

The individual elements from each are easy to pinpoint. It brazenly borrows Super Mario’s bonce bouncing, Trine’s focus on character swapping, and Metal Slug’s controllable vehicles. And of course, the prehistoric setting is lifted straight from Joe & Mac, rampaging giant dinosaurs and all. Weirdly though, Caveman Warriors doesn’t feel like any of the games previously mentioned.

This is mostly due to the presence of a stamina bar. Each of the four characters has their own skill that’s often called upon to progress, and every time this skill is used, stamina reduces significantly.

This has a huge impact on the pace overall. A good example: Liliana is the only character able to throw a projectile the full length of the screen. It’s by far the most useful skill of all, but only three spears can be thrown before the stamina bar is depleted. This makes it vital that every shot finds its target, or face the consequence of waiting a few seconds while your chosen caveman stops to mop their brow.

JanduSoft should have added ‘Ninja Gaiden’ to their list of inspirations

Mighty warrior Jack can lob axes and smash through walls, club-carrying Brienne has a bullet-absorbing shield, and the blue-haired shaman Moe has a pet monkey that can distract guards. These skills are all available from the outset but only come into play as things progress. This goes a long way to making each level feel suitably different from the last, never mind the fact that all eight stages have different settings, new enemies, and a boss to beat.

The two vehicular stages are remarkably different to one another as well, adding variety.

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Sep 20
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games 1 Comment

Forever striving for comprehensiveness, our hallowed new release round-up evolves once again.

Hopefully, it’s a step in the right direction – last week’s cut ‘n paste effort left us feeling unclean. Only the laziest of journos resort to re-posting press releases, after all.

This week sees a trio of new beat’em ups battle it out, while fan favourite Final Fantasy IX makes a surprise arrival on PS4. Those who claim FF VIII was the better game are clearly mistaken.

The Raiders of the Broken Planet beta and the open-world space adventure Morphite appear to be worth a look, too. SteamWorld Dig 2 also hits the Switch eShop tomorrow, ahead of next week’s PS4/PS Vita release.

New release showcase:

Project Cars 2 (PS4/XO)

Arriving with less fanfare than expected, Project Cars 2 is nevertheless off a decent start with the Metacritic score of 87% currently surpassing the original (83%). Improving on almost every aspect, some reviewers even claim it’s the best console racer currently available.

9.2 – IGN: “The handling has been tuned to a T, the content is excellently curated, and the amount of variety and racing available in it is delightfully daunting. Even if you don’t care about the developer’s esports aspirations there’s still a mammoth solo racer here that’s always ready to roll whenever you are”

8.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “A solid focus in its career mode combine with tight community integration, which all mixes with a heaping helping of esports activities, giving fans and new racers alike plenty of reasons to buy Project CARS 2”

8.0 – God is a Geek: “While it is much more accessible than its predecessor, thanks to the new controller settings (that remain fully customisable, and I suggest you do just that to get the most out of the handling), it is still far more brutal and unforgiving than anything else in its niche. But it’s also the most comprehensive racer out there, and even its AI issues won’t stop you from having a fun and rewarding time”

Pokken Tournament DX (Switch)

The Switch receives another Wii U hand-me-down, and guess what? It fits like a glove. While the lack of content remains a concern, it’s still a decent alternative to ARMS.

9/10 – TheSixthAxis: “With an expanded roster that only improves on an already great lineup, fantastic gameplay, and an increased range of challenges and modes, Pokkén Tournament DX is true fighting game gold”

9//10 – Nintendo Life: “Pokkén is also a solid choice for Switch because it perfectly suits the console’s local multiplayer ethos; the game’s control scheme fits perfectly on a single Joy-Con, which means you can take the fight with you anywhere you wish”

8/10 – The Metro: “A Pokémon fighting game may not seem like the most obvious spin-off idea, but the end result is a surprisingly fun and inventive multiplayer game”

Marvel Vs Capcom: Infinite (PS4/XO)

Those who keep a close eye on the gaming scene will have no doubt noticed the backlash against Capcom’s latest brawler. Marvel licenses aren’t as easy to obtain as back when this franchise started, resulting in a sporadic rooster that’s missing some key inclusions. The art direction has come under fire too, prompting Capcom to give the likes of Chun-Li a last-minute makeover before launch.

8.25 – GameInformer: “Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is a fighting game that tries to appeal to everyone, and it largely succeeds (unless you’re a die-hard Wolverine fan)”

7.5 – Polygon: “Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite is an Eyesore, but an exciting and expressive one”

7.5 – Destructoid: “Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite is sterile on the surface, but a functional as hell fighter. I’m fine with that. Are you?”

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Sep 18
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Destiny 2 managed to fend off all newcomers, holding the UK chart’s top spot for a second week running. No surprise there, really – Bungie’s sci-fi opus is still the talk of the town.

The fact that NBA 2K18 outperformed PES 2018 does come as a surprise, however.

Take 2’s sports sim had the biggest ever UK launch for a basketball game, and its chart position (#2) is also the franchise’s highest so far.

Konami’s PES 2018 had to settle for #3, with a sales difference of 1.5k copies.

The budget-priced Dishonored: Death of the Outsider made #6. Its arrival seems to have had a knock-on-effect on Dishonored 2, which fell from #6 to #20 this week.

The well-received Metroid: Samus Returns rolled in at #8, while also claiming no.1 in the 3DS chart.

Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition on Switch narrowly missed a top ten placing meanwhile, debuting at #11.

Finally for this week’s new arrivals, NHL 18 turned up at #23. This means it was a no-show for EA’s NBA Live 18. It even failed to break the individual format top 20s.

As for the whereabouts of recent releases, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is now at #14, Knack II plummeted to #25 on its second week of release, while Monster Hunter Stories on 3DS fell sixteen places to #37.

Sep 14
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

How’s about that Nintendo Direct, eh? We had a feeling a new mature title was on the agenda given the 11pm show-time and the conference’s 18+ age rating, but we never expected a double-whammy of DOOM and Wolfenstein II. Minecraft for New 3DS was a nice surprise, too.

As for games you can play right now, oh boy oh boy, it’s another busy week with ten new Switch releases in total, plus a demo of Square-Enix’s JRPG project OCTOPATH TRAVELER. That’s a working title, if you couldn’t guess. What’s the betting it remains as Octopath Traveler? High, we’d imagine.

NBA 2K18 (£54.99) and Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition (£29.99) arrive on both the eShop and at retail. Unlike the upcoming FIFA 18, NBA 2K18 has the same content and features as the PS4/Xbox One versions. As for Rayman, the consensus is that it’s a great version of a great game, but the new features – including a Kung Foot tournament mode – aren’t worth the asking price if you already own it on Wii U.

Like last week’s new arrivals, many of this week’s titles are belated conversions. Procedurally generated platformer 36 Fragments of Midnight (£2.99) makes the jump from PC, Beach Buggy Racing (£9.99) debuted on Xbox One to mixed reviews, fetching pixel art strategy RPG Kingdom: New Lands (£13.49) went down a treat on Xbox One and iOS, while turn-based dungeon crawler Quest of Dungeons (£7.99) was met with a positive reception on Xbox One back in 2015.

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Sep 13
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

With a site revamp on the agenda, this week’s new release round-up features a new format. It’ll no doubt evolve slightly over the next few weeks, but hopefully, it’ll prove to be easier to read as well as being more informative.

Best of all, this new format gives every new release an airing; no game left behind.

This week sees another slew of sports games, with NBA 2K18 and PES 2018 likely to storm the UK charts next week, while Samus makes a triumphant return on 3DS, along with accompanying amiibo.

Then we have Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. No reviews are live yet, but the £15-£20 price tag makes it less of a gamble, not to mention the series’ solid reputation.

Hopefully it won’t be the last Dishonored game we ever see.

Retail and digital releases:

PES 2018 (PS4/XO/PS3/360)

‘Where Legends Are Made’ encapsulates the return of PES, with new features, modes and an unparalleled gameplay experience. This year’s edition brings the biggest changes to the award winning series seen in a decade, which will set a new standard for soccer games, and raise expectations for the future of the franchise.

No part of PES 2018 has been left untouched, giving you new ways to play with a number of gameplay improvements, Online Co-op, Random Selection Match, and a complete presentation overhaul with lifelike player models, new menus and real player images.

PES 2018 embraces the world of eSports with new integration of PES League across Online modes, including a new 3v3 competitive mode allowing users to join forces to win big prizes. This, alongside bringing the PC version to a level that meets the quality standard of its PlayStation 4 counterpart, only scratches the surface of the significant changes to PES 2018

NBA 2K18 (PS4/XO/PS3/360/Switch)

The highest rated* annual sports title of this console generation returns with NBA 2K18, featuring unparalleled authenticity and improvements on the court.

*According to 2008 – 2016”

Dishonored Death of the Outsider (PS4/XO/PC)

Take on the role of Billie Lurk (aka Megan Foster), once one of Dunwall’s most notorious killers-for-hire. Reunited with your old mentor, the legendary assassin Daud, you undertake the greatest assassination ever conceived: killing the Outsider, a god-like figure whom Billie and Daud see as instrumental to some of the Empire’s most dishonorable moments.

As you venture deep into the grimiest corners of Karnaca to uncover the mystery of the Outsider and his origins, you will face deadly opposition, ancient powers, and difficult decisions that will forever change the world around you

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