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Mar 08
By Matt Gander In Features 3 Comments

The Switch’s launch line-up may have been slim, but at least there wasn’t a ‘day one dud’ lurking alongside the likes of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Bomberman R. Damning praise, we know, but there’s truth in those words.

Previous Nintendo consoles haven’t been quite as fortunate as the Switch, with plenty of clutter arriving alongside such system seller as Super Mario 64, Luigi’s Mansion and Zelda: The Twilight Princess. It’s easy to see why publishers think they can get away with it. Console launches generate a huge buzz, and so it’s easy for day one adopters to get caught in the hype and pick up two or three games on a whim.

Retailers always seem to overstock launch games too, due to being unable to predict demand. Unsold copies of Asphalt 3D sat on the shelf for years after the 3DS’s launch. Rayman 3D and Splinter Cell 3D, too. Three cheers for Ubisoft, a publisher you’ll be reading a lot more about in a moment as we delve into the world of disastrous Nintendo launch games.

FIFA 64 – Nintendo 64

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It took more than a couple of months for the N64’s library to reach double figures – the system launched in Europe with five games, with Blast Corps, Wave Race, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Wayne Gretzky Hockey and NBA Hangtime arriving in the weeks and months that followed.

FIFA 64 sold well during launch not just because it was FIFA – EA’s golden goose, even back in the ’90s – but also because there wasn’t a great deal available for N64 owners to buy. It has been said that almost all the early launch titles shifted a million copies, save perhaps for Midway’s efforts.

We don’t know how many copies FIFA 64 sold exactly, but whatever the amount, EA didn’t deserve a single penny. It’s often referred to as the worst iteration in the series, sporting rubbish animation, bizarre camera angles, slowdown, and repetitive commentary. FIFA 64 was a £60 embarrassment.

The Sims 3 – 3DS

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“It’s almost an achievement that EA has made a 3DS version of a game that’s not only worse than the Wii version, but the DS version too,” began the Official Nintendo Magazine’s review.

“For some reason, the 3DS version of The Sims 3 has removed the mood bars that tell you how hungry, clean, tired and so forth your Sim is. No big deal, you know, it’s only the WHOLE POINT of the entire game,” they continued.

The final score? A miserable 20%.

Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure – GameCube

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A mini-game package featuring bite-sized chunks of Back to the Future, E.T, Waterworld, Jurassic Park, Jaws and Backdraft sounds like an appealing package. It was a shame, then, that Kemco managed to screw it up superbly.

One of the least conventional games ever, Universal Studios mostly entailed walking around the park while picking up litter. That’s providing you were able to spot any – the obtuse camera and use of 3D characters on 2D backdrops often made rubbish hard to spot, obscured by NPCs and whatnot. Once enough rubbish was eventually found, you’d then have to find and talk to Woody Woodpecker, purchase the appropriate hat from the gift store, and then find the corresponding ride. Step out of sequence and you would be greeted with a queue of fellow thrill seekers and a prompt to come back later.

Honestly, it was like playing a videogame designed by Marge Simpson.

Your reward for picking up people’s trash? The chance to play some limp mini-games that were over pretty much before they’d even begun, ruined either by poor controls or horrible camera positioning. The Waterworld game wasn’t even a game – it was the Universal Studios’ show rendered in crude CGI, with the only interaction being a choice of camera angles. Even Waterworld on Virtual Boy had more effort put into it, and that’s saying something.

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Mar 06
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Heightening the loss of Xbox One-exclusive Scalebound further, Platinum’s NieR: Automata has gained glowing reviews.

It currently has a Metacritic score higher than Horizon Zero Dawn, in fact (although the pool of reviews is far smaller due to the embargo lifting just a few hours ago).

As God is a Geek rightly stated, don’t overlook this one just because it’s crammed between other big name releases – this is Platinum on top form, and a more than reserving sequel to Square-Enix’s cult RPG.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is wowing the critics currently too, gaining a mixture of 8s and 9s. We’ll cover reviews for that during our weekly new release round-up, as for now, it’s NieR’s time to shine:

9.5 – PlayStation Universe: “Exceptional in every way, NeiR: Automata delivers on every cylinder, providing one of the best experiences this year. In every generation there is a game that leaves an impression on you and for me NieR: Automata is that game. To put it simply, NeiR: Automata is a magical experience”

9.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “PlatinumGames has done an excellent job at taking Yoko Taro’s deep and interesting world and giving it an amazing gameplay experience that fits it perfectly. Fans of the original as well as newcomers to the series will undoubtedly appreciate what Nier: Automata has to offer”

9/10 – The Metro: “A fantastic mix of explosive action and thoughtful storytelling, that results in one of the most unpredictable and ambitious action role-players of the modern era”

9/10 – VideoGamer: “NieR: Automata has more creativity and self-awareness in its little finger than most games have for their entire run time. Don’t miss this because it’s sandwiched between other, bigger games”

9.0 – God is a Geek: “Platinum Games has surpassed itself once again, providing much more than their signature gameplay. This is one of the most interesting and unique games you’ll play this year”

9/10 – GameSpot: “It’s a meaty, often exhilarating trek that showcases Platinum Games’ and Yoko Taro’s unique blend of genius”

9/10 – Destructoid: “It’s tough to really strike that balance as many action-RPGs tend to favor one element over the other, but Platinum Games, with the help of Square Enix, has tapped into its innate ability to captivate us with combat while keeping the rest of the journey engaging”

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Mar 06
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Coming as a surprise to nobody, Horizon Zero Dawn has topped the UK chart. Zelda: Breath of the Wild didn’t really have much of a chance considering the size of the PS4’s userbase.

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Backed by some impressively high review scores and a huge marketing push, Horizon has become 2017’s biggest seller so far and Sony’s best launch since Uncharted 4. In the process, it also bagged the accolade of Sony’s biggest new PS4 IP launch. Take that, Knack.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild had to settle for #2, reportedly outsold by Horzion by “a comfortable margin”. MCV claims Zelda sales were split 78% on Switch and 22% on Wii U, and it also had the 3rd best Zelda launch behind The Wind Waker and Wii launch title Twilight Princess.

On a related note, reports suggest 80k Switch consoles were sold in the UK within its first 48 hours on sale. That figure falls way short of the Wii’s 105k and the 3DS’s 113k, but is double what the Wii U managed – a mere 40k.

Breath of the Wild accounted for 75% of all Switch software sales last week. 1-2-Switch and Bomberman R did however manage to make the top 10, entering at #4 and #7 respectively.

The multi-format Just Dance 2016 saw a sales boost too, back in at #24, thanks to the new Switch version. Skylanders: Imaginators wasn’t as lucky, failing to re-appear in the top 40.

Going back to the top ten, For Honor – last week’s no. 1 – dropped to #5 while Halo Wars 2 has fallen all the way from #2 to #15.

MetalSlug
Mar 05
By Matt Gander In Blog 2 Comments

News that five NeoGeo games were ready and waiting for retro purists on the Switch’s launch day has seemingly flown under the radar. The fact that a handful of NeoGeo conversion are also now available on Xbox One, courtesy of Japanese publisher Hamster, even more so.

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In the absence of Virtual Console for Switch, the five NeoGeo games – Waku Waku 7, Shock Troopers, World Heroes Perfect and Metal Slug 3 – are a godsend for anybody hankering for some old skool entertainment. Their £6.39 asking price is more than reasonable, too, considering they aren’t mere ROM dumps: new features such as online leaderboards have been added.

The Xbox One, meanwhile, has never been anybody’s first port of call for when it comes to retro gaming so it’s no wonder that the four NeoGeo titles currently available (World Heroes, Metal Slug, Neo Turf Masters and Nam-1975) appear to be going down well, with mostly positive user reviews on the Xbox One Store. World Heroes allegedly has some framerate issues and the action is prone to stuttering when the achievements pop, but the other three are reportedly faultless conversions.

Due to its high price tag and limited availability the NeoGeo doesn’t hold a special place in many gamer’s hearts. Certainly, not in the same way as the Mega Drive or SNES. In fact, it’s likely that many gamers are experiencing the aforementioned games for the first time, making them a pleasant change from the games we usually see on Nintendo’s VC services. Urban Champ, we’re looking at you here.

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1800
Mar 03
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Metacritic is a hot topic of discussion today, but it not for the usual inflammatory reasons – Zelda: Breath of the Wild is on track to become one of the highest-rated games of all-time, currently second only to the N64’s Ocarina of Time.

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With a 98% Metacritic – from a pool of 61 reviews – it’s on par with GTA IV and such age-old classics as Soul Calibur and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, while tracking above GTA V, Halo: Combat Evolved, Bioshock, Half-Life 2 and Uncharted 2. Now that’s some fine company.

Of those 61 reviews not even one has a score lower than 9/10, with the only complaints being minor technical issues such as frame-rate drops.

Rest assured that the Switch is off to the best possible start – with a launch game for the ages; one that’ll be remembered in the same light as fellow system-sellers Halo:CE and Super Mario 64 for years to come. It may even manage to topple Ocarina of Time’s Metacritic score in the weeks to come. A dizzying prospect.

Essential – Eurogamer: “Switch’s debut and Wii U’s demise are marked by a radical reinvention of The Legend of Zelda that will go down as an all-time great”

100/100 – GamesBeat: “As the name suggests, it is a breathing wilderness that Nintendo brought to life by abandoning the structured, predictable Zelda formula. At the same time, it feels like the ultimate culmination of the ideas we encountered in the first Zelda in 1987″

10/10 – Forbes: “Don’t miss this one, even if you’re not a fan of older Zelda games. New fans and old fans alike will find so much to love in this game”

10/10 – Dual Shockers: “Breath of the Wild may not only be the best Zelda game ever produced, but it rivals Super Mario 64 and Halo: Combat Evolved for the best launch game ever shipped with any console”

10/10 – GameInformer: “Despite the massive scope of the game, Breath of the Wild retains Nintendo’s knack for polish without any major technical hiccups to disrupt the experience. I was entranced by this version of Hyrule, and it surprised me at nearly every turn, from its wealth of discoveries to the way it shuns the established tropes of previous Zelda games”

10/10 – Polygon: “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the biggest, most open Zelda game ever made, but it also brings with it a massive change in design philosophy, and the way it treats players. Breath of the Wild is the first main Zelda title since 1991 (2013’s Link to the Past sequel A Link Between Worlds notwithstanding) to feel like it respects its players implicitly”

10/10 – Nintendo Life: “This will be in the running as the best game in the IP’s history, and it will likely be discussed as a leading contender in the broader open-world genre. Nintendo has bravely taken one of its biggest franchises in a new direction, and it’s delivered a triumph”

10/10 – GameSpot: “Breath of the Wild is a defining moment for The Legend of Zelda series, and the most impressive game Nintendo has ever created”

10/10 – God is a Geek: “Breath of the Wild is an absolute masterpiece, and may well be the best The Legend of Zelda game ever made. Despite a few minor technical issues, this a truly unforgettable experience”

10/10 – IGN: “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is evocative, exhilarating, and a masterclass in open-world design”

10/10 – The Metro: “The best Zelda there’s ever been, and very possibly the best video game ever made”

10/10 – Destructoid: “This isn’t your typical boiler plate open world cash grab, rife with to-do lists and busywork. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is an evolution of the formula for both eastern and western philosophies alike, and a new blueprint”

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Mar 02
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Be still thy beating wallet. There’s a cubic tonne of stuff vying for your cash this week, especially for fans of all things Nintendo. Indeed, it’s the start of a new era – Friday’s launch of Zelda: Breath of the Wild marks the end of the Wii U and the birth of the Switch.

The Switch’s launch line-up is, sadly, a little lacking. Gaining an impressive 10/10 from EDGE, Breath of the Wild is the obvious system-seller, while party game 1-2-Switch shows off such features as the HD rumble. In an ideal world, it would come packaged with the system like Wii Sports and Nintendo Land before it. Still, Nintendo has at least thought to make a demo version available.

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Then there’s Bomberman R, a long-awaited revival. Early footage looked promising and thankfully Konami hasn’t tinkered with the classic character designs too much. There have been concerns about it being developed in Unity, such as the 30fps cap, but it’s looking like a safe enough purchase. It if it does well, Konami will consider reviving other dormant franchises. They certainly have a lot to choose from.

This leaves us with Just Dance 2016 and Skylanders Imaginators, which we imagine to be closer to the Wii U versions than their current-gen counterparts. Reports claim Imagainators won’t allow two items to be used at once – ie. a character and a vehicle – due to the Joy-Con only supporting a single NFC source at a time. That’s a little disappointing – this should have been the best version.

As for eShop releases, expect Shovel Knight, I Am Setsuna, FAST RMX, Vroom in the Night Sky, VOEZ, New Frontier Days: Founding Pioneers and Snipperclips – Cut it out, together! Maybe some Neo Geo games too, if all things go to plan.

PS4 owners are no doubt getting stuck into Horizon Zero Dawn as we speak. Guerrilla’s open-world adventure, which pits humans against colossal robot creatures, allegedly cost over $45m to make. It’s no wonder they’re pushing it so heavily.

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5193_2
Mar 01
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

It’s a little-known fact that Nintendo granted both EA and Activision reduced GameCube licensing costs. It was a resoundingly pro-active move from Nintendo: around ten years ago the two publishers released big-budget, heavily promoted, titles on almost a monthly basis.

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If you’ve ever wondered why such games as Gun, Def Jam Vendetta and True Crime made it to GC, despite not being an ideal fit for the console’s demographic, now you know why.

EA’s partnership with Nintendo went one step further than special mate’s rates. EA’s sports sims were selling nowhere near as well on GC than on PS2 and Xbox, and so Nintendo allowed the deep-pocketed publisher to feature the likes of Mario, Luigi and Peach in their 2005 sporting line-up. The fact that the previous entries, such as SSX Tricky and the first NBA Street, had arrived to critical acclaim no doubt played a key part in persuading Nintendo. They weren’t putting their name to any old tat.

SSX on Tour – the fourth entry in the series – was easily the most successful collaboration. The SSX games boasted heavily stylised visuals – as opposed to the realism of competitor Amped – and so Mario and chums fitted in rather well. Mario and Luigi opted for snowboards while Peach favoured skis; Mario made his usual twee noises when performing tricks (“Wahoo!), while the infamous 8-bit ‘power down’ sound effect could be heard upon bailing.

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Snipperclips
Feb 27
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

It’s the start of a new era – this Friday sees the arrival of the Nintendo Switch, along with a handful Switch eShop titles. Curiously though, Nintendo has omitted Switch games from this week’s eShop download schedule.

We’d wager this is because they’ve already issued press releases detailing the four digital launch games – the F-Zero alike FAST RMX from Shin’en Multimedia, prequel campaign Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment and the content crammed Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove. They’re joined by first-party effort Snipperclips – Cut it out, together!, developed here in the UK by SFB games. This endearing co-op puzzler is set to cost £17.99. A demo version will also be available at launch.

A ‘Nindies Showcase’ video is planned for tomorrow, covering all the above. Will any other indie games appear on the Switch eShop come launch day? We’d like to think so – even one or two more would help the line-up look less barren. [Update] Oddball Japanese motorbike racer Vroom in the Night Sky and the portable play only music game VOEZ now confirmed for 3rd March.

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On the Wii U eShop The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild arrives on Friday for £59.99. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE arrived for £49.99 on the eShop while Paper Mario Splash launched for £39.99, so that premium price tag for BotW is a tad hard to swallow. We suggest going physical for this one – £47.99 from Tesco Direct appears to be the best price online currently.

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