May 29
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Often edging on the side of experimental, STAY is a tricky game to explain. After being forcibly abducted from his home during the early hours of the morning, the mild-mannered Quinn finds himself trapped inside a dark and filthy room. An old computer is the only thing nearby that still works, and so Quinn – still dressed in his PJs – logs into a seemingly random chat room in hope of finding somebody online willing to help make sense of the situation.

It so happens you’re the first person to respond to his plea. Effectively, then, you’re playing the role of yourself in STAY – Quinn may be the protagonist, but he isn’t under your direct control, merely seeking your guidance, encouragement, and reassurance to escape from the torturous hellhole. Every minute or two you’re prompted for a multiple-choice response or forced to decide what to do next. Responses often impact Quinn’s mood, diffusing stressful situations or inadvertently making things far worse than they are.

Roughly 80% of the game’s duration is spent in the faux chat room – complete with a pixel art webcam – reading Quinn’s text-heavy descriptions of both his surroundings and his current mental state. While Quinn is intelligent and well-informed, he’s no superhero. It’s clear from the outset that he carries some emotional baggage with stress, anxiety and depression being reoccurring themes.

Fearing for his life and sanity, he attempts to pick apart his kidnapper’s mindset in a vague hope of finding answers, all while searching for an exit in whichever room he’s currently exploring. You can also choose to learn more about his life or spur him onwards to find access to another room.

a record of time spent away from Quinn is kept

Ingeniously, a record of time spent away from Quinn is kept. At around 4-5 hours, it’s possible to complete STAY in one run, never leaving his side. Dipping in and out sees things pan out slightly differently, with Quinn passing judgement on your absence.

It may sound fascinating – and at first, it genuinely is – but STAY soon emerges to be little more than a glorified ‘80s microcomputer text adventure, albeit with a handful of arbitrary puzzles thrown in.

Despite being trapped in a filthy abode – filled with antiques and oddities – Quinn can be surprisingly chipper at times, making jokes as well as throwing pop culture references into the mix. He makes a few typos – which he’s quick to correct – too. It isn’t enough to completely convince us that Quinn is a genuine person, however, as some dialogue is nothing short of cringe-worthy. One example: he’s in constant danger, yet happy to describe the current room temperature as being “colder than a witch’s tit”.

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May 29
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

In a three-way battle between Detroit: Become Human, State of Decay 2, and Dark Souls Remastered, it was Quantic Dream’s PS4-exclusive that came out on top.

GamesIndusty.biz reports physical sales were almost on par with 2013’s Beyond Two Souls, but it fell well short of beating Heavy Rain’s launch week figures.

The anticipated State of Decay 2 entered at #2. Considering it’s an Xbox Game Pass poster boy, that’s reasonably impressive.

Then at #3 it’s Dark Souls Remastered. Had the Switch version made it out as originally planned, it would’ve almost certainly taken #2.

FIFA 18 fell from #2 to #4. Sales were up over last week though due to ongoing price cuts and the upcoming free World Cup update.

God of War – last week’s chart-topper – dropped to #5. Far Cry 5 takes #6, and then at #7 it’s Overwatch. The online sensation is up all the way from #40 due to a hefty price drop.

Destiny 2 rose a few places to take #8, Fallout 4 rises to #9 – up from #12 – while Mario Kart 8 Deluxe rounds-off the top ten.

Space Hulk Deathwing at #19 was the only other new arrival. EA Sports UFC 3, Need for Speed Payback and Monster Hunter World did manage to re-enter the lower end of the top 40, however.

May 24
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Don’t feel too blue if you’re being forced to work over the long weekend, as you’ll almost certainly need some extra disposable income for this week’s colossal eShop line-up.

A new 3DS game gets the ball rolling this week. Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers (£34.99) sees the often-forgotten Nintendo hero in his first full-price release. It’s a bigger, better, experience from previous games staring the silent mercenary armadillo in an offbeat tower defence/action hybrid with racing elements. If you have Mii characters stored on your Nintendo 3DS they’ll get a chance to shine too, appearing as ‘Amiimals’ in the local town.

The highest review score currently clocks in at 8.5 from Nintendo World Report. “The individual elements might not be all that strong, but together, combined with the pleasant visuals and charming post-apocalyptic style, it’s much more than the sum of its parts,” they said.

Twinfinite was left impressed too, awarding it 4/5 while calling it a “truly unique experience.”

Nintendo Life was slightly less smitten by it though, claiming that “the jump in cost from a £9/$10 game to a full retail release doesn’t feel fully justified.”

“It’s a fun and solid experience, but you might want to give this purchase a little more thought unless you’re already entirely convinced,” they continued, before dishing out a 7/10.

Over on the Switch there’s Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (£8.99), an 8-bit spin-off of the upcoming Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Essentially, it’s a brand new Castlevania. We struggle to find a single critical review, but user reviews are positive thus far. It’s apparently quite similar to Castlevania 3, if that means anything to you.

Runner3 (£23.79) is also generating a buzz, and not just because it features Charles Martinet – the voice of Super Mario. Review scores are slightly mixed, varying from 6/10 to 9/10, but are mostly positive. Destructoid deemed it worthy of an 8.5, complaining only about frequent loading times.

We’re more than familiar with Punch Club (£13.49), putting numerous hours into the Xbox One version. It’s a pixel art boxing RPG, drenched in ‘80s pop culture references. Train up a boxer, enter contests, earn a living wage delivering pizzas, and save the town from a crime spree. It does grow tedious as time goes on, and the fact that your boxer’s stats decrease over time hampers the sense of progression, but ultimately, it’s a neat little game with an addictive streak.

Enigmatis 2: The Mists of Ravenwood (£13.49) meanwhile is a hidden object puzzle adventure that hit the likes of PS4 and Xbox One over a year ago. It seems to be one of the better instalments Artifex Mundi has put out – all five reviews of the Xbox One version on Metacritic are above 80%.

As for new releases, Disco Dodgeball – REMIX (£13.49) has to arrived to a mixed reception. While there is some fun to be had, critics claim that it’s very similar to other neon-hued arena-based sports games that launched during the Rocket League goldrush.

Then there’s Dungeon Rushers (£13.49), a 2D tactical RPG combining dungeon crawler gameplay and turn-based fights. Reviews of the Switch version are slow to surface, but it did gain a 7.0 from PSX Extreme and a 6.8 from The Xbox Tavern. “The biggest problem with Dungeon Rushers falls to how repetitive it can be,” said the latter outlet.

The Switch receives some new demos this week too: Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido, Happy Birthdays, One More Dungeon, plus the Mario Tennis Aces – Pre-launch Online Tournament which runs from 15:00 (UK time) on June 1st, right through the weekend until 23:59 (UK time) on June 3rd.

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May 23
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Prior to playing it for ourselves, we were in two minds as to whether State of Decay 2 was being built on a sturdy foundation. The original showed great promise and potential but was let down slightly by the constraints of the XBLA platform. It was also notoriously glitchy, with zombies emerging through solid walls being a frequent occurrence.

Turns out SoD 2 has inherited some of the original’s faults, annoying bugs included, despite being slightly closer to the developer’s vision. This has led to incredibly mixed reviews, varying from as low as The Metro’s 4/10 to 4.5/5 from TrueAchievements. We’ve rounded-up scores below.

Sony’s Detroit: Become Human may end up receiving mixed reviews too. David Cage’s games tend to divide the critics, aiming to be mature, edgy and cinematic but often missing the mark due to cackhandedness. For those not keeping tabs, Become Human is a neo-noir thriller set in a world with human-like Androids, much like the currently airing TV show Humans. The review embargo lifts a day ahead of launch.

Dark Souls Remastered has gained glowing reviews, meanwhile. The Metacritic stands at 87%, compared to the 2011 original’s 89%. It may be missing some of the luxuries of newer instalments, but it remains fresh and inviting nevertheless. And Blighttown’s technical issues have been fixed. Hurrah!

The multi-format Tennis World Tour is currently eluding the critics, and it appears to be for a reason – according to those that took a punt it’s an outright stinker, with delayed controls and wooden animation to blame. Comparisons with budget label PS2 tennis games are being bandied about.

Disco Dodgeball Remix looks a better – and sillier – way for sports fans to spend their cash. Even then though, reviews are far from glowing. We’ve also rounded up scores of the 2D precision platformer Shio below, as it has generated a minor buzz this week. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon might be of note too, being an 8-bit spin-off – or taster, if you will – of the upcoming Kickstarter success story Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.

Then on 3DS there’s Dillon’s Dead-Heat Breakers, which we’ll take a closer look at soon.

New release showcase:

Dark Souls Remastered – PS4/XO/PC

Reviews:
9/10 – Destructoid: “The feeling of zoning into Firelink Shrine is just as special the 100th time as it is the first, and the open-ended nature of the world is just as fresh”

9/10 – PSU: “Every bit as compelling as it was when it released on the PS3 in 2011, Dark Souls Remastered is the definitive version of one of the most groundbreaking action RPGs of this decade; a truly formative experience that while hasn’t been thoroughly remastered, nonetheless has been tweaked and tucked sufficiently enough to make it a no-brainer purchase for Souls fans new and old alike. Praise the Sun indeed”

8.75 – GameInformer: “All improvements aside, Dark Souls does feel its age in the face of From Software’s recent contributions to the genre. The drop off in quality in the second half of the game, bosses like Bed of Chaos and incomprehensible zones like Lost Izalith remain curious blemishes on an otherwise incredible experience”

State of Decay 2 – XO/PC

Reviews:
7.5 – IGN: “State of Decay 2’s survival RPG struggle against zombies is fun thanks to strong combat and fear of permanent death but repetitive and buggy, especially in co-op”

3.5/5 – GamesRadar: “State of Decay 2 confidently reaches the series’ potential as the ultimate zombie survival sim, even if it hits a few familiar bumps in the road on the way there”

3/5 – The Guardian: “This zombie survival game tries hard to stand out from the flesh-hungry crowd, but glitches will leave players groaning”

Shio – PS4/PC

Reviews:
8.5 – Gaming Trend: “I had a handful of small, niggling issues with Shio that by the end I was willing to overlook in the face of a game so expertly crafted that it shouldn’t be missed. I just wish there was more of it”

80% – COG Connected: “Shio provides you with the tools for success but refrains from any hand-holding. It demands perfection and doesn’t allow for even minor mistakes. Needless to say, no matter how excellent the story and the atmosphere are, the degree of difficulty present ensures this is not a game for everyone. For fans of the genre though, Shio is an adventure that simply begs to be experienced”

6.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “The good outweighs the bad for sure, but there are times when the somewhat floaty nature of the lead character’s leaps can lead to unwanted imprecision in a game that demands preciseness”

Disco Dodgeball Remix – PS4/XO/Switch

Reviews:
7.2 – VideoChums: “Disco Dodgeball Remix may look like a goofy multiplayer sports game and it is. However, the amount of fun to be had is impressive so here’s hoping that it attracts enough online players to make it a worthwhile download”

6.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “I want to like Disco Dodgeball Remix, I really do. In a post-Rocket League world, though, it simply pales in comparison to the competition. For all of the futuristic furniture and psychedelic platforms each match comes lumbered with, it still feels like a muted echo of a title that is sorely desperate for more things to do outside of throwing a ball across a brightly-lit arena whose aesthetics we’ve seen all too readily in recent years”

3/10 – TheSixthAxis: “In the competitive world of online multiplayer, a game must be special to stand out from the crowd. Disco Dodgeball Remix stands out for all the wrong reasons. It proves itself to be a nice idea stretched to breaking point and beyond. I played it, so you don’t have to”

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May 22
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

It dawned on us recently that today’s youth are probably unaware of how big Jurassic Park was upon release. It was more than just a summer blockbuster; it was a cultural phenomenon, ushering in waves of merchandise and single-handedly kick-starting the ‘90s dinosaur bandwagon.

JurassicParkMD

Shops were filled with dinosaur related goods, and the film’s buzz lasted long after the movie left cinemas. The special effects, in particular, set a new benchmark. The PSone, Saturn and Ultra 64 (as it was then known) were on the horizon and it was often stated that the next batch of consoles would be able to offer Jurassic Park quality visuals. Although the PSone did come packed with a reasonably impressive dinosaur tech demo, we can chalk this up to the unwavering excitement of the ‘90s gaming press.

The Jurassic Park video games were likewise hyped as the second coming, taking the cover of just about every magazine at the time. Unsurprising, given that every format going received a JP tie-in. Ocean handled the Amiga, PC and Nintendo versions while SEGA both developed and published their iterations internally. Ocean opted for a top-down adventure/shooter hybrid that also featured some ambitious indoor first-person shooting sections. Although the lack of a save facility in the SNES version did lead to frustration, reviews were mostly positive.

JurassicParkMD

The Master System and Game Gear JP games, on the other hand, were painfully generic, and so it’s fair to say SEGA focused their attention on the Mega Drive and Mega CD tie-ins. The Mega Drive hosted a 2D platformer with digitised sprites, in which it was possible to play as either a human or a velociraptor. The Mega CD version meanwhile was a slow-paced point ‘n’ click adventure with a degree of educational value due to the vast amount of dinosaur trivia. SEGA had apparently pumped a ridiculous amount of money into it, presumably intending it to become a much needed Mega CD system seller.

So lucrative was the JP license that both Ocean and SEGA squeezed additional worth out of it while waiting for 1997 sequel The Lost World. Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues was a run and gunner released on SNES and Game Boy in time for Christmas 1994, where it joined Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition on Mega Drive. This one did away with the dark and moody visuals SEGA’s first game featured in favour of a bright and colourful comic book vibe. Both were panned as being blatant cash-ins and as such, neither is particularly well remembered.

It’s also worth noting that the 3DO had its own JP game, and an incredibly weird one at that – it was a half-baked mini-game collection mostly comprising of Space Invaders and Asteroids clones. The majority of the budget must have been blown on the license.

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May 21
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Even a price drop to £20-£25 and an impending free World Cup update couldn’t help FIFA 18 dislodge God of War from the top of the UK chart.

Sony’s PS4-exclusive juggernaut celebrates a fifth consecutive week. Just one more week at no.1 will put it on par with The Last of Us, which held no.1 for six weeks in 2013.

It’ll be up against stiff competition though. Detroit: Become Human, Dark Souls Remastered, and State of Decay 2 all launch this week.

FIFA 18 rises two places to take #2. Curiously, it remains at #2 in the PS4 chart for the second week but rises all the way from #16 to #2 in the Xbox One chart.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition enters at #3, the same position as the Wii U version managed in 2014. It outperformed the 2016 3DS iteration, but not the Wii U version, which still boasts the strongest launch.

Fellow Wii U conversion Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze is still hanging around too, now at #4.

Far Cry 5 falls to #5 and is followed by the usual top ten stalwarts: LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, AC Origins, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, GTA V, and finally Call of Duty: WWII at #10.

Lower down in the top 40 a couple of new titles make their debut. Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux on 3DS took #31 – while topping the 3DS chart – and the PS4’s Dragon Crown Pro made #33.

Then over in the Switch chart Battlechasers: Nightwar entered at #12 while Little Nightmares: Complete Edition snuck in at #13.

May 17
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Another week, another Wii U conversion. Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition (£49.99) is the latest to make the jump, bringing a slew of 7/10 and 8/10 review scores in tow.

“If you only played the Wii U version without the downloadable content, or you haven’t touched Hyrule Warriors before, this game is definitely worthy of recommendation,” said Nintendo Insider, one of the few outlets to rate it 9/10.

The Metro and We Got This Covered were far from smitten by the Dynasty Warriors crossover, however, with the former awarding it a cautionary 4/10 and the latter opting for a mediocre 2.5/5.

A few other belated conversions also make a pitstops on Nintendo’s hybrid handheld this week. The Banner Saga (£17.99) brings fantasy tactical role-playing, and unless something has gone drastically awry, it’s well worth a look. Bear in the mind though that the third game in the series isn’t far off.

Battle Chasers: Nightwar (£34.99) offers a different kind of role-playing experience. It’s hampered by long loading times and the occasional framerate drop, but still deserving of your attention. Nintendo Life dished out an 8/10 earlier this week. “Disappointing performance dips aside, it feels at home on Switch. Ultimately, it’s the same old story – numbers go up! – but it’s shot through with an infectious exuberance and attention to detail that reinvigorates old tropes.”

French film noir survival horror White Night (£13.49) is a game that may be showing its age, first hitting Xbox One in 2015. Scores were wildly mixed, varying from as low as 4/10 to as high as 9/10. It’s probably wise to read up on reviews before opening your digital wallet.

2D shooter Ice Cream Surfer (£7.50) is another that may ring a bell. This colourful caper hit Wii U and iOS in 2014. Reviewers weren’t too kind on it back then, and it looks like little has changed – Nintendo Life gave this Switch version a lukewarm 5/10.

Then we have Little Nightmares Complete Edition (£29.99), a dark and twisted adventure offering physics-based platforming and the occasional stealthy moment. “Smart, grotesque and never-endingly weird, this is a very different, extremely welcome kind of horror game that left me wanting more than its brief five hours provides,” said IGN back in 2017.

The 3DS sees a new release of note, too – Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux (£34.99). This JRPG remake is off to a great start, with 11 of the reviews on Metacritic currently clocking in at 80% and above.

It garnered an 8/10 from Destructoid: “I really enjoyed it the first time around eight years ago, and replaying it today reminds of why it was the ideal game to introduce me to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise,” claimed their reviewer.

Below you’ll find a round-up this week’s remaining Switch releases, plus a list of discount highlights. Our recommendations include Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap – one of our favourite titles of 2017 – and the underrated Tumblestone, a clever take on the match-three puzzler formula. It’s Columns in reverse, basically.

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May 17
By Matt Gander In Cache in the Attic, Retro No Comments

Outdated football games are a common sight when scouring jumble sales, car boots and charity shops for bargain price video games. Entire shelves filled with decade-old FIFA and PES games spread across a dozen formats. Often they end up in bargain bins, sitting alongside unwanted celebrity fitness DVDs and seemingly random TV show box sets.

Generally, old football games are only good for one thing – cheap replacement cases, able to restore something of value to ‘almost good as new’ status. They are, effectively, of no worth at all. A quid is about as much as a charity shop, or even CeX, can expect to receive in return.

But here’s the thing. Not all football games gathering dust in the likes of Oxfam are in fact worthless. Later FIFA and PES games for PlayStation 2, PSP and Wii are starting to become collectable, being amongst the final few releases for their respective systems. Using Amazon Marketplace, eBay and CeX as resources, let’s sort the wheat from the chaff, bearing in mind that individual sellers set Amazon Marketplace prices, and so they tend to fluctuate.

FIFA 09 is the perfect starting point. It was in 2009 that the Xbox 360 and PS3 started to drop in value – partly thanks to the PS3 Slim making its debut – and so the last-gen stragglers finally jumped ship, handing down their PS2s to younger siblings or consigning them to the wardrobe.

FIFA 09 is – as you may have guessed – worthless. Whether it’s on PS2, PS3, Wii or Xbox 360, a copy will set you back 50p at the very most. FIFA 10 and FIFA 11 aren’t worth a great deal, either – the PS2 version sees a small hike to £3 at CeX and £3.50 on Amazon. Hardly bank breaking, although still a notable rise from the 50p asking price for the PS3/360/Wii versions.

For those curious, last-gen FIFA and PES games received little more than kit and squad updates from FIFA 09 onwards, although the occasional Amazon customer review reports of slightly tweaked AI from one iteration to the next. It’s debatable whether this is the case, however – very few critical reviews can be found online, as EA and Konami no longer fulfilled review code request for legacy systems by this point. It seems EA even stopped releasing screenshots of FIFA on PS2 after FIFA 11.

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