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Apr 13
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Mr. Shifty is easily this week’s biggest eShop release. It’s a top-down shooter similar to Hotline Miami, only with a more modern visual style and the ability to catch enemies off guard by teleporting.

Eurogamer awarded it their ‘Recommended’ badge earlier today. “There’s nothing shifty about it” they concluded while comparing the game’s hero to X-Men’s Nightcrawler.

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The Switch also receives The Jackbox Party Pack 3. It may be a mere conversion, but considering it suits the Switch’s ethos perfectly, you won’t hear us complaining.

The slightly odd £20.03 asking price gets you five party games – Quiplash 2, Trivia Murder Party, Guesspionage, Tee K.O. and Fakin’ It – most of which support up to eight players. Developer Jackbox knows how to make a decent party game. Trust us on that.

If you can’t wait for next month’s Street Fighter II Switch revival then maybe ACA NeoGeo Samuari Shodown IV (£6.29) will make the wait a tad more bearable. Released in 1996, this brawler even went on to grace the SEGA Saturn and PSone.

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Apr 12
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

When Yooka-Laylee’s review embargo lifted last week we were firmly in the ‘Yooka-Laylee is great’ camp, awarding the spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie a well-deserved 9/10. We aren’t oblivious to some of the far more critical reviews out there, though: most scores from other sites were 6s and 7s, with a few 8s and other 9s here and there. A vastly mixed reception.

Many critics claimed that the collectable-filled 3D platformer was a product of the past, with archaic design, unbalanced difficulty, and an unhelpful camera. From the sound of things, the pre-release patch has fixed a few camera problems. As for being archaic, it shouldn’t have come as a huge surprise. Playtonic’s intentions have been clear from the start: to bring back the 3D platformer, warts and all. Those not fond of the N64 platformer template, with its wealth of collectable and whatnot, were never going to enjoy what Playtonic has created here.

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Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition and StarBlood Arena are the remaining retail releases for this week. Stardew Valley Collector’s Edition includes a map, guide book and soundtrack CD for somewhere between £15-£20, retailer depending. We awarded this Harvest Moon alike a lofty 9/10 back in January, likening it to “a fresh breath of countryside air.”

Multiplayer shooter StarBlood Arena meanwhile has been described as ‘RIGS meets the oft-forgotten PC classic Descent’. The Metro felt that it would have benefitted from a few more modes to justify the £35 asking price, awarding it 7/10, while PlayStation Lifestyle opted for a 9.0, going as far to call it “The VR’s Overwatch”. Blimey.

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Apr 12
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Had this cop-shop management sim released in the ‘90s, it would’ve been an Amiga title circa 1993. It’s reminiscent of sim games from that era, complete with cut-scenes that feature minimalistic flat-shaded polygons, a la Flashback and Another Word. You know, the kind of thing that made console gamers, with their endless stream of cutesy platformers and lacklustre movie tie-ins, feel jealous. Or at least until US Gold picked up the rights for a console conversion, results varying wildly.

That was the ‘90s, of course. Also: entirely hypothetical. THQ Nordic’s This is the Police has been made specifically with the Xbox One and PS4 in mind, and the result is a game that’s remarkably easy to play…if only because it’s rather straight-forward. The whole thing is menu driven, using just a few button presses to send out squads and make all-important decisions. Those expecting to get behind the wheels of a police car, or take to the city streets, will be disappointed.

As Jack Boyd – Freeburg’s soon-to-retire Police Chief – it’s your job to call the shots from the comfort of the police HQ. The premise is simple: keep things relatively quiet for the next 180 days while stashing away a nice retirement nest egg. How this money is gained is up to you, as it isn’t long until the Mafia step in and promise to Boyd’s final days more lucrative providing he ignores their nefarious ways. With City Hall keeping an eye on Boyd though, this isn’t as easy as it sounds.

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Snake Pass (3)
Apr 11
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Countless games overstay their welcome, adding a few extra hours of play by recycling ideas and padding out stories with unnecessary cut-scenes. At around 6 hours long, Snake Pass isn’t one of these games. It uses new ideas and set-pieces sparingly over the course of fifteen short stages, resulting in a game that feels remarkably trim, gripping from start to finish.

The use of the word ‘gripping’ was intentional as it’s something you’ll be doing a lot of in Snake Pass. Cast into the role of the unlikeliest of platforming heroes – a slithering snake – the focus is on overcoming obstacles by wrapping yourself around poles, ladders and more, shimmying along while gripping for dear life. This wayward choice of protagonist means there’s no jumping, and certainly no double-jumping.

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There’s one other twist, too: no enemies whatsoever. Instead, the onus is on finding collectable wisps and coins, which are usually located in precarious places, as well as the glowing magical stones that open the portal to the next world. Being the storyline’s crux, the reason the portal stone are missing in the first place is eventually explained in the cut-scenes.

The three worlds each have a theme and their own environmental hazards, intended to fill the void left by the lack of enemies. The first world teaches the basics, which are precisely that: a simple and intuitive three button control system is used to grip, move forward, and twist Noodle the snake’s noggin around objects. After clinging onto a pole or similar, it’s then a case of wrapping Noodle around it by rotating the analogue stick. Some fascinating tech is on display, with Noodle slithering along the ground and wrapping around things in a very natural and lifelike fashion.

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Persona55
Apr 10
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

It’s Persona 5 that tops the UK chart this week, ending Mass Effect: Andromeda’s two week run in the process.

The incredibly well-received JRPG has become the fastest-selling entry in the series, unsurprisingly, as well as Atlus’ first ever All-Formats no.1. Hurrah!

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We have to look back to 2013 to find the last JRPG that topped the chart: 2013’s PS3 exclusive Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. Final Fantasy XV had the clout, but had to contend with FIFA 17 during its launch week.

EA’s sci-fi opus took a bit of a beating, falling all the way to #5. Ghost Recon: Wildlands held onto #2 while the budget-priced LEGO Worlds remained at #3. Then at #4 it was GTA V, up from #5.

Multi-format blockbuster LEGO City Undercover was the next highest new entry after Persona, making #8. This means Warner Bros. has two LEGO games in the top ten this week.

Gearbox’s re-release of Bulletstorm didn’t prove anywhere near as popular, entering at #23. It no doubt performed better on the digital services, where a discount was in place for pre-orders.

The 3DS’ Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits at #36 was the only other new arrival in the top 40, with its sister title Yo-Kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls failing to make an appearance. These two may rise up the chart in the weeks to come though after good old word-of-mouth starts to spread.

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Apr 06
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Another week, another NeoGeo game for Switch. This time it’s the top-down space shooter Alpha Mission II (£6.29) from 1991. While not the most renown of NeoGeo games, it’s generally well liked.

It isn’t the only retro game to see an eShop re-release this week – the equally infamous World Sports Competition (£5.39) heads to Wii U. This Turbografx title includes 18 sporting events and several modes, courtesy of good old Hudson Soft.

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The Wii U also gets the budget priced (£1.79) indie shooter Y.A.S.G, which is seemingly influenced by Atari’s Asteroids and other space shooters of the era.

Switching back to the Switch, we have the first major release since the system’s launch – LEGO City Undercover (£49.99). That’s joined by the exceedingly colourful Graceful Explosion Machine (£9.99) – which Nintendo Life awarded a lofty 9/10 – and Has-Been Heroes (£19.99) from the creators of Trine.

This side-scrolling roguelike showed promise in early footage, but reviews haven’t been great. GameSpot gave it a mediocre 5/10, while The Metro gave it an even lower score – a miserable 3/10, while calling it “no fun whatsoever” due to its reliance on luck.

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Persona5
Apr 05
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

The Persona series has gained a lot of traction over the years. With overwhelmingly positive reviews behind Persona 5 – with some critics claiming that not only is it one of the finest JRPGs of all-time, but one of the best games ever period – this instalment could see series hits the big leagues. By which we mean break the UK top five and stay there for a couple of weeks, or even quite possibly sell out altogether. Word has it the collector’s edition is already out of stock.

Bear in mind that it’s also gracing PlayStation 3. A strong contender for the last major PS3 release, we reckon.

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This week also sees a couple of blasts from the past: Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition and PaRappa the Rapper Remastered. PaRappa was the game that kickstarted the whole rhythm action genre back in 1996 and has remained a classic ever since, even spawning an anime series in Japan. This remaster boasts sharper in-game visuals, but if the demo is to go by, the cut-scenes haven’t seen a great deal of work. At £11.99 (or £9.59 with PS Plus), it’s excusable.

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition’s pricing is a tad concerning. Whereas most remasters arrive at around £20-£25, this one isn’t far from being full-price – £44.99 on PSN, and £42.49 on the Xbox One store. The retail release can be found for around £35.

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Yooka-Laylee_Underwater
Apr 04
By Matt Gander In Reviews 2 Comments

Playtonic’s bat and lizard duo meet many oddball characters during their journey, but none are more loveable than Rextro – a bright orange, low polygon, dinosaur who’s firmly stuck in the past. As well as completely forgetting who Yooka and Laylee are at one point – due to a lack of memory, of course – a reference to cheat codes being passé is also made. While this is true, spending just an hour or so with Yooka-Laylee reminds us just how easy gamers have it nowadays, even without cheats.

To say Yooka-Laylee is cut from the same cloth as Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64 would be an understatement – it is, to all purpose and extent, a brand-new Banjo-Kazooie. That’s to say, Playtonic hasn’t succumbed to modern day standards, or tinkered too heavily with the winning formulas of the aforementioned. There’s no map, radar, glowing paths, or anything of the sort present – it’s entirely up to the player to explore and discover new areas for themselves while scouting high and low for collectables. Even when expanding worlds to make them even larger than they already are, all you get is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flyby to showcase the new areas.

It takes a little bit of time to get back into the 64-bit swing. Soon though you’ll learn that if it isn’t instantly obvious how to complete a challenge, then you probably haven’t unlocked the special move required yet. A vocal prompt would have been helpful in these situations – we wasted an hour in the opening world trying to gain collectables that were unobtainable until later – and this lack of guidance is Yooka-Laylee’s biggest problem. Indeed, younger gamers weaned on the likes of Skylanders may find Yooka-Laylee’s ways archaic – the checkpoint system is the same as BK’s, restarting from the last door entered – but this only further highlights just how good a job Playtonic has done here. It’s an experience faithful to its predecessors, right down to the challenging but fair difficulty level.

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Playtonic’s experience and expertise are apparent throughout, and most notable within the level design. The five worlds (known as Grand Tomes) are built-up and complex, featuring numerous indoor side-areas, and it appears that Playtonic learned something from DK64 as the number of collectables isn’t too overwhelming. There are 145 Pagies to collect either by beating challenges or solving puzzles: 25 spread across each of the five Grand Tomes, plus 20 hidden within the hub. Each world also has five Ghost Writers to find, caught in different ways. 100 Pagies are required to open the final area, an amount we managed to obtain after around 25 hours of play. Those aiming for 100% can expect to hit the 50-hour mark easily, and that’s without factoring in Rextro’s multiplayer mini-games.

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