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Outdated football games are a common sight when scouring jumble sales, car boots and charity shops for bargain price video games.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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May 16
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Those willing to stump up the cash for State of Decay 2’s ultimate edition get to play the eagerly awaited zombie survival game on Friday, four days ahead of launch. While this may sound a little cheeky, the £39.99 price tag isn’t exactly bank-breaking.

We really enjoyed the original, notching up almost 30 hours of play. With a bigger budget and a lengthier development period, this sequel should hopefully see the developer’s vision fully realised. The original was a humble XBLA game, lest you forgot, bound to the constraints of that platform.

Muddy downhill stunt racer Descenders also hits Xbox One this week. Don’t expect to see any reviews just yet, as it’s still in Game Preview status. We’re impressed with what we’ve played so far – it feels both fresh and pleasingly familiar, borrowing elements from classic extreme sports games as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, while adding such contemporary features like randomised course generation and realistic physics. Stylish presentation finishes off the package nicely. Those who have longed for a sequel to Downhill Domination on PS2 will be in their element.

18th-century set adventure The Council receives its second episode, meanwhile. Sadly, it appears to be missing much of the intrigue that made the first episode so compelling. Many faults that plague other episodic adventures are starting to surface, making some critics worry about where things are heading. Currently, the Metacritic stands at 65%, compared to episode one’s 75%.

Square-Enix’s anime-influenced adventure Forgotton Anne has garnered far more favourable reviews, skilfully combining elements from Japanese and Western developed puzzle/platformers. Scores so far are a mixture of 8s and 9s. A potential sleeper hit, this.

The same can be said for Omensight, a mystical murder mystery that puts a twist on the Groundhog Day-style storyline. Out of the five reviews currently showing on Metacritic, four are 90%+.

In addition to Dragon’s Crown Pro on PS4, we’ve included a review round-up for Wizard of Legend below. The Switch version of this Rogue-lite is going down reasonably well.

Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition is arguably the biggest Switch release of the week, though. The embargo is yet to lift, although Nintendo World Report did give the Japanese version the review treatment last month, chalking up a respectable 8.5.

The belated Switch version of Battle Chasers Nightwar is finally out too, and well worth a look – it was one of 2017’s most unappreciated games, more than deserving of a second chance to shine.

New release showcase:

The Council – Episode 2: Hide and Seek – PS4/XO/PC

Reviews:
8/10 – PSU: “Despite a small handful of flaws, The Council Episode Two: Hide and Seek places an exclamation point on one of the cleverest narrative adventure games on the market”

3.5/5 – Hardcore Gamer: “Big Bad chose some of the best features of episodic gaming and successfully embedded those into the heart of The Mad Ones, but then it ultimately falls back on itself with Hide and Seek, whether it’s through the lack of teasing the next episode or even giving some form of recap for the story”

5.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “While i still have hope for later episodes, Hide and Seek does not leave the same good impressions that The Mad Ones did, and tempers my expectations for the remainder of The Council”

Forgotton Anne – PS4/XO/PC

Reviews:
9/10 – Push Square: “Forgotton Anne has thrilled us in every possible way. Its story is packed to the rafters with charm, amazement, tension, and doubt”

8/10 – The Metro: “A bizarre mix of weighty subject matter and cartoon presentation that somehow works perfectly in portraying a morally complex world and its characters”

7.5 – God is a Geek: “A gorgeous 2D adventure game with light puzzles, platforming and branching narrative choices. Some design decisions slow the pace down negatively, but the story and the reveal of your decisions have devastating impact”

Omensight – PS4

Reviews:
9/10 – GameSpace: “If a murder mystery action game sounds like a game you might like, I highly recommend playing Omensight. From beginning to end it just doesn’t stop on delivering a solid experience. Although the story seems to be straightforward and simple at first it opens into an interesting tale with complicated characters helming the ship the whole way through”

9.0 – Gaming Trend: “Omensight is an amazing twist on the “Groundhog Day” style storyline. Some thinking and planning is necessary, but The Witch makes this easier. The gameplay is fast, fluid, and very fun. It may seem repetitive to some, but slowly learning and altering the day is part of the journey”

6.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “I really like the story that Omensight sets out to tell, but I really wish that it was more fun to actually play. The characters and learning about their motivations made it worth seeing the game to its conclusion, but a finicky fixed camera and somewhat lacking gameplay made my playthrough less satisfying than it should have been”

Dragon’s Crown Pro – PS4

Reviews:
9.5 – PSU: “With everything you loved about the base game intact, and all presented in glorious 4K, both fans of the original and newcomers to the game can enjoy the adventure together with cross-play to both older systems”

8/10 – Destructoid: “Dragon’s Crown remains not for everyone. Some might consider it repetitive, vulgar and may even be left wondering what all the fuss was about. But, for those of you who ever fell in love with arcade brawlers, fantasy storytelling, and tabletop RPGs, then Dragon’s Crown Pro will shine oh-so-brightly as the unique and sublime treasure it is”

70% – GameSpew: “If you’ve already played Dragon’s Crown to exhaustion on PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Vita, you won’t find anything here that’ll get your juices flowing. For those who have not yet played Dragon’s Crown though, it’s the perfect way to enjoy what is destined to become a cult classic”

Wizard of Legend – PS4/XO/Switch

Reviews:
9/10 – TheSixthAxis: “While Wizard of Legend will be too difficult for some, but for those who love the Rogue-lite genre and enjoy a challenge it is definitely in the upper echelons. Consistently challenging but impossible to put down is certainly a cliche, but it’s a perfect description of this game”

7/10 – Nintendo World Report: “It’s not near the top of the genre, or even near the top of the genre’s Switch representation, but with the fun two-player experience, it’s a respectable addition”

7/10 – Nintendo Life: “Wizard of Legend has some novel concepts. Being able to swap and mix spells to create a seemingly unlimited amount of combinations keeps the action fresh and encourages you to experiment on each run”

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May 14
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

In a battle of the biceps between Kratos and Conan, Sony’s star came out on top.

God of War is the UK’s no.1 for a fourth consecutive week. It still has some way to go to beat the record held by a Sony published title, though – in 2001 Gran Turismo 3 took the top spot for 8 weeks.

Positions #2 through to #4 remain unchanged, meaning Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze sits at #2 for a second week.

The Switch re-releases is followed by Far Cry 5 and FIFA 18.

At #5 it’s good old Fallout 4, up two positions. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 dropped a place each, taking #6 and #7, while AC Origins is back at #8 – up from #17.

GTA V and Destiny 2 also re-enter the top ten, back at #9 and #10 respectively. Destiny 2 received new DLC last week, hence the resurgence.

Super Mario Odyssey, PUBG and Star Wars Battlefront 2 are this week’s top ten dropouts, meanwhile. Sea of Thieves is on a swift descent too, dropping from #11 to #20.

The Deep Silver published Conan Exiles makes its debut at a respectable #13. It also made #7 in the PS4 chart and #20 in the Xbox One chart.

May 11
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

Somebody far funnier than us once said life is about re-purchasing your favourite movies in higher definitions until you die. The same can also be said about Mega Drive compilations.

SEGA Mega Drive Collection – out on PS4 and Xbox One at the end of the month – is the fourth since the Japanese publishing giant departed the hardware biz.

2009’s SEGA Mega Drive: Ultimate Collection managed to live up to its name, containing all the renown hits ‘90s SEGA fans grew up with, alongside a handful of arcade obscurities such as Congo Bongo. FMV interviews rounded the package off nicely.

This latest iteration, however, has a few gaping holes in its library that the new additions (Wonder Boy, ToeJam & Earl, Landstalker, Bio-Hazard Battle, and more) can’t compensate for.

If you’re wondering where the following are, then you aren’t alone.

Ecco the Dolphin

Since the release of the PS2/PSP’s Mega Drive Collection we’ve gone from three Ecco games (yes, three – Ecco Jr. is an often-forgotten kid’s title, released in the US and Australia only) to zero.

Although the underwater adventure series is unquestionably a ‘Marmite’ affair it’s still an important part of the Mega Drive’s history, offering non-violent gameplay at a time when the industry was under fire for introducing increasingly adult themes.

Sonic 3/Sonic & Knuckles

There’s a reason Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are both absent – Michael Jackson and Brad Buxer directly sampled songs from their respective discographies, resulting in a licensing nightmare. SEGA has found workarounds in the past, giving the PC re-release alternative music, but they’ve clearly decided to omit them completely here, perhaps for authenticity’s sake.

Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude!

Greendog may not be fit enough to rub shoulders with the Mega Drive’s finest, but it was a big seller back in the day. As such, it’s bound to hit gamers of a certain age with a bout of nostalgia, despite numerous shortcomings.

It’s trash, but the best kind imaginable – quintessentially ‘90s trash. We’d happily take ol’ Greendog over Super Thunder Blade any day.

Virtua Racing

We can live with the fact that not a single sports title features on this compilation. The complete lack of racing games is inexcusable, however. Well, maybe not inexcusable – OutRun isn’t here because the Ferrari licensing deal expired decades ago. Super Monaco GP was also loaded with licenses, including billboards featuring Marlboro cigarettes, so that’s a no-no too.

As far as we’re aware though, all vehicles and tracks in Virtua Racing were entirely fictional. The only possible explanation for its absence could be emulation issues, as the cartridge included a dedicated 3D chip. But even then, that isn’t much of an excuse – Nintendo was able to include the Super FX 2 powered StarFox 2 on the SNES Classic Mini, after all.

The Ooze

While it’s great to see a few fresh faces on the new collection, a few more wouldn’t have gone amiss. The Ooze is something of a lost classic, released during the end of the Mega Drive’s life. It’s pretty hard to find, in fact, selling for between £50-£70 on eBay nowadays.

A very different experience to most Mega Drive games, it puts you in control of a slimy puddle of green goo that slithers across the ground while growing and shrinking in size. For the time, it was technically impressive. It’s more of a curio these days, but seeing many people overlooked it upon launch, it would have been a worthy addition.

Emulation can’t be an issue as it was included in a past collection – 2002’s Sonic Mega Collection Plus, where it was joined by Comix Zone in the bonus game section.

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May 10
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Nintendo has ruled out plans for Virtual Console on Switch, but this doesn’t mean owners of the hybrid handheld will be denied a retro fix. This week is a fine example why, with a trio retro re-releases and several homages to ’90s classics due on the eShop.

ACA NEOGEO SUPER SIDEKICKS 2 (£6.29) from 1994 is this week’s re-release from Hamster, unofficially based on the ’94 World Cup. Then we have Arcade Archives TERRA CRESTA (£6.29), a technically advanced Nichibutsu vertical shooter from 1985.

Curiously, Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Sly Spy (£7.99) is down for a Saturday release. It’s a Data East platform shooter influenced by Namco’s Rolling Thunder series, only with a James Bond-style facade. This is obviously the arcade iteration, but you may know it from its home release – Ocean Software converted it to the likes of the Amiga back in 1990.

As for this week’s big-name releases, we have the colourful Uridium homage Hyper Sentinel (£9.99), which has so far mustered an 8/10 from Nintendo Life and a lukewarm 6/10 from The Metro. “Hyper Sentinel doesn’t bring shame upon its inspiration, but it also doesn’t do much to continue its legacy,” said the UK tabloid.

Team 17’s Raging Justice (£9.99) pays homage to a different retro classic – SEGA’s Streets of Rage series. Visually though, it has more in common with CGI rendered ‘90s titles such as Killer Instinct, X-Perts, and Batman Forever. Review scores are mostly positive, but not glowing, with vexing controls and a few difficulty spikes to blame.

‘90s throwback shooter Immortal Redneck (£17.99) has been getting consistently good reviews, with both Nintendo Life and Vooks opting for an 8/10. “By combining well-crafted room design with randomly generated maps and then giving the player the ability to smoothly run, leap and blast through them with all the grace of a shotgun-wielding swan while constantly upgrading their abilities, it offers a massively satisfying experience that’s likely to remain permanently installed on your Switch long after you’ve deleted other games to make space,” said NL.

Puzzle/platformer Suicide Guy (£7.19) makes the jump from PS4, meanwhile. Set inside the mind of the protagonist, it’s your job to him to wake up before it’s too late. “It provides a fun little challenge without becoming a chore,” was Gaming Trend’s verdict. http://gamingtrend.com/feature/reviews/a-drink-to-die-for-suicide-guy-review/

Then we have Garage (£13.49), a grisly top-down shooter influenced by B-movies. Playing as a drug dealer named Butch, you stand alone against hordes of the living dead. Nintendo Life has reviewed this one too, handing out 6/10. “With nothing new or interesting up its sleeve, Garage’s zombie apocalypse setting feels very tired and it lacks the readability, coherence and sheer style of Hotline Miami, a game the developer is clearly in awe of,” was their conclusion.

Death Road to Canada (£9.99) looks like a better way to blow your cash, being a zombie take on the PC classic The Oregon Trail. As mentioned in our weekly new release round-up, reviews are remarkably positive, with several 9/10s being bandied about.

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May 09
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

We can’t decide if Raging Justice’s timing is perfect or unfortunate. The side-scrolling brawler makes its debut while Streets of Rage Collection is currently free on Xbox, which of course contains one of the finest examples of the genre – the almighty Streets of Rage 2.

Critics make several references to SEGA’s sentimental classic in their reviews, claiming Raging Justice doesn’t come close to topping it.

It certainly isn’t a bad attempt though, with scores mostly clocking in at 7/10. It’s a bit of a slog in places due to difficulty spikes, but it’s bold, brash, and appropriately trashy. The jury is still out on the visual style, though – the rendered characters and backdrops have divided critics, in some instances recalling bad memories of Pit Fighter.

Trailblazers and Death Road to Canada are also turning heads this week. The colourful Trailblazers combines F-Zero with Splatoon, while Death Road to Canada turns The Oregon Trail into a zombie apocalypse. Zombie Pinball on Xbox One provides an altogether different zombie experience, ignoring the fact that it appears suspiciously similar to last month’s Babylon 2055 Pinball. We wonder how many more reskins Plug in Digital has in the pipeline. Infinite possibilities, there.

As for this week’s big budget titles, Conan Exiles has left preview status, now packing free additional ‘Nudity DLC’. Good Lord. Reviews of the MMO are slow to surface, which probably has something to do with the game’s scope and scale, but user reviews on Metacritic and Steam are mostly positive.

The same can’t be said for Destiny 2: Warmind, which is getting a kicking even from the Destiny diehards. Word has it that it’s even shorter than previous add-ons, offering not much more than 4-5 hours of playtime. Currently, Destructoid is the only outlet to pen a review. “Destiny 2: Warmind is a better effort than Osiris, but its limited scope and re-used concepts prevent it from attaining greatness,” they said before handing out a mediocre 5.5.

We’ve also rounded-up reviews of AO International Tennis below. We haven’t seen a proper tennis sim in bloody ages. Sadly, this one wasn’t worth the wait. Perhaps next week’s Tennis World Tour will be worth making a racket about.

New release showcase:

Raging Justice – PS4/XO/PC/Switch

Reviews:
8.5 – Xbox Tavern: “This may not be the next Streets of Rage II, but it’s certainly worth a visit if you’re on the market for a modern day version of that formula. It’s fun, brutal, often unfair, yet ultimately satisfying in the long run”

7/10 – PSU: “Erring on just the right side of trashy, Raging Justice doesn’t break any significant new ground for the side-scrolling brawler but it succeeds as an entertaining effort all the same”

3/5 – Trusted Reviews: “Raging Justice is ridiculous fun which is, at its heart, just an updated version of Streets Of Rage. It’s dumb, entertaining and well made, even if it can be horrifically hard”

Death Road to Canada – PS4/XO/PC/Switch

Reviews:
9/10 – PlayStation Country: “Death Road To Canada is a brilliant addition to the rogue-like pantheon, you should be playing it right now. It’s excellent. At the time of writing we’d just got within three days to the land of the maple leaf before we succumbed to the hordes yet again, the only thing stopping us having another go was writing this review”

9/10 – PSU: “A fiendishly constructed zombie mashing roguelike with a veritable mountain of stuff to do, Death Road to Canada is the hilarious, ever-compelling road trip odyssey you never knew you wanted”

8.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Everything about the package comes together well. Even though the developers could have taken shortcuts and brushed issues aside as nostalgia for The Oregon Trail, they instead gave us a game that invokes that nostalgia while improving upon the old formula”

AO International Tennis – PS4/XO/PC

Reviews:
5.0 – God is a Geek: “Despite giving the player an excess of control over shots themselves, the movement in order to set up those shots is almost completely absent. Add to this a list of unrecognisable names and you’ve got a tennis game that feels pretty darn hollow”

4/10 – Push Square: “The few official player models are of a good quality and the customisation options are a welcome touch, but the PS4’s first tennis title is a disappointment – it wouldn’t even make the qualifiers let alone win a Grand Slam”

4.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Ultimately though, the poor execution and the cracks in the gameplay cause this wildcard entry to fall well short of being a grand slam effort”

Trailblazers – PS4/XO/PC/Switch

Reviews:
4/5 – Hardcore Gamer: “By offering up enough twists on a traditional racing game, it finds ways to create excitement that haven’t been done before in the genre and is a must for anyone looking for an arcade-style futuristic racing experience. If you like F-Zero and/or Splatoon, you will find a lot to like here”

6/10 – Push Square: “Some performance issues aside, this remains an engaging, and rather different, racing game that just about overcomes its problems to offer some good old fashioned fun”

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May 08
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

No less than five titles in this week’s UK top ten are first-party exclusives.

God of War takes the top spot for a third week running, while newcomer Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze swings in at #2.

Tropical Freeze is technically a re-entry. According to GamesIndustry.biz though, only 44 copies were sold on Wii U last week. They also state that sales on Switch already account for 17% of Wii U version’s lifetime sales.

Far Cry 5 dropped one place to #3 while FIFA 18 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe held onto #4 and #5 (respectively).

Due to the popularity of a certain movie, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is back in the top ten at #6, up from #12.

Fallout 4 hangs around at #7, PUBG rose to #8, Star Wars Battlefront 2 climbs to #9, and then at #10 it’s Super Mario Odyssey.

GTA V, Call of Duty: WWII, and the Nintendo Labo Toy-Con Variety Kit were this week’s top ten dropouts, falling to #12, #13 and #14.

The Nintendo Labo Robot Kit has left the top 40 entirely, meanwhile.

May 05
By Matt Gander In Retro No Comments

It’s easy to forget how popular Donkey Kong was in the early ‘80s. Nintendo’s arcade classic spawned a marketing phenomenon, with the grinning ape appearing on everything from breakfast cereal to board games.

The colourful visuals, non-violent gameplay, memorable characters, and hard-but-fair difficulty level made Donkey Kong an arcade game like no other, notching up impressive sales. While it didn’t go quite as far as to make Nintendo a household name, it certainly helped the Kyoto giant claim a foothold in the US.

We could duly tell you that Mario made his first appearance in Donkey Kong, under the guise of Jumpman, but that’s common knowledge. Less common: the number of Game & Watch handhelds based on Donkey Kong exceeded those starring Mario. The two-player Donkey Kong Hockey even saw the popular primate cross into the sporting genre.

The original Game & Watch Donkey Kong from 1982 is often referred to as one of the best LCD handhelds of all-time. It was certainly the bestselling – 1.2 million units were sold in Japan alone. It’s an amazing figure. Heck, some fully fledged ‘80s video game systems even struggled to reach 1 million sales (although that’s perhaps a slightly unfair comparison, given price).

Another factor that plays in the popularity of this Game & Watch is that many children weren’t allowed in arcades. Especially in the US, they had a reputation of being shady locations for troublesome youths to congregate. When word of mouth spread that Donkey Kong could be experienced outside of the arcade, sales boomed.

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