Jan 14
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Proving that you can’t keep a good plumber down, New Super Mario Bros. U on Switch is the UK’s new no.1.

The ever-informative GI.biz reports launch week physical sales were almost 25% higher than the Wii U version’s launch week. That’s pretty impressive – NSMBU launched alongside the Wii U itself.

This means the four Switch titles have now managed to take the UK chart top spot – Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Tennis Aces, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition didn’t perform too badly either, entering at #11.

Going back to the top ten, FIFA 19, RDR2, Black Ops 4, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate dropped one position each to occupy positions #2 through to #5.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe moved up to #6, Battlefield V fell to #7, good old GTA V re-entered the top ten at #8 – up from #16 – while Crash Bandicoot dropped one place, now at #9.

Xbox One pack-in Forza Horizon 4 then sees us out at #10.

The popular Spyro: Reignited Trilogy left the top ten, meanwhile, falling from #9 to #13.

Jan 11
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

We sincerely hope Christmas hasn’t left your wallet empty, as it’s a surprisingly busy week for the Switch eShop. A trio of titles standout, while a few smaller indie releases have also turned heads.

Leading the way are New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe and Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition. Reviews of NSMBU, which also features Super Luigi U, have been slightly mixed due to the game’s age – it was a Wii U launch title, lest you forget. Some critics claim it’s still a must play due to the excellent course design, while others felt let down by the lack of new content and the £49.99 price tag.

Review scores for Tales of Vesperia are more consistent, clocking in at 8/10. “If you’ve ever slept on this classic, there’s never been a better way to rectify that error,” said Nintendo Life.

Then we have SEGA AGES Out Run, which features new motion controls, optional mods, and other extras. Nintendo World Report felt the arcade racer was worthy of a 9/10: “While the game remains a short one, plenty of fun options make it one of the best rides out there.”

Bury me, my Love – an adventure based around text messaging, involving Syrian refugees and tough decisions – also seems to be going down well, gaining an 8/10 from GameSpot and an 8.25 from GameInformer, who praised the refreshing humanistic approach.

The creators of Runbow have a new release out this week too. Double Cross features 2D platforming mixed with adventure-game style investigations. Scores are wildly mixed – everything from Nintendo Insider’s 9/10 (“The combat is surprisingly deep, the platforming is equal parts satisfying and immensely punishing, it is all brilliantly balanced”) to DualShocker’s 4/10 (“unoriginal and bland”).

After a last-minute delay, Battle Princess Madelyn is finally out in Europe. This Ghouls ‘n Ghosts homage features an excellent, appropriately challenging, arcade mode but the story mode is a bit of a mess, due to poor signposting, cheap deaths, and annoying backtracking. We reviewed the Xbox One version back in December. “This is something that’ll put your finely-honed platforming skills to the test, while occasionally pushing your patience too,” was our final word.

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

A month of remakes, remasters and re-releases is upon us. No less than three launch this week including Hitman HD Enhanced Collection, officially announced just days ago.

This digital-only collection brings together Hitman: Blood Money and Hitman: Absolution, running in 4k/60fps and boasting improved lighting, updated controls and upgraded textures. While this may sound rather enticing, there’s a slight sting in the tale – it’s an eyebrow-raising £44.99.

Bear in mind here that both games are Xbox One BC and available for just a few quid each pre-owned. Absolution was also far from being a franchise high note, feeling more like a generic cover-based shooter than a Hitman game. A package for hardcore fans only, perhaps.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is launching for around £35, a price that’s easier to justify due to the wealth of new content. In addition to two new characters, it also features new music tracks and an expanded story. Reviews are starting to surface, mostly clocking in at 8/10. Time has been kind to this 10 year old JRPG, it seems.

Then we have New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe on Switch, which combines the Wii U launch title with New Super Luigi U. These two a knocking on a bit, but there’s no denying there’s a lot of platforming fun for your bucks – 164 courses in total. We’ve rounded up scores below, and will take another look during our weekly eShop round-up.

Incidentally, we’ve also rounded up scores for Legendary Eleven on Xbox One, a retro football game that first launched on Switch. It was one of last week’s few new releases.

Absolver makes the jump from PS4 to Xbox One meanwhile, available via Game Pass. It has a similar structure to Dark Souls – with a looping open game world, aggressive AI, and NPC’s that provide lore – it but plays completely differently due to the melee combat-based fighting system.

The main quest only takes 5-6 hours to finish. And then? Then the ‘real’ game begins, with more features and modes open up, as well as high-level PvP. We chalked up a few impressions late last year.

Also of note is Void Vikings on Xbox One, a 2.5D space shooter that entails paying off your student loan, of all things. Let’s hope it’s more accessible than last month’s Final Star.

New release showcase:

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

Reviews:
9.0 – EGM: “If you’re a Switch owner who leapfrogged the Wii U like I did, then New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a no-brainer. It isn’t as revolutionary as its predecessors, but it’s about as polished and expertly executed as a 2D platformer can get, and the inclusion of New Super Luigi U makes this as valuable a package as pretty much any you’ll find on the Switch”

8.5 – GameInformer: “While I’m disappointed that this release doesn’t include more additions to the original package, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is still a great game at its core”

7/10 – GameSpot: “While it can feel a bit stale for those who have been round the Mushroom Kingdom one too many times before, Deluxe is well worth playing, especially if you didn’t get a chance to play NSMBU on Wii U”

Legendary Eleven

Reviews:
6/10 – Xbox Tavern: “If you’re looking for accessible arcade fun, Legendary Eleven isn’t really a bad choice. The game’s field of play and its fairly robust features remain well set for the most part, allowing even newcomers to sink right in and score some outlandish, memorable feats”

3/5 – The Xbox Hub: “It’s not realistic, it’s not a world beater in terms of gameplay or likenesses of your favourite players, and it’s not going to challenge FIFA on any level, but as a bit of short-term fun, Legendary Eleven has put a smile on my face”

3/5 – VideoChums: “Even though Legendary Eleven is essentially a very basic take on soccer, its gameplay is easy to pick up and play and the visuals on display will be appealing for those looking for an arcade-style soccer game”

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Jan 08
By Richard In Reviews No Comments

From engaging in cannon battles to finding lost treasure, this 2D pirate simulator allows you to partake in all kinds of nautical activities. No one can accuse creator Sebastian Nigro of not being ambitious enough.

You start by creating your pirate. The character creation screen is neat, with a diverse choice of options including gender, skin colour, hair-styles, and clothing such as various pointy hats. This is a good place as any to talk about the art style. I really liked how Don’t Sink looks. It’s full of big, blocky pixels reminiscent of the Amiga era. Sebastian Nigro has done a really good job of injecting loads of character into his sprite work, too, and each island has its own tone and style.

Particularly pleasing are the snowy islands to the eastern side of the world map. The soundtrack is also nicely “shantyfied” – a word I just made up.

Talking of that map, the world consists of 14 islands. During the course of the game, you’re going to be sailing to and fro, buying food to keep your crew fed, gaining new recruits from the tavern, sourcing wooden planks and cloth to keep you afloat, and talking to people (and rodents!) to take on missions.

Most of the missions come in the form of delivery jobs, shuttling goods from one island to the next. 21 additional story missions also feature, with lovely and witty bits of dialogue. Shame the missions themselves aren’t particularly complex.

While sailing to islands random encounters occur. You could find a desert island, be attacked by gulls, or be forced to confront an enemy vessel. The problem is, none of these elements are engaging. Let’s take the battles as an example. During a battle you have four options: fire your cannons, retreat, repair your ship or board the enemy vessel. Each is denoted by a direction on the left stick. Holding one of the directions charges that option, when it’s charged, you can use it.

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Jan 07
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Last week’s chart was pretty stagnant, or so we thought. This week’s chart – the first of 2019 – is almost on total lockdown, with just a few titles swapping positions here and there.

We do have a new no.1, however – FIFA 19 returns to the top of the chart to see 2019 in.

This pushes RDR2 down to #2. Positions #3, #4, #5 and #6 then remain unchanged, held by Black Ops 4, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Battlefield V, and Forza Horizon 4 (respectively).

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Crash Bandicoot swapped positions to take #7 and #8. Spyro fell two positions to #9, while AC Odyssey re-entered the top ten at #10.

Elsewhere, Starlink: Battle for Atlas continues to rise – Ubisoft’s toys to life title is up three places to #21. This is, of course, fuelled by hefty price cuts.

As for re-entries, LEGO Worlds, Project CARS 2, Football Manager 2019, and Tekken 7 all re-appeared at the lower end of the chart.

Project CARS 2 and Tekken 7 are the current, and frequently discounted, Xbox One pack-ins used by Currys PC World, explaining why they always show up in the chart together.

This week sees the first major releases of 2019 – Tales Of Vesperia Definitive Edition and New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. Check back next Monday to see how they performed.

Jan 04
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Word on the street (read: Twitter) is that there aren’t many NeoGeo games left for retro specialists Hamster to publish. KOF2002 marked their 100th re-release which leaves around 50 titles, many of which were either Japan-only quiz games or carry licenses no longer owned by SNK.

Looking through the list of what’s left, it’s believed as few as 11 (of the remaining 50) may make it out. This week we can tick another off that list – ACA NeoGeo Ragnagard, a brawler from 1996 with characters based on mythical beasts.

We imagine FTE Games still has quite a few Data East titles to re-release, as good old Johnny Turbo continues to present Switch owners with new arcade titles. Two have turned up this week, no less: wild west shooter Express Raider, and the six button beat’em up Fighter’s History, a game that Capcom once tried to yank from arcades due to glaring similarities with SFII.

As for new games, there’s the 2D pirate RPG Don’t Sink – influenced by FTL: Faster Than Light and Sid Meier’s Pirates – the rogue-like platformer Xenon Valkyrie+, and the visually attractive platformer Samsara: Deluxe Edition.

Nintendo World Report didn’t think much of Xenon Valkyrie, awarding it a middling 4.5/10. “Xenon Valkyrie is at odds with its own design. Exploring the stages is fun, but all that fun starts to melt away when you realize just how little freedom you have to experiment with different character builds,” they said.

The vanilla iteration of Samsara was better received upon release, gaining a 7/10 from God is Geek. “Samsara is a pleasant puzzle game that doesn’t quite challenge enough to give you the unique satisfaction of the “ah-ha” moment when you solve something particularly difficult,” was their verdict.

Here’s the full line-up of new releases, including one for 3DS. Next week looks a tad more exciting, with both New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe and Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition due. Battle Princess Madelyn is finally out too, which we reviewed in December.

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Jan 03
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

This horizontal shooter features more than a few gimmicks. The exact figure is up for debate – some are more predominant than others, while shoot’em up veterans may feel like some of its ideas are on the verge of becoming commonplace within the genre.

We can probably all agree that the ability to concentrate fire at a sacrifice of speed is a gimmick; the kind you may expect to find in a typical Japanese shooter. It’s an ability that gives you that extra burst of firepower, used only during those fleeting moments when you aren’t being pelted with bullets. Although it vastly reduces manoeuvrability it can get you out of many sticky situations, requiring skill to use effectively.

Alternatively, there’s a laser beam weapon that eats into limited energy reserves, best used for dealing damage to large targets.

Missions roll out in a modern, non-linear fashion, using a not particularly gimmicky 3D cockpit view as a mission select screen. Dialogue between crewmates takes place here, filling in the story. The titular star is the last sun in the galaxy, now under threat from an alien scourge out to control its power. You’re the last line of defence – a trio of ships with slightly varying stats, out to stop an entire galactic army.

Ship stats improve after every mission, dolled at random by ‘re-rolling’ available options before a mission starts. This gives Final Star a very slight RPG slant. Gold and scrap metal can also be used to bolster armour and gain new weapons – improvements that moderately increase chances of success.

Missions can be played in any order, with three or four of varying difficulty usually available. There are also repeater missions which bestow great rewards but become more difficult after every successful run.

Without a doubt, the 3D cockpit is home to the biggest gimmick of all – a puzzle mini-game, entailing matching up identical gems while keeping skull icons apart. It’s a place to grind for new gear, essentially, awarding one new upgrade per stage. It proves to be a slow-burning affair that couldn’t ever hope to stand on its own, but it still acts as a decent distraction.

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Jan 02
By Matt Gander In UK Charts 1 Comment

Our figurative money was on FIFA 19 being the last no.1 of 2018. In the past, EA’s annual soccer sim has always proven popular with those fortunate enough to receive a new console for Christmas.

There’s a new bandit in town this year though, with RDR2 topping the final chart of 2018.

The Christmas sales haven’t had much of an impact at all, as the top ten only sees a slight shuffle. FIFA 19 and Black Ops 4 hold onto #2 and #3, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate moved up to #4, while the recently discounted Battlefield V dropped to #5.

At #6 it’s Forza Horizon 4, up from #10. Spyro Reignited Trilogy took #7, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe fell to #8, and Crash Bandicoot remained at #9.

Then at #10 it’s Marvel’s Spider-Man, a title that has gained a new lease of life this winter thanks to a price cut.

Positions #10-#20 are also almost entirely unchanged this week, with only four titles moving marginally and the remaining six staying put.

Outside of the top #20, Starlink: Battle for Atlas – available for as low as £17.99 recently – rises three positions to #24. Good old Rocket League also saw a minor sales boost, up six places to take #25.

Splatoon 2 bounced is back at #28, while Switch launch title 1-2 Switch makes a surprise re-appearance at #38. We dare say milking virtual cows was a more pleasurable way to spend the holidays than watching the rubbish on TV over the festive period. That two-hour Inbetweeners reunion thing was bloody awful.

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