Jan 06
By Richard In Blog No Comments

For a few years I stopped gaming.

There were a few reasons. A new relationship meant that I just didn’t have much alone time anymore (and my other half didn’t really care about any game that wasn’t Zuma), I’d started getting into modern boardgames instead, but mainly I just fell out of love with games. I found myself spending more scanning the digital storefronts than loading up the games. They seemed to become almost a chore.

However, I always missed them. I’d still read the gaming news. I was always waiting to get back into them.

I actually bought a PS4 at the beginning go the year, hoping to get some of the old enjoyment back. I played Persona 5, a sequel to a game I loved and plunged hours into, but I just bounced off it. Its extended tutorial was just too long and dry for me. I tried Uncharted 4, a game many people raved about, but it just seemed like a following-an-NPC-down-a-corridor-whilst-they-explain-the-plot sim. I spent quite a few joyless hours in Final Fantasy XV, trying to make sense of the story, wondering if my nostalgia had hidden the sins of the PS1 versions. I went back to browsing the storefront, reluctant to actually load up a game.

Then, a few months ago, my friend brought around his Nintendo Switch. We played a few games of Mario Kart 8. The next day my dusty PS4 was traded in and my (neon) Switch was bought. I haven’t looked back. It fits into my life absolutely brilliantly. I’ve enjoyed my time with Odyssey in particular, its moon challenges coming in wonderful bite-sized chunks. I’ve played tons of Rocket League in bed. I’ve easily carried the console around to friends and relatives houses for games of the Jackbox party games.

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Jan 04
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

The pickings are slim on the Nintendo eShop this week. There are no new 3DS or Wii U games to speak of (yes, the Wii U still receives the occasional new indie title), while the Switch sees just three new releases.

They are Grand Prix Rock ‘N Racing (£7.99) – a top-down racer that received a critical mauling on Xbox One – the four-player Picross puzzler Pic-a-Pix Deluxe (£6.99), and ACA NeoGeo: King of the Monsters (£6.29).

SNK’s giant monster brawler was one of the more renowned NeoGeo titles, also gracing both the Mega Drive and SNES.

If you have eShop credit in your virtual wallet and none of these takes your fancy, then you’re in luck – Nintendo has just launched a Happy New Year’s Sale, featuring numerous first-party titles.

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Jan 03
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Usually, the digital stores come to standstill between Christmas and New Year’s Day. There was no seasonal break for the Xbox One store last week though, as a trio of titles turned up unexpectedly.

Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 may resemble one of those terrible, terrible, Minecraft clones that plague the Nintendo eShop, but don’t be so quick to judge – it’s a modern-day take on Desert Strike/Choplifter, with missions that vary from hostage rescue to tower building. The PC version gained a ‘mostly positive’ reception on Steam, with one user review claiming that it “took them by surprise.”

From good to bad. All signs point to Winx Club: Alfea Butterflix Adventures being a (very) late ‘worst game of 2017’ candidate, with user reviews siting terrible controls and appalling visuals. The developers seem to be proud of the fact that it resembles the 2004 PSone Winx Club game, and to make things even worse, it also includes in-app purchases.

Then there’s The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III, one of this month’s Xbox One freebies. The official release date was 1st January, but Microsoft kindly launched it a few days early. It’s a Diablo III-style role-player that’s surprisingly easy to play, despite the overwhelmingly complex menu and inventory screens.

First impressions, ahead of a review, are positive but if you didn’t enjoy Van Helsing II then you probably won’t find much to enjoy here either – it reuses a lot of content, right down to near-identical presentation.

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Jan 02
By Matt Gander In UK Charts 5 Comments

The final UK top 40 for 2017 was published earlier today, revealing a trio of Switch titles in the top ten.

Super Mario Odyssey was the highest placing, making #6. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Zelda: Breath of the Wild both re-entered the top ten meanwhile, taking #9 and #10, with Zelda rising a whole ten places from last week.

This appears to have pushed PUBG out of top ten – the popular shooter is now at #11.

Not unusually for this time of year, there was no movement in the top five. This means Call of Duty: WWII has claimed a ninth week at no.1. If it can manage just two more weeks it’ll be on par with the current franchise record holder – Black Ops III, with 11 non-consecutive weeks at no.1.

January’s biggest releases – Monster Hunter World and Dragon Ball FighterZ – aren’t due until the 26th, so it’s likely CoD: WWII will keep hold of the top spot until then.

Running down the rest of the top five, FIFA 18 is at #2, Star Wars Battlefront 2 remains at #3, AC: Origins is at #4 and good old GTA V sees us out at #5.

No new arrivals made the top 40 but a few games managed to re-enter lower down in the chart, including a triple-whammy of Bethesda titles – Prey (#37), DOOM (#39), and The Evil Within 2 (#40).

Jan 02
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

It doesn’t seem fair to apply a review score to this free add-on, because, and as the name suggests, it’s a new mode rather than a full-blown expansion. To put it into perspective, it would be like giving a new harder difficulty setting the review treatment. Sure, we could talk about how tougher and more challenging the subject matter now is, but the core game is fundamentally unchanged.

Capcom Heroes Mode is a simplified version of DR4’s main campaign, featuring Frank West cosplaying as vastly overpowered Capcom characters. That’s simplified in the sense that it’s no longer possible to craft or carry weapons, there are fewer boss battles, and all side-missions can be easily ignored. Only items that provide health can be carried, putting the focus on wiping out the zombie hordes with overpowered attacks rather than Frank’s crude homemade arsenal.

Classic Frank – dressed in DR1 garb – acts as the default character, complete with a melee attack that sees the famed photographer fabricate chainsaws and mallets out of thin air. Akuma and Amaterasu (Okami) take a degree of time and effort to unlock; the remaining 15 characters are mostly gained by progressing through the storyline or as a reward for finding the ‘Capcom Stars’ hidden across Willamette. The fact that characters are unlocked slowly helps to keep things feeling fresh, even though some are more useful than others. Poor old Viewtiful Joe can’t hold a candle to Mega Man.

Other collectables to look out for include overflowing treasure chests, and posters featuring artwork from various Capcom classics, maps for both of which can be purchased from item vendors. On top of all this, glowing challenge icons can also be found in certain locations – each character has two unique trials to beat, being either score or time-based.

While it may sound like there’s a lot to discover, the general difficulty level has been lowered to the point where the main campaign – still comprising of six cases – can be easily beaten in around 4-5 hours, as opposed to the 15-20 hours it usually takes.

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Jan 01
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The achievement for finishing this additional episode is currently listed as ‘rare’. This seems a trifle odd, as not only is this add-on free but it’s also rather short, lasting around two hours.

We can only assume it has taken such a long time coming (it was originally due shortly after RE VII’s launch) that many Resident Evil fans had simply given up waiting, either trading-in their copies or forgetting about it entirely.

Not a Hero sees franchise stalwart Chris Redfield head back into the abandoned mine under the Baker’s property, in a bid to rescue three captured squad members. Resident psychopath Lucas has rigged the mine with a few nasty surprises, turning it into a mental challenge of sorts. There’s nothing here quite as elaborate as the main game’s ‘Happy Birthday’ VHS tape, though. In fact, this add-on is rather archaic in terms of design.

After a spot of mindless shooting, Redfield finds himself in a large central cavern. From here, three paths lead off to a trio of rather non-descript tunnels, each of which houses an item required to progress. These mostly come in the form of upgrades for Chris’ military-grade helmet, with the premise being that some caverns are full of toxic gas; something that adds a welcome sense of urgency.

Chris Redfield’s bulging biceps are put to good use, used to knock seven shades of mould out of the main game’s common foes. Soon, a new enemy is introduced – one that must be avoided until a new ammo type is discovered. This also leads to a few panicked moments. Alas, they’re only fleeting – once Redfield’s trusty pistol is locked and loaded, these new enemies go down with one hit.

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Dec 29
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Last year Capcom took advantage of the quiet month of January. With no other major releases to compete against it, Resident Evil VII gained the lion’s share of press coverage. Skip forward twelve months, and they’re ready to steal January’s limelight once again with Monster Hunter World.

A franchise usually associated with Nintendo, this marks its first appearance on current-gen consoles. It’s also the first in the series to see a worldwide simultaneous launch. Uniting players across the globe, Japanese and western monster hunters can play cooperatively, via a revised drop-in multiplayer system.

Impressions from the open beta were favourable. “With the announcement that more monsters will be coming post-launch, World is shaping up to be one of the best entries in this long-running series,” said Destructoid.

Dragon Ball FighterZ launches the same day as Monster Hunter World (26th January) and is generating a buzz likewise. Dragon Ball games are, mostly, well received but this one takes the franchise to another level by packing in some serious fan service. With Arc System Works – creators of BlazBlue and Guilty Gear – at the helm, it’s likely to become the greatest DBZ game of all-time.

Continuing the theme, we have the three-on-three beat’em up Dissidia Final Fantasy NT on PS4, a follow up to the popular PSP brawler. This instalment is developed by Team Ninja, and was first released in Japanese arcades. Team Ninja aims to add 50 characters over the game’s lifespan, with the deluxe edition including six characters not included in the base game. Hopefully, Square-Enix will see fit to provide some free content.

Square-Enix’s Lost Sphear is also due for release towards the end of the month. Due out on both Switch and PS4, it’s a traditional top-down role-player that’s receiving both a digital and physical release for around the £30 mark.

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory, out 19th January, is set to offer a very different role-playing experience, filling in the backstory of the previous entry. Then we have Sony’s first-person horror adventure The Inpatient (24th Jan), which acts as a prequel to Until Dawn. While it’s great to see continued first-party support for the PSVR, we do worry that Supermassive Games’ talent is being spread too thin – Hidden Agenda was released just a few weeks ago, and their PSVR shooter Bravo Team is currently pencilled in for release in March.

Mixing it up a bit, Retro-Bit Europe’s officially licensed Data East and Jaleco collections should be with us at the start of the month. These are multi-game cartridges, including a Joe & Mac compilation for the SNES, a Jaleco beat’em collection and a five-game Data East pack for the NES. Amazon’s £30-£35 asking price seems reasonable.

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Dec 28
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

The Nintendo Switch eShop is utterly restless. Hot on the heels of last week’s twenty-five (!) game assortment comes another sizeable selection of titles.

Of these, SteamWorld Heist: Ultimate Edition (£14.99) is arguably the biggest. As the name suggests, it includes content previously released as DLC, including The Outsider campaign. For those not aware, SteamWorld Heist is a very different game to SteamWorld Dig, being a tactical turn-based shooter that allows for awesome trick shots.

Sticking with belated conversions, we also have Stikbold! A Dodgeball Adventure DELUXE (£17.99), which is less of a sports sim and more of a party game, and the popular match-three puzzler Sparkle Unleashed (£6.99). Hamster also has a double whammy of Arcade Archives titles – The King of Fighters ’96 (£6.29) and the coin-op iteration of Double Dragon (£6.29).

This leaves us with the anime-flavoured roguelike DragonFangZ – The Rose & Dungeon of Time (£17.99), the checkers/chess hybrid Tactical Mind (£2.69), the minimalistic puzzler Energy Cycle (£2,69), and the four-player run and gunner Mecho Tales (£5.99 until 4th Jan – £7.49 thereafter).

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