Oct 21
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Future Publishing’s GamesMaster and gamesTM magazines are about to transcend to the great paper bank in the sky, joining such long-defunct publications as NGamer, The Official Nintendo Magazine, PSM2, and Xbox World.

The next issues – due 1st November – will be the last, with reason cited that neither no longer generates a profit. “Despite the company’s strong performance overall, unfortunately games™ and GamesMaster are no longer profitable parts of the business, which means that their next issues, on sale November 1st, will be the final editions,” said Future.

Despite the magazine’s high quality, gamesTM’s closure doesn’t come as a huge surprise. It was launched by Imagine Publishing in 2003 as a competitor to EDGE, but in 2016 Future acquired Imagine, meaning they now had two very similar magazines in their portfolio.

Although gamesTM ran different cover stories to EDGE, as well as featuring a dedicated retro section, the forever shrinking market was bound to reach a point where it was no longer large enough to sustain two mags aimed at the same demographic.

GamesMaster’s closure does come as a surprise, however. We’re also rather sad to see it come to an end – we can vividly recall buying the first issue in 1993, and have purchased the occasional issue ever since. GamesMaster – originally launched to tie-in with the TV show of the same name – was aimed at the late teen market, and was the only magazine to be targeted at this age group.

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Oct 18
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Following one hefty delay, Dark Souls Remastered finally reaches the Switch, taking pride of place in the system’s winter line-up.

Worth the wait? Nintendo Life’s 9/10 would suggest so. “While it’s no less forgiving – and its menus are a little fiddly – this slick Nintendo Switch iteration offers the only way to experience Lordran’s ultra-challenging odyssey in true handheld form,” they said.

Backing this up, we have IGN’s 9.5. “While the Switch version may lack some of the higher-end features available on other platforms, it still presents a more pristine version of the original, and importantly adds the exciting and absorbing dimension to explore Lordran on a portable device,” was their verdict.

Anther Souls-alike also hits the Switch this week, in the form of SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption. This boss-rush style adventure has a unique feature – it’s about levelling down, rather than levelling up. Despite much promise, review scores are wildly mixed so far – everything from The Xbox Hub’s 8/10 to The Daily Dot’s 1.5/5. Ouch!

A swarm of other big-name releases either are out now or due tomorrow (Friday). These include the NBA Jam inspired NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, SEGA’s sensibly priced (£15.99) HD re-release of Valkyria Chronicles, the Elite Dangerous/No Man’s Sky hybrid Starlink – which features Fox McCloud exclusively on Switch – and LEGO DC Super-Villains, which aims to prove it’s good to be bad.

Going back to indie titles, there’s The Room – a highly acclaimed puzzler, which garnered several awards on mobile and PC – and Pizza Titan Ultra, which we described as a combination of Crazy Taxi and Blast Corps in our review.

They’re joined by Passpartout: The Starving Artist – an enticing curio that entails living the life of a starving artist, creating and selling paintings to fund an expensive baguette addition. Colour us intrigued.

The 3DS also gets its big winter release this Friday – a remaster of the GameCube launch title Luigi’s Mansion. Don’t let the fact that it’s 17 years old put you off, as it remains a joy. Digital Foundry’s exposé is well worth a read.

Here’s the full line-up of new titles, along with discounts and pre-orders.

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Oct 17
By Richard In Reviews No Comments

Let’s not beat around the bush – Boom Ball: Boost Edition is Arkanoid in 3D.

How much can you do with 3D Arkanoid? It’s nicely presented. There are sixty levels, grouped into themed sets like a harbour, penguins and farms. The graphics recall PopCap’s classics – cute, colourful and tactile. The music reminds me of being stuck in a lift. There are time goals and medals to unlock. It’s Arkanoid in 3D!

You can play using touch or use the Joy-Cons like a set of table tennis paddles, rebounding balls with motion control. Playing using touch is functional but feels lifeless and flat. I was flicking and swiping, watching blocks disappear, but I wasn’t really having fun.

Things spring into life with Joy-Con control. The physical movement makes you feel more connected to the experience. We wish you had to jump around a bit, however. A simple flick of the wrist will move one of your two paddles across the screen. We miss the days of sweaty Kinect workouts.

So, would I recommend this game? Well, what if I was to say that playing Boom Ball: Boost Edition ultimately lead to an unmatched gaming experience. Allow me to explain.

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Oct 16
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Ubisoft aims to rejuvenate the toys-to-life genre with Starlink: Battle for Atlas, a deep space adventure that mixes interplanetary exploration with dogfighting. It’s aimed at a slightly older demographic than Skylanders and Disney Infinity, which may help it succeed where others failed.

Ubisoft has another fallback, too – the Switch version features Fox McCloud and his trusty Arwing. If you aren’t fond on plastic clutter, the £89.99 digital version includes all the add-ons sans plastic.

Sticking with plastic and toys, this week sees the arrival of the annual big-name winter LEGO game. LEGO DC Super-Villains aims to put a spin on things, giving DC’s evil-doers a spot in the limelight. We’ve rounded-up reviews below.

You’ll also find a smattering of reviews for Warriors Orochi 4 – which arrived to a rather mixed reception – and indie release SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption, a rather accomplished Souls-alike. If you’re both curious and an Xbox One owner, then good news – it’s available on Game Pass.

The humble 3DS also gets a look in, with a re-release of the original Luigi’s Mansion – the system’s one and only major new release this winter. It allegedly holds up rather well for a 17-year-old game. Yes – 17 years.

All these titles, and there’s still another big’un to come – SoulCalibur VI. We’ll add a review round-up once scores go live. Outlook? Pretty good – we were left impressed by its EGX showing. [Update: Reviews are now live]

New release showcase:

Starlink: Battle for Atlas

9/10 – Nintendo Life: “With its exclusive use of some substantial Star Fox content, you’re getting the best version of Starlink: Battle for Atlas on Nintendo Switch. And with a more accessible and ultimately enjoyable version of No Man’s Sky’s gameplay mechanics and Mass Effect’s original vision, you’re getting one of the best dogfighting/space exploration games you can buy outside of Elite: Dangerous”

7/10 – GameSpot: “Starlink is an interesting and enjoyable open-world game, one that fully understands the appeal of exploring new planets and dogfighting in the cold depths of space”

6/10 – The Metro: “A muddled mess of good intentions and corporate greed that ruins a promising space adventure with needless repetition and horribly expensive toys to life gimmicks”

SoulCalibur VI

8.5 – Destructoid: “Soulcalibur VI rights a lot of the wrongs from six years ago. It’s still absolutely gorgeous inside and out with an appropriately regal soundtrack that’s so incredible that I often just leave it on as I’m making a sandwich or preparing for a match. It ticks all those boxes. But it also steers the ship back in the right direction for casual and hardcore fans alike”

8/10 – GameSpot: “For those committed to ploughing the depths of its systems to get tournament ready, it has plenty to unpack and understand. Better still, those that want to play alone will find SoulCalibur VI has some of the most substantial single-player content in any fighting game today”

8/10 – The Metro: “The best SoulCalibur VI of recent generations, with an accessible but tactically deep combat system. But while the single-player options are much improved they’re still far from perfect”

3DS Luigi’s Mansion

8/10 – Nintendo Life: “After nearly two decades, we’re playing Luigi’s Mansion as it was originally intended, and it is as fun now as it was when the GameCube launched. If you’ve never played it before, you should definitely pick up this version”

7/10 – Nintendo World Report: “It’s not really any longer, even with the achievements, Most probably aren’t going to play for every ending. But all that said, it still works well, and I walked away pleasantly surprised. Then again…what ghost up, must come down”

7.0 – IGN: “Luigi’s Mansion is a fun exploratory adventure game that remains pretty enjoyable despite some annoying design anachronisms”

LEGO DC Super-Villains

8.5 – GameInformer: “I was disappointed with last year’s Lego Marvel Super-Heroes 2, but Lego DC Super-Villains addresses virtually everything I saw wrong with that release. If you hate Lego games, this isn’t going to change your mind. For everyone else, this is a delightful return to form which hopefully serves as a reference for TT Games’ future projects”

3.5/5 – We Got This Covered: “Although the formula for LEGO games has remained mostly unchanged over the past six years, LEGO DC Super Villains is still an enjoyable experience, provided that you aren’t suffering from LEGO fatigue”

Warriors Orochi 4

9/10 – PSU: “Conquering the battlefield with new improvements and a neat new magic system, Warriors Orochi 4 is a welcome addition for the series and stands as one of the best overall games in Koei Tecmo’s beloved hack n’ slash genre”

5/10 – Push Square: “Warriors Orochi 4 feels like it was developed on a shoestring budget. It cuts corners everywhere, from the removal of several game modes that were in previous titles, to the the fact that 95 per cent of the game’s story is told through static character portraits and text boxes. However, after the dismal open world structure of Dynasty Warriors 9, Warriors Orochi 4 at least plays like a proper Warriors title, and in that sense, it’s good to be back”

4/10 – The Metro: “Omega Force touts a fresh story, new mechanics, and a massive cast of characters but this is yet another Warriors title that succumbs to the series’ repetitive hack ‘n’ slash formula despite signs of passion from its developers”

SINNER: Sacrifice for Redemption

4.5/5 – The Xbox Hub: “Sinner draws inspiration from several existing titles, but stands apart with its unique approach to development by incentivizing the player to become better, instead of merely improving a character’s skill set”

7/10 – Stevivor: “The concept of your character levelling down rather than up is a clever and original idea and it changes how a player needs to think about their progression (or should I say degression)”

6/10 – Nintendo World Report: “I can only recommend SINNER to those looking for an almost insurmountable challenge, and even then, you’re probably better off just sinking those hours into further exploration of Lordran”

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Oct 15
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

The retail sector has been hit hard recently with physical sales of FIFA 19 and AC Odyssey down considerably over last year’s iterations. Amazingly, or perhaps alarmingly, not even the almighty Call of Duty can fill retailer’s coffers with cash – Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII’s physical sales were the franchise’s lowest in eleven years.

This doesn’t necessarily mean CoD is suffering for franchise fatigue, however. Quite the contrary, in fact – it has performed exceptionally well on the digital stores. The PS4 version became the fastest selling PSN download of all-time, while the Xbox One version was Activision’s biggest ever digital launch, beating Destiny 2. Sales of the PC edition were twice as high as CoD: WWII, meanwhile.

Our theory is that news of Black Ops IIII’s 50GB day one patch ushered many towards digital this year. The series’ MP-only focus likely played a part in this, too.

GI.biz also reports that WWE 2K19’s sales have slumped over last year, this time by 37.5%. It still managed to chart at #4, though.

Typically, sales of FIFA, Call of Duty, WWE and Assassin’s Creed see a boost in the run-up to Christmas due to new promotions, such as TV advertising. So there is some hope to regain some lost profits. Black Friday will doubtlessly give the retail sector a sizeable cash injection too, and let’s not rule out RDR2 breaking sales records.

As you may have guessed, Black Ops IIII’s sales were still strong enough for it to take the UK chart top spot.

FIFA 19 fell to #2, while AC Odyssey also dropped one place down to #3. Forza Horizon 4 wasn’t as lucky, falling two positions to #5.

Marvel’s Spider-Man swung in at #6, Super Mario Party dropped to #7 during its second week on sale, Crash Bandicoot held onto #8, while Shadow of the Tomb Raider fell to #9. Then at #10 it’s Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Square-Enix’s The World Ends with You on Switch was the week’s only other top 40 new arrival, taking #22. Goosebumps: The Game did manage to take #20 in the Switch chart, however. Not bad going for a full price (!) conversion of a three-year-old game.

Oct 11
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

While Xbox One and PS4 owners get busy with Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII (and continue to flood our Twitter feed with images of Zeus’ dong) Switch owners have a slew of time-consuming gems to crack on with. Pull the curtains, grab a hot drink, and get ready to be glued to your Switch.

Firstly, there are two remastered JRPGs to consider – Square-Enix’s anticipated The World Ends With You -Final Remix- and the slightly more strategic Disgaea 1 Complete. Both seem to be going down well, although some critics couldn’t get on with TWEWY’s newfangled controls. Thankfully they’re optional.

Then we have not one, not two, but three management games from Kairosoft – Dungeon Village, Game Dev Story, and the luxury resort sim Hot Springs Story. If you’ve never played these before then you’re in for a treat as all three are ample timewasters.

2D stealth adventures Mark of the Ninja: Remastered and The Swindle are also worthy of your time, as is the Mexican Metroidvania Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition. Its arrival presumably means the sequel isn’t far off.

Also of note: the Bomberman alike Bombing Busters, Ubisoft’s whimsical role-player Child of Light, motion-controlled brick breaker Boom Ball: Boost Edition, and the physics-based tower stacker Tricky Towers.

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Oct 10
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Unless Activision is holding back their promotional campaign until the very last minute, it’s fair to say this year’s Call of Duty is being treated to a quiet launch. The Black Ops games have always been strong performers, so perhaps it’s believed Black Ops IIII (ugh!) will sell by the lorryload on name alone.

For those not keeping tabs, Black Ops IIII jumps on the battle royale bandwagon with an all-new Blackout mode. Those who gave the beta a whirl were left pleasantly surprised by how polished it is – it’s certainly no last-minute inclusion.

Zombies mode has been expanded too, with 3 adventures available at launch. As for traditional MP, the press release mentions the word ‘grounded’ numerous times so we’re guessing it’s sticking to ‘boots on the ground’ once again. i.e – no jetpacks.

Who dares go against Activision’s juggernaut? Not many publishers, that’s for sure – the Switch gets two well-received JRPGs, while new sci-fi shooter Evasion lands on PSVR. It looks far better than Farpoint, with scores mostly clocking in at 8/10.

On the download services Mark of the Ninja Remastered is off to a flying start, gaining 9/10 from The Metro. “Still one of the best stealth games of recent years and an accomplished 2D platformer in its own right, with a near perfect balance of depth, accessibility, and bloodshed,” they said.

Memory of Us – a reminiscence of a friendship between a boy and a girl – hasn’t scored too highly so far, however, with GameSpot’s 5/10 being the first score out the gate: “My Memory of Us feels misguided; a concept that doesn’t sit well, marred by puzzle gameplay that fails to challenge or excite.”

Cutsey 2D shooter Maria The Witch, developed by Naps Team, makes a belated appearance on the Xbox One store too, just in time for Halloween. But while the £3.99 asking price may seem like a good deal, the Switch version from 2017 gained something of a critical mauling. Boo!

We were also expecting the intriguing Stranded Deep this week, but it looks like Telltale’s demise has thrown a spanner in the works. To quote Xbox Wire “We hope to have more news to share soon.”

New release showcase:

The World Ends With You- Final Remix

4.5/5 – Vooks: “Its story, presentation, battle systems, and music are all incredible, and there’s nothing out there quite like it. Whether you’re a newcomer to the game or a veteran from the DS days, there’s no better time than now to play TWEWY”

8/10 – Pocket Gamer: “[…] when played on a touchscreen, The World Ends With You is a truly wonderful JRPG. For first-timers, this is a chance to finally see what everyone’s been talking about over the years, and enjoy the gorgeous artwork, intriguing story, and bizarre combat system”

7.8 – IGN: “The World Ends With You: Final Remix is as good as ever in handheld mode, but it loses much of its appeal with motion controls”

Disgaea 1 Complete

8.0 – God is a Geek: “It isn’t as polished gameplay wise compared to Disgaea 5 Complete but it is still a great game. You can never have too much Disgaea”

8/10 – Nintendo Life: “This remaster is a great introduction for series newcomers, provided you can forgive the odd mismatching texture and an inflexible camera”

7/10 – The Metro: “Still one of the best strategy role-playing games ever made and a great place for newcomers to the franchise to start – assuming they’ve got the dedication necessary”


8.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Evasion is another example of a fast-paced VR game that doesn’t seem like it could work in theory, but has been executed with a care and precision befitting of a developer that has a lot of expertise in the VR field”

8/10 – Upload VR: “Evasion does a lot right. The chaos and intensity of combat is second-to-none in the VR shooter space from what I’ve seen, particularly when compared to other cooperative VR shooters”

7/10 – Push Square: “It’s unlikely to leave as much of an impact as Farpoint did, but Evasion offers a competent and entertaining shoot ‘em up campaign for those looking to bring devastation to the next alien race”

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Oct 09
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The announcement of a fishing mini-game in Red Dead Redemption 2 caused much jubilation. This excitement came as no surprise – fishing is the ultimate pastime for those seeking a means to relax and unwind. A gentle breeze, the calming sound of birdsong, the tranquil stillness of the water, the grating ear-piercing alarm from a fishing rod’s motion detector, a countdown buzzer to inform that there are only five minutes left to beat the competition…wait, this isn’t relaxing at all.

Fishing Sim World makes the world of fishing more exciting – and less relaxing – than it actually is by presenting players with four quick burst 20-minute tournaments. They each have different scoring methods, amongst other minor variations. Bass fishing involves using a boat to find the best fishing spots, with the winner determined by the total length of the five biggest bass caught. Predator fishing is a tad more complex, using floats and lures. Here, the total length of all fish caught is used for scoring. Carp fishing goes by total weight, while the Match Series is essentially the game’s ‘quick fire mode’ set in narrow canals and such – the gold mdeal goes to whoever catches the most fish.

You’re up against AI opponents in all four tournaments. Their presence is reduced to nothing more than a ticker on the side of the screen, informing of current placings on the scoreboard. This leads us onto our first gripe: the AI will, quite simply, catch a fish every 2-3 minutes. This, of course, means that you must do the same or risk falling behind. It also means that the outcome of every tournament is rather predictable.

With only 20 minutes to spare having a few fish escape your grasp or accidentally catching the wrong breed can cost dearly, and there’s little time for experimenting with new bait and such. The against the clock nature does, at least, make things reasonably thrilling, constantly trying to catch one last fish before the timer runs out.

The developers clearly understand that casually waiting for fish to bite isn’t the most dramatic of pursuits as most modes involve using four rods at once: three in a stationary rig, and one in your hand (so to speak). The rods in the rig must be cast out in the usual way – there’s a choice of casting methods and both realistic and basic settings – and the aforementioned motion detector will sound if a fish bites. The noise of one alarm soon grates, let alone the sound of all three chiming at once. It’s akin to a car alarm going off in your living room. A carp alarm.

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