Sep 06
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Last month Retro Gamer magazine teased the return of a classic ‘90s gaming mag. Making good on their word, the latest issue – #172 – comes packaged with a 52-page Super Play tribute magazine.

Super Play is regarded as one of the finest Nintendo magazines of its era, mostly due to its focus on import gaming and love of JRPGs. Indeed, it has been attributed to introducing a whole new audience to the genre, daring to put the likes of Final Fantasy III, Secret of Mana 2 and Chrono Trigger on its cover. This was during a time where most publications relied on over-hyped licensed games and movie tie-ins to fly off newsstands.

Retro Gamer’s one off special brings the original Super Play team back together, complete with a cover illustration from Wil Overton. The SNES Classic Mini is the focus, with Star Fox 2 being the cover game. The long-lost SFX shooter gets the preview treatment (no review, sadly – blame NDAs), along with a developer interview.

The remaining SNES Classic Mini games are all reviewed in full, with those only found on the Super Famicom Mini appearing in the Import Reviews section.

Even by simply flicking through the pages it’s easy to tell that an incredible amount of thought and effort has gone into this, with the colourful page layouts and jaunty ‘90s writing style mimicked to perfection. It even has a couple of pages dedicated to the anime scene – a former Super Play staple.

While we’d love to see more one offs from Retro Gamer (Future Publishing’s acquisition of Imagine has obviously opened new doors), it clearly takes an incredible amount of planning. All that hard work wasn’t for nothing – this mini mag is a delight to behold.

Retro Gamer #172 hits newsagent’s shelves tomorrow, priced £5.99.

Sep 04
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy is the UK’s number one for the second week running. With the almighty Destiny 2 launching on Wednesday, it’s unlikely to make it for a third consecutive week.

The Ubisoft-published Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle barges in at #2. Chart-Track reports the difference in sales between Kingdom Battle and The Lost Legacy was narrow.

We can only speculate figures (actual sales totals aren’t provided), but we’d guess by a few hundred copies, or thereabouts.

Codemasters’ F1 2017 fall to #3 during its second week of release.

The evergreen GTA V drops once place to #4, and then at #5 it’s good old Crash Bandicoot.

Positions #6 through to #8 are held by fresh faces. Everybody’s Golf takes #6, ARK: Survival Evolved enters at #7 – with the Xbox One version being the biggest selling – while SEGA’s PS2 remake Yakuza Kiwami shows up at #8.

Overwatch: Game of the Year Edition is at #9, up all the way from #21. Then at #10 it’s the popular Xbox One pack-in Forza Horizon 3.

Madden NFL 18, Rainbow 6: Siege, Fallout 4 and Dishonored 2 all leave the top ten, meanwhile. Also spare a thought for Deep Silver’s Agents of Mayhem, which tumbles to #29.

Dead Alliance from Maximum Games and Capcom’s Resident Evil Revelations HD managed to make top 40 appearances too, albeit at a lowly #39 and #40 (respectively).

Sep 02
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

If animals could talk, would we still eat them? It’s an age-old question that’s often discussed. The common response is that if an animal could talk, it would possess a similar level of intelligence to that of a human. It wouldn’t be merely content to graze in a field; it would have questions about its existence – a desire to survive, form friendships, and live its life to its fullest.

Toby Fox’s indie hit Undertale poses a similar question. If a monster doesn’t want to fight, would you still kill it? Before handing you this moral quandary the opening to this role-player throws a curveball. The first enemy our human hero encounters, after tumbling into an underground monster-filled world, spares them no mercy. It’s a kill or be killed situation, and after a swift battle, the protagonist is left injured. A mild-mannered creature known as Toriel comes to their aid and after teaching the basics – her name is a wordplay on ‘tutorial’, see – she reiterates that the world is a dangerous place.

More importantly, though, she teaches the importance of showing mercy.

After leaving Toriel’s cosy abode – on a quest to meet the King and return to the surface – it soon transpires that the majority of critters our hero meets pose little threat. Most are either intrigued by the very presence of a human or downright terrified. It was humans that forced monsters into their underground domain, a story that has been passed down for generations. As such, humans are seen as being both strong and powerful. Some monsters don’t want to fight, while others only attack as a means of self-defence. Others just want to talk; a few even want to flirt.

And so Undertale is less about fighting and more about befriending. During the turn-based battles, the ‘Act’ screen features different options depending on which monster you’ve run into. The idea is to try and show empathy and understanding, using prompts, body language and speech bubbles to work out what the opposition requires to bring a conflict to a peaceful conclusion.

If this sounds fascinating, perhaps even revolutionary, that’s because it is. A degree of trial and error is called for, sometimes with humorous results, and once you’ve learned how to leave a monster be, the same trick can be applied to all future encounters. It’s a good job, then, that every area has unique monsters. They can also attack in pairs, altering their attack formations.

The battle system always gives the option to bludgeon enemies to death during an encounter, requiring a well-timed button press to a perform critical hit. Play Undertale this way – affectionally known as ‘The Genocide Route’ – and you’ll find it no different to any RPG, save for the fact that enemy attacks must be dodged via Wario Ware style impromptu mini-games. Play it either neutrally or pacifistically, however, and you’ll be treated to one of the most heart-warming gaming experiences.

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Aug 31
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

While the assortment of new eShop releases is smaller than usual this week, the fact that a new Mario game is amongst them means it’s still a more exciting week than most.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (£49.99) has surprised many – it’s smart, unique, delightfully silly, and very pleasing to the eye.

The current Metacritic score of 85% places it just outside the ten highest rated Switch games released so far, and a few positions higher than Splatoon 2 (with 83%). Not that this means a great deal…aside from the fact that Kingdom Battle is another reason to purchase a Switch.

Joining the unlikely crossover on the eShop are Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack (£31.49), League of Evil (£7.19), ACA NeoGeo Zed Blade (£6.29), and Sky Ride (£6.29).

Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack features the 3DS’s Azure Striker GUNVOLT and Azure Striker GUNVOLT 2 in one package, complete with all DLC and a few improvements such as a new UI. It hasn’t seen a complete visual overhaul, though – only certain aspects have been given the HD treatment.

League of Evil meanwhile is an 8-bit style action game with a level designer. It originally released on mobiles back in 2011 where it gained a cult following. Nintendo Life reports that it’s more than deserving of a Switch conversion, praising the tight controls, bold visuals, and challenging difficulty level.

Sky Ride is a conversion likewise, this time of a PS4 title. Despite the reasonably accomplished visuals, it’s apparently a bit of a mess. We’re talking Vroom in the Night Sky level of awfulness here.

A demo of VOEZ also hits the Switch this week, while Shantae: Half-Genie Hero gets new DLC, titled Pirate Queen’s Quest (£8.99).

Over on 3DS there’s just one new release – Parascientific Escape – Crossing at the Farthest Horizon (£4.99), the third instalment in Circle’s well-received puzzle/adventure series.

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Aug 30
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Last week was just the tip of the new release iceberg – there’s wealth of new games out this week too, including several big hitters. Thirty new releases in total, which is quite possibly a record breaking amount for a week in August.

On Tuesday, a triple-whammy of zombie shooters arrived both at retail and on the download services – Dead Alliance (PS4/XO), Resident Evil Revelations (PS4/XO) and Killing Floor 2 (XO).

Maximum Games’ Dead Alliance is deathmatch shooter with a minor twist – the ability to influence zombie hordes via pheromone bombs, prompting them to head toward the opposition or swarm around objects of importance. We took part in the beta and wasn’t left too impressed. Not only did the weapons feel limp and lifeless, but zombie slaying didn’t feel remotely satisfying.

Killing Floor 2 is the better option, being a remarkably slick co-op shooter with deep character customisation options. The PS4 version was a PS4 Pro showcase, and word has it that this belated Xbox One iteration will have Xbox One X enhancements.

Resident Evil Revelations meanwhile is a remake of a remake, just like Resident Evil HD before it. It was originally released on 3DS in 2012, making the jump to last-gen consoles in 2013. It doesn’t appear to have survived a third format switch, with review scores mostly being a mixture of 5s and 6s. “The game is enjoyable and features a undeniably spooky atmosphere, but at the end of the day, it’s a five-year-old 3DS game on its third life,” said Hardcore Gamer.

Obsidian’s role-player Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition is going down a storm in comparison, gaining some impressively high review scores. “Pillars of Eternity is a wonderful role-playing game, expertly weaving deep, tactical combat and captivating writing – a combination that will appeal to unabashedly old school gamers, but will also yield abundant rewards for players new to the genre,” beamed Push Square, before handing out 9/10.

Other new releases hitting both PS4 and Xbox One include the oddball tower defence/Super Monkey Ball mash-up Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder (trial available on Xbox One), Climax’s sun-drenched Surf World Series, musical role-player The Metronomicon: Slay the Dance Floor, sci-fi top down shooter/tower defence hybrid X-Morph: Defense, and the futuristic racer Redout Lightspeed Edition.

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Aug 28
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Initial word of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle’s greatness came not from critics but from those who pre-ordered this unlikely crossover.

Being a bank holiday in the UK, many gamers received the Switch’s latest big hit a few days early, leading to a waft of positive first impressions on the likes of Twitter.

The review embargo has now ended, and critics are almost entirely in agreement that this turn-based tactical shooter is surprisingly great.

Ubisoft, with a little help from Nintendo, has managed to make a wonderfully goofy adventure. It isn’t quite as polished as a first party title, hence the majority of review scores clocking in at 8/10, but it’s mighty close.

See for yourself:

Recommended – Eurogamer: “This wonky crossover is the unlikely source of a superbly designed tactical combat challenge as well as a charmingly silly adventure”

5/5 – Time: “It’s wacky, boisterous and absolutely gorgeous”

9/10 – Pocket Gamer: “Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle is a gorgeous, amusing, and challenging turn-based strategy that’s easily the best exclusive on Nintendo Switch so far. I’m just as surprised as you are”

4.5/5 – Slant Magazine: “More than an attempt to cash in on the Super Mario Bros. and Raving Rabbids franchises, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is one of the most creative turn-based tactical games in years”

4.5/5 – US Gamer: “This is a legitimately great strategy experience, tailored toward the sensibilities of Nintendo and the capabilities of the Nintendo Switch. It’s a charming adventure for Mario, and the Rabbids don’t get in the way, even if they don’t necessarily add much either”

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Aug 28
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Crash Bandicoot’s seven week stay at the top of the UK chart has come to end, dethroned by Crash’s original creators – Naughty Dog.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy takes no.1, becoming the 6th PS4 exclusive to take the top spot this year. Gamesindustry.biz reports sales of The Lost Legacy were “slightly less than half” of what Uncharted 4 managed at launch.

As always though, digital sales aren’t included. The less-than-full-price RRP may have prompted many to make a purchase through PSN.

Gamesindustry.biz also states that sales of Codemasters’ F1 2017 – which debuts at #2 – were down from F1 2016’s launch. With review scores generally higher than last year’s iteration, it may eventually surpass it in the long run.

Activision’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy falls to #3.

Then at #4 it’s fellow annual sporting update Madden NFL 18.

The remaining top ten positions comprise of familiar faces. In order, GTA V, Fallout 4, Dishonored 2, Forza Horizon 3, Rainbow Six: Siege, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe at #10.

Team 17’s The Escapists 2 entered at respectable #12, with sales up a whopping 378% over the original. Could be a steady seller, this.

Agents of Mayhem follows behind at #13, down from #4. Sales only fell by 28% – as second-week sales go, it could have been far worse. GAME’s price drop to £34.99 may have helped.

Elsewhere in the top 40, Minecraft: Story Mode is back at #28 thanks to the arrival of last week’s Switch version, while Overwatch: Game of the Year Edition helps the evergreen shooter bounce back at #24.

Aug 24
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

A long weekend is almost upon us. Nintendo fans shouldn’t worry if it turns out to be a wet one – another four releases are lined up for the Switch, while the 3DS eShop sees a sizeable sale.

Even the Wii U gets a look in, with two Konami Turbografx Virtual Console re-releases – Final Soldier (£6.29) and Soldier Blade (£5.39). Final Soldier is the better of two, if memory serves.

Those four Switch releases are the Tetris alike ACA NeoGeo Puzzled (£6.29), mobile conversion Piczle Lines DX (£13.99), the well-received 2D intergalactic adventure forma.8 (£8.99), and the eight episode strong Minecraft: Story Mode – The Complete Adventure (£39.99).

On a related note, the Wii U version of forma.8 is permanently down to £8.99 from today, presumably to put it in line with the Switch iteration.

ARMS’ Global Testpunch is also back until 27th August, while a demo of Pokkén Tournament DX is now live ahead of its 22nd September launch.

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