While PlayStation, Saturn and PC owners enjoyed playable demos of the latest games, often given away for free on the cover of gaming magazines, those who owned an N64 went without. A promotional VHS tape full of gameplay footage was about as much as a Nintendo fan could hope for.
The arrival of the GameCube saw Nintendo turn their back on expensive cartridges – for the console market, at least – but anybody expecting future issues of the Official Nintendo Magazine to come with a demo disc from thereon in was in for disappointment. Despite GameCube discs costing relatively little to produce, the platform holder reportedly wasn’t too keen on the idea of playable demos for first-party titles.
Nintendo simply believed demos may lead to a false impression of the final game. Their reasoning was, and still is, understandable. Games can change drastically during their final months of development – key features change, and in some instances are completely dropped. Later levels in some games can also look and feel remarkably different to the first few, being more action orientated or vice-versa.
A small amount of third-party companies were still keen on the idea of GameCube demo discs though, eager to get their upcoming games into the hands of consumers. Nintendo went as far to take this matter into their own hands, releasing a collection of “previews” on a single disc, available at certain retailers for a few dollars.
The untitled preview disc contained trial versions of Soul Calibur 2, Viewtiful Joe, Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Video footage of a few first and third-party titles also featured, along with Dr. Mario on NES and a trial of WarioWare that could be downloaded onto the GBA’s temporary storage via a link cable.
Bandai Namco’s Go Vacation (£39.99) seems the perfect way to distract yourself from the sun’s blazing heat, set in a paradise resort with sandy beaches, calm seas, and whatnot. For added realism why not play while splashing your feet in a washing bowl full of water?
It’s a Wii conversion we didn’t expect to see on Switch, fast approaching its seventh anniversary. With the game’s age in mind, it comes as no surprise to find that it doesn’t fare quite as well as most Wii U to Switch conversions. Scores for the mini-game package so far are a mixture of 5s, 6s and 7s, with many critics claiming that it’s decent enough for younger gamers, but it hasn’t aged particularly well and there are a few JoyCon control issues. One for the casual market, perhaps.
Other big-name titles gracing the Switch include the strategic adventure The Banner Saga 3 (£22.49), which reportedly sees the series end on high note, and the eight-game-strong Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 & 2.
Reviews of The Banner Saga 3 went live earlier today. “With multiple endings that your actions can steer your adventure towards, it delivers a thunderous conclusion to what, on the whole, has been a phenomenal trilogy,” said Nintendo Insider. As for Mega Man Legacy reviews, they’re mostly clocking in at 8/10. A few games in the package haven’t held up well, but critics agreed it was still great to see them all bundled together for the first time ever.
2D puzzle/platformer Candle: The Power Of The Flame is going down reasonably well too, gaining a respectable 7/10 from Nintendo Life. “The title may well be home to some clunky controls and ferocious difficulty spikes from the moment you take control of Teku, but the immense sense of achievement married with what feels more like a piece of art than a video more than makes up for its shortfalls,” was their conclusion.
After hitting the US eShop last week, Adult Swim’s Pool Panic (£10.99) should also be with us finally. This one has generated a bit of a buzz, putting a spin on the pool genre by turning swamps, jungles, deserts and cities into living, fully animated, pool tables.
GameSpace called it “a mash-up of the Mr. Men, Cuphead, and Rick & Morty” before awarding it a 7.8.
The 3DS isn’t without a new release either, with WarioWare Gold making its arrival. The lack of reviews is slightly concerning, but we’d wager that we’re in safe – if overfamiliar – territory, this being a ‘greatest hits’ package and all.
Here’s the rest of this week’s Switch releases, along with a round-up of summer discount bargains.
If player feedback is to go by, the latest free update to No Man’s Sky adds everything that was promised in the glitzy E3 trailers all those years ago.
Hello Games has, finally, redeemed themselves, adding unlimited base building, multiplayer, vastly improved visuals and commandable frigates.
At the time of typing there are no critical reviews of the new Xbox One version. User reviews on Metacritic currently stand at a resoundingly high 9.2 however, while in the past week Steam user reviews have gone from being ‘mixed’ to ‘very positive’.
This week also sees the release of the strategic, and lavishly animated, Viking adventure Banner Saga 3. That’s joined by The Persistence, a procedurally generated horror title for PSVR, currently on track to become one of the highest rated games for Sony’s nifty headset.
The Council sees its third episode, meanwhile, which reportedly features the biggest twist yet. We’ve also rounded-up scores of Train Sim World, which unsurprisingly given the base material, are rather mixed.
Then we have Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1+2, which includes all eight Mega Man X games – a series that began on SNES and concluded on PS2. This two-part pack is available as a bundle or as two separate collections.
Over in camp Nintendo, the Switch gains a conversion of the minor hit Go Vacation – announced just a few months ago – while the 3DS gets the greatest hits compendium Warioware Gold. A Switch iteration of WarioWare really can’t come soon enough.
New release showcase:
9/10 – PSU: “It doesn’t rip up any trees in terms of the horror genre, even in VR, but The Persistence is a game that understands how to deliver proper terror and tension for Sony’s virtual reality hardware. Finally, we have a horror game that is fully designed for PSVR and the end result is something pretty special”
8/10 – TheSixthAxis: “In The Persistence, the team at Firesprite have concocted a rogue-lite survival horror whose atmosphere and hard hitting combat feel fantastic in VR. Thanks to an impressive array of comfort options it’s also amongst the best PSVR experiences we’ve had, and for owners of Sony’s headset it’s damn near essential”
7/10 – Push Square: “The Persistence cleverly blends Dead Space-esque outer-space sci-fi scares with the addictive arcade loop of rogue-lites like Rogue Legacy, resulting in a PlayStation VR campaign that’s both gut-wrenching and weirdly replayable”
Train Sim World
7/10 – Push Square: “Games like Train Sim World will always benefit from a greater array of content: more trains, more routes, and more services. That said, learning how each of the trains in this title work and mastering the three main disciplines will take you hours at a time, and while it’s very much an acquired taste, we derived a mixture of satisfaction and relaxation from our new role as a railway operator”
4/10 – The Metro: “As a hobby, trainspotting comes in for more than its fair share of mockery. Train Sim World, the interactive digital incarnation of that hobby, sits somewhere between mesmerising and baffling, and turns out to be just as impenetrable as the giant machines that inspire it”
3.0 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “When all is said and done, the handful of people sitting in the middle of the Venn diagram marked “doesn’t own a PC” and “wants a hardcore train simulation” still deserve a game that isn’t buggy, runs well, respects their time as a user, and one that provides more for their money than this one does”
Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1&2
8/10 – Push Square: “With its new features, galleries, and tweaks, even total newcomers who have never experienced this groundbreaking series will feel welcome”
8/10 – GameSpot: “In a way, the entire collection itself is the museum–an entire series, with all its beauty and its blemishes, on display for its audience to judge and assess years later. Parts of this legacy have aged horribly, but they’re still undeniably a piece of Mega Man X history”
8/10 – Nintendo Insider: “The Mega Man X series has always held a fond place in my heart. To be able to play all eight anytime, anywhere on Nintendo Switch is a dream come true. They may not all be top-tier classics, but the high majority that are maintain the same addictive grip now as they did back in the day”
The Council – Episode 3: Ripples
4/5 – True Achievements: “With a huge plot twist, the story is beginning to take on a whole different shape. Meanwhile, smart RPG-infused conversations and more interesting branching paths keep it all well worth another trip to the mansion”
7.2 – Xbox Tavern: “It’s a shame to see that issues with the framerate and the daft character animations are still yet to be resolved, however, with that in mind, Ripples presents the best and most balanced episode in the series so far. I’ll credit the voice acting too, which sees a notable improvement throughout. The mansion is as stunning as always and the story that’s set within remains intriguing, exciting and fairly well paced”
7/10 – GameSpew: “It makes a few duff choices, making it perhaps the weakest of the three chapters so far, and the technical failings are less than ideal, but it still remains fascinating”
Nightdive Studios are behind the re-release. Their recent Turok remasters went down rather well, praised for being handled with care, so we’re expecting a similar attentively put together package.
The features list mentions online play and new custom stages, along with split-screen play and a wealth of multiplayer modes. It’s Xbox One X enhanced too, boasting 4K visuals.
The N64 original (also released on PC and PSone) gained a cult following upon release, gaining favourable comparisons to Interplay’s Descent. Unlike Descent, however, it didn’t sell well enough to warrant a sequel.
We blame a botched marketing campaign – looking back at the differences in box art across all three regions, it’s clear Acclaim struggled to market a space shooter on consoles come 1998, resorting to using female models in the US.
It looks like Shadowman is the next N64 re-release on the agenda. We can also look forward to WARP/Acclaim’s horror adventure D: The Game receiving a digital dust off, although it may be some way off – Nightdive aren’t best known for speedy turnarounds.
We had an inkling Sonic Mania Plus would perform well in this week’s UK. Lo and behold – it’s in at #5, becoming the highest charting new release of the week.
Not that it was up against much competition, mind. The PlayStation Hits re-release of The Last of Us: Remastered made #26, while the Amazon Prime Day sale shook up the top end of the chart.
In fact, discounted Xbox One bundles were so popular during Prime Day that Sea of Thieves managed to become no.1 in the individual format chart. Minecraft: Xbox One Edition and Forza Horizon 3 are back in the top ten too, at #4 and #6.
Crash Bandicoot is the true, multi-format, no.1 for the third consecutive week. LEGO The Incredibles also held onto #2.
Skipping down the chart a bit, God of War is at #7, The Crew 2 rose to #8 thanks to a minor price cut, FIFA 18 fell to #9 while Mario Kart 8 Deluxe remains at #10.
After entering at #3 and #4 last week, Octopath Traveler and Captain Toad both take a tumble, now at #16 and #17 (respectively).
As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times they are a changin’” – this week’s eShop line-up is incredibly similar to the assortment of titles also hitting the PS4 and Xbox One. In fact, almost every new Xbox One release from this week is also on Switch.
Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion (£34.99) kicks off the multi-format love-in, being the most ambitious and fully-fledged Adventure Time game yet. It’s an open-world affair with sea-faring, combat, and upgradable abilities. First reviews are positive, but not amazingly so. “This is a genuine attempt to create the type of experience the Adventure Time license deserves,” said GameInformer before handing out an above average 6/10.
Then we have Guts and Glory (£13.49), a madcap and brutal racer. It has a slight air of ‘streamer fodder’ about it (think along the lines of cult hit Goat Simulator) so expect dumb but fun thrills and buckets of gore.
Frost (£11.69) deserves some attention too, being a deck-building, solo survival card adventure set on a frozen wasteland. GamingTrend felt it was deserving on an 8/10. “Frost takes the deck-building and survival genres and mashes them together to create a truly challenging and strategic game,” was their verdict.
Hand of Fate 2 (£22.60) offers similar card-based role-playing. It’s something of a hidden gem, this, and it sounds like it fits the Switch perfectly. Each mission takes you through a different story, with randomly chosen cards and tests of skill affecting your path and outcome. Combat meanwhile takes place in small arenas, featuring precise and refined hack ‘n slash style gameplay. We gave the Xbox One version 8/10 back last December.
From Ubisoft comes Hungry Shark World (£7.99). It’s a mobile conversion, albeit one that appears to have had quite a bit of extra work put into it. Take on various side-scrolling missions while fighting off all kinds of monstrous sea creatures. It’s the Ecco the Dolphin’s evil twin!
Like the above, reviews of Team 17’s Mugsters (£9.99) are also slow to surface. This one is a little hard to define, being a colourful, heavily stylised, physics puzzler with various vehicles. The sandbox structure allows for puzzles to be completed in different ways.
As for new stuff, there’s Tanzia (£16.99) a faux MMO-style 3D RPG with 32-bit era visuals. Destructoid awarded it 6.5 earlier today. “It definitely has limited appeal, but fans of that relative lack of modern polish we now attribute to sixth generation games will find a competent little action-RPG romp that stands tall with its niche PS2 counterparts,” they said.
That’s joined by Sausage Sports Club (£11.69) – a party game featuring floppy animals on a reality TV show. “Sausage Sports Club is delightful in its silliness and makes up for the slapdash nature with its charm,” was Nintendo World Report’s final word.
After hitting the PS4 some time ago, the full-price RPG Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded (£44.99) also makes it to the Switch. Reviews are highly positive so far, including 8/10 from God is a Geek who claimed the Switch version is the best.
Here’s the rest of this week’s Switch line-up, including three rather dubious looking Japanese dating sims, two arcade re-releases and the swish-looking VSR: Void Space Racing.
Last week the price tag for Square-Enix’s pixel art JRPG Octopath Traveler come under scrutiny. It’s the turn of Atari’s Tempest 4000 this week, and for reasons far more justified.
The psychedelic arcade shooter has launched at an eye-watering £24.99, double the price of Polybius, and almost five times the price of TxK – a game it’s reportedly very similar to. All signs point to Atari trying to rinse as much money from the pockets of Minter/Tempest fans as possible.
While reviews are mostly positive, critics did claim that it feels rather familiar to TxK, borrowing a few too many level layouts and power-ups. Still, the general consensus is that it’s great to have a shiny new Tempest on the current crop of consoles.
Incidentally, it appears budget publisher Funbox Media will be releasing a physical version a month from now. It’s currently £30 on Amazon; a price that’s likely to drop before launch.
From expensive to purse pleasing. The PS4 has reached the age in its life where it’s able to offer a budget range of older titles. The PlayStation Hits line-up will set you back £15.99 a piece, with some retailers already offering ‘2 for £25’ deals.
Both first-party and third-party titles feature, with highlights including The Last of Us Remastered, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Yakuza 0, Bloodborne and Rayman Legends. Cult bug blasting shooter Earth Defense 4:1 is part of the range too, but the fact that it can be easily found for £10 new makes its inclusion slightly negligible.
Sonic Mania Plus also gets a budget price (£25) retail release, including an artbook and reversible cover. Those who own the original digitally can purchase the new DLC for a mere £3.99, which throws Ray and Mighty back into the fray. We gave the base game a well-deserved 9/10 upon release.
As for brand new games, Mothergunship is one you may want to take note of – it’s a bullet hell first-person shooter with warped humour and rogue-like elements. The recent firing range demo left us rather impressed, showing off the nifty gun crafting abilities. We’ve rounded-up scores below.
Then hot on the heels of last week’s LEGO The Incredibles and Hotel Transylvania comes another family title – Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion. Zelda: The Wind Waker appears to be its biggest influence, boasting sea-faring and an open-world structure. Indeed, it’s far more ambitious than past Adventure Time games.
Ubisoft’s Hungry Shark World makes the jump from mobile, meanwhile, and Team 17 is back once again with Mugsters – a heavily stylised top-down action puzzler with sandbox design and plenty of screen-filling explosions. It reminds us of Blast Corps on N64. A tiny bit, at least.
New release showcase:
9/10 – PSU: “A furious and value stuffed effort, Mothergunship is one of the most exhilarating and satisfying shooters you can get on PS4 right now”
8/10 – GameSpot: “When Mothergunship is firing on all cylinders, it’s a satisfying and thrilling shooter where it really counts. With an incredibly fun and never uninteresting gun-crafting mechanic, it certainly goes a long way with its clever hook and an endless flow of enemies to gun down”
7/10 – Push Square: “In conclusion, Mothergunship is more than the sum of its disparate parts, and definitely deserves your time. It’s a big silly mix of destruction, synths, and sci-fi and a lot of fun to play through”
84/100 – GamesBeat: “If you can look past the roughest levels, you’ll find this to be a fun and highly memorable game. Here’s hoping Llamasoft gives it a little post-release polish so it can become a modern classic, just like Tempest 2000”
7/10 – TheSixthAxis: “This is worth a look if you are bored of cut scenes, collectables, and other frippery that clog up video games and want some serious old school arcade action”
6/10 – Push Square: “Minter’s schtick, for as much as we love it, feels like it’s outstayed its welcome for the first real time. Maybe Atari’s lawyers would have been better off keeping this particular project locked down?”
Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion
3/5 – Trusted Reviews: “The exploration is ideal for kids who just want to stomp about as their favourite characters, but they could find the fighting too hard. RPG fans will find a lack of depth throughout, and unless they love Adventure Time, will quickly abandon it for something else”
6/10 – Push Square: “The battle system and story are an enjoyable experience, but absurdly long load times, frame rate stuttering, a clunky menu system, and a poorly developed upgrade system hamper the experience”
6/10 – GameInformer: “This is a genuine attempt to create the type of experience the Adventure Time license deserves. It comes up short in many ways, but I still did get to have an adventure in Ooo, even if it was flooded with both water and technical issues”
Sonic Mania Plus
9.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Somehow, Christian Whitehead and team have made the definitive version of Sonic even more definitive. The genuinely challenging stages are chock-full of secrets, and will require multiple playthroughs to find everything they have to offer”
8/10 – The Metro: “The ‘Plus’ additions are minor but this is still a touching, and highly playable, labour of love by fans that understand Sonic The Hedgehog better than Sega themselves”
8/10 – Destructoid: “For five bucks as a digital upgrade all of these Sonic Mania Plus additions are a no-brainer. Sure, encore and maybe the multiplayer updates would have been added as free DLC in some circles, but the new characters and the package as a whole props up one of the best platformers of 2017 for a more than reasonable price”