Nov 02
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

When it comes to titles aimed at younger gamers, Climax Studios probably isn’t the first developer that springs to mind. But over the years, the Portsmouth-based outfit has created more family-friendly titles than you may expect, including tie-ins for Disney and some of the earliest LEGO-based games available for consoles.

With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to discover that Crayola Scoot – out now on Switch, PS4 and Xbox One – feels perfectly tailored for the young’ens.

Climax’s last release – Surf World Series – likely benefited Crayola Scoot’s development too, both being extreme sports titles with a focus on performing stunts and carrying combos. As the name suggests, scooters are the order of the day here. These aren’t any old scooters, though – after successfully landing a trick, or while boosting, a trail of fluorescent paint is left behind. If you’ve played Nintendo’s runaway success story Splatoon you’ll soon notice some more than a few similarities here. Not just within the match types, but also within the presentation.

Crayola Scoot never feels like a shameless clone, thankfully – due to the presence of scooters and the focus on performing stunts, it’s different enough to stand out from its inspiration. A match type involving covering a skate park in as much paint as possible – complete with a camera pan that shows off your messy handiwork – is about as cheeky as it gets.

Mixing things up, there are also checkpoint style races – which entail collecting crayons that appear randomly on the map – plus score attack matches, and tag battles in which bonus coins are gained for eluding the opposition for lengthy periods. Certainly, there are enough match types to keep things fresh while working through the single-player mode.

Prize money can be blown on new outfits and new scooter parts, and we’re pleased to report the former aren’t merely cosmetic – by rising the ranks and challenging the opposition (which includes a knight in golden armour, a feline witch, a robot, and a dim-witted zombie) access to their stat-boosting scooter parts is granted, which adds a welcome sense of progression. Kids are bound to enjoy the customisation aspects, allowing them to kit out characters with colourful – and daft – attire.

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Nov 01
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Data miners have apparently found traces of Diablo amiibo in Diablo III: Eternal Collection, which is all well and good…but how does the game itself fare? The answer is that it holds up incredibly well for a six-year-old game, with review scores clocking in as high as 9/10.

Other big hitters for this week include Bandai Namco’s Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum’n’Fun! – series that has proven popular with importers for many years – and LEGO Harry Potter Collection. They’re joined by Death Mark, a full price (£44.99!) visual novel that has reviewed well.

This week also sees SkyScrappers make the jump to Switch. We reviewed the PS4 version some time ago – it’s a fun and energetic brawler that entails fighting in front of a tumbling tower block, leaping off rubble as you go. As well as packing a new TATE mode, it’s arriving at a low price of £7.99.

We’ve also spent a bit of time The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories, a very literal Limbo alike – the protagonist is able to pull their limbs off in order to solve physics-based puzzles. It’s polished and slick. Also: very odd.

Then we have Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Heavy Burger. This isn’t an arcade re-release, but rather a brand-new title. Remember that bit in Wreck It Ralph where one character ‘went turbo’ and invaded other games? That’s seemingly the influence here, as it starring Burger Time’s chef as they rampage through several other Data East classics…including Side Pocket. Consider us intrigued.

There’s also Grim Fandango Remastered, sci-fi RPG indie daring Transistor, and the equally well-regarded Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP to consider. That last one is certainly knocking on a bit – we recall reviewing the iOS version way back in 2011. “Worthy of investigation” was our verdict.

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Oct 31
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Call of Cthulhu and Diablo Eternal Collection are this week’s big-name releases. If neither takes your fancy, then worry not – there’s a larger assortment of new indies than we usually see. Developers kept out of Red Dead Redemption 2’s way last week, presumably.

There’s also Bandai Namco’s arcade-style rhythm action title Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! on Switch and Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! on PS4. The Taiko no Tatsujin series has been popular on the import scene since its conception back in 2001, with very few instalments making it to the west. This is Bandai Namco’s way of testing the water with a new generation of gamers, perhaps. Rhythm action fans may also be interested in Gal Metal on Switch. We’ve rounded-up scores below.

Top-down racer Super Pixel Racers is off to a good start, too – scores so far are clocking in at 8/10, with critics calling it one of best of its kind. The same can’t be said for Xbox One horror adventure The One We Found. An abundance of glitches suggests it has been rushed out in time for Halloween. “The majority of its faults are too obvious to go unnoticed, so much so, there’s absolutely no justifying the game being released in the state that it’s in,” said Xbox Tavern.

Then we have spooky visual novel Death Mark – which gained an impressive 8.0 from PlayStation Lifestyle – and Square-Enix’s PS4-exclusive cinematic adventure The Quiet Man, which sees a deaf protagonist unravel the motives behind a kidnapping.

Tranquil third-person exploration game The First Tree – entailing a fox trying to find its missing family, complete with two stories running in parallel – makes the jump from PC to consoles, meanwhile. Steam user reviews are “very positive” suggesting its worth a look.

Finally, we spy Gem Smashers making a vastly belated Xbox One appearance. This puzzler can be traced back to 2003, where it debuted on GBA. Sadly, it doesn’t appear to be something of a hidden gem.

New release showcase:

Call of Cthulhu

Reviews:
8/10 – GameSpew: “Call of Cthulhu weaves a supernatural detective tale that’s frequently unsettling, occasionally horrifying and always engaging. Whether you’re a Lovecraft fan or not, there’s a lot here to love – just don’t blame me if you have to clean Elder God-sized arse-prints off your windows”

6.0 – God is a Geek: “A good example of a psychological thriller, and perhaps with a sequel Cyanide Studios could smooth out those rough edges and give us the Cthulhu game we deserve”

4/10 – VideoGamer: “Call of Cthulhu’s atmosphere, especially early on, is delicious, but it’s let down by wayward pacing and plot and some muddy graphics”

Super Pixel Racers

Reviews:
8/10 – PlayStation Country: “In conclusion, Super Pixel Racers is a well implemented retro-flavoured rally game with hours of play and great vehicle handling to boot. It’s probably the most fun we’ve had from a racing game on PS4 this year”

4/5 – VideoChums: “Overhead racing games don’t get much better than Super Pixel Racers. Its tight and intense gameplay is virtually unmatched”

Diablo Eternal Collection

Reviews:
9.0 – IGN: “The Devil is now on-demand in a very polished, content-rich port to Nintendo Switch”

9/10 – GameSpot: “Diablo 3 is a game about long term goals accomplished in short, thrilling bursts. It’s rewarding and subtle. It’s flashy and boisterous. I have spent six years enjoying it, and will likely spend six years more. As far as video games go, that’s a long time–I came into the Eternal Collection expecting a eulogy for one of my favorite games. Instead, I stumbled upon a celebration”

8/10 – Nintendo Life: “Its visuals are clear and functional if not especially interesting, but performance is top notch to make up for it. If you’re looking for a loot-driven grind-a-thon with more explosions of viscera than you can comfortably discuss with your mother, this is the game for you”

Gal Metal

Reviews:
7.0 – DualShockers: “While there may be plenty of things I’d like to change in Gal Metal, the core of the game is an unmistakably fun time. With so many heavy hitters on the market in 2018, sometimes you need to just sit down, unwind, and out-play alien invaders with electrified versions of classical music”

6/10 – TheSixthAxis: “Gal Metal feels more like cycling in the dark than it ought to. Charming characters and a cute story redeem the package somewhat, but it’s still a bit of a chore to play through the music segments between those narrative beats”

2.5/5 – Pocket Gamer: “Gal Metal is a great idea that fits well on the Switch, but sloppy pacing and a crushing difficulty curve make it hard to recommend”

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Oct 30
By Matt Gander In Blog 3 Comments

If you thought it was odd that Sony expected gamers to cough up £90 for a PlayStation Classic pre-order before the full line-up was revealed, then you aren’t alone. Initially we believed this was down to Sony still penning licensing deals but having seen the full list – revealed earlier today – part of us thinks they were fearing a minor backlash too.

The good news is that – with perhaps the exception of I.Q.: Intelligent Qube – all the titles present are well-known. Most genres are covered too. The bad news? There are some very questionable choices and highly peculiar omissions. Sony clearly didn’t want to loosen their purse strings here, preferring to take a few cheaper options when assembling the line-up.

Before delving into the omissions and peculiarities, we will note that we’re pleasantly surprised to see both Resident Evil: Director’s Cut and GTA present. GTA, infamously, was given an 18+ rating at launch while RE was censored in Europe before finally landing a 15+ age rating. While the PS Classic is clearly aimed at the mature end of the market, we still believed Sony would keep the content relatively family friendly. Considering some of the PSone’s best games weren’t afraid to throw a bit of claret around, it’s good to see this wasn’t the case. Bring on the gore.

It’s good news that Mr. Driller and Super Puzzle Fighter II have made the cut too, being two of the finest puzzlers for the system. Revelations: Persona is an unexpected but welcome inclusion, likewise.

It’s far less pleasing to note that several big franchises are entirely absent. No Crash Bandicoot, Spyro or Tomb Raider games feature, despite being synonymous with the system. The omission of Crash and Spyro is likely due to two things: high licensing costs, and the fact that remasters are available of both. License holders Activision were hardly likely to agree to a deal that may harm their profits.

The lack of a Tomb Raider game is a more of a mystery, however. A Twitter ‘rando’ suggested that the now defunct Core Design still owns the rights to these games. The fact that Square-Enix re-released PSone Tomb Raider on PS3, PSP and PS Vita in 2010 tells us a different story. Our verdict: licensing was too expensive.

With no Crash or Spyro, we’re left with Rayman and Jumping Flash to carry the platforming genre. A lack of Dual Shock controllers also meant Ape Escape was a no-no, leading us to believe Sony already has a PS Classic follow-up in the pipeline with a bunch of analogue-control focused titles. Adding further fuel to this, a lot of games featured here – such as Destruction Derby and Twisted Metal – had superior sequels which would be far more welcome.

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Oct 29
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

As proven in school playgrounds for countless generations, playing football is far more popular than pretending to be a cowboy.

That’s to say, FIFA 19 remains the fastest selling game of 2018, prompting Red Dead Redemption 2 to settle for second place. This is certainly nothing to sniff it – it means Rockstar’s magnum opus had a stronger launch than this year’s Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed. And of course, it’s the UK’s new number one.

Sales were also double that of the 2010 original, reports GI.biz. Moreover, it has become the third-fastest selling non-FIFA game of this generation, sitting behind Call of Duty: WWII and Fallout 4.

Question is, will it be able to hold onto its accolades? November sees several big hitters, including Fallout 76 and Battlefield V, while Super Smash Bros Ultimate is due in December.

Curiously, or perhaps amusingly, Paw Patrol: On a Roll was the second highest new entry making #17. Nickelodeon Kart Racers put in a reasonable showing too, in at #21.

The well-received anime tie-in My Hero’s One Justice took #23 while Just Dance 2019 – which graces six different formats – jived in at #24.

It managed to chart highly in the Xbox 360, Wii and Wii U individual format charts – and also took #16 in the Switch chart – but it failed to make an impact on PS4 and Xbox One.

Going back to the top ten, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and FIFA 19 dropped one place each to take #2 and #3.

Forza Horizon 4 rose to #4, AC Odyssey fell two places to #5, while Marvel’s Spider-Man is at #6. Fellow superhero title LEGO DC Super-Villains dropped to #7 during its second week of release.

The TV promoted Super Mario Party remains in the top ten at #8, Shadow of the Tomb Raider climbed to #9, and finally at #10 it’s good old Crash Bandicoot.

Elsewhere there were a couple of movers and shakers. Forza Motorsport 7 moved up from #27 to #11 thanks to hardware bundling, while Soulcalibur VI fell all the way from #8 to #25. It seems the soul no longer burns.

Oct 27
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The titular homestead refers to the cosy abode belonging to Tim, the protagonist of this first-person horror adventure.

It initially seems that the house is somewhere peaceful to spend downtime between chapters, looking for scattered pages of his missing girlfriend’s diary while taking in other forms of environmental storytelling. But after the first trip back home things become rather surreal, such as the bathroom becoming coated in blood and a portal to a demonic realm appearing in the cupboard under the stairs. Harry Potter never had to contend with this.

These portals are access points for the game’s four chapters, set in such locations as a ramshackle apartment block, a police station and a multi-floored school. That’s to say, Thai developer Yggdrazil Group – an offshoot of a movie production company – has managed to avoid the ultimate horror game cliché by not setting their game within an abandoned hospital or a deranged mental asylum.

In fact, by favouring Thai mythology, they’ve successfully managed to avoid using many of the well-worn tropes associated with the genre.

Many, but not all. The story begins with Tim trying to escape the clutches of a psychotic, knife-wielding, teenage schoolgirl – an entity most gamers will have encountered dozens of times before in games such as Fatal Frame and Siren. Her limbs are twisted and bend; her face is coated in blood. She can be observed sobbing uncontrollably, and as soon as catching even the smallest glimpse of Tim she lets out a genuinely bone-chilling scream. Eluding her grasp is both tense and rewarding.

Later, demons are introduced. Unlike the reoccurring malicious maiden, demons remain rooted on the spot – they can only be drawn away from their ‘posts’ by finding and lighting incense. This puts a focus on rummaging around the environments to find the items required to progress. Hammers, crowbars, keys, ID cards, boxes of matches – Home Sweet Home certainly doesn’t fall back on warped logic.

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Oct 25
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

The Switch eShop seemingly isn’t affected by Red Dead 2 hype, as this week’s line-up of new titles in the biggest yet – 37 games in total, along with a handful of demos. There’s a new ‘Gaming on The Go’ sale underway too, which includes a bunch of horror games.

Speaking of all things Halloween, there’s fair few new horror adventures out this week including a conversion of the Wii U hidden object game Dracula’s Legacy, the well-received Yomawari: The Long Night Collection, cartoonish puzzler Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle – which Nintendo Life rather liked – and the self-explanatory, and bargain priced, Halloween Pinball.

There are more games aimed at younger gamers than what we usually see too. These include Nickelodeon Kart Racers – which has gained mixed reviews so far – Paw Patrol: On a Roll, and the Splatoon/Tony Hawk’s hybrid Crayola Scoot.

Just Dance 2019 – out on Wii, Wii U and Switch – and Let’s Sing 2019 fall into this camp as well, we guess.

Even arcade/retro fans are well-catered for, with Windjammers, Arcade Archives ALPHA MISSION, ACA NEOGEO STRIKERS 1945 PLUS, Arcade Archives Ninja-Kid II, and ACA NEOGEO SAVAGE REIGN all available now.

You might want to save your credits (read: cash) for next week’s Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Heavy Burger though. It’s an intriguing top-down shooter that involves dashing through several Data East classics while all guns blazing.

As for new stuff, there’s the SimTower alike Project Highrise: Architect’s Edition, a conversion of the mobile hit Storm In A Teacup, the anime brawler MY HERO ONE’S JUSTICE, and the highly regarded puzzler 7 Billion Humans.

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Oct 24
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Somewhat unsurprisingly, only publishers with games aimed at completely different demographics to Red Dead Redemption 2 dare to go up against Rockstar’s 60 hour long magnum opus. That’s to say, it’s doubtful anybody will be mulling over whether to buy RDR2 or Paw Patrol: On a Roll this Friday.

Marvel’s Spider-Man does gain new DLC, however. The Heist is the first of a three-part story, which reportedly gets off to a slow start. A few critics even wished that all three DLCs were being released together instead of drip-fed over the course of a few months.

There’s also the My Hero Academia spin-off My Hero One’s Justice, which continues the current trend of surprisingly good anime tie-ins. Scores for this colourful brawler are as high as 8/10.

Then we have a boatload of family-friendly titles – Nickelodeon Kart Racers, Paw Patrol: On a Roll, Crayola Scoot, Just Dance 2019, and Let’s Sing 2019. Just Dance’s format list makes for interesting reading: Wii, Wii U, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PS4. No PS3 version this year, it seems.

Nintendo collectors may be interested to hear that Let’s Sing 2019 is also out on Wii, being a serious contender as the system’s last ever retail release.

Reviews of Nickelodeon Kart Racers are starting to surface, varying from 7/10 to a miserable 2/10. Crayola Scoot seems a better purchase, being a gooey mixture of Splatoon and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. We’ll take a closer look soon.

On the download services there’s Castlevania Requiem: Symphony of the Night & Rondo of Blood on PS4. There’s a good reason why it isn’t on Switch/XO – Sony lent a hand with its development. That’s joined by Project Highrise Architects Edition, which reminds us of SimTower, and the Spintires: MudRunner – American Wilds expansion which adds new tracks and dozens of US trucks. Both of these are due on Switch, but there’s a few weeks to wait for the latter. Ho-hum(mer).

UPDATE: Mini RDR2 review round-up added below.

New release showcase:

Red Dead Redemption 2

Reviews:
5/5 – The Guardian: “Total immersion in an astonishingly lifelike world – whether you’re outgunning rivals or skinning animals – makes this outlaw adventure a landmark game”

10 – IGN: “Red Dead Redemption 2 is a game of rare quality; a meticulously polished open-world ode to the outlaw era”

10 – GameInfomrer: “Rockstar has once again created a game that redefines the open-world experience. Red Dead Redemption II is a triumph that every gamer should experience for themselves”

9/10 – The Metro: “An incredible technical achievement and a hugely accomplished Western epic that, despite a few minor flaws, represents Rockstar Games’ most engaging and ambitious work so far”

9/10 – GameSpot: “Red Dead Redemption 2 is an excellent prequel, but it’s also an emotional, thought-provoking story in its own right, and it’s a world that is hard to leave when it’s done”

Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Heist

Reviews:
9/10 – PSU: “Though its vision might be restrained somewhat, The Heist nonetheless makes a compelling case for itself as a hugely satisfying and essential continuation of Marvel’s Spider-Man”

7.5 – Destructoid: “It’s not the most explosive beginning, but it does feel like more of a natural extension rather than a tacked-on thing”

6.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Perhaps the complete The City That Never Sleeps arc should have been released as single robust expansion, rather than three piecemeal episodes that are just giving us more Spidey at a trickle”

Nickelodeon Kart Racers

Reviews:
7/10 – GameSpew: “It may be lacking a bit of personality and polish, but zooming around the track as Tommy Pickles or Patrick Star is a lot of fun. And, Mario Kart aside, it’s probably the best karting game we’ve seen so far this generation”

6/10 – Nintendo World Report: “There is a decent progression and cart customization system here, but bland visuals and uninspired gameplay mean you can probably sit this race out”

2.0 – DualShockers: “Nickelodeon Kart Racers is a bad, bad, bad, game. To willingly and continually play this game is nothing short of an exercise in masochism. It barely functions the way its supposed to, and even so, the gameplay feels sloppy and mostly unoriginal in a way where it pales in comparison to even other subpar licensed Mario Kart clones”

My Hero One’s Justice

Reviews:
8.0 – PlayStation LifeStyle: “It’s a solid game that can easily draw in newcomers as well, thanks to the story mode’s careful retreading of past plots, too. My Hero One’s Justice is a strong introduction to what could easily be the foundation of a valuable fighting franchise for Bandai Namco and a must-own for My Hero Academia fans”

8.0 – DualShockers: “My Hero One’s Justice is a great adaptation of an amazing anime and manga. I’m so happy to see the first video game title stemming from this series turn out a lot better than I expected”

6.5- Destructoid: “How much you get out of My Hero One’s Justice will likely depend on how much you enjoy either My Hero Academia or how much you desire a highly accessible, style-over-substance fighter. Given that we live in a time with a seemingly unprecedented number of absolutely fantastic anime fighters, that might be a big ask for some”

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