Aug 14
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy has claimed a fourth week at no.1.

The last title to hold onto top spot for this long was Activision’s own Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, which had a five-week run at the end of 2016.

The rest of the UK’s top ten remains mostly unchanged. Price drops on Bethesda’s back catalogue help them take control of the top five, with Fallout 4, Dishonoured 2 and DOOM at #2, #4 and #5 respectively. GTA V is at #2.

Splatoon 2 remains at #6, while at #7 it’s the return of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Rainbow Six: Siege re-enters the top ten at #8. Forza Horizon 3 also moves up a few positions, claiming #9.

Then at #10 it’s EA’s Battlefield 1.

FIFA 17 and Miitopia both depart the top ten this week, meanwhile.

The lower echelons of the top 40 see a fair few re-retries, including Guitar Hero Live at #31, Nier Automata at #35 and 1-2 Switch at #39.

THQ Nordic’s re-release of Sine Mora didn’t get a look-in, somewhat unsurprisingly.

Will Agents of Mayhem be able to topple Crash Bandicoot? We’ll find out next Monday.

Aug 11
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

This week’s eShop update is pretty much identical to last week’s – another glut of Switch releases and two Turbografx titles for Wii U.

The 3DS receives a new title too, in the form of 3D art program VoxelMaker (£4.59). That’s joined by a demo of Capcom’s Monster Hunter Stories, ahead of its 8th September release date.

Over on Switch there’s ACA NeoGeo The King of Fighters 2000 (£6.29), steampunk match-three puzzler Ironcast (£12.99), roguelike RPG hack ‘n slasher Phantom Trigger (£13.49), top-down robot battler Rocket Fist (£8.99), and Severed (£13.49) – a first-person dungeon crawler from the developers behind Guacamelee!

Ironcast and Severed are both conversions, having hit other formats some time ago. Ironcast seems to be faring better on Switch than on the likes of PS4 and Xbox One, with a notably higher Metacritic score. Pocket Gamer awarded it an 8/10 earlier today. “Ironcast is a decent game with a surprisingly deep tactical foundation,” they said.

Severed has gained similar scores, including an 8/10 from Nintendo World Report, who note that it can’t be played while docked due to requiring touch-screen input. Could be a dealbreaker for some.

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

This week Ninja Theory gives us Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a ‘AAA indie’ releasing with a mid-point (£25) price tag. Those questioning why there isn’t a retail release are kind of missing the point. This is Ninja Theory standing on their own two feet to create something without restrictions, constraints and interference from bossy publishers and their marketing teams.

The result is a tough, brutal, and unnerving hack and slasher, with a story to tell and a strong female lead. If that wasn’t enough, the titular Senua also suffers from psychosis. Ninja Theory took the time to research the mental illness fully, and this is something evident throughout.

Hellblade has generally been applauded by critics, with most review scores being a mixture of 8s and 9s. Tuesday’s launch wasn’t without a hitch, however, as news soon broke that it features permadeath – if you die too often, your save game gets wiped. The problem here being that many gamers pre-ordered Hellblade without knowing it includes this somewhat controversial feature.

Critics were quick to step in and state that you shouldn’t worry too much about this, but wouldn’t go into full detail to avoid ruining the experience. If you’re keen to know what the deal is, and aren’t bothered about spoilers, then Eurogamer’s investigation has you covered. In short: it really is nothing to worry about. Hopefully it won’t put too many players off – Ninja Theory deserves good fortune, having been dealt some bad cards in the past.

Boss Key Productions’ zero-gravity shooter LawBreakers is another big hitter arriving on PSN. The first review off the bat is an encouraging 4/5 from Hardcore Gamer. “With eight different classes that feel completely unique from each other, and the zero gravity mechanics that can yield firefights the likes of which have not truly been seen before, LawBreakers makes a mark of its own in an increasingly crowded genre,” they said.

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Aug 09
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Monomi Park’s slime nurturing sim possess one of the most important hallmarks of video game excellence: the ability to make hours fly by like mere minutes.

This is mostly achieved via the shrewd inventory management system. That’s shrewd from a design perspective; from the player’s perspective, the small amount of backpack storage makes for a lot of busywork, diversions, back tracking, and advance planning.

Some 10 hours in, we were still unlocking new stuff

Like Harvest Moon and Minecraft before it, this is very much a game for those who like to keep themselves busy. The more you play, the more your ‘to do’ list grows. Some 10 hours in, we were still unlocking new stuff to mess about with and hadn’t even touched the challenge mode.

The opening hour or so is mostly centred around exploration, as you work through the tutorial and get to grips with the slime vacuum – the only means of interacting with the colourful creatures that inhabit the dusty plateaus, underground caverns, and overgrown wildernesses. The vacuum is far being from a precision instrument. Quite the opposite, in fact – it often sucks up unwanted items, pulls vegetables out the ground, and sends slimes spinning through the air. While this may sound irritating, the sloppy and unsophisticated nature is what makes to such a fun and inviting tool to use.

The game world is one that’s fully alive, complete with a day and night cycle, wild plants that regenerate over time and hapless feral slimes of varying types. An evil slime-scoffing entity can also appear without warning. Their existence appears not to be down to keeping players on their toes, but rather to keep the slime population under control. If left to their own devices, slimes will rapidly reproduce, eat everything in sight, consume other slimes – evolving into new variations as they do so – and generally cause a right old ruckus.

coming across a new slime variation is genuinely exciting

This is where you come in, playing as Beatrix LeBeau – the proud owner of a new slime ranch. Why collect slimes and keep the population in check? Because they produce valuable crystals if fed the correct foodstuff. These crystals, known as Plorts, can be exchanged for Newbucks – the currency used to build and upgrade the ranch, construct temporary gadgets and gizmos, and improve Beatrix’s vacuum, shields and such. In short, there’s a lot of stuff to blow your hard-earned bucks on.

To begin with, you’ll probably be perfectly content to head out into the wild and collect Plorts from feral slimes. Exploration is actively encouraged – hidden paths are numerous, some only accessible via jetpack – and coming across a new slime variation is genuinely exciting due to the prospect of being able to capture, evolve and ultimately harvest their valuable Plorts. There’s a rather ingenious changing economy to keep an eye on too. Over time the commonly found Plorts become less valuable, so you need to start looking further afield to find more elusive slimes.

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Aug 08
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Ignoring the fact that a whole bunch of Monty Python games were released during the ‘90s, Oh…Sir! The Insult Simulator is essentially Monty Python: The Game. It even uses the famous ex-parrot scene as a scenario for an insult slinging stand-off. The only cause for concern here, outside of using Monty Python references a little too heavily, is that some in-jokes may go over younger gamer’s heads.

Which begs the question: isn’t it about time Monty Python was added to the national curriculum?

Anyway, we digress. Oh…Sir! The Insult Simulator is a halfway house between a word and party game. It isn’t as po-faced as most word games, but neither does it have a fast pace to match a typical party game, as most matches last around ten minutes. The set-up is similar to that of a fighting game though, due to the presence of beat’em up style health bars and the ability to form combos.

A choice of quintessentially British characters are available. In addition to a stiff upper lip, each has a weakness (age, sense of style, wealth, appearance and weight, etc) to find and exploit. Additional characters can be unlocked by playing through the five-stage tournament mode too, including a guest appearance from a video game character who’s managed to elude the spotlight recently.

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Aug 07
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

With no new releases, and ample stock now available, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy takes the UK chart’s top spot for a fifth week.

In doing so, it becomes the only PS4 exclusive to claim no.1 for five weeks or more. No other game released in 2017 has been able to remain at no.1 for this long either.

Presumably because the kids are off school, GTA V rises one place to #2.

Bethesda’s triple-whammy of Fallout 4, DOOM and Dishonored 2 all rise a few places to take #3, #4 and #5 respectively. As reported last week, GAME currently has a ‘3 for 2’ promotion on Bethesda titles, most of which are £9.99 currently.

At #6 it’s Splatoon 2, down from #2.

Battlefield 1’s fortunes were far greater, rising from #14 to #7 due to a price cut.

The 3DS’s Miitopia fell a single place to #8, FIFA 17 remained at #9 and then at #10 it’s good old Rainbow Six: Siege.

Also of note is Rugby League Live 4’s swift descent. It arrived at a respectable #8 last week but now rests at #26.

Movie tie-in Cars 3 managed to re-enter the top 40 meanwhile, making a pitstop at #37.

Aug 03
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

There’s a nostalgic tinge to this week’s eShop line-up. For starters, we have two vertical shooter re-releases on Switch – 1994’s ACA NeoGeo Aero Fighters 2 (£6.29), and the catchy named Strikers 1945 for Nintendo Switch (£6.99) from Japanese publisher Zerodiv.

Alongside these two, we also have Retro City Rampage DX (£12.99) – a game that needs no introduction, having graced just about every system going since its original release back in 2012. It even made a belated WiiWare appearance, where it was primed to become the last WiiWare release…until Maximum Games slipped out Deer Drive Legends almost a year later in 2013.

We aren’t done with this retro kick yet. Slime-san (£10) is a fast-paced 2D platformer with pixel art visuals, while GUNBARICH for Nintendo Switch (£5.99) is yet another Psikyo re-release, this time being an arcade puzzle game dating back to 2001. Like Strikers 1945, this too is being published by Zerodiv.

Then we have Puzzle Adventure Blockle (£5.99), a rotating block puzzler with anime characters.

Lastly, for new Switch releases there’s Use Your Words (£11.79), a party game for 3-6 players that prompts participants to think of the funniest answers they can muster. Phones and tablets can be used as additional controllers.

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Aug 02
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Imagine Minecraft but with a focus on farming and harvesting rather than crafting and constructing. Now imagine that the only means of interacting with livestock – cute and colourful slime balls, in this case – is via a giant vacuum cleaner. That, chums, is Slime Rancher in the nuttiest of shells.

First impressions of this Games with Gold freebie are positive – it’s lovingly made and encourages both self-discovery and exploration. The more you play it, the more involving it gets. If you’re looking for something to keep the kids quiet this summer holidays, look no further.

The Long Dark is another Xbox One game leaving preview status this week. This survival game is set in a frozen wilderness and calls for cunning to survive. With a million early access copies sold and a movie adaptation in the works, expect to hear lots more in the not too distant future. As for reviews, they’re a tad slow to surface. User reviews on Metacritic and Steam are overwhelmingly positive though, so it appears to be well worth the eyebrow raising £29.99 asking price.

Mr. Shifty meanwhile makes the jump from Nintendo Switch. It’s a superhero game minus a license, pretty much, putting you in control of a teleporting chap who’s also rather adept with his fists. Think along the likes of X-Men’s Nightcrawler. The physics engine allows for all kinds of non-scripted chaos, with Mr. Shifty launching enemies through windows and propelling doors off hinges. The trial is well worth downloading if you’re curious – it’s a nifty little game, this.

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