Apr 16
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

With nothing to challenge it, Far Cry 5 remains the UK’s no.1 for the third week running. Sounds like sales far exceed FIFA 18 at #2, as Ukie describes its chart position as “comfortable”.

Backing this up, the ever-insightful GamesIndusty.biz states that “selling around 3,500 copies would have got any game into the Top Ten this week.”

This also sheds light on how Extinction – last week’s only notable retail release – has performed, as the critically mauled action game failed to make the top 40. Our guess? A few hundred copies, tops.

Incidentally, Gun*Gal 2 also failed to make the Switch top 20.

Going back to the top ten, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe rose to #3. GTA V also moved up a few positions, taking #4. PUBG held onto #5.

Sea of Thieves fell from #3 to #6, golden oldie Fallout 4 re-entered the top ten at #7, Super Mario Odyssey took #8, GT: Sport parked up at #9 – rising from #15 – while Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy remains at #10 for another week.

Call of Duty: WWII and Forza Motorsport 7 both depart the top ten, meanwhile.

Friday’s launch of God of War should help the UK’s currently flagging software sales. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life stands a good chance of breaking next week’s top five, too.

Apr 13
By Richard In Blog No Comments

I’ve been in Japan these last few weeks, and is often customary for a self-respecting gamer, a copy of the latest Famitsu has found its way into my bumbag.

The only slight issue is that I can’t speak Japanese. So, get ready for me trying to guess what’s going on from context and some massive cultural insensitivity.

This week’s issue has God of War on the cover and comes with a God of War poster and a load of info. Info like this: you’ve got a little fella helping you out.

There’s also a whopping 10 pages dedicated to this generic looking 3DS RPG.

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Apr 12
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Ladies and gents, it’s a record-breaking week for new Switch eShop releases – 26 games in total, incorporating the usual mix of belated conversions, fresh indies, and retro-releases. On a side note, five demos also debut this week – another new, if tedious, record.

[Update] SEGA’s surprise release of Football Manager Touch 2018 brings the grand total up to 27.
Why the lack of pre-launch coverage? Presumably, because it’s a mere mobile conversion. More details can be found here.

The first reviews of Gal*Gun 2 (£44.99) aren’t exactly positive, being a mixture of 5s and 6s. Nintendo Life opted for 5/10 (“Gal*Gun 2 offers an on-rails shooter experience that gets very familiar and repetitive far too quickly, without ever really providing enough content to keep you hooked”), while Nintendo World Report issued a 6/10. “If you can get past the underage ogling thing, Gal*Gun 2 is a fun, if short, game,” was NWR’s verdict.

From Wales Interactive we have The Bunker (£9.99), a live-action psychological thriller. Or in fewer words: an FMV game. It’s far better than it has any right to be, offering something a little different.

Don’t Starve: Nintendo Switch Edition (£17.99) is another belated conversion well worth considering, including Don’t Starve + Reign of Giants + Shipwrecked. No reviews are live yet, but it’s hard to imagine anything going awry during the jump to Switch.

The Adventure Pals (£10.79) is a whole lot newer, hitting the likes of PS4 just a week ago. Reviews for this family-friendly platformer were full of praise, making it worth a look.

Hellish first person survival horror Infernium (£19.99) only hit PS4 at the beginning of April, too. Long loading times and a few technical issues held it back, resulting in scores mostly around the 5/10 mark.

As for new releases, we have Bombslinger (£10.79), a wild west set Bomberman alike. It looks like the publisher chose to send critics the Switch version to review, over the PS4/XO versions, which would suggest it suits the Switch best and was designed with it in mind. Nintendo Life ignited a 7/10: “Bombslinger is a decent game, but its brutal and unforgiving difficulty is sure to turn many potential buyers off,” they warned.

That’s joined by Deep Ones (£4.49), a ZX Spectrum influenced 2D platformer with a few shoot’em up stages. We didn’t think much of this ‘one’ – it’s sloppily programmed, leading to many frustrating moments.

Masters of Anima (£15.99) fares better, being one of this week’s highlights. It’s a Pikmin/Overlord alike that involves sending out troops to do your bidding. The combat is a tad brutal – if battles drag on, you’re ultimately screwed – but it still represents good value for money, and it’s rather polished.

Rogue Aces (£9.99) is another gaining good reviews. No review scores below 7.5 so far, in fact.
It’s a wraparound arcade-like 2D shooter, with procedurally generated landscapes…hence the ‘rogue’ part of the title. The Sixth Axis awarded it 8/10. “Infinite State Games have created something very special here,” they said.

As for arcade re-releases, we have the colourful 1994 puzzler ACA NEOGEO Gururin (£6.29), vertical shooter Dragon Blaze for Nintendo Switch (£6.99), and Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Bad Dudes (£7.99). Are you a bad enough due to rescue the president? Actually, don’t answer that.

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Apr 11
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

The Pikmin-alike Masters of Anima is one of this week’s highest scoring new releases, currently bettered only by the belated Xbox One version of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice on Metacritic.

Masters of Anima sees a young scholar summoning and commanding armies of stone guardians, used not just for combat but also puzzle solving. We found it to be a polished package with a meaty and challenging combat system. The £15.99 price tag represents good value for money, too – there’s at least 20 hours of play here. We’d go as far to say that some of the greedier publishers out there would have happily charged double.

Enter Maximum Games. We hoped Extinction would mark the start of a new chapter for the frugal publisher – the trailer looked impressive, it had a renowned studio behind it (Iron Galaxy, who took over the Killer Instinct reboot), and he core concept of taking down colossal giants was sound. They even felt it deserving of a £64.99 deluxe edition. The end result? A dull and formulaic experience, with one centrepiece gimmick recycled endlessly.

Most review scores clock in at 5/10. Not all critics were that generous though – a fair few 3/10s have been handed out, while Gaming Trend gave it a miserable 15%. “Someone, somewhere along the line, should have made the call to cancel this game,” they said.

As mentioned, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice arrives on Xbox One this week. The ‘AAA indie’ did the business on PS4, gaining positive reviews and shifting 500k copies in just three months. There’s no reason as to why the Xbox One version shouldn’t repeat this success – it makes good use of the Xbox One X’s extra grunt, and we haven’t seen a lot of big budget titles on the Xbox One store of late. You’ll find review scores below.

Indie platformer Deep Ones – influenced by the ZX Spectrum era – is another we’ve reviewed this week. It’s an extremely low budget platformer that’s rougher than sandpaper, with more than a few frustrating moments. Echoing our 4/10 review, The Xbox Tavern also gave it a kicking: “Deep Ones may be cheap, you’re practically paying to be pissed off.”

For those with a PSVR headset, survival shooter Time Carnage and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-Ality may be of note. Virtual Rick-Ality hit PC (and other devices) last year, gaining favourable reviews despite being a tie-in. From the looks of things, the retail release isn’t due until the end of April.

New release showcase:

Masters of Anima – PS4/XO/PC/Switch

8/10 – Nintendo Insider: “[…] it’s hard not to marvel at the thrill of it all in the thick of battle, and how the many systems that are at play are masterfully woven together”

7.5 – PlayStation Lifestyle: “Masters of Anima is for those who love to multitask. Ordering various groups of guardians to attack multiple groups of enemies while also moving around, dodging attacks and performing combos can make for a very hectic game”

6/10 – Nintendo Life: “Masters Of Anima is no Pikmin, but if you’re looking for a fantasy land filled with tough enemy encounters and a game that’s relatively straightforward, then this one is for you”

Extinction – PS4/XO/PC

6/10 – Destructoid: “There are some flashes of brilliance every now and then but the over-reliance on the core energy meter idea keeps it imprisoned in the depths of repetitive arcade territory”

4.0 – God is a Geek: “The controls and camera barely work, and the plot is barely even there, told through excruciatingly lifeless reams of dialogue at the beginning and end of each stage; I just can’t recommend playing Extinction”

3/10 – The Metro: “Like most bad games the frustration with Extinction is that it’s not too hard to imagine the better game it could’ve been, especially given its obvious inspiration”

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – XO

9.0 – Windows Central: “Aside from the linearity and slight performance issues, there isn’t much to fault in Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. It’s a unique title which succeeds in its mission of giving gamers a glimpse into how people deal with psychosis and loss. It also delivers a realistic yet uplifting conclusion in the end”

8.5 – EGM: “Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is the action adventure genre stripped of its excess, until a smaller, more personal journey remains. While it may feel shallow and lacking for some, those wanting something other than the usual big-budget 70-hour fare will find Senua’s story to be unlike anything else in recent years”

8/10 – GameSpot: “Though combat is one of the core pillars in Hellblade, the game doesn’t concern itself with offering numerous weapons or complex skill-trees to work through. Aside from some new combat abilities unlocked at key story milestones, Senua’s arsenal of skills and weapons is kept light till the end”

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Apr 10
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The ZX Spectrum gained hundreds of weird and wonderful games during its lifetime. It was an era where developers would have a stab at turning just about anything into a video game. Low development costs also allowed creators to take risks, hoping to break into untapped markets or accidentally stumble on ‘the next big thing’.

Deep Ones is influenced by ZX Spectrum classics of yore but takes no chances – it’s a relatively straightforward underwater 2D platformer, with a few shooting stages and other similar deviations.

Neither does it strive for authenticity, merely resembling a ZX game in passing. The crudely animated characters are accompanied by lighting effects, sprite scaling, camera panning and other modern-day staples that the humble Speccy could never hope to achieve. The colour palette is at least akin to that of the Spectrum family’s hardware, featuring plenty of single-colour sprites daubed in garish magenta, cyan and bright yellow hues.

The lack of faux a Spectrum boot-up/loading screen is a huge missed opportunity for an extra dollop of nostalgia. For better or worse, depending on how cherished the vintage system is to you, there’s no colour clash either.

there’s a whiff of ‘game jam project’ about it

As for sound, the sound effects are unquestionably from the 8-bit era while the music is far more modern, being a peculiar mixture of tranquil beats and grimy electro. In truth, we aren’t best convinced the musical score was made especially for the game.

You play as a nameless scuba diver out to retrieve his submarine from the lair of an almighty sea creature – a nod in the direction of H.P Lovecraft. From start to finish, not a single word of dialogue is uttered from the diver, and neither does he display any degree of personality. The lack of animation is mostly at fault here, as he’s rather crudely animated. Oddly, some of the bosses have far more frames of animation than the game’s hero.

Chunky text boxes often appear during boss battles, unhelpfully obscuring the action. A rough translation job (developer BURP Games is based in Ukraine) has led to more than a few unfortunate typos. “Press X to Shot” is one such example. The few attempts at humour also fail to hit the mark, but this is less of an issue. They did at least try.

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Apr 09
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

The titular Anima is not a person, place, or thing, but rather a mystical energy found deep underground. By channelling this power, Shapers – as they’re known – can summon creatures forged from ancient stone, as well as reverse damage on objects made of said sacred material.

Plucky protagonist Otto isn’t quite a master of Anima yet though, introduced as a scholar still in learning. Forever humble, he also believes the summonable stone creatures should be used to create huge cities and other wonders, instead of merely being used as guardians during conflicts.

But after his hometown is raided and his fiancée snatched by a sinister elder Shaper known as Zahr – dressed in obligatory red garb – the floppy-haired hero has no choice but to create legions of stone protectors to defeat Zahr’s army of gargantuan golems.

The tutorial is cleverly disguised as Otto’s graduation day at the Shaper academy, focusing on how to summon and command guardians. Those familiar with Nintendo’s Pikmin (or Codemasters’ Overlord, if you prefer) will feel right at home as the control scheme is uncannily similar, allowing groups to be separated and given orders with minimal effort. Huge blocks need shoving, switches flicked, and path blocking rubble piles reduced to smaller piles of rubble. All in a day’s work for lower ranking guardians.

It’s here the Pikmin comparisons end. Masters of Anima is far more combat focused, and the guardians have vastly different skill sets to Nintendo’s colour-coded critters. Ingeniously, each of the five guardian types has unique skills to employ outside of combat, shifting the focus to exploration and puzzle solving when not engaged in battle.

RPG elements feature too, including an XP system and unlockable skills such as damage boosts and the ability to roll out of harm’s way. It’s clear a degree of thought has gone into upgrades as the benefits are immediately noticeable, enhancing chances of acquiring an elusive ‘S rank’ at the end of each battle. In fact, Masters of Anima doesn’t fall short in any area – every aspect feels polished, refined, and substantial. This is one trim package, with no flab or filler. Even the fixed camera system works perfectly, keeping track of the action from a quasi-isometric angle.

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Apr 09
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

So far this year the weekly UK chart has been a case of all or nothing – quiet spells and flurries of activity. This week is a quiet spell, following last week’s dearth of new releases.

The top three remains unchanged, meaning Far Cry 5 celebrates a second week on top.

That’s followed by FIFA 18 and Sea of Thieves. We’d wager some are surprised to see SoT performing well.

At #4 it’s another Xbox exclusive – Forza Motorsport 7. A price drop to the £20 mark propels the ravishing racer back up to #4.

Incidentally, a price cut for Star Wars Battlefront II – presumably to tie-in with The Last Jedi’s home release – has helped the controversial shooter re-enter the top 40 at #16.

Going back to the top ten, PUBG and Call of Duty: WWII hold onto #5 and #6 respectively.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe fell three places to #7, GTA V moved up two places to #8, while Super Mario Odyssey re-joins the top ten at #9.

Then at #10 it’s good old Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, up from #12. We wonder if last week’s Spyro announcement generated a few extra sales.

As for other recent releases, Burnout Paradise Remastered sees a slump, falling from #16 to #28. Kirby Star Allies is making a swift descent too, dropping from #20 to #32.

Apr 05
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

A slightly smaller assortment of Switch titles lies before us this week. Much like this week’s Xbox One and PS4 line-up, there’s no big-name game to speak of – just a dozen indies vying for attention.

The Trials Fusion-alike Urban Trial Playground (£17.99) is available from today as a download, with a physical release to follow at the end of the month. Review scores are positive so far, with the amount of content in particular being praised. GameSpew awarded it 7/10, while Nintendo Life opted for an 8/10.

“Tactile controls and pacy, highly replayable levels make this an accomplished cut-price racer package,” said NL.

At the time of typing, Nintendo Life are the only site to review 2D platformer Spartan (£9.89), and the four-player shooter Super Rocket Shootout (£8.99), dishing out a 6/10 and a 7/10 (respectively).

Spartan was compared to Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts, but ultimately, NL felt there are better ways to spend your money. Super Rocket Shootoutmeanwhile was called an “excellent party game package” and in fact worthy of an 8/10 if you have three friends to take on.

Metropolis: Lux Obscura (£7.19) is one we’ve covered ourselves. It’s a ‘mature’ match-three puzzler, featuring comic book cut-scenes packed with nudity, violence and swear words. It’s very short, taking just around an hour to finish, but there are four different paths through the story. A little hard to recommend, in all – we felt it was only worthy of 4/10.

A conversion of D/Generation (£9.99) is easily this week’s biggest surprise. The original wowed Amiga, Atari ST and PC gamers way back in 1991, with the CD32 version being one of the few reasons to own the failed CD system. It’s a cyberpunk adventure set in the far-flung future (2021!), with puzzle elements. This remake packs in new save system, improved visuals, and new music.

As for new Switch discounts, Layers of Fear: Legacy (£15.29), League of Evil (£5.75), Xeodrifter (£4.49), The Jackbox Party Pack (£12.34) are all on offer this week.

3DS owners curious about Detective Pikachu can also give a demo a whirl from today.

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