Tagged "Castlevania Anniversary Collection"

May 22
By Matt Gander In Retro, Reviews No Comments

Browsing the menu for this eagerly awaited collection is akin to opening a ‘Mars & Friends’ selection box at Christmas time. With so many delectable treats on offer, it’s difficult to know where to start.

There’s a trio of time-tested favourites – the Snickers, Twix, and Milky Way (the original NES trilogy), which instantly satisfy. For those with a more exotic palate, the Bounty and Topic (the Game Boy’s Castlevania: The Adventure and Castlevania II Belmont’s Revenge) are waiting. Of course, many will make a quick grab for celebrated Mars bar (Super Castlevania IV) – an often imitated but never beaten classic.

But what’s this? As your eyes glaze over the selection, your attention is drawn to the seldom seen bag of Revels (the never re-released Castlevania: Bloodlines). If you haven’t experienced its peculiar delights before, chances are you’ll find its uniqueness pleasing.

Mars, Incorporated (Konami) has even thrown in something bright, inviting, and colourful for the younger crowd – a packet of Starburst (the previously Japan-only, noncanonical, Famicom platformer Kid Dracula).

It all amounts to one appealing, moreish, package. The bad news is that it isn’t a fully comprehensive collection. Due to being re-released as a double pack on PS4 late last year, Symphony of the Night and Rondo of Blood are missing. Their omission is understandable, especially given this collection’s modest £15.99 price tag. Indeed, Castlevania Anniversary Collection can be perceived as a bargain.

The only real duffer here is 1989’s Castlevania: The Adventure, a rather simplistic affair with memorable music being its only noteworthy feature. Initially, we thought the emulation was shoddy, but it turns out it’s notorious for slowdown. 1991’s Castlevania II Belmont’s Revenge fares better. Not quite a hidden gem, but a huge improvement over the original all the same. The display options for these two are pretty neat – they can be displayed in black and white, with an authentic Dot Matrix green screen tint, or with a splash of Super Game Boy-style colour. As per the rest of the titles present, scanlines and frames (borders) are also an option.

There’s just one small issue with the presentation: a limit of a paltry single save file per title. This isn’t a huge issue when playing the likes of the original Castlevania and Kid Dracula, but many of the later entries in the series have branching paths and a choice of playable characters, so if you want to experiment or have multiple playthroughs on the go at once, you’re out of luck.

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May 16
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Sniper Elite V2 Remastered on Switch isn’t the first Sniper Elite game to grace a Nintendo platform – the original version launched on Wii U in 2013, where it sold so poorly that it’s now one of the hardest PAL games to find for the system. The cheapest pre-owned copy on Amazon is currently a stonking £55.

In comparison, the £29.99 asking price for this week’s Switch remaster seems an absolute steal. While reviewers are in agreement that it’s a decent remaster, in terms of the visual upgrade, it’s apparently starting to show its age in a few areas. Nintendo Life awarded it a 6/10, stating that “while its long-range action is as gripping as ever, the more traditional run-and-gun sections stick out like a sore thumb, and the absense of auto-saving can lead to some frustrating moments.”

SEGA’s Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder also comes rocking its way this week. We have something of a soft spot for this series – it’s Super Monkey Ball goes tower defence, with a dollop of Monty Python-style humour. The first review out the door is an 8/10 from GameSpace who praised its pick-up-and-play value but warned of small text in handheld mode.

Blades of Time is another lesser-known title receiving a belated Switch release this week. This hack and slasher dates back to 2012, and to be fair, it wasn’t exactly top-tier stuff back then. Echoing this, Digitally Downloaded could only muster a 1/5 review score for this re-release. “Time hasn’t been good to Blades of Time, and other than for the morbidly curious, I can’t see anyone being masochistic enough to derive any value out of it,” they said.

Then we have the sandbox crime spree Thief Simulator, which Nintendo Life described as a cross between Thief and Payday 2. If you’re up for something different, it seems to be worth a look. “While it’s not the prettiest of games and it soon starts repeating itself, the sense of freedom you’re given to rob neighbourhoods full of unsuspecting victims is still an intriguing one,” was NL’s verdict.

Castlevania Anniversary Collection is definitely the most anticipated release of the week, bringing together Castlevania, Castlevania II Simon’s Quest, Castlevania III Dracula’s Curse, Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania The Adventure, Castlevania II Belmont’s Revenge, Castlevania Bloodlines, Kid Dracula.

We’ve started to sink our teeth into the Xbox One version and can safely say it’s well worth the £15.99 asking price. Konami has announced today that the Japanese versions are being added at a later date too. Result!

The full line-up of new releases can be found below. Other highlights include Arcade Archives Buta san, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R, and the futuristic racer Redout – a game once feared cancelled.

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May 14
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

If you’re under the impression the gaming scene is currently going through a quiet spell then maybe this week’s assortment of new releases will change your mind.

Tuesday alone sees three releases of varying hotness, in the form of the eagerly awaited Rage 2, the bleak story-driven European adventure A Plague Tale: Innocence, and a ravishing remaster of Sniper Elite V2 – a fan favourite entry in the series.

After reading through reviews of all three (we haven’t played any of this week’s new releases for ourselves yet) we can deduct that Rage 2 boasts brilliant and satisfying gunplay – building on DOOM 2016’s foundations – but the world building falls flat and mission objectives soon become dull. Sniper Elite V2’s remaster brings the visuals up to current standard but it’s showing its age in the AI and level design departs, while A Plague Tale: Innocence is surprisingly polished – even gaining comparisons to Ninja Theory’s work – but the stealth mechanics let it down slightly. It still sounds excellent, mind.

Castlevania Anniversary Collection – due out on Thursday – is another anticipated release, bringing together the original Castlevania (NES), Castlevania 2: Belmont’s Revenge (Game Boy), Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse (NES), Super Castlevania 4 (SNES), Castlevania The Adventure (Game Boy), Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest (NES), Castlevania Bloodlines (Mega Drive), and Kid Dracula (Famicom). That last entry was only ever released in Japan (although it did gain a GameBoy adaptation).

While this may sound like a tempting package, word has it that only features the ROMs for a single region, so if you were hoping to play the Japanese versions you’re out of luck.

Thursday also sees the launch of Bubsy: Paws on Fire. The fact that it’s launching the same week as Rage somehow feels apt. All joking aside, this comes from the minds of the BIT.TRIP series, so it stands a chance of being the first ever decent Bubsy game.

What could possibly go wrong?

PS4 owners can also get involved with Shakedown: Hawaii’s top-down chaos, while the Dragon’s Lair Trilogy makes a belated Xbox One appearance. Over on the Switch, meanwhile, there’s Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Edition and Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut to consider.

New release showcase:

Rage 2

Reviews:
8.0 – IGN: Though Avalanche hasn’t quite figured out what makes a world feel alive and dynamic or how to make good use of its vehicles, it absolutely nails the moment-to-moment combat thanks to a Doom-inspired energetic pace that few shooters manage to pull off. Combined with a steady stream of great weapons, abilities, and upgrades, its firefights are constantly reinvigorated even as mission objectives become repetitive.

4/5 – US Gamer: In Rage 2, you move fast and kill faster. It’s the synthesis between id Software’s 2016 reboot of Doom and Avalanche Studios’ Mad Max, bringing together some of the best ideas from both. Moment-to-moment play on foot is fantastic with each weapon and ability just opening up your options for destruction. Driving could be improved and it’s a little on the shorter side, but Rage 2 is a damned good time.

7.5 – GameSpace: Rage 2 is a great game for the right reasons. If you’re looking for a game with a phenomenal story, you’re in the wrong place. The story is boring to me, and rather short at 13 hours of leisurely gameplay. At the very least it doesn’t drop off the planet like Rage did. Gameplay is fun, and vehicle combat works well, giving you an open world Mad Max-esque experience that is simply enjoyable and hard to put down.

3.5/5 – ATOF: As a shooter Rage 2 is incredible. It’s everything around that core competency that brings the game down. A lack of narrative, world building, and questionable design decisions in terms of progression leave the experience feeling flat.

6/10 – GameSpot: Rage 2 is at its best when you’re given the chance to keep up a gratifying momentum in combat, but struggles to setup the scenarios its combat deserves. It’s satisfying in the way clearing out an open-world checklist is, especially because powers are such a joy to use. The disappointment comes from the fact that those activities are rudimentary in nature and the decent ones end well before you get your fill.

Sniper Elite V2 Remastered

Reviews:
9/10 – Xbox Tavern: Overlooking the occasional technical fault, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is well worth your time and attention, especially if you’re a fan of the series. The game bundles together the core experience and all its pre-existing DLC, complete with additional extras and wonderfully remastered visuals. Comparing it to its original version is truly night and day, and it remains every bit as deep, as action-packed, and as brutally delicious as it ever was.

7.5 – PSU: Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is a solid remaster that allows you to experience the campaign, DLC levels, and visceral, satisfying shooting the game is known for again in 2019. Some aspects of the game have not seen much of an upgrade if any upgrade at all, with the game’s AI and the audio system showing its age. Despite that, the game is an enjoyable way to hop back into Rebellion’s classic franchise.

6/10 – The Metro: There are still problems with artificial intelligence and level design, but despite its age this is still one of the best sniper games around.

5/10 – Push Square: Sniper Elite V2 Remastered isn’t a terrible game, but it feels outdated and completely outclassed in 2019. While its x-ray exterminations are still appealing, it’s just about the only factor making up this package that could turn one’s head in today’s world. Simply put, there are just so many better experiences you could have through the scope of a sniper rifle, including those sequels that make up the very franchise in question.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Reviews:
9/10 – PSU: Arguably one of the best surprises of the PS4 release calendar so far this year, A Plague Tale: Innocence is the sort of effort one might well have expected from Hellblade developer Ninja Theory – as this game bears that studio’s penchant for deftly combining big budget spectacle with great storytelling and remarkably robust genre mechanics.

8/10 – GameSpot: Powerfully ghoulish depictions of the plague and rats aside, Innocence is ultimately an emotive story of resilience against harrowing odds.

7.0 – IGN: A Plague Tale: Innocence has a great story, but the gameplay has a level of convenience that undercuts the perilous world.

3.5/5 – GamesRadar: Its pace is slightly too uneven, but A Plague Tale: Innocence has flashes of potential

6/10 – Push Square: A Plague Tale: Innocence deserves respect for daring to be different, funnelling you through a bleak European backdrop that’s seldom seen. Despite some neat ideas, though, the stealth and puzzle mechanics drag, and the story can’t quite make up its mind about what it wants to be. Furthermore, while the presentation is spectacular, the project lacks polish in key areas and overstays its welcome at times.

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