There’s a Hong Kong-based online retailer where, hidden away from the official console bundles and realms of third party peripherals, there’s a peculiar section titled “Other videogame consoles”. Here you’ll find a variety of dubious looking handhelds of all shapes and sizes, pre-loaded with hacks of NES games and more.
We don’t condone piracy here at Games Asylum – hence the lack of a link to the website in question – but the consoles found here are so brilliantly bizarre that we couldn’t resist taking a thorough look. Most of these devices don’t even have proper names, let alone adequate descriptions, so we’ve taken the liberty with some of them.
If curiosity gets the better of you, it shouldn’t be hard to spot the website’s name from the watermarks.
“Angry Birds ZH-398”
Costing less than £10, we very much doubt that the “Angry Birds ZH-398” has a particularly high build quality. Well known games such as Zumba, Plants vs Zombies, Pac-Man and “Anger Birds” are shown on the main menu. It’s existence is sure to anger Rovio, that’s for sure.
It’s impossible to tell if the 32 games it contains are genuine or bootleg clones, but we assume the latter.
Borderlands 2 has been creating a buzz ever since it was first announced.
Reviews suggest the hype hasn’t been for nothing. UK magazine GamesMaster had the first review, where it bagged a resounding 95%. That was then followed up with a 9.0 from IGN. “Borderlands 2 preserves the best parts of the franchise while also making numerous, much needed improvements to areas like narrative and class skill design. Additional visual customization options would make it better, and the occasional technical issue takes away from the experience, but overall this is an excellent shooter no one even remotely curious should overlook”, they said.
According to 2K’s blurb there are now 87 bazillion different weapons. The Simpson’s Moe Sizlack would approve.
As well as the standard version there’s a collector’s edition that comes with a bobblehead, stickers and an artbook. GAME was also offering the ‘Ultimate Loot Chest Edition’ which comes in a replica loot chest but that’s now sold out.
If the reviews of Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 are to be believed then the series is back on top form. IGN gave it 8.5 claiming that it “feels like a game with a sense of identity and direction”. The Official Xbox Magazine meanwhile gave it an 8.0, pointing out the improved player control and visuals. There’s not one but two demos available to try out. A FIFA 13 demo is also available now for those who want to compare the two.
It’s out on just about every format – even PlayStation 2. TheHut currently has the Wii version for £14.95 and the 3DS version for £19.95.
F1 2012 reviews appeared on Monday too. Eurogamer found it to be good, but not a massive improvement. “It’s another small step forward for the series, but that’s not quite enough to dispel the suspicion that Codemasters’ F1 team doesn’t have the resources to create iterations compelling or different enough to justify the annual churn”. They award it a 7/10. Videogamer.com liked it a bit more, giving it an 8/10. They did agree though there hasn’t been any major changes this year.
Having already been released on the original PSP, in our eyes the PS Vita version of LittleBigPlanet consequently doesn’t quite feel like a system seller. It’s still worth a look though. EDGE’s 9/10 review has vanished off the face of the internet, but they did say that the “5 inch OLED screen is a chance to see Media Molecule’s staggering achievement afresh, and to witness one of this generation’s most intriguing engines of creativity at its most energetic and effective.” It has received plenty of other 9/10s too, such as this one from Polygon. GamesRadar didn’t enjoy using the rear touch-screen very much, but still gave it a glowing review.
Then we have a trio of less than full-price releases – The Testament of Sherlock Holmes on PS3, 360 and PC, Funky Barn on 3DS and the Xbox Live Collection Pack from Ubisoft. That last one contains Beyond Good & Evil HD, From Dust & Outland and can be found for around £14.99 online. All three are very good games, although since the pack was first revealed (way back in January) all three have been on offer at various times on XBLA at vastly cut prices.
Kinect Sesame Street TV and Nat Geo TV also cost less than your standard release. Oddly, the online retailers claim that they’re out today (Tuesday). Nat Geo TV is by Brighton-based Relentless Software, who created the Buzz! series for Sony while Microsoft Soho is responsible for Sesame Street. They’ve got quite a job on their hands to better the surprisingly good Once Upon a Monster.
As for downloads, XBLA owners get Jet Set Radio HD and Fire Pro Wrestling (out Friday) while 2D adventure game LA-MULANA arrives on WiiWare. There’s a trailer of that here. The publisher behind it is also releasing Abyss on DSiWare this week, which looks a bit like an underwater version of Thurst.
We think we would rather have had Fire Pro Wrestling in 2D, like the older versions, but we’ll reserve judgment for now.
Next week: World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria (PC), FIFA 13 (Everything), Dead or Alive 5 (PS3, 360), Family Guy: Back to the Multiverse (PS3, 360), Mugen Souls (PS3), Puzzler World 2012 3D (3DS), Rocksmith (PS3, 360, PC) and Thundercats (DS).
There have been so many leaks over the past few days that the only new games to be shown during Microsoft’s E3 conference were a handful of Xbox Live Arcade titles along with some Nike fitness software.
Even Ubisoft’s reasonably impressive looking Splinter Cell: Blacklist was ousted a few hours before the show.
Things kicked off with a live action Halo 4 video which involved a USNC ship coming under attack. Master Chief then finds himself on a jungle-like planet, which is where the footage then turned into an in-game demonstration. We saw Master Chief battling a new enemy – a bipedal scarab-like alien before then picking up a new weapon based on Forerunner technology. Halo 4 was shown later during the conference too to demonstrate Microsoft’s new Smart Glass app. This app turns “any” mobile device into a second screen for the Xbox 360, much like Wii U GamePad. We saw Halo multi-player options being selected on a touch screen device and also a list of Madden 13 team formations being played around with.
EA’s sporting titles were shown very early on with a focus on Kinect voice controls for both FIFA 13 and Madden 13, which was demonstrated by American football hall of famer Joe Montana.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist saw Sam Fisher in a desert base and dressed in desert camo, taking out enemies with some slick melee combat. During one section the words ‘execute ready’ appeared on screen. Enemies can also be distracted by shouting into the Kinect mic. We also saw Sam Fisher climbing up a wall in a very Assassin’s Creed-style nature. Mercs vs Spies death-matches were confirmed.
Demos of Tomb Raider and Resident Evil 6 – the only Japanese-developed game on show – also impressed. Tomb Raider didn’t feature any tombs to speak of, instead opting for some Uncharted-style adventuring. Lara took down several enemies using a humble bow and arrow, and also plunged down a rapid river behind landing inside the cockpit of a wrecked airplane.
Resident Evil 6 had a very cinematic feel also – we saw Leon running from an inferno caused by an airplane crashing into a tower block. In the background of the conference we spotted a screen mention that all Resident Evil 6 DLC would be free on Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 will also be getting Tomb Raider DLC first. Let’s hope it’s not just an avatar outfit, eh?
Forza Horizon – which is being developed by staff members behind Project Gotham and Blur – has a release date of October 23rd. It’s an open world affair, just like Burnout Paradise and Test Drive Unlimited, and set in Colorado. Some of our Twitter followers are excited about the prospect of it being free roaming while others are not. Eurogamer has a very good preview available to read right now.
Fable: The Journey was shown in trailer form, which to much amusement ended with the player performing a Street Fighter-style ‘Hadouken’ move. Another Kinect game shown as Wreckateer which entails firing projectiles at castles. Visually it’s very bright and colourful. We don’t have long to wait for it either – it’s part of the Summer of Arcade line-up.
Those other previously unannounced arcade games? Racer Loco Cycle from Twisted Pixel, which had a very Tron-like look to it, and fantasy brawler Ascend: New Gods from the Toy Soldiers guys. There was also Matter, of which very little was shown. That’s for Kinect too.
Trailers for Loco Cycle and Matter can be found below:
Gears of War Judgement would have been a surprise if US publication Game Informer didn’t tell the world last week that it’s this month’s cover game. It’s set 15 years before the original and stars Cole and Baird. There’s going to be a character class-based multi-player mode much like Team Fortress 2, including mechanics, soldiers and medics. Polish developers People Can Fly are at the helm who worked on Bulletstorm. If you haven’t played that yet, then this news is the ideal reason to.
The highlight for us was seeing South Park’s Trey Stone and Matt Parker go on stage to talk about South Park: Stick of Truth. Their speech was an impromptu performance involving some mick-taking at the expense of the only just unveiled Smart Glass app. Stick of Truth is going to have Xbox 360 exclusive DLC and also exclusive pre-order incentives. It’s out 5th March 2013.
Sticking to what they know, Harmonix also showed Dance Central 3 which was demonstrated by Usher. We wish that Harmonix would make a new Frequency or Amped for the likes of 3DS and PS Vita, but we guess there’s still money to be made from dancing games.
The conference ended with Call of Duty: Black Ops II gameplay footage. We have to say the fantasy elements about this one do appeal, even if it the storyline has more than a slight whiff of Terminator 2: Judgment Day about it.
Capcom seemingly learnt nothing from the forgettable Resident Evil: Outbreak series on PlayStation 2 – Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City has been getting some terrible reviews, including a 3/10 from gamesTM. GamesMaster also reviewed it this month but didn’t give it a score as they weren’t able to play it online. They did however point out that the single-player mode is not worth buying it for and your AI team mates are so poorly programmed that they walk into laser tripwires and the like. IGN agreed with the AI issues, and gave it a 4.0.
IGN didn’t think much of Ninja Gaiden 3 either, which they dished out a 3.0 for. They seem to be in the minority though – both the Official Xbox 360 Magazine and CVG gave it an 8. It’s a lot easier than the previous Ninja Gaiden games, but the multi-player modes feel a little clunky. It needs an online pass too, although free DLC is due somewhen.
Kid Ikarus: Uprising is one that Nintendo has been working on for a long time. That time has paid off, with review scores including a 9 from Eurogamer, an 8 from EDGE and an 8.5 from IGN. Destuctoid on the other hand gave it a 5/10. “Kid Icarus: Uprising is equal parts tremendous and terrible, with a fine line clearly separating the two distinct territories,” they said. With the Metacritic average standing at 84, Destuctoid’s review would appear to be rather harsh on it.
Then we’ve got mech shooter Armored Core V, which scored at 6 from The Official Xbox Magazine and a 7 from GamesRadar. Designing mechs is good fun, said GamesRadar, but the PlayStation 3 version apparently suffers from frame rate issues.
PokéPark 2: Wonders Beyond is another with mixed reviews – The Metro’s GameCentral said it’s far too shallow and similar to the first game and gave it a 3/10. The Official Nintendo Magazine agreed that it’s too alike to the first game but still gave it 70% anyway.
Another casual game? Oh go on then. Kinect Rush: A Disney-Pixar Adventure is one which Microsoft has been curiously quiet about. The first review to appear was a rather nice 78% from German site GamingXP. They suggested that Disneyland Adventures was a better purchase though as that’s a little bit nicer presented.
Next week: Ridge Racer Unbounded (PS3, 360, PC), Silent Hill: Downpour (PS3, 360), Silent Hill HD Collection (PS3, 360), Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 (PS3, 360), Warriors Orochi 3 (PS3, 360), Capcom Digital Collection (360), Just Dance Best Of (Wii), Nickelodeon Dance (Wii), Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations (PS3, 360), Cats & Dogs 3D: Pets at Play (3DS) and Farming Simulator 3D (3DS).
Our Kinect has been dusted off and the living room furniture has been moved around. This can only mean one thing – a new free game has been added to Kinect Fun Labs.
The catalogue of gadgets on Kinect Fun Labs is quite large now, but most aren’t worth your time other than to unlock the incredibly easy achievements that they contain. This makes Junk Fu the rarest of things – it’s worthy of your time, energy and hard drive space.
Junk objects, including broken CRT monitors and goldfish bowls still with fish bones inside, move down a conveyor belt and it’s your job to chop and kick them before they fall off the end. The amount of calories you’ve burnt off while doing so is shown on the right of the screen. Once a milestone has been hit a bonus round occurs and the conveyor belt becomes filled with supersized junk food, ready to be swiped to bits.
As the game progresses the conveyor turns quicker and the music – which plays on a ten second or so loop – also becomes faster. Now here’s the thing that makes Junk Fu not quite as easy as it sounds – some items have to be chopped diagonally while others horizontally. This not only stops it from being a simple case of waving your arms around aimlessly, but also turns it into a memory test as you only have a few seconds to observe the direction an item needs to be chopped.
Fellow freebie Battle Stuff – which turns household objects into fighting machines, and uses a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ battle system – is a better use of the Kinect technology, and this won’t get you in shape like some of the fitness packages promise to, but we can’t imagine anybody not getting a little bit of fun out of this one.
This’ll be the third year running that we’ve rounded up Metacritic’s worst games of the year, so we assume it’s a tradition for us now. This year though we’ve left out downloadable games because otherwise this article would be based mostly on incredibly bad DSiWare and WiiWare games, of which there have been many. For the record though statistically the worst game of the year is 101-in-1 Explosive Mix on WiiWare clocking in with a mere 16%. That’s 0.15% per game! Real classy work, Nordcurrent.
This year’s round-up looks remarkably similar to what last year gave us – a few Kinect games, a handful of movie tie-ins and some other low-budget guff. EA showed themselves up last year – they were responsible for two of the worst games of 2010 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the download-only Dead Space Ignition) but this year there are zero EA games present. Activision has taken a bad turn though – nothing they released made the list last year, but this time round three of their games have sullied shop shelves across the land.
Atlus’s The Cursed Crusade on Xbox 360 and Actvision’s Wipeout: In the Zone on Kinect both gained a 39% average. The Cursed Crusade may have been set during one of history’s more exciting periods but the developers failed to capture the essence of medieval brutality, giving us a dull and clichéd hack and slasher. Wipeout on the other hand has nothing to do with everybody’s favourite futuristic racer (or at least, everybody’s favourite that isn’t called F-Zero) and everything to do with the humiliating TV game show.
The DS and Wii versions of Thor: God of Thunder are apparently not too bad but the Xbox 360 and PS3 version were lacking in every respect and clocked in with a 38% average. Polish? Thor knows not of this mystical thing – some enemies merely wobbled from side to side when hit, as if their feet were attached to the floor with springs. The worrying thing is that it’s not the worst movie tie-in of the year.
Ubisoft has been knocking out CSI games from as far back as the days of PlayStation 2 but NCIS on Xbox 360 was clearly their worst yet with 36%, panned for sloppy visuals, predictable plot and mini-games which Gamespot described as “childish”.
X-Men Destiny was from the creators of Too Human you say? We would never have guessed it. The DS version scored the worst out of the bunch with a 33% average but the Wii version wasn’t far behind with 36%. Nintendo fans weren’t the only ones getting a bum deal though – even the Xbox 360 version only had an average of 48%.
With 32% 505 Games’s Blackwater is the second Kinect game on Metacritic’s (s)hit list. When it was first announced we were mildly excited about the prospect of playing a light-gun-style on-rails shooter with the Kinect, using over arm throws to lob grenades and such. Then the first review appeared online and it wasn’t pretty – a 1/10 from GamesRadar. The Official Xbox Magazine quite liked it though, giving it a 7/10. Their positive review stands out like a sore thumb when compared to other websites’ reviews.
The first Kung Fu Panda game was surprisingly good. The license changed hands from Activision to THQ for Kung Fu Panda 2: The Video Game and anybody expecting it to be similarly good will have have been disappointed. The Metacritic score stands at just 31% for the PlayStation 3 version with GameReactor claiming its shortness to be a good thing.
And now we’re down to the real dregs – the final three. And lo and behold, it’s a movie tie-in – Activision’s 3DS version of Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Stealth Force Edition. With a 30% average reviewers universally agreed that it was a bad game but they couldn’t agree on the control system. The Official Nintendo Magazine said that the controls were the best aspect while Nintendo World Report claimed it was the worst thing about it. Then there’s Nintendojo’s bizarre verdict: “Even if you are the most hardcore Transformers fan, this is a game to pass up. If you’re a Stealthforcer fan, then by all means, get this game – I’m sure you’ll love it,” they said before giving it a paltry 25%. What?
Duke Nukem raises his head in second place but it’s not Duke Nukem Forever as you may expect but rather Deep Silver’s Duke Nukem: Critical Mass on DS with 29%. A deal was penned for three handheld Duke Nukem games back in 2009. After a troubled development what stumbled out to very little promotion was an amateurish 2D run and gunner. The PSP version was apparently going be third-person but quietly canned.
So, here we have Metacritic’s worst game of 2011. Or rather the worst retail game of 2011 seeing as we bent the rules slightly. It’s Ubisoft’s Self-Defense Training Camp on Kinect with a mighty 21% average score. Worth Playing sums it up quite nicely: “Just steer clear of this one and always remember to carry some pepper spray – not to ward off muggers, but to spray in the face of anyone who tries to tell you this is a worthwhile title.”
A can of imitation Red Bull and a packet of fizzy sweets lead to us starting a daft topic on Twitter – fake achievements for the very real Twister Mania for Kinect. Behold our sugar rush induced musings:
Got off the sofa! (North America only) – 15G
Don’t guff in your girlfriend’s face – 30G
Arouse a member of the same sex – 50G
Undo a female player’s bra without her noticing – 100G
Start a small fire – 30G
Accidentally discover where your Aunty buys her underwear from – 5G
A few fellow followers then decided to join in with our tomfoolery:
“Accidentally brush something. On purpose – 25G” @Gazz_Brown
“Explain to your friends why you bought Twister Mania – 100G” @Robert88UK
“Play Twister Mania with someone in a wheelchair without having them out of their chair and complete the game – 200G” @ONLYUSEmeFEET
Last time we visited the free to download Kinect Fun Labs we were left feeling more than a little disappointed. Although the presentation of the gadgets it contains was imaginative in places, you’d have to be a special case to want to play around with any of them for longer than ten minutes.
Since then some extra gadgets have appeared.
Air Band sounds promising initially, but it has as much in common with the likes of Rock Band and Guitar Hero as a potato has. Pretend to play a guitar, drum kit or electric piano and the respective instrument appears in your hands on the screen. A bit like those annoying Talk Talk adverts that they show between advert breaks during the X-Factor. The rhythm of the music will change accordingly and that’s about it, really. Pointless.
Mutation Station offers a little more longevity, but we’re talking literally minutes here. It’s like messing around with the mirrors found inside a fun house that alter your refection, making you appear to be super slim or have a head the size of a walnut. The developers have decided to style the menus around a science lab instead of a fun house though. You can upload photos and videos onto Kinect Share for others to see, although this isn’t a feature unique to Mutation Station – all of the Fun Labs gadgets have this facility.
But what’s this? Battle Stuff is actually quite good. A sort of modern day version of the Barcode Battler only you scan objects in and let them fight. It’s the best gadget yet as it’s the first piece of Fun Labs software that features ‘gameplay’ (for want of a better word). The fights uses a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ system in which you’re asked to either attack, guard or grab by moving your body accordingly. Guard beats attack, grab beats guard and if both fighters pick the same move a tie-breaker takes place. Scanned objects are rendered with tiny little blocks that shatter all over the canvas when you take a hit – by the end of a fight both fighters stand a crumbling wreck.
We’re quite impressed with how Battle Stuff has turned out considering it’s a freebie. We would have liked it even more though if a random move was chosen when the Kinect can’t work out what pose you’re making, instead of letting you stand there and be beaten to a pulp of pixels.