nespower
Dec 02
By Matt Gander In Features No Comments

When Nintendo revealed the NES Classic Mini, ergo its game library, retro fans were delighted to discover dozens of third-party hits being included. It was as if Nintendo were finally acknowledging the fact that it wasn’t just their own software that made the NES a success, but also the likes of Mega Man, Castlevania and Contra. It’s an acknowledgement we’ve waited a lifetime for.

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Playing with Power: Nintendo NES Classics – an officially sanctioned product, published by Prima – is clearly being released to tie-in with the nostalgia storm the NES Classic Mini has created. Yet, it’s one step backwards.

It focuses solely on first-party games, and is written in a similar manner to the now defunct US publication Nintendo Power, as well as other typically hyperbolic in-house produced material.

The pages even look and feel like something from a ‘80s magazine, with chunky fonts and blurry screenshots printed on low-quality paper. Sadly, we don’t believe this was intentional.

The back cover promises to take us through three eras of NES history, which soon emerges to be something of a half-truth. This is a compendium of game guides, rather than a detailed history of the NES. Although there are a few features present, they come up short of expectations. The behind the scenes chat with Shigeru Miyamoto regarding Super Mario Bros. 3’s creation is a fine example, spanning a single page.

There’s also a “priceless” (to quote Prima) teardown of the NES itself, lifted from the pages of Nintendo Power. This is a tad more interesting as it shows how far technology has come since the days of 72 pin connectors.

Other features are simply baffling, such as the multiple page look at what’s inside a GamePak. It’s without a single photo of a cartridge PCB, using dull textbook-style images of ROM chips to illustrate instead.

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The writers – Garrit Rocha and Nick von Esmarch – stumble elsewhere. It’s a wildly accepted fact that nobody knows the release date of Super Mario Bros. in the US. The NES had a staggered launch as the videogame market was left fragile after the infamous 1984 market crash. Nintendo provided retailers with NES consoles on a ‘sale or return’ basis and even paid to set-up lavish displays in their stores.

The ‘soft launch’ is mentioned here in mild detail, but it’s also stated that Super Mario Bros. arrived on launch day – 18th October 1985. This is something that has never been confirmed, not even by Nintendo. It’s believed SMB arrived during the NES’s second wave of titles in November, but nobody has been able to clarify the actual date.

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preview_screenshot2_503551
Dec 01
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

There was a time when publishers refused to release games in December, believing that it was far wiser to release them in October and November alongside umpteen others. This year’s winter line-up has been far more stagnated however, with games spread further apart. Right into December, in fact – Dead Rising 4 and The Last Guardian release next week.

Rewinding back a couple of days, Final Fantasy XV launched on Tuesday, making it the final big release of November. Reviews are generally full of praise, but critics did warn that you shouldn’t expect perfection – signs of its ten-year development cycle are apparent, and the changes made to appeal to franchise newcomers won’t be to everybody’s taste. Stick with it, take the rough with the smooth and you’ll eventually be rewarded – that’s the consensus.

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Don’t expect to see reviews of Steep prior to release. Review copies aren’t going out to press until launch day due to Ubisoft wanting the online multiplayer components to be fully populated before critics get their hands on it. Early impressions were favourable enough, though.

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atarihd
Nov 30
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

After rattling the cages of retro fans with such inept endeavours as Asteroids: Outpost, Haunted House: Cryptic Graves and Alone in the Dark: Illumination, Atari has finally put their back catalogue to a more sensible use by bundling a bunch of classics together for these two budget ($19.99) complications. Let’s just ignore the fact that all 100 games present could easily fit on a single disc.

We did consider giving each volume its own review, but after spending time with both it emerged that they’re very similar in terms of quality and content, which would have ultimately resulted in identical review scores. That’s to say, each has its fair share of undisputable classics, a handful of curios and oddities and an awful lot of filler. It’s no mystery why both volumes are without a game list on the reverse of the case – each has a questionable amount of sports titles, with Vol 1 featuring no less than three American football sims.

Each volume is presented in the same way, right down to identical music on the main menu. Each arcade game has an online leaderboards and some feature online play – something we didn’t expect – plus screen display options and colour scans of box art and manuals. It’s telling that they’re scans – and not mock-ups – as if you look closely some boxes have visible marks where price stickers once were. We found this curiously pleasing, as it proves that developer Code Mystics (plug and play manufacture AT Games are also attributed, oddly) gained their sources from actual products.

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Both volumes feature 50 games – 9 arcade conversions, with the remaining 41 comprising of Atari 2600 titles. Tempest, Warlords, Centipede, Millipede, Asteroids, Missile Command, Gravitar, Super Breakout and Crystal Castles feature twice over as both their arcade and 2600 counterparts are present. While fine for sake of comprehensiveness, almost every single 2600 conversion was inferior to the real deal. The 2600’s rendition of Tempest was notoriously bad as the system was unable to recreate vector graphics.

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ffxb
Nov 29
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

All signs point to Final Fantasy XV making a few missteps in the name of appealing to newcomers and long-time fans alike. It still has the all-important heart and soul of a Final Fantasy game though, giving more than enough for players to reflect upon once the adventure is at an end.

It’s a game of highs and lows; a game that makes you take the rough with the smooth. It’s because of this that we’re yet to see a single 10/10 for the action RPG. Plenty of 9s and 8s have been dished out though, proving that it’s well worth becoming accustomed to its quirks.

The only truly negative review comes from The Metro. Their reviewer struggled to get past the fact that the story and character design – two key elements in any role-player, be it Final Fantasy or otherwise – left a lot to be desired.

Eurogamer’s scoreless review is also worth a read, again focusing on the story.

4.5/5 – GamesRadar: “Even when it stumbles, Final Fantasy 15’s ambitious open-world, fast-paced combat, and the humanity of its four leads make it a fascinating adventure to behold”

4.5/5 – Time: “Somehow they pulled it off. Don’t ask me how, but Final Fantasy XV is not the sputtering dumpster fire some worried was inbound after years of developmental tumult”

90/100 – Venture Beat: “Final Fantasy XV has its problems, but it’s filled with enough special moments that you can forgive the issues. The combat is fluid, thoughtful, and cinematic while the open world gives you a ton to do. If you hated Final Fantasy XIII because of its linearity and lack of anything to do outside of the main story, you’ll dig just how much stuff Final Fantasy XV has to offer”

9/10 – Destructoid: “In a way it’s silly that Square spent 10 years making this, and it feels like a really shiny version of something it would have actually made 10 years ago. While a complete overhaul of the genre would certainly suit someone’s needs, XV suits mine just fine”

9.0 – Polygon: “Final Fantasy 15 can be baffling in some of its questionable choices, but across the board, it hits more than it misses. It hums with an energy and compassion that I loved, a sense of camaraderie, friendship and adventure that fills an old and struggling formula with new relevance”

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3ds_7thdiii_2d_pack_gas
Nov 28
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

We don’t expect to see an eShop update as jammed packed as this week’s until well into 2017 – this Friday sees the last of this year’s major releases, including Super Mario Maker and Picross 3D: Round 2 from Nintendo themselves, plus two critically acclaimed JRPGs from Deep Silver.

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All four are due on the 3DS eShop this Friday. Super Mario Maker will set you back £34.99, as will both Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse and 7th Dragon III Code: VFD.

Picross 3D: Round 2’s digital release is slightly cheaper, at £29.99. A demo went live last week for those curious.

You can nab Shin Megami Tensei IV and 7th Dragon III Code for £31.49 each if you have 50 Gold Points in your My Nintendo account. Answering all those ridiculous questions in Miitomo has finally paid off.

Nintendo Life was full of praise for both JRPGs, awarding a lofty 9/10 to each. As for Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS, to give it its full name, we’re still waiting on reviews. Check back here later in the week.

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A couple of indie games are also en route to New 3DS. Specifically, Hyperlight EX (£4.99) – which appears to have much in common with the almighty Geometry Wars – and RCMADIAX’s ball bouncing Cup Critters (£1.39).

Things are a tad quieter on the Wii U. There’s a Virtual Console release of the cult classic Donkey Kong Jungle Beat for £17.99 (the Wii version rather than the GameCube original), plus RCMADIAX’s SHOOT THE BALL (£1.39) and what appears to be a Germany-only release of the cartoon tie-in Frag doch mal…die Maus! (€9.99).

A few Wii U games are discounted, too – Art of Balance (£5.36), Word Puzzles by POWGI (£6.39), Dragon Skills (£4.75) and Sweetest Thing (£3.84). On 3DS meanwhile Runny Egg and Ninja Battle Heroes can be had for £1.25 each, while Smash Cat Heroes is down to £1.39.

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Titanfall_2_WM_B
Nov 28
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

With just one title in the whole of the UK top 40 in the same position as last week, it’s fair to say that Black Friday has given the chart a significant shake-up. That game was GTA V at #9, if you’re curious.

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Almost every title in the top 40 saw a sales boost – per GfK figures, 1.9m games were sold for the week ending November 26th. That’s a 9% increase over last year’s Black Friday weekend.

MCV reports Watch_Dogs 2 performed better during its second week on sale than during launch week with sales up 5%.

PlayStation 4 console sales were also their highest since the system’s launch, prompting such pack-ins as Driveclub, Ratchet & Clank, The Last of Us and Uncharted 4 to re-enter the top 40.

Guitar Hero Live and DOOM meanwhile re-entered at #30 and #32 respectively. We expected DOOM to chart higher – most retailers were selling the gloriously grizzly shooter for a mere £15.

Even Nintendo had a record breaking week. Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon arrived at #3 and #4; if sales were combined, they would have taken the top spot. They had Nintendo’s biggest software launch since 2008’s Wii Fit, and also sold double the amount of 2014’s Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire at launch.

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warmastered2
Nov 23
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

THQ Nordic has picked the perfect time to release Darksiders: Warmastered Edition – both PS4 and Xbox One see very few new games this week. Coupled with an appealing £14.99 price tag, the hack ‘n slash adventure stands a very good chance of breaking the UK top 20 next Monday.

God is a Geek gave the ravishing remaster a 9.0. “The enhancements are noticeable immediately. Joe Madureira’s art-style paints the decayed world in vibrant shades of red, blue and violet; characters are bold and bright, and the lighting can be mesmerising at times. Optimised to hold 60fps (most of the time), the Warmastered Edition is slick and fluid. The original was marred by slowdown, texture pop-in and screen-tear, all of which have been eradicated now” they said.

Blot Gaming was smitten with it too, giving it a 9.1. “Considering the price, the game itself, and the actual increase in visual spectacle, there is no reason not to get this game” was their verdict.

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Sadly, the Wii U version has gone AWOL – it’s still coming, THQ Nordic assures, but there’s no release date yet. We have an inkling that it’s going to end up as a Switch launch title.

While the Wii U is certainly short on software this Christmas, Nintendo does at least have the NES Classic Mini and Pokémon Sun/Moon to fill their coffers with cash. As our review round-up revealed, Sun and Moon reinvigorates the franchise in an incredibly successful manner, adding new content and putting some significant twists on the classic Pokemon formula. It’s bound to delight newcomers and veterans alike.

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Nov 21
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

The last couple of UK Nintendo eShop updates have been worryingly slim on content. This week puts an end to that – Pokémon Sun and Moon are here, while the Wii U gets three new indies and an unexpected Virtual Console release.

Next week is set to be equally busy too, with Super Mario Maker 3DS, 7th Dragon III Code VFD, 3DS Picross 3D Round 2 and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse all due. Hopefully something for Wii U owners, too.

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Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon hit the eShop on Wednesday for £39.99.

We imagine fans would prefer to go physical with this one – GAME are throwing in an Alola art card while steel book editions are still available. It’s cheaper at retail too, with Amazon’s pre-order price currently at £32.

The 3DS’s Animal Crossing: New Leaf (£34.99) gets a re-release too, including the free update. Again, you would be better off going physical for this one – the Animal Crossing: New Leaf – Welcome Amiibo! and Amiibo Card pack, out Friday, includes a free amiibo card.

The 3DS also gets a Picross 3D: Round 2 demo this week, plus a few Pokémon and Hello Kitty themes. As for discounts, Terraria drops to £12.74 while the usual assortment of EnjoyUp Games fall in price for the umpteenth time this year.

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