DeadIslandRetroRampage
Apr 28
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

We’ve never been particularly fond of the Dead Island series. The concept of an open-world zombie game with online co-op play is alluring, especially given the sundrenched location of the original, but the games themselves are full of undeveloped ideas and have a general whiff of ineptness about them.

As such, we’re more interested in Dead Island Definitive Collection‘s bonus game than the upcoming 1080p remasters of Dead Island and its similarly lacking sequel Dead Island Riptide.

A product listing for Dead Island Retro Revenge – to give it a name – went live on Xbox.com yesterday revealing screenshots and developer info, along with a release date that poses a couple of questions.

RetroRampage

San Diego based Empty Clip are at the helm of the 16-bit style side-scrolling brawler, whose back catalogue includes PC and console conversions of Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine, BIT.TRIP Fate, BIT.TRIP Void and the Nintendo DS version of Diner Dash. Suffice to say, they’re well-versed with games with retro flare; the right team for the job of turning Dead Island into a 16-bit throwback.

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Alienation
Apr 28
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

This week’s new release roster reads like the Radio Times – amongst the few big hitters due there’s Hitman: Episode 2 – Sapienza, King’s Quest: Chapter 3 – Once Upon a Climb and The Walking Dead: Michonne: Episode 3 – What We Deserve.

VideoGamer gave Hitman’s second episode a lofty 9/10. “Bar some jarring AI issues (guards not being quite as hot to bust you as before, some disguises granting near immunity when they shouldn’t) IOI has improved on (the already impressive) Paris in almost every regard” they said. iDigital Times meanwhile called King’s Quest‘s third chapter the “funniest entry yet” before handing out top marks – 5/5.

Incidentally, the first episode is currently free on all formats. Presumably that’s a permanent thing.

The final part of Telltale’s mini-series hasn’t gone down quite as well. Reviews for the first two parts were mostly 6s and 7s. What We Deserve seemingly follows suit, gaining a 6.3 from IGN and 3/5 from Hardcore Gamer. “The tale of Michonne deserves a much better ending than this” concluded the latter outlet.

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Other games gracing a multitude of formats include a belated conversion of the hex-based RTS Battle Worlds: Kronos – available for around £14.99 both digitally and at retail – the single-screen murder spree Party Hard, and the rather brazen Breakout clone Brick Breaker.

We’ve been playing Party Hard in preparation for a review. It’s a simple game with an intriguing premise – gatecrash a party and murder every single guest without being seen or caught. Although some patience is required it has a pleasingly morbid sense of humour, and after getting caught we always find ourselves dusting off and trying again. The game’s mechanics are relatively basic – once learnt every mistake feels like it’s your own doing and not down to sloppy programming and such.

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area-3-carousel-1
Apr 27
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

From as far back as the 16-bit era the Star Fox games have arguably featured control systems that take time to acquaint with. The original Star Fox introduced easily confused ‘90s kids to inverted controls – ourselves included – while early N64 release Star Fox 64 added somersaults and other aerobatic manoeuvres. These initially wayward controls soon became second nature though, usually as early on in as the second stage. We’d always begin our descent into Corneria by flying sideways while playfully dipping a wing into the water below, such was the accuracy of the N64’s analogue stick.

Star Fox Zero’s biggest problem, and by quite some margin, is that the controls never feel natural. From start to finish, you’re forced to put both confidence and faith into the gyro-controls – used here to look freely around Fox McCloud’s cockpit, while precision aiming shots by gently tilting the GamePad. It’s a system that isn’t ideal for all situations, making some boss battles in particular tougher than they ought to be.

Character speech also booms through the GamePad’s speakers. Presumably for the sake of nostalgia, lots of one-liners from Star Fox 64 are recycled. Voice acting is generally less ‘low budget sci-fi’ this time round – Slippy Toad calls out for help with a genuine sense of desperation, while Falco’s tone is now more confident than cocky.

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Zero begins not with a bombastic tour of Corneria that teaches the ropes but with a tutorial set in deep space. From thereon telling signs are present that Nintendo has tinkered, refined and quite possibly removed elements to make the controls as fluid as possible; signs that make it apparent Nintendo knew players would initially struggle. That opening tutorial takes between 5-10 minutes to finish, teaching the controls for the Arwing alone. Other tutorials – each of which includes a challenge to beat – are then optional. Crash and burn repeatedly and you’ll be reminded that they’re available, along with a prompt asking if you want to head back to the main menu for a refresher.

Somewhat bizarrely, Zero puts you in control of the bipedal Walker at the end of the very first stage. This only makes a rough first impression rougher, as chances are you won’t have even got to grips with the standard controls by this point. Suffice to say, Zero doesn’t make the most favourable of first impression, despite the visuals featuring the sheen that first-party Wii U titles have become renowned for. Zero then stumbles further down the line, before recovering slightly by featuring dozens of nods and winks to Star Fox 64 and the SNES original.

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KeyArt_withlogo_horizontal
Apr 25
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Three years after its original Japanese debut, and almost six months after its US launch, Yo-Kai Watch finally graces Europe this Friday. Japanese gamers are about to receive the third iteration in Level-5’s ghost hunting RPG, but don’t let this put you off – the original Yo-Kai Watch is a very good game, easily on par with Professor Layton, Fantasy Life, Inazuma Eleven and other Level-5 3DS hits.

The US release was greeted by a mixture of 7s, 8s and 9s at launch. “Don’t let Yo-Kai Watch’s kiddie appeal fool you: It might not be as deep as your average, adult-style RPG, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Level-5’s gradual evolution of their “house style” has amounted to a true successor to Pokemon—one entirely free of its predecessor’s 8-bit baggage” said US Gamer, before handing out a 4/5.

Reviews from European outlets have been likewise positive. “Yo-Kai Watch is a charming and sprawling RPG, one that appeals to a younger audience with its adorable characters and moral-heavy story, but also to mature players with its intense and complex battle system” said God is a Geek.

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With the right marketing push behind it, Nintendo could very well prove to the naysayers that there’s life in the 3DS yet.

The 3DS also gets Super Punch-Out!! (£7.19 – New 3DS only), a newfangled version of the old Nokia timewaster Sssnakes (£1.79), Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge (free!) and Castle Conqueror EX (€3.99). The fact that Nintendo hasn’t listed Castle Conqueror EX’s price in GBP would suggest that it’s only due in some parts of Europe this week. This is quite often the case for Circle Ent’s software.

The smashing SteamWorld Heist meanwhile receives its first piece of DLC. Subtitled The Outsider, it sees Captain Piper teaming up with a new ally who has a rather mysterious past. New missions, gear, weapons and hats are promised, in addition to an extra playable character. The £4.49 asking price seems reasonable to us.

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Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge is also arriving on Wii U, again for sweet nothing. A spin-off of the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series, this puzzler entails guiding characters to an exit by manipulating the environment via the touchscreen. Eleven characters feature in total, each with their own abilities – Yoshi can eat enemies, while Luigi can leap higher than others. Although it’s a free download, and it isn’t stipulated as such, it sounds like you’ll need at least one amiibo to play it. This, of course, means taking them out the box too. Wah!

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RugbyChallenge3
Apr 25
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Last week was surprisingly busy for new releases, and as such this week’s UK top 40 is a hub of activity.

Backed by a steady string of glowing reviews, and with the movie release just days away, Ratchet & Clank on PS4 takes the chart’s top spot. It’s the first in the series to bag the elusive number one slot, Chart Track informs. The PS2 original entered at #15 in 2002, while the biggest seller at launch – until today – was 2009’s A Crack in Time.

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Former chart topper Dark Souls III drops to #2 with sales down 80%. Star Wars Battlefront on the other hand rises from #12 to #3 with sales up 177%. We can attribute this to a certain DVD/Blu-ray release.

Tom Clancy’s The Division falls to #4 while EA Sports UFC 2 moves down two places to #5.

At #6 it’s another new entry – Nintendo’s Star Fox Zero. New Super Mario Bros. U + Super Luigi is still in the chart too, albeit currently at #29.

At #7 it’s Black Ops III, followed by FIFA 16, Quantum Break and DiRT Rally to form the UK’s top ten.

As the headline indicates, there are another two new arrivals in the top 40. Namely, Alternative’s Rugby Challenge 3 at #13, with the PS4 version proving the most popular, and Konami’s UEFA Euro 2016 Pro Evolution Soccer at #23.

The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Rugby Challenge 3 also graced the respective individual format charts at #8 and #7.

Japanese tower defence curio Aegis of Earth: Protonovous Assault meanwhile made #15 in the PS3 chart and #5 in the PS Vita top 20.

WiiU_StarFoxZero_illu02_E3
Apr 21
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

We always expected Star Fox Zero to arrive to a mixed reception, which it indeed has. The reasons for indifference don’t simply boil down to motion controls though – the game’s length and lack of replay value also came under scrutiny. Other critics felt that it’s a little too similar to the legendary Star Fox 64.

During this week’s new release round-up we gave both the Eurogamer and Polygon SFZ reviews a mention. Eurogamer chose not to hand out one of their merits of recommendation. Neither did they advise readers to avoid it entirely, though. “It’s enjoyable enough, and if you’ve any affection for Star Fox 64 it’s worth showing up, but there’ll definitely be moments where you wish you were elsewhere” they said, while comparing it to a Star Fox reunion.

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As for Polygon…well. They posted this piece explaining that they aren’t giving it the review treatment due to frustrating controls. “I’ve made it through a little more than half of the game, and thus far, Star Fox Zero isn’t just a collection of mechanical problems. Levels are extremely simple, lacking any real sense of spectacle or, well, adventure. Combat moves in fits and starts, and levels are very short, often ending just as they find any sense of rhythm or satisfaction”.

They then went on to describe it as a “launch title for the Wii U console, full of half-fleshed-out ideas that don’t quite stick”. “I can’t help but wonder what happened” they concluded.

With scores as high as 8/10 from other outlets, Polygon seems to be in the minority.

They aren’t alone however – GamesRadar and Giant Bomb weren’t wowed either.

We’ve rounded-up reviews for both Star Fox Zero and Star Fox Guard below:

83/100 – GamesBeat: “It’s a little sad that Star Fox Zero, a game that wonderfully shows the benefits of the Wii U Gamepad, came out so late in the system’s life. Still, it’s worth getting for anyone who owns the console, especially if you were a fan of the series in the ’90s”

8/10 – The Metro: “The sort of expertly orchestrated action you’d expect from a team-up between Nintendo and Platinum, but the lack of innovation is a little disappointing”

8/10 – Nintendo Life: “Once you’ve mastered the controls then you’re faced with an outing which is easily on-par with the excellent N64 entry from which it draws so much inspiration – and that should be music to the ears of seasoned Lylat veterans”

8/10 – Nintendo World Report: “I enjoyed saving the Lylat System once again, but give me a year and this experience might just blend in with Star Fox 64 since it shares so much DNA with that classic”

8/10 – Nintendo Enthusiast: “Star Fox Zero is a great step forward for the franchise and I hope we’ll see it continue down this path”

8/10 – God is a Geek: “This is a game based purely on nostalgia, but the motion controls help elevate Star Fox Zero to something beyond a simple retread, although not everyone will appreciate that”

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RatchetPS3
Apr 20
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Last week you could count the amount of new releases on one pair of hands. We don’t know why you’d want to do this, but it was entirely feasible. This week the PS4 alone sees 12 new releases. The majority of these are on other formats, mind. Two of them (Masquerade: The Baubles of Doom and Rugby Challenge 3) are even gracing the humble Xbox 360, which Microsoft announced they’re discontinuing manufacture of today. So long, old chum – you’ve had a good run.

Rugby Challenge 3 is out Friday on just about everything, and should be one of the better egg ball simulators of recent times given the developer’s track record, while clown bashing adventure Masquerade comes from Big Ant Studios of Don Bradman Cricket fame (for want of a better word) and is out on Xbox 360, PS3 and PS4. There’s a demo of the Xbox 360 version, if you’re curious.

Masquerade

We may as well rattle off the other multi-format games out this week. After being announced just a six days ago, Namco launches Arcade Game Series 3-in-1 Pack – containing Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig Dug – on PS4 and Xbox One. All three can be purchased individually for a few quid each if you wish, in addition to the standalone Ms. Pac-Man. Why this isn’t in the £6.49 bundle – thus making it a 4-in-1 pack – is a mystery. Presumably Namco didn’t want to raise the price close to a tenner and miss out on impulse buy sales. Achievement hunters will no doubt be delighted to hear that all four have 1000G to earn.

Another retro classic getting a dust off this week is Pang Adventures – the first instalment in the Pang (aka Buster Bros.) series since 2010’s Pang: Magical Michael on DS. It’s out now on Xbox One and PS4 for £7.99, courtesy of Pix the Cat developers Pasta Games. More arcade classic revamps from indie developers, please.

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Deadstar_04
Apr 19
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Around a year ago Atari launched Asteroids: Outpost on Steam, a miserable mess that left fans of the arcade classic dumbfounded as to why Atari had turned the top-down space shooter into a sandbox survival game. In an ideal world they would have given Dead Star creators Armature – who are also currently working on Xbox One exclusive ReCore – the Asteroids rights. Dead Star is pretty much what Asteroids could have potentially evolved into, had the Atari we knew and loved kept with the times.

The premise is simple yet sound. 10v10 online battles against Scavengers and Drifters to capture and control as many bases within the asteroid littered battlegrounds as possible. The idea is to push the enemy back to their main base and take down its defences, all while keeping control of other zones.

Retaining control results in victory, as well as a screen-filling explosion showing the enemy base being blown to smithereens. As it just so happens, Dead Star has a rather nifty line of explosions. Alluring smoke plumes, too.

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