Jul 20
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

The next fortnight or so is jam-packed with Nintendo goodness. The Switch sees five new releases this week alone, including the anticipated Splatoon 2, while next marks the arrival of the New Nintendo 2DS XL along with a trio of notable new first-party releases.

If that wasn’t enough, there’s a slew of new amiibo out tomorrow too. Good luck to anybody hoping to pick up Cloud and Bayonetta without a pre-order, as it looks like stock is clean out.

Critics are seemingly in agreement that Splatoon 2 offers more of the same, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. The original was one of the most refreshing and innovate online shooters around.

Here’s a mini review round-up:

10/10 – Nintendo Life: “Anyone who says Nintendo can’t do online should be eating their words right now; Splatoon 2 is simply inkredible and continues Nintendo’s trailblazing first year of Switch stunners”

9/10 – The Metro: “It barely classifies as a sequel, but even if you’ve played the original this is still one of the best online shooters ever made”

8.5 – Destructoid: “If you’re the type of person who tried Splatoon for a little while and gave up, Nintendo hasn’t done a whole lot to change your mind outside of adding a horde mode. But with more concessions for higher-level play and a deeper meta, veterans will be jumping ship from Wii U to Switch in an instant”

8.25 – GameInformer: “Splatoon 2 offers a strong stable of content demonstrating familiar fun that newcomers and old fans should check out”

8/10 – GameSpot: “If you played a lot of the original, the sequel has enough to keep you coming back, and if you’re new to the game, it’s a fantastic place to jump in”

4/5 – GamesRadar: “Splatoon 2’s formula no longer feels original, but it looks great, its controls are tight, and there’s enough variety to give you dozens of hours of multiplayer fun”

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Jul 19
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

We get the impression that Aaero – released back in April on PS4 and Xbox One – passed a lot of gamers by despite arriving to excellent reviews. We only discovered it for ourselves a few weeks back, and now we have a good reason to talk about it – a trial version recently went live on Xbox One.

It’s well worth a download, especially for anybody on the fence or merely curious.

The trial offers 30 minutes of play, and although this may not sound particularly generous, it’s still enough time to take in the tutorial, tackle a few stages and give the first boss a walloping. You should be able to squeeze half-a-dozen easy achievements out of it, too.

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Aaero combines elements from Amplitude, DJ Hero and SEGA’s Rez to create a hypnotic and vibrant experience accompanied by a licensed dubstep soundtrack. Visually it’s slick, with heavily stylised outdoor areas and fast-paced tunnel sequences.

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Jul 19
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

The clue is in the title. Epic’s Fortnite involves building forts to withstand the horrors that appear at night. It has been described as a mixture of Minecraft and Left 4 Dead, complete with a bright and colourful Pixar-esque visual style. Think along the lines of EA’s Garden Warfare series, too.

Fortnite was first revealed in 2011 and since then Bulletstorm/Gears of War: Judgment developer People Can Fly joined the team and began co-development alongside Epic. It’s a game six years in the making, ignoring the fact that it’s still in early access. The £34.99 pre-order only ‘Standard Founder’s Pack’ – with a four-day head start – goes live on the digital services on Friday. Oddly for an early access game it’s receiving a retail release too, scheduled to hit store shelves next week.

Chances are we won’t see reviews of this one, due to the whole early access thing. But don’t quote us on that.

Fortnite

Two acclaimed games jump also from one format to another this week, with Superhot making its PS4 debut and What Remains of Edith Finch finally arriving on Xbox One. Swap it like it’s hot.

Superhot is a shooter with a twist – enemies and bullets only move when you do. This makes it far more tactical than most FPSs, forcing you to plan every move and tread carefully. It arrived to a very warm reception in 2016, with review scores being a mixture of 7s, 8s and 9s.

What Remains of Edith Finch is a very different experience and one that you would be forgiven for not knowing about. This collection of short stories – with each focusing on the death of a different Finch family member – went down exceptionally well on PS4, gaining dozens of 9/10s from the likes of EDGE, gamesTM and the Official PlayStation Magazine.

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Jul 17
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

PS4 exclusive Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is the UK’s new number one, ergo Square-Enix’s first chart topper since 2016’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

This ends Crash Bandicoot’s two-week run – the box breaking marsupial is now at #3, with Activision’s own Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare rising from #8 to #2.

This resurgence can be pinned on Amazon Prime Day, as half-a-dozen other games also temporarily reduced on Amazon have shot back up the chart.

Forza Horizon 3 is up from #14 to #6, Minecraft: Xbox One Edition rises from #22 to #7, and WipEout: Omega Collection is back in the top ten at #8, up all the way from #28.

To make room for all these re-entries, Micro Machines World Series, FIFA 17, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Battlefield 1 and Rocket League all depart the top ten. Now that’s a shake-up.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age was the only new entry in the top 40, meaning Cars 3: Driven to Win didn’t get a look in.

The best the movie tie-in could manage was #5 in the Switch chart.

Jul 16
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Micro Machines’ core concept is so simplistic that it isn’t in need of an explanation. We should be in safe and familiar territory here, yet after playing a few matches it soon transpires that World Series is anything but. It looks similar to Micro Machines games of yore, with its breakfast table courses and such, but under the hood it’s a very different beast.

Rather than building on the foundations of 2014’s Toybox Turbos, what we have here is a radical overhaul clearly intended to compete with Rocket League, and more bizarrely, Overwatch.

With loot boxes that bestow new skins, alternative lines of speech and different spray tags, the Overwatch influence is beyond obvious. Even the achievement list bares resemblance to Blizzard’s almighty online shooter. Still not convinced? In Battle Mode, each vehicle is loosely linked to a class type, and each has their own arsenal of attacks including an ‘Ultimate’ that charges over time.

Micro Machines World Series (2)

The ambulance vehicle acts as a healer, restoring health via a glowing green beam, while the shotgun-toting police cruiser can buff the damage of nearby players. A bright yellow ‘DOG’ digger can place gun turrets and erect walls; the fire engine can push opposition back with a hose. And as you’d expect, the two G.I Joe vehicles – World Series is chock-a-block with Hasbro product placement, incidentally – lend some heavy firepower.

Clearly, a lot of thought has gone into creating unique arsenals for each vehicle, and it also explains why the roster comprises of just twelve cars. Developer Just Add Water, best known for their Oddworld remakes, had to keep the Battle Mode balanced. This also explains why only ground vehicles are present and why the hovercraft, rather inexplicably, explodes upon touching water.

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Jul 13
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

We hear lots of stories of developers devouring takeaways, energy drinks and gallons of coffee while prepping a game for release. Here’s that age-old story with a twist: Switch indie De Mambo was created in a Costa Coffee, itself located in a Premier Inn.

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The Dangerous Kitchen – a three-man team – came to the same Hounslow-based Costa Coffee every day since 2014 to work on De Mambo, often slogging away well into the night. You can read up its conception and development in this feature Eurogamer published last month.

The fruits of the team’s labour are ripe for the taking this week. The £9.99 eShop release takes inspiration from a host of Nintendo classics, with Super Smash Bros. providing the bulk of it. Intended to be played with a single Joy-Con, players take control of a spherical character and attempt to ‘smash’ the opposition off screen, all while making good use of the scenery.

Nintendo Life felt it was worthy of an 8/10. “The core gameplay works a treat and its simplistic control method and ideology suit the game perfectly, resulting in a competitive title that is easy to learn, yet hard to master,” they said.

BulbBoy

The Switch sees a handful of other new eShop releases. These including Cars 3: Driven to Win (£49.99 – also due out at retail on both Switch and Wii U), ACA NeoGeo Fatal Fury (£6.29), grotesque point ‘n click adventure Bulb Boy (£7.19), and the co-op puzzler Death Squared (£11.99).

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Jul 13
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

This week’s biggest new release is easy to pinpoint. Off the back of the success of last year’s FF XV, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is turning the heads of even those who never experienced the original.

This remaster of the PS2 classic includes the International Zodiac Job System, which once formed part of an enhanced version of FF XII that never left Japan. Critics claim that FF XII holds up remarkably well, with scores including an 8.5 from GearNuke, an 8.8 from IGN, and a lofty 93/100 from Venture Beat.

Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age

It also gained Eurogamer’s ‘recommended’ badge. “Final Fantasy’s weirdest, most wonderful curio is a bright reminder of the power of crisp invention in high-risk blockbuster development” was their verdict.

Square-Enix are also responsible for Black the Fall. This dystopian puzzle-platformer has gained comparisons to last year’s Inside, and it’s easy to see why. ‘Good but not great’ is the consensus, with the likes of The Metro and GameSpew handing out 7/10s.

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Jul 10
By Matt Gander In Most Played No Comments

Maximum Games’ Troll & I is one of the worst games of this generation, but don’t take my word for it. Around 90% of those who’ve also made the mistake of buying this Iron Giant-esque adventure are also seemingly in agreement.

After making it through a labyrinth-like cave complex, some two hours in, the achievements began to flag as rare. According to the Xbox One achievement ratios, only 8% of players have managed to endure past this point. This isn’t a game that’s fundamentally flawed yet it’s still possible to squeeze some enjoyment out of it – it’s utterly shambolic, almost to the point of being unplayable.

Despite its numerous faults, I can still see why Maximum Games picked up the publishing rights, ergo why somebody might pick up Troll & I on a whim. Set in the Nordic countryside during the 1950s, this adventure has an intriguing and whimsical premise.

There’s an undeniable focus on teamwork, with Troll (that’s his name – Troll) able to lift heavy objects and trample enemies under his feet, while his newfound human chum Otto can use spears, creep around quietly, and cut down objects with his trusty knife. The two form an unlikely alliance, using their brains and brawn to outwit a group of hunters that have occupied the countryside. It’s The Iron Giant game we never received. Or Stig of the Dump, if you prefer.

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For Xbox One owners hankering for something similar to the PS4’s The Last Guardian, this is one of the few alternatives out there. At least until Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom gains backwards compatibility, anyway.

I consider myself the patience sort, yet only managed to stick with Troll & I until for around 4 hours. In that time, I had to contend with its poor camera, unintuitive controls, badly designed UI, one-dimension combat and abundance of bugs. I had to revert to the main menu twice within those 4 hours, too – Troll is prone to becoming stuck while traversing narrow corridors, and the climbing/jumping mechanics are so inept that I managed to snag Otto on thin air.

The breaking point came upon entering a heavily guarded enemy camp which introduces spear-lobbing enemies that can kill with one hit. They’re scattered around the camp, usually out of view, and as such can attack without warning. As far as difficulty spikes go, it’s off the charts – just take a look at the video below. To make matters worse, not only is the camp both open and complex, but the checkpoint system is so lame that during this section it’s possible to lose around 30 mins of progress.

The save system is so poor, in fact, that it doesn’t keep track of any collectables or weapons found between checkpoints – if you die, you must collect them again. Same goes for any weapons crafted.

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