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Apr 24
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Mexican racer El Chavo Kart isn’t the only obscure import to make a recent surprise appearance on the Xbox 360’s ‘Games on Demand’ service. This week saw the unexpected arrival of Japanese oddity Shooting Love 200X – a Triangle Service shump collection from 2009.

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As fans of the genre will know, it has been a while since a Japanese shooter graced European Xbox 360s. Rising Star once published them on a semi-regular basis but if memory serves 2012’s Under Defeat HD Deluxe Edition was their last.

Although the majority of Xbox 360 shumps are region-free, Shooting Love 200X was one of the few that wasn’t.

At the time of typing Play-Asia is still asking £40 for the collection, making the £14.99 price tag for this digital version seem even more of a bargain.

American gamers shouldn’t feel jealous – it’s available on their Games on Demand service too, priced $19.99.

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Apr 22
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

It’s another quiet week for retail releases.

Ignoring a ‘Xbox Classics’ re-release of LEGO Lord of the Rings on Xbox 360, there’s just one new physical release – city building sim Tropico 5 on PS4. It originally due out months ago but you can rest assured that it’s finally out on Friday.

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We expected big things from Tropico 5 when it launched on Xbox 360 late last year, but aside the addition of online play it simply offered more of the same. This doesn’t make this belated PS4 version a write-off though, as this marks the first time Tropico has been available on a Sony system.

It’s a series worth playing – the controls were always well implemented on the Xbox 360 versions, making it surprisingly accessible, and it has a very warped sense of humour. It’s not like consoles are treated to city buildings sims often, either.

Unsurprisingly, then, the download services see the bulk of new arrivals this week. The apparently underwhelming LA Cops (£11.49) – which had a bunch of problems when it launched on Steam Greenlight, all of which were seemingly never fixed – makes a belated PS4 appearance while Aaru’s Awakening sneaks onto Xbox One.

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A 2D platformer with hand drawn visuals, we were initially intrigued by Aaru’s Awakening, but after spending some time with the PS4 version we were left disheartened. The controls are mapped out on the shoulder buttons, thus incredibly unwieldy, and while the backdrops are reasonably fetching they aren’t animated in the slightest. This gives the game a horrid, dull and lifeless, look. The animation on Aaru is poor too, and it’s almost impossible to bond with the titular lead – resembling an orange blob, they have no noteworthy or redeeming features whatsoever. So, yeah, we can’t exactly recommend this one.

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GST
Apr 21
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Goats will eat anything. Although I knew they were partial to the odd baseball cap or whatever else falls into their pen down at the petting zoo, I didn’t believe this for myself until watching one of those American obsessive hoarder documentaries. What set this episode apart from others is that the hoarder’s house was slowly being consumed by her pet goats. They were, quite literally, eating her out of house and home.

Goat Simulator taps into the destructive nature of these (presumably) untameable beasts, combining Katamari Damacy and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater to create an incredibly curious package. Developers Coffee Stain Studios have banked on that fact that many will be left intrigued by Goat Simulator’s very existence, hoping to grab the attention of live streamers, YouTube video makers and those who enjoy watching such. The result is a something that’s just as entertaining to watch as it is to play.

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Two open world environments are available – a small village surrounded by mountains and countryside and a large city with shops, a skyscraper hotel and a seaside theme park. You’re free to explore these locations at your own free will while ploughing through a list of various challenges. Leaving a trail of carnage in your wake is, however, almost entirely unavoidable – not only is the goat armed with a headbut ability that can even shift large boulders, but also a super stretchy tongue that can latch onto things. People, cars, roller coasters, hang gliders, explosive barrels…anything. Couple this with the fact that both maps have lots of bouncy objects – including trampolines and discarded mattresses – and you’ll get a rough idea of the mirth and merriment on offer.

There’s no pressure whatsoever to knuckle down and work through the challenges, which only adds to the pleasingly relaxed vibe. Easier challenges can completed on the fly without even trying, while others you’ll have to find the perfect place to complete. They start off simple – knocking an object a certain distance, performing a backflip, catching a certain amount of airtime, etc – but soon become more time consuming. We get the impression the high score challenges were designed to take a good couple of hours of continuous play, at the very least.

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DryBowser
Apr 21
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

Nintendo usually issues their eShop line-up on a Monday morning, but for whatever reason yesterday came and went without. In instances like this we always wonder what the holdup was. Did an eShop release get delayed at the very last second? Are Nintendo still debating internally about what VC games to release this week?

We guess we’ll never find out. What we do know now is this – Thursday sees the launch of Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 2, a host of Kirby discounts in preparation for next week’s Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush and two VC releases for Wii U.

Those VC releases are the GBA’s Mario Kart Super Circuit (£6.29) and the NES cult classic scrolling brawler Street Gangs (£3.49). You may know that last one as River City Ransom. Or possibly Downtown Nekketsu Story.

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MKX
Apr 20
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Battlefield: Hardline has been knocked off the UK chart top spot by Mortal Kombat X. Knocked into a vat of boiling acid, presumably.

Warner Bros. must be pleased – it had the biggest ever launch for a Mortal Kombat title, and also the second biggest launch of the year so far behind Battlefield. And that’s despite the PS3/360 versions being delayed until later in the year.

Sales were spilt 61% on PS4, 38% on Xbox One and just 1% on PC. As always though, digital download sales aren’t included.

The PC version of GTA V has seemingly helped Rockstar’s crime caper rise back up to #2. Battlefield now sits at #3 with FIFA 15 and Bloodborne rounding off the top five.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection departs the top ten this week, falling from #9 to #11.

After making a surprise top ten re-appearance following a surge in console bundle sales, Forza Horizon 2 and Halo: MMC likewise depart, dropping to #13 and #14 respectively.

As for other recent new top 40 arrivals, Dark Souls II: Scholar of the Second Sin is now at #17 while Ride falls one place to #19. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD meanwhile re-enters at #33 due to price cuts.

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Apr 17
By Matt Gander In Blog 1 Comment

While in a charity shop earlier today my attention was drawn to a box of reduced books. The 1993 gaming joke book Mirthful Kombat was perched on top of the pile. Price? A measly 10p. I felt guilty spending so little in one transaction that I threw a few extra coins in the charity box out of common courtesy.

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The cover features an illustration of the Mortal Kombat logo, despite the fact that there isn’t a single joke about the blood-soaked brawler. In 1993, MK was the talk of the town (well, playground) and so I assume the publishers thought it would help shift a few extra copies. Fellow fighter Street Fighter II gets a couple of mentions, but literally just that.

The majority of jokes are about the Super Mario Bros. with punchlines involving either plumbing or pasta. Puns based around Sonic the Hedgehog’s name – and the fact that he’s a hedgehog – are common as well, plus lots of GameBoy/Nintendo wordplay. Dozens of punchlines entailing the word ‘beep’ too, oddly.

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It all seems rather odd – think about how many classic games were released in the early ‘90s, yet the writer (John Byrne) chose to stick with just a handful of subjects and characters. All signs point to Byrne being a non-gamer, then.

While reading Mirthful Kombat from cover to cover during my lunch break I shared a few select cuts on Twitter. The fact that I considered these to be some of the better examples on offer speaks volumes about the overall quality. The illustrated jokes aren’t any better. In fact, they’re impossibly worse.

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Apr 15
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

We’re far from being prude here at Games Asylum, but having watched a Mortal Kombat X fatality reel earlier this week we were left thinking that NetherRealm’s latest pushes the boundaries of acceptability somewhat.

Long ago, fatalities in MK games were mostly crass – dropping an arcade cabinet onto a hapless foe’s head, and such – but in MKX they all seem…pretty disgusting. Faces are shaven clean off, brains slide out of the top of pierced skulls and intestines dribble over the floor, all in a disturbingly realistic manner. We never expect a MK game to be tasteful, but nor do we expect one to be just plain gross.

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Perhaps Warner Bros. were hoping to spark some good old gaming controversy – the kind this franchise has thrived upon. No longer do elaborate codes have to be consigned to memory to perform fatalities either. Well, that’s the case for those with money to burn – the game launched alongside an IAP that allows for simplified fatalities. Two button presses instead of four, apparently – £3.99 gets you 30. Perhaps we should be grateful that there aren’t IAPs for easier combos. Simplified fatalities won’t help players win matches, after all.

Gratuitous guts, gore and grizzle aside, MKX’s core mechanics are seemingly sound. It would also seem that we’re in the minority in thinking that it’s a little too violent for its own good – VideoGamer called it “hilariously brutal” while The Metro reckons that it’s “just tongue-in-cheek enough not to offend”. Both outlets gave it an 8/10, which is the score most European sites are dishing out. A few US sites have gone for 9/10s, which isn’t entirely unexpected – Mortal Kombat always goes down a storm in the US but is mostly met with the shrugging of shoulders in the UK. The same always goes for Twisted Metal, not that we’ve had a new one of those for a while.

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NeverWinterT
Apr 14
By Matt Gander In Reviews 3 Comments

Whereas many games will be nearing their conclusion once they hit the ten hour mark, Neverwinter sees only the surfaced scratched. As a fully comprehensive MMORPG – the kind consoles have only received in a butchered state in the past (Defiance and Ascend: Hand of Kul spring to mind) – it was always a given that there would be a learning curve. What’s surprising though is just how gentle that curve is. Organic, even – instead of dull tutorials there are a handful of easy going missions cunningly disguised as such.

The first ten hours simply see your handpicked hero being prepared for the colossal 60+ hour adventure ahead. Your hand taken gently and the basics explained, all while trying to recover a sacred crown from a gang of mercenaries. This honeymoon period, if you will, also entails picking an AI controlled companion to join your side, while another early mission involves a trip to the stables to rent a mount. With money flowing freely though, you shouldn’t be far off from buying a horse outright by the time comes. These summonable steeds make exploring the Sword Coast slightly less of a trek, ignoring the fact that it only takes a paltry three hits to separate horse and rider. They can’t be relied on to escape danger, that’s for sure.

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Another early mission teaches how to praise the lords – a feat that can be performed once an hour in exchange for a handful of random goods. It soon transpires that most tasks take an hour, whether it’s sending your AI buddy away for training or partaking in a dungeon crawl with four other players. Another example – it generally takes an hour of questing to level up, unlocking additional skills in the process. Older skills and attacks quickly become redundant, replaced by fancier and more efficient ways to heal and maim.

This near clockwork sense of progression makes an already addictive experience even more addictive, and with so many tasks achievable within 60 minutes (or thereabouts) we very much doubt this is down to coincidence. It more than likely boils down to being a design choice, enticing players into staying online for “just one more hour”. The logic behind even the most complex of aspects is incredibly sound throughout while the pacing, ergo sense of progression, is impeccable. Enter new area and every player you meet will be around the same level – no saviour of the Sword Coast gets left behind.

Every area has a unique enemy faction – Neverwinter’s swamp is suffering from a zombie infestation, for instance, while the local cemetery has been overrun with zealous cult members. Most enemy factions are formed of melee attackers who swarm to your location, projectile flingers who attack from far, spell casters that can evade attacks and damage-absorbing behemoths of various descriptions. Every now and then you’re teased with a surprise appearance of a new enemy type – one early dungeon contains the devil-like entities that aren’t commonplace until stepping into a blood-soaked battlefield much later on – thus giving a sneaky taster of what’s to come.

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