Pac-Man 2 - The New Adventures (G)
Oct 05
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

We haven’t seen a great amount of new Virtual Console releases lately. If this week’s UK eShop schedule is to go by, Nintendo has been busy stashing them away for a quiet spell.

A quiet spell such as this week. This Thursday sees the release of two Wii U indie titles and six new arrivals across the Virtual Console services. Or to be more accurate, five Virtual Console releases and the arrival of 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (£4.49) on 3DS.


New features for this iteration include local co-op and versus play, plus a stage select option and an easier ‘Ring Keeper Mode’ in which Sonic only losses half the rings when getting hit. Kids today have it easy. That said, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was always seen as the easiest out of all the 16-bit games.

There are no other 3DS releases out this week, leaving the Wii U with the rest of the retro goodies.

Sports games first. Mario Sports Mix is arriving with a temporary discount, bringing the price down to £13.49 until 15th October. After that it’ll set you back £17.99. Steep, considering pre-owned copies on Amazon start at around £3. The N64’s Mario Golf seems a wiser purchase, at a slightly more modest £8.99. N64 VC releases don’t come round often and we recall this being pretty good.


We can thank Namco for both Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures (£5.49) and Dig Dug II (£3.49). Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures launched on SNES and Mega Drive back in 1994. Believe it or not, it’s a point ‘n’ click adventure with a strong emphasis on puzzle solving. Reviews were mixed, with many critics of the era calling it an acquired taste. Dig Dug II meanwhile is the NES version. Unsurprising, considering the NES was the only console to see a home conversion. Unlike the first game, it takes place on an island with an overhead view. It’s not as well remembered as the original and our eyes that’s a decent reason to give it a try.

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Oct 05
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

There’s no doubting that the recession is over – an £89.99 videogame has managed to enter at #2 in the UK chart. That game, of course, is LEGO Dimensions.

Chart-Track reports that it managed to beat week one sales of both Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders SuperChargers. The individual format chart reveals that the Xbox 360 version of LEGO Dimensions was the biggest selling. Statistically speaking, the Wii U version was the worst selling.

FIFA 16 holds onto the top spot for a second week. NBA 2K16 – which arrived at #3 – has had a good week too. A very good week in fact – sales were up 53% over last year, making it the fastest seller in the series to date.

Destiny: The Taken King and Forza Motorsport 6 move down to fill spaces #4 and #5, and then at #6 it’s another new entry – Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer.

The rest of the UK top ten then comprises of MGSV: The Phantom Pain, Skylanders SuperChargers, GTA V and Mad Max.

Incidentally, PES 2016, LEGO Jurassic World and Call of Duty: Ghosts all depart the top ten this week.

The only other top 40 new entry is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, scraping in at #12. Are you paying attention EA? There’s clearly demand for a new decent skateboarding game.

Oct 02
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

Last Monday’s UK chart revealed that Skylanders SuperChargers on Wii U was the second best-selling version at launch.

It’s highly likely that Activision’s partnership with Nintendo – allowing Donkey and Bowser to feature in the Wii U, Wii and 3DS versions – played a crucial role in this success.

Skylanders SuperChargers isn’t the first instance of Activision ‘borrowing’ some of Nintendo’s beloved characters. Their first pitch was far from successful though.

In fact, it’s a pretty tragic tale.

Back in 2006, Activision had both Samus Aran and Link running around in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. Footage even exists of Samus – fresh from Metroid Prime – firing various beams from her arm cannon and rolling around in morph ball form.

It’s not hard to imagine that Activision were mildly confident of being granted Nintendo’s blessing. Just a couple of years earlier EA struck a deal to feature the likes of Mario and Luigi in both SSX on Tour and NBA Street V3 on GameCube, while Fight Night Round 2 included Super Punch Out as an extra.

Rather than show Nintendo their handiwork using the Wii version of Marvel: Ultimate Alliance however – in hope of receiving permission to use both characters as system exclusives – Activision instead showcased the duo using the PlayStation 2 build, which was presumably the lead version.

For reasons obvious Nintendo didn’t take kindly to seeing their creations on a rival console, instantly putting an end to any potential endorsement. Not only was a lesson learned that day – it’s likely that Activision was left feeling pretty embarrassed too.

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Sep 30
By Matt Gander In This Week's Games No Comments

Two days have passed since its US release and we’re still yet to hear a single positive thing about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5.

Crash bugs, glitches, non-existent physics and dated visuals appear to be the least of its woes, worringly – a Polygon journalist claims they had to create a new Xbox account just to get the cursed thing to boot up. Unbelieveable.

How the last-gen versions – limited to certain retailers in the UK – fare is a mystery but we’d wager that they aren’t particularly impressive either. It’s sad to think that Activision will no doubt write-off this franchise revival as a commercial failure and we’ll never see the Hawkster again. At least there’s hope that EA’s Skate series will make a comeback.


Providing you have an overflowing piggy bank, LEGO Dimensions is a better way to spend your money – the starter pack clocks in close to £100, with additional add-on packs at £25-£30. Reviews have generally been very good however. 8/10 appears to be the most predominate score, putting it in-line with the top-tier games in the series.

NBA Live 16 and NBA 2K16 are also battling it out this week. Word has it that NBA 2K16 – which has a story mode penned by Spike Lee – is the better of the two, and by some margin. EA’s annual update is on the receiving end of 6s and 7s while 2K Sports’ sim has plenty of 8s and 9s behind around.

The remaining retail releases strike us as an odd bunch. On 3DS there’s the allegedly rather limited Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and the doubtlessly rubbish Thomas and Friends – Steaming around Sodor, while the PS4 sees retail releases of Yasai Ninja and Journey Collectors Edition plus Samurai Warriors 4 II. From the looks of things the PS3 and PS Vita versions of Koei’s latest hack and slasher are digital only. They’re available to download now.

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Sep 29
By Matt Gander In Blog No Comments

While LEGO Dimensions’ £80 price tag may be off-putting, the review scores certainly aren’t – its current 81% Metacritic puts it in-line with series highlights LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, The LEGO Movie Videogame, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga and the often forgotten Wii U-exclusive LEGO City Undercover.


Other than the steep outlay, the fact that most of the add-on pack levels only offer around an hour of play seems to be the biggest criticism.

GameInformer wasn’t impressed with the Portal and Simpsons packs at all: “The best Portal and Simpsons moments are in the campaign. The open worlds for each brand don’t offer much story content and mostly consist of fetch or escort missions. These worlds are entirely optional, and aren’t great for anything other than mindless exploration and Brick collecting” they said. We imagine the upcoming Midway Arcade pack – which contains over 20 arcade classics – will fare immeasurably better.

Most critics do seem to agree though that TT Games developing the whole thing internally has helped induce a degree of consistency. For those not aware, many of the additional Disney Infinity packs are handled by outside studios.

Here’s a round-up of all the reviews we could find:

8.75 – GameInformer: “Despite the extraneous content, Lego Dimensions is a hit. I haven’t laughed this much playing a video game in a long time. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next, and my wife even sat in to watch the story unfold in crazy ways. Whether you just purchase the core set or go bonkers purchasing figures, Lego Dimensions delivers big thrills and fun playability both in the game and on your living-room floor”

8.5 – God is a Geek: “There’s no question that this will be an expensive hobby, but in (ever-so slight) defense of it, LEGO isn’t cheap, full stop. But to those of you who love it, and enjoy the series (those frightened for their wallets stop reading right now), then really, this is kind of an essential purchase”

8.4 – Game Trailers: “If you’re a fan of any property inside LEGO Dimensions, you’ll appreciate their involvement in this grand venture, and you might walk away a fan of something new”

8.0 – GameSpot: “In any game within the toys-to-life genre, there’s sometimes an unspoken question: is this also a great toy or just a great game? In LEGO Dimensions’ case, the answer is easy: it’s both”

8.0 – Polygon: “While you can’t build anything in Lego Dimensions and the post-game play is mostly unstructured, it’s still the sort of game that makes we want to return and pick at its play”

8/10 – VideoGamer: “LEGO Dimensions is the most fun I’ve had with a LEGO video game since the whole idea was new back on the PS2. It’s full of cool new ideas and a story rammed with iconic references and witty humour”

3.5/5 – GamesRadar: “Lego Dimensions is the ultimate Lego game, a charming adventure that has glaring flaws. Its portal is a delight, but the reminders of the areas you’re missing out on grate”

Sep 28
By Matt Gander In New Nintendo Downloads No Comments

For a second week running it’s a busy one for the UK Nintendo eShop. The Wii U sees another wave of indie releases, while the 3DS gets not one but two retail downloads – Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer and Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden.


As we always seem to find ourselves saying, you’d be better off buying these two in physical form. Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden can be pre-ordered from Amazon for £22.99. The eShop price? £29.99. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer’s price meanwhile has been set at £34.99 – the same price the NFC reader bundle costs. That version comes with a pack of amiibo cards too.

Review scores for the Animal Crossing spin-off – the first of two this year, with amiibo Festival on Wii U due soon – have been incredibly mixed. On the higher end of the score spectrum we have 4/5 from GamesRadar, 8.0 from IGN and 7.5 from God is a Geek. On the lower end: 6.0 from Polygon, 5.5 from EGM and 5/10 from GameInformer. Suffice to say, read as many reviews as you can before deciding to open your wallet – even some of most dedicated Animal Crossing fans were left feeling disappointed.

As for Dragon Ball Z: Extreme Butoden, your guess is as good as ours – it isn’t out in the US until 20th October, and as such there are no reviews yet.


The 3DS gets just one other release this week – the 8-bit era influenced 1001 Spikes (£13.49). Also due on Wii U (for the same price), it was first released in the US back in June where it arrived to glowing reviews. Destructoid – who handed out a lofty 9.5 – noted that the Wii U version suffered from crash bugs and other issues. We presume the delay was to tidy this version up. IGN meanwhile gave it an 8.0: “1001 Spikes is nightmarishly tough but impossible to put down. It’s a treat for retro fans and hardcore masochists.”

Also hitting Wii U this Thursday: king of the hill-style party game Toto Temple Deluxe (£6.99), the Trials Fusion inspired Pumped BMX + (£6.49 until 15th Oct; £7.99 thereafter), a belated conversion of Race the Sun (£6.99) and a Virtual Console release of the GBA’s Medabots: Metabee/Rokusho (£6.29 each).


IGN’s review of Medabots from 2003 is still up. They gave it a lukewarm 6/10, making it an odd choice for a Virtual Console re-release. Race the Sun is worth a look though – we find ourselves going back to the PS4 version every now and then. Piloting a solar powered craft, it’s a simple case of avoiding obstacles to get as far as you can before the sun sets. Not a game for lengthy gaming sessions, but a decent way to while away a few minutes here and there.

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Sep 28
By Matt Gander In UK Charts No Comments

Coming as a surprise to nobody, FIFA 16 is the UK’s new number one. What is slightly surprising though is that sales are down 7% from FIFA 15.

EA didn’t see a similar dip in revenue however as sales of the more expensive Deluxe/Ultimate Team editions were higher this year. That exclusive ‘Bailando Robot’ celebration animation must have been too hard to resist. The usually cheaper last-gen versions only accounted for 19% of sales compared to last year’s 45% too.

Skylanders SuperChargers meanwhile sees Activision’s annual franchise on the rise. It arrived at #4 in the UK chart, three positions higher than last year’s Trap Team. Chart-Track claims that it generated their panel of retailers £1m last week. The Xbox 360 version was the biggest selling, followed by Wii U.

The far better than expected Blood Bowl 2 was the only other top 40 new entry, arriving at a respectable #15.

With FIFA 16 on top Destiny: The Taken King falls to #2. Forza 6 Motorsport drops also drops a single position, now at #3. Skylanders SuperChargers is at #4, and then at #5 it’s Metal Gear Solid V.

Super Mario Maker, Disney Infinity 3.0 and Rugby League Live 3 all depart the top ten to make way for the new releases. Rugby League Live 3’s fall is significant – it has gone all the way from #9 to #36.

The lower end of the chart also sees a bunch of re-entries, which appears to be because Asda reduced many recent releases to £10 in some stores last week. By the time we got to our local only FIFA 15 was left. Well, that and Ubisoft’s uberflop Rabbids Invasion.

Sep 26
By Matt Gander In Reviews No Comments

Prior to its late 2012 release, rumours circulated that Dishonored could be beaten within five hours. This prompted an unwavering waft of negativity, with some gamers even going as far as cancelling their pre-orders. While that rumour wasn’t exactly untrue – it can be beaten in that timeframe if you zealously overuse the teleport ability, ignore all sub-missions and run past enemies – this is also the reason why Dishonored is an ideal candidate for a re-release.

Arkane’s magnum opus was designed with multiple playthroughs in mind, rewarding those who played in a certain way be it stealthily, violently or without purchasing any supernatural power other than the oft-required teleport ability. Those rewards range from extended cut-scenes to some rather elusive trophies and achievements for finishing the whole shebang without killing or alerting a soul. These are the kind of achievements that feel like a genuine honour to gain, and they certainly don’t come easy. After completing the main campaign and the two DLC packs – The Knife of Dunwall and The Brigmore Witches – our time spent with Dishonored totaled 20 hours, and that was without taking the Dunwall City Trials challenge pack (which we’d played on last-gen) for another spin. Those aiming for 100% completion are easily looking at around 50 hours of play.


quiet and reserved for most part, but bold and brash when it needs to be

That time will be very well spent. Dishonored is a masterwork – quiet and reserved for most part, but bold and brash when it needs to be. You play as a Corvo Attano, a bodyguard with a skill set that would make the latest Assassin’s Creed protagonist jealous. Possessing humans to scout ahead or lead them on a suicidal path is just the tip of the iceberg. After being framed for murder of an Empress, Corvo is falsely imprisoned. Times are grim not just for Corvo but the entire city in mourning – a plague is in full swing, leaving Dunwall in great disrepair. The rich and powerful have managed to escape the plague while sat in their ivory towers, leaving the poverty stricken to saunter the streets in a zombie-like state. Corvo’s journey takes him from the richest areas – including an invite-only party with food and wine bountiful – to the downright trodden, including many rat-infested squalors.

Corvo isn’t alone in his quest to restore his name and vanquish his betrayers. A small but well-rounded resistance party have formed a base in a pub near the city perimeter. It’s here that Corvo can rest, rearm and pick up the occasional sub-mission. A humble chap known as Samuel ferries Corvo to the next location; a simple man yet one that’s well-versed with Dunwall’s current state of affairs, offering as much advice to Corvo as he can. After that, you’re on your own.

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