Nintendo are usually fairly strict when it comes to their own IPs, especially when it comes to their big hitters. But their slight history of sharing isn't without success stories... along with other, admittedly contentious, results. Take the Metroid series, for instance. Retro Studios' Prime trilogy is still a benchmark in fantastic reimaginings of a yesteryear favourite, even if Other M proved that sometimes there'll be mixed results when a Nintendo IP is loaned out into other creative hands.
Unlike those games, though, Hyrule Warriors is not representative of Nintendo giving another studio relatively free rein with one of their most beloved franchises. Here we find a very specific mashup, and one that tends more towards the latter part of its name than the former. Hyrule provides the sizzle, but Warriors the steak.
It's worth bearing in mind that I like the various Warriors series that have emerged over the years. My favourite is still probably Dynasty Warriors 4, but that has more to do with it being an incredibly cathartic game at a certain point in my life rather than anything that game does especially well over any of its fellows. You generally know what you're getting with a Warriors game: a range of playable heroes, amusingly nonsensical cutscenes, 1-vs-1000s combat stuffed with button mashing and epilepsy-inducing special attacks, taking over enemy keeps and knocking out Outpost Captains.
Hyrule Warriors does all of those things.
But it does them in better fashion than I've ever seen from a Warriors game before.
Hyrule Warriors is basically a Warriors game as modded by the world's biggest Zelda fan. It's a spectacular piece of fan service that manages to frame everything in terms of the various adventures of Link and Zelda over the years, from playable characters and weapon sets to fairly pretty maps based upon locales from a number of different Zelda titles, to an entire adventure mode that plays out on a retro map plucked from the original Legend of Zelda NES game. Rupees burst out of downed enemies, fulfilling certain requirements on the battlefield will cause chests to spawn that tinkle in familiar fashion when they appear, and deliver the same anticipatory music when you take a peek inside. Variations on Koji Kondo's musical themes weave in and out of the wildly-soloing electric guitars that accompany most Warriors titles.Click here to read more...
Developer: Compile Heart
Publisher: NIS America Europe | Reef Entertainment
Oh look. A quirky parody JRPG with female character designs that resemble a head-on collision between a Victoria's Secret truck and a Kill la Kill cosplay competition. This must be another Compile Heart game then!
As much as I enjoy their wares, Compile Heart infuriate me. They're clearly competent developers, having honed a truly fantastic combat model and experimented with crazy layered gameplay systems throughout the Hyperdimension Neptunia and Mugen Souls games, but they always stop short of delivering a genuinely well-rounded JRPG. In fact, they make the same killer mistakes every time: concentrating on cheeky dialogue and flagrant fanservice instead of delivering technically proficient field maps, acceptable 3D visuals to match the gorgeous 2D anime art, non-clichéd characters with more than one jump sound effect and interesting dungeons that are worth grinding through.
I'm as partial to cheesecake as anyone, but for Compile Heart it's usually the starter, main course and dessert rather than the end of a big delicious meal.
Fairy Fencer F makes me take heart, though. It's still guilty of the same issues to some degree, but at least the stockings and cleavage and comically erotic misunderstandings are backed up by a strong storyline, more diverse characters and an interesting setting. Plus a few songs from the legendary Nobuo Uematsu. Compile Heart aren't quite there yet, but they're definitely on the right track.Click here to read more...
Risk Of Rain really is a superb little game, offering frenzied old-school run & gun platforming with compelling Rogue-ish progression. Deployed onto a hostile planet as one of a bevy of unique classes, you'll race to blast through hordes of foes in procedurally-generated levels as the difficulty inexorably mounts up over time, constantly weighing up grinding with the need to keep pushing forward. Loads of unlockables and sensational replayability make it an absolute steal, as we explain in our Editor's Choice review.
Avast matey! If you haven't played Assassin's Creed IV yet, £6.66 will save you a whole chest of doubloons. Thanks to LagunaLoire @ HUKD!
Good morning! Sorry for the late start: I was up late trying to find competent voice acting in Destiny. I found some dead aliens and called it a night. Anyway, here are your headlines, sir or madam.
In case you missed it...
No, that title is not a typo.
Let's face it, Microsoft didn't really buy Mojang for, well, Mojang... they dropped $2.5 billion for the privilege of owning Minecraft, and it's fairly easy to see why. It's a time of transition for Mojang, of course. What indie culture existed there is changed forever by this, not least because of the departure of several of the studio's founders, Notch included. It's not about the money, apparently, but rather to avoid going insane.
Given how massive Minecraft has become, for a mild-mannered bearded chap who just wants to go about making little games that interest him once again, I can't say that I blame Persson.
Minecraft is huge, it's gone beyond games to the point where it's now used fairly widely as an educational tool. As Notch wrote in his farewell blog post, Minecraft belongs to its millions of fans as well as Microsoft. There's a lot of love for the voxel-based trailblazer, and there were a range of reactions to the confirmation of the buyout on Twitter, even when the buyout was a mere whisper.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) September 10, 2014
— Xbox (@Xbox) September 15, 2014
Some were confused by the amount of money that Microsoft had paid...
Click here to read more...
— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) September 15, 2014
Platform: PS Vita
Sony has repositioned the Vita as a champion of indie titles and Murasaki Baby has been on our radar for what seems like forever. The wait is over though and we finally get our hands on one of the most visually-striking games to land on the handheld in ages.
The aim of this 2D puzzle platformer is to help this incredibly creepy, yet somehow adorable, little girl find her ‘mummy’ as we guide her through the nightmare-like environments via a multitude of touchscreen and rear touchpad controls. Early Vita adopters may hear a few distant alarm bells ringing if they remember the infuriatingly clunky launch title Escape Plan. Thankfully, the controls in Murasaki Baby are much better. Mostly.
To move the child, you use the touchscreen to hold her hand and drag it across the screen as her arm stretches out and she follows your movements. Pull too far and too fast and she’ll trip, so you must be mindful of moving at a consistent pace. Players also need care for balloon she carries. If it pops, you must restart the scene, so you’ll need to use another finger to drag it around the screen in order to move it past thorns or avoid flying safety pins, the latter of which you can also flick from the screen.Click here to read more...
The Masterplan is like a top-down Payday in many ways. The Early Access version of Shark Punch's hold 'em up is just a smattering of levels at this point, but already there's something glorious about the whole affair. Much like Starbreeze's criminal FPS, you're given a location, some intel, and it's your job to get and get out with the swag, hopefully before anyone calls the police.
Here's the official blurb:
Drawing inspiration from both legendary tactical turn-based games and classic heist movies alike, the goal of The Masterplan is to put together the right crew, get the right equipment, and finally plan and execute the biggest heist ever.
Set in the early 1970s, the game features beautiful hand-drawn 2D art and an authentic soundtrack recorded by a real band. The gameplay blends a physics-based world and a clever AI system with an easy to approach "real time with pause" user interface.
The user interface is lovely, keeping things simple and allowing players to better survey the area, identify obstacles and issues quickly, and try to plan out the perfect heist. Left-click to select, right-click to move and aim and interact, and there are a selection of useful hotkeys for brandishing weapons and (this is easy to forget at first) concealing them once more. Simple stuff, but when applied to an intricate tapestry of guard patrols, security cameras, a steady stream of potential witnesses, and obstinately locked doors, The Masterplan really comes alive. I have to talk about the music as well, because it's simply superb. The band recordings conducted for this game have brought an aural "crime caper" soundscape into the mix, with the dizzying horns rising and falling as the drama in the level unfolds and is dealt with. It's brilliant stuff.
It's early days indeed on the content side of things, but the core gameplay works very nicely indeed as it stands. I rather hope that the toolset of your goons expands as you progress, and I'm eager to see what other systems can be brought it to further deepen the options available to players. There's some serious potential here, but it hinges on building upon the solid foundation with some scope and ambition. One of the best things about Payday 2 was the manner in which you could specialise, and the persistent nature of progression. Borrowing those systems wholesale for this wouldn't work, but it'd be nice to see a simple continuity in your goons much like Cannon Fodder or XCOM -- improved efficiency in certain areas through use, perhaps, and (hopefully) the ability to name them ourselves. It's a simple device, but it fosters a surprisingly strong connection.Click here to read more...
Chances are that everyone who wants Left 4 Dead 2 already owns it, unless you happen to be Australian. Thankfully the ban on the uncut full version has now been lifted down under, so Steam are throwing a deal for everyone to celebrate. Thanks to ferreirm @ HUKD!
Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition | Steam | £1.04 (RRP: £6.99)
Come get some.
The Bundle Stars Arctic Bundle predictably contains a number of games set (and even developed) in colder climates. £1.89 will net you the excellent Syberia adventures, along with Scratches, Nikopol, Post Mortem and Still Life 1 & 2. Niche, definitely, but stonkingly cheap too.
Thanks to LilHammerette @ HUKD!
Extra, extra, read all about it! Microsoft buys Mojang for $2.5 billion! Also Destiny is quite popular!
In Case You Missed It...
Receiver | The Humble Store | £0.00 (RRP: £3.99)
Free stuff alert! Experimental FPS Receiver is currently free on The Humble Store for the next 24 hours - just scroll down to the box and pop in your email. It's a very different approach to usual shooters, obsessed by how guns actually work, look, reload and operate in real life. You'll save £3.99 and become remarkably proficient in handling a Colt 1911 A1 in the process.
I'm not sure why Deep Silver comissioned the awful Sacred 3 when Sacred Citadel does its job a hundred times better. Neat classes, great brawling, no messing - with a few foibles that can be forgiven for a ridiculous £0.68. Epic in local co-op, accept no substitute. Read our full review for details.
Deal expires at 06:00 tomorrow (September 16th).
Having completed the story missions on the Moon, Carl & Matt decide to delve onto Destiny's second strike mission - The Summoning Pit - in our latest video dedicated to Bungie's latest. See how the duo (plus a random) get on against the hordes of the Hive, before taking on the end-of-level boss, Phogoth.
Be sure to check out the rest of our Destiny coverage, including our critical impressions vidcasts!
Microsoft have bought Minecraft. Well, they've bought Mojang, but given that three of the studio's founders are leaving, I reckon we can tell it how it is. For Notch, his creation has grown too big. He is now a man with nearly two million followers on Twitter, an industry figure whose musings on social media have become newsworthy headlines.
And it's all become a little too much.
"I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter."
It reminds me of the departure of the two Doctors from BioWare in some ways -- a situation that's understandable and yet tinged with sadness -- but at least Notch is saying that he wants to keep making games. They'll be smaller, much smaller, but there'll be something freeing about developing without a million eyes or so looking over his shoulder (eventually).Click here to read more...
Platform: PC (Steam, £5.99, releases tomorrow)
Developer: Curve Studios
Oh yes. Iron Fisticle is the good stuff.
Reckless innovation isn't the only way to make a cracking boutique game. Take a classic genre from yesteryear as a foundation, then build a rock-solid experience on top of it that's mechanically refined, satisfying to play and forward-thinking without losing the nostalgia factor.
Iron Fisticle nails it: an uncomplicated and deeply wholesome fusion of Robotron and Gauntlet that absolutely delivers where it counts. Hectic action, a fantastic arsenal, deceptively deep moment-to-moment action and an addictive progression system that makes each game over a little victory of its own. It's not going to change the face of the industry, but it's bloody good fun.Click here to read more...