Like many Brits, I don't get misty-eyed over hedgehogs or plumbers.
My nostalgia is a snarling floppy drive chewing at a Civilization disc as Shaka's drums blare out in the background. It's the "last Manta" in Uridium 2, the inexplicable bee magic of Apidiya, rotating a codewheel to marry Zool's pudgy body with the correct head. It's Jools and Jops. Psygnosis and the Bitmap Brothers. A thousand last-minute projects scratched together in Deluxe Paint. Superfrog, not Super Mario.
The trusty Amiga 500 and 600 (eventually upgraded with a whole extra Megabyte of RAM -- dead flash, I know) cemented my love of gaming, turning me into a lifelong fan of this magnificent hobby. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter, there's now a sensational tribute to to this golden age in the form of Commodore Amiga: A Visual Commpendium. Containing over 400 pages and 100 games along with illuminating interviews, it's a treasure trove full of evocative artwork designed to bring back a host of treasured long-forgotten memories.
It's now available to buy in the UK exclusively through Funstock Digital, who graciously sent us a copy to review. I'm thrilled to report that it's an amazing graphical journey through the Amiga's remarkable gameography, though you'll need to fully understand what it is and isn't to really make the most of it.Click here to read more...
Season Pass content can be tricky to navigate, especially when you're not sure how a piece of paid content is going to work out. At Dealspwn we always advise waiting for some coverage or reviews before putting any extra cash down, especially for season passes. We really enjoyed Mortal Kombat X at launch and have been impressed with the variety of characters already on offer. So how about the DLC ones? Well, here's our review of the first to arrive, the infamous, Jason Voorhees.
The indestructible star of the Friday the 13th movies (yes, except the first one) initially seemed a rather odd choice for the series, as he's never been known for his pace and the idea of him performing combos seems a bit absurd. Thankfully, NetherRealm have given him a generous injection of pace and a decent skillset with linkable moves, while maintaining his sinister style.
As with all the characters in Mortal Kombat X, Jason has three different fighting styles to choose from; Slasher, Relentless and Unstoppable. Let's start with Slasher, the simplest stance to learn and the only one that sees Jason wielding his beloved machete throughout.Click here to read more...
I expected the dramatic conclusion to Episode 2 to be the catalyst that would drive the series' pace forward with a much needed boost. More so with questions about the events at Arcadia Bay's school and the strange events around town being no closer to getting answered.
The first part of Episode 3 starts with Max and Chloe breaking into the school Principal's office. To get through the locked door, you have to sneak through the school at night to find a few items. It feels a bit by the numbers really, with only bonus photo maintaining my interest.
Later in this segment, you'll need to evade the security guard to make your escape, which given the fact you can rewind time, isn't exactly difficult. From here the pace again drops dramatically as you hang out with Chloe the day after and talk to her mum, filling in little details that are eventually important, so try to pay attention.Click here to read more...
Nintendo may be making their first tentative steps into the murky world of mobile gaming, but Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition proves that handhelds are still the platform of choice for discerning gamers on the go.
Containing two huge match-three puzzler RPG hybrids, balanced to be fun, compelling and deep without microtransactions and tedious wait-or-pay energy systems, it's a great value package full of quality content. All up-front, not doled out piecemeal.
Effectively it's also two games in one, but tempted as you may be to jump straight into the Super Mario Bros. Edition, Puzzle & Dragons Z is by far the best place to start.
Taking inspiration from Pokemon, Puzzle & Dragons Z is a fully-fledged RPG adventure that incorporates match-3 puzzling into its dungeon crawling and battling. After the world is ripped into pieces by the nefarious Paradox organisation and its armies of followers, you're cast as a fledgling dragon tamer tasked with raising a team of powerful monsters and restoring the land to its rightful state.Click here to read more...
In a way, I wish all election campaigns were this interesting, but I suppose the murder is somewhat of a downside. Kinda.
The plot of NOT A HERO is as ridiculous as they come. You take control of a group of characters working for BunnyLord – a time traveller from the future – helping their bid to become the Mayor of England at the next election. The best way to do this is to “killing bad guys in the face” as the voters love that sort of thing (apparently) and so begins a political campaign filled with carnage, mayhem, and exotic milkshake flavours.
Using a roster of nine characters, each with their own unique abilities and exaggerated personalities, players must navigate crime-filled tower blocks and complete objectives. What separates it from other 2D shooters is the cover mechanic, which allows characters to avoid enemy fire before popping back out to unleash some bullet-based justice. The end result is as hilarious as it is challenging. And infuriating.
Click here to read more...
An often overlooked element to our gaming setup is seating comfort, especially for PC gamers playing from their desks rather than the sofa. For desk riding gamers out there, or those of you who spend a lot of time at a desk for work, going for the cheapest seating option can often be painful, as sore backsides and stiff backs become uncomfortable fidgety distractions.
But you can be comfortable without breaking the bank, meaning you've got spare cash left over to buy important things, like games. Today's candidate, the Element Gaming Chair certainly deserves a look.
You'll often struggle to get a high backed chair for such a low price, but this stylised seat comes with back and head support and seems to be modelled on a racing car seat aesthetic with the padding on the sides of the back protruding slightly outwards to form subtle cradling curves. The seat of the chair angles up slightly, following the contours of the underside of your thighs for a natural sitting position. The PU leather upholstery is very soft and easy to clean if you spill any drinks or need to brush off snack crumbs.Click here to read more...
The Wii U GamePad is not a gimmick, but by and large Nintendo's first-party exclusives have struggled to prove it. Kirby And The Rainbow Paintbrush was supposed to change all that. Controlled exclusively using the touchscreen and stylus, it's an attempt to create an experience that could only work on Nintendo's excellent yet under-utilised peripheral.
Unfortunately Rainbow Paintbrush is too successful for its own good. Instead of enhancing the experience, the GamePad dominates proceedings to the extent that you might as well turn the television off to save power. Indeed, it feels uncomfortably like the makings of a great 3DS game or even an iPad debut that released on the wrong platform.
After the colour is stolen from Kirby's world, our spherical hero rolls out to save the day. Literally. This time we can't directly control the pink protagonist, who's a slave to gravity and momentum. Once you've tapped him to start him rolling, you'll use the stylus to freely doodle rollercoaster-esque rails for him to follow around the 2D environments, creating loops to build up speed, platforms to reach lofty collectibles and paths to evade enemies, smash through blocks and circumvent obstacles. Later levels let you manipulate materials like water and sand in the same fashion, while you can tap to activate interactive level elements and activate a ruinous boost mode after collecting enough coins.
It's unique enough to make for a great first impression, especially since there's a satisfyingly meaty learning curve.Click here to read more...
Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed is brilliant. Not just as a tie-in for fans of Compile Heart's quirky JRPG series, but also on its own merits as satisfying, hilarious and slightly kinky handheld brawler in its own right.
Once again we find ourselves back in Gamindustri, a parody world based on the real-life console wars. Each nation has its own female warrior avatar known as CPUs, who are all based on a particular console's design and philosophy, along with their sisters who correspond to handhelds. Enemies, dialogue and backgrounds all reference classic videogames and gamer culture, which keeps things unpredictable, bouncy and very funny indeed.
You can quickly scan our Hyperdimension Neptuna Re;Birth 1 review for a full explanation of the premise (chances are that you're already familiar with it if you're reading this in the first place), but what really matters is how Hyperdimension Neptunia U takes a different tack from its predecessors. Instead of a traditional JRPG, it's a beefy and substantial beat'em up developed by Tamsoft, who also created the fun yet unashamedly risqué Senran Kagura franchise. As such, the CPUs lose their clothing and strip down to their underwear faster than you can say "fanservice."
Settle down. There's more to it than that. Loaning out the IP was a big risk, but it paid off in spades. In fact, it's actually better than the Senran Kagura series in many respects as Tamsoft are willing to laugh at their own excesses... when they're not poking fun at us games writers.Click here to read more...
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. makes a sensational elevator pitch. It's a turn-based strategy game that feels like XCOM, plays like Gears Of War and hails from the creators of Fire Emblem, all wrapped up in a delightfully cel-shaded Steampunk universe that parodies the American civil war. With geeky stunt casting from Wil "Wesley Crusher" Wheaton, Michael "Worf" Dorn and Jeremy "Finn" Shada no less.
Intelligent Systems have produced one of their most unique and confident games to date, another triumphant 3DS exclusive that deserves your immediate attention now that us Brits are finally able to play it. However, to fully appreciate how Code Name S.T.E.A.M. blends two disparate genres together, you'll have to unlearn much of what you think you already know.
The premise is delightfully mad. Set in a crazy steampunk alternate version of the late 19th century complete with massive brass airships and high calibre cannons, aliens have invaded the United Kingdom and threaten to unseat Queen Victoria. Who can save us? Why, only Abraham Lincoln and his elite team of alien-killing operatives, of course. Armed with the latest steam-powered technology, mechanical armour and weaponry, the Agents Of S.T.E.A.M. deploy to rout the extraterrestrials and rescue the British Empire.Click here to read more...
There's a reason why "CARS" is capitalised. Project CARS is all about the love of cars, the joy of driving them, and it couldn't give a damn about anything else.
While other developers love cramming the most vehicles and the biggest bloated feature sets into their games, Slightly Mad Studios have been obsessed with getting everything absolutely right. The result is a true track special: a lean racer that's all muscle, no fat, designed to let you get into a selection of superbly-realised racing machines as quickly as possible without grind, unlocks and frippery.
Perhaps more importantly, it also brings excitement and soul to the simulation genre thanks to its reliance on real drivers, not raw data. Following months of delays and setbacks, the finished product is the sunshine after the rain... which coincidentally is also one of the most beautiful weather effects it has to offer.Click here to read more...
There's a lot riding on Omega Quintet. Not only is this the first true PS4-exclusive JRPG, but it's also a chance for Compile Heart to step up and knock us dead.
Despite being infamous for their unashamedly kinky moe content, they're an undeniably talented studio with a flair for great battle systems and eyecatching art, yet they often settle for the bare minimum when it comes to level design, structure and story. Thankfully they've been on a hot streak recently with the Re;Birth series and Fairy Fencer F. The jump to a new console generation is a golden opportunity to push boundaries and set up a new franchise in the process.
We'll get to that in due to time. For now, what you need to know is that Omega Quintet is a game about sexy pop stars clobbering aliens to death.
Our story begins in a shattered post-apocalyptic world as the last few surviving humans have been forced into enclaves by ravenous monsters. Known as the Blare, these alien hordes can appear and attack at any time. Thankfully hope remains in the form of Verse Maidens, female pop idols who also mysteriously happen to be capable of defeating the Blare while putting on a show. Because of course of they can. Don't question it.
With the old guard getting too long in the tooth, cynical lad Takt and his childhood friend Otoha find themselves at the mercy of the Blare, who bring out Otoha's latent abilities as a potential Verse Maiden herself. Joining a cast of new recruits, they put a new Idol Group together and set to saving the world with advanced weaponry, singing, dancing and little cheesecake to keep things interesting. Meanwhile Takt becomes our avatar and their manager in order to set up a fan-pleasing if largely unnecessary harem dynamic.Click here to read more...
Can you buy a no-compromise fully-featured gaming mouse for under £30 new? The Element Gaming Iridium 820 proves that yes, you can, and that premium PC gaming doesn't have to cost a bomb.
It's a sensational effort from a new British upstart looking to disrupt the traditional gaming scene, and one of the most impressively featured gaming mice we've ever reviewed on site despite its astonishingly affordable price point.
For £29.99 at Amazon and eBuyer, you'll get a lot for your money with the Iridium 820. Namely eight buttons (including a firepower attack key), an incredibly accurate 8200 DPI sensor, adjustable grip, LED backlighting and even a decent length of braided USB cable with a gold-plated connector. It's all packed into an aggressively-styled design that wouldn't look out of place next to top-quality Razer products, and for a fraction of the price of a similarly-specced Cyborg R.A.T.Click here to read more...
NetherRealm Studios come to their tenth canon Mortal Kombat release after the rather excellent Injustice: Gods Among Us. Working on the superhero title seems to have strengthened their resolve to come up with one of the best games we've seen in the long-running, face pummelling series.
The Story mode is a good place to start for any rusty brawler fans. You'll control a set character for four fights before being put in the shoes of a new combatant. By the end of the story you'll have played as most of the 24 strong cast and you should have an idea of which characters you'd like to develop your skills with and those you never want to see again.
The plot won't win any awards, but it's suitably fun and violent. The dialogue is a bit cheesy and the violence is suitably gross with heads and limbs flying around and every punch sounding like it's smashing meat and bone with a hammer. There's a powerful Talisman that everyone seems to be fighting over and the regular flashbacks make it hard to keep events in order. Dead people keep popping back into the story throughout, alliances swap back and forth and when Sub Zero and Scorpion sat down for a cup of tea, I had to admit it had all got away from me a bit.
NetherRealm have been brave by shifting most of the story forwards twenty years and giving the the majority of the limelight to the wave of new characters. It does a solid job of introducing them and it's certainly handy that most of them are related to existing characters and share some combat styles -but with their own unique twist too. Cassie Cage, daughter of Sonya Blade and Johnny Cage, is a great addition to the roster as she leads a team of fellow newbies through the plot and firmly into the Mortal Kombat roster for the future.Click here to read more...
Project Root should be fantastic by all rights. Promising to blend the hectic SHMUP gameplay of Raystorm or Axelay with the open exploration of Desert Strike, this Kickstarted shooter sounds sensational on paper and is now available on PS4, PS Vita and Xbox One.
Unfortunately what should have been a shoot'em up fan's dream is actually a bit of a nightmare.
Though a great idea in theory, Project Root is one of the most deeply flawed shooters I've played in years and a textbook example of a studio failing to understand their source material.
The story, such as it is, sees you assume the role of a mercenary tasked with dismantling and destroying an evil energy corporation. As far as I can tell. Since the plot is delivered through a series of grammatically unsound text boxes that are incredibly difficult to read mid-mission due to the tiny font, I'm only aware of half of it. To be perfectly honest, though, I couldn't care less about the storyline as it's just an excuse to throw us into the cockpit of a powerful jet fighter bristling with advanced weaponry.Click here to read more...
White Night blends classic themes that sound fantastic on paper. It's essentially a survival horror/adventure title hybrid, inked with a gorgeous Sin City-esque graphic novel style, toned with a classic 1930s detective noir vibe. I already want a film version.
We begin the tale with a car accident, which sees our protagonist hobbling towards a nearby mansion for help. And boy do I mean hobble. I've never endured such a slow opening 30 minutes in my life. I plodded up to the gates when the camera eventually let me see them, then up to the porch, then around the graveyard until I found the key, and then around the house for ages until I found the first save point, a couch. Thankfully, when our hero awoke, his injuries were healed and I was treated to a run button too.
Right, god awful start out of the way, I could get on with enjoying the game. The visuals are easily the highlight of the whole experience, with clear cut black and white imagery (no greys); this is one of the most striking games I've played on the PS4.Click here to read more...
Exploration is nice. I'm partial to a little Expansion and Exploitation too. StarDrive 2 offers all of these things, but when it comes right down to brass tacks, it's all about wholesale Extermination on a galactic scale. Sweeping battles in space and on land, attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, glittering armadas reduced to smouldering ruin. And that's absolutely fine by us.
While the space 4X genre is actually booming thanks to a small number of true greats (such as Distant Worlds and Endless Space), there's also a slew of generic, mechanically unsound and lacklustre cookie-cutter clones attempting to satisfy the demand. Though much closer in mechanics and tone to a traditional 4X game than its RTS-inspired predecessor, StarDrive 2 cuts through the noise by doing things differently, and in many cases, better.
Also there are Space Bears. Which we like immensely, even when they're rampaging through our colonies thanks to surprisingly canny AI.
Note that this review is based on v.1.0h, which includes a huge number of stability and balance tweaks alongside major AI and difficulty level tuning. - JonathanClick here to read more...
Curve Studios are a class act. Not only are they in the business of making great games, but they also act as an indie angel by helping fellow indies get onto Steam and console marketplaces, using their expertise and experience with certification and publishing to push through the red tape.
The Indie Mixtape is handily their most grassroots collaboration so far: a varied Steam collection of five intriguing games from different developers that were previously released on itch.io, Android or iOS to barely any fanfare. Instead of thoughtlessly shoving the quintet straight into Steam like any number of lazy spam pushers I could mention, Curve curated into a cut price compilation with new achievements, trading cards and a simple splash page interface. A spotlight of sorts, a showcase and highlight reel of unappreciated talent.
It's a lovely idea, but like any mix tape there's no guarantee that every track will be to your tastes or equal in quality. To this end, I'm going to play favourites and critique each games in order of which I rated the highest, followed by our appraisal of the package as a whole. So without further ado: let's start with something spectacular.
If you take nothing else away from the review, remember only this: play Roguelight.Click here to read more...
It’s a good job I hadn’t finalised my review until now. Had I drawn a line under my experience last week my opinions would have been very, very different. You see, it has only been in the last 72 hours that the PC port of Grand Theft Auto V has shown me its strengths. It’s beautiful, beautiful strengths. Up until that point the experience in San Andreas has definitely been a good looking, but had been marred by frame rate drops that killed the enjoyment both in the single player campaign and in GTA Online.
Thankfully, those issues have been sorted, and I can now comfortably say that the PC version really is the definitive version of GTA V.
As someone who last played the game on their Xbox 360, the jump in performance has been significant even without touching the 4K visuals that Rockstar have added. Then again, I didn’t really have to state that – there are videos out there that highlight this is the case, but seeing it in action for myself really hammers home how much work has gone into this version of the game. Of course, the big question is if the PC version is worth getting if you’ve previously played the game, and I aim to answer that by the end of this review.Click here to read more...
State Of Decay is one of the all-time great zombie games.
This isn't just a generic sandbox with zombies sprinkled in. It's an astonishing simulation that models a group of survivors who band together in the face of the Zed apocalypse; exploring, scavenging, recruiting, creating a new home and permanently dying in an experience that's never the same twice or for any two players.
From random personality clashes to ravening zombie hordes, food shortages and illness, you'll face problems large and small in your attempts to keep your people safe, sane and brains firmly intact. More surprising still, though, it's also fun thanks to satisfying arcadey controls and plenty of action.
Which you'll probably already know seeing as I reviewed State Of Decay back in 2013, praising its gameplay but criticising its horrendously rough visuals. Two years on and Undead Labs have returned with the Year-One Survival Edition, including new high definition assets, all the DLC content and save file transfer functionality. So this review has to answer two important questions: is the Year-One Survival Edition worth buying for those who never experienced State Of Decay the first time around? And it is worth buying again for those who did?
Spoiler alert: "definitely" and "maybe, but probably not."Click here to read more...
I really, really want to like Titan Souls.
Billed as a cross between Shadow Of The Colossus and Dark Souls but more like a ruthlessly-filleted 2D Zelda compilation, you'll battle a series of enormous bosses with a single arrow and one sole hit point. You'll learn attack patterns, discover weak points and die dozens if not hundreds of times, living for the moment when your bow hits home and your adversary crumbles before you. Before scuttling off to the next arena and the next tougher leviathan.
It feels a little like Acid Nerve are making up for some of the terrible boss battles we've suffered over the years -- from Human Revolution to RAGE -- and are trying to restore the balance in one streamlined package.
So it's odd, then, that I can't stand it. Titan Souls may be based on a razor-sharp gameplay concept, brainstormed over a game jam and developed into a full release, but it's been stretched to near breaking point in the process.Click here to read more...