Platform: PS Vita
Publisher: Marvelous Games
Be advised: the Senran Kagura franchise is all about jiggling anime breasts. It's as blatant and unabashed as fanservice gets, and Tamsoft are absolutely up-front about their intentions. Here we have a series in which infeasibly well-endowed schoolgirls literally kick each other's clothes off for our amusement, because they conveniently also happen to be ninjas, while the camera pans around for what can charitably be described as cinematic close-ups.
I had my first Senran Kagura experience earlier this year with Senran Kagura Burst, and I rather liked it.
I admit to enjoying a slice of cheesecake every once in a while, but I mainly enjoyed Burst because its embarrassing and cringeworthy premise was draped over a surprisingly excellent handheld brawler with responsive mechanics, diverse characters and addictive pick-up-and-play action. Several months on and having swapped the 3DS for the vastly more powerful PlayStation Vita, Shinovi Versus fleshes out practically every aspect of the game and makes sweeping improvements across the board, though a move from 2.5D to full 3D comes with some unique drawbacks.
And Pile Bunkers. Great big pneumatic ones.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PC | PS3 (reviewed) | Xbox 360
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Cards on the table. Fair warning. Be advised. I am not a big fan of Naruto Shippuden.
I love the premise, the setting, the character designs, the amazing powersets and abilities (those wild and disturbing Kugutsu puppets are my favourite), the art style, the themes and Kakashi in all of his slightly pervy glory, but I've never been able to get into the series no matter how many times I've tried. God knows I've tried.
For me the pacing kills it, the drawn-out interminable waiting between interesting events and the hours of angsty posturing when characters should be fighting. Sometimes I wish that I could just skip between the superbly-choreographed battles, preferably with subtitles so I don't have to listen to Maile Flanagan's horrendous nails-on-a-blackboard English dub.
That's probably why I really dig on Ultimate Ninja Storm Revolution. Everything I like about the series is present and correct -- the diverse well-designed characters with incredible abilities and OTT climactic brawls -- except that the overarching narrative has been replaced by just enough non-canonical premise to hold it together. Unfortunately, I'm also not convinced that it's worth forty quid.Click here to read more...
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).
If you've been sitting on the fence about picking up this expanded and localised hack & slasher, GamersGate's 50% discount might nudge you over the edge. Croixleur Sigma is much like a simplified version of Devil May Cry's Bloody Palace mode, sacrificing enemy variety for a fun storyline and leaderboard runs. It's all in the review.
Anarchy Reigns is amazing. It's one of the most ridiculously brilliant online multiplayer ever released, hailing from the developers of Bayonetta and God Hand, but SEGA royally screwed the pooch by staggering the release date, leaving the player base fragmented and very sparse. Still, the campaign is fun, the characters are incredible and the game's and a steal at £3.95. I'd love to organise a proper MP sesh on this at some point.
Thanks to Jas10 @ HUKD!
Platinum Games are best-in-business at crafting OTT brawlers and intense hack & slash action games, and Revengeance is yet more proof of their absolute mastery in the field. Despite feeling like a Metal Gear game, it's stuffed with outrageous combat, huge bosses, robot chainsaw wolves and more juicy cyborg ultraviolence than you can shake an HF Blade at. £9.99 is a steal. Thanks to jaystan @ HUKD!
Platforms: PC | PS4 | Wii U | Xbox 360 | Xbox One (reviewed, £11.99)
Developer: DrinkBox Studios
'MetroidVania' platformers may be as ancient as Mother Brain and wall chickens, but they still pull in the punters. From Shadow Complex to Dust: An Elysian Tail and Strider, there's nothing more satisfying than constantly earning new skills and abilities while exploring brilliantly-designed levels, then eventually backtracking to beat challenges and humiliate enemies that once lorded it over us. Guacamelee! proved to be a superb example of the genre back when it released as a PSN exclusive last year, offering all the bells and whistles we expect, only with a heaped serving of spicy Mexican flavour to punch things up.
Indeed, punching things up was the aim of the game, only our newfound identity as a superpowered Luchador also let us throw down on Day Of The Dead-themed skeletal hordes with wrestling moves, smash our way through Aztec temples and occasionally turn into a chicken for the sheer merry heck of it. Pollo power!
Fifteen months later and the Super Turbo Championship Edition has arrived on new-gen consoles, Wii U, PC and Xbox 360, boasting updated visuals, new content and all the previously-released DLC. You could say that it's the whole enchilada. Since it's currently free for Xbox One owners and available as a free upgrade for PS4 gamers who picked up the original, it's high time we gave this fierce fiesta our full attention.Click here to read more...
Platforms: 3DS | PS3 | PS Vita | Wii U (reviewed)
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Cards on the table: I love One Piece. Granted, there's a world of deeper, more exciting and incredibly tedious anime/manga franchises out there, but for me there's nothing quite like watching madcap super-powered pirates fighting each other, engaging in hilarious banter, learning intense lessons about comradeship and doing almost no actual piracy whatsoever.
It's the sweet spot of irrepressible humour, great characters, shapeshifting reindeer, stretchy protagonists, violin-playing skeleton musicians and swordsmen so badass they hold a third blade in their teeth. And, as such, perfect videogame material. Even the incredibly inconsistent Omega Force managed to make an excellent Dynasty Warriors spin-off in One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2, but Gabarion have gone one step further by basing their latest tie-in on something more profound.
Namely Monster Hunter. It's a concoction that shouldn't work, yet in practice makes for one of the best anime tie-ins ever developed: a gorgeous, enormous and surprisingly compelling game that lasts for hours on end.
Though, as I made sure to mention in the very first sentence of this review, I'm a fan myself. Bear that in mind, won't you?Click here to read more...
Publisher: Bandai Namco
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. That's fine. It's not supposed to, unless you happen to be a die-hard British fan of Hirohiko Araki's superb but cruelly under-localised manga.
Are you both sitting comfortably? Good, because this game is very much directed at you. CyberConnect2 are no stranger to decent-but-not-exactly-brilliant licensed games, and All Star Battle is one of their most ambitious yet: a playable journey through the entire canon with loads of playable characters, sweet visuals and unbridled personality.
For everyone else, All Star Battle is a slightly stiff fighting game in which you can defeat your enemy with a thousand baseballs and ride a horse around the arena. Or summon robotic bees and deadly bubbles mid-battle. Making sense is for chumps.Click here to read more...
The Wonderful 101 is one of the best games on Wii U, and one of the most supremely innovative brawlers you'll ever play. Platinum Games have done it again, creating a truly masterful beat'em up that lets you control a whole army of heroes in enormous rumbles, making the most of the GamePad as you do so. A lofty skill ceiling ensures that you'll be playing it for ages. If you're in the market, Argos are selling for £22.49 on their eBay outlet, which becomes £19.62 when you use voucher code CGAMES.
It's part of the Mario Kart 8 promotion, but frankly I'd buy The Wonderful 101 in a deal and save more money on a Nintendo first-party exclusive. Thanks to Jas10 @ HUKD!
If you're a fan of Naruto Shippuden and didn't buy Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, the Full Burst Edition will suit you down to the ground. It's just like the anime: amazing fight scenes sandwiched between ten billion hours of tedious angsty exposition delivered by uneven inconsistently-written characters. Which sounds terrible, yet somehow the series works and so does the game to some degree. £9.99 is a steal, so long as you're squarely in the target audience. Thanks to oUkTuRkEyIII @ HUKD!
Developer: Souvenir Circ.
Publisher/Localisation: Nyu Media
Publishers can get away with shovelling all manner of atrocious crap onto Steam these days, but Nyu Media are made of sterner stuff. The localisation maestros could have easily pushed doujin brawler Croixleur straight onto the store following a successful Greenlight campaign, but decided to port over a brand new edition stuffed with big improvements, more features and extra content instead. They even pulled an all-nighter fixing an oversight I tweeted about, because they're lovely like that.
Which is a good thing too, because the original Croixleur was a load of old cobblers. Cheap and cheerful fun for a few minutes, but quickly becoming crushingly tedious thanks to a tiny variety of enemies, it never matched up to the likes of Fairy Bloom Freesia, Alltynex, Gigantic Army and all the rest of Nyu's localised lineup.
Everything is noticeably tweaked up and polished now, and there's more of it too, from a whole new character with a unique storyline to crunchy new music, challenges and more. Unfortunately Souvenir Circ wasn't able add more enemies, the biggest flaw that dragged down the original in the first place. So the million Yen question is whether Croixleur Sigma can distract us from its half-dozen palette-swapped foes with all the new bells and whistles.
Well... yes, it can. At least for long enough to earn its £5.99 if you're a fan of hacking, slashing and Japanese indie gaming.Click here to read more...
Publisher: Marvelous AQL Europe | Zen United
At face value, Senran Kagura Burst is essentially a 3D boob delivery system.
Legend has it that game director Kenichiro Takaki only needed thirty seconds to decide what gamers secretly wanted to see on the 3DS' stereoscopic top screen. Jiggling breasts. Thus Senran Kagura was born, a franchise designed to relay cleavage from the art designers' mucky minds to our eyeballs as efficiently as possible. The story revolves around a team of ninjas-in-training who conveniently also happen to be schoolgirls, sporting implausibly ample bosoms, with a penchant for flashing their underwear and eating enormous California Rolls in the most unnecessarily provocative ways possible. More cheeky, tame and cringeworthy than degrading, Takaki might as well have called it Carry On Shinobi. I genuinely expected Kenneth Williams to make a cameo ("ooh, Matron-san!").
As you'd expect, Senran Kagura Burst has attracted a fair amount of flack from pundits convinced that it actively harms the videogame industry, while import fans flock to the defence. It's easy to appreciate both sides of the debate, and I'll personally weigh in later on, but first we need to discuss something rather more important.
See, all the heaving lady lumps disguise a surprisingly capable handheld brawler built on a bouncy, outstanding combat system. Though perhaps I could have phrased that better.Click here to read more...
I've personally never had trouble with Play-Asia, but have heard a few horror stories. Note that you'll get a US import, which doesn't matter since the PS3 isn't region-locked. Thanks to dredg @ HUKD!
One for the anime fans, but an absolute blast nonetheless. Thanks to iamthebatman01 @ HUKD!
Devil May Cry IV | Green Man Gaming | £1.00 (save plenty)
Voucher Code: GMG20-IWGQX-41IS1
Deal lasts until 17:00 GMT. You'll get a Steam code. Thanks to ALW4RD1 @ HUKD!
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developing a Dynasty Warriors anime tie-in is a little like baking using one of those ready made kits. The simple yet empowering Dynasty Warriors ingredients come pre-mixed, so all Omega Force needs to do is sprinkle on some flavour from a beloved cult anime franchise, pour into a colourful cel-shaded mold and throw into the oven. It's foolproof, meaning that the end result should be delicious every time. Unfortunately, as we've often discovered, it's just as likely to be downright inedible... if not execrable poison.
Fist Of The North Star: Ken's Rage 2 was so atrocious that I actively encouraged potential consumers to watch an imported box set while pounding their knuckles to rags with a ball-peen hammer instead. To use my earlier analogy, it resembled a half-baked Arctic roll stuffed with human sewage rather than vanilla ice cream. There was no excuse for such a shoddy waste of a classic license.
Luckily, One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 finally washes that sour taste from our mouths. It's an enormous tasty gateaux, perhaps a little stodgy in parts, but covered with colourful icing and packed with varied chunky chips that makes each bite taste sweeter than the last. Before I get sidetracked and run down to my local bakery, let's make one thing clear: Omega Force have more than redeemed themselves with a tie-in that One Piece deserves.
Plus, you get to take the field as an afro-sporting skeleton rock star and kill legions of Marines with mid-air guitar solos. Which is nice.Click here to read more...
Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture
Publisher: Deep Silver
Killer Is Dead hits our retinas like a neon Picasso wrapped around the business end of a sledgehammer. No-one can accuse Goichi "Suda51" Suda of being anything less than a recklessly imaginative artist, and here he's painted what is quite possibly the most gorgeous ultraviolent brawler on the market. Exquisite cel-shaded visuals gel perfectly with insane themes and bizarre distractions, not limited to chasing a tiger-riding crime boss on a motorcycle and seducing nubile débutantes in 'Gigolo Missions.' While jazz music plays in the background. On the moon.
Sometimes, however, mediocre games can sneak past undercooked mechanics and half-baked ideas behind sensational visuals. I could certainly name one or two. It's all too easy for games to trick us into believing that retinal stimulation is the same as genuine innovation, so we were delighted to discover that we were given nearly a whole month to see past the stunning good looks.
Killer Is Dead is not one of those games. Suda51's latest effort harks back to the likes of Killer7 and No More Heroes, delivering both sensational style and undeniable substance.
Click here to read more...