Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams | GamersGate | £4.49 (RRP: £12.99)
Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams Review
Platforms: PC | PSN | PS Vita | XBLA | Wii U (eShop)
Developer: Pwnee Studios
Cloudberry Kingdom has an unfortunate name. Even the most open-minded gamer will probably be beset with visions of cutesy iPad apps designed to cheekily flog microtransactions to your mewling infants, or the kind of shovelware that infested the Wii a few years back.
However, I'm thrilled to report that this adorable title masks a procedurally-generated platformer of deceptively hardcore proportions; the kind of thumb blistering, retina shredding, instantly engaging technical experience that will challenge even the twitchiest Super Meat Boy veteran. Throughout hundreds of stages, not to mention a randomly-generated mode that ramps up the difficulty the better you play, you'll brave a nightmarish gauntlet of spikes, pits and lasers while getting to grips with new mechanics on the fly.
After a successful Kickstarter, Ubisoft have stepped forward as a publisher for this brave indie proposition, which kicked my arse seven ways 'til Sunday in an hour of hands-on time.
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Rayman Legends, which notoriously missed its original February Wii U release window in order to eschew exclusivity for a multiplatform launch, has finally been officially dated for August 30th. It will release simultaneously on PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U - and the delay has allowed Ubisoft Montpellier to add 30 additional levels.
A weighty challenge mode demo will be available to download on the Wii U eShop today.
As we discussed in today's hands-on preview, Paul Cuisset's Flashback remake is cause for both celebration and trepidation. Beyond some new gameplay features, the PSN and XBLA-bound reboot plans to inject the legendary platformer with more in the way of traditional videogame storytelling, complete with fully-voiced dialogue, cutscenes, plenty of NPCs and even more twists to discover in the overarching plot. Appealing to fans of classic games while attracting a new audience is always tough, and doubly so when trying to flesh out characters like Conrad, who are effectively blank slates filled in by our imaginations and tidbits.
Keen to know about the challenges facing the writing team, I recently sat down for a chat with co-writer Simon McKenzie, who explained that he's a fan of the original game with a clear vision in mind.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us, Simon. We've been waiting 20 years for Flashback to return, but many of us were just expecting an HD version. What is this new project attempting to do? Is it a reboot, a remake or... what?
Simon McKenzie: It is a remake of Flashback, so it's not just an HD shiny version, it's a remake of the game. I was a fan of the original, so when it came up on my radar and they wanted a writer, hands up in the air, I said "let me!"
The main thing is that it's done by Paul Cuisset, who did the original. He said, this was the game in his head back in the 90s, but there were technological limitations. We were able to work with him, put some new ideas in there, but all the classic elements that you remember from Flashback - from the Death Tower to finding the fragments of your memory and piecing together the larger scheme of things - they're all there in the new game.Click here to read more...
Platforms: PSN | XBLA
Paul Cuisset is totally rebooting Flashback, and I'll give you a second to recover if you missed the news yesterday. Breathe. And relax. Since the timeless platformer is such a beloved piece of gaming history, genuinely tense and frightening in parts, seeing Conrad's struggle to regain his fractured memories get the shiny Unreal treatment is both exciting and horribly worrying. On the one hand, this new version is apparently the game that Cuisset always wanted to make, but simply couldn't due to the technological constraints of the early nineties - and he's back at the helm. On the other, he and VectorCell were also responsible for Amy.
At first glance, everything seems to be exactly where you left it. Delphine Software's colourful hand-drawn aesthetic may have been replaced by the more realistic stylings of Unreal Engine 3, but after a pleasingly accurate rendition of the action-packed intro complete with harrowing aerial chase, the lush forest is pleasingly familiar. Everything from Conrad's jacket to the design of the foliage, enemies and collectible holocube looks spot-on, but now boasts a fine level of environmental detail. Plenty of disarmingly classic elements remain, not limited to jumping into a random hole in the middle of the woods to access New Washington after performing a favour for an old man.
But then Conrad opens his mouth, delivers a sarcastic wisecrack and scampers off to collect some exploding fruit.
It's still early days, but this reboot will rely on how closely it resembles your Flashback, the version that you both remember and created in your mind's eye.Click here to read more...
Michel Ancel and the Rayman Legends dev team haven't been idly sitting around since Ubisoft announced the incredibly controversial six month delay and multiplatform release. In between protesting the Wii U version's hiatus, they've been usefully spending the time creating loads of extra content.Click here to read more...
Cloudberry Kingdom, a procedurally-generated indie platformer successfully Kickstarted last summer, has managed to attract Ubisoft's attention - who've agreed to step in as a publisher without assuming control of the IP. This indie gauntlet of traps, pits, spikes and lasers is headed to XBLA, PSN, PC, Wii U and Vita later this year.
Despite the cutesy good looks, Cloudberry Kingdom is properly, seriously, staggeringly hardcore (it kicked my *rse comprehensively at the latest Ubisoft preview day), and you can get a taste for its genesis in this brand new trailer from Pwnee studios.Click here to read more...
PID is an interesting indie oddity, a gravity-defying platformer packed with puzzles, but that also suffers from an insane amount of padding and an odd identity crisis between brainpower and twitch gameplay. However, IndieGameStand's pay what you want deal means that there's rarely been a better time to check out the excellent art direction and quality on show.
You can pay a minimum of $0.25 for a direct download, or $1 for Steam/GOG redeem codes. Remember, the whole idea is that you pay what you think it's worth, and can spare.
Sony's massive indie gaming push continues with the news that British sneak 'em up Stealth Bastard: Tactical Espionage Arsehole will be making its paunchy, rock-hard way to PS3 and Vita. This outstanding platformer is so named because it's "bastard hard," but apparently the risky monicker is just too rude for the prudish PlayStation store. You can win a Vita if you come up with a decent alternative.Click here to read more...
2D sidescrolling masters WayForward have formally revealed Mighty Switch Force 2, a sequel to the excellent 3DS and Wii U platformer. Now that Patricia Wagon has left the police for the fire service, players will have to get their head around using water jets to advantage while they mess with dimensions.
Details and screens after the break.Click here to read more...
Excellent Kickstarted platformer Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams will arrive on Xbox Live Arcade next week, setting you back 1200 Microsoft points. A PSN version will follow "a few days later," but firm dates and pricing is currently TBA.
Twisted Dreams managed to absolutely shatter our expectations by totally redefining its maligned source material; allowing players to seamlessly shift between two versions of the game world at any time with gorgeous art direction and a satisfying amount of content. More to the point, it was also one of the first purely-Kickstarted titles to make it out of development, and a damn fine one to boot. You can read more in our Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams review.
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
In the end, it always comes down to blood. The Belmont bloodline has always been a pivotal part of Castlevania lore, and with Gabriel's shocking character arc flooring players at the end of Lords Of Shadow, keeping the clan intact has never been more important. In an attempt to bridge the gap between the reboot and its impending sequel, Mirror Of Fate explores how numerous Belmont generations (and a certain platinum-blonde vampire) sallied forth against the powers of darkness, elevating what could have just been a handheld spin-off into a core part of the new canon.
The premise might be incredibly ambitious, but MercurySteam didn't stop there. Rather than copying wholesale from Konami's peers, Mirror Of Fate strives to emulate the visceral brawling from Lords Of Shadow on a 2D plane, all while providing just enough exploration and platforming to lend it that classic Castlevania flavour. Like a wayward son, Mirror Of Fate wants its own identity, and broadly manages to find it.
Unfortunately, the same lofty ambitions that made Mirror Of Fate stand out also cripple the experience in several surprising ways.
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Konami have released no less than six new videos for Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow - Mirror Of Fate on their Japanese YouTube channel, including the intro cinematic and short bursts of gameplay footage. We've got it all after the break.
A review copy is currently winging its way to us, so we'll bring you our verdict on this 3DS exclusive nearer its March 5th release date.Click here to read more...
Developer: Arcen Games
Was I too generous to A Valley Without Wind? My peers seem to think so, but I saw massive potential in Arcen Games' recklessly ambitious side-scroller. It tapped into our fundamental urge to explore, to continually venture into a brave new world to gradually improve our characters and build a civilization over the course of countless hours. Its rough edges were thoroughly eclipsed by a wealth of hidden depth and genre-defying content, to the extent where I wholeheartedly nominated it as one of the best indie games of 2012.
The sequel is a very different proposition. A Valley Without Wind 2 refines and distils the gameplay of the original instead of expanding on its ambitious ideas, with Arcen describing the change as "the difference between Zelda and Zelda 2." Ruthless streamlining abounds, while new turn-based strategy elements challenge players to lead a ragtag band of resistance fighters through a randomly-generated world in a desperate retreat from evil overlord Demonaica. The sandbox has become a fight for survival.
This could have worked brilliantly were it not for one major problem. Even at its very best, A Valley Without Wind 2 is simply not fun to play.
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Trine 2 is a sensational puzzle plaformer; besting even its excellent predecessor with brilliantly-paced and cerebral physics-based brainteasers. On top of luscious fantasy art direction, it's also a gorgeous graphical powerhouse - and a cooperative experience that takes some serious beating. You can grab it for peanuts on Steam until 18:00 today, which will save you more than you'll spend.
Stealth Bastard deluxe is a great game with a great name, which refers to the sneaky puzzle-platformer being "bastard hard" from the off. If you crave a challenge, this fantastic indie effort weighs in like a strategic Super Meat Boy, and will spank you into sunshine like a table tennis bat-wielding [let's just stop you there - Ed].
Platform: PS Vita [PSN: £11.99]
Developer: Game Arts
Publisher: GungHo Online Entertainment
The PS Vita desperately needs more games like Dokuro.
It's not the biggest or flashiest game to hit Sony's handheld. There was no hype campaign, no big license to piggyback on, and little in the way of fanfare on the run-up to its US launch last year. Dokuro's humble origins were as simple as they come, but as this unassuming puzzle-platformer proves, keeping things simple can sometimes be the key to creating a sensational game. Throughout what can only be described as a staggeringly vast number of perfectly-paced levels, players guide a lovesick skeleton on a quest to save a helpless princess, constantly encountering new challenges that use some instantly accessible mechanics in unpredictable (and surprisingly punishing) ways. Basically it's just a great fit for the handheld: a wholesome, elegant and charming romp that'll keep you entertained through countless commutes or lazy sofa Sundays.
We have much to discuss, especially now that Dokuro has finally staggered through Sony's hilariously tardy EU certification process. But before we do, you should probably think long and hard about where you last used your Vita... and where you ended up stashing it for safekeeping. You'll be needing it soon enough.
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