Sep
27
Posted by Ben at 17:08
As I write this I'm wondering if I ever did get around to adding another Yakuza header image. Probably not.

Anyway, Sega today posted a new trailer for Yakuza 0

Yakuza 0 is the prequel to the Yakuza series, that I'm not sure the story really needs, but it's a way for them to keep Kazuma in the games which is probably why it exists.

It does look good though, I mean at one point in the trailer it looks like Kiryu Kazuma is about to fight a train. I've never fought a train, I'd get mullered by a tram, but then I've never beat seven shades out of a tiger either.

Yakuza 0 is coming to PS4 in the US and Europe on January 24th next year, and I kind of can't wait

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Sep
27
Posted by Ben at 15:20
Not much else to say really, if you want an unrequited love FPS on Steam then Gal*Gun Double Peace might just be the game for you

I guess it's more of a lightgun game, shame there isn't a Wii version I guess. Still, my opinion on the game has softened as I've seen more of it (no obvious jokes please), I may well pick it up on Steam at some point

Either way, Gal Gun Double Peace is out on Steam and is currently Ł26.99
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Kurukuru-ing
Edition
Sep 27
Posted by James at 14:56

I've had an itch for pick-up-and-play, arcade-like experiences lately, which nudged me in the direction of an imported copy of Kururin Paradise to play on my lovely Game Boy Micro. And it’s reminded me of how much craft large teams poured into decidedly lower budget handheld game back when the majority of the market only consisted of these two, very distinct worlds of console and handheld.

Much has been written about Kuru Kuru Kururin before here, but for the uninitiated, you pilot a helicopter (a helirin) through a series of puzzle mazes in search of the level goal. Except it's not really anything that resembles a helicopter; it's a constantly spinning stick as seen from above and the direction it’s facing determines where you can lead it on the way to the goal.

The beauty of Kururin is it’s an idea that can serve an entire game and then some, much like Super Monkey Ball, which has you rotating a maze to guide your simian to each level goal. That's reflected in the game's name, where "Kururin" is Japanese for "spin".

What sequel Kururin Paradise has to offer, then, is an expanded version of this very concept. In the first game, your stick only spun at a set speed, making harder levels feel a lot more restrictive than they ought to. It was too easy to be stuck waiting for your stick to rotate back round to where you needed it to, and it meant there could only be a certain number of ways to tackle some of the trickier levels as a result.

Paradise lets you speed up your stick’s rotation with the R button, and it’s revelatory. Impatient players like myself can use this new move to try and “game” the game as much as possible, calculating when and where to speed up the stick’s rotation ahead of any upcoming obstacles and never slow down on the way to the goal.

Above and beyond opening up new opportunities to attempt speed runs, it simply gives you so much more control in dodging obstacles, and this is reflected in the game’s level designs. One level sees you try to avoid ghosts that latch onto your helicopter, slowing down its movement. Another sees you dodge a plethora of flames, danmaku style. There are minigames which ask you to perform abstract tasks – like mowing a lawn – against the clock. This all wouldn’t be possible in the game's predecessor.

I really enjoyed my time playing through Kururin Paradise. It has all the hallmarks of a great Game Boy Advance game: A super solid gameplay concept, excellent use of sprite scaling, beautiful pixel art sprites and backgrounds, and a catchy soundtrack that also manages to make use of Game Boy backwards compatibility.

There’s a GameCube sequel: Kururin Squash. I've yet to play my copy of the game, but when I do it’ll certainly be interesting to find out whether Eighting can improve the core gameplay concept once more with the addition of analogue control…
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Mad Father
Gameplay Video
Sep 27
Posted by Ben at 13:59

I've got to admit a level of ignorance with regards to Mad Father. Apparently it's a Japanese indie game originally released in 2011, with an English release a year later. It's now out on Steam, remastered over the original release

There'll be a full review up in the next couple of days, but the video shows the early parts of the game. I'd completed Mad Father at this point, so it's pretty much a video review. For what it's worth though, I really enjoyed Mad Father, it's a cool thing that I hope more people get to play

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Sep
26
Posted by Mark at 18:56
As long as the term's been in use in games, the exact definition of 'Indie' has been under constant debate.

If can consider a studio in a pokey office on an anonymous Oxford industrial estate self-publishing their game to be 'indie'- even if that game happens to be a full priced boxed retail game on three formats as part of a chart-topping series that's shifted over ten million units, Rebellion, then the opposite, where a Tokyo-based multinational, spread across multiple floors of its HQ, employing seven million people worldwide in its videogames, toys and arcade empire digitally publishing a game by a little Swedish firm counts as well.

Bandai Namco are on publishing duties for Tarsier's Little Nightmares, a puzzle-platformer best described as Unravel except intentionally creepy. The player character- a little girl in a big raincoat named Six- needs to sneak out of the oversized house that The Maw, a representation of childhood fears, has imprisoned her in.

The house seems to be some kind of live-in butchers' shop, and the range of items that can be found in such an environment make what could be a very simplistic game much more interesting- the end of the demo involves pushing hams onto a trapdoor so that they fall into a sausage machine on the floor below, which creates a string of sausages you swing from to exit through a vent, which makes a nice change from finding a convenient rope that latches onto a convenient hook.

Another good example of 'Big Indie' is Kickstarter success Yooka-Laylee. The level showcased deviated little from the template Banjo-Kazooie left for it, never showing anything too new, a lot of aspects being clear reskins of what their 64-bit counterparts were, but these are mechanics tuned to near-perfection the first go around.

If there was one aspect that could be considered too similar, however, the background music felt like it was a little too reminicent of Banjo and DK64- this could stop not just the game from truly finding its own identity, but also that of Playtonic as being distinct from Rare- a question from the audience during their Developer Session asked if they were likely to try and revisit other titles, which could be an easy path for them to fall down.

Less 'Big Indie' and more 'Small AAA' was Sega's Sonic Mania. Similarly in danger of living too much in the past, especially with one of the levels demoed being called 'Green Hill Zone', having more or less the same music as on the Megadrive and even pretty much lifting its tileset wholesale, the game sidesteps this by pulling in enough of the future.

Unlike Sonic Generations, which was self-conciously a tribute to a fading series, Mania is a 'new, old game' and free of many of the gimmicks that made a mess of the franchise (such as homing jumps and special moves) while still bringing in many of the improvements it picked up over time, retaining the spin dash from Sonic 2 and the elemental shields introduced in 3.

With that, it regains its purity as a straight platformer, which it's not really managed to do since Sonic Advance.

If Sonic Mania is a good example of what Sonic was, Mekazoo provides a good example of what Sonic thinks it is now. A shiny, almost bioluminescent platformer based around bouncing off springs and blasting through curved tunnels. These are traversed in different ways based on which of the many different animals you're playing as- so it's even managed to do Sonic's mates right.

The Little Acre was one of many point-and-click adventures exhibited. This game features two parallel plots, one set in the present day and another, earlier timeline featuring the same characters as children in a fantasy world of massive caterpillars and venus flytraps that work as teleporters.

There's not a lot you can do with the genre in gameplay terms, which means focus is on the writing- and unfortunately the lead character's dialogue in the 'adult' timeline needs work. He appears to be less describing the world in front of him as much as remembering it. If this was for the child version of the character, then it could be framed as a memory, instead he just comes off as a self-narrating arse.

Back with Square-Enix, their 'Collective' initiative of publishing indie games, in its own booth amongst its indie bretheren, rather than sandwiched between Final Fantasies, managed to chuck out Black: The Fall.

Using a muted colour pallete to great effect, the game is set in an oppressive dystopian future, the player is tasked with controlling that one guy who's seen through it all and is trying to make his escape, after stealing the laser pointer which lets him take control of his fellow citizens. There are times where the game fails to explain itself and the final puzzle in the demo, which plunges the player into darkness and relies on sound cues felt a little unfair, but these feel like minor issues that should be fixed for the final release.

Seemingly announced by Collective at the show, to the point where it wasn't even listed in the show map was Forgotton Anne. That seemingly misplaced 'O' appears to be capitalised in the logo, so it probably means something.

Set in the Forgotton Realm, the place where all those lost socks and things go, this is a puzzle platformer where the player controls the Anne of the title, who has to use her ability to control magic-electricity hybrid 'anima' to quash a rebel uprising which threatens to stop her and her master Bonku from returning to the real world.

This is a strikingly beautiful looking-game with seemingly hand-animated characters which only occasionally betray the computer-generated help it occasionally gets when moving the scenery around. The demo shown on the floor also hinted at an extended story which changes based on how you interact with the characters- a talking scarf which you meet early on and accuse of trying to con you can be burnt using anima, leaving only ashes and a caption of 'This could have ended differently'.

It's a bit less mad than it sounds. Here's a trailer:

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Interestingly, this was the only game in the show I made a note in my phone about mentioning it on Bitparade. Make of that what you will.

Last call goes to Trapper's Delight. One of the more 'gamey' titles seen in the weirder 'Leftfield Collection' (alongside Airheart, which we've already featured) this is a multiplayer game where the objective is to traverse a small maze made of tiles. The catch is that before each attempt, all players are able to lay traps for the other players to fall foul of and/or you to forget exists and walk straight in to.

I played this with two randoms, and after the first round of trying to work out what was going on, most of the time was spent laughing as we accidentally managed to create increasingly elaborate Rube Goldberg machines of death and made every level unwinnable. This is currently available on Early Access, and seems like the sort of thing to lighten up any games night.
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Sep
26
Posted by Ben at 14:38
Super Dungeon Bros, the first console game from mobile specialists React! Games, now has a confirmed release date and trailer

Super Dungeon Bros is releasing on Steam, PS4 and Xbox One on the 1st November, priced at Ł14.99. Super Dungeon Bros is a co-op 'dungeon brawler', so Diablo with more action, and some obstacles to avoid judging by the trailer.

Super Dungeon Bros kind of reminds me of the Ninja Turtles based on the trailer, like a metal Ninja Turtles, which I'm amazed doesn't already exist, unless that was Biker Mice From Mars or that shark mess.

It seems there's going to be bother a physical and digital release of Super Dungeon Bros, and most interestingly, the promise of cross-platform multiplayer sometime after launch. It's likely PS4 & PC / Xbox One & PC, but we can hold out hope everyone will get to play everyone. Anyway, trailer and gallery below

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GALLERY:
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Sep
25
Posted by Mark at 19:11
There's been an amount made about the state of the event at this year's EGX- and while I'll be trying to focus on the games played, there are a few things that can't be avoided.

First, and the one which created the most noise was Sony's handling of Horizon: Zero Dawn- only available to play in a closed-off area, the 30-minute demo meant that formal queuing was abandoned early on in favour of booking sessions, all of which were filled up by 11AM each day- completely shutting out anyone who didn't have an Early Access ticket to the event.

Sony are not the first people to underestimate the demand to see a title at such a show, but questions have to be asked as to why so few consoles were made available considering the length of the demo, more so when the games immediately next to it on Sony's booth were Overwatch and Uncharted 4- both well-marketed games that have been out for some time, the former of which had its own dedicated booth.

The other two platform holders were also conspicuous by their absences- Microsoft's presence being limited to showing Gears of War 4 in a corner of the 18+ area and Forza Horizon 3 making an appearance on the Twitch booth, and Nintendo not showing up at all.

Microsoft's decision not to showcase the XBox One S and let Sony hog the limelight with PS4 Pro seems like an own-goal, but at least one of their flagship series made an appearance, to an extent doing what Nintendo did at E3 with Breath Of The Wild.

The next Zelda game, like its developer, didn't make an appearance at EGX, beyond a glancing mention in the show magazine (this year just an advert for Amazon rather than telling you anything about the games being exhibited), not even in a closed-off Horizonbox or as a developer session.

Nintendo not being present is almost inexplicable, especially when you consider that in the much less-attended Hyper Japan earlier in the year, Nintendo had a not insignificant showing, including integrating BotW's UK premiere into its stage show and creating a Pokémon showcase, capitalising on the back of the then-new Pokémon Go.

Despite what that event's name would suggest, Nintendo's showing there wasn't entirely niche titles with little appeal outside the otaku market, so it probably wouldn't have been too difficult to simply pick up that show and drop it into EGX, maybe adding a bit of Super Mario Run if they really had to.

Mainly appealing to otakudom still probably wouldn't have hurt, if Square-Enix' booth was anything to go by, showcasing World Of Final Fantasy- one of three FF games exhibited (four if Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 counts), a dungeon crawler whose gimmick seems to be that the characters can transform into cute chibis at will, a mechanic which seems to exist solely to sell Nendoroid figures.

More interesting was the adjacent Dragon Quest Builders, the Minecraftalike that Ben has already posted the trailer of.

(And if you were waiting, this marks the first appearance of a game I actually played)

The notion of Minecraft with story and objectives appears interesting, and advanced platformer-y tasks could be seen played on Sony's stage, although the playable demo didn't seem to last long enough to reach that point. The move to third-person, despite certain control changes to accommodate, makes placing blocks slightly harder than it could be, which is likely to cause frustration.

The rest of Squeenix' booth was made up of Rise Of The Tomb Raider and Hitman, promoting their PS4 re-release and latest episodes respectively.

Possibly as a factor of the absence of Microsoft and Nintendo, aside from the usual iterative titles (This year's CoD, FIFA, WWE, Pro Evo and Battlefield) the only other meaningful showing- save for Sega settling nicely into its strategy niche, and Sniper Elite 4 helping Rebellion continue to punch above its weight- from a AAA developer was Bethesda, showcasing Dishonored 2.

The level shown in the demo featured a mansion whose rooms could shift into different configurations at the pull of a lever- meaning in order to complete the level's two objectives (saving a colleague from the first game and taking down this game's antagonist) the player has to creep around the crawlspaces under the floors- a little like a Victoriana latter half of Portal.

The enemies shown, rather than the humans which made up the previous game, were all robots, which added an extra element of strategy to combat. Decapitation causes them to attack anything that makes a noise, meaning they can be used by the player to take down other enemies.

Sniper Elite 4, incidentally, was pretty much Sniper Elite 3, but bigger. Which is absolutely fine by me.

That feels like a nice cut-off point, tomorrow I'll recap the better indie and smaller games of the show.
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Super Treasure Arena
First Play
Sep 21
Posted by Ben at 16:02

Headup sent over a few copies of their new multi-player 2D arena shooter (if that's how you'd characterise it) Super Treasure Arena, which is still in Early Access on Steam, but we thought we'd take a look at it.

We're a little clumsy at it, certainly not showing off particularly high level play, although after a couple of matches against randoms the other night I can attest there's several levels beyond where we're at.

Super Treasure Arena seems pretty good so far, the use of enemies hides that it might otherwise feel a bit empty with only 3 or 4 humans (or bots) in the arena. Personally I could see an 8 player local co-op game being fantastic, but the online seems to work pretty well, even at this early stage (note: the game is only 4 players)

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Sep
21
Posted by Ben at 02:09
When I reviewed Dear Esther way back when I marked it down for price and length, and while those issues haven't really gone away, after multiple playthroughs I'm still fascinated by the game. It really is one of my favourite gaming experiences of the last 5 years

So I'm pleased to see it on the consoles, I'm a little surprised it wasn't snapped up as one of the PS+ or Games With Gold games, but at a limited-time discount of 20 per cent off the SRP of Ł7.99 it doesn't feel as bank breaking as it was (I think it launched at the same price on PC). Not that it's cheap, but at least at this point it's a known quantity.

Anyway, if you like moody, atmospheric narrative 'walking simulators' then I think Dear Esther still has some merit, and the console Dear Esther Landmark Edition has a few tweaks over the pc original (that will be coming to PC eventually apparently).

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Vroom Vroom
Edition
Sep 20
Posted by Mark at 18:02

A fairly unexciting week, as I've mainly been making small progress on Forza Motorsport 6- although I did also find time to crack open Freedom Planet.

I don't really have an awful lot to say about either- I'm not deep enough into the latter to cast any real judgements, and the former does what it does very well, but not in any particularly exciting way.
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