Contrast has been thrust into the limelight of the PS4’s launch thanks to its inclusion as a free game for all PS+ subscribers. And given that said subscription is required to play the PS4 online, it may be getting a bigger audience than it expected on opening night. No pressure then.
The game’s setup is an unusual one from the start as you control the odd pairing of Didi -the young girl- and Dawn, a female stage performer. More unusually, the other characters in the game don’t seem to see Dawn, and they only appear as shadows. This is the norm though as we see Didi talk with her parents in their shadow form throughout.
Continue reading Contrast (PS4 Review) →
Get your Zurkon!
Sony’s long serving pair are back for another dose of platforming and mad scientist-style firearms. Let’s get straight to what you want to hear, yes, Ratchet & Clank: Nexus is a return to form after the misguided effort that was Q-Force. So, with no threats of ridiculous tower defence to worry about we’re free to enjoy the series as it was always meant to be.
That said, I’ve been surprised to see Insomniac continue to work on the series since they started working on non-Sony titles, but I supposed something has to pay the bills between Fuse and Sunset Overdrive (an upcoming Xbox One exclusive). This could explain why we’re getting a shorter Ratchet adventure than usual, but in fairness, it’s only £20.
Continue reading Ratchet & Clank: Nexus (Review) →
A Better Reflection
The 3DS was always going to struggle with the ambitious graphics in Mirror of Fate, but we no longer have to fend off its ugly with a crucifix, because Konami have unleashed a HD makeover on the PS3 and Xbox 360 digital stores and at a bargain price of £9.99.
For those of you who missed the 3DS version, the game ditches the 3D action feel of Lords of Shadow for something more in line with the classic 2D Castlevania games. So expect lots of platforming, exploration and fending off opponents from both sides.
Continue reading Castlevania: Mirror of Fate HD (Review) →
The Heavens open and darkness falls
Sony have a strong history in recent years of nurturing development talent eager to try something a little offbeat, risky or arty. We’ve had Journey and The Unfinished Swan and we’re bound to see more of their kind on the PS4, but before we take that leap onto next-gen in November, we have a title many of us have been looking forward to since its initial reveal back at Gamescom 2012.
Rain takes place during one evening in the rainy streets of Paris. Hearing a noise outside, a boy looks out his window to see a ghostly silhouette of a little girl run past. He climbs outside to investigate only to discover that he himself has turned into a similar ethereal figure. There isn’t much time to dawdle though as there are sinister creatures on the prowl too, so you must guide him through the streets to help him find the girl and make his way back home.
Continue reading Rain (Review) →
An absorbing adventure that’s still full of heart
Square Enix aren’t the fastest of movers when it comes to giving us what we really want. That Final Fantasy VII remake doesn’t appear to be on its way soon and Kingdom Hearts III has only just been announced.
In the meantime though, we’re more than happy to revisit the past in their latest HD collection, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix. Rather than just give us HD versions of the main canon PS2 games, Square are making the effort to bring players up to date with the Nintendo-only spin-offs and region-specific releases. Naturally, this leaves room for another HD collection before KHIII.
Continue reading Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix (Review) →
Rolling back the clock with the haunted house of mouse
Following the recent retro remake of DuckTales, we now get to see how the classic Mega Drive game, Castle of Illusion scrubs up by today’s standards. As a big fan of the 90s original, I had my fingers cautiously crossed for a nostalgic blast.
The story remains true to the original, with Mickey setting off to rescue long-time sweetheart, Minnie from the evil witch, Mizrabel. Rather than animate some traditional Disney-style cartoon scenes to set up the game, Sega Australia have gone low-budget and opted for some mildly animated illustrations.
Continue reading Castle of Illusion HD (Review) →
Proof that running with scissors is fun after all
Typical, just like waiting for a bus. We’ve been waiting for a decent platformer for ages, then two come along at once in the shape of Rayman Origins and now Sony’s Puppeteer. So, rather than stress yourself into an early grave trying to beat all the timed challenges in Rayman once you’ve made an initial playthrough, pick up a copy of Puppeteer as it’s been released cheaper than most new games.
This is classic 2D side-scrolling territory, the purist’s choice of dimension for platforming. As you can see by the visuals, this is going for something a bit unusual with its handcrafted puppets and theatrical stage design. While knee-jerk reactions may compare the visuals to LittleBigPlanet, the fact of the matter is that this is a considerably better-looking and better-constructed platformer. I love how so much of the scenery is interactive and not just painted on. With every scene transition, you see everything bounce as if the stage has literally just been dropped into place, giving everything a touchable physicality on your TV.
Continue reading Puppeteer (Review) →
Platforming performance receives standing ovation.
Fans of Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers rejoice. The Behemoth have returned and they’ve struck gaming gold again. After nailing 2D scrolling shooters and beat em’ ups they’ve turned their hands to old-school platforming. And it’s fantastic.
The bright and crisp cell-shaded 2D art style is striking, compelling throughout, and consistent with the studio’s previous games. Many of the characters have something of a cutout feel to them, hell, some of them are literally being bounced around on sticks like puppet placards, but it all works so well.
Continue reading BattleBlock Theater (Review) →
Review note: This review mainly focuses on the Vita version of the game. A few days ago (after already finishing the game on the Vita), I was also sent the PS3 version, which allowed me to test the Augmented Reality and cross-save features too. All images are my own screen grabs from the Vita version of the game. If you buy the PS3 version, you will get a free digital copy of the Vita game too.
Aside from the excellent HD re-release a while back, we’ve not had a Sly Cooper game since 2005. This has left a gaping wound in the platforming genre that nobody has even attempted to heal. Sucker Punch have long since left to work on the InFamous games, leaving unknowns Sanzaru to take over full-time after successfully overseeing the aforementioned HD collection. While probably not under as much pressure as 343 Industries with Halo 4, there are parallels. Let’s see how they got on.
Continue reading Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (Review) →
One brick to rule them all? Or in the laziness bind them?
Despite being released nine years after the final film, the memories are still strong enough to make the latest tie-in feel like a relevant entry to the series rather than a late cash-in. I’m sure the upcoming release of the first Hobbit movie has nothing to do with Traveller’s Tales and Warner Bros. Interactive waiting this long. Ok, so maybe a little.
Since the Lego series began, we’ve seen it grow in terms of production values. The graphics have been steadily improving and the recent Lego Batman 2 introduced fully voiced characters for the first time, which allowed the series to portray a proper story and a damn amusing one at that.
Continue reading Lego The Lord of the Rings (Review) →
The PS2 was spoilt for choice with platforming adventure titles, Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper and of course Jak & Daxter. So an excuse to dive in again in shiny HD with widescreen support was a no-brainer.
Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is admittedly one of my favourite games, but have I been remembering the game through rose-tinted glasses, was it really that good? Hell yes it was. Originally released in 2001, this was ridiculously impressive both technically and in terms of gameplay. All the levels are linked together, and you can run from one end of the game to the other without a single loading screen.
Continue reading Jak & Daxter Trilogy (Review) →
Within the first few months of the Vita’s release I expect we’ll be seeing this sort of thing a lot. What, artsy black and white puzzle games? No, that would be fine; I mean games with overly-reliant touchscreen and touchpad inputs hampering a potentially enjoyable experience. These aren’t the only flaws behind Escape Plan, but they certainly tip the scales towards indifference.
The premise is simple; controlling two characters you must escape a long series of 2D challenge rooms. A sideways screen swipe makes them walk and a tap stops them. Interacting with the environment on their behalf is the key to their freedom. Drawer-like platforms can be pushed out from behind for a limited time, so timing your walks (they can’t be called runs) across them is of vital importance. Not being able to use the X button to start/stop walking is a miserly and foolish omission as the touches don’t always register first or second time.
Continue reading Escape Plan (Review) →
In a gaming climate that has almost killed off the humble platformer, Trine 2 shines as a reminder of how much potential is still there for developers willing to work at it as Frozenbyte has done once again.
Players of the original 2009 Trine (PS3 and PC) will be able to jump in straight away, while 360 players might experience a longer adjustment, as the game doesn’t take much time to explain the game’s mechanics to the new player.
Essentially, you control three characters at once by swapping between them on the fly to solve the platforming puzzle at hand with only one character appearing on-screen at a time. The wizard levitates objects and conjures crates and planks to help you climb upwards, the thief fires arrows and has a grappling hook to attach to wooden surfaces and swing around, and the knight provides the muscle with a sword and shield combo or a sledgehammer that can also be used to smash through walls.
Continue reading Trine 2 (Review) →
PS3 gamers already know of Joe Danger’s brilliance and now XBLA customers finally get to see what all the fuss was about thanks to this Special Edition. For those of you not in the know, Joe Danger rocked onto PSN last year to unanimous applause, combining motorcycle stunt riding, platforming, speed runs and item collecting into one incredibly slick experience.
The game plays across 2D planes, left to right. On your way to the finish line, there are multiple objectives for each of the 100+ levels. Collect all the silver stars, beat a par time, grab coins, hidden icons, land on all targets and maintain a combo for the whole level are some of the tasks at hand. You’ll only need a couple ticked off to progress, but mastering a stage is where the fun really starts.
Continue reading Joe Danger: Special Edition (Review) →
Buying titles for the little gamer in your life can be a difficult task. Especially if they’re of the age that bright colours and fun take precedent over playing GTA. So you’ll want to get it right this Christmas.
Disney Universe is a good place to start in addition to De Blob 2 and the tougher Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. It’s cheery, inoffensive, impossible to hit a Game Over screen and has so many playable characters that kids might even still be playing it by New Year’s.
Continue reading Disney Universe (Review) →
Aiming to please fans of both traditional and modern Sonic titles, Sega have included both styles in one game. Surprisingly this hasn’t resulted in the partial disaster I expected. But is Sonic still capable of a decent result in a genre that has unfortunately all but faded?
We find ourselves taking turns to play as the 2D side-scrolling scamp of old and the free-moving chatty rail-grinder. Time travel is the logic behind this merging of styles, as modern-day Sonic joins forces with his younger 1990s self. Together they must defeat Dr. Robotnik and Dr. Eggman, essentially two versions of the same villain. In addition to the fat moustachioed one(s), there’s a sinister creature that caused the time rift in the first place.
Continue reading Sonic Generations (Review) →
Co-op multiplayer Ratchet & Clank. The series has been consistently fantastic without it, but we’re always keen to watch a great game grow. But with co-op, we knew there would be concessions to the game we know and love. Would this sour the overall experience though? In short: no, this is still a great Ratchet game, even as a single-player experience.
If you’d prefer to play through the game alone (also the best way to build up your arsenal), just choose a character and get going. With Ratchet, Clank, Captain Quark and Dr. Nefarious all working together against a common enemy, you can choose to play as any of the four. An AI partner follows you around to help in gunfights and co-op tasks if you’re flying solo. Co-op partners, either local or online can drop in or drop out at any time, which allows you to progress through the game as you choose.
Continue reading Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (Review) →
Why did the chicken cross the road? To take on an army of totalitarian penguins in a cool action puzzle platformer. Browser game fans may recognise the game, as it’s an extended version of Rocketbirds: Revolution.
The cartoony character art style set against the wartime background of the sinister penguin forces oozes style. Cutscenes play out a straightforward story of redemption and revenge with some surprisingly dark moments amongst the genuinely funny parts that themselves will raise plenty of wry smirks. Psychedelic rock band, New World Revolution, provide the soundtrack to the cutscenes, and while you won’t be rushing off to buy their album, their sombre tones suite the game well.
Continue reading Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken Review →
This collection was one of the first of the HD re-releases to be announced and since then we’ve had many more come and go. With the long development time, you’d expect perfect conversions, with little need for rose-tinted glasses to help you get through it. So let’s take a look.
For many gamers, this will be their first taste of these games, and after going back to check the PS2 versions you can see there are clear improvements thanks to the high-definition remodelling. There are also a few downsides, but more on those later.
Continue reading Ico & Shadow of the Colossus HD Collection (Review) →
After the success of the original, which spawned millions of levels, the guys at Media Molecule have decided to see what we can do when they throw a bigger tool-kit at us to create any type of game we can think of. The short answer? Absolutely kick their ass at their own game. Continue reading Little Big Planet 2 (Review) →