Back in 2017 The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild was coined Video Game of the Year based on the people’s choice. Super Mario Odyssey secured the second spot. The Nintendo Switch had an amazing launch year in 2017 and at the time of writing this the Nintendo Switch sold over ten million consoles world wide. For a video games console that hasn’t one been out for 12 months that figure makes my head spin. 2018 is set to be just as good of a year for the Nintendo Switch with some prominent Nintendo Wii U games launching on the console within the first six months.
Having spent a lot of time with Super Mario Odyssey over the last couple of months I feel I’ve got a lot to say about Mario’s latest adventure. In fact I would go as far to say that Super Mario Odyssey should have taken him the title of Video Game of the year (2017). You might not agree but I urge you to read the remainder of this blog then let me know your final thoughts in the comments. Now before we go any further we have to note the Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece. I am a huge fan of it despite initially feeling sceptical. In fact I was also sceptical about Super Mario Odyssey. Some of the earliest footage I saw was with Mario running around a city approaching business men! “This is not a Super Mario game!” Fast forward to now and I can honestly say that I was wrong to judge. Super Mario Odyssey serves up a beautiful 3D experience of ploughing through bustling kingdoms and moon hunts. Odyssey offers up a tasty menu of new characters too with Cappy being the most notable. Cappy amplifies Super Mario’s abilities within the kingdom’s enabling him to jump higher, morph in to enemies and leap to the highest ledges. Super Mario feels more super than ever before. Again I was apprehensive about Mario’s new top man but Happy really does add a lot of value in to Super Mario Odyssey.
Repetition done well
Super Mario Odyssey adopts the same roots as previous Mario games. It is up to Mario to save Princess Peach from the evil clutches of Bowser. Along the way, there are many dangerous lands our friendly plumber must traverse in order to rectify the wrongful kidnapping. Now usually in video games I always prefer new stories to unfold but in the case of Mario the notion of him rescuing Princess Peach - again - seems to bode well in my gamer brain. Super Mario Odyssey is not really pushing a story but instead Odyssey is a revelation in its own right. Besides it is the first 3D Mario game since Super Mario 3D in 2011.
Super Mario Odyssey has something for everyone. Did you grow up with the NES like me? Did you grow up arguing with siblings over who’s turn it is to try and beat the next level on Super Mario Bros? Well you can expect a slice of retro 8bit Super Mario in Odyssey. The seamless warp through an iconic green pipe will take you right bak in to a Super Mario Bros-esque kind of level; equipped with 8bit sound effects and all. Nintendo we salute you because this was an gorgeous touch of finesse that makes Super Mario Odyssey feel more polished that ever!
Whether you are collecting rings in a Sonic game or coins in an older Mario game; video games have many challenges. In Super Mario Odyssey you can expect hundreds of quirky little challenges. In fact 880 of those challenges involve collecting Power Moons. Power Moons vary in colour depending on which kingdom you are in. They are used to power up the Odyssey and to unlock various other parts of the game. Collecting all 880 Power Moons (additional moons can be purchased) unlocks a painting in the wedding hall…but we won’t spoil that. Now 880 seems like a lot but it’s not. I love the challenge of being able to travel backwards and forwards to different kingdoms and being able to hunt for more moons.
Easy on the approach
You can literally take off in Super Mario Odyssey. Aside from flying from kingdom to kingdom in the Odyssey; Super Mario Odyssey suits players of all abilities. You can jump in without having to learn too many complex moves or controls. Once you have your timing on jumps and learn how to launch Cappy correctly you are pretty much set. My six year old nephew picked it up in no time. Nintendo have always seemed to adopt a knack for creating games where people can adapt really easily. This may seem like a small point to make but when I saw early previews of Super Mario Odyssey I was worried about it being overly clumpy. How wrong was I? Odyssey feels like a breeze to play through. Even the boss battles are setup up with the classic three hit to defeat format! There are no hidden agendas here in Super Mario Odyssey. Thank you Nintendo.
Perhaps you haven’t played a Mario game for years? Does this matter? Super Mario Odyssey feels familiar very early on in the game. Take the Cascade Kingdom for example. When I first met the Chain Chomps a huge smile erupted on my face. Why? The Chain Chomps have been popular in many other Mario games. It was this feeling of nostalgia that made me feel great. I wanted to continue playing Odyssey to find out what other nostalgia trips I could take.
What would a 3D game be without the 3D camera right? Well it’s kind of obvious that it would be a 2D game. At times the camera motions can seem like a minor hinderance. In my play-through there were times (on water levels especially) where the camera would get stuck on a wall mid-rotation. This was my only gripe too. It’s certainly worth noting but I don’t feel the camera rotation will adversely affect your experiences in Super Mario Odyssey overall. I’ve seen a few other reviewers mention this too but how have you found it?
Super Mario Odyssey is a gem of a video game no matter what your age, gaming ability or experience. It is packed with old and new surprises that will make you want to continue on your quest to save Princess Peach over and over. If you chose not to play Super Mario Odyssey then you are missing out on one of Nintendo’s greatest games of all time. Super Mario Odyssey is a masterpiece for many.
It has been a great year for the survival horror genre. What with the explosive Resident Evil VII and now The Evil Within 2; the sequel to the 2014 release of The Evil Within. Currently Resident Evil VII is my game of 2017 as I was mighty impressed with the new atmosphere of the mansion and the Bakers really added a creepy twist the campaign. Could anything beat Resident Evil VII? Could there be a video game that surpassed the fright, horror and sadistic nature of the RE VII? My answer is simple: no. Or at least not yet.
The Evil Within 2 is nowhere near as enticing as quest to find Mia in Resident Evil VII. Here’s the thing; The Evil Within 2 is not supposed to be. The Evil Within 2 is its own game which brings a whole new level of horror compared to the first game: The Evil Within. Now we’ve gotten that out of the way let’s explore what really shines about The Evil Within 2.
The Evil Within 2 is nowhere near as gory as the first game. Perhaps Shinji Mikami’s role as Producer rather than director had something to do with the change in vibe in The Evil Within 2. The game serves a plethora of tense moments rather than scary moments in my opinion. I didn’t expect this either as I was hoping for many more jump scares but sadly The Evil Within 2 didn’t provide it. Shelve that and what we have here is a desperate father trying to find his daughter whom he previously believed to be dead from a house fire. It turns out that she is indeed alive after Mobius faked her death. Lily was exploited by Mobius in their efforts to create a new STEM core in a simulated town called Union. Union forms the foundation in The Evil Within 2. Sebastian is recruited by Mobius to try and save Lily after contact was lost. At various points during The Evil Within 2’s story is drip fed through the interactions between Sebastian and other characters. We soon come to realise the wrath of Stefano Valentini too. The plagued and extroverted photographer obsessed with death. Stefano's characters added some vert tense moments in to The Evil Within 2 but I won't spoil the surprises too much for you. Ultimately, I think the pacing of the story is perfect and not overloaded with lengthy cut scenes or dialogue. I am usually put off by lengthy cut scenes and excessive dialogue but the pace of the story really worked in The Evil Within 2.
Eurogamer Expo 2017 (EGX 2017) - Assassin's Creed Origins, Far Cry 5, Battlefront 2 oh and Dead Pixels 2
Eurogamer 2017 has finished and we are all returning back to reality after being graced with playing some of the best upcoming video games of 2017 and 2018. Video games that will don the PS4, Xbox One X and PC alike. EGX 2017 did not just serve up AAA titles though but we were blessed with a mighty EGX Rezzed section. Indie developers stole EGX 2017 for many with games like Bloody Zombies, Dead Cells, Raging Justice and more. Lets take at look at some of this years EGX highlights as I was fortunate enough to play more of the AAA sites across two days.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Over the last few Assassin’s Creed games I’d lost interest. The franchise seemed to grow incredibly repetitive and stale with ever-growing similarities in the parkour and general gameplay mechanics. Queueing for Assassin’ Creed Origins took around two hours and was playable on the Xbox One X and PC. I played Assassin’s Creed Origins on the Xbox One X. Instantly I was hit at just how crisp and gorgeous the game looked. Despite being Alpha gameplay the textures, colours and details were on point. The Egyptian setting seemed attractive and a welcome change to the past Victorian, Colonial and Renaissance eras.
Assassin’s Creed Origins had some downsides. Camera angles seemed rigid and buggy but I don’t feel this is anything to be concerned about given the alpha demo gameplay. I’ve also never enjoyed the ridiculous amount of question marks on the compass and intricate menu systems. Assassin’s Creed Origin’s had way too much going on from that angle. I would have preferred a more streamlined compass system!
Today something wonderful happened in the gaming world. PlayStation announced that Secret of Mana will be re-released in 3D on the Playstation 4 and PS Vita in February 2018. Square Enix sure know how to rock the classics and the Secret of Mana 3D remake is going to be no different. Back in 2015 I wrote about Secret of Mana 3D showcasing the work of Bitplex who created Secret of Mana reimagined in 3D. The work showed stills of Secret of Mana from the SNES and created 3D renditions of those stills making the word seem even more beautiful. Now over two years later we are getting a real release of Secret of Mana 3D with a ton of new perks. How could Secret of Mana get any better? Well it can as Playstation announced three new aspects of gameplay to get excited about: Voiced characters, local multiplayer and a new soundtrack. The local multiplayer alone is enough to excite anybody's gaming palette right?
With the SNES Mini Classic getting released at the end of September it seems like a peak time for the good ol' Super Nintendo with many fans being able to enjoy 22 classic Super Nintendo games all over again including Secret of Mana. So what is it that drives the nostalgia in us? What is it that gets us revved up for classic games? It's different for everybody. This release; Secret of Mana 3D certainly brings in new features to an existing classic RPG.
There's no doubt in my mind that I will be playing Secret of Mana 3D remake and the fact that we can go portable on the PS Vita makes it even more appealing.
Blog post by Gemma @ JuicyGameReviews / TheGebs24
Playerunknown's Battlegrounds has taken the gaming world by storm since it's Early Access release in March 2017. Currently Battlegrounds is only available in the PC but during E3 2017 we learnt that Playerunknown's Battlegrounds will with launching with the upcoming Xbox One X later this year. Rumour has it that Battlegrounds will be landing on the PS4. Let's hope we can get some solid confirmation of that soon!
If you've been sleeping under a rock for the last few months then there's a chance Playerunknown's Battlegrounds wont be on your radar. Battlegrounds is a 100 person Battle Royale game mode and currently playable on one huge map. Battlegrounds can be played solo, with a partner (duos) or in squads of up to 4 players. The last man/woman standing is rewarded with a Chicken Dinner title in the caption of Winner Winner Chicken Dinner. Catchy right? Although not if you're vegetarian.
Battlegrounds for many gamers has become a complete addiction. Brenden Greene, Playerunknown himself recently tweeted that his game now had the highest player count of a non-Valve game. Not too shabby for a game that is yet to launch in full release. This makes me question what greatness is yet to come from Playerunknown's Battlegrounds. Exciting times.
Often there are games that have immensely negative press prior to release. It can be crippling. On the other hand I’ve seen huge build up to games that simply flopped on release. Take the case of No Man’s Sky. Never before could I recall a game that re-filled the shelves of pre-owned sections of CEX so fast. No Man’s Sky was built on lies and shattered promises. Luckily Hello Games mildly redeemed themselves from total failure with the release of patches that added cool features like base building. So what does all this have to do with Prey? Arkane Studios latest title to accompany last years release of Dishonored 2; Prey, is a solid stealth action adventure game. Prey (PS4, Xbox One and PC) seemed plagued with negativity from gamers all over the globe in the run up to release. As I read the comments on early gameplay videos it became clear that people disliked graphics, weapons, environments and enemies which left me feeling bewildered and confused. How can we fully judge a game before release? We cannot. If No Man’s Sky is anything to to go by then we should be careful in setting our expectations of any upcoming video game?
Morgan You is the main protagonist in Prey and we are able to choose our gender before the goings on start to unfold. Right off the bat this seems like something that is super cool. Whilst we are unable to change the look of our chosen Morgan I think it’s nice little extra. We start out in our apartment and proceed to make our way to a training station. Once there it takes no time for one of the researchers to be attacked by a Typhon; a hostile alien life-form. It’s here that Prey began to take a turn which seemed odd given that this was less than one hour in to the game. Admittedly I was expecting Prey to be a boxed standard first person shooter but this early twist set my gaming tastebuds in to overdrive. For those of you who haven’t played Prey there is going to be a mild spoiler here: The opening scenes were all a simulation! The apartment was not real. The training station was not real. At this point Prey seemed to open up very quickly and I became hooked on the experience. All of the negativity during the build-up seemed irrelevant now.
Barely two years after Red Barrels studio was formed in Canada Outlast was thrust upon the Playstation Network as one of PSN’s free games. I’ve always been a huge fan of horror games as far back as the first Resident Evil on the PS1. The twisted corridors of the mansion that were wrought with zombies and flesh torn dead animals. Resident Evil 1 changed a lot back in the day and I’ve been hooked on horror ever since. Outlast also had its fair share of crazy corridors but we were a long way from Racoon City. I played through the game on release and then again on live stream in preparation for the launch of Outlast II. Prior to the release of Outlast II I was hoping for more jump scares than ever before. Outlast had so many that I’d go as far to say that it is one of my favourite horror games alongside the unbelievable Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. I wondered if Outlast II would be up there too?
Outlast II is much more open that its predecessor; Outlast. I don’t want to dive in to the story all that much but the general scenes are outdoor farmland and shacks: lots of shacks. It reminded me very much of how The Field of Dreams would have looked if a swarm of Satanic worshippers had crashed Kevin Costner’s farm. During the first couple of hours in Outlast II this setting felt great. It’s fresh and super creepy. At times I felt a sense of Alan Wake with the narrow wooden paths and half bent lampposts. Outlast II felt prefect.
After a few hours I started to feel a little irritated at the repetition and monotony of the environments. There were some marginal redemption points in which our main protagonist is pulled in to a Catholic school which is still very dark and scary but a welcome break from the cornfields and shacks. More often than not Outlast II failed to thread the story together quick enough. The jump scares also LACKED significantly. Don’t get me wrong Outlast II got my pulse pounding in parts but not as much as I had hoped. I genuinely felt a little anxious going in to Outlast II but those feelings evaporated very quickly. If you asked me which game was scarier between Outlast and Outlast II I’d go with the first; Outlast without a doubt. I wanted to expand on scary experience but sadly I didn’t.
It’s hard to forget the disappointment No Man’s Sky brought to thousands of gamers back on release. The blatant lies from Hello Games’ main man Sean Murray with the promise of discoveries such a huge mechs and the ability to create bases. I avoided the hype surrounding No Man’s Sky so fortunately I didn’t feel as disappointed with the unfinished product. Fast Forward to March 2017 and Mass Effect: Andromeda finally got released in to the wild gaming jungles, namely many living rooms and game rooms alike. As I type this Mass Effect: Andromeda is sitting at a Meteoritic average score of 74 (critics score) and a 4.8 user score. That’s around a 25% difference between the two review groups which is startling. So why is there a large difference between the score groups. User scores/reviews are from the hardcore Mass Effect fan base or so it seems. A lot of attention has been paid to details such as naming specific NPC’s. If you care about details then Mass Effect: Andromeda may not be for you. In fact don’t buy it. If fluid animations and life-like textures contribute towards your gameplay experience then stay away from Mass Effect: Andromeda. It is clear from reading the user reviews of Mass Effect: Andromeda that it’s been a serious issue.
Last week, Bioware released patch 1.05 that really boosted the facial details on NPC’s and overall eradicated some of the blocky animation of the characters facial expressions. You can see it here from Twitter user Shinobi602:
The horror genre is often praised within the gaming community for its high intensity jump scares, pulse racing moments and sheer immersion. Never before has a genre made grown men scream during their live streams; making this genre one of the most entertaining to watch on YouTube and Twitch. Resident Evil VII: Biohazard completely changed the foundations of the Resident Evil franchise with not one single zombie appearing in the game. Let us not forget the Virtual Reality mode too. Resident Evil 7 was reportedly made for VR mode. I have not played it in VR mode but I can understand the immense appeal for some gamers. Did Capcom make that right move in changing the direction of the franchise? Sure we had a mansion and plenty of puzzles to taint the way and let’s not forget the twisted folded beings of the basement! Resident Evil VII: Biohazard was a bold move indeed. Here’s why it worked.
The P.T Effect
Nobody will forget the P.T demo on the PS4. The creepy hallways, the bloodstained bathroom and that phone! The Silent Hills game that never got as far as the P.T demo. Thanks Konami! I wonder how many people out there still believe Capcom copied the vibe of Hideo Kojima’s masterful demo with Resident Evil VII Biohazard? Do you believe it? Both RE7’s producer and director confirmed that the likeness was a pure coincidence. Resident Evil 7 was in development long before the P.T demo surfaced on PSN.
"When PT surfaced we were already into development and we were surprised to see it," Kawata said. "I'm worried about how my jokes come across but I hear Brits like black humour. So, out of everyone, we were the most relieved when PT didn't come out."
Resident Evil VII has a clear likeness to P.T and we know it was not planned that way. Personally I believe RE7’s new and Zombieless direction is fresh and I’m excited to see what’s to come from the franchise.
So, another year, another Pokemon game. How does this one stack up to previous entries in the series? Given all that was shown off on the run up to the launch, is it all just fan service? I plan on answering these questions and more during the course of this review and I’ll also try to remain as spoiler-free as I can.
Pokéballs at the ready...
The game starts off by first asking which language setting you want and then warning you that you can’t change this after this point. After that you receive a video message from the new professor for this generation who gives you a short introduction to the game. Fans of the series will recognise this sort of intro as what we’ve always had but on a much prettier level this time. The Professor shows you a map of the new Alola region in this sequence, showcasing the islands that you will see on your journey throughout the region. As we all know, Alola is based off of real-world Hawaii and features lots of scenery and other elements that display this inspiration. After the map, you’re introduced to one of the new Pokemon for this region, a Rockruff, who seems to be quite the playful little character. Next you get asked which photo you want to use for your Trainer Passport. This is the part where you get to select the gender of your trainer, as well as skin tone and hair colour, from eight possible options.
After selecting your look and your name, you then see a glimpse of another new Pokemon for the region (a Pikipek) and then the video call ends. You’re then called by your mother to help with some boxes and another cutscene begins. You see a girl escaping from some guards, her bag fires out a large blue blast and then the camera pans up. Here is where you see the first difference between the two games as, in Sun this will show the Pokemon Sun title card and be during the daytime, and, in Moon you will notice that it is nighttime and you’ll see the Pokemon Moon title card.
From here the game follows some of the familiar processes from every previous generation, introducing you to some of the key characters that will follow you through the game, your home and the battle and catching systems. You also get to see that there is a mixture of both new and old Pokemon in this region from the outset and the first of many references to the Kanto region of the Red and Blue games. While showing off some of the new environments in this intro, by panning the camera around your room in particular, it does show that the Nintendo 3DS XL and New 3DS XL systems having larger screens will show more jagged edges to the textures and character models through the game.
The walking animations in this game can take a bit of getting used to too. The standard animation has your arms hang a little far out from your hips but when walking in tall grass, especially when walking slowly, you’ll notice your character moves a lot more deliberately which is a nice touch. Once you’ve been introduced to a couple of key characters and been involved in a sequence reminiscent of the original anime episode you will be able to pick your starter Pokemon. Those of you that have played previous generations may notice this is one of the longest introductions up to the point of getting your starter. As usual, the choices are grass, fire and water or Rowlet, Litten or Popplio respectively.
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We're well in to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One era of gaming. Graphics had never looked so smooth and gameplay had never flowed so fluently. Let's not forget the triumphant last Generation of gaming with the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii; all of which I have a lot of time for.
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