Lego Dimensions complete character guide – every Year One character reviewed

LEGO Dimensions Xbox OneThis week marks the beginning of ‘Year Two’ of Lego Dimensions, the fantastic toys-to-life game by long-time Lego game studio Traveller’s Tales.

Because Year Two introduces a whole bunch of new franchises to the mix, a lot of players will be getting into Lego Dimensions for the first time.

With that in mind, I’ve put together this enormous guide to all 46 characters released during the game’s first year: that’s the 44 main ones and the two limited edition characters Green Arrow and Supergirl. Continue reading “Lego Dimensions complete character guide – every Year One character reviewed”

Gemhunter Live #6 – Portal Runner

In the first ever live episode of Gemhunter I took on 3DO’s PlayStation 2 platformer Portal Runner, a game boldly featuring a ‘97%’ sticker on its box.

Surely it couldn’t possibly be that good? Find out in this recording of the episode along with the viewer comments as they happened.

(Apologies for the sound quality in this episode, I was suffering technical problems which have since been sorted) Continue reading “Gemhunter Live #6 – Portal Runner”

Writer’s commentary: Anatomy of a Mario Galaxy review

In my decade as a games journalist I’ve reviewed nearly 1000 games.

Most of these reviews were written during my six years at Official Nintendo Magazine (ONM), and most of these were small ones – indie titles, WiiWare and eShop games, retro Virtual Console releases and the like. But many were also multi-page reviews of triple-A titles.

One of the questions I’m most often asked is which of these reviews was my favourite. I have two.

The first is my Super Mario Galaxy review from ONM issue 23 (December 2007) and the second is my Super Mario Galaxy 2 review from ONM issue 56 (June 2010).

Another of the questions I’m asked is how to write a review. There’s no easy answer to this – indeed, there’s no answer at all. Every reviewer has a different style, so there’s no right way to do it.

What I’ve decided to do, though, is take you through my two favourite reviews and give you a little insight into how they were put together.

I’m going to take you on an annotated tour of my Super Mario Galaxy review and my Super Mario Galaxy 2 review. Continue reading “Writer’s commentary: Anatomy of a Mario Galaxy review”

15 games that sound ruder than they actually are

It’s hard work getting your game spotted on shop shelves sometimes, what with all the other titles vying for the public’s attention.

Sometimes you need something to catch their eye: a strong cover image, some positive magazine quotes from reputable publications, something like that.

This one isn't in the list but it was a strong contender
This one isn’t in the list but it was a strong contender

And sometimes you just need a title that makes people stop, do a double-take and say: “hang on, what?”

A few games over the years have had names that caught me off-guard and made me think: “They can’t really mean that, can they?”

Of course, most of the time they don’t mean that at all, and it’s just an unfortunate coincidence that their game’s title also happens to mean something offensive.

With that in mind, here are fifteen of my favourite examples of classic “did they really call it that?” moments. Continue reading “15 games that sound ruder than they actually are”

The 30 best Vita games

This is the seventh in my ’30 Best’ series of articles in which I discuss my favourite games ever on a system-by-system basis for the first time in my career. In case you missed them, the full list of other ’30 Best’ articles can be found at the bottom of this page.

’30 Best’ will now be a monthly series, thanks to my lovely Patreon followers helping me reach a stretch goal. If you want to contribute and help me reach my next goal (to start a Tired Old Hack podcast), please visit my Patreon page.

ps_vita_front_side_sony“I didn’t even know it had 30 games!”

This was the predictable reply I got from all manner of clever individuals every time I informed my Twitter followers that my next ’30 Best’ article would be dedicated to the Sony PlayStation Vita.

It’s little wonder, to be fair. Sony abandoned its handheld quicker than David Cameron abandons his children in pubs, which led to the understandable consensus that the Vita was dead before its library had a chance to grow.

In reality, the Vita does have 30 great games. Indeed, it’s got plenty more than that: I’ve added another 15 at the end of this list for good measure, and even then there were some I had to leave out. Continue reading “The 30 best Vita games”

Cover Me Badd #4 – The 20 worst GameCube game covers

Cover Me Badd is my regular series looking at the worst video game covers in history. Each article will focus on a specific format. If you missed it, catch up on Part 1: NES gamesPart 2: SNES games and Part 3: Nintendo 64 games.

It’s been some time since I exposed your unsuspecting eyes to the 20 worst Nintendo 64 covers of all time. Now said eyes have had time to heal, we can continue.

While the quality of covers greatly improved during the GameCube days for the most part, that doesn’t mean there weren’t some stinkers there too. Let’s continue the groan-fest with a look at the 20 worst GameCube covers ever. As ever, click on each cover to see it in all its full-sized ‘glory’. Continue reading “Cover Me Badd #4 – The 20 worst GameCube game covers”

Xbox One S review

Disclaimer: unlike certain prolific YouTubers and the like, this review is not based on a free review sample of the Xbox One S hardware. I preordered and purchased this console at launch myself, and this review is an honest assessment of whether I feel my hard-earned money was well spent.

After enjoying obscene levels of success with the Xbox 360 last generation, Microsoft hasn’t quite dominated the industry this time around.

Xbox One S boxIts Xbox One trails behind the PlayStation 4 in terms of sales, and while Nintendo’s own problems with the Wii U have ensured Microsoft’s system isn’t going to finish third any time soon, it’s clear the One needs a rocket up its arse if it’s going to catch up with the PS4.

Enter the Xbox One S, the first of this generation’s obligatory system redesigns. Boasting a smaller frame, a new controller and support for 4K and HDR video, could the S be the console to overtake the PS4?

No. It couldn’t. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a nifty wee piece of kit. I should know, I just traded in my original day one Xbox One to buy an S and have been messing around with it since. The console that is, you filthy bastard.

The crucial questions are obvious – is it worth upgrading to the Xbox One S if you already have an Xbox One? And what if you don’t – is now finally the time to ‘jump in’, to coin a Microsoft slogan?

Read on as I try to answer these questions and many more. Well, a couple more. Continue reading “Xbox One S review”