Tired Old Hack is two years old now, and in that time the site has finally grown to a stage where I’m able to start doing what I love again: reviewing lots of games.
Most big sites review all the triple-A games but often other titles are ignored. One of the main points of Tired Old Hack is to make sure these other games get their chance. The thing is, I like to write long, meaty reviews but since I’m only one man I don’t really have the ability to do this for every game I get review code for.
Since I want to cover as many games as possible – to make sure you lovely bastards are suitably informed as to what I’m liking and what you should steer well clear of – I’ve decided to start these regular review round-ups.
These will consist of games that I can’t commit to writing a typical 1500-word review for, for whatever reason – it may be a remaster or re-release, it may be a basic game that doesn’t need that much dissection, or maybe I’m just short on time that week.
Here, then, is my first review round-up. Let me know what you think of this format and if you’d like to see it more regularly (as well as the bigger reviews for other games, obviously).
Lego City Undercover
Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment / TT Fusion
Xbox One, PS4, Switch, PC, Wii U (Xbox One version reviewed)
Long considered one of the Wii U’s best third-party exclusives, Lego City Undercover has escaped its GamePad shackles and is now freely roaming on all current-gen systems.
If you missed it the first time around, it’s an open-world game heavily influenced by Grand Theft Auto and the like, but one with a family-friendly Lego vibe.
Rather than being the criminal – as is usually the case in such games – this time you play as heroic police officer Chase McCain as he tries to rid Lego City of the evil crime lord Rex Fury.
The trademark sense of humour you get in other Lego games is very much present in Undercover and while there’s a host of daft slapstick humour and groan-worthy one-liners for the kiddies there are also lot of film references and knowing nods to gaming conventions for older players.
(That’s ‘gaming conventions’ as in cliches and tropes, I don’t mean it takes the piss out of the Eurogamer Expo or anything.)
This remaster improves the Wii U version with more detailed graphics and a better frame rate, though it isn’t always perfect. As you can see in my video above, it occasionally flips between 30fps and 60fps depending on the area you’re exploring, making for a slightly uneven feel.
Those of you curious about the Switch version may also want to bear in mind that, by all accounts (I haven’t played it), there are performance issues when playing in handheld mode or in the new split-screen two-player mode, though otherwise it’s an impressive port.
Put up with its technical hitches and Lego City Undercover is a brilliantly funny game that’s well worth a look. If you owned the Wii U version, though, there isn’t much different for you here.
Playdius / Flying Oak Games
Xbox One, PS4, Steam (Xbox One version reviewed)
Switch version coming soon
There are now officially more procedurally generated games than there are grains of sand in Blackpool Beach, and a hefty chunk of these are roguelikes.
Neurovoider is one such grain of sand, but as far as grains go it’s good enough. It’s from a patch of sand that hasn’t been pissed on by a donkey or anything. Do they still have donkeys at Blackpool Beach? Never mind, that’s not important.
It’s a 20-level roguelike twin-stick dungeon crawler (Neurovoider, not Blackpool Beach) in which you play as a brain that’s escaped from a containment unit and inhabited a robotic suit.
There are three types of suit to choose from – Dash (speedy), Rampage (powerful) and Fortress (armoured) – as well as 27 different skills, of which you can only choose one for each run.
Most levels are your standard twin-stick fare, with the twist that you have two different weapons (one for each trigger button) and can gain new parts and weapons by defeating enemies.
There are also a few boss fights scattered throughout to keep things interesting: these won’t be to everyone’s tastes because they can be lengthy and difficult affairs with constantly moving weak spots and enormous health bars.
It does have a fun co-op mode, which also makes these boss battles feel like less of a struggle, and it’s got a brilliant soundtrack that I’d happily stick on my phone to listen to on the move.
As an overall package, though, its repetitive nature and the lack of any sort of New Game+ mode – it would be great to be able to play through a harder version if you finished it while keeping your skill and getting to choose a second – mean that while it’s initially fun, it’s only going to keep your interest for a wee while.
The Disney Afternoon Collection
Capcom / Digital Eclipse
Xbox One, PS4, PC (Xbox One version reviewed)
During the early 90s Capcom busted out a series of brilliant Disney tie-ins on the NES, some of which are considered some of the best titles on the system. Well, just DuckTales, but even so.
The Disney Afternoon Collection takes six of these little beauties and slaps them all in one download, along with some screen filtering options, a boss rush mode and a few behind-the-scenes illustrations.
The games in question are DuckTales, DuckTales 2, Chip & Dale, Chip & Dale 2, Darkwing Duck and TaleSpin, and frankly I reckon it’s worth it for DuckTales alone (think Mega Man but with a pogo stick. In fact, think Shovel Knight but older).
The rest are typically solid platform fare with the exception of TaleSpin which is a side-scrolling shooter that I’ve always thought was a wee bit pish. Still, 5 out of 6 isn’t bad!
As they were from the 8-bit era, each game is harder than a Viagra salesman’s catalogue of ‘after’ pics, so Capcom’s mercifully added a rewind function in there for younger gamers or those who prefer a more easy-going experience.
It goes without saying that those not interested in retro gaming may not get a lot out of this because it’s literally six NES roms in a download with some glitzy shit wrapped around it.
For old-school folks like me, however, it’s a lovely little package and one that should keep you busy for a while. Ah, how I wish it was on Switch though, given that it’s six Nintendo games.
One little side note: the museum section, which contains box art and magazine ads from the era, has essentially been butchered with all Nintendo, NES and Game Boy references either Photoshopped out or simply covered with big rectangles. I get why they did it, but it’s a shame.
3DS, Wii U (3DS version reviewed)
The Wii U and 3DS eShops have started to resemble what Tinder would look like after a nuclear war: loads of ugly, basic-looking offerings with the rare occasional looker.
Pic-A-Pix Color would be one of these survivors, offering a solid take on Picross. And if you know me, you know I love my Picross, so I wouldn’t fuck around with you here.
As the name suggests, it borrows from a couple of other third-party Picross imitations that have come before it by chucking colours into the mix.
This means that instead of simply choosing which squares to fill in, you also have to determine what colour they’re supposed to be too.
Although at first glance this makes it seem a little too complicated, once you get used to it and learn the new techniques and patterns to look out for the use of colours actually makes some puzzles a little bit easier to approach since there’s an extra element in there that you can make use of during your process of elimination.
Its only issue is both its control systems, most notably when you get further into the game and reach larger puzzles. The grid eventually gets too small to accurately use the stylus, while using buttons can be a bit of a slow affair.
Stick with it though and you’ll have a fun time getting through all 150 puzzles. There are DLC ones too if you’re still keen for more.
Also, watch the trailer above. The music (which is the same music that plays in-game) is fucking adorable.
FlatOut 4: Total Insanity
Bigben Interactive / Kylotonn
Xbox One, PS4, PC (Xbox One version reviewed)
The FlatOut series has had its ups and downs. The first two games were generally well-loved by players and critics alike, but then the series was taken away from developer Bugbear Entertainment and handed to Dutch studio Team6 instead.
What followed was a shit third game and a lacklustre Wii spin-off, which essentially killed off any interest in FlatOut for a while. More than five years later though, it’s finally back with another new developer – French studio Kylotonn – behind the wheel.
Thankfully, for the most part this is a return to form. The FlatOut games used to be synonymous with fast-paced destruction and that’s very much the order of the day here too. Here’s me playing it badly as proof:
The racing on offer – be it in normal or weapons-enhanced flavour – is entertaining enough: as you can see in the video the framerate (on the Xbox One version, at least) could do with a bit of work but the action can’t be questioned.
It’s also generous with how far off the course you can go, allowing for exciting moments where you’re forced off the track, smash through some well-placed scenery and make your way back into the race without breaking a sweat.
It isn’t all good, though. There’s a destruction derby type mode which can be a bit hit-and-miss (literally), and as you play through the main career mode there’s a hell of a lot of repetition: you’ll play through a lot of the same tracks multiple times and will get very little prize money to buy new cars.
That said, if you’re keen to play a game that harks back to the PS2 era and is more than happy to just chuck races at you and expect the ensuing carnage to be good enough to keep you entertained, get stuck in. I can certainly say that, as a man of simple pleasures, I’ve been having a great time with it.
In order that I could write the above reviews, I received copies of each game from their respective PRs. The content of my review and the opinions therein were in no way positively influenced by this.
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