Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch) review

Nintendo / Nintendo EAD
Switch

For most games, selling 8 million copies would be considered a huge success. Much whooping and hollering would take place, and both publisher and developer would metaphorically and physically kiss each other on the lips at a job well done.

Mario Kart isn’t most games though. For it, 8 million is quite an underachievement. Considering the DS, Wii and 3DS entries sold 23, 36 and 14 million copies respectively, a ‘mere’ 8 million has to go down, bizarrely, as a disappointment.

This was the fate that befell the appropriately named Mario Kart 8, which failed to hit octuple figures through no fault of its own. Indeed, most people who played it considered it the greatest Mario Kart game ever made.

The reason for its relative sales funk, of course, was that it was released on the Wii U, a console that – as genuinely great as it was – ended up being about as popular as an Al Jolson cosplayer at the MOBO awards.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, then, finds itself in an interesting position. It’s essentially an enhanced version of a game that, despite already selling 8 million copies, is set to be experienced by a whole host of new players for the first time. Continue reading “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch) review”

Voodoo Vince Remastered (Xbox One) review

Microsoft / Beep Games
Xbox One, PC (Xbox One version reviewed)

A fortnight ago I posted a review of Yooka-Laylee, saying that long-time gamers who fondly remembered Rare’s glory days would enjoy it.

If you fall under that category and you’re looking for more old-school runny-jumpy goodness, Voodoo Vince Remastered is another recent release that should appeal to fans of turn-of-the-millennium platformers.

Mainly because it literally is one. Continue reading “Voodoo Vince Remastered (Xbox One) review”

Kamiko (Switch) review

Skipmore / Flyhigh Works
Switch

Well, here’s a nice wee surprise. After last night’s Nintendo Direct ended I decided to check out the Japanese eShop out of curiosity, and there I found Kamiko.

It’s a little Japanese indie game made by a chap called ‘Y. Kimura’, but who prefers to go by Skipmore. He enjoyed a bit of cult success with the Fairune RPGs on the 3DS eShop, and now he’s back on the Switch.

Whereas Fairune was a fairly slow-paced take on the original Legend Of Zelda though, Kamiko is… um, a fairly fast-paced take on it. Continue reading “Kamiko (Switch) review”

Aaero (Xbox One) review

Mad Fellows / Reverb Triple XP
Xbox One, PS4, Steam (Xbox One version reviewed)

FreeStyleGames was always a bit of an underrated studio in my eyes.  Specialising in rhythm action games, this British outfit was responsible for both fantastic DJ Hero titles, as well as the brilliant Guitar Hero Live.

Unfortunately, DJ Hero and DJ Hero 2 were released at a time when the plastic instrument craze was beginning to die, and Guitar Hero Live – an attempt to resurrect it – didn’t quite manage this.

It’s a real shame, because all three games are among my favourites in the rhythm action genre. I doff my cap to you, FreeStyleGames, you fallen geniuses (Activision made 50 staff redundant in 2016 and the studio was eventually bought by Ubisoft and renamed Ubisoft Leamington).

“The point, Chris,” you rasp in an impatient sputter. “Get to the bastard point.”

The point is that Aaero is the work of Paul Norris and Dan Horbury, who were the Music Team Lead and Senior Engine Programmers respectively at FreeStyleGames. And that’s why you should be paying attention to it. Continue reading “Aaero (Xbox One) review”

Yooka-Laylee (Xbox One) review

Team17 / Playtonic Games
Xbox One, PS4, Switch, Steam (Xbox One version reviewed)

Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel Banjo-Tooie were released back in 1998 and 2000 as alternatives to the glory that was Super Mario 64.

Both games were developer Rare at its best: colourful platforming worlds, witty dialogue, music that was catchier than bird flu and more collectibles than an amiibo addict’s shelves (I speak from experience here).

For a decade and a half fans had been hoping for a Banjo-Threeie, but after Rare was bought by Microsoft it started to look unlikely (the unsatisfying spin-off game Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts aside).

When Rare then switched its focus to Microsoft’s ill-fated Kinect peripheral, all hope of seeing a Banjo-Threeie died.

That’s when a bunch of former Rare staff members from the Banjo days decided “fuck it, let’s just make it ourselves”. Cue Playtonic Games with Yooka-Laylee. Continue reading “Yooka-Laylee (Xbox One) review”

Virginia (Xbox One) review

505 Games / Variable State
Xbox One, PS4, Steam (Xbox One version reviewed)

I’m currently in full-on Twin Peaks hype mode.

David Lynch’s iconic TV series is making its long-awaited comeback next month, and fans – including me – are waiting with bated breath to see if it lives up to the classic ‘90s original.

If you’re in the same boat, Virginia may be worth a look if you want to scratch that Twin Peaks itch a little while you wait.

Set in the summer of 1992, it puts you in the oddly angular shoes of Anne Tarver, a junior FBI agent who’s been given a bit of a tricky task.

She’s been asked to investigate one of her colleagues, who’s been accused of… um, something or other.

Meanwhile, there’s an ongoing missing persons case involving a young lad who… to be honest, I have no fucking clue. Continue reading “Virginia (Xbox One) review”

I Am Setsuna (Switch) review

Square Enix / Tokyo RPG Factory
Switch, PS4, PC (Switch version reviewed)

With an enormous new Zelda adventure available at launch, it’s understandable that Switch owners may not have been in a rush to buy another RPG that takes 25-30 hours to beat that they’d have to juggle alongside it.

Now that we’re nearly a month into the Switch’s life though, it might be worth giving I Am Setsuna another look if you haven’t yet done so.

Inspired by RPGs from the ‘golden age’ (the 16-bit era that brought us the likes of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy IV), I Am Setsuna mixes old-school mechanics with polygonal visuals to give the traditional RPG style a more modern feel. Continue reading “I Am Setsuna (Switch) review”