10 Second
Ninja X
Jun 26
Posted by Mark at 18:58

10 Second Ninja X is a sequel to 10 Second Ninja, which seemed to go down well on PC two years ago.

It's a precision platformer in the Meat Boy mould, but on a much smaller scale. Each level must be completed in- you guessed it- ten seconds, which makes them more compact, and the tight time limit makes gameplay much more about gut instinct than considered timing.

This must be balanced with finding the optimal route around the environment, as rather than reaching a point as in SMB the objective is to defeat a number of robots which are dotted around the place.

Going for these targets adds to the knife-edge tension as you can feel that otherwise quick time disappear following a botched attempt at despatching a robot.

The precision platformer is perhaps defined by its difficulty level, and in initial play this feels as if it's set a little too high, with the mobile-style three stars system gating progress all too well.

Despite this, the individual levels do seem finely-crafted and making good use of their limitations, and the controls are responsive enough to handle the game's demands, so playing the game to reach those heights isn't too much of a chore.

We'll be giving the game a proper review soon.
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External Rewards
Jun 21
Posted by Mark at 18:57

For as long as the programme's been airing, I thought that doing Big Brother would be really fun, as long as it wasn't on television and I couldn't show myself up in front of the nation. We take that last bit away, this idea of having no contact with the outside world, being locked in with a bunch of strangers and given tasks to do would have been an interesting experience.

Then I moved into a new flat, had no internet for two weeks and I was immediately bouncing off the walls.

This shows how important the internet has become to daily life- without it, save for a few MP3s I had no music, no news unless I picked up a Metro on the way to work and no television until I cracked and bought an aerial lead a few days in, and even then I couldn't just pluck what I wanted off iPlayer, I could only watch what was on at the time, like our predecessors used to have to do in Downton Abbey times (I assume- it wasn't on that night so I wasn't able to check)

But most importantly is what it's done to games. Games was a thing I still had- or at least for the most part what I didn't have didn't bother me- I've always been a single-player gamer primarily so I didn't miss multi, and while many mobile games refuse to work without an internet connection, I basically don't play them so that's not a loss. Yet, I didn't want to set up the xBox because I thought my Achievements might not sync, or at least might have incomplete data, making a mess of my TrueAchievements stats.

I'm not entirely sure what that says about modern games, that not only am I not playing them owing to a lack of rewards external to the gameplay experience, but that I'm also not playing them so I don't have to play them again to get the rewards, but I can't imagine it's good. (And James will definitely be able to explain why)

Thank heavens, then, for the Wii U- this period saw much of Hyrule Warriors fall (Which itself has what is quite explicitly an Achievements system, but not one that ties into anything other than vanity Miiverse posts which I'd switched off when I started the game in the old flat) which I enjoyed much more than I'd expected to.

The return to a public transport-based commute means the 3DS has also seen some action- I'd started Weapon Shop de Omasse, the last of the Guild01 games, which was delayed massively as it's mostly text (the game's story is told through a Twitter-esque news feed, which went some way to reminding me of all that internet I couldn't have) which, while reasonably well-written, is perhaps a little too long to keep its joke running and isn't really carried by the rhythm-based weapon-crafting gameplay (although that does differentiate it enough from the superfically similar Recettear, which was an inital concern going in), and I've been able to dig a bit further into Persona Q.
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Posted by Ben at 14:27
I keep posting about In Between. I reviewed it, liked it quite a bit, and I think it does a good job of pulling its themes in to its gameplay. I've written that god knows how many times now, but I'll write it once more to say that In Between is currently 10p on the Google Play store

I've very briefly played it on my phone. It looks nice and sharp, the pc version looked a little muddy, but that might be the screen as much as the graphic. Control wise it's touch screen virtual d-pad type stuff with a few quirks, not as precise as an actual d-pad or a keyboard, but in the early stages at least, not unplayable
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Posted by Ben at 14:14
It really, really pains me to spell Civilisation Civilization, but that's what it's called so here goes

Civilization IV boasts a new feature over its predecessors, while cities have kind of always expanded out from their initial tile, now you need to select what type of district each tile will feature

The video below does a much better job of explaining it, but basically in Civilization IV, if you want to increase your culture, you'll have to build the right kind of district, and to make that district more effective you'll want to pick the tile that best suits it

Think of it as building a mine on a tile with iron ore, only with thespians or professors.

The trailer also shows that Wonders can't just be selected anywhere now. If you want pyramids you'll need the right kind of land, I can't just dump the Hanging Gardens in annexed Dublin now to shut them up.

There's also a video introducing Theodore Roosevelt, and that Civs now have 2 unique attributes. I'll still be playing as Britain, the imperialism is just ingrained in us

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Posted by Ben at 13:24
I think Duane might well have a review copy of this, but MotoGP16: Valentino Rossi is out now on the PS4 and Xbox One

PQube say that MotoGP16: Valentino Rossi boasts more content than any previous MotoGP game, including a host of different event types.

There's a trailer below, and a review will be forthcoming

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Grand Kingdom

Jun 20
Posted by Duane at 06:46

A few weeks back I joined in on the beta for Grand Kingdom, a turn-based online JRPG, and actually quite enjoyed it so have been really looking forward to its final release. Despite being released on both the PS4 and the Vita (NISA do seem to be keeping Sony's handheld ticking over in all territories...) I opted to play it on the former, the reason being is that I'm mostly housebound at the moment and dont tend to take handhelds out anymore anyway, so if I dont have access to the TV I can still play via Remote Play and enjoy it that way. So yes, I'm playing Grand Kingdom via PS4 but I honestly can't see there being all that much difference between the versions.

As already mentioned, Grand Kingdom is a turn-based strategy RPG, although it does things a bit differently to what many of us expect from the genre. Its a side on, almost PS1 era Final Fantasy-esque in battles, but still uses a rudimentary grid system, with you having an upper, middle or lower path that you can switch between/move along depending upon how full one of the many status bars is for each character. Once you've moved a character into position its time to give them an action, some of which can be combo-ed whilst others require you to have a certain range from your foe.

Grand Kingdom's focus is on a kind of “big picture”, it is, first and foremost, an online RPG. You enter into “wars” to which you contribute towards a chosen faction by achieving certain tasks, contributing resources and by defeating online opponents. There are single player, story driven chapters, but they're mostly designed to give you an idea of the world at large and introduce you to the games mechanics, there's also not a whole lot of them. Theres a few single player skirmish type quests too that are updated from time to time, fight of X number of enemies, get to the end of the map in Y number of moves, that kind of thing. But again, the meat of the game is its online integration.

The biggest problem with all of this is that it can be really overwhelming. The core of the game takes place either in the menu's that accompany your guild HQ or the four cities you can choose from to represent (you sign contracts for a number of wars and can change, if you wish to do so, at the end of said contract) or on a tile based map that you move a chess-like piece around to collect resources, take over fortresses or battle against other players/AI opponents. You're usually told that failure comes from exceeding the number of turns you have on a map, but from my experience its pretty hard to fail in this way and more common aspect of failure comes from being unable to continue a mission as your Troop (of which you can have six, of up to four characters) are unable to continue as they lack health, morale or TP (which on the maps allows you to use skills thaqt replenish the other two, TP is earned via winning battles).

I touched on the battles before, but they deserve a little more information. Mainly because the make-up of your Troop and the members within it can have a significant effect on battles. At the point of writing this my party is made up of a Blacksmith who wields a hammer and is really rather strong, her melee attacks are generally all assigned to the circle button and after some experimentation with the order of which attack appears after which button press in the combo she has a devastating juggle/ground smash system going on. I also have an Archer who is great for picking off Troop Leaders from afar and weakening my opponent for the rest of the battle, a mage of sorts deals out fire damage whilst I have a Witch that I have jumping between lanes to deal out healing potions (although these are heavily limited so its a good idea to teach all of your party members the Quick Heal ability). Jumping back to the mention of Troop Leaders, you'll assign your own from one of your 4 party members for each Troop, as will your opponent. If you focus your attacks on these at the beginning of a battle and succesfully take them out, it lowers your opponents Morale and thus their attack and defense also drops. Its a fairly simple tactic that comes in useful time and time again.

It's only really the overwhelming nature of everything thats in Grand Kingdom that would make it difficult to recommend, if you're into SRPG's you'll pick it all up with no problem, its just that theres a lot to remember and its not always streamlined enough to make particular things feel natural when you're playing. That said, its deeply interesting and thanks to its less than formulaic nature is a breath of fresh air. I know this review is pretty short, and the game probably deserves something much lengthier and in-depth, but theres such a lot of stuff going on here that Grand Kingdom is definetly one of those games that you have to experience to even begin to understand it
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Posted by James at 16:08
Surprise! Announcements like this, which completely appear out of nowhere, are the best. Moreso after the dust settles at E3.

But did it really come out of nowhere? A bit of sleuthing suggests that Mastiff have been dangling this version of the game in front of our very eyes, having created a Twitter account with the handle @Gurumin3D back in March, and tweeting that they were off to E3. It all makes sense now...

Anyway...Yes, Falcom's action adventure game, Gurumin, is heading to the 3DS in July courtesy of publisher Mastiff, and this is a release to get excited about. No, seriously.

In fact, I recently picked up the PSP version as part of my effort to revisit those games I missed in the PSP's software library, and I found it to be a charming action adventure title that has its own unique identity, enough to hide some of its shortcomings.

A 3DS version of this makes a lot of sense. Gurumin has a lot of platforming, and some of it can feel quite rote -- at least on a handheld -- due to the lack of visual feedback as to where all the platforms lie in relation to your character, Parin. So hopefully the developers will program in a good 3D effect to make the game's platforming feel natural and confident.

It's currently being developed by Opus Inc, who have done good programming in the past with the PC versions of Half Minute Hero, in conjunction with Falcom and iNPLAS, who, er, previously worked on this.

Please make sure the 3D effect is good, programmers.
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Posted by Duane at 03:15
Blizzard patched Overwatch last night applied the McCree balancing they'd been discussing already. The developer has applied the measures they've already discussed in order to make the character less effective against the Tank characters.

Elsehwere in trhe patch Widowmaker has been tweaked. Her Scoped damage has been decreased but her headshot multiplier has increased.

McCree Peacekeeper Alternate Fire -Recovery time (i.e. the amount of time before McCree starts reloading) decreased from 0.75 seconds to 0.3 seconds -Bullet damage decreased from 70 to 45 Developer Comments: McCree was performing too well against all targets, making him feel like a must-pick in many situations. By reducing the damage of his alternate fire, McCree is now significantly weaker against tanks like Roadhog and Reinhardt, but still maintains his lethality against smaller targets like Tracer and Genji. Widowmaker Widow’s Kiss -Alternate Fire (Scoped Shot)Base damage decreased from 15 to 12Note: Scoped shot damage multiplier remains unchanged -Headshot damage multiplier increased from 2x to 2.5x -Players must now wait for the unscoping animation to completely finish before scoping Infra-Sight -Ultimate cost increased by 10% Developer Comments: In the right hands, Widowmaker can often feel unstoppable—even when just landing body shots instead of critical heads shots. The changes to her alternate fire weaken body shot damage while leaving her headshot damage unchanged. Additionally, we felt her Ultimate ability, Infra-Sight, was coming up a little too frequently, especially considering its impact on the game.

Lastly, check out this Overwatch Mythbuster video

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Posted by Duane at 02:55
IGN have uploaded nearly 9 minutes of footage from the Japanese version of Atlus' Persona 5 and it looks utterly brilliant. The video shows the series dai/night cycle and shows the main characters attending school, visiting the cinema and heading into whatever Atlus are calling the new version of Tarturus/TV World to battle and, more importantly, seemingly negotiate with new Persona in order to be able to use them.

Also, can we get a shout out for the soundtrack!? Hell yeah!.

Persona 5 will release on Valentines Day 2017 in the US but no date has been set for Europe yet.

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Posted by Ben at 16:47
Nier is very much on my pile of shame. I started it, definitely going to play through it, then stopped after my first day. Way too early to form an opinion, but people's reactions to Nier have always fascinated me, the fans of the game are captivated by it, and so while I might never, realistically, get around to finishing the original Nier, I am very interested in NieR: Automata

Not least because Platinum Games are working on NieR: Automata

NieR: Automata doesn't look quite as morose as the original game, which might be Platinum's influence. There's a trailer below where you can see the combat is looking fairly decent, and NieR: Automata will be released in early 2017

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