Monday 30 November 2015

Transformers: Devestation Review (PS4)

Written by Bradley Marsh

Oh Transformers, what a checkered history we have. When I was a child I loved you, the cartoon, the toys, anything I could get my hands on. Then later in life you were sullied by Micheal Bay. A man who just cannot make a film that has a decent story and is just full of explosions and set pieces. He ruined your name for me. That wasn’t helped too, by a series of poor to average video game tie ins.

Anyway, when news came that Platinum were to make a Transformers game, I wanted to dare to dream, dream that a top quality Transformers game could be made. But I have been burnt before so my expectations were a little tempered, despite it being Platinum who have a fantastic track record.

My fears were totally misplaced though, as Transformers Devastation is an absolute joy to behold. It takes the Transformers universe, using the Generations line, which covers various different eras of the franchise. The visuals are based on the original cartoons, with writing from those behind the comics.

That all blends wonderfully with the traditional Platinum gameplay that makes the likes of Bayonetta and Vanquish such wonderful games. Platinum even showed they can work with existing IP, when they did Legend of Korra, which despite getting a luke warm reception was still great fun to play.

For me, what makes Transformers Devastation work, is that there is no attempts to re-write the genre, both in terms of gameplay and the source material. Platinum have been incredibly respectful of the history of the franchise and built a game around that, rather than trying to shoehorn elements that could work against each other.

The influence from other Platinum titles is clear to see, with the main one being the use of Witch-Time from Bayonetta, where a well timed dodge will slow down time and allow you unleash hell on your foes. However this is a Transformers games, so it does need some characteristics of its own and boy do Platinum put this to good use.

As any self respecting kid from the 80s will know, Transformers are robots in disguise and this is well represented in combat. When in robot form, you can go at your enemy in traditional Platinum combat ways, yet you can also change to vehicle form and use that to attack too, adding a whole new level to the combat mechanics.

Being a Platinum game, means that the combat is actually very simple and allows you to string together combos and fight multiple enemies like a boss. You even get to use various weapons which can be integrated in the hand to hand combat, or used for taking down enemies specifically designed and placed to make use of you weapons.

The are less options in combat when compared to something like Bayonetta, which initially feels a little disappointing, but after a short time with the game, you find it works as you start to master the various attacks and combos and use those to your advantage. If anything having a smaller move set works well here.

I was worried that the game might overplay the transforming, just so it could show of what the Autobots can do, but I actually found the that balance was done just right. There are some enemies that require you to switch between forms, but they are strategically placed and not overdone. Everywhere else it it purely optional.

It could have been very tempting to make Devastation an overly easy IP cash-in, where you go through the motions and have the game look pretty, but the balance in difficulty is well implemented and the difficulty curve is well balanced from the opening level to the final battle.

You get the options to use all the various Autobots to fight and each one feel different to use and you’ll soon find your overall favourite. Again I was worried it may be just reskins over the the same move-sets, but this is far from the case. Optimus Prime will feel completely different to Bumblebee for example.

It’s not all sunshine and roses though. There are some issues, such as some uninspiring level design, that can feel a bit limited from time to time, as well as the game being super short. The main story can be completed in 5-6 hours and whilst extra plays are encouraged it isn’t one that demands your attention.

That being said though, the overall package is decent and Platinum have made a solid Platinum game, yet they have made a truly fantastic Transformers game and I look forward to seeing if they can follow this up with a sequel in the future.

Overall 8/10

Colour Blind Issues - No

Review Code - No

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Mario Kart 64 Review (N64)

Starting life on the SNES the Mario Kart series has now graced just about every Nintendo system since and each time a new gimmick or mechanic has been added. Looking way back to the second game in the series we see a distinct lack of gimmicks, some 3D rendered tracks and the introduction of the dreaded blue shell.

Mario Kart 64 had a lot to live up to following on from the hugely popular Super Nintendo game. Fans loved Super Mario Kart (though it’s crazy to think critics weren’t always as keen at the time), and the track design and pure gameplay would be seemingly hard to beat. But with a new powerful system out Nintendo had to try and pull something out of the bag.

The big leap is in terms of the graphics. The tracks are now properly 3D with much more depth of field and solidity than before (though occasional objects on the tracks are still 2D). The game also introduced a completely new selection of tracks to race around and the super racers among you could also unlock mirror mode for the first time. 

All the new tracks (bar about two), are of an exceptional standard and either showcase a simple gimmick or act as speed demon heaven. Many of them have found their way into other Mario Kart games other the years and they showcase just how creative Nintendo was with the franchise when it was in its infancy. There’s ice to slip on, marauding cows and even a train that manages to cross the road just at the wrong time. Every track requires concentration to avoid hitting hazards and a keen eye to spot potential shortcuts.

Most of the cast of the first game return but now Donkey Kong Jnr has been replaced with standard Donkey Kong and poor old Koopa Troopa has been dropped in favour of Wario. Dropping Koopa Troopa was a strange move as he was the first choice for many SNES gamers but then he was far less recognisable than Wario and Nintendo had a new character to promote. We are very glad to see the little guy return in later versions of the game though.

There were also a few changes in the power up departments with continually replenishing floating squares now dishing out weapons instead of the one use question marks on the road. The feather is also long gone and the triple green and red shell pick up came in. This was the first time the leader-smashing blue shell turned up as well. Hated by many, the spikey shell will zoom directly to the racer in first place and knock them up into the air. This is very annoying when it happens to you but great when it hits someone else.

The other big change which divides fans is the rubber band mechanic that is very apparent. Especially noticeable in single player it is almost impossible to actually build up a meaningful lead over your opponents. Even at 50cc you’ll be racing around with one or two racers permanently popping up at the edge of your screen. You can hit them with all sorts of weapons but chances are at the next corner they will magically appear again. 

It’s something we really dislike about the game as it just seems cheap and unfair. The computer also makes ridiculous defensive shots (such as hitting a speeding green shell with a forward thrown banana), and manages to catch you even when you’re hammering through mushroom power ups. In our eyes this is a real mistake as though it keeps things close it makes the player feel there is little point doing anything offensively unless you are on the last corner of the last lap as the computer will just recover almost immediately. At least later versions of the game better hid their rubber band mechanics behind power ups given to those towards the back of the pack.

Overall, returning to Mario Kart 64 left us with more good feelings than bad. The rubber band mechanic is annoying but the tracks and intense racing is some of the best ever seen. The level design is arguably a series highlight and the general feeling of fun remains throughout. It certainly deserves to be in any Nintendo fans collection and it more than holds up against other games in the series. If you can get some friends together it raises up to a whole new level as well with in-room chaos likely to break out very quickly. 

Overall 8/10

Monday 23 November 2015

Typoman Review (Wii U)

Written by Scott Varnham

They always say the mark of a great video game is that if you die, you feel that it’s your own fault and that maybe next time, you’ll do better. That’s part of why the Mario games are so beloved by millions. Every gamer has stories about that one level that they finally managed to conquer with a bit of muscle memory and finger dexterity. In Typoman, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most of the deaths feel entirely down to the game and it’s frustrating as hell.
It is, in principle, not a very complex game. You play a hero made out of thick black letters, which spell ‘hero’ in an ‘amusing’ bit of wordplay (don’t make us put wordplay in quotes too). You’re running away from a demon with minions made out of the word ‘evil’ or ‘hate’. This isn’t exactly Citizen Kane. The central mechanic is that you combine letters together into words that have an effect on the world around you. For example, combining the letters ‘O’ and ‘N’ creates ‘ON’, which works on anything that can be powered nearby. Sounds simple enough and once you see the idea in action a few times, you’ll pick it up quickly. It’s not a game that holds your hand throughout, though. The words you have to assemble on the ‘scrambler’ function of the gamepad get less obvious very quickly, which makes you feel smart when you work it out. Fortunately, if you need them, indirect and then direct hints can be found by tapping the question mark on the touch screen. That and the scrambler are pretty much the only things the gamepad is used for.
But the sticking point is that even when you know what you’re doing, actually achieving it can be its own world of pain. The gameplay features a lot of trial and error, which would be fine if there was any way to anticipate the dangers beforehand and at least make a token effort to avoid them.This isn’t helped by the fact that the controls are very fiddly. Thank god the game doesn’t have a life counter.
That wouldn’t be so bad if the scrambler function actually worked properly. This is a fundamental problem as it’s pretty much the game’s core mechanic. Sometimes you’ll be trying to combine and rearrange three or four letters in a hurry, which should be quite simple. Nobody’s asking you to duplicate Eric Gill's An Essay On Typography here. This makes it especially annoying when some of the letters that you need don’t show up (or the scrambler function just doesn’t pop up when you need it). One that happened to us was that we were trying to make ‘TILT’ but could only scramble two letters at a time, which led to our death on several occasions. Even worse was the time when the letters on screen were replaced by entirely different letters on the gamepad.
Part of why this grates so much is that the game could have been so good. The main concept is innovative for sure, and the graphics are sure to appeal to the kind of people that use typewriters because it just feels more real, man. It’s got that whole ‘evil is spindly’ look going for it, which is pretty neat. You can even play it if you’re colour-blind, as pretty much everything is black and white. No awkward colour-coding issues here. The sound design is top-notch, too. Everything sounds just as it should and the music works to create a genuinely creepy atmosphere, especially in the miniboss sections.
We had high hopes for this. We’re writerly types, we like things about writing and words so naturally this would appeal to us. But creepy sounds and admittedly pretty sweet graphics do not a good game make. The fact that the game’s main mechanic is so flawed combined with the game itself being buggy in places means that we just can’t recommend it. We really wanted to like this game but it’s about as much fun as Microsoft Word.
Overall 4/10
Colour blind issues - No
Review Code - Yes

Wednesday 18 November 2015


You wait for one rhythm action game to come along and then a whole load arrive at once. We hadn’t really been following SUPERBEAT particularly closely but we really should have. While Persona 4: Dancing All Night was great fun and offered plenty of fan service this is one of the best rhythm action games we’ve ever played.

There’s no plot here just buckets of rhythm action goodness with presentation of the highest quality. As soon as you start the game up the screen pulses and fizzes with music and excitement that lets you know this is something good. There’s a sharp and edgy design to it which is not unlike the Wipeout games and it fits perfectly.

The game itself has notes flying out at you from the middle of the screen. You need to hit the corresponding top, middle or bottom button on the left or right of the screen or you can also use the touch controls. There are notes that need to be held and the L and R buttons come into play as well. You even have to use the analogue sticks for certain notes that snake up and down (again, you can use touch controls if you prefer). It’s full on and certainly keeps you on your toes.

There are 4 trax and 6 trax variations which let you use different amounts of notes in each song (with the 4 trax variant only putting notes at the top and bottom of the play area for instance). Here you have to complete three songs in a row to try and achieve the best score. As you level up by completing songs you unlock more difficulties which adds more note variants and also opens up missions in the world tour mode.

The World Tour mode has you travel around famous clubs taking on specific song based missions. Normally these consist of not missing at certain number of notes or keeping your combo at a certain number. They also ramp up the intensity even more by doing things like moving you much closer into the play area so you need almost instant reactions to hit the notes. World tour is not for the casual player and even the second set of club missions had us beaten for longer than we feel comfortable admitting.

As you level up from completing songs and missions you will unlock a host of new sounds, tracks and icons. The sounds can be set as the noise which comes in when you hit a note while the DJ icons add special powers like extra health or experience. The only criticism we have comes from the striking notes sound. Some of the songs really don’t sound right when you’ve got the sound set on things like a snare drum. It’s a rare miss step and we found setting the sound to hand claps pretty much worked with everything. You can also turn the sounds off completely.

The musical selection on offer is also excellent. There aren’t any hits as such but just about every genre of music is represented and we can’t think of another game where Hardcore sits next to Latin Samba. Most of the songs are very good as well and there’s a host of music from games like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue thrown in for good measure.

Overall, SUPERBEAT:XONiC is a stunning rhythm action game. It’s tough, but for fans of the genre this is up there with the best of them. It’s perfect for the Vita as well and you just keep unlocking new things every time you play and tt left us with an excited grin on our face every time. It’s a breath of fresh air and an amazing injection of adrenaline for Vita owners that in our mind is an essential purchase.

Overall 9/10

Colour Blind issues No

Review Code - Yes

Monday 16 November 2015

Rodea: The Sky Soldier Review (Wii U)

It’s been a very long road for Rodea in making it to the West. It was originally set to come out on the Wii but delay after delay has meant it now finally reaches us a generation later. For the dedicated among you, you can buy a special edition of the game which comes with the motion controlled Wii version included. Sadly we couldn’t get hold of that so our review will be solely focusing on the Wii U version of the game.

The plot is confusing. As far as we can make out it’s about a robot with a heart that is tasked with protecting a princess of a flying realm which is invaded. Upon the princess’s capture she gives half of something called ‘the key of time’ to Rodea and this prevents the invasion somehow. (We’ve read the official plot blurb and still have no idea). Rodea is found 1000 years later by a young mechanic girl just as the invasion starts again and sets out to save the world.

The game is a 3D platformer at heart with stages set out where you have to reach a certain point and then normally defeat a boss of some kind. The twist is that Rodea’s favourite mode of traveling is by flying. By jumping in the air you can then set Rodea on a flight path at the touch of a button. The analogue sticks are used to move a reticule around which can then be used to change direction. While flying pressing the ‘B’ button unleashes a spin attack which can be used to smash through enemies. The spin attack can also be chained to allow the destruction of multiple enemies in sequence. It takes a while to get used to but does work. There are also a host of other gadgets like weapons and slide boots which are added as you progress and help keep things varied.

While the games cut scenes look suitably lovely the in-game world shows a few too many signs of its non-HD heritage. The graphics certainly show up the fact that the game was originally designed for the Wii and while effective they often look muddy and bland with levels lacking a discernible character. That said at least there aren’t any draw distance issues.

The game draws influence from both Sonic Adventure and Nights into Dreams but a more accurate comparison with regard to its overall flow and feel would be Gravity Rush. The flying mechanic is pretty much the same and the need to hit enemies glowing weak spots is also remarkably similar. Sadly, for much of the time we were playing it we were thinking about going away and playing Gravity Rush rather than progressing further in Rodea. That isn’t to say Rodea is a bad game it just lacks the same cutting edge and dizzying highs of the Vita’s offering.

There are a lot of positives in the game and despite the visuals the level design is strong. There are multiple routes through the courses and ample opportunities to rack up high scores as you race between smashing enemies and picking up the various floating collectibles. There is also an excellent feeling to flying around and, once you’ve upgraded a bit, you get a real sense of speed. 

Rodea is a funny game to place. It doesn’t really do anything wrong but the time for it to have come out and really blown us away has long since passed. We enjoyed our time with it and there isn’t much else like it around but it also didn’t leave a massive impression and there was an overall lack of spark and magic that stops the game reaching its true potential. There’s certainly enjoyment to be found here but the transition from being a Wii game is too rough around the edges. If it had been built again from scratch we could have seen this being something very special, as it is it’s just an enjoyable diversion for platform fans that does things a little bit different.

Overall 6/10

Colour Blind Issues - No
Review Code - Yes

Wednesday 11 November 2015

3D Gunstar Heroes Review (3DS)

As bizarre plots go, Gunstar Heroes is classic 16-bit era madness. You are in charge of protecting planet G9 from Colonel Red who to resurrect a huge robot named Golden Silver and then take over the planet. To stop this Professor White has hidden the four mystical gems that control the robot, but they won't stay hidden for long because with the help of Green (a Gunstar brother who Red has kidnapped), the Colonel will soon close in on the robot's power source.

What the plot amounts to is a number of side-scrolling, action-packed levels with lots of jumping sliding, diving and shooting for One or two players. Each level presents something new - one minute you might be running along quite happily, guns ablazing, and the next you might be sliding down the side of a mountain, or falling headlong into a futuristic mine cart, with your balance swapped between floor and ceiling. The game keeps you on your toes and the pace never lets up for a minute. It's an exhilarating ride.

Graphically, Gunstar is set in a sort of crazy Anime-inspired cartoon world. The emphasis is on big explosions and unleashing as much colour and movement as possible. It's hard to imagine how the Mega Drive coped with all the action and now it's running even more smoothly on the 3DS. Levels invariably finish with a number of manic boss battles with each monstrosity proving stranger than the last and generally filling half of the screen. In keeping with Treasure's standards, everything animates and disintegrates wonderfully and at the time this was about as good as it got on the Mega Drive in terms of the sheer amount of effects.

Much like the other side scrolling games that have made the move to the 3D Classic series there is nothing amazing in the 3D effect. There's some nice scaling and rotation but the game looks equally impressive just zipping along without the effect on. The now standard options for changing between the Mega Drive or Mega Drive II for emulation and having the Japanese and International versions available are also found here. The biggest addition to this version is a new mode which lets you cycle through all the available weapons instead of being reliant on the weapon drops.

Pure quality of presentation aside, the gameplay of Gunstar Heroes is every bit as good. With so much happening at any one time, it is essential to have a responsive and flexible control system. The game allows you to customise your shooting method - it can either be set up to fire while the player is moving, in the direction that the player is moving, or it can be fixed in one direction while you leap around in another. Additionally, our heroes can rely on a few other moves to avoid enemy fire; you can slide under obstacles, jump up to higher levels from below, and somersault off the walls, damaging anything and everything upon your descent. It's fluid and responsive action, and exactly what you need when you find yourself stuck in the middle of increasingly tight situations and set-pieces. 

Overall, Gunstar Heroes is an exceptional title. It looks great, it plays better and even the sound is orchestrated to make everything as hectic and adrenaline-pumping as possible. If there is a fault to be found, you could say that the game is perhaps a little too easy, given its straightforward design. But the two-player consolation ramps up replay ability, and even now the remit has hardly dated at all - meaning it is just as enjoyable and playable as it was upon release. Highly sought after (and rightfully so), Gunstar Heroes proves just how blisteringly good Treasure are

Overall 9/10 

Colour Blind Issues - No
Review Code - Yes 


Monday 9 November 2015

Assassin's Creed: Syndicate Review (PS4)

Another year and another Assassin’s Creed steps forth to fulfil our running and stealth based needs. The games have certainly come a long way since Altair first donned his white garb and disrupted the Middle Eastern streets. Since then we’ve moved to Italy, Turkey, France, America and even the Caribbean. Our next destination is Victorian London and we eagerly dived in hoping to find a game to put into the series’ ‘good’ category.

We’ll have to be honest and say we didn’t really spend enough time with Unity to form an opinion on it so we are coming at this after the excellent Black Flag. We loved Black Flag and it’s about as close as we are ever likely to get to a modern version of Sid Meier’s Pirates! Jumping into Syndicate was a change of pace right from the start and the game certainly has a personality of its own. Syndicate is like sneaking your way through Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes version of Victorian London. 

This time you take control brother and sister Evie and Jacob Frye who come to industrial London to loosen the Templar grip and stop them from taking over the world. You can switch between both characters freely and each one is a bit better at certain things. Evie is better at stealth and knives while Jacob is a better fighter and is better with a gun. You can level up your assassins by completing the various tasks and missions and then choosing what to spend experience on. You can also level up more quickly by paying real money which is something we are never a fan of. That said we never really found the ‘pay to win’ mechanic intruded upon our play through and is easily ignorable.

Evie and Jacob are excellent characters and each has a distinct personality. Their voice acting is excellent throughout and everything always stays the right side of ridiculous cockney accents. The strong voice cast help to make the story seem important and interesting and it’s one of the stronger entries in the series from a narrative point of view.

London itself is pretty much completely open to you from the very start. Different areas display the recommended level for you character to be but there is nothing stopping you going and trying to undertake side missions if you so wish. There are far fewer viewpoints though, so fast traveling around can be a bit of a pain. You do have a train which trundles around the map (and acts as your mobile base), which you can also fast travel to and this proves very useful at times.

The detail of London is excellent with horse drawn carriages rolling along the streets and a large population of NPC characters going around their daily lives. There’s been a bit of geographic manipulation but it gives a real feel of a city in the midst of an industrial revolution. When the sky dims and all the lanterns come on it can be very impressive to look at and we never grew tired of wandering around the streets on our way to the next objective.

Speaking of objectives, you are certainly not going to be short of things to do. As well as the main story missions there are countless other side quests to get involved in and endless amounts of trinkets to find. Each area of London is under control of a gang called the Blighters. In order to take it back you need to kill Templars, free work house children, take out gang members and kidnap criminals. These tasks all follow the theme of sneaking in somewhere and then either killing or capturing targets within enclosed areas. 

Once the missions have been carried out the Blighters will challenge you and your gang the Rooks to a fight for the area. These are the only real low point of the game as the enemy gang leaders are huge tanks with massive health bars and you are stuck in an enclosed space with them and not able to use much of your equipment. We got stuck on one for hours as the boss could kill us with four hits and the game kept forcing us into quick time event sequences where he would continually strike at us when his health bar reached certain levels. 

The easiest thing to do is try and kill the bosses when they first appear at the end of the initial gang war sections. If you can get them before they get away then you won’t have to deal with them later in the territory fight.

Aside from the tank bosses the only other major issue we had is the fact it has no colour blind options. There are now a ton of things represented on your map and for gamers with colour blindness you are likely going to struggle with identifying what they are. You now have your enemies, police, ally Rooks, escaping criminals, street kids, carriages and a host of other things. All represented by coloured dots with no other symbol. It’s really bad in this day and age to think that this hasn’t been taken into account and is certainly something that needs to be addressed to make it more accessible.

On top of these side missions you can also get involved in fight clubs, raid cargo, go looking for flowers, beer bottles and other collectibles and take part in ‘memory’ sequences which explore some of myth and folk lore of London. There’s so much to do that we spent hours skipping around away from the main quest and seemingly never even really made a dent in it.

Of course, if the game doesn’t play well then you aren’t going to want to spend hours with it. But this time everything works excellently. Your characters are fluid and control as you would want and combat is pretty much as it’s always been. You get a new gadget to play with which lets you grappling hook to the top of buildings and across large streets which solves the problem of London not perhaps fitting a free running world as cities have done in the past. The only bugs we found were that occasionally weapons didn’t appear in enemies hands and sometimes characters would vanish in cut scenes. 

Overall, we had a lot of fun with Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. It’s different enough from the other games to feel fresh while still holding onto the core of what makes the games great in much the same way Black Flag was. It’s a bit more action based than a lot of the other games and has bucket loads of personality. It’s certainly closer to the quality of Assassin’s Creed 2 than the miss-steps of the series. There are still a few frustrating sections and there will be many that feel the series should have stopped being an annual outing but you can’t deny that when the formulae works it creates a great adventure. Just sort out your colour blind options Ubisoft.

Overall 8/10

Colour Blind Issues - Yes
Review Code - Yes

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Persona 4: Dancing All Night Review (PS Vita)

Persona 4 has certainly turned out to be a flexible franchise for Atlus. In the last few years we have had wide ranging spin offs from the core JRPG game. It started with fighter Persona 4 Arena and then the Etrian Odyssey crossover Persona Q. Now we have another genre to add to the mix with this rhythm action game. 

Dancing All Night is told to the player by Margaret (from the Velvet Room in Persona 4), and takes places about a month after Persona 4. It’s a very strange story (even for Persona), and revolves around the idea that Persona’s pop icon Rise is putting on a show with the other cast of the game being invited along as backing dancers. It gets weirder. 

Soon another female group named Kanamin Kitchen (each member is named after a type of meat), start going missing and the team are drawn back into the strange Midnight world. Only this time it’s the Midnight Stage not the Midnight Channel. They soon find that they can’t attack their enemies as violence is banned and all the shadows that inhabit the world are tied together with a strange yellow ribbon. The ribbon brain washes them and traps them into the rhythm of a strange and eerie song that keeps playing. Of course the only way to break the spell is to fight back with music and dancing.

We completely love the fact that everything is played straight with all the characters taking this deadly seriously. It’s completely insane and entirely better for it. After a slow start the story rolls along at a good pace and there are a ton of excellent anime cut scenes implemented to draw you in (though I’m not sure we needed to keep seeing down Rise’s top at every opportunity in them).

If you don’t want to go through the story the game can also be played out as individual songs which when completed unlock tougher tracks and other bonuses such as dance partners. It’s a good way to practice while also allowing for quick hits of fun which suits the Vita very well.

The presentation and structure is excellent so it’s a good thing the actual game underneath it is strong as well. The action takes place with one of the heroes in the centre of the screen dancing and stars flying out towards the left and right edges. Players then have to hit the corresponding buttons that they pass in time to the beat. This utilises three of the buttons on each side of the Vita and gets pretty hectic as you progress. 

Notes soon begin to change to require more complex inputs with buttons needing to be held and pressed at the same time as well. There are also extra points and a ‘fever’ circle that shoots out from time to time that requires the tilt of an analogue stick in order to hit it as it fills the circle surrounding the play area. Filling the fever gauge allows for special events to happen at certain points in the song and adds up to big points.

It’s a solid and fun system and the notes hit precisely with no input lag. The graphics behind the scene are also excellent and keep things lively. The music itself is a collection of various types of Japanese style music from pop to dance and a hint of metal and there’s nothing here that’s going to ready grate on you with the best songs being rather good. 

Overall, Persona 4: Dancing all Night is a good rhythm game in its own right. It obviously has a fairly niche market to aim at and I’m not sure we were all crying out for ‘Persona does rhythm action’ but now that it has we’re rather glad it did. It’s humorous, breezy fun and suits the Vita perfectly. It might not be the next Gitaroo man or Ouenden but it’s certainly something that fans should enjoy and it’s clearly had a ton of effort put into getting just right. Newcomers will likely be completely lost though.

Overall 8/10

Colour Blind Issues - No
Review Code - Yes

Monday 2 November 2015

Little Big Adventure Enhanced Review (PC)

Little Big Adventure is one of those games that we never quite got around to playing despite having bought it a few times. A cult classic, it has a loyal following and is fondly remembered by pretty much everyone who played it when it first came out. DotEmu have now released this enhanced and updated version of LBA but is it enough to make it work for newcomers?

Little Big Adventure follows the story of Twinsen who has been locked away by the tyrannical Dr FunFrock for having strange dreams about the end of the world. The evil doctor has taken over the planet and holds control through the use of clones which he uses to impose his rule. Twinsen’s first job is to escape from the prison and then set about finding out exactly what his dreams mean and what he can do to save the world.

The game is set out like a semi-isometric adventure where our hero enters and exits different areas via arrows around the edges of the scenes and everyone looks a bit like Weebles. You can talk to just about anyone and everything is voice acted which gives a solid feeling of a functioning world as the various inhabitants impart advice and general gossip to you. There are normally enemies roaming around as well which can be avoided by sneaking or punched and kicked. Shortly after the start you also get a magic ball thing you can chuck at them

The game plays out as an action adventure title where you have to go around and find clues about what to do and then collect objects and use them in order to progress. For instance – in one area you need to get the local people to trust you. They will then help you distract some guards which in turn allows you to get into a house.  It’s the sort of game that doesn’t really exist anymore but one that was very prevalent around the time of the LBA’s original release on the PC. However, it was always a unique adventure game and that feeling still remains to this day.

A number of changes have now been made to the game in order to try and bring it up to modern standards. The most obvious of these is the new set of control systems. We started out with mouse control which turns LBA into a sort of point and click game. However, it’s dreadfully un-intuitive and awkward to use. We found simple getting around the screen difficult and numerous times interactions with the environment simply didn’t work. After a while we found ourselves descending into clicking all over the place near interest points in the vein hope something would register as the right place to click.

Not to be defeated we switched to the gamepad control and everything immediately became about one hundred times better. With movement now under direct control and things like running, jumping and sneaking mapped onto the buttons the whole thing becomes a much more joyful experience. The original keyboard ‘tank’ controls can no longer be used however, so you’ll either have to play the original version of the game that’s included or get used to one of the new schemes.

There is also a new status bar added which displays things like health and magic and if you are in sneak mode or not. You now zoom in and out as well, which certainly helps but could have been further improved by allowing you to pan around your environment in the same way as games such as Baldur’s Gate. Far too often you are left at the edge of the screen not able to see what is right in front of you as the camera doesn’t really keep Twinsen centred but normally scrolls along when he reaches certain points.

A welcome chance is improved saving as it's all too easy to die or get captured. Although you can still only load them from the main menu screen.  While this does stop constant cheap use of the system it's still a bit annoying when you have to go out to the main menu just to load a game. A better system for working out where you are jumping or where exactly the magic ball is going to be thrown is also a very welcome addition.

The graphics haven’t been improved or filtered either so you get a sort of grainy jagged look to everything. That’s not a major issue on the face of it but it seems strange to release a new version of a game without giving it a bit of a facelift - especially when the original version of the game is also included. The map and objective screen could have really done with a facelift as well and we found it almost completely useless as everything just looked like pixelated blobs. A clear list of objectives and locations would have really helped.

It’s certainly not perfect but even as a relative newcomer to LBA once we got into it we really started to like it. The adventure itself is still very solid and there’s a unique humour and charm to everything. We also haven’t really played anything like it before which goes to show how original and unique the game really is. Ok, so more could have been done to make this a really special release but the gamepad controls at least make it playable for newcomers and the game underneath is certainly worth experiencing. With a bit of patience there’s still a lot of magic to be found here and we’d certainly recommend it to adventure game fans.

Overall 7/10

Colour Blind Issues - No
Review Code - Yes