Next Gen Blog.

Next gen? Current gen? Weirdo fighting stance Street Fighter Gen. Whatever this is, we are in it, right now! You could probably argue we've been here for a while on the PC, and I'd possibly even agree having upgraded my own with magic, voodoo and the dark art of TressFX some time in the middle of last year, but for the lowly console owners this is the future. We are half a step away from Mattel hover boards, watching Jaws 19 and wearing two ties at the same time.

This is happening NEXT YEAR!

I wasn't planning to transition from the PS3 or the 360 so soon, with a lack of games and a whole bunch of disappointing launch releases. But the chance to get one of these new machines for less than the insane £400 (+game) pricetag was far too good to turn down. That coupled with inFamous Second Son and Ground Zeroes on the horizon I took a leap into buying a new home console in the first year of its life for the first time. (I did get a 3DS at launch, dunno if that counts.) Was it a poor decision? Here are some words that I wrote with my hands talking about my experience with the PlayStation 4 over the last couple of weeks. (ish)

This is Next Gen Youtube on a PS4... it doesn't work. even the Wii U and the 3DS don't have a problem with this. Nintendo 2 Sony 0

I opened the box and took out the console which looks like a giant eraser. My first thought was how light the console is. It seems a lot lighter than both my previous consoles and it has pointy angles which automatically says future, like some kind of alien artifact. It was strange unboxing it, there was a distinct lack of excitement compared to my Saturn or even the 3DS (back in 2011). the same feeling I had when unboxing the Wii U. I picked up the controller, felt the sticks and the triggers then switched on the machine. I like the new controller, it has real weight to it, and the sticks have a good amount of tension on them. I do however think the triggers while better than the PS3's are still a little spongy and inferior to the 360's. I was greeted with the usual login and update stuff you get these days, but the most surprising thing was that the PS4 doesn't have a start-up chime. It seems like an odd omission. I love console start-up noises and Sony have had some of the best over the years, it's sad to see something like that go, but in its place Sony have added some sad piano music playing in the background to remind you of your own mortality or maybe it's there for you to mourn over the loss of the start-up chime. I wouldn't be surprised if it was filled with subliminal messages telling you to go buy the digital version of Knack on the PSN store for £53 (FIFTY THREE POUNDS FOR KNACK!!!) Whatever the reason it's plinky-plonky and makes me want to cry when browsing my games.

This isn't Blacklight Retribution at all. This is James Spader in The Blacklist which is infinitely more interesting than that game.

One of the first things I did was download all of the PS3 games I own like Sound Shapes, FlOw and Flower. And then onto the "free" PS+ games such as Resogun, Don't Starve and Contrast. later in the week I dabbled in a couple of the free to play offerings such as Warframe and Blacklight: Retribution. I played Blacklight for a couple of matches. I killed four or five people in a row and it told me I was a threat, mega threat? ultra threat? some kind of threat. It seemed highly accurate though because I obviously have the skills to take down the future terrorists (?) with my shooty-guns. I pressed the left trigger followed by the right one a bunch of times in some eerily empty maps with barely anyone playing, admired the kinda cool looking menus and deleted it from my 354GB HDD... What the fuck!? Where did all my memory go? This seems like a pretty big problem for the future. 500GB (which is a slight lie in the first place after all the updates) seems pretty small considering the sizes of some of these files. It wouldn't be so worrying if I hadn't used up over a fifth of the space in a handful of days. Six months to a year down the line it seems understandable, but so soon it's a little worrying. I guess this is an inevitable problem for the future, but one I know I'm going to come up against sooner than I'd like.

This is some Next Gen messaging. PS3 TO PS4... THE FUTURE!

There's something really simplistic and empty looking about the XMB... is it an XMB? Infinite-line-media-app-bar? ILMAB? There's something a little unfinished about it. I love that I am immediately at the games I want to play as soon as I have signed in, but that bar is full of things cluttering up my games. Does the Playroom need to be there when I have no intention or the means to use it? same goes for the unlimited music and movies too. It's nice that I have the option to use that stuff (I won't ever) but let me remove it from that list. This has turned into a whine. I don't mean it to be that way, it moves snappily and it's easier to get to messages, the store and downloads because they are on another bar at the top. I'm not entirely sure what the Facebook-ish wall at the bottom is for but It's good to remind myself what games I have played and gotten trophies in minutes beforehand. I guess with all the information overload we have in our lives I have to be constantly reminded of that time I breezed about a digital field and murdered some space Nazi's in Killzone just to feel alive. Next gen feeling.

I captured this using the share function on BBC Iplayer. This is Danny Dyer in Eastenders... Not to be confused with Danny O Dwyer... Giant Bomb should probably hire Danny Dyer.

There's some other menu stuff. I like the little text boxes when you send multiple messages back and forth and the inclusion of a little noise when you get a message or something has started/stopped downloading is probably one of my favourite improvements (really) Maybe Sony could only pay for one sound clip and cut the start-up chime in favour of this. I still dunno how I feel about that, I'm still stuck on this damn thing. To be honest I don't really know why I keep bringing it up. There's still no option to set all games to have inverted camera just like the 360 in 2006, but hey, next gen and all that. Sony hate us dirty, inverted players. You can't pause downloads and the download speed seems similar-ish to the PS3 speeds at most times, although I DL Warframe during the middle of a weekday and it went surprisingly fast considering the filesize. I also like the way the light on the controller pulses in time with the beat during Sound Shapes.

Here are some thoughts about some video games I have played on a new video game system.

Resogun.

My first thought was to try and be clever by creating an image of Resogun using lots of tiny Lego bricks. I have the right amount of Lego and I have the right amount of patience, but after about an hour of trying I just ended up with what looked like I'd dumped a pile of Lego onto my bedroom floor like the overgrown child that I am.

Resogun was the first game I played and it's a real stunner in the visual department, somewhere between Geometry Wars and Super Stardust HD. The amount of things going on on screen is crazy. The first time I started it up it was like an overwhelming barrage or light and sound being stamped directly into my brain. That first time I heard the lady abrasively say "Save the last humans" through the speaker on the controller as the huge words rotate around the cylindrical level, my eyes lit up. Admittedly I didn't read how to play the game and just thrust myself directly into it, which resulted in the first few games turning into a mess of nonsensical noise.

After an hour or so I fully grasped that you had to fill the bar up at the bottom by killing enemies which would result in a strikingly beautiful, yet pretty simplistic boss at the end of the five levels. Occasionally you are told that keepers are detected that are a collection of glowing enemies in close proximity, that are usually on a kind of rail which have to be defeated before they disappear, which in turn shoots a spark off to somewhere else on the level freeing one of the ten humans in boxes around the level. I absolutely adore the way you have to manage all of the things at once, defeating waves, picking up little humans running about the level and boosting through tens of enemies at a time. The boost is one of those mechanics that has the right combination of sound effect, light trail and burst when you pop out of it to create this satisfying explosion of light. I think forcing 40 or 50 enemies into a clump and then boosting into them for a huge explosion is one of the most exciting things in any side scrolling shooter I have ever played. That along with the way the level just slo-mo explodes into thousands of particles at the end of a level make this the best and most visually pleasing game I have played on the system.

Resogun is super short and there's plenty of replayability with the harder modes being incredibly difficult. I'm really glad it's given away for free with PS+ If there was ever a game that could do with some dlc levels this is it. I'd probably buy more Resogun in a heartbeat.

Warframe.

The default character you can choose has a horn on his head. He looks kinda like Rocksteady from TMNT, only nothing like this at all. You totally have a horn though, this is a fact.

I think this is probably my first time adventuring into free to play games. I put about four hours into it and it seems... ok? It's hard to judge something like this that's completely free. It seems fully featured with a pretty big selection of various mission types. The shooting reminds me of the guns in Mass Effect and the sword has no lock on making most melee fights some sort of ultimate test against the jittery camera more than any hunchbacked, alien-beetle-monster-man.

All of the missions saw me leveling up my sword and my guns at a pretty slow rate with the occasional loot drop out of an alien space locker. Most encounters early on seem doable with one or two players, but I had to stop at the first boss because I'd always reach him and the rest of the people I was playing with would drop out. He seems far too hard to beat without excessive (boooring) grinding or having a couple of other similarly leveled players, and I don't think the action or similarly boring environments are enough to put anymore time into. I'm sure there's a lot more to see and there's a whole crafting and mod system in confusing menus that are never explained to you. The tutorial pretty much explains how to shoot and slice things. I found myself utterly baffled about how to even get into a mission due to the badly designed menu.

If there is one thing I like about the game, it is that the character designs are pretty unique and alien.Some people have heads like hammerhead sharks and the default suit has a striking resemblance to something out of Evangelion. There's something very organic-looking about the character designs and I like that a lot. If the game played better I'd be tempted to put a little more time into it, but that slow grind and samey missions/environments don't seem all that much like a fun time.

There is also some crazily priced microtransactions in the store, one of them is about £80 and another couple are £110 just for some cosmetic shit, weapons and in-game currency.

Contrast.

I like the music, the setting and the atmosphere of this puzzle-platformer. Some of the dialogue is really good and other parts of it is horrendous. The characters have really striking designs, but the second they move they act like badly animated puppets, which is even more noticeable when all of the other characters are shadows. It seems ok, but I'd have been really disappointed if I'd paid for it. It has a really cool dash move. I'm pretty big on the dashes in video games.

Killzone Shadow Fall.

No, Not the face! I have about 30 screenshots where I'm hovering over dead bodies stored on my system. After all of my corpse images in GTA V I'm starting to think I might have a problem.

My console was a Killzone bundle, so this came packed in the box. I have generally been a fan of these games. I liked the campaign in two a lot and adored the multiplayer in three. The campaign wasn't all that bad either for the entire fifteen minutes it took to complete.

Killzone Shadow Fall never rises above its opening mediocrity. After the first mission it just gradually slopes downwards until the messy, unexciting end. I came away from Killzone thinking more about the twenty or so times I died slamming my face into the side of falling buildings more than any of its beautifully crafted character designs or explosive setpieces. You can tell a lot of effort went into the story side of things, it's just that every single moment of it falls completely flat with you being talked at sternly by the dude that exploded in the second season of Homeland and an invincible Helghan lady that's good with a sniper rifle and some knives. Even Malcolm McDowell didn't reprise his character from 3 and that dude will do ANYTHING!

The first problem that rears its head is that you're always waiting for something in this game. I assume Guerrilla thought being talked at by angry, deadly serious non-characters and waiting in lines as people are processed was immersive. It's just boring a lot of the time. This game seems so pleased with making you wait for a crane you're riding to shift over or waiting for something to happen after you have inserted one of about 700 plugs into a socket two feet away. There is an odd stealth sequence that basically has you running from container to container in a well lit room to avoid nasty-space nazi guards you could probably kill easily with your bare hands. It's just a lot of waiting for someone to say "go!"

This might look like I drew it in the dark with some crayons, but it is actual Next Gen graphickxs.

Killzone... more like Waitzone. So, yeah, you do kill stuff, and for the most part it's pretty good with some aggressive enemies and a selection of pretty satisfying weapons. The Shadow Marshall rifle, which is your standard gun that can double up as a sort or energy-sniper rifle is probably the best thing about the entire game. I tried my hardest to never part with it on the missions it was given to me. Unfortunately the combat becomes more about entering rooms with an almost endless supply of enemies that pop out the second you take two steps forward. One room in the final(ish) mission is absolutely insane. It must be a pretty awful job being one of the elite Helghan guard. 95% of the time you must be hiding, crouched behind a wall going "Is he here yet?" "Shhh I heard a noise... get ready... sorry, false alarm guys." There are also a couple of points with infinitely respawning enemies. One where you have to hold off wave after wave after wave after wave after wave of soldiers while SURPRISE! you wait for a slow moving thing to get to its destination. In another I somehow ended up in a weird stalemate fighting against 5 or 6 Helghast while trying to hack a computer console. (Also waiting for the Helghan lady to hack a computer or something.)

The combat elsewhere is against really aggressive spider-tank things that aren't very fun to fight and these giant mechanical turrets that require you to mess around with more energy plugs in yet more sockets while avoiding exploding spider drones. The back half of the game is the biggest chore. I'd much rather be shooting things in a first person shooter than doing a selection of disposable side activities... and I'd happily never have to blow up one of those turrets by shooting energy plugs again.

What to say really. I'm like the millionth person to talk about how miserable an experience Killzone SF is. (and months late) I played a couple hours of multiplayer but got tired of being blown up and sniped by invisible characters over and over again on poor, messily designed maps. All of the talk about more open ended missions is nonsense with them usually having a pretty set path to go. There's a mid-credits mission that requires you to do four objectives in a really set pattern. It's a forced stealth mission in a game that can largely be played without ever having to do stealth. It was incredibly frustrating having to trial and error my way to the end of the game for about an hour in what is a five minute long sequence. Killzone feels incredibly last gen (semi-current?) with these stunning environments and incredible lighting, but full of little things that pull you out of the world. Some stuff is completely destructible, but you can knife those bottles on that table all day long and they'll never break. I played Ghostbusters at the same time and I could destroy huge amounts of the environment in a game from 2009. Come on next gen Killzone... let me bust stuff... Bustin' makes me feel good.

End bit.

SEXY!

So. this is some thoughts on my next gen console that's like current gen, but like old gen compared to PC's or something. I could describe some of the horrors I have seen spending a whole evening watching Twitch livestreams. I have seen the worst of humanity through a video game console. And I thought the voice chat in Call of Duty or Halo was the worst. I don't know why so many of the comments up the side of the screen want the girl to put the thing into the other thing... maybe theyre just trying to help her finish one of those plug sections in Killzone. The one thing I do know is that I am unable to stop watching. This is the future, we are in the future NOW! I'm off to go stop my future children from getting sent to jail.

Thanks for reading. Be excellent to each other.

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Sega Saturn Blog.

This is something I have wanted to write about for quite a while now. I bought a Sega Saturn about a year ago and have wanted to talk about my newest-oldest console love affair. Immediately I hear distant chuckles and whispers of "The Saturn is a big pile of shit" but I'm here to tell you that the Sega Saturn is totally rad.

For many years I had it in my head that what I really, really, really wanted was a Sega Dreamcast. Everyone says the Dreamcast is awesome. It has that game with the fighty-fights and the shifty-colour spaceship game, and y'know the adventurey Sonicses. The Dreamcast had the internet and was like the future, but was cut down in its prime. Without the Dreamcast's online-ness my uncle would have never met his wife which was probably awesome for him, but I've not spoken to him in over a decade and maybe he stabbed her to death out of some Sega fanboy loyalty induced rage. Anyways. After I thought long and hard about this and a bunch of the best Dreamcast games have since come out on XBLA and PSN I decided that it wasn't worth getting a system to play a Treasure game and a couple of wonky 3D Sonics.

The first time I saw this game I was pretty unimpressed. I had already defected to Nintendo by then.

As a fan of the speedy blue mammal I have always been curious of the other Sonic Team games like Nights and Burning Rangers. (One day I'll get around to the Billy Hatcher game.) I remember being mesmerized by a video of Nights on a Saturday morning show that reviewed entertainment products, but beyond that my exposure to the Sega Saturn was pretty limited to me once staring at an unplayable version of Bug in an HMV and sitting watching the above mentioned uncle play the first level of the original Panzer Dragoon. I'm not going to say that I'm still bitter that he wouldn't let me touch his shiny new console, but he didn't so therefore he can die in a fire.

Early last year I was having a pretty bad day, so naturally all of my thoughts were on browsing Amazon and Ebay looking for things to cheer myself up. Somehow I ended up looking at Mega Drives, Mega CD's and Japanese versions of cartridges I'd never be able to play and then I saw it from the corner of my eye... it was like the internet was giving me a sign, my hand dragged the cursor over to the words that said PAL SEGA SATURN AND SEVEN GAMES. My eyes lit up, I felt a voice deep in my soul, my heart was in agreement. YOU.MUST.BUY.THIS! I looked at the listing and found myself unable to commit to this kind of relationship in such a short amount of time. So I closed the browser and went to bed.

I woke up the next day expecting my usual dose of self hatred, but the second my eyes opened there was only one thing on my mind. I jumped out of bed switched on the computer and hit the big old buy button without a single thought. I was met instantly with regret, but spending a year (ish) with the system I feel like I made one of the best gaming purchases of my entire life.

Yeah, so I bought a Sega Saturn.

You fight a shiny man underwater at the end.

The day I got the console was really fun. I had a bunch of flashbacks to opening up console boxes in my childhood. There was something really nice about opening up the old thing in its original box with all of the wires placed neatly into it. I wasn't expecting everything to be in such nice condition, and I really didn't expect the box and the manuals to be included. A couple of the games such as Wipeout and F1 Challenge didn't have boxes, but had manuals which was ok as I was never really interested in most of the games that came with the system and I had played the hell out of Wipeout on the PS1 when it launched. I really wish I'd have kept the PS1 version of the game to compare the two, but from my memory of that game it seems like pretty much the same thing although knowing how the Saturn wasn't so hot at 3D games I wouldn't be surprised if it was vastly inferior. The F1 game has Damon Hill in it and a wicked guitar solo on the title screen, but it's F1 so y'know...

Psheeeowwww!

All of the games I got with the system were pretty unremarkable. Virtua Fighter 2 is so common it seems that most places almost give it away for free and Clockwork Knight, a game which is one of the standout titles for the system according to crazy people on fanatical Sega forums. It is truly one of the most awful platformers I have ever played. No saves, awful visuals (but I assume great at the time) and unresponsive controls. It's apparently very short, but I couldn't make it that much further beyond the first boss as the music was driving me insane.

I <3 you Burning Rangers.

I got a couple of other games I messed with for fifteen to twenty minutes, but the new toy feeling had started to evaporate, maybe me and my new console weren't meant to be together, maybe I'd made a huge mistake. Over the next week I found myself devouring any information on the best games for the system. The same old names kept popping up, with many of them being imports or increasingly rare games with silly price tags. Luckily I had bought Burning Rangers at around the same time I bought the console and it came in the post a couple of days later. I braced myself for £50 worth of disappointment and put the disk into the drive... Within a minute of starting up the game I knew I had made a good decision.

Video games!

I have a list here of the best games I have bought for the system over the last year. There are some other really good games like Radiant Silvergun, which is both insanely expensive (yet hardly rare) and available in an amazing version on XBLA, same for Treasure's other Saturn game Guardian Heroes.

BURNING RANGERS.

whump-whump-whoosh!

The Burning Rangers are fucking awesome. I mean, they're a team of futuristic firefighters that save people by putting out fires on spaceships, defeating giant alien plants and riding through watery space-mazes on dolphins. How do the Burning Rangers put out fires? I hear you ask. They shoot them out with fucking laser guns. Space-fire explodes into jewels, and different kinds of jewels depending on how much laser you're shooting into its fiery face. It's real lucky as fire-jewels act as a form of health, the Burning Rangers are there to put out fires and save lives and unlike the vast majority of people you'll ever meet in your life they will never let you down, I know this because the nice rap-man in the song "We are Burning Rangers" says so. He also says something about nightmares and Wes Craves which is a bit weird, but the overall feeling is that you should want to be a Burning Ranger. If I was a child I'd want to be one and now realise this game features the role models I probably needed to craft me into a better person. There would also be a chance that I'd get a laser gun with a little picture of Sonic on it.

They will never let you down.

I have a lot of love for this game despite seeing all of the flaws that a lot of games from that era share. The camera is unfortunately controlled by the L and R shoulder buttons which is never fun and there are some issues with jumping to ledges in confined areas where the camera gets caught on stuff, but for the most part it moves really smoothly and works as intended. There's a nice focus on dodging fires and listening to orders and sounds in the environment to progress. There's no map, but the lady on the other end of your radio tells you to go left or right at the press of a button like you're in some messed up version of the Crystal Maze. The other thing I adore about the game is the whooshy backdraft noise before fire pops out of a wall or consumes a room. If you hit back as soon as you hear the noise start you can do a fancy dodge move that even Kurt Russell would be proud of.

Hmm. Seems familiar.

Burning Rangers is a weird game, but one that shows that Sega were full of creativity once upon a time. Full of colour and strange bosses, It's a short game with an odd lack of music for the majority of most levels, and packed with a ton of optional people to save for extra lives and thankful emails after the mission ends. If you weren't told that it was made by Sega or Sonic Team you probably wouldn't know it was by the same people, but the way fire-jewels work like rings or the loading screen art are nice little giveaways. Burning Rangers is a flawed game and I don't know if it's enough to warrant the purchase of a Saturn, but I would LOVE an HD version. One of the most enjoyable games I played in 2013... who couldn't love a game with a character with a mohawk made of metal tubes called Big Landman?

Panzer Dragoon/ Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei.

LASER DRAGON!

Dragons are cool. People seem to be way into that Cucumberbatched up dragon in the film about the tiny people. What the Sherlock-dragon (With a name that's pronounced way differently to how I did as a kid.) sucks at is shooting lasers. Panzer Dragoon dragons have giant horns on their heads and shoot mutliple lasers out of their mouths. Fire-dragons suck, well maybe not that one in Dragonheart... or Dragonslayer... or that cool one in the boring film with Baldy Mathew McConoughey and Batman. Oh, whatever, Panzer Dragoon dragons shoot lasers and have riders that shoot their own lasers and sometimes walk and stuff. It is really rather wonderful.

This is a dragon, not much else to say really.

For such short games that are mostly on rails the amount of personality in the world they created is amazing. Both the Saturn games have this very alien atmosphere with stunning music that alternates between energetic synth sounds and beautiful orchestral pieces. The way the dragons weave in and out of the scenery through the ruins of past generations or through alien forests full of giant acid spitting wildlife is fantastic. I really can't stress how much of a unique atmosphere these two games give off. The hints of old magic and futuristic weaponry mixed with dragons is so strange, yet fits perfectly.

I have the Xbox sequel which crashes on the third stage on European 360's unfortunately, and Panzer Dragoon Saga the RPG that some swear is better than the PS1 Final Fantasies is insanely expensive if you want to play it with English subtitles (Japanese version much, much cheaper.) The two Saturn rail shooters are among the best games I have played for the system, and while I really like that the second game (which is weirdly titled 2-2) has unique dragon leveling and incredible visuals, I think I like the simplicity of the first game. It's hard to explain, but it feels like it has more grace than the sequel.

Oh, and DRAGONS THAT SHOOT LASERS!

Thunder Force V

Fish-robot-thing... KILL IT WITH LASERS!

Ok, this was the most expensive game I bought. I know that it came out on the PS1 in the US, but the only way to get it here is to import it. If a lot of these games tell you anything about me, it's that I like lasers. Thunder Force V has THE laser. The CRAW laser which can be rotated 360 degrees in this side scrolling shooter is ridiculously powerful. If you know where to aim it, a bunch of the bosses in this game can be beaten in seconds.

Monster thing... KILL IT WITH LASERS!

There's not really a lot to say about this game other than it's probably one of the best side scrolling shooters I have ever played. It's full of incredible, fast paced music and brilliantly designed bosses like giant manta-ray-bird things and wire frame butterfly-robots. It is super fun despite its incredibly high difficulty. I like that it lets you play through the first three stages in any order you like so if you really struggle you can see more than just one level.

Hexagonal thing... KILL IT WITH LASERS!

The Saturn is packed with 2D shooters and Thunder Force V is pretty special, even with it's slightly crude polygonal visuals. Normally I prefer the horizontally* scrolling games, but if you've read this far you know how partial I am to the laser beams, and this is one of the best laser beam parties I've ever been to.

* Edit - I think I mean vertically scrolling here. My mind is telling me that the horizontal screen scrolls up, but then I think about it and I'm probably wrong... I'm pretty stupid *shrug* I like the scrolly-uppy games more. I should have said that in the first place.

Shinobi X

I like that when you cut some people in half there is a delayed reaction before all of the splurty blood.

Do you know what would make Shinobi games better? Digitized actors and live action FMV. Obviously those things would never be better than fighting the deadly trio of Godzilla, Spiderman and Batman, and the idea of a Mortal Kombat-ified Shinobi sounds like the dumbest thing ever, but this game is 100% Shinobi.

Believe it or not this is the SECOND best thing in the game.

The game in the US was known as Shinobi Legions and is generally thought of as weaker than the European version which has a unique soundtrack by Richard Jacques who went on to work on the synthy music for the first Mass Effect. This game is craaaazy hard and I have only seen the end of it due to cheating with Action Replay codes. (I can get to about the halfway point before I want to snap the controller in half)

Get over here!

I'm a huge fan of the Mega Drive games and this feels almost identical to them despite the graphical style. Gameplay revolves around throwing Kunai and slashing things with your sword. Every so often a giant statue pops out of the ground after collecting a certain amount of what look like giant blue Smarties. It just sort of floats around the screen killing things which is weird, but when placed next to some of the other stuff in this game it seems pretty normal. There's a mission in a lab where you have to fight off what seem like toy Brontosaurus heads that pop in from the side of the screen every so often.

But the one thing that makes this game special is the cheap, Power Rangers-y FMV cutscenes. These are some of the most wonderfully bad examples of this lost artform. Don't worry as I have included a video with all of them above!

The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?

There's hardly any images of the game online so I guess the box art will do.

So, this (mostly) side scrolling shooter is a strange movie tie in game that is pretty good. It's real easy and would make absolutely no sense if you haven't seen the movie ( I'm pretty certain it isn't easily available anywhere outside of Japan these days.) It follows the movie almost exactly and spans two disks despite only being a handful of hours long, probably due to all of the movie FMV between stages.

There's something really endearing about old, pixelated anime video at the start of games. It's something I'm hugely fond of along with early polygonal character models... but back to the game. Macross lets you control a mech/jet hybrid and you basically blow up everything on the screen with infinite missiles which require you to constantly keep holding the button down to lock onto everything. This will probably give you some pretty bad hand-cramp.

Missiles and laser beams.. My kind of game.

Every so often the characters need you to know some pretty important story stuff so you have to guide missiles or avoid a boss without using weapons for some reason or other. Either way it's pretty story/talk heavy for this kind of game and probably only has any real value if you are a fan of the movie. I think it's a pretty lovely movie so I guess I'm pretty much the target audience. I knew there was a reason why I bought it!

It plays the song from the movie that means nothing to 99% of the people reading this (And if you got this far thanks!) over the final battle which is really rather wonderful.

Asuka 120% BURNING Fest LIMITED.

I have punched all of these girls in the face!

This is a super fun, fast paced fighting game. This is probably the best 2D fighting game nobody has ever played. That's a fact which I made up with statistics and science and stuff. Apparently it plays like the Street Fighter Alpha games or something. This might be true or someone else might have made up facts about it so who knows. It's basically about an all girl school where the different classes beat each other up for fun times. It's like Rival Schools, the Capcom fighting game that isn't Darkstalkers or Street Fighter... only that that's a lie and it's absolutely nothing like Rival Schools and has 2D hand drawn sprites with massive hands.

spamspamspamspamspamspam

I really wish the Saturn had online as this game is super fun and all of the girls have a ton of personality in their design. The girl from what I assume is science class throws a frog at you and another aggressively whacks flaming tennis balls nonstop at your face. There's a tiny cheerleader girl that is ridiculously hostile even when you knock the difficulty down to one star. In fact the way the super "120%" burning moves work is that they seem to be on a timer for most characters which means that you can do as many super moves as you want before the time runs out. (I think?) The A.I spams that shit nonstop. The fights are pretty flashy with a bunch of super moves being thrown out on both sides for a vast majority of most matches.

GANBAREEEEEEE!

I looked up what Ganbare meant using the Googles. Apparently it means do your best. It's good to know what it means when it is being shouted after every other punch thrown. It's nice that all of your school friends are behind you when pummeling another girl in the face, maybe if I had a little more support like this I wouldn't have gotten the shit kicked out of me at school so often... or if I had a weaponized frog.

Astal.

Pretty.

This is probably one of Sega's best and least known 2D platformers. If you look around the internet typing into the search "Wot is the bestest Saturn games to buy with money?" Astal is often one of the top answers. It was not released in Europe so I had to import it. Luckily Astal is super cheap in Japan and has fantastic box art. The story doesn't make any sense, but it's a short 2D platformer so who cares.

Possibly one of my favourite video game covers ever.

You play a little man that might have a hood or a cape that's probably his hair, and you can pick up trees and rocks, throw people, fistpound them in the air and blow real hard at like hot things all while hopping on platforms... y'know platformer things. You also have a little bird with you that can apparently be controlled by player two with a second controller. Also, during one boss fight where Astal is trapped you get to use your dashy beak attacks. I dunno what happens at that point in two player. I assume the second player fights the boss, I guess I'll never know so I'm not entirely sure why I'm typing this.

When not controlling the bird it will bring you health items that look like eggplants which is pretty nice. It's not the hardest game in the world and a lot of the challenge comes from cruelly placed enemy placement in the more precision based levels. It's pretty varied from start to finish, sometimes you ride a water dragon and other times you're protecting yourself from meteor showers or avoiding giant rock monster legs. Astal is a gorgeous looking game. The closest comparison would be the artwork from Vanillaware games with its big detailed sprites. It has this wonderful style to it that makes me sad that so few people have seen it.

(Better quality US opening that doesn't have the singing.)

Astal has weird hair.

Along with the beautiful visuals is maybe one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard in a game. Soft electric guitar solo's and floaty bass. It's super pretty and reaaally 90's, but sets the atmosphere perfectly. I adore this game and it was the first Saturn game I finished. It's such a shame Sega never got to do anything with this character. I love the Saturday morning cartoon-esque animated intro to the game. (Reminds me a little of the Sonic CD intro... kinda.) If you ever buy a Sega Saturn buy this game first.

End bit.

Probably the most important purchase after the console itself

So that's my blog. I had some thoughts about Nights, but realised very quickly that although I think that game is visually great and full of creativity, it's utter nonsense and not a lot of fun to play. Die Hard Arcade is full of all my favourite sequences from the movie like the part where Bruce Willis beat a man to death with a grandfather clock and fought a couple of mechs, but yet again not a lot of fun to play. Deep Fear is like Resident Evil with infinite ammo, a monkey and would give Naughty Dog a run for its money in the acting/storytelling department, Rayman still looks nice despite a lack of limbs and After Burner 2 will always be super fun.

This game has amazing box art, but is incredibly irritating.

I had a lot more things to say about my lovely Saturn, but this is probably far too long already. I want to blog more regularly and will hopefully stick to a semi regular schedule. For some odd reason I feel like I should apologize or something before I have even started. Maybe I'll get around to examining all of that hostility directed at family members I'm pretty indifferent towards and maybe next time I'll have things to say about shiny new games on shiny new consoles.

Thanks for reading. Be excellent to each other.

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I wrote one of those top ten of 2013 things!

Is the Wii U a complete failure? No, No, No! I messed up my intro already. 2013 has been a pretty good year for games. There hasn't really been a Binary Domain type-thing that came out of nowhere for me to latch onto and a lot of the games in my top 10 are games that will appear on a bunch of other peoples lists.

There was a few games I probably should have tried, but a game like Fire Emblem doesn't seem like my kind of thing and a handful of games people absolutely adored felt like they had significant issues like Saints Row and Assassin's Creed.

There were a couple of games that were very nearly in my top ten including: DmC (beautiful/fun) Metal Gear Rising (incredibly flashy/stupid)Splinter Cell (well designed stealth) Tomb Raider (like Uncharted with good shooting/pretty)and Killer is Dead (gorgeous/ very, very gamey)I'm glad I purchased a Wii U even if it was after a hugely significant price cut and almost nothing on the new systems seems like it is worth spending £400-500 on. I regret buying Call of Duty after skipping a year,The mermaid song in Puppeteer is incredible, Luigi's Mansion is charming, but too long and I spent far more hours playing Payday 2 and RE: Revelations Raid mode than was probably good for my health.

Oh, and Beyond was probably the worst game I played all year.

Spoiler list for people that can't be bothered to read anything and need to know immediately what some random on the internet has to say about a bunch of games. (+ awesome bonus reason why!)

10 Animal Crossing: New leaf - I like this game.

09 Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons - I like this game.

08 Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus - I like this game.

07 The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds - I like this game.

06 The Wonderful 101 - I like this game.

05 Bioshock Infinite - I like this game.

04 The Last of Us - I like this game.

03 Grand Theft Auto V - I like this game.

02 Super Mario 3D World - I like this game.

01 Rayman Legends - I like this game.

So here goes. I'm not so great at writing up my thoughts on things and I have edited, added, chopped things out and re-added them for nearly a week and I think I'm happy with it. It's probably completely nonsensical at this point. THERE IS A BUNCH OF SPOILERS IN THIS.

For the longest time the idea of playing an Animal Crossing game seemed like one of the least appealing things to do with my time. New Leaf just wants to let itself breezily wash over you, which is easy to do when my little town of Wonk is so laid back. Animal people give me presents for telling them they look pretty in a dress, and my home is full of bizarre furniture I have knocked out of trees and swapped with neighbours. Animal Crossing is the kind of thing that consumes a lot of your time without any stress or time pressure. It's one of the most relaxing things I have ever played. I never thought I'd enjoy virtual fishing in a game, but hunting for sharks, wandering my beach at night time for seashells and buying silly outfits was an incredibly soul refreshing experience. FEAR THE BEES IN THE TREES!

And there's a sheep lady in my town that has this lovely catchphrase.

There are occasionally games that consume my brain for hours, even days where I find myself unable to think of anything else, and Brothers was one of the few that I managed to have bounce around the back of my head for a huge chunk of the year.

It isn't about all of the feely stuff, and yes, Brothers has its moment. A pretty powerful moment, and one that is only possible due to the controls, but this was not the moment that stuck out to me. The storybook adventures come to life gave this adventure a real sense of wonder, the kind you very rarely get in games. I helped a family of turtles, fought off hungry wolves, hid from an invisible monster in the snow, flew a glider through the rocky mountains and scrambled through the aftermath of battling giants. I could point out a dozen more moments that all felt natural in this beautiful world Starbreeze have created, but the one moment I fell head over heels in love with the game was when rowing a boat through an icy river, a beautiful whale-like creature jumped out of the water right in front of me. It was completely magical and unlike anything else in the other games I played this year. Brothers was very clearly crafted with a lot of love and care and it shows in every sequence and hidden moment, balancing the whimsical and the dark almost perfectly. Brothers is unlikely to be forgotten by me any time soon.

Oh, and you get to ride a goat up a hill.

I have had an incredibly Ratchet-y year. I have replayed through all the PS3 games, most of the HD collection and Deadlocked HD (In some cases multiple times.) and I have enjoyed almost every minute of doing so. Ratchet was probably my biggest love during the PS2 days and continues to be the one franchise that I always look forward to despite Insomniac seemingly wanting to take all of the fun out of everything these days.

Nexus is the perfect fan game, a nice epilogue to the Future series and a good reminder of why the Ratchet formula works so well. I would have been ok with A Crack in Time ending the series, but Nexus manages to streamline everything good about these games and give it to you in a shorter, tighter experience. Scaling down the gun leveling, returning to the mod system from Tools of Destruction and giving each world its own unique twist. There's a swamp for using your jet boots, a level designed for you to use a gun that creates hover streams and an opening level with an anti gravity sequence that is oddly reminiscent of the original Dead Space.

Sure, the humour isn't as present (Although there are a couple of the funniest jokes in the entire series in there.), but this is the nicest looking of the PS3 games, and Insomniac have some really wonderful and expressive animators that bring the characters to life. I miss this kind of platformer and I'm very happy this came along to erase their past mistakes, even if Sony sent it out into the woods ready to put a couple of bullets into the back of its head.

I really hope with the upcoming movie and the return to the more traditional Ratchet someone, somewhere is working on a new game for the PS4, even if it's another one of these smaller titles. I'm just happy that I got to see Ratchet and the adorable Clank leave this generation on a high.

And there's a gun that plays Jingle Bells as you murder things.

I have a lot of love for A Link to the Past. It was very probably the Zelda game that I have the best memories of. I spent a really long time during my childhood exploring that top down world, hunting for every item and secret while humming along to the splendid music.

A Link Between Worlds on the surface seems designed to prey on your nostalgia for the SNES game, but the longer you play it the more it seems to be its own thing entirely. Sure, the renting of the items changes the structure of the game meaning you have a variety of dungeons to complete or come back to at a later date when you've discovered what you needed to do. (You needed to merge into a wall was the answer.) But the way the dungeons are designed requiring you to shift between dimensions and use the verticality of the stage to drop off of ledges or fire yourself up to higher levels are yet another reason to praise Nintendo's decision for the 3D screen. The dungeons are the real stand out here, and while they're not the hardest things in the world they do give the appropriate amount of satisfaction to complete, often making you feel incredibly clever.

ALBW has some great design and some amazing versions of older tunes including the Lorule/Dark world theme and a breezy guitar and violin version of the overworld theme at the beginning of the game.I'm happy that the game has a bunch of little secrets with many items completely missable, it never really explains where you need to go or what to do beyond a few crosses on the map. I don't really want to call it one of the best games in the series, and it would be hard to say it was better than ALTTP. It clearly has some of the boldest moves Nintendo have ever made with these games, and it will be nice to see how/if they expand on the ideas in the Wii U game. Easily one of the most delightful 25 hours I have spent in any game world this year.

That baseball minigame that looks wonderful in 3D can eat a dick though... And I never found a single use for the boomerang.

I like Roger Craig Smith a bunch. It's hard not to seeing as the guy is the new Batman, but as well as being Bruce Redfield he gave us the wonderful Wonder Blue. A completely dickish superhero that would rather be cutting some evil alien fools than chatting about it. The interactions between the equally fantastic Wonder Green where they bicker about how things should get done is one of my favourite parts of this incredibly strange game.TW101 is essentially an isometric character action game with a lot more in common with Bayonetta than the people that claim it is like Pikmin (It isn't like Pikmin at all.) You can even use Witch-time later in the game and if you're crazy enough able to unlock the lady herself and her friends.

The thing I really liked about The Wonderful 101 is its insistence on always being at 11. It isn't content with throwing a boss at you at the end of a chapter, it's quite happy to throw two or three of them in a row. And the bosses in this game are easily the highlight, often requiring you to switch around your different weapon types in rapid succession.

I love how everything has this shiny look to it like you're playing with toys. It's like the most insane episode of Power Rangers with miniature plastic figures. TW101 just gets bigger and dumber as things go on. By the end of the game you're fighting giant, planet destroying alien robots using a mech named after the developers of the game. It is as big and silly as anything in Kamiya's previous game, while also being full of some genuinely good writing and humour. I know the game has some control issues and some of the platforming although very light can be incredibly frustrating, but the amount of fun compared to the frustrations I had in what is a pretty long action game balance a lot of that out. I'd love to see a slightly more refined version of the game(never happening) or at least some kind of return to these wonderful characters. Even if we don't I am incredibly glad a game that is as weird and fun as this ever got made.

I liked the shooting in Bioshock Infinite. Is it ok to say that? I have always been a fan of the gun/plasmid/vigor combo these games use, and I found the shooting to be the best it has ever been in the series (I never really had a problem with it in past games.) I adore the combat arenas where you get to fly around using the skyhook crashing down on top one enemy, firing off some powers or opening some tears and then zipping off to another part of the area to continue the chaos.

Columbia is beautiful and full of some of the best world building I have ever seen in a game, managing to be both vibrant and creepy at the same time. I love the way Elizabeth moves around and throws you coins and ammo while exploring or in combat, and the little scripted touches and conversations really bring her to life.

I have always liked this alternate take on history kind of sci-fi, and the ending blew me away. The moment it dumped me back into the opening areas of Rapture were both sudden and completely unexpected. I really liked the different timeline stuff with the Lutece twins, and they're easily two of the most memorable characters of the year. I thought I had forgotten a lot about the game when I sat down to write this, but the moment I remembered one thing, I'd remember another ten I wanted to ramble on about. There is a moment later in the game with an older Elizabeth standing over an alternate 1980's New York on fire. It was one of those "holy shit" moments in video games that I won't forget any time soon.

There was a point where The Last of Us could go fuck itself. My first eight hours of the game didn't save requiring me to start over from the beginning. It was a tough decision to make and there was a moment in time where I had no intention of returning to a game that had eaten all of my progress. You have no idea how glad I am that I just took a deep breath and started over the next day. It took a huge chunk of the game for me to fully appreciate it. Joel is initially quite unlikeable, Ellie doesn't really come into her own until about the time she starts stabbing dudes in the back and some of the A.I is quite laughable. (I ended up with quite a few body-pile moments) Unfortunately a lot of the predictable behavior made most of the sequences with the infected less frightening than I would have expected. I always felt like I could move around them with little danger. The moments where you're up against a lot of humans were when the game really shined. I loved sneaking around picking a few of the men off one by one until the inevitable moment where everything turns on it's head. The action in TLoU requires a lot of moving around the pretty large, open areas and firing off a couple of shots here and there. Every headshot counts in these gunfights and they're as well made as any of the story stuff. I think praising the game for its character building and acting without acknowledging how good the gameplay is sells a significant part of TLoU really short. None of the winter chapters would have the same impact without playing as Ellie, and the way the game takes away all of the things you have accumulated minus the knowledge you have gained from past encounters is truly great giving the player character development without the aid of a single cutscene. The game kicks into another gear from the end of the university onwards and never really lets up until the very last scene.

Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson are truly magnificent, and without them at the core I doubt the storytelling would be half as good. Never before have such well drawn characters been portrayed in a game, and while it is riddled with some of the same old zombie movie clichés and a very simplistic story, the character interactions are the best the medium has ever given us. The final scene is probably the most interesting thing about the whole game, the way it manages to avoid the predictable and be neither good or bad. The Last of Us somehow manages to be a lot of different things. An action game, a survival game, a stealth game, but also one of the most human... The Walking Dead TV show would sacrifice a few newborns to be as good as this.

While TLoU wasn't the bleakest of bleak experiences known to man I was lead to believe it was, it did feature one of the most joyous moments in anything this year. The giraffe sequence is one of the most magical things to bring a smile to my face in 2013.

GTA V is a big dumb action movie. GTA V has as much in common with Michael Bay as any Call of Duty and I absolutely adore it. I have never been the biggest fan of Rockstar. Red Dead was the first game of theirs that I truly loved. I liked GTA IV, the world they created and the memorable characters were really special, but the way the missions were designed with the oddly clunky shooting still felt like the same old problems I had with the PS2 games.

Checkpoints changed everything. No longer did it feel like a chore to get through missions, in fact a lot of missions in the game are incredibly easy compared to previous games. Very rarely did I need to retry missions, but in the place of challenge the game had a real flow. Occasionally throwing two or three big set piece moments at you in a row that sometimes spawn out of these really basic missions. The most impressive thing about a lot of these missions is that they are all contained within the world. The mission where you shoot down the plane and chase it down the hill is a great example of this. Other games like Saints Row put you into self contained areas to give you those "big"moments, but GTA V gives you something on a far grander scale without a loading screen and an exhilarating chase down a steep hillside on a motorbike.

I don't come to these games for the exhaustive side activities, so any comparisons to the amount of content available to you in past games is meaningless to me, but I spent nearly seventy hours in Los Santos and loved almost every minute of it, getting all I possibly wanted out of that game and more. The heists are absolutely wonderful with the small raid on the bank that turns into all out war being a real stand out, and possibly the moment I went from liking to loving the game. That whole mission puts the entirety of Payday 2 to shame. It would have been nice to see a few more of them and it was the little moments like the tense lead up to the Italian Job-esque heist that made the payoff all the more sweeter. I could pick faults in the characters all day, and that the story really loses its focus in the back half, but the characters dialogue is well written and superbly acted, especially Michael and Trevor. And while I flip-flopped on my feelings about Trevor he's a character I will never forget with some of the funniest dialogue in any game released this year.

I guess I should mention GTA Online. I have put literally days of time into this mode and have enjoyed a lot of my time within that world. I have pretty much exhausted all there is to do in the game's current form from a structured point of view, but I will return to it when they add more content such as heists. Poor team death match and boring Horde modes are not what I want from the game, but the amount of self created fun and memorable, un-recreatable moments I have had online have made GTO a really flawed but unforgettable experience. (Seriously, that time I ran you over on your bike was an accident.)

Look. I'm just gonna come out and say it. I know it's gonna make me sound like a heartless piece of shit, and it explains why I hate about 90% of the internet, but I hate cats. I hate them, probably stemming from the time my sisters kitten ate some brand new headphones I had just bought. Whatever the reason for my irrational hatred I would probably place cats highly on a list of things I'd happily ban from the planet earth... The biggest and most confusing question I have had to ask myself recently is this - Why do I think Cat-Mario is so great?

Obviously Cat Mario could never compare to Tanooki Mario. I mean Raccoons are waaaaaay better than cats. Princess Peach looks awesome in a Tanooki suit, Toad too. (Yeah, and like Luigi whatever.) The unfortunate part about Tanooki suits in 3D World is that they're pretty few and far between. Cat suits on the other hand pretty much (and occasionally literally) grow on trees, and they're the most useful item in the game for Peach... and lets face it, if you're not using Peach you're playing the game wrong. Cat-peach is OP!

I have spent hours upon hours fighting against my hatred of cats, but am unable to not adore the little cat suited digital people that inhabit this insane world. I hope this isn't permanent and that Super Mario 3D world has not changed me forever. I could say a million things at this point about the visuals, stage variety and creativity contained within the game, and most of the reviews out there give a far more coherent version of what I could write here. In fact you could probably just scroll through my blog history to my top 10 of 2011, see what I said about 3D land and pretend it's about 3D World. Although back then I don't think I mentioned anything about how utterly weird the world Mario lives in is or furries...

Mario is (probably) a furry. Luigi is definitely one.

I never thought I'd be saying this. It almost feels like I'm about so say something dirty, like I should be punished for saying it, but here goes. RaymanLegendsisthebestgamerealeasedthisyearandisbetterthanMarioandIknowhowindrediblycrazythatsoundsbecausey'knowlikeRaymanfuckingRayman!?!?mywholeentireworldisbrokennowsoIwillshutup.

I don't really know where to start with this as a lot of the nice things I'd have to say about 3D World I could say about Rayman. Even games like the fun but flawed Puppeteer have things in common. This year saw a lot of traditional platformers with incredibly high production values. The visuals in Rayman are some of the most beautiful 2D artwork I have ever seen in a game. I never played Origins, but can tell from the videos and the demo that the shading they have done to the characters gives everything far more depth and detail making everything look incredibly sharp.

The music that swings between medieval themes, mariachi bands and James Bond-esque spy music is so varied and strange, but fits the game incredibly well. The musical levels that have some of the weirdest licensed songs (And bizarre compositions.) to ever grace a game of this kind are so wonderfully inventive it's hard to not look forward to the one at the end of every world.

All of the shiny visuals and sounds wouldn't matter if Rayman didn't play like a dream. Incredibly tight and responsive controls, level design bursting with so much variation and imagination and some of the best uses of the Wii U touch pad I have seen on the system. As I type this I find myself fighting against my decision to put this as my number one. It feels wrong to have anything made my Ubisoft topping any kind of end of year list, especially the limbless freak Rayman, but I know in my heart and countless hours of giggles and daily challenges that this was the game that gave me the most fun and the biggest smiles in 2013.

This is some video game music in 2013 that I enjoyed.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

The Wonderful 101

Remember Me

Mighty Switch Force 2

Risk of Rain

Sonic Lost World

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

A Link Between Worlds

Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus

Super Mario 3D World

Rayman Legends

(musical levels)

Beyond: Two Souls

Puppeteer

Ni No Kuni

Killer Is dead

Rogue Legacy

So that's my list. If you read it or skimmed it thanks a bunch. At the very least you got to see some pretty pictures.

Nanomachines, Son.

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Some thoughts on Sonic Lost World.

He's going slower than you'd think

Part of the reason I bought a Wii U earlier this year was that I could play Sonic Lost World. I still get excited about Sonic games, and although I'm disappointed every time Sega puts out a Sonic 4 they remind me about why I loved the original Mega Drive games with games like Colours and Generations.

I fully understand why some people have such a distaste for the series, I played Sonic 06 earlier this year (almost at the cost of my sanity... It'sno use....itsnouseitse...just...fucking...jump...JUMP it's no use...fuck!JUMP you piece of shit!) and if that was a reason to never want to play anything Sonic Team put out again I'd know and understand why. But really... Sonic is back on track... sorta.

It really isn't any use.

I have played about six hours of the game and am about two levels away from beating the last of the Deadly Six so this is probably a pretty short game if you are just playing through the story. Maybe there's more than one final world, but I have a teeny tiny teensy suspicion that Dr Eggbotnik will be the final boss. The biggest change from Generations is that there is far more of a focus on precision platforming with the new parkour system that automatically makes you climb scenery if you're holding down the run button and the double jump first seen in Colours. When they first started showing videos of the game it looked suspiciously like Sega had just tried to turn Sonic into Mario Galaxy, and the game doesn't really feel like that at all. It still feels very much like a Sonic game in the 3D sequences, but the 2D sections that rotate seem to have taken more inspiration from Donkey Kong Country.

The things I like about the game are that it is a visually great looking game that runs at 60ish frames and it has a collection of Jazzy-poppy-upbeat music that fits Sonic really well. There are four levels in each world and very few of them look alike. One level in the second world looks like a bunch of desserts and another looks like a honeycomb jungle for instance. The other thing I like is the increased focus on exploration for little animal canisters as you need to have collected enough to progress with the story. I think the run button was a good move as it allows Sonic to walk around without sliding off the level to his death and the spindash is a great inclusion for the people that still want to do speed runs. They have also added a new move in the kick which functions very similarly to the homing attack and is good for taking out bigger or armoured enemies which sometimes requires you to follow up a small pause with the homing attack. It's simple, but a nice change from just spamming the attack button. That said, occasionally there will be long chains of enemies that you can combo really quickly by mashing the homing attack and that is almost as satisfying as eating a long ghost train in Pac-Man CEDX. The colour powers which require various uses of the pad including tapping musical notes and steering a Sonic-eagle to aiming a rocket at other floating land masses (possibly the most Galaxy-ish thing I have encountered in the game... possibly a little more Ratchet & Clank.) You can tell that the developers have tried to include a lot more variety into the levels by giving you little tasks before you can move on from an area.

Not all of the ideas work though. Some of them feel like they have been copied from other games, but don't quite understand what made the similar thing in another game work. I still think that Sonic works best when he is running at top speed. And running around with an awkwardly physics-y giant pineapple trying to squash robot chickens just feels awkward and a little boring. The run button also feels a little too slow, but that might just be me missing the boost from the past games. I find the speed sections in the newer 3D games to be exhilarating and Sonic in Lost World it feels more like he's going for a nice jog at times.

The difficulty curve in this game is also bizarre. I found myself unchallenged by any of the first three worlds only to have the first two levels of the fourth spike into a really frustrating experience, and then return to being even easier than earlier levels. The bosses are an inconsistent joke also. You get bosses every two levels and they mostly fall into a predictable wait for attack then homing attack their face pattern, but every so often you can just spam the homing attack on them and get three hits in quick succession and the boss is over in seconds. all of them look good and seem like they had some effort put into them, but they mostly fall flat due to them being a a complete pushover. Another thing of note is that I find myself flying off of the world a lot more than I'd like, something I thought the last couple of retail games had fixed, but it occasionally feels like a step backwards.

This dude is one of the deadly Six...he'd be much deadlier if he didn't take 30 seconds to beat.

Overall I think it;s a fun game that doesn't really live up to its potential. It really isn't a must have, and definitely not a system seller for the Wii U, but it's a good platformer with a lot of style, charm and good presentation. It's one of the good ones and even if I haven't finished it I know it's not the game that will bring everyone back and forgive Sonic for past mistakes. If you're expecting Sonic Galaxy prepare to be disappointed.

Oh yeah, there's a story or something. There's monsters and Robotnik is like good, but not and Tails gets kidnapped and lays in a canister doing a seductive pose while Chris Redfield is an annoying douche while one of the boss monsters talks about pounding your butt. It's a thing and there's probably a little more of it than I'd like.

The map screen music sounds suspiciously like a tune in Yoshi's Island.

Edit - I just wanted to update this to say that the final few levels of the game are a frustrating mess. Not only do they highlight a vast majority of the games faults, but also bring even more problems into play such as homing attack targeting that just decides to not work and annoying floating levels where you have to hold the button down to sort of float around a mess of fast enemies all while taking away a huge amount of Sonic's movement.

I'm ok if I am challenged by games, but the lives system in this game makes no sense whatsoever. It just puts a collection of loading screens in the way of me progressing. So much of the end game is ridiculous trial and error, often punishing you for not hitting something you had to react quickly to with little or no warning. The first sky world level had me fly off of the stage over twenty plus times and funnily reminded me of the similarly frustrating trial and error Crisis City stage in Sonic 06. I'm a fucking pro at that stage now and don't feel the slightest bit of satisfaction.

I'm pretty conflicted right now as I want to defend a huge chunk of this game for not being the abomination some people seem to think it is, but some of it makes me want to contact Sega and repeatedly ask them WHY DID YOU THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA!?!?

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The Wonderful 101 is pretty wonderful (and equally frustrating!)

So, Wonder-Blue is a total dick, but in the best way possible.

I have put a good six-plus hours into The Wonderful 101 at this point and I have a bunch of thoughts on it. The first thing I want to mention is that this is a pretty tough game, the enemies from very early on don't joke around and you need to learn how to counter a lot of their attacks using Unite Guts (jelly form) It doesn't help that you can often be spammed by projectiles from far away and it can be pretty frustrating to collect all your little superheroes up only to immediately have them scattered everywhere again. This is not something that can be eliminated with skill, you would have to be psychic to know it's about to happen. So, the combat is great when it works and insanely frustrating when it doesn't. It can get a bit mashy and there's a handful of moves like the stinger that seem to unlock with use of each form/weapon, but for the most part you will stick to the fist or the sword as they are the most effective. The whip and the hammer are useful to destroy armour and spikes, but as all-purpose weapons kinda useless. Now, the biggest problem this game has is that as soon as you start having more than three weapons the game gets confused often about what you are trying to draw, and this applies to both the touchscreen and the stick.The hammer, fist and whip get confused so many times and when a boss or an enemy requires you to quickly switch between the two and it won't do what you're asking unless you take your eye away from the screen and draw it precisely It can make you want to scream... which in an action game as hectic as this is ridiculous.

I'm trying to get through the game's problems first and there is good stuff I promise! The other major problem is during some of the bigger action sequences the camera pans out really, really, really, really (yeah, really) far and you cannot see anything on the screen. The TV I'm playing this on is not small and I found one part incredibly irritating where I had to judge jumping distances at an isometric angle as the platforms I was standing on were falling. All while there was 100 little people surrounding me that were about the size of an ant. If you miss jumps with the leader of your party it's a loss of life.. this one section though was really bad from the camera angle to the distance. Upon completing it I was forced into a boss fight that required me to know what was coming before I'd even started.

The first thing that really strands out about the game is how damn funny it is. Really good writing and voice acting going on here with Red being the usual goody-goody hero, blue being the guy who just wants to cut stuff and Green the romantic that loves his food and random french in the middle of sentences. There seems to be a strange rivalry between Blue and Green and they make fun of each other constantly. I do love the little chat sequences, they are really charming and have these animated portraits that pop up on the side of the screen that have this almost stop motion quality to them. Pink seems to exist purely to have the camera zoom in on her boobs and bum, which seems a little out of place. I have also met the villain and he seems really fun. The theatrical pink alien that likes to reminisce about past relationships when he should be threatening the heroes, complete with confused minions and all of the unite powers you possess. He seems to be the standard opposite of Red which is pretty cool. I didn't know this game would have any sort of rivalry.

The game never lets up, ever. I was finding it hard to stop because I was constantly being pushed forward. Fight this boss!, Escape this burning plane! Fight this other boss by chasing it on your airship and shooting it! Jump off of this exploding building! Freefall towards the earth while a giant laser dragon tries to murder you you! Fight another boss!...and another! and another! This sure is a game made by the same dude as Bayonetta. It's actually surprising how similar a lot of it feels, the parts where you have to jump on platforms as they fall out of the sky or mashing the button to do massive damage feel exactly like the moments with the hair-demons in that game.

The game does a really good job at keeping you on your toes with boss fights full of quick time events that feel natural and never give a game over for failing them. It seems strange how forgiving they are when the bosses are super aggressive with tons of attack patterns to try and work out. It can be a little overwhelming at times due to the amount going on screen and the really limited time you have to react. It almost feels as if it wants you to struggle your first time through which is kinda cool, but can almost feel unfair at times like when you need to deflect a laser and the only chance of you doing so is to have the sword equipped... chances are if you don't you're going to take a ton of damage.

The second screen is used for a bunch of really inventive things, like controlling spaceships with giant buttons, turning dials, inserting giant batteries and playing roulette. I'm so glad someone is using the pad for something other than a map screen. I assume there will be a lot more inventive uses as I get further into the game. I haven't even touched a lot of the menu screen stuff including lists of figurines, files, the upgrades for the Wonderful 100 you have collected and a collection of 100 in-game achievements. The game feels like it never wants you to be doing the same thing at any given time, the amount of creativity and gameplay styles is to be applauded even if some of them work a lot better than others.

I'm definitely going to add to this as I play more of it later. It seems like a very good game with a bunch of problems that can't be overlooked even with the rest of the amazing stuff on offer. It feels like a game jam packed with secrets, upgrades and cute little jokes. It helps that the game is visually stunning and very funny and the combat can make you feel like a crazy miniature Power Ranger. This feels like a strange one. It doesn't seem fit for a casual audience despite it's cartoony looks and it's even less approachable than Bayonetta with such a high level of difficulty and controls that require you to experiment with them a lot before you're even close to being comfortable. It helped that I got used to them from the demo, but even the demo won't prepare you for some of the frustration ahead. Will add more later.

The first time it tells you to make a bridge/chain it is super confusing.

The theme tune is amazing.

It has almost zero in common with Pikmin.

Awsome/ful cocktail puns!

edit #1 - Space cops, cougars, adult humour, missile riding and some backstory for Wonder Blue. It's pretty cool how the background story seems to be played with a straight face despite the amount of craziness on screen. The writing has continued to hold up and there have been a couple of really cool sequences using the second pad like a spaceship shooting vents with electricity on the TV while you climb about coloured grates inside the building on the pad screen.

The amount of bosses in this game is insane!

Sacré Vert!

Edit #2. So, the more and more I have played of this game the more I fall in love with it. I'm at 19 hours of game time now (although it's platinum so the in-game time says 12... Wii U log doesn't lie!) I feel like anything I write now could possibly get a little spoilery. The controls feel a lot more natural now and no matter how many amazing combo videos are put out there it still doesn't mean the problems aren't there. I have looked around the internet and my experience with the game seems to be pretty common among most people that are playing it. The level of skill required to pull off the moves/switching in this impressive video is really high and should not be used as an example of the way the game has to be played. This video is also against some of the lesser enemies and when things go crazy in the later parts of the game you will often find it hard to see what is going on, especially in the endlessly form-shifting face off fights against Prince Vorkken.

So the game has gone into a bunch of different styles now like an isometric spaceship shooter, a love letter to Punch Out which would be far cleverer if Ms 'Splosion man hadn't done it two years ago and a section where you have had to move around in a cube by hitting the coloured buttons with the right weapons (this was the most frustrating sequence I have played in any game this year due to the stupidly close camera on the game pad screen, there was so much clipping into the walls that I thought I was playing Sonic 06 again.) There was even a flashback sequence where you played the original Red with a cool D.A that could be used as a giant drill! This might have been one of my favourite sequences in the game so far.

I'm probably in the back portion of the game now (Shrunken down and inside someone's body at the moment) and it has opened up a whole new chapter with new villains and plot twists. I'm still very happy with the game, I'm having some of the best fun I have had with any game this year, but when things don't work it can wipe the smile off of my face in an instant. It's always good to know there will be something delightful or hilarious just around the corner.

Nice reference to Clover.

Oh, and I can do Witch-Time from Bayonetta now!

Edit #3 - I don't have much else to say other than upon completion I was left exhausted. There is officially about five billion bosses in this game and they just get crazier and crazier. In fact I don't think there is another game to be released this year that could out-crazy The Wonderful 101. The final missions are like Asuras Wrath x10, utter insanity. One thing is for certain... This is a video game!

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