Sunday 11 December 2016

Games: Dynamic duo just won't quit

Ratchet and Clank (PS4) 4 Stars Age: 7+

Published 08/05/2016 | 02:30

Ratchet and Clank for PS4
Ratchet and Clank for PS4
Yo-Kai Watch

Ah, 2002, what a year that was. We lost Spike Milligan and John B Keane. But we gained the euro plus, er, Ratchet and Clank.

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Fourteen years on and the European currency stumbles from crisis to crisis while PlayStation's most-celebrated duo are still going strong. Who could have predicted that?

Remade, rebooted and reskinned, the new R&C even announces its return with an accompanying cinema tie-in, albeit one universally panned. Much of the game's third-person platform/shooter hybrid will be instantly familiar to series fans.

Dressed in spanking new high-res visuals, R&C soon slips back into a comfortable rhythm. The wise-cracking leads share the screen time, with Clank's simple puzzle-solving an agreeable palate-cleanser for Ratchet's more frenetic adventures, collecting wacky weapons, battling cartoonish enemies and hoovering up bolts, the game's abundant currency for upgrades.

For the new player and the ardent fan, it's a pleasure to spend time in Ratchet and Clank's company. Yet there's a sense that, having paid their dues, the duo should invest in some new moves.

1979 Revolution: Black Friday

(PC/Mac) 5 Stars Age: 18+

"History's boring," my eldest son moaned the other day after school. "Why can't it be interactive?" Ah, the wisdom of youth. If only the Departments of Education worldwide had the budgets to fund thought-provoking recreations of every seismic moment in history.

Black Friday is no dry classroom tool, yet it artfully enlightens the uninitiated about the 1979 Iranian revolution that overthrew the Shah. But that's merely a secondary objective in this enthralling Telltale-style adventure about the people behind the revolution as they live, love and dance.

Told with commendable economy, it tracks the fictional story of a young photographer caught up into those dangerous, heady days before the Shah fled, to be replaced by the Ayatollah. Freighted with sharp dialogue and dubious moral choices, Black Friday conveys the paranoia and fear on the streets of Tehran that hot summer.

Though you can't change the revolution, you will carve out your own little niche in the history books and be enthralled by the struggle of a nation. Now, if only my son would play it.

Yo-Kai Watch

(Nintendo 3DS) HHH Age: 7+

The resemblance to Pokemon is uncanny. The figurines, TV series, books and lunchboxes are all present and correct. But Japan lapped it up and now Yo-Kai Watch is storming our shores.

From a critical distance that ignores its commercial cynicism, Yo-Kai Watch stands as an amusing Pokemon-like monster battler with charm to spare. But it lacks the complexity of its inspiration, a shortcoming that may be lost on younger gamers unversed in the earlier series.

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