Amid all the hoopla about the next generation of consoles, it’s easy to be dazzled by the seductive promise of hyper-realistic graphics, bursting with more pixels and detail. But Rift Apart, the ninth (ish) outing for PlayStation favourites Ratchet and Clank, demonstrates that visuals are the least surprising element of the next-gen package.
Games such as this would no longer get funded were it not for the nostalgia bank that is Kickstarter. Shoot-ems-ups once dominated the arcades but even venerable series R-Type couldn’t defy changing tastes – it’s been 18 years since the last one, the incorrectly named R-Type Final.
It will come as a revelation to some but Irish research shows playing games is good for the mind. Even more shocking is that the researchers also found that stimulating the brain via an electrical current makes you perform better, producing quicker reactions.
Remember the zorbing-like gyrospheres in Jurassic World, a safari vehicle that kept the guests safe from the dinosaurs roaming the theme park? New Pokémon Snap takes that idea, strips out any danger and hands you a camera with the intention of turning you into a wildlife photographer.
You know the type of late-night indie film shown on Channel 4 or BBC 2 where nothing much happens to angsty millennials as they wrestle with the futility of grown-up life? Forgotten Fields is the gaming equivalent with the low-key story of a struggling writer revisiting his childhood home and dredging up fond memories.
A mere 17 years have elapsed since this Austin Powers-esque parody of Bond supervillains first tickled our funny bones. The sequel returns squarely to the format of real-time strategy paired with a megalomaniac’s abominable desire to hold the world to ransom.
The 17-year-old Monster Hunter series has always been most at home on portable devices, where it attracted a fanbase eager to meet for in-person multiplayer sessions. The 2018 instalment MH: World changed all that, targeting the “big” consoles, streamlining the arcane gameplay and reaping the rewards with its highest sales ever.
Gaming has scant regard for its history, preferring to mostly push forward rather than look back. Classic movies, revered books and beloved music remain in circulation but, in general, the past is a different country for games, unavailable to most players due to compatibility issues.
It seems churlish to note Nintendo is propping up its barren release schedule with yet another re-release. Nonetheless, the quality bar of this Wii U remake never dips below excellent — and, as a sweetener, it comes bundled with an entirely new Mario adventure called Bowser’s Fury.
Fairy tales are full of grotesque imagery and grave perils for children – think Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel or Little Red Riding Hood. The original Little Nightmares riffed on those themes, picking up influences from Tim Burton’s eccentric films and the deliciously macabre 2010 game Limbo along the way.
Call it a reboot or a reset, if you want but this long-running Tokyo gangster series stills feels like hanging out with an old friend. That’s despite dispensing with the main character, the combat system, the city and the solo play that sustained Yakuza for 15 years.
Perhaps the sight of Frank Underwood toying with the kooky puzzle game Monument Valley in Netflix show House of Cards was just too much. It’s hard to imagine the venal US president (the fictional one, not the current one) enjoying the dramatically different Alba, the latest game from the same studio.
Two heads are better than one — except when you’re a pair of conjoined doggos pulling in different directions. Co-operation is the name of the game in colourful platform-puzzler Phogs! — either with another player or by getting the two halves of your brain to coordinate.
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