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.
Among Us (iOS/PC): Unknown and unloved since its 2018 release, Among Us smashed into the public consciousness this year, becoming a lockdown hit with its social interaction. Like a modern-day Cluedo, you play as either the Imposter or one of the innocents aboard a space ship trying to work out who’s offing the crew.
That figure of 2077 in the title doesn't stand for the quantity of bugs in this breathlessly awaited sci-fi RPG - the true number may be much higher. Consider it a measure of the ridiculously ambitious project - from the people who brought us The Witcher series - that after eight years in the oven it's still unfinished.
Everything is different and yet everything is the same in Valhalla. The long-running Assassin’s Creed series — which follows the life of a quasi-historical assassin — has wavered between bloody awful (2014’s Unity) to extraordinary (2018’s Odyssey). Valhalla, which tackles the Viking invasion of England in the ninth century, sits somewhere in between.
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