Rayman Legends Review

Rayman is back, which can mean one of two things. Either another spin off with annoying Rabbid type things. Or some more platforming greatness. Luckily it is the latter of the two. Rayman Legends hopes to be everything Origins was and more. 

When Gamestyle finished Rayman Origins, we were left wanting more it was an amazing return to the original Rayman’s roots and showed why platforming has always been best in 2D. So when Rayman Legends was announced we were all giddy with excitement. That enthusiasm dropped slightly when we found out it was a Wii U exclusive. So unlike some, we were happy to hear of the delay and the subsequent multi-format release. We have finished Origins on 360, PS3 and Vita!

Rayman Legends taps into the same pool as the excellent Origins and also classic platforms such as Super Mario World. Simple gameplay that is ultimately as challenging as anything you will encounter in gaming. The controls should feel similar, whether you are new to the genre, or a bit of an expert coming back for another round.

You should be able to pick up and controller and play. Rayman Legends, as with Origins does this perfectly. The 2D viewpoint means that movement is as simple as can be, you can move left or right, jump, duck and everything else you’d expect, all the time without needing to concern yourself with managing a 3D camera or getting lost in an environment. If anything it is gaming in its purest form, something we can all remember from the eighties to the modern era. The 2D platformer is one genre that can unite gamers of all ages and backgrounds and Rayman Legends is a perfect poster child for it.

Levels are graded and start off easier, gradually becoming more and more of a challenge. This can sometimes be a sticking point, with learning curves being too harsh, or at the other end of the scale, failing to produce enough of a challenge to keep things interesting. Rayman Legends again nails this and it at all times feels challenging, but without ever feeling inaccessible.

As with the previous games, you can approach levels in a number of ways. Either simply getting to the end or trying to collect everything possible within a level. Whereas in Origins you were simply given a rating for collecting enough Lums in a level. Now you are given trophies for hitting certain targets, but also extra bonuses such as a scratch card, that can be used to unlock extra characters, bonus art, extra Lums towards you cumulative total and more. It is a nice addition that sets the game apart from being a simple ‘new levels’ type of sequel.

There are of course new levels and they retain so much of the charm associated with the world of Rayman, but there are a new mechanics involved and these show where the game was originally a Wii U exclusive. There are segments where Murfy will fly towards an area of the screen and await you pressing a button to perform a basic action, such as cutting a rope, moving a block, etc. These were clearly done with the Wii U gamepad in mind and feel a bit out of place and needless when played with a standard joypad. However, they don’t ruin the experience and not awkward or anything, they just feel a little our of place.

One other thing you’ll notice compared to Origins is just how much content there is. Origins had plenty to do, but compared to Legends it comes across as somewhat bare. Bonus levels, extra characters, mini games, end of level bonuses and even daily and weekly challenges are all included in a package that just feels like it is bursting at the seams.

In fact the first time the game was booted up, it was actually a little overwhelming, as the game seems to want to introduce you to as much as possible, teasing you with new things to discover every few minutes. After a few hours of play, we noticed we’ d barely scratched the surface of the main game as we poked around everything that was on offer and tried to beat our best performances in the challenges… It is those pesky leaderboards that do it, you just get drawn in to wanting to do better and better. Especially when you see a friends name above your own, but achingly close. You can beat them, just one more go!

However if you can ignore the extras for long enough, you have a wonderful time in the main game and as in Origins, you’ll go through a range of emotions, from frustration to absolute joy and even pride when you complete certain levels that had previously given you trouble. Whilst levels remain similar, they never feel repetitive and the aforementioned parts that were clearly made with the Wii U in mind are generally few and far between. Early levels may be completed fully in one or two runs, but later levels will take a lot of tries to master and that is the true test of a game like this. You may need to repeat levels, but you look forward to doing them again, you never feel like it is a grind.

There is the option of four player co-op too and as fun as it is, we found that playing two player was the best experience. It’s not that anything is wrong with three or four player, it is just at times it felt a little too hectic, whereas in two player the balance was just right. That being said though, it is a great party game, having a few friends round and sticking Rayman Legends on is just wonderful fun. Dare we say it, it was a better experience than in New Super Mario Bros U!

Super Mario World is still the best platformer ever made in our opinion, but Rayman Legends is clearly the best of modern times. It offers up a wonderful challenge, it looks beautiful and plays excellently. There is no cutting back on value either, which is great to see in an era of paid for DLC. If anything does come at a later date it well truly feel like a value added extra rather than cynical ploy to hold back content.

The game does make use of the power of the consoles and looks beautiful, once again feeling like a cartoon in motion rather than a video game at times. The animation is super smooth, the worlds of each level have their own style and look lush and full of life. If anything it makes you excited to see what the team behind Rayman could do with the power of the PS4 or XBOX One in the next years. As great as the likes of The Last Of Us, Splinter Cell, Watchdogs, etc all look, it is a fact that the art in a game like Rayman Legends still stands out is a testament to the development team.

Rayman Legends is the type of sequel you hope for. More of the same, but improving on the standards set by the original, with tons of new content. It is one of the best 2D platformers you will play this or any other generation.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist Review

Something is going down, so the US Government can only call on one man! Sam Fisher is back and doing his stealth thing all over again in the sixth Splinter Cell game. 

Splinter Cell: Blacklist is a direct sequel to Conviction and having shut down Third Echelon, for being a little bit corrupt, it is decided to open a new counter terrorist unit with a highly original top secret name… Forth Echelon. It is all a bit 24 really. Silly, but whatever, it works just enough to keep you invested.

This time though, operations aren’t managed from the ground, oh no, that makes it too easy to be corrupted. So the answer? Place the entire team in a massive airplane, complete with state of the art technology and its own holding cells. Again when you think about it, it is a little bit dumb, but it is another chance for some more 24 and Jack Bauer… Sorry more Splinter Cell and Sam Fisher.

It is a plot that at first glance comes across as well written and clever, but when you look at it, it really is a little nonsensical and far fetched. However you know what? That’s fine, it is an action game and the story can’t be too serious and mustn’t worry about the odd continuity error. It has returning characters, the chances of yet more double crosses and twists. It drives the game forward and that is what is important.

So what of the gameplay? Well, it is more of the same as you would have seen in Conviction, with a few little mechanics added in. You are given a briefing before each mission and it is then up to you how you handle it. You can go complete stealth and avoid all combat, or go all guns blazing, or mix the two. Things like this are always promised, but then seem to be geared to sticking to one way over the other. Aimed at making a decision based on what achievement you are after in the long run. Blacklist though works and does let you mix it up.

What impressed most was the enemy AI. During one mission we were trying to be as stealth as possible, but did make a mistake and the enemy was on Sam completely. Even if they lost site of him, they would still be searching, any enemy that was patrolling another part of the area would then descend on Sam’s last know position and not let up. Which is a huge improvement on games gone by where the enemy are alert for a certain time then return to position, forgetting completely that someone was picking off their buddies one by one.

Splinter Cell games have always done stealth well though, from the very first game right through to this latest offering. Hiding bodies is a must and deciding on killing or non lethal methods also count. Knock someone out, rather than kill them and they can potentially be recovered by their allies. It still not perfect, but it does work and like movies and TV shows in the same genre, you need to suspend a little bit of belief, otherwise you get bogged down in the little things.

There are a few ideas borrowed from other Ubisoft games. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about an invasion of Rabbids or anything like that. The press a button to stick to cover and then move is very much out of Ghost Recon, especially in a couple of levels, you’d be forgiven for thinking Sam had teamed up with the Ghost team. However still feels very much like Splinter Cell and these little bits actually help the flow of the game and remove what could be some frustration, making sure you stay hidden as best as possible.

It isn’t a game that is trying to hold your hand the entire time, but it is essentially a linear game, but with many multiple paths and approaches to each level. It gets the balance just right between fun challenge and being an out right experiment in frustration. That is to be commended and it shouldn’t annoy fans of the original games too much, whilst at the same time, it doesn’t alienate potential new fans. Something Square failed to get right Hitman Absolution, for example.

There is though, a treat for fans of the older Splinter Cell games, especially those who loved the multiplayer of Pandora Tomorrow. Spies vs Mercs has made a glorious return. It retains a lot of the charm of the original mode and is simply a joy to play. The ultimate game of cat and mouse. It has both a nod to Pandora Tomorrow with 2v2 mode, but also adds a 4v4 mode. The maps that we played all worked well and the balance felt just right depending on the class you were playing as.

Overall Blacklist is a sublime entry into the Splinter Cell series, it takes the fun but flawed gameplay of Conviction and polishes it a little. It’s not the greatest game ever made, but that doesn’t matter. You enjoy your latest adventure with Sam Fisher and that is all that matters at the end of the day.

Saints Row IV Review

The Saints are back and are throwing any little bit of sense right out of the window. Volition have taken the Saints brand far beyond anything that seemed reasonable, but is it for the best?

Yes! Saints Row IV is the game that you first imagined when you were introduced to the concept of open world, sandbox style games. The rules are cast to one side and you are basically given free realm to go and have fun. It is a game that is far removed from the previous Saints games, yet at the same time, retaining everything that made Saints Row such a joy to play.

If you played Saints Row: The Third you’ll fondly remember the opening, with the plane hijack, the falling to earth, the shooting, the rescue, etc. Saints Row IV does something just as memorable, with a chase that ends up seeing your character climbing a nuclear rocket to stop it reaching it’s destination. This is obviously fun and exhilarating in itself, but add to that ‘Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’ by Aerosmith and it takes it to a whole new level of awesome, as you sit there with a big s**t-eating grin on your face.

Your reward at the end of this little segment? You are now the president of the United States Of America, which is great news for our over-sized cockney. Must point out that the poking of fun is everywhere in the game, starting at the creation station. As you get to chose a voice for your character Male 1, Male 2, Male 3, Nolan North! It raised a chuckle, but we still went with our deep cockney voice, just like always.

It only takes a few minutes for the game to really fly off the ‘What the hell!’ radar. Moments after deciding whether you want to cure cancer, or end world hunger you are hit with an alien invasion. It all kicks off and you find out that the White House is equipped with massive ground to air weapons that the president can hop on and shoot alien scum to pieces. Of course saving the world isn’t that simple. You find yourself being captured by the evil alien overlord and thrown into a computer simulation, where the bulk of the game will take place…

Well, not quite. Before allowing you to unleash hell on a virtual representation of Steelport, you are first thrown back to the 50’s and have to play through a small segment that is based around a 1950’s era TV show, complete with opening titles and a message from the sponsor. It is a quick ten minute segment, but yet another one that had us smiling and laughing all the way through. It’s worth it for the walk alone.

It is after that point that the game pretty much lets you loose. We won’t spoil the story, but there are plenty of twists and turns along the way. Because the game is set within a simulation, it can break the rules even more than it had in previous games. But that is the thing with Saints Row, the games may all come from the same series, the characters may make repeat appearances, but you aren’t playing the same game you did three times previous. Saints Row IV is far removed from The Third, as that was to the the second game in the series. Volition don’t want you to play an identical game with a few new features, there is a concerted effort to make this a new game, rather than franchise styled update.

This version of Saints Row takes cues from the likes of Crackdown, Prototype, Infamous and films such as The Matrix, in fact, it could be argued that it does The Matrix, better than The Matrix did The Matrix. It is certainly a lot more fun! Saints Row IV is a spoof of those titles more than anything and not a Wayans Brothers style spoof, if it was to be compared, it is a Leslie Nielsen, an Airplane or Police Squad. You know it is poking fun, but it is played with just the right amount of seriousness that the comedy works. Unlike a Scary Movie and the bile that followed! Anyway we digress!

There are things that make a return the game, such as mayhem challenges, races and the like, but they do feel completely optional and you can fly through the story avoiding those elements. Why would you though? Why would you want to finish with this world as quickly as possible? It is a playground and because the rules have been thrown out of the window, it is pure unadulterated fun. The one thing that does remain constant throughout the series, is that the fun is multiplied when played in co-op.

The challenges are great fun and completing them will unlock bonuses and extra money, but that isn’t the reason you want to play them. You don’t find yourself playing the game for a sense of completion. The challenges are just a joy to play, from the superpowered races, to the mayhem events, it is all great fun. However the biggest laughs came from the return of the Fraud challenges. Remember those? Where you had to throw yourself in front of cars and the like, trying to hurt yourself so the injury lawyers can do their job? Well try adding the ability to super-sprint and jump higher than the tallest building and take it to a whole new level. It is silly and pointless, but that’s not the point!

This isn’t going to touch The Last Of Us as the game of the year, or anything like that. But just like every films doesn’t need to be Citizen Kane, nor does every game need to be The Last Of Us. Saints Row IV is the perfect game to follow up something as wonderful and evocative as Naughty Dog’s masterpiece. It allows you to forget yourself for a while, to stop being so serious and just play for fun, doing all the things that are supposedly bad for you. Killing anything that stands in your way, smashing the world around you to bits, playing with weapons, etc. It is a true break from reality.

Yet that isn’t to say Saints Row IV is mind numbing and stupid. The writing is very well done, it needs to be if it is a parody. The story whilst being funny is actually gripping, hell you care about the characters, you got to know Kinzie, Pierce and co in the previous games, you liked them. That doesn’t happen is the writing isn’t up to scratch and it remains here too. To write comedy is a lot harder than it is to write something serious, you need to cater to so many different senses of humour and for the team to get it so right with Saints Row IV, they deserve a lot of credit.

Saints Row IV is a must have title, it throws away the rule book and just wants you to have a great time. The Next Generation is upon us, but you might miss it as you get lost in the virtual world of a simulated Steelport with no rules to hold you back.

The Walking Dead: 400 Days Review

Last years The Walking Dead was one of the best games of the year, winning countless accolades and deservedly so. It managed to do what so many games attempt, getting players invested in the characters with each choice being less about what’s good and evil and more about what is likely to produce the least awful outcome. 400 Days is positioned as a stop gap between Season 1 and 2. A short collection of stories played out around the same time as the main game, each coming with its own set of challenges to endure.

The idea behind 400 Days may seem like a sound one, new characters, new stories and new choices. But the short nature of each chapter is its biggest downfall. With the first season of The Walking Dead you were always playing as Lee, new characters would be introduced and as the season progressed you would feel a tight bond with each one, whether you hated or loved them. The whole game feeling like it was built around the relationship between Lee and Clementine. 400 Days would never be able to match that. With five individual stories taking around half an hour each, sometimes less, you’re given limited time to really get to know the person you play as or people you encounter. That’s not to say the game is a let-down. Going in it was obvious that 400 Days was a bridge between seasons, a game that would keep players invested in the world and tide them over till Season 2 arrives. And in that regard it succeeded, making us ever keener to get our hands on the next chapter.

It’s difficult to go too deep into the story because a big part of the game is the story, so let’s just say it has everything you know and want from The Walking Dead. Zombies are in abundance, sometimes humans are more deadly than the undead, and many choices will need to be made along the way. All of which won’t be easy, and with a time limit on top of most, you’ll need to make those decisions fast. Out of the five stories it’s a relief to see there’s not really a duff episode amongst them, there’s certainly one story that stands out amongst the others (manly because it’s the longest and has the best story twists), but thankfully there were none that we truly hated. It’s also quite interesting that while each story is separate there are moments that carry over. Such as the same locations from a different moment within the 400 Days (hence the games name) and characters making a re-appearance. It is slightly disappointing though that despite being told to carry over your save from Season 1, there’s not really anything in the main game that would justify doing so, aside from a possibility that the ending would play into the next season.

What is a huge relief is Telltale Games appear to have made progress in console development. Playing season 1 of The Walking Dead on PS3 was slightly buggy to say the least, with the game freezing during transitions, weird character glitches, and at one point we were unable to continue when all the on screen options disappeared from the screen. It’s good to see we encountered none of these issues with 400 Days. It’s still not exactly a smooth experience, framerate stuttering during the more intense action sequences, but it looks nicer and it felt like a more complete and polished package.

If you go into 400 Days expecting the same intense, emotional, roller coaster of a ride that Season 1 produced then you could be disappointed. With characters leaving almost as quickly as they are introduced there’s no time to get any sort of attachment, particularly when playing as a different person in each chapter. Keep your expectations in check however and there’s still plenty to get out of 400 Days, with an ending that could tie into the next season, this is still a worthy chapter in the series.

Magic The Gathering: Duels Of The Planeswalkers – Intro Pack

Gamestyle have had many positive things to say about the XBLA and PSN releases of Magic The Gathering: Duels Of The Planeswalkers. We recently gave the 2014 edition a solid eight out of ten. So when I was given the chance to jump into the real world of this fantastic card game, I jumped at the chance.

Well, I say jumped at the chance, it was done so with a little fear, as going from the digital version, with all its hints, tips and features that stop you making a fool of yourself, to the physical game itself, is like swimming without armbands for the first time, losing the stabalisers on your first bike, skating without the aid of a penguin. All of a sudden it is you, your cards and battle to the death.

The first thing you notice is how well made the cards are. Yes they are just cards,  but they share more in common with a good deck of cards you’d find at a casino poker table, rather than a 99p pack from your local 99p store. They slip of each other with ease, never sticking to each other or proving difficult to slide from the deck. It’s not a massive selling point, but when you are used to playing with nice feeling cards, it is good to see that the cheap option hasn’t been taken here.

I started with the M:14 Core Set and specifically the Lightforce version. The set comes with a 60 card deck, an instruction sheet and two all important booster packs. Enough, the makers claim, to get you started in the world of Magic The Gathering.  Well not quite it seems. Ideally needing a deck of 60 cards, the core set on its own doesn’t allow you to really sit down and just play, you do need to find someone who also plays, easier said than done for a complete beginner.

The initial idea to get a feel for playing live, was to sit down with a family member and play through a game slowly, making that jump from digital to live. Yet, with just the single deck it wasn’t possible. Well that isn’t strictly true, as a quick internet search brings up that very question. The official rules say no, but if you are playing a casual game at home, then you always could. That however doesn’t really help for someone learning the game.

So the next step was to reach out and find someone who also had a set. Luckily I found a friend who was a fan of the series. They hadn’t played for a while, but wanted an excuse to jump back in. Waiting a few days for their set to arrive and for us to arrange a time we could both sit down and play gave me an excuse to have a good look at the cards.

Land cards, yep I know those, I know exactly how they work, got plenty of those in my deck. Creature cards, along with your land cards, they are the bread and butter of the game. You need these to deal damage and defend yourself. It was looking at the creature cards that it suddenly struck me. The artwork is beautiful, I hadn’t noticed this on the digital version, not really considered the care and attention that goes into creating the cards.

Each creature card, instant, enchantment, etc has an individual bit of art on it. I lost loads of time, just going through the deck and admiring the artwork on the individual cards. Honestly, it is something that really comes through on a physical card, the attention to detail that brings the game to life.

Something then dawned on me, while looking through. I know of cards that affects the attributes on my creature cards, that can add bonus points to attack and defense. When I get one of these cards on the digital version, it updates the attributes on the screen, so I know exactly what I have. I am going to have to work all this out myself, back to the internet to find out how other players do this.

A notepad and a pen, perfect! Whoa, there are rules for this? No outside notes are allowed? What on earth does this mean? So another few hours is lost going through various articles, looking at what is allowed as part of the game, what isn’t. What is considered good gamesmanship, what is frowned upon. It’s not a minefield perhaps, but there is a lot to take in. I have lost a lot of time to this game already and not even played a game. I had been warned and it seems those warnings were right.

I did finally get to play a game, being soundly beaten by my friend as I clumsily felt my way around my first live attempt. I felt good in the opening few exchanges, as I got some land cards down, played a couple of creature cards, got an attack or two in and found myself leading, having knocked around 5 Life Points from my opponent. Playing through those digital games had the desired effect, I can play this live without an issue.

Then it turned around, those 5 Life Points I took were the last I would take. My opponent (no longer my friend, why would a friend destroy another friend in such a manner – I kid of course) started making moves that left me bewildered. “Are you allowed to do that?” A quick explanation later and proof he had played a legitimate move, he went out and destroyed me.

What was nice though, was being taught a few things after our initial game. Failing to use Instants at the right time, not using my Sorcery cards properly, wasting enchantments, focusing too much on attacking and a lot more. It hit me then, the digital versions, whilst fun to play do hold your hand a lot. They show playable cards with a glow around them, so you get reminded about cards you may have forgot about, they then show you how you can use them, but highlighting cards they can be played against. In a physical game, this is all gone, you are relying on your own skills. My real life opponent isn’t going to help me mid-game. They want to win, just as much as I do.

However, my friend (see we are still friends) is kind enough to talk me through how to make notes, how to read the board and try to use things to my advantage. I play chess, I know how to plan ahead. I play Texas Hold-Em Poker, I know how to play the odds, play the people around me and use my playing style to my advantage. There is a lot of that, which I can transfer into a game of Magic.

I have to take time to understand my deck, make sure I know what cards I have, try to keep on top of what I could have drawn next, or at least over the next few rounds. This isn’t a game you can go into blind and I am beginning to understand why the most dedicated players will spend so much time building different types of decks. They know what their strengths are, they will start to understand their opponents weaknesses, so they plan for games in advance.

We played a few more games, I lost all of them, but I felt my understanding of the game was increasing. We agreed to meet again and have some more games. Just for fun… I am coming back with my Deck Builders Toolkit!

Whilst the digital versions of the games were a bit easier to follow, it doesn’t compare to holding the physical cards themselves. The sense of achievement you get when getting some good outcomes is great. If you enjoy the digital version, then we highly recommend this core packs as an entry point.

OlliOlli Developer Interview

OlliOlli is coming out for the PS Vita in the near future and Gamestyle had the chance to sit down with developers Roll7 to find out a bit more about the game.

We are speaking to Tom Hegarty of Roll 7

OlliOlli looking fantastic, what were your influences for the game?

The objective was to simplify the controls of a skate game as much as possible. Its all about twitch reactions, and getting the most out of your environment. In that sense it takes a lot of cues from games like Meat Boy and Dust Force. I think it’s also quite similar in it’s core game to things from the 16 bit era. We don’t start throwing tons of new features at the player as the game progresses, we aim more to give the player different situations in which to use a skillset they’ve been mastering since the start.

NEW SCREENSHOT Frontside Flip June

What makes the Vita an attractive prospect for you? We love the system at Gamestyle but it has been much maligned from some corners of the gaming media.

Roll7’s first game, Gets To The Exit was on iOS and despite some good reviews the sales didn’t make pretty reading. It was after that we decided we needed to shift to Console or PC platform, smaller markets perhaps but more a focused gaming audience. A chance meeting with James Marsden form Futurlab at Develop 2012 ended up with John Ribbins (Roll7 Game Designer) showing him the iOS concept demo for OlliOlli and James then introduced us to Shahid at Sony . We pitched a number of ideas to Sony, but OlliOlli was the one that stuck (we had to ask Shahid for our iPad back!) The transition from iOS to Vita was actually quite natural and the analog controls have hugely enhanced the way the game plays and how you as a player can interact as the skater

What do you class the game as? Skateboarding sim, Platformer, Endless Runner, a mix of all of those? Pitch the game to us!

We’re focusing on’ Arcade Sports’ as a genre at the moment. If we had to sum up the game in one line we’d say SuperMeat Boy meets Skateboarding’. You’re gonna slam a lot but if we get it right you’re also gonna be reaching for the restart button over and over! Its definitely not an Endless runner, all the levels are carefully crafted and it’s all about tricks, combos and high scores! There are actually over 120 tricks in the game + a load of unique grinds

What is the thought process for a game such as this? When people think of skateboard games, they look at Tony Hawk, Skate and the likes, this seems quite removed from that and not just because it is in 2D.

In terms of other skating games OlliOlli feels closest to ‘Skate’ in terms of its control system. People who try and play OlliOlli using Tony Hawk’s controls will not get very far! However it does has its own feel, as skaters ourselves we wanted to try and simulate certain aspects of skating that other games don’t touch on, In this case the landing. The key to big scores is stomp your tricks by pressing X just before you land to get a ‘Perfect Landing’ You can pull the most ludicrous chain of combos but if you don’t get your landing right you lose all your points….. or slam.

How much input has Sony had on the creative process? Aside from funding, have they left you to completely make the game you want? Was that part of the reason for working with them?

The Feedback form Sony is always very constructive and after our meetings with them its then play tested by their in house team and we get detailed written feedback. However, Sony make it very clear that it is our decision as to what we do and don’t implement, though on more often than not we feel that their guidance is better for the game and it tends to get implemented and perhaps tweaked along the way. We didn’t know it would work this way before we started but we’re really happy with the process.

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What are the difference between making a Vita exclusive and games for the PC or Mobile platforms?

The Support from Sony is a key aspect here. We have access to DevNet where we can post any tech issues we are having in a private or public forum. We had some issues with our Audio Engine the other day and someone from Sony actually came out to our Studio! It’s great to get that kind of support the likes of which we’ve not seen on non-console platforms.

Will we get to see other titles such as ‘UR Not a Hero’, ‘Gets to the exit’ come to the Vita if this is a success? Or after OlliOlli is it a case of making another fresh game?

We’d love to put more titles on the Vita, we’ve become big fans of it since we’ve started developin, and I now play the Vita more than any other console/PC or tablet. Ur Not A Hero has actually not been released we just put out an uber early Alpha version on our site and people downloaded it and seemed to like it! We now have a publisher for Ur Not A Hero, but I can’t reveal too much about it yet.

We have a load of other concept demos that have never seen the light of day so we’d love to get those onto the Vita sometime too!

There seems to be somewhat of an Indie revolution on the Vita right now, how does it feel to be part of those early stages, being a game often quoted when upcoming Indies are being touted?

We certainly feel it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. We’ve only just got to know the Indie Community ourselves but everyone has been very friendly and welcoming as well as willing to share ideas and cross promote each other’s games.

We’re currently talking to Alan Zucconi and Nicoll Hunt about an ‘Indie Homage’ where we include each other’s characters in our games, its early days yet but check out #indiehomage on twitter

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Is the game going to be an all in what you see if what you get? Or are there plans to add in some DLC levels or features down the line? There are randomly generated levels for some modes, but what are the possibilities of level creation and sharing? Or is that something you would rather steer away from?

We’re not sure on DLC at the moment but the game is going to very big without it, so hopefully you’ll be happy with what you get! 50 Levels, 50 Spots, Infinite Mode, Daily Grind mode and once you complete all that you’ll get Rad Mode, which lets you replay all the levels using the original Demo controls which are incredibly difficult to master but once you get them it gives the game a real edge!

Finally, we have to ask… Are there any secrets not revealed about the game that you can tell our readers?

Haha, they wouldn’t be secrets if I told you! Nothing to reveal right now sadl , we’ve got a few ideas but we’re focusing on making sure the already extensive game is a great experience!

 

Thank you Tom for your time.

You can follow more of OlliOlli at its Facebook Page

Rayman Legends Demo Incoming

LONDON, UK — August 13th, 2013 — Today, Ubisoft announced that a demo for Rayman Legends, the highly anticipated platformer developed by Ubisoft Montpellier, will be available to download on Xbox Live® online entertainment network from Microsoft and the PlayStation Network. The demo will be live on both platforms in the United Kingdom on August 14th.

The legendary demo of Rayman Legends will feature three different levels from across the Rayman universe as well as a look into the competitive Invasion Mode. Playable maps include Teensies in Trouble and A Toad Story, along with their Invasion Mode counterpart level, and a fan-favourite musical map themed to the song ‘Black Betty.’ The demo will also include access to the Gallery of Heroes where players can swap costumes of their character, and various trailers for the game.

At the same time, Ubisoft is pleased to reveal a walkthrough video highlighting a new musical map available in the game. Titled “Gloo Gloo”, this map takes place in the stealthy underwater world, 20,000 Lums Under the Sea.

Rayman Legends will be released on August 30th, 2013 in the United Kingdom, for Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Xbox 360®, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system from Sony, Sony PlayStation®Vita handheld entertainment system and Microsoft Windows PC.

Following Rayman® Origins, our heroes take a 100-year nap, allowing nightmares to infest the Glade of Dreams. Once Rayman awakes from this mysterious sleep, he must set off on a new adventure with his friends to restore order in the universe. While traveling between five different worlds, players must defeat legendary enemies to save the Teenies from these evil villains. Rayman Legends features a wide range of gameplay, including traditional Rayman platforming action and new music rhythm-based stages. In Rayman Legends, a fifth player can join in on the fun by taking on the role of Murfy exclusively on the Nintendo Wii U™ GamePad controller. All of the game’s adventures can be played by up to five players on Nintendo Wii U™.

For more information on Rayman Legends, please visit:

www.raymanlegends.com

Floating Cloud God Saves The Pilgrims In HD Review

More indie goodness comes to the PS Vita with the latest offering from developers Dakko Dakko, with Floating Cloud God Saves The Pilgrims. Yet another game to receive the HD treatment after a previous PS Mini release. 

Floating Cloud God Saves The Pilgrims is essentially a 2D sidescrolling shooter, but with an interesting concept, rather than the traditional lives based system. Your task as the aforementioned Cloud God is to keep the pilgrims alive, shooting down the various enemies that seem hell bent on killing the unfortunate targets.

Starting with eight pilgrims under your watch, they act as something of a health meter, as well as your own mobile power-up station. Each time a pilgrim is hit by an enemy, they will die before floating off, leaving you with one less to protect. At the same time they will pump out hearts regularly, that allow your Cloud God to increase his powers.

What is clever is just how it works. There is a risk versus reward system here that has a huge bearing on the outcome. Kill an enemy and the hearts start flowing, kill more and those hearts get bigger and increase your power quicker. However they won’t float for long and if there is a lull in the action, they will simply disappear. You need to make sure you are positioned well enough to collect them, while making sure at the same time, you are not putting the pilgrims at risk by allowing the enemy to get too close and lower your numbers.

As long as you have at least one pilgrim alive, you will be able to progress through the levels. Once they are all dead, then that’s it! Game Over! Initially the levels you play seem simple enough, but as you progress the difficulty soon ramps up. The action comes thick and fast and collecting hearts, whilst killing enemies and keeping pilgrims alive becomes one hell of a challenge.

The hearts you collect aren’t permanent either, so simply holding the right stick in a direction and firing constantly will see the extra firepower end quickly, leaving you and your pilgrims vulnerable. The colour of your cloud signifies how much of a powerup you still have, so needing to keep on top of those hearts is vital.

You can retry levels as many times as you want, or you can go back and attempt to ‘re-write’ history. Each level is scored based on how many pilgrims have been saved. So should you get through a number of levels with all the pilgrims in tact, then find on a later level you lose a lot, but then continue through, you can go back to a specific level and continue from there. Or start from scratch if you so wish.

There is no leaderboard, no online competition or any real scoring, It is simply a case of playing through and keeping those pilgrims alive. Whilst initially it seems a bit of a let down not to have any competitive scoring, it does make sense. This isn’t a score attack game, that isn’t the goal. There isn’t any real incentive for getting through a level any quicker. To have a score system artificially inserted would take away from the charm of the game.

The drive of the game is that you simply don’t want to lose. Save all the pilgrims in a level and they get new hats to wear and whilst the hats have no real value, or offer anything in terms of bonuses, it is a striking visual clue as to just how well you are doing. Just getting to the end of the game is an achievement in itself, getting  there without losing a pilgrim and seeing all the cool new hats along the way adds a little something extra.

Floating Cloud God Saves The Pilgrims is another excellent game from the team behind The HD Adventures Of Rotating Octopus character and again is a perfect fit on the Vita, looking stunning on the OLED screen. The Vita is being pigeon holed as an Indie machine, but if the games continue to be of this quality, then bring it on.

What you have here is a game that has that special something, simple to play, but extremely difficult to master. It gets the balance so right, that any frustrations of difficulty are completely eradicated as you want to tackle levels again and again just to get each one perfect. A wonderful addition to the Vita’s impressive Indie library.

Zatanna heading to Injustice: Gods Among Us

It’s a pleasant surprise to see Netherrealm still supporting Injustice, especially after the initial four character season pass and following on the footsteps of Martian Manhunter is Zatanna. And as this video shows, she has some skills.

Zatanna goes on sale Tuesday 13th August for 400MSP/£3.99.

Etrian Odyssey IV: Legend Of The Titan Release Date Announced

Santa Ana, Calif. (August 6, 2013) – NIS America today announced that Etrian Odyssey™IV: Legends of  the Titan will be available in retail stores throughout Europe on August 30, and as a digital download on Nintendo eShop the following week on September 5. Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan contains plenty of challenges and gameplay for fans of old school dungeon-crawling RPGs, exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS. A demo which includes two dungeons will be available on eShop on August 15  for those fans who want to get a nice sneak peek at Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan!

Players will utilize the 3DS system’s bottom touch screen to chart their path and create their own maps to keep the party alive in the face of the dangers that await. The game offers robust character customization and job class options, as well as an all-new “Casual” difficulty option to provide greater accessibility for players new to the series.

For more information, visit http://www.atlus.com/etrian4/

About Etrian Odyssey IV:

For centuries, the tree Yggdrasil has been a constant presence in the lives of the people of Tharsis. It looms on the horizon, visible from everywhere in the city. But its roots are in a far-off land where no one has ventured—until, that is, the Outland Count of Tharsis sponsors an Explorers Guild to reach Yggdrasil and discover its secrets. You are the latest explorer arriving in Tharsisto seek your fame and  fortune. Board your skyship and set out into the clouds in search of treasure, glory, and the answer to  Tharsis’s oldest mystery.

Key features:

Wealth of content: Engage in more than 30 hours of first-person RPG action and 3D dungeons. Lovable characters: Etrian Odyssey IV invites adventurers into another dimension of gameplay with enhanced graphics, featuring new character portraits and 3D enemies for the first time. Fly into the clouds for more: Players can upgrade their skyship to battle amongst the clouds.  Dungeon delvers can also access one another’s guild cards and trade items using the 3DS system’s StreetPass feature.

PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD Review

The PixelJunk games have been a bit of a permanent fixture on the PS3 and PSP, so it is about time one made an appearance on the PS Vita. PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD is the game of choice for Sony’s handheld.

It’s not exactly a new game, PixelJunk Monsters was released on both the PS3 and the PSP over the last few years and there isn’t much change with the latest release for the PS Vita. PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD is essentially a HD upgrade on the PSP version PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe, a game that was well received on its 2009 release.

The original was a fantastic game and the same applies here. The HD visual upgrade is worth the extra investment though, but whether you like the game depends on one main thing.  Do you enjoy Tower Defense? We mean proper Tower Defense, not the likes of Plants vs Zombies that took the notion of those games to create something a little different. PixelJunk Monsters is proper Tower Defense, no real bells or whistles, simple to play, difficult to master.

If you do enjoy Tower Defense, then you’ll almost certainly feel at home of PixelJunk Monsters. If you’re not a fan of the genre, then there won’t be anything here that will change your opinion. You have a base, you have enemies, you set up defensive towers in strategic positions to stop the enemy reaching your base… Simple!

You play as Tikiman and you use all the usual Tower Defense tools you’d expect to protect your family who are stationed at your Tiki-Hut. The ultimate goal is to ‘Rainbow’ each level and not lose a single member of the family, by placing towers with various strengths an weaknesses along the path to kill each invading wave. Which towers you place, where and when, depends on the waves that are coming.

Some towers can attack rapidly, but do less damage, others will get off less attacks in that same time frame, but do a lot more damage, some can only attack ground enemies, others only flying enemies, other towers of course can cover both ground and air. Essentially every tower in your arsenal has various strengths compared to others and how you use them will play a huge part in your success.

Towers of course cost money and you are given a balance to start each level, allowing you to get a few towers on the playing field before the first wave starts, however you do need to earn money and gems to build new towers, upgrade the ones you have, or even buy new tower types. This can be done in a few different ways.

The main way is by killing the enemies that are in each wave. Each kill will reward you with coins and sometimes gems. Destroy an entire wave and you will also receive bonus coins. The other way is to move Tikiman around the level and try to find hidden coins in the trees, which can often give you that extra amount you need to get those all important towers in play.

Towers can also be sold, should they no longer be of any use, allowing you to swap out for something more powerful, or more relevant to the next wave. Whilst during the early levels this may not seem particularly necessary, as you progress you’ll find that learning this skill is vital to winning.

The gems that you collect also have a strategical element to them. They can be used to either upgrade existing towers, or for unlocking new tower types, or other little bonuses from your tiki-hut. How you decide to approach this is up to you, but again, this does need to be considered carefully. Towers do gain a type of XP for every kill they make and do upgrade upon reaching a level, but sometimes you may need to upgrade one quicker than they would take to get there via the XP route. The offset is that spending gems on upgrades could rob you of the chance of acquiring a new tower type.

It is this delicate balance that is rife throughout the game, that makes it a joy to play, mistakes can be undone, but they can also ruin a a perfect score. You may have a set up that will destroy the enemy of one wave with ease, but then find yourself open to devastation with the next wave. Your first few towers may get lots of kills in and upgrade themselves quickly, but then you find that towers nearer your Tiki-Hut are weaker and can’t finish of the enemies that break through the first few towers. It makes the game both challenging and rewarding in equal measures.

PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD is just that, challenging and rewarding. You need to learn the levels and find the best way to beat them. You won’t breeze through each level at the first time of asking, so expect to go back multiple times as you work out the best plan of action. Even then the margins between just surviving a level and beating it to 100% are rather large. It can be frustrating when a single spider makes it to your base and ruins that perfect score, but it can also be oh so rewarding when you last tower picks it off at the last moment.

There are over seventy levels to work through, some of which will take a few minutes to polish off, others may take many, many retries and hours to finally solve properly. But that means you are getting plenty of content for your money, this isn’t like a single player story based game, where many will be happy to play through the once, beat the story and move on. This is a game that you’ll want to beat, you’ll want a perfect on every level.

As a port there aren’t many that have been done as well as this and Double Eleven deserve a lot of praise, the visuals are stunning and look amazing on the Vita’s OLED screen and the touch controls are optional, yet functional, allowing you to touch trees where you wish to build and move Tikiman to, or you can simply use the traditional physical controls. Nothing has been forced here and it makes the game all the better for it.

PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD is, at the end of the day, a game that won’t be to everyone’s tastes.  If you have played every version of the series before this, you may find the challenge a little lacking, as you would have seen all the levels before. You do need to be a fan of the Tower Defense genre as there is nothing new on offer, but even with a passing interest in the genre, you will find this game a rewarding challenge from start to finish.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus Review

Tecmo Koei is certainly getting the most out of the first Ninja Gaiden game, and by “first”, we mean first in the modern series for the pedants among you. Since its release on the original Xbox it’s also seen an upgraded (and considered definitive) release called Ninja Gaiden Black, then came another upgrade with the PS3’s Ninja Gaiden Sigma and now this brings us onto the Vita version of that game, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus. Sigma Plus being proof that just because you can now fit something onto a handheld, doesn’t mean you should.

Now we don’t claim to be the greatest gamers in the world, we consider ourselves the everyman, and we easily made it halfway through the original Ninja Gaiden before running into trouble. With Sigma Plus however, the second level became a challenge. This can be attributed to old age (nine years since the original and all that), but it could also be caused by the horrendous camera and controls.

The genre has come a long way in those nine years, with Bayonetta still being the pinnacle, and Sigma Plus is starting to feel a little dated. Poor camera is something that has almost been completely obliterated and in a game that requires such pinpoint precision it is inexcusable. Coupled with poor controls and you’ll find that ninjas and demons aren’t the only thing you’ll be fighting.

Sigma Plus does come with a “Hero Mode”, this easier difficulty making the game less frustrating, but instantly taking away any real threat of death. When playing the game in Hero Mode once Ryu loses too much health then he will automatically start blocking attacks so you don’t have too. It only lasts a couple of minutes though so health will eventually need to be sought. It’s a mode designed for people who just want to bash their way through and enjoy the story and spectacle. Of course, meaning “story” in its very loosest definition. Even the spectacle has, like so much of the game, been diluted over the years in which we’ve seen the likes of Bayonetta and Asura’s Wrath taking it to a whole new level.

But that’s not to say there isn’t still something enjoyable at the core of the game. Graphically it looks nice on the Vita’s screen and there is still something satisfying about the combat. Especially if you enjoyed the olden days back when games didn’t hold your hand constantly, making completion a genuine accomplishment. It’s just that the core of Sigma Plus is buried beneath a layer of frustration that is hard to get through. And while it may have fit on the Vita, there is a definite issue with the amount of loading screens you’ll encounter. Not just going from each section, sometimes the game will actually stop mid fight as you get thrown from one section to the next. Many times during intense fight scenes the game would stop and the word “loading” would appear in the bottom right. Not the best when everything requires precision and dexterity.

If you’re a die-hard enthusiast of Ninja Gaiden then there are some differences in this Sigma Plus edition. Most notably using gyroscopic controls for first person mode and using the back tough pad to charge up ninpo power. Both adding very little to the experience. On top of this, if you never played the console version of Sigma then Rachel, the hilariously big breasted female lead, is now a playable character during her own unique missions. We don’t normally harp on about oversized women in video games, but really Team Ninja? Really?

It’s really hard to recommend this game to anyone except the most hardened of Ninja Gaiden veterans. Yet even those people may find this is one update too far. There’s not really enough here to justify a purchase, unless you fancy playing Ninja Gaiden on the move, and with the terrible camera and controls it’ll turn out to be more frustrating than challenging.