Pure Pool Review

Pool games over the years have never really been a gauge in which to test the power of a console, but it has always been interesting to see how the better hardware has affected things such as physics. Which has meant that since the days of Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker and Super Sidepockets, that the pool game has certainly improved.

The last generation finished with the excellent Pool Nation, which underneath the outer shell of fancy careers modes and odd locations, actually played a fantastic game of pool. Pure Pool on the other hand just lets the mechanics do the talking, stripping away all the fancy stuff.

It is from the makers of Hustle Kings, which in itself was a fine pool game, but again had a lot of fluff surrounding the core game. Pure Pool is set in what appears to be a swanky cocktail bar, but in all honesty, that is just there to stop them having a lifeless backdrop to the pool table, as it is blurred out and never really takes your focus away from the table.

It is what happens on the table of course, that matters most and VooFoo Studios have struck gold here. Starting with the base test, the movement of the balls as they hit each other, rebound of the cushion and drop down the pockets. This really feels like it has been nailed to be as realistic as possible.

There are some nice touches here that make this the most realistic pool game to date also. The first is something that may be a little off putting to some, but there is no top down view in the game at all. Whilst initially this may seem like a bit of an omission, it works really well when you consider this is designed to be a realistic pool simulation.

You can of course press a button to ‘stand up’ and move around the table, again like you would in real life. A minor annoyance here is that you will then need to go and change your aim all over again, which isn’t as bad in normal games, but can waste time if you are playing a mode that is against the clock. Being able to stop the clock whilst you look would have worked well here, but it really is a minor niggle.

Whilst you are in aim mode, you can use the Dual Shock 4 touch pad to look left and right, try to get a better view of the lay of the table, it works really well for trying to peer around the side of a ball that may be blocking your view a little. Again a minor niggle is that the stop points for where you can look feel a little restricted and don’t quite represent your natural field of vision.

All pool games tend to have a visual cue for where the cue ball is aiming and where it will generally move to after it hits another ball, as well as showing where the target ball will go. In Pure Pool this is handled really well, as the visual clues are less obvious the harder the shot. So for example, if you have a short pot at an easy angle, then the lines are clear and make that shot easier. However, if it requires a longer shot, or more of a cut, then the lines fade and spread out and in some cases won’t even reach all the way to the target ball.

This really is a fantastic mechanic as it means you won’t be screwing up easy shots just because you don’t get the real sense of depth and angle on a 2D display device but it also means you can’t just easily pull off near impossible shots because you happen to have lines telling exactly where the ball will go.

Credit has to be given to the AI system also. The basic levels are there, from amateur, through pro and then masters and they do all offer you a solid game of pool, each offering up a decent amount of challenge. What is really good though is the addition of player DNA. As seen in games like Forza 5, you can download the DNA of real world players to play offline and they will play like the player you have selected.

The idea is that the game records the way you play over a series of games and creates an AI based on that. Now whether it works fully as described remains to be seen, but in games so far where Gamestyle have played against DNA profiles, there have been players who stick to safe shots and try the risky ones less, others who seem to play a very tactical game and even some who just get to the table and hit the ball. Each one really have felt different.

There is a fair amount to do in Pure Pool, it includes a career mode for both 8-Ball and 9-Ball types and these career paths also include some of the popular skill games such as killer, potting against the clock, etc. Yet this doesn’t feel like a game built around completing a career and that it is there just because it is the accepted thing to do.

Where Pure Pool really stands out is that more than anything it is a game about playing pool, just shooting some balls around a table. It feels at it’s best when you just set up a random game with a friend and shoot some pool. Should you want to, it is possible to create a pool league online, or just have a few friendly games. It really is the digital equivalent of going down to the local pool hall and having a laugh with friends.

Pure Pool isn’t perfect, there are a few minor niggles, such as a lack of a replay option for when you hit that perfect shot, or get extremely fluky. It would also be nice to see some of the other pool variation included, because as it is, it feels very bare in that regard. However, as an actual simulation of pool, VooFoo studios can be very proud of what they have created. They are the current kings of the pool hall.

The Swapper Review

Many Indie based puzzle platformers have some kind of hook, in The Swapper the hook is that you need to create clones of yourself to navigate through the various levels.

What makes The Swapper a special game though is how well the various different parts come together to create something rather remarkable. The atmosphere, the mechanics, the level structure, all mix perfectly to create a game that goes beyond just being good because it is an Indie.

This is a game that is dripping in atmosphere, not only does it have some wonderfully beautiful visuals, it also manages to create a kind of loneliness that you’d expect from not only a game, but any piece of media that is as much about discovery as it is about a story. As you navigate through a derelict space station uncovering its many secrets, you cannot help but get drawn in.

The game’s mechanics are exceptionally well thought out and whilst early puzzles start out as way of introducing them and getting you used to how they work, you are soon left in awe of how those simple basics have allowed you to traverse areas that seem near impossible upon first glance.

The mechanics are simple, you can create up to four clones of yourself, which will then mimic your movements, so as you take a step to the left, so will your clone. This works well for reaching a switch on a platform that you cannot jump to, simply by aiming your swapper weapon and creating a clone in the area you need them.

Other puzzles may require you to swap yourself with a clone so you can collect something, but then things start to dawn on you. What originally appear as impossible to reach ledges, all of a sudden become attainable, as you create a clone above you, swap to them, create, swap again and so on.

Then later still you realise you can break a fall, or walk a clone over an area, drop them down the other side and then swap through the smallest gap to get to the otherside. It works so well in fact that each new area that requires a new technique doesn’t actually need to go through a convoluted tutorial, it all feels natural and you find that the things you are trying make sense at that time.

Puzzles become a little more difficult when you have areas that have lights that can either stop you creating a clone or stop you swapping with said clone, but a little bit of logical thinking sees you working out what you need to do to either bypass those parts completely, are get to the perfect areas to turn those lights off, allowing you to then move past.

What happens in The Swapper, is that you very soon lose all sense of time, as you happily approach each new area and the new set of puzzles it brings with it and what is great to see with a game like this, is that frustration is at a minimum, you know you have the tools and you know that each room can be beaten, but you never feel like it is an impossible task, even if at first glance it can look that way.

There are elements of trial and error within the game, but nothing that feels like it is there for the sake of adding to the difficulty. Credit must really go to the developers for how well put together this game is, as every little part feels like it belongs, each puzzle has been crafted to give you a sense of accomplishment for beating it, but without ever needing to be more difficult than needed. It hasn’t fallen into a trap of adding artificial blocks to impede your progress to give the impression of longevity.

The Swapper is a wonderful example of what a puzzle platformer should be and has set a very high bar for others that will follow. It is available across all three Sony platforms and that is welcome too, as it is a game that is very hard to put down once you get into it.

Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty Review

Back in 1997 a new character was born. His name was Abe and he would soon become a cult icon for many. His game Abe’s Oddyssey became somewhat of a cult hit too. A puzzle platformer that had a story smothered in satire. In fact, a lot of the story still holds true in today’s world 17 years later.

We aren’t going to cover the story in the review for two reasons. Firstly anyone playing New ‘n’ Tasty because they loved the original will be well aware of it and those coming to the game for the very first time, well we don’t want to ruin it for you. Just be assured it is very good and has some fantastic writing, doing satire very well.

The original 1997 release was a fine looking game for its time and it hasn’t aged badly as such, but playing it again now, you see some of the technical limitations in place. Whilst the game was fantastic, it was flat and a little lifeless, so when you load New ‘n’ Tasty for the first time, you are absolutely blown away, as all of a sudden Rupture Farms is alive, it is a living, breathing world. It still maintains the feeling of being in a world where there is little hope, where settings can either be bright and wonderful, or dark and depressing, but it still just look beautiful.

This goes beyond just trying to emulate your memories of a game, instead it takes your memories, reprograms them and then makes them better. This is so much more than a remake though, things like the characters, the settings, the level design all remain in tact, but where it has been needed, it has been improved.

Levels now scroll freely, rather than loading a new page every time you go off screen, which allows the game to flow better and allows you to approach puzzles a lot more logically. There are minor tweaks along the way, that were clearly needed for the way the game has been rebuilt from the ground up, but these have been added in without changing everything that was great about the original.

Puzzles in New ‘n’ Tasty are far from easy though, some you approach are simple enough to work out and can be a case of mastering the timing, such as opening a trap door to destroy an enemy, or allowing a fellow Mudokon to sneak past unseen. It is a lot easier now to see some of the visual clues thanks to the HD graphics and that only helps improve things. Other puzzles require a lot more logical thinking and require you to really plan ahead. It is a game that wants to work you hard, but still wants you to enjoy everything  it has on offer.

What it also does though, is tests your own sense of morality, probably more than other games that try to shoehorn in a moral choice mechanic. You are constantly reminded how many Mudokons there are, how way have escaped and how many have perished and whilst the game doesn’t force you to do anything, you may well find yourself struggling with choice you make as you see a death toll increase. It, without trying, makes you really think about your approach to a particular section. It may sound like a load of twaddle, but seriously it gets right under your skin sometimes, again thanks to some excellent writing.

The one thing that doesn’t feel right in New ‘n’ Tasty is the inclusion of leaderboards. They are a thing now and they do seem to be part of everything, but Abe’s Oddessey was always about how you approached the game and what you did with it. You didn’t really need a leaderboard to tell you that someone completed in a quicker time, or saved more Mudokons. This isn’t the game for that sort of thing, however they are there and in all honesty can be largely ignored.

Oddworld New ‘n’ Tasty is so much more than a remake. As unlike other games that get the remake treatment, this feels like a game that could have been released for the first time in 2014 and would have wowed gamers, it doesn’t just rely on returning fans looking to refresh some old memories. The development team took a bit of a risk with the amount of work that went in to New ‘n’ Tasty, as they could have easily just given the original a lick of HD paint and fans would have swallowed it up. However there is clearly a love for the game and they have produced the best possible version of the game.

If you have played Abe’s Oddyssey and loved it, then you’ll love what has been achieved here, it is a game you loved and then so much more. If you are going to be experiencing the game for the very first time, then boy, are you in for a treat.

The Walking Dead: Season Two Episode 4 – Amid The Ruins Review

WARNING: THIS REVIEW OBVIOUSLY CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS EPISODES!

As the penultimate episode before the season finale, it goes without saying that Amid The Ruins is more of a stage setter, getting the player ready for the climactic end. But even in that sense, comparing it to Season 1 it struggles at getting you that excited for where Clementine’s quest will end. Aside from the last few scenes episode 4 manages to fall a little flat.

We last left our surviving cast of a characters right in the middle of a zombie horde as they escape from Carver. The game reminding you at the start of the horrible Michael Madsen voiced character, and what became of him. Dropping Clementine right in the thick of it, with a heart wrenching choice right from the off, this episode certainly starts with a bang. Unfortunately the only way to go from that opening was down.

Writing this a day after completion and it’s hard to actually think of that many stand out scenes from the middle hour. A lot of the time is spent wandering around environments, looking at things, trying to find a safe haven with the occasional zombie encounter thrown in. There is one moment during this section that should really be infused with ounces of tension, but it just isn’t. Maybe the realisation is setting in that Clementine is becoming a far more capable character that one zombie on their own isn’t really enough to get the heart racing anymore.

Yes, you could say previous episodes have always had the quiet moment to split up the action, but never before has it felt so pedestrian. For the large chunks you’re just going through the motions of examining everything before a new scene is triggered.

Memories of Season 1 are a little hazy, but we remember there actually being puzzles that needed to be solved per episode. That’s something that’s sorely missing here. The classic point and click formula seems almost completely eradicated for a straight up story that plays out like a choose your own adventure book. Admittedly this is an issue that has permeated throughout the entire season, but previous episodes have always countered that with great character beats and, at times, shocking action set-pieces.

Amid The Ruins does start to find its way by the end. An explosive last half an hour or so certainly provides an intriguing setup for the finale. Thinking back it’s amazing how much Clementine has changed since the beginning of season 1, and best of all, it doesn’t seem jarring. It’s a slow character progression that is written so perfectly that she feels like a real person. Of course it all depends on how you play her, does she still contain some of her innocence, or does she become colder as her friends slowly whittle down? And that’s really the strongest aspect of not just this episode, but the whole of season 2 up to this point.

On the whole this review may seem incredibly downbeat, but when you’ve set the bar so high it’s going to be hard to reach, and episode 4 is where the big stumble happens. It’s not a bad episode per se, just a disappointing one.

Rogue Legacy Review

Ports! Some see it as a derogatory term with regards to games that are coming to consoles. The idea that games that have been on PC for a while now, are finally coming to console owners is in some way negative. We at Gamestyle aren’t in that camp, we love that many great games, once only available for PC owners are coming to a wider audience. That window between a PC release and console release is also getting shorter.

Rogue Legacy is another Indie that has had success on the PC and is finally making its way to consoles and we are very happy to see it. What you have here is a Roguelike game, that revels in its diffculty. The game is also a platformer that sees you navigate a randomly generated castle trying to reach and defeat a boss in four different environments before tackling a final boss.

Now, you won’t reach any of the bosses for quite some time, as you will die and die often. The mechanic here is that each death is final and rather than lives, you children will carry on the battle for you. They inherit the gold and items you find along the way, which in turn can be used to make them better, as not only do they inherit your goods, but also the attributes and upgrades from their ancestors.

It is an excellent mechanic that is essentially a slight reskin on the usual Roguelike ideas, but one that works very well indeed. As you look back through your family tree, you will get a history of slain ancestors, which will chow you how many previous attempts you have made to make it through the castle.

The gold you find can be spent in various ways, such as upgrading already existing abilities, unlocking new ones, expanding you manor to get further upgrades, buying new armour, etc. One early unlock is the ability to lock down the castle, allowing you to return to it in the state your parent left it in. So if you found a run that was particularly beneficial to you, then you can take it on again. However this comes at a price, as you will only be allowed to keep 60% of the gold that you find.

That is the thing about Rogue Legacy, it works on a fantastic risk vs reward ideal. You can go into a new run completely blind and maybe get some better results, or maybe return to a previous setup but get less from that run. That mechanic is evident in levels too, there are chests dotted around, some require you simply to get to them to open, other have you completing on the spot tasks, such as not receiving any damage on that particular room before reaching the chest, or getting to it in a certain time. Achieve this mini objectives and the chest is yours, fail and it is locked forever (well, until your next death anyhow).

The thing that really impresses about Rogue Legacy is just how fair it feels, especially for a game that is designed around killing you multiple times. The controls are simple, as is the goal and you never once feel like you have been cheated by the game. Sure, you may come up against a run that seems incredibly difficult, but any death you have feels like something you could have done better, whether in that immediate instance, or the way you lost your HP getting to that scenario. Other Roguelikes have felt like they are cheating you to push home a mechanic, but that isn’t the case here at all and Cellar Door Games must be commended for that.

The game is available for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita and runs exceptionally well across all three systems. It has one of the best cross-save systems we have seen to date, based on the fact it is cross-save by default. You load the game up, it checks for a cross-save file update and loads it, without any additional checks needed by you as the user.

This worked well for the most part, such as time you left it maybe half an hour from turning off one version then loading the other. There were the odd occasions where we needed to sync the data from the platform we were leaving, which is done by pressing triangle on the title screen and choosing the option. This takes all of 5 seconds and you have peace of mind when switching instantly.

The other thing that works here, is that you can also load separate profiles in the game on a single PSN account. In this instance we was able to play on one profile, switch that game to the Vita, whilst someone else on the same PSN account loaded a second game profile so they could play on the PS4, at the same time as the original profile was being played on the Vita.

Another thing to note is that each version of the game looks just as good as the other, it meant that there was no minor adjustment needed when switching between each system to get used to the controls. A lot of though has gone in to the cross-platform parts, as it appears clear that the developers wanted people to play it across all three, thus making it as easy as possible.

Rogue Legacy is not a casual game, it is one that requires you to put a lot of time and effort in to get the most from it, accept that you will make little progress early on and need to learn how best to approach certain scenarios, but those who are willing to put the time in, you will be handsomely rewarded.

Crimsonland Review

Do you remember Crimsonland the 2003 game? Probably not, but you’d be forgiven as not many will, however that hasn’t stopped a remake arriving on PC and PS4 in 2014.

Crimsonland is a top down 2D Arena Shooter with RPG elements, which may also remind you of I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MBIES 1N IT!!!1 which found critical and commercial success on Microsoft’s XBLIG service on XBOX 360. The idea of Crimsonland is essentially to kill everything that moves in any given level.

Controls will feel familiar to anyone who has played a similar game. Move with the left-stick, aim with the right and press a button to shoot your weapon. Enemies will spawn on the level and try to engulf you as you fill them full of lead from you weapon. As you progress through the main story mode, you can gradually unlock new weapons and power ups.

Here is the issue with the game though. Playing the early levels in the quest will feel sluggish and truth be told a little dull, this is because of the RPG elements for upgrading weapons and core abilities. In other games of this style, you feel like there is a flow to the movement, that you can get out of any situation with some clever movement and well taken shots, here though you feel like the game is trying to force a threat upon you and trying to give you little hope of getting out of danger.

Now this does all improve as you progress and the feeling you expect starts to make itself known, however early plays could see you give up on the game. That however would be a mistake, as the quests is just a small part of the overall experience and probably the worst part also.

Where we spent most time, was in the survival mode, where it is you vs waves and waves of zombies, aliens, spiders and who knows what else, with you only goal to survive as long as you possibly can, getting the highest possible score.

Along the way, you will level up, unlocking new perks and upgrades, such as bonus XP, the ability to see the enemies health, better accuracy, even trading all but 1% health to automatically jump to the next level up. The perks along with the speed of the game here are wonderful fun and the temptation to jump straight back in after death is just too tempting.

There are other modes too, such as Rush, where it is just you and an assault rifle vs hordes of monsters and no perks or powerups to help, but it is survival that proves to be the mode you will keep coming back to time and time again.

The game plays well on the Dual Shock 4 and there is an option to use the touch pad to aim and shoot. Whilst it is nice to see developers offer this as an option, it just didn’t feel as responsive of as accurate as using the sticks and buttons, but it is there for anyone who wants to try it and we dare say some may prefer it.

Visually Crimsonland is very much a retro style, but has been tarted up from its original release, looking much nice on your HDTV. We tried to play on the Vita via remote play (as we try to for most PS4 games) but we found that the screen got a tad too busy at times making it difficult to really work out what was going on using the Vita’s OLED. However, controls wise it worked fantastically well and if you have no other choice but playing via remote play, then it is certainly adequate enough.

Crimsonland isn’t the Indie highlight of the year, but what you do have is a solid 2D Arena Shooter that works as a nice distraction when you may only have a short window for playing a game. You can stick it on, have a quick play and then get back to whatever you are doing. There is always a place for game like that in our opinion and it is more than welcome to take up what little space is does on the PS4 HDD.

Tekken 7 Announcement Trailer

In the early hours of this morning at EVO 2014 Bandai Namco showed of the first trailer for Tekken 7.

Little is known, with more details set to be revealed at Comic-Con  on 25th July. The only solid news is that it’s built with Epic’s Unreal Engine 4. Trailer is below:

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax confirmed Region Free

And the whole of Europe rejoiced as Atlus have announced that Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is going to be region free!

This news probably due to the poor reaction received when the original Persona 4 Arena was region locked, with Europeans having to wait months for it to finally arrive on these shores. Ultimax looks to be going the same way with no news on a European date whereas it’ll arrive in the US on September 30th. So time to get importing.

Along with this, there also comes news of pre-order bonuses. These being:

  • Tohru Adachi DLC Pack – Free for the 1st week of release
  • Teddie Bop Bag
  • Tarot cards

Atlus also saying there is “more to come”.

Mousecraft Review

Tetris was and still is a magnificent puzzler. Lemmings is up there as an all time classic. So what do you get when you send them both off to a hotel for a romantic weekend? Well nine months later you get Mousecraft a new puzzle game from developers Crunching Koalas.

The game itself is more Lemmings than Tetris, with the Tetrominos only coming into play to create paths and steps for you to get you lab mice to their cheese. In fact, it shares a lot in common with games like Chu Chu Rocket and Mario vs Donkey Kong. Adding in traps and enemies that will do their best to stop those mice.

Each level is a single screen affair, where you need to place your Tetrominos in the right places to allow the mice to navigate the level, as said, avoiding traps and potential enemies on the way, as well as collecting shards, which are needed access later levels.

Levels themselves start off fairly simple and are obvious on how they need to be completed. Getting 100% on the first 10 or so levels is easy, but the difficulty soon ramps up and soon enough you will really need to think about how you approach each new setup.

Some levels require you to just place blocks in the right place, others require timing based on where your mice are, or where enemies are at any given time. The timing based puzzles can get a little frustrating and take away slightly from what is a very clever game on the whole.

It is the levels that require pure logical thinking where Mousecraft is at its best, with you spending plenty of time looking at a level, going over your tools and then planning where they need to go so you can collect shards, bombs and get your mice to safety.

There are four ‘worlds’ overall with around 80 levels for you to take on. The game constantly tries to introduce new mechanics, even deep into the final default world, which works for keeping the game fresh and not not descending into monotony. But even when that is done, there is also a level creator for those who fancy themselves as a bit of a level designer.

Whilst the tools decent and like you’d expect in a Trials game, or Little Big Planet, it appears as though everything that was used to make the base game, is also included in the level editor. It is also very intuitive to use, which should allow anyone to come up with something.

The big shame here though is that it doesn’t appear as though you can share your levels, or download levels from friends. This is a big pet hate in games like this, as it rarely feels like there is a point to creating levels, if you cannot share them. Playing your own creations is all well and good, but does anyone really want to do that alone?

It is a sour note in what is otherwise a very good package. Mousecraft is cross-buy and cross-save for PS Vita, PS3 and PS4, with cloud saving working extremely well. Allowing you to jump between versions at will. If you have a Vita, you’ll likely play mostly on that, but to have the options must be commended.

Mousecraft is a really nice puzzle game, that walks the line just right between being too repetitive and easy, or going past the point of challenging to pure frustration. It found that middle ground and got the balance just right. However that lack of level sharing… Well, that really does disappoint.

Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition Review

In Guacamelee we meet Juan, he is not the luckiest of chaps really, the woman he loves gets kidnapped by an evil skeleton, as you do… The story revolves around a small village in Mexico, the look & style of the game borrows very heavily from Mexican culture & folklore too, you play as a luchador also. This gives the game a certain charm in how it looks, sounds & plays. For example, you gain power ups throughout the game, each time it is marked by a Mexican band ditty which certainly made me smile every time.

Drinkbox, the studio behind Guacamelee originally released it back on the Vita in 2013, this new Super Turbo championship Edition release sees a host of new stuff to enjoy from a brand new boss fight & two new areas to discover such as ‘The World Of The Dead & The World Of Nightmares’, online leaderboards, 2 player local co op and all the DLC now seamlessly integrated into the game.

How to describe this game? It is a 2D side scrolling platform fighting game with bags & bags of humour to laugh out loud to, bright, brash visuals which bring a real pleasure from screen to screen & in the different areas. Keep your eyes peeled too, as the number of in game nods to other games is plenty. A nice little distraction I must admit.

The combat in Guacamelee is excellent, having been tweaked further in this release to allow easier aiming & throwing of enemies, some of which are now new & improved in this release. Some can now even teleport making combat that little bit more fun & interesting as grappling & throwing these enemies can prove much more difficult. Finally, there is the new INTENSO mode which is easily activated in game which gives your luchador a brief power up enabling you to slap those enemies around that little bit more. Certainly a satisfying addition to the game.

The game is at its core a platformer, and trust me, later in the game you may want to shout at your TV & possibly even put your controller down with force on occasion. Although what it does do is give you an immense feeling of satisfaction when you finally pass the part that you got stuck on briefly. So my advice? Don’t give up.

Guacamelee was great first time around and Drinkbox have taken something fantastic and improved on it even more this time with this release. In short, you wont regret buying this, even if you have before. I for one am looking forward to a sequel, but before that, maybe just one more go…

Looking Back: Mega Man X2

With the first Mega Man X Capcom took the formula and re-invented it, creating one of the best in the series. Then just a year later we got X2. It may not be the reinvention X was, but it certainly manages to stand alongside it proudly, even if it does have a few issues that cause it to fall a little short of greatness.

A direct sequel, X2 takes place just six months later where a number of new Mavericks (dubbed the X-Hunters) are causing all sorts of trouble and it’s up to X to stop them. A standard setup with an interesting key plot point. Despite being killed in the first game, the X-Hunters have pieces of Zero, with X able to obtain the pieces by beating them on specific levels. In addition the levels the X-Hunters appear on are random, and if you happen to beat a level without beating an X-Hunter along the way then they disappear and that piece of Zero is then lost. It adds an additional strategic element to the usual Mega Man weapon strategy. And if you don’t obtain all of Zero’s parts by the final level, then well, prepare to fight.

On the surface, graphically X2 isn’t much of a leap, aside from a few new unnecessary 3D effects. Overdrive Ostrich for instance makes his rather clever entrance by running along the background in the distance before jumping onto the same plain as X. The biggest graphical leap however is with some of the 3D wireframe boss encounters. There are only a couple, which is quite lucky really. The final boss for instance seems to be pushing the SNES a little far as the framerate gets absolutely murdered. Not something you want with a game that requires pinpoint jumping. Luckily with the right weapon the final boss is an absolute cake walk, not mattering how many times you get hit, just spamming him with the same weapon will do the trick.

All the elements that set X apart from the original series are largely present and correct. New suit pieces can be acquired by finding hidden capsules and energy tanks and heart capsules are also scattered throughout levels. The only thing really missing are levels not interacting with each in the say way they did in the original. For instance in Mega Man X beating Chill Penguins stage before Flame Mammoth would cause his level to be completely frozen over. It added a nice additional tactical nuance that is sadly absent from this game.

In the end, you can pretty much just sum it up with, “great, but not as good as the original” for pretty much every aspect of Mega Man X2. But then this is hardly a criticism. Mega Man X rejuvenated what was becoming a stagnant series and arriving only a year later X2 was never going to do the same. The level design and music is still of a high quality, and while still having the classic Mega Man challenge, it’s made easier by the upgrades you can obtain. If you manage to find them of course.

Readily available on the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console it’s easy to get hold of and comes highly recommended. Now to wait for X3.

One Piece: Unlimited World Red Review

We’re not going to lie and say we’re the foremost knowledge on all things One Piece, because apart from a few short clips of the anime, this game is pretty much our only experience with the series. And yet despite this, there is an awful lot to like about Unlimited World Red even from us non-fans.

Although obviously aimed at the core One Piece fan base, the developers haven’t just used this as an excuse to throw out any old rubbish for them to inevitably purchase. Set on an island that Luffy and his team of Straw Hat Pirates have arrived on, incidents occur that revolve around who we assume are long standing One Piece characters, and that’s really how the game begins. If you don’t already know the characters from the off then it can be difficult to understand, but as the game progresses you start to gain a better understanding of what’s happening and actually start to get involved in the story.

What could have been a bog-standard licensed action adventure is set apart by Transtown. The main hub world where you can stock up on supplies, save your game, and most importantly aid in rebuilding. On your travels you’ll be collecting all sorts of materials that can be put to good use in Transtown by building new shops and helping make your life easier. It definitely adds to the experience, stocking up on supplies before you make your way to the next area, but it can be slightly annoying when you’re forced to build certain things to progress the story. The game then essentially forcing you to farm for items, items which are largely random and can take a long time to actually discover.

When you’re done getting prepared then it’s on to your adventure. New areas becoming available per chapter with their own unique look and types of enemy to face. You can take up to a three man (or woman) party at any one time, each character controllable with their own unique attacks. It’s your standard action game with hammering of the X and Y buttons unleashing all sorts of combos. There is a tactical nuance to it with the use of the dodge and counters. During specific enemy attacks it’ll flash up on screen whether you can press the A button to perform a doge or counter attack, vital against bosses who will destroy large chunks of your health bar. There are also a number of special attacks that can be utilised once your SP meter is full and a way you can do more damage by performing specific on screen combos.

As you’re in a team of three the other two AI companions will be on the battlefield giving you a helping hand, sort of. On the one hand they really don’t appear to be doing that much damage, but on the other they do a very good job of staying out of trouble. In fact, even when hit it looks like they don’t lose any health at all, which means you’re pretty much playing through the game with three health bars. But then this is preferred to the constant annoyance it would be if the AI kept on getting hit.

Graphically, One Piece is as you’d expect. A style that matches the anime quite well with some neat visuals on display, nothing special, but they do the job. What is disappointing for the Wii U is the lack of any gamepad use. There’s literally nothing there of note, it just has a message basically telling you to look at the TV. The only other thing is a button at the top which swaps the TV feed with the gamepad one and vice versa. There’s not even a map, which is quite baffling as you’re constantly being forced to pause the game to look at it. Why not just put it on the gamepad screen? That’s what it’s there for! It’s disappointing to see so many companies not utilising the gamepad in any meaningful way.

A few minor annoyances aside, the developers should be commended for not just putting together any old licensed pap and waiting for the One Piece fans to lap it up. A lot of effort has clearly gone into capturing what people enjoy about the anime, coupled with some strong gameplay and you have a worthy package for fans of the series.