[23 Oct 2014 | 2 Comments]
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

There was a time when the announcement of a licensed game was a cause for concern, rather than excitement. The history of gaming is littered with rushed, shoddy cash-ins for movies and high profile franchises, with only a few games truly making good on their promise. Recently this trend has been improving, and with Shadow of Mordor Monolith has crafted a real surprise, and a contender for one of the most interesting, if not best, ‘next-gen’ experiences yet released on the new consoles. Read the full story »


[19 Oct 2014 | 5 Comments]
Connection: Error

The advent of online gaming in the last two decades has fundamentally changed not only the way we play games, but the way they are designed as well. Not only does it allow players to play together, ether co-operatively or competitively, but it allows the worlds they inhabit, the very games themselves to become living, breathing creations, malleable and ever-changing to add content, fix bugs or in some cases, to make wholesale changes to the original game. It also allows developers to react to the players in near real-time, rolling out hot-fixes, daily challenges and gameplay tweaks based on real-time data they can collect once a game has been released. Much of this is good, but there are potential downsides as well, elements which are starting to worm their way into seemingly every big new release, single player or not, that have ramifications for the medium as a whole, and also great swathes of potential players so simply can’t play many of the titles they want to.
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[14 Oct 2014 | 4 Comments]
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call

There’s a genre of rhythm games on the DS and 3DS which have been mainly seen in Japan with the Ossu Tatakae Ouendan series which were sadly never imported over here and with the fantastic Elite Beat Agents. The Final Fantasy Theatrhythm series are the closest we’re getting to these amazing games on the 3DS system. As someone who had grown weary of the ponderous teens suffering a vague existential crisis while wandering around and hitting monsters, I went into the original expecting very little and loved it. I had managed to defend the Final Fantasy series to vehemently that I realised I hated all that I had played, becoming loyal to a brand and deluded into saying I loved a series which I’d grown annoyed with. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy brought back all my love of the series in a way which wasn’t as odious as the eternal corridor fights of Final Fantasy XIII.

The question now is, can the sequel expand on the joy and innovation of the first game? Would any differences to the original help or hinder it and would more be better this time round? Read the full story »


[22 Sep 2014 | 3 Comments]

Kickbeat is marketed as an “innovative rhythm game with a Kung Fu theme,” but its level of innovation, when games like Final Fantasy Theatrhythm have explored adding combat and RPG elements to rhythm games in well-developed ways that closely tie licensed music to game theming, seems quite limited. Kickbeat is a straightforward rhythm game dressed up in theming that impedes play to an extent, and with a selection of music that is small compared to most competitors (Theatrhythm Curtain Call, which came out on handhelds around the same time, has a significantly larger and more varied song library – and even free-to-play rhythm games on mobile like Cytus and Love Live School Idol Festival have comparably sized or larger track lists.)

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[22 Sep 2014 | 2 Comments]

Kapsula is a puzzle game combining the reflex-testing of an endless runner with the block-matching of a game like Columns; the end result is something a little like Audiosurf but without the soundtrack element. It is well-suited to mobile formats, requiring only minimal inputs and – with a simple failure state and an interface designed to make repeat play as efficient as possible – being built from the ground up for intermittent play sessions. The mobile puzzle and skill game market is gaining a well-established set of ground-rules for designing a good mobile game – it should be as minimalist in terms of getting to play the game as possible, and as easy as possible to try again after a session, since mobile games are often played for short periods of time to fill a break. In this respect, Kapsula works well.
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