Video Games / Platform / WiiU

Marth Amiibo Returns To Retail: End Of The Scalper?

Marth Amiibo Returns To Retail: End Of The Scalper?

The Amiibo line has been something I’ve been interested in from day one. I collect video games, and video game merchandise, so the Amiibo was right up my street. £10 for a decent little figure of the Smash Bros roster? Hell yeah, I was more than down for that. But little did I, or many others, know how crazy Amiibos would become. Those little pieces of plastic have gone from a Nintendo curiosity, to serious business. In late January of this year, Iwata said Nintendo have sold about 5.7 million Amiibo figures. 5.7 MILLION, they’ve barely been out for a full year, and have already became a huge success. The problem is, it’s not only Nintendo making a healthy sum of money from Amiibos, far from it. The e-bay scalper has been around for years, and the humble Amiibo is perfect opportunity. Buying in a number of figures, hiking up the prices of the rare ones, and watching the profit roll in. It started with Marth, Wii Fit Trainer and The villager, all going for around £10-15 more than retail price. Things get worse, much worse. As the fan base for Amiibos grew, so did the investment of the scalper. At the moment, a Meta Knight Amiibo is going for £50 plus on E-bay. That’s three times the price of launch day Amiibos, and people are paying. While it is a great showcase of killer instinct in a business like setting, scalpers are becoming more of a issue. Amiibos are becoming more and more of a stress to collect, as random ones sell out pretty much everywhere. Stores have placed 1 per customer caps on orders, but this has done little. Scalpers will pre-order from multiple stores, some even selling the pre-order slip. It’s now become a element of each release. The worst part of it all, is retailers have taken notice of the scalpers profits, and they wanted in.   UK retailer GAME tend to pull some questionable moves. Their treatment of Nintendo products has always been a bit shady. Past events include pulling copies of games from the shelves, only to put them back up at a hiked price. GAME saw the profits scalpers were earning via Amiibos, so they decide to get a piece of the action. In-store Amibo prices started at £10.99, they quickly changed to £14.99, with no real reason given. The worst part of GAME’s actions around Amiibos, is how they handle each new wave. After personally pre-ordering three full waves of Amiibos, I’ve only ever received one. Why is this odd? Well after doing some research, it would appear the majority of people never receive their online orders. The reason this is all a bit off boils down to the reasons orders are cancelled. ‘Stock issues’ is GAME’s official reason. The issue with this reason is their stores often stock Amiibos a few days (or even weeks) early, at a cost of £14.99. The online price is £10.99…it’s not hard to see what they are up to.   This price scalping could soon be at a end however. Marth, a wave one rarity, is coming back to retail. Nintendo announced that Marth will be reappear on store shelves in late April. The reason for this isn’t to counter the scalper culture around the product, but to support Code Name: STEAM. As a result of this news, Marth’s rarity and stock has fallen quite considerably. He’s no longer a scalpers hot product, as collectors will now have to merely wait to acquire him. Nintendo seem keen to restock Amiibo figures based on what game they support. Marth is usable with Code Name: STEAM, thus he is being restocked. The same could happen to any of the ‘rare’ Amiibo figures, spelling out the end of the Amiibo scalpers…hopefully.  ...

Battlefield Hardline & Final Fantasy Type – 0 Discounted Among Other Titles At Zavvi.com

Battlefield Hardline & Final Fantasy Type – 0 Discounted Among Other Titles At Zavvi.com

As per every Monday, UK retailer Zavvi are running their Mega Monday sale.   The 24 hour sales includes a range of items from video games to memorabilia. This Monday contains a few deals worth looking at including: Final Fantasy Type – 0 (XB1/PS4) – £30.98 Xbox One (white) console with Sunset Overdrive – £279.99 Drive Club: Special Edition (PS4) – £29.98 Samurai Warriors 4 – Anime Edition (PS4) – £19.98 Battlefield Hardline – (XB1/PS4) – £39.98 Pre-order DMC: Devil May Cry Definitive Edition – (XB1/PS4) £22.98   Zavvi are currently running a 2 for £40 offer on ‘Next gen games’. The choice is a little small but the following titles stand out:   Child of Light – Deluxe edition: Short, but a beautifully relaxed video game experience. Strong art style and great soundtrack are note worthy   The Wolf Among Us – TellTales lesser known success story, but arguably more interesting game.   Lords of the Fallen – Dark Souls style effort that may not be a total success, but it’s enjoyable in it’s own right  ...

Mario Party 10 Amiibos Sell Out, New Nintendo Store Bundle Builder Added

Mario Party 10 Amiibos Sell Out, New Nintendo Store Bundle Builder Added

Nintendo have added a new feature to the store in the shape of a bundle builder.   The new feature allows customer to build a New 3DS bundle from a set number of options. The current options are between a new 3DS (in black or white), a face plate pack and a Mario Holder for the system. The total of the bundle comes to the sum of £159.99. The Mario Party 10 Amiibos have sold out, at least on a single purchase basis. The entire Mario Party 10 line can no longer be ordered on Nintendo’s UK store. There are two Mario Party 10 bundles available, one of which is bundled with a Mario Party Amiibo. The first bundle is the Game & Mario Party Mario combo costing £39.99.   The second bundle includes a copy of Mario Party 10, three Amiibo figures and a carry case for them. The three figures are Bowser, Peach and Yoshi at a cost of £69.99. This bundle only includes Smash Bros variants, not the Mario Party 10 versions. *Update – This bundle has now became available to pre-order again*   Nintendo did have a bundle listed that included a copy of the game, as well as Lugi & Toad Mario Party Amiibos, but that bundle has also sold out. Worry not, there’s still a few retailers with some Mario Party Amiibos up for pre-order.  ...

February’s Biggest Games: Monsters, Evil Moons & Sideburns

February’s Biggest Games: Monsters, Evil Moons & Sideburns

After a quite start to the year, February plays host to some big games. From returning classics, to a new IP with a lot of responsibility on it’s shoulders. These are the biggest games due for release in February 2015   Evolve (PS4/XB1/PC) -   The concept of Evolve is interesting, but the recent open Beta exposes some flaws. Having a strong focus on multiplayer for a new IP is always risky. With four players working together to hunt down a player controlled monster, Evolve won’t be to everyone’s tastes. The concept works well, with player using their chosen classes skills to effectively hunt down their target. Team work is necessary, a single lone wolf can all but doom a player group. Arguably, playing as the monster is where Evolve truly shines. Hunting down smaller creatures scattered across the world, growing, evolving, hunting down players, it’s intriguing. The problem is, Evolve, is rather one note. The Beta raised this concern among many players, with many worrying the game would become repetitive within a matter of weeks. With no single player camping, the whole game is dependent on it’s player base. Given the fact Evolve is a new IP with a concept that’s not exactly familiar with the masses, the game may struggle to bring in players and maintain them. If you happen to have three/four friends willing to play the game, Evolve could be a wise investment. The shady nature of the DLC dealings may put some off, others may be cold towards the lack of single player. Pixel Gate Verdict: Wait awhile to see how popular the game is. PC users, Evolve has Steam Sales hit written all over it.     The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS) -   The darkest entry into the franchise, and a remake people have wanted for years. There’s not a huge amount to say about Majora’s Mask that hasn’t already been said. The customer base is already there, the chances are if your interested in Majora’s Mask, you’ve already pre-ordered it. While the core game might be 15 years old, it’s still worth playing. It’s not the best starting place for people to get into the franchise, but it’s certainly a decent place to start. Pixel Gate Verdict: Anyone whose interested in the game has already ordered it. The fact the moon looks even more terrifying in it’s new slicker form is testament to how well they’ve done with the visuals. Not the typical Legend of Zelda game, but still one of the best. You can’t go wrong picking it up at any price, be it full retail or second hand.     Dying Light (PS4/XB1) -   The retail version of Dying Light finally hits stores in late February. Even with copies popping up all over E-bay, most Europeans were forced to endure the delay…unless they paid £55 for the digital only version. Dying Light is another zombie themed effort from Dead Island’s developer Techland. It’s been received fairly well across the board, with praise being aimed at it’s free running mechanics. If you’re still not jaded by Zombies, and loved Dead Island, Dying Light is the perfect release for you. The retail version comes packed with a season pass, as well as the ‘play as a zombie’ mode that was offered as a pre-order intensive. Pixel Gate Verdict: If you’re not utterly burnt out on zombie media, then Dying Light is a sound purchase. The player movement is sleek, the visuals are decent, but the story is rather generic. The bundled in Season Pass and DLC also give the whole package more value for money. A decent purchase at full price, but a gut feeling says Dying Light may be discounted not long after it’s EU release.       Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate (3DS) -   While the franchise is a pop culture icon in it’s native Japan, Monster Hunter has never quite had the same success in the Western world. That hasn’t stopped the franchise gaining a cult following, with tight communities thriving around each release. The sublime Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate brought in a new fold of players, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate looks to do the same. The fantastic online play, the genuine sense of team work and community, it all gives Monster Hunter a real sense of character. Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is skipping the Wii U, at least for now, and heading to the 3DS. With full online co-op, and more focus on adventure and story progression, Monster Hunter 4 could be the definitive hand held experience of 2015. The Guild quest system brings a whole new layer to the core game, freshening up the core game. New loot, new enemies, new quest mechanics and the return of some familiar monsters, Monster Hunter 4 is packing it all. Pixel Gate Verdict: While Monster Hunter is still considered as a niche game in the West, it’s quality in undeniable. After dabbling with Monster Hunt 3 Tri, and then heavily investing in Ultimate, the fourth installment is a must buy. The online community is extremely welcoming and supportive, feeding into the core concept of team hunting perfectly. Monster Hunter 4 is the perfect place for newcomers to start, and will surely be a place veterans will frequent for years to come.   The Order 1886 (PS4) -   So far, neither new console has had a exclusive that screams ‘Must play’. Titanfall was fun, Second Son was a blast, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Sun Set Overdrive were decent, but not unmissable. The Order 1886 is the next exclusive to try and make a impact. Boasting some impressive visuals, The Order 1886 has created quite a buzz around it, not all of it good. There’s been lingering worries about the game being nothing but another shallow, but pretty, third person shooter. Some see it has the pinnacle of cinematic video games. Set in a re-imagined Victorian era London, The Order 1886 places players in the middle of a centuries old conflict. Equipped with advanced technology and mythical items, players battle against fantastical enemies, as well as rebels threatening the State. The setting is interesting enough to warrant paying attention to, the gameplay however may not to be everyone’s taste. While the visuals look great, the gameplay hasn’t exactly blown people away. Cover based shooting, familiar third-person gameplay and quick time events may not be what people want from their next gen exclusives. There is certainly a market for the game, those looking for visual eye candy, bundled with a quick fix, will undoubtedly already have their pre-orders complete.   Pixel Gate Verdict: It’s fair to say that most owners of a PS4 will pick up The Order 1886 on release. This new generation of systems is lacking exclusives that define a console, and The Order 1886 may just be the game that defines the PS4, at least for now. The gut feeling is that The Order 1886 will be enjoyable, and beautiful, but short. Those on a budget may be well severed to wait a few weeks after release before they pick the game up.     Pixel Gate Picks – While these games aren’t the ‘biggest’, they still look like they could be worth checking out.   Dead or Alive 5: Last Round (PS4/XB1) - The franchise may not be as popular as it once was, but DoA 5 was a pretty fine fighter. Smooth gameplay, fluid controls, and well paced, it’s a decent title. Boasting the largest DoA roster to date, along with over 300 open and unlockable costumes, Last Round may cure that fighter itch. At a retail release of £28.99, it’s no too harsh on the wallet.   Resident Evil Revelations 2 Episode 1 (PS4/XB1/PS3/360/PC) - Capcom continue to use Resident Evil to experiment with. Revelations 2. In all fairness, media from the game hasn’t painted it in that great of a light. The fast paced gameplay, the generic environments, the sloppy AI, it doesn’t exactly scream quality. The only real reason Revelations 2 Episode 1 is worth checking out is Barry Burton…and the fair price point of £4.99.   Suikoden 1 & 2 (PSN) - The original releases are quite tricky, and pricey, to get a hold of. Both games have achieved the status of ‘classics’, and for good reason. If traditional JRPG’s are your thing, and for some reason you’ve never played both Suikodens, then now is the perfect time to invest countless hours into these deep classics.    ...

10 Reasons Why Nintendo Will Dominate 2015

10 Reasons Why Nintendo Will Dominate 2015

Nintendo started 2014 in a pretty rough state. While the 3DS was doing well, the Wii U was struggling in terms of sales, and it’s public reputation. Often a system that was mocked, for it’s lack of games and less powerful hardware, Nintendo had a task on their hands when it came to pushing the Wii U out there. After a strong run of releases, and a fantastic E3, Nintendo ended 2014 in style. The Wii U now boasts the likes of Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros and Bayonetta 2. 2015 has been ushered in by Nintendo riding a wave of a success, let alone a new money maker in the shape of Amiibos. Nintendo look set to take 2015 by storm, with a host of new original games, returning iconic franchises and a new shiny 3DS. Here are ten reasons why Nintendo will dominate 2015.   The Virtual Console   Nintendo have already started off well by adding three classics to their Virtual Console service. Announced during their recent Nintendo Direct, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Donky Kong Country Returns and The Metroid Prime Trilogy were being added to the service. Nintendo want to make a statement about the Virtual Console, they even went as far as to discount the new additions by 50%. With the sheer amount of classics games in their library, Nintendo can truly turn the Virtual Console service into a major selling point. By adding Wii titles, the core library of games will be increased dramatically, not just in numbers, but in quality. The service has heaps of potential to become something great. With the announcement of Wii titles on Virtual Console, it’s likely N64 and Gamecube games will soon appear on the service. Nintendo have started to see the worth of the Virtual Console, and with the Wii U, the service looks set to flourish in 2015.   Downloadable Content   Nintendo are set to supplement three of the Wii U’s biggest games with DLC. Mario Kart 8 will be further expanded upon, with new karts, characters and tracks. Hyrule Warriors will be adding new playable characters to it’s roster, including cult favorite Tingle. Super Smash Bros will be welcoming MewTwo to it’s ranks, the first DLC of many for Nintendo’s crossover brawler. While Nintendo aren’t known for adding a great deal of DLC to their games, it’s what they add that gets people interested. The power of Nostalgia is one of Nintendo’s greatest weapons, by adding treasured characters to their biggest games, Nintendo will certainly be in for more success in 2015. In Smash Bros, Mario Kart and Hyrule Warriors, Nintendo have amassed three fantastic platforms for their DLC plans.     Getting Creative   The ability to allow players to create content isn’t anything new. From map editors, to games based purely on creating content, it’s a tried and tested formula. Nintendo are heavily investing in player creations throughout 2015. Their key title in this push is Mario Maker. The Wii U application allows players to create, share and play Mario levels. The side scroller includes a nifty feature that gives the player the ability to switch between visual styles from across the history of Mario. From the 8-bit NES visuals, to the modern New Super Mario Bros. U graphics, all playable with a push of a button. Mario Maker makes use of the Wii U’s pad, allowing players to easily design levels with a flick of the stylus. The most exciting concept of the game, is the ability to share designs. The Miiverse is a perfect place to share, and discuss, user created levels. The in-game reviewing system allows for players to be rewarded for creating content, these rewards upon up more options to use in the application. It’s a system that rewards creativity and quality by supplying users with more tools. While Mario Maker isn’t a ‘Triple A’ addition to the Wii U, it’s concept could become one of the platforms major social success. In the age of sharing, be it through Miiverse, social media, or even YouTube, Mario Maker could easily become a big hit.   Yoshi Returns   Yoshi’s Woolly World typifies Nintendo’s approach to modern platformers. Similar to Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Yoshi’s Woolly world shows off the Wii U’s ability to produce beautiful visuals, as well as provide players with the ability to utilize the Wii U’s touch screen controller. A strong focus on co-op provides Woolly World with a strong backbone to it’s gameplay. Combing various strands of wool, via the touch screen, to traverse each stage looks to keep the gameplay feeling fresh. While Yoshi may of made appearances in Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart 8, Woolly World will be his first solo outing on the Wii U. It’s refreshing to see Nintendo using their other characters in more experimental games, much like they did in late 2014 with the release of Captain Toad.     Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.   When the team behind Advanced Wars and Fire Emblem announce a new turned based game, excitement is created. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M represents a slight deviation for Intelligent Systems. While the game is turn-based, things are scaled back a little, with players put in control of a squad, rather than a army. The 4-man squads are made up of various characters, all of which boast unique traits and skills. Strategy and tactical analysis form the heart of the game, with player movements fueled by steam. Making the most out of each movement or attack is the key to victory. Given Intelligent Systems pedigree, it’s safe to assume that the tactical element of S.T.E.A.M will be solid. Nintendo have seemingly taken S.T.E.A.M under their wing as one of the next big games for the 3DS. With Amiibo and multiplayer support, it fits the bill when it comes to Nintendo’s progression with online multiplayer in 2015. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M is the true dark horse of the 3DS, and one of the more intriguing games of 2015.   Painting By Numbers   What started as a game many looked passed, Splatoon has slowly started to create it’s very own hype train. The third-person shooter pits players against each other in a bid to cover in each other, as well as the level, in paint. The paint has different effects and abilities, some colours allow the player to hide in the paint, while others boost player movement. Multiplayer shooters are common place in the modern market, but Splatoon’s paint mechanic genuinely feels fresh, giving the game it’s own identity and sense of legitimize. Splatoon features all of the expected features such customizable characters and different classes. There core game is familiar, but the paint mechanic is the selling point. The surprising amount of attention, and positive reaction, the game has received so far suggest Splatoon is destined for big things. A completely new IP that genuinely adds depth to the Wii U’s library, Splatoon could be the surprise hit of 2015.   The ‘New’ 3DS   Nintendo are well known for their constant redesigns of their products, especially their handhelds. From the Gameboy, to the Pocket, the Advanced to the Micro, Nintendo can’t resit redesigns. The ‘New’ 3DS is a odd mix of being the system we all know, but with some new extras which technically makes it a new system. The name is bound to confuse a number of people, but at it’s core, the ‘New’ 3DS is a more powerful beast than it’s older brothers and sisters. With a sleeker design, along with a C stick, the ‘New’ 3DS packs more power than ever before. While past 3DS games will run on the newest system, there’s new games on the horizon that will exclusively run on Nintendo’s newest money spinner. The remake of Xenobloade Chronicles is, at least at this moment in time, the biggest name game that will only run on the ‘New’ 3DS. With Amiibo support, as well as improved 3D and general performance, the ‘New’ 3DS will no doubt become a core complement in 2015. The releases of Majora Mask and Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate bundles will surely prove to be a strong starting point. 3. Xenoblade Chronicles The Wii was a huge success, even those with no interest in video games found themselves drawn towards the system. The staggering success, and truckload of early gimmicky games, left the Wii with a bit of a image problem. Often seen as the choice of the ‘casual’, the Wii’s top quality games often floated away from mainstream video game media spotlights. Xenoblade Chronicles was one such game to suffer from this fate. Celebrated for it’s gameplay, design, and reinventing the staggering JRPG genre, Xenoblade was a true gem. After missing out on the credit it truly deserved, Xenoblade Chronicles now finds it’s self as one of the future ‘killer apps’ of the ‘New’ Nintendo 3DS. Using all the power on the system, the short video footage shown of Xenoblade Chronicles 3D looks stunning. A truly loft JRPG that blows it’s competitors out of the water, Xenoblade Chronicles 3D could quite easily end up being one of the best hand-held games ever.   Amiibo – Plastic Money   Nintendo truly struck gold with their Amiibo range. Everyone knew the Amiibos would be a success, but not even Nintendo knew how much of a success they would become…even more so in such a short time. While the concept of the Amiibo was to enhance the players experience, the Amiibo has taken up a life of it’s own. While they are fun to level up, and unlocking content in various games via the Amiibo is a nice feature, the whole affair has became hectic. These plastic little figures have pushed grown men to red faced frustration, they’ve sent countless people on quests, all to nail down a Amiibo. They’ve became a true collectible, items sought out by collectors and e-bay scalper alike. With each wave comes a new ‘rare’ Amiibo that shoots up in price, inflating a marketing making it harder to complete set, resulting in people wanting to complete each wave even more. It’s truly crazy, but in a oddly good way. Nintendo will implement Amiibos into more games, but even if they didn’t, the Amiibos would still continue to be a success. These things are producing such a strong profit for everyone involved it’s hard to believe Nintendo didn’t try it sooner. 2015 will see more Amiibos released, and even more announced. With more games supporting them, and more collectors wanting them, the Amiibo will continue it’s red hot streak in 2015.   Hyrule Is Yours There’s barely any gameplay footage, there’s next to no screenshots, but The Legend of Zelda Wii U is already Nintendo’s hottest property. With every Nintendo system, there’s a new Legend of Zelda, and since the Wii U’s release people have wondered not if, but when, The Legend of Zelda will appear on the Wii U. While Wind Waker HD already exists on the Wii U, it’s the thought of a brand new installment that has tongues wagging. E3 2014, Nintendo Direct, The Legend of Zelda Wii U was revealed. The Wii U’s stock shot up immediately, social media blew up, this was big news. The Legend of Zelda is a system seller, it’s a staple of the industry, it’s part of the cultures identity. Set for release in 2015, The Legend of Zelda Wii U wont just be another game release, it’s more like a coronation for the Wii U, a vindication for all the struggles Nintendo has gone through the last few years. While Nintendo’s 2015 looks set to be fantastic, The Legend of Zelda Wii U is almost a event within itself. Giving players the freedom of Hyrule feels like the true next step in the franchise, a big leap from traditional instalments. Nintendo have the world at their feet in 2015, the players will have Hyrule at theirs....

What Makes A Game The Worst Of Its Year?

What Makes A Game The Worst Of Its Year?

2014 had a number of bad games, and even more disappointing games. From the broken wrecks, to the sheer awfulness like Rambo and a number of titles that slipped out onto Steam. After doing a list of the best games, and the worst, I decided to focus on a single game. This one game would be the game I pointed to as the worst experience of the year, for me at least. My choice was a title that was set to revive a genre, bring it back to basics, created by one of the key figures in video game history. The Evil Within was primed to set the world alight. The Evil Within started off well, setting the scene, inserting the player into the universe, setting an effective tone. It’s a shame that same tone is thrown out the window within the first five minutes. My main problem with The Evil Within was it’s identity crisis. Manically shifting from survival horror, to action horror to straight up chaos. It’s tricky to nail down what exactly The Evil Within was going for. The attempts at scaring the player fell victim to tropes seen in modern Western horrors, such as jump scares and excessive gore. The action was frustrating due to ineffective weapons, low ammo, and far too many enemies.   At times it felt like the game was being developed by two different teams, one aiming for horror, the other for action. There was barely any cohesion between the two styles, instead, the game stumbles around, rarely finding it’s feet. This is a feeling that continues throughout, towards the later stages of the game things become more humorous than horrifying. Factor in the odd decision to give the game borders, obscuring the players view, and the gameplay becomes utterly frustrating. Horrendous plot and question gameplay choices aside, The Evil Within was a semi-ugly mess, somehow running into frame rate issues. If avoiding barely visible traps on sharp turns wasn’t fun enough, jittery frame rates made the game even more of a pain just to play. There are moments when the game shined, but these are firmly submerged into the slew of before mentioned issues. All these factors made The Evil Within my worst video games of 2014. It wasn’t the worst I’d played, that honour goes to Rambo, yet I still give it the label of the worst.   It made me ponder what exactly the criteria is when it comes to ‘worst game of xxx’. A simple search of Google and YouTube provided me with various sources to checkout. It became clear that the criteria is much more diverse than you’d initially expect. The last few years have saw the criteria evolve into a much more aware concept. No longer are we judging games purely on the content, we’ve began to look at business decisions, company behavior, PR and more. While the core principles still matter, audiences are now far more aware of the bigger picture. Assassins Creed Unity isn’t a ‘bad’ game, but the sheer amount of bugs, and the slack nature to way Ubisoft addressed this, led to Unity ending up on a vast number of ‘Worst of 2014′ lists. The same can be applied to Drive Club and The Crew. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeros is a ‘good’ game, but the business decision it represents has seen it enter the worst of 2014.    Back in 2013, The War Z (now know as Infestation: Survivor Stories) was badly received, partly due to it’s dull gameplay. Another big reason why the game was shunned was down to the developers behavior. Banning anyone who dare point out criticisms from the games official forums, reacting to reviews in a hostile manner, selling lies, stealing terms and conditions from other games…all the good stuff. The actions of the developer took a game that would have been mostly forgotten about, and placed firmly near the top of many Worst of lists. Perhaps the change in criteria is linked to the likes of Steam Green Light and the continuing growth in the indie game scene. It would be far too easy to populate Worst of lists with cheap Greenlight/Indie games. Expectations of well known developers, more awareness of how willing the industry is to rip off their customers are all elements that could be linked to the change in how we pick our worst video games of the year. As video games and their players continue to grow and change, surely it’s only natural for our critical eyes to change with the times? It seems like a natural progression. Will 2015 see this change even further? Hopefully, and hopefully the industry will take notice of how aware the modern consumer is continuing to become.  ...

2014′s Best Games: Witches, Karts & Nazis

2014′s Best Games: Witches, Karts & Nazis

2014 has been a fair year for video games. It saw Nintendo hit a good vein of form, Sony contuine to progress and the Xbox One boast a great exclusive, only for it to go multiplatform. The year has seen some major games hit the market, with most of them offering something different. This year also saw the release of barely finished games, mostly from Ubisoft. The following is my picks for the best of 2014.     Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS4/Xbox One/ PC) Some shooters want to change the world, rewrite the book, a whole new experience. Wolfenstein just wanted to have fun, and it more than pulled it off. After a run of poor reboots from various game franchises, Wolfenstein came as a surprise. The story was a joyful jaunt though a alternative time line where the Nazis won World War 2 and went onto global domination. Set in the 60′s players blasted through various enrichments and enemies, all with a wonderful B-movie feel to them. From the streets of France to a Nazi Moon-base, Wolfenstein felt like a true journey. The gameplay was extremely tight, with some of the most satisfying gun play around. Nothing fancy, just straight up fun, Wolfenstein was one of the finer video games of 2014.   Telltale Games – The Walking Dead/The Wolf Among Us/ Game of Thrones/ Tales From Borderlands This pick is cheating, but Telltale just can’t seem to put a foot wrong. The Walking Dead continued to be strong, if not a little too depressing for the sake of it. The Wolf Among Us was a enjoyable walk through a fresh world based on a cult comic classic. Tales of Borderlands and Game of Thrones are still relatively new, but both are top notch pieces of work. Everything Telltale touches these days seems to turn to gold, and 2014 was their best year ever. It’s hard to recommend just one series, so I picked them all.     Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (Xbox One/ PC/ PS4)   Who would of guessed the spin off to Plants Vs. Zombies would be one of the best multiplayer experiences of the year? This class based game had brilliant balance between each class, allowing each to player to feel like they were playing a part in the game. The ability to customize each class with various weapons and skills gave the game a sense of depth. There’s very little that’s new within the game, but everything is so finely tuned it feels as fresh as ever. Garden Warfare is arguably the best multiplayer experience on PS4/Xbox One, there’s little that rivals it in terms of all out fun. The map design and game modes do a brilliant job of complimenting each class and play style. It’s rare a game can remain fun while being on the losing side, but Garden Warfare is exactly that. The dark horse of 2014, and easily one of the best games released this year.   Alien: Isolation (PS4/Xbox One/PC)   The best game to feature a Xenomorph since Alien Vs. Predator 2. The sheer intensity felt in each second of Isolation is enough to put anyone on the edge of their seat. A genuine survival horror that doesn’t resort to giving the player all the power, this game as a utter success. The story may slightly weak, but the gameplay and presentation make it unmissable. As a huge fan of the Alien franchise, Isolation felt like the closest representation to the source material, by the fans for the fans. Each nook and cranny felt like it had been covered with a eye for detail, a labor of love. The ships design, the sound effects, the distinct ’80′s sci-fi’ look and feel, it was all recreated perfectly. The little touches made the game that much better. The ability to use the Kinect/PS4 camera to peek around corners, the PS4 pad pinging out that iconic motion tracker sound, it was all superb. The hide and seek gameplay won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but the sheer attention to detail showcased in Isolation makes it hard not to like. The Best Alien game made, fans MUST experience Isolation.   Shovel Knight (Wii U/3DS/PC)   The trend of trying to recreate old platformers continued in 2014, Shovel Knight stood head and shoulders above the rest. The gameplay is perfect, responsive, tight, just perfect. The whole game shines with confidence, each stage is as thrilling as the last. There’s various tricks shovel Knight has under its sleeve, all of which enhance not just the game, but the genre. Not many games truly raise the bar, Shovel Knight did exactly that. Gameplay aside, the music is a key reason to why Shovel Knight succeeds. A beautiful homage to games of yesteryear, each stage plays hosts to kick ass track. It completes the whole experience, almost tricking the player into thinking they’re playing a classic on the Virtual Console. It may of took nearly a year to hit the Wii U/3DS in Europe, but it was worth the wait. A modern classic in every sense of the word.   Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4/Xbox One/PC)   After the train wreck that was Dragon Age 2, Inquisition came as a pleasant surprise. While the game starts off at a snails pace, the bulk of the game is hugely enjoyable, even if it’s missing the finer parts of Origins. The gameplay is fair mix of Origins and Dragon Age 2, with a more accommodating use of console controllers.The MMORPG like design of the core game can become a rather annoying, but the main story quests make up for it. The overall experiences feels well rounded and much closer to the ethos of Dragon Age, putting Bioware back on track.   Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)   Nintendo finished off 2014 strongly, and It all seemed to truly get going after the release of Mario Kart 8. While the Battlemode is pretty poor, the rest of the game is sheer bliss. Mario Kart 8 showed that the Wii U could render beautiful visuals, while entertaining the player to no end. There’s nothing that matches the sheer enjoyment of battling for first position across classic Mario Kart tracks. The online mode is spot on, with very little lag to speak of. Kicking back and blasting off turtle shells, drifting passed your rivals, being wiped out by a jumping fish, it’s always a beautiful experience. Pure, innocent, video game enjoyment. Mario Kart 8 stands out in a year that offered very few racers.     Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4/Xbox One/PC) The surprise hit of 2014, Shadow of Mordor was brilliant. It’s honestly refreshing to see a more mature take on Middle Earth, free from the restraints of the films. Shadow of Mordor took what other games had provided in the genre and perfected them, while adding the nifty Nemesis system. The concept of enemies increasing in power and political status via player/in-game actions, gave Shadow of Mordor a huge sense of depth. The Nemesis system works so well the player can use it to forge their own unique experience. The plot wasn’t much to talk about, the Nemesis system was the key to the games success. Players could share stories of how the system impact their experience, with each player normally having a different experience. The core gameplay as silky smooth, the combat near perfect. Shadow of Mordor was nothing short of fantastic.     Super Smash Bros (Wii U) Smash Bros is simply fun, in every sense of the word. The ultimate fan service, it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with the sheer chaos on screen. Nintendo know how to create fun video games, and Smash Bros is a perfect example of this. Easy to pick up, hard to master, there’s a hidden depth behind the game that keeps players coming back for more. There’s really not a whole lot to say about Smash Bros without repeating the word ‘fun’ about twenty times. There’s cases when you sit down to play a game and you can feel a smirk just engrave on your face, sheer joy, Smash Bros does that every time it boots up. The recent Amiibos give the game a more personal touch, as well as giving the game a unique ever growing scale of challenge.     Bayonetta 2 (Wii U) Oddly, Bayonetta 2 became the target of misplaced claims of sexism, denting some of the games hype. Agenda pushing and ignorance aside, Bayonetta 2 was the game the market needed, as a exclusive on a system no one expected at one point in time. Bayonetta 2 is possibly the best example of video games being sheer madness and fun. It’s hard not to crack a smile when summoning giant creatures to finish off even bigger bosses. There’s little to complain about throughout the experience, bar the slight reduction in challenge on normal mode. The wonderful gameplay that made Bayonetta a star in the first place returns in Bayonetta 2. It’s hard to find another game that matches such a fast pace with such tight controls that give the player a real sense of satisfaction. The set pieces are truly outstanding, often leaving the player in a sense of awe and wonder. In a world of super serious games, Bayonetta 2 was the perfect solution. One of the best games of 2014, even with unjustified accusations thrown at it.    ...

Amiibo Wave Two: Chaos At Retail, Profit On E-bay

Amiibo Wave Two: Chaos At Retail, Profit On E-bay

There’s utter chaos, no one knows exactly what is going, or why it’s happening. It’s hit like a ton of bricks, leaving people confused, disappointed, just searching for a answer. The second wave of Amiibos has hit, and the retail space has went crazy. While the official EU release isn’t till the 19/12/2014, GAME have been flogging them since mid last week, at a inflated price. Pre-orders for wave two started being processed this week, but most orders have been cancelled without explanation. GAME customers were treated to as e-mail informing them of a refund, but that’s it. Zavvi customer had the same, with a few customers being told it was down to a ‘price change’.   It’s left a lot of people in a desperate rush to try and find a site/store to get their Amiibos from. While some of wave two are easy enough to acquire, there’s a few Amiibos that have already became rare. Little Mac and Pit have already became the ‘must owns’ of wave two, and the retail space reflects that. Both Amiibos are either listed as sold out, or aren’t listed at all. Little Mac is currently on e-bay, with bids hitting upwards of £35. The average customer/collector is increasingly falling under the hammer of the ‘e-bayer’. The guy/girl who buys a item purely with the means to sell them at a spiked price. The Amiibo has became the ultimate e-bayer item, and given retail seem all to willing to spike their prices as well. The consumer is at the mercy of spiked prices and sharp e-bayers, this in itself threatens the whole concept of Amiibos. As each wave becomes a target of e-bayers, the chances of getting a full collection (without paying far above the items value) become slimmer and slimmer. It’s a genuine shame, but it was always to be expected. With retailers seemingly unable to be reliable, or even consistent with pricing, the Amiibo may be a victim of it’s own success....

UK Retailer GAME Increases Amiibo Prices

UK Retailer GAME Increases Amiibo Prices

Nintendo’s Amiibo line has hit the ground running. The figures are flying out of shops, with some of the ‘rarer’ ones entering ending up on e-bay and Amazon at a inflated price. The rumors and murmurs around some of the less popular characters being discontinued has spiked the market. The likes of The Villager and The Wii Fit Trainer have increased in value by a few pounds, while Marth has nearly doubled in value. With the collectors community going a bit mad over the Amiibos, UK retailer GAME have decided to spike the market themselves, by increasing their original £11.99 asking price to £14.99. This price increase only affects in-store prices, with the online asking price staying at £10.99. The question is, beyond trying to make easy extra money, why have GAME done this?   The question is easily answered from a business perspective, it’s a easy way to increase a stores profit with no effort required. It’s a solid reason, but when you take into account the time of year and the customers entering the store, things get a little off ethically. Stores everywhere will be visited by people who don’t spend much time looking into the video game industry. Be it parents, family or loved ones, a large portion of them will enter a store with little to no knowledge of what the going rate is. The desire to make sure Christmas shopping is done as quickly, and effectively, as possible is always the main goal of this shopping period. This is where customer service enters the fray, the key link between knowledge and a customer. GAME are supposed to be there to advise it’s customers, with the aim to sell products to them. As a large business, you’d expect to them to be consistent with their prices. The manner in which GAME suddenly increased the Amiibo asking price feels a little shady, even more so given their stock numbers rarely appear to be depleted. As customer buy the new Amiibos for the ‘new’ price of £14.99, they are never advised on the online price of £10.99. There’s a argument that it’s the customers job to look for the best price around, but on the flip side it’s the retailers job to least be honest with their customer,s not actively spike up a market for the sake of a few pound. GAME have history of doing this back with Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate. The release day price was £39.99, GAME were asking for £59.99, and even changed the online price to reflect this after it became clear the game had a small initial shipment in the UK. After looking into this, a local branch of GAME had went from having one copy on the shelf to having a number of them, all equipped with that new £59.99 sticker.   This is the kind of behavior you’d expect from a independent store, but from a huge retail chain? Not so much. It’s disconcerting when you sit back and think the amount of (for examples sake) parents who will be paying extra for literally no reason. The complete second wave of Amiibos will cost £65.94 if bought online on GAME’s site, in-store customers will be paying £89.94. While online prices normally differ from a few pound to that of the in-store price, GAME are just taking it to the extreme. From charging £11.99 one week to £14.99 the next, GAME are simply exploiting the fan fare around the Amiibos, as well as the less knowledgeable customers. Where will the price spiking stop? If Nintendo do discontinue a Amiibo, does this mean retailers such as GAME will hike up the price ‘just in case’?  It’s worrying that GAME are seemingly willing to spike up the prices in such a manner. There’s little to no excuse for the price change, the same way there was no excuse for their attempt to rip off and lie to customers with the Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate situation. Bottom line, don’t hand over your money to GAME without doing a little research, especially with Amiibos....

The Double Edged Sword Of The Fighter Genre

The Double Edged Sword Of The Fighter Genre

With the recent reveal of Street Fighter V, I decided to look back on my experiences with the fighter genre. It’s a harsh genre, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The fighting game genre has always been a harsh mistress to me. For every happy memory I have of the genre there’s about 3 bad memories that shortly follow. From a young age I became interested in the fighter genre. My first experience with the genre was (unsurprisingly) Capcoms Street Fighter 2 on the Super Nintendo. From the first minute of the game I was hooked. The characters looked visually interesting, the environments dazzling and the action thrilling. Playing solo was fun but lets face it, fighters are meant to be played against people and not AI. Playing Street Fighter 2 against friends (and some times family) is still one of my most treasured video game memories. Booting up the game and selecting our favourite characters before arguing over which level to fight in was tradition. Button mashing in a desperate panic was also tradition. In the process of pressing all the buttons in any given order a special move would normally be unleashed, leaving me and buddy in a stunned silence. ”HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!” was often the question on our lips, and the answer to that question was ALWAYS ”no idea’. Even with a limited knowledge of the game and its controls each match was always a great slice of fun. These sweet natured days were numbered however as I began to grow up.     As time went on and I played more and more fighters, my longing for victory became stronger. Button mashing was no longer a style I felt happy to use, it had become ‘messy’. Instead I would try a few characters out and learn the move sets. By time I came into possession of Dreamcast I had a decent amount of knowledge of Soulcalibur. I wasn’t a master by any means but I had learned at least a few moves for each character. Suddenly playing against friends had become more of a practice session than just a few games in the name of fun. Losing felt a lot worse, victory felt less meaningful, it was a strange feeling. For the most part I would be able to take down most of my friends, this resulted in the game becoming a little boring to play for them. Understanding the game had ultimately led to the ‘fun’ of the game being drained away.   The likes of Capcom Vs SNK, Street Fighter 3 alpha and Marvel Vs Capcom had returned all the fun of fighters. I applied a much more laid back approach to these fighters in order to keep the game fun for my friends to play against me. By this time in our lives we preferred to learn the game rather than button mash, this led to competitive, but fun, matches. It seemed the perfect middle ground and a great time to enjoy some top class fighting games. The enjoyment of the genre (and fighting friends) hit its peek with Marvel Vs Capcom 2. Given the popularity of the PS2 all of my friends owned the system and Marvel Vs Capcom 2. This allowed everyone to stand a fair chance of learning the game and forming an effective team. Many a battle was fought, plenty a laugh was had, this was the highlight of my time with the fighter genre. There was always a giddy feeling when it came to each team being down to their last member. A single hit would decide the match, the aftermath involved boasting and looking back at the action.    I had went from casual matches with friends that were all about the fun to competitive games of knowledge and technique. One day (well when I got my own computer) I just stopped playing fighters. From 2004 to 2008 I honestly cant remember playing a fighter for more than a few days. I kept a eye on the genre, watched it develop, but I never got back into the swing of things. 2009 saw the return of the franchise that started it all for me, I am of course referring to street Fighter. The fourth entry into the franchise was a first day purchase for me. After a first few runs on arcade I decided to hit up the online options. This is where things got rough. A large segment of players from overseas had been playing Street Fighter 4 for roughly a week. This week earlier release date had created a huge divide it terms of player skill. Time after time I was matched up with players who had already learned the mechanics and moves of a number of characters. My arse was getting well and truly kicked. I was now feeling the way my friends did when they used to play Soulcalibur against me, it wasn’t fun. I tried to learn the game, learn some strategies but alas my efforts were met with more defeats. Only a few of my friends had bought Street Fighter 4, this limited my chances of just casual fun matches. When they did happen, more often than not, I’d end up winning purely because I had learned some easy moves of a certain character. My friends soon began to grow tired of playing me and I was once again forced into playing online. While I did improve my overall play the huge gulf in skill and experience was too much to overcome. I enjoyed Street Fighter 4 a lot, I kept it in my collection in order to play when friends came over or my father fancied a game. Online I was nothing short of a easy win for any given player. For a large length of time I kept my activity within the fighter genre strictly offline. Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and Mortal Kombat (reboot…or 9 as some wish to label it) became my fighters of choice. While Marvel Vs Cacpom 3 was a little light in terms of content Mortal Kombat was jam packed. With plenty to do in terms of single player I was more than happy to play Mortal Kombat offline. The lure of playing online is hard to resist however, and yet again I found myself being beat down by veterans. All the enjoyment I had experienced with Mortal Kombat offline was now being replaced with defeat and defeat. The sheer amount of spam I became the victim of was heart breaking. Seeing Stryker spam his ranged attacks over and over killed my motivation to play Mortal Kombat online, it was nothing short of brutal. I was awful at the game, but my lack of enjoyment online killed any motivation to improve.     Fast forward to EVO 2012. I’m sitting at my desk browsing Twitch TV, and I’m once again interested in fighters. After watching the majority of the Marvel Vs Capcom 3 tournament my interest in the game re-surged. I knew for a fact I was going to lose, and lose hard, but either way I was going to try my hand at the online portion of the game. My assumptions were proved to be correct, I did in fact get my arse kicked, but I didn’t mind. I oddly didn’t mind losing, my competitive nature had taken a back seat. With my rediscovered relax nature towards the game I began to sit and learn….how to lose. While defeat is never fun it did allow me to experiment and tinker with my team selection. Before I knew it I was presenting a viable challenge to some players, some times even winning. The thrill of the fighter genre rushed back, everything I remembered had returned. In a moment of nostalgia I dragged my father into a game and began to play. It was like being young again playing Street Fighter 2 for the first time.   My love affair with the genre had been long and eventful. It had highs and lows, at times I had fallen out with the genre only to make up with it some time later. Learning to handle defeat is key to enjoying the fighter game genre, expecting victory is a recipe for frustration. Remembering why I loved the genre in the first place was key to recapturing the thrill, enjoyment and fun that I had all but lost.  ...

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