Tag Archives: Konami

Super Bomberman R Review (Nintendo Switch)

Super Bomberman R might be the first game I’ve ever reviewed where I feel like the police should probably get involved. This game is a crime and should be avoided at all costs.

First some context, after our Switch was delivered on Friday alongside Zelda I took a trip down to Sainsbury’s on a console-launch-day whim to get some more games. I wanted something multiplayer so I decided on 1-2 Switch and Super Bomberman R. 1-2 Switch is already overpriced at £34.99 (it should have been included with the console) but Super Bomberman R was £44.99. When I saw that price tag something strange happened in my brain, I came to the conclusion that somehow price and quality were linked. I thought the single-player campaign must be substantial to warrant that price tag. I thought that the online and local multiplayer must be at the very least a competent ‘best-of’ from the many iterations in the series. I was very very wrong.

Launching into local multiplayer with my wife, we were immediately struck with the distinct lack of options. You choose the basics like the number of lives etc, then you choose an arena (from a selection that looks poorer than the SNES version), then your bomberperson. The bomberpeople are all given strange superficial characters so there’s the noble white one (I’m sure someone could write an angry Tumblr post about that), the arrogant black one, the violent red one, the sleepy blue one etc. They have no real personality beyond their single trait and this is demonstrated by their singular facial expression and annoying voice clips before and after matches.

Launching into our first game, it was hard to understand how this game came to be. Visually it looks about on par with the N64 version, albeit at a higher resolution (what looked to my amateur eye like 720p) but the background behind the maps is like a horrible stretched 2D image and the arena, although built out of 3d polygonal blocks, is made up of stretched and repeated textures. Imagine what a Bomberman game would look like if an 11 year old learning to code decided to make an Android port for phones from 2013. It looks worse than that.

Once the game began we realised the ugliness is more than skin deep. The framerate is atrocious, running at an aspirational 30fps that it usually falls well short of during important moments (like when bombs are going off). This really does have a significant impact on gameplay and is what makes this version impossible to recommend over its predecessors. This isn’t just the worst Switch game, it’s the worst Bomberman game I’ve ever played.

In desperation I turned to the online multiplayer, thinking somehow local play was just broken, but the online multiplayer is the same, with lag on top of it. Every time you finish a game you are kicked back into matchmaking (no finding a lobby to stay with all evening) and the only kind of progression you get is based on gaining points in a linear fashion to move you up through the leagues. You start in Baby League B and if you win a game, you get some points towards moving up. If you lose, you don’t lose any points, you just get nothing.

The single player campaign is a similar disappointment. Wrapped in an offensively terrible Saturday morning cartoon wrapper with poorly animated cutscenes, the game is split into six sets of levels (we assume, we only completed the first set) followed by two boss fights. The levels themselves take place in barely-modified arenas and you are tasked with either killing all of the enemies or pressing a number of switches. There’s no AI to speak of, the enemies just move in a semi-predictable fashion, with the randomness being present just to make sure this game doesn’t have any value as a puzzler. Instead you just do the same thing over and over, putting bombs down to trap enemies, until you’ve killed them all. Do that a handful of times and you get to fight the first boss, an evil bomberman who has some kind of special power. The first one has magnet bombs that technically are attracted to you, but you barely even notice because your own bombs stop them. This mechanic didn’t change the fight at all, and instead it was just a matter of playing until the AI got itself stuck near one of your bombs (or one of its own). After that there was an almost-interesting boss fight in an open arena against a giant spider robot. Even though the arena was open your bombs still fired off in a grid, so you had to place bombs to take out its legs while avoiding getting killed yourself.

If you do get killed in the campaign, you simply restart the level, until you are out of lives. If you run out of lives you can continue with a new set of lives if you spend 300 of whatever the currency you get is. This currency can also be spent on cosmetic items (things to go on your head that all look like they were lifted from a poundshop Nintendogs catalogue) and is earned painfully slowly through online multiplayer matches. Hopefully you’ve immediately realised the problem that should have occurred to Konami. If say, a child, wants to progress through the campaign and dies a lot (perfectly reasonably thanks to the input lag caused by the unstable framerate), they can’t continue until they grind out enough credits through the online multiplayer. The multiplayer that is terrible and will be locked behind a paywall for Nintendo’s online service in Autumn. It’s like they tried to ruin this game.

This is without a doubt the worst game I have ever reviewed. It’s a complete scam and represents all of the worst things about the gaming industry. It’s a cash in to take advantage of nostalgia and the weak launch lineup priced far too aggressively with zero creative ideas or technical prowess. This game is an abomination and Konami should feel bad.

 

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A look at P.T on PS4 (Massive Spoilers ahead!)

P.T is something we’ve only ever seen once before as far as we can remember. The rest of the article contains massive spoilers about what exactly that is, so if you don’t want it spoiled, you can download it for free right now on the PS4 and experience it yourself. If you’ve already done that, or don’t have a PS4, or just don’t like really scary game and want us to do the trembling work for you, then read on.

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Starting off in a darkened room with a door in front of you, we thought it was a CGI cut-scene at first. Some of the texture work and lighting is simply astounding. We’re not sure if this is running on UE4 but despite there not being much going on, if this is any indication of the finished game we’re in for a graphical treat. Going through that first door you’re placed into an L-shaped corridor. Along the corridor there’s a digital clock, some house plants, a phone, a radio, a little entranceway with a swinging light, a shut door and a path down some stairs. If you take the path down the stairs the whole thing will loop again, except maybe this time the bathroom door will be slightly open or the lighting will have changed. So far it seems impossible to say what your experience will be as much of it is randomised or based on variables we don’t understand.

Don’t make any mistake though, this is definitely a horror game. You have limited ways to interact with the world, focusing on the use of R3 (clicking in the right thumb stick) but there’s a few more that are part of the secret. One of the puzzles even uses the options menu. Everything about the game is confusing – there are mysterious sounds all around you, occasionally the graphics will distort Eternal Darkness style, sometimes things will be subtly different and other times everything will change in horrific and dramatic ways. There’s gore, violence, ghosts (or a ghost) and attempts to make you question your sanity. For some people the whole experience is over in an hour or so, others have taken six hours to find the trailer that is your reward for finishing it. What a trailer it is.

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Turns out P.T is actually a teaser for a new game – Silent Hills. This is a brand new SIlent Hill game being created in a collaboration between Guillermo Del Toro and Hideo Kojima, starring Norman Reedus (of Walking Dead fame). It seems like we might actually be getting a big-budget Silent Hill game and based on this teaser, they know what they’re doing. Of course there’s a notice that the demo is nothing to do with the game and doesn’t reflect it in any way, but it’s hard to imagine that at least the production value won’t be similar. This tiny little teaser is more polished (and longer) than many retail games and this is just the announcement. The only other time we can remember seeing anything like this was the Super 8 teaser attached to the PS3 release of Portal 2. In that you could explore the train that crashes at the start of the film just before the fateful moment as it was filled with little bits of information and curiosities to explore. It must be a horrifically expensive way to make a teaser but lets face it, it’s got people talking about it far more than any kind of simple trailer release would have done.

Kojima has come out and stated some disappointment, he wanted the teaser to take a week or so to work out, with players working together all over the world. Apparently the final puzzle is fiendishly difficult, but thousands of players have managed to stumble across the solution without really understanding what was happening. The theories are covering the forums and bulletin boards of gaming sites at the moment, and it’s certainly a fun treasure hunt, but the Silent Hills announcement came out almost immediately after the demo was released, removing the tension somewhat.

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Still, if you’re in the mood for something scary, mysterious and beautiful, it’s well worth a download and we hope it inspires more developers to have a go at doing something similar.

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Ultimate Edition Review (PC)

I bet you think this castle’s about you

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow is the excellent third person action adventure game that proved that Castlevania could work in 3D. While attempts had been made in the past, none were of the scale of Lords of Shadow and while it changed fundamental game mechanics, it kept something about the spirit of the game alive… or undead. While the game was released back in 2010, the ‘Ultimate Edition’ has recently been released on Steam and it builds on the original in many ways.

First off, using the might of a PC to power the game makes the experience so much more enjoyable. Constant 60fps at 1080p lets the art style and animations really shine and while some of the reflective and lighting effects seem a tiny bit deated, the chunky character models and intelligently used camera still allows the game to look spectacular alongside more modern titles. In an early section you go from fighting wolves in a rain-swept forest village, out to jumping from stone pillar to stone pillar in a breathtaking canyon as the sun shines through the gaps. In terms of games being thought of as art, this is often an overlooked gem, with Del Toro style mythical beasts common in the second half of the adventure.

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While the game is more linear than previous Castlevania games, it allows Konami to tell a story and a good one at that, full of foreboding, misery and revenge. Everything you could want in a gothic horror, but with enough unique characters to make it something special. Many of the action sequences such as riding beasts don’t work all that well, but provide a nicely timed break from third person brawling and the pace of the game holds up all the way to the end. Throughout the game you’re progressing through item and ability unlocks so fighting and exploring never gets tedious, you’re always able to change up the way you play.

In terms of the combat, Castlevania can be considered right up there with Devil May Cry and Bayonetta. it’s third person combo-based action, with a variety of different melee and ranged attacks, with a slight focus on juggling enemies and keeping them stunned or airborne long enough to deal with big crowds. Larger enemies do often end in a quicktime sequence but the animation is fluid and exciting so we can almost forgive them for it, even if it still feels a little cheap and tired in the genre. There’s something satisfying about whipping enemies around or cleaving them apart, there’s no lack of gore either as certain enemies seem to explode even if you just throw a knife at them, let alone when you start unleashing more powerful abilities and take out entire squads of kobolds at a time.

There are platforming sections but it’s definitely not a focus as it was in the 2D incarnations. Jumping can feel a little floaty and imprecise, whenever there’s finesse involved there’s usually a grapple point or something else that you can lock on to making the whole process semi-automated. It’s a shame that third person games still struggle with this kind of navigation despite the superb Prince of Persia or Assassin’s Creed games, jumping in Castlevania is frustrating rather than liberating, which might make sense considering the size of his frame, but it’s much less fun than it could be.

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In terms of new content, the Ultimate Edition contains both DLC packs that came out of the original. Reverie and Resurrection both expand on the game’s plot and provide a decent amount of new content that’s well worth returning to the game for even if you played through once on console.

The biggest draw for this version is easily the ability to play without worrying about framerates or resolution. On a platform that can handle it, Lords of Shadow is majestic, and boasts an art style easily up there alongside such greats as Bioshock or Portal. Although selling over a million copies in the original run, Lords of Shadow feels like an overlooked gem, and something that any fans of action RPGs or more gothic games should definitely check out.

Verdict 9

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Silent Hill HD Collection (Xbox 360)

Welcome back to Silent Hill…

I remember one traumatic evening as a fifteen year old, watching a friend running around a hospital in Silent Hill 3 whilst sitting a darkened bedroom, equally horrified and fascinated. This was my only experience of Silent Hill until watching the movie many years later, and then playing Origins on PSP, which was not a bad game, even though I did not get around to finishing it for the same reasons that I did not get around to getting anywhere near finishing Silent Hill 2 or 3 in the HD collection.

Continue reading Silent Hill HD Collection (Xbox 360)

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