- Streets of Rage 2
- LA Noire
An outstanding package in its own right and the new standard by which all future retro compilations should be measured, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration serves as a love letter to a bygone era, a reminder of the power the name once held and a tantalising glimpse at how some of gaming’s most storied franchises can be revitalised in the right hands. Highly recommended for anyone remotely interested in gaming history. A particular affinity for Atari? Utterly essential.
Ten games for £35 can’t be sniffed at, especially during times of budgetary constraints, but Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection Vol. 2 represents a disappointing step down from the first volume. A series of curiosities, average ports and games where the language barrier is an unfortunate turn-off make for a collection that will likely hold appeal for fans of the platform, but which I can’t heartily recommend to the masses.
Trifox is an ambitious and largely successful blend of classic 3D platform and modern twin-stick shooter mechanics. While the difficulty spikes can be off-putting at times and some combat sections can feel a little too much of a grind, some excellent set pieces and a fun, charming style kept me wanting to see what was next. A solid debut effort from Glowfish Interactive.
With a terrific hand-drawn style, an intriguing premise (inspired by a rich vein of criminally under-represented folklore), and solid controls, Tunche does a lot right, but it’s also a game that saves too much of its good stuff for the later stages, which is likely to drive away many looking for more instant gratification. With a more gentle introductory curve in the early stages and more rewarding incentives for progress, Tunche could be the next Castle Crashers, especially if you can rope some mates in. As it stands, it might be too much of a slog at the start to stick with, in order to see the good stuff further in.
With solid gameplay, excellent style and some of the funniest writing I’ve ever encountered in a game, this pastiche to a classic is one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve experienced this year. It would be impressive enough as is, but when you then consider that this is largely the work of just one person, it becomes an almost unbelievable achievement. If you want an old-school adventure with some new-school panache, you’re not going to get much better in 2021 than UnMetal.
It’s not the game it was five years ago, but Super Arcade Football is all the better for it. You can do much worse than use a classic as the basis for your title, and it successfully marries the still solid gameplay aspects of Sensible Soccer with some modern graphical enhancements and general quality-of-life improvements to deliver a football game that offers a cheap viable alternative to the juggernauts of the genre. Well worth a shot (pun only slightly intended).
Is it on the level of a Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2? Or a Skate 3? Alas, no, but SkateBIRD successfully stands out from the crowd with a unique premise, lashings of charm and solid mechanics. It’s not perfect by any means, and can often be a pretty frustrating experience, but with a plethora of menu options with which to simplify and improve that experience, it’s a game that should appeal to anyone who likes their games on four wheels and a deck.
I’d still love to know what conversations took place that led to “hey, we should remaster Zool”, but Zool Redimensioned does a pretty decent job of applying a fresh coat of paint, but in a way that remains very reverent to the source material. An excellent achievement from a group that only started programming 12 months ago. Unfortunately, the source material itself is the ultimate problem here – Zool was an average game back in 1992 and it’s little more than average here in 2021. A pleasant nostalgia trip, yes, but sadly it’s offers nothing to compete with the best modern platformers.
Antab Studio’s ambition has to be applauded. Blending multiple game types with such a bold aesthetic style and an intriguing story premise – and getting so close to pulling it all off – is a remarkable achievement in its own right. As it is, it’s a qualified recommendation from me – the combat could be a little tighter and you should be prepared for some frustration with the instant-fail stealth sections. However, at the price point Foreclosed sits at, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck, and that’s a difficult value proposition to ignore.
With a different gameplay focus, bright and breezy presentation, a simple yet effective match engine and a long overdue women’s football management mode, We Are Football does a pretty decent job of setting itself apart from Football Manager. However, a cluttered and messy UI, when combined with a frankly overwhelming amount of information to process, served to be pretty off-putting and left me pining for the relative simplicity of FM Touch.
An effective story, some excellent performances from its cast, and very good production values do much to cover up its minor flaws and, as such, help Erica stand out from the crowd, when it comes to full motion video games. With a nice tight runtime, it’s also a game that doesn’t outstay its welcome. More of this kind of thing, please.
As an epic sci-fi story or as an elaborate futuristic dating simulator or even as a third-person shooter, Mass Effect Legendary Edition has a little something for everyone, and puts many modern narrative-driven RPGs to shame. It may not quite be the full-blown remake that many hoped for, but it’s still the ultimate way to experience Shepard’s story, regardless of your history with the franchise, and easily takes top spot in the running for my game of the year so far. Even the Mako sections are less annoying…
Before We Leave is as close as I’ve ever come to sticking with a city builder and, for that, it deserves enormous credit. The non-violent nature of the gameplay is also to be commended. However, it’s all still just a little too dizzying for me and, if you also struggle with the level of micro-management this type of game fosters, then this likely won’t be quite streamlined enough to change your mind.
It may not be action-packed and your enjoyment mileage may vary, depending on your views on roguelikes, but Insurmountable is a unique take on a genre that has begun to feel a little stale for me. With an interesting premise, good replay value and a nice clean look, it’s a game I’ll certainly keep installed on the PC for a while and boot up for a quick run from time to time. A good, if somewhat tense, time will be had.
Brief and concise, but being no less affecting for its brevity, Before I Forget is heart-breaking and uplifting in equal measure. The framing of the story induces a genuine sympathy and understanding of what those who suffers such conditions go through, but successfully stops short of crossing the line into patronising schmaltz. I urge all of you to experience it for yourself and make sure you avoid spoilers for maximum effect. I cannot recommend this enough.
When Demon Skin works, it works pretty well – it’s a nice-looking title with an interesting story and some combat mechanics that set it apart from other similar games. Unfortunately, its missteps are just too impactful on the overall experience to ignore. If you have the patience of a saint, you might find enough here to enjoy. If time is at a premium, and you don’t fancy the slog, I just can’t recommend it. A real shame.
Ultimately, while 8Doors: Arum’s Afterlife Adventure is a competent enough addition to the Metroidvania genre, with a decent story and acceptable gameplay, it doesn’t do enough with its potential to rub shoulders with the giants of the field. If you’re mad for these types of games, you can do much worse. However, if you’re only interested in something more unique, this probably isn’t interesting enough to do the job.
It’s to SNK’s enormous credit that they’ve kept the Samurai Shodown franchise fresh for long enough to deliver a game in 2021 that deserves to take its place alongside the heavy hitters of the mainstream fighting scene. Sadly, a lack of content means that it’s unlikely to be first choice for the aficionados. Still worth checking out though, especially if you’re able to give it a go at 120fps.
Early impressions are poor and don’t really get any better from there. Tennis World Tour 2 – Complete Edition is a sterile, sluggish experience from start to finish, and has little in the way of reason to stick with it long-term. If you absolutely must play a tennis game, you might need to dig an older console out of the cupboard. Avoid.
Taken as a whole, PolyAmorous doesn’t get everything right with Paradise Lost, with some maddening technical issues too often dragging me out of potentially powerful or touching moments, but there are enough terrific little touches here that – when combined with a compelling narrative, haunting sound design and some interesting background storytelling – serve to make it worth a playthrough. Just be prepared to do a bit of squinting.