So, here we answer my questions from the start of this review… Shenmue 3 couldn’t possibly have lived up to the hype and expectation surrounding it. This doesn’t mean the game is bad, it’s just people wanting perfection. It’s very much a game as I thought it would be, something given to the fans by a developer who clearly wants this story told as much as the fans want to be a part of it. This was clearly based on the speed at which the Kickstarter fund reached $1 million. Anyone thinking of starting out with Shenmue 3 because perhaps they aren’t old enough to have played the originals, go back and get the HD remaster, DO NOT start the story here. I promise you will not enjoy the game if you do. Shenmue 3 is a game out of times, it feels like a game created 15 years ago and locked up inside a time capsule until today. But as someone who has spent the best part of 30 years enjoying games, I say welcome back old friend! I give Shenmue 3 a Thumb Culture Silver Award as there is no doubt this game is going to be loved by the fans, but is most definitely not a game for everyone.
Ninja Saviours: Return of the Warriors is a nice addition to the PS4 library for fans of Taito, or really anyone over 35 that could remember the original or the Super Famicom version. The inclusion of the co-op mode will make it more appealing to play with friends. It’s rather short and without the nostalgia factor it doesn’t really bring anything to the table that can’t be found elsewhere in abundance and as such I think it’s going to be overlooked by many people as ‘another arcade port’ Ninja Saviours: Return of the Warriors has earned the Thumb Culture Bronze Award, fun for a short play here and there but not a game to sink any real time into or boredom will strike from the shadows.
PC Building Simulator is fun to experiment with on a short-term basis, I think if it was possible to add in some more variants like Laptops, Tablets, Phones etc. then it may be more appealing to general gamers however I appreciate with all the components its most likely not a feasible option. Unfortunately, the repetitiveness of the tasks means that it’s a game that will sit on the shelf for rather long spells in between use and after completion will most likely not be played again. PC Building Simulator has reached the Benchmark of the Thumb Culture Bronze Award, usable and fun but could and maybe should be better.
Trails of Cold Steel II has to be up there with the best in the genre in my opinion. Yes, it’s essential that you play the games in order, even if it’s just to make sure you get the best experience from the story. While there is a ‘recap’ section in the menu it doesn’t give you all of the information as I still found myself scratching my head at times. I will most definitely be investing in Trails of Cold Steel I and be aiming to get through that and finish part II so that when III is release I won’t be in the same situation again. I highly recommend this game to anyone who is looking for a new game (JRPG of course) to sink their teeth into and as such Trails of Cold Steel II fully deserves the Thumb Culture Gold Award.
When you look back at the origins of the Yakuza series (the original was released way back in 2005). It’s a credit to think almost 15 years later we’re still seeing fresh content and looking to explore this world with new characters. Judgment definitely ticks all the boxes to be considered a top-quality ‘spin-off’ and hopefully with a few little tweaks we will see more of Yagami and perhaps other characters. Ryu ga Gotoku Studios have certainly found a formula to produce great games and it makes me very excited to see what the future holds, both for a potential Judgment sequel as well as the rumours we may be seeing some of the previously released spin-offs here in the west. My verdict is that Judgment truly deserves the Thumb Culture Gold Award and should be a part of any PS4 collection (especially if that collection contains Yakuza games).
Bubsy Paws on Fire, in my opinion, is a bit of a cash in without much thought, it does what it’s designed to do like a speed run type game. However, I think it’s only going to appeal to a very niche audience and fans of the previous Bubsy games will be (like me) a little lost for reasons to play. It is a bit of shame as the previous entry to the series: Bubsy: The Woolies Strike Back was a pretty solid Platformer and I was hoping this would build on that base. I would give Bubsy Paws on Fire the Thumb Culture Bronze Award, it has its moments as long as you know what you’re getting into before you play.
Snooker 19 is definitely one of the best entries into the Snooker gaming genre and as its Lab42’s first entry I definitely look forward to seeing what they can do should they decide to make more (Practice makes Perfect after all). Sure, it has a few problems here and there, but who remembers back in the day with FIFA when you could run away from the Referee forever to avoid a Yellow Card! Back then I doubt anyone would have foreseen the game becoming what it is today. It would have been nice to have included the Legends tour here, but given that Stephen Hendry is working on another Snooker title I can certainly see why it wasn’t. Some of the other Legendary players as DLC would be a nice option? I’m basing my award decision on the game being for Snooker fans. As someone who enjoys both the challenge of playing in real life as well as watching the sport on TV (Looking forward to the World Championships this Saturday!) Snooker 19 deserves a Thumb Culture Gold Award and is a must for any and all Snooker gamers.
Zojoi Studios have done an excellent job bringing Shadowgate up to date without adding or removing its original appeal. I would recommend this game to anyone looking to experience either something a little different or looking to recapture that magic from their childhood. My biggest concern for this release is the attention it will get from gamers. Being a remaster of an older point & click game, I fear that a lot of people will simply overlook it in favour of other titles (I sincerely hope not). Shadowgate fully deserves the Thumb Culture Silver Award and I hope to see more of this kind of game making its way onto modern consoles.
Overall, I think Pixel Crow has put together a fun game that reminds me very much of the game Papers Please! In the way, it handles challenges and time management. Could it be better? Definitely, and it wouldn’t take that much to improve either. Remove some of the jokes and perhaps include a bit more of a variety of characters and don’t paste the cultural stereotyping on so thick.
Team Ninja has put together a solid entry into the DOA world. While there is nothing truly groundbreaking here, fans of the genre will find plenty here to sink their teeth (or fists) into and won’t be disappointed. I do think a little more originality with the characters would have made a huge difference (especially as a Tekken fan). I found myself questioning why I would play DOA as a character with a Tekken Move-set, surely I would just play Tekken? Is this a day one ‘must have’? probably not, but if any of you feel like punching a CGI opponent, look this one up.