SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake is an earnest effort to produce another great game for the character, but it hasn't completely worked. The premise is good, the level design is imaginative, and there's a clear love for the IP with its countless references and costumes. However, some of the gameplay feels very dated, while a number of presentational shortcomings and a laundry list of bugs hold it back. If you're a big SpongeBob fan, there's absolutely a good time to be had here, but a general lack of polish and some played-out design mean it's not quite the sweet victory we were hoping for.
Sadly, any multiplayer options have been stripped away, and so have the prizes for completing each World Tour, which rewarded you with things like opening movies for old Ridge Racer games. The only other frustration comes from AI drivers, who can be tricky to overtake. All in all, though, this is easily among the best classic games on PS Plus Premium. This is a timely reminder that, at their peak, arcade racers can easily rank among the most enjoyable video games you can play.
The levels are creative, at least, with unique environments to explore like a medieval castle on a crescent moon, or a sprawling town atop a carrot cake. There are also more linear stages to find, and smaller islands you can fly off to, Super Mario Galaxy-style. While it makes some odd choices in its design, Togges just about wins us over with its experimental spin on platforming and no small amount of whimsical charm.
The only major gripe we have is the severe screen-tearing. It's present throughout, and an unfortunate blemish on an otherwise very sleek game. VRR or a 120Hz-compatible display may solve this, but without those options, it's a slightly distracting technical hiccup. However, you're unlikely to notice in the midst of things, and Neon White is otherwise a highly entertaining, stylishly presented adventure.
Despite one or two small complaints, Need for Speed Unbound is a great arcade racer, finally getting the series back on track. The versatile handling feels fantastic, and the single-player offers a highly engaging campaign, pitting you against the cops and other racers in equal measure. The much talked-about cartoon effects succeed in bringing some flair to the experience, and it all runs wonderfully at 4K and 60 frames-per-second. If you can forgive a slightly underwhelming backdrop and a barebones online mode, the minute-to-minute action make this more than worth taking for a spin.
For what it is, Goat Simulator 3 excels. It's a bigger, crazier sequel to the viral hit, built expressly to satiate anyone's appetite for chaos. It's the epitome of dumb fun; if you want to switch your brain off and just mess around for an hour or so, this is about as lowbrow as it gets, and we mean that as a compliment. There are some serious performance hiccups, and it's certainly not to everyone's tastes. Even if you love it, the novelty will eventually run dry, but if you're able to go along for the ride and lean into its madness, you'll have lots of fun while it lasts.
We won't spoil what happens, but Tunic slowly peels back layers right to the very end. It's a cohesive, satisfying game that scratches an old school action-adventure itch, going above and beyond with subversive, cerebral puzzles. It maybe goes on a touch longer than it needs to, but this little gem of a game punches above its weight.
By and large, Temtem is a well-made, generous monster-taming RPG that differentiates itself enough from the obvious competition. The battle system is perhaps its main strength, offering quite challenging 2-on-2 fights even against wild encounters. It's jam-packed with stuff to do, and its online integration means connecting with other players is easy. The creature designs could be better, and the writing and human characters aren't particularly memorable, but if the game clicks for you, those weaknesses will fade into the background.
As we said, Need for Speed Heat is the best entry in the franchise for quite some time, but it's still not quite where it needs to be. The day vs. night gameplay is a compelling loop, and it's a big step in the right direction for the series in general. It's a solid effort with fun handling and lots of customisation options. It's a shame the open world lacks personality, and the police are perhaps a little too hardball, but there's still plenty to like. At the tail end of this generation, Need for Speed is back to being good — let's hope it can be great in future.
Unfortunately, the game's issues run a bit deeper. Like the 2016 version, the gameplay is stiff, slow, and rather dull, and sometimes it's unclear precisely how to proceed. Inventory space is a near constant headache. Building up your town is hard work, which is probably intentional but isn't very fun — especially when giant monsters unceremoniously wander over and destroy your buildings. Fighting back can feel futile and isn't particularly satisfying, either. It's tough, because there's great potential in its collaborative, common goal nature, and Phoenix Edition really does make many improvements to the overall experience, but its cold, repetitive core holds it back.
Bugsnax delivers a good time regardless of platform, but it excels on PS5. It benefits from much shorter loading sequences, improved performance, and the DualSense's unique features. All this makes for a more enjoyable excursion to Snaktooth Island. If you play Bugsnax at all — and you absolutely should — do it on PS5.
From a presentation standpoint, the game has a lot of charm with its low-poly models and bright colours, and it runs perfectly at all times. The music and effects are also fairly old-school, but can be irritatingly repetitive. Overall, the game just feels quite flat; its central idea is good but levels don't really build on it, and some cutesy visuals can only take it so far.
Despite one or two rough edges, Stray is a very enjoyable adventure. It's fairly straightforward, and gives you lots of opportunity to embody a cat, whether that's rubbing up against a robot's legs, clawing at furniture, or finding cosy places in which to snooze. The narrative doesn't quite reach the emotional hit it's looking for, but it slowly shows its hand throughout, with plenty of interesting details to learn. Pairing a common pet with moody sci-fi has worked well, resulting in a unique, engaging game with strengths that outshine its flaws.
Ape Escape might show its age in certain regards - the controls are very much of their time, and the mini-games are hit and miss - but it remains a fun, easy-going adventure. Tracking down all the monkeys and figuring out how to catch them is still a joy, and all Spike's gadgets are useful across the varied, colourful stages. Packed with charm and still pretty unique to this day, this is quite simply an oldie but a goodie.
Arcadegeddon is Illfonic's most well-rounded multiplayer title yet, with a fun, engaging core and fast-paced gameplay keeping you going. Its rogue-lite elements don't get in the way, and it's a great game to let loose in with a friend or two. We can take or leave some of the surrounding fluff, like the largely forgettable characters and cosmetics, and there are definitely one or two rough edges. Even so, it's worth jacking into this solid third-person shooter for some scrappy fun.
Overall, F1 22 is another high quality simulation of the motorsport, with great handling and detailed, engrossing career modes. While the presentation is strong and the game generally looks and sounds great, some aspects like character models just aren't quite where they should be, and F1 Life doesn't add all that much to the experience. We encountered more bugs than expected, too, although we expect patches will iron those out in due course. It's got it where it really counts, then, but some extra polish would put it higher on the grid.
The main thing that lets it down is its new economy; unlike previously, you cannot use Crowns to purchase the best costumes in the shop, and Kudos is harder to earn too. Your Crowns instead go towards a ranking with long-term unlocks. They're replaced by Show-Bucks, a premium currency needed for all the coolest stuff, which stings a bit after years of access to everything. It lessens the impact of winning because you can just buy all the rarer items now. The free Fame Pass is still there, but it's supplemented with a premium tier, which is really the only way to earn Show-Bucks without simply buying them. Despite these concerns, the game is just as fun as it ever was, and thankfully none of the things you can buy alter gameplay. There's so much to like about Fall Guys, and now it's open to everyone.
Sonic Origins presents four of the hedgehog's best games with style, and it's a joy to revisit these iconic platformers. Presentational flourishes like the animated cutscenes, as well as a host of extra modes like Boss Rush and Missions, give fans and newcomers alike plenty to see and do, and the Museum is full of interesting artwork you might not have seen before. Some stingy DLC practices let the side down, and of course, the games themselves have some 30-year-old weaknesses, but this is by-and-large a wonderful spin down memory lane.
VOID Riders is a solid addition to OlliOlli World that justifies itself with a neat new mechanic, fun characters, and some cracking extra levels. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it doesn't need to; if you're into it already, this just gives you more excuses to keep things rolling.