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Walkthrough not optional: replaying Alundra (PS1)

Lack of free time much? Lately, absolutely. But thankfully I have had just enough free space to get in some time with Alundra. Now, I did write a review of Alundra waaay back in 2014 based on my own memories of the game, but at this point it’s been almost 10 years since I actually played the game at great length. Great length indeed – this game is huge! Anyway I’m pleased to report that Alundra has won me over all over again. Continue reading

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Six terrible places to live as an NPC

You probably haven’t given the lives of non-playable characters much thought. I mean, many games show how NPCs can live happily: games that give a sense of freedom, of a life outside the confines of routine, or abject terror… However, other games make you think there can be no worse fate. Here is a list outlining some of the henious conditions an NPC can find themselves… Continue reading

NX reveal imminent!

It’s been long. So long. The NX was “announced” at the same time as Nintendo announced their intentions to release mobile games. So it’s been a while – a year and a half, to be specific. The NX was Nintendo’s way of reassuring their fans that they weren’t going mobile-only. But until now that’s been almost all anyone has known about the NX: it’s a device that means that Nintendo aren’t going mobile-only. The only other thing we know about the NX, officially, is that the upcoming Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, is going to be released for Wii U and NX in March 2017. That helps pin certain things down, but still it doesn’t tell us a whole lot, especially given the mysteries and surprises that Nintendo’s hardware have contained ever since the original DS’s dual screens.

When you think back, it’s no wonder people are so intrigued. How exactly are Nintendo going to top dual screens (DS), motion controls (Wii), a 3D screen (3DS), and a portable tablet-like controller (Wii U)? If past precedent is anything to go on, the NX is going to be anything but an average PC-in-a-box console. But even precedent has not seen anything quite like this: now as we enter late October, the NX’s release is due within the next five months! No wonder there’s an unbelievable sense of anticipation and excitement around the reveal of what NX is going to do differently.

The NX rumour mill has been gathering steam these past few days… something’s got to give. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some webpage refreshing to do – where was I?

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EDIT: And what do you know, less than a minute after publishing this here post, a wild NX appeared:

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Less is more? Back to basics with Mario and Castlevania

Ever since their beginnings the steady mantra of game sequels has been more, more, more. And as we know there are many ways to do more – some good, some bad. More can sometimes mean worse, and the drive to add new stuff can end up obscuring the kernel of the series/experience – the fundamentals which are characteristic of a series. Other times, the new and old elements of a game co-exist awkwardly: “why is X so good, and Y so bad?”. So, confession time. I enjoy the original Super Mario Bros over every other 2D sequel. Why? Read on…

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Never judge a game by its main mode: Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)

Hyrule Warriors wasn’t made for me. And yet something has happened, something as unexpected as the flush of first love, or the sight of Panzer Dragoon Saga in a charity shop for £7.50, or the discovery of Totaka’s song in Wii Sports. This is the ultimate Cinderella story, a game that appeared as an ordinary, unexciting edition to my game shelves and overnight transformed into the belle of the ball. Here is the story of how Hyrule Warriors won me over. Continue reading

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If Mario had a therapist… on Braid (PC) and Jonathan Blow

Braid is not a fun game. And that’s the point. Or so indie games designer Jonathan Blow says. Convenient, you might think, but I suspect Jonathan actually means what he says. He’s one of those intellectual types who quotes James Joyce and Thomas Pynchon whilst denouncing the use of phrases such as ludonarrative dissonance. In Braid, Jonathan tried to make a game that was familiar and nostalgic, but also made you think about games as a form – it is a self-concious game, the thinking man’s Mario if you will. So how successful is Jonathan in realising his vision? Is Jonathan a pretentious genius or just plain pretentious? Continue reading

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Five most underrated female characters in videogames

Step aside Lara Croft! Mind your bum, Bayonetta! Here’s a list of our five favourite female characters you’ll never find in a “Best Women in Games” list. So often, lists of this variety prioritise notoriety, relevance and icon status over good or subtle characterisation. We’ve tried to redress this imbalance with our list, so enjoy and offer your suggestions in the comments please! Continue reading