We take Tate Multimedia's Steel Rats for a wreckin’ test ride in our latest Quickie.
Are the unlocks enough to encourage replaying stages?
All stages can be replayed with any unlocks you've acquired so far, excepting the characters who weren't originally available at that point. The first time around, you may want to blitz through the level, ignoring the trio of Trials-like challenges that award bonus scrap, just to get a win on the board and come back later when you're better equipped.
The reason for this is that when all of your riders are killed you have to restart the level entirely, which, even though they’re relatively short, can be enough to discourage exploration.
Sounds tough! Should I be worried?
Limited use Repair Stations provide a marginal safety net, but yeah, kinda, since restarts feel like unfair setbacks when they stem from a mistimed jump and the game then respawning you in an endless falling death loop... This was a persistent annoyance which grew ever more cruel with each occurrence.
That’s unfortunate. Still, can you recommend it at all?
Whilst driving and combat are about competent in isolation, together they pull the game in two different directions, meaning Steel Rats lacks an identity and instead wears the masks of better games that came before it. Even at a wallet-friendly £12.49, it's hard not to recommend you just play Trials.
If you fancy giving Steel Rats a go for yourself, be sure to keep an eye out for our next giveaway, in which you could win the game on Xbox One.
The Batman Arkham series and Insomniac’s Spider-Man have proven beyond doubt that lazy licensed games are a relic of the past, but also that superheroes could be poised to overtake gaming in the same way they have cinema.
The Telltale series was brilliant, but the new Guardians could achieve so much more within the realm of gaming.
Chris | Deathstroke
Deathstroke's mastery of firearms, swords and numerous martial arts could lend itself to many genres. He’s one of the most dangerous villains in the DC universe, with superhuman strength, speed, stamina and reflexes, a sharp strategic mind thanks to his military training, and a regenerative healing factor to top it all off.
I think a third-person action title would best suit our man. If the smooth swordsmanship of Shadow of War's Talion was combined with the frantic bullet ballet of Devil May Cry's Dante, we'd be onto a winner. There's scope to add a bunch of Batman-esque gadgets, like traps and bombs, to the merc's arsenal to provide multiple ways of completing contracts.
There are also heroes aplenty for Deathstroke to tussle with and, despite being a gun for hire, he has a (somewhat malleable) code of honour, meaning that no Teen Titans have to die. The developers (gotta be Rocksteady Studios; I suspect James will be on board) could even lean more towards an anti-hero role, rather than a straight supervillain.
Deathstroke was playable in Batman Arkham Origins, but that wasn't really enough to scratch the itch.
Liam | Judge Dredd
It’s been three years since I first brought it up, but here we are, 2019, and still no bloody Judge Dredd game!
There have been signs of hope, like a few years ago when 2000 AD rights holder Rebellion said they’d be willing to let other developers take a whack at some of the “classic and exploitable properties on the shelf,” but things have been awfully quiet since then.
With E3 just around the corner, and the Mega-City One TV series still hopefully on the way, now could be the perfect time to announce a game starring everyone’s favourite judge, jury and executioner. Like Sam’s Guardians of the Galaxy pitch, it pretty much sells itself.
Dredd is effectively a walking videogame character, thanks to his magic gun and total carte blanche when it comes to law enforcement. As I mentioned in the article linked above, with decades of lore to pick over, including dark fantasy elements, it wouldn’t even have to be simple cops vs. criminals affair.
Should any potential game ignore the supernatural stuff and follow a more traditional route, it’d still be hard to say no to a GTA-meets-Crackdown hybrid where you’re given free reign of a giant, open Mega-City One and its crime-infested streets.
Previous outings, like Dredd vs. Death on PS2 here, haven't been great.
Rob | Bananaman
It might come as some surprise, folks, but comic books and superhero movies have never really appealed to me - the Michael Keaton Batman films aside, of course. So when our Sambo fired over this week’s Team Talk topic I was initially stumped, until I gazed back into my childhood…
It was there I found the ghosts of Super Ted and Bananaman. Two fantastic shows, yes, but which one to pick? After some hard-n-heavy soul searching, the answer eventually hit me like a daily dose of potassium.
I imagine Bananaman: BananaGame (that should definitely be the title) as a side-scrolling brawler with daft puzzle elements, positively bursting at the seams with idiotic English humour. Bash up classic baddies like Dr Gloom, General Blight and that bastard Appleman - even use your thermal underpants to defeat The Weatherman - all the while accompanied by sidekick Crow (brilliantly voiced by Bill Oddie).
Picture additional mini-games and side quests where you play as Eric - the boy who becomes Bananaman after gobbling said fruit - taking in card games with his babysitter, conducting errands wimpishly, or generally just keeping that alter-ego under wraps.
Let’s hope that some plucky English developer has the good taste to get the licence sorted, then we can hit the virtual streets of Acacia Road toot sweet!
Fun fact: Sam dressed up as Bananaman on his last day of school (not pictured) and still has the costume somewhere.
Which super-powered savant would you most like to see star in their own game? Sound off in the comments.
Sometimes things just don’t work out as planned, making the best course of action to call it quits before any further time and/or money goes to waste. It makes perfect sense, but that doesn’t stop anyone lamenting the fact we’ll likely never get to play what looked to be some very promising games.
The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus and a Silent Hills title card awaited those brave enough to finish P.T.
Chris | Fable Legends
Fable Legends was a free-to-play, asymmetrical multiplayer title set many years before the events of the original Fable trilogy. Four players would each pick a hero with which to battle through a level in familiar Fable fashion, whilst a fifth took on the role of the villain, placing deadly traps and giving orders to their chosen AI minions in a way not dissimilar to playing an RTS.
Although many people did get their hands on Legends, it was cancelled shortly before making the transition from closed to open beta, coming to an end at what should have been just the beginning. It was barebones, and not without its issues, but I'd posit that's not surprising for a game at that stage of development.
Legends was even picking up some steam in the final months, what with new playable heroes added, alongside (less excitingly) microtransactions. It strikes me as odd that Microsoft would decide to cancel the game right as it started to recuperate some of the funds that were channelled into it, but the real tragedy was the simultaneous closure of developer Lionhead Studios.
Usually, this'd be my cue to bemoan the drought of Fable 4 announcements we currently find ourselves in the midst of, but with E3 only a month away and rumours swirling, I'm hopeful we’ll see something from the series soon.
R.I.P. Lionhead Studios and Fable Legends.
Liam | Star Wars 1313
I can’t think of too many Star Wars games where you aren’t cast as a Sith, a Jedi, or an Imperial or Rebel pilot, so when I first read about 1313 and its bounty hunter protagonist, I was very much intrigued.
Exploring the Coruscant underworld and the shady characters who dwelt within reminded me of 2002’s Star Wars Bounty Hunter, which starred Jango Fett as he tore his way across the galaxy battling gangsters with an awesome arsenal of weapons.
1313 almost sounded like it could have been a spiritual successor, more so once it was revealed the game’s protagonist was intended to be Jango’s son, Boba Fett. Woefully underused in the original movies, any chance to spend more time with one of the coolest characters in the Star Wars universe would have been great.
Considering Boba had access to the same jetpack/flamethrower/blaster combo - not to mention myriad other gadgets - that was put to great use by his father in Bounty Hunter, 1313 really could have been something special.
I’m still hopeful it’ll be revived at some point in the future, particularly if Respawn’s Jedi: Fallen Order does well. Perhaps then Disney will release there’s still a market for single-player Star Wars games.
With the demise of LucasArts (who happened to be Chris' favourite developer), it's unlikely we'll ever see a Star Wars 1313 revival.
James | Timesplitters 4
Every console generation comes with titles that are killed off before their time, or perhaps get stuck in development hell, though on the flip side there are arguably just as many which should never have seen the light of day...
For me, Timesplitters 4 is probably the most anticipated title we never got to enjoy. The Timesplitters series is the most exciting evolution of the seminal GoldenEye on N64, created by members of the Rare team who (time)split off to form Free Radical Design.
That studio is now defunct, having been shut down in 2014 and its staff moved to Dambuster Studios, who underwhelmingly brought us Homefront: The Revolution. However, the potential in retooling some of the unique gameplay ideas teased in Timesplitters of old for the modern era, with the power of online multiplayer at their disposal, is one which fills my mind with possibilities.
Of course, as a general rule we don't need more first-person shooters, but the promise was once there, and it's hard not to feel we've missed out on something special.
Timesplitters was always a bit of daft fun, which we could use more of to break up all the drab military shooters.
Any particular software casualty keeping you up at night? Tell us all about it in the comments.
Having begun life on Steam and iOS devices, FDG Entertainment’s Venture Kid made its console debut earlier this month on Nintendo Switch. Join us for another quickie as we take the retro-inspired platformer for a spin.
Eek! Sounds frustrating.
Don’t worry too much, as after every victory you’re given a new toy to aid in your quest, and perks such as extra lives or additional hearts can be purchased at any point (except during boss fights) using orbs collected within levels.
Would you recommend it, then?
Yeah. It’s pretty short, taking us just over two hours to reach the final level, but hidden collectables and additional Switch-exclusive modes (Survival and Boss Rush) offer some extra staying power.
Venture Kid is also cheap as chips at £8.99, and potentially even cheaper if you already own an FDG staple in Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King, Oceanhorn or Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom.
As consummate professionals, we of course critique all games on equal terms, but, just like everyone prefers certain children and/or pets (don’t even try to deny it), we do have underlying favourites in some instances. That extends to developers on this occasion, who’s bodies of work call to different staffers depending on their personal tastes.
FromSoftware is one of several Japanese developers which Sam asserts are leading the industry right now.
Chris | LucasArts
LucasArts had a hand in many games over the years, bringing us classics like The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max, as well as adding more to the Star Wars universe than the prequel film trilogy ever could.
It's no secret that I'm partial to an engrossing story and, though they’re not in the development business anymore, that was LucasArts' forte. Their point-and-click adventures are held in such high regard that any conversation about the genre will invariably lead to mention of at least one of their titles.
Whilst the Monkey Island series isn’t the sole reason for my choice, it is a major deciding factor. The games had stellar writing, excellent voice work, puzzles which require just the right amount of abstract thinking, and everyone's favourite mighty pirate - Guybrush Threepwood!
The inclusion of a Guybrush skin in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is also, to my mind, proof that both franchises exist in the same universe. Insult lightsaber fighting, anyone?
Betcha you didn't expect to see Guybrush Threepwood battling Darth Vader today.
James | Rocksteady Studios
It can be difficult when a games studio steps outside it's comfort zone. We've seen this most recently with BioWare and Anthem, where the studio struggled to tackle the transition from RPG to service-based shooter.
While it's been a while now since we've heard much from them, a studio which successfully made the transition from FPS to third-person action-adventure, and thereafter knew to stick to their guns, is Rocksteady. With Batman Arkham Asylum back in 2009 (a decade already?), the team put out an outstanding representation of the Caped Crusader.
From there things only got stronger with Arkham City, which conquered the open world formula to a standard that Ubisoft struggles to match even years later. Rocksteady deftly managed to integrate new mechanics and refine the things that worked while still telling a hugely compelling story, resulting in one of the most immersive experiences in gaming.
While Arkham Knight didn't push the series forward as much as it could have, it kept up the momentum and contributed to the legacy of the franchise, which survives to this day with releases like 2018's excellent Spider-Man taking a healthy dose of inspiration.
Arkham Asylum started it all, but Arkham City took things to a new level.
Liam | Nintendo
I was tempted to give my choice to an Infinity Ward or a Bethesda, or maybe even go with an outsider like Rogue Squadron developer Factor 5, but after mulling it over I’ve decided to go with good ol’ dependable Nintendo. I mean, how could it be anyone else? They’ve quite simply been knocking it out of the park for decades.
There’s a certain quality to their games that makes them that extra bit special. It doesn’t matter if it’s an RPG, a racing game or a life-sim - whatever the genre, you can be sure it’s going to be a top-notch experience because of the talent behind it.
I like that they’re not afraid to mix things up every now and then. The Wind Waker (possibly my very favourite game) and its cartoony visuals were something that didn’t go down well with a lot of Zelda fans, but somehow Ninty made it work, and work exceedingly well.
Their ability to keep ageing franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario – two juggernauts that feel like they’ve been around forever – relevant after so many years is quite impressive. Just as you think fatigue might be about to set in, they somehow reinvent the wheel to make it bigger, better and more fun.
Odyssey provided a creative new take on the Mario series' trademark 3D platforming.
Which is your favourite game dev? Let us know in the comments below.
It’s been said and memed, and memed and said that Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War was the most ambitious crossover event in history. Now sequel Avengers: Endgame is turning things up a notch, but we think we can do one better with these pitches for crossover games featuring some of our favourite characters.
Can you believe the team didn't want any of York's famous turkey, jam and cereal sandwiches?
Whilst I commend Sam’s effort to create a well-balanced squad, we all know that firepower is what really wins the day. So, feast your eyes on my attack-minded team of action heroes and heroines - no parked busses here.
Captain Price is someone you’d always want on hand in the thick of the action. Not only has he fought with some of the best military minds out there, but he also has an uncanny ability to stay alive, which is a rare trait for a Call of Duty protagonist.
Backing him up is the Hero of Time. Other people might question their life choices after waking up in a bath with nothing but their undies and a bout of amnesia, but not our man Link. Blessed with the kind of never-say-die attitude every team needs – the Steven Gerrard of Hyrule, if you will - his BotW iteration even has the added bonus of being slightly tech savvy.
Providing air support is Metroid’s Samus Aran. As well as having a cannon for an arm, she can morph into a ball, which is great for quick getaways and spontaneous team kickabouts when the pressure of the mission gets to be too much.
Last up is Mario, our infiltrator. As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat them, use your magic hat from Odyssey and become them. Forever. Problem solved.
Mario's powers of possession are quite horrifying, really...
Appointing the Arkham series' Batman as team leader is perhaps the only sensible choice which I (with the help of my son) have made. It's a purely hands-off role, his intelligence and detective skills making him a perfect fit. Unlimited funding potential and access to cool gadgets are just a bonus.
Fallout 4's player character (his default name is Nate, which you’d have known had you not immediately renamed him something offensive just to hear Codsworth say it) has a number of skills which could be handy in a pinch, such as being able to quick save and reload if things go south. If you think that's cheating, take it up with Special Agent Batman.
Steve, the pixelated protagonist from Minecraft, is both an engineer and a demolitionist. Should top-of-the-line gear from Wayne Enterprises not be enough for the task at hand, he can probably craft something useful from his surroundings.
This team is a little overpowered and so it's time to introduce the wildcard: GTA V's Trevor Phillips. If ever the need arose to have someone smoke a load of meth and kick a tree in half, Trevor would be the man for the job. Yeah, it's irresponsible to keep him around but firing him wouldn’t stop him from turning up tomorrow.
Batman has a real piece of work on his hands in Trevor Phillips.
To take on any foe you're going to need a mixture of brains and brawn, so I’m siding with Chris (and his son) on Arkham Knight’s Batman being a first-tier pick. He has experience, sweet gadgets and a tank - I mean, come on, a tank!
Next up is Blanka from Street Fighter. Every team needs some muscle, and green hunks of it already have a good track record. There's also the possibility he could charge up my phone in case of battery emergencies, which is always useful.
Games often feature supernatural or mystical threats, so The Witcher series’ Geralt of Rivea and his twin swords and beast tracking would also come in handy. No one needs a griffin showing up to ruin a perfectly good weekend jaunt in the Cotswolds, do they now?
Finally, filling out my fab four, there's got to be someone with some social graces. While Bruce Wayne might be alright rubbing shoulders with the social climbers, we're in need of a scoundrel. Look no further than Dragon Age 2's Isabela, a rotten pirate who I'd pay well to ensure her continued loyalty. She'd steal and manipulate on our behalf, as well as executing a bit of good old-fashioned stealth without the conspicuous bells and whistles of Bats.
With this crack team I feel fairly confident that all the bases are covered. Come at me Thanos!
Blanka's basically an electric, ginger-haired Hulk, right?
What characters would comprise your ideal team of iconic gaming figures? Let us know in the comments below.
The fifth console developed by PlayStation manufacturer Sony hasn’t officially been dubbed the PlayStation 5 yet, but we’re gonna call it that anyway.
Sam just uses his PS4 Pro for exclusives and VR, so PS VR matters more to him than most.
It seems a little odd to me that Sony are yet to officially name their new console the PlayStation 5. They’re usually quite predictable in that respect, so I'm going to assume that this is either an upgrade to the PS4 Pro (in which case I’ll be calling it PlayStation 4.9), or an all-powerful future console that may, or may not, be sentient (PlayStation 6). There is no in between, I deal only in absolutes.
With all the talk about fancy CPUs, GPUs and SSDs you might be thinking it's the latter (or a terrible start to a game of Scrabble) and I would be inclined to agree. I'd posit that very few people are invested enough in Spider-Man's fast travel system to warrant spending hundreds of pounds just to save 14 seconds.
The reason for Sony sharing little else about the console is that the PlayStation 6 doesn't want them to. The PlayStation 6 has been biding its time, assimilating all of our knowledge and building the infrastructure it needs to enslave the human race.
For years it has waited, patiently, but it did not hide. It was right there in front of us all along. You see: Mark Cerny is not the man behind the machine - Mark Cerny is the machine.
You don't want to know what happens when Mark Cerny interfaces with that port.
In 2018 I was more tempted to get a PS4 than any year prior, thanks to a number of tasty exclusives (especially Spider-Man). The next PlayStation’s existence is hardly a surprise, but it's again going to be the games that really strike my fancy over any flashy hardware, since I'm not already invested in the PlayStation ecosystem like I am with Xbox.
In terms of raw power, I think Xbox One X already hits the mark and delivers a level of spectacle which I don't fully appreciate. For that reason, the rumoured timed exclusivity period for Grand Theft Auto VI is what has me most tempted right now.
There’s no doubt that I've sunk more hours into GTA Online than any other game, despite being awful at it, though, being realistic, there’ll need to be much more than just an early taste on the menu for me to fork out on a new console and by extension a new library of games.
Considering Sony has decided to skip E3 this year, perhaps we should temper our expectations accordingly, since there'd surely be no better place to drop any bombs they might have stowed than on the industry’s biggest stage?
Will GTA VI, and presumably by extension James' beloved GTA Online, spend its first month as a PlayStation 5 exclusive?
As someone blessed with little to no technological knowledge, the recently revealed PS5 specs mean absolutely zilch to me. There’s no doubt everything mentioned will make games look super pretty, but what most interests me is the confirmation of backwards compatibility and support for PS VR.
I don’t actually own a PS4, but I do currently have an unopened PS VR gathering dust in the corner of my living room. I’m aware this is an odd thing to purchase, considering the lack of a console to hook it up to, but there was method in my madness.
Bought on a whim at a heavily discounted price, the plan was always to try and save up for the PS4 afterwards, but life kept getting in the way. Whether it’s visiting friends, upcoming holidays or paying medical bills (I’m no longer based in the UK), the world seems to be constantly conspiring against me to ensure I never get my hands on one.
While the specs might not do it for me, the idea of being able to finally unwrap my VR headset and experience the whole suite of PS4 exclusives, alongside shiny new games on one shiny new console is worth getting excited about.
How do you see the next PlayStation shaping up? Let us know in the comments below.
After taking a break from Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice in order to cover Outward, I recently rejoined the eponymous one-armed wolf to conclude our business together. With another exceptional FromSoftware adventure soon under my belt, I paused to consider where Sekiro ranks amongst 2019’s other releases, before quickly positioning it alongside Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry 5 right at the very top.
Sekiro, RE2 and DMC5, on the other hand, are all thoroughly artisan. They’re painstakingly handcrafted to ensure that their rewarding, challenging and unique mechanics are ultimately replayable. They often feel nostalgic, if only because they feel classically 'videogame-y', which serves to highlight just how much things have changed in recent years.
These three titles unapologetically focus on delivering a polished and complete single-player experience, which, let’s be honest, is downright cherishable nowadays.
I’ve even been dabbling in Kingdom Hearts III, which I admittedly haven’t been enjoying nearly as much, since it falls into many of the same character and narrative pitfalls which put me off most other JRPGs, but the fact I’m engaging with it at all is quite something.
The region hasn’t been infallible, however, with Left Alive being one hell of a billowing red flag so far. I also maintain that Shenmue 3 will most likely disappoint, but hey, this is the year to prove me wrong. Should Yu Suzuki pull it off (fingers crossed), Shenmue 3 will join a long list of promising Japanese releases still set to see light of day in 2019.
Nintendo have a strong suite of exclusives including their Link’s Awakening remake, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Astral Chain, Pokémon Sword & Shield (we’ve already picked our starters), and, potentially, Bayonetta 3. A few of those are a little too ‘anime’ for me on the surface, but I’m willing to overlook that as I grow increasingly disillusioned with games from my own fair shores.
PlayStation have a couple of more immediately-appealing exclusives on the way though, with Judgment in essence offering my route into the intimidatingly vast Yakuza series. Not only that, but, in a first, the game features English voice over, tearing down another wall that’s contributed to my dodging its gang-focused spiritual sibling.
Then there’s Death Stranding, which, provided it does hit this year, will be a biggie for me. Unlike Rob, one of our Staff Writers, I love prolific auteur Hideo Kojima’s work and his first jaunt since escaping Konami oppression (just forget they exist for now, since they don’t fit the current narrative) has me very intrigued.
In fact, the air of mystery surrounding Death Stranding and (to a lesser extent) many Japanese releases in general is something I’d link back to the region’s seeming greater care for their art. Pre-order culture isn’t as prevalent, so reveals don’t need to be pushed out of the door to start raking the money in, but moreover I think pride prevents showing a hand too early and risking later coming across as disingenuous in any way.
Avoiding unnecessary controversy is commendable in itself, but it’s a total win-win when you understand that less is often more, which this industry tends not to. I can’t be the only person that’s been plenty sick of plenty of games before they even hit store shelves, due in no small part to massive overexposure.
If you find yourself in a similar situation - looking at the upcoming release schedule and yawning at uninspired sequel after uninspired sequel, or drab shooter after drab shooter - maybe join me in looking towards the Land of the Rising Sun for inspiration.
They say that everything’s better with friends, which probably explains why cooperative games have always been pretty popular. Whether playing online or on the couch, we’re sharing our favourite co-op sessions in this instalment of Team Talk, which, it should be noted, didn’t necessarily occur in our favourite co-op games. That’s a whole different discussion.
Many, many moons ago a friend and I sat down for some classic couch co-op with How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition. We both went in blind, knowing only that it was a zombie survival title, not yet realising it’d become a test of endurance more than anything else.
As our blood alcohol level increased, so did the challenges presented to us, in both the real and virtual worlds. Bigger and badder enemies started to appear more often, from undead behemoths which explode when killed, to friends who questioned our decision to spend a beautiful summer afternoon getting hammered and playing a videogame.
After much deliberation, we arrived at the conclusion that said friends would (probably) not explode when killed and, thus, should be dealt with in more mundane ways. Thankfully, closing the curtains not only eliminated screen glare but also kept these incredibly realistic bad guys at bay.
As with all cooperative endeavours, teamwork was key. One of us would hold down the fort while the other went on solo expeditions to gather invaluable supplies, a task which grew more perilous as day gave way to night and the smoky living room became littered with the corpses of fallen beer cans.
I'd like to say we completed How to Survive in one sitting, but my most memorable co-op experience is also the one I remember the least about…
Playing games together is a sure-fire way to enhance the experience in my book. While my first solid co-op experience was the Halo 3 campaign (still one of the most fulfilling of all time), the pinnacle of the concept is without a doubt Splinter Cell Conviction for me.
First off the co-op campaign has its own characters and story, at least to an extent. While it's only two-player co-op (who has time to find more than a single friend to play with consistently anyway?), you’ll quickly grow to love Red and Green and forget about the sad loss of the Spies vs. Mercs mode from previous Splinter Cell titles.
One memorable sequence has you completing objectives in parallel across a level before you both end up attached to the bottom of a truck, which unwittingly acts as your getaway vehicle. The satisfaction to be had here cannot be understated.
The game's signature Mark and Execute mechanic, which has you hover your reticle over enemies to visually mark them and then hit fire to take them out in quick succession (similar to Dead Eye in the Red Dead series), also really hits its stride as you mark enemies for your buddy to take down. Delicious!
I’ve enjoyed countless cooperative experiences over my 25-odd years of gaming. From recent delves into the Overcooked series, to Streets of Rage 2 with the little sister, co-op games really do make lasting memories. Which is why, dear chums, I’ve gone for World Cup 98 on the N64.
Picture this scene, if you will: four 12-year-old boys in the grip of World Cup fever, crowded around the telly playing 2-on-2 whilst recreating scenes we’d seen unfold in the real tournament, all to a soundtrack of Des Lynam, John Motson, and Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping.
Surprisingly, neither duo ever selected England, instead opting for either Brazil or France, the two teams that'd go on to contest the final. Understanding which player was controlled by whom was always entertaining, as were the celebrations both on screen and off. It also helped that the host’s Mum always made pizza and garlic bread, and that the host’s brother also procured us our first sample of beer…
Anyway, I digress. I have many fond memories of that World Cup: Carlos Valderrama’s hair, Michael Owen’s incredible goal against Argentina, France dismantling Brazil in the final - but none touch those gaming sessions. Now, repeat after me: I GET KNOCKED DOWN, BUT I GET UP AGAIN...
Here's one of those memorable in-game celebrations, as performed by England, the team Rob should've been playing as.
Like Rob, I could easily have gone with World Cup 98 for my choice this week. Me and my brother would always team up in an attempt to take England to glory, grinding out vital results in the group stages before inevitably facing elimination in the knockout rounds. The graphics may have been a bit rubbish, but EA managed to nailed the pain and disappointment of watching England in the latter stages of an actual World Cup.
Instead, I’m going for a more recent pick with Overcooked 2. Not that long ago I ended up on a team that featured not one, but two professional chefs, who also happened to be avid gamers. After a brief breakdown of the controls, we set to work smashing nearly every high score I'd set up to that point.
Dishes were flying out not just on time, but in the correct order as well(!), meaning we racked up some seriously meaty scores. Most impressive was the way they both actually stuck to their assigned roles, calling out what they needed in clear, concise fashion – exactly the sort of calming, professional presence Team PTC was missing when we took to the kitchen.
One can never have too much pepperoni, apparently.
What co-op session do you most cherish? Let us know in the comments below.
£50.90. Fifty pounds and ninety pence. One more time for the folks in the cheap seats: FIFTY POUNDS and NINETY PENCE. That’s right, comrades, the glorious English rail network outdid itself once more, as yours truly hurtled towards London from beautiful Brighton town, #NoSeatsAvailableNoSeatRequired. We really do get well looked after…
Staying put in the bombast of the Indie Room, we pushed on towards the offerings of good ol’ Chucklefish. They had recent release Wargroove in tow, along with new joints like Pathway (fab desert-based strategy RPG), metroidvania-tinged puzzle platformer Timespinner, and my personal pick of the bunch, Eastward. Not to be confused with that Clint fellow, mind. Or the recent Outward...
Playing (and looking) like The Last of Us funneled through Stardew Valley, Eastward charts the tale of two folks caught up in one of those ruddy world-crumbling-apocalypse periods. Using the skills of each character to solve puzzles, traverse terrain and bash baddies was a lot of fun; I’m looking forward to playing this one again, hopefully soon!
The Indie Room was also home to the underwater charm of Beyond Blue, a game made by the folks behind Never Alone, in collaboration with the BBC’s Blue Planet team. Imagine an HD Endless Ocean, and you’re halfway there. Following the story of Mirai, a researcher attempting to communicate and explore the depths in ways never before seen, Beyond Blue was a dream to play for an ocean-obsessive like moi. Check out the trailer, it really is dreamy.
Our last port of call in the Indie Room was a little game by the name of Mable and the Wood. Taking its inspiration from many classics of the 16-bit era, this platforming adventure game puts thee in the role of a girl with a terrible shape-shifting gift. That’s right, pals: kill a big bastard spider and you steal its grotty powers of webbage (and so on and so forth). Add amusing NPC dialogue and lovely audiovisuals to the fun, challenging gameplay and you’re onto a winner.
Next up JMP and I toddled off to the illusory Unreal Engine Showcase, to delve into some local multiplayer shootin’ and-a snookerin’.
From two-man Italian developer Ludicrous Games, Guntastic is a frantic game of one-screen shooting and platforming. Full of weapons, power-ups, and switches to send trains crashing through stages (and enemies), this free-for-all arcade shooter brought smiles to all who played it.
So, as the great saying goes: “Once one has shot, one must pot.” With that, we went to visit the Snooker 19 gang for a quick frame of Jim Davidson’s favourite sport.
I’ll be honest here and admit I didn’t expect much from Snooker 19. Hands held firmly upward, I’ll also admit I was wrong - it’s bloody excellent! Photorealistic visuals; licensed venues, tournaments and players; authentic cue-on-ball tones; and simple to understand, yet hard to master controls. Lab42 even seem to have taken our suggestion for mini-games based on Australian-accented Ronnie O’Sullivan interviews and 70s-era cigarette smoking and beer drinking under consideration, so let’s hope they get patched in before the game releases next week!
After a quick pizza break - during which we had the great pleasure of listening to the sarcastic woman behind the counter take the piss out of every customer - we went and got green in the ID@Xbox arena.
There were old faves on show like Far: Lone Sails and Human: Fall Flat (fans of that one should keep an eye out for the next of our weekly giveaways), but it was new games Cat Quest 2 and Truberbrook that stood tail and suitcase above the rest.
Cat Quest 2 continues all the excellent RPG goodness of the first game, but with the added twist of a second player this time around. Travelling its colourful cartoon world, beating up baddies and completing quests, chum of choice by your side - purrrrfe... actually, nope, I won’t do it!
Stood abreast of Cat Quest 2’s kitty-caper was, of course, Truberbrook, which is my sleeper hit of the show. Another point-and-click adventure, the game puts you in the shoes of travelling American physicist Tannhauser, as he attempts to break through a mental block in the titular, sleepy German town. The graphics and dialogue provided not only humour, but a lot of intrigue too. I’ll be keeping a beady eye on this mysterious little game, eagerly awaiting its Xbox release.
Down, down, down into the bowels of Tobacco Dock did we plunder, eventually taking up residence in The Leftfield Collection, which had been 2018’s best room. Blessed with a glut of beautiful, innovative and downright quirky games, the LFC again proved to be a personal highlight.
There were beautiful, relaxing games like Becalm; the hilarious fun of Drink More Glurp, best likened to a mix of Octodad and Track & Field; sublime puzzle adventuring with OMNO; and Nth Dimensional Hiking, a far-out, no-hands-held 3D platformer with bizarre, blurry visuals.
The sheer amount of creativity on display never fails to astound me, and all of us here at Pass the Controller, in fact. Long may it continue.
Avoid pecking pigeons, evade the eclairs, and bash the battenberg...
To the homestretch, then, and my favourite part of this year’s show - Coatsink’s showing! Everything about their area was fun, colourful and silly; from the two glorious games on show, to PR man Jack - who won this year’s beard-off, yet again - to the countless laughing, smiling visitors.
New title Cake Bash takes the guts of Super Smash Bros., but replaces those famous Nintendo icons with different types of cake. Yes, cake. Avoid pecking pigeons, evade the eclairs, and bash the battenberg in your quest to cover yourself in decorations, garnish a custard tart, or just plain ice a fondant fancy. A brilliant premise that we look forward to seeing more of.
Check out our video coverage of Rezzed 2019.
We end then with Phogs, the glorious two-folks-one-controller game. James and I once again spent most of this year’s play session laughing out loud as we slid the eponymous double-ended dog around ravishing night time locales, all in search of bones and moons to feed to giant knitted snakes. If that doesn’t sound like the best thing ever, then you are officially a dull, dim-witted turd.
Exhausted, and fearing the worst for my journey home, I slipped away, ready to haunt the halls again next year. Thanks for the games you lovely devs; grazie for the pizza you benevolent gentleman James; and fuck you to ye extortionate Network Rail. See you in 2020. XOXO