Some games are so good that it’s frankly hard to put them down, but we inevitably do as enticing new releases stack up and threaten to leave us behind. The very best games will only temporarily loosen that grip, however, drawing us back in at any given opportunity (usually the summer games drought) to rekindle the special something we share.
Limitless New Game + runs don't hurt RE4's replay value, either.
Liam | Mario Kart DS
The year is 2006. It’s Saturday afternoon and the early Premier League game has just kicked off. I’m sat next to my brand-new DAB digital radio – an excellent Christmas gift - listening to the commentary, Nintendo DS in hand.
I was playing Mario Kart DS, still one of my favourite entries in the series, despite now seeming a bit simplistic compared to the likes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
I played and thoroughly enjoyed it every week, without fail, whilst listening to the football. It was the perfect accompaniment; engaging enough to keep me entertained during the more boring matches, but not so distracting that it could pull focus from the better games.
This was my weekend routine for almost a whole season, and it was glorious. It didn’t matter that I’d beaten every track countless times, or that the AI no longer posed a challenge, it was simply great fun and I loved every minute of it.
Those days might now be over, but whenever I stumble upon that small grey DS cartridge in a drawer, it always calls to me and brings back fond memories.
It looks a little dated now, but that can't keep Mario Kart DS down.
James | Worms Battlegrounds
I often say the simplest ideas are the most effective, and there's one series which best executes on this to keep me coming back - Worms.
While I never played the game in its first iteration, Worms 2 was a seminal part of my gaming experience way back when, as were Armageddon and World Party, the latter of which kept me glued to my computer for years.
While not the most current iteration (that’d be Worms WMD), Worms Battlegrounds is one of the longest-installed and most-played games on my Xbox One, rivalled only by Grand Theft Auto V for the purpose of GTA Online.
The tactics on offer in a turn-based game like Worms, which has you brutally murder the enemy team of titular invertebrates with all manner of elaborate and over-the-top weaponry (like the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch), is a rarity in gaming and one which never fails to find new depths with each and every match.
Terrain is randomly generated, the worms themselves randomly placed, and you can customise everything down to individual weapon selection, making it extremely replayable. There's also a constant threat of drowning on most maps, since the water level rises as matches progress, so even the most experienced players can't get too comfortable.
Just about everyone has dabbled in Worms to some extent, but James is a true devotee.
Which game are you always the most eager to revisit? Let us know in the comments below.
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.