After months of persistent rumours, last week Nintendo finally revealed the purported Switch Mini to be the Switch Lite, scheduled for release 20 September. Strictly a portable console, Switch Lite is of a smaller stature and lighter weight, while boasting greater battery life to keep you gaming on the go for longer. At a cheaper RRP to boot, you’d think everything was gravy, but that’d be to overlook the lack of TV support, detachable Joy-Cons, motion controls, HD rumble, and an IR camera. Keeping that upstairs, do the pros outweigh the cons?
Switch Lite: The Switch that doesn't switch.
Do I need a Switch Lite? Absolutely not. My original Switch is still serving its purpose well, both at home and on the road, but that hasn’t stopped me coveting one since the redesign was announced.
The sleek new addition to the Switch family is, in my opinion, a much better-looking console than its bigger brother. The lack of removable Joy-Cons and the addition of a proper d-pad give it a solid, more premium look and perhaps make it a bit more robust, too.
I have no problem with Nintendo muddying the waters by making a Switch that doesn’t switch. I use mine as a handheld most of the time, and had the Lite been available at launch, the lower price, longer battery life and appealing design probably would’ve swayed me to go that way from the start.
The only part I don’t like is the smaller screen. Some of the more visually demanding games already feel a little cramped on a regular Switch’s 6.2-inch display, so to reduce it even further to 5.5-inches could be pushing it.
But, as I said, my original Switch is still serving me well, so I won’t be getting one. I’ll wait for the inevitable release of a ‘New’ Nintendo Switch instead.
Sticking with this guy is probably for the best.
I've never been into the portable side of gaming so, from a purely personal standpoint, the best outcome for me would be the Switch Lite bombing catastrophically, reaching the unenviable status of Atari E.T. cartridges and (fingers crossed) Google Stadia. It's not that I actively want Nintendo to fail, I'd simply prefer them to concentrate on the things that I might care about.
It seems Nintendo have "fixed" one glaring issue with the Switch (the poorly designed dock which Sam alluded to) at the cost of functionality. This is absolutely fine if you just want to play Skyrim on a train, but I suspect no-one has done that more than once, and even then only to say they've done it.
If you're a fan of gaming on the go, you might get a lot more out of Switch Lite. Sure, it lacks some of the features of the Switch and may be a little more cumbersome than a DS, but we can't expect too much from a company who willingly hired and promoted a guy named after the antagonist of their biggest franchise.
Pictured: Bowser Bowser wins Doug Bowser's heart by sharing his best princess abduction tips.
First things first, the Switch Lite is not aimed at me, and that's OK. In the past I've never opted for one of Nintendo's snazzy, reworked consoles, missing out on the Game Boy Advance SP and even the DS Lite back in the day.
As recently as the 2DS Nintendo has proven there’s a market for something like this though, and it's encouraging that the company is still pushing more options for consumers (and making a spot of money at the same time).
The company has struggled to meet its massive yearly projections and it feels as if Nintendo is the underdog, despite it making over $11billion a year, and this move is one which keeps them on parents' minds for Christmas time.
A "pro" version could come next Christmas, but in the meantime this gives developers confidence there are no plans whatsoever to leave the Switch console family languishing like Ninty did the Wii U, hopefully meaning there are more long-term third-party projects on the way.
In terms of the console itself, not having detachable Joy-Cons is a bit of a shame, but otherwise the tighter size and canny cost-saving measures seem smart and should bring plenty of joy (despite the cons, ba-dum-tss), to young'uns this Christmas.
2006 brought us Nintendo's original Lite handheld in the DS Lite.
So much speculation, so many supposed leaks, and finally, here we are: the Nintendo Switch Lite!
As you may be aware, I've been on the fence with the Switch since its release some two-odd years ago. Is the Lite the answer to my prayers? In short: I think it just might be.
I was one of the ~17 people to own a Wii U in the UK - I still have it by the way, along with a healthy backlog of games to start/finish. Do I feel burnt by it? No, not at all. Did I feel let down by Nintendo's lack of long-term support? Oh, yes indeedy.
But the Lite offers new hope to this cynical old bastard. I really don't get much time to play games at home these days, so a dedicated portable device seems the way to go - and the Xbox, 3DS and Wii U are all ready for a trade-in, too!
The only thing left holding me back are the games on offer (I need at least five big hitters before I’ll drop coins on a console), but with the impending release of both Fire Emblem and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, I think we might finally be there.
Gimme a good Zelda bundle on day one and I'm ready to come back home, Nintendo.
Considering the Switch Lite launches on the same day as Link's Awakening, it's baffling that there doesn't appear to be a bundle for Rob.
What are your thoughts on Nintendo's Switch redesign? Let us know with a comment below.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time inspired a hatred of water-based levels within many members of the N64 generation; its Water Temple was, and still is, an incredibly divisive dungeon which to some sours an otherwise near-perfect game. We’re (mostly) cool with water levels, but not so much the other design staples to follow.
Using Peachette to avoid all contact with the ground is the correct way to play winter levels in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.
I have no issue with stories that take place in the ocean, like BioShock, but I always feel a certain degree of unease when I'm faced with an underwater journey in an otherwise dry game.
Whilst sub-aquatic sections aren't as ubiquitous in real life as I'd been conditioned to believe by the plumbers and hedgehogs I grew up with, not being able to swim has likely compounded my anxiety. Mario's ability to breathe underwater - a fitting trait for someone in his line of work - makes those levels the most palatable, whereas Sonic sits at the other end of the spectrum with that pant-shitting music that kicks in as he horrifyingly starts to drown.
Games about swimming are far fewer in number than games about war, and with good reason. As a community we've decided that being shot is more entertaining than taking a dip, yet developers often force us to stop having fun at predetermined moments anyway.
Tomb Raider is perhaps the biggest offender, forcing us to dive underwater in each and every instalment. Lara Croft is a terrible human being who gets her kicks from shooting live ammunition at the kindly old man who raised her, by the way - that’s the kind of person that likes to go swimming.
Listen at your own (and your pants') risk.
No one likes to be shushed. Whether at the library (if indeed they’re still a thing?) or perhaps a family gathering, people want the freedom to do as they please.
The same can be true with games, and nothing irks me more than a mandatory stealth section, especially when it flies in the face of the all-guns-blazing approach you were perfectly happy with up to now, thank you very much.
Stealth can be forced in, even to some success, as seen with the likes of Mass Effect 3 and Marvel’s Spider-Man, but when it's optional, and especially if you don't know it's optional, that's when things get really interesting.
In games like Deus Ex or the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, which admittedly emphasise player choice as an ideal, the option is there to go sneaky if you want to take it, or you can just run in and shoot the place up.
In the end there's a satisfaction to finding out you can squirrel out if a situation, if that's what you want to do, but to mandate player behaviour more often than not feels unnatural and just reminds you that you're playing a game.
Deus Ex and other immersive sims do stealth right - they make it entirely optional.
Character creators have always been my least favourite part of any game they’re in. I can tolerate a dodgy level or mission-type because they’re usually a temporary grievance, but with character creators the pain is instant and often permanent.
When I start a game, I want to start the game, not spend half an hour worrying about eyebrow alignment and my avatar’s body mass index. Because I usually rush through these things in order to get to the good stuff, like in Mass Effect, I often end up creating a face that only a Systems Alliance can love, which I then have to stare at for the rest of the game, thus souring the experience.
For my first Skyrim playthrough I made a very generic-looking Nord character, which I rather creatively named Liam. It didn’t suit him, and instead of immersing me further it had the opposite effect whenever I saw it crop up in letters and messages.
By the time I realised how silly it was, I was dozens of hours deep and unwilling to either continue or start all over again. I have since tried restarting, at a much later point in time, with an Argonian named Bask, but there are only so many times one can clear Bleak Falls Barrow...
Liam the nondescript Nord probably looked something like this.
What typical gameplay sections can't you stand? Whether it's wonky driving stints in non-driving games, or maybe tedious escort missions, be sure to let us know with a comment below.
Somehow we’re already into the second half of 2019. After getting over the disturbing realisation that the unrelenting passage of time is all too quickly sending us towards an inevitable death, we took a minute to discuss our favourite games released so far this year. Check ‘em out!
Chris | Guacamelee 2
I dismissed the original Guacamelee as nothing more than one of the countless gimmicky indies that litter digital storefronts, but I rushed to download the sequel - not even six months after it's eventual Xbox One release this January - for reasons completely unrelated to needing a game to discuss in this here Team Talk… Ahem.
Whilst the developers clearly had a lot of fun writing the story, I'm happy to report that the gameplay is all business. Complex systems are disguised as simple mechanics, thanks to intuitive controls, and challenging sections never feel daunting, as muscle memory builds quickly once you get into a rhythm.
The fusion of Mexican wrestling culture and old school platformer is an odd one, for sure. I mean, I like both morphine and ice cream, but you don’t see me blending the two together to create some brain-ruining horror-shake. I hold myself to higher standards than that.
Thanks to DrinkBox Studios’ superior ingenuity though, it works! Guacamelee 2 is refreshingly lighthearted, unashamedly immature, and charmingly addictive. Kinda like morphine. That last part, anyway.
James | Metro Exodus
While a newcomer to the Metro series when I sat down at a preview event earlier in the year, the legacy of the series was long-established as one filled with claustrophobia, survival-horror-tinged action beats and a rich lore to draw from, being based, as it is, on a series of books.
Little did I know how accessible the game would turn out to be and how much fun I'd have with it, despite the frequently underwritten female characters and the odd technical hitch here and there. It certainly did enough to earn a well-deserved 10/10 in my review, anyway.
Its success shows the power of single-player narrative experiences today, even when they aren't exclusively on PlayStation, and the people at 4A Games seem to have the balance right between storytelling and actually providing an engaging gameplay loop.
Of course, the move by publisher Deep Silver to release the PC version exclusively on the Epic Games Store soured the experience for many of the master race, but at least they honoured existing Steam pre-orders. That’s good, right?
Will we see another Metro adventure in the future? While there are no more books to draw on, there are certainly more stories to tell, so here’s hoping!
Liam | Chippy
I’ll be honest and say I’d never heard of Chippy until a Steam code popped into my inbox whilst I was sunning myself in Spain, but after watching some footage and reading about its main concept - which sees you dismantling hulking bosses piece by piece until you’ve exposed their vulnerable core - I was eager to get cracking.
The problem was, like some sort of fool, I’d left my laptop at home - I just knew a Switch, a 2DS XL, a small library of books, and a family wouldn’t be enough to keep me busy by the poolside! Fortunately, the wait was worth it, as Chippy really is quite something.
A twin-stick shooter of the bullet-hell variety, it’s one of those addictive games that has you coming back for more despite repeatedly kicking your arse, which is a strange phenomenon for me, given that I normally avoid those like the plague.
Game of the mid-year might be a bit of a hollow victory seeing as my pickings were incredibly slim (shout out to Swords and Soldiers 2, Crackdown 3 and the fun-yet-frustrating Band of Bastards), but Chippy definitely deserves the nod, if only for forcing me to roll up my sleeves and finally ‘git gud’.
Rob | Heaven’s Vault
How quickly is this year disappearing, folks? As summer's sticky heat reaches me up on Ditchling Mountain, Brighton, I ponder Sam's latest topic: what has been my game of the first six months of 2019?
I had a great time at Rezzed once more, thoroughly enjoying Codemasters' latest DiRT and F1 games - review for the latter on the way - but my personal highlight has to be Inkle Studio's Heaven's Vault.
Honestly, I don't think I've ever been so spellbound by an adventure outside of the Zelda series. Inkle's recipe is thus: one part branching narrative; one part third-person adventure; one part point-and-click; a large dollop of beautiful art/animation; a heaped teaspoon of ethereal soundtrack. I think we can all agree that makes for a most delicious gaming soup, no?
Put it this way - it's going to take one helluva game to knock Heaven's Vault off its perch when it comes time to decide my overall game of the year. Bon appetit!
What's your favourite game of 2019's first six months? Let us know with a comment.
Super Mario Maker 2 is out this week, promising to build on the Wii U original by offering new tools for players to execute on more complex ideas. Gears 5 has been revealed to house a new creation suite for making and sharing maps, first in the new PvE Escape mode and later the Horde and PvP modes. Nintendo even doubled down on user-generated content by showing off the ability to create dungeons in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening on Switch during a Nintendo Treehouse Live stream (which Liam particularly appreciated).
Raid mode was a brilliant addition to Resident Evil, especially considering it originated in 3DS game Revelations.
Rob | Fire Emblem
Another tough choice this week, folks. I can think of at least a hundred games I’d like to see get level editors, be it The Last of Us, GoldenEye 007, Crazy Taxi, or MegaDrive classic Streets of Rage. One series stands out in particular, though, and that’s Nintendo’s Fire Emblem.
I must admit, I’d never played Fire Emblem until 3DS cracker Awakening - and what a place to start - but have been enthralled by the series ever since! So, with that in noggin, why did I pick it over the gems above?
Anyone who’s played Chucklefish’s Wargroove will already be able to attest to the power of level creation in a top-down strategy game. What better way is there for Nintendo to further the FE franchise, then?
Imagine dropping Chrom and the gang down in homemade levels, using styles ranging from the more recent 3DS games, to the sexier graphics of Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn, to the GBA classics. Throw in the tones of the upcoming Three Houses on Switch, plus the ability to battle associates locally or online in these Frankenstein constructions, and Nintendo could well have another Mario Maker on their hands.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is out soon, but there's no sign of a level editor, much to Rob's chagrin.
James | Portal
Tucked into The Orange Box as a niche passion project before finding surprise success, Portal did more than enough to warrant a full sequel. Of course, since Valve apparently can't count to three, that's where the story has ended - but imagine if we, the gaming masses, could take up the torch and run with it.
If you need convincing this sounds like a good idea, I direct you to 2015’s Portal Stories: Mel, a popular free mod for Portal 2 that adds a new character and an older, prototype Portal Gun.
While it's unlikely we’d see a flourishing community of new spin-offs straight away, if Valve were to provide the relevant tools, the barrier to entry would be a lot lower and could lead us to a Mario Maker-esque experience before you know it.
Imagine discovering the joys of creative new mechanics - the sort we've seen in games inspired by Portal like Q.U.B.E. 2 and The Spectrum Retreat - interwoven with elements we already know and love. It might need a bit of quality control, but the thought of endlessly returning to the brain-teasing test chambers of Aperture Science is too exciting a possibility to pass up.
Portal Stories: Mel is a mod of professional quality.
Chris | Rainbow Six Siege
Editing tools in a PvP environment can cause tension between parties if one is given an unfair advantage over another, as I once found out by hiding a few sneaky Energy Sword and Active Camo pick-ups in Halo 3's Snowbound map.
There’d be no such advantage in Rainbow Six Siege, not least because there aren’t any pick-ups, but even if there were, attackers and defenders switch sides after each round so it wouldn’t be an easy task to engineer a competitive edge - not without it coming back to bite you later, anyway. Add to this constantly changing level geometry, thanks to the weapons of map destruction (proud of that one) available to both sides, and any balancing issues will eventually resolve themselves.
These player-created maps would need to be restricted to just-for-fun custom matches, as imaginative souls would no doubt find ways of gently tipping the scales in their favour, but the greater level of creative freedom this restriction would afford should result in some interesting designs that could give rise to new, improvised game modes.
As you can see, Siege maps generally don't stay whole for long.
Liam | FIFA
Forget VAR (video assistant referee), what the beautiful game needs is a bit of artistic licence. A map editor in FIFA might sound like a terrible idea to purists, but I think it could make for some interesting – not to mention humorous - kickabouts.
FIFA 19’s kick-off mode already lets you tweak the rules to make things more entertaining, so why not take it one step further and let us quite literally move the goalposts?
You could add pits to trap unwary players, get rid of penalty areas entirely, isolate creative midfielders on an island in the centre circle, or even have pitches tilted on an extreme gradient so each half one team faces an uphill struggle.
On the other end of the spectrum, a stadium editor/creator would also be a great addition for fans of low ranking clubs to finally get an accurate representation of their ground in the game. As someone who occasionally enjoys a nice lower league romp to the big time, being able to ditch the generic stadiums FIFA assigns such clubs would be a most welcome option.
For many players, this’d add another layer of authenticity to a franchise that prides itself on recreating the beautiful game - at least the parts we see on TV, anyway.
Imagine the glorious chaos you could cause in such an open space...
Which game do you think would benefit from getting a level or map editor? Let us know in the comments below.
With Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled right around the corner and Team Sonic Racing just in the rear-view mirror, kart racing games are currently enjoying somewhat of a resurgence. You can’t beat these classic kart racers in our eyes, though.
Look at that hectic, team-based goodness!
Chris | Mortal Kombat: Armageddon - Motor Kombat
Whilst Mortal Kombat: Armageddon's Motor Kombat isn't a fully-fledged kart racer, it does have all the necessary traits to qualify, including the use of a K where a C would suffice. Mechanically, it plays just like a toned-down version of Mario Kart (which one might expect from a mini-game which is, essentially, a toned-down version of Mario Kart), with death traps, shortcuts and power-ups.
There are ten available characters to choose from, each with their own special ability that can be unleashed after grabbing a pick-up, similar to more child-friendly titles starring plumbers. These abilities are based on the characters' special attacks; Scorpion drags an enemy back with his spear, Sub-Zero freezes someone, Johnny Cage lobs a useless ball of green goo… you get the idea.
The limited number of tracks and racers would work against Motor Kombat if it was a full release, but as a side activity in a fighting game, it's perfect for some light relief between bouts. The one criticism I could throw its way is the choice of racers - in a game featuring just about every Mortal Kombat character of its time, having Bo' Rai Cho as one of the featured ten is baffling.
Everyone's favourite character is in the back there.
Liam | Mario Kart DS
One of the best Mario Kart DS features - apart from being a great accompaniment to the footy - was the ability to play local multiplayer matches (albeit with limited tracks) with only one copy of the game.
As cash-strapped teenagers relying on handouts and birthday windfalls, this was a godsend back in the day. It allowed me and my few DS-owning friends to compete in epic tournaments without having to splash out on multiple copies of the game.
It was also the only entry in the series where you could add a self-designed emblem to your kart, introducing a personal touch to proceedings. I'm still rocking the badge I came up with nearly 14 years ago (based on a private joke between me and my brother) and whenever I boot up the game and see it splashed across the front of Luigi's bonnet, it always elicits a childish smirk.
Its age, plus the fact it wasn't a full home console release, might make it easy to forget, but some of the biggest features we take for granted in modern entries - re-imagined retro tracks, alternative kart designs and online multiplayer - debuted in Mario Kart DS, making this unassuming entry a pioneer in the series' history.
Mario Kart: Teaching kids to dodge oncoming traffic since '92.
James | Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
I've been playing Mario Kart for years. From the twists and turns of Toad's Turnpike to the cunning boost shortcuts of Dry Dry Desert, the quintessential kart racer has brought many fond memories. If only there was some way to revisit them all in the same game...
Thanks to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, you can do just that, hopping into the two retro courses mentioned above along with fistfuls of others, including classics from as far back as the SNES!
This entry isn't just a nostalgia-fuelled victory lap though, also boasting plenty of new courses alongside new features like auto-drive and auto-accelerate, finally making Mario Kart fool-proof for even the youngest of Nintendo fans. Like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate after it, there's a whole host of characters here as well, including the Bowser kids nobody’s ever even heard of.
The easily shareable, totally authentic driving experience of playing multiplayer with just a single Joy-Con (clipped into a plastic wheel holster, if you're a true pro) makes Deluxe tons of fun across both conventional races and a host of battle modes.
Put your foot down now, ladies and gents, 'cause this one leaves its competition in the dust.
Mario Kart 8 introduced elements from The Legend of Zelda for the first time.
Rob | Mario Kart 64
This one’s an easy choice for me: Mario Kart 64 stands atop the infamous Choco Mountain, far above all other karters.
Playing solo had its share of lovely moments, but multiplayer is where the game really shines. I grew up sharing a room with my boisterous older brother, and when we weren't mimicking WWF (WWE) wrestlers at home, we were playing Mazzer Kart 64.
Grand Prix's were always a highlight, as we struggled to muscle each other and AI out of the way, off the track completely, or into unfortunate obstructions like penguins, gofers and crabs. Every now and then my younger sister would join in as well, as together we attempted to exact revenge on older bro for whatever shitty nicknames he'd given us that week.
It also came in handy on a night out a few weeks ago, when yours truly was challenged to a race by a rather menacing drunk at a bar in Brighton. Thankfully, he was dispatched so beautifully that he calmed right down and offered to buy me a pint!
Moral of the story? Mario Kart 64 isn’t just for 1997 - it's for life.
Split-screen Mario Kart 64 holds fond memories for many.
Which is your favourite kart racer? Is it another Mario Kart game, or something more exotic? Let us know in the comments.
What’s being considered a rather tame Electronic Entertainment Expo is now coming to a close, though even a slow E3 is sure to have at least a few standout moments, of which we’ve picked our personal highlights.
Liam | Nintendo Treehouse livestream
My favourite part of an otherwise disappointing E3 was Nintendo Treehouse Live. This stream offered an opportunity to see actual gameplay for Nintendo’s upcoming games, countering the deluge of cinematic trailers that made up most of their Direct presentation and all of the other shows.
I was particularly pleased to hear Animal Crossing: New Horizons will feature the full suite of same-screen, local wireless and online co-op. Being able to work together in real time rather than in shifts, as was the case for me and my deputy in New Leaf, just makes sense and will hopefully alleviate some of the more monotonous management tasks.
Despite having initially dismissed it as a gimmick, the new dungeon creator in Link’s Awakening also grabbed my attention and looks like a fun new addition to an already impressive game. It'd be even better if Nintendo let us share these creations with other players, à la Super Mario Maker, but there didn’t seem to be any mention of such a feature.
Visibly wandering Pokémon in Sword and Shield, at least in the games’ designated Wild Area, was another bit of good news from the livestream. Like many, I’ve come to dread all of the random encounters and so this is a very welcome change.
Chris | More on DOOM Eternal
DOOM as a series always failed to grab me, at least until the 2016 reboot, at which point I became immediately enamoured with its fast, fluid movement which is somewhat reminiscent of Halo. That in itself probably wouldn't be enough to keep me around, but the gunplay is just as smooth and yet incredibly weighty at the same time - then there are the gloriously explicit executions, which never get old.
Eternal boasts more weapons (and associated upgrades), abilities, enemies, executions and environments, taking us all the way from the depths of Hell to the heights of Heaven, like Dante's Divine Comedy with guns and gore in place of self-reflection and enlightenment.
Bethesda have teased that we'll discover the origins of this iteration of the Doom Slayer, and I'm eager to see if we'll be battling against both angels and demons. It's just the kind of silly sci-fi story which never fails to draw me in.
When it comes to multiplayer, I can usually take it or leave it, but DOOM Eternal’s new competitive BATTLEMODE also has me intrigued. Assuming it's properly balanced, the unique 2v1 demons vs. Doom Slayer mode could prove to be an entertaining time sink.
James | Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk?!
Matrix star and altogether nice guy Keanu Reeves is so hot right now, popping up in Netflix film Always Be My Maybe last week, Toy Story 4 next week and soon the eagerly-anticipated third Bill and Ted adventure.
What we didn't expect, but are oh-so-grateful for, was his spontaneous appearance at the Xbox E3 showcase. He graced us not just in digital form as Cyberpunk 2077’s Johnny Silverhand - keeping up the tradition of him playing characters called Johnny after both Utah and Mnemonic - but in person to the melting of timelines and hearts around the world.
While a celebrity E3 appearance isn't unheard of, it's usually Snoop Dogg smoking a spliff while trying out Battlefield, Elijah Wood trying to convince us of his creepy vision for Transcendence, or some WWE wrestlers hidden under the Microsoft stage.
Keanu was different. A perfect blend of "well obviously he's in it" realisation and a wry smile as the now-iconic silhouette of 2019 Reeves appears through mist, he not only looked the part but brought a level of excitement and enthusiasm not seen anywhere else at the event, besides perhaps Tango Gameworks’ Ikumi Nakamura at Bethesda.
When we look back on E3, Keanu will be a stand out for years to come, because he, as one eager audience member said, is breathtaking.
Rob | Breath of the Wild 2 and Spiritfarer reveals
Oh dear. This year’s E3 was a bit of a moist squib, wasn’t it. Whether it be Sony’s absence, Microsoft’s lack of interesting games - c’mon, we’ve all had enough of bloody Gears and Halo by now - or Nintendo’s sequels and remakes (Link’s Awakening does look lovely, mind), everything had an air of predictability about it.
Still, it wasn’t all bad, and Bethesda probably fared best in my eyes. DOOM Eternal looks to continue the glorious, frantic shooting of 2016’s DOOM, whilst GhostWire: Tokyo’s teaser left me exceedingly intrigued. Conspiracy? Check. The occult? Check. Shinji Mikami? Check. This one can’t come along quickly enough!
Personally, though, the announcements of Breath of the Wild 2 and Thunder Lotus’ Spiritfarer are the indistinguishable highlights.
The former is self-explanatory: I’ve been a huge Zelda fan for as long as I can remember and thoroughly enjoyed running around Breath of the Wild’s rendition of Hyrule, so cannae wait to get stuck into another predictably top-notch adventure. Will it be the Majora’s Mask to BotW’s Ocarina?
The latter is a charming, side-scrolling 2D management game centred around coming to terms with death, where Thunder Lotus’ trademark hand-drawn visuals blend with a melancholic tale of goodbyes. It’s set at sea, you can go fishing, and there’s a sidekick cat. I’m sold.
What was your E3 2019 highlight? Let us know with a comment.
The most exciting week in gaming is right around the corner, and like curious kiddies at Christmas, we’ve been passing the time by speculating on what might happen during this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo!
Our chances of another rockin' flute performance are now slim to none, goddammit!
James | Project Scarlett is all-digital ‘Xbox Premiere’
We all expect Microsoft to talk about their new console, codenamed Scarlett, but let's make a discerning stab in the dark about the final name and their hardware strategy.
Firstly, we'll see a subscription-style model of ownership which the company has played with in the past, even if it's just for education or enterprise audiences.
There'll be a more overt link with PC, making it even easier for friends to communicate and play together regardless of hardware, with cross-play enabled by default across first-party titles.
While we all expect backwards compatibility to continue to be significant on the next Xbox, Microsoft will double down on Game Pass to double the number of backwards compatible games on the service in the next year. They’ll also allow players to access new first-party releases not just on release day, but early.
It's possible there'll be more than one hardware format, thought the all-digital version will be the standard model, and the only model they’ll be talking about at the show. It’ll be called Xbox Premiere - representing what Microsoft believes to be the future of gaming.
James expects Xbox to world premiere the Xbox Premiere to the world during E3's premiere Xbox press conference.
Chris | Yoshida and Nadella announce civil partnership
Fable 4 is practically a given at this point and rumours abound that the sole reason for its existence is to stop me endlessly banging on about Fable 4.
Another certainty is Ubisoft's batshit crazy opener, where furries dance to a song that nobody deserves to hear twice. It’d be the perfect time to go and make a coffee, if only it wasn't somehow so damn captivating.
As always, I'm anticipating big things from Bethesda, such as extended footage of DOOM Eternal which, hopefully, makes DOOM (2016) look like DOOM 3. Maybe even something on The Elder Scrolls VI - just a short teaser and the title screen would do.
The biggest news by far, however, is that following on from the news of Sony and Microsoft's strategic partnership, I'm expecting their respective CEOs, Kenichiro Yoshida and Satya Nadella, to announce a civil partnership. The gaming industry's hottest power couple will then go on to adopt Nintendo's Shuntaro Furukawa, merging all three companies in the process. Son-tendo-soft will reveal the SwitchBox Pro, much to the chagrin of Mark "PlayStation 6" Cerny.
Chris thinks things are set to hot up between this happy pair.
Liam | Sony surprise with State of Play stream
I think this year’s E3 will be more about consoles than games.
Microsoft will unveil two new Xbox consoles, along with a handful of next-gen titles, all of which will also be playable on Xbox One X, as Microsoft’s current powerhouse drops down the pecking order to become the new base console of the Xbox family. Oh, and Halo: Infinite gets a surprise winter release date.
Nintendo will confirm the existence of new Switch consoles, a premium version and a budget handheld-only version that comes bundled with your choice of Let’s Go, Pikachu! or Let’s Go, Evee! I’m also expecting a new Mario Kart reveal and ports of Twilight Princess HD and The Wind Waker HD.
Sony won’t regret not showing up by releasing a surprise State of Play stream in reaction to their rivals’ console news, giving us our first glimpse of the PlayStation 5 and some of its exclusives.
Other than all the above, which is definitely going to happen, I’m also looking forward to a first look at some Jedi: Fallen Order gameplay and confirmation that the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot will include all the original multiplayer maps plus a bunch of new ones.
That’s not too much to hope for, is it?
It might be wishful thinking, but a surprise State of Play stream would certainly help placate Sam.
Rob | DOOM Eternal hurts your bum
I fully expect Bethesda to blow our collective anus to smithereens with new DOOM Eternal footage; I was a huge fan of the 2016 DOOM reboot (the only FPS I’ve finished this generation) so await the new campaign - and multiplayer - with sawn-off, double-barrelled enthusiasm!
On the Xbox front, I’m really hoping for some fresh new games to go with the rumoured new console, but half fear we’ll just be blasted with more Gears and other equally overdone first-party franchises.
Nintendo is the one that really intrigues me, though, as usual. Will their Direct presentation contain plenty of previously unannounced games? Or will it go heavy on Pokémon, Fire Emblem and the Link’s Awakening remake? I’m hopeful we’ll get at least one new first-party title, but will it be the game to finally make me swap out the old Wii U for a Switch?
All-in-all, I’m honestly not expecting a classic this year. I’m sure Ubisoft will give us Assassin’s Creed: Derby and Far Cry 406, and I’m certain EA will disappoint once again by failing to announce a new boxing game. With that in mind, it appears my hopes rest almost entirely on DOOM and Nintendo: please don’t let me down, guys.
Hold on to your butts, folks!
Keep an eye on Pass the Controller for plenty of E3 2019 coverage, including livestreams of all the press conferences.
What do you think will happen at this year's E3? Let us know in the comments below.
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.
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.