6th-Gen, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Sonic – Lost World (3DS)

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I love Sonic and I always have. I remember staring google eyed at the first game in my local game store when I was eleven years old. And so the love affair began. Sonic 1,2,3, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Adventure, Sonic Advance… All great classic titles that fill me with joy and nostalgia.Of course, there have been some truly hideous Sonic titles sent out there too. Although it’s beloved by a certain contingent, I felt the rot got semi-started by Sonic Adventure 2 which was buggy and poorly made. And then it got worse; Sonic Heroes, the Sonic Rush series, the Sonic Advance sequels, Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic Unleashed and… Possibly the worst game OF ALL TIME, take a bow Sonic ’06. But the blue blur has bounced back in recent years. Sonic Colors pulled Sonic out of the crapper and games like Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing, Sonic 4: Episode II and the sublime Sonic Generations re-cemented his position as king of the mascots.

This looks fun and it IS fun. Great demo... SHIT game.

This looks fun and it IS fun. Great demo… SHIT game.

And now we have Sonic: Lost World on 3DS. Which is… Unbelievably bad. The unfortunate (and recurring) trait of forcing in mechanics that don’t work or belong has been pushed into overdrive with this game. Sega has thrown everything and anything at the wall to see what sticks. Here’s a hint, Sega; NONE OF IT DOES! Infuriating design choices, limited actual ‘platforming’ levels (the kind that are unhindered by awful gimmicks), a crazy amount of trial and error… It’s just bad heaped upon bad. And it’s really unforgiving to boot. That’s such a shame because the demo was tons of fun. It was colorful with tight controls and interesting wall-hoping mechanics. Why can’t they just make a game like that without messing it up with all kinds of annoying shit? I sincerely hope that the WiiU version is better because this awful title represents a real stumbling block for the franchise. Basically; avoid this terrible 3DS ‘game’ at all costs!

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6th-Gen, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed

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One of the most impressive games for me at E3 2013 was Mario Kart 8 on the WiiU. After a long time of being stuck in neutral, the franchise is starting to look fresh again. Nintendo have added drifting mechanics, the ability to drive on walls and ceilings and all manner of other F-Zero related shenanigans. Which once again makes it a trend setter within the lagging karting genre. Oh wait… No it doesn’t. Because Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing was doing all that already and doing it really fucking well.

the Nights into Dreams track is nostalgic heaven!

the Nights into Dreams track is nostalgic heaven!

Part two in the franchise, named Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, makes some major changes to the formula while building upon the superb core mechanics of the original. Adding craft which transform from cars to boats to planes within the same track was a great idea, mirroring classic karting games like Diddy Kong Racing. But just like the sterling original Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing, Transformed goes far beyond it’s influences (mainly Mario Kart, F-Zero and Outrun) with blistering speed, amazing drifting mechanics and pinpoint perfect track design.

this screenshot makes me want to go to a water-park SO bad!

this screenshot makes me want to go to a water-park SO bad!

As with the original, Transformed plays excellently to nostalgia. The game features tracks not only from the Sonic series but from (deep breath now) Nights into Dreams, Skies of Arcadia, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Golden Axe, Samba De Amigo, Shinobi, Outrun, Afterburner and more. These tracks are represented with graphical perfection and their classic musical themes in tow. The character suite is also impressive. You have the usual suspects, such as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Eggman… etc. But you also have such oddballs as Wreck it Ralph, Joe Musashi, Vryss from Skies of Arcadia, the Dwarf from Golden Axe and… um… Danica Patrick. That’s a pretty wild mix! But no Ryo Hazuki of Shenmue fame this time around. Boooooooo!

remember kids; "Drinking & Driving is a Viking tradition"

remember kids; “Drinking & Driving is a Viking tradition”

Transformed also has some basic improvements over the excellent original title; the much-missed ability to play GP mode in split screen has finally been added and the themes of the tracks are much less repetitive (as noted above). The only negative thing about this title is the way that you unlock extra characters. In the original you earned coins simply by playing, which you could then spend on unlocking anything you liked. That was a great addictive system. Transformed forces you to play through a world tour, which involves drifting challenges, survival races and other Subsidiary modes. If you want to unlock all the characters (and why wouldn’t you), you also have to play it through on multiple difficulty settings. This means that only the truly hardcore players will get the opportunity to race as the dwarf from Golden Axe. I don’t appreciate that type of exclusion! That said, these modes are fun and addictive in a ‘trophy-whore’ kind of way and are well worth putting some time into. But still, don’t fucking tease us with a multitude of characters and then lock all the interesting ones away! That’s total bullshit, especially as a lot of people who buy the game will only want to play it when their friends come round.

What working adult in his right mind would play a Karting game alone for hours on end in order to unlock fucking Shadow the fucking hedgehog so that his fucking mates can play as the fucking thing for five fucking minutes a fucking month!? WHY SEGA, WHY!!!!

Um… Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is still far and away the best karting game available. So bring it on, Mario Kart 8!

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Franchise features, gaming

Tokyochuchu on: E3 2013

So E3 2013 is finally over. Phew! What a show! To be honest, E3 isn’t usually my cup of tea. I’m not a massive fan of game media (why ruin the best parts of a game before you’ve played them?) and I even question the relevance of the event in this online world of ours. THAT SAID, even I couldn’t resist the lure of the major console companies suiting up for battle. And it didn’t disappoint in that regard. I also had a lot of fun text chatting with other gamers on a great gaming website that I frequent (epicbattleaxe.com). So without further ado, let’s go through my top 5 of E3 2013.

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#5: BATTLEFRONT – When EA and Disney inked their Star Wars deal, one thing was on gamer’s minds; a Battlefront game using the frostbite 2 engine. And in an uncharacteristic, crowd pleasing move, that’s exactly what EA are going to give to us. There wasn’t much to go on at E3, just a few seconds of CGI video, but then again the ink on the deal is still so fresh that expecting anything else would be folly. I’m really looking forward to the revival of this long dormant franchise, as Battlefront 2 was great fun and one of the best games to ever bare the Star Wars name.

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#4: THE DIVISION – One thing I will say about the E3 content is that it seriously lacked color. Almost all the next-gen games strove for realistic graphics, which meant that everything became a shade of grey or brown. Too many shooters. Too much killing. I like bright, vibrant fun more than busting heads! That said, Ubisoft’s online RPG / third-person-shooter hybrid looks great. I can imagine going through this game with a buddy in tow and having a riot (literally). This is one to keep an eye on definitely.

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#3 MARIO KART 8 – Oh Mario Kart… A game that never, ever changes. We watch as iteration after iteration pushes the franchise further into irrelevan… CRASH! KABOOM! SCREEEEE… That is the sound of Mario Kart 8 bucking the trend and blowing your mind. It’s in HD and it’s obviously been paying close attention to the excellent Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing franchise. You can now drift at lightning speed and even drive on the walls and ceilings! For the first time since the N64, Mario Kart is looking fresh, hungry and reinvigorated. The case for getting a WiiU just gathered speed.

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#2 METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN – The gameplay footage I saw had horses. HORSES!! What more is there to say? Game over, motherfuckers. MGSV has gone from a game I had almost no interest in to one I’m now properly excited about. It’s open world. You can drive a multitude of transports. There is a greater emphasis on stealth. I’m almost peeing my pants right now. This could be a great return to form for the series. I had big problems with the overblown story telling of parts 3 & 4, so I hope Kojima has kept himself in check this time (who am I kidding). Anyway, Metal Gear Redemption / Assassin’s Creed Solid is once again relevant and firmly on my radar.

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#1 THE PS4 OWNS YOUR FACE – No DRM. Used games / lending are encouraged. No always online requirement. No mandatory spycam. Region free. Only one PSN subscription required for all accounts… And it’s 100 bucks cheaper than the Xbone! THANK YOU SONY. Microsoft tried to fuck us in the ass and ruin gaming. Sony have now diligently tended to our wounds. I could watch Jack Tretton’s E3 announcements and the crowd’s reactions to them all day. That was a sheer joy to behold as a gamer and maybe the best E3 moment of all time. The Chuchu will now be getting a PS4 as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

So there you go. E3 is dust. It was great for new console news and OK for games too. But there was no news regarding a new Metroid title. CHUCHU SAD. Come on Nintendo, get your shit wired!

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