Attention To Detail

One of the things I really notice about great games is the little details. I still remember the first time I played Halo on a demo stand in a shop somewhere and was just amazed by the grass – it looked real! More recently in Uncharted 4 if you stopped to look around, so did Nate:

Enjoying the view from The Gamer Boys on Vimeo.

The game that has struck me with this recently is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Perhaps it is simply the amount of time that The Boy and I have sunk in this title that has me noticing these things but I noticed that after a dunk in some water your character dries out over the next few corners! Here’s Luigi (I’m always Luigi!) just after going through the water:

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And here he is after powersliding around the next turn:

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I love these things in games that reveal themselves over time.

I am not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg – do I notice these little bits of finesse because the game is great or is the game great because of them? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Click below to purchase Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on cartridge from Amazon.co.uk:

Or click below to purchase a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe download code from CDKeys.com:

Gold Mario!

The Boy has completed Grand Prix mode in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and got his reward: Gold Mario!

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You need to get win the championship in every cup in 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, Mirror and 200cc to get your hands on Gold Mario. That is a lot of work! With a bit of help from me, The Boy has succeeded. Most of it we did competitively but towards the end of Mirror and 200cc we started doing what he has dubbed ‘team play’, which essentially means that if I was ahead of him at the end of a race I would let him through on the final straight so that he could win each cup!

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The fun doesn’t stop there though. In addition to Gold Mario himself you can also unlock a gold kart, gold wheels and a gold glider.
The Gold Kart is for getting at least 1 star on each cup in 150cc and Mirror. In other words you have to win 3 of the 4 races and be at least 3rd in the other. Some ‘team play’ was employed to get here too!
The Gold Glider is for collecting 5,000 coins overall. That just happens eventually as you play, particularly multiplayer – they rack up quickly there.
Where he is still lacking is the Gold Wheels. For this you must beat the staff times on the time trials on every track. Some of these are hard!! This will take a long time I think, probably just as long as unlocking Gold Mario himself.

He had best get on with it!

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REVIEW: Super Bomberman R

  • Released: 2017
  • Played on: Nintendo Switch
  • Also available on: –
  • Time to get into: 10 minutes
  • Time to complete: 5 hours
  • Multiplayer: Yes, local and online

As a seasoned player of Bomberman games over the years I had mixed preconceptions about this latest installment. One the one hand the more recent versions I’d picked up had been somewhere between poor and completely horrible. On the other hand my good memories of the really great ones from the early days were whispering in my ear to dive in to this one. Whilst this isn’t the incredible Bomberman title I would have liked, I am really glad I gave in to those whispers – Super Bomberman R was a good experience I’d recommend to those with a Nintendo Switch.

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The basic game remains as it has been for years: you move around with the stick and drop bombs by pressing A – it’s almost as simple as it can get – and there are, as usual, two modes of play; Battle and Story (more on these later). What makes this a good edition in the Bomberman series is the intangible idea of feel: moving your Bomber about in this one feels solid and responsive. Almost as soon as you start playing you’ll realise how important this is – although simple, the gameplay is fast and furious and without a firm grip on your character you will get exploded quickly and regularly.

Battle Mode
This is the game’s strength and it clearly knows it – it’s the first option on the main menu! You begin on a screen with 3 other Bombers (either bots or of course you can go multiplayer, locally or online) and the last Bomber standing is the winner. It’s quick, relentless and addictive. My previous skills had clearly left me over the years as I found it really really difficult to begin with. The speed of thought required to simultaneously stay alive whilst also trying to destroy the other Bombers takes a while to get used to and I lost on a very regular basis until I got up to speed.

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It never got boring though, the way things work out never feels unfair even against the AI and it’s a real case of just-one-more when it comes to battle mode. There are a number of different stages, each asking for a slightly different plan of attack and defence and the three minute (if they go to the wire) battles are usually wild once the bombs start bouncing around. You can develop your own plans and adapt this for each arena. My usual M.O. was to attack the nearest Bomber as hard and as quickly as I could to try to eliminate one before the map got opened up fully. After that I’d keep myself to myself until I collected the power up that allowed me to kick bombs across the rows and columns towards the competition. Then I got on the offensive! Each person will be able to play their own way in this mode, from full-on-attack to full-on-survive and anywhere in between. If you like fast paced and crazy multiplayer games, you’ll enjoy this.

Story Mode
Whilst the things you actually do in story mode remain the same – run around and drop bombs – the addition of a story and many different types of stages and enemies does make the experience less intense and less exciting. The story and the cut scenes are either completely awful or aimed at a very young market, depending on how generous you want to be towards the developer! They aren’t funny or interesting and take it from me: you won’t miss a single thing if you skip every one. The enemies that fill each level are far more annoying than they are challenging. To begin with they just essentially wait patiently for you to pick them off but later when they actually start attacking you their complete lack of care for their own well being makes them both dangerous and just a chore to kill off.

The boss battles are easily the high point, requiring the same mix of offence and defence that works well in battle mode and each a slightly different set of tactics to defeat. Ultimately though the challenge falls short as each world, there are six in total, only gives you a certain amount of lives and no ability to gather any more. This should make it very tricky but you quickly realise once the difficulty level starts to go up that after paying for one new set of lives with in-game currency you can then have unlimited lives for free as long as you keep playing! As a result it eventually turns into a grind where the possibility of dying is more an inconvenience than a disaster.

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I did also try to play story mode with The Boy but he was going through, having never played this type of game before, the same learning process I’d had to go through again in battle mode. As a result his very regular deaths meant that he quickly lost interest. I wonder if future Bomberman games could benefit from some kind of introductory mode where it’s much harder to die initially. Time will tell on that. I would certainly love to spend many hours playing the next Bomberman game with him!

Verdict
At the end of the day Super Bomberman R falls short of being a really great title and an essential purchase for Switch owners due to the lackluster story mode. If the battle mode was available alone for half the price that would be another thing but right now the whole package doesn’t quite cut it at the top level. That said, if you are also facing the nostalgic call from your past to pick this up, or just like the look of it, you won’t be disappointed. A decent start for hopefully more Bomberman on Nintendo Switch in future years.
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First Impressions: Super Mario Galaxy

We are supremely late to this party! Super Mario Galaxy was released nearly ten years ago in November 2007. I never got around to playing it at the time and so I had kind of given up and moved on to newer games until The Boy spotted it in a store recently. He’d obviously seen a video of it on the internet as he knew more about it than me so we picked it up.
Better late than never!

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Well my first impressions are that I’m glad for his persuasion. I like the planet-hoping dynamic and the story so far is classic Mario. However, it’s the control scheme that has interested me the most so far. The combination of walking around with an analog stick (as in every other game) with the pointing at the screen with the Wii Remote is fantastic. If more games had employed the Remote this well on the Wii it might have been a better place for ‘serious’ games rather than being overtaken by party games with gimmicky swinging about of the controllers.

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The only flaw we’ve discovered so far isn’t really a flaw at all: this game is hard! We haven’t got far yet and it’s already getting a bit tricky for me and too difficult for The Boy. We try and take it in turns but on each of the last few stars we’ve collected he has ended up just letting me do it.
Hopefully as we continue it will still have enough levels that he can do to be be fun for him.

A full review will follow when we eventually finish it and then we will move on to Super Mario Galaxy 2! With any luck we will get both of these done before Super Mario Odyssey towards the end of the year.

E3 Round Up

So the three current console manufacturers, alongside a number of publishers, have had their E3 showcases for 2017. A lot of drama and arguments have been had online about it all so I’m going to keep my summary positive and mention the top 3 games for each console that I am now looking forward to after the expo. At the end of the day – there is plenty of great gaming to be done here, there’s no need to argue about it!

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Forza Motorsport 7
– it’s Forza. Thus it will be amazing!
Super Lucky’s Tale
– I love the idea of having a fun and light hearted game to play with The Boy on Xbox.
Crackdown 3
– the first one was superb, the second only ok. Hopefully this can get back to it’s original heights.

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Super Mario Odyssey
– it’s Super Mario. Thus it will be amazing!
Yoshi
– totally loving the look of the art style of this one. Betting it plays great too.
Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle
– this game was rumoured and I was unconvinced, but by the look of the showcase it will be awesome!

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Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
– it’s Uncharted. Thus it will be amazing!
Detroit Become Human
– this kind of reminds me of Quantum Break in some ways. I always like a bit of Sci-Fi.
Spiderman
– of all the various superheroes, Spiderman ought to be the one who translates best to a video game. Let’s see if this one finally nails it!

What about you? Which games are you looking forward to most after the E3 showcases? Let us know in the comments below!

REVIEW: Magikarp Jump

A common issue with mobile games from gaming franchises is that they end up basically being stripped down versions of their regular cousins. Think Sonic Dash or every mobile EA Sports game ever.
Magikarp Jump has such charm that for a while it seems that it might defy that stereotype. Ultimately, however, it remains exactly that: a throw-away mobile version of a proper game – all surface and no substance.

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Much like every other Pokemon game Magikarp Jump involves levelling up your Pokemon and battling against others. It’s Magikarp only around here and the battles are to see how high each can jump – hence the name of the game. You fish for a new Magikarp, train it, feed it and then take it into battle. Eventually that one will retire and you’ll fish out another and go through the same process again.

So far so good. The training, battling and the ‘random encounters’ that pop up after each of these things are all light-hearted and goofy. The graphics are bright and simple. What the game does particularly well is not have any natural stopping points – there are always more battles or training sessions or even just food to eat, so it can be quite addictive.

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Eventually though, the novelty wears off and the charm runs out and you realise that fairly early on the game has run out of ideas. Classic mobile game problem! Magikarp Jump’s issue is that it shows it’s hand too early. Just when the game should be going up to another level it becomes a grind of continually repeating screen presses. It moves from being a game you play to being something you tend to, like you would a plant on your window sill.

Verdict
Whether it’s that Magikarp Jump shows you everything it has to offer straight away or whether it is simply that it doesn’t have enough to offer in the first place, it’s an experience that simply doesn’t last long enough to justify the level of enjoyment it brings. ‘Briefly amusing’ is not what good games are made of.

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Brick Breaking Nostalgia

One of the first video games I ever played was a brick breaking game on a family friend’s IBM computer back in the early 90s. It was called Paranoid and to me it was a revelation.

I’d played a brick breaking game on the Acorn computers at my school but that game was more about creating chaos with multiple balls and all kinds of crazy effects. On the other hand, Paranoid was a game that required skill and I believe it was the first game I ever completed.

So, I was pleased recently to come across another brick breaking game on Google PlayBrick Breaker Star: Space King.

Brick Breaking Nostalgia from The Gamer Boys on Vimeo.

As these games go there is nothing unique or brilliant about Space King but I’ve been really enjoying the trip down memory lane. Mobile is in many ways the perfect place for these games, as they aren’t memory or processor intensive enough to need a dedicated console. However, there is one flaw I’ve found in this: by necessity, touch control is used to move the ‘bat’ around the bottom of the screen to bounce the ball off – this makes it too easy! You can move your thumb (or finger, depending on playing style) from one side to the other almost instantaneously which makes things like the decision to go for a power up and risk losing the ball less dramatic than it used to be.

Paranoid used the two shift keys on each side of the keyboard to move the bat slowly left and right, so you had to slightly plan ahead for where you need it to be.

Some things just aren’t built the same way any more!

(check out an old page I found about Paranoid here)