REVIEW: Yoku’s Island Express (Switch)

  • Released: 2018
  • Played on: Switch
  • Also available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
  • Time to get into: 10 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 8 Hours
  • Multiplayer: No

Game Summary
Yoku’s Island Express is a fun 2D puzzle-based exploration game. At the start of the game you are installed as the new postman of an island called Mokumana and it’s this premise that gives you reason to traverse all over the place getting involved in folks’ lives. The main dynamic that is unique to Yoku‘s adventure is the pinball-style way of getting around. Yoku can move left and right and interact with objects and other characters as you might expect in this kind of game. To go up or down however, you use bumpers that bounce you about and there are regular sections that are very much like pinball machines. These both enable to you gain collectibles and also advance the story. Here’s an example:2019020213260000-4EBD015519178CCE78B40BB34B4A97AB

What’s good about it?

  • 2019020511442000-4EBD015519178CCE78B40BB34B4A97AB
  • The pinball concept is interesting in that you are exploring by moving the game world (ie the bumpers), rather than yourself.
  • The world is beautifully formed with so many different kinds of areas and characters. It encourages you to want to explore it all.
  • The way you open up access to different areas and go back through places with new abilities is pitched very nicely – I never felt bored or annoyed about re-tracing my steps.
  • The pinball-machine bits manage to feel both important to your progression through the game and a brief distraction – I was always pleased when Yoku dropped into one of those areas.

What’s bad about it?

  • 2019020511440700-4EBD015519178CCE78B40BB34B4A97AB
  • The story is very basic indeed.
  • Trying to get to a specific area can be confusing – the map is great for exploring but getting to a particular place can be a  real undertaking.
  • The difficulty level is very low. This is not a significant problem – the level of fun keeps you playing – but it means it can never achieve greatness.
  • There are one or two road blocks in the game where a bumper-hit had to be made perfectly multiple times. This went against the general low level of challenge.

2019020808533200-4EBD015519178CCE78B40BB34B4A97AB

Conclusion
It may not be game-changing as a whole piece, but the unique aspects of Yoku’s Island Express make it worth playing through regardless. It won’t hold you up too much but it will put a smile on your face!Review3

 

Advertisements

REVIEW: Beat Saber (PSVR)

  • Released: 2018
  • Played on: PSVR
  • Also available on: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive
  • Time to get into: 2 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 40 Hours
  • Multiplayer: No

Game Summary
Beat Saber is my favourite video game of all time! It is the perfect combination of things I love about playing games: the immersion, the challenge, the fun, the achievements and the sheer wow factor of a remarkable experience. My pitch to people is this: “rhythm games like Rock Band or Super Beat Sports are great and all, but why don’t they have lightsabers in them? Well, now they do! Check this out:

What’s good about it?

  • Beat Saber_20181210225507
  • The virtual reality is fantastic. You are in one place in the world, so there’s no danger at all of motion sickness and everything about the lightsabers, the blocks and the environment in general look great. This game couldn’t possibly work outside of VR, it’s a great combination of concept and technology.
  • It’s just the most fun! It’s hard to explain how great it is – you have to play if for yourself – but wielding two lightsabers is already great but then making a music game out of it is pretty close to the perfect video game experience.
  • There are 4 difficulty settings and the learning curve is perfect. Easy is straight forward with just one or two slightly tricky blocks in each song, up to Expert where you barely get a rest, either mentally or physically.
  • It’s great exercise! I have regularly burned nearly 500 calories in a session playing Beat Saber. This is far from it’s main draw, but it’s a nice side line for the game.
  • It improves on both standard rhythm games, by being more immersive and more fun thanks to the lightsabers, and the bunch of music-related VR games available, by being more fun, more direct and just a bit more of a game.
  • The Campaign mode is great, not just for the different challenges it throws at you in addition to the main game but also in the way it subtly teaches you different little skills that you need in order to nail the hardest songs.
  • Did I say it was my favourite video game EVER?! Yes!

What’s bad about it?

  • Beat Saber_20190116123008
  • The only part of Beat Saber I can criticise at all is the recently added ‘Expert+‘ mode. Perhaps this is just sour grapes because it is too hard for me! But where Expert difficulty blew my mind to begin with, I eventually conquered it because it was musical. You were playing along with the melody, or the kick drum or whatever. In Expert+ it’s just chaos as the blocks fly at you constantly – too much of the challenge and not enough of the fun. Beat Saber_20190209150452

Conclusion
Beat Saber is so good that I have lost the ability to write eloquently about it! I’m just bursting with the joy of it. Whoever first thought to combine music and lightsabers and put them in virtual reality is a genius! If you have a VR headset you have to get this game. If you don’t have a VR headset yet; then get one! And get into Beat Saber!Review5

 

Welcome to 2019 – let the gaming continue!

I have been taking a well-earned break from writing on this blog after reviewing 51 games during 2018 (see here for a list of them). However, the gaming has not stopped! The Boy has discovered Fifa Mobile on his iPad and has become obsessed with the campaign mode on there, but we have also been spending many hours with the PSVR headset on playing what can only be described as a revelation: Beat Saber!

I will write a proper review soon but spoiler alert: it is my favourite game ever! Of All Time! Number 1! Halo on the Xbox was the first game enshrined as my ‘favourite game’ – I didn’t grow up with games in the house so before then I had only played things like Mario Kart, Sonic or Gran Turismo on other people’s consoles. Halo lasted there a long time until 2016 when Uncharted 4 became the new number one. And now Beat Saber. Here’s another video, because… well, watch:

It’s not just that Beat Saber is a really fun game. For me, I think this might be the ultimate gaming experience. The thing I have always wanted but just didn’t know it yet. A big part of video games are the fun experiences that you can’t have in real life: gunning down hostile aliens in Halo, playing quarterback in the Superbowl in Madden or smashing your opponents’ cars to bits in Burnout. Beat Saber is the perfect example of dreams-into-reality (and virtual reality at that).21-04-2018_11-12-04

Otherwise I have been playing through a bunch of my favourite games to pass the time. I have once again ‘Conquered The Mountain’ in SSX3, thanks to backwards compatibility on the Xbox One. I have played through the campaign again in Onrush and continue to play that online most days. Likewise, both The Boy and I still play Rocket League online a lot. We are busy gathering up collectibles from the Rocket Pass 2 that is currently running. Plus, I’ve started dabbling in Yoku’s Island Express on the Switch. All in all it’s been a lovely month of playing games and not worrying about writing about them! But I will get back to that soon with a full review of Beat Saber, although overall I’ll be happy with 12 game reviews this year – one a month rather than chasing one a week.ONRUSH™_20180721083050

What about you? Has 2019 brought with it more, less or the same amount of gaming that 2018 held? Let us know in the comments below!

Top 5 Games Coming in 2019: Monthly Roundup December 2018

Please see here for previous Round Ups from 2018:
September: Top 5 Games I keep coming back to online
October: Top 5 Musical Moments in Games
November: Top 5 Arcade Racers on Xbox Game Pass

So 2018 is coming to an end, Christmas is done for another year and it’s time to look forward to 2019. I did a similar forward-looking Top 5 at the end of last year but amusingly, or annoyingly, two of the games I put on the list then still haven’t come out! Last year I had Crackdown 3, the new Yoshi, the new Kirby, Detroit Become Human and Spiderman. Detroit was wonderful but otherwise Kirby was a big let down and I have only just started playing Spiderman. The other two are, apparently, coming in 2019, so I will pop them on this list too!tr

1. Trials Rising
This is what 2019 is all about for The Boy and I! We have spent hours upon hours trash talking each other in Trials Fusion and we cannot wait for this new one to be released. By the look of the Beta I played earlier in the autumn this is going to take the crazy jumps and explosions to a new level. And we can get it on the Switch now too!

2. Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled
I cannot wait for this remake! CTR was the only kart racer that has ever got close to Mario Kart’s level of brilliance and fun. Frankly, I would probably rather a remake than a new one as we can be sure it’s going to be fantastic. The Boy has never played the original either, but I reckon he will love this.

3. Crackdown 3
The first Crackdown was a lot of fun and I hope this one is too. My Xbox Game Pass subscription lasts past Crackdown 3’s release date, so bring it on!

4. Yoshi
Mainly on the list for The Boy really, although I am certainly looking forward to playing it. Let’s hope it actually does come out in 2019.

5. Gears 5, Control, Sea of Solitude – will any of these actually release in 2019?
Same thoughts on these games – can we be sure any game without an actual release date will be out in 2019? I am really looking forward to all three of these titles but until they have confirmed release dates I’m not holding my breath!g5

For the record I also have 5 games from 2018 that I have only just started or still haven’t got to: Beat Saber (which may just be the greatest thing mankind has ever created!), Spiderman, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Hellblade and Astro Bot.

Reflections on 2018, Part 2: Awards

After last week’s ‘review of reviews‘ post, I thought a more quality-over-quantity approach would also be good to balance it out. As such, here are some awards for gaming in 2018!

Best Game: Forza Horizon 4
I was really reluctant to call this game the best racing game ever – I assumed that a circuit racer would be always hold that crown. But by the end Forza Horizon 4 gave me no choice! The cars, the racing, the events, the graphics, the music, the handling, the locations, the seasons…. etc etc. Everything about it is stunning.03-10-2018_07-15-19
Runner Up: Celeste
For a long time I heard good things about this game but put off playing it. I don’t usually go for retro-styled 2D platformers but Celeste is so much more than that. The story, the characters and the overall themes of the game are perfectly complemented by the gameplay. I played it on Switch, which I think was perfect, but you’ve got to play this however you can.2018021917581300-75A32021BE3512D7AA96B2D72F764411

Best Platform: Xbox One
With 6 games from 2018 that I’ve given 5* to, this was always going to be a close run thing but the Xbox One had 2 amazing exclusive games this year, where Switch and PS4 both only had one. The other 2 multi-platform titles are also available for Xbox One so the vast majority of the games I enjoyed above all others this year can be played on Microsoft‘s console. Fair play.ONRUSH™_20180721083050
Runner Up: PS4
The Playstation takes 2nd over the Switch as the Donkey Kong Adventure DLC for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, although certainly enough content to count as it’s own game, is still only an expansion. Detroit Become Human meanwhile is a brand new, arguably ground-breaking, experience.Detroit_ Become Human™_20180904082707

Best Multiplayer Game: Rocket League
The Boy and I both still play this game online most days. Looking forward I can see Trials Rising stealing it’s crown for 2019 but Rocket League will always be there, always fun and always full of new content.2018012313234100-6F4D679ED7D2A016B654B265B956C5F0
Runner Up: Overcooked 2
As a single player game, Overcooked 2 was actually a slight disappointment over its predecessor. By adding in both competitive and co-operative online multiplayer, however, Overcooked 2 keeps the fun times rolling by taking the best part of the game – chaotic kitchens in multiplayer – and giving you more reasons and more opportunities to play it. And the DLC was great too.2018082221504700-7D6F548625BC0EB94C235FFE679A3299

Best VR Game: SUPERHOT VR
I never knew I needed a video game that made me feel like I was in The Matrix until I had one! The immersion and control given to you by this game are wonderful – a must-experience game, even if you have to borrow a VR headset to play it.SUPERHOT VR_20180404205024
Runner Up: Moss
Part of the future of virtual reality gaming is glimpsed in Moss, I reckon. The ability to control a character in the game world, whilst also being a part of that world yourself is a wonderful balance of the things that are great about VR.Moss_20180917211157

Most Unexpectedly Great Game: Dropmix
I played a few music-VR games this year that were a disappointment but Dropmix was the total opposite. I expected it be a novelty value thing that ended up gathering dust pretty quickly. However, I am still playing it myself a little and it is always a hit whenever people come round. Here’s another mix I made recently.

Runner Up: State of Decay 2
I was looking forward to this game but just before release all anyone could say about it was how glitchy and messed up it was. Well, I played it anyway and not only did I suffer with virtual zero problems, the game was absolutely amazing too!22-05-2018_23-33-53

Wooden Spoon – Worst Disappointment: God of War
I only bothered to play this game because the whole world thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. There is a period in the middle of God of War when I agreed with everyone else about how good it is – a long period in fact. But I’m at a loss to know how everybody missed how long it takes to get going or how long it out-stays its welcome. Shame.God of War_20180701124354_1
Runner Up: The American Dream
The first hour or two of this game is really entertaining. It’s funny and although the VR-shooting doesn’t always track perfectly it was close enough. But soon you start to think that it has only one trick as it gets boring. But then at the end it jumps completely off the deep end, as if trying too hard to be interesting! Odd, and just not that fun.The American Dream_20180427165758

 

Reflections on 2018, Part 1: a Review of Reviews

So, it’s December, it’s the end of the year and it’s time to start wrapping things up. In a few weeks I’ll write a post looking to 2019 and the games the future will bring, but for now let’s look back over the last 12 months.24-10-2018_17-55-02.png

I’ve mentioned before that this year was all about breadth of gaming for me, I wanted to just play as many games as possible, even if it meant moving on swiftly from each one. I tried hard to reach 52 games reviewed, one for each week, but in the end I came up just short on 51! In fairness, if you consider all the games I started only to decide they weren’t worth the time required to play them enough for a full review (Cuphead, The Crew 2, Madden NFL 19 to name but a handful) then I don’t think I’ve done too badly!

I gave 14 games the top score of 5* this year, although only 6 of them were released in 2018, the rest were games I hadn’t got around to from 2017. Next week I will write a post about my favourites and reviewing the year overall but for now, without further ado, here are the links to every one of those 51 reviews.

2018 Reviews (by score and then chronologically):
5*
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Super Beat Sports
Rocket League
Forza Motorsport 7
Forza Horizon 3 Hot Wheels DLC
Celeste
Dropmix
SUPERHOT VR
Super Mario Odyssey
State of Decay 2
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Donkey Kong Adventure
Onrush
Detroit Become Human
Forza Horizon 4

4*
Meteorfall: Journeys
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Super Mario Galaxy 2
Super Lucky’s Tale
Bridge Constructor Portal
God of War
Dere Evil Exe
Fe
Moss
Into The Breach
Alto’s Odyssey
Overcooked 2 Surf & Turf DLC
Super Mario Party
Shadow of the Tomb Raider

3*
Rime
Frederic: Resurrection of Music
Gravel
That’s You!
Overcooked
Trials Fusion
Florence
Super Mega Baseball 2
Steamworld Dig 2
Captain Toad Treasure Tracker
Super Volley Blast
Thumper
Overcooked 2
Death Squared
Uno Playlink
FIFA 19

2*
Gear Club: Unlimited
Pac Man Championship Edition 2 PLUS
Knowledge is Power
The American Dream
Urban Trials Playground
Track Lab

1*
Frederic 2: Evil Fights Back

REVIEW: FIFA 19 (Switch)

  • Released: 2018
  • Played on: Switch
  • Also available on: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4
  • Time to get into: 20 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 80 Hours
  • Multiplayer: Yes, local and online

Game Summary
FIFA 19 on the Nintendo Switch is a disappointment. It’s essentially FIFA 18 on the Switch with some new kits and the Champions League theme tune. But that only tells half the story: FIFA 18 on the Switch was basically the same as FIFA 16 or 17 on other consoles. That was acceptable when it was the series’ first foray onto Nintendo‘s hybrid console. It’s not anymore. That said, it’s still a fully featured console football game that you can play on the move: don’t underestimate the genius of that.

What’s good about it?

  • 2018111209000400-C74711975E694A5FE937559ED5BB452B
  • This is a football game that you can play on the go but without any of the compromises we’ve had to make over the years with PSP or iPad versions. For people like me, who have sunk huge numbers of hours into a one football game or another every year for longer that we’d care to remember, that is still an amazing thing.

What’s bad about it?

  • 2018110212272000-C74711975E694A5FE937559ED5BB452B
  • There are no significant changes to the game from FIFA 18. And this is particularly galling this year as FIFA 19 on the other consoles has changed quite significantly. If you want to know more details about it, then click here to read my review of FIFA 18 from last December!2018103017332800-C74711975E694A5FE937559ED5BB452B

Conclusion
What’s the point in this game, really? I guess if you haven’t picked up a version of FIFA on the Switch yet, then yes, you might as well get 19. But certainly, if you had 18 last year there is even less need to upgrade than most years. Still a lot of fun – but it’s the same fun you’ve had before.
Review3

Click here to purchase the game on cartridge from Amazon.co.uk: