Top 5 Underappreciated Games: Monthly Roundup April 2018

Please see here for previous Top 5 Round Ups from 2018:
January: Top 5 Rocket League Showroom Battle Cars
February: Top 5 Open World Games
March: Top 5 Mario Kart 8 Items

Recently I was in a discussion about games that you love that no one else seems to like so much. They just don’t get it, right?! So I got thinking about a way I could be sure that these games were actually less appreciated than I think they should be: Metacritic scores! If you haven’t come across Metacritic it’s a site that gathers together all the reviews of each game (and other things like movies etc) and gives them an average score out of 100. So I looked through my All-Time Top Games List and found the ones that had an average of less than 80. There were 6 in total, so here are the Top 5, plus a bonus:

#1: Mirror’s Edge – Xbox 360/PS3
Metacritic Score: 79
I played a demo of Mirror’s Edge when it first came out in 2008 and immediately knew I had to get it! I was surprised later when it didn’t get glowing reviews. It had a decent and engaging, if generic, story line and the gun play was only OK but all of this was brushed aside by how fantastic the free running was. I played the whole game quite a few times on 360 and on PS3 – it was a joy just to run through the world at top speed. If I was picking any single game to replay it would be this one, without doubt.24-03-2018_21-53-46

#2: Quantum Break – Xbox One
Metacritic Score: 77
Another game that I picked up without really seeing the reviews. I saw a couple of videos of it in action when it was released and went out more or less straight away to pick it up. I’m so glad I did. The gameplay – a combination of 3rd person shooting and controlling time – was great, it looked fantastic and the plot was far more complex than most games. Quantum Break also had 3 or 4 ‘TV episodes’ in it that advanced the story, which was something I really enjoyed but I guess maybe that concept wasn’t for everyone as it certainly hasn’t caught on!25941057304_18a8a9e06b_o

#3: Super Mario Run – Android/iOS
Metacritic Score: 76
This is one of my favourite Mario games ever. Made completely for mobile, it could be played with one thumb but still had all the elements required of a Mario 2D platformer. Perhaps the short-sharp bursts of gameplay didn’t work for people that came to it as Mario fans but as a mobile game it was perfect and the chance to play against others in the Toad Rally mode was great fun too.screenshot_20180326-160206.png

#4: Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Xbox
Metacritic Score: 79
Forget all the usual – and mostly correct – comments about cross overs between video games and other media never working. This game fit into the Buffy mould perfectly, whilst also being a superb game in it’s own right. Story-wise, it had a lot of the same actors from the TV show providing the voices and it didn’t try and reinvent the wheel, playing out like an extended episode. On the gameplay side the platforming and fighting were both top notch. It all came together nicely.Processed with VSCO with  preset

#5: Super Beat Sports – Switch
Metacritic Score: 68
This is the most recent game on this list and to be honest, unless you hate fun (?!), I cannot imagine how anyone wouldn’t love Super Beat Sports! It’s not particularly deep and the quality of it’s mini-games does vary but at it’s core it takes common gaming tropes – rhythm and sports – and combines them into something that prioritises fun above all else. I am mystified by the negative reviews.2018011618031600-B5326B1E58931254287CB2E8DA86D794

Bonus: P.N.03 – Gamecube
Metacritic Score: 63
This game only just squeezes onto my All Time Top Games list, so I can more understand that it didn’t work for everyone. P.N.03 certainly had it’s flaws – the story wasn’t really engaging at all for a start – but I just loved the smoothness and grace with which you could move your character Vanessa around. Somewhere inside it is a basic shooter but on top of that you have elements that feel like a dance game. It had that same feeling of joy from just playing it that Mirror’s Edge has, but in a less complete package. It’s hard to explain so just watch this video!

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Retro Controllers on Nintendo Switch

One of the many great things about the Nintendo Switch is the flexibility of the control options available. A single set of Joy Cons can be used for single player or split for multiplayer. A lot of the time this works nicely – The Boy and I have spent many hours with friends and family playing 4-player Mario Kart from two sets of split Joy Cons, for example. However, the recent advent of Rocket League on the Switch has revealed that this doesn’t work very well for every game – not if you value the continued use of your hands, anyway! Single Joy Con play is pretty uncomfortable in Rocket League so we needed better solutions. More sets of Joy Cons or the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller are all good options, but also fairly expensive. What we ended up with was getting a couple of great retro options for players 3 and 4, at a fraction of the price.20171127_230108.jpg

Player 3 Controller – 8Bitdo NES30
This awesome looking controller is made by a company called 8Bitdo, who specialise in retro-styled controllers. This one is influenced by the look of the original NES controller, but is fully modern with all of the buttons required, including clickly-sticks and double-shoulder buttons. They were recently updated to include Switch support.20171127_225911.jpg

The first step was to update the firmware via computer and then it was, in theory, ready to go. A word of warning to anyone considering one of these though – I tried over and over to get it to pair up with my Switch and it was super frustrating. Then I popped the Switch into the dock and bingo – it paired up first time. It’s been fine docked or undocked since, but just remember to do that the first time. The functionality and responsiveness are a match for any controller out there and it looks amazing. So far everyone who has seen ours has been wowed and fascinated. It’s only downside is that in order to maintain it’s retro pedigree it’s shape isn’t that comfortable for long sessions – but it does only get used by us for multiplayer gaming, so that’s fine.

Player 4 Controller – GameCube Controller & Adapter
Back in the Wii U days, Nintendo released an adapter to allow GameCube controllers to be used for Smash Bros on the Wii U. Now they have updated the Switch to bring that functionality to current games. It’s better in fact as now the GameCube controllers can be used for any game on the Switch. Thus I dusted off our old GameCube pad and we added a 4th full controller with just the addition of the adapter.20171127_230026.jpg

It can be a little temperamental to this get going – you have to go into the ‘Search Controllers‘ dialog on the Switch, back out of it and then press L+R to get it recognised by the Switch. It also takes up two of the three available USB ports on the Switch dock. Finally it lacks the full quota of buttons compared to modern controllers so you will not be able to play every game with it. But for us, again, it only gets used for multiplayer gaming so that’s rarely a problem – the odd buttons aside, I have remembered what a great controller the GameCube one was.20171127_230008.jpg

Conclusions
The ultimate fact is that this is a great and inexpensive way to add more controllers to the Nintendo Switch. If you love a little bit of retro styling to your modern gaming then these solutions are sure to appeal and be admired by your friends and family members. They aren’t perfect but if you can’t afford a set of 4 Pro Controllers then this is really fun way of making your multiplayer sessions more enjoyable.

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Click here to purchase the 8Bitdo NES30 from Amazon.co.uk:

 

REVIEW: P.N.03

  • Released: 2003
  • Played on: Gamecube
  • Also available on: –

A horizontally rectangular video game screenshot that is a digital representation of a space station. A woman in a glowing yellow outfit faces a grey robot at the center of the screen.

By Source, Fair use, Link

 

Short Review: I loved the gracefulness of the gameplay. And some of the bosses were crazy! But it was just a joy to actually play it. There was a huge amount of satisfaction when you successfully danced through a bunch of enemies nailing every move and every shot.

Review5