REVIEW: Steamworld Dig 2

  • Released: 2017
  • Played on: Switch
  • Also available on: PC, Mac, PS4, Vita, 3DS
  • Time to get into: 30 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 11 Hours
  • Multiplayer: No

The nuts and bolts of Steamworld Dig 2 are built like a classic Metroidvania game. All the elements are here: exploring one massive gameworld bit by bit, gathering upgrades that enable you to reach places previously impassable, boss battles that move the story along, etc etc. As such, it’s at risk of being just another one of these games but Steamworld Dig 2 manages to still feel fresh thanks to two elements. The gameplay may be nothing new but it’s all right out of the genre’s very top drawer and the characters that fill this world are charming and engaging. Even if it doesn’t blow you away, Steamworld Dig 2 will leave you with a satisfied feeling – and sometimes, that is all you need.2018052113310800-5C4616A11E1A4BB797E99184F6827A79

Well worn territory
In recent years, I’ve been getting tired of games in the Metroidvania genre. They always seem decidedly retro and limited in scope, like they are easy to churn out and sell so developers don’t bother to be that original. I’m sure there are probably gems that I have missed along the way, but it’s been a while since one caught my imagination in the same way Steamworld Dig 2 did. The Switch is also a console upon which such games can and do thrive, so I decided they were a good combination to have a dip into. In the end, SD2 both confirmed and confounded my expectations. There are no mechanics or plot points or even gameplay elements that are outside of what you’d expect. Overall, it lacks ‘wow’ moments, other than one crazy sequence towards the end. I won’t give away anything through spoilers, but just for a few minutes the pace and danger of the game is suddenly hugely ramped up, only to fall back in line straight after. It’s a shame there are not more sections that change things up like this, but let’s get on to focus on why you should consider playing this game, despite the above!2018052117522900-5C4616A11E1A4BB797E99184F6827A79

Dorothy’s journey
You play as a little robot called Dorothy who is looking for an old friend called Rusty (I’ve not played the original Steamworld Dig but apparently Rusty was in that). This takes you to the town of El Machino and down, down, down into the mines there in search of him. Every move and action that Dorothy can do feels so smooth and effortless, whether it’s climbing, jumping or digging. The whole game is in 2D and is organised in small blocks, so you can dig left, right and down, but not directly diagonal. This is a great thing as it maintains a sense of order to the environment – it would quickly become messy and hard to manage or navigate if it could be destroyed more freely. Early on you’ll need to continually retrace your steps to return to the surface to gather more light and health but after a bit you’ll find a generous set of fast-travel points, which make doing so much quicker. You’ll want to return to El Machino regularly anyway as selling the resources you gather as you explore gets you some cash to spend on upgrades. Along with discovering new abilities throughout the world the balance between of exploration and upgrades is perfect. I never felt like I was breezing through challenges with an overpowered character but neither did I horribly struggle at any point. By the end Dorothy is, excuse the pun, an absolute machine – blasting through enemies, flying around and digging through the most solid of rock like it is sand.2018052417480100-5C4616A11E1A4BB797E99184F6827A79.jpg

Dorothy’s other journey
The rest of the game uses this solid gameplay as a base from which to build a fascinating and joyful experience. Dorothy‘s is joined on her journey by a strange ethereal character called Fen. Fen usually travels inside Dorothy, so you are not ever called to manage two characters, rather Fen serves to ensure that the game doesn’t feel lonely by occasionally popping out for a chat. It really surprised me how engaged I felt with these two. They do argue between each other but actually overall, they work well as a team in the face of the challenges, twists and opportunities they face. By the end I was fully on board with them and really wanted them to succeed. I also have to mention the music in Steamworld Dig 2 – it’s fantastic. Each environment has a different feel which fits beautifully with the visuals. It’s all fairly chilled out but still each one is very distinctive. Another reason I didn’t mind heading back to the surface regularly to sell my wares as I could hear the town’s music again! Lots of games have bits of great music but there aren’t many that are as filled with great music the whole time as this. All these slightly more intangible things combine to make SD2 a very pleasurable experience: Dorothy‘s determination – and your own – is well rewarded.2018052318180400-5C4616A11E1A4BB797E99184F6827A79

Conclusion
From the characters, to the music, to the animations, Steamworld Dig 2 exudes a simple charm that draws you into the journey of Dorothy and Fen. That it then backs this up with such solid gameplay makes it a game that can connect with most players – a gamer’s game if you will. Well worth your time.Review3

Click here to purchase the game on cart from Amazon.co.uk:
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REVIEW: Super Mario Odyssey

  • Released: 2017
  • Played on: Switch
  • Also available on: –
  • Time to get into: 30 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 10 Hours
  • Multiplayer: not really, although there are some features

Super Mario Odyssey is a celebration of all things Mario! It’s a joyful and wondrous ride that manages to encapsulate everything that we love about the old plumber whilst at the same time giving him an almost limitless amount of new things to do. The basic platforming gameplay is probably the most rock solid ever created and the levels range from good to great with no misses. In fact, for me it includes the best level in gaming ever! It’s not perfect and it’s over far too soon but if you have any love of gaming at all you have to play Odyssey – it’s exciting, enchanting and euphoric.2018040408335100-8AEDFF741E2D23FBED39474178692DAF

Gameplay – refined and maybe defined
Nintendo‘s first proper Mario adventure on the Switch is an absolute triumph of gameplay design. I remember saying when I (finally) played Super Mario Galaxy last year that Nintendo had focused almost entirely on the fun, varied gameplay mechanics. Well, in Odyssey, they have taken that even further: I think this might be the best platforming ever created from a technical standpoint. Everything Mario does just feels so right, so precise. Which means in turn that you can play the game confidently and thus enjoy the truly ridiculous number of abilities available to you. Sure, we have the Mario standards like jumping and ground pounding but everything is taken up a notch by the introduction of Cappy. More on him from a story perspective later but for gameplay this means throwing your hat about the place. Not only does this open up additional abilities for Mario like collecting coins you can’t reach with a quick hat throw but also Super Mario Odyssey‘s main new gameplay feature: being able to use Cappy to become anyone and anything. Want to stop worrying about holding you breath under water? Throw your hat at a Cheep Cheep and then you can swim about to your hearts content. Or throw it at a Bullet Bill to be able to travel quickly over big gaps. The possibilities are more or less endless, including a few chances to be a T-Rex! Nintendo have done an amazing job, through a combination of intuitive controls and helpful but unobtrusive on-screen tips, of making sure that this neverending arsenal and abilities never gets overwhelming. 99% of the time it was immediately clear to me what I had to do. I expect that Nintendo will, at some point in the future, prove that platforming can be improved but right now I cannot imagine how!2018040618021500-8AEDFF741E2D23FBED39474178692DAF

Story, characters and levels
Wedded to this, everything that Odyssey puts around the gameplay is as fresh and interesting as it has been in any Mario game since Super Mario Sunshine. But whilst the FLUDD and everything else they tried to do there arguably fell a bit flat, the levels you play through here are fantastic. A review isn’t enough space to even go into everything I love about just the best one: Metro Kingdom, aka New Donk City, so I’ll try and summarise across Super Mario Odyssey as a whole. Whilst it’s still the traditional Bowser-kidnaps-Peach story from every Mario game ever, there are a few aspects here that actually made me pay attention. The wedding, the introduction of Cappy as a companion character fighting the same fight alongside you and some other twists I won’t give away all add up to make this as fresh as a Mario story has been in years. Bowser has his usual minions trying to get in your way – this time they are the ‘Broodals‘ – but they are fairly nondescript. But there are plenty of characters you meet on your journey through each level that brighten the game. All of the levels are great too: after the constant stream of small new levels in the Galaxy games, it’s a nice change on pace to have a few, much larger levels with huge amounts to do and discover. It can’t be considered an open-world game but there has been plenty of influence from such games in the level design and it works wonderfully.2018040413405000-8AEDFF741E2D23FBED39474178692DAF

But not perfect
So if Super Mario Odyssey has class-leading gameplay and best-ever Mario story line and levels, what can possibly be wrong with it?! For me, there are 2 aspects that hold it back. Firstly, it’s just too easy. This has actually been great for The Boy – more on his experiences with the game later. However, I breezed through it with barely a stutter. It wasn’t until the final couple of world’s facing the most difficult challenges and bosses that I felt I really had to try at all. Perhaps it if it was harder it would lose some of it’s joyful carefree abandon but I am not convinced they have the balance right. Secondly, it’s over too soon. Sure, there is plenty of post-game content – I’ll discuss this more in the next paragraph – but playing through the main game at a reasonable pace I completed it in only 10 hours. Whilst I didn’t spend ages doing ‘unnecessary’ things, neither did I rush at all – I totally enjoyed those hours. I just wish there were more of them before the credits roll.2018041913583400-8AEDFF741E2D23FBED39474178692DAF

Post-credits
After the credits roll, you open up a huge amount of new content. Suddenly there are more power moons everywhere and the Mushroom Kingdom opens up to play in. For me, this all felt a bit after-the-fact. There’s just not enough reason to keep playing. I tried to go on for about another hour but I felt I needed more direction to maintain enough interest. I was going to criticise the game for this but then The Boy reached the end… and went on… and on… and on! He loves this game so much and he has had an amazing time with this additional content. Searching for moons is an end in itself for him and Super Mario Odyssey is an amazing playground for him to look for them. This is officially now his favourite game ever and a huge part of that is the freedom to just do whatever he wants in the quest for all the moons. You also get a huge ton of customisation for Mario with different clothes, hats and other bits. Odyssey really does reward it’s fans with a lot of content to get stuck into.

Conclusion
Whether or not the post-credits content captures your imagination you’ll find more than enough fantastic gameplay here to justify the asking price. Playing Super Mario Odyssey is just a stream of joy, wonder and delight! It’s the ultimate Mario experience and one of the best games of it’s type ever made. Enjoy!Review5

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

Click here to purchase a download key for the game from Amazon.co.uk:

Top 10 New Games at E3: Monthly Roundup June 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
April: Top 5 Underappreciated Games
May: The Boy’s Top 10 Games Ever

So E3 has rolled around once again and we have all marvelled at the new games that were revealed. Or at least, at those that weren’t leaked beforehand, anyway! Overall, I was impressed with the presentations of Ubisoft and Xbox and rather disappointed with Playstation and EA‘s showcases, with the rest somewhere in between. Ubisoft were the ‘winners’ for me – a great combination of games I am excited about, series that I haven’t been interested in before but might be now and a presentation that was just a lot of fun! But let’s just get straight to the real point: the games. Here are the ones I am most looking forward to, and a few slight disappointments.

  1. Halo Infinite (Xbox One, Microsoft)hi
    • We were given next to no details about what Halo Infinite was in Microsoft‘s press conference but my love for this series is still super strong, despite diminishing returns since it was taken over by 343 Industries. If anything, the fact that Halo 4 and 5 were only OK makes me even more excited: I still have hope that the series can get back to it’s previous heights!
  2. Beat Saber (PSVR, Sony)IMG_20180612_123132.jpg
    • This game is why I picked up a VR headset, so I am waiting for this more than any other game right now! So glad we got proper confirmation that it is coming to Playstation VR, although I was sad that we didn’t get a release date – I will have to continue hassling their Twitter account about it for the time being!
  3. Beyond Good & Evil 2 (Multi, Ubisoft)
    IMG_20180612_114639.jpg

    • I wasn’t expecting to love this game. I didn’t really enjoy the original but I was blown away by what we were shown by Ubisoft. It’s looks epic! Fantastic game worlds and the Hitrecord collaboration, if it works, could be both groundbreaking and amazing.
  4. Gears 5 (Xbox One, Microsoft)
    • Across their series’ so far, Gears of War might not have quite hit the heights of the Halo series but it has been more consistent. And Kait is one of my favourite new characters of recent years. Can’t wait.
  5. Trials Rising (Multi, Ubisoft)
    • The Boy and I will be all over this! Trials Fusion has been one of our mainstays. Can’t wait to play Trials on Switch as well. I also really loved the video set to Blue Danube too – great stuff.
  6. Control (Multi, Sony)
    • This game really intrigued me. I love sci-fi in general but particularly anything that messes with the fabric of reality. It quite reminded me of Quantum Break, which was Remedy‘s previous game so hopefully they can build on that with this new one. Few details so far but I really like what I’ve seen.
  7. Sea of Solitude (Multi, EA)
    • Was great to see a publisher like EA dedicate a whole section of it’s show to a game about emotions. The rest of it was mostly guns and goals but Sea of Solitude looked and sounded great. It reminded me a little of Rime.
  8. Super Mario Party (Switch, Nintendo)
    • The Boy and I have been waiting for a Mario Party game ever since the Switch was released! Great to see the technology of the two Switch consoles working together too – something that can only be done with Nintendo Switch.
  9. Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Multi, Ubisoft)
    • I’ve put ‘multi’ there, but let’s be honest: if you have a Switch you are going to get this game on Nintendo‘s console so that you can get Star Fox! Great to see another Nintendo character doing crossovers with other Ubisoft games. Now I’m actually excited for Starlink.
  10. Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Multi, Square Enix)
    • Lara looks like a machine! I was slightly underwhelmed by Rise of the Tomb Raider but this looks like a proper evolution of the gameplay. Will be great to see how the trilogy ends.

Top 3 Disappointments across E3a

  1. Anthem
    • This just looks like Destiny set in Mass Effect: Andromeda locations. Hopefully they can pull it out of the bag but my high hopes from last year have diminished from this E3.
  2. The Last Of Us Part 2
    • 99% of me is still confident that this will be amazing based on the fact that Naughty Dog don’t seem to be able to make a game that doesn’t shoot straight into my All-Time Top Games List. But every single thing we’ve seen about this game has focused on how brutal it is. Like, really brutal. What made the first one so great, however, was how the brutal combat juxtaposed the heart and the relationship between the characters. A little 1% of me is worried that the hype is going to make The Last Of Us eat itself.
  3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
    • To be clear: I don’t mean that I was disappointed with the game itself. Really, I have little or no interest in it at all. I played a lot of Smash Bros on the Gamecube and a little on the 3DS but fighting games just aren’t something I am good at or enjoy. I am simply disappointed that Nintendo dedicated such a ridiculously large amount of their presentation to it. They clearly don’t have anything else up their sleeves this year. Where was the Yoshi game, for example? Bring on 2019 I guess.

What about you? What new game reveals got you the most excited? Let us know in the comments below.

REVIEW: Overcooked

  • Released: 2017
  • Played on: Switch
  • Also available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
  • Time to get into: 4 Minutes
  • Time to complete: 12 Hours
  • Multiplayer: Yes, local only

Overcooked is a wonderfully fun game that that on the surface has you chopping onions and frying burgers, but in reality has you managing a complex set of simple tasks to a tight deadline. It’s breathless and stressful, but cute and fun! In single player it’s good but in multiplayer, with the absolute need to communicate constantly and work together, it is fantastic. It loses it’s way later on as a package and it’s attempts at a story are woeful, but you’ll want to have Overcooked around for a quick and crazy go with friends every once in a while.2018032910375700-F897DAA49269BC023482B5C9AAA6BE73

Anything but basic
On first glance everything in Overcooked seems so simple, perhaps even too simple. There are only 2 or 3 buttons and an analog stick in use and none of the actions require any finesse – it’s just press and go. One button is used to pick up/put down items and another to perform actions on those items. From washing a plate clean to slicing up a tomato; just hit the button, wait a bit and it will be done. However, it doesn’t take too many levels for the requirements for the number of completed meals to start to get a little tight and this is when it all makes sense. This game isn’t about cooking at all! The levels are kitchens but they could just as easily have been a garages or office buildings. Overcooked is really about managing your time in the most efficient way possible and by keeping each individual task very easy the developers, Ghost Town Games, have allowed their players to focus on the more complex bigger picture of how to complete the most meals. There is even good incentive for you to keep searching for the perfect critical path – you’re gonna want to get your rating up to 3 stars on each level if you intend to complete the game. This whole concept lends Overcooked a very smooth learning curve and good reasons to continue to climb it.2018032318214500-F897DAA49269BC023482B5C9AAA6BE73

When your greatest strength…
This is all achieved by Ghost Town Games by giving each different level or kitchen a different limiting factor. Sometimes it’s how many things can be chopped up at any one time, other times you’re limited by how many things can be cooked at one time. This creates a bottleneck in each level that needs to be managed and is the real genius of the game. Without this it would take no time to work out the quickest way to have your chefs complete each task and then it would just be a case of execution. The bottleneck inevitably leads to the one thing you want to avoid – chefs just standing around doing nothing. All of a sudden your nice convenient sequence of events isn’t so clear. What can you do with your spare chef? Have them chop extra ingredients? Well, now you have too many things hanging around not cooked. Have them wash up? But that takes too long and how your tomato soup has started to burn! Agghh!

…is also your greatest weakness
As the difficult increases so does the stress level and so does the feeling of reward when you manage to completely minimise the time your chefs wasted on the way to many happy customers. Unfortunately, Overcooked loses it’s way towards the end as the limiting factor bit by bit becomes the level itself. Now the bottleneck is how long it takes your chef to move from one workstation to another or how the kitchen somehow changes or shifts to ruin your work patterns. The first few of these changing levels are great – you end up having to have more than one plan and switch between them on the fly. By the end though there are too many changes and too many variables in each kitchen and it becomes so difficult, if not impossible, to perfect your strategy that any sense of reward from your achievements is gone. This is a real shame but to be clear; the absolute majority of the levels are great – and completing the game is only really the start of the fun…2018032211465100-F897DAA49269BC023482B5C9AAA6BE73

Better with friends
All of this can be done in single player. You have a third button that switches between your two chefs to enable you to control both. This is how I have completed the game as neither The Boy or the other folks I’ve played it with have played long enough to reach that point. However, the real fun is in those multiplayer games. Now you can no longer control what each chef is doing and so it is completely vital to communicate in detail with everyone playing. At best it would be horribly inefficient for each player to just make their own meals but in many levels that’s not even possible. This leads to all kind of hilarity! “No, not another tomato“, “you chop that mushroom whilst I go and get an onion for you“, “which pan is about to burn?“, “but I need to wash the dishes!“, “what can I do?“. It is just brilliant and once again an outcome of how the game is deceptively simple. No one playing is concentrating on some complex task by themselves – everything is connected to something being done by someone else and the subsequent shouting (mostly good-natured, we’re on the same team here!) and, upon completing a level, the high-fives make Overcooked one of the best local co-op games I’ve ever played.2018032909204400-F897DAA49269BC023482B5C9AAA6BE73

Conclusion
It doesn’t get a high score as it has too many significant issues as an overall package. When Overcooked succeeds though, it does so massively. It’s available for a bargain price across most platforms so even if you never reach the end of the game, pick up a copy for next time you’re playing with friends.Review3

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

The Boy’s Top 10 Games Ever: Monthly Roundup May 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
April: Top 5 Underappreciated Games

The Boy and I recently had a conversation about what his favourite video games ever are and he said that his second favourite was Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. I wasn’t buying it! For sure it’s a great game and we both enjoyed it (and are looking forward to enjoying it again when the DK DLC comes out!) but I said to him there’s no way he liked it more than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Rocket League. However, despite my insistence (or maybe because of it!) he wouldn’t budge, so we ended up doing a whole Top 10 of his favourite games. No surprises for guessing what #2 is but here they are in reverse order:

#10: Super Mario Run – iOS
He played this game on his iPad and for a while was ahead of me on it and was advising me where to find the black coins!screenshot_20170525-162126-e1524734181386.png

#9: NBA Live 16 – Xbox One
We played NBA together a lot in the year this iteration was out. Our team is the Toronto Raptors because, you know, dinosaurs!25-09-2017_22-10-07

#8: Super Lucky’s Tale – Xbox One
The most recent addition to this list. I just recently finished it and The Boy is well on his way too. This is a kid-focused game but don’t sleep on it – it’s well made.08-04-2018_20-17-43

#7: Trials Fusion – Xbox One
We have spent hours playing the Speedcross multiplayer tracks in this game. He almost always wins due to using the, easier to drive, quad bike. Much trash talk follows.23-02-2018_07-25-14

#6: FIFA 17 – Xbox One
He never quite got into FIFA 18 in the same way, despite us having that on the Switch. We have PES 2018 now via Xbox Game Pass, so time will tell how much he enjoys that.2017120508093500-062DD3BC3CF59885A6762E5A30A14CD1

#5: Jurassic World The Game – iOS
The first game on this list that is entirely his rather than ours. I never got into it but The Boy has spent hours and hours battling dinosaurs in it.IMG_0839.PNG

#4: Rocket League – Xbox One and Switch
I don’t want to look at the number of hours we have both sunk into this game on the Switch. It will probably make me wonder what I’m doing with my life!2017112017512100-6F4D679ED7D2A016B654B265B956C5F0

#3: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Switch
The Boy loves this game so much he has created multiple new accounts on the Switch just so he can play through the single player modes again!2018012513254400-16851BE00BC6068871FE49D98876D6C5

#2: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle – Switch
Here it is. The Boy has never even finished this game, although I’m sure he eventually will. But apparently it’s the 2nd best ever!2018010308503700-9600BAE614E6833B1A261F5FB229CDBA

#1: Hot Wheels Race Off – iOS
Hot Wheels Race Off has been indisputably his number one game ever since he got it. I have never played it and at the beginning he used to ask me to play it when he got stuck. Quickly he realised he was better off by himself!IMG_0819

I’m looking to pick up Super Mario Odyssey this weekend, so we will see eventually if that makes it into this list. The Boy does seem to love Mario above most other things!

What about you, do you have small people you play games with? What are their favourites? Let us know in the comments below.

REVIEW: Super Mario Galaxy 2

  • Released: 2010
  • Played on: Wii
  • Also available on: –
  • Time to get into: 5 Hours
  • Time to complete: 15 Hours
  • Multiplayer: Yes, local co-op only

I need a machine that can take my reviews of Super Mario Galaxy and Rise of the Tomb Raider and somehow fuse them together. If I had that, I wouldn’t need to write this review at all. In exactly the same way I experienced with the Tomb Raider sequel, this game is unable to get out of the shadow of it’s predecessor – it’s both too similar in a lot of ways and not similar enough in others. But on the other hand, that predecessor was so good that living in it’s shadow isn’t totally a bad thing.

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B-Sides
Super Mario Galaxy 2 feels like a collection of the levels that didn’t quite make the cut for the original planet-hoping platformer. Everything we came to know in the first one is still here – you run around with the stick on the nunchuck and jump and spin with the Wiimote. The levels have a huge amount of variety in both their platforming and the enemies you face. Once again it is the levels where gravity changes as you go along that I enjoyed the most. None of this is really new though. There was one sort of Temple Run-style level that I don’t remember from Super Mario Galaxy, although perhaps I just missed them or forgot about them. That level was great – which just goes to show how good the game is when it doesn’t feel stale.

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Story?
Likewise the story is basically the same but slightly worse. Once again we find that Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach blah blah blah. When will Mario get a new story?! But where Super Mario Galaxy framed that cliche with Rosalina and the need to get stars to power up your spacecraft, there is no significant attempt to have any kind of goal outside of the gameplay. I know we don’t expect a great story from Mario but this is stretching that to the max.

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Yoshi & Luigi
The two places where there are undeniable differences are the introduction of Yoshi and the more frequent appearances of Luigi. Yoshi is supposed to be the big new addition for this sequel – he adorns the cover after all. The truth is however, that although he does add some new abilities, in a game with such amazing variety in it’s mechanics, the fact that you can do certain things because you have Yoshi gets somewhat lost. You can also do certain things when you’re Bee Mario, for example, that you can’t do otherwise. Yoshi is just another one of these additions, rather than a game changer. On the other hand, I’ve always loved Luigi so I enjoyed it when he turned up to take over for a level. In Super Mario Galaxy you only got the chance to play as Luigi once you’d completed the game so this is somewhere that SMG2 steps out on it’s own. But it’s the exception that proves I rule I guess.

2018-03-24 06.48.20 1.jpg

Conclusion
If these levels had been part of Super Mario Galaxy they wouldn’t have harmed that game at all. However, they just don’t quite stand up to the same level as a game on their own. Never has a bare-bones collection of cast-off levels been anywhere near this good – but that is pretty much what Super Mario Galaxy 2 remains.

Review4

REVIEW: Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 PLUS

  • Released: 2018, 2016 in original form
  • Played on: Switch
  • Also available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4 without the ‘PLUS’ 2-player mode
  • Time to get into: 1 Hour
  • Time to complete: 15 Hours
  • Multiplayer: Yes, local only

My enjoyment level and feelings towards this game fluctuated from high to low as I played it – some parts of it are excellent, some are fine and some simply make you wonder why anyone thought they were a good idea. At it’s best Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 PLUS is a fast, intense, and immersive action/puzzle game. You’ll be playing ‘just one more time’ to try and get a higher score and push yourself to move Pac-Man, faster, smoother, more efficiently. Unfortunately, these moments are surrounded by plenty of other modes and levels that are poor to middling and the overall package falls down as a result.2018031913530200-0103C1801C62C21D9770DA79C7FBBF1F

Ringing in the changes
This is no longer your grandfather’s Pac-Man. I haven’t played every iteration of the franchise over the years so I’m not exactly sure when each change was made but outside of the very basic components – Pac-Man, pellet-filled mazes and ghosts – pretty much everything has changed now. As examples, consider these: ghosts no longer kill you instantly on contact, not every maze is completely full of pellets and often the fruit and power pellets run away from you as you try and collect them. Whether these changes are for the better seems to depend mostly on which mode you are playing.2018031313442200-0103C1801C62C21D9770DA79C7FBBF1F

Score Attack and Adventure
In the main Score Attack mode, it works wonderfully well. This is where PMCE2P really shines. As the name suggests the purpose is no longer to simply survive each level until you have collected every pellet, but to get the highest score possible. This requires an entirely different focus than classic Pac-Man. Given that you can now get away with a degree of contact with the ghosts they no longer seem quite like an enemy and more like an, admittedly dangerous, tool to get higher scores. Likewise collecting every pellet is not always necessary but it’s better as you can get higher scores if you do so. This mode does a great job of staying fresh by tweaking the rules of engagement slightly on each different maze. It all adds up to a mode that is fast and furious. You find yourself straining every sinew to move faster and faster – as faster means more pellets, more ghosts, more fruit and a higher score. It’s one of the best top-score-chasing games I’ve played in years.2018031208414900-0103C1801C62C21D9770DA79C7FBBF1F

Adventure mode however, doesn’t work so well. Calling it an adventure really is misleading. Perhaps ‘challenge’ mode would have been fairer as this mode sets you various goals that can take a little as 45 seconds or as much as a few minutes. It’s just a stream of slightly different tasks but none of them are particularly engaging and more problematic is that there is no thread that connects them. The gameplay is pretty similar to Score Attack but without any of the enticing reasons to keep playing or improve your scores. In fact, the last few levels of Adventure mode are set to the same rules as Score Attack, which really brings it into focus: there’s nothing all that wrong with this mode, it just doesn’t add anything good to the game.

Change for change’s sake
The two-player PLUS mode, however, really takes this to new depths. Why, oh why, did anyone think this was a good idea?! If the game as a whole stretches the concept of Pac-Man then this section stretches it to breaking point and beyond. The fact that there is a really, really long tutorial when you first head into this mode probably should have warned me. They have added so many bells and whistles that they have become like chains holding the fun at bay. The Boy started playing this mode with me and lasted all of about 10 minutes before the confusion and weirdness put him off the game permanently. I was still able to play it for a bit as you can play with an AI partner if you don’t have a second real person but I didn’t find anything good here. For example: you collect things like fruits or eat ghosts by pinching them between you and your teammate but all that happens in practice is that you bump and bash the ghosts towards each other until they are all in a nice convenient line just waiting to be gobbled up at your leisure. Or how about this: in the boss battles you are confronted by a single massive ghost and jump – yes that’s jump – repeatedly into it to bash it to death. It’s bad in and of itself and inexplicable as a Pac-Man game.2018031908305300-0103C1801C62C21D9770DA79C7FBBF1F

Conclusion
If this game was just the Score Attack mode and cost half the price it would be easy to recommend. However, the rest of the game weighs it down and it’s not good value for money as a result. Maybe pick it up if it comes on sale, but for now, spend your cash elsewhere.

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