2020 52 Games in 1 Year Challenge!!
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    NEW DECADE NEW 52 GAMES IN A YEAR CHALLENGE!!


    Welcome to the 2020 thread for badgers that fancy trying to play 52 games in a year to whatever they decide is some form of completion. Tell us how you're doing and what you are going to play next - either claim a post and update on your progress or keep posting your completions and then do a final count post at the end of the year! Even if you're not gonna make it to 52 and you’ve made efforts before and got nowhere near, it's a good way to record all your completions/failures/hates and give others your impressions or maybe get some info from them on said game!!

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    So simple usual stuff!!

    How do I take part?

    Claim a post! Write down the game and your thoughts about each one in this format for your post:

    1: NAME - DURATION PLAYED
    # INSERT INFO AND COMMENTS HERE

    How do I know when I've completed a game?

    Up to you, it could be completing the game or playing 10hrs+ if it no ending or a multiplayer game. Replays count as long as all the games are completed in 2019.

    Do I have to record time?

    No. But you can if you like!! If so you could potentially see how long you’ve spent on games this year and then wonder how you got away with it!

    Do I have to review or comment on the games I complete?

    No but it'd be nice to give a few words or maybe a quick score. Full blown reviews or mini-reviews aren't necessary and will just make it an incredibly big post,though they will be anyway.

    Do episodic games count as a single game or X amount of games?

    That's up to you. It's alright to count something like Life is Strange as one or five games. Your choice.

    Can I finish a game I started in 1992 and count that?

    Yes.

    What should I do once I've completed the challenge?

    Shoot me a PM! If it takes off and people keep me updated I'm more than happy to FINALLY sort out a prize system?

    Is there a deadline?

    End of the current year!!!!

    People who have completed the challenge will be posted here, please send me a PM once you’re done or if I’ve missed you as it’s hard reading through them all as they end up being recorded everywhere!!


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    Winners and in what year:

    Muzzy in 18-52!!
    Wario in 18-52!!
    Moot in 18——72!!!!!!

    Others results in past Years:
    Verecocha: 17-38, 18-22, 19-29 (STILL Pathetic)
    Hylian Elf: 17-25, 18-13, 19-12
    Muzzy: 17-59, 18-52
    Webbins: 17-27, 18-41
    Andy: 18-12
    Monkey: 18-7
    Wario: 18-52
    Moot: 18-72!!!
    JonB: 18-30
    Nina: 18-13

    GOOD LUCK!! After the last couple 3 years of FAILURE I’m gonna need more than luck it BUT I’M MORE DETERMINED THAN EVER!!!

    ( Will update results and hall of fame ASAP! Just wanted it up and running before I was KILLED!)
  • 1.Star Wars: Jedi - Fallen Order - 18 hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    Really didn’t like this for a good while. Felt clumsy, rushed, no connection to Star Wars, didn’t feel at all like a Jedi, absolutely sucked, but...I persevered and ended up absolutely loving it. When you have a few skills unlocked, a better connection to the force, a badass lightsaber and you get into the story it becomes amazing. By the end I enjoyed the characters, felt like I had control of the force and could dispatch enemies at will, hold my own against the bosses until I understood their patterns and kinda didn’t want it to end. That was awesome.

    2.Horizon: Zero Dawn - 24 Hours - 8/10 - PS4 PRO

    Decided to go back, for a third time...and finally stuck to it and finished this. Unluckily the first time I think it was up against Zelda, the second time I never really tried I don’t think, but this time I pushed through the relearning curve and it is without question an amazing game. Absolutely stunning, good to play without being great, an interesting world and enjoyable story, and most of the main characters are interesting as well as the main being very much so. There’s definitely something missing but I can’t quite put my finger on it. But, I have definitely enjoyed it at the third attempt, really glad I went back...again.


    3.Shadow of the Colossus - 6 Hours - 3/10 - PS4 PRO

    I hated that. I absolutely hated it. After Horizon I thought I’d look for another unfinished and when I saw it was relatively short I thought I’d go back. Had Colossi 4-16 to destroy and I didn’t enjoy anything but the visuals. The controls are abysmal. The Colossi are boring. The world is beautiful but empty and boring. There’s no challenge beyond getting the character to actually do kind of what you want. The horse is abysmal. As I said, everything but the visuals. That is easily the worst game I’ve forced myself to finish. After seeing the metacritic score all I can thing is people are letting it off because of the team behind it and the fact it’s different and blah blah as that was fucking awful.

    4.Man of Medan - 6 Hours - 4/10 - PS4 PRO

    Really, really disappointing. Really enjoyed Until Dawn and so thought I’d pick this up at some point and wish I hadn’t. Story was rubbish, looked good but was technically rather woeful, lots of odd loading screens and jumping between scenes due to choices, and then it just ended. Such a disappointment. Got a few jump scares but wouldn’t recommend this to anyone.

    5.Infamous: Last Light - 3 Hours - 6/10 -PS4 PRO

    Not a bad game, remembered really enjoying Second Son so when I saw this cheap I thought why not. Like the Infamous universe and series so immediately enjoyed the little story, gameplay and abilities on show, but, the controls absolutely sucked being a southpaw, that really brought the score down for me. Still looks stunning even now and have no idea how much it cost at release but even for a tenner to finish it in one sitting was a disappointment. Hope there’s more from this universe though as it is good fun.

    6.Vanquish - Remaster - 8 Hours- 10/10 - Xbox One X

    What a game, what a remaster, 4K @ 60fps, stunning. One of the best games of its gen, bettered and more awesome than ever. Been excited ever since I heard about the remaster so picked it up as soon as I’d heard it’d dropped. Such a great game, movement, range of weapons, level and enemy designs, great cover system, it’s just all magnificent. Still looks incredible, great artwork and simplicity never gets old. Absolutely loved playing through this again and can’t think of a single negative.

    7.Anthem - 8 Hours - 5/10 - Xbox One X

    Hmm...well, it was all bad, then kinda good, then lots of good bits, but no narrative or any other means to pull it all together, it’s just a lot of good ideas, good weapons, awesome movement and stunning looks all thrown into a void without character, charm, wit, it all just exists in a weird vacuum. Such a shame as had they created half a world as interesting as Destiny with Anthem additions it could have been a mainstay for years, instead after finishing the main...story...I’m more than done with it. For the few quid it can be picked up for it’s worth it, but it could have been worth so much more.

    8.Dead Space - 8 Hours - 10/10 - Xbox One X Spruced

    Still just perfect. Just fancied playing it for some reason and man am I glad I did. Absolutely everything is spot on. And it literally just came out of nowhere. Still gets quite a few jumps out of me too...Not sure how much work the X was doing but it looked fabulous and the sound was still tremendous. Now I simply have to play the second. But not the third. If only they’d make another entry.

    9.Division 2:Warlords of New York - 6 Hours - 10/10 - Xbox One X

    Ace coming back to New York, and ace coming back to The Division 2. Great bit of DLC with tons of content that’ll keep me playing, but that’s the main story content done. Finally the Keener story comes to an end...but more of course appears afterwards. More very similar but awesome weapons and armour, the gunplay is still perfection. Best cover shooter alongside Gears. And Christ it’s beautiful. Thoroughly enjoyed the DLC, completely worth the entry fee.

    10.Dead Space 2 - 7 Hours - 10/10 - Xbox One X

    Man that was awesome. Again spruced up by the X it looked incredible and felt like playing a new release. Even better than the first in my opinion, just terrific. Throws everything at it but somehow it seems to all stick. Good follow up story, return to weapons and system upgrades and never lets up the pace, now...do I even attempt 3 as I can’t remember anything about it...which can’t be good.

    11.Dead Space 3 - 8 Hours - 5/10 - Xbox One X

    Now I remember why I didn’t remember Dead Space 3. That was just awful, what a terrible waste of a series. I could understand somewhat the change to action IF the action was great, but it was abysmal. Closet scares aside there isn’t any scares or ‘horror’ in it, though potentially the horror of playing it is what they were getting at? I’m sure I’ll forget it all over again in no time. Worst playing, worst looking and a total waste in the series.

    12.Doom Eternal - 10 Hours - 9/10 - Xbox One X

    What an awesome ride. Not gonna lie, it took a little getting into, I was worried that maybe I remembered Doom 2016 far too positively and it wasn’t the game I remembered, but after a couple of hours it all sinks in and just gets better and better. Sound is incredible, visuals outstanding, levels are just one room of non-stop action after another aside from the one thing that brings the score down. The swimming and climbing/jumping sections are just awful, really irritating. It says a lot that the rest of the game is that good that you can simply look past them. Seriously, buy this game and Rip and Tear.

    13.Resident Evil 3 Remake - 6 hours - 10/10 - Xbox One X

    Oh man that was THE SHIT! Just awesome. Absolutely incredible looking, perhaps the best I’ve seen in a number of ways and great sound pumped out too. It’s a reimagined Resident Evil 3 really with a number of changes, new environments, weapons, all the normal additions. But it’s just so good from beginning to end. Never lets up but you never run out of breath or get bored with the pace. May only have been short, but I more than got my monies worth. I’d rather have 10 awesome short campaigns to play then 1 long game that despite its quality can get tiresome. Too many contemporary games last an age and you end up wanting them to come to an end. This I want to dive straight back into. Easy 10, couldn’t be better.

    14.Resident Evil 3 Remake - 2 hours - 20/10 - Xbox One X

    Yep I’m having this as its another game completion, took a lot of planning and restarts. No saves, deaths, under 2 hours, S ranking. Was a blast. Now I’ll move it on and come back and play through it again at a later date as it’s AWESOME

    15.Bulletstorm-Full Clip Edition- 10 hours - 6/10 - Xbox One X

    Had good memories of playing through this on the 360 so picked it up for a run through and wasn’t at all disappointed. Just a good simple FPS from a time when there seemed to be another released every week. With that same Unreal chunky industrial touch to absofuckingloutely everything, but it always worked for me. Totally nuts in pretty much every department with some of the best one liners I’ve heard. Feels very heavy and a little slow these days but certainly still an enjoyable romp, however whereas last time I played it I instantly wanted to play through the score attack levels, this time I’ve had my fill.

    16.Assassin’s Creed Origins - 30 hours - 7/10 - Xbox One X

    This was really good, not my usual, not what I expected, and I had to purchase it 3 times before I eventually finished it, but it was really good. I’m pretty sure this is the first in the series to introduce the levelling system, or at least such a thorough one...though I could be wrong...And I’ll be honest, it really did initially put me off, I didn’t want nor expect such a massive world that I had to traverse to continue the main storyline.

    I just wanted the straightforward campaign to run through, and when I met resistance to this it really put me off so I dropped it. The second time I went back to try again as there was a lot of quality but again, doing all the side quests was driving me nuts. I much prefer immediate action and rewards so again, gave up. BUT after getting through a lot of immediate reward and action I decided I fancied a slower pace so went back. And this time, I loved it. It’s stunning, sounds great, has a deep and interesting story and it was nice how it all tied together, plus did I say it was stunning? Bought Odyssey on the back of this seeing it as a slowwwww burner whilst I also play my usual Gears/Resi/Halo types.

    Though I do wish there was an option to make it difficult but not because of some stupid levelling system...

    17.Streets of Rage 4 - 2 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    Never really played anything in the genre bar Metal Slug and Super Probotector but the hype around this was huge and as it was on Gamepass it made it a no brainer...and thank god it was. Absolutely aces, such great character to the entire product and obviously made with love. The attention to detail and gorgeous graphics satiated my eyes, the score is awesome and fits perfectly with the beat, and the comic style story sequences are sumptuous.

    I’m not great at it being a bit of a beginner to the genre now, but it’s good enough to make me want to get better and play through the originals and maybe some similar series available now.

    Really glad I picked this up, just good fun.

    18.Assassin's Creed: Odyssey-68 hours-10/10-Xbox One X

    One of the games of the gen. Outstanding. I loved pretty much everything. The story, the characters, the world, the combat, the depth to the mechanics, the branching storylines, the slight choices you could make, it was all just perfect for me. The addition of crazy Greek mythology was a surprise maybe 20 or 30 hours in which added even more value. Just awesome.

    Absofuckingloutely stunning to look at, great sound design, good control of such a range of moves etc, I could have stayed here forever. Have bought the season pass to add more to it as I’m just not ready to leave yet.

    Best Ass Creed by a country mile and in my top 5 this gem. Loved it.

    19.Assassin's Creed: Odyssey - Legacy of the First Blade -12hours- 8/10-Xbox One X

    Good bit of DLC this, decent storytelling, some good new characters, good enemy, and adds some more abilities and gameplay additions across the sandbox. Increased my attachment to the character and the overall story.

    All within the amazing Odyssey world that I’ve still not had enough of yet....

    20.Modern Warfare 2 Remastered - 6 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    Great campaign, shows it’s age a little bit but still great pace, usual crazy CoD Hollywood storyline that I always enjoy the obvious madness of, and some of the best set pieces money can buy. Was great to play through and remember some really excellent levels and play in that crazy world again. Look forward to 3 remastered.

    21. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey - Fate of Atlantis -12hours- 10/10-Xbox One X

    One of the best bits of DLC I’ve played. Yes it’s all the same missions over and over again but the stunning worlds they built and the mythology present throughout is truly incredible. The extra abilities, armour types and features they put in were also terrific and I wish I’d have had them all the way through. However by this point Alexios is an Isu-Human hybrid and he’s well aware so I suppose it makes sense only now would he fulfil his potential.

    I loved that and I’m quite sad my time with Alexios in Greece, Elysium, the Underworld and Atlantis is at an end.

    22. Devil May Cry HD - 6 Hours- 7/10-Xbox One X

    What a great game. Still holds up in so many ways and it’s really just great fun. You can see so much of the Resi 4 in it they never changed, some of the music is identical which is a nice touch. It’s batshit mental in terms of story, character and how both of those develop, but it’s all the better because of it. Onto number 2...unfortunately.

    23. Devil May Cry 2 HD - 5 Hours- 1/10-Xbox One X

    Right now I’m thinking this is the worst game I’ve ever played. It looks awful, it’s slow, devoid of character, story, personality, but worse than all that, it has it all in the previous entry in abundance even if total silly nonsense. This is just absolutely awful in every single way. I will never, ever play that game again in my entire life. Absolutely bloody awful.

    24.Devil May Cry 3 HD - 10 Hours- 8/10-Xbox One X

    Much better. A real sequel, if prequel, to the first game. Great looks, good characters again after absolutely no character in the last, and a batshit fun storyline. Liked the implementation of styles however thought the many weapons didn't really add anything and they could have made them more useful against certain enemies. But, aside from that it was pretty awesome.

    25.Final Fantasy 7 Remake - ? - / - PS4 Pro

    Yeah, completed as in completed my attempt at playing it. Really couldn’t get into it. Cheesy, uncomfortable, terrible writing and characters, lots of it looked amazing but lots of it looked so bland, and what I played was just awfully linear in comparison to what I expected. Particular low point was searching for a girls kittens...it was just abysmal and really made me think ‘what in gods name am I doing?!’. But I admit it’s not my thing and it’s just a particular culture of gaming that’s really not me.

    26. Devil May Cry 5 - 10 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    That was awesome!! Can’t believe I’d not played it until now. Perfect mix of everything DMC. Stylish, fun mad story, great characters, looked absolutely stunning, played beautifully. Perfect DMC. Can’t say a tremendous amount about it as it’s DMC, you stylishly take on waves of Demons, kill a few bosses, and enjoy some corny devilish jokes, but what a ride! Hope the series continues even if it continues to do only what it says on the tin.

    27. God of War 3 Remastered - 10 Hours - 6/10 - PS4 Pro

    Good fun little hack and slash that is what it is and nothing more. Usual fun Demi God vs Gods story, good action, irritating QTE’s and even more irritating flying sections BUT when it’s just crazy combat with a little puzzling included it’s good fun. Imagined there may have been a little more set up for the next in the series but alas, it just, ends. Decent fun and has aged well for a ten year old game.

    28. The Last of Us 2 - 25 Hours - ?/10 - PS4 Pro

    So it’s over. Really don’t know what to think. I understand why they ended it like that, but I just didn’t enjoy said ending whatsoever. I have very mixed feelings about the entire game and at this moment in time I really don’t know what to think about it.

    I don’t like a lot of the decisions they made about the story or characters and I really don’t think they needed to literally smash their points home over and over again.

    Just a bit empty about it all.

    29.DMC - 10 Hours - 6/10 - Xbox One X

    Not a bad DMC game, but got rather boring very quickly. All the environments are so dull and boring and there’s none of the fun cheesiness one there. Takes itself too seriously. Just doesn’t add anything or perfect the formula, can’t really say much about it...so just feels kind of ok, perfect 6.

    30.Vergils Downfall - 3 Hours - 5/10 - Xbox One X

    Well, that was rather uninspired...it was ok, but again, just ok. No real story, lots of reused assets and environments, just a poor excuse of some paid for DLC at release. Only DMC4 left now and that’s all of them.

    31.Control: Foundation - 6 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    I absolutely loved Control when it was released so any excuse to go back I’ll grab with both hands, and I’m glad I did. This is an excellent bit of DLC, good bit of story that makes sense...as much as Control can...beautiful environment, as much as you can make of a foundation system beneath the oldest house, decent new mechanics and enemies, and more time in the awesome Control universe. Only downside was buggy last boss which was a disappointment, but that was the only downside. Aside from that very good bit of DLC and cannot wait for the next slice, just wish they’d planned for more.

    32.Daymare - 3 Hours - 3/10 - Xbox One X

    Fancied this so decided to give it a go for £15...just don’t. It’s abysmal. Looks awful, awful frame rate, awful enemies, script, everything really. In fact that’s about it. Just don’t. I just could not play anymore and deleted it from my HD and felt dirty. But not even in a good way, just muck dirty.

    33.Ghost of Tsushima - 30 Hours? - 8/10 PS4 Pro

    Strange as I’m glad that’s over, but at the same time I truly will miss it. Overstayed its welcome but there’s no denying it’s a beautiful game at times with an absolutely fantastic combat system combined with a simple but enjoyable story. At times it’s one of the beauties of the gen, with some incredible use of HDR, absolutely stunning scenes in some places that really do make you stop to appreciate them. The combat is excellent too, sticking to a sword throughout sounds limiting but you can switch between stances on the fly best suited to certain foe. It certainly isn’t rocket science but it keeps you switching it up and developing different tactics as the game progresses and didn’t get old for me once, loved feeling like a Samurai bad ass taking down groups of enemies, striking fear into their comrades as I mowed them down and then also stuck the instant kill black and white super bad ass mode on for a few kills if I’d struck down 6 without being touched.

    What a fucking awesome game that really let me be a movie Samurai throughout.

    Only bad points would be it lasting a little too long, having some very flat scenes that looked much worse because it was usually so stunning, and some characters with some boring missions to fill out their individual stories. Still absolutely loved it and I’m gonna miss being the ghost and tearing through some mongol dogs trying to fuck to my island.

    34.Control: AWE - 4 Hours - 6/10 - Xbox One X

    Well...it was more Control which is always a good thing...but was it too much or was there just so little new that it was disappointing? Expected a lot of the Alan Wake link and was left disappointed. Hardly anything beyond admittedly interesting collectibles. Could’ve been much, much more. Kinda sad to end my relationship with Control on that note...few extra bits but, my time there is done.

    35.REmake - 10 Hours - 8/10 - Xbox One X

    Really running out of stuff I wanna play this gen and fancied another RE run through, AND I’ve never actually completed a Chris play through. Gone through as Jill god knows how many times, and I think it might have been the only RE I’ve not completed with all available characters. Not anymore! Still such a great game, can’t say anything that hasn’t been said about it before. Stone cold classic.
  • 1. Her Story (Mac) - 6/1 - 5hrs
    A great interactive story really. Use search words and terms to unlock clips (over 200 of varying lengths from a few seconds to a minute) of a woman being interviewed by cops, and piece together the story. But it’s so well put together, works really and is surprisingly compulsive in trying to find more videos. Hits get less successful (diminishing returns) as you progress obviously but there is a skill to it (listen carefully to the clips and suss out key words that may occur across more than one clip etc). Well worth a few quid and few hours of time. Onto Telling Lies shortly.
    [8]

    2. Astral Chain
    (Switch) - 10/1 - 30hrs
    Slow start but once this got going and you unlock some abilities and skills, the combat is good Platinum stuff as always. The mix of styles is good and works really well. Not the best example of each genre it puts into the mix, but the overall game is far better than the sum of its parts.
    [9]

    3. Vanquish (Xbox One) - 12/4 - 6hrs
    Slightly underwhelming at first, given all the praise this gets. But from about halfway through the game, once I got better at sliding, dodging, slowing down time and generally being a cool badass, it became so much better. So fun and so so cool. Will be replaying immediately.

    I missed Inaba in the credits, dammit.
    [9]

    4. Doom Eternal (Xbox One) - 30/4 - c25hrs
    Bigger, better and more badass!  Wait, wrong shooter series...
    I liked this more than the first.  Mainly due to what I think are better designed levels.  Pacing is great and the combat encounters are as frantic and adrenaline pumping as ever.  A couple of weak boss fights aside, there isn't much to complain about here.

    After I finished the campaign, I went back via mission select and mopped up collectibles and just enjoyed whooping ass while dashing and jumping around and bathing in the glory (kills).  So satisfying.  Started the Extra Life Mode for the final campaign achievement but I think that'll be too much.

    Would play again in the future, but for now I'm done.
    [9]

    5. Streets for Rage 4 (Xbox One) - 6/5 - 3hrs??
    Never played a SoR before, but it really is quite possibly the best beat ‘em up around. But that’s not saying much. This is one for the retro heads. Cos it’s amazing how far games have come and how unenjoyable these retro games can be.

    SoR4 was enjoyable in some parts but I just found the whole experience a bit frustrating. Too many enemies with insta-moves, getting trapped between attacks, being bounced from one attack to the other, getting rushed - cancelling moves into a dodge or something like that would’ve done wonders. Other little frustrations too spoil the game. I was also disappointed there were no stages in a different style to break up the repetition like a chase sequence or something.

    Still, thankfully I didn’t pay for it , it was on Game Pass. I’ll mark it up a notch for that.
    [6]

    6. Shikhondo (PS4) - 8/5 - 3hrs??
    An average shmup by some Korean outfit, with mechanics not dissimilar to Cave’s output. But it lacks the polish, finesse, pacing and excitement of the games it’s trying to be like. I finished it with both characters but won’t be bothering with high score chasing. Don’t bother with this, just play a Cave game instead.
    [5]

    7. Vanquish (Xbox One) - 10/5 - 5.5hrs
    Hard mode done! That was awesome. Even better than on normal. I have more playthroughs in me but I’ll give it a little break. What a game!
    [9]

    8. Bayonetta (Xbox One) - 15/5 - 10hrs
    Yep. It’s still a [10] and the best game of its kind by a country light year. As if there was any doubt. PlatinumGames a go-go, baby.  Insta-death QTEs can just fuck right off, though. Oh, and Gracious & Glorious. The cunts.
    [10]

    9. Forza Motorsport 6 (Xbox One) - 25/5
    Left this years ago, thought I’d polish off the single player. It’s soulless unlike its cousin, but the audio visuals and the car handling and racing is great. But only once you get to the later series and need to use the faster race cars. If I had the time, I’d spend ages doing time trials!
    [9]

    10. New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe (Switch) - 23/6 - c10hrs
    Co-op with my Boy. Frustrating in places, but was mostly fun. Co-op shenanigans aside, the game itself is one of the best 2D Marios. Great levels and the right level of challenge - not easy, not too hard. There’s nothing really not to like here. I gave it a [9] when I first played it with my little kids watching me. That score hasn’t changed playing it in co-op with them now that they’re older.
    [9]

    11. The Last of Us Part II (PS4) - 26/6 - 36hrs
    A rollercoaster ride of a game, which perhaps goes on for too long (or at least some of the middle feels padded). With ups and downs, twists and turns. Just like the first game then, but on balance, I do prefer the original.

    Whilst the gameplay is vastly improved, with combat, weapons, stealth, puzzles, traversal, area design and the encounter layouts all being better this time round, my personal preference is the first mainly for its central plot and the characterisation.

    That’s not to say they’re bad in the sequel. Don’t want to say much for fear of spoiling the game for those who haven’t played/finished it, but I had mixed feelings about some of the narrative direction. And then there are the ways in which certain themes and/subject matters are handled. That being said, the delivery is powerful. Never before has a game made me feel the way I did with this - but again, that could be partially attributed to the narrative strength of the first game and the bond with Joel and Ellie that that created for me.

    I suppose a word or two should be said about how good the game looks both technically and aesthetically. It really is beautiful and I often found myself stopping to just look around (and taking screenshots).

    There are some issues, equally there is some really strong and unparalleled storytelling and delivery from the peerless acting for a video game. But I’ll leave that for the inevitable spoiler thread. For now, this is a [10] with a point docked for some bloat and thematic issues (for me). There’s also a point about player agency that I won’t go into here.
    [9]

    12. Shadow of the Colossus (2018) (PS4) - 12/7 - c8hrs
    As great as it ever was. Not sure about the look of the game; in some place it's absolutely beautiful, probably more thanks to the world design, but in some places some of those textures just make it look ugly to me. But at least it plays the same. Even down to a couple of the colossi just being frustrating. I had forgotten a lot of the game so it was nice figuring things out all over again for a few of the colossi. Will tackle time trials next and might do a hard mode run.
    [9]





    GIVEN UP!

    Baba Is You
    (Switch) - 7/1 - c8hrs
    Gave this a fair whack. 8 hours or so and I managed to unlock 7 areas, but not without looking up 3 or 4 solutions. It’s driving me crazy. It’s really clever, but way beyond my capabilities.
    My give up.
    [No score]
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • Hooray! List goes here.
    1. Katana Zero (Switch)
    Spoiler:
    2. Ape Out (Switch)
    Spoiler:
    3. Skyblazer (Snes)
    Spoiler:
    4. Starfox (Snes)
    Spoiler:
    5. Starfox 2 (Snes)
    Spoiler:
    6. Trip World (Gameboy)
    Spoiler:
    7. Tiny Toons - Buster Busts Loose (Snes)
    Spoiler:
    8. Rive (Switch)
    Spoiler:
    9. Aladdin (Snes)
    Spoiler:
    10. The Floor is Jelly (PC)
    Spoiler:
    11. What the Golf (iOS)
    Spoiler:
    12. Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow (Snes)
    Spoiler:
    13. Counterspy (Vita)
    Spoiler:
    14. Avenging Spirit (Gameboy)
    Spoiler:
    15. Sparkster (Snes)
    Spoiler:
    16. Heave Ho (Switch)
    Spoiler:
    17. Splasher (Switch)
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    18. Super Buster Bros aka Super Pang (Snes)
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    19. Wonder Boy : The Dragons Trap (Switch)
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    20,21,22. Streets of Rage 1 & 2, Bare Knuckle 3 (Megadrive)
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    23. Streets of Rage 4 (PC)
    24. Super Mario Bros 3 (from All Stars on SNES Virtual Console)
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    Hall of Permanent Abandonment
    1. Fez (PC)
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    2. Velocity 2x (Vita)
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  • Placeholder just in case.
  • 1. Heave Ho - Switch (6hrs)

    Madcap same room cooperative multiplayer game that exploits its core mechanic flawlessly.  Each player controls the arms and hands of a...face with arms and hands.  The analogue stick stretches/flails both arms around in any given direction, the left trigger clutches onto surfaces with the left hand, the right trigger grabs hold with the right.  From there it's all about manipulating the character by any means necessary to reach the goal.  If you're holding the correct button as your hand brushes a surface, it sticks regardless of momentum.  Swing, fling and climb your way to victory, either while assisting or hindering other players, shouting encouragement at each other and/or screaming at the ceiling in frustration.  Once one player reaches the goal they can call a balloon for the other players.  Take ten minutes to finish a stage and you'll be assisted in some way by additional poles.   Because of the amount of consistent fun we all had with it each and every session every session, plus the fact that it retails for less than a tenner full price, I'm going all the way to [10] with this if played with three or more players.  Most definitely GotY 2019 for me.  I can't believe how good it is, and how good my 5yr old daughter is at it, was an absolute joy to play through with her and Mrs. Geeza even got involved here and there.  An absolute hoot, I don't think I've had this much fun with same room mp since Monkey Target (and I LOVE Nidhogg & Towerfall Ascension). 

    2. Crazy Zen Minigolf - Switch (1hr)

    60% off if you pre-ordered should've been enough to set alarm bells ringing, but I'm powerless to resist handheld golf.  Turns out it's truly and astonishingly abysmal.  Surfaces that don't seem to make any sense, random physics, nonsensical hazards, a terrible camera system and holes so badly designed (presumably as a concession to the randomness off the controls) that one of them is a PAR 14.  They added a limited amount of aftertouch to the ball, and a jump button, which is just enough to double its score. [2]   Oh well, at least House of Golf was good.

    It actually stands for

    3. Cursed Castilla EX - Switch (2hrs 23mins 35secs) 

    Pretty good love letter to Ghouls n Ghosts.  It literally does nothing wrong in terms of flattery through imitation.  If you enjoyed Capcom's classics and fancy playing a new one that feels like an old one, this is exactly what you need.  Nothing spectacular, but brutally difficult (albeit without a soul crushing lack of continues).  Ronseal gaming, recommended at half price. [7].

    4. Shakedown Hawaii - Switch (5hrs) 

    Fun fact: this was one of the main reasons I bought a Switch a couple of months after launch.  Was listed as a launch window release for a while, then it unceremoniously disappeared, for ages, and eventually reappeared with the empire building aspect bolted on.  It's kind of my Last Guardian.  Fun fact over.   First things first then.  I could've done without the mogul management stuff.  It's fine and it doesn't really get in the way if you're after a straight arcadey experience, but I wasn't tempted to do anything optional.  Having said that, the cutscenes are fun so it's just a not my cup of tea thing.  I suppose they decided not to simply make another Retro City Rampage a few years on, so fair play.  I expect it more than doubles the length if you're a hundo hunter. The main playable sections are split between chunky og GTA bits and on foot twin stick shooting.  Both are decent, so if that's what you're after there's plenty to be satisfied with. Plus the absolutely relentless mission hopping is more varied than expected. [7] 

    5. Toki - Switch (roughly 70 minutes) 

    2018 redo of the 1989 arcade game, infamous for being one of the 'how much??!' EShop titles at £26.99.  It's finally dropped to a price I was prepared to part with (£5.99), but it's still one to avoid.  Whereas the Wonderboy III remake felt like a lavish lick of paint deftly daubed onto a classic game, the years have been far less kind to the way this one plays.  Couple that with the fact that the lick of paint itself has been applied in a slightly more slapdash way and you've got an oddity that might not even appeal to fans of the original.  Because of this, I'm not really sure who this is supposed to appeal to.  It's initially tricky, of course, but once you've learned the simplistic layouts/patterns it becomes strangely easy for repeated attempts.  It's a piece of piss compared to some modern 2D checkpoint platformers/run 'n gun types for sure.  Having needed a full restart to finish it - despite the 9 credits and 9 lives on default mode - I breezed through the first few levels the second time without losing more than a handful of lives.  All in all, it's a reasonably attractive lukewarm mess, with an overlarge character and controls that haven't stood the test of time past basic functionality.  [4], but only because I have a certain amount of respect for what it once was.

    6. 140 - Switch (75 mins) 

    Half of a BOGOF deal with twin stick shooter THOTH.  More on that later.  £4.49 for both.  Spoiler: bite their hand off. This one's a rhythm based platformer, very simplistic in terms of avatar movement (left/right/jump being the sum total of your options), but impressively inventive in terms of level design.  Guide your shape through checkpoints to the level goal, which acts as a warp if you touch it after collecting a nearby orb.  Surprisingly, the level guardians were the highlight for me, and the reason this settles on an [8] rather than a strong [7].  They're all good, even the one that messed-with-my-head-maaan, but the rhythm Pang types were sublime.  £2.25 for maybe an hour and a quarter of expertly crafted, stylish indie platforming.  Even the MMG naysayers would struggle to sniff at that, Shirley? 

    7. THOTH - Switch (90 mins) 

    Outstanding twin stick puzzle shooter.  You'll pick up the basics within a minute or so of playing, but in a nutshell: shoot enemies until their colour is suppressed and they turn black; once this happens they'll hone in on you more quickly.  Your avatar is nippier when not firing.  You can aim with the right stick or soft lock-on with the face buttons.  One hit kills, you have two lives to get through four stages but after losing your first life the walls become deadly too (cheers for that).  Every fourth stage locks as a restart point.  Each stage presents a puzzle of sorts but it rarely feels like there's necessarily an optimal way to solve it - at heart it's a twitch shooter, but it's the puzzle element elevates it to greatness.  Honestly, absolutely everything about this is nigh on perfect, it's an incredibly well designed game.  It even has a co-op mode. [9]

    8. 198X - Switch (70 mins) 

    Had a beady eye on this for over a year now. It's a grab bag of original retro styled arcade experiences - the sort too pretty to port to most consoles in the early 90s - held together by an appealingly presented yet wafer thin story told mostly via stunning pixel art cutscenes, but occasionally through v/o while you play (which works magnificently). The genres you're treated to on your whistlestop journey to the credits are scrolling beat 'em up, scrolling shmup, super scaler style racer, ninja themed auto runner and maze RPG. They all look great and sound good thanks to a legit Yuzo Koshiro score, but they're all merely adequate at heart.  In order of good to bad, despite the fact that they've each got one foot in both camps, it's: shooter, racer, RPG, ninja runner, beat 'em up.   This is part one of a planned series, but it's over so quickly the feeling of being short changed weighs the whole thing down.  Fleshing out each playable section might have helped, but biting the bullet, holding fire and releasing the whole thing as a full package would've been preferable.  Genre hopping between snazzy looking, enjoyable-yet-average experiences throughout a 3hr game would have all the whizzbang with none of the gee wizz what a swizz, so perhaps this one should only be fully judged when complete.  As I'm reviewing what's in front of me - basically a 1hr game - it's disappointing.  I liked it a hell of a lot while it lasted, probably more than it deserved in fairness, but even so I can't really go higher than [6]. 

    9. Squidlit - Switch (45 mins, including starting again twice) 

    A Blue Swirl rec.  I...kinda enjoyed it.  But I never had a Gameboy, so the handheld monochrome display effect didn't stir my loins.  Fun fact: I had to reboot twice as I thought the screen had filled with ink (or something) and crashed.  I could move around but couldn't see what my character was doing, so I thought it had glitched.  Turns out the right analogue stick controls the contrast, for some unknown reason, and because both combinations of my JoyCons are borked and like to drift whenever they fancy it, the screen kept fading to black (or dark green).  Fun fact over!  It's a functional platformer but I doubt anyone would've been happy with the length in 1991.  You could probably get through it twice on one set of batteries.  [4].  Sorry Swirl, £1.79 seems a touch steep.  I didn't hate it and the book boss was neat, but 'tis a bit shit really.  

    10. Sky Blazer, SNES (90mins) Finally finished this.  I don't think doing it in four sessions helped in the end, I probably should've put more of an effort in.  I'd like to try it on original hardware to see if it's the emulation that gives the controls that 'a little bit off' factor, which can be a problem on the Pi from time to time (the timing of the double jump in Revenge of Shinobi has never felt quite right to me via emulation, for example).  The franky pathetic short range of the attack is my main bugbear, as it exacerbates the already floaty controls thanks to the way certain enemies have to be approached precisely.  Playing this without any nostalgia gives it an unfair disadvantage though; my retro head is savvy enough to know that this would've been legit in 1994.  I know for a fact some of the bosses would've got my juices flowing (some - a couple are bobbins).   It's varied, often a massive tick in the plus column for late period 16-bit titles, but in worthwhile ways.  I enjoyed the forced scrolling levels and Mode 7 always looks sexy af to my Megadrive eyes.  As usual I'll go for a percentage rating.  FWIW my retro scores can be roughly deciphered using the formula 'what I would've given it at the time minus 5-10% (depending on genre)'.  So a healthy 83%, from me - doesn't quite sneak into the low top tier but definitely a good platformer overall.

    11. West of Loathing - Switch (7-8hrs) 

    Humorous cowboy RPG with particular attention paid to the humorous cowboy aspect - it's is a very funny game, and not just smile or titter territory; the script made me laugh out loud on multiple occasions.  This is a consistently well written game and the tone never grated on me.  The RPG side of the proceedings seems pretty standard, but the successfully amusing exchanges/text elevate the occasionally trite bob-a-jobbing considerably.  The battle system is perfunctory, but it works.  I'm off to bed soon, so this will be a short review, but I don't want it to sound negative.  I really enjoyed it, and I really don't tend to enjoy the genre at all these days, which means I'm absolutely recommending it to anyone who might be interested.  There's tons to do, and I did most of it.  That's right - I mopped up side quests!  Form an orderly queue to touch me, I'm a changed man thanks to the trials and tribulations of Waylon Hoss 'Danger' Roosevelt. [8]

    For later:

    Blood & Truth - PSVR (4hrs)

    I'm having this because I would've finished it today if my Playstation hadn't required emergency full memory wiping resuscitation.  A quick look online suggests I was around 40 mins from the end - will pop round and finish finish it off when @retroking1981 unlocks the last chapter, but I'm not starting it again.  Not because it's not great, but because I tend to be a bit weird about replaying stuff, especially immediately after I've done it.  I'm ready to review it anyway, and I'm well pissed off about the loss of all my save states for everything so 'low it please peeps.   I've always been partial to light gun games, and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood was so satisfying - even played with a pad - that it went a considerable way towards justifying the outlay for the VR kit for me. I started to play this with the dual shock, but it quickly became apparent that it deserved more.  Armed with the move controllers retro kindly lent me I blitzed through the story in a couple of days.  As soon as I got used to the reload motion (you have to manually load a clip from your chest into a weapon) it was pretty obvious that this was going to be a success.  There's no denying it's an insanely expensive way to relive (and hugely expand upon) the glory days of a dead genre, but if you do happen to be kitted out with a PS4, a headset, two move controllers, some decent in-ear headphones and a copy of the game, then you have treated yourself wisely.  The full immersion works staggeringly well, from the hotspot movement system to the gunplay itself.  With, say, a handgun on each hip and a shotty on each shoulder, holstering the former to reach back and grab hold of the latter is immensely satisfying.  Even the climbing sections are good - I might've looked like a twat acting out the motions of monkey bars while sitting on the sofa in my front room, then drawing a pistol from my hip and shooting someone in the face one handed while hanging from the other, but when you're doing what's described in that sentence and it works, who fucking cares, right?  The future is now. It's not perfect, as pick ups are often infuriatingly out of reach, requiring recalibration mid gunfight, but that can be excused and goes with the territory in my experience.  It's also quite short, and leans on cinematic storytelling fairly regularly, leaving you with maybe 3hrs of actual running riot shooty bits.  Importantly, when everything works seamlessly there's not much that can touch it.  It's full Laahdahn bruv, with some decent and not so decent voice acting, but the mockney family mobsters shtick is pretty well done for the most part.  If you've got the kit and reckon you could stomach Martina Cole's Snatch in VR you'd be a fool to miss it. [8] *Will remove asterisk when I finish it properly.

    12. Flipping Death - Switch 

    (6-7hrs) Took a while to warm to it, started to enjoy it immensely after an hour or so, then spent the back half of the game - at least - wishing it would end. In essence it's a humorous point and click that ditches the pointing and clicking in favour of wonky platforming, and massively over-eggs the humour. It is amusing in a fair few places, but it's all a bit relentless. Puzzles mostly consist of either obvious or contrived 'go here, possess this, do that' checklists, which wears thin pretty quickly. It's ridiculous how often I reference Haunting Starring Polterguy these days, but here goes again: it's a bit like that crossed with Grim Fandango with a bit too much bad tween TV chucked in for good/bad measure. Tried to like it Unc, failed. The platforming is horrendously clunky and there just wasn't enough satisfaction tied to any success. [5]

    13. Journey to the Savage Planet - Xbox One (11hrs 9mins)

    A pleasant surprise for sure.  It's an explore 'em up with unlockable abilities used to access previously inaccessible areas.  Someone should probably come up with a more suitable descriptor for the genre.  It's also another humour heavy type, falling somewhere between Portal 2, Twisted Pixel games and Starship Troopers.  The voice over never got annoying for me (there's an option to reduce the waffle or turn it off, so it seems pointless to complain even if it does grate).  It also has plenty of PAKISTAN IS THREATENING MY BORDER type TV ads, but they're mostly okay as a one watch, and you can turn them off too.  

    It's not an absolutely whopper, but it is a bigger game than I assumed it would be going in.  Still, it's a tiddler in comparison to something like Breath of the Wild.  I much prefer these smaller, intricately designed game worlds over square foot dick measuring maps, and this really does give off a lovingly crafted glow at every turn.  Visuals are surprisingly excellent too; it's a damn fine looking game.  I quite liked the platforming in the end, especially once your character becomes a bit more manoeuvrable.  The ledge grab traversal assist is fairly well implemented, especially when you're scrambling over clusters of rocks that are often surprisingly scalable.  The exact rules for the grapple hook LB trigger still remain elusive to me - and I like exact rules in games - which means I fell in frustration half a dozen times, but it rarely takes long to pick yourself up and try again.  The shooting never felt quite right either, and I can't put my finger on why.  There's a chance I've lost any meagre FPS skills I had during the wilderness years, so it could well be a case of me not you with the gunplay, but half the time it felt like the aim assist was set to '1mm off target trollolol'.  Either that or it had no aim assist, but according to the settings it does.  Shrug.  As Tin mentioned in the thread there's huge scope for cheesing a lot of of the time, which compensates somewhat.  It's serviceable anyway, not strong enough maintain a shooting game for sure, but not weak enough to detract more than a smidge from the overall package here.

    The exploration was quite addictive, which isn't something I say very often.  It was nice to have a good old fashioned bastard as an end boss too.  You know the drill, montage incoming: that's not fair/that's shit/bollocks did that hit me/what the fuck is hitting me/nooo not again/where am I supposed to stand then/aargh [slowly and lightly pounds joypad in frustration]/FUUUUUU...oh, I've done it, great stuff.  

    It's an odd game, and I've spent most of the review wondering whether to plump for a 7, 8 or 9.  No prizes for guessing that we'll take an [8] for the bottom line, but it's better and worse than that.  It's a wonder I don't review games professionally really.

    And I forgot to mention co-op, which is what I bought it for in the first place.  The way the game saves for two players is a bit odd though, as player one hosts, and player two joins their save.  So the guest is just a visitor really, which to me feels like it either has to be played entirely in co-op, or completed solo by each player first.  I'll do a bit of mopping up in co-op, but in the end the single player was too good to resist so we both ploughed on.

    14. Toby: The Secret Mine - Switch (2hrs) 

    Truly horrendous budget Limbo clone.  Nothing works anywhere near as well as it should, which is unforgivable in such a simplistic copycat side scroller.  Some of the puzzles are okay, but the controls are terrible, so obviously in practice they're not. I thought I had a fair bit to say about it, but now that I'm sat at a keyboard I can't be bothered.  All anyone needs to know is that even if you only spend eighty nine pence* on it, the real Toby is you.  Strip away the not-too-shabby-I-guess visuals and it's an irredeemable mess.  I didn't even try to rescue any of the prisoners off the beaten track, yet I ended up with 20 out of 27.  Shite.  [2]  It made me yearn for another playthrough of Inside though, so something good came out of it I guess. *At least I think it's 89p at the mo, I bought it last time it was dirt cheap. Nope, I didn't even like the minecart section.

    15. Ruiner - Xbox One (4.5hrs)

    Unashamedly brutal and bellowingly unsubtle wave based twin stick close quarters combat game.  Take a pinch of Hotline Miami, a spot of Running Man, a dash of Nightcrawler (see what I did there??  YOU'LL SEE) and repeatedly club what emerges from the melting pot around the head with Judge Dredd.  Now imagine imagine it on horseback - Sarah Jane from Bravestar, obviously - sat just in front of Brian Blessed, charging forward while shouting "God, and King Richard!" in unison.  The cast of Cyberpunk-by-committee villains is astonishing.  A sum total of fuck all of them are any better than an imaginative 13yr old could design, but they're Cyberpunk characters!  They're supposed to be awesome and a bit amusing, right?  Job done as far as I'm concerned, plus they've got names like Mechanix, Techno Dogs, Nameless Protagonist, TrafficKing, Shadow the Triad Trooper, Titanium Cranium and NERVE.  But aha, I made at least one of those up (and it wasn't Shadow the Triad Trooper). 

    Perhaps it's trying too much, there's a lot to take in with its dash/strike/shoot arena stuff, but for my money every aspect of the combat was legit.  If you try to focus on everything at once it's a bit like spinning plates, so don't; play it how you like it.  It gives you a vast number of perks and skill trees to manually upgrade but that's nowhere near as daunting a task as it first appears.  You're building the way you want to play the game, and there's not enough runway over the 5hr runtime for an average player to max out more than a couple of categories anyway.  Are you a dash player, do you focus on close melee combat, are firearms, shields or bullet time your thing, etc.  You can add and remove upgrades as you please, so if you get stuck you can readjust your tools and adopt a different approach.  

    The key word is carnage.  It's probably aiming for 'balletic carnage', and to some extent it's successful, but you've got to picture Alexander Godunov from Die Hard for a fitting approximation.  If you require you games to constantly evolve and keep you on your toes with variety as well as playability then perhaps you should look elsewhere.  Not only does this play similarly throughout, but most of the locations could be mistaken for any previous ones.  For me, this is fine - it's a 5-6hr game, and what could accurately be described as repetitive combat is also fundamental to the appeal.  It's rinse/repeat, sure, but it's short enough for the entire thing to be incredible, imo.  

    @Facewon, I absolutely properly loved it.  Better than Mr. Shifty for sure.  the visuals are superb, and while perhaps not as memorable as it could have been, the music does its job very well.  You know what it sounds like from one glance at a gif.

    I think at this stage I'd be willing to play absolutely anything Published by Devolver, it's starting to feel like they only make games I like.  [9]

    16. Guardian Heroes - XBLA (50 mins) 

    Quick run-through of the snazzed up Saturn classic.  Played as Han, who was my third choice character back in the day (4th if you count Selena).  It's a bit more fiddly than I remembered, especially when you're being juggled all over the shop, but there's a huge amount of depth in there for a scrolling beat 'em up.  The multi-plane gameplay works well and multiple routes add replayability.  Visuals are still superb, I know some purists hate pixel smoothing but it works for me.  There aren't many Saturn remakes around, and although the 2D titles are undoubtedly easier to port than the 3D ones, I still think the amount of work put in for a minor XBLA release was a little under appreciated at the time.  Music is still God tier too, some of those themes will never be topped for this sort of thing.  In fairness today's run was a [6], but the whole shebang is a solid [8] by modern standards and was a strong [9] in 1996. 

    17. Gigantic Army - Switch (40 minutes) 

    Well it scratched an itch anyway.  Budget Cybernator clone that genuinely succeeds in looking and feeling like a 16-bit Cybernator clone from early '93, for good or for ill.  Most of these types update things a smidge with save states, niftier controls, checkpoints and the like, but there are no such concessions here.  One life, three credits.  If you run out of continues it's the title screen for you sonny Jim.  It's pretty easy once you learn the stage layouts though, I managed to clock it by the skin of my teeth on my second full go.  Tip: the default weapon/sub weapon combo is shite, go for the missile and boss crippling big beam instead.  I enjoyed it, but with only six stages it would've been one to rent in 1993. [6] today, 79% way back when.  DO NOT PAY FULL PRICE. 

    18. Panzer Dragoon Orta - Xbox One (2hrs 25mins) 

    Um...so does the Bone make OG XBox games look better?  I played it at the time and it looked fantastic, easily one of the finest looking Xbox exclusives, but I assumed the double gen jump BC games would look a bit ropey thanks to HD displays/nostalgia trying to pull the wool over my eyes.  Visually, it's pretty astonishing for a near twenty year old game.  I'll move past the way it looks shortly, but wow, you could easily convince me that this is a 5yr old reboot.  Stunning.  I thought the Xbox One just emulated old games, surely there's some extra jiggery-pokery going on here?  Stunning.  It's a shame the same can't be said of the audio, specifically the music.  It aims for the Panzer Zwei Yamaha chiptunes style over the original's sweeping orchestral beat for beat Red Book score.  Unfortunately almost nothing here is memorable, which puts this firmly in Streets of Rage 3 territory as a pale imitation of former glories.  Yes, you could still place them as Panzer Dragoon tunes with a blindfold on, but they mostly sound like they've been rescued from the cutting room floor.   Back to the positives then.  It's far better than I gave it credit for at launch.  IIRC I played through it once at the time, thought it was decent but missing the magic of Zwei.  On reappraisal it's actually right up there with the very best rails shooters (Sin & Punishment 1&2, Starfox 64, Panzer Zwei).  The triple dragon system works well, as do the elements of PD Saga that were added to the boss battles (positioning via boosts to line up with damage zones/avoid certain attacks).  I'd have to play Zwei again to be sure, but although this is missing some of the grander set pieces from that (the audiovisual wallop of the best bosses is never quite replicated), this may even be a slightly better game.  I'm gonna give it a [9], I only intended to play the first couple of stages but I did the whole thing in one sitting.  

    19. Joe Danger 2: The Movie - Xbox One (2hrs) 

    I intended to play this on 360 after grabbing in it in some sale or other.  Better late than never anyway, and the backwards comp library is still very much appreciated, you big Microsofties. I like stuff like this.  Skill/reactions based memory test obstacle courses basically, part autorunner, part full fat minecart section and in this case, part Trials lite (or MotoHeroz, which was pretty much Red Lynx's own Trials lite).  This one's fine, but lacks the finesse of the best in the genre.  As always, there are only a limited amount of inputs, but the ducking and jumping never felt right to me, nor did the lane changing.  It all gets a bit busy on screen at times, which nerfs the purity somewhat.  I'd play this sort of thing with an LCD display tbh, so maybe I'm just shouting at clouds. It's all slightly too lightweight and imprecise anyway, so the 2hr runtime felt about right.  This one has a few play styles, which I don't remember from JD1 when I played on Vita (skis, jetpacks, cars and suchlike), which keeps it varied but of course brings in the dreaded feeling of some being better than others.  Good fun for the most part, but not great. [6]. Apparently so niche there aren't any gifs around, I thought this series was pretty well known.

    20. The Secret of Monkey Island Special Edition - Xbox 360 (3hrs-ish)

    Inspired by the Games of the decade threads (which also inspired a re-run of Portal 2 I started yesterday), I realised I hadn't played through this since the SE was released.  Not much needs to be said about the game, it's unquestionably one of the best point and click adventures ever made and easily my favourite.  I'm not keen on the look of the remake, but at least the voice acting is decent.  I love the instant retro/redo button added to games like Wonderboy III and Halo: CE (MCCSE), it's just a shame that the style of the modern game is an affront to my eyes here.  I don't remember disliking the new look quite this much in 2009, but ten years on I hate it.  Not a problem though, was happy to lose the voice over in exchange for those sweet OG looks.  Insult sword fighting is still one of the greatest things ever to appear in a videogame, and the whole thing felt as close to revisiting a favourite novel as the medium can offer. [9] 

    21. Mario Maker 2 - Switch (4-5hrs) 

    I'd just played NSMBU when I bought this, so put on hold after a handful of stages.  It's obviously the wrong way to play MM, as I haven't even activated the online code yet, but the selection of courses that make up the story mode are mostly decent.  A handful are a chore, but the scattershot approach to level types keeps things fresh.  I enjoyed the car and shmup stages, but wasn't as keen on the slow-paced manual switch block puzzles.  Also, am I the only one sees ghost houses as the Mario equivalent of Sonic's underwater stages?  I always find them kinda laborious.  Anyway, it's ideal for handheld play - most courses will only take between two and five minutes for an average player to finish.  Decent, and I'll check out the Zelda stuff at a later date as the update trailer intrigued me.  As a challenge mode 2D Mario game it did what I wanted it to do. [7].  I'd imagine the full experience could threaten a full [10] if the ratings system for individual stages works well enough, and it wouldn't surprise me if many of the DIY stages available a year after launch are far better than the offerings pre-loaded on the cart.

    22. Ori & the Will of the Wisps - Xbox One (15hrs)

    Moon Studios have described this as Mario 3 to Blind Forest's Super Mario Bros, and they nearly pulled it off.  At one point in development they were probably well on course for a masterpiece.  Then they got lazy and all started working from home like a bunch of layabouts with one eye on daytime TV, presumably.  Joking aside, it's a shame they didn't quite succeed.  A few minor problems in amongst the grandeur - and a couple of whopping ones - clip its wings considerably.  What we're left with is probably more Mario Sunshine to Blind Forest's Mario 64, or any franchise you'd care to reach for where the sequel sticks to the same format, tries more but achieves less.  Super Monkey Ball 2, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Perfect Dark Zero, Sonic Adventure 2 - you do yours!  

    Ori was a precision platformer masquerading as a Metroidvania, whereas this is more confident with its exploration and provides you with an abundance of tasks and side missions.  There's far more to reward the off-piste player, evidenced by my half-empty kit bag as the credits rolled.  It nods so heavily at Hollow Knight in a couple of places it's probably risking whiplash, but the systems it pinches are well implemented on the whole.  Back to the platforming though, it's mostly somewhere between good and very good, which is me purposefully damning it with faint praise - the assault course style design was tighter and more inventive in the original.  Yes, there are some excellent abilities to find in this that are very well used, but on the whole it lacks the masterclass of the The Blind Forest when scrutinised as a checkpoint platform game.  The chase sequences are back, despite what I read elsewhere, but of the three I can remember two were exhilarating as ever but far too easy and the third was an unwelcome difficulty spike.  Alongside the chase sequence we now have bosses, and as a boss man it broke my heart to discover that they're all poor.  Chalice described the combat as scrappy and I think that's a good description, but I also think it's a good fit for the game's standard stages.  Ignoring the bosses, the overhauled combat system works well once you're got a few weapons under/in your belt.  It all starts to fall apart when a screen-filler appears though.  It's an unashamedly difficult game, and the bosses will relentlessly destroy you while you try to juggle too many systems and muddle through the absolute carnage.  It's too much, they're too fiddly, and they're all too frustrating.  Case in point: I spent 10 minutes trying to chip away at one, before trying a different tact with an optional weapon I'd bought half a game ago.  I then proceeded to decimate the fucking thing in 25 seconds, which just felt wrong.  What if I hadn't bought that weapon?  Why is my standard kit so ineffective?  I'm sure there are many different ways to take them down, and I bet plenty of players smash them all over Youtube without breaking a sweat, but as someone with an affinity for level guardians based on over 30 years of 'being well into them', I'm here to tell you they goofed. 

    As expected, it's a stunningly beautiful game, sitting somewhere close to Cuphead as the best looking game ever for me.  I just love the whole aesthetic, truly glorious stuff.  The music is a win for me also, it probably just about edges out the original here too.  The story is punctuated by 'feel this now' moments, so it's manipulative to an extent, but as with the first game it feels like a good fit for what's on offer.  It's Dark Moomins via Princess Mononoke; it wants to give your heartstrings some gyp and it makes no attempt to disguise when it's trying its hardest.  I'm down with that, the whole thing is so beautiful it makes the ladlefuls of straight-ahead storytelling quite palatable.

    In terms of performance, Xbox One S owners can self-medicate with the game in its current form.  I found that when it starts to freeze, rebooting the game kept that particular problem at bay for an hour or so.  Annoying, but a workable fix.  The framerate still stutters too much for this sort of game though, it's no constant by any means, but there will be the odd occasion where a frame dip seems to gloss over the fact that you just pressed a button.  It's not game breaking, just heart breaking.  If you're an Ori fan don't follow my lead, wait for the inevitable full fix.

    Overall then, it's a very good game with fairly sizeable technical issues in its current state, some bold design decisions that paid off and a few that most certainly did not.  I've been down on it for chunks of the review, but it's still in with a chance to make the GotY list. [8]

    23. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Switch

    First timer here.  It's easy to see why this is so revered as a 1993 Gameboy title, but played first as a reboot it's a touch trickier to asses.  Getting the old stuff out the way first - it's close to mind boggling to me that this is based on an OG Gameboy game.  As mentioned elsewhere I had no idea that machine hosted games this complex.  I've watched a few videos and I'm very impressed by it.  So, big shout to the original, but from here on in we'll be focusing on the reboot.

    Don't panic!  It's still, mostly, an excellent Zelda entry.  It lacks the intricacies of ALttP but the combat is fun and the dungeons are mostly high quality.  The last 2D Zelda I played was Minish Cap (in 2017 iirc), and I'd put the majority of these dungeons above what was on offer there.  The update is chunky and lush - non game-breaking framerate stutters aside - but it's a shame more wasn't added to alleviate the feeling of being totally stumped.  The phone shacks help, but they're not a complete cure.  Which clearly makes this a game best enjoyed by those who have sampled its delights before.  With Google as my new Navi I successfully muddled through, but I'd probably still be stuck if I hadn't reached for pointers here and there. 

    I was reasonably confident I knew the ending going in, and yup.  Again, that was probably quite something in a 30yr old game but I doubt it would be put on such a pedestal in 2020.  Good though (and probably the best thing I can remember from a Zelda game in terms of storytelling), just not amazing!!!1

    Toyed with a [7] but with its roots taken into account it scrapes an [8].


    24. Way of the Passive Fist - Switch

    Attention naysayers, the under-the-radar indie scene is teeming with originality if you look hard enough.  At a glance this is a tough sell - single player scrolling beat 'em up with 1990s arcade rubber stamp visuals based on a parry/counter-attack rhythm/pattern system.  Firstly the graphics; they're fantastic.  Honestly, it looks exactly the right kind of bold & chunky for an imitation Final Fight clone circa 1993.  Sound design is just as faithful too, the tunes are quite toe-tappy.  Plenty of games aim for a snapshot in time feeling and miss the mark considerably, but this absolutely nails it.  Even the enemy design strikes me as accurate - you wouldn't need to squint to believe this was from the era when scrolling beat 'em ups were ten a penny.

    Anyway, the game.  You defeat enemies by parrying their attacks (set patterns depending on enemy types) until they're knackered, and then press the poke button, which sort of Jujitsu pressure point prods them to death.  Some attacks must be dodged, and you also have a dash move to get you out of trouble.  Successful parries and dodges build up your super gauge.  Some enemies can only be dispatched by a super.  Bad guys do the one-at-a-time attack thing the genre loves, but it's more pronounced here as deviation from that system would be game breaking.  It also has an XP system with a few unlocks as you progress.  It's hard to explain really, but you'll pick it all up fairly quickly in practice, partly because it's tough as nails.  Levels award medals for scores, and it's entirely possible to keep combos going for the duration of the stage.  I'm shocked how well executed the core idea is.  Coupled with fun bosses, replete with sampled speech snippets before they get their arses kicked, and this is a genuinely good game.  The customisable aspect to the difficulty settings are quite well done too - you can tailor it to suit your skills, and I ended up playing somewhere close to easy.  It does its job well though, I played level one on max difficulty after the credits rolled and nailed it.  

    It's not quite great, some of the levels are overlong and can become monotonous (especially those without bosses), but it's eyebrow raisingly competent at the admittedly slightly weird thing it does.  [7], but that feels harsh at its current price (£2ish iirc).  I'd actually recommend it at a tenner if you like the genre and fancy something that freshens it up.    


    25. ARMS - Switch (60mins-ish)

    Just a quick one.  Had a random games morning with my daughter on Saturday and she picked a few things we haven't played for a while.  Did this always have a split screen co-op arcade mode where you're tethered together?  It does now anyway, so we whizzed through that a few times.  My Joycons are so fucked we can't play two player with the motion controls any more, but the pad controls strike me as a better bet anyway (albeit slightly less fun), at least for scrubman tier players like us.  Quality game this, there's a lot more going on than there was at launch too.  I've found the mode that gifts you extra arm attachments now too.  Additional: visuals are about as good as it gets on Switch and it's nice to have a roster of players in an all-new fighting game where everyone looks like they've been designed with care.


    26. Streets of Rage 2 3D - 3DS (1hr)

    Dusted off the 3DS to play Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia bit ended up doing a lesser-spotted Max run on this.  Was surprised how easy the standard difficulty setting was as I remember needing the continues as a kid.  I finished on two lives less than I started with today.  Huh.  Presumably I was a massive moran with the energy depleting specials in the 90s.  Nothing needs to be said about the game really, it's a masterclass in just about everything it does.  [9].  Feed me SOR4, I am ready.

    I love my 3DS, but as ever the 3D effect was totally lost on me so I turned it off to save battery.  These rereleases were lauded for their 3D beautification, so maybe my eyeballs just refuse to play along.  I've never been able to see a magic eye picture even for a split second either.  Damn my eyes!


    27. The Legend of Zelda - Breath of the Wild - Switch (second profile doesn't show playtime as I haven't linked it to the main account.  If I had to guess.....60hrs?)

    Look at me, replaying things like normal people seem to do.  Played from start to finish with my daughter over the past couple of months, I did most of the fighting (and all the bosses) and most of the shrines, she did all the climbing/exploration/cooking/selling things I wanted etc.  Probably one of the best things I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing tbh, the joy of a 5yr old has bumped this up from the miserly [9] I gave it in 2017 to a full [10].  It's knocked Odyssey into a cocked hat as her all-time fave.  When I finished it last time I claimed it lacked some of the magic of other entries.  TOMMYROT!

    It has its faults, but moreso here than in any game I can think of they're easily overlooked.  Much like anyone else I haven't the foggiest what they'll do with the sequel, but I said it when the trailer arrived and I'll say it again - it'll be a crying shame if the potential reuse of assets results in the reappearance of the full BotW game map.  The thrill of exploration is so intrinsic to the experience I just don't see how they'd pull it off.  It'll be good of course, but it's a worry.

    Back to this one though: if I were in the right mood, which I'm not at this particular moment, I'd probably be ready to describe this as the best game ever.  I am ready to admit it's miles better than the traditional Zelda experience I wanted.  Masterpiece.


    28. Streets of Rage (3D Classis) - 3DS (50 mins)

    It's easy to forget how good this was in 1991, especially as the sequel swaggered in shortly afterwards, flexing its megs and acting like it was running on different hardware.  As a home brawler this was immense.  Fun fact: I used to play it round my mate's house after school.  He had this, Sonic (omd) and Wrestle War iirc.  I had a Master System, so you can imagine how much my mind exploded.  The fun-ish part of the fact is that I bumped into him in the pub shortly before lockdown.  Hadn't seen him since the early 90s. 

    Game is great.  It had everything we wanted back then, arcade experience at home etc.  Best music in the series and lots of lol memories of all bets off situations immediately after one of you was accidentally on purpose thrown into a hole in level 4.  It's simplistic compared to the sequels - it plays closer to Golden Axe really - but there's nothing wrong with straightforward gaming.  93%


    29. Doom Eternal - Xbox One (16hrs, maybe)

    The 2016 entry is one my favourite games this gen.  This is more of the same, so fundamentally it's still superb, but it over-eggs things a smidge in comparison.  The in-the-loop mini arena skirmishes with melee focus remain roughly the same, so you'll know what to expect if you played the reboot, but attempts to flesh it out fall a bit flat here and there.  The perk game wasn't insubstantial in the last one, but it enters Numberwang territory here with weapon upgrades, weapon points, power cells, mastery coins, suit upgrades, crystal upgrades and probably more besides that I'm forgetting.  There's even some sort of XP progression going on.  It's all a little bit jarring in a game with this much immediacy (there's a hub now too), and I could have done without quite so much menu fiddling and ability tweaking.  Kudos to the devs for making much of it optional - slayer gates and so on - but it's still a bit much for my tastes.    

    Difficulty wise I struggled on Hurt Me Plenty (default setting) to the point where it's probably time to admit that my 3D gaming skillz haven't retained anywhere near the ultimate form Muzzy l33tness of my 2D abilities.  I got stuck for ages on at least two checkpoints, and ended up claiming my 5lbs of armour on every boss past the midway point.  It's fucking tough, and I've not heard much noise about it being full capslock tough, so it looks like this one's on me.  I'd rip & tear my hair out if I had to play the last two or three levels on Ultra Violence or above, whereas the 2016 struck me as well suited to replays on higher difficulties.  I'm not gonna lie, as the kids like to start sentences with these days; I had a strong desire to give up on the final stage.

    In terms of design I thought a couple of enemies let the side down slightly.  The Marauder just about works as a comparison to the game itself.  Bear with me here.  Once you get used to them, they're excellent badass level baddies.  Adding an element of counter attacking to the mix works surprisingly well, so it still feels right in the scheme of things even though they're doing something new.  Pats on the back all round, good work.  But wait, someone had the bright idea that a ghost cat should appear alongside them and clamp its jaws to your arse intermittently, which just seems too irritating to be considered a success.  It's the extra layer of dev spitballing that turned something potentially great into something merely good.  /End analogy.   

    There's plenty to like, but I've decided not to focus on that for some reason.  I had no real problem with the jumping, which a few reviews mention as a negative.  Some of those sections aren't great, but pulling off the moves was far more enjoyable than working out what to do imo.  As a rule of thumb, green bits of scenery highlight your path for progression, but I found some of the wayfinding a bit irritating.  Much as I did in the original games to be fair.  I get that it's there to mix things up a tad, but I would've preferred a relentless 8hr arena battler to a bloated 16hr FPS with jumping bits.  Actually, a 10hr mix of both might've been about right.  Anyway, /end Goldilocks musings.  It's too long, but I'm probably in the minority with that opinion as most gamers want more for their money these days. 

    It's a very good FPS overall, but only maintains an [8] average this time.

    Edit: I should've mentioned the visuals really.  It's a beauty.  Double double doors ftw; I loved the way some of the 'what have they got in there, King Kong?' doors had more doors behind them just because.


    30. Freedom Finger - Switch (2.5hrs)

    Depressingly below average space shmup with unfunny puerile permalols and lurid visuals.  The soundtrack is admittedly banging, but my advice would be to play a better shooter with Spotify on - there's just nothing engaging about the gameplay here.  The Aesop Rock tracks aren't bad, but they're far from his best.  I'm getting into scrolling shmups a bit of late, partly thanks to the excellent Super Hydorah, but this was a waste of my time.  Yes you can grab stuff, and some of the enemies you grab then turn into weapons, but it's all much of a muchness. [4]
    Knopfler.
  • 31. Sparkster - Megadrive (75 mins)

    Finished this today.  I thought it was awful at first but it soon won me over.  It's no RKA (very few 16-bit games are) and while it's clearly a downgrade overall it's still a pretty good game.  Visually there's nowhere near as much spit and polish as Megadrive owners had the right to expect based on the likes of Tiny Toons, Castlevania Bloodlines etc.  It's all a wee bit budget for 1994 really (bear in mind Dynamite Headdy/Pulseman were doing the rounds on MD in the same year), but some sections look nice enough. Things moved far quicker at the time though, so I'd say if this had been released in early '93 it would've been given a bit more leeway as a looker.

    Level design was fine, nothing particularly worthy of praise perhaps, but there are a few neat ideas as expected from Konami.  The jetpack means bosses are mostly pretty good though, staying airborne for the the first boss was the point where I realised it was actually a decent game.  The sword takes too long to swing for my liking though - a quicker attack would've been preferable.  Music is okay, functional for the most part but with one or two noteworthy ditties.  

    81% with my 1994 head on for Sparkster, but like most merely 'good' platformers from the era that equates to something far more miserly in modern money tbh.


    32. Q-YO Blaster - Switch (30 mins)

    Credits have rolled, so in it goes.  Horizontal forced scrolling shmup that's currently 89p, which is a ridiculous price for a genuinely competent shooter.  Has multiple characters and weapon choices from the off, which presumably makes it fairly replayable, plus two difficultly levels, presumably for mortals and Gods.  I went for beginner and had a blast.  The power ups, pulse and super weapon all work well, the bullet waves aren't irritating and everything soaks damage & explodes in a meatily satisfying way.  Probably deserves a [9] for the price, but I'll go with an [8] as it's usually closer to a tenner.  Really enjoyed it.


    33. Little Inferno - Switch (3hrs 50 mins)

    This has been on my radar for years as World of Goo was one of my favourite games of the Wii360 gen.  I've never been quite sure what it is is exactly, which is probably why I waited for it to drop to £6.  

    Turns out it's nothing like anything else I've played, it's marvellous, and it's also two player.  In handheld mode I presume it has touch screen controls, but it uses single JoyCons as pointers for co-op mode on a TV.  I might be one of the biggest moaners when it comes to the poor build quality of the JoyCons, but this is a tidy reminder of how versatile they are while they work properly.  Back to the game though, it's easily one of the best Wiiware titles I missed on Wii U, and probably in the top ten games for that console.  It makes less of a dent on a best of Switch list of course, but it's still a remarkable experience.  

    So what is it then?  In an attempted nutshell it's a one screen game where you order items from a catalogue, each of which take a certain amount of seconds to be delivered.  Then you burn them in a fireplace when they arrive.  When they burn, money pops out which can be spent on more things.  The more things you buy, the more catalogues appear.  When you've unlocked all seven (iirc) catalogues the end game kicks in.  There's a cryptic puzzle element to item combos to speed progression along (successful combos yield vouchers for instant deliveries), for example if the combo clue were 'Lunar Cycle', you might want to try burning a moon alongside a bicycle.  This part is fundamental to the appeal, they're great fun to solve.

    Along the way you receive letters from various other characters, but the less said about that side of it the better (due to spoilers, not crapness).  I played with Tilly and she was transfixed by all things Sugar Plumps.  

    One-of-a-kind off-kilter gaming with a big heart and a dark streak.  Loved it.  [8]


    34. Whipseey and the Lost Atlas - Switch (40 minutes)

    Mildly entertaining no frills Kirby type with fairly solid foundation in place for a better game.  With more levels and a bit of extra care tweaking the collision detection this could've been a decent budget type.  I had the six stages done in just over half an hour.  Professional reviews might reach for the phrase 'criminally short', but is it though? (Galaxy brain).  It's eighty nine pence at the moment, short games are far less of a swizz these days than they were when they retailed for £40ish in 1990.  This one reminds me of the Disney types of the era - pretty good while they last.  File alongside but slightly above Squidlit in the ultra budget 8-bit indie platform homage genre I will henceforth refer to as quidlits. [6] @89p, probably less than [5] at full price (£5).


    35. Steamworld Quest - Switch (16hrs 03mins)

    Waffly intro alert.  I've had an odd journey with the Steamworld games.  I started with Heist on 3DS, which is planted in the top half of my top 100 in Cinty's thread.  Then I forced myself to play Steamworld Dig on Vita, which I'd convinced myself I'd hate because of the procedurally generated layouts, and ended up loving that almost as much as Heist.  Then I stumped up for Dig 2 at launch on Switch, which is generally considered the best in the series, but wasn't quite as taken with it as the first, despite all proc gen stuff getting the boot.  Good game though.  Then they announced Quest, and my screwface had FFS written all over it thanks to the RPG card battle thing.  Turns out they'd curried enough favour with the other three, so I took the plunge anyway in a recent sale.  

    ....And it's not as good as it could have been, which is annoying as I liked it a lot more than I expected to.  The card battling is by far and away the highlight of the game, and managed to hold me in a grip of addiction long after the rest of the it had run out of steam (clones of earlier bosses are relentless in the final third).  The card mechanics might be considered simplistic to those in the know, but to the layperson (hello) it felt like a genuinely rewarding battle system, up there with anything turn based I'd care to mention that doesn't involve a movement grid.  I was hooked, well and truly.  I was also unexpectedly okay at it, as even the final guardians all fell at the first attempt (with minimal grinding along the way).  I only really struggled with one early-ish boss and one sub boss, the latter of which which forced me to play entirely differently to my physical attackers + healer preference.  Everything clicked and I always felt in control, which is quite rare for me with anything remotely similar.  Maybe cards are my jam?  Slay the Spire here I come.

    I pretty much loved the combat, but everything else was just slightly irritating window dressing.  I tend to like the look of the Steamworld games, but wasn't keen on the visuals here.  The script was weak, the characters were dull, the plot was shit and the exploration is rote.  It would've been a much better experience without any of the standard RPG trappings.  [7], but there's a much better game in there somewhere.


    36. Streets of Rage 4 - Xbox One (5hrs)

    The Bear Knuckle/SOR franchise is a suitable poster child for a dormant genre that once had heavyweight clout.  Most gamers of a certain age will have played Streets of Rage 2 at one time or another, and from those you'd be hard pushed to find anyone who wouldn't describe it as (at least) one of the best scrolling beat 'em ups ever made.  In the late 80s/early 90s Double Dragon/Final Fight clones were ten a penny in the arcades, but the format grew stale. With the advent of more powerful consoles and a frenzied push for 3D experiences, the genre was jettisoned in favour of uncharted territory and any genuinely well-known examples since could be listed on one hand. God of War/Bayonetta and their ilk are an evolution of the format, but the side scrolling, meat in oil drums, gutter pipe toting army of doppelganger style 2D beat 'em up is a very specific thing.  Since 1992 the biggest splash made by a game of this type (or thereabouts) was probably when Castle Crashers had its 15 minutes on XBLA.  It was a fun game, but it really wasn't a patch on the genre's best.  The top efforts since remain comparatively unknown.  Some quick shouts: Scott Pilgrim (which nailed the more simplistic approach), Mother Russia Bleeds (cracking in co-op, deserved more attention), Wulverblade (quality solo, outstanding audio).  The recent indie boom has paved the way for a mini resurgence, most of which have flown under the radar.  There's a Jay & Silent Bob effort with an 8-bit style on the way.  Slaps & Beans are doing their thing if that's your thing (who?).  There's even one where you parry your way to victory (Way of the Passive Fist, and it's actually quite good!).  Anyone heard of Coffee Crisis, Fight 'N Rage or Dusty Raging Fist?  Hello?  Enough preamble then, what I'm getting at is that the scrolling beat 'em up has quietly made a comeback in recent years, but you'll often have to sift through online stores to find them.  The release of Streets of Rage 4 is like when a big wrestler returns to the ring and all the pretenders continue to strut their stuff with as much gusto as they ever did, but everyone knows the Big Daddy is back.  I probably shouldn't have gone for a wrasslin' analogy as I've never really seen it, but I imagine that's what happens.  More importantly than anything I've just typed, Streets of Rage 4 is the best game mentioned so far, and that includes Streets of Rage 2.  And Bayonetta.    

    Crucially, Lizardcube decided that the key to refreshing the franchise close to 30 years on was to refine and tweak the foundations.  There's never been a scrolling beat 'em up that could accurately be described as notably superior to SOR2, so it makes perfect sense that this feels closer to that than the entry in between (no.3 is a good game, but it's rarely described as a great one for a reason).  The roll move from that game is absent, and the characters here feel weighty again.  Each of the four street brawlers has roughly the same number of moves available, all of which are executed with the same inputs as before, so straight off the bat this feels welcoming and familiar for anyone seeking that sweet Sega nostalgia hit.  The more you play, the more you begin to appreciate the deftness of the evolution - yes, it's SOR2 at its core, but the subtle tweaks appear to be successful across the board.  Moves can be chained together far more effectively than before, with air juggles now a viable option for combo seekers.  Previously energy sapping specials now only drain health permanently if you take a hit before a getting a few extra punches in yourself.  Adam suffers from this as the drain on his specials is pronounced, whereas Axel can be slightly more liberal with his big hitters.  Floyd and Cheery represent the new blood in the roster, but they're both familiar.  Floyd is Max and Cherry is Skate, and both characters scream early 90s.  They've either been designed by someone who deserves to be sniggered at (metal arms beefcake & Guitar punk grrl? lol), or they're the brainchildren of someone who absolutely gets what slightly shitty scrolling beat 'em up characters are supposed to be.  Either way the end result is perfect, and the whiff of jank to the cutscenes leads me to believe it's deliberately on the nose.  Well played says I.  Lalalala.  Adam can dash, Cherry can run.  Floyd can barely retreat from an exploding barrel without taking a hit.  From my two and a half playthroughs so far, none of them appear to be noticeably useless, although Adam (a secret character of sorts anyway) does seem to flex quite considerably in most key areas.  The grunts are a good mix of easy to dispatch and slightly annoying, the stages are tightly designed around a 3 life starting point and the bosses are decent.  Of course, everything is better in co-op, but this is easily the best solo SOR experience. 

    Visually it's a triumph, I had some doubts from trailers but the finished product is absolutely glorious.  Blaze's nork-walk looks silly, and Barbon looks like a Slimfast Stacy Keach wearing Simon Cowell's strides, but the overhaul is a resounding success on the whole.  At first I thought the tunes lacked a certain something, but the score came alive in the back half, and when I went straight back in I realised the early efforts are quality too.  Nailing the audiovisual package was always going to be tough, but it gets a 'good job very well done' on both counts from me.  

    It's the right length, the rinse & repeat nature of the core gameplay is enough of a hook to provide many hours of post credits enjoyment and the score attack element works well.  My only real gripes are the slightly weird screen push problem that can occur in co-op (a player being left behind feels a bit wrong for the series), one or two too many repeated boss fights (essential to the genre, but even so...) and the fact that numerous stones appear deliberately unturned with an eye on DLC.  This could have been the complete package, but it probably won't be for another 18 months or so, and I'm fine with that. 

    As a series update it's even better than the excellent Sonic Mania, and I fully endorse this trend of faithfully updating franchises without fucking with the elements that made existing fans fans.  All eyes on Battletoads (titter).  [10] 

    It's not really a 10, but it gets a lockdown point for arriving at just the right time to cheer all the old Segaboys up. 


    37. Super Buster Bros - SNES (50mins)

    Always enjoyed two player Pang on my mate's Amiga in the early 90s, but assumed a ball bounce puzzler where you control the character would've aged pretty horribly.  Turns out I was wrong, it's stood the test of time pretty well.  It's fairly simplistic in the Bubble Bobble one screen mould. with various puzzle patterns that require planning by the back half of the game.  Plans go awry and it plays well when you're readjusting in a flap.  For what it is, which isn't quite my cup of tea, it's very good.  I played on Easy and was glad to have save states by the end, so I'd imagine Normal mode would be well beyond my patience threshold.  Loses a few points for a bizarre lack of two player mode on SNES, which is near Final Fight levels of crying shame.  84%


    38. Splasher - Switch (3hrs)

    Excellent checkpoint platform game recommended by monkey a page or so back.  I liked the sound of it but wasn't expecting it to be quite as good as it is.  The fact that such an inventive and well executed platformer can be - to the best of my knowledge - lost in the flotsam and jetsam of the indie market speaks volumes about the levels of choice these days.  Aside from the obvious goings on rn, what a time to be alive (nabbed it for £4 too).  

    This starts quite well and gradually improves with each and every upgrade, yet never makes the 'too many abilities' faux pas.  The final unlock is so good a couple of stages reach Meat Boy heights.  It's getting late and I'm up early so I'll leave it there (read monkey's review for more thorough thoughts), but this is in the upper tier for me, relegating Mr & Ms. Splosion Man.  Graphics are appealing too, it scales in and out exceptionally well, which doesn't sound noteworthy until you play it, but the close-up sections are always welcome as it looks so chunky & nice.  A lot of games go for this visual style these days, but not many pull it off successfully.  Might be one for @acemuzzy. 8.5 rounded up to [9]

    39. Pocket Mini Golf - Switch (80 mins)

    None too shabby ultra cheapo (£1.50ish full price) minigolf game that's hamstrung by its mobile roots.  The paywall stuff hasn't really been adjusted for console play so you have to grind, a lot, to collect enough gems to get through the single player.  Even then the levels just start to repeat past 60 or so.  Entertaining enough if you find sinking balls in holes relaxing, and probably fun in the interesting looking mp mode, but only really worth a punt if you're jonesing for some crazy galf.  There's no snap, so it's just aim, power and shoot, but it's a decent enough Flash type while it lasts. [6]


    40. Fight 'N Rage - Switch (80 mins)

    Decent arcade style scrolling beat 'em up.  Was 50% off before SOR4 arrived, otherwise I probably wouldn't have bothered, but it was pretty well received among fans of the genre so I thought I'd take a punt on it.  The moveset is a bit 1991-ish, so this is feels closer to the games on the Capcom Beat 'em up bundle than the very best the genre has to offer (albeit better than any of those in fairness*), but that's fine, I knew this going in.  The visuals are appealing enough, although the excellent CRT cab/scanline effects are doing some of the heavy lifting.  Won't set anyone's world alight in this day and age, but it's 3-player, which is nice, has three very distinct characters (and presumably more to unlock), numerous modes, scope for juggle combos, parry moves and multiple routes.  It gets a bit tough in single player, even with constant crowd control planning, and waiting for the special to recharge is a bit annoying, but it's still fun.  If you've got room for more than a small handful of these games in your life it's well worth a look, especially with some mates round to bash the buttons with, but Streets of Rage 4 wipes the floor with it in all areas. [6]   


    41. Akane - Switch (4hrs)

    When do you review open ended games?  I'm approaching the point where I'm satisfied with what I've achieved/unlocked, so I'll probably put this to bed for a while.  I champion plenty of sub-£2 firesale types on here - FutureGrind, Videokid, Hyper Sentinel, Volgarr the Viking (HEART), Biolab Wars and the excellent Switch 'n Shoot being my favourites thus far - but it's rare to stumble across one that troubles the best indie games on the system.  For what Akane is - which is admittedly a very limited game in terms of scope for a modern title - it's nigh-on perfect.  

    It's an arena clearance type, but don't expect much variety while you mop up the onrushing hordes: this is no frills arcade thrills, but the key point is that every aspect of the mechanics are perfectly executed.  Your character's main method of attack is strikingly precise katana swipe.  It slashes as you press the button, so a quickfire tap tap tap tap tap can kill five opponents.  You'll have to play it to see why this is worth mentioning, but this absolute sword control is intrinsic to the appeal.  The katana has a stamina gauge, so you also have a range weapon (bullets for which are recharged by killing with the sword) a dash (feel free to dash and swipe), a parry and two forms of special move, one of which cleaves opponents in a straight line and the other takes out enemies anywhere on screen.  That's about it.  There are four types of enemy within each phase and a single boss that repeats (although he scales up as you progress).  There are also perks that unlock as you fulfill certain criteria, such as a sword that can be thrown or a longer dash as a reward for, say, hitting a combo of 100.  The more you play the more you unlock, but the improvements they offer are minor buffs rather than game changers.  

    There's only one arena.  When you defeat 100 enemies the boss appears, and when you defeat him the process repeats.  At heart it's a high score chaser where your runs are tracked on kills, boldness, combos (you have roughly two seconds to chain kills together) and katana accuracy.  The soundtrack is quality, although there's not enough of it to avoid plenty of repetition in a game that demands to be replayed endlessly. To sum up, it's a modern one-hit-kills single room Smash TV.  Think Mr. Shifty via Ruiner with a touch of Hotline Miami's close-quarters precision thrown in for good measure, but more self contained than any of these titles - it almost feels like you should be dropping an extra 20p in a slot each time you die.  That covers most of the bases, but there's plenty of Geometry Wars in there too as you need to be on your toes with crowd manipulation to survive.  On Bramble's life this is an outstanding game; it doesn't shoot for the moon but it doesn't put a foot wrong either.  [9]


    42. Hyper Light Drifter - Switch (5hrs 4mins)

    Stylish action Zelda dash 'n slash effort first released in 2016.  Non-linear in terms of your choice of route for the first three areas, which resulted in me choosing poorly - the first boss I found was easily the trickiest in the game.  In a weird way this probably helped get me on the hook from the outset, he was a real struggle with a barebones bag of tricks. The action is decent and I found it all quite moreish, but some of the mechanics were slightly off key.  The manual heal on six blocks of health always felt odd, for example, and even with practice the double dash timing loved to give me a nope.  It's chock full of secrets, but I tended to push on as soon as I'd collected enough key shards, so I expect I left a lot of things undiscovered.  I have no idea what the numerous monoliths I activated did, for example. Exploration for progression is fun though, mainly because the combat is quite neat and tidy.

    On the whole I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It's easily one of the most luscious audiovisual packages out there - I could happily hang some of the artwork on a wall or listen to the soundrack while washing up - but just a smidge shy of greatness at its core.  Got to add this bit in too - it constantly evoked half-memories of Fez, which was nice. [8]


    43. Huntdown - Switch (4hrs)

    Superb run & gun firmly rooted in the arcades of yesteryear.  It's an over the top pastiche on the surface; there's no real subtlety to the tone - the GET SOME is tongue (lightly planted) in cheek, but it's also born to kill.  It's framed as an amalgamation of all the video covers in the action section of an early 90's Ritz, yet the gameplay is perfectly refined.  Make no mistake, this is the ultimate form of the genre it mimics.  Whether you're down with this sort of thing or 'down with this sort of thing' is on you, but it ticks all the boxes for me.  It's bizarre how the best game of its type (IMHO) has been made thirty years after the genre's heyday, but the more I played the more impressive the achievement became.   It's mostly slow paced, so measured play reaps the rewards, although there's scope for better players to tear around thanks to the dash/slide moves. 

    The most obvious touchpoints in the way it plays are Rolling Thunder, with its horizontal fire, and the original Data East Robocop, with its immensely satisfying slug thuds and general 6000 SUX-iness.  I mentioned Cuphead in another thread, which gets my endorsement as a very good game, but it's at the opposite end of spectrum with shot feedback.  Enemies in Cuphead are bullet soakers, whereas Huntdown has far more weight and bite to its gunplay.  Even your standard popgun pops.  Of course, restricting the fire to two directions means even some run 'n gun fans may automatically find something amiss, but I've always been into this style if done well, from Shinobi to Gunman Clive. 
     
    The characters are just about varied enough to warrant experimentation, but their abilities aren't game changers.  Wisecracking heroes is an easily made yet bold development choice as it so often goes wrong, but they don't repeat lines too often and I was fine with it.  It over-eggs the hard boiledness, but so what?  Two player mode works perfectly, although I'd recommend a harder difficulty setting for couch co-op lovers thanks to the revive move.  Just about the only complaints I can think of are the melee weapons, which seem to have a delay on the input negating there effectiveness somewhat, and the fact that it's over.  Twenty stage is fine, but I would've lapped up an extra ten.  Perhaps they trimmed the fat as it doesn't put a foot wrong with its layouts or bosses.  Did I mention bosses?  It's treat time if you like a pattern-based toplads/lasses waiting for you at the end of every stage.  There's not a dud in the pack either.    

    I said this in the Switch thread and I'll say it again, I'd love this as an arcade cabinet.  There's plenty more to say and I could type about it all day but there's a pretty niche appeal to it, so you'll either look at the (early build) gif below and feel the sweet coin drop nostalgia pull or scoff at it like a young Elijah Wood.  For me it's either GotY or just behind. [9]


    44. Toki Tori+ (Switch) - 7hrs-ish?

    Really nice little puzzle game that deserves a higher mark than you'll see attached below.  Collect eggs spread around small stages using various abilities.  Not as easy as it sounds as there's usually a very specific order required for success, with a finite number of abilities at your disposal.  With the handy rewind function (spool back to any previous point in a level) you'll play out a game of trial and error as you attempt to unpick the puzzle.  It's easier said than done once it gets going, but once you get used to the systems in play you'll start to spot, for example, which egg had to be collected last and work from there.  It's great fun, with a huge sense of achievement when it all comes together, but as usual with games of this type it became too irritating for my tastes as it entered the final stretch.  I'm terrible at long form puzzles and they get extremely intricate in the final zone, to the point where I stopped enjoying myself as working towards each solution took upwards of 45 minutes (same thing happened with Baba is You and The Swapper).  I'm not cut out for these types of puzzle game really; anything that requires too much planning eventually makes me feel like a div and I'm usually happy to return to shooting stuff and jumping over things.  If the genre is up your alley it's a better game than Baba is You imo, it just looks a bit nasty and lacks the indie darling word manipulation hook. [7]

    If it had been an early import only Saturn release retroheads would stroking their beards at it, giving it honourable mentions on LISTS and scouring the inlays for scuff marks.

    45. Kunai - Switch (5hrs)

    Fast paced Metroidvania that's built around impressively solid player control, making it more of a 'playground screen' type than a sprawling epic.  In terms of world design this is resolutely old fashioned; you'll map out the areas as you plot a course, but there's little in the way of head scratching.  It's more Gato Roboto/Iconoclasts than Hollow Knight, which will either be welcomed or scoffed at depending on the hotness of your take.  Save stations do what they're supposed to and regenerate health, and they're rarely far enough apart for the (therefore manual) checkpointing to irritate.  Solid is a pretty good way to sum it up, it's the sort of thing I can't imagine many fans of the genre hating if they actually played it.  Spoiler alert (although not if you check the controls at the start), the dash move you acquire in a late game section should've been introduced earlier, and once the bazooka unlocks everything else become slightly redundant, but these are minor gripes.  Bosses are mostly good, one in particular is just shy of very good, and it's just about the right length too.

    The dual kunai grappling hook mechanic is well worthy of high praise - mere seconds after they were introduced I knew traipsing around would be fun - and while there are a few pacing issues and annoyances here and there, overall it's a very good effort.  The pastel visuals are on point to the point where it's quite a looker in its own upper tier budget way.  In this day and age with the choices on offer in the genre it's a [7], but it's a Brent Rambo thumb up type of [7].  Worth a look if you're after a game that plays well and doesn't fuck itself in an attempt to over-achieve.  If it had been an early import only Saturn release retroheads would stroking their beards at it, giving it honourable mentions on LISTS and scouring the inlays for scuff marks.    

    46. What the Golf? Switch (4hrs 47mins single player, roughly an hour mp)

    What an absolute treat this game is.  If you think crazy golf is crazy think again, is the sort of thing a full page advert for this might've yelled at you in the days of ten a penny magazine ads.  Even golf games claiming to be zany aren't a patch on the shenanigans at play here.  It's gentle indie fare, with a similar breezy/unhurried feel to the likes of Donut County or Untitled Goose Game, and it's genuinely funny without being as embarrassingly try-hard as most recent humorous games (honestly, I'm still suffering from a residual taste of Freedom Finger).  The whole thing is just....pleasant.  I loved it, it's consistently inventive to the point where none of the stages stood out as weak sauce, and the frankly brilliant Vs mode is quite possibly even more appealing than the campaign.  Find someone to battle with and pack four pairs of trousers in case you both wee yourselves.  Will be all over the DLC on day one. [9]   



    47. Deliver Us the Moon - Xbox One (4-5hrs)

    Terrible walking sim that I've moaned about elsewhere.  The story is reasonably good, which is a relief as the way it plays is close to appalling, but video logs and holographic flashbacks have all been played out to varying degrees of success elsewhere so even at its best it feels outmoded.  Once you've played through Edith Finch and experienced the ingenuity of its interactive storytelling, or Firewatch with its chef's kiss setting/dialogue, Or Gone Home with its all-the-feels 90's snapshot thing, or Everybody's Gone to the Rapture with Ron from Goodnight Sweetheart, it really is a drag to return to looking for notebook pages that read 'if you forget the code to the loading bay it's 1234'.  Most of the game is third person - and these sections control poorly - but a chunk of it is first person, which control abysmally.  It has a couple of QTE's, which I don't mind as a rule but you pretty much need to know what's coming to succeed, which of course requires deaths and restarts.  Which require staring at a loading screen that always seems to linger just long enough to make you wonder if Jeremy Beadle is about to burst in wearing a wig.  Shit game.  I hated Tacoma too, but that was marginally better.  I think I gave that a [4], so this gets a [3].  A score in the mid 70s on Metacritic is baffling as it honestly feels like an idiot test at times, which I failed by persevering with it.  

    48. Lydia - Switch (70mins)

    Unexpectedly, it took a freebie to rekindle some of my faith in lesser-known interactive narrative types.  I grabbed this earlier in the week as it's free on the EShop if you own...something I already own?  Robonnauts maybe (which is bang average).  Anyway, type 'nakana' into the store and you can grab an assortment of gratis games this week. I wasn't expecting much of course, but this is a genuinely legit piece of abstract storytelling that deserves to be viewed as something far more worthwhile than its current pricepoint suggests.  It's undoubtedly best to go in cold, but with minimal spoilers it's a well written and surprisingly measured tale of troubled childhood coupled with nightmarish escapism segments and the passing of time.  It's a point and click type with the absolute bare minimum of actual pointing and clicking, none of your dialogue choices really make a difference and you're mainly just watching something unfold while repositioning your character, and yet....it's quite a ride, and it hits harder than you'd expect.  It's rather dark in places - it's an 'adult themes' game really, and not because the characters say fuck while shooting aliens that killed their wives.  It doesn't shoot for the moon but it achieves more in an hour than some of those that do can in four or five (/deftly removes shoehorn).  Fleeting but it lingers.  [7]

    49. The Stretchers - Switch (5hrs)

    Co-op rescue 'em up game that can be played solo, but I can't see why you would given the wealth of alternatives out there.  Unless you really fancied a rescue game I guess?  With two players it's a quality little adventure though.  Hacksaw Ridge meets Moving Out via Simpsons Hit & Run works as a loose description; civilians are being dizzied by a mad professor type, and you have to un-dizzy them in a big machine.  To do so you must drive around a fairly small island (think Crazy Taxi in terms of size) while selecting on-foot missions to fill up your ambulance with 6 dizzies per area, which requires popping them on stretchers and chucking them in the back of the van.  It threatens to come unstuck from time to time due to the way your characters grab whatever you need them to pick up - getting close and waiting for the prompt to appear works well enough on the whole, but it's slightly wonky here and there.  Plus I really don't understand the logic behind your medics not having a Heave-Ho! style cast iron grip, meaning they're forever dropping things due to slightly random butterfingers.  It's not game breaking at all - this is knockabout fun rather than precision gaming - but it would've benefited from a touch more love during the tweaking process.  It's all nice and easy, with no real fail states to the ticking timers (you just lose potential multipliers for tardiness), meaning it's perfect to play with youngsters (I played with a 5yr old with no problems).  Taking turns to drive but allowing the passenger certain controls was a nice touch.  Overall it's miles more sedate than Overcooked so I didn't end up feeling like we were kicking each other with steel capped bossyboots every session.            

    It's £17.99, which is a bit steep, but I can't say it wasn't worth it.  There's a sticker book with some optional but enjoyable bits 'n bobs in it, so there's maybe 8hrs here if you're in it for everything.  It's from them that did Little Nightmares, which wasn't quite a worldie but had some superb sections, and there's some real quality to the way it's been put together on the whole.  The visuals are stylish and don't creak under pressure.  It makes you play with split joycons, which is annoying rather than weird if you've got analogue drift problems like me.  It works well enough on a tiny pad, but the no standard pad restriction is a slightly shitty oversight.  Definitely recommended though, and deserved more of a fanfare.  [8] 


    50. The Bug Butcher - Switch (2.5hrs)

    Moot the miser is back, £2.33 baby.  I've had this in my PSN basket half a dozen times over the years, but even at £3.99 in sales I was never quite ready to bite the bullet.  Non interesting fact - the only other two games I've nearly bought that many times are The Bug Butcher, which ended up being really good (final boss notwithstanding) and Clustertruck, which ended up being properly shite.  This is a Pang! update, but rather than thoroughly modernising the template it remains fairly basic, with 30 rooms to vanquish and no real risks or liberties taken.  It leans more heavily on the shooting than puzzling though.  There are special weapon drops, the randomness of which takes the shine off a touch, and the dash button could've done with a L/R trigger option, but overall this is a nifty stab at updating an arcade classic.  Visuals are nice looking and crucially, unmuddled when you're twitching against enemy waves. Don't play if you're expecting anything remotely revolutionary, but I could probably affix that description to 95% of the games I like.  It's solid pattern based shmup fun, if you enjoy/enjoyed Pang there's next to no chance you wouldn't get something out of this.  There's an optional endless mode that's playable in co-op too.  [7]

    51. Valfaris - Switch (8hrs 9mins)

    Ghastly looking run & run side scroller with visuals that seem to be stuck in an undesirable early 32-bit limbo.  Overly pixellated characters coexist on a 2D plane with some fairly obvious 'HERE COME THE POLYGONS' geometry additions such as rotating cogs, all coupled with a strong metal motif (replete with the devil horns/power chord/headbang combo when you collect new weapons).  It's certainly not a sight for sore eyes, which is a bit of a catch-22 as it's a fucking eyesore.  It's the designer's vision and it's probably a job well done on some level, but no sir I don't like it.  CRT filters help to an extent, but half the game looks like a magic eye picture of Dio's haemorrhoids. 

    That's pretty much it for the negatives though, the game itself is sailing pretty close to masterpiece territory.  Yes, I like lots of things I play and I'm reasonably easy to please with tight new retro experiences, but this is one of the best games I've played in recent years.  It's not quite as air-punchingly good as Huntdown for my admittedly oddbod tastes, but that was a very specific tarted up retro experience that erred on the simpler side of gaming history.  Valfaris is the better game if we're talking head vs heart.  

    It's fairly standard in terms of the basics; multi directional shooting with a bumper assigned to lock you in position.  You also have a melee attack and a secondary weapon (which has its own energy bar).  Using the former replenishes the latter.  Throw in a shield on top of the rock solid foundations and you've suddenly got a game that feels a little different to its genre peers.  The shield relies on the same energy bar as the secondary weapon, and a last minute block can turn projectiles into a counter attacks that are unleashed when you release the button.  It all feels pretty intuitive once you get going, and the levels themselves are superb.  The bosses might not look particularly memorable, but each one requires a pattern to defeat that many Cuphead guardians would be proud of.  The various weapon unlocks mostly seem worth experimenting with (all of which can be ugraded), and it turns out I happily backed what seems to be the Reddit crew's equivalent of the water magic for the majority of the game.  *Shrug*, it worked for me.  

    I'm struggling to think of a run & gun game that plays better than this, all things considered, and as I can't do so off the top of my head I'm willing to declare this the best example of the genre ever created.  If you appreciate what this is trying to do it's a pretty special game.  Ultimate form [insert retro template] types are the best thing about modern gaming for me.  I might moan about open worlds getting larger elsewhere but at the same time I've never been this well catered for with the kind of experiences I love.  [9]

    52. Arise: A Simple Story - Xbox One (5hrs)
    I'd been itching to play this since launch, finally spotted a half decent discount on XBL earlier in the week and thought it'd be a nice way to reach MacGuffin peak in the thread.  I knew about the platforming issues beforehand, but I had a slightly dismissive 'how bad can it be?' attitude towards it and was fairly confident I'd love it.  The answer to my flippant non-question is actually 'bad enough to to take the shine off the whole thing and a few more layers beside'.  It's such a shame the character control wasn't overhauled somewhere in the run up to release because what we've got is Accrington Stanley level 3D platformer that's constantly gaping in awe at the milk-guzzling Liverpool standard of pretty much everything else about it.  The visual style is stunning, the music hits its marks well, the tale itself does what it says on the tin yet delivers, and more importantly the time lapse controls assigned to the right stick open it all up into something fairly remarkable.  There's some lovely, lovely stuff in here, but the deadweight character and often confusing camera positions consistently negate the goodwill that's constantly earned elsewhere, especially in the final third.  It's maddening.

    65. Not a Hero - Switch (3hrs)

    I've been dipping in and out of previous favourites over the past couple of months and this was perfect for short burst handheld gaming (I played it on PS+ originally).  Hotline Miami is well known round there parts and this is a criminally overlooked companion piece of sorts from the makers of the excellent Olli Olli games.  It's a fast paced 2D cover based shooter where you zip between shadows mowing down masses of gang members intent on running their mouths off as you gun them down.  The voice acting and dialogue snippets are pretty much second to none in this field.  Feel free to scoff, but this game is hilarious.  In fact, I urge you to play it in an attempt to scoff, because even if I'm wrong about the hilarity I'm absolutely convinced I'm right about the gameplay.  Picture a high octane Bonanza Bros/Elevator Action/Broforce hybrid and you're most of the way there (no, not High Octane the Cyber Speedway aka Gran Chaser clone.  And anyway, that was 'Hi-Octane', lesser nerd) 

    You get one life per stage, but it's not as memorisation heavy as many games of this type, which is (one of the places) where the Hotline Miami comparison comes in.  If plans go awry you can absolutely cut through the pickle.  It's scintillating stuff and in terms of hidden gems I'd say it's up there with the best from any era.

    66. Sonic Mania - Encore Mode (Switch, 3hrs 18 mins)

    What I originally thought in one of these threads:


    Probably the best Sonic experience since Knuckles + 3, and surpasses that in places.  Over the moon with what they've done here - imo it takes the best of Sonic and adds better bosses.  So far I've just played one run to the credits, but I've got nothing but fondness for the experience.  Will be there or thereabouts as my GotY.  [9]
    Which I'd pretty much stick to.  It deserved a slightly more in-depth take at the time really, given that it was pretty much the best thing they could possibly have done with a new Sonic game.  It was a crying shame the Saturn never hosted a new 2D Sonic game, but Christian Whitehead & co. basically created a modern 32-bit Sonic game that plays like remastered greatest hits, with a smattering of valid bonus tracks.  The bulk of the game is made up of familiar stages (with new layouts) from the only golden era of Sonic - '91-94 - replete familiar music and built around the only three characters worth their salt.

    71. Astral Chain - Switch (16hrs)

    Good grief.  There's usually a point where enough is enough with systems in play for this sort of thing, and of course this gleefully nitro-boosts past it and over the horizon.   It never seems content to rest on its yanny's and opts to chuck more and more at the player in an attempt to incessantly up the ante.  Against all odds it works, for the most part, but while it's an accomplished game in many ways it repeatedly trips over its own ambition.  With so much going on it's a marvel that so much of it sticks though, which is no mean feat.  The base combat is standard Platinum - remove the bells and whistles and it'd probably play a lot like like (the deservedly maligned) Ninja Turtles.  It's the multiple layers on top that separates this from the rest though.  Wrapping enemies in legion chains is satisfying, and while there's a touch of fiddliness to almost everything imo, it's definitely a game that wants you to git dud rather than go through the motions.  You can pummel your way through on the standard 'casual' difficulty, if that's your thing (hello), but it's clearly intended to ease you in as constant difficulty prompts suggest upping it

    72. Carrion - Xbox One (4hrs)
    If you haven't played Inside, please look away now.  

    I won't beat around the bush with this one; this was a huge letdown.  Early footage showed promise and it had been on my radar for ages, but the final product is a poor Metroidvania with an interesting central conceit.  Billed as a 'reverse horror,' you assume control of a tentacled organism intent on escaping from the facility it's imprisoned within.  Initially the lack of map threw me, but progression is mostly linear.  More often than not the game funnels your movement and traps you within rooms you're able to solve.  As you progress you gain various abilities, but rather than recalling a suspect section of wall and backtracking to progress, it's more of a keep on keeping on type - the abilities just usher in new puzzle types.  The monster controls well for the most part, which is the clear highlight of the game.  Occasionally the grab mechanic lets it down, but never enough to tarnish the controls too much.  Unfortunately the skirmishes with facility staff are poor.  Environments give the impression of emergent combat, offering various points of attack and routes of escape, but the combat itself is weak.  It's fun to grab enemies and smash them into walls with a few flicks or the right stick, but it's not much fun taking out anything more troublesome than than the standard fodder types.

    74. Pool Panic - Switch (6-7hrs)

    An absolute oddity.  If the the label 'a hot mess' was ever perfectly applicable to a game it's right here.  You play as a cue ball with legs potting grimacing pool balls within a Nicktoons stylised world.  There are 100 stages to tackle which are accessed from a large hub area.  Each of the stages require you to pot as many balls as you can before sinking the black ball and unlocking the exit.  Completed stage awards act as currency to be deposited in a weird structure at the centre of the map, which gradually turns into a tower depending on how much of the game you've completed.  Every single stage tasks you with something slightly or completely different to anything you've seen before.  In some ways the closest comparison would be something like What the Golf?, as the whole thing is a melting pot of pool rather than golf (although there is a pool golf course on offer)  The fundamental requirements are the same for each level, but it's absolutely brimming with genuinely neat ideas

    82. Battletoads - Xbox One (3hrs 50mins)
    This had its work cut out for it releasing in the same year as Streets of Rage 4, as it's predominantly a classic scrolling beat 'em up at heart, but those sections are actually pretty strong in this.  It's the constant attempts to add variety along the way that turn the experience into a bit of a pot luck tombola.  I'd say 65% of the game is the surprisingly proficient fightmans, and the rest is either one-shot or recurring distractions/diversions that either work (the into the screen scooter sections are decent enough) or absolutely do not (not going to spoil it, but I thought one of the slightly more out-there late game sections was r.i.d.i.c.u.l.o.u.s).  The scattershot approach to gameplay and fairly decent cut scenes works pretty well on the whole, but unfortunately this never really threatens to be anything special in any way.  It is worth playing though, probably moreso as a couch co-op experience (although quite how that works on some stages is a mystery to me), but it's a bit of what I'd call an Earthworm Jim game: all over the place, heavy on the tween TV animation style, maintaining an average of 'quite good' whilst never troubling the best of the competition.

    86. Kentucky Route Zero - Switch (7-8hrs)
    Narrative adventure that masquerades as a point and click to the untrained eye.  There's no [USE] [wax lips] on [sleeping dwarf] here though, as there's no inventory to speak of.  Gradual progression is the order of the day, so if you're looking for something challenging in a traditional sense you may well bounce off.  It flows along like some sort of Lynchian stage adaptation of a Flannery O'Connor inspired John Prine shroom dream, and I've got no qualms at all in describing it as a strikingly beautiful work of art.   

    and it's all the better for it.  Visual novel isn't a bad way to describe it; you'll read your way through five distinct acts, selecting dialogue choices while taking in the glorious sights and sounds.

    91. Spiritfarer - Xbox One - roughly 25hrs
    What a beautiful game.  The whole thing bears the hallmarks of a good Studio Ghibli film - you know that Ghibli feeling that's hard to describe - somewhere between a dream escaping as you almost remember it and a faint childhood memory of The Moomins?  Yes/No - anyway: that feeling.  Somehow it manages to create a joyful whole out of a macabre journey filled with incessant pockets of busywork.  It's essentially a cross between the seafaring of Wind Waker, Animal Crossing and (warning: educated guess incoming) Stardew Valley, albeit with surprisingly tight 2D platforming controls.  There's a minor smattering of Metroidvania in there too as certain areas can't be visited until you've unlocked certain abilities, but the overwhelming majority of your time will be spent either running errands or repeating set routines.  It's quite clearly not for me, is it?  Well, I thought that and I was wrong too.  The unusual two player mode helped win me over, along with the aforementioned Ghibli feels and general overspill of charm (it's rare to find a co-op experience where both players lead, but aside from player two not being able to initiate conversations it's pretty much shared duties throughout).  I played 90% of it with Tilly and when the credits rolled we had a really nice chat about how she couldn't work out why she was crying as she felt happy and sad at the same time.  "I get that with John Prine songs sometimes" was about the best I could offer.  AND WE HUGGED IT OUT. 

    The visuals are always pleasant and occasionally gorgeous, the writing is strong in all areas and the soundtrack is absolutely sublime.  I thought Paper Mario or Kentucky Route Zero would win the year for me in terms of audio, but the score is just ridiculous.
    Knopfler.
  • Vere, can you add ‘19-12’ to me in your OP?

    I’m hoping for much more this year. Hoping.
    I am a FREE. I am not MAN. A NUMBER.
  • Eyrolling placeholder as two posts weren't enough last year.
    Knopfler.
  • 1. Skyblazer (SNES) - 7/10
    2. Super Tennis (SNES) - 8/10
    3. Resident Evil The Darkside Chronicles (PS3) - 5/10
    4. Mafia III (PS4) -7/10
    5. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES) - 9/10
    6. Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow (SNES) - 5/10
    7. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Switch) - 8/10
    8. Wonder Boy Returns Remix (Switch) - 7/10
    9. Sparkster (SNES) - 8/10
    10. Sparkster (MD) - 8/10
    11. Resident Evil 2 (PS4) - 10/10
    12. Shinobi (Arcade) - 7/10
    13. DOOM VFR (PS4) - 7/10
    14. R-type II (Arcade) - 5/10
    15. Super Buster Bros. (Arcade) - 9/10
    16. Super Buster Bros. (SNES) - 8/10
    17. Street Fighter: The Movie (PS) - 6/10
    18. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood (PS4) - 8/10
    19. Street Fighter Alpha 2 (Arcade) - 10/10
    20. Streets of Rage 4 (Switch) - 8/10
    21. Tecmo Bowl (NES) - 8/10
    22. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4) - 8/10
    23. Another World (Switch) - 5/10
    24. Virtua Racing (Switch) - 7/10
    25. Punch-Out!! (Arcade) - 5/10
    25. Volgarr the Viking (Switch) - 8/10
    26. Super Bomberman R (Switch) - 8/10
    27. Tetris Attack (SNES) - 9/10
    28. Cybernator/Assault Suits Valken (SNES) - 8/10
    29. Pop'n TwinBee (SNES) - 7/10
    30. The Last Guardian (PS4) - 6/10
    31. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PSP) - 8/10
    32. Cruis'n USA (N64) - 3/10
    33. Castlevania Judgment (Wii) - 3/10
    34. Streets of Rage II (MD) - 8/10
    35. New Ghostbusters II (NES) - 6/10
    36. Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Switch) - 7/10
    37. Top Gear Overdrive (N64) - 5/10
    38. Cruis'n World (N64) - 3/10
    39. Cruis'n Exotica (N64) - 3/10
    40. NES Remix 2 (Wii U) - 8/10
    41. Captain Commando (Arcade) - 5/10
    42. Knights of the Round (Arcade) - 5/10
    43. Warriors of Fate (Arcade) - 5/10
    44. Bad Dudes Vs. DragonNinja (Arcade) - 3/10
    オレノナハ エラー ダ
  • hylian_elf wrote:
    Vere, can you add ‘19-12’ to me in your OP?

    I’m hoping for much more this year. Hoping.

    Of course!! Will keep updating it just wanted to get it started!
  • Completed it mate

    1. Horizon Chase Turbo (PS4)- I've been at this for over a year, but finially finished the World Tour. It's apparantly inspired by Top Gear, a game I gave never heard of so for me it was Legally Distinct From Outrun. There are a few tracks I'd probably have cut, but overally its a really strong Outrun clone, updated for the modern era. It was on Plus, so if you have a PS4 you probably have this, so give it a go.

    2. Knack (PS4) -  So I don't get why this game got so much grief. It's fine. 7 years on it's a bit difficult to distinguish what is now outdated design, and what was outdated at the time, but seriously, it's absolutely fine. And long! As a launch game I was expecting this to be quite short, but this is really quite long, and is designed to let you replay it. If I'd have picked up a PS4 with this at launch I certainly wouldn't have been feeling short changed.
  • Holdplacer, because will absolutely be needed
  • Completed

    1. Control [8]
    30 Dec-11 Jan

    This is an excellent and original AAA action adventure game with some minor issues that just bring the overall experience down a touch. I loved the location and the way the scenario allows for all kinds of reality bending events. The combat is also great fun for the most part, especially once you've unlocked a number of skills, with a great fluidity between the different moves. It encourages you to get in amongst the action, rather than hiding behind cover, and reeling in a hefty piece of scenery then chucking it back at an enemy never gets old.

    But still there are too many regular battles with enemy designs that could've been more interesting. The middle of the game certainly started to feel a little padded out. It's also annoying how quickly battles can go wrong when you've been doing well, as you're suddenly caught unawares by a projectile or fall off the edge of something while charging about the place. The health recovery system is a nice idea but sometimes just isn't convenient, and the checkpointing system is a bit weird, adding to the frustration. Other than that, special mention to the map for being next to useless half the time. And although performance on my base PS4 mostly wasn't too bad, the loading times became an issue.

    And yet, there's so much clever stuff to find and do, so many neat little touches or amusing characters, none of that can really spoil it. In the end, the main story is almost merely a way of introducing all the areas and powers and getting you used to how the place works. What I enjoyed most was doing all the side missions, many of which are better left till after the credits have rolled. It's here that things get more imaginative, and there are some proper bosses to take down, which were genuniely interesting and solid challenges. It's a brave game that hides so many of its best ideas, but it works in terms of gradually unravelling all the mysteries of the place. I was happy to just keep investigating and uncovering new stuff, to the point I ended up exhausting it all and getting the platinum trophy (rare for me these days).

    After all that, I think I'd really appreciate a sequel. Perhaps one that involved travelling around different places investigating reports of strange activity. There's certainly plenty of potential in the fiction to explore, and with a few tweaks to the systems the results could be very special.

    In progress

    Death Stranding
    Bloodroots
    Nioh

    Didn't finish

    River City Girls
    Bloodborne

    To Play

    ---
  • My previous years are 17-54, 18-30, 19-41.
  • I'm in too. Last year I managed a 19-26, which is probably about my limit.

    I realised I had two extra in the bag that weren't in my list as i played through the first two Room games while over in Tenerife with a sick wife.
  • Placeholder as I have such a huge backlog and keep playing games as a service like battlefield v.
  • My previous totals were...

    2017: 75
    2018: 78
    2019: 86
    Knopfler.
  • Aye, I'm in.

    A measly 17 last year for the OP, Vere.
    GT: WEBBIN5 - A life in formats: Sinclair ZX81>Amstrad CPC 6128>Amiga 500>Sega Megadrive>PC>PlayStation 2>Xbox>DS Lite>Xbox 360>Xbox One>Xbox One X
  • Moot_Geeza wrote:
    Elf noooo.

    You could just leave your placeholder posts as a list, and link to the write-ups later in the thread.
  • I probably should, but I'm unintentionally awkward when it comes to breaking habits.  Plus I don't know how to link to certain posts, just pages.

    Edit: And I quite like posting half a review on the train in the OP, safe in the knowledge no-one reads it there anyway and I can come back to it later.
    Knopfler.
  • See the time/date on each post? It’s a link to that post. Or, if you look click on your name in the banner, and go to the ‘comments’ tab, the word ‘permalink’ on each one is the same thing.
  • So it does, cheers.  Didn't realise the time/date was clickable.
    Knopfler.
  • acemuzzy
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    Woo

    Games:
    1) 7 Billion Humans - scored [8]
    2) Golf Peaks - scored [6]
    3) Baba Is You - scored [9] (preliminary)
    4) 36 Fragments of Midnight - scored [4]
    5) Midnight Deluxe - scored [3]
    6) Unpuzzle
    7) Control
    8 ) Donut County
    9) Ori 2
    10) Yoku
    11) A Short Hike
    12) Drawful 2
    13) Fractured Minds - scored [6]
    14) HyperDot - scored [9]
    15) UnpuzzleR
    16) Splasher - scored [8]
    17) Sigils of Elohim - scored [5]
    18) The Talose Principle - scored [9]
    19) Gunpoint - scored [7]
    20) Youropa - scored [9]
    21) WHAT THE GOLF? - scored [6]
    22) PUSH
    23) binding of Isaac
    24) The Touryst
    25) Pikuniku
    26) Submerged

    Far Cry 5
    Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
    Mini Metro
    TLoU Remastered


    Coming soon: Stuff from the Fiscal Prudence thread (here), DQXI, FC5, Sundered, Minit, Mosaic Maze, Light Fall, Induction, Four Sided Fantasy, Tetrobot, DLC Quest, Gorogoa, Shuggy, Sokobond, Jazzpunk, Hellblade, Ashen, Below, Gunpoint, The Shivah, Rive, Quantum Break, Slay the Spire, Into the Breach, Spiderman, Hitman, AC Origins, Dying Light, FFXV, Diablo III, The Surge, Rayman Legends, COD IW, Nier, Nier Automata, Little Nightmares, Rime, DkS 3 DLC, GoW4, Sunset Overdrive, Bayonetta 1 & 2, Resi 4, Pandora's Tower, Downwell, Monkey Island 1 & 2 Remastered, Grim Fandango Remastered, Day of the Tentacle Remastered,Trine 1-3, Catherine, Rogue Legacy, Saints Row: Gat out of Hell, Sleeping Dogs, Binding of Isaac, Gravity Rush, Stealth Inc 2, Transistor, Broforce, Magicka 1&2, Kentucky Route Zero, 1001 Spikes, Remember Me, Catherine, MGS V/GZ, Danganronpa, DmC, Dust, From Dust, Gears of War (1-4), God of War, Hitman (early ones), Splinter Cell, I Am Alive, Outlast,  SotC HD, Styx, Thief, The Crew, Ys, Yakuza, XCOM, Suikoden, TWD (s2), The Evil Within, The Banner Saga, Sniper Elite, Richard & Alice, Hydrophobia, Gunpoint, Else Heart.Break(), Door Kickers, Malicious, Castevania: Lord of Shadows, No Time to Explain, Apotheon, Capsized

    Books:
    1) Miss Pym Disposes
    2) The Plotters
    3) Norse mythology
    4) A Long Journey to A Short Planet
    5) The Builders
    6) To Be Read, If Fortunate
    7) The Narrow Road to the Deep North
    8) The Affirmation
    9) Before the Coffee Gets Cold

    1984
    4.50 from Paddington

    Shows/Movies:
    1) Iron Man 2
    2) The Incredible Hulk
    3) Parks & Recreation (s1)
    4) Thor
    5) Avengers: Assemble
    6) Iron Man 3
    7) Thor: Dark World
    8 ) Captain America: Winter Soldier
    9) Guardians of the Galaxy
    10) Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
    11) You (s1)
    12) You (s2)
    13) Parks & Recreation (s2)
    14) Curb Your Enthusiasm (s10)
    15) Parasite
    16) Gravity
    17) The Expanse (s4)
    18) Sunny (s6)
    19) Better Call Saul (s5)
    20) Argo
    21) Curb your Enthusiasm (s9)
    22) Raising Arizona
    23) Ozark (s3)
    21) Curb your Enthusiasm (s8)
    22) My Neighbor Totoro
    23) Ex Machina
    24) Birdcage
    25) Dead to Me (S2)

    My 2017 link: here (59 completed, [394], average [6.68]; 25 books; 33 shows/movies)
    My 2018 link: here (52 completed, [342], average [6.58]; 18 books; 26 shows/movies)
    My 2019 link: here (15 games, [TBD], average [TBD], only 7 books :-|, 49 shows/movies)
  • acemuzzy
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    Moot_Geeza wrote:
    My previous totals were... 
    2017: 75 
    2018: 78 
    2019: 86
    You got issues.  Mate.
  • You have 2 posts in a row there anyway now
  • acemuzzy
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    OK, post is now underway.  Vere - only 15 for me in 2019, if you want that in your OP.  I'm gonna try to be more organised this year.  Might even try to list my PoS in some kind of "to be tackled in" order, to avoid choice paralysis the whole time.  I also need to actually mark stuff and get it into the Just Completed thread... had a good habit of that a year ago, but it went as I lost my 52gpy mojo.

    I also need to read more and watch less.  Something I'll endeavour to do in 23 movies' time.
  • Nina
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    12 completed last year, let's see what I can do this year.

    1 - Dragon Quest IX Just completed
    2 - The Gardens Between
    Fun little puzzle game, I had to look up two puzzles as I just wasn't seeing it, but apart from those the rest felt solid. Looks good, and some fun island design. It's short, but it shouldn't have been longer, this was a nice experience.
    3 - Hellblade
    Great sound design, some really good visuals, mediocre fight mechanics and decent puzzles. With about 7 hours it's not too long, and it's worth to see the end, I enjoyed that. Play with headphones.
    4 - Zone of the Enders 2nd Runner
    PS4.
    Still great. Loved it on PS2, loved it on PS4.
    Still one of the best robot designs I've seen. Action feels good, music is good. Close combat can feel a bit chaotic at points. Lots of drawn cutscenes which have some good action direction.
    5 - Life is Strange: Before the Storm + bonus episode
    PC
    Better than Life is Strange 1. Loved it. It looks really janky, but once you've done a certain part in the first episode*, none of that matters. Writing and camera work is really well done, and unlike LiS1, you can't undo your choices here. By the end of the bonus episode you're crying.
    *
    Spoiler:
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