Today SEGA have confirmed that Shenmue I and II will hit console on August 21. Originally released on the Dreamcast, Shemnue hit cult acclaim and for years fans have been calling for a third title to finish off the story. Eventually this became a reality when Shenmue III appeared as a kickstarter.
Now that the first games are slated for an Xbox One release, will the third title also find its way onto the console?
The little blue hedgehog really needs absolutely no introduction does he? If you don’t know who Sonic is then google it because you really have led a sheltered gaming life. Like Mario did for Nintendo, Sonic has been an icon for Sega since 1991. Sonic has seen over 45 different adaptations over the years and appeared on console and mobile. Sonic Forces is the latest to feature the little ring muncher so how does it fare to the previous incarnations?
In usual Sonic Fashion, the start of the game gives you an insight of what to expect, the brightly coloured intro and tutorials set the scene, if you survive the first stage and tutorial without having some sort of seizure then you will be good to carry on. Simply put, it’s so fast that it is near on impossible to see exactly what is going on on screen, that for me isn’t a good thing because I like to have a look around to check out the finer details and collectibles… if there are any.
The story is the same as it always has been, the evil Dr Eggman is trying to take over the world only this time he has recruited a super hedgehog type thing called Infinite to help him on his quest. I’m not sure if I have missed something but where did the Robotnik name go, I liked that better than “Eggman” which sounds ridiculous. Anyway, it’s not important because ultimately you’re going to bounce all over this dude like a drunk adult on an inflatable castle.
There are some quite cute little cutscenes to watch before you continue on your speedy adventure, they introduce you to characters old and new including Knuckles. You play the part of the “The Rookie” who you get to design with some basic outfits. Each stage or challenge you complete rewards you with more cosmetic items to add that more of a personal flair to your creation. You also get an offensive ability that really does come in handy and these are called Wispons, they offer a long range attack that wipe out numerous enemies all at once. Wispons can be difficult to deploy at times purely because of the speed you are traveling, they are better used in slower sections and in a third person view because that way you know exactly where you’re shooting and what at.
You also get to play with the updated Sonic who has a double jump but classic Sonic also makes an appearance and his abilities hark back to the original version with a single jump and spin attack. A handy addition to the classic Sonic is the drop dash ability this can get you out of some tight spots assuming you saw them coming in the first place that is. As with most other Sonic games, you get through the game stage by stage, the levels are thankfully pretty short and offer a third person and also side-scrolling element, as to which I prefer? well, the jury is still out on that but it did offer a touch of nostalgia revisiting Green Hill with the classic Sonic. I did have some difficulty adjusting from the 3D to the 2D view when it changed halfway through a stage but I’m putting that down to age.
I got bored quite quickly with Sonic Forces purely because of its repetitive nature, I remember playing the original Sonic and challenging myself to play through each stage without losing rings and of course back then it was die and game over. Now though, Sonic Forces just isn’t engaging enough to play any further. I’m not writing it off though because I don’t think Sonic Forces was aimed at a 38-year-old man and more an 8-year-old child with lightning reflexes and sharp eyesight.
I’m not going to slate Sonic Forces for its visuals either but you simply can’t see them because things are moving that fast. Sonic Forces is basic in terms of graphical quality but when all said and done Sonic wouldn’t look right using the latest Unreal Engine or 4K HDR would it? Cool as it sounds. Sonic is a cartoon and this game portrays him as it should. Musically though I did find myself tapping my feet, there are sections where the action would pick up and all of a sudden in true anime style a rock song would start with proper lyrics, riffs and solos, I liked that lots.
Playability though, Sonic is basic and when things are moving as fast as they do, all you really need is a jump and a dash button with the odd attack thrown in if you get time. If you finish with max rings or in a good time then you can expect an excellent level rating too. Using the C,B,A and S ranking system you do find yourself replaying levels to try and beat your previous time. Along with the ranking, there are also challenges for you to complete, which offer their own reward, giving the fact that Sonic Forces has 40 or so stages (some optional) then there is plenty of challenges to keep you going.
Overall Sonic Forces offers nothing different to any other Sonic game, it’s merely a fast linear race to the finish line while being careful not to lose your rings as you go. Boss battles are just a case of working out a pattern and beating them and the rewards are simply generic offerings in a bid to make the game have you thinking you actually have options when in reality you don’t.
Sonic Forces is great for little ones and with the Nintendo Switch also getting Sonic Forces, which is the perfect platform for this type of game. As for playing on an an Xbox One, then I think there are better games to play than this. I’m trying to stay objective here and if you’re stuck for something to get the little gamers – but would like the occassional bit of nostalgia – then maybe Sonic Forces would do, with that said, wait for a sale or buy second hand because £30 or more for this is bit daft as it’s simply not worth it.
Yakuza Kiwami retells the story of how the series began in all the beautiful pixels that the PS4 can deliver. Yes, Yakuza Kiwami is a remake, so all gameplay issues remain from its original PlayStation 2 outing. I say issues… I mean this in that gaming has moved on a long way since 2005. It’s surprising just how much has changed over the years and by retreading old ground with remakes, you can see just how much developers have changed and fine tuned, thereby changing what we come to expect from games.
Set in 1995, you play as Kazuma Kiryu who is busted at the scene of a murder. Time then spins back 24 hours to witness the events leading up to the crime. Inevitably, Kiryu is taking the fall for the murder and spends 10 years in prison. Upon his release, the city of Kamurocho has changed greatly, his childhood friend is missing and a mysterious young girl has come under his protection. The scene is set for a thrilling story that takes place underneath the wonderful backdrop of the Yakuza.
The story is without a doubt the best thing going for Kiwami – it’s full of intrigue and has many changing plot lines – although it is also interspersed with some rather dull fetch quests that serve as a way to push the story along and add additional mileage to the game time clock. Once you’ve wrestled with the clumsy movement and navigation, you will spend most of your time on the streets of Kamurocho engaging in random thug fights and the many side stories that are waiting to be uncovered – most of which have a morale at the end of their tale.
While the city is an open world, scenarios keep you penned in and herd you towards an objective, either by blocking Kiryu’s path with invisible walls or by simply having Kiryu make an odd remark about how he shouldn’t go that way. The city is wonderfully rendered with neon lights reflecting from incredibly realistic puddles and the many characters have some impressive facial models that render skin pores and facial blemishes that show off an almost eerie quality.
The core fight mechanic centres on using one of four fight styles, which may be upgraded via an XP wheel of skills. Fighting can feel wonderfully brutal at times but is victim to a whole host of issues that lets the title down – combos can flail with Kiryu throwing a flurry of punches into thin air, thugs and bosses turn the tide of battle too easily and there is a whole plethora of graphical issues with connecting punches and kicks.
The Boss fights are also an utter chore. They aren’t just tough, but laboursome. If you miss an opportunity to negate a boss’ healing by matching your fighting stance with their weakness then they can drag on even longer. The game will even patronise you by suggesting a temporary switch to easy when you fail to beat a boss after numerous attempts. One saving grace in the combat is the chance to fight Majima, who pops up to fight you, often when you least expect it, opting to ambush Kiryu at the most inconvenient of times. At times his attempts at lying in wait by blending in are utterly hilarious.
Yakuza Kiwami has a compelling story, that should undoubtedly keep you hooked for its 30+ hour play time, although you could easily spend hours more exploring the world and completing the many side tasks and basking in the casino night life, although to be honest, I had a hard time keeping up with the different families and how everyone was ‘related’.
Boss fights are easily the worst part of this game. The combat shows its age with clumsy footing, highlighting a system that has aged terribly when compared to modern releases. Random bouts of unblockable moves spring from nowhere with little warning, turning the tides of battle against Kiryu and rewarding me with a bout of anger – I can categorically state that I hate these fights – which puts a dampener on an otherwise fine gaming experience.
Yakuza Kiwami is a cool, hard, Japanese gangster story and while the Japanese language is lovely to listen to, there is a lot to read – so beware if you have an aversion to subtitles. If you missed out on seeing how Yakuza began, then this game is a fine way to witness the birth of a series. Anyone with an ounce of interest or desire to step foot into the world of Yakuza should make Kiwami their first port of call.
Sega aficionados will certainly remember the Wonder Boy titles. Platforming gems from yesteryear that consisted of clever level, enemy and mechanics design. Indeed, these titles are fondly remembered and for good reason. The third title in the series, The Dragon’s Trap, was a particularly celebrated entry, and this splendid remastering allows veterans and newcomers to enjoy it with precisely the kind of modern refinements you’d expect. And despite some inherited issues stemming from the original game still being present, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is another terrific remaster of a classic that absolutely deserves to be played.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a short game but one with enough complexity to put up a stiff challenge and consume many hours of your time. It’s a combat platformer that eschews tricky jumping for strategically placed platforms, falls, enemies and obstacles. Indeed it’s more akin to a Metroidvania title than a traditional 2D platformers, with the world open to explore if you possess the abilities and knowledge of how to get to each area. The difficulty comes in the form of understanding how to progress and overcoming the fiendish enemies.
A wonderfully simple story sets your adventure up, however, it’s told essentially in reverse. The hero has reached the end of their journey and you immediately faceoff against a fearsome dragon boss, only to be cursed at the moment of your victory, transforming you into a dragon yourself. You must now seek a cure to this ailment, wandering through different parts of the world, all the while transforming into new beasts each time you defeat a boss. It’s inventive and refreshing, both now and back when it was originally released.
Quirky NPCs help guide your way in their own silly and charming manner, whether it’s the bored anthropomorphised pig who can sell you weapons and armour, or the comically irritated nurse who encourages you to get hurt more frequently so to charge you more for her care. It’s smile inducing, light humour within a vibrant world, which sees you visit a wide variety of different biomes, is charmingly immersive, made even more so by the spectacularly hand-drawn visuals.
However, don’t let the cute visuals deceive you, behind it all is a challenging adventure. Your lack of patience is used against you time and time again, with enemies following a variety of different movement and attack patterns to challenge your attentiveness. Learning their quirks and defeating or avoiding them takes practice, and a lapse in concentration can easily kill you, forcing you back to the town area and often leaving you with a lengthy trek back to where you fell. This can make the journey arduous and frustrating. The abilities of the creature you currently have the form of can elevate this somewhat, and collectable special items can give you a boost in combat, but it’s so very easy to lose your heats that make up your health, with new bosses, areas and enemies constituting a considerable threat the first time you encounter them.
Furthermore, there’s a lack of direction and purpose to the adventure, beyond that of the overall quest to cure the curse. Vague tips from the fortune-teller in the hub town can point you in the right direction if you can decipher them but otherwise It’s difficulty to decide where to explore and how to access particular areas, forcing trial and error approaches that can hurt the fun. This can be especially frustrating as the deaths begin to pile up due to the stiff challenge. This is an unfortunate side-effect from remastering older games that could have used some attention. However, otherwise the respect for the original game is exceptionally nostalgic and enjoyable to witness.
You can switch between the old, pixelated visuals of the original title and the new, wonderfully hand-drawn visuals instantly at the touch of a button. You can also switch between the original sound effects and music and the new versions. It’s a neat trick that we’re seeing more and more of in remasters but it’s a superb visual and audio comparison between the old and the new to really tap in to the nostalgia.
Indeed, Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a fantastic combat focused platformer, offering a short but impressively clever adventure with a stiff enough difficulty to test your patience and focus. Sure, these same elements are also the source of the majority of frustration you may suffer but overall it’s worth it.
Sonic the Hedgehog, that cocky spiky blue hedgehog caused me so much pain my younger years. The frustration at making the slightest mistake and losing all those precious rings I had worked so hard for and yet Sonic Mania comes along and I find myself wanting to jump straight back in and start all over again.
There have been many attempts to bring Sonic back, upadating his image and diversify his gameplay, ultimately though none of them became hits with the fans. With Sonic Mania however, we might have just found a return to form, the game was built by fans of the game who were well known for modding & hacking Sonic titles.
When you first load the game, it looks like the Mega Drive games of old, but because of the work done and the console you are playing it on, things look even more impressive, constantly running at 60fps and full of bright vivid colours.
From the off everything feels very familiar, starting at Green Hill before playing through the greatest hits of Sonic levels from the Mega Drive games. Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant Zone is there too, and it still gives me nightmares as the toxic material fills the level as I desperately try to escape. The and new areas like the Wild West-themed Mirage Saloon Zone and TV-filled Studiopolis all feel like they have been plucked from the original game, which is an excellent achievement. Even in the original levels, small improvements have been made, such as extra jumps and pads that allow you to stick to ceiling.
Of course, the best thing about Sonic games is that they instantly feel familiar, although it took me a while to remember to let the game do most of the work, you forget how fast the original Sonic games were, so you can’t help but be a bit twitchy as he flies round the level when you first begin to play. It’s all down to the fantastically designed levels, and once you finally get into the swing of things you’ll need to keep your wits about you. Some of the boss fights are excellent, I’m not going to spoil them for you, because it’s all part of the experience but they are such fun to play.
On occasions the difficulty spikes can be a bit much, especially if you are new to the Sonic titles, but having said that if you were too young or not interested in playing Sonic games, this is a great game to have your first experience with. Sonic Mania is only a short game, lasting around four hours, but it does include a Time Attack mode and a Multiplayer versus mode. There are also some 3D levels that you can unlock during your play through that give you a chance to hunt Chaos Emeralds, which add an extra challenge to the game.
Because of the speed we expect from Sonic, you’ll tend to want to get around the levels as quickly as possible, but it’s worth slowing down and really taking in the levels, sometimes there are multiple ways around the level, or there are parts of the levels you may never have noticed before.
Despite all of the previous attempts, Sonic Mania is the only title that will really capture fans new and old, it feels like you have just discovered your old Mega Drive.
Picture the scene, a young fresh faced Rob Mafia sat on the Sega bus at Walesby International Scout Camp in 1993. Upstairs on the bus were rows of Sega Megadrives all with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 loaded and ready to play. This was the birth of a LAN party. Sonic the Hedgehog has been part of every gamers history, so I was excited to hear that Sonic Mania is in the pipeline and will be coming to Xbox One.
Sonic Mania is basically a celebration of the last 25 years of Sonic, ranging back from the early years to more present day. Green Hill Zone was amazing at the time and Sega have announced that in Sonic Mania there will be a new additional in the form of Green Hill Zone Act 2. The all new addition adds the new level and also a new boss, but details on that aren’t yet available. Check out the video below.
As you can see it’s everything that make Sonic as good as it ever was. Some may say it’s dated but I say it’s a piece of must have nostalgia. On a side note I actually won the Sega bus championship on Sonic 2 by smashing my counter parts into the ground and becoming an official Team member of the Sega Club, something I add to my CV to this day…Alright maybe not but hey it felt good at the time.
Sonic Mania is developed by SEGA of America in collaboration with Christian Whitehead, PagodaWest Games, and Headcannon. It will be digitally available for Xbox One in Spring 2017.
Thanks to the Universal Windows Platform initiative which unifies Microsoft’s platforms, Windows developers can submit their applications for release on the Xbox One. Emulators are rife on PC and we could soon see the first hit the Xbox One.
NeoGaf user LuvOfThaGame spotted an interesting Tweet from one such developer, nesbox.com, who have submitted for approvable an emulator that plays NES, SNES, Mega Drive, Gameboy and Gameboy Advance games.
As there’s nothing legally wrong with creating and releasing an emulator, provided they don’t include any code taken from the console’s original BIOS, It’s possible we’ll soon be able to play game Roms on our Xbox One consoles.
However, it’s these ROM files that may cause issues, as they’re covered by copyright. In many countries it’s legal to own Roms of games you own and can no longer play due to the hardware no longer being produced, but downloading them off the internet is still theft.
Microsoft may not approve the release of the app for this reason, not to mention the heat they’ll almost certainly receive from Nintendo and Sega. But if it does get approved we could be enjoying all our old favourites on the splendid Xbox One controller, and wouldn’t that be something.
This week Sega have pushed out the Alien Isolation Collection, and what a perfect time of year to do so, the collection comes to you as a digital only version which contains the game and seven packs of DLC that were released periodically since its original release.
Relive the horror you went through the first time and then some as you try to survive for longer than before with all of the additional content.
Tembo the Badass Elephant is a fun and vibrant 2D sidescroller with a much larger than usual protagonist. There are some noticeable influences and styles from some older platforming legends like Sonic the Hedgehog and Donkey Kong. The infamous Pokemon developer Game Freak has made a seven and a half ton bad ass commando elephant with the ability to destroy everything in his path while saving civilians and eating peanuts.
Story mode sets off with Shell City being invaded by an evil army known as Phantom, taking civilians as prisoners and over running the military until the unlikely hero gets a phone call to come and help wipe out the Phantom operatives. Your missions are to save civilians, eat peanuts and charge through the different areas to take Phantom down while finding and destroying the three huge vehicles that they have invaded Shell City with. This can prove to be an interesting challenge as you have a set amount of enemies to destroy and civilians to save in each level and as there are level locks in each dome, you will have a determined number of enemies to destroy before you can progress past these checkpoints later on so you may need to replay some of the levels to get to that magic number.
Tembo has a few tricks at his disposal, he can jump quite high as standard and also if you hold the jump button he can float a bit.. somehow. While in the air pressing down will give you access to a butt stomp, you will go straight down and destroy pretty much everything you land on bar train tracks and lava which will kill you instantly. He can do an uppercut to attack enemies from below or take them out of the sky with a mighty swipe. Like Sonic the Hedgehog, this elephant likes to move fast and keep the momentum going, this is done by holding ‘X’ and Tembo will not stop dashing until you let go of that button, even if you change direction. This will pretty much be your main type of transport as his walk speed is pretty slow. He can however combine his dash with jump to smash through higher walls and combine the dash in to a range of other moves like an uppercut. After a few levels you will need to learn to utilize Tembo’s trunk as a water spout to put out fires to keep yourself safe. This can also be used to attack enemies from range as well as spawn platforms in later levels. You can also combine the water spout with his dash to engulf Tembo in water, to be able to charge through flames like the fearless commando he is. Tembo’s water supply is not infinite there are water pumps and water bottle collectables dotted around some levels so you can recharge your supply.
Reviving the old life system is a welcome walk through the past, where you have a certain amount of lives throughout your play through so collecting peanuts is your staple in this game. They will earn you an extra life from every 300 you collect and the counter does not reset after a death, giving you more of a chance to keep going. You initially start off with five lives and you should earn more on the first few levels quite quickly. As the levels are quite long there are a few checkpoints dotted around to aid you in your travels and there are a few bits and bobs hidden away for those looking to 100% the game.
This game does come with a leader board system and it is ranked on score per level and judged on your completed time, enemies destroyed and civilians saved. There are already many high scores that I think will be hard to beat. See how you fare against the world or your friends.
GameFreak have used a visually pleasing art style that runs as smooth as it looks, everything is bold and simplistic with vibrant colours. The start of each level begins with Tembo’s war cry setting the mood for what to expect and the sound track matches it as you charge through and cause plenty of destruction while rampaging through the city.
A challenging platformer that does not lose momentum from the speed and constant destruction, there is plenty to do in terms of getting 100% by killing all enemies and saving all civilians in every level as well as trying to top the leader boards. Playing through this, I feel it took a necessary step into the past with the life system and without it I believe this game would have been way too easy and not posed as much of a fun challenge as it has done. It has kept me entertained for a good while and has felt somewhat familiar. Tembo’s attitude shines through throughout the game, his relentless attacking abilities know no mercy and he has a life span that allows many hits and punishes all that cause him harm.
Tembo is one Badass Elephant.
Thanks to SEGA for supplying TiX with a download code
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Coming this summer from the genius minds that brought you the infamous Pokémon series is a new side scrolling game with an unlikely hero. Your aim is to stop the devastating forces that have thwarted the tactics of the army and left terror in their wake. Play as a new type of hero that is part commando all elephant! Take out the enemies with around seven and a half tons of bad ass commando moves and save the city while you are at it.