How to Gain Lifestyle Perks in Crusader Kings III

Crusader Kings III has made the choice to make characters much more personable.

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How to Create Your Own Religion in Crusader Kings III

Anyone can create their own religion in Crusader Kings III but it will cost you a lot of piety to do so.

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How to Increase Your Control in Crusader Kings III

If you're playing Crusader Kings III, you may be wondering how to increase your control. Here's what you need to know. Control is a new mechanic in Crusader Kings III that determines your ability to raise levies and sire taxes of your subjects in that area. In newly controlled areas, that control is often lower […]

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What are Dynasty Legacies in Crusader Kings III?

The whole point of Crusader Kings III is to advance your dynasty's legacy and make your name renown the world over.

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How to Get a Claim on a County in Crusader Kings III

Wondering how to get a claim on a county in Crusader Kings III? Here's everything you need to know.

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How to Unlock Research in Crusader Kings III

Research takes on a bigger role in Crusader Kings III and can be a bit overwhelming at first.

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How to Earn Achievements in Crusader Kings III

Earning achievements in Crusader Kings III is easy.

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Fall Guys Auction Raises $1 Million for SpecialEffect

A hugely special Fall Guys event recently raised $1 Million for Charity. 

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Song of Horror is Headed to Consoles Next Month

Song of Horror consoles

A fantastic horror game is making its way to consoles. 

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Zombie Army 4: Dead War Season 2 Launches This Year

Zombie Army 4

Hell Cult was just the beginning. 

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Games to Watch Out For This September

Marvel's Avengers 4 (1)

September is here, and you're maybe wondering what gaming delights it has in store for you. Well, come in and find out.

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Frogwares Shares New Information About Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One

A mystery is afoot, dear gamers.

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Super Bomberman R Online Review

Are you ready for yet another battle royale experience?

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Figment: Creed Valley is Coming to PC and Consoles in 2021

Jump into strange dreams and nightmares early next year. 

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Ary and the Secret of Seasons Review

ary and the secret of seasons

Master the power of all four seasons in this new adventure.

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Here are September's Free Games with Prime

Want some new free games to play? Look no further.

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WRC 9 Review

WRC 9 1 (1)

WRC 9 impresses with its new Clubs system and additional rallies, but it's the new physics that really make it a triumph.

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Next-Gen Horror Game In Sound Mind Has a New Trailer

in sound mind

Don't let fear tighten its grip on your mind. 

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Override 2 is Headed to Consoles and PC This December

Override 2: Super Mech League

Take control of powerful mechs in this upcoming brawler. 

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Crusader Kings III Review

Every detail of Crusader Kings III feels like the perfect evolution of the series.

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Assetto Corsa Competizione's September console update patch notes are here

505 Games' Antonela Pounder has stopped by to drop off the patch notes for the September update to Assetto Corsa Competizione. "While we might have been a little quiet recently, that doesn't mean we've been standing still. Behind the scenes, our developers have been working hard to bring improvements and fixes to game," she comments.

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players can expect this update to launch later this week, here are the patch notes.

Wheel profiles updated for all brands
Force feedback fine-tuned.
Max steer lock changes to Logitech G923.
Force feedback enabled for some additional Fanatec wheels.
Headlights at night have improvements to quality.
Memory crash fixed after returning to main menu from a race.
Crash fixed when selecting some cars within a race.
Memory crash fixed when going into a race.

Added driver/team customisation for use with custom created cars.

Real-time track overview while in the garage.
Text and localisation changes for all languages.

Client: server car groups displayed in server list.

Tweaked curbs and astroturf volume in onboard cameras.
Better organisation in sample reference structure.
Better audio feedback for brake temperature and wear level.
General fine-tuning.

We gave the game 6/10 in our review, "With a career mode lacking in substance, strange bugs and a limited set of content, Assetto Corsa Competizione is hard to recommend. Perhaps in 2021, with a slew of patches and DLC expansions it will be in a better place, but for now, Assetto Corsa Competizione is a superlative solo driving experience trapped in a flawed video game," said our racing games expert, Thomas.

The console version of the game suffered a number of concessions compared to the PC version, though thankfully the physics and the game audio remain untouched . Instead, it's the graphics that will suffer.

Assetto Corsa Competizione runs at 30fps on all PS4 and Xbox One consoles – a fate similar to the games coming out of Milestone after they also made a jump to Unreal Engine 4. Here's the run down of the resolutions and options.

  • Xbox One – 900p at 30fps
  • PS4 – 1080p at 30fps
  • PS4 Pro – 1800p upscaled at 30fps
  • Xbox One X – or 2160p at 30fps

Source: 505 Games

Microsoft leak the Xbox Series S again

Video gaming's worst kept secret, the Xbox Series S, has been confirmed once again by Microsoft themselves. Twitter user @BraviaryBrendan purchased a new Xbox controller and it included a Game Pass Ultimate trial code which states it can be used on Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, and Windows 10.

The long rumoured Xbox Series S, the cheaper "Lockheart" variant of Microsoft's next-gen console, has been leaked from numerous sources including others that have got their hands on the updated Xbox controller designed for the Xbox Series X.

Twitter user Zak S was able to purchase the controller, with its subtly modified form factor, redesigned D-pad and new Share button. The packaging for the controller reveals that is it compatible with "Xbox Series X | S".

The Xbox Series S is expected to be a lower powered version of the Xbox Series X, keeping many of the same attributes, such as the ultra-fast SSD storage and Zen 2 CPU, but compromising on the GPU side of things. Where the Xbox Series X is expected to deliver a native 4K resolution, higher frame rates and ray tracing, the cut back "Lockheart" could sacrifice these to reach a lower price point for those buyers without a 4K TV or without as exacting demands from their games graphics, while retaining the minimal loading times and enhanced game worlds that the CPU could provide.

The availability of an Xbox Series S also helps to explain why Microsoft ceased production of their current most powerful console, the Xbox One X. While the Xbox One S remains in production, it will eventually be left behind by next gen game designs, the weakness of its CPU likely to be a key factor in this. That CPU weakness would have remained on Xbox One X.

Not only will this be a future proof option, it will also allow Microsoft to aim for a lower entry price to the next generation, potentially helping to bring more players into their next-gen plans by aiming $100 or more lower than what Sony can manage with the PlayStation 5.

AT&T scrap plans to sell Suicide Squad publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

After a few months of uncertainty it appears that Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment parent company, AT&T, has dropped plans to sell the video game publishing house with Bloomberg reporting the company felt it was "too valuable to unload".

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment had been valued at $4 billion and a number of big companies were rumoured to have shown interest including Activision, Take Two, and EA. It seems Covid may have just saved the company as video games sales have surged in the past few months and AT&T is said to have recognised the "business's growth potential" and took it off the table. A recent restructure of company may have also helped and there may have been complications in negotiations as many of the games from the studio are based on Warner Bros. properties such as the Lego movie or DC comics.

The news from Bloomberg confirms what we previously learned from a leaked internal email.On August 7th CEO Jason Kilar sent an email to all staff explaining how the company was to be restructured but specifically mentioned that the gaming arm was staying put.

The Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group continues to be led by Chairman Toby Emmerich. Warner Bros. Television Studios group continues to be led by Chairman Peter Roth. Warner Bros. Interactive remains part of the Studios and Networks group, along with our Global Brands and Franchises team including DC led by Pam Lifford, and our Kids, Young Adults and Classics business led by Tom Ascheim, all focused on engaging fans with our brands and franchises through games and other interactive experiences.

AT&T have been looking at ways to cut costs and it seems rather than sell off a specific group they going to perform a major restructure and cut staff numbers instead. AT&T still need to raise a lot of cash to cover a $200 billion debt, but Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment always seemed an odd choice for sale.

Source: Bloomberg

Nvidia's next-gen RTX 3090, RTX 3080 and RTX 3070 GPUs revealed

Nvidia have pulled back the curtain to unveil their next generation of high-end GPUs, promising increased performance at the company's price levels improved ability to process taxing ray-tracing effect, and improved power efficiency. However, it will set you back a pretty penny.

Across the board, they're leaning on established Nvidia technologies like Deep Learning Super Sampling for resolution upscaling and enhancement, and the Tensor cores from the 20 series cards to assist in processing the complex ray traced lighting effects. They're combining these with new innovations, such as faster GDDR6X RAM and PCIe 4.0 connectivity, as well as having on-GPU decompression that collaborates with Microsoft on DirectStorage. As in PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, this will allow the GPU to directly communicate with ultra-fast SSDs to lessen the CPU load and speed up loading.

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

The RTX 3080 is the company's new flagship GPU. Priced at $699, it's a replacement for the current RTX 2080 Super, sporting double the performance of the older RTX 2080 with ray tracing, and easily surpassing the RTX 2080 Ti, the current ultra high-end halo product from the current era of Nvidia cards, and boasting single precision performance over two times the Xbox Series X – this isn't actually a good measure of GPU power, it should be said. It's expected to handle 4K at 60FPS with ray tracing.

  • CUDA Cores – 8704
  • Boost Clock – 1.71Ghz
  • VRAM – 10GB
  • Single Precision Performance – 29.8 TFLOPs
  • Tensor Performance FP16 – 238 TFLOPs
  • Ray Tracing Performance – 58 TFLOPs
  • TFP – 320W
  • Release date – 17th September 2020
  • Price – $699

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090

Speaking of ultra high-end, that crown now goes to the RTX 3090. This could have fallen into the company's Titan range, which pushes their GPU chipsets to the limit, but is instead part of the GeForce line up. It features a huge 24GB of VRAM, and goes close to three times the TFLOPs of the Xbox Series X. It's got an eye-watering price point to match: $1499… more than double the RTX 3080.

  • CUDA Cores – 10496
  • Boost Clock – 1.7Ghz
  • VRAM – 24GB
  • Single Precision Performance – 35.7 TFLOPs
  • Tensor Performance FP16 – 285 TFLOPs
  • Ray Tracing Performance – 69 TFLOPs
  • TFP – 350W
  • Release date – 24th September 2020
  • Price – $1499

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070

And finally, we come to what will actually be most likely to end up in a gaming PC. The RTX 3070 will launch in October with a $499 price, and it's impressively well specced for the price (in the context of recent Nvidia GPU prices, at least). It cuts things back significantly from the 3080, but is still pitched as being slightly more powerful than the RTX 2080 Ti, and having the greatest generational leap in performance at this price point.

  • CUDA Cores – 5888
  • Boost Clock – 1.73Ghz
  • VRAM – 8GB
  • Single Precision Performance – 20.4 TFLOPs
  • Tensor Performance FP16 – 163 TFLOPs
  • Ray Tracing Performance – 40 TFLOPs
  • TFP – 220W
  • Release date – October 2020
  • Price – $499

It's all impressive sounding, though we'll have to wait until reviews drop to see how they actually perform and how they can handle the ever-increasing demands that ray tracing will put on gaming machines. However, when the cheapest of the cards announced today is also at the price point many pundits expect Sony and Microsoft to pick for their new consoles, these are very much high-end luxury gaming items.

Nvidia have had great success at these price points over the last few years though, and these are huge steps forward in performance. The real question is if AMD can respond with their own next-generation of GPU. The company have struggled to compete with Nvidia's halo products for years, and it will take a lot for them to stack up against the 30 series in general with their upcoming RDNA 2 products.

via Anandtech

Bungie detail the new Warlock Shadebinder Stasis subclass

Bungie have revealed further details for one of the new Stasis subclasses for Warlock players in Destiny 2: Beyond Light.  "Each Stasis subclass in Beyond Light will give players the ability to customize abilities like grenades, movement modes, class abilities, and so on with. In addition, we've added new layers of customization with the addition of Aspects and Fragments," say Bungie.

Aspects are physical items from the 'real world' of Destiny 2 such as a crystallized Vex conflux or a robotic Fallen arm and when these are slotted in to your character you get new abilities. I'm not sure how you slot in a Fallen arm in to a Warlock and frankly I don't want to think about it too much.

Many of the Aspects have an extra slot to which Fragments can be added, again these are based on real world items found in the game and add passive perks to your character, but they may also come with penalties. "Aspect upgrades are unique to each Stasis subclass, while Fragment slots are class agnostic; how players combine these two different types of upgrades will lead to a range of customization options," say Bungie.

Here's more from Bungie.

For example, a Warlock finds a Frostpulse Aspect in the world and equips it. This Aspect augments their Rift ability, which now freezes any enemies caught in the field. The Frostpulse Aspect also has a Fragment slot available, allowing further customization. This Warlock decides to slot in the Whisper of Refraction Fragment that replenishes some of their class ability energy upon shattering enemies. They have now set themselves up with a nice 1-2 punch and, if played skillfully, can use this combo frequently.

With its focus on freezing and shattering, the Shadebinder subclass promises to give Guardians yet another reason to love their floaty, book-loving Warlocks. But no matter what class you like, all players will be able to take advantage of Aspects and Fragments that unlock even more ways to make your Guardian yours.

Destiny 2: Beyond Light launches later this year on 10th November.

Source: Bungie

Ubisoft Forward event announced for September

Troubled publisher Ubisoft have announced another Ubisoft Forward event for September 10th at 11:00 AM PDT / 9.00 PM CST / 8.00 PM BST.

"You can see what's in store for games like Watch Dogs: Legion, Hyper Scape, and Rainbow Six Siege, as well as a much-anticipated update on our new IP, Immortals Fenyx Rising, formerly known as Gods & Monsters, and more yet-to-be revealed surprises," say Ubisoft. "If you still can't get enough, stick around after the main show to see deep dives into two unreleased titles, exclusive to this edition of Ubisoft Forward."

There will also be updates from the teams working on Roller Champions, For Honor, The Division 2, and Ghost Recon Breakpoint

You will be able to watch the event at, or over on Twitch. If you di tune in you can grab some free goodies including XP boosts for For Honor, a charm for Rainbow SIx Siege, and a mask for Watch Dogs Legion. You will need to log in to to your Ubisoft account before you watch to claim the rewards.

The publisher has been rocked by multiple allegations of sexual harassment, racism, and homophobia. Things had quietened down but then at the end last week the publisher's mobile title Tom Clancy's Elite Squad was in the spotlight. In this game, there is an "evil" group opposing the government which the likes of Sam Fisher go up against. So far, standard fare seen in a lot of Ubisoft games. The issue stems from the logo choice for the organisation called Umbra whose mission is to change the system. The logo chosen to represent Umbra is a raised black fist. The same logo that is representative of the Black Lives Matter movement.  You can watch the opening below.

In a statement Ubisoft confirmed it would be removing the imagery from Tom Clancy's Elite Squad:

Imagery that appeared in the opening video sequence of Tom Clancy's Elite Squad featuring a 'raised fist' was insensitive and harmful in both its inclusion and how it was portrayed. We have listened to and appreciate the players and the broader community who have pointed it out and we apologize. This 'raised fist' imagery will be removed in the next title update this Tuesday, September 1 on Android and as soon as possible on iOS.

You may be wondering how that even got in the game, and Bloomberg News' Jason Schrieir has offered an explanation.

The director of this game and manager of the studio behind it is Charlie Guillemot. If that name sounds familiar, it's because his father is Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft's CEO. Charlie Guillemot graduated university in 2014 and became studio manager in… 2014

Charlie graduated from Uni and got a top job at daddies company with almost certainly zero experience on how to run a studio! How nice for him.

Source: Ubisoft

Joe Biden's presidential campaign puts politics into Animal Crossing: New Horizons

There's a certain (and very wrong) school of thinking that video games shouldn't be political, that they shouldn't have a stance on such matters, but what if it's the other way round? What if politics tries to be in video games? That's exactly what's happening with the Biden-Harris campaign creating a set of official campaign signs and logos for use in the cheery paradise of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

While we doubt that Joe kicks back and relaxes with some Animal Crossing, here he is in digital form alongside vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, showing off the four official sign designs that they've created. We'd bet this is more down to staffers seeing the popularity of AOC in her Animal Crossing sessions earlier in the global lockdown.

If you want to rep for the Democrats in the US presidential election, you can download these to the game using the Nintendo Switch Online app to scan a set of QR codes. Don't know how to do that? Well, we have a rather handy guide for that!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – How to import custom clothes & art with NookLink QR Codes

OK, got all that figured out? Well here's the four QR codes to get the official Biden-Harris logo, the Team Joe logo, a Joe Pride logo and an image of some red, white and blue aviators.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons has raced past 20 million game sales in just a few months, the game chasing after the current best-selling Switch game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Will it catch and pass Mario Kart by Christmas? It seems pretty likely! It might even do it before the US presidential elections on 3rd November.

Don't forget to register to vote if you're in the US, by the way, and keep abreast of your state's postal voting/absentee ballot, the possibility of voting early, and all the other stuff you need to be aware of in the current climate.

Source: Joe Biden

Animal Crossing Guides from TheSixthAxis

Sable, Call of the Sea, GONNER2, and Per Aspera have new trailers

With so many announcements at virtual events like Gamescom a lot of the smaller titles get lost so top marks to Raw Fury who sent me a handy email with all the trailers for their games in one place.

First up is Per Aspera, a city building game with a difference: It's set on Mars and you're terraforming the entire planet, not just making one city.

Per Aspera is a planetary simulation experience that combines hard science fiction and base building. Take on the role of AMI and Artificial Consciousness with the prime directive of terraforming Mars for human colonization. With the nearest help being 140 million miles away, what risks are you willing to take to achieve the mission?

The game is coming to Steam at the end of this year.

Next up, Gonner 2, in which you are helping Death by controlling altruistic and unexpected hero Ikk. The game is a procedurally generated platformer with roguelike elements and boss fights, and is coming to PC, Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch sometime before the end of the year.

The third game is the rather more gentle Call of the Sea, a a first-person adventure puzzle game set in the 1930s that tells the story of Norah, a woman on the trail of her missing husband's expedition. "It's an otherworldly tale of mystery, adventure, and self-discovery," say Raw Fury.

Finally, we have Sable which is launching on PC and Xbox One next year.

Sable is a coming-of-age tale of discovery through exploration across a strikingly rendered open world desert. Go on a deeply personal journey across an alien planet as the young Sable, exploring ancient monuments, ruined architecture, and ships fallen from the cosmos, all while learning the history of its inhabitants and discovering her place in the world.

What is the history behind these broken monuments scattered about the land? How did the nomadic clans come here, and what made them stay? What's the greater importance that Sable must come to understand as part of this rite of passage? Only the inquisitive mind will come to understand the lessons held within the sandy confines of the planet's secrets: lessons of life, family, and being a part of something greater than one's self.

Source: Press release

Struggling Review

Struggling begins with a man throwing up at an office party. I could not think of a more fitting metaphor for my time with this game. It's a disgusting mess, and only partly because it wants to be.

The awkward controls and fleshy meaty visuals are there purely by design, so I can't really fault it for that. It's pretty clear that Struggling was made for streamers to get wound up about while on camera, since it takes the physics of Heave Ho or Mount Your Friends, then makes a fiendishly difficult platformer out of it.

I'd talk about the plot, but it's just a way of putting high stakes in a game that really didn't need it – it's not referenced much during the course of the game itself. All you really need to know is that you are controlling Troy, an experiment gone wrong, screaming into and about its own existence as it swings across platforms and ceilings with its independently controlled arms.

One thing that's clear is that Struggling's art style riffs off the 'Gross Out' phenomenon of the late 80s/early 90s. Think Ren & Stimpy or Garbage Pail Kids. It's a look… that I actually like, despite all the vomit and gore. There's definitely some passion behind the hand-drawn visuals and it fits in with the game's over-the-top tone.

When I began Struggling, all I could do was flail the failed school science project's arms to move around uselessly. The way the arms work is relatively easy to grasp, though there are plenty of times where the game's physics got in the way of progress.

If you're playing on PC, the game recommends that you use a controller and I would as well, since it's easier to use the triggers to grab onto stuff and regrow with the controller rather than a keyboard and mouse setup. I would add that the option to colour code the arms is incredibly helpful as I often struggled to tell which arm was which with the default settings.

About an hour in and countless deaths later, I unlocked the ability to detach one or both arms. This, among other things, allowed me to create an extended arm by grabbing the soggy end of a detached arm with the hand of the one I still had attached. I liked the versatility of this new ability and the times that challenges were solely focused on how to use it effectively. I also like how hats are hidden throughout the adventure to encourage replaying the game once you eventually are done with it.

I liked little else.

It was a bad sign when I quit out of Struggling multiple times in the same section, just to calm down and have a cup of tea. Every time I had to take a break, it was due to some kind of speed-based challenge or some aggravation with the game's object physics.

It's also a bad sign that this first happened about 20 minutes into the game when I was being chased by a horde of mutated rats. All I had to do was clamber over some boxes, get across three swinging platforms, and push through a small chute. How hard could it be, right?

Turns out that it was ludicrously difficult and it's all down to the fact that moving with speed will more often than not tie the fleshy husk's arms into a sickly knot. Normally this isn't an issue as you can just press a button to regrow the arms, but in a tense situation where rats are slowly filling the room like plague-infested water filling an empty swimming pool, I found that the simple act of moving was just too difficult to do consistently.

My patience finally ran out during the third location: the wild west. There's a part where you must swing across branches to go upwards, avoiding cacti growing on the cliff side. The physics of how these tree branches bend was just a bit too chaotic, requiring manual dexterity that neither I, nor the meat sack I was controlling, was capable of executing. I managed to get up to the third branch just once, before my hopes and dreams of reaching the top came plummeting down with a sickening thump.

This is the main problem with Struggling: your enjoyment will depend on how much of a chance you're willing to give it.

To its credit, the one bit of gameplay that I did like were the pinball sections. Why? Because they actually felt fair. You control arms placed around the level and fling the core of the meaty lads. Sometimes this is time sensitive, other times it requires precision, but these are the rare moments that I found myself enjoying my time with the game.

Struggling doesn't support online multiplayer, but does have local co-op that can test your friendship. Each player has independent use of an arm, adding a further challenge of needing to collaborate to get through each level, with all the wacky physics and interactions that go along with it. You might get a laugh out of it, but it will also quickly become a tedious chore.

At the end of the day, Struggling just isn't a game for me and I didn't have the patience to make it through to the bitter end. However, I don't think it was fully down to my lack of patience, the style of controls clashing too often with the types of challenge that you face. Chances are that others will have an absolutely miserable time too and as the saying goes, misery loves company. It'll attract people to watch videos of others screaming their heads off, but that's about it.

September's PlayStation Plus games are now available to download, links here

Here's you monthly reminder to go and grab you free(ish) games from Sony along with some handy links so you don't even have to turn on your PlayStation 4. This month your haul includes fighting game Street Fighter V and the iconic battle royale, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

Here are the links:

Though not quite the first of its kind, PUBG became the definitive battle royale game for many when it launched in Steam Early Access in March 2017. It was an absolute phenomenon, spawning countless imitators, and lead to the revival of Fortnite from a co-op wave-based survival game into something people actually gave a damn about. PUBG then made the jump to Xbox One at the end of 2017, before arriving on PlayStation 4 in December 2018.

The gist, for those that don't know, is that you and up to 99 other players drop into one of a range of maps with nothing but the clothes on your back. From there, you have to scrounge around for weapons, armour and other items, fighting for survival as a storm pushes players closer and closer together until one final person (or team of up to four) is crowned victorious.

The game is also notoriously wonky and has mediocre performance, regardless of the platform you run it on. We handed it a solid 8/10 in the original review on PC citing those bugs, while for its PS4 release, we called it "Rough, Ready, But Still Relevant."

On the other end of the scale is Street Fighter V, the latest entry in Capcom's long-running fighting game series in which you go one on one with another player or the AI. You've got a variety of single player modes to take part in, but the real test will be in online matches.

Street Fighter V is now into its fifth year of content, with Capcom switching to a seasonal approach to its development. Still, at the time of its release in 2016, we had high praise. In out Street Fighter V review, Dave said:

Even as a person whose grasp of fighting games is nowhere near top-tier standard, Street Fighter V is the most fun I've had in a fighting game in years. It's a bold choice by Capcom to make this an expanding platform rather than a simpler game release, and it means that while it's light on content, you have to appraise its stability, core combat and look to its true form in the future. Based on the strength of the gameplay and performance, Street Fighter V is a sublime fighting game and shows that this old dog still has some new tricks.

PUBG and Street Fighter V will be available until Monday 5th October.

Two more seasons of Zombie Army 4 DLC are on the way, starting later in 2020

Rebellion have announced that there's not one, but two more seasons of DLC content coming to their popular co-op zombie shooter Zombie Army 4: Dead War. Details of these were teased in a development update video:

Players have killed over 2 billion nazi zombies (and 50 million Hitler clones) since the game came out in February, but there's plenty more where that came from. Season 1, which was built around the three-part Hell Cult campaign, is being rounded out the Horde Map set in a Zoo and the Crossbow Pistol Bundle, both of which are a part of the season pass. Not the most exciting of things, but there's more substantial offerings coming in the two more seasons of DLC.

Season 2 will start later this year, being created in collaboration with Flix Entertainment, with Season 3 coming in 2021. Both will include new campaigns, new skins, new weapons, and new free content for those who don't fancy buying the DLC.

A rather moody looking glimpse of Season 2's opener was given in the development update video. We got to see a canyon seemingly leading up to a demonic dam, vast cliff-side defences and snowy villages. This could be pretty much anywhere in the world, but we'd put a little money on the Italian Alps at Christmas. What do you think>

We had a grand old time with our Zombie Army 4: Dead War review when it came out all the way back in February. With new player abilities and weapon mods, alongside more refined level design, I said:

"If you like shooting zombies with friends, then Zombie Army 4: Dead War is the game for you. There's a few new twists and several layers of progression now thrown into the mix, as you battle undead Nazis once again, but this is classic undead sniping action through and through."

Source: press release

Iron Harvest Review

Just like the mechs that populate its Dieselpunk alt-history battlegrounds, Iron Harvest is a creaky, imperfect contraption, but one that's clearly been bolted together with love and undeniable charm. Also, like its outlandish and inventive mechs, it's welded together with an eye for form over function. While the core of Iron Harvest is a dynamic and often exciting RTS that pays tribute to Company of Heroes and Dawn of War, mechanical intricacies can often seem like an afterthought alongside the glorious smoke and mirrors of its outer casing.

A standard skirmish or multiplayer match in Iron Harvest is always going to be a desperate, constant scrap over resources and victory points until one side gets the upper hand, giving them the edge they need to overwhelm their opponent. Each iron and oil refinery held means you can produce a steadier supply of reinforcements. It also means that staying put to defend a base and build up forces won't work here. The game rewards regular, well-timed raids over biding your time. Deathballing – amassing a huge blob of powerful units to sweep the map – is too slow to be viable. The result is dynamic, involved skirmishes with ever-shifting fronts.

Strategic variety is also encouraged by the variety of units that stay viable and useful even when more powerful choices become available. Plonk a unit of rocket infantry in cover with a bead on a mech's rear armour and they can wreak havoc. Sentry turrets can chew through infantry, but a well-microed grenade can quickly end the party. The speed at which units die is a little slower than a classic RTS, so there's often room during skirmishes to both reposition and micromanage special abilities. This, alongside the significant survivability that cover provides to infantry, means that planning a versatile force is often rewarded.

Base building itself consists of just three structures: a Headquarters, a Barracks for infantry, and a Workshop for mechs. Both the Barracks and Workshop can be upgraded, but there's no complex building chains or tech trees. Instead, most of the strategic elements in holding positions come from fortifications. The highly versatile engineer can place sandbags, pillboxes, barbed wire, and mines, as well as repair the mechs. With cover being as useful as it is, identifying and reinforcing chokepoints can be extremely powerful, providing yet more choices over when to focus on defence, and when to press the attack.

The slightly-arcadey immediacy present in the point capture also exists in the way infantry units can swap roles on the fly. If your unit of rifleman mops up a unit of machine-gunners, for example, they can then collect their weapons, transforming them into your faction's version of that unit. This is neat because it occasionally makes soldiers grow beards in an instant, but it also means more opportunities to respond to, rather than just predict, your opponent. On the other hand, it diminishes infantry variety between factions, since each of the three playable sides need to have roughly equivalent choices for this to work.

That's not to say there's no differences between these minor choices, and the three factions do have a fair amount to separate them. Polanian basic infantry have rifles, Rusviet shotguns, and Saxony SMG's, each offering different range and damage potential. Saxony's mechs are powerful, lumbering things, while Polania favours mid-range skirmishers, and Rusviet powerful melee options.

The mechs are the main event here, the equivalent to tanks in this alt-history, and they're incredibly impressive visually. Lumbering chimeras that have stepped out of furnace-heated workshops, sparked into existence at the point where low and high technology meet and scrape up against one another. In battle, they'll fall apart as they take damage, and eventually stagger and fall when felled, leaving smoking wrecks on the battlefield. Artillery from both mechs and gun emplacements leave muddy craters where they land, and larger mechs will walk straight through buildings, levelling them like card houses.

Practically, he mechs veer to the simplistic side, effectively acting how large vehicles would in any other RTS do. The presence on the battlefield that the audiovisual design works so hard to establish is undermined by the mech's inability to navigate difficult terrain. They can crush sandbags underfoot, sure, but they're also unable to scale even slight elevations. The inclusion of buildable fortifications works towards allowing spatial dominance of the battlefield as a viable and interesting tactical approach, but the mechs don't compliment this in an interesting way.

The single-player campaign consists of twenty-one missions – seven for each faction – and a ton of cutscenes between them. The focus on story and the length and production of many of the cutscenes feels extremely generous, and while the plot isn't always captivating, the enthusiasm with which it's told is. There are some genuinely excellent, dramatic, and surprising missions in there, but there are also a handful of staid, ill-suited stealth missions which feel at odds with the game's core strengths. At their best, these slower-paced hero missions can add some great history and texture to the gameworld, but at their worst, they feel like torturously slow-paced filler.

That gameworld itself is not entirely what I expected or hoped from concept artist Jakub Różalski's work, either. There's wistful, tragic, pastoral romance to Różalski's paintings, but Iron Harvest often feels much more like Saturday morning cartoon. Levity, big explosions, badass mechs doing badass things. If Różalski's work evokes questions about the relationship between ourselves and technology, or the automatisation of work and war, Iron Harvest mostly asks "Aren't big mechs cool?"

That's not to say there aren't splashes of depth here. The first half of the Saxony campaign in particular is an exploration of tragic folly, of arrogance and ambition, and of the "meat grinder" of 20th century conflicts. This last idea is baked into the mechanics as well; the gruelling pace of combat often reminds you that the women and men under your command are not necessarily out to kill, but trying to keep their heads down to hopefully see another sunrise and win themselves a better future. In these moments, Iron Harvest absolutely does the poetry of Różalski's work justice.

Sades Axe Gaming Mouse Review

Nothing identifies a gaming peripheral more than a violent name. The Sades Axe is one of the clearest examples of such conventions yet – well, I doubt it's a reference to the deodorant brand. I've never quite understood the need to try and make accessories sound like offensive weapons, but then I'm also pretty lukewarm on RGB lighting in my gaming kit, so maybe I'm just an old man yelling at clouds. The Axe is Chinese manufacturer Sades' latest entry into the highly competitive gaming mouse market and promises a premium set of functions at a budget price point. So, with Axe in hand, I set out to test its mettle and really get to grips with it.

Aesthetically, the Axe is a nice blend of rounded and sharp edges, eschewing the overly angular approach that many gaming mice take. It looks and feels like a midpoint between the rounded regular mouse you'd use for daily surfing and the spiky deathbringer you'd bring out in the evenings for gaming. The result feels great in the hand, particularly for those of us who favour the palm grip over the claw (that sounds dirty written down like that).

The shape is complemented by a smooth matte finish and textured buttons – useful for setting that muscle memory for quick reactions. One word of caution, however, as the button placement and moulded grip makes this a very right-handed mouse and I couldn't recommend it for you southpaws out there.

Under the bonnet (as it were) the specs of the Sades Axe are impressive – especially given the sub-£30 price point. The PMW3325 Optical Sensor offers a ridiculous 10,000DPI that's more than sensitive enough for gaming, with 20G maximum acceleration and a maximum speed of 100 in/s. If, like me, you tend to glaze over a little when these stats are recited I can confirm that the end result is a mouse that feels brilliantly responsive and accurate. A DPI switch is located below the scroll wheel so you can easily switch between window managing and head-shotting.

The build quality of the Axe is impressive too. It is a sturdy little beast with a strong nylon braided cord and a gold-plated USB plug. It weighs in at a fairly hefty 108g and also comes with an extra 10.5g adjustable weight insert. This is a nice feature, although I found it plenty heavy enough without adding any extra. Buttons are sturdy but feel nice and responsive, which is obviously one of the most important aspects of a gaming mouse. It is the buttons that really show how much you're getting for your money here.

Offering no fewer than 12 programmable buttons, the Axe is flexible enough to meet the needs of almost any gaming situation. I found the extra side buttons really useful in mapping functions such as reload or inventory that often require a risky slide away from WASD in FPSes, and even more essential in strategy and MMORPG games where things like spell slots or battle groups could be quickly accessed quickly with your thumb.

Unusually, even the DPI switches can be reprogrammed to offer a different specific function, and the onboard memory means that changes can be taken with you between computers. The accompanying software package is incredibly clean and user-friendly, staying away from some of the 'elite gamerz' excesses of some manufacturers. Multiple profiles make it easy to switch between FPS, RPG and work functions with a quick click in the software and the obligatory RGB lighting is configurable there too. This lighting is nicely minimalist too, aside from the glowing wolf logo which will spend most of its time covered up by your hand anyway.

My only negative experience with the Sades Axe was a small white sticker underneath that started to peel away and leave unsightly marks on my mousemat.  I'd recommend removing that upfront.

Faeria Review

Faeria gives a great first impression with the gorgeous art found in its opening cutscene, full of vivid colours depicting a fantastical world of creatures and swords – it's all I ever need to entice me into a game. That, however, is the last time I really notice the beauty of the artwork, the rest being featured within the unnecessarily small hexagonal cards of this strategy card game.

Faeria is designed to be a cross between CCG and traditional board game, in which you build various lands to reach and attack the enemy. In a turn based structure, you and your opponent can play two plains lands or one special land – green forests, fiery mountains, sandy deserts, and watery lakes. There's an element of strategy that's needed, as in any card game, but it feels much more important in Faeria than in games Like Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone. I thoroughly enjoyed planning routes to the enemy, and finding new ways to tackle the board.

Each card has a summon cost, and those that can attack or defend have attack and health, shown in the bottom left and right, respectively. This is nothing out of the ordinary, following the standard practice in CCG. You use Faeria to summon creatures to the board, with the unique summon cost being shown in the top left of the card. You collect three Faeria at the beginning of each turn, with the chance to collect more using Faeria wells on the battle maps. You can collect one additional Faeria per well per turn, so long as you have a creature adjacent to a well. In addition, some creatures require a set amount of special lands in order to be summoned, this again being a fairly common feature across the CCG subgenre.

While there is lore within the universe, there didn't seem to be much of a storyline, leaving you to fill in the gaps. The lore is built very slowly, between information on the cards, and speech bubbles showing interactions between the cards and the enemy "boss". There's also lore found after defeating specific challengers in single player, or completing various quests. It's very much a slow build of information, as opposed to presenting you with pages upon pages to read at once.

Going back to the lovely artwork of the game's opening, the rest of the game locks this into the diminutive cards that you play. Should you really want to have a closer look at the cards, then shuffling through them in the deck builder is probably the easiest way to do so. The zoom feature on the playing board didn't really work as it should've, only allowing you to see a flash of the cards rather than allowing you to actually study it.

The act of playing cards should be fairly simple, however the mechanism raised several issues for me whilst playing. In several instances, the cards simply refused to be selected or played, despite having the requirements for play. Furthermore, moving the cards across the board created difficulty for the same reasons; cards would simply refuse to be selected. This was nothing short of frustrating, leaving me to ragequit several times. Despite being an enjoyable concept and game to play, the faulty mechanics ruined the continuity and gameplay. Playing via the touchscreen of my Switch helped a little, but the same issues still occurred, albeit less frequently.

From the main screen, you have an option to access the deck builder. Whil you can use the presets as and when you find them throughout the story, this enables you to build your own from scratch. Building a deck with the cards was much easier than actually playing with them, and it was even more fun once I'd actually collected enough to make several themed decks.

Faeria requires an internet connection to play, even if you are playing single player. My 9-5 doesn't have the best WiFi connection, meaning I simply can't play on breaks. This isn't much of an issue really, but does massively limit when you can play, especially if you're like me, and like to game on transport or at work. The sheer amount of content will keep you going for a while, even if you go at a slow pace.

Crusader Kings III Review

Popular culture tends to depicts the life of nobility through the Middle Ages in one of a few ways. While the peasantry are going about their Monty Pythonesque filth farming, their lords, knights and kings will either be living in glorious excess, display the most conniving intent to grab more and more power, or be the most virtuous ruler out there. The Crusader Kings series has always let you choose which type of ruler you want to be.

Compared to other grand strategy series, Crusader Kings games aren't really about "painting the map", but are about leading a dynasty of nobles through the ages. All of your choices and actions are to further yourself and provide the best possible throne for your heirs to come and sit on once you have passed. Of course, you can still seek to paint the world red and conquer all those that stand in your way, but you're doing this while role playing as a particular ruler. They can be strong military leaders or sickly, bookish and shy, they can be pious to the extreme or philanderers in excess, they can be just and honest or try to stab everyone in the back to get ahead.

Alongside the countless narrative moments that will pop up and demand you make a decision, the role playing aspects of the series have really been pushed to the fore in Crusader Kings 3. Lifestyles have been revamped, giving a progression tree of buffs to unlock as you push your character toward a particular style of play, while your stature and grander actions build up points to unlock Dynasty Legacies, which start to provide powerful enhancements for all characters in your family tree, cementing a legacy of military success, conniving acts or… bounteous loins. Speaking of which, you'll be playing a game of medieval eugenics as you arrange marriages, carefully select a tutor or guardian with high stats, and even indulge in a little light prolicide, fratricide and parridice to ensure your dynasty's succession.

Ah yes. Murderous scheming. What could be more Crusader Kings? Well, maybe a few little affairs and blackmail? The new overarching Schemes system ties together the various bits of intrigue and skullduggery you could get up to in previous games, whether it's a murder plot on a rival, a bit of light seduction, or simply trying to sway a character's opinion of you. A good Spymaster in your council of advisors will help you ferret out the secrets of others – though you can always make something up with an intrigue-oriented character – to that you can gain blackmail hooks on them and persuade them to support your more devious endeavours. Of course, your own escapades and deviancies can be turned back around on you just as well.

Or you could always just wage wars and conquer your rivals. You'll need to have a Casus Belli before you can rally your troops and march to glory, but that's easy enough to conjure up with some forged paperwork. You won't have a huge standing army, but rather a mixture of men-at-arms and a mass of levied peasants gathered from your lands and those of your vassals. This will typically start to drain your coffers, putting a limit on how long you can wage war for before you run out of cash, and focussing your efforts on embarrassing your enemy or quickly grabbing the patch of land you wanted. The nature of your armies also makes the biggest threats to your rule come from within, with dissatisfied vassals potentially banding together and bringing their full might against you, with your own army diminished through not being able to draw upon their levies. It's the first years of an heir's rule potentially the most dangerous of them all.

Pushing you further to actually role play is the new Stress system that nudges you to make decisions in keeping with your current character. Pushing that character's buttons with your choices will increase their stress and can lead to mental breaks that then add negative character traits to cope, and eventually wildly lashing out. There's ways to reduce stress periodically through feasts and hunts, but it forces you to weigh up the cost of acting against your character's nature. Still, it can feel a bit like a straight jacket with certain characteristics. Shy characters can seriously struggle with managing Vassal opinions, as every attempt at a simple Sway scheme immediately adds a huge amount of Stress and they obviously hate hosting big, lavish feasts. A more nuanced time-based penalty here could have felt more appropriate, but it certainly ramps up the pressure effectively.

Scheming and character relations can feel quite straightforward and numbers-based (because they are), but that just the nature of this genre and provides clarity over who likes and dislikes you and why. Still it can initially come as a bit of a surprise to be so thoroughly disliked, forcing you to lean heavily on gifts and Sway scheme within your own realm. It allows you to toy with the system to an extent – I mothered a bastard child with the King of Sweden and then, our infidelity discovered, shipped our son over to the King's wife to be his guardian. I felt slightly bad for this.

The breadth of cultures and religions represented in CK3 is impressive – it needs to be in order to match huge world map the game ships with. Cultures come with different styles of government, succession rules, marriage, and there are several faiths under each religion's umbrella that have their own particular rites and rules for how you can embark on pilgrimages to holy site, doctrines surrounding marriage, crime, and so on. New faiths can rise up and you're given the opportunity to embrace them or declare those that do heretics, but if you're pious enough, you can create your own and (hopefully) lead your family and subordinates over to the new style of living.

These are also the path to the holy wars of the game's name. For your basic Catholic faiths, you'll start to be called up by the Pope to go and capture Jerusalem, and while you can just throw him a few coins to support the war effort, you can also raise and army and send it over to fight. Your reward will depend on your contribution to the war effort, but it's currently too easy to cheese this by simply laying siege to a few cities away from the main battles, earning a disproportionately high score and seeing the invaded realm (probably Jerusalem) handed over to your chosen benefactor if the war as a whole goes in your favour.

Helping players to learn the ropes of Crusader Kings 3 has certainly been a focus for Paradox, and there's some great tools included here to help you do just that. The in-game encyclopaedia is great, and it's allied with the never-ending tooltips that let you mouseover a concept in a dialogue box and get an explanatory pop-up, which will feature more words that you can mouseover, and deeper and deeper. Its default mode is maybe a touch intrusive, but that can be modified. An advice tab at the top of the screen helps you keep tabs on important things like wars you can start, people you can imprison, immediate threats to your realm. It's a shame that the initial tutorial feels like an info dump delivered through dozens of consecutive text boxes, but a little patience and the game's core is easy enough to learn and there are enough pointers provided to help you progress.

Lonely Mountains: Downhill DLC will add the new Eldfjall Island mountain

Thunderful and Megagon Industries have announced some new DLC for the biking game Lonely Mountains: Downhill, with this content taking players to the fictional volcanic Eldfjall Island. The DLC will add four brand new trails to master with new environmental effects also being added. There will be lightning and the active volcano is not just for show, so be aware of that. There will be new cosmetics to unlock too, and you will be able to compete on a global leaderboard. You can check out the first look in the new trailer below.

Jan Bubenik and Daniel Helbig, Megagon Industries, released a statement saying:
"We are very excited to introduce Eldfjall Island, a completely new, yet undiscovered Lonely Mountain. It is a unique world of its own – the largest and most versatile mountain we have ever built. We have put all our knowledge and experience into it since the initial release of the main game Lonely Mountains: Downhill. For the players Eldfjall Island brings a completely new gaming experience and an adventurous ride along its mossy fields, windy cliffs, and fiery magma streams." 
In our review for Lonely Mountains: Downhill Thomas wrote:
Lonely Mountains: Downhill is a new, minimalist kind of extreme sports experience. Whether you're popping on for a quick run or spending longer riding across numerous mountains, Lonely Mountains provides a challenging but ultimately relaxing experience.
You can read the full review here. A release date for the Eldfjall Island DLC is yet to be confirmed. The content will be available on

Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.
Source: Press Release

Remothered: Broken Porcerlain's new trailer explores the relationship between Jennifer and Lindsay

A brand new trailer for the upcoming horror title Remothered: Broken Porcerlain has been released, and this one is titled Whispers. The focal point of this new trailer is the relationship between the main character Jennifer and her companion through the horror, Lindsay. Both seem to be trapped in the Ashmann Inn, and the only way to survive is to support each other through all of the danger that is coming their way. You can watch the trailer below.

Recently, Remothered: Broken Porcelain was delayed from August 25th to October 20th. In a statement, Stormind Games said:

After much consideration, we've reached a decision with the team at Stormind Games to delay Remothered: Broken Porcelain's release until Oct. 20 of this year. We are incredibly excited to invite players into this wonderfully realized chapter of the Remothered story, but it's important that we deliver the experience fans deserve. Having additional time for polish and to accommodate unanticipated longer timeframes due to the current global situation will help us do exactly that.

We cannot thank the fans of Remothered enough for their patience and the passionate enthusiasm they've shared for Remothered: Broken Porcelain, and we look forward to seeing their reactions when they play the game later this year.

In our review for the first game Remothered: Tormented Fathers, Steve wrote:

I was apprehensive when first beginning Remothered: Tormented Fathers as I have been burnt by too many horror games that promised much but only disappointed – Agony being the most recent and egregious example. Happily, despite a few minor niggles, I very much enjoyed my time in the Felton residence and eagerly await the promised sequels. Darril Arts have established a gameworld that is clearly influenced by its predecessors but manages to steer clear of feeling overly derivative.  I'm not a huge fan of stealth but the world and the narrative drew me in and by the end I was sneaking around like Solid Snake in high heels. If you're looking for a new horror experience then Remothered comes highly recommended.

You can read the full Remothered: Tormented Fathers review here.

Source: Press Release

White Shadows revealed for PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC

Monokel has revealed a new platformer called White Shadows for PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC. The game is one that leans heavily into a black and white aesthetic in which players take on the role of Ravengirl. Ravengirl is on a mission to escape the surveillance state known as White City which is ruled by wolves. The main inhabitants of White City are pigs, sheep, birds and rats. Going by the trailer she is branded a criminal with the city's resources used to hunt her down.

The story description says:

Some time ago, the great war led to a plague which wiped almost all living things from the face of the earth. Or so they say. Nobody is safe outside the White City, and the birds are to blame for the plague. Or so they say. Only a shining coat of fresh white color will protect you from the plague, and you must earn your ration of color by staying obedient. Or so they say. But Ravengirl stopped listening.

The features for White Shadows have also been listed by Monokel, and those are as follows:

  • Meaningful story: A story that is dark yet funny, gripping and relevant to players' lives today
  • Narrative gameplay experience: Simple, but deep interactions drive the story forward
  • Cinematic style: A unique & highly detailed visual style made of shadows and light
  • This fable comes alive: a fully formed world with masses of pigs and sheep and birds, with scheming rats and wolf overlords and helpless little chicklets
  • A call to revolt: Are you ready to change the fate of the last city on earth and its' inhabitants?

White Shadows is expected to be released in 2021.

Source: IGN/Steam

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time Review

It seemed like we had seen the last of Genndy Tartakovsky's time-traveling warrior Samurai Jack back in 2017, when the classic early-2000s series was gifted one final season by Adult Swim to revisit the incredible characters and wrap up the long-unfinished story. This year, though, Adult Swim Games decided to take one more final ride with Jack by putting together a video game spin-off to the iconic action series.

These days, when you hear about a video game spin-off from a cartoon series, you'll probably imagine a pocket-sized mobile game or a flawed, low-budget console release. Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time breaks that unfortunate tradition by taking us not only on a journey through the past of Samurai Jack, but also through the past of action games.

The original cartoon got a pretty conclusive ending in the final episode of its 2017 run, and Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time doesn't attempt to ruin a good thing. This game instead weaves its way between the chapters of the series, fleshing out a brief half-minute off-screen sequence from the final season into a six-to-ten hour journey.

Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time is just as dedicated to the iconic visuals of the original cartoon as it is to the story and characters. The game even opens up with the original narration and opening animation from the cartoon. Footage from the show is mixed into the rest of the game now and then, but most of the experience is a cel-shaded 3D adventure that does an incredible job of capturing the original aesthetic of the series. Characters maintain their same blocky, hard-edged proportions, and cutscenes often employ the same long, drawn-out cuts you'd see in the cartoon. While a few awkward animations make their way into the cutscenes, for the most part the combination of cel-shaded character models with rich color and detailed shading is a gorgeous recipe for success.

For someone who has never seen an episode of the cartoon, you'll likely be left with a heaping helping of confusion throughout this game. Who is Ashi? Why is that dog talking? Did that Scotsman just use his leg as a machine gun? The game picks some of the most iconic characters, environments, and enemies from the original cartoon to populate the game-world with, so long-time fans will have a constant surge of nostalgia as they revisit past worlds of Samurai Jack.

The most surprising thing about this action-game retelling of Jack's biggest adventures is how dedicated it is to being a product of the show's original era. In a world where so many action games today ape off the success of the Souls series or the metroidvania genre, Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time feels like an HD remaster or remake of a PlayStation 2 classic.

The Ninja Gaiden veterans at Soleil Ltd. have put together an old-school 3D action game full of flashy combos, arenas of enemies, and score-based rankings. This isn't as much of a grueling character-action challenge as it is a flashy fan-pleaser. Doling out slick combos with Jack's magic sword or swapping out to a variety of other weapons in the game like clubs and bo staffs is a delight, and while higher difficulty settings can help add some challenge to the experience, I was happy enough with the balance of lenient difficulty that the standard experience gave me.

Unfortunately, a few watery game mechanics end up souring the otherwise delightful experience. Some of these problems stem from the old-school action game design of Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time that I just finished praising. Much like an old-school console action game, there are some infuriatingly unfair checkpoints should you end up dying through a particularly tough segments or tricky boss fights. The upgrade system is also awkwardly gated off with multiple currencies and forced progression. It left me unable to actually obtain a few of the combat skills I was most excited about due to a lack of resources in the second half of the game.

One particular issue, though, is an awkward modern design element that feels like it had no place in the game. Jack can employ a variety of different weapons, with certain enemies having certain weaknesses that pressure you into swapping your loadout often. Each of these weapons is also saddled with an annoying durability meter. You'll burn through weapons just as frequently as you can find them, leading to pure time-wasting as you constantly refresh your loadout or swap out broken weapons throughout the game.

The Witcher: Monster Slayer early development version is out in New Zealand

A couple of days ago, CD Projekt RED announced a new mobile title set in The Witcher universe, and that game is The Witcher: Monster Slayer. The game has been described a bit like Pokemon GO but for Witcher fans. However, you will not be capturing the various monsters that stalk the realm, but instead fighting them. To do this players will have to prepare potions, check in at locations, and track monsters before you fight them. And, if you live in New Zealand you can try out the early development version on Apple devices.

The Witcher: Monster Slayer is expected to release worldwide in 2020 for iOS and Android, so that early test may roll out to other nations. The Twitter account associated with the game has advised people to sign up to the newsletter, where more information will be given once release windows of The Witcher: Monster Slayer for other regions have been confirmed.  The game will have a more action RPG slant to it compared to similar mobile titles, and does take inspiration from the fantasy world's lore in having you need to prepare for each battle. You'll have to brew potions and oils, craft bombs and monster bait, and upgrade your character before you'll be ready to take on certain monsters. Battles will then take place in first-person AR combat via your phone.

The Witcher: Monster Slayer will feature quests to complete while you are out and about as well.

Source: Twitter

Watch the first gameplay footage for The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon DLC

Obsidian has released the first gameplay footage for the first The Outer Worlds DLC expansion Peril on Gorgon, with the walkthrough shown focusing on one of the side quests. The side quest is named "Love is the plan. The plan is death." The footage starts with the player, along with companions Parvati and Felix, heading into a bar called the Sprat Shack where you discover that people have been changing for the worst. The Sprat Shack will act as a hub on Gorgon where side quests can be picked up. You can watch the pre-release footage below.

Once the player ventures out of the Sprat Shack combat is quick to appear, and the new footage shows the Pest Extermination Tool, one of the new science weapons found on Gorgon. This weapon can let you pull enemies towards you so hits can be landed. Portable phonographs will act like the audio logs from the base game to get information about the world, and discover what happened to the residents of Gorgon.

The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon was revealed during the Xbox Series X Games Showcase, and a release date of September 9th has been confirmed for the DLC. In our original review for The Outer Worlds, Gareth wrote:

The Outer Worlds is the game that fans have wanted Obsidian Entertainment to make for the better part of a decade. The story is the main attraction here, with Obsidian's witty writing coming to the fore in an interesting and funny interstellar setting. If that's what you look for in your RPGs, The Outer Worlds will not disappoint.
You can read the full The Outer Worlds review here. If you are interested in knowing how the Switch version fared, that review is here.
Source: YouTube

The Stone Of Madness announced for PlayStation 5

I'm trying to think of any other games set in a monastery but coming up blank, but that is exactly where The Stone of Madness set. Described as "a hardcore real-time tactics and stealth game set in an ever-changing Spanish Monastery", you have to help five inmates escape. In order to escape they must face "their phobias and risk worsening their conditions before madness completely takes them."

Now you may be wondering why monks are locking people up, and it turns out the monastery has been repurposed as a mental asylum and is set in the Pyrenees during the 18th century. Depending on how you play you characters sanity will deteriorate and if gets too bad you will get the titular Stone of Madness that gives your characters negative abilities such as paranoia,  and dementia.

"Explore your surroundings, find clues and tools to help you achieve your goal. Be careful though, if you're caught being somewhere you shouldn't be the guards will not be kind," say developers Teku Studios.

Key features include:

  • Master Tactician– Plan and execute your escape in real-time, utilise each characters' unique abilities and escape the Monastery.
  • The Prisoners – Play as five unique and flawed characters, discover why each has imprisoned.
  • Secrets of the Monastery – Explore the monastery and you may come across items or clues to unlock new content for future play-through's.
  • Character Progression/Regression – Each character has special skills and unique flaws that can help or hinder or progress.
  • Endless Escapes – There are multiple escape plans to attempt by exploring the monastery. The monastery map also changes with each play-through, moving key and items to other locations.
  • Stunning and Original Art – Exquisite hand-painted and original works inspired by 18th century artist, Francisco De Goya

The game is also scheduled to arrive on Steam along with PlayStation 5 in Spring 2021.

Source: YouTube / Steam

Ghostrunner has a new trailer, beta sign ups now open

Who ya gonna call? runners! The hack and slash parkour game has a new trailer which you can check out below.

The game set in the future after a global cataclysm forces the remaining few humans to take shelter in a huge tower built by The Architect, who died mysteriously years ago. "A person's worth depends on the category of implants they have, defining their whole lives," say All In! Games. "The implants—given to them in childhood—determine which social group a person belongs to. If you weren't lucky enough to get a good life, there is nothing you can do."

"High mobility of the main character, one-hit-one-kill, and bullet-time mechanics are the bases of the gameplay, which focuses on fast-paced, high-adrenaline combat," they add.

Ghostrunner's official description reads:

Blood-thirsty enemies, an environment full of deadly traps, virtual reality overlayed on top of real space—all this and more awaits you as you make your way, level by level, towards the top of the tower. Your high-tech blade slices through flesh and metal, delivering gory one-hit kills. Bullet-time mechanics give you an edge in fast, high-adrenaline combat. Unique cybernetic skills help you cope with enemies and an environment that can end your life at any moment.

Ghostrunner will be released on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam later this year but there will be a beta before then, there is no mention of formats for the beta but as this an indie game I would guess it's only going to be running on PC. All participants will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) so you won't be able to talk about the game or stream it. The Beta will begin in the middle of September and you must be at least 18 years of age.

To sign up for the Ghostrunner Beta click here. 

Source: YouTube

Double Kick Heroes Review

Those that know me best know that I have no sense rhythm, and especially struggle with rhythm games, but the concept of Double Kick Heroes intrigued me so much that I just had to give it a go. You find yourself in a post-apocalyptic zombie wasteland, a group of metalheads driving across the USA while fighting zombies with the Power of Rock!

The concept sounds outlandishly weird, and combined with the buildable elements of the rhythm aspect of the game, creates a thoroughly bizarre storyline that pulls the player right into this wasteland. You travel across the world, trying to build a resistance whilst meeting an array of other metalhead survivors, defeating zombies with your music-powered gun car called the 'Gundillac'.

Each level plays out like a rhythm action game, but with your band firing from the back of the the Gundillac as it cruises along. Not only do you have to keep rhythm to the symbols running along the bottom of the screen, but you also have to shift your aim. Enemies approach from a wide area, and will approach and destroy your car if you don't pay them enough attention…. with bullets. This extra element, while making the game more difficult, also made the game far more interesting, as you have to track more than just rhythm bar.

Throughout each level, you can level up your guns by creating multipliers via streaks that let you deal more damage – a fairly common concept within rhythm games. Furthermore, as you progress throughout the storyline, you can build and unlock more weapons, creating a higher level of difficulty from the initial A or B rhythm options.

The storyline is complimented by the convoluted, almost wild art style that depicts the changing landscapes and array of obscure enemies you fight. From zombies to chickens, to bikers wearing dead shark heads, and when you get to Europe, sheep-riding Nazis. Every enemy is unique, bizarre and plays into the storyline in a different way – the chickens simply appeared because one of the band members was hungry. The pixelated style still displays emotion from the characters, all of which have their own distinct look.

The campaign is fairly short, but with five levels of difficulty and a number of trophies to collect, it is surprisingly easy to get lost in the music and spend hours replaying tracks and exploring the world map. As I said earlier, I'm no pro with rhythm games, but managed to be fairly successful with the first two difficulties; Rock and Hard Rock. The other three levels, Metal, Violence and Extreme will cater to those more adept to these games, as the challenge jumped exponentially through the three difficulties I tried.

A rhythm game would be nothing without a solid soundtrack and Double Kick Heroes absolutely delivers. Each song showcases a different genre of metal, and while I obviously preferred some tracks over others, there wasn't anything I definitively hated. Listening to the soundtrack separately gave me a different level of enjoyment from playing the songs. I'm no metalhead, though I do listen to the genre from time to time and thoroughly enjoyed this album. Some of the songs have even found their way into my playlists.

There is also a mode to let you play through songs without the story, or even create your own tracks. As I struggle with rhythm games, you can imagine my talent in creating tracks as well – painfully lacking. While I muddled through to try and create a track, it certainly left a lot to be desired, though I can't exactly blame Double Kick Heroes for that!

While I enjoyed the story, the gameplay, and the NPC's, one thing I found that wasn't to my taste was the dialogue. Every third of fourth word was some sort of swear word, and while I'm not exactly prudish when it comes to swearing, it felt unnatural to read. A few cusses now and then would've been okay, and metalheads living through the apocalypse are probably going to swear fairly often, but it just seemed a little forced and excessive through the game.

Despite the reliance on swearing, the storyline was highly amusing, and even broke the fourth wall on a few occasions. The implication of Korea triggering the wasteland, for example, could be considered a very real possibility is the current world. Even Snake, one of the band members, refers to himself as the "Token Asian", commenting on the representation (or lack thereof) of various ethnicities throughout media.

Report: The Mass Effect Trilogy remasters may ship this October

Time for a little recap. Back in May EA were talking to investors in one of their regular earnings calls and discussing their upcoming plans.

"We are planning to launch 14 new titles to players this fiscal year," commented EA chief executive officer Andrew Wilson. "That includes four new EA Sports titles — FIFA, Madden, NHL, and one more unannounced sports game — all of which deliver on the mix of creativity, authenticity, and quality that sets EA Sports apart. … Our FY21 plans also include four more games drawing on the breadth of our IP, from Command & Conquer Remastered to unannounced games for our console and PC players. We'll have more games from indie developers launching this year through EA Partners, and two new mobile titles leveraging top IP that we'll bring to players worldwide."

According to Venturebeat the eighth title out of those fourteen games is a "HD remake of an EA game", "and that HD remaster of an EA game is the Mass Effect Trilogy."

Then, in July we found out that "Art of the Mass Effect Trilogy: Expanded Edition" will be hitting store shelves next year on March 23rd and, like previous Mass Effect art books and graphic novels, will be published by Dark Horse Comics. It seems very odd that a book based on game that hasn't been on the shelves since 2017 is being published in 2021, that is unless there's a new/old game on the way.

That brings us up to date and on to GamesBeat journalist Jeff Grub who claims the remastered games may be out this October.  "Up until like this last week, I know the plan for sure was to announce it in early October, release in later in October. So good news," he said on the Gamesbeat podcast. However, he then tempered expectations by adding "Maybe bad news, it's 2020, maybe that could start to slip, it sounds like maybe that's a possibility, nothing for sure yet. I know it's real. I've seen more than enough evidence to know it's real, but it's still 2020 and they haven't announced it yet."

Personally I don't think we will see the game in October, EA have FIFA 21, Madden 21, NHL 21, and Star Wars: Squadrons all launching in October, that's already a huge number of games for them to try and sell and promote, they don't need a another. They also have a couple of indie titles, Lost in Random and It Takes Two out before the end of the year, a remaster seems better suited to release early next year, maybe at the start in January when everyone has gift cards to spend.

Source: YouTube

Raji: An Ancient Epic Review

The mythology of India is vast and varied, but its richness has rarely been the focal point in video games. Many outside of India will be at least somewhat aware of Hindu gods like Shiva, Vishnu, and Hanuman, while the story of Diwali featuring Rama, Sita, and the demon king Ravana has also become known in nations around the world, but most won't be aware of much beyond that.

Raji: An Ancient Epic is a game that explores aspects of these myths with its own twist, and the Indian studio Nodding Head Games has made a valiant effort to bring Indian mythology to gamers.

The game follows Raji as she attempts to rescue her brother Golu from the demon army of Mahabalasura. Mahabalasura was imprisoned by the gods but escaped took his revenge with this invasion. After seeing her brother kidnapped, Raji is blessed by the goddess of war Durga and given her first weapon, the Trishul, with further gods granting her more weapons as she continues her adventure. Each one allows for different approaches in fights, especially as they can be imbued with elemental powers of fire, lightning and ice.

Combat is quite simple to get to grips with. Switching between weapons is quick, going hand in hand with Raji's acrobatic abilities, thanks to her circus upbringing. She can run up walls and flip off them to land strikes that look more and more impressive as weapon abilities are upgraded.

There is some good enemy variety, going from fast-paced monkey-like demons to towering demons that are slow but deal a lot more damage. There are moments when enemies swarm Raji and it can be a bit overwhelming, but once you learn enemy styles they are easier to manage. A few boss fights are sprinkled through the seven-hour playtime, but they lack that spark to make them particularly entertaining or memorable. The final boss in particular is let down for lacking difficulty and featuring music that doesn't make it feel as epic as it should.

The other side of Raji: An Ancient Epic is platforming, and it's here where the game really falls down – excuse the pun. Controlling the direction of Raji's jump feels inconsistent, leading to missing platforms, or she will sometimes simply not jump far enough even when the jump is perfectly lined up. It can be quite a frustrating experience alongside the path ahead that's sometimes hard to spot. It also doesn't help that a lot of actions are tied to one context sensitive button, be it climbing then grabbing a ledge or climbing then jumping off a wall. Sometimes Raji will do one thing when you want her to do another. There is also very little exploration off the beaten path in Raji: An Ancient Epic as most levels are linear, which makes these things feels that little bit more frustrating.

Where Raji: An Ancient Epic fares better is with its environment designs. You can tell Nodding Head put a lot of focus into the presentation of the game, from the environments Raji traverses – one particular area is a visual masterpiece – to the cutscenes having a shadow puppet style. They also delve into other Hindu myths through murals found in the world, their significance explained by the narration of Vishnu and Durga.

The voice acting for Vishnu and Durga is great, but Raji's portrayal lacks a certain punch. She might be in a battle against demons to save her brother but sometimes the emotion just comes across as a bit flat, while the opposite is true of one of the bosses who is very hammed up. It's backed by a soundtrack with traditional Indian inspirations that accompanies the action and visuals very well… outside of that final boss battle.

WRC 9 Review

I'm leaning forward in my seat, urging the car to go faster. My fingers are grabbing the steering wheel as hard as they can, a picture of concentration painted across my face. This is what former rally driver Markku Alén once coined as 'maximum attack', which can only mean one thing, that WRC 9 is the first officially-licenced World Rally Championship game that has kept my attention for many years.

For the uninitiated, what we have here is a game that replicates the real-life FIA World Rally Championship. Traditionally held across 13 events around the world, this is point-to-point racing against the clock, with a co-driver delivering a rough idea of what sort of corner is coming up next.

The license means all the official drivers and cars, across four classes, are present alongside stages that are similar, but not like-for-like, to those found in the real world championship.

Think of this as F1 2020, but for those who wear bobble hats and like to spend their Sundays walking through a Welsh field at 5AM to catch a glimpse of a car driving past. Me, then.

The main focal point is the Career mode, working your way up from Junior WRC, through WRC 3, WRC 2 and finally into the main WRC to fight for the overall world championship. You can manage your team in terms of vehicle and personnel upgrades, contract offers, objectives and of course, winning rallies. Between all of this are fun events featuring historic cars or extreme conditions to break things up.

The problems start with the career objectives, which for the most point are stupid. How about not using hard tyres for the next two events? Completely pointless. Or let's try completing a number of extra events within the next six weeks? Not possible, as the event calendar simply won't allow you to. Thankfully your on-stage performance is a bigger determinant of success.

There's also a lack of customisation in any form, which has become de rigueur these days, even for officially licensed titles. There's an extensive upgrade path, effectively identical to the one in last year's WRC 8, just don't expect to have the ability to build your own team from the ground up.

Your rivals are more erratic than a Kris Meeke rally performance. You can have a good run and finish 20 seconds off the pace on one stage, only to beat everyone by half a minute driving like a rookie on the next. Some serious balancing is required across the events.

There's also just a litany of strange, small, defects too. Your driver and co-driver have the same head. One of the in-game tutorial voice-overs plays at the wrong time, causing much confusion. I signed for M-Sport Ford in WRC 2, only to have a Škoda branded workshop. On one Monte Carlo stage, there's the top of a tree growing in the middle of the road. The in-car steering wheel animation doesn't match your inputs.

Usually, at this point in a WRC review, I would go on to talk about some slightly shabby graphics, unruly vehicle handling and moan about the sound, before summing up as an enjoyable game that lacks a certain sparkle.

Not this year.

The main breakthrough is the way the cars handle. The vehicles have significant weight to them. The WRC 2 cars have pliant suspension that soaks up bumps, rolls a little through corners and provides satisfying body control. Previously, the main WRC class cars would be very skittish, a slight abrasion throwing them around too much. Now, thanks to a leap forward in suspension control, they ride over lumps and even corner edges with ease. Just like they should.

This inspires confidence and rewards you for pushing harder each time. Now, instead of the game physics being the limitation to speedy progress, it's your brain's ability to stay up to speed with the action. Headphones on, steering wheel plugged in and a singular goal. Time to enable your race face.

Using a gamepad still results in the odd over-correction, being a bit too easy to end up weaving down the road in the quickest car, but you can adapt to that. Give it time and you will be rewarded. Handbraking around a hairpin is more satisfying than licking the lid of a yoghurt.

New locations for this season include Japan, New Zealand and Kenya. The African stages are a little bland, perhaps the most derivative in the whole game, but New Zealand offers some of the best roads in a rally game, flowing from one camber to the next. Understandably, last-minute post-Covid-19 events such as Estonia and Ypres are missing.

Even the stages that are carried over from previous WRC titles feel fresh because the overall look of the game has been given a polish, and it's just so much more satisfying to drive. The lighting, in particular, is a dramatic step forward, especially at night or during a bedazzling sunrise. Detail in the surroundings have also moved forward, from the wind turbines of Portugal to the roadside fires in snowy Sweden.

While the cars themselves still sound less interesting than a health and safety seminar, other noises such as transmission whine, squeaky brakes and tyre scrubbing add to the authentic vibe alongside dynamic weather. One minute the sun is shining, the next you'll need windscreen wipers and lights.

It would be remiss of me at this point not to mention the direct competition, DiRT Rally 2.0. The Clubs in that game helped power me through the lockdown. Rally drivers, motorsport publications and car manufacturers were able to set up online rallies for fans to compete in, at the end of which was an online leaderboard – I competed in several. Pleasingly, what is essentially the same feature is also part of WRC 9, alongside the now accustomed eSports and online lobby support.

An enhanced suite of online features and the promise of additional Finnish and Portuguese stages, not to mention next-gen upgrades coming for PS5 and Xbox Series X, will mean it has a longer shelf life than previous instalments. I certainly plan on playing it for the foreseeable future.

Remembering Shining Force III, Sega's answer to Fire Emblem

From its obscure origins, becoming first known to western audiences through Super Smash Bros. Melee, Fire Emblem has gone from a niche to a genuine tentpole series for Nintendo, the epic Three Houses on Switch becoming its all-time crowning success. With its first anniversary not long gone, I had planned to revisit it as there was still one of the narrative paths I had yet to complete. Instead, I've found myself sidetracked by another tactical RPG, one that's been close to my heart since long before I awakened to Intelligent Games' series.

As I've written on TheSixthAxis before, I grew up as a Sega fanboy, and back then Sega had two major RPG series: Phantasy Star and Shining Force. The first one had passed me by until its online iteration on the Dreamcast, but for all intents and purposes, Shining Force on Mega Drive introduced me to RPGs. Developed by Camelot Software Planning (formerly known as Sonic! Software Planning), it was actually different from the other dungeon-crawling random battling RPGs like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, belonging in the sub-genre of the tactical RPG more akin to table-top RPGs – or a fancier-looking Chess.

As the hero, you didn't start off very powerful but you instead had command over a growing battalion of troops who cut the stock fantasy types, from your tough centaur knight to physically weak but powerful mages, archers for ranged attacks, and so forth. With battles taking place over a map made up of square grids, you move your units, trying to best position yourself to attack, cast spells or sometimes avoid/bait the enemy.

Objectively, Shining Force was a simpler tactics game compared to Fire Emblem since your units only attacked during their turn; it also lacked a defined weapon triangle or support system. In any case, I couldn't compare at the time since a Fire Emblem game was only localised for the first time for Game Boy Advance in 2003. It didn't matter because I was simply absorbed by its fantasy trappings and engrossed with taking my time to pull off the perfect strategy. Considering Shining Force is included in the Mega Drive Classics collections, as well as in the Mega Drive Mini's library, its legacy hasn't been lost on Sega either.

However, it was Shining Force III on the Saturn that was the real revelation for me. Admittedly, the world was taken by Final Fantasy VII by this point, but I loved Shining Force III's turn-based tactical gameplay and its steadfast approach to generating its sprites and 3D models in real-time instead of relying on pre-rendered backgrounds and CGI.

It was also a boldly ambitious game, or rather a trilogy of games. Preceding the three-way narratives of Fire Emblem: Fates and Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Shining Force III split its story into three scenarios following the journey of three heroes whose fates are intertwined in a geopolitical conflict and conspiracy ultimately tied to a darker force. These aren't like the 'what if' scenarios of Three Houses, where one narrative choice would contradict another, rather they complement each other to build a full epic.

It's a fascinating approach as when you play as Synbios from the Aspinian Republic, you'll occasionally cross paths with Prince Medion from the Destonian Empire, hearing how they've come to your aid despite you being on opposite sides of a conflict (though it turns out both the Republic and the Empire have their own problems from within), while the game takes an amusing choice to limit your protagonist's dialogue to ellipsis. Certain actions from one party can also have an impact on the other, such as whether you manage to save the archer Garosh who then goes on to join Medion's party in his campaign.

Sadly, this level of sophistication was something western players never got to experience. The PAL version of Shining Force III was released in June 1998 when the Saturn was basically on its last legs. This disc was just the first scenario, the game's cliffhanger between Synbios and Medion's forces purposely re-contextualised in the translation to try to give it some kind of closure. Not that you could fool the die-hard Saturn loyalists, seeing as the UK's Sega Saturn Magazine ran an import preview of the second scenario in the same issue as their review of the PAL release.

By this point I had grown used to seeing pages of delightful import oddities (and well, some pretty pervy stuff too) on those pages, but I was desperate to find out what had happened in Medion's story and was sorely disappointed that, despite owning a chipped machine, there'd still be a huge language barrier preventing me from seeing the saga through to its end.

So imagine my delight when I recently discovered that fans had come together to resolve this. Beginning back in 2005, a software programmer going by Knight 0f Dragon developed the software that allowed Japanese text in a game to be replaced with English text. By 2006, the fan community at Shining Force Central, led by Steve Simmons (going by "legalize freedom!"), began the monumental task of translating and patching the entire trilogy so that it could finally be played in English in full.

The translation is still continuing to evolve, with a patch V21 in progress as recent as July 2020, but having just fallen down the emulation rabbit hole and revisiting lost classics, I was happy enough to come across a folder of the whole trilogy with the V20 translation already patched in and finally got to continue the story over two decades later.

After all that time I had to replay the first scenario again just to refresh my memory, and I immediately fell back in love with the sprites, the music and the tactical battles, even if they do feel limited compared to a modern Fire Emblem. I'm now finally playing the second scenario and seeing things from Medion's perspective, how this prince is actually the underdog of the Empire, being half-commoner. I get to see how his party foiled other enemies trying to ambush the Synbios army which you only heard reports of in the first scenario. I also get to find out just what happened to redheaded mercenary Julian, who was presumed dead when he was thrown off a cliff by the big bad Galm – by the third scenario, it also becomes apparent that Julian is the game's true protagonist.

I couldn't be more grateful for this community and the years of hard work they've put in to make a lost classic like this accessible to other English-speaking fans. They're not alone in this effort since other Japan-exclusive RPGs like Sakura Wars and Mother 3 have lived on solely through fan translations too. There's obviously a murky legal area on downloading ROMs however, but what's a person to do when the original games cost a few hundred quid a piece on eBay and you can't even play two-thirds of them in English?

The obvious solution of course would be for Sega to get off their butts and localise the whole trilogy with a remastered collection, something I've been banging the drum for since the Dreamcast years. It's not a completely impossible scenario. After all, Nintendo localised the original Mother game for Wii U's Virtual Console (renamed Earthbound Beginnings) and last year we saw Square Enix finally localise Seiken Densetsu 3 as part of its Collection of Mana package, both of these games considerably older than Shining Force III. Sega has also been hard at work pumping out its back catalogue on Switch with its Sega Ages collection, and while most of these are arcade titles, they do include the original Phantasy Star as well as the first two Puyo Puyo titles, previously exclusive to Japan.

The thornier issue is whether or not Sega actually wants to. I don't doubt there's a lot of work involved with localising the trilogy, let alone one not known to many people and doesn't share the same 'beloved' status as say Final Fantasy. There may also be a conflict with the direction of the Shining series itself, which hasn't had a tactical turn-based entry since 2009's Shining Force Feather, released on the DS only in Japan. It's also not a good sign when the Shining Force Central community also claimed back in 2016 that their Twitter was blocked by the official Shining account for unknown reasons.

But when Fire Emblem is showing how a formerly niche genre can turn into a blockbuster franchise, surely there couldn't be a better time for a long-awaited Shining Force revival from Sega? I could carry on waiting but right now, I'll take my hat off to the passionate community of translators and hackers for making my dream come true.

Wonder Boy: Asha In Monster World revealed for PS4 and Switch

A remake of Wonder Boy IV is on the way as Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World has been revealed for PS4 and Switch, and it will be released in 2021. The game seems to be a direct adaptation of the original 1994 release. The first trailer for Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World shows direct comparisons between the older release and they remake, with scenes shown side by side. Obviously, the new version has updated visual design and there will likely be some gameplay changes too.

The original Wonder Boy team from Westone Bit Entertainment have got back together to work on this remake, with Wonder Boy series creator Ryuichi Nishizawa. He is joined by Shinichi Sakamoto, Maki Ozora, and Takanori Kurihara. The plot summary of Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster Land says:

Asha, the warrior protagonist of the game, is involved in a serious incident that will affect the survival of her world. Our green-haired heroine doesn't have to save the world all alone, and sets off on an adventure with her cute flying friend, the blue Pepelogoo. Asha and the Pepelogoo have to work together to become the heroes the world needs them to be. The road ahead is long – will they be able to save their world?

The last Wonder Boy to get a remake was Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap. In our review for that, Dom wrote:

Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is a perfect example of a remake that's been done for reasons beyond simple material gain. Lizardcube have clearly put everything they have into making it unerringly respectful of the original – for good and bad – but this has all the look of a gorgeous modern indie platformer, while retaining the old-school gameplay that made it so memorable the first time around.

You can read the full Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap review here.

Source: IGN

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will have a town creation RPG companion game

Rabbit and Bear Studios' Kickstarter for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes has been a huge success. Over $4.5 million was raised by more than 46,000 backers allowing for Rabbit and Bear to confirm development for the Suikoden spiritual successor. That total makes Eiyuden Chronicle the third highest backed video game on Kickstarter. The original goal was to raise approximately $500,000. With the additional funds Rabbit and Bear is partnering with Natsume-Atari to create a spin off town creation and management game, that will release before Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. The studio laid out some details, saying:

  • It will release before the main game, which will hopefully hold you over during the excruciatingly long 2 and a half year wait.
  • It will feature a variety of different "lifestyle" mini-games that will allow you to gather a wide variety of different materials to build up your town/farm/house.
  • The goal is to allow these materials to transfer over to Eiyuden Chronicle allowing you a head-start at crafting some of the different items/armor/etc in the game.
  • You will get to meet a few of the characters that appear in Eiyuden Chronicle and get to know them a bit earlier.
  • There may be some kind of battle mechanic, but we are still talking it over.

However, this companion title will not be a free addition. Rabbit and Bear explain that platform holders will take a 30% cut of the base game price that will be charged to non-backers to allow for free codes for backers, a cost that cannot be met. Instead, the studio is asking backers to pledge an extra $7 to get a copy of this town creation RPG. If backers choose not there will be other opportunities to buy this title at another time.

Rabbit & Bear has announced that it will be developing Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PC. Oh, and the next generation Nintendo console though the team does not know what that will entail.

Source: Press Release