I have played the Smash Bros. series since Melee on the Gamecube – I was instantly taken with it back then, and here and now in the present day, I’m pleased to say that Smash Bros. have only grown to loftier heights.
One of the things that I love about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is how it caters to so many people. If you’re a newcomer to the series, or a beginner with fighting games in general, then you can very quickly get the hang of the simple controls and features of the game. If you’re a returning fan then this new installment to the series is just more of what you already love, with the added bonus of every single fighter that has featured so far in the series.
This will most likely always be my favourite series of fighting games, there’s just something so fun about taking some of your favourite characters from gaming and pitting them against each other to see who comes out on top! And let’s not forget about the abundance of items that will randomly spawn on the stages for you to use! Some items can absolutely change the tide of the battle in your favour, so it’s important to know what they do and how they can help you!
One thing that I really missed from the previous installment on the Wii U is the story mode. I was so pleased to see the return of a story mode in Ultimate, I have easily spent hours and hours on this! A dramatic intro cut scene shows all of the fighters being deleted by a mysterious force made of light – all of the fighters except Kirby, who managed to escape on his Warp Star just in time. As Kirby you will travel through the world defeating evil spirits, and rescuing the fighters. Everyone you rescue will be added to your roster, so if Kirby doesn’t do much for you as a character, you won’t be stuck with him for long.
There were number of new fighters added to the roster for Ultimate, such as the long-awaited Ridley, the fiery Incineroar, super cool squid-kid Inkling, and the most adorable addition to date – Isabelle!
One small thing I like to do is collect the different costumes for the custom Mii Fighters. There are so many different options, most of which are referencing characters from various games. It can be a lot of fun to make your own characters this way, as if the roster wasn’t already big enough for us!
Playing by yourself, playing with your friends, either locally or online … no matter how you play, this is a fun game for everyone!
I barely even know where to start with Sword and Shield, the latest installment to the Pokémon series. I have a lot to say about them, so I guess I should start somewhere!
First, let’s talk about the theme.Sword and Shield are set in the region of Galar, which is inspired by the UK! As a Brit, it means there are lots of little nods here and there that I find quite amusing to say the least, and other things that I just find very satisfying to see.
From the very beginning I could immediately feel a sense of English countryside, starting off in the sleepy village of Postwick, moving onto Wedgehurst, the aesthetic was captured perfectly with the fields of crops, and grazing Wooloo (the sheep Pokémon!), and the villages and towns themselves hold a certain charm which I think reflects that of the rural countryside villages we see here in the UK perfectly.
And this aesthetic just grows more and more the further into the region you go! We have a town which seems to have taken inspiration from our famous landmark, Stonehenge, and it also has a Geoglyph on the hillside (a large design/pattern on the ground usually formed by chalk, small stones or other such materials) which is something that can be found surprisingly often in England, usually in the shape of a horse!
The PokémonCentres also have their own English charm added to them. They have a quaint decorated exterior which seems to fit in just about wherever you would find one, but it’s the interior that impressed me the most. I was simply shocked to walk inside for the first time and see on the left hand side of the room … a pub! Every PokémonCentre has its own little pub, and I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw the tiny pictures of the berries on the taps!
The town names are another thing which I feel have been perfectly captured – I genuinely could be at home looking around for nearby villages to visit! Postwick, Circhester, Hulbury, Stow-On-Side, Wyndon … all you need to do is have a look around the UK on Google Maps, and you’ll see just how well these fit the theme.
The next thing I would like to talk about is some of the new features that I have come across so far! First, let’s talk about the updated mechanics for wild Pokémon. It seems as though Game Freak have taken the classic mechanics of the main games, the new mechanics introduced in the Let’s Go titles, and put them together to make a fantastic combination. Wild Pokémon will pop up in the grass, and they also react to you in different ways. Some will walk up to you with curiosity, others will charge at you and commence battle! And more still will flee as soon as they see you, you’ll have to sneak up to these flighty fellows! And besides these, you’ll also see an exclamation mark followed by rustling in the grass as you pass through – if you run into that small patch, you’ll find yourself in a classic random battle! Furthermore, you can even whistle or sound your bicycle’s bell to attract the attention of Pokémon – even those who might be flying in the skies above you!
Next on the list is the Wild Area. My goodness … I can hardly pull myself away from this new area! This is the first time that us fans have experienced such an overwhelmingly large area in a Pokémon game. The Wild Area has plenty of Pokémon for you to track down and catch – with a hefty level range! You have to keep your wits about you, otherwise you could find yourself being wiped out by one of these powerhouses.
A big part of the Wild Area is the dens which are scattered across the plains. You will occasionally spot glowing beams of light piercing the sky – these are emitted from the previously mentioned dens, and if you journey to one of these, you will be able to enter a raid battle! I have to say, I really, really enjoy these. Four players will take one Pokémon into battle against an enormous wild Pokémon – a Dynamax Pokémon. It is possible for one trainer to dynamax their Pokémon, but this will only last for three turns. There are many things to gain from completing these – besides the chance to catch a Pokémon that you might not be able to find easily otherwise, you will also get a nice haul of items, including a TR or two, an item which is used to teach your Pokémon a new move, but it breaks after one use (a throwback to the old school games where TMs weren’t unlimited use).
The last feature I want to mention is the camping. While you’re travelling, you can set up camp and let your team run around for a bit of fresh air. While in camp, you can observe them as they plod along, occasionally interacting with each other, you can throw a ball about for them to either catch and bring back to you, or kick around, you can take a toy out which seems to encourage a bit of rough-house play, and finally you can get cooking to feed yourself and your team! This is something I really enjoy – it’s just so fun to watch as you and your lead Pokémon take that suspenseful first taste, and then react in awe at the taste of your concoction! One of the benefits of doing this is a nice experience boost for your party, as well as any fainted Pokémon being revitalised enough to carry on for another battle!
With this new generation comes a whole host of new Pokémon for fans to discover. So far, I have been totally bowled over by the designs of these Pokémon … for the most part at least.
There have been some incredibly solid designs, and so many of them fit the theme perfectly. From squirrels to foxes, sheep to ravens … We even have Pokémon that have been inspired by Welsh Corgis, Vikings, knights, and even tea pots! This is just a small number of examples though, there are so many more that I could mention!
Next thing on my list is the GymChallenge. In a Pokémon game there are usually two main goals. Catch as many Pokémon as you can to complete your Pokédex, and defeat all the Gym Leaders and then the Elite Four. Sun and Moon saw a brief switch-up from this regular format through the Island Challenge, but otherwise the format is largely the same throughout the main series games.
I don’t know how controversial this opinion will be, but here it is: this is the best Gym Challenge I have ever faced.
I love everything about it. It is introduced to us as a rather exclusive, but nationally adored event (a rather obvious parallel with real-world sports). In order to enter, you must be endorsed, and we receive our endorsement from the champion. Every challenger is to have their own number for their uniform, and yes, you will be wearing a uniform. The Gyms themselves are massive stadiums! They must be tackled in a specific and official order with no deviations, and each Gym has a Mission for you to complete before challenging the Leader.
The best thing is without a doubt the battles with the Gym Leaders. The battle takes place in the main stadium, with endless crowds watching and cheering – they even react to the battle! The soundtrack is just out of this world, I get so swept up in it. And then once the Gym Leader has one Pokémon left … time for Dynamax! Not only that, but the crowd goes wild with excitement, and the soundtrack actually changes as the crowd sings along! You can also Dynamax at any point in this battle, but it only lasts for three turns, so choose carefully!
The way that the challenge is set out makes me think of the anime and how the Pokémon League is usually depicted – I always felt that was how it should be presented and that the games sometimes fell short of that. I may not have completed my copy of Shield just yet, but so far I have not been disappointed.
There has been a fair amount of complaint amongst fans in the run up to release day. I have seen complaints about the choice to not include all Pokémon, about the lack of innovation in the graphics, the shortness of the routes and the story in general.
I have to admit that while I understand and respect these opinions, I can’t say that I share them. It is a shame that not all Pokémon have been included, but at the end of the day, there are 400 Pokémon available for us to catch and train. That’s more than enough for me, I know I will spend plenty of time hunting them down and training up my favourites. It will be sad to see that certain Pokes didn’t make the cut, but I can still appreciate what we have been given.
I really can’t find an issue with the graphics personally – I think the environment is absolutely gorgeous. I have seen mentions about how the trainers and Pokémon pop up onto the screen as you get close to them, so that they don’t need to be rendered the entire time, and it just doesn’t bug me. They appear on screen in a very smooth way, so as not to be too jarring.
I can see why people are annoyed at the length of the routes, some of them are admittedly short. This hasn’t stopped me from spending plenty of time in each one though – with so many different Pokémon to come across, particularly with the changing weather, there is plenty of reason to hang around, see what you can find, and even to return to places that you have already been to! I have literally spent hours in the Wild Area catching anything I hadn’t already found.
There are only two things that really bother me, the first being the battle background when you are indoors. The outside and the stadiums have fantastic backgrounds that make you feel as though you’re really battling out there! But if you battle inside a building, it is a strange, hazy background which does break the immersion. It’s somewhat disappointing to see, considering they were able to achieve this with Pokémon Coliseum on the Gamecube.
The other thing that bugs me is the lack of a feature that was done so well in Let’s Go, that I really hoped it would be a reoccurring feature. You can’t pick a Pokémon to follow you around anymore! It feels like the foundation was there, with the wild Pokémon roaming around the world, but the feature itself wasn’t implemented.
My final word is that while this may have been a disappointing entry for some Pokémon fans, it ticked all the right boxes for myself personally, so PokémonSword and Shield get my full recommendation.
Fallout 4 for me was the pinnacle of the Fallout franchise. Many would say that New Vegas is more deserving of this title – and I understand why! It is an excellent game, but my personal opinion is that Fallout 4 delivers what I want from the franchise in just about every area.
The game itself is so crisp and smooth in comparison to the previous entries to the series, and the world is much larger as well – I haven’t even explored all of it as of yet!
A huge world full of unique characters, desolate ruins, and environmental story-telling (a specialty of Bethesda), there is simply so much to see while you’re travelling the wasteland that is now The Commonwealth. I really enjoyed the story revolving around finding your missing son, who was kidnapped from their cryo-chamber! Watching the event from your own chamber as the a mysterious man murders your spouse, steals your infant child, and then taunts you inches away from your face through the glass … it is a very powerful introduction to this story-filled game.
There are a number of factions for you to meet and interact with, and it will be necessary to befriend them in order to complete your goal of finding your son – but you can’t befriend them all! The Commonwealth is a dangerous place, full of raiders, mutated monsters, and rumours of the mysterious Institute have everyone on edge.
One of the things I was most excited for was the Settlement mechanic! The junk that you pick up around the Fallout universe has been mostly useless up until now – you can break these items down at your settlement to get hold of resources, which you can then use to make all sorts of buildings, contraptions, and many other things. I have spent a lot of time building nice, well-defended settlements for the people of The Commonwealth to live out their days in peace and safety!
Of course another thing to comment on would be the companion characters that you come across – they are certainly an important part of the game, as I’m sure most people who play prefer to travel with one! They’re definitely unique characters amongst themselves, and I’m not just saying that because one of them is a dog!
You can really play this game however you see fit, with dialogue choices that help to form your personality, not to mention the story choices you make that will affect various people you meet. And with the many, many perks that you can adopt upon levelling up, you really can make any kind of character that you want to!
The game only got better with each installment of DLC that was released – particularly Far Harbour, Nuka-World, and Automatron. All three provided extra story, and lots of fun for me. Automatron allowed you to build your own robots which could then be your companions, and Far Harbour and Nuka-World both gave us entirely new areas to discover and explore, with new enemies and factions to kill/befriend!
I don’t really think you can go wrong with this game, it definitely gets my recommendation! (It certainly helps that it’s very cheap to buy these days!)
Chaos. Madness. Absurdity. Expect all of this and more if you decide to play Screencheat. This is one of my favourite games to play with friends in local multiplayer, it is quite simply … ridiculous.
What is it? Exactly what it says on the tin. There are a number of different game modes, the kind that you would expect from a first person shooter such as Team Deathmatch, and Capture The Flag (although named differently within the game).
So what sets this apart from any other first person shooter you could play with your friends? Well … everyone is invisible! So how do you play? You Screencheat! You must watch the other player’s screens to figure out where they are, but you have to hurry, before they figure out where you are!
The stages themselves are bright, vivid, and segmented by colour – this is the main way to determine where your opponents are, by looking at what colour is on their screen. But there’s plenty of ways to zip around the various stages by jumping through vents and being blasted through the air by fans!
Another thing I should mention – don’t expect to be using weapons that you would expect to see in other first person shooters! The weapons are arguably more unique than the concept of the game itself. There are a number of gun type weapons, but it’s much more fun in my opinion to use the zanier options such as the Hobby Horse (charge!), Bear Bomb (no further explanation needed), Sorgean (lots of potential for mishaps here), and the Chefolet (particularly dangerous, with ricocheting energy balls!).
Next thing to mention is the mutators. As you level up, you will unlock new mutators to use in your games, which spice up the matches somewhat. Some of them will affect the actual gameplay such Flappy Jump which allows you to perform a large number of midair jumps, Hyper Mode which makes everything fast, and Martyrdom which will make you drop bombs upon dying. Then there are the mutators which are just for fun. A couple of examples are The Haunting which will cause the ragdolls left behind on death to fly around the room, and Wilhelm which causes the infamous Wilhelm scream to play upon the death of a player.
The last thing I want to mention is the commentator. He is as equally absurd as the rest of the game, and he’s always ready to point out your deaths, and your silly mistakes! “Butter fingers!”
This game can also be played online, but it’s my personal opinion that this is a game that is best played with your friends via local multiplayer.
If you were to ask me what the first thing that comes to my head is when talking about Twilight Princess, my first thought would be the sheer excitement I had as a child waiting for this game to come out. I had some sort of promotional DVD which I assume must have come with a magazine that I used to collect at that age, which had the trailers for the game on it, and I must have sat on the edge of my seat watching these trailers a ridiculous number of times!
As much as I enjoyed the colourful environment of Wind Waker, once I saw how dark Twilight Princess was going to be, I knew I was going to fall in love – and I was right.
Gorgeous visuals, dark atmospheres, a huge and breathtaking world, and an unforgettable story – this is what is waiting for anyone who gives their time to this installment of the Zelda series.
I felt like this was a truly epic adventure, with nine huge dungeons to conquer, monstrous bosses to defeat, and a sinister antagonist in the form of the King Of Twilight, Zant, who was acting on behalf of returning villain, Ganondorf. On top of this, the designs for the monsters were fantastic, particularly those that you would find in the Twilight Realm … the monsters found within are twisted beings, completely contrasted to the world of Hyrule.
As is usually the case with a Zelda game, the soundtrack is unforgettable, big and bold! To this day, I still whistle various tunes as I’m doing the most random of chores.
I feel like I can’t talk about Twilight Princess without mentioning a certain cutscene … If you’ve played, then you know the one. A twisted account of Hyrule’s history, and also a foreboding premonition of what could come to pass. This cutscene is one of the creepiest things I have ever seen, and most likely it is the creepiest thing that I’ve seen in a video game! It’s a perfect example of the exceptional artistic design behind this game.
I really enjoyed the new gameplay mechanics that were introduced here, in particular Link’s Wolf Form. This really varied the gameplay, making sure that you’re not likely to get too bored running around as Link all the time in this vast world (which would never be a problem for me personally …).
The companion character of this game, Midna, was also a great addition to the game in my opinion. It was the first time it felt like you had a true companion … I like Navi in Ocarina Of Time, but her main purpose is to give you information on enemies and how to beat them. Tatl in Majora’s Mask was an improvement as she had more story involvement. The King Of Red Lions in Wind Waker had a lot of story involvement, but wasn’t a true companion seeing as … he’s a boat. Midna travels with you in your shadow, she has a lot of personality, and I love her story and what she brings to the game.
Though it isn’t my favourite entry to the series, there’s no question that this is one of my favourites – one that I have revisited many times!
Platform: Nintendo Gamecube, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U
Majora’s Mask is the dark direct sequel to one of the most famous entries to The Legend Of Zelda franchise – Ocarina Of Time. It features the same Link, the Hero Of Time, in his child form. We are told that he is on a journey searching for a friend. The most obvious interpretation is that he is in fact looking for Navi, as she left him at the end of the game. But this is never stated as fact, so who he is searching for is really left to our own interpretation.
The game was actually made using the same engine and character models as Ocarina Of Time, so you will most likely recognise all the characters you see in the game, even though they will in fact be different people! I actually don’t see this as a design issue though, as Majora’s Mask is supposed to take place in a parallel world to Hyrule, so I personally feel that the repeated models compliment this well.
The usual Zelda conventions are somewhat tweaked here, in that the main focus is removed from the dungeons, with only a total of four main dungeons for you to clear through. Instead the game pushes you to focus on mask-collecting and side quests, two things which were present in Ocarina Of Time but were not nearly as significant to the story.
I love the side quests so much, and really get a lot of enjoyment out of completing them, but this is hardly my favourite thing about Majora’s Mask.
This is a dark game. Nintendo are usually known for their cute, family friendly games, and although The Legend Of Zelda certainly does have its dark moments, Majora’s Mask set the bar to a different level entirely. Skull Kid has caused the Moon to fall, and so it shall … in three days! The people of Termina are largely ignorant to the certain doom that hangs above them, until the final day … on this day people flee, they take refuge, they are scared for their lives – all the people you come across will react differently to this crisis.
Truly, the beauty of this game is in the tiny details hidden in every area.
In 2015, long-time fans the world over rejoiced at the release of a 3DS remake! The world of Termina has never looked so detailed and full of life! There were some updates made in the remake to make the Player’s journey easier, such as the complete overhaul of the Bomber’s Notebook, which was certainly appreciated by myself at the very least.
This was one of my all time favourites when I was younger, and it still feels just as important to me today!
This post is part of a small collaboration project with Robert Ian Sheperd of Adventure Rules – see the original post here.
So what does my Pokémon Gym look like? First let’s start with where I would decide to set up shop.
Azalea Town would be my number one spot for where I would want my Gym. I love azaleas for a start (they’re one of my favourite plants) and I have always liked Slowpoke Well, and was amused by the idea of a city pretty much brimming with Slowpoke. Also, let’s face it: Bugsy isn’t all that tough. It wouldn’t take much convincing that I would be the better choice as Gym Leader.
A theme? I don’t think I would want to follow a type theme – I certainly have my preferences, but part of me always wished the Gyms would have a bit more variety, for the sake of giving some extra challenge. It doesn’t feel that tough when you can steamroll all the Gym trainers and the Leader with a single Pokémon with a clear type advantage, without even needing to head over to the Pokémon Centre because this single Poké is now totally overlevelled…
I would probably choose a trio of types, and my gut reaction to this option is Water, Psychic and Ghost.
All good gyms have a puzzle of some sort to solve, or if not a puzzle then at least an aesthetic. I quite like the format of Norman’s gym from Gen 3, where you have a selection of rooms, each one warning you of what the trainer relies on before you enter, and you have to battle your way through the rooms to reach the Gym Leader. Well what if we combine this concept (although I might take the notes away, I don’t want to make my Gym too easy!) with an aesthetic that is borrowed from another game entirely … In The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time there is a particular room within the Water Temple where you fight Shadow Link. It appears to be a vast, mysterious, watery plain, with a ghostly mist hanging over it. Upon defeating Shadow Link, the illusion is lifted and it is a regular room. What if you enter the trainer’s room to an environment similar to this, and the illusion lifts once you beat the trainer? I feel like this would tie in really well with the Ghost/Psychic theming.
Okay, so we’ve got the location, the theme, and the “puzzle” … I guess that just leaves one thing to talk about right?