Games Inbox: Switch 2018 line-up, The Walking Dead Season 4, and Persona 6 expectations

Games Inbox: What will be the biggest Switch game of 2018?
Will Super Smash Bros. be back this year?

The morning Inbox remembers the best of GamesMaster and British games mags, as one reader is impressed by his first go on VR.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Best guess

I see there are some more rumours swirling around that Super Smash Bros. is going to be released this year for the Switch. Although there still doesn’t seem to be any agreement on whether it’s a full sequel or port or somewhere in between.

It seems to me pretty likely that it will be out this year though, which allows us to start guessing what Nintendo’s line-up is going to be like. Since, of course, they don’t seem to want to tell us themselves. There’s nothing major they’ve announced themselves, but they have mentioned a Fire Emblem game, so I can see that and Metroid Prime 4 being the main hardcore offerings this year.

Super Smash Bros. would be their main multiplayer game that appeals to both sides, and I think it’s very likely we’ll have Animal Crossing and the Yoshi game for casuals. That seems a lot, but it’s comparable to last year and I think if Nintendo can get all that out before the end of the year they will have done extremely well.

It’d be nice if there was a new franchises as well, but it may be Nintendo Labo that they’ve been concentrating on in that area. I’d expect at least one or two minor games that are brand new though, even if they’re just eShop downloads. What do you think? Does this seem doable?
KhyberChris

Final season

I am looking forward to Season 4 of The Walking Dead, and while there will be many episodes of this upcoming game I would like to ask everyone at GameCentral if they think Clementine and Michonne could meet each other in Season 4, which would be a great way to pay tribute to the Michonne episodes? It could, if Telltale games chose to do this, be a good way to see how Clementine and Michonne would interact and if possible form a team.

For those who have not seen the preview trailer, you can watch it here.

Once season 4 comes out I will most certainly be looking forward to when this comes out on disc, alongside series 1, 2, and 3 as well. When released it will be very interesting to see how each episode unfolds and what choices you will be able to make. Let’s hope we can see some returning characters that survived, like Lilly, Christa, and others.
gaz be rotten (gamertag)

Second chance

I’m very busy at the moment and haven’t written in a while, but I came across a shmup called Steredenn that you might have missed. It was released a while ago on PlayStation 4 and PC and is upcoming on Switch, in a version with many extras not in the original release. I haven’t played myself, but it looks like it could be decent and the addition of roguelike elements gives it a certain novelty.

As you often say about being made of aware of a game that has passed you by then maybe this will qualify. Here is the trailer for the original version.
Mr Verbosity

GC: That’s exactly the sort of tip-off that’s really useful. We’ve never heard of it before (probably because it sounds like something you’d use to clean false teeth) but we’ll keep an eye out for the Switch version.

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

All-in-one

So GamesMaster magazine is now 25 years old, I remember buying it but haven’t bought any magazines in a long time. They are overpriced these days, in my opinion, especially when demo discs are now a thing of the past. I remember buying some magazines just to get my hands on the demos to try out, while saving up for a full release.

The thing I like about GamesMaster the most is that its multiformat, and I could read about the games for all the systems rather than just one system’s games. My favourite games magazine was always the official Nintendo one though, and I remember when I finally decided to subscribe, rather than just pick up a copy, I received a free Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker T-shirt, which I was over the moon with.
R1CH5TER
PS: I agree with Cubes that £35 is a bit steep for Burnout Paradise. Especially as another reader Stuart Rick pointed out in the comments section, it’s already backwards compatible on Xbox One and was given away with Games with Gold previously. I had totally forgotten about that. I would just play the backwards compatible version now if I had the urge to play it.

Retroactive celebration

RE: Vic Viper on UK games magazines. Hear, hear! A very happy anniversary to GamesMaster magazine, and to think it was only a spin-off from the TV show. And speaking of Dave Perry, I believe the Retro Hour did a fascinating interview with him a year or so back.

The UK games magazine industry is something quite special in my opinion, and it’ll be sad to see it go. It seems that enough of us invest in print journalism to see a fair few titles still around today though. In a way I wish my preferred outlets were still Edge, etc., but these days it’s you guys for reviews and big American sites for features and podcasts.

When do you generally consider your ‘birth’ to be, GC? Does it spiritually hark back to Digitiser? The relaunch on Teletext, or Metro? And any anniversary plans? It’s been quite a journey for this publication as much as any.
Owen Pile

GC: According to Wikipedia, Digitiser started on 1 January 1993. So New Year’s Day just gone was apparently the 25th anniversary. None of the current team were involved back then, but by happy coincidence we were drunk that day anyway, so huzzah!

Under the magnifying glass

It may just be my age, and a sign that I need to purchase some glasses, but when playing on the Switch in handheld mode does anyone else struggle to read text and interpret icons? Dragon Quest Builders is no problem on my 65″ OLED screen, but a strain on the Switch one.

It wouldn’t be such an issue were it not for the fact I bought Dragon Quest Builders as it seems like the perfect game to play on the go. They either need to add a magnifying glass tool or, a better solution, develop another Advance Wars, the only game you need on the go.
Luma

GC: It does depend on the game. Some are clearly not designed with the smaller screen in mind, particularly indie titles originally intended for the PC and multiformat ports like Dragon Quest Builders. Although we can’t say we’ve found any of them unplayable.

Unknowable gap

I know there are a lot of Persona 5 fans on here, so dare I be the first to ask the question: when will Persona 6 be announced? I know there was a long gap between the last two, but I assumed that was kind of an accident that got out of control. Surely they’d be looking to follow up the success of the new game as quickly as possible? Even if that takes two or three years?

I’d much rather that than just a load of spin-offs.
Bushido

GC: It was almost a decade between Persona 4 and 5, so it really is impossible to say. We’d imagine it won’t be that long again, but who knows.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

First step into a larger world

Today was a day of firsts for me. Firstly, I visited a gaming centre and secondly I had my first go on VR, and both were really good.

I will be doing a Reader’s Feature on the gaming centre called Game On in Blandford, Dorset in the coming weeks but just to say what a marvellous facility. The centre has a number of gaming PCs, Xboxes, and retro consoles, and a PC dedicated to Oculus Rift. This is a new venture, so if you’re in or around the area pop in you won’t be disappointed I wasn’t.

So, VR. I have been very sceptical about VR. I have been burnt many times by the latest gaming trends and thought this was going to be the latest, so I’ve steered clear. But I will have to eat some of my words after trying Oculus Rift. I played Spider-Man. I was suitably impressed. The resolution is not that great but the way it works is superb.

I won’t be rushing out to buy one just yet though. It’s still a few years away from being the finished article and being a glasses wearer it did feel a bit uncomfortable after a while, but I think I can safely say it’s going to be here for a long time!

Keep up the good work GC.
Dirtystopout

GC: Good for you, we look forward to the feature.

Inbox also-rans

Will you be putting up early impressions of Metal Gear Survive before your review?
Dan

GC: Yes, okay: meh.

Oh great, now Donald Trump is going to try and ban violent video games. Does anyone get the feeling that the world is just going crazy?
Golphen

This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gannet, who asks what do you think is the most overrated video game?

You don’t have to think the game is actively bad, just not as good as its reputation suggests. But do try and describe exactly why it didn’t live up to your expectations and what it got wrong. Was it just a good game that was hyped up too much, or do you feel it has flaws that were brushed over in reviews?

Was the problem that you were expecting it to be one thing and it turned out to be something completely different? Or was there some other personal preference that meant you couldn’t enjoy it?

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

If you need quick access to the GameCentral channel page please use www.metro.co.uk/games and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Sprint Vector review – world’s fastest VR

Game review: Sprint Vector is the world’s fastest VR game
Sprint Vector (PSVR) – virtual racing

The best new PlayStation VR game this year mixes Mirror’s Edge with Mario Kart, but won’t have you reaching for a sick bag.

It looks like Nintendo's franchises have a new battlegroundGames Inbox: What will be the biggest Switch game of 2018?

If there’s one thing everyone knows about VR games, it’s that you shouldn’t make anything that involves too much fast movement. That does rule out a lot of obvious game types – if you’re wondering why there hasn’t been a Call Of Duty VR yet – but for most people that would only have them hurling their guts up within 30 seconds, and vowing never to play virtual reality again. Unless, that is, they play Sprint Vector.

Sprint Vector uses something its developer calls the Fluid Locomotion System, adapted from their previous game Raw Data, that means you don’t get sick playing a game that is a cross between Mirror’s Edge and Mario Kart. We still don’t advise you playing it with a full stomach, but for all but the most sensitive player Sprint Vector does represent a significant step forward in the kind of games that work in VR.

It comes at a cost though, not the relatively modest asking price but the fact that you also need the PlayStation Move controllers to play the game. Which, as you might infer, means it’s an almost entirely motion-controlled game. So that also means you also have to be reasonably fit to play it. Sprint Vector is asking a lot of its players, but it does reward that dedication with an unforgettable experience.

Since there’s no reasonable real-world explanation for what you’re doing in Sprint Vector, developer Survios has used the time-honoured excuse of everything being a futuristic game show. We could’ve done without the robot presenter but other than that there’s a minimum of other distractions, as you pick one of the 12 race courses and strap on your virtual rollerblades.

Sprint Vector claims that it can be played while sitting down, but we never managed to get working properly that way. Or at least not in a manner that was in anyway as consistent as standing up and pantomiming the moves as if we were really doing them. This is where the Move controllers come in, as you need to swing your arms up and down in order to speed up, while pressing the trigger button and then letting it go at the end of your swing.

If that sounds too much like hard work, it’s not quite as bad as it seems as a steady rhythm is more important than the speed you move your arms. That, and races only ever last a couple of minutes in total. But, yes, you will be getting unpleasantly sweaty if you intend to have more than one go.

Sprint Vector’s courses aren’t just simple race tracks but complex obstacle courses that outdo almost anything in Mirror’s Edge. You constantly have to jump over and around obstacles, fly over empty chasms, and climb up walls; before learning the double jump and drift techniques that are essential for actually winning.

Sprint Vector (PSVR) - Mirror's Edge has nothing on this
Sprint Vector (PSVR) – Mirror’s Edge has nothing on this

You’ll recall we also compared the game to Mario Kart, and that’s not just because it’s a multiplayer game but because it also has power-ups you can collect on the way. There’s jump and turbo pads as well, but also heat-seeking rockets and proximity mines to give you that extra edge. You can ignore this aspect if it seems too much for you, but it’s a sign that this is a proper race game, with real depth, and not just a tech demo.

Playing on your own is inevitably not as fun as with other humans, but it is vital to learning the courses. They all have shortcuts to discover and different themes and visuals, so despite their short length it can take a long time before you know your way around properly. But there’s also a range of special challenge maps that take the form of time trials or collectathons, that are extremely difficult but bring the game even closer in spirit to Mirror’s Edge.

Apart from the physical toll it takes on your body, the only real problem with Sprint Vector is the inevitable inconsistencies with the motion controls. They are kept to a minimum, but given this is a game about split second reactions even the smallest mistake on the game’s part can have you cursing its name. Wall-climbing seems to be the most consistently problematic, and you soon learn to be extra deliberate in your actions when that part of the course comes around.

The game could probably do with a few more tracks as well, but overall this is a fantastic achievement in both game design and VR technology. The only downside is that, as far as we understand, the lack of nausea is because you’re mimicking the actions yourself. So the days of running around in a traditional first person game, but in VR, are still some way off. But in the meantime, Sprint Vector offers plenty of entertainment while you wait.

Sprint Vector

In Short: A milestone in fast action VR games, which solves most of the problems with motion sickness while also being an excellent first person racer.

Pros: The movement system is well thought out and surprisingly nuanced. Course design is imaginative and varied. Plenty of options, including some fun challenge maps.

Cons: The game takes a considerable amount of physical effort to play, and the motion controls aren’t 100% reliable. Could do with a few more tracks.

Score: 8/10

Formats: PlayStation VR* (reviewed), Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive
Price: £19.99
Publisher: Survios
Developer: Survios
Release Date: 13th February 2018
Age Rating: 12

* PlayStation Move controller also required.

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Ivy is back for SoulCalibur VI… and she’s still barely wearing any clothes

Ivy is back for SoulCalibur VI… and she’s still barely wearing any clothes
SoulCalibur VI – she’ll catch her death in that

One of gaming’s most controversial female characters is back, with an outfit that’s almost exactly the same as the Dreamcast original.

Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 PlusGame review: Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus adds multiplayer

Like any good fighter, SoulCalibur has some characters that are such favourites it’s impossible to imagine the game without them. And that definitely includes Ivy Valentine.

She hasn’t been confirmed until now, but the video below shows her in action with her signature sword that transforms into a physics-defying whip.

Defying physics is all part of Ivy’s shtick though. And while Bandai Namco do seem to have reduced the amount of animation on her breasts, the costume is so skimpy it’s unlikely to do anything to silence critics of the character.

Today’s other reveal is much less controversial, although actually more surprising. It’s the scythe-wielding Zasalamel from SoulCalibur III. He’s the only character so far that wasn’t in the original game, which suggests that the final line-up will be more varied than previously implied.

So far the other confirmed characters are mainstays Mitsurugi, Sophitia, Xianghua, Nightmare, and Kilik.

The only brand-new character so far is named Grøh, who uses a double-ended sword that can separate into two and is, for reasons not yet explained, referred to as The Agent in Black.

SoulCalibur VI is due to be released this year, on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. We played an early version of it back in December, and came away quite impressed.

Email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk, leave a comment below, and follow us on Twitter

Games Inbox: Rockstar Games and sci-fi, The Witcher remasters, and a plea for Killzone 5

Games Inbox: Should Rockstar Games do a sci-fi game?
Red Dead Redemption II – would space cowboys be just as good?

The morning Inbox thinks that racing games have got to complicated, as one reader suggests another Turok reboot.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Red Dead in space

We all know that GTA V is still selling by the bucketload, which means a new game is probably still a long way off, but I do wish Rockstar would use all their masses of cash to make other games. Ever since GTA Online became such a success they’ve basically slowed to crawl and even the one game they are doing has been delayed again and again.

I’m looking forward to Red Dead Redemption II as much as anyone, but it is still a sequel. Given how talented they are I’d like to see Rockstar try their hand at the one genre of film they’ve never really touched: sci-fi.

I don’t know whether they’ve been purposefully avoiding this or not, but I feel a gritty space-based drama would be right up their street. It wouldn’t even need to have aliens in it or anything, but maybe a sort of frontier feel with settlers – maybe even kind of like Red Dead in a way. It would allow them to do their social commentary and get a bit more imaginative with vehicles and gadgets. Stuff like Mass Effect is great but it’s also really nerdy. I’d like to see a cool sci-fi game, from someone you wouldn’t usually expect.
Gonch

Simply complicated

I agree with the reader who said that the earlier Burnouts were the best, although my personal favourite is Burnout 2. The question was raised recently of why driving games aren’t popular anymore and I think it’s pretty simple: they’re too complicated.

Either you have to faff around in an open world just to get to and start a race or the game itself is filled with tons of requirements and grinding and role-playing style nonsense. I don’t want any of those things. I want to pick a race and start it instantly in a car I know has a fighting chance, that’s it.

I think a game could do very well if it just offered that sort of no frills experience and purposefully didn’t try to make itself look too epic. Of course I want the racing and the graphics to be as good as possible but everything else around it…. couldn’t care less. Worse than that it puts me off. Need For Speed should’ve taken its name a bit more literally, it’s not Need For Grinding or Need For Cut Scenes!
Sparepart

Same old humans

So I see that the Turok reboot from 2008 is coming to Xbox One backwards compatibility. It’s rubbish, I know, but it’s yet another reminder that we are not getting enough dinosaurs in games. Or any really. I know there’s a lot of other Inboxers that feel passionately about this, but I just don’t understand it. Especially given Jurassic World 2 is coming out and they’ve actually discovered a lot of cool new dinosaurs lately.

I’m sure the Turok licence could be picked up for the price of a bag of chips lately, but even that’s not really necessary. I just feel that games are becoming a bit too predictable at the moment with their settings and particularly enemies. I’m really sick of fighting just humans with machineguns, or human-looking aliens, or whatever.

Maybe it’s because of the death of horror games as well, but I jus don’t find myself being surprised by games so much. I think we’ve all got a bit too obsessed with open worlds and landscapes too. All that’s important, but I want monsters goddamit! And dinosaurs, as everyone knows, are the best monsters.
Silva

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

The first Witchers

Since we’ve been discussing remasters a lot lately it got me thinking about CD Projekt RED. They said they’re not planning to do another The Witcher any time soon, but I wonder whether they’d consider remasters of the first two games? I understand they’re quite different to the third one, but the first is still PC only and the second was only ever on Xbox 360.

I for one would be interested in seeing how the series started off, and learning more of everyone’s backstories. I tried reading the novels the games are based on, but to be honest they didn’t really grab me and I found them pretty hard going.

It’s strange to think that one of the most beloved games of recent years had two come before it that most people have never played unless they have a gaming PC. I’ve never heard them talk about doing such a thing but I’d pre-order it tomorrow if it happened.
Petro

Shadow rises

I know I’m probably going to be alone in this, but personally I’d rather see a Killzone 5 from Guerrilla Games rather than another Horizon Zero Dawn. I didn’t hate Horizon or anything but I did get bored of it after a few hours and found the combat very repetitive.

Killzone has always been very uneven, I’ll admit, but I thought with Shadow Fall it was finally coming into its own again. I liked the more open world approach they were going for and would love to have seen that expanded, taking what they’ve learnt with Horizon and creating and even better shooter.

Something that can have a bit more imagination in terms of guns and vehicles and mech suits and that type of thing. Robot dinosaurs sounds cool at first until you realise you’re always fighting them with a bow and arrow.
Lifton

Engaging combat

As someone who revels in mastering deep and novel combat systems in Japanese role-playing games I was initially deflated to find Xenoblade Chronicle 2’s fighting model a tad too simplistic and one-dimensional for my liking.

But after around 15 hours and a bunch of new features which have added more layers and nuance to the martial madness, the combat is finally beginning to blossom into something bold and beautiful.

I’m appreciating the rich, synergistic systems between the drivers and blades far more now. And enjoying building up momentum in the battles by using the various arts, blade combos, modifiers, as well as filling up the chain link meters.

It’s a riveting and engaging sequence of actions which crescendo into an explosive and visually stunning concerted attack – once you’ve smashed the enemies’ elemental orbs and unleashed the special finisher.

The sheer robustness of the battles and sense of spectacle is frequently a sight to behold too. So glad the whole things clicking and flourishing for me now, I shouldn’t have doubted Monolith Soft’s work here. Especially after the brilliant combat model in Xenoblade Chronicles X!
Galvanized Gamer

Free tour

I wanted to drop a line reminding everyone that the free tour guide update is live now for Assassin’s Creed Origins. I only picked it up a few weeks ago and have loved it. By far the best AC in my opinion.

In fact, I love it so much that I went and bought Assassin’s Creed Syndicate with all the DLC in a recent Xbox sale. Let’s just say it’s a reminder that they left a year between sequels. The controls feel very clunky and counterintuitive compared to Origins, and although it’s not awful I’ll have to force myself to finish it.
Neil Howarth

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Seven-year itch

On the topic of getting through back logs, I’ve made real progress with the games I have sitting there waiting to be played. Over the last week, being off work enabled me to finish off Darksiders and get through Darksiders II, I also finished off Resident Evil – Code: Veronica. Code: Veronica is one of my favourite Resident Evil games but I kept putting it on the backburner for games I hadn’t played. I noticed the last achievement I unlocked was in 2012, the first being in 2011. So I’ve taken seven years to get round to completing the Xbox 360 version, but I’m glad I got back to it.

On Darksiders I would say I definitely preferred the first game more, it flowed much better with its more compact, linear set-up and I liked the character War more than Death. The second game’s open world approach doesn’t seem warranted to me, as all you do is travel vast open spaces with nothing really worthy of note. So I think the set-up of the first game should have been kept. I’d never played these games until recently but now I have I will be keeping an eye on Darksiders III, with a potential day one purchase.

I’ve currently got to finish Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds, which I’m working on at the moment, but other than that I have Assassin’s Creed Origins, Duke Nukem 3D: World Tour, Resident Evil 5 HD, and The Elder Scrolls Online to get through. So not too bad really, but I don’t help myself and I know others can relate. I recently picked up Prototype 1 and 2, and Kingdoms of Amalur, for Xbox 360 whilst out one day with not having played them before and having heard good things about them, so now have those to add to the list.
R1CH5TER
PS: I was picturing Manta Force but could only think of the name Venom. This must be down to me having the Manta Force Red Venom when I was younger.

Inbox also-rans

Just a quick heads up to say The Sexy Brutale is £7.39 in a PSN Sale. I’ve just bought it as I read GameCentral’s review and because I like Gregory Horror Show on the PlayStation 2, which it is supposed to be similar to.
Andrew J.

GC: We strongly recommend the game at any price, it was one of last year’s best titles.

While having a look through the EA sale on Xbox Live I found Titanfall 2 Deluxe Edition for £8.70, absolute bargain for a great game.
TotalChud (gamertag)

This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gannet, who asks what do you think is the most overrated video game?

You don’t have to think the game is actively bad, just not as good as its reputation suggests. But do try and describe exactly why it didn’t live up to your expectations and what it got wrong. Was it just a good game that was hyped up too much, or do you feel it has flaws that were brushed over in reviews?

Was the problem that you were expecting it to be one thing and it turned out to be something completely different? Or was there some other personal preference that meant you couldn’t enjoy it?

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

If you need quick access to the GameCentral channel page please use www.metro.co.uk/games and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Games Inbox: PS4 unveiling 5-year anniversary, Burnout Paradise Remastered, and Halo 6 hopes

Games Inbox: Do you remember the PS4 unveiling five years ago this week?
Has it really been five whole years?

The morning Inbox wonders if Insomniac will ever make a Resistance 4, as one reader is very impressed by a Jet Set Radio tribute album.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Grand unveiling

Never mind Star Fox, I’ve got another anniversary for you. It’s five years to the day since the PlayStation 4 was unveiled! Obviously it’s didn’t come out until November, but this was the week that Sony first announced it, although if memory serves they didn’t actually show the box (which always seemed weird, because it turned out to be… just a box).

I think it’s fair to say that things have gone well with Sony since then, although like many I attribute their success more to Microsoft’s own unveil event later in the year. It is crazy to think that it’s going to be five years this Christmas though and that some generations have barely lasted that long in their entirety. It’s gone so quick, but I put that down to the first two years being so weak with too few proper next gen games.

The obvious question then is when Sony announces a PlayStation 5, especially as it seems sales of the PlayStation 4 have peaked – if only just. Personally I give it two years tops before Sony starts dropping hints at least. And I do expect it to be a proper next generation console and not a PS4 Pro Plus.

Will that one be online-only perhaps? I could see that happening. I bet it’ll emphasis streaming as well, maybe cloud computing too if that actually does become a thing. It should definitely come with a PlayStation VR 2, which I would be all for. So I don’t agree that there’s no need for one, even if the improvement in graphics is slowing.

As an Xbox 360 owner who switched to PlayStation 4 I’ve been very happy with the machine and I reckon the next next generation is already Sony’s to lose.
Vlad64

Faster than a speeding accountant

Very glad to see Burnout Paradise Remastered confirmed, but I’ve gotta say it’s almost a little scary to see how quickly EA react to trouble. They knocked Star Wars: Battlefront II’s loot boxes on the head before the game was even out and they’ve set-up this remaster just months after Need For Speed Payback crashed and burned.

Now I know a remaster doesn’t take as long as a full game, obviously, but March seems awful quick to me. Does that mean they commissioned it before Payback came out and they were expecting it to flop? Talk about having faith in your own product!

I know it never made sense for them to have two street racing series going at the same time but I always thought Burnout was the better of the two, and now that Need For Speed is dead I hope the true challenger can prove itself.
Cranston

Children of all sizes

The more I hear about Nintendo Labo the more I’m convinced it’s going to be huge for them. I know I will definitely be getting the Variety Kit at least for my girl, as she’s already fascinated by the Switch and I think this will blow her mind. My concerns, like everyone I suppose, is whether the cardboard will break too easily, but I guess there’s only one to find out on that.

I do like the idea of being able to customise the toys, and the ones they did at the event you went to are super cute. Basically it seems like a mix of Lego, video games, and just craftwork. Which seems like a great thing for stimulating kid’s minds (and upsetting hardcore gamers).

I’m not so sure about the robot though, just because it’s more expensive but only one thing, that seems to have less uses. I’m also not clear how it works with people of different sizes. Do you have to swap and replace parts with different sized people?
Danson

GC: The length of the straps are changed by wrapping or unwrapping the cord that connects to the pulleys. It’s super low tech but it seemed to work fine, to the point where we were using exactly the same set-up as a little kid.

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Lost in the PS3 era

I too am curious to see what Sony will come up with for this E3 and beyond, but I think that they’re in a better position than Nintendo because they haven’t burnt through their big names as quickly. I’d still be really happy to see a new WipEout, Ratchet & Clank, and LittleBigPlanet.

The one I wonder about though is Resistance. I know it wasn’t super popular last gen but I really liked the last game and feel another could really be something special. Now I come to think of it it’s mostly the PlayStation 3 era games that haven’t lasted, as I don’t expect we’ll be seeing anymore inFamous or Killzone games either.

Not so much worried about them, but I would like more Resistance.
Coulson

GC: Developer Insomniac are currently working on the new Spider-Man game, so it’d be a long time till they’d be able to come out with anything else. And even then we’d expect more Ratchet & Clank over Resistance.

Old school chief

I can certainly sympathise with the reader saying that his love of Halo has been burned out of him by the last few sequels. The worst thing is with what Bungie are doing to Destiny I’m not sure wishing them back would be any better anyway (not that they would return, I suspect).

My only hope for Halo 6 is that it goes back to basics and out of its way not to play like other modern games. The problem with the multiplayer in the last couple is that you could just tell someone went around trying to see what ideas from Call Of Duty, and Battlefield, and whatever could be sneaked in round the edges and now the whole thing has lost its sense of identity.

And then they went and messed up The Master Chief Collection and I don’t whether younger gamers even realise how big Halo used to be. I’d love for it to be the definitive console shooter again, but I honestly don’t know if 343 have got it in them…
Drepper

Much ado about nothing

I would just like to add more praise for Firewatch. Although I can understand GC’s perspective with their review I definitely think is a game worth picking up. The visuals of the American wilderness, especially the lighting is great. The tension and sense of being vulnerable in an isolated wilderness is palpable. Most of the reviews I have read which gave the game less than stellar reviews seem due to the reviewer’s disappointment with the ending. I appreciate the ending is not quite what the game initially seems to be presenting but I thought it was rather moving.

The player does come across items and areas which add to the backstory of those whose tragic tale becomes the narrative driving force at the end of the game. As it has been a while since I played the game I cannot be sure of this but I wonder if they were sometimes off the beaten track (Firewatch is a mini open world but quite expansive) which GC might have missed. Either way I recommend the game to those with combat fatigue or those who like ominous, tense games but do not want to soil their pants with fear (thanks Resident Evil 7).
Lord Leaping Lynx
PS: I really enjoyed the weekend feature on the Kingdom Come: Deliverance programmer. I managed to avoid this and the Gamergate scandal. It has only enhanced my view that social media sucks and comments sections should be struck from all websites. To quote from a Day Today sketch from a newsreader, ‘Your comments are in and they’ve been described as ‘tedious, boring and stultifying ill-informed’ so thanks for that’.

GC: It’s not so much the ending itself as the fact that the game sacrificed all the set-up and mid-game revelations in favour of another far less interesting plot twist. The storytelling techniques were excellent, and yet we found the story itself very unsatisfying.

Any port in a storm

I have to admit I’m getting increasingly confused as to the difference between a port, a remaster, and a remake. Especially as some sites seem to be using the words almost at random. I thought a port was like a conversion and was like moving a game to another format without changing anything.

But something like Bayonetta 2 seems to be in a kind of grey area where it’s mostly the same but does have some improvements. So I guess that’s why you called it a remaster. Can you clarify?
Brundlefly

GC: Like most things there isn’t any hard and fast rule but a port is supposed to be exactly the same game, just working on another system. A remaster is the original game but modernised in some way – usually by increasing the resolution, frame rate, or improving some of the textures or object models. A remake is something created almost from scratch to resemble the original but featuring all new graphics and controls.

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Video game connection

I need access to the hive mind for identifying an old toy I used to have. Well, two to be precise. It was one of those Max Skull-type toys – you know, Polly Pocket but for boys. There was a Star Fleet-style spaceship base for the human good guys where it was a ship that opened up, had other little ships inside and tiny, plastic dudes. Need to have them tiny, plastic dudes.

But the villainous, alien version was more interesting. It had this neon green play dough that was meant to be acid and green, gloopified humans who had fell victim to the stuff. I was always cautious to touch it as I thought it might melt me too. Still not sure it won’t after twenty-plus years. Maybe it’s very slow-acting, okay!?

Inside and out it looked like some sci-fi horror land of mutant vegetation. I also remember a purple lid that vaguely looked like a heater shield and it had a scary looking ‘S’ inside a circle engraved on it. Hopefully this jogs someone’s memory. Because this has been annoying me for ages now.
DMR

GC: Do you mean Monster Max? For which there was an excellent Game Boy tie-in by renowned 8-bit developers John Ritman and Bernie Drummond (with music by David Wise)?

Inbox also-rans

Count me in as another person that is really loving Celeste. It always amazes me that these little indie games that look like they had a budget of 2p are much better at telling a story then something with a gazillion dollar budget. (I admit I may have exaggerated in both directions a bit there.)
Bane

Since it was mentioned a few days ago I’d just like to make readers aware of this Jet Set Radio tribute album. If there’s ever a sequel I hope they come straight to this guy for the soundtrack. You can listen to it here.
Fancy Dan

This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gannet, who asks what do you think is the most overrated video game?

You don’t have to think the game is actively bad, just not as good as its reputation suggests. But do try and describe exactly why it didn’t live up to your expectations and what it got wrong. Was it just a good game that was hyped up too much, or do you feel it has flaws that were brushed over in reviews?

Was the problem that you were expecting it to be one thing and it turned out to be something completely different? Or was there some other personal preference that meant you couldn’t enjoy it?

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

If you need quick access to the GameCentral channel page please use www.metro.co.uk/games and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Nintendo Labo hands-on preview – the best toy Nintendo’s ever made

Nintendo Labo hands-on preview – the best toy Nintendo’s ever made
Nintendo Labo – do it yourself gaming

GameCentral gets to play around with Nintendo’s latest, and strangest, creation: a cardboard-based construction toy for the Switch.

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom - the cat-boy who would be kingGames Inbox: What spring video game are you most looking forward to?

The first thing you ever learn about Nintendo is that you’d have more chance predicting the lottery than guessing what they’re going to do next. Which is frustrating, because after 2017 became such an amazing year for them the question of what comes next has never been asked with quite the same level of anticipation. And never has the answer been so unexpected…

Nintendo Labo was first announced last month, and while it does contain some classic video game elements it’s primarily a construction toy aimed at tweens. Think Meccano but with ordinary cardboard instead of metal and you’ve got the basics of it, except the Nintendo Switch and its Joy-Cons can be used to turn the various contraptions into full-functioning high-tech toys.

Two separate Labo packs have been announced so far: the Variety Kit, which contains five different objects to build, and the Robot Kit which has one big giant one. They’re both out on April 27 and cost £59.99 and £69.99, respectively. That seems a lot, for what is just some sheets of cardboard and a few bits of string and elastic bands, but having now played around with them ourselves we’re already convinced Nintendo has another major hit on their hands.

Last week we attended a special event at the Science Museum in London, where parents and their kids, and a few assorted journos, were able to come along and play with each of the kits. But rather than the cacophony of shouting and running around we expected, we don’t think we’ve ever seen a room full of kids so quiet and so obviously enthralled with what they were doing – even as some of their parents looked on slightly bewildered.

The first thing everyone was given a go on was the RC Car from the Variety Kit. This involves just a single sheet of cardboard, where you have to press out the various pieces to make a vaguely insectile looking contraption (each of the creations is officially referred to as a ‘Toy-Con’). We were told this would take about 20 minutes, but really it was much less than that, as you follow the instructions on the Switch screen about which part to bend where and which tab to insert into which slot.

The clever bit though, apart from the fact that none of it requires glues, comes when you have to insert the Joy-Cons on either side of the ‘car’ and then use the software on the Switch touchscreen to control it. This works using what are essentially tank controls, as you turn each Joy-Con on and off to turn the car or make it move forward, with the HD rumble effect vibrating down to the ‘legs’ and translating into forward motion. It’s a magical moment when you first see it happen, and we’re sure our grin was as big as any other kid when we got it moving.

There was a prize for the best RC Car... we didn't win
There was a prize for the best RC Car… we didn’t win

Constructing a Toy-Con is far from the end of the process, as not only do all of them have multiple different functions but you’re also encouraged to customise them. There are extra, undocumented pieces for this in the kit – an elephant’s head and an excavator shovel for the RC car – as well as an official Customisation Set from Nintendo that has various stickers and stencils for £8.99.

We were at the event for three hours and we noticed many a child spent almost the entire time just customising the RC Car, and you can see the impressive results (some of which were no doubt aided by an adult) dotted around this page. Having no confidence in our own artistic skills though we starting experimenting with the models themselves.

You may well not have noticed, because it’s barely been used by anything other than 1-2-Switch, but the right Joy-Con has an infrared depth sensor on it and this proves vital to almost all the Labo models. On the RC Car it can be used to sense bright surfaces (some special stickers are provided with the kit) and move towards them automatically.

You can see it targeting the stickers, like some kind of pacifist RoboCop, on the Switch screen but you can also switch to manual and steer the car around in the dark via an infared or thermal view. This was demonstrated by a little set-up where you could put the car under a box and navigate through a maze of obstacles using the infrared view. And that’s all just from the simplest of the Toy-Cons.

Probably the most complicated of the Variety Kit Toy-Cons is the Piano, which apparently takes around two hours to construct. It has 13 keys that work exactly as you’d expect, with the right Joy-Con detecting which one is being pressed. But you can also insert one of four sound modifiers (a cardboard knob with a QR code-like strip around it) to change the sound (we found the cat chorus particularly amusing) or use a whammy bar-like device to add vibrato. It’s a hugely impressive achievement and comes with its own music games and a multi-track recorder.

Some of the Toy-Cons are more obviously video-game inspired, and if it was made out of plastic Motor Bike could easily pass as a home version of some long-lost sit-down arcade game. It’s basically the handlebars of a bike where you have to balance the frame on your belly and then steer with the handles as normal, including a carboard throttle and ignition button. The game itself is single-player only though and while the track designs are relatively complex it doesn’t seem like anything that’s going to hold your interest for long.

We’re not sure of the longevity of the Fishing Rod either, although the fact that we kept wanting to go back to it was a good sign. It doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the cleverest Toy-Cons, with the wire from the rod disappearing into a cardboard holder for the Switch that makes it look like it’s directly connected to the line on the screen. The act of fishing is exactly as you’d expect, but there’s a slightly macabre element where the only way to catch some of the bigger fish is to snag a smaller one and the drag it down further to act as bait for a larger cousin.

The final Toy-Con is called House and is a Tamagotchi style virtual pet. As far as we could gather it’s not in danger of dying if you don’t feed it, but instead the emphasis is on playing with it by inserting up to three different devices into the side of the house: a crank, a button, and a switch. Turning these around is a wonderfully tactical experience, as you play little mini-games like a coconut shy and a minecart race. It does all seem pretty simplistic though, and while things like shaking the house when it’s full of water, and seeing it flow realistically because of the motion sensors, is clever there doesn’t seem to be much else to it.

The Robot backpack isn't very heavy, but it does make you feel like a ghostbuster
The Robot backpack isn’t very heavy, but it does make you feel like a ghostbuster

All of the above is included in the Variety Kit, but the Robot Kit is its own separate purchase and comes with all the material needed to create your very own cardboard robot. Apparently it takes a good five hours to build, with the end result being a large backpack with four separate pulleys that attach to your feet and hands. The Joy-Con monitors how they move and this is then translated into the onscreen actions of a giant robot.

For this one we weren’t allowed to try all the modes, which we noticed included a Vs. option, but the main one was basically a timed challenge to destroy as much of a city as possible. Swinging your fists around works exactly as you’d think, while walking takes a bit of getting used to as you have to purposefully stomp forward each time and not just mince about on the spot. Within a few minutes it feels like second nature though, and there’s even special moves like a power jump and the ability to fly if you put your arms out.

There’s also a visor on your head that when you flip it down switches you to first person view. But our favourite bit, as Transformers fans, is that if you bend down you transform into a sort of car that shoots lasers (sitting on your knees is the best way to make this practical for long periods). It’s frankly the most fun we’ve ever had with motion controls, and not least because they seemed to work perfectly every time.

The Robot Kit also comes with a number of challenge modes that emphasise practising each of the skills, but how much longevity there really is to the software we couldn’t say at this point. One of the other options we weren’t able to use was labelled Calories, so there’s obvious a fitness element there at least.

We can only imagine what creations YouTube is going to be filled with once Labo is officially released, especially as it fully encourages you to create new devices and replace worn out pieces of carboard with your own. The software that comes with each kit has a section named Discover where it shows exactly how each Toy-Con works, both mechanically and in terms of the infrared sensor, and suggests way you can customise it yourself.

Some of the Toy-Cons also interact with each other, so there’s a trick with the piano where you can cut out a shape and then have the Joy-Con inside scan it and turn it into a fish – whose colour and eye position you can set manually. This can then go on to be used back in the Fishing Rod game.

The most complex extra though seems to be the Toy-Con Garage, which uses a simple visual programming language to determine what happens when a Joy-Con button is pressed or when the IR sensor detects something in front of it. In the demo we were shown this was used to create a gun (using extra materials from the Motor Bike Toy-Con) that can ‘shoot’ a cardboard man attached to the other Joy-Con.

Nintendo Labo is aimed at kids from seven years and up, and from what we saw they were absolutely fascinated by the concept. And we don’t mind admitting that we were too. Not only is Labo likely to be used for far more elaborate creations in the future but it’s clear that even if you just follow the instructions there’s plenty of scope for learning and creativity. It may not be the next Mario or Zelda, but Labo certainly seems likely to be Nintendo’s next big hit.

Email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk, leave a comment below, and follow us on Twitter

Games Inbox: Best spring video games, Super Mario Galaxy remaster, and Dynasty Warriors 9 hate mail

Games Inbox: What spring video game are you most looking forward to?
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom – will it be a hit this spring?

The morning Inbox tries to imagine the next generation of video game controller, as one reader recommends Firewatch on cheap.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

The spring rush

It might be a bit quiet at the moment for new releases, but by the end of March I see we’re going to be right in the thick of it again, with Sea Of Thieves, Far Cry 5, Yakuza 6, and God Of War. The one I’m most looking forward to though is Ni No Kuni II. I absolutely loved the first one and all the previews, including yours, have been very positive.

The way I see it this will be a final prof of whether Japanese games have been accepted back by the mainstream, and if a game as obviously Japanese as this (I do agree they should’ve probably changed the name) can be successful then I think we really will have turned the corner.

I’m a little worried it’s sandwiched between Sea Of Thieves and Far Cry 5, which probably have much bigger marketing budgets, but I’m hopefully it can still be a hit. It certainly looks more interesting than any Final Fantasy game has been for years, but really the more games that are different from each other that can be successful the better!
Wotan

Super remaster bros.

Been playing Super Mario Odyssey recently. For me personally I think Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the better game. There doesn’t seem to be the extra wow factor that Galaxy 2 had when I first played Odyssey. Apart from Jump Up Superstar, the music isn’t as good as Galaxy either in my opinion. Also, I have a real problem with the humans in New Donk City, it just doesn’t go. Why didn’t Nintendo make the people look stylised?

I am not sure of anyone else but I wouldn’t mind a remastered/rereleased version of both Galaxy games, but at a budgeted price of £20. This could fill out a barren release schedule. Would it be possible? Do the Joy-Cons have pointers? Similar to the Wii remote.
Alek Kazam

GC: The right one has an infrared depth sensor, but we’re not sure if it could be used in the same way. But then Galaxy’s use of the pointer is pretty trivial. What is impossible though is the idea that Nintendo would remaster both games and only charge £20 for them.

Keeping pace with technology

I knew that Secret Of Mana remake was a wrong ‘un the second I saw the first screenshot. I swear that series is cursed, the way Square Enix treat it. The first one (okay, technically it’s a sequel!) is fantastic and they’ve never managed to follow it up with anything even halfway decent. Especially not now.

I have very fond memories of playing through the original with my mate, and while I’m sure it does all seem very repetitive now I would’ve been fine if the graphics had stayed tip-top. I think that’s a lot of the problems with these retro inspired games. They forget that at the time the graphics that seem so simple and cute to us now where the best you do at the time. So unless the remake also has the best graphics possible it’s not a straight comparison.

I haven’t played it, but I imagine that’s why Shadow Of The Colossus works but this doesn’t. Maybe Secret Of Mana will have better luck on its 30th anniversary (it won’t).
Infinitman

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

Fire sale

After this weekend’s Hot Topic and many people advising they have less time to game, and big games can be off-putting, I just wanted to recommend Firewatch to those who want a great story driven game that doesn’t take forever to finish. It’s also currently £6.40 on Xbox, or was on Friday when I purchased it. I bought it on a recommendation from a friend and really enjoyed it.

As the name suggests the character you play as, has the job of keeping a look out for wild fires so hot shots can burn the area to stop it spreading, although the game doesn’t really have you doing this. You have contact with a woman on walkie-talkie who will send you on errands to scout areas, and investigate sightings from the towers. I’m probably not that good at selling the game to you, but recommend you give it a try

Here is GC’s review if you missed it first time around.
R1CH5TER
PS: I actually liked the story and agree the storytelling is very good.

GC: We’re not sure our review is going to sell it to anyone either. But at £6.40 you can’t really go wrong.

Complex issue

Hopefully this doesn’t come across as too crazy but when people were talking about real-time strategy games it made me think of a problem I’ve often wondered about: how restricted we are in games to the controllers we use. Many consoles players don’t really realise but a mouse and keyboard is much more accurate than a controller and when you get to a strategy game, or anything with a cursor, a joypad is almost useless.

But surely there’s got to be something even better than that? Something with the versatility of a mouse and keyboard but the accessibility of a gamepad? It’s often said that it’s the twin sticks on a controller that put off casual gamers the most so I’m surprised that nobody has ever tried to get away from that.

I suppose Nintendo did with the Wii remote, but that technology was nowhere near good enough to be a complete replacement. I know Microsoft are rumoured to be working on some sort of AR headset but I’d love it if they hadn’t completely given up on Kinect and were instead doing some kind of next gen controller that combined the best of everything. Something you could use like Minority Report, but still had some feedback because you’re actually holding something.

I think people forget that it’s not the complexity of games that puts ordinary people off them, but the complexity of the controller.
Pancakebill

Numberwang

I know you guys are one of the few outlets that use the full 10-point scale for reviews, without prejudice, which is great.

Does each score relate to a one-word description either officially or unofficially? Something like:

10/10 – Legendary
9/10 – Incredible
8/10 – Great
7/10 – Good
Etc.

Have you dabbled with other scoring systems in the past or would you consider changing it in the future?
OTTAPPS

GC: It’d probably work out as something like that, yes. We’ve never really thought of using any other system though. Percentages are too arbitrary and out of five has always seemed too simplistic.

All or nothing

I can understand why people are starting to get a bit antsy about what Nintendo has planned this year but, as if it needed saying, I really don’t think there’s any point getting worried. Last year showed they understand what they needed to do, and I think they only way they make a mistake this year is if they just don’t have the capacity to make any more great games.

I don’t think they’d be stupid enough to put all their top game makers on Labo, or to just think they can by on what they’ve already got out. So either they can’t make any more or they’re just being their usual secretive self. I mean, their E3 stand looks as big as ever and they can’t be using that for just Labo as it’ll already be out by then. That’s my guess anyway.
Lumpy

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

One size fits one

It doesn’t seem to get talked about much on here, but I would just like to say that I think Ubisoft are handling Rainbow Six Siege very well and I’m not surprised to hear it’s had a sort of second wind and they’re now going to keep it going for years (although I agree 10 is probably pushing it).

The basic gameplay is already spot on and the graphics are already good so in that sense there’s no need for a sequel. You need new modes and characters sure, but that’s what these updates are adding and I’m more than happy to stick around for it.

But for me this just illustrates that every game has got to tackle these problems separately, according to what suits them best. The problem with the games industry (and everything really, I guess) is that everyone just goes around copying whatever the last successful thing was and never tries to get ahead of the game themselves. Ubisoft’s plan for Rainbow Six works for that game but not necessarily any others. That should be the lesson companies are taking away: don’t copy, innovate!
Alex Stewart

Inbox also-rans

Personally, I’m glad GC reviews Dynasty Warriors, and all the other rubbish games. Those reviews are often the funniest. Did anyone write in with hate mail for you on this one?
Vigo

GC: They didn’t actually, which must be a first. It seems even hardcore fans don’t like that one.

Am I the only that doesn’t really like The Witcher 3? I hear it being talked about as this all-time classic but I don’t like that I can’t change the character and the combat is rubbish.
dubs2

This week’s Hot Topic

The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gannet, who asks what do you think is the most overrated video game?

You don’t have to think the game is actively bad, just not as good as its reputation suggests. But do try and describe exactly why it didn’t live up to your expectations and what it got wrong. Was it just a good game that was hyped up too much, or do you feel it has flaws that were brushed over in reviews?

Was the problem that you were expecting it to be one thing and it turned out to be something completely different? Or was there some other personal preference that meant you couldn’t enjoy it?

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@ukmetro.co.uk

The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

If you need quick access to the GameCentral channel page please use www.metro.co.uk/games and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.