Review | World’s End Club – 12 Friends at the End of The World (startmenu Preview)

Back in 2017, a group of Spike Chunsoft employees left to form their own company, Too Kyo Games. Among its founding members were Kazutaka Kodaka and Kotaro Uchikoshi, the respective creators of the Danganronpa and Zero Escape series. Given the similarities between both their series, it’s honestly surprising that it took until 2020 for the two to actually work on a project together. Released last year as an early access Apple Arcade title, World’s End Club is the two’s first proper collaboration, with Uchikoshi as director and writer and Kodaka as creative director.

The full game was recently released on the Nintendo Switch and expectations were certainly high for it. Danganronpa and Zero Escape are well-known and beloved by their fans for their complex mysteries, larger than life characters, and off-the-wall humour, so many assumed that World’s End Club would follow in their footsteps. And while in some ways it does, it is a very different beast compared to anything in either series.

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Review | Gnosia (startmenu Preview)

Chances are that if you’re at all already familiar with Gnosia, then you probably know it as that game that’s basically Among Us except with an anime aesthetic. And while that’s not an entirely inaccurate description, it doesn’t do the game justice in the slightest.

Set aboard a drifting spaceship, you and your fellow crew members learn that somebody onboard has been infected by the titular Gnosia. What the Gnosia actually are is a complete mystery, but their goal is clear: the complete eradication of all human life. The goal of the crew is to correctly identify the infected and put them into cold sleep, while the Gnosia must avoid detection and pick the crew members off one by one until they can take over the ship.

Despite the Among Us comparisons, Gnosia is more like the classic party game Werewolf (something it actively acknowledged in its launch trailer), but the key difference is that Gnosia has no multiplayer aspects whatsoever. It’s entirely single-player, which you wouldn’t think would work for a social deduction game where the fun primarily comes from the arguments, distrust, and deception between players. So what has the team at Petit Depotto done to create a compelling experience?

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Preview | Balan Wonderworld (startmenu Preview)

In a world where so many big-budget video games feel rather homogenised, to the point where most new releases can be easily described by just comparing it to another (e.g. Avengers is just Destiny but with Marvel), Balan Wonderworld really stands out from the crowd.

Wonderworld is the first title from new Square Enix subsidiary Balan Company, which is being directed by Yuji Naka (one of the men credited with creating Sonic the Hedgehog). Balan Wonderworld wears its inspiration on its sleeve and is quite clearly meant to evoke a sense of nostalgia from players despite being an original IP.

I’m sure you’ve seen every other outlet make obvious comparisons to old Sega games like Nights and Billy Hatcher, and you can hardly blame them. Watching the announcement trailer made me feel like I had stepped through a wormhole back to the late 90s or early 2000s but despite some trepidation about the whole thing I was admittedly quite charmed by just how strange this game seemed. The world could desperately do with more 3D-platformers that aren’t Super Mario or crowdfunded indie projects like A Hat in Time.

So, with a surprisingly sizable demo now available, it made sense to investigate this new world of Balan and let Naka and his team try to convince me to give this new (planned) franchise of theirs a look-see. Unfortunately, those aforementioned trepidations turned out to be justified.

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My Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2021

2020 sucked. I know that’s not an original thought, but it still feels like it needs to be said. And video games, or rather the industry itself, didn’t always help alleviate how truly awful it was.

Ubisoft was hit with numerous allegations of sexual assault and abuse, Activision continues to make all the money in the world yet lays off its employees, and where do I even start with Cyberpunk 2077?

But, for as crappy as it all was, there were occasional bright spots. 2019’s Among Us found belated success thanks to livestreaming and put its studio, InnerSloth, on the map, Animal Crossing: New Horizons managed to unite the world and foster connections while everyone was trapped indoors, and the release of Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition meant more people could play my favourite game of all time.

2021 isn’t going to automatically be better than last year but, as always with these lists, I’m going to focus on the potentially good things coming this year; specifically, the games I’m most excited for.

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Marvel’s Avengers Beta Impressions – Avengers In Name Only?

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Ever since its initial reveal at E3 2019, I have wanted desperately to like Square Enix and Crystal Dynamic’s Avengers game. Unfortunately, nearly everything about it seemed to be forcing me to be sceptical about it.

The plot was uninteresting and a culmination of some of my least favourite ‘event comic’ superhero tropes, the gameplay appeared average at best and monotonous at worst, the hyper realistic graphics made for a grey and bland-looking world, and its mere existence as a service title akin to something like Destiny meant that this was Square Enix attempting to capitalise on a trendy market by using already existing characters as the poster boys to help push it.

I wanted to give the game a chance, though, so when I was granted the opportunity to try out the game’s beta, I took it. Sometimes, you really do need a hands-on approach to better judge a product and I’ll be detailing my experiences and first impressions here. Continue reading

We Should Be Cautious About Paper Mario: The Origami King (startmenu Preview)

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Nintendo, as Nintendo does, suddenly dropped a trailer for a new Paper Mario game on us earlier in the week, and we collectively lost it.

Even though it’s only been four years, it feels like it has been forever since the last entry in the role-playing spin-off series, so excitement is at a fever pitch. Established fans and those who had never touched a Paper Mario before have become immediately invested thanks to that trailer and rightly so. It’s a good trailer. I myself as a long-time fan was hooked quite easily.

But as I watched the trailer, my excitement gave way to concern and anxiousness. The memories of the last couple of Paper Mario games flooded back in and, now, I can’t help but be incredibly cautious. And frankly, so should you.

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Ten of My Favourite Games of the Decade

I know I’m late in saying this but, damn, this really is a new decade, huh? I never even considered it until it was pointed out to me. A lot has happened in the last ten years, and after looking at some good-looking games that are coming in the future, I’d like to reminisce about all the awesome games from the past. And, boy, there were a lot.

So, since everyone else has done it and I apparently have as much originality as a live-action Disney remake, here’s a list of some of my all-time favourite games to have been released throughout the 2010s – one from each year (I’m using the European release dates BTW). Continue reading

My Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2020

2019 is officially behind us and it was certainly a strong year for videogames, with a number of critically acclaimed titles like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Disco Elysium, and the Resident Evil 2 remake being released.

However, it was another year of the industry showing how ugly it could be. Lootboxes and in-game gambling mechanics have become so much worse, crunch culture continued to be responsible for some big-budget titles like Red Dead Redemption 2, and let’s not forget the Activision Blizzard/Hong Kong debacle.

With any luck, 2020 will offer better things; it’s certainly got a strong line-up of games to look forward to. So, how about we just get right to it – here are the ten games I’m most excited to play in the coming year. Continue reading

Ten Characters I Want in Super Smash Bros. – Part 2

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the following games:

Tekken 7
The Wonderful 101
Xenoblade Chronicles 2

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It’s been four years since my first “Ten Characters I Want in Super Smash Bros.” list and, boy, how things have changed since then. Back then, those choices were the whimsical wishes of a young dreamer, unlikely to ever come true. But now, thanks to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it seems anything is possible. Hell, two of my picks have since been included, which is very vindicating, though one part of that list has aged horribly.

“… [Yu Narukami] does stand a better chance than Ridley.”

Oh, 21 year-old me, you were such a fool. But yes, between the likes of Ridley, King K. Rool, and Joker, I’ve found myself coming to accept that characters I would’ve initially scoffed at the mere suggestion of including could actually happen. Super Smash Bros. is no longer just a celebration of all things Nintendo, but of videogames as a whole.

So, with the current run of DLC nearing its conclusion and still more to come throughout 2020, how about I list off another ten characters I’d personally love to see get to join the roster, whether it be in Ultimate or in a possible sequel. Continue reading

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order – Marvellous Masterpiece or Boring Button-Masher?

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One game that I used to play the crap out of during my childhood was Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. A loose adaptation of the Civil War comic story-line, it was a top-down action-RPG/beat ’em up featuring a tonne of famous and not so famous heroes and villains from across the Marvel universe, enjoyable and addictive gameplay, cool character interactions, and some great replayability that had me coming back again and again, just so I could keep making all manner of different teams to play through the game as.

That game came out ten years ago and it very much seemed like a series that wasn’t going to get revived any time soon, especially with Disney now holding Marvel’s reigns. So I was pleasantly surprised to see a new, third title get announced out of nowhere. And if that wasn’t enough, Activision and Vicarious Visions were out and Nintendo and Team Ninja were in.

Suddenly, everybody was getting excited to see how this game would turn out. Aside from those big names, the roster looked great (the presence of the X-Men alone helped tremendously) and the presentation was delightfully stylish, but does the game have the substance to match it, or should this series have been left back in the late 2000s? Continue reading