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Review: The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game (Switch)

The LEGO franchise and the Switch have been good bedfellows of late, with both LEGO City Undercover and LEGO Worlds releasing on the console so far. The former we enjoyed. The latter? Not so much. Unfortunately for all of us, The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game – from now on referred to simply as Ninjago, because that title is a mouthful – is more Worlds than Undercover.

If you’ve played a LEGO game from Traveler’s Tales, then you know what to expect. Like most movie tie-in LEGO titles, Ninjago puts you in command of one of the group of ninja at a time. The levels are guided but somewhat open-ended as well; while you’re given a set objective at the beginning of the level, there are numerous secrets to find, structures to break and studs to collect. The game tries to entice you into replaying levels by hiding untold numbers of secrets behind puzzles that can only be solved by a ninja not currently in your party, or with an ability you don’t currently possess. 

The level designs themselves, however, feel somewhat uninspired, and left us feeling like there wasn’t much reason to return. After each level you’re treated to a clip from the movie, most of which we found enjoyable; if anything the game is an effective advert for the film. Telltale’s writing chops are still as good as ever as well, with dialogue that is every bit as funny as that found in other LEGO franchises.

Areas are quite detailed, and the sheen on the faux LEGOs is pretty convincing, but there was nothing in the varied environments that had us wanting to come back for a second look.  More importantly, long load times made us dread changing areas. The loading screen features a view of the area you’ll be playing in as though it were a real LEGO playset, which is interesting, but it’s not worth spending 15-30 seconds on each time.

Mechanically, Ninjago works about as well as you might expect it to. Combat is strictly a button-mashing affair but it gets the job done. There are abilities, dubbed Ninjanuities(groan) which can be purchased using Ninjanuity Tokens (double groan). Each time you earn a token you are forced to spend it immediately; each ability costs a single token, so there’s some value to that, but it’s harmful to the overall experience to be removed from what you’re doing to buy an ability you may not need at that moment. 

Two-player co-op play is available but we can hardly recommend it. The screen is split vertically and the framerate takes a nose dive. It isn’t entirely unplayable in TV mode, but in portable mode you’re can kiss your chances of understanding what’s happening goodbye. Playing with a friend definitely adds value to the game, as your AI partners are typically useless in any practical sense. While you clear an area of enemies, all too often you’ll find your AI buddy struggling with the same foe they were on when you started. The partner you have exists only to be window dressing and for you to control when the game demands that both ninjas solve a puzzle.

Running around smacking bad guys is fun to an extent, but it’s when the game starts to wander from the beaten path that we experienced trouble. Not content to adhere strictly to a known formula, Ninjago introduces some new gameplay types, such as a Panzer Dragoon-esque on-rails shooter in which you fly around Ninjago (the city) fending off evil forces – but the game doesn’t really handle this well. The framerate takes a very clear dip here, and the Switch sometimes chokes under the number of enemies on screen at once. It’s easy to think this is the fault of the system, but we’ve seen much more impressive feats pulled of on the console from other developers.

New gameplay isn’t the only fault we found with Ninjago, either. Many times during our playthrough the game would inexplicably freeze, or the camera would lock in an area where all we could see was the top of our hero’s head. This wasn’t limited to gameplay either, as we noted this happened several times during cutscenes. During the course of our playthrough for the purposes of this review, it became standard practice to quit the game if a black screen appeared for too long, as it sometimes did during scene transitions.

Conclusion

LEGO games are typically quite good. Movie franchise games are typically quite bad. The LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game is, both, but ultimately it feels more like a movie game than a LEGO game. Poor level design, long load times and bugs make for a game that doesn’t realise its full potential; funny dialogue and entertaining movie clips can’t elevate this one to greatness. If you’re looking for a great LEGO game for your Switch, stick to Undercover for now.

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Pokkén Tournament DX update on the way

Pokkén Tournament DX update on the way

An exciting new update is heading to Pokkén Tournament DX, including some additional content. The features will include:

  • Online Team Battles – Team Battles will be available to play with friends online. Pick three Pokémon each and head into battle to enjoy heated fights with other players.
  • Official Groups in Group Match – Official groups from Pokkén Tournament DX will be open in the Group Match online battle mode. Coming soon after the update, there will be official Group Matches where players can battle to receive new special titles.
  • Record Pokémon Movements – In Practice Mode’s Free Training, a new function to record Pokémon movements in battle will be added. You’ll be able to control the opposing Pokémon and record its movements so you can play them back when you’re training to help improve your skills.
  • Enhanced Experience – Several other adjustments are in development which will help to improve gameplay.

We will be releasing more information on the Pokkén Tournament DX official website later, so stay tuned for further updates via http://www.pokkentournament.com//dx/en-gb/.

Pokkén Tournament DX is available now for Nintendo Switch.

Game Rated:

Fantasy Violence

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Review: NBA 2K18 (Switch)

Note: We originally posted our NBA 2K18 review last month but the game was essentially broken, with a number of serious game-affecting bugs. It was so severe that we were unable to give the game a score, because we considered it incomplete. While we really enjoyed the game when it worked properly, our advice at the time was clear: hold fire. “You shouldn’t buy it until 2K Sports fixes its myriad of problems with a hefty update,” our review originally stated. That hefty update was finally released last week: later than is really acceptable, but now here nonetheless. So, with the Switch version’s physical release due next week, we’re finally able to bring you our final review and the definitive verdict on NBA 2K18.

It’s been five years since Nintendo fans have had an officially licensed ‘serious’ basketball game, the last being Wii U launch title NBA 2K13. 2K Sports’ initial support for the Wii U quickly simmered and the studio decided to focus its efforts on other formats, meaning its day one NBA 2K offering ended up being the only taste of slam dunkery Nintendo’s system received.

A lot has changed since then, however, and now 2K Sports is back for another crack at the Nintendo market. WWE 2K18’s due soon but before that we have the latest NBA 2K entry. And while it’s taken a while to get there, we’re finally happy with the results. NBA 2K18 easily provides the greatest basketball experience we’ve ever seen on a Nintendo system (yes, that even includes Mario Slam Basketball). The sheer attention to detail here is sensational.

Those familiar with the NBA 2K series will already be familiar with the sort of things we’re referring to, but those new to it will discover a level of presentation that eclipses every other sports game, FIFA included. Matches open with a (skippable) pre-game show hosted by a three-man panel, with countless pre-recorded chats that all sound genuine and not just read from a script. They’ll crack jokes, interrupt each other and generally act exactly like they would on the sort of real-life broadcast you’d expect to see on ABC or ESPN.

After this it’s down to courtside where you’ll be treated to one of a selection of pre-game routines. Sometimes you’ll see video footage of the city hosting the game, other times you’ll catch the end of the national anthem being sung, or maybe you’ll see the team mascot firing t-shirts into the crowd. This is all supported with the full TV broadcast experience with a full commentary team, sideline reporters, realistic TV-style camera angles, the whole nine yards. Those familiar with sports games may think we’re overreacting by listing all of this but until you’ve played a recent NBA 2K you can’t really appreciate just how incredibly authentic the entire thing feels before the tip-off even begins.

Once the action actually starts, controlling your team is a breeze regardless of your skill level. There’s great depth to the various types of shot, pass and tactical call you can call upon at any time, but how much you want to delve into that is entirely up to you. This game gives you the luxury of as much or as little control of the intricacies of basketball as you feel comfortable with. If you’re a relative novice and just want to go with the basic ‘B to pass, Y to shoot, A to steal’ controls, you’re more than welcome to. Things get significantly more complicated once you involve the shoulder buttons and the right stick –  but you can happily play and win without ever having to worry about them.

Should you actually want to get stuck into that, the level of control you can eventually achieve with practice is ridiculous. Shimmy shots, dropsteps, post hops, hook drives, alley oops, Euro step layups… these and many more are available as and when you decide you want to push your game a bit further. Or not, it’s your call. This freedom of choice extends to the wide variety of games modes available, each of which are so packed they could easily constitute full games in their own right. For starters you’ve got MyGM: The Next Chapter, a story mode in which you play as a former NBA star whose career was ended short by a bad injury and is now a manager.

This mode plays like a standard career mode in something like FIFA, where you’re in charge of all the inner workings of the team: from training and tactics to trading and scouting, to even smaller things like jersey sales (all while still getting to control your team in each match, of course). If the story side of things doesn’t appeal to you there’s also MyLeague, which lets you play through up to 80 seasons, controlling anything from just one to all 32 teams. If you get properly invested in this it might keep you busy for the entire duration of the Switch’s life but it’s also the driest of the modes on offer, featuring little more than a schedule of matches.

Meanwhile, MyTeam is a fantasy team mode that’s clearly been inspired by FIFA’s Ultimate Team. You start with a handful of player cards and, over time, build up your team by winning and buying more cards until you’ve got a squad that can take on all-comers both off and online. Finally, if it’s more plot you’re looking for MyCareer gives you another story, but this time it’s one in which you control a single player rather than the whole team. This is one of the most popular NBA 2K modes every year and for good reason: as your player slowly builds his skills and stats you feel a real sense of attachment to him.

That said, MyCareer has a different storyline each year and 2K18’s is probably the weakest in a long time, partly because the jump from zero to hero is too swift this time. In previous games you had to prove yourself in training camps before getting drafted to a low-ranked team and slowly working your way up to something like the Cavs or Warriors. This time though the story begins with your player competing in a street basketball tournament and somehow making it to a pro NBA team without going through a draft or anything. Within less than an hour of MyCareer mode we were coming off the bench for the Toronto Raptors, which sort of undermined the whole idea of putting in hard work to reach the big time.

The mode also has a heavy emphasis on microtransactions. As you play you earn VC (virtual currency), which is spent on improving your stats and customising your character’s look. While you can earn VC through playing the game, you can of course also skip the grind and pay real money for it. While this won’t be new to anyone who’s been playing NBA 2K games on other systems over the past few years, do be aware that if you want to build your character naturally without spending any extra money you’re going to have to be in it for the long haul: this mode is a marathon, not a sprint.

Regardless, despite the constant spectre of microtransactions looming it’s still a great time, and when you combine all four main modes – MyGM, MyLeague, MyTeam and MyCareer – there are countless hundreds of hours of gameplay here that will keep you hooked, whether you’re an NBA die-hard or just a casual basketball fan looking for a sports game for their Switch.

Until recently NBA 2K18 was suffering from a number of huge game-breaking bugs. Our game saves were being reported as corrupt, cutscenes were playing at a snail’s pace, dialogue regularly sounded crackly and parts of the environment disappeared during MyCareer mode. Thankfully a large patch – albeit one that turned up far later than it should have – has removed the most serious ones. There are still some graphical glitches in there, with the likes of flickering shadows still present, but the big ones are finally gone and the game’s far better for it.

As a result, we’re now comfortable that we can finally recommend NBA 2K18. 2K Sports has delivered a game that comes fairly close to its performance on other systems (it runs at 30 frames per second instead of 60 but other than that it’s remarkably detailed), and unlike FIFA 18 it’s missing absolutely nothing in the Xbox One or PS4 modes (except for a face-scanning function which is apparently coming in a future patch). It’s still silly that it’s taken a full three weeks after the launch of the digital version to get to the stage that we can finally consider this game playable, and hopefully WWE 2K18 won’t suffer from a similarly calamitous launch.

Conclusion

For those who took our previous advice to hold fire until we were happy the game wasn’t a broken mess, you can finally pull the trigger: NBA 2K18 may not have been a great sports game at launch, but it’s certainly one now. This is effortlessly the best basketball game we’ve seen on a Nintendo system in years, and a must-have for Switch-owning sports fans.

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Review: Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase (Switch)

The Switch has earned something of a reputation for hosting modern updates of classics from the Japanese gaming canon, with notable reimaginings like Blaster Master Zero and Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap hitting the nostalgia button on Turbo mode. One of the more surprising returnees to take advantage of this trend was Soldam: Blooming Declaration, a launch title on the Japanese eShop based on a puzzle game spin-off of Jaleco’s 1990 arcade hit Rod Land. 

Soldam released in the arcades in 1992 and then had exactly one port (to the Game Boy in 1993), so you’d certainly be forgiven for not being familiar with the franchise; but now that new publisher Dispatch Games has stepped up to localize this Switch update for Western markets as Soldam: Drop, Connect, Erase, it’s definitely worth getting acquainted with. Soldam is a delightfully different puzzle game with a unique gameplay hook and an impressive variety of play styles across modes — a perfect deep cut to round out any puzzle fan’s Switch stash.

At first blush, Soldam looks quite similar to other falling-block titles: gameplay consists of guiding and rotating four-piece bundles of coloured fruit as they drop from the top of the field to the bottom, and the goal is to keep them from stacking too high — if they reach the top, it’s game over. How you’ll deal with these drops, however, is quite different to other games in the genre, and this is what gives Soldam its hook.

Rather than clearing out when a full line is completed, as in Tetris, or disappearing when they touch a certain number of like-coloured pieces Puyo Puyo-style, Soldam’s fruits swap colour when they’re surrounded on any side — horizontally, vertically, or diagonally — by fruit of another colour. It sounds a bit like fruit-based Reversi or Othello on paper, but the falling-block trappings and the geometry of the playing field — ten-fruit wide but with only five ‘lanes’ to slide each 2×2 bundle into — make it feel utterly unique in practice.

If you have a pair of red fruits sitting on the lefthand side of the board, for instance, and a pair of blue ones to their right, placing a red fruit to the right of the blue ones will turn the whole lot red. If you manage to paint an entire row the same shade, it will vanish, hop down below the bottom of the field, and act as an anchor for making vertical and diagonal matches across the board. This anchor line, then, takes on whichever colour you last cleared a line of, so managing this carefully is a big part of the strategy; you won’t want to clear a line of green just to sweep it away if you’re going to need yellow on the bottom for your next move. It’s also essential for combos — clearing more than one line at a time — which carry a tidy point bonus.

If that all sounds a bit confusing, don’t fret. Soldam is based on a concept that’s several steps removed from most block-drop puzzle games, and it’s admittedly tough to get the hang of at first — years of conflicting muscle memory from Tetris, Panel de Pon, and Puyo Puyo don’t help, either. But that’s exactly what makes Soldam so exciting: if you’re a puzzle game veteran it represents the chance to get in on the ground floor again, and it’s surprisingly refreshing to learn a puzzle gameplay type from scratch. 

It does a great job at getting you up to speed, too; the main endless mode (simply called ‘Soldam’) starts out nice and slow, beginning with only two colours before gradually introducing more. There’s also an ‘Easy Mode’ that lets you take as much time as you like before dropping each fruit cluster. Even better, this localized version adds in a new option to turn on arrows and shaders which show exactly which fruit will be affected by the falling bundle. While we eventually preferred to play with these turned off, they were invaluable in the early stages and helped us immensely in learning to see the rules and patterns that make up the game; once it clicked, we were hooked. It’s as fun as it is different, and we loved how cerebral and strategic Soldam feels.

The main ‘Soldam’ mode should keep you busy for quite a while — it starts at a speed level of ’0’ and heads all the way up through ’200’. In a nice twist, however, those levels don’t represent a constant increase in throttle; it does get faster and introduce new colours as you go, but at certain points you’ll get a respite from the ramp up, and things slow down a bit so you can catch your breath (and clear the board!). That’s a nice change from the Tetris-style norm, and makes it feel less like speeding towards inevitable failure and more like a quest to reach the next checkpoint. 

Another thoughtful touch that makes Soldam’s endless mode fun to come back to is the Plumis: cute creatures that hang out on the left side of the screen, and change form based on what colour fruits you ‘feed’ them as you clear lines. A ‘Plumidex’ keeps track of all the forms you’ve found, and there are 40 to discover in all. Plumis are a fun addition, because while they’re tangential to the actual puzzle gameplay, they still give you interesting choices to think about in the early stages of the endless mode — keeping ‘recipes’ for Plumis in mind as we went through Soldam runs added a nice layer of creative play.

When you want something entirely different from standard Soldam there’s also Challenge mode, which trades in endless clearing and auto-drop for a more meticulous approach to puzzle solving. Here, you’ll be given a preset board and pieces, and tasked with completing a certain goal: clearing four lines at once, clearing three lines total, or clearing the board in a set number of moves, for instance. In this mode, blocks don’t drop until you want them to, so Challenge is more of a mental workout than a reflex test, with 50 puzzles to work through in all. It’s a fantastic change of pace, and it also very much tests your grasp of the fundamentals, which leads to a rewarding skill progression loop. Even the early stages felt nearly impossible right off the bat, but playing more of the endless Soldam mode helped us recognize relevant patterns in Challenge stages, which in turn helped us get much better at Soldam proper — a wonderful feeling.

Like most puzzle games born in the ’90s, Soldam also features a two-player battle mode — known as Showdown — and here the rules are switched up quite bit again. Each player has their own colour they need to clear (as marked by the persistent red or blue bottom and sides of their playing field), and the single ‘next’ block waiting in the middle is shared between both players — meaning if you see a colour combo you need, you’ll have to scramble to make sure you get there first. Playing fields are appreciably smaller than in the single-player modes, and you’ll only ever deal with two colours in Showdown, both of which make for fast, combo-happy play. Lines you clear will add new ones to the bottom of your opponent’s stack, and as you might expect the first one to hit the top loses. Though it lacks the competitive depth of built-for-battle games like Puyo Puyo — there’s no real ‘counter’ mechanic, for instance — the straightforwardness is part of the fun, and we had a blast playing Showdown with friends.

In addition to local multiplayer, Dispatch has also impressively added an online option to this localized release — while the Japanese version is same-Switch-only, Western players can challenge others to a Showdown online. While the random matchmaking is a bit barebones — there’s no way to play with friends specifically, and it doesn’t keep track of your wins or losses — it’s still a nice addition to be able to play a round or two against Soldam strangers. It’s worth noting that in our experience it generally took a while to find an opponent, and we also encountered serious lag in several matches, but when we stumbled into a good matchup it was a lot of fun. Dispatch has also promised a patch to improve online performance and enable direct matchmaking, which would certainly be welcome additions.

Online or off, one of the things that stands out most about Soldam is its look; it goes all-in on its candy-coated aesthetic, and we love it. It’s bright, colourful, and simple, with a glossy sheen that makes the peach-like pieces stand out from the board. We would have loved to see more variety in the backgrounds, or the option to toggle to the retro, pixel-art style of older Soldam, but what’s here is certainly appealing, and the quicker play sessions it lends itself to means the lack of visual variety isn’t much of an issue. The same goes for the music — there’s not too much of it, but it’s all lovely, with upbeat, cheery tunes and attract mode jingles that will stay with you long after you’ve switched off the game. 

The only serious problem with Soldam’s presentation is that the fruit are distinguished solely on colour, rather than shape, which means colour-blind players may be completely out of luck. Most modern puzzle games include shape-based ‘skins’ for exactly this reason, so the absence of any accessibility features here is disappointing. If you do have limited colour vision, it would be worth checking out a screenshot or two to see if you can differentiate all four shades used — red, blue, green, and yellow — before taking the plunge. 

Finally, we did run into one technical hiccup in our time with the game: Soldam doesn’t seem to pause the action when you dip back into the Switch’s Home menu. This led to a few whiffed score runs before we realized what was going on, but it’s nothing a quick preventative press of the ‘+’ button can’t fix.

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Forever Entertainment is ‘Amazed’ at Progress of Hollow on Nintendo Switch

If you’ve been browsing the ‘Coming Soon’ section of the European eShop with regularity you’ve likely seen Hollow in the mix. A first-person shooter / horror title, it’s been hard to judge for Switch as the store’s trailer was only a cinematic video.

The developer is keen to highlight that progress is solid, however, tweeting a video of off-screen footage to show how the game is running to date. In tweeted replies it’s stated that the game is targeting native 1080p docked and 720p on the portable.

It seems to be another positive use of the Unreal engine, in particular – The Flame in the Flood, out today, is another title using Unreal. It’s been a notable step-up for Switch, as the Wii U was well known for struggling with the relatively common toolset.

Hollow is out on PC (Steam) on 16th November, so hopefully the Switch won’t be too far behind.

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Review: Neon Chrome (Switch eShop)

Finding a home on consoles is an ongoing challenge for games that have seen success on Steam and smart devices. While free-to-play or relatively inexpensive titles are becoming available on digital marketplaces thick and fast, it could be argued that there is a degree of stigma that comes with titles making the shift from mobile to console. There are some genuinely great releases and a select few have transferred well over to the console space, including the Switch eShop. While this ‘gold rush’ of titles on the Switch can reveal some hidden gems, it also runs the risk of being a victim of its own success.

Neon Chrome arrives on Switch as a stylish top-down, twin-stick and rogue-lite shooter, with the backdrop of a moody cyberpunk dystopia; the central plot is a combination of Thomas Anderson, Rick Deckard and John Mclain’s worst ‘bad day at the office’. 

You take up the role of a hacker whose mission it is to infiltrate the giant titular tower block known as Neon Chrome, and free the city by remotely taking down its ruler – the elected enigma that the building’s one million enslaved inhabitants ‘trust’, known only as the ‘Overseer’. Climbing thirty two floors in any given ‘neural link’,  the end goal is to reach the top and face off with said nemesis. 

From the outset the player sits in the ‘immersion chair’, able to possess one of three possible, randomly generated avatars referred to as ‘assets’ – representations of human inhabitants that have different weapon load-outs and strengths. Of course there is a local multiplayer option, so you can find a friend or three and snap off those Joy-Cons for some cooperative action. 

When dropped into the procedurally generated set of levels there is a mix of destructible corridor walls, drones to disable, scuttling little beasties to combat, lasers to avoid and special operatives to take of, as well as loot boxes and weapon upgrades to collect. If your avatar dies weapons and stats are retained for your next run, while cash can be traded to increase health, luck, energy or slots; there are a wealth of impressive sounding ‘cybernetic enhancements’ (abilities) to gather while progressing through the levels. You will die and grind a lot in the opening hour or so, but defeating a boss ensures that you at least get closer to the summit without having to start from the bottom again. 

Despite the evil mega corporation, themes of manipulation, control and a maniacal puppet master overlord rhetoric, the overall presentation of the game is pretty lacklustre. The opening cutscene, complete with mauve impressionist skyline and glowing signage, mostly takes care of exposition, with the selectable characters displayed as boxes of text and icons. The appropriately ominous and ambient synth soundtrack fits in well with the aesthetic, harking back to the Sci-Fi classics such as Blade Runner or Terminator. Within the levels, Neon Chrome also sets up a rich, interesting interface – you jump into chambers that are scattered around the levels, with futuristic fonts and fancy insignia for excitingly named special abilities – but the experience is diluted by actually making no real noticeable impact to the actual gameplay; the changes are stat based and don’t translate well into the action. 

Although the levels are procedurally generated, they rarely show any drastic variety in their layout, but the structures of narrow passageways and cubicle-like spaces or rooms – full of power generators – make for some impressive explosions. In terms of extra challenge outside of the gunplay, only colour coded doors that require finding the corresponding keys or taking down particular beacons provide any kind of obstacle, so navigating each floor becomes rather predictable. 

Despite stealth kills, strafing around bigger enemies, the occasional chain reaction of explosions causing widespread carnage – and the ensuing lighting effects that are undeniably satisfying – and Neon Chrome’s fixed top-down viewpoint doing a decent job of showing level layouts, the sprite models feel bland and so distant that the characters (only seen in the pause menu) possess very little personality or physical identity. This is especially notable in handheld mode, where the whole experience seems rather blurry compared to docked gameplay. 

Conclusion

When all is said and done, when the glow of the stylish aesthetic and the intrigue of the Cyberpunk Orwellian narrative have fizzled out, Neon Chrome emerges as an average, sometimes fun but more often than not generic twin-stick rogue-like with a Sci-Fi coat of paint; it rarely lives up to its explosive promise or explores its thematic potential in any meaningful way. It could be argued that the genre is solely about the mechanics, but with a neglected back story failing to compliment the reasonable if hardly revolutionary gameplay, it’s difficult not to feel a little flat about the experience on offer. 

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Nintendo Download: 12th October (Europe)

It’s that time, once again, for the European Nintendo Download Update. It’s another busy week with the Switch in particular getting loaded up with tempting options, though the 3DS and Wii U also have a bit to offer. Let’s just right into the details, shall we?

Switch Retail Download

Sine Mora EX (THQ Nordic, €29.99 / £24.99) – A shoot ’em up originally developed by Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture, this is a stylish shooter in which you can slow down time. It has a mature, gritty story to work through, along with other modes for pick up and play sessions. Unfortunately some of the ‘EX’ add-ons are underwhelming (to put it mildly), but we still gave it a modest recommendation in our Sine Mora EX review.

88 Heroes: 98 Heroes Edition (Rising Star Games, €29.99 / £29.99) – An action platformer with an interesting twist; you have 88 levels to clear with a time limit of 88 seconds in each. The gameplay seems to throw in various twists to keep things interesting, and on Switch it includes all of the DLC that was sold separately in other versions.

Tiny Barbarian DX (Nicalis, €29.99 / £26.99) – An action platformer that pays homage to the retro era, it supports local co-op and also has “four lengthy episodes”. We suspect most will aim to get the physical edition of this, however, which will include various goodies in the first run. Our review will be with you very soon.

Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle (NIS America, €29.99 / £29.99) – A spin-off of the popular Touhou Project series, Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle is described as a 3D shooter with fighting elements, which tasks you with taking down opponents 1 vs 1 using projectile and melee attacks. Unfortunately we were left rather unimpressed in our Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle review. Available from 13th October.

Switch eShop

Wulverblade (Fully Illustrated, €16.99 / £14.99) – The beat ‘em up genre isn’t as popular as it once was, but this intriguing release does an excellent job of reminding us of its merits. Rooted in British history and packed full of passion, it’s a brutally tough game but one we gave a hearty recommendation in our Wulverblade review.

The Flame in the Flood (The Molasses Flood, €14.99 / £14.99) – Created by a team of former ‘AAA’ developers, this arrives on Switch as the Complete Edition. An intriguing ‘roguelite’ survival game, you travel along the river and alight at various towns and buildings to seek gear and vital supplies. We’ll bring you a review soon, but in the meantime here’s an interview with the game’s designer.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants (Plug In Digital, €14.99 / £12.99) – A rather charming adventure game in which a plucky elephant explores, tackles puzzles and even gets into a bit of combat. Introduced in the most recent Nindies Showcase it’s undoubtedly appealing, but we’ll see whether it’s worth a purchase in our upcoming review.

Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure (Merge Games, €26.99 / £22.49 until 18th October, then €29.99 / £24.99) – Also coming to retail in November, this is a physics-based 3D platformer aims to encourage reminiscing over the genre’s golden era while introducing its own ideas. In some ways it succeeds but there are some flaws; we gave it a light recommendation in our Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure review.

Neon Chrome (10Tons, €14.99 / £12.99) – A ‘top-down Cyberpunk shooter, this looks big on action and supports co-op for up to four players if you want to tackle it with a buddy. It has procedurally generated stages on offer but struggles to inspire that ‘one-more go’ feeling, as we explain in our Neon Chrome review.

Squareboy vs Bullies: Arena Edition (Ratalaika Games, €4.99 / £4.49) – A beat ‘em up that was once on mobile, you can brawl alone or with a friend to beat up wannabe tormentors. A reasonable game, albeit one perhaps lacking a little overall, we gave it a modest recommendation in our review.

The King of Fighters ’95 (HAMSTER, €6.99 / £6.29) – Another ASA release, in this case continuing our run of KoF titles. This second game in the series brings a rather welcome option that would go to become a series staple: You are not confined to pre-determined teams, so you can pick any characters from the roster to make your own dream trio. That said, its arguably superior successor is already available.

Switch eShop Demo

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas (FDG Entertainment, free)

Switch eShop Temporary Discounts

Infinite Minigolf (Zen Studios, €10.49 / £9.44 until 17th October, normally €14.99 / £13.49)

The Bridge (The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, €7.49 / £6.74 until 2nd November, normally €9.99 / £8.99)

3DS Retail Download

Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns (Nintendo, €39.99 / £34.99) – This sequel (which is a Harvest Moon game in all but name) builds upon the charming farm-sim aspects of the original and adds new ideas while expanding the concept. We were rather impressed with it in our Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns review. Available from 13th October.

New Nintendo 3DS eShop

Physical Contact: 2048 (Collavier Corporation, €3.73 / £3.29) – A series we first saw on Switch that now jumps to New 3DS, in this case offering local multiplayer and solo play in a variation on a popular smart device number game. We weren’t particularly impressed with the Switch version.

Physical Contact: Picture Place (Collavier Corporation, €3.73 / £3.29) – Another in this series of relatively simplistic games that encourages local multiplayer. Like its brethren this was unimpressive on Switch.

Physical Contact: SPEED (Collavier €3.75 / £3.29) – A rather simplistic card game that can be played solo or with another player; it had a notoriously bad trailer on the Switch eShop; it’s not a great game.

3DS DLC

Culdcept Revolt – Double Helix (NIS America, free)

3DS eShop Temporary Discounts

Farming Simulator 18 (Focus Home Interactive, €26.99 / £22.49 until 19th October, normally €29.99 / £24.99)

Jett Rocket II: The Wrath of Taikai (Shin’en Multimedia, €6.70 / £5.70 until 2nd November, normally €8.99 / £7.66)

Gunslugs (Engine Software, €1.00 / £0.80 until 19th October, normally €1.99 / £1.79)

Gunslugs 2 (Engine Software, €1.00 / £0.80 until 19th October, normally €4.99 / £4.49)

Mindfeud (Engine Software, €1.00 / £0.80 until 19th October, normally €1.99 / £1.79)

Proun+ (Engine Software, €1.00 / £0.90 until 19th October, normally €3.99 / £3.50)

Sumico (Engine Software, €1.00 / £0.90 until 19th October, normally €2.99 / £2.69)

Snow Moto Racing 3D (Zordix AB, €3.99 / £3.59 until 19th October, normally €7.99 / £7.19)

Gourmet Dream (CIRCLE Entertainment, €4.00 / £3.83 until 26th October, normally €5.00 / £4.79)

Fairune 2 (CIRCLE Entertainment, €5.59 / £5.51 until 26th October, normally €6.99 / £6.89)

Mercenaries Saga 3 (CIRCLE Entertainment, €4.79 / £4.71 until 26th October, normally €5.99 / £5.89)

Noah’s Cradle (CIRCLE Entertainment, €3.49 / £2.79 until 26th October, normally €4.99 / £3.99)

Of Mice and Sand (CIRCLE Entertainment, €6.39 / £6.31 until 26th October, normally €7.99 / £7.89)

Parascientific Escape – Gear Detective (CIRCLE Entertainment, €4.00 / £3.83 until 26th October, normally €5.00 / £4.79)

Polara (CIRCLE Entertainment, €3.50 / £3.49 until 26th October, normally €5.00 / £4.99)

The Legend of Dark Witch 2 (CIRCLE Entertainment, €5.59 / £5.51 until 26th October, normally €6.99 / £6.89)

Carps & Dragons (Abylight, €1.99 / £1.79 until 19th October, normally €4.99 / £4.49)

Darts Up 3D (EnjoyUp Games, €0.98 / £0.88 until 9th November, normally €2.99 / £2.69)

Football Up 3D (EnjoyUp Games, €1.97 / £1.55 until 9th November, normally €2.99 / £2.36)

Murder on the Titanic (Joindots, €3.99 / £2.99 until 26th October, normally €7.99 / £5.99)

Pazuru (Joindots, €2.99 / £1.99 until 26th October, normally €5.99 / £3.99)

Safari Quest (Joindots, €3.49 / £2.49 until 26th October, normally €6.99 / £4.99)

New 3DS eShop Temporary Discounts

Hit Ninja (Petite Games, €1.59 / £1.43 until 26th October, normally €1.99 / £1.79)

Pinball Breakout (nuGAME, €4.90 / £4.20 until 9th November, normally €7.00 / £6.00)

3DS eShop Permanent Discounts

Luigi’s Mansion 2 (Nintendo Selects, €19.99 / £15.99, previously €44.99 / £39.99)

Kirby: Triple Deluxe (Nintendo Selects, €19.99 / £15.99, previously €39.99 / £34.99)

Super Mario 3D Land (Nintendo Selects, €19.99 / £15.99, previously €44.99 / £39.99)

Wii U eShop

Eba & Egg: A Hatch Trip (Giga Drill Games, €4.99 / £4.49) – In an idea seen recently in I and Me, you control two characters at the same time while working through over 25 levels. Despite some nice ideas it’s lacking in quality and polish, as we suggest in our Eba & Egg: A Hatch Trip review.

Wii U Virtual Console

MOTOROADER (IREM, €5.99 / £5.39) – An overhead racer that likely had a lot of competition back in the day, and perhaps struggled as a result. We were certainly unimpressed in our Wii Virtual Console review.

Legend of Hero Tonma (EXTREME, €5.99 / £5.39) – We described it as a kids’ version of Ninja Spirit once upon a time, a colourful action platformer that arguably fails to live up to its contemporaries. You can read all about it in our Legend of Hero Tonma review from the Wii Virtual Console days.

Wii U eShop Temporary Discounts

Dragon Skills (Joindots, €3.99 / £3.39 until 26th October, normally €7.99 / £6.79)

Jones on Fire (Joindots, €2.99 / £2.29 until 26th October, normally €5.99 / £4.59)

Queen’s Garden (Joindots, €3.49 / £2.74 until 26th October, normally €6.99 / £5.49)

Sweetest Thing (Joindots, €3.49 / £2.74 until 26th October, normally €6.99 / £5.49)

360 Breakout (nuGAME, €4.90 / £4.20 until 9th November, normally €7.00 / £6.00)

Laser Blaster (Petite Games, €1.59 / £1.43 until 26th October, normally €1.99 / £1.79)


Lots of options to tempt you this week – let us know what you’ll be downloading in the poll and comments below.

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New Z-Moves Revealed In Pokémon Ultra Sun And Ultra Moon

Just in case you’re not already excited enough about the forthcoming Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon, Nintendo has released more information on new Z-Moves in the game as well as details on the Pokémon Necrozma.

First up is the Photon Geyser, is a Psychic-type special move that only Necrozma can learn:

This attack engulfs the target in a pillar of light and compares the user’s Attack and Sp. Atk stats, dealing damage to the opponent according to whichever is higher. Necrozma can also learn this move when it is in Dusk Mane form or Dawn Wings form. 

But that’s not all; Solgaleo and Lunala will receive the exclusive Z-Moves Searing Sunraze Smash and Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom respectively:

Searing Sunraze Smash is a new Steel-type Z-Move that can be used if you have a Solgaleo that knows Sunsteel Strike hold the exclusive Z-Crystal Solganium Z. This attack damages a target while ignoring any effects of the target’s Ability. Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom is a new Ghost-type Z-Move that can be used if you have a Lunala that knows Moongeist Beam hold the exclusive Z-Crystal Lunalium Z. As with Searing Sunraze Smash, this attack also damages a target while ignoring any effects of the target’s Ability. A Necrozma that knows Sunsteel Strike or Moongeist Beam and is holding the corresponding Z-Crystal will also be able to unleash Searing Sunraze Smash or Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom!

In addition to this info, we also know that after taking over the Legendary Pokémon Solgaleo in Pokémon Ultra Sun or the Legendary Pokémon Lunala in Pokémon Ultra Moon, the mysterious Necrozma becomes Dusk Mane Necrozma (Psychic/Steel) or Dawn Wings Necrozma (Psychic/Ghost).

Phew! We’re not done yet, though. The Rotom Dex returns in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, too. You can form a bond with the Rotom to unlock its Z-Power, which allows you to use a second Z-Move in battle. Swish!

Does all this new info interest you? Let us know with a comment.

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Nintendo Download: 12th October (North America)

It’s Nintendo Download Update time and we have another busy week to enjoy in North America. The Switch eShop has a bumper line-up to consider, of course, though the Wii U and 3DS don’t miss out entirely; the little handheld even has a big-time RPG from Atlus that’s out soon. There’s plenty to consider, so let’s get to it.

Switch Retail Download

88 Heroes: 98 Heroes Edition (Rising Star Games, $29.95USD) – An action platformer with an interesting twist; you have 88 levels to clear with a time limit of 88 seconds in each. The gameplay seems to throw in various twists to keep things interesting, and on Switch it includes all of the DLC that was sold separately in other versions.

Switch eShop

Wulverblade (Fully Illustrated, $19.99USD) – The beat ‘em up genre isn’t as popular as it once was, but this intriguing release does an excellent job of reminding us of its merits. Rooted in British history and packed full of passion, it’s a brutally tough game but one we gave a hearty recommendation in our Wulverblade review.

The Flame in the Flood (The Molasses Flood, $14.99USD) – Created by a team of former ‘AAA’ developers, this arrives on Switch as the Complete Edition. An intriguing ‘roguelite’ survival game, you travel along the river and alight at various towns and buildings to seek gear and vital supplies. We’ll bring you a review soon, but in the meantime here’s an interview with the game’s designer.

Yono and the Celestial Elephants (Plug In Digital, $14.99USD) – A rather charming adventure game in which a plucky elephant explores, tackles puzzles and even gets into a bit of combat. Introduced in the most recent Nindies Showcase it’s undoubtedly appealing, but we’ll see whether it’s worth a purchase in our upcoming review.

Rogue Trooper Redux (RebellionInteract, $24.99USD) – Based on the 2000 AD comic strip, this uses the 2006 original – which was ported to the Wii in 2009 under the title Rogue Trooper: The Quartz Zone Massacre – as its template, adding various upgrades for this HD remaster. We don’t have many shooters on the Switch so we’ll definitely give it a look. Available from 17th October.

Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure (Merge Games, $29.99USD) – Also coming to retail in November, this is a physics-based 3D platformer aims to encourage reminiscing over the genre’s golden era while introducing its own ideas. In some ways it succeeds but there are some flaws; we gave it a light recommendation in our Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure review.

Don’t Knock Twice (Wales Interactive, $12.49USD) – Developed alongside a film with the same name, this is a first-person horror game in which you explore a ‘grand manor house’ and try to save your daughter; it could be good Halloween fare. Available from 17th October.

Neon Chrome (10Tons, $14.99USD) – A ‘top-down Cyberpunk shooter, this looks big on action and supports co-op for up to four players if you want to tackle it with a buddy. It has procedurally generated stages on offer but struggles to inspire that ‘one-more go’ feeling, as we explain in our Neon Chrome review.

Putty Pals (Harmonious Games, $9.99USD) – In this colourful, feel-good adventure you can tackle colour-based puzzles with a friend; the co-op gameplay would seem to be a perfect match for the Switch. We’ll see whether it’s worth sharing with a gaming buddy in a review.

Squareboy vs Bullies: Arena Edition (Ratalaika Games, $4.99USD) – A beat ‘em up that was once on mobile, you can brawl alone or with a friend to beat up wannabe tormentors. A reasonable game, albeit one perhaps lacking a little overall, we gave it a modest recommendation in our review.

The King of Fighters ’95 (HAMSTER, $7.99USD) – Another ASA release, in this case continuing our run of KoF titles. This second game in the series brings a rather welcome option that would go to become a series staple: You are not confined to pre-determined teams, so you can pick any characters from the roster to make your own dream trio. That said, its arguably superior successor is already available.

Switch eShop Demo

Oceanhorn: Monster of Uncharted Seas (FDG Entertainment, free)

3DS Retail Download

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth (SEGA, $39.99USD) – The DS and 3DS have been lucky enough to have plenty of these RPG titles from Atlus, with this fifth main entry giving us another taste of its cartographic exploration and adventure. We enjoyed some time with it in this first impressions articleAvailable from 17th October.

3DS eShop

Little Adventure on the Prairie (Infinite Madaa, $2.99USD) –With a name like that we thought this would be a storybook adventure, but it’s actually a short platformer in which you’re encouraged to “venture through 12 levels of pure slaughter and mindlessly try to kill all the monsters that are facing you”. Crikey.

3DS HOME Theme

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth Theme

Wii U eShop

Volgarr the Viking (Crazy Viking, $9.99) – Arrives on the Wii U a week after its Switch release. It pitches itself as a tough action platformer in which you’ll die a lot. It looks a tad rough visually, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a lot of fun; we’ll try it out for review.

Wii U Virtual Console

MOTOROADER (Konami, $5.99USD) – An overhead racer that likely had a lot of competition back in the day, and perhaps struggled as a result. We were certainly unimpressed in our Wii Virtual Console review.

Legend of Hero Tonma (Konami, $5.99USD) – We described it as a kids’ version of Ninja Spirit once upon a time, a colourful action platformer that arguably fails to live up to its contemporaries. You can read all about it in our Legend of Hero Tonma review from the Wii Virtual Console days.

Digital Champ: Battle Boxing (Konami, $5.99USD) – An interesting idea and technically impressive for the time, this first-person boxing game falls short once it steps into the ring; that’s what we thought in our review, anyway.


As always Nintendo of America wants you to browse the eShop and check out the official sales and deals website for discount details.

That’s the Nintendo Download line-up this week – let us know what you’ll be downloading in the poll and comments below.

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Former Rare Dev Plans To Dish Out Some Raging Justice On Switch

Those of you who follow the exploits of former Rare employees as closely as we do here at Nintendo Life may be  aware of Raging Justice, a side-scrolling fighter inspired by Streets of Rage and Final Fight from Nic Makin, who worked at the UK studio on titles such as Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero.

Makin has been promoting the game tirelessly for the past few months with Xbox One, Windows 10 and Steam being his target platforms initially. However, he has revealed to us that Switch is a “priority”:

We don’t know about you but we can’t get enough of these old-school arcade brawlers, and this would be the perfect compliment to the superb Wulverblade. Would you buy this on Switch? Let us know by making a ruckus in the comments section below.