Category: Reviews

Monthly games review – Pumped BMX+ (PS4, PS+)

It is entirely possible to argue that Microsoft and Sony are taking gamers for a ride by charging extra to access online multiplayer features through Xbox Live Gold and Playstation Plus, especially as the latter was not necessary to play online with the Playstation 3. Each service offers several “free” games each month as long as you have an active subscription with them as an incentive, the idea being that by paying a flat fee of around £30-35 per year (this price fluctuates with online deals, competing retailers and seasonal sales) you get a handful of titles each month meaning that you could technically never have to buy a game for your console of choice and stick to the offerings that Sony/MS present.

Is this worthwhile? Part of the problem is that we often don’t know what is going to be on offer each month and the quality can fluctuate greatly. There have been a few exceptions; The Banner Saga 2 was available as part of Microsoft’s Games With Gold program at launch. Following on from my article about how to save money on games, I am going to periodically present a first impression of some of the games that turn up on these services as often they are less well-known indie games that are not popular or frequently discussed or whether they’re potentially worth buying on their own if for whatever reason you either don’t have any of these services or want to know if they’re any good regardless.

The first game I’m going to talk about my first impressions of is Pumped BMX+, a two-dimensional sports game which was on Playstation Plus in November 2016 but is also available on Xbox One, Steam and the Wii U.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIdP-VAwFAM[/embedyt]

I went into this expecting to be disappointed; the version available here is a consolidated mobile port and I was wary it would be a simple Trials knockoff with some fiddly tricks thrown in. It is one of the better examples of a game making a jump from phones to “real” consoles; there are no microtransactions or examples of copy-pasted UI to betray its history and apart from its slightly basic visuals this could pass as a standard indie game developed to a smaller budget.

You control your slightly blank-faced BMX guy on a 2D plane as you navigate jumps, do tricks in the air and grind rails to complete sets of objectives for each level. You might have to do a particular trick, get a certain score or pull off certain combos to unlock the next and more difficult set of challenges. The control scheme has been successfully translated from touch screens to a controller; you hold down X to accelerate, release it as you are about to jump, use the right analogue stick with the shoulder buttons to pull off tricks and spins then hold X again to land quickly to keep momentum for the next jump. You can just blitz through the levels or chose to get deep into the score/trick system to complete every set of objectives which push you to improve through using the tools provided. It keeps the mechanics (relatively) simple and challenges you to use them better as you progress; a framework which made Trials, Trackmania and other games like it so appealing and rewarding.

My only complaints are that from what I’ve seen the level design is a bit basic; you’re not going to get the wild variety of strange and out-there levels of Trials Evolution here. Also the soundtrack is incredibly annoying, I turned it off after a few levels so to keep the right atmosphere you might want to find some early 2000s skate punk or the soundtrack to your favourite Tony Hawk game instead.

Pumped BMX+ was a pleasant surprise that I may well come back to every now and again and is one to watch out for in Steam sales/future Games with Gold promotions.

Retro Monday: Haunting

haunting-starring-polterguy-ue

Another week of retro goodness with Retro Monday. This week I was given the game Haunting: Starring Polterguy to play, by Hyperion from the forums. I’ve have never heard of this game, let alone played it.

Haunting is a game for the Sega Mega Drive, it came out in 1993. Having never played this I had no idea what to expect going in, turns out I didn’t have to worry if the game was bad, as it turns out it really is good. Firstly I’ll get the negatives out of the way. The controls are somewhat loose for a start, and sometimes when collecting green Ecto it seems like you have to be really precise as touching it doesn’t work, you have to go on it in a specific spot and the dungeon/underground levels aren’t as good as the main part of the game.

That’s my negatives. On the positive side of things we have a game that oozes charm and fun. You as Polterguy have a family that you haunt, you follow them from house to house scaring them silly. You literally have to jump in and out of objects for the family members to then get scared by. The different animations are great and it was  always fun to try and get them scared in different ways. Even the way in which the family reacts is amazing, sometimes – for example – Mimi Sardini ( the little girl) will have her hair stick up on ends and where she gets really frightened she literally wets herself, or with Vito Sardini (the Father) he jumps in the air screeching, or opens his mouth to extortionate proportions or even just flat out passes out with a big thud.

The aim of the game is simple enough, scare 4 people so much that they all leave the house, collect Ecto that drops from the Scaries to keep scaring longer without going to the dungeon and have loads of fun doing it. With one thing being clear EA, yes EA, used to make really unique and fun games.

Verdict: Highly Recommend

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgWutWmadPs[/embedyt]

Retro Monday: Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man.

low-g-man-title

This week for Retro Monday, I played Chalkitdown’s pick, “Low G Man: The Low Gravity Man”, an action platformer released in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. I’d never played this before, but I had heard good things about it. Well, lets start with how it looks. The style of the game is pretty great. The visuals are well done with the colour palette used being very effective. The sprites are all good also.

Now on to the gameplay and it’s got an interesting twist. You shoot your enemies, but that won’t kill them. You shoot them to stun them, which then allows you to walk up to them, and either jump on top of the enemies and press down and fire to spear them or up and fire if they are in the air above you. It’s a really cool mechanic, and it would be interesting to see something similar in more games.

The level design is also on point for the most part. The levels are side scrolling but some have verticality to them also. One issue I did have was in the water level (I think level 2-2). This was all vertical, which would be fine, but it scrolls downwards, causing you to drop into enemies you couldn’t possibly know were there.

Now as with most Retro Monday games, this is another I didn’t complete so I can only rate it on what I have played. I’ll be honest I really enjoyed it apart from a few things. The water level and a couple of the bosses, which can be a pain in the rump. All in all I’d say this is definitely worth a look and you could do a lot worse than this. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose.

Verdict: Recommended.

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDOSw0EF2Oc[/embedyt]  *Warning Contains Explicit Language*