December 2018 LIVE Magazine

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DECEMBER ISSUE <strong>2018</strong><br />

IVE<br />

WIN<br />

A double<br />

pass for<br />

Spider-Man<br />

Into The Spider<br />

Verse!<br />

pg. 32<br />

Interview with Eddie Chew<br />

Animator for Spider-Man Into the<br />

Spider Verse<br />

pg 26<br />

WIN<br />

A double<br />

pass for<br />

Holmes &<br />

Watson<br />

pg. 36<br />

Super Mario Party - Red Dead Redemption 2 - Stan Lee - My Spider Senses are Tingling!

Go to page 32 for details on how you can go in the drawn to win tickets to see Spider-Man! (Australia only)

From the Editor<br />

Hello and welcome to the <strong>December</strong> edition of Gametraders Live!<br />

This edition we have two competitions for you. One is a double pass<br />

giveaway for Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse, which we were lucky<br />

enough to also get an interview with one of the animators for the film;<br />

Eddie Chew. Check out the interview on page 26 and the competion<br />

on page 32! The other competition is for a comedy called Watson and<br />

Holmes which you can check out on page 36!<br />

Inside we also have our top five ‘nerdy’ christmas movies (pg. 12), an<br />

article on the history of Spider-Man with a look into the relevence of<br />

the new movie (pg. 20) two interviews, one with Eddie Chew and the<br />

other with Toni from Children of the Night (pg. 64) as well as many<br />

reviews including ones for Red Dead Redemption 2, Fallout 76 and<br />

Spyro Reignited Triology.<br />

We hope you enjoy the magazine. Happy readings and happy holidays!<br />

Emily Langford<br />

Emily Langford,<br />


What’s inside<br />


“As long as<br />

there are young<br />

kids who would<br />

rather read<br />

comic books<br />

than play sport<br />

Spider-Man will<br />

continue to be<br />

their hero .”<br />

pg. 20<br />

REVIEWS:<br />


& RED DEAD<br />


pg. 90 & pg. 76


Pg. 18<br />

THE <strong>LIVE</strong> TEAM<br />

EDITOR & DESIGNER: Emily Langford<br />

WRITERS:<br />

Scott Sowter, Entertainment review and opinion<br />

Paul Monopoli, Interviews / Retro Editor<br />

Taneli Palola, Evan Norris, Rex Hindrichs,<br />

Paul Broussard, Jackson Newsome, Ben<br />

Dye, Stephen LaGioia & Patrick Day-Childs,<br />

VGChartz<br />



Pg. 64<br />

10-41 MOVIES<br />





42-103 GAMES<br />


SCALE vs CONTECT, pg 44<br />







Pg. 84


BOARD<br />

GAMES!<br />


The latest and greatest version of the card game with ever<br />

changing rules. Easier than ever with just the four classic card<br />

types that we all know and love. You still start out simple:<br />

draw one card and play one card, changing the rules as you<br />

go, while collecting up such life essentials as Chocolate, Music,<br />

Time, and Cookies. Changing Goals will keep you on your toes<br />

as well, and Action cards are still shaking things up.<br />

FLUXX<br />

2-6 Players - Ages 8-Adult - 5-30mins Game Time<br />

Because drinks and games go hand in hand, live<br />

it up with your friends and get your drink on no<br />

matter where you go with this awesome Drunken<br />

Tower game! Take turns pulling out blocks careful<br />

not to collapse the tower all while following the<br />

instructions on whatever block you pull out! Full<br />

game Instructions on back of package.<br />


Includes: Tower and 4 Shot Glasses


At gametraders<br />

Red Flags is a party game about convincing your friends<br />

to go on terrible dates. One of your friends is going to be<br />

the single. Every other player uses perk cards to make a<br />

hot date. You’ll get characters like: a brain surgeon that<br />

loves to cuddle. But then everyone gets to play a Red Flag<br />

onto another player at the table. Now all of these perfect<br />

dates will have flaws like: wears a diaper because it’s “more<br />

convenient,” or collects human skulls, says they’re practically<br />

free! Now that all of the dates are horrible, everyone tries to<br />

convince the single to go out with their date. The game can<br />

be as raunchy or tame as your imaginations allow.<br />


The main 400-card starter deck for Red Flags<br />

Pitchstorm is a party card game that puts players in the<br />

position of unprepared writers pitching movie ideas to the<br />

world's worst executives.<br />

During each round, one player acts as the executive, and<br />

everyone else attempts to pitch them movie ideas based on a<br />

character card and a plot card. At the end of the pitches, the<br />

executive chooses which movie they liked the best, with that<br />

person scoring a point, then the game continues from there.<br />


3-12 Players - Ages 14+ - 15+ Game Time<br />

Huge range available! Selected stores. Ask staff for details.

MOVIE<br />









S<br />






YOUR Scott SAY F Sowter<br />

Top five nerdy<br />

Christmas movies...<br />

MERRY<br />



ANIMALS!<br />

Shhhh… Do you hear it? The sound of wrapping<br />

paper, trees going up, tinsel being pulled out<br />

of dusty old boxes, Michael Buble rubbing<br />

his hands together as people line up to buy<br />

his Christmas album again… That’s right it’s<br />

the holy jolly time of year! The time of giving,<br />

awkward family fights and trying not to get<br />

fired up when grandma says something racist<br />

at the family Christmas lunch. So given that<br />

it is the time of year to get together with the<br />

people you love, most of us will at least once in<br />

<strong>December</strong> watch a Christmas movie. But why<br />

settle for A Christmas Carol, or the Grinch or<br />

Love Actually… (Well you should watch Love<br />

Actually because it’s simply incredible.) So here<br />

for you! We have five Christmas films that are<br />

a little off the wall. Five Christmas films that<br />

will keep your geek flag flying! So settle in, get<br />

the egg-nog and enjoy five nerdy Christmas<br />


1<br />


1987’s Lethal Weapon is an action comedy masterpiece. Written by Shane Black (who’s name will<br />

be coming up a lot on this list) and directed by the great Richard Donner, Lethal Weapon sees<br />

Mel Gibson as Martin Riggs a renegade younger cop who teams up with disgruntled old cop<br />

Roger Murtaugh played by Danny Glover who is quite simply too old for Rigg’s shi… Nonsense.<br />

A great neo-noir adventure takes place with some of the best one-lines in film. What does it have<br />

to do with Christmas? Well not a lot really. It’s set in <strong>December</strong> and there are a few carols and<br />

Christmas jokes thrown in. Plus the gift of bullets into bad guys.

2 GREMLINS<br />

Joe-Dante’s horror comedy masterpiece Gremlins is just one of those absolute<br />

classics. Featuring the great all time cutie Gizmo who when not properly cared for by his new<br />

owner births the mysterious gremlins who terrorise his town. The whole movie is set on Christmas<br />

Eve and has nothing but Christmas lights, gifts, carols and terrifying monsters on display. A sure<br />

fire hit with everyone, except maybe the very young. It does get a little intense in parts…

3<br />

IRON MAN 3<br />

Iron Man 3… Yes a marvel movie made the list… Well! It is set at Christmas. Plus it is one of my<br />

favourites in the MCU. Shane Black writes and directs this off the wall entry into the MCU. It pits<br />

Iron Man against the haunting power of his greatest threat… The Mandarin… Or really it pits him<br />

against Guy Pearce and an army of genetically modified super soldiers. The Mandarin well he’s<br />

just a washed up British actor. But you know what… I didn’t care. It was a hoot.

4<br />


Shane Black strikes again. There is a theme here… Shane Black is obviously obsessed with<br />

Christmas… And I am obviously obsessed with Shane Black. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang sees Robert<br />

Downy Jr as a petty thief who accidentally gets cast in a Hollywood movie. He is then flown<br />

to Hollywood and teamed up with a real private detective to gain experience for the role.<br />

Unfortunately for them they get caught up in a real murder mystery. It’s one of the funniest films<br />

you will ever see with RDJ giving one of his best performances ever.

5<br />

DIE HARD<br />

Ok… Originality isn’t my strong suit, but can you blame me? Die Hard really is the best Christmas<br />

movie ever made. I need not say anything else. But the meme says it all. “There are people who<br />

say Die Hard is the best Christmas movie ever made… And there are people who are wrong.”<br />

By Scott F. Sowter<br />

Twitter: @ScottFSowter



Remembering STAN LEE<br />

1922-<strong>2018</strong><br />

Born Stanley Martin Lieber in 1922,<br />

Stan Lee would go on to become<br />

a household name for geeky families<br />

around the world. Stan created<br />

some of the most beloved characters<br />

in popular culture, we simply<br />

don’t have room on this page to list<br />

them all. He was beloved by the pop<br />

culture world for his enthusiasm,<br />

his wit, his charm and his energy.<br />

He became the face of the comic<br />

industry, particularly Marvel Comics.<br />

He was an ambassador for the<br />

brand and always made you feel<br />

like it was ok to love comic books,<br />

even as an adult. He gave us some<br />

of our best childhood memories and<br />

instilled in us fan’s attitudes for life;<br />

always treat others with respect, be<br />

a good person. He always had time<br />

for his fans, he always treated them<br />

with respect and kindness. He was<br />

one of a kind. His genius has left us<br />

now but his creations will always be<br />

with us. Stan Lee created an entire<br />

universe... Let’s make sure we all<br />

look after it.<br />

“I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic-book<br />

writer while other people were building bridges or going on to<br />

medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is<br />

one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it<br />

they might go off the deep end. I feel that<br />

if you’re able to entertain people,<br />

you’re doing a good thing.”<br />

- Stan Lee<br />






In August 1962 Marvel Comics released<br />

Amazing Fantasy issue 15. Before this issue<br />

the run on the comic had been largely<br />

forgettable. However issue 15 introduced<br />

the world to the hero that would become<br />

arguably the biggest character on Marvel<br />

Comics roster. Written by Stan Lee and<br />

drawn by Steve Ditko, The Amazing Spider-<br />

Man was born. Seven months later Marvel<br />

introduced Spidy in his own solo comic<br />

featuring a fight between the wall crawler<br />

and the Fantastic Four. From there the<br />

character grew and grew in popularity to<br />

the jugernaught of pop-pop-culture we<br />

have today. He has been the star of six<br />

solo feature films, as well as the Marvel<br />

Cinematic Universe Avengers films. We have<br />

an animated feature film out in <strong>December</strong>.<br />

Countless animated television shows.<br />

Spider-Man is simply the face of Marvel.

Let me start by first saying I hate<br />

spiders… I hate them. I’m terrified of<br />

them. (Gagging sounds). But… Spider-<br />

Man, he’s my hero. At the age of around<br />

four or five I was exposed to the 1994<br />

animated Spider-Man TV show. I got<br />

my first Spider-Man comics not long<br />

after that. Spectacular Spider-Man #256,<br />

Amazing Spider-Man #433, Sensational<br />

Spider-Man #26 and Peter Parker Spider-<br />

Man #90. I remember them well, in fact<br />

I still have them. I won tickets to the<br />

opening night of the first Spider-Man<br />

film in 2002. Needless to say I’m a bit of a<br />

Spider-Man nut. But why Spider-Man. Like<br />

I said. I hate spiders. Yet I like so many<br />

others gravitate towards this character<br />

more than any other. Well, the answer is<br />

actually quite simple… Peter Parker.

Peter Parker is every kid who was into<br />

comics and not sport growing up. He<br />

is a total geek, terrible at talking to<br />

girls, loved science and nerd stuff, was<br />

never rich, he is by every stretch of<br />

the word “normal”. He is our avatar. I<br />

related so much to Peter Parker as a<br />

kid and teenager and I feel that many<br />

people do, that’s why the character<br />

has persisted. He always tries to do<br />

the right thing, learning that lesson<br />

early on with the death of his uncle<br />

Ben. His flaws are on show, open and<br />

on display. He struggles to find a job,<br />

something I could relate to right out of<br />

university… I’m sure many can… Peter<br />

Parker is us. I could never relate to Bruce<br />

Wayne or Tony Stark. Captain America<br />

and Superman are damn near perfect.<br />

Then we have Peter Parker… Sometimes<br />

he misses the landing. He’s the most<br />

relatable character Marvel and DC have<br />

to offer.<br />

The world hit fever pitch for Spider-<br />

Man in 2002 with Sony releasing<br />

“Spider-Man” the film. Directed by<br />

legend cult filmmaker Sam Raimi<br />

and starring Toby Maguire, the<br />

film became a monster hit. It was<br />

followed in 2004 by Spider-Man 2<br />

and in 2007 by Spider-Man 3. While<br />

2000’s “X-Men” paved the way for<br />

the serious superhero film, Spider-<br />

Man really set the world on fire.<br />

Without the launch of these films<br />

we wouldn’t have the MCU we have<br />


Spider-Man proving so bankable that<br />

Marvel Studies made a deal with Sony<br />

(who own the cinematic rights of the<br />

character) to have him appear in the<br />

MCU, now played by Tom Holland.<br />

Once again it proved to be a massive<br />

success. The unlikely pairing of Peter<br />

Parker and Tony Stark has gone on to<br />

be beloved by movie goers and fans<br />

of the series. There was also the…<br />

Well, less than buster Amazing Spider-<br />

Man film series from 2012. Featuring<br />

Andrew Garfield in the title role the<br />

first film was fairly successful while the<br />

second film left a bad taste in many<br />

mouths… Myself included.

So with SO many film adaptions of this<br />

character why do we need an animated<br />

film version set for release here in<br />

Australia on the 13th of <strong>December</strong>?<br />

Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse tells<br />

the story of Miles Morales, a teenager<br />

gifted with Spider-Man abilities. Miles is<br />

Spider-Man, in a seperate universe. Yes<br />

it’s time to meet the many Spider-Men if<br />

you will… And Spider-Gwen. All awesome<br />

alternate reality versions of our beloved<br />

character. This animated film will bring<br />

these amazing alternate versions of Spidy<br />

to the big screen for the first time. I for<br />

one am so excited for it. Do we need this<br />

film… NO! We don’t need it. But when I<br />

saw that first trailer I sure wanted it. I feel<br />

like it almost comes down to a question<br />

of “Why not?”.<br />

Spider-Man continues to prove to be<br />

Marvel’s flagship character. I for one do<br />

not see the popularity of him wavering<br />

in the future. As long as there are young<br />

kids who would rather read comic books<br />

than play sport Spider-Man will continue<br />

to be their hero. He is still mine.<br />

By Scott F. Sowter<br />

Twitter: @ScottFSowter



Eddie Chew, Australian animator, involved with movies<br />

such as Jurrasic World, Captain America: Civil War,<br />

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice to name a few.<br />

Our writer Paul Monopoli had a chance to ask him a<br />

few questions about himself and his role in the latest<br />

PM: Was drawing cartoon characters a favourite pastime of<br />

yours while growing up?<br />

Spider-Man movie; Spider-Man Into The Spider Verse.<br />

EC: I grew up drawing dinosaurs, Transformers and<br />

Paul Monopoli: Were you a fan of animated shows<br />

when you were younger?<br />

Ghostbusters – I was literally always drawing. Later on, I<br />

moved to Ninja Turtles, and then into comic book superheroes.<br />

Eddie Chew: Absolutely – from when I was very young<br />

all the way into my 20’s. I can still be found surfing<br />

PM: As a child did you ever think that this could be the career<br />

you end up in?<br />

through animated films on Netflix!<br />

EC: I actually dreamed of becoming a comic book penciller. I<br />

PM: Which shows were you drawn to?<br />

EC: I grew up with classics like Astro Boy, Transformers,<br />

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bugs Bunny and<br />

Ghostbusters.<br />

loved to draw, I loved the high contrast with pencil and paper<br />

and black ink. I wanted to work for Marvel and DC comics. I<br />

hadn’t yet discovered the world of animation because I was<br />

focused on becoming a comic book artist.

PM: Your Q&A states that you made the decision to get<br />

into animation and special effects while you were still at<br />

University. What field were you looking to get into before<br />

making that decision?<br />

EC: Initially I was studying a multimedia degree. I knew<br />

I wanted to do something in digital arts and use my<br />

foundation in my art, but I didn’t know exactly what that<br />

was at the time. The spark in animation came when I<br />

did the introduction in unit in 3D / Computer Graphics<br />

at University. Once I discovered CG, it was clear to me<br />

that this was it, and I was 100 percent focused and<br />

dove in with all my passion, curiosity and skill. My comic<br />

book artistry had taken me there. I finished my BA in<br />

multimedia and then pursued a year in film and television<br />


PM: Which university courses would you recommend to<br />

someone who had an interest in animation?<br />

diversity in the industry and throughout studios around the<br />

world can really shape your skill level.<br />

EC: At the risk of sounding cliche, passion, practice and<br />

persistence are probably three key ingredients you need<br />

PM: What came first when producing Spider-Man: Into the<br />

Spider-Verse, the voice over or the animation?<br />

along with education. You can’t have education without<br />

those three and expect to be successful. In the realm of<br />

technicality, practice your skill everyday, the same way you<br />

develop any skill, and be patient with your learning. Purchase<br />

or rent a copy of Autodesk Maya and enroll in an online course.<br />

EC: The temporary voice over comes first because there<br />

is a fully realised script which is green lit before animation<br />

begins. The celebrity voice over dubbing happens after<br />

animation is completed or during.<br />

Technical skill is an absolute, and the sooner you understand<br />

it the more you can practice it. Master the 12 principles of<br />

PM: How much contact did you have with the voice actors?<br />

animation – timing, exaggeration, easing in and easing out,<br />

squash and stretch, anticipation, staging, arcs, secondary<br />

action, solid drawing, appeal, follow through and overlapping<br />

EC: With Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, there was none<br />

unfortunately.<br />

action, and posing. I would recommend the online courses<br />

Animation and Lanimate. If you want to pursue your career in<br />

animation and take your career abroad, having a University<br />

degree helps with the Visa process.<br />

PM: This Spider-Man movie features multiple versions of<br />

the character. Do we get to see the tokusatsu Japanese<br />

Spiderman, Takuya Yamashiro?<br />

PM: Was moving overseas something that was necessary<br />

to become successful in animation?<br />

EC: I haven’t seen the whole film yet so I can’t answer that<br />

one. Pre-screening happens for us soon!<br />

EC: Today, Australia has a thriving animation / film industry<br />

PM: Which Spider-Man is your personal favourite?<br />

so leaving isn’t necessary to develop skills or pursue an<br />

incredible career as there are excellent world-renowned<br />

EC: I like Peter Parker, that’s the one I grew up with.<br />

studios there. However, back when I started, I knew that<br />

leaving was important to get the skills and the experience<br />

PM: Who is your favourite Spider Man villain?<br />

I needed. Having the opportunity to work and travel around<br />

the world has also been a definite bonus in my perspective,<br />

and is something that I really look forward to. I think the<br />

EC: Venom. I love his design in the comic books and his<br />


PM: Were there any challenges working on the animation<br />

to this movie?<br />

that realm, I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and<br />

Optimus Prime. When it comes to the dark side, Venom is<br />

such a vivid character with great art and design. I also like<br />

EC: This was a really fun film to work on. Every animation<br />

Magento, and of course Shredder and Megatron!<br />

project poses some typical challenges that are not at<br />

all uncommon, but there was nothing out of the ordinary<br />

PM: Who is your favourite hero to team up with Spider Man?<br />

with this in terms of challenges. I love the style of art<br />

here. It’s refreshing, exciting and new!<br />

EC: Venom – particularly the Maximum Carnage storyline!<br />

PM: 2D animation seems to have become quite niche over<br />

the years, with shows like Family Guy and the Simpsons<br />

being two of the major examples that use still that style. Do<br />

PM: Into the Spider-Verse looks to be a purely animated<br />

feature. How different is it working with animation on a live<br />

action movie?<br />

you feel that 2D animation will always have a place in the<br />

world of entertainment?<br />

EC: It is a purely animated feature. Animated movies have<br />

more liberation in terms of designing a shot as there is more<br />

EC: 2D animation will always be here. Eventually we’ll come<br />

to think of this as a vintage art form in the film making industry<br />

and it will be revitalized as a trend or with a refreshed vibe in<br />

animation. 2D animation has a lot of competition so the level<br />

of storytelling needs to be elevated to catch the audience<br />

and ‘compete’ so to speak. That’s not to say that 3D<br />

animation lacks storytelling at all. On the contrary, it needs<br />

room for creativity from the artist in that sense. Live action<br />

footage has locked plates that are shot in real life so we<br />

can’t deviate from those and there is more restriction to<br />

work within which can be seen as a challenge. Live action<br />

requires more realistic animation so that it blends in with<br />

the actors. Animated features are more stylistic in design in<br />

the way that they move. That would be the main difference!<br />

to rise up to meet the visual artistry and excitement which<br />

is why films like Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse have not<br />

just extraordinary visuals, but the writing is exquisite too.<br />

PM: Is it possible that Into the Spider-Verse will have a<br />

sequel somewhere down the line, or even kick start a<br />

Marvel animated cinematic universe?<br />

PM: A fair chunk of your career has taken place within the<br />

super hero realm. I know this might be a tough question but<br />

who is your favourite hero and villain?<br />

EC: Wouldn’t that be cool! I would love to work on more<br />

Spider-Man films, but I not sure what the Spider-Man<br />

Universe holds...<br />

EC: I love Spider-Man, Wolverine and Batman. Outside of<br />

Interview conducted by Paul<br />



A huge thankyou to Eddie Chew, check him<br />

out here:<br />

Imdb<br />

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2691260/<br />

linkedin<br />

https://www.linkedin.com/in/eddiechew/<br />

demoreel<br />



Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the creative minds behind The Lego Movie and 21<br />

Jump Street, bring their unique talents to a fresh vision of a different Spider-Man<br />

Universe, with a ground-breaking visual style that’s the first of its kind.<br />

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse introduces Brooklyn teen Miles Morales, and<br />

the limitless possibilities of the Spider-Verse, where more than one can wear the<br />

mask.<br />

In cinemas <strong>December</strong> 13<br />


Thanks to Sony and Gametraders you could win a double pass to see<br />

the new Spider-Man Into the Spider Verse.<br />

All you have to do is go to the Gametraders Facebook page and like<br />

the competition post, tag who you’re going to take and comment why<br />

you want to see Spider-Man Into the Spider Verse!

MARVEL and all related character names: © & <strong>2018</strong> MARVEL. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the Movie ©<strong>2018</strong> Sony Pictures<br />

Animation Inc. All Rights Reserved.©<strong>2018</strong> Sony Pictures Animation Inc. All Rights Reserved.Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

©<strong>2018</strong> Columbia TriStar Marketing Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



The Step Brothers are reunited – this time playing the world’s greatest<br />

consulting detective and his loyal biographer – as Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly<br />

star as Holmes & Watson.<br />

#HolmesAndWatson<br />

In Cinemas Boxing Day<br />


Thanks to Sony and Gametraders you could win a double pass to see<br />

Holmes & Watson<br />

All you have to do is go to the Gametraders Facebook page and like<br />

the competition post, tag who you’re going to take and comment why<br />

you want to see Holmes & Watson!







POP! VINYLS!<br />

ORDER NOW!<br />

Huge range available! Selected stores. Ask staff for details.

gameS<br />



NIGHT<br />





E<br />


Taneli Palola<br />




Over the last two decades two very different, and in<br />

many ways polar opposite schools of thought regarding<br />

the design of open world video games have emerged.<br />

On one hand we have games that feature a large, but<br />

still relatively condensed and tightly designed world<br />

often packed with meaningful content with a lot of<br />

variety, but less options in terms of exploration. Sega’s<br />

Yakuza series is a great example of this. On the other<br />

hand there are games with massive worlds with either<br />

too little meaningful content stretched out over a vast<br />

space, or the same tasks being repeated over and over<br />

again with little to no reason or variety. These titles tend<br />

to give more options to players in terms of exploration<br />

and the number of locations they can visit. Quite a lot of<br />

Ubisoft’s open world games over the last decade or so<br />

have adopted this style.<br />

However, while arguments can certainly be made for<br />

the merits of either approach, with various positives and<br />

negatives that can be found in both types of open world<br />

games, there’s definitely a tendency for games that go<br />

for the ‘massive world’ approach to take things too far<br />

in this regard. There comes a point when increasing<br />

the size of a game’s playable area begins to have<br />

diminishing returns and starts to actively hurt the title.

I’ve talked about this issue in the past from<br />

another perspective when I discussed the trend<br />

of making the size of a game’s world a measure<br />

of its quality, and how video game companies<br />

have tried to sell certain games almost entirely<br />

based on that merit alone. All too often when<br />

such titles are eventually released players<br />

discover that, beyond the massive scope of<br />

their worlds, they really have very little to offer<br />

after the first few hours of gameplay.<br />

Fairly recent releases like No Man’s Sky, Sea of<br />

Thieves, and Fallout 76 have sold themselves<br />

in large part on the notion that they have<br />

massive worlds (or even a universe) to explore,<br />

in which players can discover uncharted worlds<br />

and places, but the developers then neglect to<br />

actually provide you with something interesting<br />

or meaningful to do within those massive<br />

sandboxes. When these game worlds end up<br />

being populated by interchangeable quests<br />

and nebulous busywork they don’t really offer<br />

any compelling or interesting content for the<br />

player base.<br />

I’m aware that No Man’s Sky did eventually<br />

offer a lot more content for people to engage<br />

with, and from everything I’ve heard it’s a vastly<br />

improved game compared to the one that<br />

was first released. Sea of Thieves promises to<br />

similarly redeem itself, with content releasing<br />

throughout the year and, it seems, well into the<br />

future. But I’m hesitant to praise either of these<br />

games (or other similar ones) for becoming<br />

worth their initial asking prices months, or even<br />

years, after release.

At that point you’re not really<br />

releasing a good game, but rather<br />

selling a husk of a game on the<br />

promise that it might one day<br />

actually be worth playing. That<br />

is where the problem of scale vs.<br />

content arises. When you begin<br />

to focus too much on figures,<br />

whether it be the number of square<br />

miles the world map covers or<br />

the number of different locations<br />

you can visit, rather than on what<br />

you’re actually going to be able<br />

to do in the game, you’ve kind of<br />

lost sight of what really makes the<br />

difference between an average and<br />

a great game.<br />

Fallout 76 is a prime example<br />

of this kind of misguided focus.<br />

Previous games in the series have<br />

certainly had large worlds that<br />

players could explore at their<br />

leisure, but at the same time<br />

Bethesda, Obsidian, and Black Isle<br />

studios before them filled these<br />

games with interesting content,<br />

unique NPCs, and well-written<br />

questlines. Fallout 76 was marketed<br />

as featuring the largest world ever<br />

created for the series, but then<br />

failed to include the interesting<br />

quests and plotlines that had really<br />

elevated the franchise.<br />

Essentially, the thing that<br />

is often most important in<br />

open world titles, regardless<br />

of the size of the game’s<br />

world, is what I have started<br />

to call density of meaningful<br />

content. You can have the<br />

largest game world ever<br />

created but if it isn’t filled<br />

with interesting stuff for<br />

players to do then it means<br />

absolutely nothing in the<br />

end. A large, empty world<br />

devoid of content has been<br />

the downfall of many an<br />

ambitious game in recent<br />

years, and it will likely be<br />

the same for many more to<br />


This is why one of the absolute best open worlds<br />

in recent years has also been one of the smallest<br />

in size. The world of Yakuza 0 has nothing on the<br />

scale of games like Fallout 76, Sea of Thieves,<br />

or any number of Ubisoft open world titles, but<br />

it ends up feeling so much bigger than any of<br />

them because of the amount of activities and<br />

options that are open to players within the<br />

world. It feels like behind every corner there is<br />

something exciting or interesting for you to do.<br />

The world may be smaller than in most other<br />

open world games, but it works perfectly in the<br />

context of the game itself, and the content found<br />

within is what ultimately makes the world feel<br />

big, despite its actual size. This is something I<br />

think other game developers should take note of.<br />

Of course, none of this means that you can’t<br />

make a huge game world interesting and<br />

exciting. Games like Red Dead Redemption 2<br />

have shown very recently that even massive<br />

worlds can be made to feel varied and engaging.<br />

It simply requires a lot of work to achieve that,<br />

which is unfortunately something that many<br />

developers just aren’t putting into their games,<br />

for one reason or another. When this happens<br />

we get procedurally generated massive worlds<br />

with repetitive content and dull environments.<br />

Developers should consider what purpose the<br />

worlds they’re building serve in their games.<br />

Instead of artificially forcing massive worlds<br />

into their titles, they should build worlds that fit<br />

into the settings and narratives of their games.<br />

Essentially, the world should serve the needs<br />

of the game, and not the other way around. If<br />

the only reason for having a massive world is to<br />

check a box on the marketing sheet, then maybe<br />

that kind of world doesn’t really make much<br />

sense for that particular game.

Ultimately, the size of a game’s world should<br />

not be seen as its defining quality, but rather<br />

a facilitator for what actually makes that<br />

game great. Every game is different, and as<br />

such every world should be built with its own<br />

particular needs in mind. It should be something<br />

that makes the game feel alive, unique, and<br />

interesting, but all too often the maps we<br />

get just prove to be a detriment to the whole<br />

experience. If a developer is making the world<br />

huge just because they can, it’s most likely not<br />

going to result in a good final product. It all<br />

comes down to content density and content<br />

quality, and in that respect the size of the world<br />

should at best be a secondary concern as far as<br />

I’m concerned, and often not even that.<br />

The best open world titles are carefully balanced<br />

between scale and content. The scale can<br />

certainly be ambitious to an almost extreme<br />

degree, but the content then needs to match<br />

that ambition. Ones that fail to find that balance<br />

either end up feeling empty, with not enough<br />

stuff for the players to do (No Man’s Sky at<br />

launch), or cluttered with too much pointless<br />

busywork (Assassin’s Creed: Unity). It’s a difficult<br />

balance to achieve and far too few games<br />

manage to find it, and unfortunately the only<br />

way to fix that issue is to design games with<br />

this balance in mind from the very beginning of<br />

production. Do that and we just might get more<br />

games like Yakuza 0 and Red Dead Redemption<br />

2 in the future, and less the likes of Ghost Recon:<br />

Wildlands or Fallout 76.<br />

By Taneli Palola, VGChartz

YOUR Taneli SAY Palola<br />

TOP 10 BEST<br />


ON BOOKS<br />

Books have, historically, not been the most<br />

popular medium when it comes to adapting<br />

existing works into video game form. Countless<br />

movies and TV shows have received their own<br />

video games, but books have never been quite<br />

as popular. Perhaps the reason is that books<br />

are inherently more difficult to adapt into video<br />

games than other, already visual mediums like<br />

films. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t<br />

any great video game book adaptations out<br />

there.<br />

The one criterion I have for this list is that it’s<br />

not enough for the game to be set in the same<br />

world as the book or take inspiration from it.<br />

Rather, it has to share a significant number of<br />

characters, storyline details, and other elements<br />

to make it onto this list. For example, Middle-<br />

Earth: Shadow of Mordor and its sequel do not<br />

count as book adaptations. The games can differ<br />

in one or more aspects, but have to have clear<br />

and strong connections to the source material to<br />

be valid. With that in mind, here are the ten best<br />

video games based on books (in my opinion, of<br />


10.<br />



We start the list with a game that is in many<br />

ways responsible for the rise of the RTS genre<br />

in the early to mid 90s. However, it is also a<br />

slightly tricky entry, as the argument could be<br />

made that Dune II is actually inspired more by<br />

the film Dune rather than the original book by<br />

Frank Herbert. Still, there are still a lot of direct<br />

connections to the original novel in the video<br />

game to justify its place on this list.<br />

Taking place on the desert planet of Arrakis,<br />

the only place where a valuable drug called<br />

Melange (more commonly as ”the spice”) exists.<br />

On the planet three competing noble houses<br />

- Harkonnen, Atreides, and Ordos - battle over<br />

control of the planet and its spice reserves in<br />

order to gain favour with the emperor.<br />

Overall, Dune II is a fairly loose adaptation of<br />

the novel, taking the setting, important themes,<br />

names, and other such elements including the<br />

basic premise from the book, but then telling<br />

its own self-contained story from that point<br />

on. This is mainly due to the fact that the game<br />

has three different playable factions, each<br />

with their own storyline, whereas the book is<br />

mainly focussed on the point of view of House<br />


9.<br />



The Pillars of the Earth is likely not the kind of<br />

book that most people would think to make<br />

a video game adaptation from. A historical<br />

novel about the building of a cathedral in a<br />

fictional English town of Kingsbridge in the 12th<br />

century doesn’t really strike one as the kind of<br />

story you could make a video game about. Yet<br />

that’s exactly what Daedalic Entertainment did<br />

with this point-and-click adventure game that<br />

released in 2017.<br />

This one is definitely a very particular kind of<br />

game that requires the player to be in a specific<br />

frame of mind to enjoy. It’s a very slow-paced,<br />

narrative-heavy title that isn’t really interested<br />

in high tension drama or fast-paced action.<br />

The Pillars of the Earth certainly takes its time<br />

weaving its narrative, which covers several<br />

decades and features several playable characters.<br />

For any fan of well-written historical fiction The<br />

Pillars of the Earth should be on their list of<br />

games to play. It captures the feeling of the era<br />

and the location it depicts, and contains just<br />

enough actual historical facts while still telling<br />

a largely fictional tale to come off as genuinely<br />

authentic. It’s also an absolutely gorgeous<br />

game, with beautiful backgrounds and character<br />

designs, which certainly helps in making the<br />

world feel real and authentic.

8.<br />



I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is one<br />

of those games that a lot of people generally<br />

seem to know by reputation, but few have<br />

actually taken the time to play it, which is a<br />

shame because it truly is an excellent (and quite<br />

disturbing) point-and-click adventure game.<br />

It’s also an unusual adaptation, especially for a<br />

video game, as the writer of the original story,<br />

Harlan Ellison, was heavily involved in the<br />

development process, writing much of the script<br />

and even voicing the game’s main antagonist,<br />

the supercomputer AM.<br />

It’s set on a post-apocalyptic Earth where a<br />

highly intelligent supercomputer annihilated<br />

most of the human race after developing<br />

sentience and absorbing two other<br />

supercomputers into its programming. Now<br />

calling itself AM, the supercomputer has spent<br />

the last 109 years torturing and modifying five<br />

human subjects, altering their minds and bodies<br />

however it saw fit, and is now presenting them<br />

with a game to play. AM presents the characters<br />

with their own personal psychodramas, praying<br />

on their deepest fears and personal demons.<br />

The game takes the story premise, the<br />

characters, and a lot of the events straight from<br />

Ellison’s novel, but alters certain details and<br />

aspects, while also adding new elements in to<br />

the mix, including making the story open-ended<br />

with seven different possible endings players<br />

can reach depending on their actions. However,<br />

it’s very much in the bleak spirit of the original<br />

story; only one of the endings can be considered<br />

a positive outcome, while the rest involve<br />

varying degrees of hopelessness. It’s certainly<br />

not the most joyful of experiences, but it’s very<br />

much worth playing nonetheless.

7.<br />



I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is one<br />

of those games that a lot of people generally<br />

seem to know by reputation, but few have<br />

actually taken the time to play it, which is a<br />

shame because it truly is an excellent (and quite<br />

disturbing) point-and-click adventure game.<br />

It’s also an unusual adaptation, especially for a<br />

video game, as the writer of the original story,<br />

Harlan Ellison, was heavily involved in the<br />

development process, writing much of the script<br />

and even voicing the game’s main antagonist,<br />

the supercomputer AM.<br />

It’s set on a post-apocalyptic Earth where a<br />

highly intelligent supercomputer annihilated<br />

most of the human race after developing<br />

sentience and absorbing two other<br />

supercomputers into its programming. Now<br />

calling itself AM, the supercomputer has spent<br />

the last 109 years torturing and modifying five<br />

human subjects, altering their minds and bodies<br />

however it saw fit, and is now presenting them<br />

with a game to play. AM presents the characters<br />

with their own personal psychodramas, praying<br />

on their deepest fears and personal demons.<br />

The game takes the story premise, the<br />

characters, and a lot of the events straight from<br />

Ellison’s novel, but alters certain details and<br />

aspects, while also adding new elements in to<br />

the mix, including making the story open-ended<br />

with seven different possible endings players<br />

can reach depending on their actions. However,<br />

it’s very much in the bleak spirit of the original<br />

story; only one of the endings can be considered<br />

a positive outcome, while the rest involve<br />

varying degrees of hopelessness. It’s certainly<br />

not the most joyful of experiences, but it’s very<br />

much worth playing nonetheless.

6.<br />



Another game where the author of the book<br />

it was based on was heavily involved during<br />

development is The Hitchiker’s Guide to the<br />

Galaxy, which is based on the novel of the same<br />

name by Douglas Adams. Being a text-based<br />

adventure game, it presents arguably one of the<br />

most accurate portrayals of the style and tone of<br />

the source material out of any game based on a<br />

book. This is a very good thing as these kinds of<br />

games live and die almost entirely based on the<br />

quality of the writing.<br />

Naturally, the main reason behind this was<br />

Adams himself writing most of the game’s text<br />

and dialogue, as well as designing much of<br />

it with Steve Meretzky. This made for a very<br />

authentic experience that genuinely felt like it<br />

was the actual book you were reading. It’s also<br />

a rare case of a game that is intentionally funny,<br />

leveraging the nihilistic, often surreal style of<br />

humour Adams is known for.<br />

Of course, since this is a text adventure game<br />

there are likely very few people reading this<br />

who have actually played it, as the genre isn’t<br />

exactly popular these days. However, for any fan<br />

of Adams’ books, or just fans of well written and<br />

funny stories in general, this should be on your<br />

list of games to play, especially as it’s free for<br />

everyone to play online.

5.<br />

METRO 2030<br />


Some people may have expected to see Metro:<br />

Last Light here, but that particular title doesn’t<br />

actually share that much in common with the<br />

novels these games are based on, outside of the<br />

main character Artyom and the post-apocalyptic<br />

setting. Metro 2033, on the other hand, is a<br />

fairly faithful adaptation of Glukhovsky’s original<br />

novel, taking the setting, many of the characters,<br />

and storyline details directly from the book.<br />

As the name suggests, Metro 2033 takes place<br />

in the year 2033 in the Moscow metro tunnels,<br />

after a nuclear war 20 years prior devastated the<br />

world and forced people to move underground<br />

to survive. A group of mysterious creatures<br />

known as the Dark Ones attack one of the<br />

stations, prompting Artyom to seek help in<br />

dealing with this threat from the rest of the<br />

communities living in the metro tunnels.<br />

The greatest achievement of Metro 2033, in my<br />

opinion, is how it successfully builds tension and<br />

mystery surrounding the Dark Ones. A lot of this<br />

also comes from the game’s world, which almost<br />

becomes a character in its own right as the<br />

game progresses. The dark and claustrophobic<br />

tunnels always loom around the player, and this<br />

in turn make the areas where people still live<br />

havens of safety that nonetheless have a hint of<br />

uncertainty to them.

4.<br />



Out of all the games on this list Enslaved:<br />

Odyssey to the West is perhaps the one that is<br />

the furthest away from being a direct adaptation<br />

of the original novel, and because of that I<br />

almost left it out of the list completely. In the<br />

end, though, it does share enough of the story<br />

it was adapted from – the 16th century Chinese<br />

epic novel Journey to the West - that I decided<br />

to include it.<br />

Of course, the main difference between the<br />

novel and the video game is the setting. The<br />

game takes the classic Chinese tale and places it<br />

in a post-apocalyptic North America, hundreds<br />

of years in the future. Various plot details have<br />

also been changed, but the central concept and<br />

the main characters still retain similar roles as in<br />

the novel. Still, of the games on this list it is by<br />

far the loosest adaptation, going more towards<br />

preserving the themes and tone of the original,<br />

while taking a much more liberal approach to<br />

the rest of the source material.<br />

As a game, Enslaved is the title that made me a<br />

fan of Ninja Theory. Prior to this the company<br />

was best known for the PS3 launch title Heavenly<br />

Sword, but I’ve always considered Enslaved to<br />

be a vastly superior game. Ninja Theory has<br />

always been excellent at telling stories and<br />

creating interesting and nuanced characters, and<br />

Enslaved is no exception. It’s a great game in<br />

my opinion, and while it takes liberties with its<br />

source material, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is<br />

one of the best book to video game adaptations<br />


3.<br />



Basing the story of a video game<br />

on a literary classic is always a<br />

rather thankless undertaking. Even<br />

at best of times video games are<br />

still often not taken as seriously in<br />

mainstream media, and deciding<br />

to adapt a beloved work into a<br />

video game, especially one that<br />

has already been adapted into<br />

a highly regarded film, can lead<br />

to heavy scrutiny and derision<br />

towards the developer.<br />

Fortunately, this didn’t deter<br />

Yager Development when the<br />

developer decided to take Joseph<br />

Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and<br />

use it as the basis for the game<br />

Spec Ops: The Line. It was a<br />

brave move, but one that paid off<br />

hugely in the end. While the game<br />

changes certain elements and<br />

details, like moving the story to<br />

the devastated city of Dubai and<br />

changing the names of characters,<br />

the major elements are still intact<br />

and executed wonderfully.<br />

However, what truly makes the<br />

game stand out from other titles<br />

is how it uses features unique<br />

to the medium of video games<br />

to slowly erode the player’s<br />

confidence in themselves and<br />

what they see in the game. It lets<br />

players make seemingly important<br />

choices throughout the story, but<br />

the further the player gets the<br />

more uncertain things around the<br />

main character become, to the<br />

point that it’s almost impossible<br />

to say what is actually real and<br />

what is not until the very final<br />

twist in the story.

2.<br />



Probably the most obvious entry<br />

on this list, and one that most<br />

people are likely familiar with<br />

at least to some degree. Based<br />

on The Witcher book series by<br />

Andrzej Sapkowski, the trilogy<br />

of games made by CD Projekt<br />

Red between 2008 and 2015<br />

are essentially a continuation of<br />

the story from the books, with<br />

the first game taking place two<br />

years after the novel The Lady<br />

of the Lake, which is, at least so<br />

far, the final book in the series<br />

chronologically.<br />

While all three games have their<br />

fans, it’s the third one that is often<br />

considered the peak of the series,<br />

and in general one of the best<br />

games released in recent years.<br />

Naturally, as it’s a sequel rather<br />

than a retelling of the story from<br />

the books, The Witcher III is able<br />

to take what it needs from the<br />

original stories and use those as a<br />

foundation for the story it wants<br />

to tell without being shackled by<br />

any pre-existing boundaries.<br />

Sapkowski’s books are some of<br />

the best fantasy literature written<br />

in the last 30 years and are also<br />

among my personal favourites<br />

within the genre. Fortunately<br />

the games have lived up to that<br />

high standard, not only staying<br />

faithful to the tone and style<br />

of the original novels, but also<br />

creating a gorgeous and enticing<br />

original story around the existing<br />

characters and world. It’s without<br />

question one of the best book to<br />

video game adaptations ever.

1.<br />



I would guess that most people<br />

aren’t even aware of the fact<br />

that the entire Suikoden series<br />

is loosely based on a Chinese<br />

novel called Water Margin, from<br />

which the idea of the 108 Stars of<br />

Destiny that runs through the core<br />

of the entire Suikoden franchise<br />

comes from. The novels tell a<br />

story set during the Song dynasty<br />

(960-1279), about a group of 108<br />

outlaws that set up their own<br />

army and fight against a corrupt<br />

government.<br />

While the entire Suikoden series is<br />

at least loosely based on the novel<br />

Water Margin, the game I decided<br />

to pick here is Suikoden II. One<br />

of the many excellent JRPGs on<br />

the original PlayStation, Suikoden<br />

II differentiated itself from other<br />

games of its genre with its focus<br />

on political themes and warfare.<br />

While most other JRPGs usually<br />

go for a fairly fantastical approach<br />

with their stories and settings, the<br />

Suikoden series has generally felt<br />

more mature and grounded by<br />

comparison.<br />

In the end, Water Margin serves<br />

mostly as a thematic origin point<br />

for Suikoden II, providing many of<br />

the basic ideas running through<br />

the center of the game’s narrative,<br />

as well as serving as the main<br />

inspiration for the setting but not<br />

necessarily sharing characters or<br />

locations with it. In fact, as far as<br />

adaptations go, the first Suikoden<br />

is the closest to the original novel<br />

in terms of story, but Suikoden II<br />

is the better game, so it gets to<br />

top the list.<br />

There are of course countless other video games that have been adapted from books since the<br />

early 1970s, and there’s no way I could include all of them on a list of just ten, not to mention<br />

that I am probably not even aware of some such games even existing. So, if I happened to<br />

miss your favourite book-based video game for one reason or another, please share it in the<br />

comments below.<br />

By Taneli Palola




The world of home-brew video games has become an explosion of ideas and concepts almost<br />

unheard of in triple A titles. Genres that have been long abandoned by developers continue to<br />

be represented by fans, bringing a variety of homages and new ideas to the table. One such<br />

game that fits into this mould is Children of the Night by Micromancers.


A top down RPG, similar to the original<br />

Legend of Zelda games and Golden Axe<br />

Warrior has been released for the MSX.<br />

For those who are unfamiliar with it, the<br />

MSX computer line was an attempt at an<br />

industry standard back when Amstrad,<br />

Apple, Commodore and Sinclair were caught<br />

in a 4 way battle, along with all the other<br />

smaller companies. Microsoft developed the<br />

operating system for the computer line, with<br />

big names like Sony and Panasonic releasing<br />

their own versions of the hardware. Each had<br />

their own interpretations, though the core of<br />

each computer remained the same.<br />

continuing to support the system with their<br />

home-brew efforts. With that digression out<br />

of the way, let’s have a look at Children of<br />

the Night.<br />

The story begins with the resurrection<br />

of Count Vlad Dracul, an obvious spin<br />

in the Dracula mythos. Vlad has no idea<br />

why he was resurrected, though this just<br />

happened to occur at the same time a<br />

world-domination-desiring demon made<br />

his presence known. These 2 events must be<br />

related somehow, but it’s up to you to figure<br />

out how.<br />

The MSX computer line was huge in Japan,<br />

though the rest of the world did not appear<br />

to be as keen. Only Sony managed to<br />

break ground with their Hit Bit line of MSX<br />

computers, though only in certain territories.<br />

Some of the world’s favourite franchises were<br />

born on the MSX, including Bomberman and<br />

Metal Gear.<br />

Despite the relative unpopularity of the line<br />

there are die hard fans who are hard at work,<br />

Micromancers promise gorgeous music<br />

and a complex storyline in this new action<br />

RPG. Screenshots and video trailers show<br />

an absolutely gorgeous game that appears<br />

to have been developed with a lot of care<br />

and consideration. As any good video game<br />

journalist is prone to do, I flooded their<br />

inbox with a bunch of questions. Toni, from<br />

Micromancers, was a good enough to fill me<br />

in on the hows and whys of their home-brew<br />

developing process.

PM: Where did the idea of developing games for retro<br />

systems come from?<br />

At first it was about fulfilling the childhood dream of<br />

developing games for the machines I loved when I was a<br />

kid.<br />

However, after learning about these machines the motivation<br />

went to something different. Developing for retro computers<br />

gave me absolute control over my programs. I don’t have to<br />

depend on external libraries or development environments.<br />

I can build my own development environment.<br />

The feeling of control, knowing that everything that my<br />

program does (good or bad) is my responsibility and the<br />

challenge of fitting everything into very tight margins of<br />

memory and CPU power are my motivation now, and that<br />

is something that cannot be done in any modern computer<br />

or console.<br />

PM: Why develop games for the MSX and Colecovision?<br />

MSX was the computer I had when I was a kid. So developing<br />

for MSX was the natural step. It was the machine I knew and<br />

I loved.<br />

As for ColecoVision, I was almost unaware of its existence<br />

until 2015, when I was asked to port Caos Begins from MSX<br />

to ColecoVision. Then I saw that the hardware was almost<br />

identical to the MSX but the game base and the user’s<br />

interests were very different.<br />

That is precisely what motivated me to develop for the<br />

ColecoVision: being able to use the same skills I use to code<br />

for MSX but focusing on a very different type of user.

PM: Children of the Night is very Legend of Zelda-esque. What<br />

was the inspiration behind this title?<br />

I love RPGs and I have always wanted to make one myself. However,<br />

I wanted to make an RPG that could take advantage of the target<br />

machine (ColecoVision and, later, MSX).<br />

That meant that graphically I should avoid scrolling, since it is almost<br />

impossible to achive a nice scroll for an RPG on these machines,<br />

and that I should rely mostly on hardware sprites, since they make it<br />

possible to have lots of action.<br />

I searched different RPGs for ColecoVision and MSX. The ColecoVision<br />

barely has any RPGs, but MSX has lots of them. And among the RPGs<br />

for MSX I found that two of them actually had the features I was<br />

looking for: Golvellius and Bolfes (Borfesu and Five Evil Spirits).<br />

What I didn’t like about these two games is that story seemed to be too<br />

simple. So I created a complex storyline and decided to make a game<br />

much more story-driven. This combination is almost non existent on<br />

the MSX and doesn’t exist at all in the ColecoVision library. It is quite<br />

an original concept for these machines.<br />

As for Zelda, even though I like Zelda games I am not a huge fan of<br />

the franchise. So I guess that the similarities between Children of the<br />

Night and Zelda are mostly casual.<br />

Regarding the story of Children of the Night, I have always liked<br />

classic horror characters, especially Dracula, and I have read almost<br />

all of Lovecraft’s stories. I really loved the differences between the two<br />

styles. Whereas Dracula is a monster on a human scale (he hates and<br />

loves humans, he thinks like a human and he depends on humans to<br />

survive), Lovecraft stories are about powerful creatures that do not<br />

care about humans. So the idea of confronting them and making<br />

Dracula the paladin of humankind was really appealing.

PM: How much consideration goes into the<br />

specs of the computer you are developing<br />

for?<br />

PM: Do you develop games that you would<br />

like to play or that you know others will<br />

enjoy?<br />

As much as I can. I always try to make a game<br />

that fits in the target computer or console.<br />

For example, if there is no way to perform<br />

a decent scrolling, I will not do it. If the<br />

machine has hardware sprites I will use them<br />

over software sprites. If something cannot be<br />

achieved at 60fps I will not do it.<br />

I try to develop the games I would like to play.<br />

I think this is the only way to do good games.<br />

PM: Apart from Multiverse are there any<br />

other titles you are working on?<br />

Yes, but that’s a secret for now ;-)

I would like to thank Toni for the time taken to answer these questions. Information about<br />

Children of the Night and the upcoming action platformer, Multiverse, can be found at<br />

www.micromancers.com<br />

Interview conducted by<br />

Paul Monopoli

Evan Norris<br />

REVIEW NS:<br />


Some games are easy to review—to<br />

characterize, label, dissect, and, ultimately,<br />

score. This War of Mine: Complete Edition,<br />

developed exclusively for Nintendo Switch<br />

and featuring all past and future content,<br />

is not one of those games. At its core,<br />

it’s a resource and people management<br />

sim, infused with some stealth action,<br />

but thematically it represents an anti-war<br />

dissertation that thrusts the civilian cost of<br />

war front and center.<br />

Judged solely as a work of art and an open<br />

dialogue on the debilitating, dehumanizing<br />

physical, emotional, and societal effects<br />

of military conflict—particularly urban<br />

sieges—This War of Mine: Complete Edition<br />

is extraordinary, unflinching, and, arguably,<br />

worth experiencing solely for its insight into<br />

the indignities of modern warfare. Evaluated<br />

only on its mechanics, technical merits,<br />

and gameplay loops, however, it’s merely<br />


Inspired by the 1992-1996 Siege of Sarajevo,<br />

This War of Mine: Complete Edition follows<br />

several civilian survivors pulled from a pool<br />

of 21 playable characters (12 from the base<br />

game and nine more introduced in The<br />

Little Ones DLC). Stranded in a city under<br />

lockdown and facing persistent danger from<br />

disease, starvation, and physical violence, the<br />

survivors must make many difficult life-ordeath<br />

decisions to stay alive long enough to<br />

witness a ceasefire.<br />

The story in This War of Mine: Complete<br />

Edition is yours to write. Yes, the developers<br />

at 11 bit studios introduce a besieged<br />

city, a ramshackle house, and a group<br />

of characters—each with his or her own<br />

backstory, skill set, and disposition—but<br />

what’s done with these pieces is completely<br />

up to you. Will you invite a beleagured<br />

traveler to stay with you, adding a new mouth<br />

to feed but at the same time another warm<br />

body to keep watch against looters, or turn<br />

him away? Do you travel to a warehouse,<br />

rich in food and medicine but patrolled by<br />

armed bandits, or choose the path of less<br />

resistance (and less materials)? Do you spend<br />

rare resources to build a heater to keep your<br />

group warm during the winter or upgrade<br />

your work bench to gain access to new, useful<br />

tools? In a way, This War of Mine is a brilliant<br />

choose-your-own adventure game, which,<br />

along with permadeath, grants the game a<br />

roguish replayability.

You’ll probably be replaying<br />

This War of Mine a lot—if<br />

you can bear the gloomy<br />

graphics, relentlessly dour<br />

mood, and tedious micromanagement—in<br />

part<br />

because the game is so<br />

difficult and in part because<br />

of its wealth of playable<br />

characters, locations, moral<br />

choices, and accidental<br />

encounters. In fact, after<br />

your first randomized<br />

playthrough, the game allows<br />

you to choose from several<br />

starting sets of characters:<br />

the father-daughter duo<br />

of Christo and Iskra, the<br />

threesome of Bruno, Roman,<br />

and Arica, etc. Alternatively<br />

you can choose a random<br />

group or, in one of the<br />

best features of the game,<br />

create a specific, tailor-made<br />

adventure in “My Story.” Here<br />

you can choose up to four<br />

characters with whom to<br />

start, select the number of<br />

days until ceasefire, adjust<br />

the intensity of the conflict—<br />

”low” means neighbors often<br />

stick together, among other<br />

things, and “high” signals a<br />

much more dire situation—<br />

pick specific locations on the<br />

city map, and even modify<br />

the length and harshness of<br />

the winter.<br />

Whether you’ll return to<br />

the game again and again<br />

to witness every possible<br />

outcome and ending<br />

hinges on your response<br />

to its aggressively bleak<br />

atmosphere, fussy console<br />

controls, and monotonous<br />

simulation gameplay.<br />

Basically, This War of Mine<br />

is divided into two main<br />

spheres, each conducted in<br />

2.5D side-scrolling segments:<br />

1) the day, a Sims-like<br />

maintenance period during<br />

which players swap among<br />

survivors, reinforce their<br />

defenses, grow and cook<br />

food, treat wounds, and in<br />

general see to the long-term<br />

survival of the group; and<br />

2) the night, a stealth action<br />

phase where a designated<br />

survivor will scavenge<br />

for resources, sneak past<br />

soldiers, thugs, and other<br />

civilians, and sometimes

experience. Soon, however,<br />

everything devolves into busy<br />

work. By the end of your first<br />

fortnight in Pogoren—your<br />

characters’ fictional, vaguely-<br />

Eastern European city—you’ll<br />

have grown tired of herding<br />

survivors, watching meters fill,<br />

and grappling with the game’s<br />

plodding pace.<br />

engage in melee or gunbased<br />

combat. Each sphere<br />

has its own strengths and<br />

weaknesses.<br />

The day sequences<br />

represent the weaker<br />

half of This War of Mine.<br />

Here, during daylight<br />

hours, players will manage<br />

their human and material<br />

resources. Sick survivors<br />

must be medicated, tired<br />

survivors must sleep,<br />

depressed children<br />

(included in The Little Ones<br />

DLC, and bundled here in<br />

the Complete Edition) must<br />

receive attention and love.<br />

For a while, this time-based<br />

micro-management works.<br />

Raising little Iskra’s spirits<br />

with a game of Rock, Paper,<br />

Scissors or nursing a halfdead<br />

Cveta back to life is<br />

a meaningful, rewarding<br />

Things are far more dynamic<br />

once night falls on Pogoren.<br />

From an overhead map of<br />

the city, players choose a<br />

particular destination, labeled<br />

with the kinds of resources<br />

(and resistance) expected.<br />

Then it’s off to scavenge,<br />

trade, sneak, and, if you’re<br />

unscrupulous or desperate<br />

enough, rob, steal, and kill.<br />

While these midnight missions<br />

are more engaging and<br />

less languid than daytime<br />

episodes, they suffer from<br />

some fussy console controls.<br />

Players enter stealth simply<br />

by pressing gently on the<br />

left stick, but angle the stick<br />

ever so slightly and a slowmoving<br />

character breaks into<br />

a full sprint, alerting anyone<br />

within earshot. Maneuvering<br />

between levels, up and down<br />

stairs, and through doorways<br />

is equally finicky.

While these control issues are also present<br />

in daylight—you can’t assign a character to<br />

a job without moving him or her next to a<br />

specific station and then using the d-pad to<br />

select the desired task, thus making multitasking<br />

more difficult—at night, with survival<br />

decided in an instant, they’re especially<br />

noticeable. Essentially, this is a game that<br />

demands the precision of keyboard and<br />

mouse, stuck with imperfect analog controls.<br />

flourish: gentle pencil stroke animation in<br />

empty background areas. Sound design, like<br />

art direction, is more utilitarian than anything,<br />

although some strategically placed noises—a<br />

distant gunshot or a child softly crying—<br />

trigger an emotional reaction. Finally, 11 bit<br />

studios’ wartime simulation performs well,<br />

minus the odd glitch, like when a pill-popping<br />

animation loops without end (shut down and<br />

restart the game to fix the problem).<br />

This is the unfortunate reality of This War of<br />

Mine: while it’s thought-provoking, powerful,<br />

and subversive—don’t expect the kinds<br />

of binary moral decisions and war heroics<br />

typical of the medium—it’s simply not always<br />

fun to play.<br />

Since this is the Complete Edition, you can<br />

expect all of the add-on content released<br />

over the past four years. That includes the<br />

aforementioned The Little Ones; War Child,<br />

which includes unique street art pieces found<br />

in different areas within Pogoren; and Father’s<br />

Promise, a DLC campaign. The first of three<br />

story-driven campaigns (the second and third<br />

will be added for free), Father’s Promise is<br />

an interesting but ineffective departure from<br />

the standard This War of Mine formula. More<br />

scripted and linear, it undermines the chooseyour-own-adventure<br />

elements that make the<br />

game unpredictable and replayable.<br />

This War of Mine: Complete Edition is<br />

a challenging game to approach. As an<br />

anti-war treatise it’s provocative, edifying,<br />

and demanding. It will force you into<br />

uncomfortable, unwinnable situations and<br />

make you carry the weight of your actions—<br />

good, bad, and ugly. As a game, though,<br />

it’s only intermittently fun and rewarding.<br />

There are dozens of hours of content in<br />

this package, but much of it is depressing,<br />

dark, tedious, and clunky. In the end, This<br />

War of Mine is an important game, but not<br />

necessarily a good one.<br />

By Evan Norris<br />

Graphically, This War of Mine: Complete<br />

Edition is grayish and somber-looking, which<br />

is fitting for a game with such bleak subject<br />

matter. Although mostly monochromatic, the<br />

game does feature an enjoyable graphical<br />


YOUR Rex Hindrichs SAY<br />

REVIEW PS4:<br />



Few settings have as storied and well trodden<br />

a history as the Wild West. For as many<br />

movies, dime novels, and folk legends as it has<br />

generated over the years, there are relatively<br />

few games on the subject - let alone ones that<br />

do the era justice. The greatest contribution<br />

for some time has arguably been 2010’s Red<br />

Dead Redemption. Atmospheric, ambitious, and<br />

distinct, the waves it sent through the industry<br />

are still felt to this day. 8 years later, Rockstar<br />

Games has returned to the franchise to define<br />

the Western for the next console generation.<br />

What proceeds is an incredible production that<br />

can buckle under its own weight.<br />

Set at the turn of the 20th century, Red Dead<br />

Redemption 2 is a prequel chronicling the<br />

exploits of the Dutch Van der Linde gang. While<br />

the previous game’s protagonist is present, this<br />

time you wear the boots of Dutch’s grizzled and<br />

intimidating right hand man, Arthur Morgan.<br />

The West is not as wild as it once was and the<br />

heyday of the outlaw is coming to an end. With<br />

the law hot on their trail, can the gang pull off a<br />

big enough score to retire before they’re caught<br />

or killed?<br />

In classic Rockstar fashion, a massive sandbox<br />

is at your disposal to ride, punch, shoot, rob,<br />

hunt, and explore to your heart’s content.<br />

There’s an arsenal of weapons and equipment<br />

to unlock, towns full of shops to purvey and<br />

people to interact with, an entire ecosystem<br />

of wildlife to appreciate and slaughter,<br />

diverse elements and geography to navigate,<br />

and scores of story missions, side missions,<br />

challenges, and secrets to tackle. The wealth<br />

of substantial content on offer is staggering.<br />

What would be afterthoughts in other games<br />

are fully realized here and you could easily<br />

spend over a hundred hours in a single<br />

playthrough.<br />

For the scope of this game, the level of detail<br />

is second to none. Unfortunately this is one<br />

of the game’s double edged swords. Your<br />

weapons can be inspected, customized, and

upgraded, but maintaining and managing<br />

them can be a time consuming chore.<br />

Your horse can be similarly developed,<br />

customized, and bonded with, but more<br />

realistic limitations like summon ranges and<br />

permadeath can be a pain. The physical<br />

and nuanced animations are impressive,<br />

but can make the simple act of exploring<br />

a house harder than it needs to be.<br />

Survival elements like health, stamina, and<br />

temperature become yet more meters to<br />

monitor and fuss over. There are a hundred<br />

little details like these that, depending on<br />

your tastes, can immerse you that much<br />

deeper or just get in the way of the fun.

The game’s scope also inevitably results in a<br />

lack of polish in certain systems and design<br />

elements. The gunplay feels great when<br />

you’re blowing people away with a shotgun<br />

or nailing a long string of slow motion kills,<br />

but it still relies too heavily on an unengaging<br />

lock on system, and the cover system to go<br />

with it is stiff and problematic. Character and<br />

creature AI can create convincing moments<br />

or potentially fatal mishaps that you never<br />

intended. Glitches and bugs may cause you<br />

to lose progress or have to restart missions.<br />

The witness and bounty systems can feel<br />

broken and playing a black hatted scoundrel<br />

may be more trouble than it’s worth. These<br />

annoyances are easy to forgive in isolation,<br />

but when combined can create significant<br />


While its gameplay can be inconsistent, Red<br />

Dead Redemption 2 absolutely nails its setting.<br />

Lush plains, dense forests, majestic mountains,<br />

teeming wildlife, towns of all speeds, people<br />

ordinary and strange, gorgeous lighting,<br />

subtle yet brilliant soundscapes, it all melds<br />

into the most comprehensive and convincing<br />

image of the mythical West the industry has<br />

seen yet - and by quite a wide margin. For all<br />

there is to see and do, the atmosphere of the<br />

place calls you to slow down, take your time,<br />

and soak it all in. It’s no accident we call these<br />

stories Westerns rather than cowboy games or<br />

anything else; the land is as much a character<br />

as any other.<br />

Speaking of characters, your gang is one of<br />

the true joys of this adventure. The motley<br />

crew you ride, camp, protect, and scheme<br />

with make for some of the most human<br />

companions ever put in a game. Talkative<br />

missions help you get to know each member<br />

better, but where they really come alive are<br />

in the humble moments back at camp. Quiet<br />

conversations, fireside music, drinking and<br />

games, working, sleeping, bickering, it all<br />

contributes to a sense of community you<br />

rarely find in other games and makes you care<br />

about your crew. The quality of the writing<br />

only takes this further. Rockstar has taken its<br />

storytelling to the next level with a mature and<br />

poetic tale full of development and drama. I<br />

can only hope it carries on into future works.<br />

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a gargantuan affair<br />

that can get a bit too swept up in its own<br />

grandeur. The Wild West has never felt more<br />

alive or immersive, but trimming some of<br />

the fat and spending that indulgence on the<br />

game’s weaker spots instead could have made<br />

it an even better experience for the player. In<br />

any case, landmark titles like this don’t come<br />

around often. This exceptional value should<br />

not be missed.<br />

By Rex Hindrichs<br />


Paul Broussard<br />

REVIEW PS4:<br />

FALLOUT 76<br />

As Bethesda’s attempt to bring multiplayer<br />

into one of its famous open world RPG<br />

series, Fallout 76 initially appeared to be<br />

an enigma. There was certainly potential<br />

for online interaction in an RPG, but<br />

questions immediately surrounded whether<br />

it could work and how well the core Fallout<br />

experience would make the transition.<br />

Unfortunately, the answer to those two<br />

questions were a definitive “no” and “not well<br />

at all.” Ironically, despite Bethesda designing<br />

the game with the intention of making it a<br />

more lively experience, Fallout 76 is one of<br />

the most lifeless games the company has<br />

ever produced.

YOUR SAY<br />

The story of Fallout 76 opens somewhat<br />

similarly to Fallout 3 or 4 in that you create<br />

your character, awaken in a bunker, and have<br />

to set out to explore the wasteland. The<br />

major difference is that, while 3 and 4 both<br />

fleshed your character’s past out a bit and<br />

gave them some tangible motivation to go<br />

exploring, 76 just opens the vault door at<br />

the start and assumes that the prospect of<br />

wandering around another post-apocalyptic<br />

landscape will be incentive enough.<br />

There’s no world building, no prologue, no<br />

backstory; just a quick cinematic of some<br />

guy in a suit talking about how cool vaults<br />

are before you’re tossed into the character<br />

creation screen and then shoved out the<br />

door.<br />

Perhaps this could have been abated had the<br />

world been interesting to explore, but 76’s<br />

has easily the blandest and least interesting<br />

world out of any of the 3D Fallout games.<br />

Despite being relatively colorful, especially<br />

compared to Fallout 3 or New Vegas, the<br />

world feels utterly lifeless and devoid of any<br />

charm. Much of this is due to the fact that<br />

NPC characters are virtually non-existent; the<br />

only “characters” that you’ll get to interact<br />

with in a way that doesn’t involve killing<br />

them are robots who give you quests in the<br />

blandest way possible.

It makes the world feel empty and pointless,<br />

which one could argue is the point of a post<br />

apocalyptic landscape, but previous Fallout<br />

games have managed to make the world<br />

feel largely deserted and hopeless while still<br />

providing interesting and quirky characters<br />

to interact with. That’s largely been their<br />

charm, and much of the reason to get<br />

invested in them.<br />

I suspect that this concession was made to<br />

help the multiplayer aspect run smoothly,<br />

as the engine in past 3D Fallout games had<br />

a notorious amount of trouble handling<br />

NPCs even without a bunch of people on<br />

the same server trying their hardest to<br />

break the game. But this simply was not<br />

a worthwhile concession, as without the<br />

various warring factions, dialogue trees, and<br />

quirky characters, Fallout is little more than<br />

just another first person shooter with survival<br />

elements.<br />

Nearly all quests are now just boring fetch<br />

quests where either a pre-recorded tape<br />

or a robot tells you to either obtain some<br />

piece of paper or check in on some person<br />

that’s gone missing, which almost always<br />

results in trudging across the map for 15 or<br />

so minutes, finding either paper or a corpse

depending on which type of quest it is, and<br />

then trudging all the way back to deliver<br />

the paper or the news. Again, the lack of<br />

characters torpedoes the fun factor, as one<br />

of the biggest incentives for performing<br />

quests in the past was to help further a<br />

relationship with an NPC, and that is entirely<br />

lacking when the most of a response you’ll<br />

get is a robotic “congratulations!”<br />

Combat remains mostly unchanged, albeit<br />

with a bit more of an emphasis on the<br />

“survival” side of things. The need to eat<br />

and drink from New Vegas’ hardcore mode<br />

returns, although food and drink are both<br />

so plentiful that you’ll almost never be in<br />

danger of running low. There’s a bigger<br />

focus on crafting weapons as well, which<br />

can be kind of interesting initially, but melee<br />

weapons all handle very similarly and it just<br />

feels like a chore after a while. Shooting<br />

is pretty much exactly the same as before;<br />

still serviceable and certainly preferable to<br />

the clunky melee combat, but never feeling<br />

totally right.

The only way to make this game moderately<br />

worth your time is playing with other<br />

players (preferably friends). To Bethesda’s<br />

credit, the actual multiplayer component is<br />

implemented pretty smoothly. When you<br />

join a game, you’ll be inserted into a random<br />

world with players already in it that you can<br />

ignore, join up with, or attack depending on<br />

what you feel like. The number of players<br />

in a world is pretty well balanced as well; I<br />

never really felt like I was swarmed by other<br />

players, but there was never a session where<br />

I didn’t at least encounter a couple too.<br />

The sheer gulf in levels can make finding<br />

ones worth teaming up with something of<br />

a challenge, however, and the lack of local<br />

multiplayer is a real missed opportunity for a<br />

game all about working with other players.<br />

While multiplayer can certainly alleviate<br />

some of the boredom that this game would<br />

otherwise bring, even at its best Fallout 76<br />

just doesn’t feel like a Fallout title. Oddly<br />

enough, enemies appear to still be balanced<br />

around a single player experience, which<br />

means that any time you’re with a group of<br />

other players everything just gets blasted<br />

into oblivion before a fight can really even<br />

begin.<br />

Trying to go on quests with other players<br />

(especially strangers) is just an exercise in<br />

annoyance, as people will inevitably get<br />

sidetracked and wind up either abandoning<br />

you or forcing you to wait for them. This<br />

problem is admittedly largely mediated when<br />

you’re playing with friends and not random<br />

wacky internet strangers, but even then<br />

quests aren’t engaging or fun, and whatever<br />

enjoyment exists usually comes from running<br />

into some poor soul along the way and<br />

killing them just to extract some enjoyment<br />

via schadenfreude.<br />

The one positive I can give the game is<br />

that I personally experienced fewer bugs<br />

and technical problems than in previous<br />

Fallout games. But that hardly feels like an<br />

accomplishment given that many bugs tend<br />

to come from friendly NPC interactions, and<br />

since the game has virtually no friendly NPCs<br />

at all it’s probably to be expected that the<br />

number of problems on that front would be<br />

cut down.<br />

Perhaps the best way to summarize Fallout<br />

76 would be with a quote from a tape found<br />

early in the game: “There used to be people<br />

here... but now there’s no one.” Fallout 76<br />

feels like Bethesda made a Fallout title, and<br />

then proceeded to take everything unique<br />

about the series out in favor of conceding<br />

to multiplayer. The series that I once<br />

loved is in here somewhere, but it’s been<br />

buried underneath a pile of annoyances,<br />

frustrations, and concessions made to make<br />

multiplayer possible.<br />

By Paul Broussard<br />


Jackson Newsome<br />

REVIEW ps4:)<br />



The Spyro Reignited Trilogy is a remaster<br />

in only the loosest sense of the word. This<br />

collection includes the first three titles of the<br />

eponymous dragon’s series, each one rebuilt<br />

and bolstered by Unreal Engine 4. While 2017’s<br />

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy established<br />

a new standard for remastering classic<br />

platformers, Toys for Bob raised the bar even<br />

higher with this release.<br />

For the uninitiated, the gameplay is<br />

straightforward. Collect gems, jump and<br />

glide around mostly linear levels, and defeat<br />

enemies along the way. Combat generally<br />

consists of two attack modes: charging<br />

or incinerating foes. These gameplay<br />

mechanics are all made easier with the<br />

modern availability of analog sticks. In<br />

short, controlling Spyro feels a little less stiff<br />

these days. Occasionally, players encounter<br />

variations of these mechanics, such as timed<br />

challenge runs or brief segments as a different<br />

character, but the formula is consistent.<br />

Complete enough brief levels and collect<br />

enough items to move on to the next world.<br />

This approach is successful thanks to the<br />

trilogy’s diverse settings and characters, as<br />

well as its steady increase in complexity.<br />

While enemies sometimes run from Spyro in<br />

the early levels of the games, they hold their<br />

ground and pose a more serious threat as<br />

you progress. It’s certainly a much easier ride<br />

than the early Crash Bandicoot titles, but there<br />

is sufficient challenge to stifle most gamers’<br />


The first title in the trilogy, fittingly titled<br />

Spyro the Dragon, benefits most from the<br />

remaster treatment. Despite being a fine<br />

game in its original form, its more basic<br />

visual presentation and gameplay aged more<br />

rapidly than the sequels that followed. In fact,<br />

Toys for Bob redesigned some of the NPC<br />

designs to diversify the original title’s similarlooking<br />

character models. This work was in<br />

addition to other trilogy-wide enhancements,<br />

including updated voiceover work and the<br />

option to listen to a remastered version of<br />

the soundtracks. Overall, the sequels, Ripto’s<br />

Rage and Year of the Dragon, were already<br />

refined expansions of Spyro’s first adventure,<br />

and were must-play original PlayStation titles.<br />

They shine even brighter in this collection.

It’s difficult to find fault in the core elements<br />

of the remasters; the trilogy remains intact<br />

– for better or worse. Platformers of this era<br />

were often frustratingly limited in scope due<br />

to hardware and technical limitations. I can<br />

imagine modern gamers feeling disappointed<br />

as they frequently encounter invisible walls<br />

and quickly reach the edge of the games’<br />

small levels. In revisiting these games as an<br />

adult with limited free time, I truly valued<br />

that I could complete several levels within<br />

an hour. Its pick-up-and-play nature works<br />

to its benefit, and it’s easy to imagine a port<br />

to the Nintendo Switch, but I’m reluctant to<br />

raise my hopes on that front because this<br />

collection is wider in scope and boasts more<br />

impressive graphics and level design than the<br />

Crash remasters. Visually, the Spyro Reignited<br />

Trilogy can pass as a current generation title.<br />

I would be remiss to ignore fan backlash<br />

following the collection’s development<br />

shortcuts. It is disappointing that the<br />

development team did not prioritize<br />

accessibility and add subtitles to the<br />

cutscenes. Similarly, I understand fans’<br />

frustrations with the physical release, where<br />

the full collection is unavailable to play<br />

without downloading large<br />

updates. However, neither of<br />

these issues change the high<br />

quality of this production or<br />

diminished the fun I had in<br />

playing these blasts from<br />

the past. I recommend<br />

the collection without<br />

reservation despite<br />

these omissions.

Titling the collection as<br />

“Reignited” is apt, for each<br />

game is just as enjoyable, if<br />

not more so, than at the time<br />

of their original releases. It<br />

was wise to steer away from<br />

marketing the collection as a<br />

remaster because that label<br />

undercuts the developers’ level<br />

of dedication and investment<br />

in revitalizing these games.<br />

In fact, I have never played a<br />

remaster of this caliber. Toys<br />

for Bob accomplished a tough<br />

balancing act of honoring the<br />

past while updating the trilogy<br />

for modern audiences.<br />

Although gamers are right to<br />

be frustrated by the bungled<br />

physical release and limited<br />

accessibility options, fans of<br />

the series and newcomers alike<br />

will find something to love in<br />

Spyro’s first adventures. Spyro<br />

Reignited Trilogy is a tour of<br />

some of the platforming genre’s<br />

most important history and<br />

hopefully a sign of things to<br />

come.<br />

Welcome back, Spyro.<br />

By Jackson Newsome<br />



REVIEW NS:<br />


ARTY<br />

Sometimes, it takes a dozen or so<br />

attempts to get something right.<br />

Other times, you may get something<br />

right early on, but whenever you try<br />

to repeat it each subsequent attempt<br />

is worse than the one before... until,<br />

perhaps, finally, you get it right again.<br />

Such is the case with Super Mario<br />

Party, which in my view is the most<br />

enjoyable Mario Party experience<br />

since Mario Party 3.<br />

Focusing on returning to what used<br />

to work, or as Norman Osborn from<br />

Spider-Man would say, “back to<br />

formula”, Super Mario Party ditches<br />

the features that plagued more recent<br />

entries in the long-running series and<br />

instead introduces new boards and,<br />

best of all of course, a whole slew of<br />

new mini-games.

Many of these mini-games make use of<br />

similar control functions to the Wii era,<br />

but with the advantage that the Joy-Cons<br />

are much more comfortable and easy-touse,<br />

especially when compared to a bulky<br />

Wii MotionPlus controller. My wife and<br />

I played without the attachment pieces<br />

(because we couldn’t find ours), which<br />

made things a little challenging at times,<br />

but we’ve gotten used to playing like this<br />

since the Snipperclips days.<br />

If you haven’t used the Joy-Cons in<br />

this manner before, then you’ll quickly<br />

need to adapt because, somewhat<br />

controversially, you’re forced to use the<br />

Joy-Cons in Super Mario Party. After<br />

a while it becomes clear why this is -<br />

some of the mini-games are brilliantly<br />

innovative and require you to make full<br />

use of the motion controls; something<br />

that would prove challenging to replicate<br />

with a regular control scheme.<br />

Interestingly the development team<br />

decided to divide the computercontrolled<br />

characters into different<br />

difficulty categories, so now certain<br />

characters are innately better at the<br />

game than others. Personally I wasn’t<br />

too bothered by this but if you were<br />

hoping to play against certain characters<br />

at a customisable difficulty level then<br />

you’re out of luck. As an aside, I’m still<br />

convinced that certain level 7 characters<br />

in Super Smash Bros. Melee were<br />

superior to level 9 characters and would<br />

beat the tar out of them, but I digress.<br />

Some of the 80 or so mini-games are<br />

naturally better than others, my favorite<br />

being ones like the sizzling steaks minigame,<br />

where you flip over meat you’re<br />

cooking with the Joy-Cons. I also really<br />

enjoyed ‘stake your claim’, which requires<br />

quick and instant decision making to<br />

determine which shapes are the biggest,<br />

followed by the hilarious and sudden<br />

realization of impending doom if you<br />

pick the wrong one.<br />

Visually it’s the best looking Mario Party<br />

game to-date, as one would expect, and<br />

Nintendo’s continues to demonstrate<br />

its excellence here. A strong art style is<br />

supported by a servicable soundtrack -<br />

it’s not on the same level as, say, Donkey<br />

Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, but it’s<br />

enjoyable enough.<br />

In terms of game modes Super Mario<br />

Party sports ‘Mario Party’, ‘Partner Party’,<br />

‘River Survival’, and some others that<br />

I don’t wish to spoil because they’re<br />

enjoyable to discover of your own<br />

accord. Of the ones I have listed the first<br />

two should be pretty self-explanatory for<br />

any Mario Party veterans, while the third<br />

introduces a fun cooperative way to play.

Mario Party is nothing if not all about<br />

friends and family having a good laugh<br />

together, and the mini-games in this<br />

entry do produce some good chuckles<br />

in my experience. Practice rounds<br />

continue to be provided prior to each<br />

mini-game, which makes the learning<br />

curve nice and easy, supplementing<br />

the pick-up-and-play nature of the<br />

game, and each person has to sign off<br />

when they feel they’re ready.<br />

When it comes to online - or ‘Online<br />

Mariothon’ as it’s called - Super Mario<br />

Party is also a blast. You play a handful<br />

of rotating mini-games with three<br />

other players and compete for a cup<br />

(think Mario Kart). You also receive<br />

stickers and trophies (bronze, silver,<br />

and gold), which you can collect,<br />

as well as some other goodies like<br />

leaderboards and statistics, which<br />

incentivise you to keep playing the<br />

game over the longer term. I did<br />

encounter some occasional lag though,<br />

which hampered the online experience<br />

(especially the mini-game where you<br />

have to dodge the fuzzies).<br />

Elsewhere little has been changed - the<br />

items and board functions are overly<br />

familiar, and the latter tend to be let<br />

down in general by being on the small<br />

side and not being terribly eventful.<br />

There also aren’t that many boards<br />

to begin with, so they can quickly<br />

become repetitive. But the one thing<br />

that does mix things up is the partner<br />

system. If you land on certain spaces<br />

you can collect a partner, which allows<br />

you to roll a different type of dice (a<br />

mixture of risk/reward), and also adds<br />

to the amount of your total roll. These<br />

partners will also help increase the<br />

odds of your winning the mini-games.<br />

On the whole it’s a fun inclusion - one<br />

that adds a certain amount of sheer,<br />

dumb luck that can be oh so useful<br />

when trying to win any Mario Party<br />

match.<br />

Nintendo did make some questionable<br />

decisions in designing Super Mario<br />

Party, but none of these quibbles<br />

detract too much from the fact that the<br />

mini-games themselves are incredibly<br />

fun (and, yes, often funny) to play.<br />

Online features and new game modes<br />

help to round out a very weighty minigame<br />

collection that could’ve been<br />

even better with just a little extra vision<br />

and effort on Nintendo’s part. In a way,<br />

Super Mario Party is like comfort food<br />

on a cold rainy Friday; it may not be<br />

as exciting as going out to eat but it’s<br />

sometimes just what you’re really in<br />

the mood for.<br />

By Ben Dye<br />



REVIEW NS:<br />


The LEGO series has adapted a lot of<br />

popular intellectual properties—Star Wars,<br />

Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park—but perhaps<br />

none makes more sense with the series’<br />

gameplay conceits than Harry Potter (HP).<br />

After all, levitation and transfiguration, the<br />

staples of most LEGO games, are standard<br />

spells in the wizarding world of Harry Potter.<br />

So, it makes perfect sense that seventhgen<br />

systems saw two LEGO HP titles, which<br />

were subsequently bundled together and<br />

remastered on PS4, and finally ported to<br />

Xbox One and Switch. Overall, the bundle<br />

is a treat for the Potter faithful, although its<br />

family-friendly accessibility might turn some<br />

muggle heads—as long as they don’t expect<br />

gameplay that’s deep or demanding.


The HP Collection is split into its two original<br />

games, each available from a launcher<br />

menu. The first details the events of wizardin-training<br />

Harry Potter, from age 11-14,<br />

as he discovers his magic roots and starts<br />

sorcery lessons at Hogwarts, a boarding<br />

school for magic-users. The second game<br />

deals with Harry aged 15-17, when the<br />

demands of young adulthood and the rise of<br />

a malevolent dark wizard threaten to derail<br />

both his personal journey and the peaceful<br />

landscape of the wizarding world in general.

As with many of its LEGO games,<br />

developer TT Games captures these<br />

magical tales in a series of funny,<br />

flippant cut-scenes. Filled with injokes<br />

and sight gags, they’re a lot of<br />

fun. They’re also loyal to the source<br />

material—in this case the Warner<br />

Bros. movies, not the original novels.<br />

While this works well for players<br />

who’ve watched all eight movies (the<br />

seventh book was divided into two<br />

film installments, for those living<br />

under a rock since 2010), it’s counterproductive<br />

for those unaware of the<br />

main characters and minutiae of<br />

Harry Potter, Hogwarts, et al. Since<br />

the cut-scenes are wordless and bank<br />

on storyboards from the movies,<br />

the uninitiated will struggle to keep<br />

up. As a result, this collection is best<br />

consumed after watching the Harry<br />

Potter film canon.<br />

Both Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and<br />

Years 5-7 feature the same triedand-true,<br />

fool-proof LEGO gameplay:<br />

action-platforming, button-mashing<br />

combat, and light puzzle-solving.<br />

Each year at Hogwarts comes with<br />

its own sub-game, with six chapters<br />

united by a hub world—the interior<br />

and grounds of Hogwarts, the streets<br />

of London, or a combination of the<br />

two. Individual chapters typically<br />

find Harry and best friends Ron and<br />

Hermione learning spells, blasting<br />

bad guys, and transforming piles of<br />

loose LEGO bricks into something<br />

useful.<br />

The general gameplay works well<br />

enough—particularly for younger<br />

players and families—but falls on<br />

the shallow and simple side. Take<br />

the mechanics of Wingardium<br />

Leviosa, the most prominent spell<br />

in the game, for example. Harry<br />

or whichever playable character is<br />

controlled at the time will spot an<br />

item bathed in a purple glow. He’ll<br />

cycle through a spell wheel to pick<br />

Wingardium Leviosa, then hold down<br />

the A button, and the spell takes the<br />

purple item and moves or transforms<br />

it accordingly. A pile of sticks<br />

becomes a bridge, a barrel is turned<br />

upside down, etc. It’s simple and<br />

effective, but not terribly challenging<br />

or rewarding. Often gameplay in the<br />

Harry Potter Collection boils down to<br />

standing in the right place, selecting<br />

the right spell, and pressing A.

Now, of course, there are exceptions. Some<br />

puzzles require some outside-the-box<br />

thinking and a few boss fights test your<br />

dexterity and timing. A year three mini-boss<br />

fight against Harry’s Hogwarts nemesis<br />

Draco Malfoy, where Harry and Hermione<br />

must launch snowballs back at the sneering<br />

student, is especially good. There are also a<br />

handful of stages that break up the standard<br />

action-platforming bits, including a car<br />

escape toward the end of year two and a<br />

behind-the-back on-rails flying sequence at<br />

the onset of year five.<br />

These sequences, and everything else in the<br />

game, are playable with two people in local<br />

co-op (again, great for families). While this<br />

disrupts the traditional narrative—Harry<br />

should face the dragon from the Triwizard<br />

tournament alone, not with Hermione, for<br />

example—it makes the puzzle-solving and<br />

spell-casting a lot more fun. Be warned,

however: the HP Collection uses a diagonal<br />

split-screen set-up when the two co-op<br />

partners stray too far from another, resulting<br />

in some visual disorientation (WiiU, with its<br />

second screen, remains the best way to play<br />

local LEGO games).<br />

When not adventuring through adolescence<br />

or avoiding the apocalypse, Harry and<br />

friends can retire to the Leaky Cauldron, a<br />

tavern from which players can view videos,<br />

replay individual chapters—necessary to find<br />

all unlockable characters, collect all tokens,<br />

and achieve 100 percent completion—and<br />

access Diagon Alley. In the alley, there are<br />

several shops that sell new characters, spells<br />

(not essential to beating the game), cheats,<br />

and other items. At the back of Diagon Alley<br />

is the goblin bank of Gringotts, which hosts<br />

several bonus stages and a neat level editor<br />

mode. The HP Collection isn’t wanting for<br />

content or replay value, that’s for sure.<br />

Apart from its wealth of content—in<br />

addition to dozens of levels and hundreds<br />

of characters the compilation includes<br />

two DLC packs with new spells and new<br />

characters like Godric Gryffindor, Helga<br />

Hufflepuff, Peeves, Rowena Ravenclaw and<br />

Salazar Slytherin—the HP Collection offers<br />

enhanced graphics, environments, lighting,<br />

and visual effects. While these aren’t a<br />

quantum leap over the older HD console<br />

versions of Years 1-4 and 5-7, they’re<br />

certainly an improvement—particularly<br />

compared to the Wii, DS, and PSP variants.<br />

With a friendly approach to gaming, a warm<br />

sense of humor, and lots of content, the HP<br />

Collection is a good investment for younger<br />

and/or less accomplished gamers, or anyone<br />

who loves the Harry Potter IP. Shallow,<br />

undemanding gameplay will make it less<br />

attractive to experienced players.<br />

6<br />

By Evan Norris

Patrick Day-Childs<br />



Traveller’s Tales has always managed to<br />

squeeze something fresh into its LEGO<br />

games, to one extent or another, but with<br />

LEGO DC Super-Villains I feel like this is<br />

the first time that the developer has really<br />

pushed the boat out in recent years.<br />

LEGO DC Super-Villains stands as a<br />

testament to what Traveller’s Tales can<br />

accomplish when it pours a little love into<br />

these franchised titles. With an interesting<br />

story, a wide array of characters, and some<br />

highly varied settings to explore, this is<br />

truly one of the strongest LEGO games<br />

I’ve played – and I’ve played a lot of LEGO<br />

games.<br />

It opens with a new villain - one that<br />

you create. On top of the usual array of<br />

customisation options you’re also able<br />

to give your villain different powers and<br />

have the ability to change how each power<br />

looks. These customisation options expand<br />

as you progress through the game, but<br />

you have a huge amount to fiddle with<br />

from the get-go. I had the joy of playing<br />

the game with my young son and he<br />

particularly enjoyed the customisation<br />

options, placing Parademon wings on his<br />

LEGO character “to make him look like<br />

grandad”.<br />

Referred to as the ‘rookie’, you embark on<br />

a quest with some other ne’er-do-wells<br />

to break out of prison. Your super power,<br />

as it turns out, is the ability to absorb<br />

other super powers (where have I seen<br />

that before?), making you one bad-ass<br />

menace. After a short crime spree the<br />

Justice League show up to ruin your fun,<br />

but they’re zapped away by the Justice<br />

Syndicate, an evil version of the Justice<br />

League from an alternate universe. It turns<br />

out that the latter are actually worse for<br />

our rag-tag squad of villains and so you<br />

find yourselves chasing after the actual<br />

heroes to try and save them.


There are several twists and turns<br />

throughout the story that came as<br />

real surprises, and the level of writing<br />

is impressive, especially considering<br />

that the game is aimed to a young<br />

audience.<br />

Traveller’s Tales really managed to<br />

capture each cities’ own individual<br />

personality and key features, with the<br />

former being a light, vibrant city and<br />

the latter being a dark, miserable one.<br />

The narrative takes you across<br />

several varied locations - some dark<br />

and dingy, others full of life and<br />

energy - and it’s a genuine pleasure<br />

to explore each level. In terms of<br />

freeroam, the world is divided up into<br />

several sections, with the two major<br />

areas being Metropolis and Gotham.

Locations such as Smallville can be<br />

found too, and there are a bunch of<br />

side missions that require the use of<br />

lots of different villains, and plenty of<br />

light puzzles to keep you distracted.<br />

The races also make a return,<br />

along with a massive array of<br />

vehicles. DC fans will smile to<br />

see the likes of Red Hood’s<br />

motorbike pop up. One final<br />

thing that stood out to me in<br />

this title is that in multiplayer<br />

you can both set separate<br />

waypoints, allowing friends to<br />

head about doing their own<br />

thing during free roam. In terms of new<br />

gameplay elements, some characters<br />

can now call on henchmen to help them<br />

reach otherwise unattainable places,<br />

and there’s a tepid attempt to evolve the<br />

series’ platforming elements with the<br />

introduction of moving platforms and<br />

more challenging sequences, but on the<br />

whole it felt like Traveller’s Tales was too<br />

shy to really advance the formula.<br />

around like a marble and using gravity<br />

to reach your objective. These become<br />

more complex as you advance, with for<br />

example the introduction of ropes that<br />

you need to jump between, but to such<br />

an extent that it can feel a bit tedious.<br />

A lack of QA sometimes rears its head;<br />

I came across several glitches, some of<br />

which forced me to restart from previous<br />

checkpoints because characters became<br />

permanently stuck. But on the whole<br />

LEGO DC Super-Villains is a fun, polished<br />

gameplay experience.<br />

With over 150 characters to play through,<br />

200 gold bricks to collect, and a total of<br />

20 levels to work your way through, LEGO<br />

DC Super-Villains offers a huge amount<br />

of bang for its buck. If you’re a LEGO fan,<br />

or looking for that game to bond with<br />

your kids over this half term, then LEGO<br />

DC Super-Villains is ideal.<br />

By Patrick Day-Childs<br />

Other gameplay additions include mazes,<br />

where you use the shoulder buttons to<br />

spin a board, moving your character<br />







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