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03 December, 2015

Assault Android Cactus Review – Intense Four-Player Bullet Hell

Best experienced with friends, Witch Beam's Assault Android Cactus may be one of the most intense, satisfying and genuinely fun games of 2015.

Assault Android Cactus from Australian developer Witch Beam is one of the most satisfying and enjoyable games I’ve played in recent times. This year's game catalogue has been quite an interesting one for me, with a few really big ups, but also some notable downs. So I’m very thankful to have been able to play a game like Assault Android Cactus, which left me feeling incredibly cheerful after every play session.

A throwback to classic arcade games, Assault Android Cactus is a lovingly crafted twin-stick shooter about mowing down hordes of robotic enemies with an arsenal of weapons so over-the-top it would make Rambo blush. After picking up a distress call from a space freighter, Cactus (the assault android) and co are sent to investigate. Upon arriving, they are lovingly greeted by a crazy AI who looses its robotic minions upon the not-so-helpless crew. Cue lots and lots of shooting. Lots!

30 November, 2015

SteelSeries Nimbus Review - A Gateway to Big-Screen Apple Gaming

The Nimbus has been positioned as the Unofficial Official Apple TV gaming controller - but is it up to the task?

After years of speculation, we now live in a world in which an Apple branded microconsole exists. Of course, it’s not a dedicated gaming device, but as a secondary function it holds its own, and with plenty of upcoming traditional gaming experiences on the way, its future is filled with potential.

     Also Read: Should You Buy an Apple TV as a Dedicated Gaming Device?

To be taken even halfway seriously, good gaming hardware needs a quality gamepad, and for anything beyond Wii-inspired party games, physics puzzlers and auto-runners, the Siri Remote just doesn’t cut it. Surely there will be some innovative gaming experiences developed for which the Siri Remote will be indispensable, but for core gaming experiences to succeed on the new hardware, an input device needs to feel like more than just an enabler.

This is where MFi controllers (meaning compatible with iOS and tvOS) come in, and over the course of a weekend, we spent hours getting hands on with the SteelSeries Nimbus, coming away feeling very positive about using it as our gateway to big-screen Apple gaming.

24 October, 2015

Downwell Review - 5 Stars - This Gamer's Game Goes Down Very Well

Follow us down into this nightmare well as we move past the broad brushstrokes and look at this challenging treat from Moppin in more detail.

Players will think they have Downwell's measure after their first handful of descents; the mechanics of running, jumping and dropping platform after platform through a pixel art aesthetic, all while blasting foes and gathering collectibles, is an easy grouping of descriptors to rattle off.

Persist past your first dozen or so quick deaths, however, and Downwell starts to reveal itself as a stellar example of tight controls, finely tuned difficulty and subtly balanced gameplay. Layers of playability welcome both those choosing to mash and blast with prayers and luck, and those who prefer to learn a game as they would a skill, acquiring a certain level of satisfying mastery. It's a commendable feat when a developer can offer both ends of that spectrum within the one experience - well done Moppin!

20 October, 2015

Rebel Galaxy Review - Even Better Than Freelancer!

Hunting bounties, hauling cargo, accelerating to warp nine; Rebel Galaxy aims to fulfill your wildest space fantasies. Does it conquer the final frontier, or is it heading for a black hole?

Remember that seminal moment in Spore where the camera zooms out to reveal the world is so much bigger than it first seemed? That you were just a tiny fish in an ocean full of possibility? That's the feeling Rebel Galaxy evokes, except unlike Spore, it's not just a one-off trick. There's a lot of progress to be made in Double Damage's space adventure, and every time you think you've hit the top rung, you lift your head and see there's a whole new ladder to climb.

And believe me, you're going to want to keep climbing.

Rebel Galaxy is a space game like no other space game. Right from the get-go you're piloting the kinds of ships that are always off-limits. The corvettes, the dreadnaughts, the capital ships: the ones you normally drool over from the cockpit of a two-man scout ship. Not here. Rebel Galaxy hands you the keys to the big-boy ships and lets you swat those pesky little fighters like so many feckless flies.

Grandeur is something Rebel Galaxy does brilliantly.

17 October, 2015

Blood Bowl 2 Review - It's Bloody Good

Cyanide Studios fantasy sports sequel for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is a whole different ball game.

Sports games play to a niche audience; those that are interested in sport and want to play with friends, but aren't out playing it themselves. Warhammer's games cater to another niche audience; strategy buffs who love learning a massive amount of rules and lore. The interactions and player options are staggering and very intimidating. So Blood Bowl 2 should be geared towards the smallest audience ever, somewhere between a sports nut and a tabletop gamer.

However, that couldn't be further from the truth. Blood Bowl 2 is exhilarating, tactical and very easy to play. If you've ever looked at a game of Rugby, American Football, Soccer or any other sport and thought, “this would be so much better without the referee getting in the way,” or “that guy is so much bigger, why doesn't he just squash the little guy and take the ball?” well Blood Bowl 2 is for you.

The world of Blood Bowl sits alongside the traditional Games Workshop Warhammer universe; it's not part of it. In this world, the centuries old conflict between Orcs, Elves, Humans, Chaos and all the other races is settled on the playing field rather than the battlefield.

Also Read: Grab It's Top 5 Steam Early Access Indie Games

16 October, 2015

Dropsy Review – Can't Sleep, Clown Will Eat Me

An old school point-and-clicker that hides its significant charm behind a scary clown face.

Let’s get this out of the way; Dropsy freaks the hell out of me. For the life of me, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being slowly tortured by a retro-inspired nightmare. The colour palate alone evokes the same effect as someone dragging their fingernails down a chalkboard. Indeed, the game made me realise I probably have a touch of coulrophobia. But putting my insecurities aside, Dropsy is one very good game that adventure fans should play. Just don’t send me your psychologist bill.

What is it about clowns that evoke such a sense of unease? Psychologist Sigmund Freud might say that clowns embody the notion of the “uncanny,” that feeling of when you look at something or someone and it’s not quite right. The thing in question is often recognisable, but just different enough to be disconcerting. By all accounts, this is the pretext underlying Dropsy - a slightly rotund clown with a garish yellow-toothed smile, ghostly pale make-up, and an eclectic outfit that wouldn’t be out of place in the 1980s. Based on appearances only, this is not the sort of clown you’d invite to perform at children’s parties. Or associate with. Ever.

12 October, 2015

Need for Speed No Limits - A Beautiful and Fun Oxymoron

Pop Quiz.

You’ve hit the wall. You’ve felt it coming ever since hitting level 20 when the cost of entering a race doubled from one ticket to two. Now at level 25 you’re in a position where you can’t enter any of the Car Series races because none of your cars are at a sufficient level, and you can’t enter any of the Underground races for the same reason. It’s also day four of five in Need for Speed No Limits’ first public event since its world wide launch, and the Ford Shelby GT500 you borrowed from Snoop Dogg also needs some work before you can complete today’s events.

It’s been a fun ride getting here, but now the squeeze has tightened to become a dead end. With just over $100,000 of in-game currency to your name, 29 gold, and no race tickets - what do you do?

What do you do?

07 October, 2015

Land Sliders Review - It's Prettygreat

They have iOS classics in their blood, but can the team at Prettygreat deliver another original casual gaming gem?

It’s hard to argue against including Jetpack Joyride and Fruit Ninja among the first big wave of games that helped propel iOS towards becoming the valid gaming platform that it is today. Playing to the strengths of the touchscreen and mixing in a healthy dose of charm and polish, these games were key in taking Australian developer Halfbrick to the lofty heights at the top of the App Store charts.

Also Read: Five Minutes with Prettygreat's Phil Larsen

It was from this altitude that three key components of Halfbrick’s success - Luke Muscat, Phil Larsen and Hugh Walters - bailed out in a search for new challenges. Forming Prettygreat, and receiving a $500,000 parachute from fellow Australian indie success story Hipster Whale (Crossy Road), the talent and funding was in place, and the iOS gaming landscape waited for the new (if pedigreed) studio to do its thing.

Well the wait has ended and Prettygreat’s debut game has appeared in the form of Land Sliders. Was the wait worth it? Is the game a worthy sum of its considerable parts?

24 September, 2015

Armello Review - Brilliantly Modernises the Board Game

Think back to the stories of your childhood - Farthing Wood, The Wind In The Willows, Jack Rabbit – and wonder if they were mixed with today's fascinations with the political intrigue and espionage of shows like Game Of Thrones. Somewhere in between those ideas sits Armello.

It’s been a great year for developers from downunder and the good times just keep on rolling. Armello is finally with us, and we’re happy to report it joins the likes of Hand of Fate, Framed and Expand as prime examples of the wonderfully creative indie games merging from small Australian studios. Armello does have a couple of issues that keep it from being truly awe-inspiring, but with the right group of friends it can be a magical experience.

It’s a beautifully designed and charmingly animated attempt to marry a fairy tale aesthetic with a story of corruption, deception and outright betrayal. The story of Armello centres on The King, a lion who has managed to unite the other clans (themed to animals) and forge an empire filled with moderate good will and friendship. It is in this careful balancing act that we see how quickly it can all come tumbling down. The sudden onset of Rot – a malicious black force of untold evil – in The King suddenly pits the other clans against the monarch and each other to secure the throne by any means necessary.

23 September, 2015

Blackwell 4: Deception Review - Super Ghouls n' Ghosts

Does the fourth game in this retro-inspired point-and-click adventure series live up to expectations? Or is it as hollow as a family spiritual guide?

This review is of the iOS version - which released on September 24, 2015 - but the game is also out on PC.

The Blackwell series has grown on me immensely. For a loyal fan of point-and-click adventures, I was surprised  I hadn’t heard of the series until earlier this year when Wadjet Eye Games ported the first three games (Legacy, Unbound, Convergence) to mobile. (You can read our review of the Blackwell Trilogy here.) For the most part I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Blackwell games, so I’m thrilled that Deception has also made its way to mobile.

The Blackwell games have a special place in my heart if only because Wadjet Eye Games has tapped into a pleasantly nostalgic vibe that wouldn’t feel out of place in a nineties adventure game. But perhaps even more poignant is the sharp writing that quickly cuts through a superficial layer of cliché.

For newcomers to the series, the Blackwell games follow the adventures of spiritual medium Rosa Blackwell and the family spirit guide Joey Mallone. Rosa and Joey work together to guide other spirits “into the light.” So there’s the cliché part, but I found the temptation to roll my eyes at such a trite concept dispelled by the gradual unfolding of the sad stories of these spirits. It’s pretty powerful stuff to watch grieving characters who have been murdered struggle to come to terms with their death and lament those things never achieved in life. It may hit too close to home for some people.

Also Read: 25 Fun Facts to Celebrate Monkey Island's 25th Birthday

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