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The first game that Lewis ever played was "Horace Goes Skiing" on the ZX Spectrum. Yes, he's that old.

Hanging out in the apocalypse with Joel and Ellie

Last-of-us-cover-1024x1024When we created our rundown of the best games of the generation a couple of months back, I took Sir Gaulian’s word for it that The Last of Us should come in at number two, having not played the game myself. Now that I’ve had some time to hang out with Joel and Ellie in the ruins of America, I emphatically agree with Gaulie’s judgement – and there’s even grounds for even moving it up a place.

The Last of Us sucked me in from the very beginning and kept me hooked right up until the astonishing finale. It starts as it means to go on, with a brutal opening that hits you in your emotions gland with the weight of an articulated lorry, possibly a lorry carrying a cargo of dying kittens. And remarkably, the game keeps that emotional weight all the way through. By the end I found I was physically gasping whenever one of the two leads was placed in peril, such is the emotional attachment I forged with the characters.

There have been games with emotional weightiness and formidable storytelling before, of course. Spec Ops: The Line told a cracking yarn with a memorable ending, and Fallout 3 had some surprisingly moving moments. But until The Last of Us, I’d never played a game that tells such a compelling tale throughout, combining shocks with comedy and creating characters that change perceptibly over time. It’s an astonishing achievement, and one that has set the new benchmark for characterization in video games.

This is an actual gameplay screenshot - the attention to detail is stunning.

This is an actual gameplay screenshot – the attention to detail is stunning.

The setting itself isn’t particularly original – the zombie apocalypse is a trope that has been used countless times before, although the idea that ‘zombieism’ is caused by a mind-controlling parasitic fungus (a fungus that, scarily, exists in real life) is one that I haven’t seen before. However, rather than becoming an all-out zombie-killing fest, like Dead Island and its ilk, The Last of Us borrows more from The Walking Dead by focusing on how the people involved cope with the end of civilization. Half of the time the baddies you’re facing are humans rather than zombies (although the game never uses the ‘z’ word, referring instead to the ‘infected’). And often there’s an uncomfortable ambiguity about whether all of the slaughter is ‘right’.

Gameplay-wise there’s little we haven’t seen before, with the usual selection of guns and tools and the tried and tested mechanics of sneaking and shooting. What’s impressive though is how seamlessly it’s all been integrated – I found myself picking up the controls with no trouble at all, and it’s ingenious the way that the screen clutter has been kept to a bare minimum to avoid detracting from the action. Graphically, the game is phenomenal, and streets ahead of anything else on the current generation. The attention to detail adds enormously to the game’s power to draw you in – assets are rarely reused, so each abandoned house you enter feels unique and draws you into the game world further. Immediately after I finished The Last of Us I began playing Deadly Premonition, and the difference in graphical fidelity was remarkable: Deadly Premonition looks almost like a PS2 game by comparison, and as such its power to absorb you is diminished accordingly (although it’s still great; write up coming soon). Don’t believe what you hear: graphics do matter.

There’s loads more I want to say about the story, but I’ll leave it here for now – sometime in the future Gaulie and I might end up doing a spoilery discussion of Joel and Ellie’s fate. In the meantime though, if you’ve not done so already, I’d recommend rushing off to play The Last of Us now. If you don’t have a PS3, get one: this game is worth it.

[As penned in mortal peril by Lucius Merriweather.]

Apparently Ellen Page accused the designers of ripping off her likeness for Ellie - you can see her point.

Apparently Ellen Page accused the designers of ripping off her likeness for Ellie – you can see her point.

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Lucius Merriweather’s Most Agreeable Games of 2013

Well, 2013 has certainly been an eventful year for gaming. The Xbox One and PS4 arrived with chest-beating bombast but a fairly shoddy line-up of games, and instead the real action was to be had on those soon-to-be-relegated ‘legacy’ consoles. The PS3 received what many are saying is its best game with The Last of Us, and we were treated to several huge and highly playable blockbusters in the form of Assassin’s Creed IV, Tomb Raider, BioShock Infinite and GTAV. Although Wii U sales are still glacially slow, Nintendo had one of its best ever years in terms of quality games: the Wii U finally ended its game drought with Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World and The Wonderful 101, and the 3DS had its best ever year with a bevy of fantastic releases, including Fire Emblem: Awakening, Luigi’s Mansion 2 and A Link Between Worlds. I actually managed to play a fair few games in 2013, but I still only scratched the surface in terms of what’s out there – here’s a quick run down of my favourite games from last year, as well as a few that I wish I’d had a chance to play.

The Best Games of 2013 That I Actually Played

Pikmin-3-FruitPikmin 3

In terms of sheer fun, this was probably my favourite game of the year. It had me smiling from start to finish, and the transition to HD has led to a superbly detailed and wonderfully vibrant game. I’ve waited since the GameCube generation for a sequel to Pikmin 2, and I’m pleased to say the wait was worth it. It also has the best-looking fruit you’ll ever see in a video game.

ace attorney 5Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies

I just finished this game, which is the fifth in the Ace Attorney series, and I can safely say that it’s the best one yet. It looks absolutely brilliant, the mechanics have been rethought and streamlined to avoid the frustrations of the earlier games and, most importantly, the trials are brilliantly written and often hysterically funny. A welcome and long overdue return for Phoenix and co.

Bioshock Infinite screenshot 3BioShock Infinite

I can’t remember the last time a game sunk its teeth into me like this one, to the point where I couldn’t wait to rush home from work and play it every night. It looks stunning, the story is great (the ending actually made me yelp out loud in surprise) and Elizabeth sets a new high for NPCs. It’s not without its faults of course, plot holes being one, but it’s a game that will stick in my memory for some time to come.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon

Far Cry 2 irritated me so much that I deliberately avoided its sequel, but then Blood Dragon came along. A genius idea, it took the gameplay mechanics of Far Cry 3 but made the game into a standalone spoof of naff eighties action flicks – it even had Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese in The Terminator) doing the voiceover. With this game and Saints Row IV, 2013 legitimized the spoof as a game genre all of its own.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate

After years of listening to my sister telling me how good Monster Hunter is, I finally dived into the franchise for the first time with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and I was hooked from the beginning. It’s not an easy game by any means, and its reputation for being frustratingly obtuse when it comes to revealing its game mechanics is a deserved one, but a game hasn’t sunk its teeth into me this deeply since Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast.

BUBBLING UNDER: Honorary mentions should also go to Luigi’s Mansion 2, The Wonderful 101 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Director’s Cut.

The Best Games of 2013 That I Would Have Played If I’d Had The Time

the-last-of-us-joel-ellieThe Last of Us

I actually received this game for Christmas along with my new PS3, but the last week has been so hectic that I haven’t had a chance to play it. Sir Gaulian maintains it’s one of the best games he’s ever played, so I’m looking forward to spending January wandering through the end of the world with Super-Ear Joel.

Assassins Creed 4 black flagAssassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

I’ve still yet to play through Assassin’s Creed III (which has been sat on my shelf since about February), but I’m tempted to just skip it and go straight to number 4, such is the allure of being a pirate. Black Flag took the brave decision to dial back many of the series’ traits in favour of plundering the Carribbean, and it looks all the better for it – Assassin’s Creed has had its ups and downs, but this game could be the pinnacle of the series.

TombRaiderscreenTomb Raider

I’m a huge fan of the Tomb Raider games, and I was a bit worried when I heard that Lara Croft was to get a ‘gritty’ makeover (why does everything always have to be gritty these days?). Thankfully, the reboot was released to rave reviews, and I’m determined to find time in 2014 to play through Lara’s new adventure.

Super_Mario_3D_WorldSuper Mario 3D World

When I first saw it, I wasn’t too impressed with Super Mario 3D World, which comes across as a sort of mix between Super Mario 3D Land and New Super Mario Bros., but everything I’ve heard about it since makes me want to play it more and more – Eurogamer even made it their game of the year. I almost, almost, bought it on day one, but I’m determined to finally finish Super Mario Galaxy 2 and New Super Mario Bros. U before I add yet another Mario game to The Backlog.

BUBBLING UNDER: Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut, Attack of the Friday Monsters!, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Bravely Default, Pokémon X/Y, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, XCOM: Enemy Within, Remember Me and Gone Home.

[As written by Lucius Merriweather while devouring the last of the Christmas bonbons. Happy New Year everyone!]

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Haring around Hotel Dusk

hotel-dusk-room-215-coverHotel Dusk: Room 215 is a brilliant example of that most niche of genres, the visual novel. It’s difficult to classify Hotel Dusk as a game, if by ‘game’ you mean having some sense of autonomy in a virtual world – here it’s a mostly passive experience in which you talk to different characters, scroll through reams of text and attempt to ask the right questions to trigger the next plot point. Very few of these types of game make it to the West – the most well-known example is the Ace Attorney series – but they’re hugely popular in Japan, and I’m a big fan of them.

Games like this tend to live or die on the quality of the writing, and thankfully Dusk gets a big thumbs up on this point. The set-up is nothing original – a grizzled seventies detective on a missing person hunt – but the story and setting provide atmosphere in spades, and each chapter throws more intriguing mysteries into the mix. Visually the game is a winner too, and the pencil-drawn animation provides a really unique look that I can’t recall seeing in a game before.

The plot kept me hooked right up to the end, although I was left slightly wanting by the climax – some mysteries are left unexplained, which was frustrating but also brave on the developers’ part. There were a few niggles along the way, too – probably the most frustrating thing was aimlessly wandering the hotel in search of someone to interview. Often you’re given clues as to where to go next, but sometimes it’s really unclear what you’re meant to do, and I found myself consulting a guide a few times. The nadir is probably around a third of the way through, when you’re given a pen with an engraving and a hint that you need to put something into the engraved letters to be able to read them. Cue lots of needless wandering and searching, followed by an exasperated trip to GameFAQs.

Hotel Dusk screenshot

Another potentially frustrating feature is the way a single wrong choice can abruptly lead to a game over screen. Annoy someone too much or wander into the wrong place and you’re likely to get kicked out of the hotel by the owner, forcing you to restart from your last save. After the first couple of ‘Game Over’ screens, I learnt to save frequently, and despite the potential frustration, I quite liked this harsh but fair system – it adds a lot of weight and tension to the game and stops you blithely skipping through conversations with no fear of consequence.

Sadly, the developer Cing folded in 2010, but before they went they created a sequel – Last Window: The Secret of Cape West – so I’m currently on the hunt for it on eBay. Cing had a varied and unique output: they created one of my all-time favourite Wii games, Little King’s Story, as well as a few esoteric visual novels that have met with varied critical reception. Importantly though, they weren’t afraid to try doing something a bit different – we could do with a few more developers like them.

[As investigated by Lucius Merriweather.]

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Side-stepping the next generation

The PS4 and Xbox One have now both launched in the UK, so the question is, which one am I going to get for Christmas? Well, the answer is neither: I’m getting a PS3 instead.

Both the PS4 and Xbox One look like impressive pieces of kit, but I’ve yet to see a single stand-out reason that I should own either of them right now. The launch games for both machines are impressive in their number but disappointing in their quality, and neither machine has a stand-out ‘must buy’ game. Indeed, I’m sure we’ll see the likes of Knack, Fighter Within and Ryse: Son of Rome confined to bargain bins in the very near future. The best-reviewed games, such as Assassin’s Creed 4 and Call of Duty, are already available on Xbox 360 and PS3, and by all accounts the next-gen versions offer little improvement over their old-gen cousins. Similarly, there’s very little on the next-gen horizon for me to get excited about, with the possible exception of Titanfall, and even that’s not particularly appealing – online multiplayer first-person shooters are most definitely not my bag, even if they feature giant robots (very much my bag).

So which one to get? Well, neither as it happens...

So which one to get? Well, neither as it happens…

Then there are all the little problems associated with buying a console at launch. Both the Xbox One and PS4 have features that didn’t quite make it in time for launch day, such as streaming of PS3 games using Gaikai for the PS4 and the compatibility with UK set-top boxes for the Xbox One (a seemingly glaring omission considering that the Xbox One reveal was centred around using the console to watch TV). Then there’s the ‘baffling incompetence‘ of the Xbox One interface, which seems to have removed useful and well-used functions such as being able to see what achievements you’ve unlocked and how much power your controller has left (the latter being a particularly odd omission). Microsoft have said that this is just the ‘first version’ of the interface, but it’s hardly encouraging me to rush out and buy an Xbox One. Furthermore, seeing as the intention appears to be to align the Xbox One interface with Windows 8 (surely one of the most hated operating systems of all time, and I’m saying that as a frustrated user), this hardly bodes well for future updates.

I’m certain that both consoles will find their feet in time, and in a couple of years from now I’m sure the problems will be fixed and each will have a healthy roster of fantastic games, but right now I see no need to upgrade. On the other hand, I see every reason to invest in a PS3.

I’ve owned an Xbox 360 since the early days of this generation, but it was more through luck than choice: my uncle sold me his 360 for a bargain price when he upgraded to the Elite version. I’ve never felt the need to buy a PS3 up until now because most games I’ve wanted to play are available for both machines, but as we near the sunset of the seventh generation, the PS3 has acquired an enviable line-up of exclusive games that I’m itching to play. Now that PS3s have been slashed in price on the launch of the PS4, it seemed the right time to treat myself to one for Christmas – I managed to blag a new console with Killzone 3 for just £134.

£134 with Killzone 3? Bargain!

£134 with Killzone 3? Bargain!

It will stay firmly in its box until Christmas day, but in the meantime I’ve already bought copies of The Last of Us and Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut in preparation for Chrimble day. Then, come the January sales, I’m hoping to expand my collection with the Uncharted series, Ni No Kuni, Little Big Planet and Journey, to name a few.

With amazing titles such as these, plus all the phenomenal Xbox 360 and Wii games I’ve yet to play (Mass Effect 2, Xenoblade Chronicles and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword are just a few of the games in my backlog), I see no reason to launch into the next generation for some time to come.

[As penned in patience by Lucius Merriweather.]

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Xbox One launch: highs and lows

Sir Gaulian’s experience of the Xbox One launch was underwhelming to say the least: only a handful of people turned up for what sounds like a mostly joyless and slightly militaristic midnight launch in Canberra. Having said that, it sounds like the launch went off with more of a bang in Sydney, and London was looking pretty lively too. I happened to be walking through Leicester Square last night, and I was surprised to come across an enormous green ‘X’ dominating the centre of the square, complete with a DJ nesting beneath it.

Xbox One launch 1

Dotted around were a few gladiators too, presumably to promote the launch of Ryse: Son of Rome (a game that, from the sounds of the reviews, will quickly be heading to bargain bins). They must have been bloody cold in those little skirts, but they gamely mugged for photos with the general public.

Xbox One launch 2

So much for central London, but things were a little less glamourous on the outskirts. I popped into Sainsbury’s in Walthamstow earlier today, where I spotted this heart-rendingly tragic Xbox One display. In case you haven’t spotted it, the Xbox One is that half-trampled cardboard thing on the floor.

Xbox One launch 3

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Snap Goes The Xbox

I was intrigued to read an update on the Snap feature of the Xbox One today. The feature was announced at the Xbox One’s fateful unveiling, but it was somewhat lost beneath the tidal wave of outrage at the console’s ‘always-on’ internet requirement and the fact that Microsoft might be spying on our bedrooms. Now, with the Xbox One launch weeks away, Microsoft are ‘bigging up’ the feature once again.

Snap lets you bring up a second app while playing a game, so by bellowing “XBOX, SNAP TV!”, you can command your console to split the screen and bring up a little telly on a side bar. It also works with Skype and Internet Explorer, and it can be used to show your Friends List as well. Judging by the comments under the Eurogamer article linked above, it’s received a mixed reception.

XboxOneSnapSkype

Many rightly ask why the hell you’d want to watch TV when you’re already playing a game. Some point out that slower games, like Sim City, might work with this, but others rightly point out that games like Sim City are hardly a mainstay of consoles. Yet more people argue that it would be useful to have a football match showing, meaning you could play the game during the boring bits but then transfer your attention when something interesting happens. To me, this says more about the nature of watching football than the relative merits of the Xbox One feature.

The Skype feature seems next to useless by comparison – who on earth is going to make a Skype call while playing a game? And who on earth would want to chat to someone while they’re mindlessly shooting aliens/bad guys/zombies? I already have images of long-suffering girlfriends shouting at their boyfriends to STOP PLAYING THAT BLOODY GAME while they’re attempting to hold a Skype conversation. I suppose it could be useful for gamers keeping in touch with each other while playing cooperatively online… but don’t we already have voice chat for that?

However, I can see the benefits of being able to bring up the internet while playing a game, particularly in terms of looking for tips or guides to a game when you get stuck. Then again, like most gamers, I already have a ‘second screen’ in the form of a smartphone and laptop, so I can’t see how splitting the screen on the TV rather than searching the internet on my phone would be an improvement.

To be honest, I’m a bit baffled by Snap – it seems like a feature for having the sake of a feature, and I’ve the feeling that most users will probably try it once and then never use it again. But maybe I’m wrong – maybe screen multitasking is the future, and I’m just too blind to see it?

I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the whole thing – would you use Snap? If so, what for?

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The Launch Games That Time Forgot

With the launches of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 just around the corner, much talk is being devoted to the various merits of the competing systems, and not least their line-ups of launch games. It’s worth being reminded here that for the most part, launch games tend to be generic, undercooked and quickly forgotten soon after the console hits its stride. Anyone remember FantaVision on the PS2? Or Street Fighter: The Movie on PS1? Fuzion Frenzy on the Xbox? Thought not.

It’s not always like this of course: occasionally a console will launch with a game that blows everything else out of the water and sets the gaming agenda for years to come: Super Mario 64, Halo and WipeOut are a few launch games in this category. And sometimes there’s a launch game or two that, despite not sharing the limelight with the big hitters, offers up some unique and solid gameplay. This article is dedicated to the launch games that were quickly forgotten but that perhaps deserve a second look.

Jumping Flash PS1Jumping Flash! (PS1)

Sir Gaulian - They say “History is written by the victors” and that is no truer that in the case of  PlayStation launch title Jumping Flash. While Super Mario 64 is often referred to as the first 3D platformer, it was actually Jumping Flash that started a genre which would become a console stalwart for many years to come, albeit from a first person perspective. The game’s title pretty much says it all: Jumping Flash was all about the jumping, and to what great heights the robotic frog could jump. Do you remember Samus looking down when jumping between platforms in Metroid Prime? Jumping Flash did that too. It also happened to look bloody impressive while doing it, particularly for the early days of the Playstation and 3D games in general. It was an impressive piece of tech that showed off what polygons were all about way back in 1995.

Smugglers Run PS2Smuggler’s Run (PS2)

Lucius – I bought this game as present for my friend Paul years ago. I’d heard it was surprisingly good, but I had no idea it would turn out to be such a massive time sink for me and my friends. Graphics-wise it’s no great shakes – the designers have a questionable love of the colour brown – but it flies along at a fantastic pace and the action is non-stop. Essentially it’s a racing game without borders – you can go anywhere as long as you get to your destination in time and your car isn’t destroyed by rival gangs or the police. In two player it really comes alive as you battle with your friend over who can get to the cargo and return it to your base – if you’re first to get it, expect a queue of rivals and the police on your tail as you frantically blast your way over ridges and through valleys in an attempt to shake them. One of Rockstar’s earliest games and one of the best.

ProjectRubProject Rub: Feel the Magic XY/XX (DS)

Sir Gaulian – Remember mini games?  How could you forget, they were on any street corner over the life of the Nintendo DS.  While Warioware: Touched has remained in the minds of most early adopters of the system as the epitome of mini game collections, SEGA also had an early offering that not only offered an eclectic mix of mini games, but also a heart warming story and impressive minimalist visual style to go along with it.  Project Rub (or Feel the Magic XX/XY as it was known in other territories) tells a pretty standard boy meets girl love story, but the game itself revolves around his pursuit of the girl and the great lengths he goes to to win her heart.  His attempts play out through various mini games that are so unbelievably ridiculous that they are absolutely worth discovering and experiencing first hand.  Along with Warioware, Project Rub used every feature of the DS and in that way is the ultimate embodiment of the console’s 2004 launch.   Unbelievably there was a sequel to this game, The Rub Rabbits!, released in 2006.

Polarium (DS)PolariumDS

Sir Gaulian – Every portable console launch needs a puzzle game, and for the Nintendo DS it was Japanese developer Mitchell Corporation’s long-forgotten brain strainer Polarium. Polarium is a vertically oriented block game where the aim is to align blocks according to their polarity by tapping or drawing across them. Its simple concept and incredibly crude presentation masks an incredible layer of depth and complexity in what is probably my favourite puzzle game. In addition to your standard infinite mode there was a devious puzzle mode that required the player to clear the lines of a set pattern by drawing one continuous line. The combination made for a an addictive and excellent distraction from the world around and a magnificent time sink that was a mainstay in my travel bag. I wouldn’t be lying if I said Polarium continually occupying my Nintendo DS is probably the single biggest factor in ensuring that Animal Crossing: Wild World (released over 12 months later) never got its hooks in.

MGAcidMetal Gear Acid (PSP)

Sir Gaulian – It’s no wonder Metal Gear Acid gets lost amongst the shuffle. Overshadowed by its bigger and more explosive cousins, the non-canonical Metal Gear Acid is more Lost Kingdoms than it is Metal Gear Solid, with every movement and action being dictated by what cards the player has in their posession. But what it’s missing in instant action it more than makes up for in its approach to turn-based strategy, and way back at the launch of the PSP it made for a welcome change to a series more known for its stealth. The sequel released a couple of years later was a significant step forward from the original, but Metal Gear Acid still remains a portable-friendly game worth playing, particularly if you’re interested in a card game based on the Metal Gear characters and universe.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (GBA)THPSGBA

Sir Gaulian – I am a long-time fan of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series and, like many others, I’ve been mortified at the steady downward spiral the series has taken this generation. But there was a time when publisher Activision could do no wrong with the series and everything that the Hawk touched turned to goal. That included bringing what is widely regarded as the best in the series, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, from its home on the PlayStation to the Game Boy Advance. Making the switch from a behind-the-skater viewpoint to an isometric one was a smart move, and developer Vicarious Visions managed to do the impossible by bringing the fully fledged console experience to a system that shouldn’t have been able to handle it. It looked the part, sounded the part and played the part: something that gave Vicarious Visions the right to develop six more entries in the series for the system, and several more for its successor the Nintendo DS.

Battle Arena Toshinden PS1Battle Arena Toshinden (PS1)

LuciusToshinden is unfairly dismissed by many in the fighting community. After the release of Tekken and Soul Calibur, the series quickly retreated into the shadows, petering out at Toshinden 4. But many forget how revolutionary the game was when it was released – after all, this was the first 3D fighter to feature weapons, and the first to introduce the sidestep, a move that was the key to its success. Being able to swiftly bob to the left or right of your opponent transformed the way fighting games were played, and I remember happily playing the demo of Toshinden with friends for hours when I got my PlayStation.

TrickStyle DreamcastTrickStyle (Dreamcast)

LuciusTrickStyle was clearly inspired by WipeOut, but it had the added bonus of hoverboards – anyone who grew up on Back to the Future II will know how much of a draw this is. As a launch game, it was an impressive display of the power of Dreamcast, and the futuristic version of London that you dived and spiralled through was an absolute treat. Pulling 360s with your board during races felt great, although the game was hampered by slight lack of speed – something that could easily have been fixed in a sequel that, sadly, never was.

Bloody Roar Primal Fury GameCubeBloody Roar: Primal Fury (GameCube)

Lucius – I bought a GameCube at launch, but I could only afford to get one game with it. After careful consideration, I chose this: Bloody Roar: Primal Fury. While everyone else was threading their way through Luigi’s Mansion, I was transforming into a lion and laying the smack down on giant metal moles: I definitely made the right choice. Like Toshinden, the Bloody Roar series seems to have petered out, which is a real shame: the character design was excellent, and the ability to transform into a beast added a real tactical element to the gameplay – as well as a lot of laughs.

Wave Race Blue Storm GameCubeWave Race: Blue Storm (GameCube)

Lucius – I was doing work experience at CVG just before the launch of the GameCube, and I was there when Wave Race: Blue Storm arrived along with one of the first GameCubes to reach the UK. I was given the task of taking screenshots of the game, which was one of the sweetest jobs I’ve ever been given – the chance to sit in an office all day and play a superbly crafted and (still) wonderful looking racing game made by Nintendo’s finest. If only I’d been paid for it, it would have been even sweeter.

Sir Gaulian – I’ve played a lot of racing games in my time, but I’d be hard pressed to not put Nintendo’s brutally difficult Blue Storm in my favourites pile. It was a technical tour de force at the time of its release, with the water physics absolutely blowing the world away at the time. But while it looked awesome it was the way it played into the game that made it so spectacular, and being pushed off of your ‘racing line’ by a wayward wave made for a dynamic and unpredictable experience. Don’t let the difficulty put you off – Blue Storm is still to this day an excellent racer.

Ghost Recon Shadow Wars screenshot 3Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars (3DS)

Lucius – Finally, here’s something more recent – the best launch game for the Nintendo 3DS. Designed by Jullian Gollop of XCOM fame, this is a wonderfully designed strategy game that makes effective use of 3D effects and is perfect for handheld play. Even now it’s probably the 3DS game I’ve played for the longest time. Check out my review for more reasons on why you have to own this game if you’ve got a 3DS.

Have memories of any of the games we listed? Think we missed something? Are you a FantaVision apologist? Tell us in the comments below.

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