A free, once-weekly round-up of all the best Nintendo Switch links, articles and videos from the past seven days.
published Thursday, Feb 14th

Metal Gear Murals Rise In London, Leeds & Liverpool

Just in case you were not aware, the latest Metal Gear game is out soon, and Konami want you to know about it, having decided to unleash some additional advertising on select walls across the UK, featuring badass ninja Raiden.

Building sized murals of Metal Gear Rising: Revengence star Raiden are currently being created, courtesy of professional art installation firm ‘End of the Line‘.

published Tuesday, Feb 02nd

Bayonetta Review

Gaining attention with some very early first rate reviews, Bayonetta has built up a lot of hype over a small period of time. So after the long wait for a Western version it is finally here, and it certainly has much to prove.

The storyline progression is very difficult to keep track of and even understand throughout the game. However, it can take refuge in the fact that due to its heavily action packed gameplay it, arguably, does not lend itself well in keeping to a firm narrative. The title character, Bayonetta, is one of the last witches, fighting various angelic creatures in order to restore her memories.

Bayonetta is a highly sexually charged game. The gameplay, animation, design of Bayonetta herself and even some cocky voice work all demonstrate a penchant for the risque. Cutscenes are very long for such a vague storyline, but keeps engagement with some comic book style scenes and moments that require input from the controller.

Arguably the biggest problem in the game is its indecision in having a serious or comical overall presentation, as the two do not mix well at all. The artistic, often gothic, architecture, spatial areas and gargantuan enemies come together to present a resolute, cool environment, up until the point at which Bayonetta enters the frame with an out-of-place statement, accompanying truly horrid Japanese pop music.

Gameplay features the usual action aspects with a simple attack, heavy attack, dodge, and combination to produce complicated techniques. The complex battle scenarios are simply a work of art. When the difficulty is right the frequent set pieces – whether it’s against a group of ‘angels’ or one of the vast bosses – are fantastic, frantic, pure fast-paced action.

Some battles have objectives, such as perform three high damage ‘torture kills’, achieved when successful dodges fill a meter. Dodging enemies also engages ‘witch time’, a function which slows down everything apart from Bayonetta, allowing her to dish out more combos. The placement of the dodge manoeuvre on the right trigger is ingenious, matching with the analogue stick and button for rolls and jumps, making the system flawless. The combat adds yet more to the character of Bayonetta with more sexual reference. Bayonetta has no outfit, but her hair is used to morph into latex bike gear she wears until she pulls off one of her special moves – one that requires her to strip off the costume to become totally naked. This, along with voice work and some lollipop references, makes this game one of the most overbearing, stereotypical Japanese titles imaginable.

As well as combat, there are a few small puzzles in the game involving versions of time manipulation, including witch time. The game makes use of a two dimensional concept, both a light and dark contrast between two time periods. Some puzzles require the collection of time pieces between the two worlds in order to reform the area and progress. These puzzles offer light and infrequent breaks from the constant fighting, but are refreshing nonetheless. The loading screens comprise of an area for practicing combos, with a list of the available executions along side the screen. This is especially useful when preparing the right move for the fights, which require a certain combo criteria to complete.

The difficulty of the game is spread across 5 different settings, from very easy to very hard. Unlocks include new weapons and accessories, which carry on with each new game and the difficulty ties into this – as the character becomes stronger the difficulty increases. For those looking to start the game on normal (as the title suggests it should be neither too easy nor too hard), Bayonetta has the most enraging and demoralising difficulty setting. The constant stream of set piece battles does not blend well with these hard difficulty settings, especially when the normal difficulty is far more challenging that expected. Until the strategy for each is perfected, each of the bosses in the game will result in many, many deaths, and only then will it reveal that there is another fight right around the corner.

The health restore system does come at seemingly random points in the chapters. The items that can be collected can be conjured to give a boost, but most of the opposition can deal that damage and more in one of their moves. In addition, there are not nearly enough checkpoints for the amount of damage that each opponent can actually take, and when constantly restarting each scenario, the standard battle music is essentially on a loop. The frustration is mind-blowing.

Despite its difficult flaws, there has clearly been a lot of effort put into the combat which translates into an engaging and thrilling experience. However, the sudden switch between truly epic experiences to a comical mix happens one too many times in Bayonetta. Though the heavily induced Japanese style can be as simple as the individual’s taste. It is still a great game nonetheless.

published Thursday, Jun 04th

MadWorld Review

After the controversy surrounding the ultra-violent Manhunt 2 and it’s subsequent disastrous sales, Sega must have questioned whether their decision to publish MadWorld on Wii was the right choice. Bone-crunching fatalities, decapitations and a not-so-healthy dose of claret – all things you wouldn’t expect to see on Nintendo’s whiter-than-white box of tricks. But ignoring protests from family groups and despite the troubles gaining age ratings in some of the stricter territories (Germans must look elsewhere if they want to get their hands on this), Sega have gone ahead and released it anyway and we’re glad they did, because MadWorld is an absolute beauty.

MadWorld is set in Verrigan City, after a group known as the ‘organisers’ have turned it into the backdrop for a Running Man-style game show known as Death Watch. The city was quarantined after a poisonous gas was released by the organisers and now its citizens must kill each other to fight for the vaccine. Into this stage comes Jack Cayman, a man with a shadowy past and a retractable chainsaw attached to his arm. Jack enters the tournament armed with his deadly chainsaw and utilising spikes, signposts and all manner of environmental hazards to battle against other fighters hoping to win Death Watch and claim a very large cash prize.

Putting the violence aside for a moment, MadWorld is one of the most visually striking games available on any of the current consoles. Seeing as their previous titles Viewtiful Joe and Okami have used cel-shading to maximise the impact of their graphics it’s no surprise to see that Platinum Games have once again used the technique to elevate their latest title above the rest of the crowded action genre. Frank Miller’s distinct black and white style, most notably used for his Sin City graphic novels, forms the basis for Madworld’s striking universe. In the hands of lesser developers, this could have been a case of style over substance but Atsushi Inaba and his team have delivered a game that plays as good as it looks.

Controlling Jack is simple, you can either punch your enemies to death by hammering ‘a’ or press ‘b’ to whip out your chainsaw for a more immediate end, or combine the two with a deft flick of the wii remote for a satisfyingly gruesome finisher. If you feel like it you can use signposts, tyres or flaming oil drums to exact a little more punishment on your opponents and increase you score multiplier for each one you send to the afterlife. Combine these with the numerous environmental hazards like spiked walls, ceiling fans or passing trains and you have some entertaining and very rewarding (score-wise) ways to despatch the many foes you’ll face on your way to the top of the rankings. Each death is accompanied by some great commentary, provided by Greg Proops and John DiMaggio (the voice of Bender from Futurama, and Marcus Fenix in GoW), which is incredibly funny to listen to and make MadWorld just as fun to watch being played as it is to take part yourself.

Breaking up the action are the much-publicised and very fun bloodbath challenges like Man Darts and several levels set on a motorbike. There are also some great bosses to look forward to, cementing Platinum Games reputation for memorable, and tough, boss fights, which require a more hands-on approach via motion controls to overcome.

The repetitive nature of MadWorld’s action, despite these distractions, is its only major Achilles heel and if you find yourself growing tired of impaling enemies or throwing them into trashcans within the first few levels it’s unlikely you’ll be able to stomach the ten or so hours it’ll take to finish. Those who do see it through to the end will no doubt get plenty of enjoyment from the huge variety of ways to maim and decapitate and relish the challenge offered by the bosses and the incredibly entertaining mini games. And as a lot of the fun comes from trying to get the best combos possible there’s a definite urge to replay levels to maximise your score.

Platinum Games have produced one of the most entertaining games on the Wii and one that should be a must-have for anyone craving more action on the console. Show Sega (and the gaming industry) you care about original IPs and give MadWorld some love.