Jul 28
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Is Survival Horror (Un)Dead?

With reveals of certain horror-esque games such as BloodBorne, The Evil Within and Alien: Isolation, I thought it necessary to dwell on the impact that horror games have on the current generation. And the truth is, not a lot. Developers tend to stray into the path of action-based games with spectacular set pieces than slow paced, story driven cores of what make horror games such a thrill to play. In truth, it seems that survival horror’s taken the back-seat.

So let's compare the first and current title of each series.

Resident Evil

 

This series started off great in 1996, creating a claustrophobic setting and scares that were genuinely disturbing at the time.

Skip to 2012, when its successor, Resident Evil 6 is released, gone are tightly packed corridors, smart environments and scream inducing frights, in are steroid pumped soldiers firing at monsters like... well... any game with monsters. This series was a prime example of losing the plot. BUT, with a pledge to bring the series back to its horror roots, maybe there is some hope for this series yet

Dead Space

 

Released in 2008 as a new take on survival horror. Dead space became the game that fans of the genre always wanted, a dark, scary, violent throwback to the old games of lore. Taking hints from Resident Evil and even Half Life, creating a tense atmosphere through the exclamations and movements of its main character.

However, this game proved to be a one off with both its sequels straying too far into action territory. Dead Space 2, although the best of the series, lost a lot of the magic that the original offered. We’re not even going to talk about the third. BUT, none of the games suffer from a lack of story or good controls, so that’s always a plus.

Silent Hill

 

Released in 1999 Silent Hill, much like Resident Evil, was born from the concept of making a character feel alone. Misty surroundings coupled with the fact that most of the encounters you face are monsters help to intensify this feeling. The design of the monsters helped too, being twisted representations of the main character’s psyche.

Switch to the modern take Silent Hill: Downpour. While not going down the action root of its predecessor Homecoming, the game lacked polish. Numerous bugs and glitches contributed to a rather uneventful take on survival horror. BUT, I admire the developers for staying as horror when it could have been so easy to make an action game.

Misinterpretations of horror games become increasingly apparent with the rise of the zombie genre of games. While games such as Dead Island, Left 4 Dead and Dead Rising are fun to play at times, they can’t really be considered horror. Whether any zombie games can be salvaged for future endeavours remains to be seen.

Hopefully with developers straying once again into horror territory, we may just be able to resurrect this dusty genre once again.

Jul 28
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Arcade Hunt: Ireland

In my memory there have never been many arcades in Northern Ireland and they are becoming increasingly rarer in favour of machines that pump out tickets to be exchanged for prizes. It's unfortunate but I figured there must be some hope, some arcades still hidden away and worth visiting in Ireland.

My hunt began in Portrush, Northern Ireland. I was severely disappointed again and again. I did manage to find a few cool machines I'd happily have spent the day filling with my £1 coins but unfortunately there seemed to be something wrong with all of them.

First up, The House of the Dead 4, should have been loads of fun with the cute uzis and gross zombies. Nope, the trigger on one of the uzis didn't work leaving me only able to throw grenades and shake off zombies, no fun at all.

Then I found Time Crisis 3, another one I was really looking forward to playing for hours but alas, sticky triggers on both guns ended that fun early too.

Both these machines were in arcades along the main street in Portrush, I doubt I'll ever visit either again. They were both filled with games that are all luck and chance rather than skill, and of course big shop areas where you can buy all sorts of 'prizes' with your randomly acquired tickets. I suppose some people find this fun but it's not my idea of a good arcade.

One of the arcades did have 2 Sega Rally 2 machines, allowing up to 4 people to race together and apart from a loose steering wheel this worked well. I got my ass handed to me in the first race but managed to pull it back for the 2nd, pipping my opponent to the post just in time to induce the fun-to-watch loser rage!

There were a few other arcade machines in Barry's Amusements, these seemed to be in better condition than the main street arcades but unfortunately there wasn't much choice, with Ghost Squad being the only one worth playing. Both guns had very wobbly cursors but this didn't affect gameplay too much and I actually managed to enjoy the game. This is the only machine I'd consider revisiting in Portrush but I'd still rather have a better arcade someone else.

If you know of any good arcades anywhere in Ireland PLEASE let me know. I'm gonna have to spend my weekends hunting down some good machines that actually work and would love some recommendations. I've heard Bundoran is good, have you been there recently? Have they replaced everything with ticket machines or is it still a place worth visiting? Let me know!

Jul 28
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Fan Favourite Dreamcast Games

Making any sort of Best Of List is always tricky, personal taste will always differ depending on what kind of games you're used to and how much access you have to certain games and consoles - I didn't own a NES 'til everyone was thinking about getting the N64, blame my Amiga loving father.

I prefer a Favourites List, with a little bit of input from many different people, so asked our Facebook fans what they reckoned were the best games the Dreamcast had to offer. The results were cool and left us with a nicely varied collection of games you have to play on the Dreamcast!

This is a great list for all types of players, some good group play options such as Crazy Taxi, Armada, The House of the Dead 2 and a load of fighting games including Power Stone 2, Street Fighter 3 and a "million other Capcom beat 'em ups", according to our artist Thomas.

For some co-op action you can't beat Ikaruga and Gunbird, personally I'd pick Ikaruga every time.

Or if you're looking for something to enjoy alone you can always go for Shenmue, Skies of Arcadia, Sword of the Berserk: Guts' Rage, Fur Fighters or the nice n' easy Sonic Adventure. We also had someone mention fan made Zelda game, Return of the Hylian which I've never tried, time to hook up the Dreamcast again and give that a go!

If I've left any out feel free to add them in the comments, I'm always open to trying new games on all consoles new and old!

Jul 16
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Destiny - Beta and App from Bungie!

The Destiny beta is due to start soon and as well as early access to the game, Bungie have also given us a companion app available on iOS and Android.

Allowing you to inspect your Guardian, check your stats, compare scores and keep in touch with your friends, the app is free and already has a 4.5 star rating on Google Play, 4 star on iTunes.

Have you got it yet? Are you looking forward to the beta? Still not sure when it's all going down? Check out our list of key dates!

PS3/PS4 beta begins 17th July

Beta Offline 21st and 22nd July

Xbox 360/Xbox One beta begins 23rd July

Exclusive emblem unlocked by playing beta on 26th July

Beta ends 27th July and we have to wait 'til 9th September for release!

For more info on the Destiny beta check out Bungie's FAQGet the app from Google Play or iTunes now!

Jul 02
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Free Games! Who Doesn't Love Free Games!?

Everyone loves free games, well as long as they're good free games. Luckily now there's no shortage of offers and promos and a whole load of free Android and iOS games to fill your library even if your purse is empty.


Xbox Games With Gold

Running for about a year now, Microsoft offer two free games a month that stay in your library permanently. I tend to download all of them, although some have been a bit hit and miss but hey, free so they're worth at least trying. They do offer some great games, previous months have included Charlie Murder, Dead Rising 2 and Dark Souls. The current Games With Gold Xbox 360 offering is Gotham City Imposters.
This has now been expanded to include Xbox One, although the games are only accessible as long as your Xbox Gold subscription stays active. Currently available is Guacamelee (highly recommended!) and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.


PlayStation Network Instant Game Collection

Sony offer a similar service with a subscription to PlayStation Plus, Instant Game Collection offers free games across PS4, PS3 and Vita. I'm not subscribed to PS Network/Plus in any way, but having a look through the list of free games I think I should get signed up soon! Currently available is Doki-Doki Universe (cross-buy on all platforms), Dead Space 3 (PS3) and TowerFall: Ascension(PS4).

Free Android Games

There are loads of fun free Android games, from Angry Birds and Subway Surfers, to Dead Trigger and Plants vs Zombies 2, there is no shortage of games and apps that won't cost you a penny, although some (most) have optional in app purchases. Also available for free on Android is our own Pac-Man style maze game, Jellyflug Antibody Assault (had to get the shameless plug in there!).

Free iOS Games

There are as many free iOS games too, in particular Half Brick are offering their entire catalogue for free for a limited time. You can also pick up Chicken Jumper, designed by local students and developed by us Trolls, for free on iOS!

What is your favourite free game? Is it something that was free all the time or did you manage to get it free during an offer? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter, we welcome all recommendation to save money on games!

Get in touch with Troll Inc - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow us on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook!

Jun 16
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Limited Edition Game Collectables Part 1

Most highly anticipated video games now come in some sort of super special limited edition or feature a pre-order bonus offering gamers any number of art books, soundtracks, exclusive DLC or a collectible of some sort - a statue, figure, toy or other novelty.

I have to admit to being a bit of a collectible hoarder. Even if I'm only a wee bit interested in a game, a shiny limited edition bonus will usually make this magpie cough up the cash. Here's a list of some of my favourites!

The Legend of Zelda
Zelda games offer increasingly awesome bonus gifts and are probably some of the best around. Presented in a very nice embossed tin, Spirit Tracks on the DS came with 2 figures, Link and a Phantom and used to be one of my favourite collector's editions, until A Link Between Worlds gave me a musical chest!

DJ Hero 2
While DJ Hero never seemed to take off quite the way Guitar Hero did, I really enjoyed it. I would play with friends who came up with some pretty odd DJ names for each other. I'm DJ Hairy Chest, don't ask. The limited edition version of DJ Hero 2, the Renegade Edition, was kinda cool. I got a great big carry case that doubled as a stand for the decks, way better than trying to balance them on your knee, while the decks were decorated in gold instead of silver.

Dead Rising 2
Very few collectables can beat a zombie, and the 12" figure from Dead Rising 2 Outbreak Edition is some zombie! This is one of the biggest figures I've ever got with a game and it comes with changeable heads! I played with the figure longer than I played the game!

Super Mario All-Stars 25th Anniversary Edition
As well as four classic Mario games playable on Wii with enhanced graphics and updated sounds, the Super Mario All-Stars Collection came with a soundtrack and the full history of Super Mario in a charming collectable book!

GoldenEye 2012
While the game never held the appeal of the N64 original, the collector's edition on the Wii came with a limited edition gold classic controller pro. I love alternative controllers and limited edition ones are even better! The gold pro controller is eclipsed by the SNES classic controller for the Wii, available from Club Nintendo, but it's still cool to have.

Stay tuned for Part 2, featuring some of the greatest collectable guides around!

Jun 10
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Best Games of E3 2014

Now that all the big press conferences have taken place I think it's quite clear that Nintendo have definitely won E3 2014! They gave us games, games and some more games! Fun games, colourful games and games you really have to play! While Microsoft, Ubisoft, Sony and even EA had some stuff worth seeing, it was Nintendo that reminded us it's okay to just have fun.

It definitely looked fun having your Mii fight in Super Smash Bros. on Wii U, as Reggie and Iwata showed us before explaining the three types you can choose from - Brawler, Sword Fighter and Gunner - and their individual fighting style. As someone with the physical strength of a peanut I can't wait to see Mii finally go all kickass on my friends!

Nintendo also announced Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (Wii U), set in a beautiful hand sculpted clay world and Yoshi's Woolly World (Wii U), a magnificent looking adventure to weave and unravel. Having a cupboard at home that strongly resembles the wool shop the dev interview took place in might make me slightly biased, still I think it's fair to say this is one of thee greatest looking games ever. And it's co-op! Wool done, Nintendo!

As if this wasn't enough we also got Splatoon (Wii U), a crazy paintball fight that looks like it's taking place in the de Blob universe. It's cute, colourful and likely to cause some chaos on game nights!

Oh and remember the awesome Captain Toad levels in Super Mario 3D World? Yeah, how about a game full of them? Really Nintendo, it's too much, you're too kind!

I could post Nintendo videos for ever but I realise there were some other great things announced at E3, so you can check out videos for the breath-takingly beautiful The Legend of Zelda (Wii U), the inspiring Mario Maker, the dastardly Bowser-controller Mario Party 10 and more at Nintendo's E3 site!

Microsoft showed us Insomniac's Sunset Overdrive which looks like over the top carnage with added OUCH, BOOM and POP! I'll admit my Xbox One has been kinda gathering dust recently but I'm looking forward to firing it up for this.

We also got treated to a bloody delightful new game for the PS4 by FromSoftware, Bloodborne. Felt like it could have a Resident Evil 4 vibe going on in it and has the potential to finally convince me to get a PS4.

You can check out the rest of the PS4 titles, including the intriguing The Order 1886, here.

Ubisoft made sure my Kinect will stop being a rather large paperweight with the announcement of Shape Up - a less social workout than going to a gym - and Just Dance Now - a more social way to dance in your living room, anyone with a smart phone can join! They also showed off Valiant Hearts: The Great War, a fantastic looking game built using the Child of Light engine, available June 25th.

Even EA's video showing very little of Star Wars Battlefront managed to get my heart racing, it may be a long wait but I think it'll be worth it!

This list is far from exhaustive, I could happily include videos for Rise of the Tomb Raider, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Rainbow Six Siege as well as many many indie games that both Sony and Microsoft seem to be falling over themselves to lock down to their own consoles. If you've seen the trailers you wouldn't blame them, particularly if you've spotted Woolfe, the one I'm most looking forward to!

I'm sure there's probably a surprise or two left but even if all the news is out by now it's still been a great E3! Congratulations Nintendo, you stole the show!

Jun 08
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E3 Hopes and Wishes!

E3 starts later today (check the bottom for UK Press Conference times) and there are a few things I'm really hoping to see. A few of my hopes have been confirmed already but there's still loads I want!

Majora's Mask on 3DS - Please, Nintendo, PLEASE! (Fan cover by PoppinsDebo)

Grand Theft Auto V on Xbox One & PS4 - It still hasn't been released on PC, maybe the delay is 'cause Rockstar are getting it all new-gen ready too!

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Collection on Xbox One & PS4 - This rumour surfaced a few weeks ago and has no legitimacy as far as I can find but I can't help wishing it's true. Imagine all the old maps on the Xbox One, Vacant, Bog, Skidrow and Favela! I really hope this is announced! (Pic from GTA678 on Reddit)

Mario Maker - Nintendo Enthusiast got hold of this pic and reckon it could be something allowing us to make Mario levels!

To make sure you don't miss anything big here are the UK times for all the big press conferences.

Microsoft Monday 5:30pm
EA Monday 8pm
Ubisoft Monday 11pm
Sony Tuesday 2:00am (late Monday night, early hours Tuesday morning)
Nintendo Tuesday 5pm

Already confirmed are Battlefield Hardline and Mortal Kombat X, with MKX knocking my socks off already with just this trailer! Let's hope all this year's E3 news is as brilliant as this! 

May 28
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Retro Review: Luigi's Mansion Gamecube

Luigi's Mansion, Gamecube 2002 (UK)

You win a mansion in a competition you didn't enter and surely alarm bells would start ringing, Luigi and Mario hear no such bells however and head off to see what's what. Luigi shows up to meet Mario but he's nowhere to be found leaving Luigi in the parlour of a creepy, cobweb covered mansion. He's attacked by a ghost and saved by Professor E. Gadd who takes him to his research lab to explain about ghosts and show off his ghost catching invention, the Poltergust 3000!

After a quick vacuuming tutorial, Gadd explains how 21 ghosts, once held in the pictures in the Gallery, now roam the mansion. This explains the main point of the game, catch ghosts! You also get to see your Gameboy Horror, a handy handheld that scans the environment around you to reveal hints and tips, giving a cryptic clue on how to catch each of the different gallery ghosts.

So we've got a story, our main gameplay mechanic and the tools we need to get going. Back to the mansion where we meet Toad and hear more about Mario going missing and poor Peach worrying her crown off! We go into the one room we can and meet our first ghosts. To catch you have to flash with your torch exposing the ghosts heart, then vacuum up with your Poltergust 3000. The Gamecube controller is perfect for this, the left analogue stick controlling Luigi while the C stick controls the direction of the Poltergust, pull away from the ghosts to catch them. The first few ghosts have 10 health and get sucked up pretty easily. You also meet the first gallery ghost, and once caught get a key and see the map for the first time.

The map shows the entire mansion from the beginning, displaying which doors are locked and unlocked and showing which door the key you just got is for. You can scroll through all the floors of the mansion giving you an idea of the overall size. Continue to explore and you meet some new ghosts each with something slightly different about them, some shake you about, some throw banana skins that make you lose suction if you slip while vacuuming. And of course you meet more gallery ghosts.

While the basic ghosts are pretty quickly dispatched of, the gallery ghosts often repeat an activity for a while before you get a chance to catch them. Some have attacks but never anything too hard to avoid. This gives you loads of time to see each of the gallery ghosts in all their glory. Luigi's Mansion generally looks great but these beautifully translucent gallery ghosts are really the best part. Each one is different and of course fits in well with their own room of the mansion. My favourites are the hair brushing Mum, the clockwork toy soldiers, Vincent Van Gore and the video game loving Melody who challenges you to answer questions on music from previous Mario games. The ghosts, equal parts gory, gorgeous and whimsical really build all charm and fun in Luigi's Mansion.

 

The mansion itself is well laid out with handy access to the additional items you'll need as you progress through the game. The addition of Element Medals allow your Poltergust 3000 to suck up fire, ice or water and squirt it out to open doors, light candles and aggravate ghosts. It's also pretty easy to know where to go next in the mansion as each room not completed remains greyed out on the map. The wide range of rooms ensure the mansion rarely feels repetitive, more often you're left wishing for the next room to see how much more fun awaits! From the conservatory to the dining room, the garden to the gym and the guest room to Nana's room, Luigi's Mansion if full of comical scares!

It's also full of fan service, with nods to other Mario games crammed into every nook and cranny. Literally in the case of the (hilariously named) Boos, who hide in furniture throughout the mansion. There's also a selection of Mario items to find, poison mushrooms and cheese!

While all these elements - gorgeous graphics, intuitive controls and numerous fun gameplay aspects - mix well to give you a really enjoyable, quirky game, Luigi's Mansion is rather easy and can feel a bit short as you fly through it without many tough challenges. It being easy and short (or at least shorter than some of the other big titles of that time) doesn't make the game bad (you can replay it but I won't get into that, there has to be some surprises for you!) and Luigi's Mansion earns its place as a must play game for Nintendo fans, action-adventure fans and fun fans!

 
May 27
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Mario Kart 8 Wii U Preview

Had a chance to get a quick blast at Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U thanks to the demo pod at Game in Richmond Centre and it is that fantastic!.

Please note, this preview will contain very little technical info, the fangirl in me just wanted to talk about my most highly anticipated game this year!

 

The demo version offers single and multiplayer action and I opted for the multiplayer. My most feared Mario Kart foe was with me, (Troll Inc’s artist) Thomas is practically UNBEATABLE at Mario Kart, I’ve only ever seen him defeated once, until today.

 

We started with our usual favourite characters, me as Peach and Thomas as Bowser. I opted for a bike and was pleased with the customising options available even in the demo version. I went with the standard bike, slim wheels and the Peach parasol. The customisable karts affect how you play on land as well as in the sea and air (as with the DS’s Mario Kart 7), providing even more variety to tracks I already imagined to be spectacularly and beautifully varied.

 

We selected Mario Kart Stadium, the first of 8 available tracks and immediately were struck by how F-Zero it looked! We got a taste of the new anti-gravity section and it even felt as good as F-Zero’s upside down feeling as you watch your foes all of a sudden appear on the ceiling above you! I managed to get my speed boost at the start of the level but Thomas didn’t, this proved fatal as I sailed through the course to take first place and beat Thomas making my first taste of Mario Kart 8 even sweeter! Yes, I beat Thomas!

 

The first track definitely left me wanting more, we also played Mario Circuit, Sunshine Airport, Sweet Sweet Canyon, Water Park and one more I can’t remember the name of (I was back to losing to Thomas by the 5th track and may have been huffing a tiny bit). As well as plenty of the standard Mario Kart features - boost pads, item boxes and baddies like snap-happy piranha plants and stacks of Goombas - we also got track specific set pieces like the out of nowhere airplane that appears as you boost into a gliding section in Sunshine Airport. Everything looked mightily impressive, as was expected in our first next-gen MK, the usual aesthetics are hyper defined and look smooth as ice, although I didn’t yet get to see an ice track. I was focusing too hard on trying to beat Thomas again so didn’t get to look too closely at the finer details (something to look forward to on release) you usually get from the brilliantly imaginative Nintendo minds but I was still blown away by the overall look of Mario Kart 8.

 

The usual weapons were present, banana skins, green and red shells, ink squirting Bloopers and I even got to see the return of the dreaded blue shell (though I suppose that just proves how far ahead of Thomas I was so I can’t be too annoyed). There were also new weapons, the most obvious one the boomerang I caught right in the bake as it returned to Mario behind me, and a few others that I didn’t quite work out from only one use, but again that’s something I look forward to playing with once MK8 is released.

 

I didn’t get to play a Boo (or even better a Luigi’s Mansion) level, which are generally my favourite levels in Mario Kart games but I was so impressed by what I saw that my usually high Mario Kart anticipation has been boosted to the level where I’m sure I’ll dream of this game every day until I get to play it again. I have the Limited Edition bundle ordered from Nintendo and hopefully it'll be dispatched in time so I have the game for Friday!

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