All Format Chart – Week ending 17th February 2014


16 WWE 2K14 2K SPORTS 16
17 NBA 2K14 2K SPORTS 15

Super Mario Bros Deluxe Review

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 11.01.11

Super Mario Bros. Deluxe
Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo
Game Boy Colour/Virtual Console

It’s rough when you hit hard times and have to do degrading things. Say, just for example, you’re a recently graduated journalism student with no job or money (to the point where you can’t even afford The Amazing Deals Posted Everyday Here At Frugal Gaming!) and have to subject yourself to signing up for the Nintendo Network just because they promise you a free game out of it. In this case the free game is Super Mario Bros Deluxe off the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS, and granted it’s originally a Game Boy Colour game from 1999 but a lot of people are probably playing it right now and got it for free so it’s not exactly off the Frugal Gaming message so let’s give it a review.

Actually let’s not review it for this paragraph and briefly touch on Nintendo’s Virtual Console. Let’s get this straight Nintendo, you allow people to create their own save states on the 3DS, but you absolutely do not allow anyone to alter the controls. Super Mario Bros Deluxe defaults to B for run and A to jump on the 3DS, possibly (and irritatingly) simply because those buttons have the same name as the Game Boy buttons. However, the game is designed for the Game Boy/NES button layout which means it would make more sense for Y to be run and B to jump. Maybe the default scheme works for you, maybe you also pour Mountain Dew on a bowl of grass shards for breakfast, but the fact that there’s no option to change this is unacceptable.

So keep that in mind, for that reason alone this game is probably a lot less fun to play on the 3DS than it was to play on the Game Boy Colour. Having said that, Super Mario Bros Deluxe is still dumb.

SBowseruper Mario Bros. Deluxe is a remake/touch up job of the original Super Mario Bros; this review also isn’t going to comment too much on the original Super Mario Bros because there’s already more content online about why that game is a masterpiece than there are My Little Pony avatars. So let’s assume the original is the classic that it’s recognised as and discuss Deluxe on its own merits.

The first noticeable change gameplay wise is the camera, the Game Boy Colour unfortunately didn’t have the screen size to contain all of Super Mario Bros radness at once so Deluxe is sort of like playing the original game through a hole in a fence. Tapping up and down on the D-Pad moves the camera up and down to make up for this, but two huge issues come with this. First off, there are times where you’re “big Mario” and need to crouch to avoid obstacles and you don’t exactly want the camera crashing into the floor and lose your bearings, and secondly if you’re playing this on 3DS you’re probably using the analog stick rather than the disgustingly awful D-Pad so it’s easy to accidentally jiggle the camera around.

It’s probably fair to say that the limitations of the Game Boy Colour pretty much make Super Mario Bros Deluxe objectively worse than the original, the issues with the camera placement that the original didn’t have at all make it easy for the player to lose their bearings or on some stages not see the floor or platforms they’re jumping to and “leap of faith” gameplay rears its ugly head unwelcomely to a Mario title. Some of the additions are nice though, there are a few more colours and sound effects, and everything generally looks a bit bolder and brighter, also at the end of a castle stage Toad now does a little dance rather than passive aggressively standing still and flipping you off. There’s even a little jingle on the title screen now! If this game was a 1992 NES re-release of Super Mario Bros it would probably be pretty sweet.

It’s everything else about Deluxe that rubs the wrong way however. First off, why is there a map screen now? It serves no function other than giving the player the opportunity to switch between Mario and Luigi (who play exactly the same in this game remember). What is this, retroactive continuity? “Oh, the games after this had World Maps so this game has to have one too now.” The original Super Mario Bros is essentially a collection of rock solid platforming stages held together with string, and now they’re replacing the string with turkey twizzlers and made it all flabby. There’s no need for this to be there, and Nintendo basically admit this by letting you wham the start button to skip it entirely, a map screen with no functionality is just a couple of extra seconds between each level where you’re not playing the gosh darn videogame.

Mushroom1The grossest addition though is the “Checklist”, which comes in hand in hand with the map screen. From stage 1, you see a sheet of all the stages you’ve done and how many are left to go. Just…why, it’s Mario…just let the game be about the running and jumping that people crave. No-one wants to be dunked back into a map screen, watch a little sprite of Mario walk from one featureless blue dot to a featureless red dot, tick off the level and think “just 17 more stages to go!”

Really, this has all been pointless rambling since Deluxe basically reviews itself with its “bonus” features. These “bonus” features include; a calendar, a slideshow of unlockable pictures and (this isn’t a joke I swear) tarot cards. These had to be last minute additions, or maybe they were the ideas of some Make-a-Wish foundation kid visiting the Nintendo offices and they were guilted into using them. When you view the scrapbook of pictures there’s a nice little jingle, but when you actually select a picture to view the jingle stops and you stare at a stock picture of a Goomba that looks like it was drawn in Mario Paint…in complete silence, as if Deluxe is forcing you to have a quiet moment with yourself to think about what you’re doing with your life.

That is Deluxe’s review of itself, because at some point the designers realised how pointless the entire project was. Ultimately, it’s an inferior version of (at the time) a 15 year old game, so of course they dunk pointless “bonus” stuff into it to try and justify its experience. It’s impossible to recommend for purchase today in the context of the far superior Game Boy Advance remakes of classic Mario titles, and seeing as you could just buy the original and better Super Mario Bros on the same store.

But hey, if you got the game for free like I did, then you got to spend 15 minutes of your life playing a version of Super Mario Bros that has some title screen music.


Reviewer: Matthew Leslie

[CLOSED] Thief Competition | 2 Digital Copies For PC To Give Away


[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Winner number one is Ben Turnbull via his Facebook entry on 15th Feb 2014 @ 21.25[/box]

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Winner number two is @NEILY84 via his entry on Twitter[/box]

Competition Details

We have teamed up with the nice folks at GameKeysNow to bring you a brand new competition. They have kindly given us two digital copies of the highly anticipated Thief on PC to give away to two lucky readers. You will need a Steam account in order to play this game, which is region free.

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About Game Keys Now

We were the first UK indie to email instant Xbox codes waaaaaay back 2007 and we haven’t stopped since. In fact, people liked that service so much that we started up Game Keys Now to do the exact same thing for PC codes.
The only thing we’re more passionate about than gaming is delivering super awesome customer service. You can even give us a ring on our freephone number, to ask us what our favourite game is (though we reserve the right to pick a different one each week).
Oh, and we’ve also been nominated for two MCV retail awards in 2014 thanks to our super awesome service and super low prices. We’re pretty proud of this and haven’t stopped telling people since

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How To Enter

Step One – Twitter

To enter via Twitter, you need to be following both the @FrugalGaming and @GameKeysNow accounts, if you are not registered in Twitter, you can sign up here. Then all you need to do is Tweet the phrase below…simples!!!

For a chance to win a digital copy of Thief for PC follow BOTH @FrugalGaming & @GameKeysNow & Retweet! T&C’s

Step Two – Facebook

To enter via Facebook you need to visit and Like the GameKeysNow Facebook Page and complete the sentence below. Then just paste it on the the GameKeysNow Facebook Page wall.

Hey GameKeysNow & Frugal Gaming, the video game I am most looking forward to in 2014 is……

If you haven’t liked our Frugal Gaming Facebook page yet, please hit the button below to get all our latest deals, news, reviews and competitions direct to your Facebook page.

Terms and Conditions

[box type=”alert” style=”rounded” border=”full”]You must be following BOTH Frugal Gaming and GameKeysNow at the time the winners are picked for your entries to be valid[/box]

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Frugal Gaming reserves the right to end or amend this competition without notice. The competition is open worldwide to people aged 18 and over only. You can enter on Twitter no more than twice per day, you can enter on Facebook once and once only over the duration of the competition. The competition will close at midnight on 6th March 2014, the two winners will be picked at random and announced shortly after. Winners must allow up to 28 days for their prize to be delivered. Winners must claim their prize within 14 days of the winners being announced, otherwise your entry becomes void and a new winner will be picked. Each winner will receive 1 copy of the game, which will be sent by GameKeysNow . Winners will receive a digital copy of the game which will require a Steam account to play. By entering the competition you are hereby agreeing to these terms and conditions [/box]

Loadout Review


Loadout Review | PC | Edge of Reality Ltd.

It had been a long time of not watching blockbuster action movies before I watched Sylvester Stallone in his 2008 Rambo film. Yawning, I ended up idly picking the film from Netflix in the certainty that I’d be turning it off again in 10 minutes time. The reason I didn’t, and actually went on to enjoy the film, was that it was gloriously and unrepentantly violent. Bullets took people off their feet, shredding them as they flew. Explosives caused people to become startling fountains of bloody viscera. It was unexpected and glorious.

It had been a long time of not playing arena shooters before I played Edge of Reality Ltd’s new title, Loadout. Yawning, I ended up idly picking the game from Steam in the certainty that I’d be turning it off again in 10 minutes time. The reason I didn’t, and actually went on to enjoy the game, was that it was so gloriously and unrepentantly violent. Bullets took people off their feet, shredding them as they flew. Explosives caused people to become startling fountains of bloody viscera. It was unexpected and glorious.

There are too few opportunities in gaming life to really embrace the ridiculous, despite the affordances of a media that can literally set anything, anywhere at any time. Too often, in my view, games try to be extensions of real life – when really, abandoning anything that ties the game to mundane existence would be preferable.


Edge of Reality Ltd’s game has a lot of work to do in order to stand out in its field; a free-to-play 3rd person arena shooter, very much in the style of Team Fortress 2, Loadout could easily get lost in a sea of similar games.

Get shot too much in Loadout and you could end up headless – just a brain with two eyes glued to the front – but still alive. Or, you can find yourself running around with a chest cavity big enough to drive a bus through but still alive enough to grenade the unwary.

Loadout is at its most successful when it sticks one dying, bloody finger up at the conventions of gaming. The game hooked it from the very first spawn point. I noticed that I had been dropped in to a space occupied by green (friendly) and red (enemy) named characters. The seconds ticked down to game start and I went through the following thought processes:

1. Ugh. We’re all spawning together? That’s stupid.

2. Huh. We’re all spawning together.

3. Yeah! We’re all spawning together!

4. Double kill! I survived! I’ve only got one arm!

Dropping me into the game like that was brilliant and it set up the tone for what was to come, frantic, barely co-ordinated violence and its gooey repercussions.

Before you get to shooting action however, you have to choose your loadout – see, they didn’t just pick the name at random – as the game has a strong focus on you building a weapon (which in a stroke of genius, you get to name) to match your preferred play style, or role in your team. Any weapon can be modified to deliver arcing lightning death, burning fire or even healing if you’d enjoy being a medic. Additional upgrades are unlocked with ‘blutes’ which is a currency earned solely in-game and cannot be bought with microtransactions.

Uh oh.

Yeah, there’s that word again. Microtransactions. After the travesty that was Dungeon Keeper, this should be enough to send shivers down any gamers’ spine. Thankfully, Loadout manages to do it right and prove that it’s not that hard to monetise a game without pissing everyone off. Are you listening, Electronic Arts?

loadout 3

First up, Spacebux – the currency you buy – cannot be used to buy anything that will give you a material advantage in-game. The upgrades are cosmetic only.  Edge of Reality made a smart choice by opening up the weapon systems, but really restricting the cosmetic options available to you in customising your character. At low levels, each team is filled with 4 or 5 versions of the same fat-Rambo with the occasional chunky lady thrown in. As you play the game, you’ll realise it’s quite possible to make pretty badass looking avatars, but unless you cough up some money to support the game, you’re going to be left with the couple of goofy looking options you had at the start. It actually reminded me of Brink’s character customisation which was a strong element of that title.

Secondly, Loadout is a great deal of fun to play. You make progression in terms of unlocking weapon upgrades etc. because it’s a title that lends itself to sitting down to play for an hour or two every day. You get daily play bonuses of blutes so you can always be working towards creating a new weapon to try. Games don’t tend to drag on and (so far) the online community is decent without people getting butthurt over defeats. So you tend to play and play some more – leading you to want to give something back to the developer who made this decent shooter.

It feels different enough to Team Fortress 2 to stand a chance of making a splash for itself in the arena shooter world. I hope that it makes it and I’ll be really interested to see how the game progresses from this point. Why not get in on the ground floor and give it a whirl? After all, at this price point, what have you got to lose?

Don’t push me.


Karlos Morale

Loadout is available now for PC on Steam

Pre-Order Guide – When Will Retailers Take Payment? Full Details


Many of our readers often ask when they can expect to be charged when placing pre-orders with certain retailers. Benjo has kindly compiled a list of retailers, along with details of when they charge your card. Some retailers take the payment as soon as you place the order and others charge just before your order is dispatched.

Hopefully this information will help you make informed buying decisions, after all you may not want your money sitting in a retailers bank account for weeks, whilst you sit at home waiting for the games to be released! If we have missed any retailers, please use the comment box below and we will add all the info you need.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]These rules apply when paying via card, rules vary when paying using PayPal.[/box] Continue reading Pre-Order Guide – When Will Retailers Take Payment? Full Details

Playstation Vita – A Buyers Guide


There has never been a better time to buy a PlayStation Vita. Fact! Due to several recent price reductions on hardware, accessories and games, purchasing a Vita and filling it full of content has never been cheaper. Simply follow our step by step guide on how to make the most of your money when investing in Sony’s handheld console and you’ll save a good few Great British Pounds. Prices are accurate at the time of publication, but if you are reading this whilst commuting to work on your hoverboard in the year 2020, then you can find all the latest Vita prices here.

Vita console.

Ever since Sony released the new slim version of the Vita, prices for the original model have been steadily decreasing. You can now pick one up a pre-owned Wifi model for just £83 here, plus the new model is available with a 16GB memory card and 10 games for just £135 here, that’s a fair few space bucks off the RRP.

Memory Card

We are in a fortunate position to be able to compare the trends of consumers that are buying Vita games by analysing the deal statistics on our website. It’s not good news for physical copies as far more interest is shown in the downloadable products we advertise. This is not because of the price as the cost of the two mediums does not vary a great deal. So we can only put it down to the fact that people prefer to buy downloadable games, well on the Vita anyway. Then you have to take in to consideration all of the downloadable content available to PlayStation Plus members. Combine these two factors and you are going to need a decent size memory card. And in our opinion bigger is better as it offers better value for money when you compare the pound note to gigabyte ratio. In all honesty the word value is difficult to use when discussing the Vita memory cards as they are so overpriced, but there is nothing else we can do other than adjust to the position of being bent over a barrel by Sony.

The cheapest way to buy a 64GB memory card is to get it imported at a price of approximately £64.00 including shipping. Due to fluctuations in exchange rates, this price will change daily. You also run the risk of getting import tax slapped on once it arrives at UK customs, even though reports from our readers state this hasn’t been the case. But there is always the chance it could happen.

If you don’t want to take the import option, then you can always pick up the Mega Pack that includes a 16GB memory card and 10 downloadable games. This is currently priced at just £26 here.

Playstation Plus Subscription

Subscribing to Playstation Plus is a must as you will get a steady stream of “free” games, trials and discounts. Although you don’t see as much content as you do on the PS3, it’s still worth every penny and a years subscription can currently be picked up just over £30.

Playstation Store Credit

If the offerings of Playstation Plus aren’t enough and you want to buy games off PSN, then you can always purchase Playstation Store credit at a reduced cost, saving over £6 when buying a £35 prepaid code from (like their Facebook page to get a 5% discount code) The credit is delivered instantly via email, then can be redeemed on the Playstation Store. Sometimes CDKeys do hold orders for a few hours to run security checks, but this doesn’t happen often.

Playstation Store February Sale

There is a pretty damn impressive sale on the Playstation Store at the moment that includes several must play Vita Games. You can use the credit above to make these games even cheaper, so it really is a win win situation

5 Reasons To Buy a Vita

  1. Persona 4 Golden
  2. Uncharted : Golden Abyss
  3. Tearaway
  4. Hotline Miami
  5. Killzone Mercenary

Link Roundup

Vita Console

Memory Card

PS+ Subscriptions

PlayStation Store credit

PSN Summer Sale

Prices changed?

We are dedicated to providing our readers the best deals possible. If any of the prices have increased, then please get in touch here and we will find you all the current best prices.

The Best Mobile Games of 2013


Smartphone technology has advanced so rapidly that we can now play games that only cumbersome consoles could play a few years ago. Some of these games have graphics that could rival any PS3 or Xbox game, fitting neatly into your palm enabling you to play them while you’re on your way to work.

The range is staggering too. You can play just about anything, from retro conversions of old games, to brand new ones that push the boundaries of game narratives for mobile devices. It’s enough to warrant getting a contract if you’re not on one already: check out the contract phones available from Virgin Media to figure out which one will give you the best gaming options! Here is our run down of the best mobile games of last year:

Deus Ex: The Fall

It beggars belief how a stealth-based RPG game could possibly translate to a mobile platform. Deus Ex: The Fall showed just how this was possible. The graphics are up there with the console iterations of the game: you won’t actually believe that you’re playing the game on a phone. Expect dystopian human augmentation, conspiracies and plenty of moral dilemmas and choices to make. All on your phone!

Year Walk

Not all mobile games need to have headache-inducing rainbow colours with high contrast levels. Year Walk isn’t for those who scare easily. Simogo’s sinister game’s best moments are when the player is confronted by the strange puzzles it has to offer, as well as encounters with its strange, creepy creatures.

The Drowning

It’s the future and oil spills have turned most of the population into… zombies! This is a first-person shooter that is incredibly ambitious in its scope. Players must fight for survival by blowing the zombies into smithereens while crafting new weapons from materials found in the wastelands.


Badland features beautifully designed levels, amazing physics and very responsive controls. Quite possibly the best physics-based platformer of all time (for mobile devices, anyway), it features 80 levels, one-touch controls, iCloud support and the promise of more level updates. A true triumph of indie video game development.

The Silent Age

The crowd-funded Silent Age is another true triumph of indie gaming. It features an amazing soundtrack, beautiful visuals reminiscent of noir films and a sci-fi time-travel concept that will captivate geeks and non-geeks alike, as they play a janitor who gets himself into a time travelling conspiracy with the shady corporation he’s working for.

Mobile games aren’t really doing much for manners in our post-smartphone society. Given how amazing and addictive they are, it’s really no surprise that one would rather enjoy and experience alien worlds on their phone, rather than making polite conversation to a stranger on the train. Still, it certainly makes that train journey go that bit quicker.

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Don’t Starve: Console Edition Review


Developer/Publisher: Klei Entertainment
Version reviewed: PlayStation 4
Release date: January 7, 2014

Don’t starve. This is a simple rule, no? I mean, maintaining your vitality by cramming your pie hole with nutrient-rich foods is a staple part of everyday life, and if you’re reading this review chances are you’ve gotten pretty good at it. Apply this rule to a Roguelike videogame, however, and suddenly things aren’t so simple. Such is the case with Don’t Starve, the latest IP from Vancouver-based development studio Klei Entertainment. Released on Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux last year via Valve’s Steam platform, it landed on the PlayStation 4 in January to captivate the console market, but does this indie adventure have what it takes to lure gamers away from triple A behemoths like Battlefield 4, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition?

The game begins by dumping your character, an intrepid gentleman scientist named Wilson, in a strange world. A dapper beanpole of a man materialises to inform you of your gaunt condition, advises you to chow down before nightfall arrives, and then leaves you to fend for yourself. The exposition is vague, though more about the title’s backstory can be learned from its promotional trailer. On a dark and stormy night, Wilson (who looks an awful lot like an Edgar Allan Poe caricature) is tricked into building a mysterious contraption by a windup radio, promising him “secret knowledge” in return, but when he activates said contraption spirits whisk him to an alternate realm. It transpires that this is the sinister work of dapper beanpole man, a.k.a. half-demon Maxwell, who no doubt plans to use Wilson’s machine for evil and stuff.


The first thing to know about Don’t Starve is that your survival relies entirely on exploration and self-discovery. There is no tutorial; there are no instructions, or “go here, do this” waypoint markers. You are alone in this seemingly hostile environment, and how best to look after Wilson’s health, hunger and sanity levels is up to you. Taking cue from the game’s title, I decided to make nourishment my priority on playthrough one, collecting all manner of seeds, berries and vegetables as I skipped through the forest. A veritable feast in my possession, I was extremely pleased with myself, yet as the foreboding darkness loomed it dawned on me that my single-mindedness caused me to overlook the importance of light. Blackness engulfed the screen and ‘something’ removed Wilson’s appendages with its teeth as I held my head in my hands. Lesson 1: darkness equals imminent death.

Playthrough two saw me change my strategy. This time, I gathered everything I stumbled upon – vegetables, twigs, grass, flint, rocks, an unhappy butterfly… When I came to review my bulging inventory minutes later, I realised I had the raw materials to construct a makeshift axe. Then the epiphanies came in thick and fast; with an axe, I could chop trees into logs. With logs, I could build a campfire, which I could fuel with grass and twigs. It wasn’t long until I was well into my first week, living off the fatta the lan’, but when Wilson’s sanity took a dive on day five he began to hallucinate, and the shadowy products of his delirium beat him to a pulp. Lesson 2: insanity equals unusual death.

The rather long-winded point being made here is that the inevitability of your demise lessens the more time you spend in this obscure, and often ruthless, landscape. Once players acquaint themselves with Don’t Starve’s crafting system, master their micromanagement skills and establish a list of wilderness do’s and don’ts (tip: don’t aggravate a swarm of killer bees. Ever), keeping Wilson alive becomes second nature. This enables you to focus your attention on discovering the title’s hidden wonders, from secret spelunking caves and rare items to a hidden Adventure Mode that slowly unearths the motivation behind Maxwell’s villainy. In fact, there’s an incalculable amount of satisfaction and achievement to be had here if you’re willing to put in the hard work.


A piece of advice though: do not get complacent. In keeping with the Roguelike sub-genre associated with RPGs and MMORPGs, dying in Don’t Starve is permanent. If you fall victim to the harsh conditions of winter, run out of supplies or get mauled by a pack of ravenous hounds, it’s back to the drawing board. To add insult to injury, the layout of each world is procedurally generated, meaning that when you do start a new game you won’t be able to follow your previous strategy step by step because the placement of landmarks, items and resources will have changed. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, as it compels players to take Wilson’s safety seriously, but that doesn’t negate the frustration they’ll feel when a Tallbird perforates their skull for wandering into its territory by mistake, robbing them of their progress.

Believe it or not, when you eventually meet your maker, some good does come of it. Aside from gaining valuable knowledge that will undoubtedly prove useful in a later playthrough, you’ll also be awarded experience points that unlock new characters. There are eight to earn in total, including Willow, an unpredictable pyromaniac with an unbreakable lighter, Wolfgang, a hard-hitting strongman and nyctophobic, and Woodie, a Canadian lumberjack with an imperishable axe and “a terrible secret” (according to the game’s Wiki). Each of the gang’s specific abilities is balanced by a weakness that can affect your tactics drastically, and this works well to introduce further variety, presenting some very interesting in-game scenarios.

Of course, all of the above would count for nothing if the game’s transition from PC and Mac to console was substandard. Thankfully, the PS4 port of Don’t Starve performs much like the original, running at a fluid 60 frames per second in true 1080p. The hand-drawn, Tim Burton-esque art style is delivered with vibrancy and crispness, and none of the quirkiness Klei Entertainment’s indie gem was praised for first time around has been lost in translation. Its mouse/keyboard control scheme is surprisingly well suited to the DaulShock 4 too. The D-pad performs multiple context-sensitive actions, L2 and R2 handles crafting and inventory management options (navigated using the thumbsticks), and the face buttons are reserved for simple tasks such as picking up items and swatting foes with whatever you’re wielding at the time. In this respect, the learning curve is gentle – a definite plus considering the unforgiving, trial and error-based nature of gameplay.


So does Don’t Starve hold its own against the latest big budget productions from EA DICE, Ubisoft and Crystal Dynamics? Unquestionably. Yes, it is a slow burner, offering little in terms of help or guidance, but the deeper you delve into this fascinating gothic world and its clever mechanics the harder it is to put down. Time will tell whether it has the clout to outshine Markus Persson’s Minecraft or Re-Logic’s Terraria, but speaking from experience its creativity and peculiarity succeeds at keeping the player’s attention for hours at a time. Given that PS Plus members can download it free of charge from the PlayStation Store as part of Sony’s Instant Game Collection, you’ve absolutely no reason not to get lost in this eerie IP.


Super Mario 3D World Review


Super Mario 3D World | Publisher – Nintendo | Platform – Wii U

As Mario now approaches his mid-30’s does this aging franchise still have a place amongst the gaming elite? He seen off the competition before. Let’s be honest, Sonic has seen better days and whilst Bubsy the Bobcat and Crash Bandicoot, to name just a few, have forced to take early retirement. There stands Mario, with is ever faithful band of comrades, standing tall in a celebration of everything that gaming should be. This is a masterpiece, Super Mario 3D World is above all else, FUN.

The story begins with Mario, Luigi, Toad and Princess Peach (who for once has not fallen victim to the evils whims of Bowser!) exploring the Mushroom Kingdom when they come across a strange clear pipe. It is from this said pipe that a Sprixie emerges, imagine a rather odd looking fairy and you may have some idea what a Sprixie looks like. Suddenly, Bowser appears, captures there new found friend and disappears through the pipe. Our heroes give chase and our adventure begins.

Those familiar with Super Mario Bros. 3 will have some idea of the layout of each world, of which there are seven and of course a few bonuses at the end with I am certainly not going to spoil for you. The aim is to guide our heroes through various levels located within each world until the eventual showdown with one of Bowser’s minions. Once defeated, a Sprixie is freed and it’s on to next the world, rinse and repeat until the final showdown with Bowser himself. Defeat him and glory will bestowed upon you and legendary status achieved and what fun you are going to have in the process.

Mario Sand_

The goal remains the same, make it to end of each stage, raise the flag triumphantly and it’s onto the next. Each world acts a hub, anyone familiar with Super Mario Bros 3 will appreciate the layout. It offers a little more freedom to explore but, essentially progress is made by completing various levels along a set path. Whilst the layout remains familiar it is the sheer variety on offer that truly astounds. From using a large dinosaur as a makeshift surfboard to playing though an entire level when all one can see is shadows. It never becomes tiresome. New ideas are constantly thrown at you. You truly get the sense that the designers were given free reign. Some stages will require the use of the touch pad, some will have rushing frantically. Nothing feels overused or drawn out.

The graphics and attentional to detail are genuinely stunning. Colours are bright and bold. Everything feels solid and purposeful. This not design over substance, a world has been created that you would want to spend a serious amount of time exploring. Accompanying the excellent visuals is the superb soundtrack. Each level has its own composition which sets the tone perfectly. It is a true assault of on your senses.

Those who have experienced past games from the Mario franchise will recognise elements from previous titles. Mushrooms and fire flowers, to name just a few, make a welcome return. The introduction of the new cat suit is a stroke of genius. The ability to scamper up walls opens up a whole new dimension. The cherry power up, which also makes its debut, is quite simply hilarious. Collect one of these and your chosen character duplicates. There is now two on screen for you to control. This can be stacked so, potentially, there can be up to five clones all running around at the same time. Each one mimicking the movements of the other. Add the multiplayer aspect to this and it becomes truly chaotic.

Mario 3D world Review

There are four characters on offer, with a secret fifth hidden later on for you to unlock. Each with their own abilities. Mario, the typical all-rounder. Luigi and his super high jump. Princess Peach and her ability to float and of course Toad, who is quicker than the rest. Your chosen character can be changed at the start of each level. This makes changes to the play style seamless. Using extra Wii remotes the game supports up to four players. You can either work together as a team or make each level a flat out race to the finish. If someone has rushed ahead and your character falls off screen the game compensates for this by allowing you to catch up in the form of a bubble. You are magically transported back onto the screen and a simple button press and you’re back into the fray.

There is so much on offer here that you will certainly get value for money. Each level has three green stars and a magic stamp to collect. The latter is used when posting messages using Nintendo’s Miiverse. These can be genuinely tricky to find and will take real skill to find them all. Couple this with excellent controls, manic multiplayer and enough hidden surprises to put most games to shame. Nintendo have, once again, outdone themselves. Super Mario 3D World is a true masterpiece in every sense of the word.


Reviewer – Mr Baddog

Super Mario 3D World is out now for Nintendo Wii U


Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective Review


Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective
Publisher: Capcom/Developer: Capcom
Nintendo DS/iOS

Why would anyone want a book when there’s Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective? Books don’t have 2D rendered sprites of hand drawn 3D models, you could have animation by flipping through the pages quickly but it would have to be an absurdly huge book to be anywhere near as cool. You would definitely drop a book that big on the bus and lose your place; drop a Nintendo DS on the bus and it’ll snap shut and save your place internally just because it loves you so very much. The point of this ludicrous opening paragraph is not that books are rubbish, but just that Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is really really good.

It starts off with a murder; a detective called Lynne stumbles across a corpse in a junkyard, before a hitman bursts onto the scene and shoots her down for unknown reasons. After an enchanted lampshade informs the ghost of the discovered corpse (that’s you) of your “Ghost Tricks” it’s up to you to use these tricks to save Lynne. The catch is that you have no memory of who you are or why you were killed tonight; and Lynne is your only potential lead on unlocking this mystery before your time runs out at dawn.

That probably all sounded fairly straight and narrow before the stuff about ghosts and the enchanted lampshade cropped up didn’t it? Ghost Trick comes to us from Shu Takumi, best known as the creator of the also slightly insane Ace Attorney series, and those familiar with his work will see his fingerprints all over this outing too.

It’s hard to discuss the story in too much detail as even the smallest piece of information could have 100s of spoilers attached to it, but Takumi games often have really “out there” nonsensical plots. This is sometimes too much for some gamers; a lot of people especially get grumpy about the Ace Attorney series regular inclusion of spirit mediums into the plots, but Takumi gets away with it because he grounds everything with the characters.


Takumi views his characters as the foundation of the craziness not crash test dummies that the craziness just happens to slam into, and as nuts and convoluted as Ghost Trick gets you’ll come out of it remembering the people more than the events. The ending of this game really doesn’t work for some people, but gosh darn it, it’s such a pleasant ending and so wrapped up in this worlds own logic it’s impossible to hate despite how silly it is. A lesser game wouldn’t get away with it; fortunately Ghost Trick is anything but.

As the comparison to books at the start and this review’s absolute refusal to discuss (or ruin) core plot points might imply, the main event of Ghost Trick is the story but this isn’t just an interactive novel, there is gameplay afoot. You spend the game moving around with your “Ghost Tricks”, these allow you to hop a short distance between inanimate objects and manipulate certain objects, such as chiming a clock or swinging a pendulum. Much more spectacular however, is the ability to communicate with recently deceased spirits and rewind time back to four minutes before their death.

The core element of the puzzles in this game are these “four minutes before death” sequences, where you have to toy around with objects in a room to avert someone’s fate. It’s a clever mechanic in how the designers choreograph a death sequence, sort of as a “what if” scenario and give you limited tools to change it, as it also gives your ghostly spirit an excuse to actually communicate with all the other characters in the story. The one downside to it is it does mean basically everyone in the plot has to die at some point as part of one evening’s events, Lynne especially is a bit reckless as you’ll be saving her about six times in the game, you really get the feeling that as soon as your spirit fades away at dawn all these clutz will trip over their shoelaces and all die in one big pile and it’d all been for nothing.

Anyway, the actual puzzles are fairly trial and error in nature, but that’s not the smarmy criticism that it sounds. What the game does is give you situation and a whole bunch of toys to play with, you’ll probably spend your first attempt playing with them and getting everything wrong, but you’ll figure out what to do. Time is frozen when moving around in the Ghost World, and you rewind to the start as many times as possible and the game is never a douche about it, stuff just goes wrong in Ghost World sometimes. Solving a puzzle in Ghost Trick is more like completing a Sudoku grid than solving a crossword clue, you keep clawing away at it until eventually you get all the pieces in the right place and it all becomes obvious.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is a beautifully presented story full of heart and spirit (hey this was a joke thanks for reading). Anyone who likes adventure or story-based games but gets frustrated at the structure of classic PC point n’ click ones should really love this, and anyone who is a fan of Ace Attorney or Professor Layton will be all over this as well. Whether you like, love or hate it, it’s guaranteed that you’ll never forget it.


Reviewer: Matthew Leslie