Author Archives: Gamejunkienz

My Friend, Pedro review: bloody acrobatics & a sentient banana [Nintendo Switch]

If I can make one suggestion when you fire up Deadtoast Entertainment’s side-scrolling shooter My Friend Pedro, it’s this: Do so wearing a decent set of headphones as it has a soundtrack that your ears will thank you for.

Based on an Adult Swim Flash game, My Friend, Pedro, the sound track is driving and relentless and fits perfectly into the on-screen carnage as you (our hero) shoot, pirouette and tumble your way through a 2.5D world, goaded on by … a talking banana. Yes, you read that right: A sentient, talking banana. That banana is Pedro and he offers advice on what to do.

My Friend, Pedro is described by publisher Devolver Digital in its marketing as a “violent bloody ballet about friendship and imagination” and it’s the perfect description: A twin-stick shooter, the game delights in slow motion acrobatics (think Max Payne’s bullet time) as you bound off walls and catapult off weighted doors, kicking 10-gallon drums (and eventually body parts) into foes & dodging automated turrets as bullets fly and heads explode in clouds of of red mist – all punctuated by that marvelous soundtrack (notable pieces are being Requium for Rose & Junkyard King).

This is a game that celebrates forward momentum, too, rewarding you with inventive moves and speed – then scoring you at the end. Every now and then an image of Pedro’s face (actually, do banana’s have faces?) will subliminally flash onto the screen: If Pedro’s smiling, he likes what he sees. If he’s frowning, he’s not impressed so you’d better do better.

My Friend, Pedro is also the sort of game that is perfect for the Switch’s portability and one that you can play in bite-sized chunks when you’ve got a bit of spare time in the evenings, thanks to the size of the levels, but the controls did take a bit of getting used to, as I felt I had to contort my fingers at times to do pull off some manouevers.

Devolver Digital is impressing me more and more with its support of quirky, indie titles [another excellent title is BroForce, which also plays perfectly on the Nintendo Switch]  and with My Friend, Pedro, Devolver has another winner on its hands.

Bite sized news & reviews, June, 2019

God of Waaaar tops June games

Santa Monica Studio’s PlayStation 4-exclusive God of War has topped the games charts in New Zealand for the month of May, according to price aggregation site PriceSpy.

Despite being released over a year ago, the game staring angry Kratos and his son stomping around Norse mythology, beat out Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4), EA’s Anthem (PC) and Insomniac’s Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4) for the top spot. That’s a pretty impressive effort. given the game came out early last year. Coincidentally, you can just happen to find my thoughts on God of War here

God of War originally launched with an RRP of $120 and according to pricing insights from PriceSpy, it can now be picked up for just $48, 60 percent less than 15 months ago.

If you haven’t played it, then I  politely suggest you give it a go. It’s very, very  good.

“They’re not loot boxes. They’re surprise mechanics,”  says EA 

Spotted on Eurogamer this week, EA and Epic Games got a grilling from Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee on a few video game related issues. One of the topics of discussion was loot boxes .

The response from EA’s vice president, legal and government affairs Kerry Hopkins will become the stuff of memes: “We don’t call them loot boxes – we call them surprise mechanics … People like surprises. We do think the way we’ve implemented these kinds of mechanics is quite ethical and quite fun. They aren’t gambling and we disagree that there’s evidence that shows they lead to gambling.”

Eurogamer reports that the “thorny” issue of loot boxes and gambling was also brought up, but EA, which makes hundreds of millions through the sale of a virtual currency that’s then used to buy packs of cards in FIFA Ultimate Team, believes the two aren’t linked.

There’s not really much else to say on that, is there?

Total War Three Kingdoms & Shakedown Hawaii reviews

I’ve started writing for Australian-based website Koru-Cottage so here are a couple of recent reviews I did for the site: PC game Total War Three Kingdoms and PlayStation 4 game Shakedown Hawaii. Enjoy.

‘Tis the season for E3, hear ye, hear ye … trailers & videos incoming!

As my Twitter feed keeps reminding me, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3, for short) is underway in Los Angeles this week, when [most] of vidya game’s biggest  publishers and developers showcase the games they’ve got coming out in the next few months [and over the next year or so].

A notable absence this year is PlayStation: It decided to forgo E3 for reasons.

I suspect they’ll have a strong presence at the Tokyo Game Show later this year and Gamescom in Germany, which makes sense, to be honest, especially focusing on the TGS which is, after all, in Japan.

OK, so all the major players had their pre-show press conferences yesterday and today [Xbox, SquareEnix, Bethesday, Devolver Digital, Ubisoft and EA], but rather than dissect them frame by frame, announcement by announcement, I’ve had links to trailers and conferences emailed to me … so I’m going to let you do the hard work [is that lazy??]

CD Projekt Red, the studio behind The Witcher series, revealed a new trailer for Cyberpunk 2077 & while it didn’t reveal any actual game play [which is a little annoying], the release date [April 16, 2020] was announced at the show by none other than Bill & Ted star himself Keanu Reeves [who seems to be the “it” guy right now]. He’s also featuring in the game. Here’s the trailer. Keanu appears at the end.

Xbox announced it had acquired Tim Schaefer’s Double Fine Productions [you’d still better look after the backers – including me – of the Fig campaign that actually funded the game, Tim!], the beta version of Game Pass for PC, which I signed up for given I’m a born-again PC gamer, and at $NZ6.95 a month, it seems incredibly good value for money, and already hads a pretty good line-up of games so far [Metro Exodus, Wolfenstein 2, Football Manager 2019, Void Bastards], and like its Xbox counterpart, more games will be added as the service grows. It also revealed Project Scarlett, it’s next next-gen console that is apparently going to be “4 x more powerful than the Xbox One X” [and, according to one Xbox Twitter account it would be the most powerful console it had ever designed, but it did say that about the Xbox One X, right?] Details were light on the ground on Project Scarlett, though, given it’s not releasing until the end of 2020. It also showed a cinematic trailer for the next game in the Halo series.

SquareEnix showed off its Final Fantasy 7 remake, and it looks pretty impressive – and I’m not a fan of the series. Here’s the battle system in action:

It also announced Outriders, a new game from development studio People Can Fly [the company behind the very good Bulletstorm], and a Marvel Avenger’s game, which will come out next year. Here’s trailer for those two, too.

Bethesda showed off, among other things, more of Doom Eternal

Wolfenstein Young Blood

Ghostwire Tokyo

Phew, I’m tired after all that. I don’t have anything about EA or Ubisoft but Ubi announced a new Watchdogs game set in London & another entrant in the Ghost Recon franchise, and EA showed off Respawn’s Star Wars game The Force Unleashed 3 Jedi Fallen Order.

Anything catch your eye?

Update, Wednesday, June 12: Ubisoft have sent through a shite load of emails today but here’s some of the key titles it showed.

Watchdogs Legion 

Assassin’s Creed story creator mode

and God & Monsters

Bite-sized review: Hellmut The Badass from Hell

What is it: Hellmut Badass from Hell is a twin-stick shooter rogue-like which, according to Slovakian development team Volcanicc , has you play as a collection of “improbable creatures and slaughter furious demon hordes”. I looked at it on Nintendo Switch but it’s also available on PC and console.

So, what’s it all about?: Hellmut uses the currently popular 16-bit pixel art style of graphics that a few developers are favouring at the moment, and it’s one of those games where you move with the left stick and aim with the right as you fight your way through increasingly tougher enemies until you die – then you respawn and start all over again.

If you like games like Dead Cells and Hollow Knight, Hellmut will likely appeal to your gaming sensibilities (conversely, if you hate games like Dead Cells and Hollow Knight, you’ll hate Hellmut). It has procedurally generated levels and nice touch is that Hellmut (who seeks imortality from a demon so is reduced to a floating skull and spine) can transform into two other nightmarish creatures (the rat king and the stitchmonster), both with different abilities. The game really looks great on the Switch’s screen, too.

So, anything about the game that grinded your gears?: Well, it’s a rogue-like so, yeah. I frustrate easily with rogue-like games and so it was with Hellmut (and with Dead Cells and Hollow Knight before it). You have to have incredible patience and stickability with games like this and I’m not sure I have the patience to see them through to the end.

Verdict?: Hellmut Badass from Hell has a nice little sense of humour running through it and I liked that, but the bottom line is, like all rogue-likes before it, if you find games like Dead Cells – where when you die you restart from the beginning – frustrating then this isn’t the game for you. That said, if you love games where the odds are often against you and you love the challenge of learning from your mistakes, you’ll love this.

Thanks to the publisher who provided me with a Nintendo Switch game code.

A Plague Tale: Innocence in pictures

A Plague Tale: Innocence, from French developer Asobo Studio, has come out of nowhere, really, with little fanfare and hype, and so far, it’s the sleeper hit of 2019 for me.

I bought it the other day on PC (true story: I got the conversions wrong so thought I was paying around $NZ45 for a $US37 game but actually ended up paying $58) and I’ve been blown away from the moment I started playing. After about two hours playtime, I’m still blown away by the game.

Set in France during the time of a devastating plague (I’ve no idea what time period), Amicia and her brother Hugo must escape the British Inquisition soldiers hunting down Hugo. To make matters worse, swarms of rats are a crucial element that Amicia and Hugo have to survive against.

This isn’t a review of the game, or even a preview, it’s really just to show just how jaw-droppingly good looking this game is on PC. I get the odd hitch every now and then but I’m playing on Ultra graphics settings with an AMD RX580 GPU and it just looks phenomenal.

Chances are I’ll post some thoughts when I’m done with A Plague Tale: Innocence. So far, all those thoughts are incredibly positive.

 

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Huawei Y6 Pro 2019 review

Huawei has been in the news recently – and not for great reasons thanks to Android OS maker Google and a decision by the US government – but don’t write the Chinese smartphone manufacturer just yet.

The Y6 Pro 2019  is one of Huawei’s budget phones – it’ll set you back a paltry $249 – but it doesn’t look or feel like a budget smartphone, thanks to its sleek design and quality construction. My review handset was coloured a nice sapphire blue that really does look the bee’s knees and wouldn’t look out of place next to top end smartphones from Huawei and other manufacturers.

Sporting a 6.09-inch HD+ IPS screen (1520 x 720 resolution), 3Gb of memory, a 13MP camera and 32Gb of storage (which is expandable via MicroSD), the Y6 Pro doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner like Huawei’s top-line phones like the P20 and P30 (or even the Nova 3i) but it does have facial recognition which worked every single time I picked up the phone.

The screen is good but not colours don’t pop and the screen isn’t as sharp don’t pop as Huawei’s higher end models and it handled mobile games like Deus Ex Go and Lara Croft Go extremely well, not seeming to drain the battery too much. Talking about the battery, I was impressed with Y6 Pro 2019’s battery life. I got on average two days usage from the phone’s 3020mAh battery needing a charge.

The camera does the job but images aren’t as sharp as on higher end smartphones.

Perhaps the biggest flaw of this phone is the limited internal storage: 32Gb isn’t going to last you very long so if you’re the sort of person who takes lots of photos or downloads content, I’d suggest buying an microSD card at the same time as buying the phone. Face it, buying a larger microSD won’t break the bank given how cheap this phone is.

Overall, Huawei’s Y6 Pro 2019 is a good phone without being a fantastic phone. It’s a workhorse that ticks all the right boxes and is perfect if you want a cheap but good-looking smartphone for your teenager.

If you’re a power user, though, you’ll want to look at something more high-end.


 

Weekend news

Some news for you all.

As well as maintaining this blog, I’ve now started writing PC game reviews for Australian-based gaming blog Koru Cottage which has a great team of writers based in New Zealand and  Australia.

I’ve known the guys involved in the site for some time through social media platforms so it’s nice to have been asked to join the team and contribute.

I’ve done my first review for the site, too  – Rebellion’s Sniper Elite V2 Remastered – which you find here.

Have no fear, though, I’ll still be keeping this blog up and running: I may just tweak the content a bit as time goes on.

Have a great weekend.

 

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