Movies: Diega Maradona Review

July 2, 2019

Men of a certain age will idolise Diego Maradona, and with good reason; not only was he a supremely talented footballer, but at a time where televised football wasn’t so oversaturated, his only occasional appearances on our screens will have meant he carried a certain mystique about him.

At 36 years old, I’m just that tiny bit too young to feel that way. I was only four during the ’86 World Cup and just discovering football when Italia ’90 aired . So for me, Maradona first came to my attention in 1994 when he was a high profile shadow of his former self, coked out of his nut at the World Cup in the USA.

With that in mind, I think that I’m just wide of the target audience here. Those that do love Maradona will more than likely find this documentary to be everything they expected and more, but without that childhood love to see me over the line, I was a little disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, it was watchable, but its Senna-inspired style didn’t have enough depth to it. Unless my memory is cheating me, Senna required no narration and was replete with engaging behind the scenes footage that told a story most people didn’t know.

The Diego Maradona documentary contained a lot of footage but what we saw rarely told the story; it was just window dressing that carried the narration. And moreover, a lot of it – understandably – was pretty poor quality window dressing at that.

If this had been presented as an hour-long documentary complete with talking heads to go along with the imagery – much like Viceland’s superb Dark Side of the Ring series –  about how his star shone bright and then crashed at Napoli, I think it would have worked a lot better.

As it was, I found it just a little bit lacking, with the only thing I didn’t really know ahead of time – and remember I’m saying this as someone who is neither here nor there when it comes to Maradona – was how much of a turning point the Italia ’90 semi-final was.

So to sum it up in one word…meh.

Games – Golf Story (Nintendo Switch) Review

July 1, 2019

With first-party releases by Nintendo so few and far between on the Switch, I’ve found that what keeps the console interesting is the thriving indie games marketplace in the online store.

Over the last month I’ve bought and invested varying degrees of time in games like New Star Manager, Future Grind, Quest For The Golden Duck and Picross S. And they’ve all been fun in their own way, even if they’ve lacked longevity. But then again, if you only pay anywhere between 50p and £10 for a game, then even getting a few days worth of utility out of it represents value for money.

Reviewing some of these games for the blog has seemed a little pointless; I mean, the game I played the most out of all of those was Picross S, but what can you say about it? It would be like trying to review the concept of Sudoku. It is what it is, and I liked it.

One game that is worth reviewing though is Golf Story, not only because I got plenty of play time out of it, but also because its a fully formed game with a proper story mode to it. To me, that’s something worth discussing.

Games – Golf Story (Nintendo Switch) Review: What’s It About?

A Nintendo Switch exclusive and presented in 2D with 16-bit graphics, Golf Story is a mixture of golf sim and RPG about an amateur golfer who wants to learn his craft and get onto the pro tour. It’s told in a fairly quirky Japanese style way; kinda like a golfing version of an old Zelda game, or Earthbound. There are plenty of side quests and the sort of comical dialogue you might expect.

Games – Golf Story (Nintendo Switch) Review: What Do The Critics Say?

It generally receives scores in the 7.5/10 or 4 stars bracket from sites including Eurogamer, IGN, Metro and Polygon.

Games – Golf Story (Nintendo Switch) Review: What Do I Say?

Honestly, I thought it was decent, but no better than that.

What makes it work, and yet at the same time also counts against it, is that it doesn’t really excel as either an RPG or a golfing sim.

As an RPG, it’s pretty shallow; the story is basic, the characters seem a bit derivative of those seen in just about every game like it, and apart from the bit in the mansion at Tidy Park there’s practically no challenge to it. And even though the dialogue is initially amusing and there is a story to it, I found myself getting a bit bored of it by the end.

As a golf game, it’s pretty frustrating too. It uses the tried and tested three-click swing format that any golf game worth its salt uses, and that’s fine, but it got the balance wrong when it came to difficulty. Whether you landed on the fairway, the deep rough or the bunker, it made no difference to how easy it was to get to the green; no matter what, you’d get on it with a chance of putting for birdie. But then once you got there – and assuming you landed more than two feet from the hole – putting became a lottery. There was no effective way to read the greens, and the chances were that your best bet would be to try to chip the ball in regardless of where you were.

Put it this way, there’s no way I’m going to go back and play any of the courses now that I’m finished. If I want to play a golf game I’ll fire up Everybody’s Golf, which is available on the PS Store for the same price as this.

Now that being said, together the game does work, and it is reasonably enjoyable.

Most of the side quests – like disc golf and chipping from afar – provide a challenge that required some skill from the player, and I certainly didn’t just beat them all in one go.

And in fairness, I did play through the entire story mode, completing every main and side objective going.

So that has to count for something.

Games – Golf Story (Nintendo Switch) Review: Was It Worth It?

Like I said above, on the whole, Golf Story is simply a decent game.

I bought it for £10 and played through it over a three day period, maybe playing for 8-10 hours.

I’ve bought better games for that price, and I sure as hell have bought a lot worse for more than quadruple that amount.

So really, I’d say it’s worth it, but just make sure you temper your expectations. It’s alright, but not as amazing as some critics would have you believe.

If you are looking for a golf game, this isn’t your best bet; go buy Everybody’s Golf.

If you are looking for an RPG, you’ll find this shallow and there are no doubt dozens of better games available for £10 or less.

But if you don’t mind a light mix of both, this will do the trick.

Movies: Toy Story 4 Review (or ‘Thanks For The Memories, But Let’s Leave It There’)

June 30, 2019

When I heard that Toy Story 4 was in production, I was a little surprised; after all, Toy Story 3 seemed like the perfect, glorious ending to one of the finest movie trilogies of all time.

So where would they go with this one? And would it do the previous movies justice or would it end up being like that time they brought back Only Fools and Horses for one final, deeply disappointing run?

Movies – Toy Story 4 Review: What’s It About?

Well once again, a toy goes missing/gets separated from the rest of them and Woody has to save the day.

Only this time, he’s doing it because – to paraphrase him – there’s nothing else left for him to do.

Movies – Toy Story 4 Review: Who’s In It?

The gang are all back, sounding just that little bit older, which is no surprise considering the first movie was released 24 years ago and most of the cast are now anywhere between late 50s, early 90s, or in the case of Mr Potato Head, long since dead. This time they also joined by Tony Hale as Forky.

Movies – Toy Story 4 Review: Is It Any Good?

There are two routes to take when answering that question.

On its own merits, is it a good movie? Absolutely. Like all the Toy Stories, it’s a colourful, enjoyable ‘Home Is Just Over That Mountain’ style quest, with a lot of great humour that will appeal to adults and children alike. And similar to the other three, it has some emotional, and heartwarming moments too.

In particular, I thought the stuff with Ducky and Bunny was brilliant, while the Benson dolls – apparently a direct rip-off of Slappy the Dummy from Goosebumps – were suitably creepy to the point that I’m surprised they didn’t push the movie into the PG banding.

On the flipside, as a part of the Toy Story franchise, I kinda thought Toy Story 4 seemed a little unnecessary.

While it was a good movie, it felt like it went down a path already well-trodden and like it didn’t bring anything new to the table at all. There’s only so many times you can go to the well of ‘Woody and the gang have to save a toy before the owner realises’. And while it still had emotion, like I mentioned above, I don’t think it had it to the level of the others. especially not Toy Story 3.

There were a few little niggles worth mentioning too…

The idea has always been – within reason – that the toys only operate when no human can see them, and yet there were a couple of times when they almost outright interacted with them. It’s a little thing, but it didn’t sit well with me.

On the voice acting, I thought Tony Hale’s was off. I can get past his annoying ‘Buster Bluth in Tiny Town’ voice that he used for Forky, but unlike literally every other voice actor in the movie, his didn’t convincingly sound like it was coming from his character. Every line sounded like it had been badly dubbed in late on, and as if he didn’t record them while actually acting with the rest of the cast. And I know that when it comes to animation or audio plays, it’s common practice for some actors to record their parts separate from the rest of the cast, but it usually still feels like that they are there with the rest of them when you hear the final result. Here, it just sounded like Hale recorded forced soundbytes in a silly voice. Mr Potato Head sounded like he was there with the rest of the cast, and like I say, he’s dead.

And yes, on that note, I wouldn’t say it was off-putting or something that they could really help, but the cast sounded old. It’s a bit like watching a newer episode of The Simpsons or listening to Tom Baker playing the fourth Doctor in a Big Finish audio; you know it’s the same guys but time has made you very aware that voices are not immortal. In particular, Jessie sounded like an old woman rather than the young cowgirl from Toy Story 2, and yet Joan Cusack is still one of the youngest cast members.

Movies – Toy Story 4 Review: Final Thoughts

On its own merits, Toy Story 4 is a solid movie; one that is comfortably better than most Disney/Pixar movies and streets ahead of the animations that other studios release.

As part of the Toy Story franchise though, while it’s still good, it seems more like one last encore before the curtain comes down, a nostalgic greatest hits tour or an epilogue at the end of a book. Or all three put together. As a viewer, I can accept that and applaud it, but any more and I think I’d lose interest.

Without spoiling it, the way Toy Story 4 ended would suggest that this will be the final outing for Woody and the gang, and I think that’s for the best. The format has been taken as far as it can go now, and any more would risk sullying the legacy of such a great series.

So thanks for the memories guys, but let’s leave it there.

TV – Years and Years Review

June 27, 2019

With so many top quality TV shows available to us in such high volume, it’s only natural that we simply don’t have time to watch them all. It’s a lovely problem to have, but it is still a problem.

Between that and the modern urge to binge-watch rather than stick to a one episode per week viewing schedule, it becomes very easy to forget about certain shows.

Before it was broadcast, I became aware of Years And Years, the latest BBC Drama from the pen of ex-Doctor Who showrunner, Russell T. Davies. I had every intention of watching and yet I forgot, until after the last episode was screened.

Had it not been for some articles appearing on my social media feeds about it, the chances are it would have just passed me by completely.

But thankfully, those articles did remind me, and over three nights, I watched all six episodes.

And I’m so glad I did.

Years And Years Review: What’s It About?

Starting in 2019 with the birth of one of their own, it’s about the Lyons family from Manchester and how all their lives progress over the next 15 years, in the face of technological advancements and a changing socio-political environment.

Years And Years Review: Who’s In It?

Oh it’s a who’s who of British TV stars, many of whom have previously worked with RTD on other projects, including of course, Doctor Who. There’s Russell Tovey, Rory Kinnear, Anne Reid, Jessica Hynes, Emma Thompson and many more.

Years And Years Review: Is It Any Good?

Considering the talent involved it’ll come as no surprise that I enjoyed it; in fact, I thought it was very good, and even a little bit worrying.

By that, I mean it pulls no punches about where our society currently is and how easily things could change for the worse.

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone yet to see it, but RTD takes a very ‘Worst Case Scenario’ view in his writing about how things may change in the near future, with global conflicts, economic unrest, refugee crises, food shortages and on a UK level, how easy it would be for the public to be caught up in the cult of personality with our politics.

It makes for very dark viewing, but it’s entertaining and hopefully wakes some people up to the dangers that – as a result of their votes in future elections and/or referendums – they could prevent in the future.

If I was to criticise the show, it would be for two things…

The first is that I think it’s maybe one episode too long. While each member of the Lyons family has their own story that unfolds over the 15 years, they all sag a little bit at different points. I think that if I hadn’t binge-watched the show, and instead had kept to one episode per week, I might have got a little frustrated by the pace in the middle.

The second is that the last episode became maybe too detached from reality and instead felt like a season finale of Doctor Who. Don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining, but it goes back to that ‘Punch-the-air-tastic’, “Everybody lives, Rose!!” style of Doctor Who writing that in this show felt a but far fetched. You could have easily imagined David Tennant’s Doctor taking the place of Jessica Hynes character at the detention centre, for example.

But those are mild criticisms, and there was plenty about Years and  Years that did hit the target. For example, I loved that the advancements in technology were presented as having happened, but not in such a way that the show became about them. I also thought the little nods to the changes in how and what we’ll be eating were brought in.

Most of all though – and again I’m keen not to spoil anything – I enjoyed the development of the relationship between Celeste and Murial. The way it completely changed over the course of the series summed up RTD’s strength as a writer. It was subtle, but heart-warmingly executed.

On the whole then, if you’ve not seen it, then make sure you do, and if you have seen it, did you agree with me?

As always, any opinions are welcome.

Stuart’s Late Review: King’s Quest 3 (or “Time Magazine Can Go Fuck Itself”)

June 20, 2019

“There’s a part of me that would love to see a modern AAA Point & Click Adventure game released in 2019 with the same fanfare that Sierra and Lucasfilm games were released back in the day, just like there’s a part of me that wants to go back and finish Zak McCracken & The Alien Mindbenders or Kings Quest 3, but in both cases I know it’s not going to happen, and I can understand why.”

That’s what I wrote at the start of this week in an article on genres of games that should make a comeback in 2019.

But then I thought “Why not go back and finish them? There’s no harm”.

And so with that, I loaded up my RetroPie box – and hey, I do that with no feelings of guilt; I’ve bought both games at least three times over the years so LucasArts and Sierra have got my money – and put on King’s Quest 3.

As a bit of backstory, this is a game that I have tried my best to get through fairly and without assistance on a number of occasions, but it just felt impossible. I could barely make any progress. So this time, I thought I’d just sit down with a walkthrough and grind my way to the end, just so I could finally put to bed a game I first played on the Atari ST a full three years before my girlfriend was born (I just put that in there because it’s a recurring in-joke that so many TV and game reference predates her existence. Don’t worry, there’s only 7 years difference.)

In a way I wish I hadn’t bothered, for reasons I’ll get to, but in another way I’m glad I did.

Stuart’s Late Review – King’s Quest 3: What Is It?

King’s Quest 3 is a Point & Click Adventure made by Sierra in 1986. It’s the third in a series – duh – of games in which you play as a young boy who would or could be king, and fight dragons or whatever the fuck, as Jim Cornette would say.

In this particular game you play as Gwydion, a servant boy kept as a slave to the evil magician, Manannan. Once you manage to get free of Manannan (which is no easy task) it turns out you’re the long lost heir to the throne of the region and must slay a dragon and free the Princess it was keeping captive.

Oh, and it’s not actually a Point & Click Adventure, as this game predates that. Instead, it’s a game where you move the character using the Up/Down/Left/Right buttons on the keyboard and type in exactly what you need to do. And yes…we’ll get to that.

Stuart’s Late Review – King’s Quest 3: How Does It Play?

I think the expression to sum up my feelings on it is “Fucking Jeeeeeeeeesus”.

Now sure, this game was made a long, long time ago, and its style is totally obsolete in 2019, but even then, it’s an absolute train wreck.

The restrictions put upon the player are nonsense from the get-go and are incredibly frustrating.

They include…

Unmentioned And Ridiculously Restrictive Time Windows

So the first Act of the game works like this…

In the first 5 minutes, Manannan sets you some arbitrary task like cleaning the kitchen. Then he announces he’s off on a trip, so that gives you time to plough through the game as much as possible. After 25 minutes he comes back and if you are not back in his house and haven’t hidden away all those magical items you’ve collected then he just kills you. Even with a walkthrough this wasn’t made clear and having constantly saved my progress, I knew that being so far away from the house at the game’s 30-minute mark, I had no choice but to start again.

This routine continues until you finally make a spell that turns him into a cat.

The thing is, I was doing this with a defined list of what I needed to collect from each screen. Without that guide, this game would be impossible.

There’s also a point later in the game where you have to wait for the pirate ship to reach its destination. There’s nothing really to do other than wait so I went away for 15 minutes to fill my dishwasher and clean my kitchen. I shouldn’t have to do that.

Horrendous Controls

Now like I say, this is a game from a by-gone era with obsolete controls, but even at the time, they must have been considered as an overly frustrating joke. To even go up a wide flight of stairs in Manannan’s house you have to employ a bizarre method of pressing up/right/up/right/up/right because the stairs are diagonal and there’s no automatic way to move diagonally.

So if it’s difficult to walk up a wide staircase with bannisters, imagine how awkward it is to climb down a narrow path on a mountain, or up a thin set of stairs in a cave?

Yup, mostly King’s Quest 3 is about continually saving your game when you manage to move an inch on screen.

Random Ways To Halt Your Progress

If you make it down the mountain you’re then faced with random events like a band of thieves attacking you and stealing all your possessions, or later, a shark killing you in the water.

You Have To Collect Specific Items That Are So Poorly Pixelated That Without Knowing Their Pinpoint Location, You’re Screwed

At its heart, King’s Quest 3 is a game about collecting specific items. You need to create magic spells and so you must collect every single ingredient required or it’s game over. So to get the dog fur you’d need to

Spot the mistletoe

find the dog, pick it up and pull some of its fur out. That’s ok because that is part of what an adventure game is. However, some of the items are almost impossible to get unless you know in advance where to find them. Take mistletoe for example; that is represented as a green blob on a tree. Maybe gamers were more attuned to stuff like that back in the day, but I doubt it. Without knowing that’s the mistletoe, you wouldn’t be able to progress.

You Have To Type Exactly What The Game Wants You To Do Or You’re Screwed

Again, you could argue that I’m looking at this with my 2019 glasses on, because games like this worked by you typing the right thing in – within reason – to solve a puzzle.

But King’s Quest 3 takes that too far. When it comes to making a magic potion, you have to look in the accompanying copy protection book and type exactly the right words in the right order with the correct spelling or you will be killed. So for example, one potion is made by typing this…

mandrake root and hair of cat
mix oil of fish and give a pat
a feline from the one who eats
this appetizing magic treat

If you make a single spelling error you die and have to start from the beginning.

I felt like I was defusing a bomb rather than playing a game.

And that’s the underlying point of it all…

King’s Quest 3 isn’t enjoyable. And it’s not enjoyable because the only way to make the game challenging is to make it frustrating. There aren’t really any puzzles and there’s no requirement for critical thinking, which I would have thought was the point of an adventure game. Instead, you’ve just got to collect stuff, and unless you get lucky, the only way to know how to get that stuff is to have a walkthrough. In the 1980s you could buy a walkthrough or phone a helpline; that was how Sierra made money. Nowadays we have in-app purchases but back then it was a case of “Here’s a door. You don’t have the key to get through that door, so you have to buy that key from us”.

If the game didn’t have those restrictions or the relentless mountain paths that you would fall off again and again, then the game would have nothing to it.

But that’s not how a game should be released. They should have done away with the grind elements and offered players the chance to use their brains to solve the puzzles the game should have had.

So Am I Glad To Have Finished It?

Here’s the greatest kick in the teeth of the lot; I didn’t finish it. It was impossible to finish it.

Looking at a walkthrough it would appear as though all I had to do left was to escort the newly freed princess back down the stairs in the cave, and when I did, I’d watch an epilogue and that would be that.

The fateful penultimate screen before the princess stood in front of me and prevented me from completing the game

But the walk downstairs includes multiple screens and when you move to the second of those screens, the Princess stands in your way and so you can’t actually walk down any further.

At that point I just said “Screw this” and went to bed.

So although I finished it, I didn’t finish it, which I’ve managed to come to terms with.

In a sense though, I’m happy to have laid this ghost to rest; completing King’s Quest 3 was always something that I had failed to do, and now I know that had I not used a walkthrough I never would have come close.

For all intents and purposes, it’s done now, and I can at least say I saw it through as much as possible.

The last thing I’ll say on the subject though is this…

In 2016, King’s Quest 3 was voted by Time magazine as the 50th Greatest Videogame of All Time.

All Time.

Time Magazine can go fuck itself.

20 Gaming Titles I Want To See Return In 2019 – Part Four

June 19, 2019

And so on day four, we come to the final chapter in my series of articles on games I’d like to see return to our consoles in 2019.

You can read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 in the provided links.

As for the remaining entries…

#16 – Zombies Ate My Neighbours

Something of a cult classic, it’s pretty surprising that this 1993 SNES & Megadrive game has never had a proper sequel in any subsequent gaming generation.

The premise was simple; you play as either a brother or sister – or both if you had someone to play alongside – as they try to save their neighbours from Zombies, ghouls, werewolves and other B-Movie villains.

Each level had a theme to it and there was plenty of variety.

The visuals were top down, so in some ways it looked like an RPG like Zelda or Secret of Mana, but really, it was a shooting game, as the kids take the villains down with an assortment of guns, water pistols and other weaponry.

The key to this game’s success was that it was both fun and a bit frivolous, and if you do a quick internet search, you’ll find it’s still fondly remembered as one of the best games of the 16-bit generation.

This is another game owned and published by a company that still exists in 2019 – LucasArts – so hopefully they get their finger out and start work on a new version asap.

#17 – de Blob

I’ve written about de Blob – or more specifically de Blob 2 – on the blog before, so much like Little King’s Story, it may not come as a surprise that I’ve included it on this list.

For those unfamiliar with it, de Blob is a sort of 3D platforming puzzle game against the clock where you control a blob who must bring colour back to the world. He has to paint each building the correct colour and defeat enemies who thrive on black ink.

Though it might not be everyone’s cup of tea – sales were never amazing – by the description alone you would likely agree that there aren’t too many similar games out there.

Now this may be a little bit of a cheat because both de Blob games are available on all the major consoles today, but the fact remains that they are reprints of old games and we haven’t had a new release since 2011.

It’s time to bring this game back with a fresh blob of paint.

#18 – Donkey Kong 64

Sticking with the 3D platforming vibe, I think Donkey Kong 64 has become one of the great forgotten games of the 64-bit generation.

Everyone rightly praises Banjo Kazooie for being the jewel in the crown of Rare’s 3d Platformers, but Donkey Kong 64 was up there as a real contender to the throne. In fact, there’s an argument to suggest it was actually a slightly deeper game.

And yet for whatever reason, it’s never really spoken of anymore.

To be fair, that might be because for the most part it was just Banjo with a different desktop theme, so to speak, but it had the added dimension of controlling five different characters – Donkey, Diddy, Tiny, Chunky and Lanky Kong (hmmm, in 2019 you probably couldn’t get away with some of those nicknames) – each of whom had their own special skills as well as their own items to collect in each level.

That’s definitely getting bang for your buck.

Donkey Kong 64 was quietly released on the Wii U’s Virtual Console and having replayed it a few years back, I thought it held up really well.

Hopefully Nintendo brings DK back in-house and produce a worthy sequel.

#19 – Street Racer

Considering there is no shortage of kart racing video games out there in 2019 – and Mario Kart is obviously the absolute king of them – why would I want this largely forgotten about 1994 SNES title to return to consoles now?

Well the characters were pretty cool, and it felt like Wacky Races to an extent, but that’s not really it.

It’s the Rumble mode.

Street Racer had a mode in it where the karts all competed to try to push each other off the edge of a platform in a similar style to a battle royal in wrestling.

Kart games have always come with party modes but there hasn’t been one like it before or since, and dare I say there hasn’t been anything even remotely as fun.

I want Rumble mode, and so should you.

#20 – Wario Ware, Inc. Mega Party Games

To bring this article all the way back to the very beginning, Wario Ware, Inc. Mega Party Games has a story very similar to that of #1 on the list, Super Monkey Ball.

It’s a game that was released for the Gamecube and provided my friends and I with a tremendous amount of fun over many years. Yet what made the game great was never repeated as it was ruined by motion controls on the Wii and was subsequently exiled to the handheld consoles.

Last year it even got a new release on the 3DS.

And hey, in single player mode, maybe that’s where Wario Ware is best enjoyed, but when it comes to multiplayer, the Wario Ware experience on the Gamecube has never been touched.

It’s simple as well; you compete in mini-games  – often with the most basic of old school graphics – that only last around 5 seconds. It’s fast and furious and presented in various different forms, like in one mode where you’re standing on an upside-down wobbling turtle and if you don’t win, another turtle gets added on top, making it more difficult to survive; last player balancing on their stack of turtles wins.

It’s a very Japanese concept but it’s one that’s so simple that anyone could play.

Bonus – A Properly New Katamari Game

Another very Japanese game is the popular roll-em-up, Katamari Damacy.

With its fun soundtrack and calm, but challenging experience, it’s a game that is loved by everyone who has played it.

And if you want to play Katamari you’re not really short of options; there have been 14 released since 2004, with the most recent one being Katamari Damacy Reroll, which arrived on the Switch in 2018.

The problem is that every single one of the games has been the same. And I don’t mean the same style like the various Mario games, I mean exactly the same. The same levels, the same music, the same challenges.

I stupidly bought a few of the same ones and even though I enjoyed them all, enough is enough.

If Bandai wants to release a new Katamari game, they need to put a bit more effort in.


And so that’s the list. Are there any games in there you disagree with? Or perhaps you had games in mind that didn’t appear? Either way, let me know. I value any feedback here or on Twitter @sgmilne or Facebook and Instagram @StuartReviewsStuff


20 Gaming Titles I Want To See Return In 2019 – Part Three

June 18, 2019

And so we arrive at part three of this article on 20 Gaming Titles I Want To See Return In 2019.

Before I get to it, are there any games that you want to see return? Let’s stimulate the debate; if you’ve got an opinion, I’m always happy to hear it here, or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, on with the show.

#11 – King of Colosseum

Yup, it’s another wrestling game, but it needs to be included because the options available to the consumer over the past 10 or more years has been paltry at best. It’s such a pity that what was once a thriving genre has fallen by the wayside so much.

Now for wrestling game purists, this may or may not come as a shock but I consider the three King of Colosseum games (KOC Red, KOC Green and KOC 2) to be the best wrestling games ever released; better than both No Mercy and the Fire Pro Wrestling series.

To some, wrestling is just a fake fight between two oily blokes in a ring, while at the other end of the scale, to some it’s life. To me, when done right, it’s performance art aimed at engaging the viewer. In 2019, a lot of that art has vanished for a number of reasons that I won’t bore you with here, but the main one is that nothing really means anything anymore. At some point, wrestling became about everyone doing all their moves in every match; it became about High Spots rather than telling a story. No story = no drama.

Now the reason I’m telling you this is because King of Colosseum is hands down the wrestling game that understood that it was about telling the story. Officially licensed and containing 3D versions of all the major wrestlers in Japan at the time, it was a game with no gimmicks; there were no ladder, hardcore, cage or deathmatch mode, with the emphasis instead being on basic wrestling matches in the ring.

You built up slowly, starting with weaker moves, then progressing to medium one and finally signature holds. It also had a finite Powerball system meaning there were only so many times you could use your finisher, but you could also use the Powerball to kick out when your character seemed destined to lose.

It heightened the drama and made the story of the match more engaging. At the end of the bout you’d receive a match rating.

Now to an extent, Fire Pro Wrestling – made by the same development team – contains *some* of that, but for me, that game is more about customisation. King of Colosseum was – and probably still is – the better game, both in terms of visuals and functionality.

So bring it back Spike!! Please??!!!

#12 – The New Zealand Story

The reasons I’d like to see The New Zealand Story back are pretty much the same as why I want a new Rainbow Islands.

Bright and colourful? Check.

A different style of 2D platforming compared to the Nintendo style? Check.

Great soundtrack? Check.

Lead character cutesy enough to carry a franchise? Check.

Developed and published by Taito? Check

That last point is significant. Like I said in the first part of this series of articles, there will be some games on this list that were brought to us by games companies that have long since ceased to exist. You’d need some kind of Video Game Genealogist to find out what happened to the companies that developed and published Weird Dreams for example, but Taito is still a thriving company – albeit subsidiary to Square Enix now – and so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility for someone in an office in Japan to make the decision to bring the New Zealand Story back.

#13 – Night Hunter

Speaking of games companies, I was pretty shocked to find out that the next game on the list – a game I thought was possibly the most obscure to feature – was in fact published by Ubisoft. Believe it or not, it was the 10th game they ever produced.

Surely that alone must mean there’s some element of fondness to it at HQ?

Given a modern-day sense of polish, this game – where you control a Dracula-style vampire who can turn into a werewolf or a bat – would certainly work today.

Much like Weird Dreams though, if you wanted to play Night Hunter on the Amiga you’d find a game that no longer holds up mechanically, due to its lousy controls and glacial responsiveness.

Mind you, the premise certainly isn’t worn out.

Having done my research there are surprisingly few vampire-themed video games, and even fewer ones where you play as the vampire as opposed to the vampire hunter.

Maybe Ubisoft should give that a try instead of releasing yet another Far Cry next year.

#14 – California Games

Though it appeared on many different consoles, my experience of California Games comes from the Atari Lynx.

Though it was a simple, almost threadbare game – you could compete in Half Pipe, Footbag, BMX and Surfing in the Lynx version – each mode worked well and had high replay value.

In 2019, California Games would work because there’s nothing like it. In the same way that you don’t get much in the way of track & field games anymore, games collections for niche sports are essentially non-existent.

But surely a compilation of sports like that – sports that most likely don’t have the popularity or depth to support a release of their own – presented in a reasonably serious way would be a hit with gamers?

I know I’d buy it.

The mere fact that California Games – like so many other games on this list – is republished on the likes of Nintendo’s Virtual Console shows that the demand is there. After all, you’ll never see Fifa 99 repackaged, will you?

#15 – Little King’s Story

If you’re a long-time reader of Stuart Reviews Stuff then the chances are Little King’s Story’s inclusion on this list won’t come as a shock. Not only did I rate it the third best game of the previous generation, but I also declared it the most under-appreciated game I’ve ever played.

It is superb.

Coming with perhaps the greatest soundtrack of any game, brimming with charm, engaging in plot, and as smooth as you like to navigate, Little King’s Story was tremendous.

Zelda meets Sim City, LKS was described as a ‘Single Player Life Simulator set in Europe’, so as you might have guessed, its style isn’t one replicated by many other games out there.

Perhaps the greatest barrier to a new version of this game in 2019 is that the story behind it was so inventive that it might be difficult to come up with a brand new game of similar quality. Nintendo might get away with 15,000 games with the plot of ‘Bowser has captured the princess again’, but I think their games work in spite of their storylines.

For Little King’s Story, the weird and wacky plot was at the heart of its brilliance. Maybe it’s just a one off?

But I can dream, can’t I?

Bonus Pick: A Good Worms Game

Now again, I’m cheating with this one, which is why it’s only a bonus pick.

Not only do Team 17 still release Worms games with some regularity, but the version of the game I like is still available on Steam. I still play it with my mate Kevin.

But if I was just a console gamer then I’d ask serious questions of Team 17. Worms isn’t a difficult concept, and there’s an argument to say that when Worms 2: Armageddon (aka Worms Reloaded on Steam) was released in 2009, they perfected it. It had the right blend of weapons and game modes (Crazy Crates 4 Life), it was customisable enough and the maps were great.

In this generation, the likes of Worms Battlegrounds and Worms W.M.D. have felt like a huge step back. The former was just brutal – sorry Team 17, Worms is best played in 2D, not 3D – while the latter has made changes to the Armageddon formula for the sake of it, and they are almost all negative. Apart from Crazy Crates not being a functioning option (you can try to make a customised version but it’s very limited), weapons are overpowered, the camera is awful and there’s some bizarre system of creating weapons out of scrap that doesn’t work well.

They really just need to keep it simple and stick to what works; I’d still buy it.