Read Stuart’s column every week in The Scottish Sun, where he shares his reviews, news and podcasts with the 99.3% of the World’s population not fortunate enough to be able to buy a physical copy of the paper. The following appeared originally in The Scottish Sun on Sunday 8th October 2017.
Pokkén Tournament DX (Switch, £44.99)
TAKE your loveable Pokémon characters and add lashings of Tekken fighting power and you get . . . Pokken Tournament DX. The game is about more than smashing the names together — this is a mash-up of two great series in a fun hook to get more and more people into the Switch. The game follows the recent trend from Nintendo of looking at games that may have slipped under the radar when the Wii U crashed and burned. It has proved a hit so far and Pokken will be another success.
It is the Wii U game but with five new characters so you get 21 to pick from as well as a handful of new features like a Daily Challenge mode and online ranking battles. You need to win a new set of leagues — that’s it. There is no story, which may disappoint a few Pokémon fans. But you need fit fingers. The gameplay is fast and frantic. There is an interesting and deep gameplay loop as you start fight in 3D arenas but you can switch to a more traditional 2D plane. These “phases” can change at any point during a fight just by landing a key attack. This mixes things neatly because your moves are the catalyst plus you can also use them to regain health.
The overall combat has a very rock, paper, scissors-style mechanic where damage moves can be beaten by picking the right counter attack. Along with your chosen fighting Pokémon you can pick a support Pokémon which has bonus attacks if you need them in the heat of battle. The graphics don’t disappoint — the Pokémon have great details, but the background feels a bit flat and lifeless. That said, you will be focussing on the action too much to care. The action is all backed up with upbeat dance tunes and spooky theme tracks, but the voice acting is horrible is wooden enough to give you splinters.
It is all about the fighting and the game runs smoothly enough, but when you play the spilt screen model on the same Switch the frame rate dives. That is a shame because it is usually one of the Switch’s strongest features. The other problem is that most of the content is unlocked from the start so where’s the chance to unlock stuff? Pokken Tournament DX is an interesting addition to the Pokémon series and there is plenty to enjoy.
Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS, £34.99)
ONCE upon a game Metroid was a Nintendo hero — right up there with Mario and Zelda. But recent outings have left the bounty hunter’s fans feeling flat. So news about Samus Returns had many wondering whether this was just a re-imaging of the classic Game Boy game Metroid II: Return Of Samus. Well, fear not, Metroid fans. This 3DS version is the real deal. It recognises what the game did best and gets back to that. This is classic Metroid.
You are fearless bounty hunter Samus Aran and you have to hunt down more than 40 Metroids on the planet SR388 and blast big beasties along the way. This is a fun fest that stretches between 10 and 13 hours depending on whether you’re collecting everything and finding all the secrets. Hard-core fans will love it. It links in well with the overall lore of the series whereas more casual gamers will still enjoy the tale while not getting so bogged down by the story.
There are a few upgrades. One is a new map which is larger than the first game and a scan ability to help reveal hidden areas and secrets. The second is found in the combat where a parry attack can save your bacon. However, you have to stop to perform it which does kill the flow of the attack. But you’ll soon get your head around that. You can also now fire 360 degrees which gives the combat a much better feeling. There is a vast underworld cave system on SR388 that holds upgrades and the graphics are stunning. It is a 2D plan but the 3D background adds great depth, while the soundtrack packs a real punch. This is a welcome return to form.
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…