Scotch Corner – Plumbing the Depths

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 20th January 2019.

 

Override: Mech City Brawl (Xbox and PS4, £19.99)

IMAGINE the carnage you could cause if you were a huge robot.  Then imagine the fun if you could fight other huge robots and a big monster.  Step forward Override: Mech City Brawl and enjoy the ride.  Developers The Balance Inc have crafted an interesting take on the fight formula — each trigger controls a limb of these hulking giants.  You get the standard modes from ranked battles to 1v1 and arcade single player campaign.  You get a choice of 12 mechs for a lightweight tale that sees you travel the globe fighting giant bugs or defending locations.

The text-based story feels a little cheap and you never really grow too attached to the characters.  The highlight is that control system — it adds weight to your attacks.  There are plenty of moves plus and each fighter has four “specials” controlled by a bar system.  Multiplayer is where the fun is — go full Pacific Rim and control the same mech.  Each player takes a limb.  It is a fun gimmick.  The cartoon vibe is good and there is a decent level of detail in the battles.  However, everything around the game feels a bit low-budget.
It does lack polish but it is over the top.  It is fun.  It fulfils that Saturday morning dream box.

Score: 3.5/5

Donut County (Xbox, PS4, Switch, PC and Mobile, £10.74)

GAMING lets you rule worlds, win titles, fight monsters . . . and, now, be a HOLE.  You are a hole that eats anything and everything.  This is an indie game with bags of charm and joy.  It is a chill-out sensation — a five-year labour of love from Ben Esposito.  It does follow the lives of the people and animals in Donut Country and it is weird, but stick in there and the tale comes good in the end with a really touching core message.

The gameplay is fun and puzzle-driven.  You start off as a small hole, but grow as you eat more.  There is a very basic art style with a strong pastel palette, and the soundtrack — although a touch random — is outstanding.  Gripes?  A bit short, clocking in at just under the two-hour mark.  A few more levels would have been welcome.  It’s odd and tough to categorise, but there is no denying that it is fun.  And you can say that you have been a hole.  If that floats your boat.

Score: 4/5

ASTRO A40 TR X (PC and Mac – compatible with Xbox One, PS4 and Switch, £149.99)

ASTRO are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their A40 headset with an all-singing TR X version.  Cynics among you may suggest they are just A40s with a paint job.  Shame on you.  For starters, the box has been given a birthday makeover.  You also get an in-line cable with the mute button included as well as a PC split cable.  It has the same quality build feel as the standard headset, so you get customising options like speaker tags and ear cushions with the magnets so it’s easy to swap or replace them if you have an upgrade mod kit.  Ditto for the padded headband.  You get a birthday blue with red trim colour scheme with a mix of plastic and metal elements — and anniversary themed speaker tags and mic.

The fit is great and they are very comfortable and not too heavy which is ideal for longer gaming sessions.  The ear cushions are a nice size as well.  There is a good sound sphere and bass levels across the titles we tested — Forza Horizon 4 and Black Ops 4.  However, you don’t get the Mix Amp.  It would have been a nice touch if that matched the colour scheme.  Not having it affects how much you can dial in the settings and levels to your taste.  The mic sound is crisp and clear when in party chat though it doesn’t have a pop filter so background bleed is a possibility.

You can use the A40 TR X across a number of systems or just use them as a set of headphones.  That’s a bit radical though, gamers.  We tested them on the Xbox One and Switch and they never missed a beat.  They are a real birthday treat.

Score: 5/5

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Switch, £44.99)

THE Switch is the jeweller for the gaming world — picking up a sackload of hidden gems.  Nintendo have not been slow in polishing some titles which might have slipped under the radar on the Wii U.  They have had a new lease of life and gamers are the winners because there are some epic titles.  Take New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe.  Instantly forgettable name, but the one-stop shop for all your 2D Mario needs.  It is packed with content from the core game to the New Super Luigi U expansion as well as having a few new features aimed at attracting younger gamers.  It now runs at 1080p which adds a shine to the trademark Nintendo art style and there is HD rumble support for the Joy-cons.

And there is Toadette.  She is new, handles differently to the rest of the cast.  Slightly bizarrely, when she picks up the new super crown power, she turns into Princess Peach.  Odd.  However, she has the best air control in the game and can float — which is useful when you are hunting for the three gold coins on each level.  She also has bouncebackability — if you fall, she gives you a second chance.  Not that we needed it . . . ever.  No, not once.

The gameplay is classic Mario — run from left to right trying not to get hit and grabbing as many coins, powers-up and bonuses as you can while trying to beat the clock and avoid countless enemies.  Add in standard platforming fare like water and ice worlds and a couple of surprise ones and you know what’s in store.  Things really get interesting in multiplayer mode — you and three friends fight to get to the end of the levels.  Cue couch comedy as you hit, pull and bump each other off.  Or you could help each other.  Yeah, right.

You can’t help but love the charming art style, but the soundtrack lets it all down. It carries the vibe but, boy, does it grate after a bit.  There were a few multiplayer hiccups — you have set characters which means some of you have to take easy mode figures and handicaps others.  That said, if you are playing younger gamers, that could be seen as a plus.  A few moves have also been changed or removed from the original game and that confuses older gamers who thought they knew what they were doing.  But that won’t stop you smiling all the way through this.  There is lots to do for newcomers although the old school might not be so impressed.  It is still a gem.  Classic 2D Mario.

Score: 4/5

NINTENDO’S ports of Wii U titles policy has had a shot in the arm after it was revealed New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe sold 25 per cent more boxed copies during launch week on the Switch than it did on Wii U.  That was enough to top the games charts… and follows the success Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mario Tennis Aces and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.  Slight rider — digital sales are not included in the figures.

I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border.  Catch ye’s…

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Stuart Cullen

Scotland’s very own thorn in the side of the London gaming scene bringing all the hottest action straight from The Sun… well… The Scottish Sun at least, every week!

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