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 2nd February 2020.
Gioteck WX-4 (Switch, £29.99)
SOME gamers reckon the key to success is spending a fortune on a controller that has more buttons and triggers than a space shuttle and looks like it should be hung on the wall more than gripped in the heat of an epic battle. Other gamers just want something that does what it says on the tin — one that is ready to rock right out the box. Let’s hear it for Gioteck. They have done just that with a range of new controllers for the Switch and PS4.
The Switch gets the WX4 which costs an inviting £29.99. It has no frills — you only get the controller, a charge cable and a piece of paper in the box. You can pick different finishes for the WX4, all inspired by Fortnite. The Arctic camouflage version we tested had a nice matt feel. It is lightweight — weighing in at 166g compared to the Pro controller which is 249g — but there is plenty of bite and it has a rumble and gyro feature. The layout almost mirrors the Xbox pad which is no bad thing, but there are a few extras such as the + and – buttons. Surprisingly for the price, the WX4 is wireless and it’s super easy to link to your Switch — just press a few buttons and navigate the menus on the Switch.
We used the WX4 with titles Astral Chain, Ape Out and Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath and it performed solidly. The thumb stick felt great, with just the right amount of resistance, as did the face buttons and D-pad. However, the triggers were a bit of a let-down. They felt a bit too long and floaty. They were borderline hair triggers at times. This is perfect kit for younger gamers to throw around, or as a spare for those Smash Bros sessions.
Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath (Switch, £26.99)
THE Switch has become home for games to enjoy an HD rebirth. Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath first appeared in 2005 as an Xbox exclusive, and it has all the ingredients to be a Switch smash. It has a fun gaming loop and still feels fresh. You are the Stranger, who is Clint Eastwood in all but name. He is a moody, cool bounty hunter out to bag his man and get to the roots of his past.
The twisted western vibe works in the Oddworld universes. The game is split into a third person platforming adventure, where you run, jump and swim around the levels doing light platform-based puzzles, and an FPS where you grab your crossbow and bring home the bounty dead or alive.
Strangely, the bounty has no real impact on the game other than in the amount of coin you bag at the end. The ammo system is cool — you have access to a number of critter-based rounds from zap bugs to spiders. Each has its own attitude while waiting for you to fire. And the hunt for the ammo adds a fun factor. However, switching between ammo types isn’t easy, and the camera feels a bit sticky. The graphics are crisp but do show their age at times, but the audio is solid. It may be 15 years old but it still has enough in the tank to make it worth a look.
Journey to the Savage Planet (Xbox One, PS4 and PC, £24.99)
BEING thrown into a game at the deep end can be a double-edged sword. You can become frustrated, dismayed and angry before stomping your little feet in anger. Or you can revel in the voyage of discovery as you know nothing, have nothing and have to trial-and-error your way to victory. Canadian developers Typhoon Studios have taken the “know nothing” idea and mixed it with a sci-fi tale that is more Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy than Star Trek. And the result is a truly surprising hit. Journey To The Savage Planet may sound like a pulpy 50s B movie and it has many of those tones.
You are dumped on an unknown planet thanks to your employer, Kindred Aerospace, who pride themselves on being the fourth best interstellar exploration firm. You have to find out as much as you can about this unknown rock, AR-Y 26, that your ship has “crash landed” on and, ultimately, discover whether it is suitable for humans to live there. You’ll also try to gear up as you access new areas by collecting resources and using your 3D printer. It doesn’t take long for you to find out that someone or something has been to the planet long before you and that opens up another mystery. Apart from that, you pretty much left to do what you want. You can get a steer, of sorts, from your ship, but any help comes with a string of cheap digs. You will also get update messages from Kindred on how you are doing and that is based on your finds. Once you get set up with your laser pistol and a few bits of kit it becomes a hunt to find new locals to scan, ranging from friendly to those wanting to eat you, as well as harvesting the resources needed for your next upgrade.
Everything is well-spaced and the hunt never descends into a grind to unlock stuff. You will soon have a grappling hook and thrusters which make you exploring a little bit easier. In an interesting way, there is a real metroidvania vibe to the world as you’ll come across areas you just can quite reach no matter how hard you try. But, once you get a certain upgrade, then progress will be a piece of cake. It is also worth saying that the developers have built in a wicked sense of humour that will make you laugh out loud. There is a selection of over-the-top live action adverts you get sent to you in your ship — they are utterly dreadful but really funny . . . and there are way too many fart gags to count. It doesn’t matter how old you are, fart jokes are funny.
The game looks like someone set off a nuke inside a paint factory — everything is awash with bright colours and that is a welcome sight given how dark and grey some titles can be. You can also spice things up by teaming up with a buddy and attacking the adventure in co-op. Journey To The Savage Planet throws you onto a land far away and lets you find your own way. For the majority of time it is a blast although the combat does let the side down. However, the co-op option is worth hours of fun as you explore a new world and find gooey things that fart.
How do, Ken?
YOSHINORI Ono is linked to many great Capcom games — but you can’t argue with his tag as Mr Street Fighter. The Japanese producer has worked on Dino Crisis, Devil May Cry, Resident Evil and Monster Hunter, but he’s best known for his 22 years in the brawling series phenomenon. The gaming landscape has changed a lot in that time. Tech and eSports have advanced in ways it would have been hard to imagine two decades ago. Now Street Fighter V will feature in this year’s Intel World Open — supported by the International Olympic Committee — but Yoshinori is the least-surprised person by the move. He said:
“One thing that has really made me feel how big the game has got over the years was with our work on the Intel World Open. We finally have the game on a big stage as a fighting sport and the chairman of the company said to me ‘You have finally been able to make a massive contribution.’. I thought I had contributed a lot already, but I think with it being such a big visible eSport title, it really shows how far we have come since the days of it just being a videogame.”
Yoshinori has also been part of the eSports tournament scene for years. He admitted:
“We’ve been doing things like this long before people even used the term ‘eSports’. Back in the days of Street Fighter 2, for example, in 1992 and 1993, we were having tournaments at the Budokan, Tokyo’s sumo arena. You had 8,000 to 9,000 people spectating while people played Street Fighter 2. It’s not our first time doing this sort of thing but it is the first time having it on such a global stage. Now eSports is so big we are able to partner with the likes of Intel and have the World Open be more than just an event in Japan. I think it’s a great achievement, finally showing our efforts are coming to fruition after all these years.”
But for all the recognition the game is getting, fan feedback is still the most important aspect for Yoshinori and the development team — and criticism hurts. He said:
“There is a big difference between Street Fighter and other Capcom titles as fighting games are a bit special. With games like Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, we are making entertainment products and we give them to you to enjoy. But Street Fighter is more like we are giving you the means to create your own entertainment. We are giving you a rule book and, if you play the game, you’ll be able to enjoy it in your own way. So if they say we didn’t give them the right tools to play well, they’ll blame us or Capcom and that can hurt if we have worked really hard on something and people are just trashing it. But there is always something to learn from feedback from fans, negative or positive.”
That fear of criticism ramps up the pressure when the team is launching updates. He said:
“We don’t focus on just taking feedback from pro players because we don’t want to end up creating storylines within the pro community, like pro wrestling, where this player goes up and this one goes down. These people are important but we need to be fair to everyone who plays the game in any changes we make. The best way that we can do this is to make this sort of sport entertainment work for everyone. Street Fighter 5 has been built with network gaming from the ground up so we have been able to analyse every single match that has ever been played in the game online. Our programmers can look at this huge amount of data as there are over half a million matches a day and it lets us see a much richer variety of data than just a few people’s opinions on the game. We see how people are playing the game and characters as well as who’s working best against who and the like.”
Street Fighter V was released only on PS4 and PC, but Yoshinori ultimately wants to create a full-blown community. He said:
“We want to have it so anyone can take part but you can say you can’t play the game on Xbox or Switch so that’s not everyone. There is still a lot unclear about the next gen even for myself so we don’t really know what the future will hold. Having a single community able to play together and seeing what we can really do with that is probably more meaningful to me than just putting the game out everywhere.”
THE Street Fighter series is no stranger to a crossover events and Yoshinori believes it was a trailblazer. He said:
“Street Fighter paved the way for collaborations in other games. We did it first and people were like ‘It may not look like it matches, but people really enjoyed these clashes of culture’. One of my favourites is Street Fighter V Ghouls and Ghosts costume where you can have Ryu end up in Arthur’s famous strawberry boxer shorts.”
Yoshinoria admits he has a dream crossover. He said:
“I would love to see DC characters in the mix. Maybe DC vs Capcom wouldn’t be enough so how about Marvel vs DC vs Capcom in one big game?”
I’ll be back next year with more from North of the Border. Catch ye’s…