Hollow Knight Switch Slips To 2018, Other Consoles Being Considered

Hollow Knight Switch Slips To 2018, Other Consoles Being Considered

Hollow Knight, the 2D Dark Souls-like Metroidvania by Team Cherry, has slipped into 2018 for its Switch port.

In a blog post on their website, the developer was candid and simply said that they need more time for code optimization due to the PC version being taped together in an optimized way. The game is up and running, it just needs a bit more work before it is ready for release. 

The blog post also mentions that other consoles are being considered. When Hollow Knight was originally announced, the targets were PC and Wii U, with the latter eventually changing to the Switch. Now Team Cherry is in talks with other platform holders, but remains committed to getting the Switch version out first.

[Source: Team Cherry Blog]

Our Take
I have been waiting for the Switch port to play this game after hearing so much lavish praise for the PC version. I am glad they’re taking the time to get it right instead of rushing it out to take advantage of the gold rush for indie sales on the Switch right now.

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Ubisoft Pitches In To Support Northern California Fire Relief Efforts

Ubisoft Pitches In To Support Northern California Fire Relief Efforts

Last month, a series of deadly wildfires broke out across Northern California, leaving at least 41 people dead and forcing more than 20,000 people to evacuate the area. While the effects of the flames are still felt across California, many people have stepped up to support both the victims and fire relief efforts, including game developer Ubisoft. As of today, new Assassin’s Creed t-shirts and hoodies are available now in the US store, and all of the proceeds for which go to the North Bay Fire Relief Fund.

With a team in San Francisco, Ubisoft like many developers in Northern California has felt the effect of these fires firsthand. “We have employees, family and friends that were directly impacted by these fires,” said Laurent Detoc, president of Ubisoft Americas. “We’ve donated money and we’ll roll up our sleeves volunteering, but we want to do more. The shirts are just one of the ways we can continue to support our neighbors who have lost everything.” 

The limited edition Assassin’s Creed t-shirt and hoodie both display the phrase “NorCal Strong” and are available until December 31. Go here for more information about the North Bay Fire Relief Fund, which has raised more than $20 million in donations to help those affected by the fires. 

Our Take
The fires all over California this past year have been devastating. Ubisoft has already given money and support to the fire relief efforts in Northern California, so although the shirts are a relatively small gesture, it’s great to see a developer as large as Ubisoft coming out to support the victims and firefighters while also giving fans a way to express their own support for the relief efforts that continue every day in Northern California. 

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Report: Nintendo And Universal In Talks About Making Animated Super Mario Movie

Report: Nintendo And Universal In Talks About Making Animated Super Mario Movie

Nintendo and Universal are in talks about bringing Mario back to the big screen, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal

The article states that Illumination Entertainment, the company behind both Despicable Me and Minions, is close to reaching a deal with Universal Pictures and Nintendo to create an animated Super Mario Bros. film. The previous and only feature length movie starring Mario was 1993’s Super Mario Bros., which starred Bob Hoskins. 

Nintendo already has a deal with Universal to open up a Nintendo Land section in select Universal Studios theme parks, which will include rides based off franchises such as Donkey Kong and Mario Kart. The first of these theme park areas is opening up in Osaka to coincide with Japan’s hosting of the 2020 Olympic Games.

For more on Mario, read our review of Super Mario Odyssey here.

[Source: Wall Street Journal via Kotaku]

Our Take
Universal is one of the largest film studios in the world, and Illumination Entertainment’s recent animated movies have been incredibly profitable. This might actually be a great fit for a Super Mario movie, despite the poor track record of video game movies in the past. However, it’s good to keep in mind that these are early talks, and no confirmed deal has been made yet. Whether this project comes to fruition or not remains to be seen.

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Sega Launches ‘Total War Saga’ Series With Thrones Of Britannia

Sega Launches ‘Total War Saga’ Series With Thrones Of Britannia

Sega and Creative Assembly have announced a new Total War series, which hones in on particular settings and specific time periods. Thrones of Britannia is the first entry in the A Total War Saga series, and it’s set to release on PC next year.

The game is set in 878 A.D., after the Vikings have successfully invaded Britain. A variety of kings are scrambling for power, which is where you come in. 

“Our aim with Total War Sagas is to explore key flashpoints at distinct places and times in history,” says series director Mike Simpson. “Unlike our era-spanning titles, we’re putting defined geographical areas under the microscope, building super-detailed campaign maps with a strong cultural focus and flavour that players can dive into. This will complement our broader-scope titles perfectly.” 

Look for A Total War Saga: Thrones of Britannia on PC in 2018.

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PUBG Desert Map Details Possibly Revealed In Latest Test Build

PUBG Desert Map Details Possibly Revealed In Latest Test Build

A new test build for PUBG has been released to the game’s test servers, and within it users have apparently found info such as a minimap for the upcoming desert map.

The extracted minimap appears to have placeholder names like Murderland, craters, and topography that will surely have an effect on gameplay.

Also found in the data was a work-in-progress jetski, a new area for Erangel, and more.

[Source: Reddit (1), (2), via IGN] 

Our Take 
Since datamining like this is common, I’m sure the developers expected this and it’s no accident.

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Target Black Friday Ad Deals: All The Switch, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS Games On Sale

Target Black Friday Ad Deals: All The Switch, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS Games On Sale

Black Friday is right around the corner, and like many other retailers, Target has released its ad well in advance to let people plan ahead. There are quite a few game deals to be had in its sales circular, although the heavy focus is on PS4 and Xbox One; there’s nothing for PC gaming fans to take advantage of, and seemingly little for those on Nintendo platforms.

Unlike the Walmart and Best Buy Black Friday ads, Nintendo Switch is not featured at all, even at a regular price. Similarly, there’s no sign of PS4 Pro or Xbox One X, although the older iterations of those consoles will be on sale. You can pick up a 1 TB PS4 for $200, while a 500 GB Xbox One S drops to $190 with a bonus $25 Target gift card. Target’s ad lists both of these console deals as doorbusters, a term it liberally uses throughout–it even applies to the special green Zelda 2DS. We’ve designated doorbuster deals as such in the lists below; it’s unclear how limited stock will be, but some of these offers may run out shortly after Target stores open their doors.

On the accessory side, the most notable deal is PlayStation VR for $200. This is just the headset itself, meaning you would still need to purchase the PS4’s camera in order to use it. Still, that’s an attractive option for those uninterested in the camera and bundled game you can get on sale for $300 or $350 elsewhere. Additionally, all PS4 DualShock 4 controllers drop to $40, while a selection of Xbox One controllers will also be $40. The ad states that “all” Xbox Live Gold and PlayStation Plus memberships will be $10 off, but only the $60, 12-month cards are pictured. It’s unlikely you’ll get $10 off the cheaper, short-term subscription cards.

As for games, there are quite a few on sale. However, it’s unclear if certain deals apply to all platforms–for instance, Just Dance 2018 is $30 on Switch, which may or may not also be true of Xbox One and PS4 versions. The ad also states there will be more games available at the various price tiers, so at this point we don’t know everything that’s discounted.

What we do know is you’ll be able to get Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Final Fantasy XV, For Honor, and Skyrim: Special Edition for $15 each; Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Grand Theft Auto V, Injustice 2, and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy for $25; NBA 2K18, Destiny 2, and The Evil Within 2 for $30; and WWE 2K18, Assassin’s Creed Origins, and Need for Speed Payback for $35. A trio of very recent releases–Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, and South Park: The Fractured But Whole–will be $30, while Call of Duty: WWII will be $45.

Below, you’ll find the comprehensive list of everything we know will be on sale on Black Friday at Target. Store time openings vary by state, so check with your local store to be sure. You can also check out our in-depth lists of other retailers’ Black Friday deals through these links:

Target Black Friday Game Deals

PS4

Games

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins — $35
  • Battlefield 1 Revolution — $35
  • MLB The Show 17 — $15
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare — $25
  • Call of Duty: WWII — $45
  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy — $25
  • Destiny 2 — $30
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 — $25
  • FIFA 18 — $30
  • Final Fantasy XV — $15
  • For Honor — $15
  • Ghost Recon: Wildlands — $25
  • Grand Theft Auto V — $25
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn — $25
  • Injustice 2 — $25
  • Just Dance 2018 — $30 [unconfirmed]
  • Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game — $25
  • Lego Worlds — $15
  • Madden NFL 18 — $30
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War — $30
  • Minecraft: Story Mode – The Complete Adventure — $15
  • NBA 2K18 — $30
  • Need for Speed Payback — $35
  • NHL 18 — $35
  • Overwatch — $30
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard — $15
  • South Park: The Fractured But Whole — $30
  • Tekken 7 — $25
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition — $15
  • The Evil Within 2 — $30
  • The Sims 4 — $35
  • Watch Dogs 2 — $15
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus — $30
  • WWE 2K18 — $35

Hardware And Accessories

  • PlayStation 4 1 TB — $200 [Doorbuster]
  • PlayStation VR — $200 [Doorbuster]
  • All PS4 DualShock 4 controllers — $40
  • PlayStation Plus memberships — $10 off (possibly only 12-month cards)
  • Turtle Beach Stealth 400 wired headset — $45
  • Lego Dimensions Starter packs — 50% off
  • Skylanders Imaginators Sensei single characters, Creation Crystals, Adventure packs — 50% off

Xbox One

Games

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins — $35
  • Battlefield 1 Revolution — $35
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare — $25
  • Call of Duty: WWII — $45
  • Destiny 2 — $30
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 — $25
  • FIFA 18 — $30
  • Final Fantasy XV — $15
  • For Honor — $15
  • Forza Horizon 3 — $15
  • Forza Motorsport 7 — $35
  • Gears of War 4 — $15
  • Ghost Recon: Wildlands — $25
  • Grand Theft Auto V — $25
  • Injustice 2 — $25
  • Just Dance 2018 — $30 [unconfirmed]
  • Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game — $25
  • Lego Worlds — $15
  • Madden NFL 18 — $30
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War — $30
  • Minecraft: Story Mode – The Complete Adventure — $15
  • NBA 2K18 — $30
  • Need for Speed Payback — $35
  • NHL 18 — $35
  • Overwatch — $30
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard — $15
  • South Park: The Fractured But Whole — $30
  • Tekken 7 — $25
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition — $15
  • The Evil Within 2 — $30
  • The Sims 4 — $35
  • Watch Dogs 2 — $15
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus — $30
  • WWE 2K18 — $35

Hardware And Accessories

  • Xbox One S 500 GB — $190 with $25 gift card [Doorbuster]
  • Xbox One wireless controller — $40
  • Xbox Live Gold memberships — $10 off (possibly only 12-month cards)
  • Turtle Beach XO One wired headset — $45

Nintendo Switch / Wii U / Wii

Games

  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 — $25
  • Just Dance 2018 — $30
  • Just Dance 2018 — $25 (Wii)
  • Lego Worlds — $15
  • Super Bomberman R — $35

Nintendo 3DS

Doorbuster Games

  • Kirby Planet Robobot — $25
  • Pokemon Omega Ruby — $25
  • Pokemon Alpha Sapphire — $25
  • Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World — $25
  • Super Mario Maker for 3DS — $25
  • Super Smash Bros. for 3DS — $25
  • Doorbuster Hardware And Accessories
  • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 2DS bundle — $80

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Sonic Forces Review Roundup

Sonic Forces Review Roundup

2017 has been a big year for Sega’s iconic mascot, Sonic. The blue blur starred in two major releases this year, the first of which, Sonic Mania, garnered widespread acclaim from fans and critics for the way it successfully recaptured Sonic’s glory days. Sega followed it this month with Sonic Forces, a new 3D installment that blends classic and modern Sonic gameplay and gives players the ability to create their own Sonic characters.

Critics have now weighed in on Sonic’s newest adventure, and the reception has been decidedly mixed. GameSpot awarded it a 5/10 in our Sonic Forces review, saying the game “falls short due to frustrating design choices and inconsistent level design.”

Other reviews for Sonic Forces are available online as well, and as usual, we’ve rounded up a sample of them below. For a broader look at what critics are saying about the game, be sure to visit GameSpot sister site Metacritic.

  • Game: Sonic Forces
  • Developer: Sonic Team
  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Release date: November 7
  • Price: US $40 / £35 / AU $60

GameSpot — 5/10

“For years the Sonic series has come up short in its 3D games. It wasn’t until Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations that the series was able to grasp a semblance of quality that could change the perception of the series as a whole for the better. Sonic Forces ultimately fails to advance the mechanics of previously successful 3D Sonic games, or present them in their best light. A mediocre platformer at best, Sonic Forces manages to do nothing more than reinforce long held stereotypes against Sega’s beloved blue blur.” — Matt Espineli [Full review]

IGN — 6.9/10

“On top of the joy of creating and playing as your own character, there’s a lot of goofy charm that makes Sonic Forces hard to be too disappointed with. The graphics are colorful and engaging, and the music is a pumping backdrop for extreme team-ups, super-speed cinematics, and lots of ruminations on the power of friendship. There are some really fun levels in the mix, too, and surprisingly strong boss fights make for some unexpected highlights. But Sonic Forces doesn’t build on its handful of good ideas as much as it should, and it screeches to a halt just as it seems to hit its stride.” — Heidi Kemps [Full review]

Polygon — 5/10

“Sonic Forces creators’ good intentions and interesting ideas don’t amount to much in a game so clumsy and limited in design. It certainly doesn’t help that Forces follows right on the heels of Sonic Mania, a game that not only demonstrated a more focused design sensibility but also did a far better job of realizing its creators’ ambitions. Forces may have had a larger budget than Mania, but it feels like the poorer creation all around. Unless your dearest dream has always been to play a Sonic game as your own original fan art character, Sonic Forces doesn’t have much to offer.” — Jeremy Parish [Full review]

GamesRadar+ — 2.5/5

“Sonic Forces has one defense; that it’s a great-looking, fan-serving, accessible Sonic for the hedgehog’s younger audience. With Sonic Mania pitched as the Sonic for real gamers, that’s all it needs to be. Well, that’s not good enough. Sonic’s younger fans deserve a game with more imagination and more chance to discover, learn and build their Sonic skills, and the Mario series shows it’s possible to do this in a game that appeals to fans both young and old. Sonic Forces does not.” — Stuart Andrews [Full review]

Game Informer — 6.5/10

“Despite my multiple gripes with Sonic Forces, I still enjoyed the adventure. 3D Sonic games still aren’t to where they should be after such a long time of iteration and experimentation, but through improved gameplay and level design, Sonic Forces continues the series’ evolution in the right direction.” — Brian Shea [Full review]

EGM — 7/10

“Sonic Forces mashes together everything from Sonic’s history, from 2D/3D mechanics to over-the-top action spectacle pieces. The new customizable hero feature breathes fresh life into the franchise, but the 3D gameplay it uses overpowers the game’s attempt to combine what has made the different eras of Sonic work.” — Evan Slead [Full review]

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New FIFA 18 Update Fixes Serious Exploit On PS4, Xbox One, And PC

New FIFA 18 Update Fixes Serious Exploit On PS4, Xbox One, And PC

Another FIFA 18 update has been released, and although it only appears to introduce a pretty small change, it actually fixes a pretty big exploit. Until now, it was possible to trick AI-controlled opposition into fouling you if you went into the corner and shielded the ball. In FUT, this could be utilized to get enemy players sent off and to hence win easily in Squad Battles and boost your rewards significantly.

Now, EA has fixed the issue. The patch notes for the latest update state the developer has “removed the chance for the CPU AI controlled player to receive a second yellow card when trying to push or pull an opponent, with the exception of an attacker who is through on goal and 1 on 1 with the keeper.” This doesn’t apply to human controlled players, however.

The update improves what was already an accomplished game. However, even though FIFA 18 was received well upon its release, EA says it may not bring out a new football title every year in future. Instead, it may turn to a subscription-based model.

FIFA isn’t quite at that stage yet, but it does have plenty of live content updates throughout the year. A different FIFA 18 patch dropped just a couple of weeks ago, FUT continues to evolve each week, and FIFA 18 for Switch was also updated recently.

In other FIFA news, EA says the US national team’s failure to qualify for the men’s World Cup for the first time since 1986 will not affect the franchise’s sales. “The World Cup is the world’s largest sporting event and it is followed by all people around the world who love soccer or football, depending on what they call it where they come from,” EA CEO Andrew Wilson said. “Does it heighten their enjoyment if their national team is participating? Of course. But we don’t see people stopping watching a World Cup just because their team is not there. As you think about the US in particular, we are a very multicultural country.” For more on the popular sports game, check out our feature on FIFA 18 vs PES 2018.

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Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon Review – IGN

Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon Review – IGN

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The Ultra versions pump Sun and Moon full of smart improvements.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make all the difference. Yes, when compared to last year’s Pokemon Sun and Moon, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon more closely resemble “enhanced” third versions like Platinum and Crystal than they do full-on sequels like Black 2 and White 2. However, numerous appreciable changes like more Pokemon and a whole new dimension to explore combine to make the new Ultra versions a bigger, better, more fun and fuller experience than Sun and Moon.

Immediately, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon pleased me with small changes, like a more brightly colored UI with a quick way to save, and also gratefully took away some of the slow dialogue that Sun and Moon suffered from in the first few sequences. I met and battled with starter Pokemon noticeably faster than I had in Sun and Moon, and was on my way to explore the markedly more colorful Melemele Island in no time at all.

Of course, there’s still plenty of tutorial. It’s a reoccurring shame there’s no way to indicate to a Pokemon game that you know what you’re doing and don’t need to learn how to throw a Poke Ball for the fifteenth time. That said, there are a lot of new things to learn about in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon even for long-time Pokemon players, and these tutorials never felt too long or overbearing. Learning how to surf and perform tricks on a Mantine was a cinch, and the new Battle Agency at the Festival Plaza (yes, the somewhat controversial online interaction tool is back) took no time to learn and get into.

Exit Theatre Mode

Mantine Surf lets you earn Beach Points (BP), also known as and entirely interchangeable with Battle Points, which can be traded in for rare held items and other desirables. Usually, you earn about 1 BP from each battle won, but I was reliably earning 10 BP every time I played a five-minute mini-game with Mantine Surf. It’s a much easier and guaranteed way to earn these items, which are mostly important to competitors and those who want to clear difficult endgame content like the Battle Tree, so I welcome it wholeheartedly. I always found it a bit annoying I couldn’t tackle the Battle Tree with a fully realized team until after I had already conquered some of it, and in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon I won’t have to.

The Battle Agency, a new counter in the Festival Plaza, is a more traditional Pokemon side-activity which allowed me to play with battle-ready Pokemon I would have never raised and used on my own in a short-form tournament setting. My first win afforded me a whopping 200 Festival Points (FP). This currency isn’t as important as the BP Mantine Surf grants, but still allowed me to purchase healing items cheaply at any time I wanted in the Festival Plaza.

Both offer delightfully enhanced and simplified ways to earn certain currencies.

These are two of the first new features introduced to you in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, and both offer delightfully enhanced and simplified ways to earn certain currencies, along with being pretty fun little distractions. I fought to become the best surfer on each beach before I even knew of the super-cool reward for doing so, and regularly visited the Battle Agency to see which Pokemon were available to rent.

Parallel Dimensions

There’s an even bigger and cooler addition to Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, though: the ability to explore different pocket dimensions through Ultra Wormholes. You can ride a Legendary Pokemon through Ultra Space in search of rare Ultra Wormholes to enter in the hopes of discovering new Pokemon in the Alola Region, like Yanmega or Quagsire, or even better, super-rare Legendary Pokemon. You never really know what you’ll encounter on the other side of a wormhole, but it’s always exciting to find out.

Exit Theatre Mode

In addition to these new gameplay mechanics, a few of the trials have been upgraded as well. For example, Mallow’s trial required me to think about where to harvest ingredients from,  whereas the original challenge relied on aimless wandering to locate the foodstuffs. They still aren’t difficult by any means, but are definitely more inspired, as is the change in the story.

Early on we meet the Ultra Recon Squad, a duo from a different dimension, and running into them throughout my playthrough was always a highlight of the story. The world they come from is entirely unknown to us, so I always wanted to hear what they had to say.

I don’t want to overstate how much is changed.

I don’t want to overstate how much is changed, however – I’d expected the story to be, well, more different from Sun and Moon than it actually was. The progression, both story and gameplay-wise, is pretty indistinguishable from Sun and Moon (aside from the occasional interjection from the Ultra Recon Squad) up until the plot climax about 25 hours in. As a returning player, it was a bit disappointing to experience so much sameness for so long, but once it finally happened the change in the story was worth it. And, despite how ridiculous it is, this version is still better told and more cohesive than the original story in Sun and Moon.

Exit Theatre Mode

The change in plotline at that point also culminated with a huge increase in challenge. On one hand, challenge in Pokemon is great, but somewhat rare since the addition in X and Y of the easy-to-use Exp. Share. On the other, I ended up leveling up a few of my Pokemon beyond the point where they’d listen to me, just so they could avoid getting disabled in one shot by a crazy boss more powerful than any of the Pokemon encountered during the last trial, or even during the Elite Four. Super-cool boss aside, it made the rest of Pokemon Ultra comparably easy, since my Pokemon were all overleveled afterward.

More Variety, Different Experience

More Pokemon made my playthrough feel different even when the story hadn’t changed much.

The larger variety of Pokemon – there are more than a hundred new to the Alola region – contributed along with the new features to making my playthrough feel different even when the story hadn’t changed much. The version exclusives are the same, so Pokemon only available in Sun are also only available in Ultra Sun. That meant that I got to capture the Pokemon I didn’t get to on my first playthrough on Moon. (I chose Ultra Sun, as I played Moon last year.)

Plus, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon allow trading directly from Sun and Moon as soon as the first Pokemon Center is found. Because of this, you can get very creative with your main story team, breeding Pokemon in Sun and Moon in preparation for the new version. I immediately traded over only a perfectly bred newborn Gible into Ultra Sun, and am very glad some of my time in the story was actually well spent leveling up a competitively viable Pokemon (once I reset its EVs, of course). It is, however, worth mentioning no actual new Pokemon are obtainable until just before the Elite Four, but that was to be expected considering what we know about the new Pokemon (which I won’t spoil here).

All The Small Things

After all of that, I haven’t even discussed the endgame, which enables rare Ultra Beasts and every Legendary Pokemon (not Mythical) to be captured. There is much more postgame in Ultra, even compared to the already generous portion we got with Sun and Moon.  All of these “highlighted” new features along with the neat, somewhat nostalgic story we get post credits are only a small part of what I loved about Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.

Alola feels more lived-in and lifelike: Many NPCs had little stories of their own, which compelled me to return to them at later times to discover more about them. Would showing this bellhop a certain Pokemon actually cheer him up? What can I say to raise this young one’s confidence?  Can I actually help rehabilitate this poor Pokemon? Some of these turn out very funny, others heartwarming, but I never felt like I was forced to participate or that I was wasting my time.

There is more to the Pokemon you’ll find in the overworld as well. Many still just respond with their cry, but some become curious and allow you to interact with them in new ways, a totally separate mechanic from playing with your own Pokemon in Pokemon Refresh. About the fifth time I played Peek-A-Boo with a random Pokemon, an onlooker asked me if I actually got anything from spending time with these cuties. I didn’t know at the time, but you actually do get something from it: the immense satisfaction of having entertained all of the adorable Pokemon in the land.

Exit Theatre Mode

There really are so many small things to do in the Alola of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon that breathe life into into it. Those help to round out a game so that it feels like more than just a challenge, and more like a full and satisfying experience I was happy to get lost in.

The Verdict

I was fine with the lack of of mid-gen Pokemon expansions over the past few years, but I’m glad Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon exist as Pokemon’s swan song on the Nintendo 3DS. These upgraded versions not only have everything I enjoyed about Sun and Moon, but augments them in important ways by making small but meaningful changes to the story, expanding the selection of available Pokemon, and even making some small tweaks to the world. Unless you played through both Sun and Moon extensively and have already collected every Legendary Pokemon, it’s easy to recommend to any Pokemon fan.

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LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 Review – IGN

LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 Review – IGN

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Round two of this superhero mosh pit doesn’t change much from the LEGO formula, but rarely has the variety been seen satisfying.

What do the citizens of ancient Egypt and the goons of Hydra have in common? If you ask LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2, it’s that neither of them can stop themselves from jammin’ to the staccato beats of “Mr. Blue Sky” when Star-Lord slips on his Walkman in the heat of combat. Maybe they’re onto something. I’d routinely stop and hold down the circle button on my DualShock just to jam with him myself, so infectious is the personality that shines through almost every pixel in this fun new adventure. Some of the old problems with the series remain, but the other wonders here never let them overpower the rest of the action.

Again, that personality is the chief draw, along with some of the same flair for catchy variety we find in Star-Lord’s awesome mix tapes. Pull back the curtain and, by and large, you’ll find that this is the same LEGO formula that we’ve known for years, which means you’ll spend a lot of time duking it out with lightweight combat and solving environmental puzzles by swapping between the huge collection of characters to access the correct special ability. That’s all here, for better or for worse, right down for the sometimes-reluctant AI for the heroes you or a co-op partner not controlling directly, who stand around looking bored while you’re trying to, for instance, save the world with a big, lightning-charged hammer. This game’s definitely best played as a duo.

Exit Theatre Mode

Rarely, though, has this setup been so satisfying. If I had to guess, I’d say a lot of that appeal seems to spring from the work of veteran comic book writer Karl Busiek, who co-wrote a lot of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2’s amusing story.

The combination of good writing and lighthearted charm helps the pieces fit together.

Back in 2001, Busiek (whom I personally admire for his work with Conan the Barbarian) penned a tale about a war with the villain Kang the Conqueror for the Avengers comics, and he returns to Kang here in LEGO form with a story that’s both interesting and coherent. Better yet, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 never lets dour universe-conquering gravitas get in the way of a flood of silly puns and excited outbursts from the likes of Wasp and Spider-Man. This is LEGO, after all, and the combination of good writing and lighthearted charm helps the pieces here fit together better than they have in years. Sometimes, admittedly, the delivery falters; in one case for technical reasons when uneven sound editing causes the Enchantress to practically scream her lines. It’s a little like dealing with that annoying guy who drops into a Discord channel with his mic settings set too high.

Exit Theatre Mode

But the vast majority of the time LEGO Marvel Super Heroes succeeds in being consistently entertaining, in part because it’s not bound as tightly to the movies as last year’s relatively unsatisfying LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. You’ll still find familiar locations from the movies, like Xandar from Guardians of the Galaxy and Sakaar from Thor: Ragnarok, but Super Heroes 2 wisely uses them to craft its own stories with different villains and heroes instead of retreading the same ground. Kang, you see, has pulled together multiple locations from across time and space to create a massive hub world called Chronopolis, and I believe it’s the largest world the LEGO franchise has seen to date. It’s certainly the most varied. Kang plops bits of these worlds right down next to each other, allowing someone like She-Hulk to take a quick jaunt from Midtown Manhattan to the K’un-Lun of Iron First or places like the medieval England and ancient Egypt.

This is a “theme park” in the best meaning of the term.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 is thus a “theme park” in the best meaning of the term. Just when I started to get bored of blasting my way through Black Panther’s homeland of Wakanda, I would bound off to solve puzzles and collect more blocks in a film noir version of New York.

Fortunately, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 doesn’t content itself with mere variety of settings: it also breaks up the missions with fun actions sequences that go beyond the usual business of busting up the bad guys’ furniture and making new items with it. The original LEGO Marvel Super Heroes relied too heavily on sending you down corridors to beat a boss, but here I found myself guiding Iron Man through underwater compounds or shrinking Ms. Marvel down so she could fit inside a puzzle I jostled around with my controller’s trigger buttons. One of my favorite fights had Captain America and Star-Lord dogfighting with a boss in an airplane high above snowy peaks, making them stop shooting occasionally to kick henchmen off the wings.

Exit Theatre Mode

The problem with the world is that it needs better signage. There were plenty of times when I was simply at a loss as to what to do next, even with all the little prompts that pop up showing which hero can interact with what. Sometimes all I needed to do was hop on a wall to reach a ladder, but I kept thinking I was missing something since the wall wouldn’t let me “land” unless I hit the perfect spot. These moments never lasted so long as to stop me in my tracks, but they did ruin the flow of the action and the sense that I was playing through a butt-kicking Marvel movie or comic book.

It embraces all aspects of Marvel.

Yet the strength of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 lies in how it embraces all aspects of Marvel. You see the influence of the movies in the way the Guardians of the Galaxy are clearly modeled after Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and friends, but it also enthusiastically delves into the deep cuts of the comics with villains like Klaw, the Black Knight, and Kraven the Hunter. There dozens upon dozens to tinker with and unlock here, right down to quirky parodies like the porcine Spider-Ham.

Many of the characters you can unlock for free play through Chronopolis even have variations, meaning you can turn Spider-Man into a camera-equipped Peter Parker or fight Hydra as a medieval Captain America. Much time was clearly spent on giving each character their own unique abilities: Captain America’s ridiculously useful tossable shield is back, for one, but you can also use Dr. Strange to manipulate some environmental elements backward and forward in time in order to solve puzzles. For that matter, the option to create your own hero has never been so robust, as you can draw from this massive pool of pieces to create any kind of hero you wish.

Exit Theatre Mode

Outside of the campaign is a new local-only multiplayer mode for up to four players, which currently offers two scenarios. In one, you run around picking up and holding the Infinity Stones to build points; and in the other, you run around collecting colored blocks and dumping them in a bin. Just don’t expect any balance, owing to the wildly different abilities of the heroes. I quickly discovered, for instance, that I prefer playing with Ms. Marvel because her rubbery arms could generally clobber any opponents before they got close. It’s a shame that this mode is local-only – unless you have three people to play with in your house, it’s a lot harder to enjoy discovering those imbalances because the AI just can’t keep up.

The Verdict

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2 doesn’t deviate much from the established LEGO template, but its wide variety of settings, heroes, and abilities make it constantly fun to play, especially in co-op. The combat is still quite simple and it’s sometimes difficult to tell what you should do next, but the story is lighthearted and fun enough that mild annoyances like these fade into the background.

Editors’ Choice

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