The weeks surrounding the holidays are traditionally very quiet when it comes to gaming news and new releases, but we put together a few worthwhile highlights for you in a series of headlines and mini reviews:
HyperParasite named the top indie game of 2020
Sure, this is the season of “best of” lists and every list out there will look different, although everyone can live with the fact that The Last of Us – Part 2 was named ‘game of the year’ – we’re no exception, because the game received our first ever 10/10 score.
Forbes has also put out their ‘best of’ list, and all the way at the top for the indie category is HyperParadise from Troglobytes Games and Hound Picked – a game that perhaps isn’t a household name for many but was also on our radar when we originally reviewed it on a PS4. We really enjoyed it, and have since also played it on the Nintendo Switch – it plays just as brilliantly on that platform, even in handheld mode.
In a way, it feels like Troglobytes has taken over the baton from HouseMarque with their arcade-inspired approach to videogame design. While HouseMarque’s moving more towards AAA development now, it’s nice to know that the spirit is still alive and well in games like HyperParasite.
Nioh 2 – The First Samurai DLC is out now
This is perhaps the only AAA release to come out during the week of Christmas, but obviously it’s just a DLC. It wraps up the post-launch DLC batch for Nioh 2 and thus also paved the way for a complete edition, which is also coming to PCs next year.
We didn’t want to wait that long, and decided to give The First Samurai a go on a PS4. It features ten new and challenging missions as well as more active skills, yokai abilities and guardian spirits, but the biggest appeal for the First Samurai DLC is that it wraps up the story arc for Nioh 2, which is something that fans have been waiting for.
This may be nothing but ‘more of a great thing’, but finding out what happened to Otakemaru in the past and how samurai came to be is a satisfying end to an epic narrative that leaves us wondering in what capacity we’ll see Nioh (or its developers) return on the PS5.
Super Sports Blast releases on Christmas day
More of a compilation than a new game release, Super Sports Blast bundles three previously released sports games from Unfinished Pixel. Arriving on December 25 for the PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, it offers player a chance to play arcade takes on the sports of tennis, volleyball and soccer/football.
We actually reviewed Super Soccer Blast earlier this year and noticed that the intricacies of modern day AI in soccer games weren’t always there, even though the game was still fun to play. Luckily, this is far less of an issue in the Volley and Tennis games in this bundle, and we especially enjoyed playing Super Sports Tennis, which is a great throwback to classic home console and arcade takes on the sport. One inspiration was clearly Virtua Tennis, and the game even features a couple of minigames that we first saw in Sega’s series.
Super Volley Blast doesn’t try to emulate the regular 5-a-side game of volleyball, but goes with an arcade take on beach volleyball, which is a 2 vs 2 version and thus makes the rules and control mechanics easier to grasp. All three games feature cartoon-like visuals and accessible gameplay, with Super Tennis Blast alone being worth the price of admission as it was the first tennis game in ages where I didn’t need to get past a learning curve before being able to really enjoy it.
Wingspan lands on the Switch on December 29th
Wingspan is another title we previously reviewed when it launched on Steam, but it’s about to come out on the Nintendo Switch as well. This isn’t just great news because it’s a solid conversion of a very successful board game, but also because this will be our first opportunity to take the digital version of Wingspan on the go.
And as much as we enjoyed the PC conversion, having to go towards a PC, which is often not in the living room, is a bit of an entry barrier – especially when your setup isn’t ideal for local multiplayer. With the Switch version, you can hook the experience up to the living room TV or even put the Switch in tabletop mode for a two player game wherever you are. If they manage to optimize the UI for the Switch’s smaller screen, this is one to look out for when it releases next week.
Override 2: Super Mech League is out now
Override 2: Super Mech League from Modus Games is a multi-platform release that features arena combat starring huge mechs. It features a single player campaign mode as well, but the main appeal for the game will no doubt be its support for online multiplayer, both competitively and cooperatively.
With a variety of game modes, ranging from classic deathmatch types to team-based and ‘king of the hill’ modes, there is plenty of content here. The single player portion is very short and shouldn’t be your reason for jumping in though – this is a new game to try if you’re looking to scratch that online multiplayer itch with something brand new, especially if you’re a fan of Ultraman – who features as a DLC character in Override 2. We’ll be checking in with the game regularly over the holiday break to see how vibrant and alive the player base is, so perhaps we’ll see you there!
Rhythm of the Gods is now available on consoles
We hadn’t heard of Rhythm of the Gods before, but it just arrived on the PlayStation 4 as a port from a game that was previously released on the PC through Steam. It was developed by LyreLark, a small studio based in Norwich in the UK, and was previously nominated for a TIGA Diversity Award in 2019.
It’ll probably come as no surprise that this is a rhythm-based game, but what’s nice to point out is that, unlike many games in the genre, this one also has a story-driven campaign mode. The fact that it involves Greek mythology might be less of a surprise again, but it’s always pleasant to have a reason as to why you’re doing what you’re doing.
In this case, the gameplay somewhat resembles the musically-inspired levels in Rayman Legends and Rayman Origins, as you run through a scene and tap the jump, duck/slide and attack buttons at the right moment in order to beat the level – which gets harder to do when you ramp up the difficulty level.
The actual campaign is very short though, and can be complete in well under an hour. After that, you can engage with the game’s marathon mode or the timewarp/remix mode for more content, and there’s also a special God’s Mode where you face off against a few Gods of Rhythm. None of those things change the fact that this is a small game, but that could be great during the holiday period and it’s got a price to match.