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Review: Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Ghoul Patrol – A Classic That Deserves Better

Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Ghoul Patrol

Zombie. Zombie. Zombie. Compilation.

Well, this has been a long time coming. Lucasarts’ beloved top-down ghoul-‘em-up Zombies Ate My Neighbors has finally come to Switch, missing in action since its release on the Wii Virtual Console back in 2009. And this time it’s brought its follow-up, the somewhat-maligned Ghoul Patrol, in a reasonably-priced little double pack from Dotemu. Would it be too fussy to wish they’d included spiritual successor Herc’s Adventures, too? Probably, but we’ve brought it up anyway.

Zombies Ate My Neighbors is somewhat akin to the Midway classic Gauntlet, offering lots of levels of blasting action as hordes of creatures from almost any given B-movie archetype (Zombies! Mummies! Evil dolls! Pod people! Werewolves!) are out for both your blood and that of the titular neighbo(u)rs, whom you must rescue before one of the many enemies reaches them.

Read the full article on nintendolife.com

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Reviews

England's Euro 2020 so far: Work to be done for last 16 but Southgate deserves credit

SUBJECT: History. TASK: Ending 55 years of hurt. MARK: 6/10

With their youngest ever tournament squad, perhaps the past weighs less heavily on the shoulders of the Southgate’s players. Certainly the future looks promising. But with every step, pressure will increase and the experience gained through those club achievements will be tested to the full.

MORE ENGLAND EURO 2020 NEWS…
Gareth Southgate pinpoints area England must improve on for next tie

England’s Jack Grealish sets himself Gascoigne and Rooney target
England have four players in danger after Czech Republic Euro 2020 win

SUBJECT: Homeschooling. TASK: Schooling teams at home like in lockdown. MARK: 4/10

Ultimately, the Wembley factor is going to have to be massive to get England over the line. Provided they can win in Rome, every other game in this campaign will be under the giant arch. Three times in the first four halves they were booed off the pitch. The fans – an increased number of them, it turns out – have their part to play.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT: A solid if unspectacular start. Will need to work harder to attain the levels expected of them. As always. But fans can play a part…

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Sport Feed

Review: Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection – Ryu Hayabusa Deserves Better Than This

Whether you prefer Ninja Gaiden Sigma over Ninja Gaiden Black, or ‘vanilla’ part two over its enhanced edition, or don’t really care either way and just wanna get on with slicing and dicing everything in your path, the prospect of enjoying Team Ninja’s legendary action series on Switch is a pretty tantalising one. Here is a trilogy of games that, for all their many idiosyncrasies and ageing elements, still possess the power to provide some seriously satisfying combat. All that these three old stalwarts really needed was a decent port job with a nice smooth frame rate and crisp, clear resolution, and they would have likely earned an instant recommendation from us. Unfortunately, at least on Nintendo’s hybrid console, Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection just ain’t what we were hoping for.

With pre-release press touting a Switch port that aims for 720p and 60fps — and Platinum Games’ similarly madcap Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 managing to pull this feat off on Nintendo’s console — we had high hopes that the adventures of Ryu Hayabusa would arrive on Switch in fine form. However, outside of the older first entry in the series, what we’ve actually got here is a disappointing offering that can neither stick to its target resolution or its intended frame rate for large chunks of time. This is a surprisingly messy conversion, a “master” collection that does these golden oldies absolutely zero favours.

Let’s try to remain positive for as long as possible, though. Getting stuck into the classic Ninja Gaiden Sigma, things do get off to a promising start with Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection and we had zero issues blasting through what is undoubtedly the finest entry in the series. Whether playing in docked or handheld modes, Ryu’s virgin adventure is a smooth ride on Switch – as it really should be given its age – and it’s still an absolute riot to return to all this time later. This really is Ninja Gaiden at its very best; a brutally tough but always fair challenge that demands you take the time to learn, approach every enemy with caution and utilise each and every one of your combos, special moves, items and Ninpo in order to survive.

At fourteen years of age, there are certainly aspects of this one that are well past their best, most notably a camera that can be a right old pain in the backside when jammed into a small area with multiple opponents. Beyond these expected issues, though, it’s amazing just how well this first outing holds up in 2021, and it’s a real joy of a thing to get to grips with in portable mode on Switch. Sigma may not be everyone’s preferred version — and we fully understand why — but the underlying quality of the original game still manages to shine through and anyone who has yet to sample its delights is sure to be blown away by just how well it all still holds together.

Moving on to Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and, well, in terms of gameplay there’s still plenty to enjoy with this more bombastic take on the franchise. It may not be anywhere near as difficult, as thoughtful or refined as its predecessor, it may drop the original’s maze-y, secret-strewn levels in favour of pushing you through corridors full of rinse-and-repeat bad guys, but this sequel still absolutely manages to deliver when it comes to action and spectacle. Want to face off against a possessed Statue of Liberty, kick twenty shades out of a lycanthrope army or make the canals of Venice run red with your enemy’s blood? Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 has got your back and, for all the complaints about how it’s been watered down in this Sigma version, it’s still a bloody tough game on anything higher than normal difficulty.

The added decapitations and overcharged finishing moves that punctuate the action in this sequel give combat a totally different rhythm. This is a fundamentally easier game that allows you to take a moment as you pull off an obliteration technique or use a super-charged Ninpo to make some space in a crowd of enemies. There are far more opportunities to heal and save your progress, too and as a result this is an action game that’s got replayability in spades; a completely OTT, boss-packed affair that wants you to come back again and again, improving your rankings and upping that difficulty as you go. This Master Collection also returns all the lovely blood and violence to proceedings via a Day One patch, so gore hounds can rejoice as they literally paint the town red instead of purple and green.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is also packed full of modes, with chapter challenges, ninja races and tag missions to keep players busy once they’re done with the roughly ten-hour-long campaign. In short, there’s plenty of lovely violent fun to be had here, or at least there would be if the whole thing wasn’t marred by incessant technical issues that drag the entire experience down.

Right from the get-go these issues rear their head with this Switch port of Sigma 2 and, in both docked and handheld modes, some pretty harsh dynamic resolution scaling sees the image quality drop seriously low as it attempts to keep the frame rate at an acceptable level – something it completely fails to achieve for the most part. We reckon for the vast majority of our time with Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 on Switch we were looking at a frame rate that was absolutely nowhere near the touted 60fps. We’re no Digital Foundry, so we can’t provide an exact figure, but the game just wasn’t managing to hit its target at all in combat, or indeed when just strolling around environments.

This technical inconsistency on Switch is a real shame, a messy experience that is perhaps the worst playthrough of this game we’ve had on any system we can remember. Its struggles don’t seem to have any rhyme or reason, either, with reasonably quiet stretches stuttering terribly as the resolution drops right down to a full-on pixelated mess, while busy areas — such as the infamous stair fight scene — perform surprisingly well in contrast.

What you’re left with as you play through this old classic is constant stuttering and, even in docked mode, a resolution that varies wildly and very noticeably from moment to moment. It’s headache-inducing stuff and not the way you really want to experience a game of this ilk, struggling to decipher enemies in a furious mob as you get your Ninja head absolutely kicked in.

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge doesn’t fare much better here, either. The London-based opening to this rather disappointing third entry in the series immediately set our alarm bells ringing, especially in handheld mode where it’s a dark mess of pixels that chugs along, making it a chore to successfully time anything you’re attempting to hit your opponents with. Switching to docked mode does see Razor’s Edge performing reasonably well in comparison to its portable counterpart — and even much better than Sigma 2, bizarrely enough — but it still suffers ceaselessly in terms of overall image quality and frame rate. It looks and feels unpolished at all times and you end up waiting uneasily for the next frame rate drop or jarring image blur. These just aren’t the types of games you want to be having constant issues with, and jumping back into the likes Bayonetta 2, as we did for comparison here, it’s quite remarkable just how big the gulf in quality is in terms of how this port has been handled. It’s just nowhere near smooth or clear enough.

In the end, what Switch owners are getting with this one is anything but a Master Collection, really. The original Ninja Gaiden Sigma may run well enough, but otherwise what’s here has served only to whet our appetites for versions of this collection on other platforms that are promising 4K resolutions and a rock solid 60fps. If your only viable option is to play on Switch, you’ll at least still get to experience the joy of the original Ninja Gaiden, albeit in its slightly watered down Sigma incarnation. Otherwise, this is a thoroughly disappointing experience that delivers stuttery, pixelated and rather unpleasant versions of Sigma 2 and Razor’s Edge.

Note: A Day One patch for Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is adding gore and decapitations from the PS3 versions of Sigma and Sigma 2, plus minor bug fixes. Performance isn’t specifically mentioned in the notes, but it’s not impossible things might improve. Should that be the case, we’ll update this review to reflect the changes.

Conclusion

Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection gets off to a promising start on Switch with a decent port of Ninja Gaiden Sigma that performs well in both docked and handheld modes. However, as soon as you boot up parts two and three it’s all downhill, with dynamic resolution resulting in a pixelated mess in places as the frame rate consistently struggles to keep up with the action. All we needed here was a solid, no-frills port and this collection would have been an instant recommendation. As things stand, it’s a disappointing experience that needs patching ASAP and should be the last version you opt for if you’ve got the choice to play elsewhere.

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Reviews

Review: FEZ – A Mind And World-Bending Puzzle Platformer That Deserves A Second Look

FEZ Review - Screenshot 1 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

One of the original indie darlings in the eyes of many, FEZ is a game steeped in a whole bucket’s worth of history and intrigue. Nine years after its initial release and no sign of a sequel (as promised by its creator before getting abruptly cancelled), can FEZ still dazzle the new generation of Switch owners? The answer is yes, but let’s pretend you didn’t already know that.

FEZ begins with you playing the role of Gomez, a spritely little chap who says a little bit less than naff-all. After responding to a request to meet the aged adventurer of Gomez’s two-dimensional village, our mute hero is gifted a small fez which allows him to warp his 2D world with 3D impudence. Sadly this has the slightly irritating side effect of tearing reality apart at the seams, which we’re sure you’ll agree is a right old nuisance.

Gomez has to shuffle off to find all 32 cubes that make up the almighty Hexahedron, a doohickey that somehow keeps the world from collapsing, in order to prevent just such an occurrence. These are often found split up into further cubes, eight of which count towards one of the 32 (keeping up?). In order to reach these cubes you’ll have to platform throughout the world, changing the perspective in order to reach otherwise unreachable areas.
FEZ Review - Screenshot 2 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

You see, each time you pivot the world 90 degrees you’re presented with another entirely 2D perspective that Gomez can traverse with zero depth. This means otherwise distant platforms can be forced to line up granting you access to higher structures, as well as doors that were just flat-out not visible in any way from any other angle.

This is where quite literally the entire game lies; you might play the game for an hour and find a challenge that seems entirely impossible and assume you’ll get a double-jump or something at some point. Nope! You’re stuck with what you’ve got matey-person, you just haven’t figured it out yet. It’s this simplicity that results in a countless number of those ‘a-ha!’ moments that are so important in puzzle games, and what makes FEZ such a joy to play.

Puzzles vary in difficulty fairly significantly, but most of the greater challenge comes from a second version of the collectable cubes you so desire called anti-cubes. That’s right, as well as the 32 standard cubes which are often split up into eight mini-cubes, you’ll have 32 anti-cubes to find as well should you wish. As previously hinted, these anti-cubes are generally much harder to work out, or even find, but are totally optional. There are even some frankly insanely challenging red cubes you can find as well — but again, you’d never need to — which require skills such as an understanding of binary code. No, we’re not exaggerating.

FEZ Review - Screenshot 3 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

The reality-bending nature of the game is still wildly impressive even nine years down the line, and the variety of ways in which FEZ uses it singular core mechanic is nothing short of masterful; much like Nintendo’s own philosophy towards gameplay, there’s one idea here explored to the nth degree, and without it ever growing stale. There’s even a good chunk of replay value should you want to go through again, but we don’t want to spoil exactly why for those that haven’t played it.

Visually FEZ is also super charming; bright colours, dappled lighting and even a Game-Boy inspired aesthetic in the sewers make it just lovely to look at, if a little simple at times. Performance is also a perfect 60fps which isn’t particularly surprising given the game’s vintage, but we did notice a few visual glitches here and there, as well as one or two instances where objects didn’t behave as they were meant to. These were rare and never impacted our enjoyment of the game or ability to complete puzzles, but they were noticeable. Earhole-wise Disasterpiece’s soundtrack is an absolute treat, and is something that we’ve even enjoyed outside of the game on long drives.

Conclusion

FEZ is a fun, challenging puzzle platformer fit to burst with original ideas and unique gameplay wrinkles. Its puzzles bend reality and even leech into our own world on occasion, but aside from a few select mega-challenges never stray into the category of too obtuse or unfair. A few visual and mechanical quirks stop this from being a perfectly polished experience, but these are outweighed by its charm and other wonderful qualities ninefold. It’s another one of those ‘games you have to play’ on Switch, and it couldn’t be more at home.

This article originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Reviews

Review: Genesis Noir – This Indie Gem Deserves A Better Switch Port

Genesis Noir Review - Screenshot 1 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

The Switch is a truly marvellous machine. The first ever hybrid console, it’s the handheld capability of the system that makes it so irresistible. Its versatility and convenience are such that even when a game is technically better on the more powerful home consoles, we’ll often wait for the Switch version just to take it away with us. And so many games fit the Switch like a glove, thanks to smart, sensible adaptation to the system’s limitations, or cleverly altered mechanics in order to account for what the Switch does best. Genesis Noir, sadly, is not one of them.

When your interface is an analogue stick and face buttons, it feels extremely awkward to be asked – for example – to individually pull every petal out of a dandelion. This requires the cursor to be placed on each petal in turn, the A button to be pressed and held, and the analogue stick pulled away. Is this difficult? No. Is it intuitive? Absolutely not.

Ditto a section almost immediately afterwards in which the parallax-esque landscape must be “tuned in” by grabbing a dial at the bottom of the screen and dragging it left and right. It feels designed for a mouse, or for touch control – which the Switch can do – but there is no such touch support here. Bizarre clashes of interface, task and input crop out throughout Genesis Noir, enough to make us wonder why even port it to a system so clearly unsuited for the experience.
Genesis Noir Review - Screenshot 2 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

We know why, really. We all know why. Because the Switch is perpetually hot right now. But it doesn’t have a great time with this game at all. It chugs, it struggles. Your character routinely gets caught on geometry that doesn’t even seem to exist, with controls that sometimes simply stop responding for seconds at a time. Sound goes out of synch, or drops entirely. The camera will shudder and shake, breaking the game’s spell routinely. It’s deeply frustrating that the game’s flaws all seem to stem from its Switch port.

It’s a beautiful game, in theory. The art direction is often stunning, calling to mind old UPA cartoons and 1950s animated PSAs in its tale that cleverly welds the creation of the universe as we know it (hence “Genesis”) with a jazz-infused film noir style detective story (hence, er, “Noir”). What this amounts to in gameplay terms is… not a whole lot of consistency.

Essentially you’re following the game’s linear narrative, occasionally taking part in what are essentially a series of mini games. None of them are exactly awful, but they certainly don’t do much to stand out, with a few early ones including the planting of seeds (that, again, is unintuitive in its control scheme) which lead to a series of small and impossible-to-fail challenges seeing you encouraging said ovules to grow up and out. You’re mostly tinkering with things rather than engaging with any game-length systems, with nothing really given time to mature as a mechanic. Which is fine, because the gameplay isn’t the focus here.

Genesis Noir Review - Screenshot 3 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

An interactive movie, then, and just barely. It’s a pretty enjoyable movie, though, with a real flair to its direction. Sequences play out with impressively dynamic motion, framed brilliantly and drawn with enormous skill. The tremendous and memorable music adds a great deal to the experience and it’s difficult not to get swept up in the emotion and energy of the cutscenes.

However, it’s not ideal when gameplay feels like an obstacle between you and the next bit you’ll get to passively view. Particularly when the viewing is as compromised as it is here compared to the PC and Xbox versions. And no, it’s not usually a great idea to compare next-gen hardware to the Switch as it’s a bit of a waste of time – of course it won’t look or perform the same, how could it? – but we can’t shake the feeling that when visual fidelity is one of the core aspects of your game (as in Genesis Noir), it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to port it to a system that can’t really do it the justice it needs and deserves.

Conclusion

Here’s the thing, and it’s a bit of a kick in the pants. Genesis Noir is a very cool, very interesting and exceptionally well-presented game. It tells its esoteric story in an effective, exciting way with a litany of memorable visuals, fantastic artwork and a genuinely brilliant soundtrack. And, unfortunately, we simply can’t recommend playing this compromised, ill-fitting, arduous and glitchy Switch port in the slightest. Maybe it’s just us, but knowing we could be experiencing the spectacle of this clearly brilliant piece of art in a much higher resolution, at much greater fidelity, and with an order of magnitude less frantically wriggling the left analogue stick because we’re convinced the game has broken is just a sobering reason to ask why we would even bother if this version isn’t your only option. Even if you do only have a Switch, we’d recommend waiting until you have something else. This is a game that deserves better.

Ready to rise: Islam Makhachev deserves top-five UFC shot as he steps out of Khabib Nurmagomedov’s shadow

As UFC boss Dana White continues to pine for his retired superstar Khabib Nurmagomedov, he may well have a tailor-made replacement for the Russian standout already under contract in his teammate, Islam Makhachev.

Makhachev enhanced his already sterling reputation with a third-round submission of dangerous power puncher Drew Dober in Las Vegas last weekend in a fight which served warning to the UFC’s lightweight elite that, while Nurmagomedov may well have ridden into the sunset, there is another oppressive Russian grappler ready to take his place.

29-year-old Dagestani Makhachev has long been prophesied as a future lightweight standout. He grew up with Nurmagomedov, spending countless hours on the mats with the future UFC champion under the tutelage of Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov, honing his skills to world-level. 

After an 11-fight unbeaten start to his mixed martial arts career, Makhachev inked a deal with the UFC to make his debut for the organization in early summer 2015, when he would vanquish Leo Kuntz by second-round submission.
Also on rt.com UFC 259: Dominant Makhachev calls out Tony Ferguson after defeating Dober to extend winning streak to SEVEN in a row
Makhachev’s second UFC fight was a different story. Paired with experienced Brazilian fighter Adriano Martins in Texas, he would taste defeat for the first and only time in his UFC tenure to date when he was defeated by a first-round TKO after Martins connected on the onrushing Makhachev with a powerful right hand.

Defeat, though, is an unfamiliar feeling to many of those who came from Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov’s stable of fighters – and it is something Makhachev hasn’t experienced since.

Saturday’s submission of Dober was Makhachev’s seventh straight win in the talent-rich 155lbs division and has risen him to 11th in the UFC’s official lightweight rankings, surely setting him up for an increased test in his next outing.

Speaking to the media following his win on Saturday, Makhachev suggested that he could take Nurmagomedov’s role in a proxy-feud with Nurmagomedov’s longtime rival Tony Ferguson.

My dream fight is Tony because we have some deal with him over a couple of years,” he admitted. “Now he still pressures Khabib.

“I don’t understand this guy. I want to just help him retire. He’s old. His mind is a little bit crazy. That’s why I just want to help him.”

Makhachev’s ranking just outside the division’s top ten may prove to be more of a burden than an opportunity. If you cast your mind back several years before Nurmagomedov’s own unstoppable march to the UFC crown, the Russian’s impressive record coupled with his (at the time) unknown name meant that he became one of the most-avoided fighters at 155lbs.

Those factors remain largely outside of Makhchev’s control and, as he repeated to the assembled media in Las Vegas, comparisons to Nurmagomedov will only lead to him trainer harder to emulate the success of his friend and training partner.

You know this is motivation for me,” Makhachev said. “Because now people talk about me. A lot of people tell me, ‘you’re going to be next, you’re going to be champion.’ That’s why I have to train more. Just training. That’s it.

[Nurmagomedov] showed me all the way. He showed me what I have to do to be there. Now I think of a good win streak, I just have to finish my next opponent. Maybe in one or two fights, I’m going to be the next champion.”
Also on rt.com ‘How about September?’ Dana White reveals Khabib’s response after latest efforts to coax UFC champ back to octagon
A showdown with Ferguson would be a tantalizing bout and would bring some sense of closure to the doomed series of fight bookings between Ferguson and Khabib. But it remains a distinct possibility that the sometimes-difficult Ferguson might not be amenable to fighting the 11th-ranked fighter of his division.

And therein lies the potential next narrative to extend out in his MMA career. 

While his obvious talent demands that Makhachev has earned his opportunity to take on the UFC’s lightweight elite, don’t be too surprised if a lack of enthusiasm from potential opponents makes him join Nurmagomedov in taking the scenic route to UFC gold.
Also on rt.com Khabib Nurmagomedov’s cousin Abubakar aims to avenge UFC debut defeat this month after ‘Hollywood’ jibe at Sterling over Yan fight

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