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20 марта, 11:32

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – the video game where we can still be together

A new instalment in Nintendo’s social simulation series is out now – and it offers the sort of optimism we’re very short ofI am scrolling idly through TikTok when I see her, drag queen Bijou Bentley performing her routine to a remix of Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda. With her ponytail and green twin-set, I immediately recognise that she is not just giving the audience haute couture – this is cosplay.Isabelle, my personal assistant from my time as mayor of a town in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. If you have played it, she was your assistant, too. She is the heart of the game, your adviser, your companion. She is a yellow dog in snappy office dress, and she is always so happy to see you. Benny Bijou Bentley sashays around the floor with her clip-board. The crowd goes wild, throwing dollars at her feet. I am thinking to myself, “Yes, Isabelle - work.” Continue reading...

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19 марта, 09:00

Xbox Live and Nintendo Online collapse under increased demand

Online gaming services reported short-term outages, while home fitness apps boomOnline gaming services have collapsed under the strain of increased demand while home workout services have seen a boom as the world prepares for a period of social distancing.Xbox Live, the online service for Microsoft’s games console, and Nintendo Online, which serves multiplayer games for the Switch, have both suffered short-term outages since coronavirus preparations kicked up a gear over the weekend. Although neither company directly attributed the outages to the weight of numbers, Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, confirmed that “usage is up on almost everything”. Continue reading...

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12 марта, 16:00

Bricks and clicks: Lego Super Mario product line to hit shelves this year

Nintendo announces product line in collaboration with toy maker featuring a smart Mario figure and brick playsetsLego and Nintendo have announced a joint product named Lego Super Mario, which combines the toy maker’s playsets with the gameplay of the Mario platformers.Full details have not yet been released but as teased on social media this week, the central element of the new Lego sets is a smart Mario figure with small screens on his chest and face, able to detect which bricks he is near. It will involve a range of building and collecting play schemes. Continue reading...

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27 февраля, 18:00

Rune Factory 4: Special review – fun revival of a retro franchise

Nintendo Switch; Marvelous/XseedThis comfortable but clunky reboot of the part farming simulator, part dungeon crawler, part life sim is very much a product of its timeThe Rune Factory franchise was thought long dead when its developer, Neverland, declared bankruptcy in 2013, but last year it was revived by publisher Marvelous, with many of the original staff attached. The first new game, a remake of Nintendo 3DS’s Rune Factory 4, is finally out on Switch, and in many ways it’s like pulling on an old, comfy blanket: it’s not the most beautiful thing out there but you’re glad to see it anyway.A fantasy-themed spinoff from the slightly more grounded Harvest Moon franchise, Rune Factory is part farming simulator, part dungeon crawler, part life sim. Unlike the superficially similar Animal Crossing, though, Rune Factory is more about time efficiency and constant micro-goals of progress than simply enjoying the pleasures of small-town life. Continue reading...

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27 января, 10:00

What Pokémon can teach us about storytelling

Since 1996, the Pokémon games have exerted a fascination for fans, telling imaginative stories and encouraging a generation of players to question everything they see“This is it? This is the game?”I am in Italy with my partner, and just like every beach holiday since 1999, I have booted up Pokémon. This particular version is Pokémon Sun for the Nintendo 3DS, but all the games are fundamentally the same: you’re a child leaving home to catch and train tiny monsters so you can defeat various bosses and bad guys. My boyfriend, who has never played Pokémon, has just watched me eviscerate a grunt trainer with my level 41 Mudsdale. Continue reading...

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24 января, 10:00

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore review – an enchanting world of wannabe idols

Switch; Atlus/NintendoA group of magical youngsters do battle on the streets of Tokyo in this endearing, addictive anime-like role-playing gameTokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is an unlikely candidate for mainstream success in the western market. The convoluted name alludes to the fact that it was conceived as a crossover between two obscure Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) and was originally released for that most unloved of consoles, the Wii U. But it is so endearing and well constructed that, once you start playing, you may well develop a mild obsession.The narrative plays out just like an anime, via beautifully designed cut-scenes and quirky dialogue sequences that offer countless insights into Tokyo street culture. It follows the development of a band of youngsters bidding to become idols, who have signed up to a showbiz agency called Fortuna. Continue reading...

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17 декабря 2019, 14:04

Top 20 games of 2019

Take an intergalactic camping trip, shoot zombies in the face and go full battle royale on, er, Tetris … with the best games of the yearMore on the best culture of 2019 Continue reading...

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11 декабря 2019, 10:00

Empire of Sin – a gangster paradise decades in the making

PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo SwitchBrenda Romero’s crime sim is a homage to the glitter and skulduggery of prohibition-era Chicago – a game of revenge, race and relationship managementThe 1920s in the US was a time of scarcity for some, impossible wealth and glory for others. The country’s nationwide alcohol ban gave rise to an explosion in organised crime, much of it concentrated in Chicago, where underground speakeasies flowed with hooch smuggled over the Canadian border. This was the heyday of Dean O’Banion, who ran a vast bootlegging business out of a simple flower shop, and Stephanie St Clair, self-appointed queen of Manhattan’s illegal lottery scene.This is also the sleaze-filled setting for forthcoming strategy game Empire of Sin, the latest project from veteran designer Brenda Romero. Here, you’re cast as one of the competing crimelords tasked with taking over Chicago, street by street and racket by racket. You’re free to use any combination of foul means to come out on top – gunning down the other side’s lieutenants in chesslike combat, betraying allies to the police, selling poisoned alcohol to competitors. Beware, though – every trick in your arsenal can be used against you, and Empire of Sin is a game with a long memory. Every major character, from your big-name rivals to your own underlings, is a distinct, evolving personality with an opinion of the player. Spread enough bad blood around the city, and you may end up digging bullets out of your back at the height of your power. Continue reading...

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03 декабря 2019, 10:00

Nintendo Ring Fit Adventure – I get a full, hard workout, but I don’t look good doing it

The Switch console game is the latest attempt to get us active in our living rooms, but is there anything less attractive than playing video games and sweating?Many Christmases ago, I campaigned successfully for a Super Scope: a shoulder-mounted ersatz missile launcher to plug into my Super Nintendo. It was approximately 15ft long and in retrospect had no good games designed for it. The Scope wound up the way of all console peripherals: propped in the corner of the lounge, useless, like a piece of pipe a plumber had forgotten to clear away. Until we had guests and my parents implored me to keep my bazooka in the bedroom.I still think about it, so was intrigued when I saw a new Nintendo console and peripheral on the market. This one targets the fitness crowd and I can justify playing it as part of what I insist on calling my job. Continue reading...

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14 ноября 2019, 10:00

How a video game helped me reclaim my body after having a baby

Pregnancy, birth and looking after your child put a huge strain on your body – Nintendo’s Ring Fit can help you reclaim itWhile celebrities and Instagram influencers seem able to shed their pregnancy weight within a few months (while cheerfully chronicling the process on an hourly basis) the reality is quite different for most women. I didn’t bounce back, I sort of crawled, and it’s hard not to feel at a loss when you’re so tired even looking at your trainers feels like work.Between the lack of sleep and having to recover from one of the most physically demanding experiences the human body can go through, just leaving the house is an achievement in itself, let alone exercising. While the NHS recommends waiting until after your six-week postnatal check before doing anything strenuous (longer if you’ve had a caesarean or complicated delivery), experts also recommend regular activity to keep you fit, help your body recover and possibly prevent postnatal depression. Continue reading...

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31 октября 2019, 09:00

Luigi's Mansion 3 review – a hilarious, captivating ghost hunt

Nintendo SwitchProfessor E Gadd and new clone Gooigi are among the inventive innovations aiding Mario’s timid twin. A breath of life for the hunt-and-chase formatLuigi never seems to learn his lesson. It’s been 18 years since he was first lured to a haunted house and tortured by its spooky inhabitants. Now, having been duped again, he’s trapped in an even bleaker building – the Hotel of Last Resort – as he races to rescue a familiar cast of Mushroom Kingdom characters.Although it treads very familiar ground to its predecessors, there’s a lot to love in the third instalment of the adventure series that lets Mario’s timid twin take charge. You still guide the character through uniquely themed sections of the building, relying on his flashlight and multi-functional Poltergust vacuum to rid the place of ghosts. Continue reading...

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09 октября 2019, 12:07

PlayStation 5 v Xbox Scarlett: the next console war begins in 2020

Sony’s PS5 will have haptic feedback, while Microsoft’s competing console will have four times the power of Xbox One. Here’s how the two high-end machines compareThe next console war has a start date – or at least a start period. Sony has announced that its next console, PlayStation 5 (PS5), will be launched next autumn/winter, putting it in direct competition with Microsoft’s forthcoming Xbox Scarlett, also due in time for the 2020 Christmas holiday period.In a post on the PlayStation site, Sony revealed that PS5 will have a new controller that replaces the current joypad’s rumble feature with more sensitive and contextual haptic feedback. Continue reading...

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25 сентября 2019, 12:36

Nintendo Switch Lite review – a no-frills handheld with plenty of fun

Nintendo’s stripped-down version does away with the TV output in favour of pure portability – but the company’s formidable games library remains at your fingertipsThe beloved and impressively fast-selling Switch console is Nintendo’s cleverest idea in some years: a compact games machine that can be played handheld or on a TV, letting you fit in video games wherever you have the time and space for them. The convenience of multiplayer, especially – of being able to snap off a controller and hand it over to a new friend you’ve made in the pub or at a party – is quietly revolutionary in a gaming era dominated by impersonal online play.But let’s be honest: you’re not spending much time in the pub or at parties these days, are you? Perhaps your gaming time is mostly stolen, on train journeys or commutes, in bed before passing out while the kids are sleeping. Perhaps you, like me, are currently trying to sneak in a bit of Link’s Awakening while breastfeeding a week-old baby. I know so many parents, myself included, for whom the Switch was a godsend – it gave us our games back, at a time in life when it’s increasingly difficult to find time for them. Continue reading...

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23 сентября 2019, 17:29

Untitled Goose Game review – a honking good time

PC, Switch; Panic Inc/House HousePlaying the role of a loud, waddling waterfowl trying to disrupt village life isn’t rocket science, but this puzzle-stealth hybrid is a delightIf you break Untitled Goose Game (which, for the purposes of this review is the game’s title, never mind that it is clearly not untitled) down to its base elements, you might describe it as a puzzle-stealth hybrid, a kind of bird-based Metal Gear Solid where you must accomplish small tasks while remaining undetected. This fails, however, to describe the true joy of Untitled Goose Game, which is simply this: you are an annoying goose.That detail, that context, changes Goose Game from a merely competent brain-teaser into something far more coherent and fulfilling. Where most stealth games deal in the stark intensities of violence and death, Goose Game instead lowers the stakes back into the realm of comedy and slapstick, and comes off all the better for it. Continue reading...

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20 сентября 2019, 12:18

Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening review – dreamy revival of 1993 classic

Nintendo SwitchFans of the GameBoy curio will enjoy endless nostalgia with this 3D remake – but is it too faithful to the original?Link’s Awakening has always been a curio in the grand history of the Zelda franchise. The first Zelda game for a portable console, it was missing a number of series mainstays – no triforce, no ganon … heck, no Zelda – and took glee in replacing them with bizarre twists, like the plethora of cameos from other Nintendo games or the ability to steal items from a shopkeeper (incurring the penalty of having your saved game renamed THIEF).So it’s delightful to see the game getting a remake after being repeatedly overlooked for re-releases in favour of its more conventional cousins such as Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. And it is the sort of remake that sets the standard for what we should expect: every single thing fans love about the original game is here, except rather than a four-colour GameBoy screen, it’s beautifully rendered in 3D with another 25 years of Easter eggs added for those dedicated enough to find them. Continue reading...

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19 сентября 2019, 08:00

The 50 best video games of the 21st century

Want to build worlds, become a crime kingpin, get lost in space, or enter the afterlife? Then our countdown of the 50 best games of the era has something for youMore of the best TV | Film | Albums | Art | Comedy Continue reading...

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09 сентября 2019, 15:28

Spaceships, spooks and shoot 'em ups: the best video games of the autumn

From ultra-violent alien hunts to a honking, flapping goose simulator, here are our video game highlights for the seasonThe third title in the comic book-inspired sci-fi looter-shooter series takes its familiar cast of antiheroes on another hyperactive, ultra-violent alien hunt across a range of post-apocalyptic planetscapes. The more complex progression system and an incredible arsenal of weapons will thrill fans and newcomers alike. Out 13 September Continue reading...

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06 сентября 2019, 11:00

From Weird Dreams to Granny's Garden: a brief history of cursed video games

They were weird and obscure and no one else remembers them – here are the old computer games that still give us the chillsIt was Caverns of Khafka for me. Discovered one rainy afternoon in a Debenhams bargain bin, this weird Commodore 64 dungeon exploration game totally freaked me out with its funeral dirge soundtrack and horrific screeching bats. When I tried to tell my friends about it, they looked confused and concerned – no one else had ever heard of it. I started to think I was the only person in the world who had explored this disorientating adventure – it took on a sinister air.In the pre-internet era of gaming, it was common to stumble upon these hidden oddities. The industry was more disorganised with smaller publishers distributing games that were often programmed by eccentric loners, and there was only a handful of specialist magazines to call them out. Games were snuck onto the shelves of newsagents and video rental shops, or into car boot sales and computer fairs, and you often had no idea what they were until you bought them and loaded them up. And by then it was far too late. Continue reading...

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17 июля 2019, 11:30

The 10 most beautiful video game consoles of all time

The pastel-hued Nintendo Switch Lite, out in September, is far from the only beautiful console in video game history. These 10 were much more than unattractive slabs Continue reading...

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10 июля 2019, 17:07

Nintendo announces Switch Lite console

The new model of the handheld console – which is cheaper, lighter and smaller than the original – will be released in SeptemberNintendo has announced a new model of its successful Switch console: the Switch Lite. It is cheaper, lighter and smaller than the original model, and will be available on 20 September.However, the Switch Lite lacks a headline feature of the original Nintendo Switch: it can only be played as a handheld and can’t be docked to play on a TV. The Joy-Con controllers are also built into the console, and can’t be detached. This means some Switch games – such as launch title 1-2 Switch and the innovative Nintendo Labo – will be incompatible with the Lite model. Continue reading...