Just A Quick Go: Dead Cells

After my 20-25th death in Dead Cells, I thought I’d take a break and explain why I keep chucking myself at deaths cruel embrace. I’ve had my eye on Dead Cells for a while now but always been hesitant to fully jump on the hype train. The graphics looked amazing, the combat looked fluid and fast. It looked like a fantastic game but I kept hearing that word being thrown around, which kind of put me off it. That amalgamation of two brands, Metroidvania.

Before you brandish the pitchforks, I don’t hate those games. I prefer Metroid Prime to the 2D games though. I tend to fall off the 2D Metroid games at a quick rate. Except for Metroid Fusion, that was a brilliant game. Castlevania I haven’t really played except Castlevania on the N64 which, even in my 10 year old mind, I knew that was a dud rental. After that I never touched it again until the DS games, which I liked. But with both series there is always a point, where after hours into their respective labyrinths I think ‘Where do I go now?’. These games are designed so that you’ll find a pathway but will need a certain tool/key/skill to go that way. The problem is I always end up forgetting where that was and I just lose interest fast when I’m finding dead end after dead end. Dead Cells alleviates this issue for me by not only having a map that has pictures for my dumb brain but also by being a rogue-lite game. A fantastic one at that.

In Dead Cells you play as……….I’ve no idea actually. You are a blob that rolls into a corpse, controls that corpse and then heads off on his adventure. There isn’t much in the way of story here. It’s mostly filler text, scribblings on walls and observations your character can make. These help to fill the world but so far I don’t really know what this world is. Does that matter in a rogue-lite? Not really. There may be a story I’m missing or a reveal at the end but I’ve not even beat the game yet so I can’t explain the world. But that works in Dead Cells favour. As you control this blob controlling a body (I’m a bit of a blob myself so I know how that feels), you venture through different areas on an island, fighting your way through people and abominations. On your travels you will gather a bounty of resources including better weapons, stat boosts, blueprints for new gear, traps, money and the all important cells. Cells are the name of the game both figuratively and literally. Sure on your quest you may find a fantastic sword and astonishing bow but as soon as you die though, you lose all your gear. Cells however, are used to make your next journey easier.

Dead Cells Jars 3
The more you play, the more these blueprints will fill the jars. It’s a visual treat at the start of each run, to see how much you’ve progressed.

As you progress and slay enemies, they will sometimes drop cells. Once you reach the end of the area you are currently in, you go to a hub between areas. Here you can retool your gear, refill on health, enhance your character through mutations (more on that later) and most importantly; spend cells on eternal upgrades. For example, on your previous area you found a blueprint for a slick looking bow. On arrival at the hub space, you speak to a character who trades cells for game wide permanent buffs. Say I had 40 cells and the new bow blueprint I found costs 30 to create and to put into the game’s rotation. I put my cells into that and unlock the bow. Now that bow can appear on all my future runs. Consider it an investment. Now I have 10 cells left. I’m sure you didn’t need me to do that math for you but there it is anyway. What to do with that spare 10? I could put it toward a sword that poisons enemies, an extra health flask on top of my other 2, a perk that allows me to carry over 3000 of my gold to my next run upon my death. There are tons of ways to increase your arsenal and better your odds on your next go. There are lots of ways to increase your chances as you play. You will come across shops, find chests with goodies inside, find cursed chests that offer tantalising surprises for those who are willing to risk it for a biscuit, secret areas and be able to utilise up to 3 mutations.

Mutations are basically buffs for that individual run. When you first start playing Dead Cells, you have a dozen of so to choose from. As you find blueprints though, you will expand that list of possibilities. Do you go attack heavy and increase your damage for 15 seconds after an enemy kill? Go defensive and increase your HP? Increase your damage when you deploy bear traps, turrets or any of the other throw-able tools? The choice is yours but the best of players will choose a mutation that combos with the gear that they have.  All the above is why Dead Cells works for me. I don’t need to retain map data to know where to go. Dead Cells has branching pathways but you will always find an exit you can use. As you progress through the game you will encounter foes that once defeated, will leave a new power up for you which, will help you enter previously unreachable areas and will carry over after you die. It’s this continually satisfaction that keeps me coming back to Dead Cells. When I first played it, I couldn’t do the first area. Now I’m lasting close to an hour before getting my butt kicked. But even when I die, I know that all those cells I collected in the other areas, have all gone towards my goal of beating the game. It doesn’t matter that when I died I lost 26 cells because through the other areas I must have put over 100 cells into permanent upgrades and weapons. The more you play, the better you become. Not only that but your understanding of how the enemies fight improves. And on top of that! For all you speed runners out there. In a lot of the levels you will find doors that are only accessible if you get there within a certain time limit. Through the door you will find a stat increase, money and a stash of cells. So you always have a choice of going through the game at your own pace, or bombing it through the level like a mad man.

DeadCells Ramparts
Ramparts is my favourite location so far, There a very Prince of Persia feel to it when fighting enemies on the rooftops. It looks amazing too.

I realise I’ve written over 1000 words and barely said how I feel about the game. I’ll give a quick summary here but hopefully you found what I’ve described as interesting. This is a great game and thoroughly recommend you check it out. Besides its lavish environments and addictive gameplay, the one thing I love about the game is how it plays. It flows so well. It’s hard to describe except just to say that it plays really good. To compare it to another game, I would say it plays as good as Super Meat Boy. By that I mean, the sense of control and precision. The movement and combat in this game is on that level. Even when things are out of control on screen, I never feel out of control. Besides one or two times when I meant to jump down a narrow gap between two ledges. My character kept grabbing onto the ledges and pulling itself up. I died there which was annoying but on a mostly randomly generated game like this, that stuff is bound to happen. But that was a minor incident in my hours of game time. It didn’t stop me from immediately starting another run. If you’re looking for an addictive, expansive and combat heavy side scroller, look no further than Dead Cells.

Overwatch: Wrecking Ball Impressions

Hammond the happy, hyperactive hamster has been unleashed upon Overwatch, in his mechanised ball of terror. After an hour or 2 with him I thought I’d share my brief thoughts. I should say that I almost exclusively play Mystery Heroes and so I never sought out to main Hammond and just played him when I randomly received him. Bullet point time!

  • Spider swinging is very fun but difficult to master. So many times I envisioned myself gracefully swinging round a doorway and bonking enemies into the water below in Rialto. So many times that didn’t happen. It’s quite difficult to gauge how much room you need to give yourself in order to gain full momentum, hit the enemies and get away without crashing into a wall and being completely vulnerable.
  • The potential of Wrecking Ball will reveal slowly over time.  The more people play the devious, little rascal the more his talents will shine. His grappling hook has the most potential I’ve seen of the heroes. Skirmishes are a great opportunity to test out the small mammal’s dive bomb capabailities. Within an hour I found a launching point on Rialto that allows a seismic slam on the bridge, just outside the attack spawn. You are able to fly over the rooftops and out of sight and if you have an early ultimate this is a perfect time to rain destruction as you land. By my standards Hammond is truly an easy to pick up but hard to master hero.
  • He feels mobile yet clunky, I’m sure that is part of his design but I also feel that his control scheme doesn’t flow. That might just be me, the fact that I’ve barely played him or even just that his gameplay style isn’t as suited to a controller as a mouse and keyboard. Time will tell but shifting between forms, scanning enemies for extra shields and hooking buildings leaves my fingers a bit perplexed. I’ve not experienced this with other heroes but it doesn’t help that I’m playing Mystery Heroes and constantly changing characters.
  • He has great time wasting potential. In the right spot, Hammond is able to latch on a payload and continuously swing around it, bashing any enemy that comes near. He can be stunned out of it or killed but takes time and effort. Throw in 4 enemies shooting at you at the same time and this ball of destruction can take awhile to get rid of. The fact that Hammond spawns in ball form also leads to a quick return to combat. Especially useful when defending the final point and you need a tanky hero to buy precious seconds.
  • His ultimate is more defensive than offensive. His mines do big damage but it’s best use that I have seen, was on Lijiang Tower. The garden section with the control point in the centre and both spawns separated by bridges. I was Zarya and during a massacre inflicted on my team me and Mercy were left. We were on the objective trying to hold it as the enemy was 99%. Mercy was being safe and staying outside the room but able to heal me from a distance. Just then an enemy Hammond rolls through and lays his mines down between me and Mercy! Now we’re separated and Mercy I have to hover around the same spot to be healed because Mercy can’t get any closer. It was a great split us up tactic. In the end I thought I’d be clever and bubbled the Mercy so should would avoid damage and could fly to me. However, Hammond’s ult tore through the shield and Mercy on her dive to me. Here’s an artistic illustration:
Hammond Mines Trap
I paid an expert for this masterpiece.
And that’s my opinion on Hammond currently. I see a lot of potential with him but I also think I need to get a lot better with him. A lot of heroes can counter him and once he is stopped in his tracks, he is a huge target and easy to kill. I also feel like his gun could use a bigger clip size.  Saying that though, Hammond automatically reloads his guns once he is in ball form for a few seconds. So the ideal play is to launch yourself in, shields up, shoot shoot shoot, when empty: roll away through cover or around enemies until guns are loaded and then unleash bullets again.

Just Switch The Controller on, Hollywood!

This isn’t a story just a minor rant. So say I, a film lover, goes to the Pictures (Cinemas for non-Brits) to see the latest hit that’s raking in millions. And it has to rake in millions because the budget spent was also in the millions. I’m sat there and I’m in the world on the screen. I’m engrossed, even the bored sprog previously kicking my seat is silent and along for the ride. The film cuts to a kid on a couch with a PS4 controller in his hand and……the controller isn’t on.

To most people that wouldn’t be an issue. Most viewers wouldn’t know if that controller was on or not. Never mind the erratic button bashing and weird hand composure the kid is utilising, he could just be a bad gamer.  However, there is no excuse for the controller to not even be switched on! The director or producer has consultants and experts readily available on set. You have millions in funding and months of pre-planning and production meetings. You have hundreds and thousands of staff on hand, some of which will be avid gamers. The controller was bought for the film! Read the manual! Slap a blue sticker on it! Put some effort into it, maybe!

Gaming isn’t a niche, nerdy hobby any more. According to a recent US study (Linky Link), around half the US population has a console at home. It’s inexcusable for the production team to think that nobody would notice if the controller is on or off. I’ll accept it on adult entertainment, if you get my meaning. Because, that doesn’t make sense usually. Girl orders pizza, driver arrives with pizza, the driver and her go upstairs and they let the pizza go cold. Yeah, OK! In reality: demolish half that pizza first, then sexy saxophone time and lastly have cold refreshing pizza. On a big budget film though, all you do is ruin my immersion with laziness. Small details create a believable universe. It’s why in John Wick, when he runs out of ammo or counts his bullets, those details are hailed by film fans and respected. Unfortunately this isn’t a new thing, I remember seeing films where kids were playing on Gameboy’s without a cartridge. This is also something that will not go away immediately. It’s not even a big deal but it’s something so small and minor that it is easily fixable in films. It’s how I imagine an expert in their field feels watching a film scene, involving their expertise. A doctor for example, baffled by bad medicine terminology. It is something that can easily be researched or consulted on.

But, as I’ve said, it’s not a major detail. I don’t switch off the film if I see it happen but when I do see it, that is all I see for several seconds. It’s distracting and in this day of internet access, there is no excuse for authenticity for something as common as a PS4 controller or gaming device. Hollywood if you read this and I’m sure you will. I’ll be your gaming consultant! Or I’ll print out thousands of blue stickers for you. I only cost 1 Squidillion dollars an hour. Give me a call sometime!

Overwatch Endorsement System: Is Fake Kindness A Bad Thing?

Overwatch is a game that I play a lot, generally at least an hour every other day. I’m a console pleb with a mediocre laptop so I can’t speak for the PC Overwatch community. This view is merely from a PS4 position so take that with a grain of ‘this guy doesn’t know it all’.  Overwatch, for those that don’t know, has a basic communication wheel in game. You press some buttons and your character and a little text prompt, for your team to see, will pop up and say ‘Thanks’, ‘Hello’, ‘Understood’, ‘Group up’, ‘My ultimate is (number)% ready’ and the infamous ‘I need healing’. Basic but it can get the job done. Of course you can use mic’s but if you’re like me, a bit shy and you can’t be bothered to listen to background trashy music or mic technical issues then this communication wheel is all you need.

When put to good use, a team of strangers can co-ordinate a winning move! Or in the hands of a sore loser, can be a minor annoyance. Similar to Rocket Leagues spamming of ‘What a save!’ ‘What a save!’ ‘What a save!’, when a bad player blames others for his death, a torrent of ‘Thanks’ starts appearing on screen. Like a persistent moth batting against a light bulb. It’s not a big deal but it’s damn distracting. Constant inputs incur a couple of seconds ban which helps the droning of suicidal Genji’s but the next death usually brings on another tirade of blame. It is an issue that since launch I’ve got use to but never over. Like a mild rash, without the satisfying itch. Then arrives the endorsement system.

Endorsement

The endorsement system is a simple feature that was added to Overwatch. At the end of a quick play or competitive match you are given the chance to praise your teammates or  a respected enemy. These praises are ‘Shot Caller’, ‘Good Teammate’ and ‘Sportsmanship’. You can only give out 3 endorsements per game. As, you receive endorsements you receive rewards. Or that is my understanding anyway. The system has only been out for a short time and I’m only at a level 2 endorsement level. So far though, I haven’t been showered with gifts or whatever the reward scheme is. Nevertheless, I’ve noticed a sharp decrease in message spamming. I still see ‘I need healing’ and ‘Thanks’ pop up a lot but not as much as I did before the new system.  A lot more ‘Understood’ and ‘Group up’s have been rearing their pretty heads. Much to my joy. A team that communicates in a team based game? Hold on, we may be onto victory here. It’s a nice surprise and I’m sure Blizzard was hoping that this new system they’ve introduced to their game would quell a vocal minority. You can’t shut up everyone that’s unpleasant but a start is always welcome.

This new niceness has raised the question though: is it all fake? To be honest, yes some of it is. But why care? Negativity in a team game can quickly spread. One person spams ‘Thanks’ on death and then after the 3rd time this repeats, someone spams ‘Group up’ back at them. Then a 3rd player may join in on that and then suddenly half the team is bitter and eagerly awaiting the match to end so they can find a new team. It creates a bad aura that brings the energy plummeting in matches. I know because I’ve spammed ‘Group up’ before. I shouldn’t have as that makes me no better, I’m still causing distractions and providing no useful or tactical information. And so, if Player A is seething with rage in a match of Overwatch, yet he chooses to say ‘Thanks’ when healed and ‘Group up’ and actually does it, is that a bad thing? Would you rather he is honest and let his emotions unleash on ‘Thanks’, or would you prefer he plays nice for brownie points? I would rather choose a positive atmosphere to my matches than an honest moan session. I’m British, I love a good moan but not in a team game. Fake kindness wins over unpleasantness any time for me. Not only that but positive reinforcement is always better than negative reinforcement. If the nasty player sees that their pleasant disposition leads to more victories, they are more likely to continue that act.  Combine that with the fact that habits grow the more they are repeated, which means that subconsciously this nice behaviour could stick to the individual, naturally.

It’s almost like a paradox. Is a player a good teammate, if they are secretly a bitter Overwatch player that keeps their whining to their self and is courteous in game for fake badges? I think if it leads to a better gaming experience for everyone in game then cheap tricks are fine by me.

My Top 5 Games of 2017

Ignore the date! It is NOT late March and therefore this article is NOT long overdue.

5. Puyo Puyo Tetris

Puyo Puyo logo

I’m actually surprised this is in my top 5, but looking back over all the games I played of 2017, this one I’ve kept coming back to. Puzzle games aren’t even a genre that I have much love for compared to others but Puyo Puyo Tetris is just so easy to love. Tetris is universal, I don’t need to explain that as anyone having an interest in gaming and reading this knows how Tetris works. Puyo Puyo is something I’d never played before and when I got the game I figured I would just play the Tetris modes and that’s it. Puyo Puyo is similar to popular Facebook and mobile phone games. You have colours, you line the colours up and score points and clear space. Setting off a chain reaction of disappearing Puyo’s will grant more points and space as well as obstacles for your opponents.

The game does a great job of explaining the gameplay mechanics of both modes and it’s Frankenstein of a mode where they merge the two. What follows is a simple concept but hard to master package that has a mode for everyone. The chaos that ensues when four people play against each is hilarious especially with modes like Swap, where each player has to play Tetris for a set time and then swap to their own Puyo Puyo game and the pattern continues until a victor remains. A great game with a lot of replay value and perfect game for a Nintendo Switch as the portability is a huge bonus.

4. Stardew Valley

Stardew valley

I own this on 3 platforms. I’ve put over 100 hours across all 3 and yet I still haven’t finished a single playthrough. It’s one of those games that I’m sure everyone has experienced. You start it, you play it for hours a day, you spend dozens of hours getting the result you want and rather than finish your current run, you decide to start again. Not due to boredom or unhappiness with your current run. But due to that simplicity and addictive nature of the beginning of the game. The thing that enraptured you in the first place.

Achieving an ideal farm and a peak routine that yield’s the most profit and productivity is fun. It’s great fun and very therapeutic. On the other hand, a simple basic farm has my pitiful mind brimming with potential. Do I focus on animals? How should I organise my crops? Do I want a cat or dog on my farm? How do I improve on what I did previously? There is so much choice in this game that I think I’ll be playing it for another 5 years before I finish a run. And I am completely okay with that.

For more on how I feel about Stardew Valley and a more in depth look at an average 20 minutes on the game, feel free to check out a feature I wrote a while back. Here is the shill….I mean, link! Shill

3. Mario Odyssey

mario

This is a fun game! It gives me a warm, happy feeling when I play it. I know that sounds all touchy and overly sentimental for a game but it’s the truth. Mario games in the main series have always held that power over me but Mario Odyssey might be one of the prime examples. Everyone and their gran knows what Mario is and how it plays so I’m not going to explain that.

Mario Odyssey has what makes a video game a classic. It’s beautifully colourful, has fluid gameplay, an amazing soundtrack and has many moments that planted the stupidest smile on my face. This game is a stand out in Mario’s long history. From the beginning to the end of this adventure, humour and nostalgia are injected into every corner of this game. Nintendo set out to make the most fun and Mario filled Mario game and I believe they done that spectacularly. Sheer fun on a cartridge.

2. Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Breath-of-the-Wild

Breath of the Wild has spoilt me. Why can’t I climb all mountains in all other open world games? I’ll be the first to admit that I have an issue with open world games. There is usually too much to do and the world in question is a lot of the time, devoid of personality or enough personality to fill its scale. Breath of the Wild laughs at that problem. I loved exploring this world. There is so much to find and see that I never tired of climbing mountains. Not only is Hyrule a treat to traverse but the actual traversal mechanics are a delight to play.

This Zelda is a tricky one to place. It’s number 2 on my list and I believe it deserves that spot. Saying that though, it’s one of the weakest 3D Zelda games in my eyes. I always loved Zelda’s dungeons and bosses and this game lacks in that area severely. On the other hand though, it still deserves the number 2 spot and is still the best realised open world game I’ve played. I think this is an amazing game and an amazing series. Even when Zelda is at its weakest it is still head and shoulders above most of the video game industry. So even though I just said this is a weak entry in the series, I still recommend buying this game 100%. A superb game.

My game of the year is………..

1. Persona 5

Persona 5

For me this was the clear winner. I loved the others on this list and when I wrote down my preliminary top 10, Persona 5 was placed at number 1 and it stayed there. Others I swapped and ummed and ahhed about but not Persona 5. That speaks volume to me and hopefully to you about how I feel about this game. This was a stellar year in gaming but this quirky high school sim/JRPG/heist game takes the grand prize.

I’m not a stranger to the Persona series or even the Shin Megami Tensei series. I remember buying Persona 4 for £10 for my PS2 back when PS2 games were no longer the key market. The next gen had come along but I saw this strange game with these fantastic reviews and gave it a go. My mind was blown. It is still my high point for JRPG’s, a genre that I’m not the most proficient in besides the odd Final Fantasy game.The Persona series is like no other series I’ve played. It’s tone and weird nature are enveloped by solid characters, unique storyline’s and a combat system that I care for with a passion. It’s essentially Final Fantasy turn based combat with Pokemon chucked in. There are so many aspects of this game that I could write paragraphs about.

In the end though, it’s style that is all over this game that I love immensely and the reason it is my number 1 of 2017. The look, the music, the character and Persona design. Even the menu screen is a joy to view. It has pizzazz all over the place and it’s not a style over substance game. The world and the characters that fill the world are rich in detail and care. Every aspect of this game took time and consideration. If you haven’t played or seen footage of this masterpiece then please go on YouTube and have a look. Just at the menu screen or the end screen of a battle. To me the end screen of a generic battle is a classic. It’s up there with the Final Fantasy victory fanfare (the one that you just sang to yourself). That is only a small detail of this game but that flare and flourish is cascading through this game.

There is nothing else like it at the moment in my opinion besides other iterations. Persona 6 can’t come soon enough but I’ll gladly accept Shin Megami Tensei on the Switch till then.

Keeping Peach In HER Keep

Hi there! Are you tired of over grown lizards stealing your princess? Kicked down too many castle doors and told your princess is in another castle? You need to call us, the MKS (Mushroom Kingdom Security)! Call now on 1800-123-MKS and quote the code ‘Princess’ to get 20% off our Protected Princess package. This package includes all the premium gear you’ll ever need to keep your damsel in distress, just a damsel. The following features will be provided and installed by yours truly:

  1. Warp Pipes: With these green beauties that pesky Bowser won’t get too far with your beloved. We install a hub room in the confines of your castle that is JAM-PACKED with warp pipes to across the land. Now when Bowser and your ravishing maiden are half way to his fiery castle, you just hop in a warp pipe for the end of World 7 and wait for the blundering fool to appear. Quick, efficient, and you and your highness will be back in the throne room before Luigi even notices.
  2. Power Up Pack x 10: You ever been up a creak without a frog suit before? Not any more! With our patented Power Up Pack’s that Super Mushroom is just tap away. In our PP package you don’t just get 1 of these, nor 5 but 10! You read that right, I said, 10! Before you set off for your rescue mission, slap one of these to your plumbers belt. Then, when that annoying red shell as taken away your power up, just slap the  PP pack and BOOM! An explosion of upgrades will burst forth in front of you. Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, Super Star, Tanooki Suit, Penguin Suit, Cat Suit and more. We’ve got them all. Even the ones that weren’t in your World till now, we scoured the Mushroom Kingdom so you don’t have to.
  3. Chomps: The best offence is the best defence. And here at MKS we do offer the very best of both. Now tell me if this rings a bell. You go to rescue your silken haired beloved but before your very eyes, is a raging black ball of teeth that’d tear you up faster than a Wiggler unwrapping Christmas day’s 8 pair pack of socks, from Grandma Wiggler. The only thing keeping this untamed sphere of fury off your face is the chain that secures it. Now what if we flipped the script on that Godzilla wannabe and fight fire with even hotter fire. Buy our pack today and we’ll place a Chain Chomp in each of your strongholds rooms. But we don’t stop there. We place a Chain Chomp to cover every 10 metres of your buildings exterior. We supply you with the biggest deterrent of the Mushroom Kingdom for your own home. Now you may be thinking ‘MKS are you crazy!? Why would I want these vicious atrocities in every room of my stronghold?’. No need to fret, friend. We hand raise these Chain Chomp’s ourselves in a secure location in The Forest of Illusion. These boys don’t bite the hand that feeds them and you’ll be surprised at how loyal they can be. Heck, you can even get rid of the Chain and just have your own personally Chomp rolling around your room. Your own personal guard Chomp.
  4. Toad Camp: Now we’re being too kind. Do you ever wish you could have some help with protecting your Princess. That lanky brother of yours always crying about ghosts and cowering with fear when that repugnant, reptile face shows up. You wish those Toads would step up and stop telling you to go save the Princess. Wish they would do it themselves? Me too, friend. That’s why we offer to take your castle’s Toads for a vigorous, strenuous and absolutely stupendous 2 month training exercise. This 60 day course will push your Toads to the limit. Strength, speed and jumping will be improved like you wouldn’t believe. Turning your Toads from a bunch of Fun-guys to Toad-al beefcakes.
  5. Star Juice Vial x 15: Marioooooooooo! She shouts, as Bowser snatches her away in his ugly, dulled claws. With our PP pack this will be a thing of the past. And if that sneaky reptile does manage to grab your princess on a social outing somehow. Possibly when playing tennis or go-karting. Your royal leader will be fully prepared. Our Star Juice is 100% freshly squeezed and organic. We only use the brightest and shiniest Super Star’s. We condense that energy into a little vial that comes with a necklace that is personally tailored for your fair lady. When Bowser grabs the soon to be queen, she pops the vial from her necklace and drinks the Star Juice. The beat down that Bowser will receive will be like none before. He’ll think twice before trying to turn your princess into a helpless captive. Girl Power!

If this all sounds too good to be true then pinch yourself and see if you’re dreaming. I’ll let in you in on a little secret. You’re not. For just 999 coins this bargain can be yours. Call now on 1800-123-MKS and quote ‘Princess’ for your exclusive saving. Put up and your feet and let us do the rest.

MKS- Securing the Mushroom Kingdom, so you don’t have to.


MKS isn’t liable for any damages to you, your princess or your castle if our packages are used inappropriately. It is not advised to release your Chain Chomps from their chains unless you individually, have received the full Chain Chomp release training provided by the MK Government. MKS is not liable to pay for any injuries sustained at the Toad Camp or Toad misplacement. All our products have been tested and approved by the MK Regulations Act of 1976. MKS is a Mushroom Kingdom sanctioned public trading company and is fully covered by the MK Trading Standard Act of 1984.    

Just A Quick Go: SNES Mini

As a 90’s child, I grew up with the Super Nintendo. One of my first ever memories is sat in front of our old CRT TV playing Donkey Kong Country. An ice level actually, I was struggling on this particular level and played it so much I can still remember the level’s song. When, the NES Mini was announced I didn’t buy one. Not because I didn’t think it was worth it, but because it wasn’t nostalgic for me. The SNES was my first console and possibly my favourite console to date. There may be some bias there as it is my first system but the staggeringly good line up speaks for itself. The SNES had an over-abundance of titles that to this day hold up and was the birth place of many of gaming’s greatest iterations. And so when they announced the SNES Mini, I had to get one.

I’ve only played it for about 4 hours and haven’t touched some of the games yet. This is just my take away from my brief re-introduction to some classics. The SNES Mini itself: cute as. I didn’t realise it is this small. The SNES controller itself is wider than the SNES. The dinky console comes with two controllers, the system, a USB cable and a HDMI cable. It’s deceptively small and comes with 21 games built into the system.  I think, the console looks the part, the resemblance is striking. It even has the fake controller entry points that the SNES had back in the day. Now with this new version, that is a plastic guard which you pull to reveal the real plug sockets. The controllers themselves feel lighter than I remember but that could just be an age thing. An issue I have at the minute are the length of the wires for the controllers. They’re short. Not as short as the NES Mini so I’ve read. But still, wires are dirt cheap these days. Nintendo could have shelled out for another 3 foot, no problem. There are remedies if this is an issue for you. I’ve bought some extensions which basically attach to the controllers wire length and increases that to a more comfortable length. The controllers now reach 10 feet which is couch length with some slack, which suits me more. A simple fix but a fix that shouldn’t need to exist.

On the subject of the controllers. An extra button or two would have gone a long way to increase enjoyment of the system. Nintendo has a newly added rewind feature on the system. A feature which is greatly appreciated. I’ve forgotten how hard and unforgiving some of these games are. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, I can’t even beat the first level any more. The rewind feature goes a long way to help alleviate frustration but the rewind button is on the console itself. There is no way to implement the rewind unless you go over to the console and hit the reset button. This then takes you to the main screen, with all the games to select and the option to use a save slot, to save your progress or rewind to seconds or minutes earlier, depending on the game. I know Nintendo are going for a true to classic look but an extra button on the SNES controller called ‘Rewind’ wouldn’t hurt. The controller isn’t cluttered, it has room for it. The rewind is a great feature that requires too much effort to use. And that might sound like I’m being lazy but I tend to play my games to unwind, so lying on the couch comfortably is my preferred style. I don’t want to have to be sat right next to the console or to get up every time I want to use the save state or rewind. Another issue I have and I might be stupid for not seeing why this couldn’t have happened. Is, I don’t understand why the SNES Mini can’t work on a computer or laptop screen. I tested it out on my laptop and nothing loads up. I’m not too tech savvy, but I’d imagine that would have been quite simple to implement.

And with that, my nit picking is done. I have issues with the system but it plays the games I want it to play and, it’s retro and nostalgic for me. The list of games are fantastic. A lot of these games I haven’t played yet either because I wasn’t aware of the series at the time, or just because I had limited money and had to make choices over other games. Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, Street Fighter 2, Star Fox and Super Mario Kart are the only games from the list that I actually owned. A few of the others I’ve touched over the years but never at length. I love the Zelda series but only got into Zelda when Ocarina of Time came out. Before that I wasn’t aware of the series and so to have A Link to the Past included is a real treat. Many call it the best Zelda game and I am so looking forward to finding out why people say that. Super Metroid is the same as Zelda, great praise but I never tried it. Fusion and Metroid Prime were my first introductions and I love both those. It comes with 4 RPG’s that I’ve never played more than 3 hours of. Earthbound I’ve never touched and so am excited to try that.

Contra 3 was the first game I played when I switched on the system. The Konami logo popped up and memories came flooding back to me. I rented this game when I was young and don’t think I got very far but definitely further than I got today. This game is tough! I’m amazed at how much persistence I had as a kid. You forget how merciless these games are. After losing all 5 lives on the first level I walked away dishevelled and feeling old. Are my reflexes slower these days? Or is it because when you’re younger, when you get a game, that is your game for ages. I would make games last because I had so few. Super Mario World I cleared several times, Star Road and all. When I loaded it up today, I was killed by the first enemy. I’m embarrassed by that but not ashamed to admit it. Trying to jump that Beach Koopa I completely forgot the physics and momentum of the game and landed right in front of it. And I’m happy about that. I can remember the sound effects, the layouts, the music but the actual feel of the game is rusty in my fingertips.  The thought of playing something loved, familiar but forgotten too is what I wanted when I ordered the SNES Mini. It’s as I remember it, nothings changed except me. Nothing highlights that for me more, than Donkey Kong Country.

Starting this game again after so long is a bit jarring. The intro doesn’t look as good as I remember it I’ll confess. Donkey Kong Country did have a different look to it than other games at the time. But hearing Cranky playing that song again and DK dropping that boom box for some ape free-styling, brought back the 90’s for me. The soundtrack to this game still holds up too. I was humming away during the first water level, that tranquil song as relaxing as ever. All was going well playing this game. I got acclimatised to the rolling then mid air jumping again. Which is needed for later levels as some collectables are way below the land you’re standing on. Then I got to the first mine cart level. Wow, the pressure. My heart was racing. I went from 20 lives to 8 in just a few minutes. The thrill of those sections is still in this game after all these years. After completing that section I had to save and switch off the SNES Mini.

I had great fun with my short time on the SNES Mini and am eagerly looking forward to sinking my teeth into its catalogue of classics.