Mini Review Time!

… Three Reviews In One!

NBA Playgrounds

After getting a bit of extra money that I wasn’t expecting, I decided to go against my own rules and just treat myself and just chill the heck out all week. So I did, and I thought it my lucky week! LocoRoco Remastered, NBA Playgrounds and STRAFE all in one week? Someone pinch me! However, all is not what it seemed.

To kick off the festivities I decided to go with NBA Playgrounds, I have always been a fan of arcade style sport titles. For me they bring more to the table than the sim types that seem to be everywhere these days. If I wanted to play real style basketball, I would do it outside – same with football, but EA decided to kill FIFA Street.

First impressions were confusing. How to change the players you are using are never explained and from what I can tell aren’t even detailed in the menu’s anywhere. Basically you have to hit back on the controller when you are on the team select screen. Very bizarre but whatever, it’s no big deal when you know how to do it.

The art style is right up my alley (oop!) though, you know you are in a sports arcade game when the players are all big headed and long-limbed humans running around – it is very reminiscent of the old NBA Jam games. Some of the likenesses – even for a fair weather NBA fan like myself – seems a bit off though!

The game-play though, that is what will captivate you. So far I am just nearly finished all the tournaments and just trying to get all gold challenges completed. The AI is very challenging, and I will say sometimes it is very cheesy and you will get Shaq scoring fade-away three pointers from half court which will make your blood boil. I just had to cheese these games with Allen Iversen raining in three’s for me. Cheap, sure. But single player isn’t the main attraction here.

The multiplayer mode is a lot of fun and while I have no reservations in saying because it is a stat card based game that there will be an overpowered partnership, I am willing to give Sabre Interactive the chance to balance it as they add more features to online and I think we will eventually end up with multiple partnerships that are just as good as one another. The best part? No micro transactions! All card packs are earned through just regular leveling up in the game! All future player DLC will also be free. Thank you Sabre!

All in all, if you missed games like NBA Jam and have a real hankering for that sort of game with absolutely no micro transactions then NBA Playground is worth your £15.99.

8/10.

So, after NBA Playgrounds I decided to see what LocoRoco Remaster was all about. Admittedly I didn’t spend alot of time with this as I have already played and completed it back in 2006 on the PSP!

LocoRoco

If you played that you know exactly what you are getting, a charming puzzle-platformer. And the LocoRoco’s are still as charming as ever. When they sing their songs your heart will still melt and you will be wondering “how the heck did we only ever get two of these games?!”

The visuals have been brought up to PS4 standard and the game is still content heavy for the £11.99 they are asking for. The only problem I have with this game and it is relatively small, the screen seems to reset very quickly after you tilt it to move the LocoRoco’s. I can’t really remember if it was this short back in the PSP original but it is fine once you get used to it.

9/10.

That left us with STRAFE to finish up the week. A game I had admittedly known very little about but there was a lot of buzz floating about the internet for it. A rogue-lite with 90’s FPS visuals and ideologies? Yes please! Count me in!

Strafe

All was not what it seemed though. The first thing I noticed was the enemies make literally no noise. When they appear from everywhere and health boosts are scarce this is a very big problem. The guns are also lacking – the feel incredibly floaty and I would liken the feel to using them to using a nerf gun in real life, but nowhere near as fun.

They nailed the visuals but through sound design and the fact the levels are randomly generated so it is hard to try and nail possible enemy locations (they all seem to come from doors that are hidden in the walls) I found this an incredibly frustrating experience. And for someone who doesn’t really have time to second guess where the enemies will come free and absolutely no audio cues to their appearance or indeed their demise when you shoot them – I don’t have time for that.

There is a mode called “Murder Zone” which has between run-persistence upgrades but it is a side mode from the main campaign and on PS4 it took an absolute age to load up – I am talking 3-4 minutes loading time! Not only in this mode do we get the upgrade tree, we also get a visual cue to when you kill enemies as they display how much blood they dropped. Why couldn’t we have this in the main campaign?

I had hoped for the best, but was served up the absolute worst. I have bought some games in the past where I was like “This isn’t very good, but I see it’s purpose and the market it has” and deleted and moved on with my life. STRAFE however, in this state I am not sure who it is for and it will take a lot of work in post-release patches to even get me to reinstall this.

4/10.

All in all, I am happy with the majority of my purchases this week but if I had to choose I would probably go with NBA Playgrounds just for the fact it’s an experience that just isn’t widely available these days. LocoRoco is still an absolute joy but I would STRAFE at all costs if I were you – even if it was half it’s £14.99 asking price!

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