2013
07.09

NEW SUPER MARIO BROS. 2
Publisher: Nintendo

To be fair, it isn’t an instant thing – it took me until World 7 to realise that New Super Mario Bros. 2 is incredibly boring. The Mario platforming template is still pretty flawless – the problem is that there’s just little to no attempt to expand or improve on the original, making the ‘New’ in the title quite suspect. Each of the early (S)NES Mario releases was like chalk compared to its predecessor’s cheese, so to betray that ideal in this technological day and age makes this doubly frustrating. Collecting coins is introduced like a groundbreaking new concept in the series with no sense of irony, and players are challenged with the thankless task of collecting one million; ‘cash cow’ unfortunately springs to mind in more ways than one during this game. The worlds are an expectedly bright, beautiful pleasure to traverse but, while embers burn brightly above lava and snowflakes are so palpable you would be forgiven for sticking your tongue out to catch them, a turned-up 3D slider melts the background into mush, an irksome nuance in a game already walking a tightrope. Compared to Nintendo’s recent successes in re-imagining their moustachioed mascot, there really are no reasons for letting things – including the 3D switch – slide.

RESIDENT EVIL: REVELATIONS
Publisher: Capcom

How to heighten the usual sense of isolation and dread of Resident Evil? Stranding the protagonists on an abandoned cruise ship in the middle of the stormy Mediterranean certainly does the trick. Ostensibly the laboratory of bio-terrorist group Veltro, series mainstay Jill Valentine and awesome-voiced partner Parker Luciani must explore its labyrinthic corridors and abyssal depths teeming with half-man half-fish terrors in order to uncover the truth about their activities. Atmosphere pours from every dark nook and cranny like seawater does through the dank, monster-strewn bilge and, even on a handheld, it will take nerves of steel to confront mutated, shrieking antagonist Rachael. Annoyingly, the episodic gameplay routinely takes away from the thick, salty air of urgency onboard the Queen Zenobia when you suddenly find yourself playing through a less interesting linear flashback or flash-sideways on the mainland. Regardless, whether it’s mountain wolves or invisible hunters, fluid controls (save for a half-baked dodging mechanic) and a wide range of weapons make obliterating enemy noggins a treat. Implement this into an addictive online multi-player and Revelations will put you in the mindset of the undead – continually coming back for more.

SONIC GENERATIONS
Publisher: SEGA

Far too fast to become roadkill, Sonic the Hedgehog is once again crammed into a package of remade games from his glory years, which, by now, are a small dot on the horizon. Capturing a handful of moments from the halcyon days of the Mega Drive and some more modern selections from the likes of Sonic Adventure, SEGA here offer the opportunity to mar several childhood memories in an afternoon’s play. There are controls that often see the blue blur flying into an until-now-non-existent bottomless pit, two-dimensional worlds ironically on a platform that offers true 3D (versions on all other consoles allow multi-directional movement) and a laughable brevity, making for an ugly package indeed. Sonic never completely took to the three-dimensional world in the seamless way that his peers and rivals did but, with some great left-to-right platform outings in recent years, making a mess of the flat levels he was always adept at dashing through adds insult to injury.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK BETWEEN WORLDS
Publisher: Nintendo

The 3DS has been crying out for a new Zelda title, but the fact that its first release was a glorious rewording of Nintendo’s greatest story ever told, Ocarina Of Time, adds more standards to which this must live up. Impressively, however, this sequel to the classic A Link To The Past is every bit as arresting as its predecessors. Set in the same version of Hyrule, Link must save his land from the evil forces of a parallel universe – a barren dystopia known as Lorule (get it?) – by utilising his new ability to merge with walls in the form of a painting. It’s an incredibly fun mechanic and the puzzles that necessitate it are hugely satisfying, more so when the charmingly presented top-down view changes to a panoramic circling of the textured worlds. Access to every item from the start adds a refreshing choice of the order in which you complete the main dungeons, while the twists of the finale are some of the most emotionally stirring scenes in the series. Consistent handheld magic and an essential purchase.

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