Seven wins straight. It's almost unthinkable that anyone could pull off the perfect MotoGP season by winning every single race, but in the here and now, with 11 races to go, that's exactly what Marc Márquez could achieve. He's this year's defending champion, and despite strong competition from Rossi, Pedrosa and Lorenzo - the latter of whom won more races last season that any other rider - it looks like the new ace up Repsol Honda's sleeve is going to walk it. This leaves the fight for second place as the more interesting proposition, especially with so many contracts about to expire.
From an outsider's perspective, the differences between Street Fighter 4 and its three existing sequels must look marginal at best. The first game made its console debut back in 2009 and helped revitalise the fighting game genre. Super Street Fighter 4 surfaced a year later and added 10 new characters to the roster, but since then, the game-to-game differences have been tailored more towards the dedicated fans. Ultra Street Fighter 4 continues this tradition with five new characters, a trio of fundamental system changes and not so much as a story mode in sight.
They say that patience is a virtue, but when you apply this logic to installation times and online video buffering, it's fair to say that waiting isn't something we embrace with open arms. It's why PC enthusiasts buy solid-state drives. They offer significantly smaller storage capacity, but if you feel the same way about loading screens as most people do about commercial breaks and doctor's waiting rooms, then there's no better way to enjoy a game while keeping the interruptions to a minimum.
When you think of arcade-style fighting games, what's the first country that comes to mind? There's an argument for the macabre brutality of Mortal Kombat and the superhero antics of Injustice, but for the most part, fighting games are as Japanese as samurai swords, punctual trains and instant ramen. It therefore stands to reason that the Japanese gaming media will be pretty strict on what separates a good fighting game from a truly exceptional one, right? Well, if JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle is anything to go by, maybe not.
With well over 10 motorcycle racing games to its name, Milestone is nothing if not experienced in the world of virtual counter-steering. Primarily, this Italian studio has focused its attentions on road racing - MotoGP and the Superbike World Championships - but with MUD back in 2012, Milestone traded in the knee-sliders for a pair of motocross goggles. The result was an arcade racer that wasn't about simulating the complexities of keeping a 450cc missile upright through a trench-like hairpin so much as it was about boosting down a straight with the aid of an energy drink.
When SoulCalibur 2 made its console debut back in 2003, I already had the hardware trinity of the day in my possession: Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube. When a multi-format game came along, I tended to buy it on PS2, so I had a higher chance of swapping it with a friend. But when SoulCalibur 2 appeared, the decision to buy it on the GameCube was a complete no-brainer.
Whenever a numbered Armored Core title rumbles onto the scene, there are two things you can be sure of: the mech combat game will feature more component parts than your average Lego set, and From Software will build upon its core with at least one expanded sequel. (Armored Core 3 was followed by no less than five games that built upon the same engine.) Every game tests the player's piloting and designing skills across one of the most consistently challenging legacies in gaming - and with Armored Core: Verdict Day, the follow-up to last year's Armored Core 5, From shows no signs of going soft.
This is an import review of the North American edition of Shin Megami Tensei 4. The game has no European release date at present, and cannot be played on a European 3DS.
Back when arcades were filled with bat-top sticks, adjustable racing seats and plastic machine-guns that you could pivot in place like an oversized joystick, making that one credit last as long as humanly possible was the ultimate goal. Conversely, arcade game manufacturers wanted your game to expire in a timely manner. Not so quick that you immediately lost interest and set off in search of something less punishing, but not so long that you could see the credits roll for the price of a sandwich. It was a balancing act, one that required subtlety, and nowhere were the scales more apparent than with the classic scrolling beat-'em-up.
Persona 4 Arena arrives on these shores after such a long wait that it's been presumed dead by most Europeans - especially since its (region-locked) US release last August. This is a shame; while its JRPG heritage makes it more niche than the likes of Injustice, this is another fighting game that's loaded with content.
It's been over a year since the PlayStation Vita launched, and despite some excellent games like Gravity Rush and Persona 4 Golden, it's fair to say that we're still waiting for its killer app. We'd love to say that Keiji Inafune, Sony's Japan Studio and Marvelous AQL have finally cracked that code - but although Soul Sacrifice has a lot going for it, it falls into the trap of style over substance.
When pioneering fighting games like Street Fighter and Tekken first showed up in western arcades all those years ago, each cabinet earned more than its weight in 20 pence pieces thanks to the solidity of their fighting mechanics. There were no combo trials or challenge towers to distract yourself with - only the gradual discovery of your character's hidden depths through a steady flow of opponents, be they human or otherwise. Even today, this hook keeps diehard enthusiasts coming back for more, but as the genre evolved alongside the console market one thing has become increasingly clear: single-player content can no longer be seen as an optional extra.
How on earth do you follow-up a game like Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo? From early 1991 to early 1994, Capcom released five iterations of the most important fighting game in arcade history. But instead of taking another ride on the cash cow rodeo, for the later half of 1994 Capcom decided to release two fighting games that were entirely devoid of Ryu and his street fighting buddies. One of these was X-Men: Children of the Atom, a game that laid the foundation for the Marvel vs. Capcom series, while the other was an entirely new proposition called Darkstalkers.
If a fighting game sequel is going to be a critical and commercial success, it has to offer tangible progression for a wide variety of players. For dabblers who tend to dismiss the online arena in favour of solo modes and local multiplayer, the new iteration needs to deliver an enticing range of new characters, a cosmetic upgrade and a weighted helping of single-player content that lasts more than an afternoon. For ardent fans, the mechanical changes need to strike an even balance between familiarity and innovation.
When the PlayStation 2 made its emotional debut, I was too young and too jobless to afford one. None of my gaming friends made the leap either, so when I happened upon a used PS2 in a pawn shop just before Christmas 2000, I scraped all my funds together for the console and a copy of Tekken Tag Tournament. There wasn't even enough change left over to for a second controller, but when I saw that intro playing for the first time, I was instantly hooked.
Ryu and Ken are Capcom's flagship fighters, no question, but the Osaka-based developer has more than just tiger knees and sonic booms to its name. It's responsible for the open arenas of Power Stone, the warring academics of Rival Schools, the 3D ring-outs of Star Gladiator and the levelling-up system of Red Earth. This last one is particularly poignant, as while Red Earth was the first game for the CPS-3 (a short-lived arcade board that focused on pixel rendering in a time when polygons were taking over), Jojo's Bizarre Adventure was the sixth and final CPS-3 game before Capcom switched to the Taito Type X.
The great thing about buttons - whether they're on your doorbell, mobile phone, game controller or even plastered all over an elaborate mech-simulation peripheral that comes with its own Allen key - is that when you push them into the recess and feel that satisfying click as the contact hits the mark, you can be around 99.99 per cent sure that your action will have the desired result. It's a principle that gaming has embraced since its earliest days.
If you're an Italian studio with a penchant for racing game simulations that deal with perfect riding lines and the art of flicking a rally car through traction-oblivious hairpins, what's the next logical step? Maybe you could make an impassioned takeover pitch for the Formula One and MotoGP licenses, or perhaps set the bar to seemingly impossible heights by taking Polyphony Digital and Turn 10 Studios on at their own game? If that sounds like too much of a challenge, however, you could always take the safe option - combine the virtues of your two main games into a fun racer that's lacking in ambition.
No one has ever mistaken me for being gallant, but if the need for foolhardy heroics ever arose, I'd attempt what was necessary to save a loved one from a cruel or horrible fate. For instance, if a lion escaped from the local zoo, wandered into my garden and started staring at my family like they were a herd of gazelle, I'd grab the angle-grinder from the garage and do my best to look like an experienced poacher. And if my sister was ever trapped inside a burning building, I'd like to think the current hosepipe ban wouldn't put me off.
When the PS3 version of Armored Core 5 surfaced in Japan earlier this year, it instantly beat Resident Evil: Revelations to the top of the charts - and even gave the 360 a rare top 10 showing at number six. But despite coming from the same studio that brought us the spectacular Dark Souls, the arrival of a new Armored Core game on our shores will, for the most part, be met with the same enthusiasm as a five pound book token.
Like death and taxes, the Dynasty Warriors series has become something of a fixed constant, appearing almost as regularly as a new toothbrush (for me at least) with its tried-and-tested mix of wandering hack-and-slash combat where you steamroller through a sea of similar-looking troops - to the point where developer Omega Force would have us believe that the Chinese perfected cloning well before Dolly the sheep. It's also journalistic custom to review a Warriors sequel with a precursory shrug and a level of "here we go again" acceptance, but in truth, Dynasty Warriors Next is a tangible departure from the Dynasty norm.
There was a time when 'ninja games' referred to an indomitable force of shuriken chucking momentum that was less about hiding silently in the shadows while waiting for an opportune moment to strike, and more with slicing through monstrous demons and T-800-style car wreckers.
Ever since handheld gaming achieved a level of processing power that could handle 3D visuals, it's become an unwritten rule that at least one launch title must be a port or remake of a popular console game - just to prove that the new portable can live up to all the cosmetic hype. Super Mario 64 DS, MediEvil: Resurrection on PSP, Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition on 3DS all followed this trend.
Although SNK vs. Capcom on the Neo Geo Pocket and Street Fighter Alpha 3 on the Game Boy Advance proved that portable punch-ups weren't just the fever dream of a studio gone mental, it wasn't until Tekken: Dark Resurrection that handheld fighting games finally matched the ambition of their console brethren. Of course, this was partly down to the processing power of the PSP and its workable analogue slider - but not to sell Katsuhiro Harada and his team short, the game also benefited from the engaging Tekken Dojo mode and a wealth of character customisation options.
This year's Ultimate Fighting Championship is off to an excellent start - and a controversial one. UFC 143 delivered one of the most hotly debated fights of recent times.
Even without the perplexing addition of Stars Wars characters, the last SoulCalibur felt like a game that had run out of creative steam. All the swashbuckling pirates and disgruntled golems played much the same as they had on the Dreamcast, and although Project Soul added the Soul Crush system to make blocking more risky - as well as a customisation mode that let you adjust appearance and attributes - it was akin to owning the same sports car for 10 years straight. It still had the capacity to excite, but familiarity had dulled some of that early intensity.
For a developer that once had a reputation for producing some of the most expensive console games ever, it's sad to say that in more recent years, SNK Playmore's output has gone from the bleeding edge of arcade sophistication to lingering in the unflattering depths of bargain bins across the country. And for those of us who still fondly remember the glory days of Mark of the Wolves and The Last Blade, this steady fall from grace has been more than a tad disheartening.
A couple of months before the less ultimate version of Marvel vs. Capcom launched, a few colleagues and I were given extensive access to a preview build that was lacking in the usual command lists and training modes, but as a bare-bones taster of what was to come, allowed us to experiment with the fresh combat system without any prior guidance. We were simply presented with a colourful select screen and tasked with figuring out the many technical nuances for ourselves.
If variety is the spice of life, then fighting games have been spoiling us rotten ever since Street Fighter II kick-started the war of numbers. It all began innocently enough with eight world warriors, before Capcom upped the ante with four playable bosses and four new challengers. Tekken and The King of Fighters then raised the bar to well over 20, and as the one-upmanship intensified, we saw the ill-advised shoehorning of 63 characters into Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.
When Super Street Fighter IV was released on console last year, some people bemoaned the fact it was a standalone retail release rather than DLC. But when you consider the avalanche of new content it offered - including ten new characters, four new stages, alternative Ultra Combos and dramatic changes to the general character balancing - it was clear that Capcom was offering a pseudo-sequel rather than a by-the-numbers update.