You! Hello! You! It has been almost 365 days since January the 1st - 52 weeks! 12 months! - which means we're close to the point where we can say that 2018 was a year that was. Isn't that a thing? It has also been a year in which some video games were released, between the dates of January 1st 2018 and December 31st 2018, and as is the somewhat bewildering tradition amongst people we will now spend the next few weeks bickering about which of those video games were the best video games. It's a time to belittle those with opinions that differ from your own, to express dismay and bitterness at those who don't appreciate the merits of whatever brand of electronic entertainment box you have under your television and to get super salty in comments threads and forums across the internet. Rejoice!
A new batch of NES titles came today to the Switch's Online Service - as expected - and they've brought with them a couple of cute surprises.
The Switch's SNK 40th Anniversary Collection has just had its planned batch of free games drop, with 11 new titles now available for the compilation.
Sega's classic on-rails shooters Panzer Dragoon 1&2 are getting the remake treatment courtesy of Polish publisher Forever Entertainment.
Monster Hunter World's first big expansion has been announced, and it's the equivalent to the older 'G' or 'Ultimate' editions. Named as Iceborn, it'll arrive as an add-on to the base game next autumn.
Where, exactly, to start with a game like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Maybe it's in one of the 74-strong roster of fighters, such as newcomer Isabelle, who has the same propensity for getting shit done here as she does in her native Animal Crossing series. She's savage, a flurry of toy hammers and candy umbrellas plus a fishing rod used to reel in her opponents, and for her final trick she calls in the muscle, summoning Nook and co who immediately construct their town hall over your poor foe.
There's a new Far Cry coming early next year, and it's set in a post-apocalyptic Hope County.
Ubisoft has fully lifted the covers off the post-apocalyptic Far Cry that it teased recently, with Far Cry New Dawn coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on 15th February.
Resident Evil's best character? Maybe you believe it's Leon Kennedy, the floppy-haired fop, or perhaps you think it could be enigmatic badass Ada Wong. Well, I'm afraid you're entirely wrong. The best character from throughout Resident Evil's history is, without a single doubt, the Raccoon City Police Station.
I don't know of many perfect video games, but Gunstar Heroes is surely one of them. 25 years on from its initial release, it's every bit as intoxicating now as it was back then. Maybe even more so, in fact; it's rare to come across something so utterly pure.
Milestone's a funny little developer, hovering indefinitely somewhere above or just below adequacy as it churns out game after game. Ride 3 is its fifth title this year (fifth!) and the latest instalment in a series that started as recently as 2015. Back then it was a noble if limited attempt to give bike enthusiasts their own Gran Turismo; a spirited run through some of the most storied machinery on two wheels that made a few too many compromises along the way. I liked it a fair amount back then, though clearly there was still some work to be done for Milestone to make good on the premise.
Excuse me for being a bit slow, but after spending a day with Red Dead Online, something that should have been obvious dawned on me. Maybe Rockstar's a developer whose focus is now more firmly placed on big, grand multiplayer experiences than it is the single-player experiences that made its name, and that first made me an admirer of its craft. And that perhaps should have been obvious if I'd have paid attention to the phenomenon that was Grand Theft Auto Online rather than moseying through GTA 5's campaign a couple of times before setting it to one side. Now I've sampled a little of what happens when Rockstar's open worlds go online, I'm kind of smitten.
Red Dead Online, the multiplayer accompaniment to Red Dead Redemption 2, is finally live, and - surprise! - it's a lot like Grand Theft Auto Online. Which means one thing - microtransactions!
When they're chalking up the greatest games of this generation, my belief - though maybe it's more of a hope - is that Alien: Isolation will find its place amongst the more predictable choices. An extended slice of slow-burn horror, and a smart piece of sci-fi, it's one of the rare occasions when a licensed game matched up to the source material. For my money, it's the single best Alien experience since the series' 80s prime.
I'm not sure when exactly it was decided that putting a screen on its side was a smart way to go about playing games, but I know that for some games it's the only way to play. It's why, over the years, I've risked various monitors by placing them on their side, so I could play the likes of Gunbird 2 or Ikaruga the right way. It's how I killed the hulking 32-inch CRT TV in my old shared flat in Deptford, its innards expiring with an almighty pop as I tried to demonstrate to a friend the magic of this thing they called tate mode.
It's one of those cute ironies that Rockstar Games, most famous for the virtual cityscapes of the Grand Theft Auto series, would create what many consider its masterpiece when working with the dust and dirt of the wilds. When it launched in 2010, the open-world western Red Dead Redemption was as refreshing as a chill blast of mountain air: a bucolic, melancholy counterpoint to the madcap urban caricature of GTA. And so it's fitting that the sequel, Red Dead Redemption 2, makes its greatest strides in its world.
Battlefield 5 is a mess. It's the glitchiest, most technically troubled DICE's sandbox multiplayer has been since the infamous launch of Battlefield 4, and even the launch itself is all over the place. Here's a game that's not out for paying punters until later this month. Or it's out today, if you're willing to pay a little bit more. Or, if you'd rather not pay for the whole thing, it's been out for a week for EA Access subscribers. Or maybe a bit over a week, if you're an EA Access Premier subscriber. Of course.
What an exquisitely busy weekend of racing it's just been. The impossible spectacle of Macau's street races, the intermittent spells of racing that broke out in-between the showers in China for the last 2018 round of the WEC Super Season and the 24 Hours of Cota. My own Sunday started with a 3am wake-up call for the 6 Hours of Shanghai, and ended up watching an ex-BTCC Toyota Avensis slowly lunch itself over the course of Brands Hatch's two hour Race Into The Night.
Today sees a new suite of NES games being added to Nintendo's Switch Online service, with Metroid, Mighty Bomb Jack and Twinbee all joining the service - and there's a surprise 'fourth' game in the shape of Gradius SP, a new spin on Konami's classic shooter.
SNK, the Osaka-based company that's been enjoying something of a revival in the past two years, has over time become synonymous with the Neo Geo hardware and software that was such a muscular presence throughout the 90s. Understandably so, too; so many of these games remain a high watermark for 2D action and pixel art, and they've gained a cult following ever since. Metal Slug, The King of Fighters series and The Last Blade have enjoyed re-release upon re-release (I doubt there's a modern console that isn't host to a version of Metal Slug 3, and rightly so too - it's an essential text), while I myself have an MVS unit sitting proudly in the candy cabinet I call my own.
Acquisitions! Expansions! Some weird bit about Winnie the Pooh! All the news as it happened.
Video games have a funny way of identifying different scales of productions. You've got triple-A and double-A, and now there's even some unsightly speak of 'triple-I', indie games with lavish production values of their own. Sometimes, you've just got to keep it simple though, as is the case with Steel Rats. This is an unabashed B movie of a game, a William Castle schlockathon of disparate parts that developer Tate Multimedia can't always get to hang together. But good lord is it fun to see them try.
I first heard of it through a playground rumour; whisperings there was a machine that could run Ridge Racer, the game that had been wowing us all over the summer holidays at whatever low-rent seaside resort our families had dragged us to. And what's more, someone knew a friend of a friend who had one - who'd imported one from Japan and had Namco's polygon-rich racer playable in their own living room.
UPDATE: Square Enix has been in touch to provide a statement, and to assert that, contrary to a part of our report, that Luminous Productions will remain its own division.
Nintendo is bolstering its online Switch service for subscribers, with the arrival of three new NES games next Wednesday.
Having seen through the 60 hours or so of Red Dead Redemption 2's story, I'm now a dozen more into the meat of it all; the idling around a lush open world, picking up threads of stories here and there, tracking the trails of legendary animals in the wilds or following the rumours of supernatural goings on and seeing whatever dark forest they might lead to. It's the part of any Rockstar game I love the most, made all the more enjoyable when everyone's wading through those uncharted areas together, where whispers of strange NPCs or derelict households are shared online like tales around a campfire. It's where the freedom, brilliance and detail of these open world marvels really comes into focus.
Typical, isn't it? You wait an age for some sugar-soaked drum-based rhythm action games to come to the Switch, and then two land on the very same day. Well, actually I couldn't really wait - I've had Bandai Namco's Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum n' Fun on import since it came out in Japan a few months back, complete with the drum kit that brings this arcade classic alive, while I've spent the past week with Gal Metal, the extreeeeeme rhythm action title that's been ushered into existence by Tak Fuji, star of E3 2010.
A new, very exciting survival horror game has been announced for PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch, with The Maid of Sker coming from Wales Interactive towards the end of next year.