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Martin Robinson

Features and Reviews Editor

Martin is Eurogamer's features and reviews editor. He has a Gradius 2 arcade board and likes to play racing games with special boots and gloves on.

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Someone who should know about these things once told me one of the secrets behind Nintendo's success when it comes to the brilliance of its games; every idea is interrogated by each team member to the point of exhaustion, until all you've got left is something approaching perfection. Take Splatoon's painting - what started off as blocks of tofu spreading ink evolved into rabbits then into squids, the ink going from first marking territory to then being able to speed up your progress and recharge your weapons and take down the opposition. A game of Splatoon is chaos, but it's held together by an order informed by meticulous design.

The remaking of an 8-bit classic

Inside the wonder of Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap

A mist of enigma still hangs softly over the 8-bit era. These were games to be discovered, their mysteries charted over long summer afternoons spent drawing up maps on graph paper and scribbling notes in the handily provided blank pages at the back of manuals, entire worlds embedded in the thinnest slivers of code. And some games weave a stronger magic than others.

Poor old Donkey Kong. Despite having helped make Nintendo a key player in the world of video games in the 1981 arcade title bearing his own name, he's always been cast in Mario's shadow. I've often found it hard to fathom exactly why his character doesn't have quite the same appeal - it's a gorilla in a necktie, for heaven's sake! - but the apathy has snowballed over the years, so that when Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze came out some four years ago on the Wii U it was met in some quarters with little more than a shrug.

What a week it's been for creative sorts on the Switch. Labo might have stolen the headlines - even if it's not quite stormed the charts just yet - but I lost the best part of a weekend tinkering with another toy that's just found its way to the eShop. Korg Gadget is a handsomely featured digital audio workstation - or DAW, if you must - that brings a selection of music tools to the Switch, all of which are enough to enable some sweet, sweet sounds. Or some absolute dirge, more likely.

Tales from inside 90s Nintendo - from the man who made Mario's face

“I was in school trying to figure out whether to do A-levels or not, and I decided not to.”

In a history that's coming up on the 130 year mark, there have been many fascinating eras of Nintendo - the Yokoi years, those formative Famicom years and the mania around the Wii - but none is quite as evocative as the period in the 90s when the company name became a byword for the entire video game industry. And one of the stories that's fascinated me most is how a group of North London teens found themselves working at Nintendo's Kyoto HQ to help make Star Fox - and how one of them went on to smuggle a little of the demoscene into one of the company's most iconic games when they single-handedly programmed the malleable face that met players when they first started playing Super Mario 64.

One of the very best things about Labo, having spent a few hours tinkering with Nintendo's new DIY cardboard toy-set for the Switch, is also one of the most pointless. Build the radio control car - a process which takes just under 10 minutes, or over an hour if you want to go wild with the crayons afterwards - and you'll notice one final piece of cardboard that's left over. Fold the small flaps at either end, then pop the slim piece on top of your Switch's screen, sliding those tabs down into the Joy-Con rails. And voila - you've just installed an aerial so that now you can properly play with the RC car you've just built.

Platinum never loses its lustre

A postcard from inside one of the world's greatest developers.

There's a story I've heard passed around a few times over the years about PlatinumGames. It's about how, so industrious is this Osaka-based studio, it never really stops working; how its employees are put onto shift-work, one working through the day while the other toils away through the night, ensuring a never-ending 24-hour production cycle. It's a myth, sadly - though that's fortunate for the studio's 190-strong workforce, you'd figure - but like all myths there's surely a kernel of truth in there somewhere. How else to explain how the studio has produced some 14 games in just over a decade? How else to explain the exquisite craft that's almost always on show?

One of the many enduring myths in modern games is that Sega's a spent force, its days producing brash and brazen blockbusters well and truly behind it. Which is bunk, of course - it's just that for far too long we didn't get to see much of them over in the west. Yakuza is a behemoth of a series, a triple-A blast of whiskey-soaked madness and meticulous detail all delivered with that unmistakable Sega swagger. Ever wondered where the Sega of old you once loved ended up? Take a walk on the streets of Kamurocho, the series' thinly-disguised take on Shinjuku's Kabukicho district, and you'll find traces of it everywhere.

The new bloom of Q-Games

PixelJunk art.

Every spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, people in Japan gather to celebrate in an ages-old tradition known as hanami. It's a celebration of nature's beauty, and a chance for friends and family to get together in the first blushes of spring. This year, Q-Games has assembled alongside its Kyoto compatriots on the banks of the Kamo River, laying a blue tarpaulin down beneath the tree that boasts the most impressive blooms for miles (a spot that a junior member of the team was sent down to secure some hours before the event started) before piling into a supply of beer, wine and other assorted booze.

PlayStation VR is beginning to feel a bit like the Vita

(And that's a very good thing, by the way.)

The Vita might not have been ones of PlayStation's biggest successes, but it's certainly one of its more cherished pieces of hardware; its intention to offer big console experiences on the go fell a little flat (even if Nintendo did prove the concept could work some short years later with the Switch), but its pivot to independent and mid-tier studios opened up the handheld to a new breed of fascinating games. In turn, Sony offered up a captive audience to smaller developers, resulting in a love-in that's made the Vita adored by its faithful.

Is Star Wars Battlefront 2's big update enough to save it?

You were supposed to be the chosen one.

If the story of DICE's Battlefront is a one of a young upstart torn between the forces of dark and light then this, coming after the series found itself corrupted and besieged late last year, should be the third act that offers some kind of redemption. Star Wars Battlefront 2's new update, which dropped last week, sees the game undergo the biggest overhaul seen in a big budget title since Diablo 3 excised its auction house - and it's a change that's come about in a fraction of the time. Even then, is it all too late for DICE's shooter?

Take one look at any shmup in full flow and it's no wonder that this remains the most intimidating of genres; cascading curtains of bullets, flotillas of enemy ships and somewhere, almost imperceptible, in all that chaos is you, the lone fighter ship taking on impossible odds. You can trace the genre back to the inky black void of the arcade from which modern video games were born, from Space Invaders to Scramble to R-Type, and sometimes all that's seemed to have really changed is those odds you face have become greater and greater still. Stare into the face of a modern shmup, and it can seem like so much colourful noise.

Kratos is still angry. If you're concerned about how much has changed in Sony Santa Monica's reboot of the God of War series, it's worth knowing this; in two hours playing the game, what's remarkable is how much has stayed the same. There's the same pent up rage, unleashed in pliable combat as enemies are juggled in the air and then pulled furiously apart, the same cinematic showdowns that dazzle with their panache. The same spectacle, and the same sense that the host hardware is being pushed to its very limit. It's a God of War game alright, in that it's hard to think of any better showcase for what's possible with Sony's console.

Perhaps the biggest marvel of Kirby Star Allies is that games like this still exist at all. This is an unashamedly old-school platformer, brought home with the kind of sparkle and polish that's synonymous with Nintendo and its close affiliates, yet wipe away that syrupy surface and you've got something deliciously weird - a fever dream of a game, with sugar sweet backdrops patrolled by waddling electrical plugs that are just begging to be swallowed and consumed so that you might absorb their powers and spit out sparks of your own.

V-Rally, the much-loved arcade racer from the original PlayStation era, is making a return later this year thanks to BigBen Interactive and developer Kylotonn Games.

In an instant, it became my most anticipated game of 2018. Kunos Simulazioni, developers of the brilliant Assetto Corsa, had bagged the rights to the Blancpain GT series - perhaps motorsport's healthiest championship, and certainly one that boasts the most diverse manufacturer participation with Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, BMW, Mercedes, Bentley, Audi and McLaren all taking part. Not a bad list, really, and the racing's more than half decent too.

It just shouldn't exist, really. The Isle of Man TT, a yearly event that turns the island's roads into the world's most daunting race track, is an anomaly - a relic of a bygone age when motorsport was raw, untamed and shockingly lethal. An epic course that thunders between the towns of Douglas, Ramsey and Peel and climaxes on the climbs of the Snaefell mountain road, it makes the Nordschleife look like a seaside karting track; modern day legends such as Michael Dunlop and John McGuinness, their elbows scraping the hedgerows of islander's front gardens as they speed past at 180mph, are heroes of a different order. Or reckless fools, if you want to look at it another way.

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