Replay: Ratchet & Clank

Ratchet & Clank (PS2, 2002), 600x463Publisher: SCE  Developer: Insomniac Games  Format: PS2  Release: 2002

On planet Rilgar, one of two game areas available in the demo for Ratchet & Clank, there is a seemingly impassable tunnel. This tunnel, a platforming gauntlet made all the more desperate by the pressure of a rising water level, can only be passed with a combination of gadgetry, mechanical understanding and flawless timing. Most first-timers aren’t capable of making it through this treacherous challenge with anything approaching casual decorum. But once you attain the skill and understanding to master it, you appreciate this formative sci-fi character action game more keenly than when you first took a chance on its fuzzy-eared protagonist and his robotic sidekick. Continue reading

Best albums of 2015: honourable mentions

AOTY 2015 - Hon college: Shareefa Energy, Masayoshi Fujita, Wondaland, Tara Busch (1448x815)Where did 2015 go, ay? It seems like only yesterday that I was writing about my lofty ambitions to hear 150-plus albums this year, and pointing out the absurdity of that goal. Well, I managed to listen to a fair number of the albums on my original preview list, and I’ve soaked up an even greater number than last year. But still, with an ever-growing to-listen-to-list, I’ve been in a state of never-ending improbability to hear all of the records that have come into my orbit this year.

Still, here we are once again, after a year of trials and tribulations, hurt and pain, success stories and retirements, sorrows and separations, fading dreams and whispers of hope, quiet triumphs and steady commitments – and that’s just the news.

In the world of music, things have been as turbulent and trying as ever, while still being encouraged and unimaginably fruitful. They’ve been new streaming services, new business models, new artists and, of course, new albums. Once again, I’m here to offer my thoughts on latter, with the hope that you’ll discover a piece of music that makes your life that much brighter.

Saturday begins my annual albums of the year round-up in earnest, where I run down 50 albums I’ve heard this year and deem to be among the year’s best. But, starting this year, I’ve decided to precede my main list with a selection of honourable mentions.

This unranked appetiser, which includes albums, EPs, mixtapes and even a spoken word poetry piece, is a chance to recommend a shade more 2015 releases that are worth listening to. Continue reading

Destroying the Death Star: the Star Wars games of our generation – part four

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, key art 01 (1280x720)In the final part of my Star Wars games round-up we look back on the last decade of titles, including the oft-forgotten Republic Commando, the family-friendly adventure that started a global children’s craze, Lego Star Wars, the penultimate epic from LucasArts, The Force Unleashed, and look forward to EA’s Battlefront reboot. This lightspeed retrospective has shown me just how strong the Force was with some Star Wars games – and how nonexistent it was in others.

Enjoy the final part, and by all means share your own memories of Star Wars games if you’ve got ’em. I’m @dk33per on Twitter. Continue reading

Destroying the Death Star: the Star Wars games of our generation – part three

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, 01, Boba Fett (1280x720)In the penultimate edition of my Star Wars games round-up, we find ourselves leaping between LucasArts mostly-middling Episode II-related titles, the original Star Wars MMOG, and BioWare’s celebrated RPG, Knights of the Old Republic. Now, allow me to dispense with the pleasantries and get stuck in, before Vader’s comes a-knocking to put me back on schedule. Continue reading

Destroying the Death Star: the Star Wars games of our generation – part two

Star Wars Episode I: Jedi Power Battles, screenshot 01 (625x352)Part one of my round-up was dominated by space sims. In the next wave, the variety opens up with a fair few oddball titles in between a flock of games for the prequel trilogy, starting with Episode I. Continue reading

Destroying the Death Star: the Star Wars games of our generation – part one

Star Wars X-Wing Alliance cover art (1280x720)Star Wars games. If you’re reading this I’m guessing you too will have some affection for interactive lightsaber swinging, X-Wing piloting, blocky 32-bit confrontations with Jabba the Hutt and other fantasies from George Lucas’ sci-fi saga that games have enabled us to live out.

With the seventh film hitting cinema screens next month, now is a fitting time to run through the Star Wars games of our generation – or, to put it another way, the last 25 years. Continue reading

Replay: MediEvil 2

MediEvil 2, characters art 02 (1920x1080)Publisher: SCE  Developer: SCE Cambridge Studio  Format: PS1  Release: 2000

It’s ironic, really. For a game about battling ghoulish creatures in typically disquieting surroundings, the scariest part about MediEvil 2 was facing up to its many nightmarish foes. I mean that literally, because lining up the broad sword-swings and crossbow bolts of bony protagonist, Sir Daniel Fortesque, with the rotting, uncoordinated corpses that stand in his way is tougher than juggling with pumpkins. Continue reading

Replay: Ridge Racer (PSP)

Ridge Racer (PSP), Namco, asset 03 (1280x720)Publisher: Namco  Developer: Namco  Format: PSP  Release: 2004, 2005 (US, EU)

When it launched alongside Sony’s first handheld game system in December 2004, Ridge Racer for PSP was a game out of its time. It was Namco’s attempt to recreate the technological leap that the series had signalled a decade earlier on the original PlayStation. It was also the Japanese development team’s chance to push against the current in the globalised racing market and reclaim its relevance. And it was a proposal that simple, neatly executed ideas were the ones that would work best on Sony’s powerful handheld. Continue reading