The hype for Snake, T9 texts and sleek design has turned the 3310’s relaunch into an event. But 2G connectivity and a rubbish camera bring you back to earth The darling of Mobile World Congress and retro tech fans is finally here, but does the new Nokia 3310 live up the hype? Is it everything your rose-tinted view of the year 2000 is crying out for? Not many things can genuinely be described as “iconic”, let alone pieces of technology that are here today and gone tomorrow. The original Nokia 3310, loved the world over for Snake, its apparent indestructibility and simplicity, is probably about as close as gadgets get. Pros: week-long battery, headphone jack, microSD card slot, removable battery, camera, flash/torch, Snake Cons: tedious T9, expensive, no Spotify, not many apps, 2G-only
Developer Impulse Gear has made an earnest attempt at a VR version of Halo, but the game, and its strange PlayStation Aim Controller, fall short of the target When the GunCon, a plastic replica pistol for the PlayStation console, first launched in December 1995, it came in just one colour: jet black. Viewed from any distance, the only giveaway that this was a video game controller, rather than an authentic firearm, was the claret-coloured start button on the side of a barrel. Pull a GunCon from a rucksack on a crowded subway and you’d almost certainly cause a terror stampede. There’s no risk of any potentially deadly confusion when it comes the PlayStation Aim Controller, which launches this week alongside Farpoint, a futuristic shooting game built for virtual reality. It’s an impressionistic sketch of a firearm, built from the kind of white tubing you might find under a kitchen sink, with a glowing ping-pong ball fixed to the end of the barrel. If the purpose of peripherals like this aim to narrow the gulf of abstraction that separates activity in a video game from its real-world counterpart (the plastic driving wheel that makes it feel more like you’re driving a Ferrari in Forza, for example, or the wooden gear lever that approximates the Shinkansen’s dashboard in Densha de Go) then this effort seems laughably off-target.
A mobile game makes an infectiously good transition to tabletop, a card game richly rewards smart selection and a domino-strategy mashup is a quickfire winner There’s a faintly luddite spirit to the board game renaissance of recent years, perhaps a reaction to the heavy demands screens now make on our time. Yet there isn’t such a great divide between games built of cardboard and those spun from code. They explore similar themes and their designers frequently learn from one another. In 2007, a simple web game, Pandemic, challenged players with spreading an infection across the world. Around the same time, an unrelated board game of the same name tasked its players with preventing the spread of disease and quickly assumed cult status. Soon after, a mobile game called reversed the goal again, making global epidemic a mainstay of many commutes, while happily crediting the original Pandemic web game as an inspiration. Now Plague Inc has been reimagined as a board game that looks much like a homage to the board game, completing a considerable circle over 10 years.
Bethesda’s reimagining of the popular shooting game combines the best of Bioshock, Dead Space and Dishonored but does little extra with them Nearly everything good about Prey is pulled from a game released in the decade before it. Well, four other games to be exact. As Morgan Yu, you are thrust into the aftermath of a failed research project with only a wrench for protection, just like Jack in BioShock. The desolate, ruined space station setting brings back memories of , and the experimental gameplay takes cues from , which was also developed by Franco-US studio Arkane. Then there’s the fact that it re-imagines the original Prey, a well-received sci-fi shooter from 2006, which mixed extraterrestrial and Native American themes to compelling effect. The new Prey takes the highlights of these games, but merely allows them to coexist in a single habitat, never doing anything new with the foundational building blocks it has borrowed. The game takes place in the year 2032, in an alternate reality where President John F Kennedy was never assassinated but instead worked with the Soviet Union to launch the Talos 1 space station. Waking up in the space station as either the male or female version of Morgan Yu, the player embarks on a journey to rediscover the past of a protagonist we are given no information about at first. This is a decidedly mundane storyline, in what should have been a race against time to stop the alien threat aboard Talos 1 from making it’s way back to Earth.
Based on an old mechanical coin-op game, this is a quaint, challenging puzzler that works especially well on the Nintendo Switch Nintendo Switch owners should immediately add TumbleSeed to their collection. This mid-priced roguelike is available for PC, Mac and PS4, but both its aesthetic and its core mechanic fit particularly well on the Switch, especially in portable mode. Your goal is to move a seed up a procedurally generated mountain, but the mountain is full of holes and you can only move the seed with a stiff green vine that stretches horizontally across the whole screen, using the left and right analogue sticks to tilt each side up and down. The notion of using a horizontal bar to move a round object up a holey course might sound original, but it’s directly inspired by a 1983 mechanical arcade game called (and, in fact, Shrek n’ Roll used a similar mechanic in 2007). Developer Benedict Fritz made a derivative digital prototype, designer Greg Wohlwend saw it on Vine, and the two teamed up to turn that simple project into a game.
Our monthly guide to new board games features a mysterious archipelago kingdom off the coast of Japan, a magical gardening game and a chance to play pizza Welcome to our monthly roundup of the best new board games. This time around we’re building shrines and palaces in ancient Japan, stuffing ourselves with delicious pizza and growing magical flowers in a surprisingly cut-throat gardening contest.
Indie studio Giant Sparrow conjures an adventure that blends exploration, reading, reality and fantasy into one innovative and beautiful experience What Remains of Edith Finch is a game about storytelling and a masterclass in characterisation. Although it bears all the hallmarks of games like or with its spooky waterside property, its readable letters and journey entries, and its lack of a “run” button, the game soon strays from the familiar paths trodden by those seminal “walking simulators”. Instead, What Remains delivers a collection of whimsical tales that leap deftly from one genre to another without ever losing the thread at the heart story. The eponymous Edith is the last remaining member of the cursed Finch family, who have all died in strange circumstances, some of them at a young age. She is returning to the family home to find out what happened to them all. After each Finch death, the person’s bedroom was sealed up, never to be used again, resulting in a rambling, crooked tower of a house, with rooms tacked on here and there over time. In this way, the house acts as a grounding hub for the game, a visual metaphor for the messiness and chaos of life and a physical manifestation of the Finch family tree.
An indie fantasy is endearing but confusing, while Nintendo’s Pokémon-style battling spirits return in force and Capcom serves up a feast of nostalgia PS4, Xbox One, PC, Focus Home Interactive, cert: 12 ★★★★
Nintendo’s karting franchise is designed to get everyone racing together no matter what their individual ability. This Switch remaster achieves that and more Bringing Mario Kart to the Switch feels like an easy win for Nintendo’s fledgling machine. It isn’t exactly a new game – it’s , with a few extras – but that doesn’t really matter, for three main reasons: the ability to play in portable mode opens up whole new contexts, not that many people owned a Wii U anyway, and Mario Kart 8 is still an absolutely fantastic racing game. For those who skipped the Wii U, Mario Kart 8 introduced bigger tracks to accommodate 12 racers and vehicles that defy gravity to drive up walls and along ceilings, and sprout gliders to soar through the air. Those tracks all still look great on this new console, especially in portable mode. And Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also includes what was DLC for the Wii U version, like the wonderful Animal Crossing track that comes in four seasonal flavours, so there are 48 tracks in total.
Teen rebellion is even better fifth time around, while a crowd-funded platformer revives the 90s and Kenya’s wildlife gets up close and personal PS4, PS3, Sony, cert: 12 ★★★★★ Following the success and acclaim of Persona 4, this new entry in developer Atlus’s series of turn-based role-playing games has a lot to live up to. Thankfully, Persona 5 exceeds these high expectations, oozing style and personality. In both the dynamic, context-specific loading screens and the intuitive battle menus, every design decision reinforces the narrative theme of battling the corrupt systems that have robbed the protagonists’ futures, driving them to become the phantom thieves of hearts. Even dungeon descents are made to feel like heists, with the protagonists infiltrating the mindscapes of their abusers to steal their secrets and treasures.
It may look like a game for children but this primary coloured, Kickstarter-funded platformer is catnip for 30-somethings who came of age with Banjo-Kazooie Don’t be fooled by the saccharine paint job, the goggle-eyed supporting cast of anthropomorphic chestnuts, clouds and refrigerators, or the ear-niggling lullaby melodies: Yooka-Laylee is a game meticulously crafted, not for children, but for the middle-aged. Its nostalgia is plainspoken and precise: the game is a paean to 1997, a time when Nintendo, in conjunction with its former life-partner, the British games company Rare, was busily establishing the rules, boundaries and aesthetic of platform games on the , the company’s first fully 3D-capable machine.
Latest in long-running high-school franchise boasts characters as deeply written and well observed as a multi-season TV series Like Scooby-Doo, the Famous Five and Harry Potter, the Persona series of Japanese role-playing games fits into a long tradition of teen fiction in which young people band together to expose the schemes and exploitations of corrupt adults. The abuses that Persona 5’s teenagers must confront are, however, unusually and uncompromisingly grave. The game opens with a typical example: one evening your character, a 17-year-old high-school student, confronts an inebriated, groping politician who is trying to force a woman into a taxi. The consequences of intervening with such a powerful local figure prove life changing. You are summarily expelled from school and banished to Tokyo, to live with a crotchety café owner. There you are enrolled in an academy whose halls are filled with whispering students who, having read the headlines, judge you as a toxic delinquent.
A sci-fi franchise’s new mission is beset by old bugs, the Switch gets musical and a shoot’ em up provides a powerfully pure arcade experience PS4, Xbox One, PC, EA, cert: 16 ★★★ Despite the lofty reputation that the original Mass Effect (2007-12)has garnered, it’s crucial to remember that those games had no shortage of bugs, errors and glitches on release. Bearing this in mind will make the failings of Andromeda far more palatable. Chiefly, those irritants are in the domain of animation, with characters’ facial features and physical movements feeling wooden and unnatural. Stilted voice work delivering unrealistic dialogue doesn’t help either. These are real problems in a game where relationships are central to an investment in the universe.
You are a sea of caterpillars in an alien river. You are a cluster of stars. What do you do in a game about everything? Anything at all, it turns out A daisy creeps across a rocky landscape. It becomes a blade of grass, which, in turn, becomes a caterpillar, which then turns itself into a very miniature zebra. Nearby, a patch of clover says to the zebra, “Repetition is the only form of permanence I am capable of.” This is a kind of everything.
Problems are inevitable in a game of such epic proportions but there is a lot here that will make you want to keep playing Much like the colonists in Mass Effect: Andromeda, the developers at BioWare have thrown everything they have at this new galaxy, and have been rewarded with a promising new world – once they clear up the mess. With the successful original trilogy, the Mass Effect series gained a reputation as a clunky space epic, with poor combat that the player suffered through to reach the next bit of story. The first Mass Effect, released a decade ago, is a relic, all but unplayable now but at the time fresh and exciting, and ultimately revered for kicking off what became a beloved franchise. Mass Effect: Andromeda has a lot to live up to, a fresh start in a new galaxy but without the benefit of coming out of nowhere as that first game did.
The joy of this family friendly puzzle game is not just in the strategy, but the social experience Snipperclips is one of those games with a concept so clear that even if you forget what it’s called (and who could blame you – the original prototype Friendshapes had a much more memorable name) people will know what you’re talking about. Sure, there have been other video games influenced by papercraft – most notably Media Molecule’s – but none has reached the mainstream with the particular notion expressed in Snipperclips’ tagline: cut it out, together. Snipperclips is a game in which (ideally) two or more players control colourful papery beings – called Snip and Clip – who use the form of their arched bodies to snip each other into the shapes needed to solve a variety of puzzles. It’s no surprise that developers Tom and Adam Vian were successful when they pitched the prototype to Nintendo; artful, simple, and designed to be social, Snipperclips feels right at home on the Switch.
The latest Lego adventure seeks to rival the creative possibilities of Minecraft. But players are forced to slog for their creative freedom Glance down the intricate family tree that connects the myriad successful Lego video games, and something striking is missing throughout the lineage. Most of those releases have only made cursory attempts at including that defining ability of the real-world toy: uninhibited construction. Aside from curio releases like the 1998 PC title Lego Creator, games based on the iconic bricks tend to allude to creativity, rather than offering freeform building in an unbridled form. And yet – with 120m sales and counting – has proved that there is huge potential in the idea of open-ended construction-focused games. Indeed, as Mojang’s creation evolved from a darling of the indie community to an international merchandising empire, it was comparisons with Lego that made the game easy to understand for players and, importantly, their parents.
This brilliant patchwork of storytelling, vandalism and melancholic reminiscences at the local mall is set to go down as a millennial classic Mae Borowski is 20-years old, a college dropout with anger problems, and staring at herself in the full-length mirror in the attic bedroom of her childhood home. She pats down her shirt, tentatively reassures herself that her build is sturdy rather than round, and tells her reflection, “You’re a smooth talker. You’re a smoothie.” She narrows her eyes, and her shoulders relax.