Sunday, 24 August 2014

PSN Down After DDoS Attack?




 Sony's PlayStation Network (PSN) is reportedly down for maintenance today after a DDoS attack. DDos stands for Distributed Denial of Service, whereby hackers make several computers on their network all contact a specific website or server repeatedly. The unexpected and sudden increase in traffic can make the website load very slowly for genuine users, or in extreme cases, can shut the site down completely for a while, which seems to have been the case here.

                                           

                                           ©2007 HowStuffWorks

 According to an article by ShackNews, the PlayStation Network and several other gaming servers have fallen victim to various DDoS attacks recently including: Blizzard's Battle.net servers, which run some very popular online games such as Hearthstone, Diablo 3, World of Warcraft. It appears that the attacks started with the Blizzard servers before swiftly targeting Riot's League of Legends, Grinding Gear Games' Path of Exile, and then moving onto Sony's PlayStation Network.

The attacks are reportedly the work of a group of hackers who are calling themselves Lizard Squad. The group have posted several Tweets over the last few days taking responsibility for the attacks. The situation is ongoing as all of the affected servers attempt to get their services running again.

There was  a routine maintenance already scheduled for Monday the 25th of August 2014, but now the server and its relevant services could be down for even longer than Sony had originally planned.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Sony Announces Adventure Mega Pack Bundle For PS Vita...


The SCEE (Sony Corporate Entertainment Europe) have today announced a new Adventure Mega pack bundle for the PS Vita, which is expected to be released some time in Autumn this year. The bundle will feature five popular PS Vita adventure games:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
    Join Nathan Drake on his only PS Vita adventure so far, and help him to uncover the dark secret behind the massacre of a Spanish expedition to Central America around four hundred years ago.
  • Tearaway
    The vibrant papery world of Tearaway unfolds in your hands, allowing you to reach into the game with your godlike powers and help your new messenger friend, iota or atoi, complete a very special delivery.
  • Gravity Rush
    Take part in an epic adventure with abilities that use the PlayStation Vita system’s unique control methods.
  • Escape Plan
    Help Lil and Laarg escape from a dangerous factory by tapping the rear touch pad, blowing into the microphone and much more to confuse enemies.
  • TxK
    Play through 100 levels of colourful and vibrant blasting action, complemented by a stunning music soundtrack.

As with other Mega Pack bundles, The PS Vita Adventure Mega Pack comes in two forms:

1) The PS Vita Adventure Mega Pack: This comes with an 8GB Memory card and a voucher with download codes for each of the five games. This is perfect for gamers who already own a PS Vita and who just wish to add some new titles to their game collection.

2) The PS Vita + PS Vita Adventure Mega Pack: This comes with everything listed above, but also contains a Wi-Fi enabled PS Vita console to play the new games on!


Tearaway is just one of five full games included in the Adventure Mega Pack

Both packs are very good value for money. The solo Adventure Mega Pack is expected to cost around £39.99, which is about the average price of a singular full-priced PS Vita title, whilst the PS Vita + Adventure Mega Pack version is only £199.00, which is the average cost of a PS Vita console, so users are essentially getting five free games.

If you like adventure games but couldn't afford to purchase them from the PS Store, or you are new to the PS Vita and are looking for a good starter collection of games, then this is one deal that you simply cannot afford to miss out on.

Still not sure if a PS Vita Adventure Mega Pack Bundle is right for you? Check out some of the other 'Mega Pack' bundles in this series that might appeal to you:

PS Vita Action Games Mega Pack [PEGI Rating: for persons aged 18+]

PS Vita Sports and Racing Games Mega Pack [PEGI Rating: for persons aged 7 or older]

PS Vita Kids Games Mega Pack [PEGI Rating: for persons aged 7 or older]

PS Vita LEGO Games Mega Pack [PEGI Rating: for persons aged 7 or older]

 PS Vita Disney Games Mega Pack [PEGI Rating: for persons aged 7 or older]

PS Vita Indie Games Mega Pack [PEGI Rating: for persons aged 7 or older]







Friday, 15 August 2014

Super Smash Bros Wins Most Wanted Consumer Award at Gamescom 2014!


It's official: Super Smash Bros for the Wii U and 3DS are the gaming community's most anticipated games of 2014. Both versions of the game have been awarded the prestigious 'Most Wanted Consumer Game' award at Gamescom 2014.

Voting opened on the 9th of August 2014 via the Gamescom Facebook page and the voting booths available live at the event itself, which kicked off on the 13th of August.

It's an impressive win for the games, especially as Gamescom is the biggest gaming expo event in Europe and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Super Smash Bros is set to debut on the 3DS in October, with its Wii U counterpart being released in December this year.

Super Smash Bros 3DS was also awarded the title of  'Best Mobile Game', whilst the Wii U version was nominated for 'Best Action Game' by the Gamescom  Judging panel. A full list of Gamescom  panel-voted awards along with the winners is available HERE.

The public and panel Gamescom  awards have already proven that Super Smash Bros 3DS is a hit with fans ahead of its release, which will no doubt be reflected in the sales figures when the game finally hits the shelves. Well done, Nintendo!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Game Of The Week: The Swapper [PS Vita]



The Swapper is a 2D side-scrolling sci-fi platform game, which was originally developed for PC, Linux and Mac operating systems, but which has been recently adapted for the PS Vita and PS3 by Curve Studios.

The game essentially explores the issue of human cloning. Players take on the role of a person stranded on a damaged space station from which they are desperately trying to escape. Players must explore the station and find orbs that are used to activate certain doors, allowing them to progress further into the game.

Players will be given a handheld cloning device early in the game. This eponymous device is called 'The Swapper', which has two main functions: firstly, using the device will allow the player  to create up to four simultaneous clones of the original playable character, and secondly, the device gives players the ability to swap control to any of these clones as long as they are within the original character's direct field of vision.




Clones will mirror the original character's movements exactly throughout the game unless they are blocked by the various coloured lights that can be found throughout the environment. Each coloured light has a different affect on the clones:

Blue Light - Prevents players from creating any new clones, but clones who were created before the blue light area can walk through the blue areas without any difficulty.

Red Light - This prevents clones from being able to jump, which can be especially tricky in certain sections of the game.

Purple Light - This light causes a combination of the red and blue light effects upon the clones. Thus, new clones cannot be created whilst in a purple area, and already created clones will be unable to jump whilst in the area of purple light as well. Successfully navigating the coloured lights and other environmental obstacles such as gravitational reversal is a player's primary concern within the game and it is not an easy task to achieve. 



As well as the lights, there are a number of puzzles which will have to be solved. Each puzzle is difficult enough to make players think, but not so brain-taxing that the game feels boring or impossible to complete.

The game does allow players to go back and forth between already explored areas of the game. This is useful as it does allow players the chance to solve all of the game's puzzles in whichever order they choose to do so, which means that they can apply the knowledge gained in latter portions of the game to any of the earlier puzzles that they have not yet completed.

In conclusion, the game has a visually atmospheric graphic style and a simple but pseudo-philosophical narrative, which will keep most players adequately entertained. The only disappointing factor about the game is that it does seem a little too short, but on the other hand, the game never seems to lag or get boring either.

The game is available to download now from the PS Store. If you are looking for a nice new sci-fi game that will not leave you badly out of pocket, then this may just be the game for you. Overall Mini Gamers rating: 8/10.






Friday, 8 August 2014

New Japanese Joystick Peripheral Unveiled For 3DS XL Consoles.


Nintendo's 3DS XL console has certainly been no stranger to peripheral enhancements, with the Circle Pad Pro launching just last year and the new Amiibo Peripheral expected to launch some time in 2015, but now Japanese gaming peripheral designers, Cyber Gadget, have announced their plans for a new joystick attachment for the console as well.

The joystick, which is known as the Cyber Arcade Stick, is designed to make it easier for 3DS XL users to play their favourite arcade-style games, without having to resort to some tricky D-pad controls. The joystick is expected to cost around 3,002 yen (approximately £17.24), and is set to launch throughout Japan on the 31st of October 2014.

Unfortunately, those of you who were hoping to get your hands on the Cyber Arcade Stick before the European release of the new Super Smash Bros game look set to be disappointed, as no Western release date has been announced at present. Watch this space!


Monday, 4 August 2014

Thai Ban On 'Tropico 5' Video Game Amid Fears To National Security...



A new city-building game called Tropico 5, which was due to be released in Thailand has now been banned by the country's Ministry Of Culture, because it is felt that the game may "impinge upon national security[sourced from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/04/thai-government-bans-military-rule-computer-game-tropico-5]

The game allows players to take on a Presidential role on a fictional tropical island,  player can colonise new lands, draft political rules for their new colony, and, if they so wish, they can also choose to declare military rule and create their own dictatorship.

It is not yet clear why the fifth installment of this franchise has been banned when previous games in the series such as Tropico 3 and 4 were considered appropriate for public viewing, However, there are rumours that the game may hit just a little too close to home for some people's liking.

Thailand's military has been ruling the country since General Prayuth Chan-ocha staged a millitary coup in May 2014 – the country's eighteenth coup in eighty years – effectively overthrowing the democratically-elected government and taking control of the country as head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).

According to New Era, Thailand's marketing manager, Nonglak Sahavattanapong, censors at the Ministry Of Culture banned sales of Tropico 5 as they believed it would "impinge upon Thailand's national security, and deeming it a public threat to peace and order...We've had licences to distribute Tropico 3 and 4 before, but in the fifth instalment, the storyline has developed further and there might be some part of it that's not appropriate in the current situation."
[sourced from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/04/thai-government-bans-military-rule-computer-game-tropico-5]

The game was due to be released in May this year, but was subject to approval by authorities under the 2008 Films and Video Act, which requires that officials screen all games before they are distributed in the kingdom, where it was subsequently banned. The game's developers will not be appealing against the decision to ban the game.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

One To Watch: MouseCraft [PS Vita]



Here's a quick question: What do Schrödinger's Cat, Mice, and some tricky Tetris-style shapes all have in common? Well, they are all part of a new wacky puzzle game called MouseCraft, which has been developed by Polish indie studio, Crunching Koalas, for the PS3, PS4 and PS Vita.




The game is a kind of hybrid of two great gaming franchises - Tetris and Lemmings.  Players must help the main character - a cat named  Schrödinger - to fulfill his scientific experiments by guiding a trio of mice along a platform from A to B.  This may sound simple, but it is a lot more complicated than it sounds.

Players must use a set of  Tetris-style blocks, which can be picked up, rotated and arranged in a way that creates a safe pathway for the mice. The game only requires players to get one of their three rodent charges all the way to the goal for a new level to be unlocked. Along the way, the trio of mice have to collect several blue crystals and other items which Schrödinger sells to fund his experiments.

Any mouse who makes it to the end of the level without dying will receive a cheese-based reward, but there are a tricky selection of obstacles and hazards which must be overcome if the mice are to get their paws on the coveted cheese prize.

There are eighty different levels to complete, which are split across four different stages, but each of these stages contains many obstacles, including enemy rats, pools of water and/or acid, and various forms of electrocution to contend with.




Don't worry though, players can unlock several special blocks as they successfully complete each level. For example, Bomb blocks will explode in order to clear the pathway ahead of difficult or wrongly-placed blocks, Jelly blocks will cushion the mice's landing if they should fall and Crumbling blocks slowly disintegrate when placed, to allow the mice to get past an area more easily.

Some block shapes can also be rotated in such a way to create steps or stairs leading to higher platforms, which can help the mice to locate blue crystals that would otherwise be unreachable. Nevertheless, all blocks must be placed carefully if your rodents are going to cheat death. Mice can jump off a singular block without harm, but will fall to their death from a platform that is any higher than three blocks.

The different types of blocks and the way the shapes can be rotated to intersect each other is brilliant, and seriously adds to the replay value of the game, and there is even a fun and easy-to-use Level Editor mode, so that creative players can attempt to construct their own challenging levels once the game's core stages have all been completed.

Unfortunately though, the Level Editor mode has one slight flaw: There is no online sharing features in this game, which is a bit of a disappointment, as none of these player-created levels can be shared amongst fellow PS Vita users.




In conclusion, MouseCraft is a very fun game, which will provide an adequate number of gaming hours for most people. The colourful cartoon graphics and witty style help to make the game very entertaining.

Furthermore, the game is subject to Sony's Cross-Buy policy, which means that if you purchase the game in one format, it becomes automatically available for download on any other formats that the player might own as well. Thus a PS3 and PS Vita owner only needs to purchase the game once in order to play the game on both consoles, making MouseCraft very good value for money.

If you like zany gameplay, brain-bending puzzles and cute cartoon characters, then this is most definitely a worthwhile game for your collection. Overall Mini Gamers Rating: 8/10.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Club Nintendo Members Left Disappointed By Lack Of Limited-Edition Merchandise...





This year's rewards for members of Nintendo's loyalty program, Club Nintendo, have been announced today, and those who accumulated enough virtual coins during the past year can select from a handful of free downloadable games.

However, unlike in years past, there are no special limited-edition items being offered to members, and the rewards are nothing that can't be easily purchased by non-Club Nintendo members, which has left some members feeling extremely disappointed.

To reach the Gold or Platinum status, you needed to earn a certain number of coins between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. Coins are earned by registering game and console purchases on Club Nintendo, as well as completing surveys.

In the past, Club Nintendo members have been offered special merchandise such as calendars, soundtracks, carrying cases, commemorative pins, and posters, and even a real-life duplicate of Mario's red hat in 2009.

The full list of this year's rewards for Club Nintendo members follows below.

Platinum Status rewards:

•Game & Wario (Wii U)
•NES Remix (Wii U)
•EarthBound (Wii U)
•Dr. Luigi (Wii U)
•Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS)
•Fluidity: Spin Cycle (3DS)
•Dillon's Rolling Western (3DS)
•Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move (3DS)

Platinum and Gold Status rewards:

•Ice Climber (Wii U)
•Kid Icarus (Wii U)
•Super Mario Bros. (Wii U)
•Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Wii U)
•Donkey Kong 3 (3DS)
•Wario Land II (3DS)
•Metroid (3DS)
•Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (3DS)

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Ratchet & Clank Trilogy Review [PS Vita]


Those intrepid intergalactic explorers, Ratchet and Clank are back! The Ratchet &Clank Trilogy is set to bring three of Ratchet and Clank's first three space adventures to the PS Vita for the very first time!

This special collection features Ratchet & Clank, Ratchet & Clank 2: Locked & Loaded, and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal. which were first developed for the PlayStation 2 between 2002-2004, all of which received very popular reviews at the time.

So how do the three games shape-up on the PS Vita?

Well, the games look beautifully remastered. The touchpad is now used for Ratchet's trademark Strafing move, which does take a little bit of getting used to, but the rest of the controls use the D-pad and buttons, and thus will be extremely familiar to fans of both the original PS2 and PS3 titles, as well as the PSP Ratchet & Clank titles.

The actual games remain unchanged from the originals, and still feature all the hilarious cutscenes, witty dialogue, dramatic battles and special in-game events that fans experienced with the home console versions, but this time fans of the series can take their games on the move if they wish.




Overall, this is an extremely good port of the games, unfortunately though, the cutscenes also remain unchanged from the original PS2 versions, so they look extremely blurry at times, but the interactive portions with each game do look stunning on the Vita's OLED screen.

If you are a fan of Ratchet & Clank but have never had the chance to play the PS2 games before, or if you simply want a way of taking your favourite Ratchet & Clank games out of the house for a while, then this is definitely a good collection to have. Overall Mini Gamers rating: 8/10.






Saturday, 5 July 2014

England Lose World Cup Yet Again... The PlayStation World Cup, that is!



England faced another crushing defeat last night at the 2014 World Cup. Not the actual World Cup, of course, but a virtual one. The FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC) saw Englishman, David Bytheway take on eighteen year old, August Rosenmeier, from Denmark.

The two finalists reportedly played a very good game, with Blytheway choosing to play as Germany and Rosenmeier playing as the host nation of Brazil, but utimately, Blytheway was unable to get ahead in the tense PlayStation battle, which finally saw Rosenmeier beat his English rival 3-1.

Now in its tenth year, this was the first time the FIWC Grand Final took place at the same time and in the same country as the FIFA World Cup. Unlike the real World Cup, however, the FIWC started with almost two million entrants who were gradually whittled down to just twenty competitors that were then invitedto Rio where they battled it out in several rounds of FIFA 14. Footballers such as Dwight Yorke and Ronaldo were also present to offer encouragement to the competitors.

This was the third Grand Final for August Rosenmeier, who, as well as winning the FIWC trophy, will receive $20,000 (approximately £10,500), and will even get to meet some of the real football teams taking part in this year's World Cup competition.

The 18 year-old expressed his utter delight at winning the Grand Final: "I can’t describe how it feels to be champion. Denmark isn’t here at the World Cup but we showed them we can play football on the virtual pitch. It was amazing to receive the trophy from Ronaldo.” [Sourced from:  http://www.fifa.com/interactiveworldcup/news/newsid=2398364/]

The online tournament takes place on the PlayStation Network and can be accessed through the latest version of FIFA 14 on the PS3. For more information on the FIWC, go to: www.fifa.com/fiwc, www.twitter.com/fiwc, or www.facebook.com/fiwc