Easter Exam Getaways With Wave.co

We’ve all been there before haven’t we? The stress of impending exams. The last-minute ruffling of notes, the misplacement of cue cards and the anxiety of wanting to pass your module/course so you can start to build your life.

You just need something to take the edge off, right? Well in steps the hero of the hour, Wave.co.

Wave.co are a company with a brand new campaign aimed at young adults, worried adults I might add, that are in desperate need of a quick-fix to settle themselves before exam week.

Stress exam

If you’ve never been a burrito of stress, have you even lived?

Exam week is generally one sleepless night after another with the temptation to reward yourself with “one last game of FIFA” or “one harmless search for shoes” lasting many hours. All the while you’re being judged and ridiculed by your own textbooks.

So what is Wave.co’s solution? A enjoyable weekend, maybe even longer if you’re crazy enough, during the Easter Break that is friendly on the purse strings and high in fun factor; maybe even sun factor too.

Wave.co are providing cheap holidays, aimed at students, that can erase any lingering fears and doubts for a few days and turn complex equations, economics and psychology jargon into a tasty, ice-cool mojito.

mojito-sun-and-sea

I mean, really, who wouldn’t want this for a few days?

Should you feel guilty you ask? Absolutely not! You’ve probably worked hard all-year, applied yourself and you deserve a break to remind of what you can look forward to when you inevitably pass.

Everyone deserves a holiday and Wave.co are a reputable company with a penchant for providing cheap and affordable holidays for students in need.

So for one week, put down the pen, cast aside the skyscraper of nonsensical notes that are threatening to dictate your life, and get yourself away for a few days in the sun.

Astro Bot VR Review: The MUST-HAVE Title

When I initially heard about this game, my gut reaction was more lukewarm than a forgotten cup of tea. The silly bots had first appeared in Playroom and they were nothing but a cute, throwaway novelty. Not for one second did I think they warranted their own game.

Even when I had an opportunity to play Astro Bot at EGX 2018, I still refrained from sampling the averageness it looked to possess. Then it did indeed hit the market and it earned glowing reviews from all corners.

I wanted a new, top-tier VR title and took a stab in the dark on it. Boy am I glad I did.

From the offset, the premise of the game is made clear. Nasty alien invades, smashes up lord god-tier bot and steals his gadgets. Plot wise, it’s on par with any Mario game. Nasty dinosaur-turtle invades, steals princess and runs off with her. Protagonist has to travel through different worlds to perform a heroic rescue operation.

Astro Bot Controller

Astro Bot operates on the same varied principle. You take our painfully adorable bot, Astro, through 5 different worlds, all populated with different enemies, obstacles, themes and motifs; all the while collecting some fun, distracting collectables.

Each level has 8 different bots for you to rescue and also a well-concealed chameleon somewhere amidst the trials and tribulations of each level. Some levels are breathtaking and it doesn’t take long to realise how much detail has been put into them as you notice additional details in them; despite the fact Astro will never even set foot near them.

There’s no comprising the game’s quality in order to save on space and improve the frame rate etc. In fact, I never had any such issues, never had any calibration issues and the performance was generally smoother than warm butter.

Thanks to the stupendous use of VR here, which is far from a gimmick here, these collectables are actually fun to find. So often in this day and age collectables are just haphazardly thrown into a game with little more than “because we can” behind it. Artificially extending its lifespan and serving next to no purpose.

Astro Bot Baddie

You do need a small quota of the bots in order to progress with the game, but it’s minimal. But you’re depriving yourself of content if you just go for the bare minimum. The bots can be anywhere, you can look over the edge of a cliff and you’ll see one trapped a long way down, you may have to stand up a tad and see the troubled blighter hanging from something. They’re even in places you didn’t know existed, hence the urgency to engage Indiana mode.

It’s testing to find them all, and sometimes it’s even more testing to find the chameleon. It’s virtually invisible, save for its eyes. But once the game recognises that you’re looking at it, it takes a couple of seconds and it becomes your treasure to keep.

It’s also quite important that you keep an eye out for these elusive shape-shifters as each one you find unlocks a challenge level. In addition to the 26 levels, there is also the possibility to do 26 challenge levels too.

You don’t need to do the maths to realise that this is a fully-fledged title stacked to the rafters with content.

The robustness of the game play is so satisfying. Each jump is weighted perfectly allowing for seamless platforming, the necessity to look up high and time your times using depth perception is inventive. The emphasis is most certainly on running and jumping, given how the only controls, apart from the touch pad, you need are X to jump and [] to attack.

Movement is tight, flows so well and I just never got bored. On top of that, every level felt interesting and had its own individual character and flavours.

Astro Bot Brother

For instance, Astro could be assisted by a titan-sized version of a bot to move things for you in one level, another one will see you forging a path through lava; or even using your controller to shine a torch and reveal an obscured path in a spooky-dooky haunted level.

The controller is very much a tool to use as it can be become a rapid fire gun, a water cannon, a grappling hook and even a makeshift shuriken launcher of death.

Each world traditionally ends with a formidable, formulaic boss. It’s in VR where these really shine. One particular foe battles you whilst you’re out in the middle of the sea, and this rather toothy chap looks super-imposing. You can’t help but marvel at the sheer scope of the battle.

Astro Bot Octopus

Sound check. That’s all spot on too? Awesome. The music is never annoying and never gets repetitive. A sign of a good game. It’s solid all-around and a couple of pieces stuck in my head for a while; a forgotten art in modern gaming. It’s not quite Aerith’s theme god bless her soul, but it’s clear that effort was put into it.

Even after completing all the aforementioned levels, I was still found myself amused by the personality of the game and the intricate touches that add to its charm. If you make Astro look up at you then he’ll wave at you. If you’re underwater and Astro gets to close to you, then he’ll squish to your VR mask…and then smile and wave at you.

He’s a walking advert for Madagascar.

Astro Bot Smile and Wave

If all this content wasn’t enough, then you can reap the rewards from your adventuring exploits on an optional ship area. Accessible from the main menu, you’ll be warped into a small room within the ship and be joined by any bots that you’ve rescued. Rescue all 200+ of the little menaces and you can hit them, throw a beach ball for them to chase, hit them, make them jump off a trampoline and even hit them!

Additionally, each level is littered with a pirate’s haul worth of gold and coins that you need to collect. Well, you don’t NEED to collect them, but having them will allow you to have a go at the holy claw machine packing goodies.

Inside this beast is a whole host of collectable balls containing concept designs and statues of enemies, bosses, weapons, locations etc. Even if you’re not entirely fussed about seeing the behind the scenes element, it’s still more stuff to accomplish and the inner-perfectionist in you will make you want to do it. Don’t lie to yourself. You’ll do it.

In Conclusion…

Between the 50+ levels of gameplay, the exquisite game design, the replayability, the sound design and much more; I really don’t see how this is anything but a complete game. Colourful environments, more charm than Robin Williams’ portrayal of the genie and a darn good time.

This is a system seller and proof that VR is more than just shooting galleries and roller coaster rides. Let’s have more of this in the future please.

– 10/10 –

 

WWE Should Fear AEW

**This was written before Double or Nothing.

A typical brash, ill-informed comment from the usual internet wrestling smark surely? However you look at it, I’ve been watching wrestling for over 20 years and I’ve learned a thing or two from my time watching it.

World Wrestling Entertainment is the king. The grand puma. The almighty Zeus that sits his immortal, perky buttocks on top of a fluffy cloud in Olympus pelting lightning bolts at all those who dare try to impose on his superiority.

They’ve absorbed ECW and WCW. They’ve nullified the slight threat that was TNA. Now, they’ll be keeping an eye on the new kid on the block.

Right now, All Elite Wrestling is just simply merchandise. Their first show, Double or Nothing takes place on May 25th in Las Vegas. It will be an historic event. All-In was a dry run, the first real flavour of an independent show being operated on a Hollywood level.

AEW Doulbe or Nothing

Between owner Tony Khan and the endless list of Vice Presidents: Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega; AEW has a well-balanced hierarchy. You have a knowledgeable and successful businessman that has owned sports teams before, so knows about operational costs and the day-to-day running of a company.

Mr Khan is then supported by men who collectively have over 100 years experience in the wrestling industry and have a good idea as to what makes a good wrestling show etc.

Double or Nothing will be a pivotal moment in the company’s standing obviously, but it could be a seminal moment for the future of wrestling. For years people have wanted healthy competition for the WWE, many have tried, generally failed…so what makes AEW so different?

Firstly, AEW will appeal to the typical wrestling fan. It’s going to be narrative-driven and storycentric. Why do I know this? Because they’ve done it before with All-In. For those less-informed, go on YouTube and follow “Being The Elite”. It’s a fantastic YouTube channel chronicling the life of these associated wrestlers, all the while crafting and interweaving story lines into the videos. All-In’s backstories mainly came as a result of the stories they’d created on BTE.

AllIn

AEW can essentially become an extension of the foundation they’ve already built, just appealing to a slightly broader audience. One of the WWE’s many criticisms is that there’s no continuity and no creativity in WWE’s story lines.

It’s another reason I think AEW can be successful. They can be the voice of the people. Any displeasure ever voiced about the WWE can be capitalised on by AEW and used to their advantage.

Do you know something that wrestling fans like watching by the way? I’ll give you 16 and three-fifths guesses. Still not got it?…..

WRESTLING.

Some good honest sweaty graps. This is why we get looked down upon as fans isn’t it…

Anyway! AEW will house some of the finest wrestlers on the planet (including one of the very best in Kenny Omega) and it should hopefully unearth some hidden gems along the way too.

At the end of the day these are wrestlers, not sports entertainers. The wrestling will be at the forefront of the content and the emphasis will need no additional reinforcement; it’s just common sense for AEW.

Expect the fans to be listened, expect AEW bookers not to put themselves over constantly as not to abuse their power *wink wink WWE’s Kratos lookalike*, and they’ll be realistic.

If the past has taught us anything, it’s that we should be realistic. When their inevitable TV becomes a reality and they are broadcasting syndicated TV, they’ll know not to compete directly with the WWE straightaway. That’s a big no-no-Jo-Jo.

Mojo Jojo

If Mojo says no-no then adhere to Jojo and go-go and do your own thing. Don’t monkey around thinking about the competition. I needed an excuse to use Mojo Jojo.

There is room to compete if AEW do it right. At one point, TNA managed to draw 2.2 million people in for an episode of Impact. Whereas last weeks episode of Monday Night Raw drew 2.158 million viewers. At one point in time, TNA would actually have toppled RAW for a week. Obviously there’s a lot of extraneous variables to consider, but the fact is, WWE is in a state of decay.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alfredkonuwa/2019/05/03/wwes-viewership-is-tanking-fast-with-no-signs-of-slowing-down/#7a440f1a7a3f

What does the Fox say? It says “here you go WWE, here’s one billion dollars that you don’t need. Do stoof.” Fox’s obscene deal has given WWE an unbelievable war chest on top of King Midas McMahon’s already substantial gold mine. So they literally can offer their talent even more than they normally would. Why go to the indies when you can be paid half a million a year to wrestle on Main Event every week?

Now the good thing is that AEW does indeed have lots of money to compete if it so desires. Tony Khan is a very rich man and has already provided lots of start-up capital by signing many guys and gals up to juicy contracts that come with health insurance I do believe. So the staying power is there and if people want to go around and break a leg or three, then your bills are covered you psycho.

This is one of many benefits that current WWE talent are eyeing up, in addition to everything else that will come with AEW. It’s no secret that people are eyeing up AEW as a potential destination; the ongoing stories of The Revival and Sasha Banks continue and then you think of all the mid to lower-midcard talent that could seek a career renaissance.

FTR.gif

Zack Ryder, apart from winning the RAW tag titles recently and THAT IC Title win at Wrestlemania 32, he’s a ghost. Someone like Dolph Ziggler could go and be the star he feels he is. Tye Dillinger, Heath Slater, Tyler Breeze, The Ascension. All perfectly good wrestlers that aren’t having their potential utilised.

‘That’s because they suck’. Is it? If that’s the case, then why have WWE kept them around for so long? It’s because they’re good at what they do without having the attitude to demand of the WWE, meaning WWE can keep them toiling away on B-shows earning a good living.

But now, people have a reason to leave. The grave istake that AEW could make is replicating TNA circa 2010, in which they abandon their laurels, disregard their homegrown talent, and seen an influx of disgruntled ex-WWE superstars.

Chris Jericho is most certainly an exception. He’s a worldwide draw, he can still go and has developed himself into pure star power. Having his name on the marquee for AEW is big. Like, Andre The Giant big.

If Chris Jericho is willing to work for AEW, who’s to say any other noteworthy names won’t follow suit.

BUT…

Again…AEW must avoid the key mistakes e.g paying a big sum for a part-timer to steal the spotlight on a regular basis *cough* Bork *cough*.

It’ll be interesting to revisit this in a year’s time. Hopefully Double or Nothing is not what it says on the tin, don’t be one and done. Be the first step on the road to success.

**After the events of Double or Nothing, I firmly believe that AEW can change the landscape of wrestling. It’s an exciting time to be a fan.

– Andy.H. –

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PS VR Moss Review – A Couple of Whiskers Away From Being Incredible

In the two years since virtual reality emerged onto the scene in a mist of excitement and anticipation, it’s had plenty of good games to show off this sophisticated technology. However, there’s not too many that have stamped their authority and made their way into the upper echelons of must-have, game of the year contention.

Moss is a game that has all the potential in the world to reach those dizzying heights as it’s a delightful adventure with an endlessly enchanting protagonist.

Our dear mouse, Quill, is living peacefully in her village, until an evil snake by the name of Sarffog, incites chaos and runs amuck. Quill’s uncle is captured and whisked away to a place unknown.

MossBook

This is obviously troubling for our delicate hero who rebels against her uncle’s wishes to remain safe, and goes off in search of her relative. Long story short, that is the story. It never gets any more complicated, and additional exposition is provided in the form of an interactive storybook inside of a spacious cathedral.

The narrative is played out on these pages that can you can turn using your controller. I always appreciate these little niche touches as I feel they enhance your overall experience It differentiates the gameplay from anything else whilst simultaneously engrossing the player.

So off Quill goes on a journey of bravery and self-discovery, with yourself as her loyal overseer to guide her to victory. Quill acknowledges your masked presence, which you can see in the reflection of water around you. It further strengthens the bond that you’ve already created and it’s moulded and shaped as the game progresses.

MossPlayerReflection

So, did you see that ludicrous display last night?

Polyarc’s art design is simply wonderful, from the initial village you start off in to dark, mystical forests and ominous castles later on in the game. It’s one of the better looking VR games I’ve had the chance to play too as it boasts some rather tidy graphics; a benefit of the PS4 pro.

The visual aspect is helped by the structuring of each chapter as the camera is fixed for each ‘segment’ you have to overcome. So upon Quill entering the frame, you are confined to this section of the level until you successfully cross the invisible checkpoint that sets Quill running off to the next section of the chapter.

It allows the game to place a greater emphasis on the obstacles you have to overcome, all the while showing off an impactful back drop e.g a dirty, ugly swamp on the horizon whilst Quill is tackling enemies in front of you.

MossSectionBackdrop

As for the gameplay itself, you’re introduced to the platforming elements step-by-step. Moving, basic jumps, shimmying across a ledge etc. It’s not too long before you’re in your first fight either. The combat is simple enough as there’s no combos or any real depth, it’s simply mashing the square button and occasionally rolling to one side; Dark Souls style.

But that’s not what Moss is trying to achieve here, it doesn’t demand that you learn a whole host of stylish executions, the combat is merely a softer way of portraying conflict. The aim here is trying to boast a lovable character in a curious land. You’ll rarely fail a section in the game as the straightforward combat is something that I don’t believe a fly would have trouble mastering within half an hour.

But this is where the main problem for Moss begins; ironically. Just as you’re starting to get comfortable with Moss, just as you’re arching your recliner back and beginning to tenderly nibble on the succulent, greasy chicken wings by your side, it’s over.  In about 2-3 hours, possibly even less.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s a glorified tech demo as that would be doing this game a complete disservice. However, I just couldn’t shake that gut feeling of disappointment when it clicked that I had moved all the cheese. There was nothing more to sample. I thought I was going crackers personally.

Don’t get me wrong, the time we do get is a treat and I enjoyed virtually every second of it, as easy as it was. But from a critical standpoint, the length sadly has to count against it with this being a £20-30 purchase. As I alluded to earlier, the foundation here is rock solid, I just hope the next adventure can be a bit longer than the average feature film.

Throughout the game, the puzzles evolve and lots of it requires precise use of the motion controls to pull objects towards you. Requiring you to rotate contraptions in order for Quill to make inroads.

MossPuzzleDemonstration

Sometimes the gameplay blends puzzles together with enemies and they intertwine to create some slightly more tasking challenges later on, but again, nothing too strenuous.

Another example really of how lacklustre and bare the content is here is that there’s only two different recurring enemy types in the game: a rather harmless bug-type creature with a basic lunge attack, and a variation of this bug that can fire a projectile.

In fairness to the game, it does have some replayability due to its two type of collectibles that are scattered throughout the adventure. Each section tends to have a smattering of classic destructibles e.g barrels. Within these breakables are relic dust, so you’ve got a set amount of that to locate in each chapter.

On the other hand, you’ve got the slightly more obscure scrolls that can easily deceive you. There’s only about 20 or so, but some of them will take a bit more deduction and sleuthing to pinpoint.

An effective, and necessary method to finding some of them, is by cleverly using your environment to your advantage. By that, your first-eye view of each section is just a static frames essentially, but your vantage point is sometimes obscured by a pillar say.

If you lean in slightly, you’ll be able to peer around this obstruction and reveal tucked away secrets or otherwise inaccessible areas. Not only is this a fantastic way to keep you engaged, but a cheeky glance will uncover another opening that was impossible to see from your original position; ergo a secret scroll.

So if you do finish the game and you’re short some relic dust and a couple of sacred scrolls, then you’ve got the added incentive to go back and see what you’ve missed. You also get another chance to see Quill’s sheer delight at finding these collectibles. Cute.

MossRunning

In conclusion…

Moss has an aura about it that is assertive in what it wants to accomplish; establishing a character that you care about and building an intrinsic world that you will have fun in exploring, albeit a fixed one.

There’s no real openness to the game, but there doesn’t need to be. Each section is filled with plenty of depth and layers to make it feel fuller. Quill handles smoothly and the gameplay is generally accessible to all-comers.

The length and general ease of the game does bring this gleeful story down a peg or two, which is a shame as the ideas here are so positive. Plus, with the open-endedness of the ending, it’s very easy to see a more gratifying and expansive sequel in the future.

I wouldn’t even be hesitant in expecting an idealistic follow-up as my brief time with Moss was really that enjoyable, and the flaws aren’t even that substantial.

If we Polyarc can just knuckle down on delivering more content, more enemies, npc’s and taking the platforming to new heights, then maybe potential game of the year status will beckon.

8/10

 

– Andy.H. –

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My Favourite Wrestling Matches of All-Time – The Rock vs Stone Cold – Wrestlemania 17, 2001.

“You’ve got the WWF Title Rock, and I want it.”

No clever titles here for this one. We’re just going to lay the smackdown and get straight to the bottom line of this one. See what I did there? Hell yeah? Hell yeah? No? You totally did. You didn’t?… IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU DIDN’T!

This will be an easy series to write and one that’s going to be a lot of fun. A self-indulgent, self-righteous look at the professional wrestling encounters that my brain has deemed to be at the apex (predator) of Mount Grapsmore.

Even if you’re a casual fan, chances are that at least one of these masterpieces will hit home with you. Otherwise, I hope this gives you a new match to watch and piledrive into your head.

And I will say this now…any other subsequent entries into this series will not be in any order.

THIS…is the one. This has been my favourite match for the better part of 15 years. Nothing has topped it. It’s possible nothing will. Enough promo work, let’s shoot from the hip and get to work.

The Setting

The Astrodome in Houston, Texas. 67, 000 people. The greatest wrestling PPV ever put on by any company.

A night that had featured…

An emotionally charged father vs son Street Fight.

WM17ShaneC2C.gif

An indescribable, car crash stuntfest in the legendary TLC II match.

WM17TLC2tablesspot.gif

An absolute 5-star, wrestling clinic between Kurt Angle and himself (joke).

WM17AngleBenoit

And two, future, Hall of Famers trying their best to end each other’s career, all across the arena in a battle for the ages.

WM17HHHUndertaker

This night is fondly remembered for a plethora of reasons. But, even if the madness had ended after the first eleven matches, it would still be a contender for best wrestling PPV ever.

Then you had the main event.

Two of the greatest of all-time.

WM17RockAustinStaredown

The Rock vs Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Attitude Era’s two biggest stars, for the WWF Championship.

Before the era of 7-hour Wrestlemania’s that were so bloated, you’d have thought they’d gorged on a 3-course meal of gluttony, greed and a side helping of gluttony, you had a perfect show like this clocking in at less than 4 hours.

The crowd had already been treated to some astonishing entertainment and they were still, fresh off the grill, hot for this sumptuous final match in prospect. It was the main event that everyone wanted, and before Vince’s senility kicked in, he actually used to know what his fans wanted.

The Story

Rocky was the champion, Austin was the plucky challenger; not an underdog by any means. Despite the partisan atmosphere within the venue, this was very much a face vs face scenario in the main event of Wrestlemania. Given how traditional the WWE are with regards to their match psychology, it made for a unique dynamic.

The pre-match package is still the best I’ve ever seen, and it still gives me goosebumps now. Limp Bizkit’s ‘My Way’ was such a fitting song that really narrated the inherent desire of these two men to walk out of Wrestlemania with the most coveted title in all of pro wrestling.

It was that simple. I’m better than you. They fought on RAW and Smackdown in the weeks leading up to it and you just didn’t know which way this was going to go.

The Match

Needless to say, the spine-tingling pop when Disturbed’s awesome version of ‘Glass Shatters’ hits sets the tone from the get-go. Austin fearlessly made his way to the ring. Rock soon followed to a large chorus of boos. He was a face, but this was Texas. Rattlesnake country.

Another modern day trope that this match avoided is the pre-match, in-ring introductions to give it that big fight feel. Literally, Rocky descends from the top rope after doing his signature pose and Austin just blasts him in the face and the bell ring-dings.

This main event, at a fairly hefty 30 minutes, absolutely flies by. Even Sonic The Hedgehog experts couldn’t do Green Hill Zone Act 1 quicker than this match takes to complete.

If you went to a bar and asked for a specialty drink of its finest liquors, it would be this match. A blank canvas delicately sprinkled with sugar, spice, and everything nice…not to mention some tasty blade jobs too. Man do these guys bleed in this match; a rarity given how rarely The Rock bladed.

WM17AustinSharpshooter

The argument can be made for no chair shots in modern day wrestling (which if protected would be fine), but some colour can really add to the drama of an intense match. The claret certainly flowed in this match and so did the action.

Brawling in the ring, brawling outside the ring, brawling in the crowd. Wrestling in the ring, wrestling outside the ring…more brawling in the crowd. They absolutely held nothing back in this No Disqualification, championship epic.

They used chairs, announce tables, the ring bell, the WWF title itself; anything that wasn’t glued down would normally be considered an illicit object became a tool of destruction in this physical, sordid war of attrition.

In addition to all of this tomfoolery, the storytelling is simply on a different level here. Harking back to the pre-match package; the mission statement here was clear, win at all costs.

As the match motors towards its epic finale; both men, beaten and battered, begin to pull out a variety of manoeuvres, in desperation more than anything. The Rock commonly used the Sharpshooter in his matches, so Austin stole it. Austin even used ‘The Million Dollar Dream’, a submission hold he hadn’t used since the days of his old ‘Ringmaster’ gimmick. You just wondered if he would fall short.

The iconic play-by-play of Jim Ross and Paul Heyman really added to the ferocity of the action and sold the action beautifully. The match crescendoed magnificently into a game of ‘what’ve you got left hombre?’They hit their own finishers. Still they kicked-out. They hit each other’s finishers. They still kicked out. The crowd was absolutely electric and they went berserk for everything.

WM17StunnerNo one sold the Stunner better.

…and then it happened.

Vincent Kennedy McMahon idly, trundled towards the warzone; I mean, he is the owner of the company so he can pretty much do what he wants. The Rock basically had Austin beaten after a People’s Elbow and McMahon would aid Austin in his conquest to capture the gold. Vince lobbed a chair into the proceedings, leaving Stone Cold caught between a rock and a hard chair.

After a admirable display of intestinal fortitude from The Rock, Austin lost his cool, and metamorphosed from fan-favourite ass-kicker, into his heelish don’t give two sh*ts about anyone psychopathy.

One vicious steel chair beatdown later, and Austin won the WWF Title, aligning himself with his long-time nemesis in the process. It’s a heel turn that is largely regarded as a failure, it did have its moments, but who’s honestly going to boo Stone Cold Steve Austin? Really?

WM17ShakingHands

This was a main event clash that blended technical wrestling, attitude era-style brawling, unteachable ring psychology and organic storytelling.

An unrelenting pace of face vs face that AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura could really have learnt from for their disappointing Wrestlemania 34 match. That was two babyfaces competing for the WWE Title, but lacking any serious heat or proper motivation; which is amazing when you consider the talent on-show.

I’ve been watching wrestling for nearly 20 years, nothing has bettered this match in my eyes…yet.

Till next time folks. What’s your favourite match of all-time? Let me know.

– Andy.H. –

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PS1 Remakes That We Crave. Vol. 1

The ongoing question of whether or not remakes/remasters are a good thing is irrelevant; the sales speak for themselves, as does the public clamouring for beloved titles of yore. If you want to look at it from an objective standpoint, they generally sell; the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy being a focal point of this recent trend.

The genuine outpouring of raw, physical emotion that some of these games bring out in people, it’s exactly that. Raw. Visceral. The pure nostalgia trip that your brain goes through thinking about these classics that, even as I type this and as you read this, you’re thinking about right now.

Who doesn’t want that rush of serotonin, coursing through their body as you reimagine those delicate pixels that gave you good times back in the day? So, if it’s done right, why wouldn’t you want that now?

I do.

Serotonin

So it’s my privilege of presenting to you a few select games that I’d like to give me my juicy fill of addictive, biological positivity. I generally hear the same names thrown around with regards to remakes, so my selections may not conform to public opinion. So read on and satisfy your curiosity.

In no particular order…

#1 – Tombi 1 + 2

Two bizarre adventures that border on the weird and wonderful.

A story of a feral, young child that clearly hasn’t had a conventional upbringing; hence his unusual appearance and his tendency to run on all fours. His violent pink hair that could seamlessly blend in with Aurora Borealis and teeth that could cut through glass are things that make Tombi immediately distinguishable.

Our first foray into this mysterious universe sees our hero’s sacred necklace go missing due to a skirmish with evil pigs. It’s one of those ideas that seems born of a random plot generator on Google. Whilst the premise sometimes favours the inane, it’s just too unique for me to care.

TombiFlowersThe stuff of nightmares…

One second you’re in a forest of laughing and crying flowers, the next you’re in a Dwarf Forest stacked to the rafters with leaves to bobsled down on your jungle-arse. The level designers must’ve been on a good ‘trip’ when they brainstormed ideas for this game as no two places feel the same. Each location batters you with an array of different colour palettes and equally fitting music.

Due in part to the story, each level has an interesting duality hidden behind it in that when you’ve bested one of the evil pig bosses, the curse is removed; changing the music and scenery to something more uplifting.

TombiDawrfForest

Although the sales for it weren’t anything special, it did just enough to warrant a squeal, sorry sequel. Think I might need some oinkment for that slip-up.

Tombi 2 on what worked the first time around by adding lots more quests and things to do e.g mine cart sections, nut collecting for squirrels and bird-washing amongst other unusual mini-games. Instead of a necklace this time, it was Tombi’s girlfriend. I’m still waiting for the prequel where we get to see how in gods name this twisted, candyfloss looking vampire-Tarzan, that can’t speak, got a girlfriend. He’s probably happy for her to pig out at buffets I’m guessing.

Tombi2

Whoopee Camp added an additional dimension to the gameplay to allow for more inventive platforming, along with different outfits offering different abilities.

Two games that were well-recieved but poorly purchased. Still, if they were given the ol’ spit shine, a decent bit of marketing with social media, then it’d be great to revisit these forgotten gems.

#2 – Driver

IF…and that’s an Andre The Giant-sized if, you managed to get past the infamous ‘tutorial’ for this game, then you’ll have been able to appreciate just how awesome and influential this game was.

On the flip side, most people perhaps didn’t have the opportunity to explore the splendor of Driver. The baby steps of the game literally tried to sever your feet, such was the sharpness of the difficulty spike it placed before you. It was intended to grind your gears, get you so angry that you’d furiously go into work and earn a suspension, maybe even become an alco-hydraulic…

DriverPS1Tutorial

If anyone says the cleared this on their first-ever go, then you are duly obliged to poke them in their eyes. It is sacrilege to lie about something so profound.

But with perseverance comes reward, if you reached mission two, well, it didn’t actually get much easier to be honest. This was a hard game and made you earn your racing stripes. But it was worth it.

Taking the reigns of Tanner, an undercover cop, your vigilante duties took you all over America from Miami to San Francisco, to LA to the Big Apple itself. The story wasn’t much to balk at, it was the meat of the missions really where you wanted to sink your omnivorous mouth chompers into.

With the help of some oil-slick physics, the cars handled very well. It was a hybrid arcade-sim system with the ticker pointing towards the arcade side of things a bit more. Speeding around a corner felt great, perfectly dissecting two passive vehicles gave you your action hero rush, and the high-speed chase scenario never grew old. Even more so as the soundtrack is belting out some funky 70’s style cheesiness that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Starksy and Hutch.

DriverPS1Mission

The missions were paced quite well, and with tight accompanying gameplay to boot, your experience rarely felt tainted or a chore. Whether it was standard A-to-B journeys, tailing a vehicle smashing cars up or chasing/being chased by the police.

Some of the sequels left a lot to be desired for the franchise, but the original is still one of the better driving games even to this day.

#3 – Gex 3D

Gex is another one of those attempts to mould a company mascot that can hopefully topple the dominance of icons such as Mario and Sonic. The latter are still going strong today, whereas Gex inexplicably didn’t even see the next generation of consoles.

Why inexplicably you ask? Because when you’ve got a game as good as this, you have to wonder why it didn’t get a PS2 entry.

Gex3DLooneyTunes

It was a highly satirical platformer with pop culture references about anything you can possibly think of. Gex is brilliantly voiced by Leslie Phillips CBE, and his lines are oozing with personality and buckets of charisma.

Admittedly, the controls were a bit wonky at times and the platforming was a teeny bit dodgy, but nevertheless, it was another highly imaginative game. It parodies Godzilla and Looney Tunes amongst other things whilst remaining self-aware.

Gex3DGexzilla

Each level had multiple remotes to collect by finding all the specific collectibles for that level or even getting to the end of the level, which usually ended up being a tricky gauntlet; but it was rewarding.

A charming protagonist, a well-written script rife with humour, lots of variety in the levels and enemies etc.

Gex3DBonusLevel

One of many bonus rounds in the game.

I’d be ecstatic if this got the remake treatment.

#4 – Time Crisis

A genre-defining game if ever there was one

Was it the first to feature light-guns? Nope. The ever-popular Duck Hunt gets a huge pat on the back for that, as does Sega’s Virtua Cop. But the introduction of Time Crisis packaged with the revolutionary G-Con and gun pedal was quite something.

No longer did you have to cry real tears as the arcade machine gleefully swallowed up your hard-earned money. Now you could bring the experience home; still crying thanks to the last stage. *cries in nostalgia*

TimeCrisisCastle

It was a successful game with a fun story, addictive gameplay and spawned numerous sequels due to its accessibility.

However, the genre did die out as the years went by. We began to move past its initial 1995 arcade release and subsequent 1997 home console debut. On-rails shooters were being phased out as they weren’t ‘cool’ anymore.

  1. I see what they mean. You were at home, firing a plastic gun at a TV screen, cursing your ‘broken’ gun for causing you to run out of credits.
  2. I was 1. Do I regret it? Hell no! It was frickin awesome. I was firing a plastic gun at intangible terrorists for crying out loud! How is that not cool!?

TimeCrisisBossKnivesThis…THIS guy chewed up my credits for fun with his f*****g knives…

Regardless, times change. But, in my eyes, they’ve changed again.

Pointing our square eyes toward the hot topic of virtual reality; one of the key selling points of VR has been the real-intimate nature of the gameplay. Now when you consider that lots of VR games are commonly on-rails shooters/rollercoaster games; you have to think it’s not a question of if, but when.

The reintegration of Time Crisis into the gaming world is now a real possibility. Boyd rumours of so many games being brought back into existence, who’s to say a developer won’t do this for an arcade classic? Just remake the original game, maybe with Time Crisis 2 thrown in for good measure, and you have a chance to cash-in. If it’s successful, then howdy partner, we got us a rootin-tootin franchise to be rebootin.

TimeCrisisHelicopter

With a headset on and a controller in each hand, we could be hearing “ACTION” sooner rather than later.

#5 – Crash Bash

For my money, this is one of the most underrated games of all-time; merely for the ungodly amount of hours, myself and my best friend, have sunk into this unexpected barrel of laughs and frustration.

Whenever anyone thinks of the Playstation 1 era Crash games, Crash Bash is generally considered to be the lowest rung of the ladder. It was the only one not to be made by the legendary Naughty Dog, but that does not detract from the quality of the game by any means.

CrashBashCharacterSelect

Everything still feels true to the Crash Bandicoot universe, the roster is comprised of previous entries into the franchise; with the addition of a new creation, a cross-breed monkey/kangaroo by the name of Rilla Roo.

The layout is identical to Crash: Warped with its intimate warp rooms divided up into different levels. Each level generally is a mini-game i.e The first four warp rooms each have a level dedicated to the characters being locked on top of a painfully adorable polar bear that you need to use to charge other players off of the arena.

No two levels are the same. One polar level is constantly tiliting, mean you have to skillfully negotiate the ever-changing landscape, whilst remaining on high alert for incoming threats all around you. In later levels, you’ll play the same kind of battle, but with subtle variations that change the dynamic of the gameplay.

You’ve got tank battles, frantic pogo encounter in which you need to bank points after soaking the level in your respective colour. Popping balloons, boss battles and a whole host of other mini-games makes for a good evening, or 600.

The main adventure mode is a simple concept of Good vs Evil. Aku-Aku vs Uka-Uka. You need to claim the trophy for each level, which you can do by being victorious in a best of 5 format.

When you do clear each level, you then unlock the gem challenge which is usually winning a single round in either a vastly reduced amount of time, or by reaching a greatly handicapped total before your opponents. Furthermore, there’s also a crystal challenge for each level too. It’s just a pre-set parameter you need to overcome; and some of them are fiendishly difficult, as in, soaking your eyeballs in bleach frustrating. I’m onto my fifth pair now.

Later in the journey, you can then fight for relics which involves beating the arena champions for the stage, but you’ll need to do it either 2 or 3 times in-a-row, depending on if it’s the Gold or Sapphire relic you want to add to your spiffing collection.

CrashBashDragonDrop

You should find it difficult to get bored with this game, especially if you battle the games head-on with a partner.  It’s your best bet if you have any intention of getting everything in the game, hence the frustration part I alluded to earlier.

Or if you want to chill a bit more, you can play these games in a relaxed party mode against the AI or with friends.

I appreciate that Crash Team Racing would be remade first ahead of Crash Bash, but if someone could see it my way and prioritise this, then I’d be an eternally grateful Bandicoot.

Till part 2…

What games do YOU want to see remade?

– Andy.H. –

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All-In: Review

What a monumental night this is for professional wrestling.

From the moment that everyone’s favourite journalist, Big Dave Meltzer, dismissed the idea of an independent show selling 10, 000 seats, the challenge was on. Then very quickly, that pipedream became a reality.

It took over a year to put the show together, and just 30 minutes to sell it out. Wrestling fans are actually awesome. The reward for investing into a show without knowing the card?

A bountiful smorgasbord of the best talent in the world from all the major promotions; barring the one whose name we shall not speak of on this night. Tonight is bigger than that tired, money-hungry monopoliser.

Tonight…the fans matter.

Enough talk. Let’s checkout the action!

*I didn’t watch the Zero Hour pre-show as Fite TV didn’t show it.

Matt Cross vs MJF

Now, I do know my indie wrestling well; but sometimes names will elude me. Matt Cross is one of those names, I did have the chance to see MJF during a CZW show during Wrestlemania weekend though.

This was just a good mix of everything really. MJF is just a typical scumbag heel, flipping off the crowd, spitting in Matt Cross’ face etc. But Cross stood up to him well, pulled out some great high-risk spots and as the face, he went over to get the main card underway. Solid start.

Winner: Matt Cross

***

Christopher Daniels vs Stephen Amell

Lots of the stories for this show came as a result of the popular YouTube channel, ‘Being The Elite’. It follows the crazy adventures of Cody, The Young Bucks and others with a mix of kayfabe stories and real-life antics. One of the stories has been between these two men.

I saw Amell wrestle a few years back, against his friend Cody, at Summerslam 2015 in a tag match. Nearly 3 years on, and it’s time for Amell’s first, proper singles match.

Daniels is the perfect guy to pull something resembling a presentable match from the actor, but to the shock of many, he didn’t need as much help as some people might have thought.

He MORE than held his own, he’s clearly worked hard and lots of his in-ring work was great. That coast-to-coast was impressive, and as for that table bump? Well, that’s testament to the nature of the man. You can just tell when someone loves pro wrestling, and he was willing to take that hard landing. Nothing wooden about this performance as he brought it all to the table.

In the end, Daniels experience shone through. I really hope Amell can maybe wrap up Arrow soon, and maybe think about pursuing a full-time wrestling career; he’s more than capable.

Winner: Christopher Daniels

***1/2

Four Corner Survival Match

Tessa Blanchard vs Chelsea Green vs Madison Rayne vs Britt Baker

Save for a couple of sloppy looking transitions and a damaging ending, this was solid wrestling from all four women. I didn’t know who Britt Baker was, I know Chelsea Green from her time as Laurel Van Ness in Impact, she plays ‘crazy’ perfectly. Madison is a TNA veteran and Tessa is the future of women’s wrestling. The current Impact Wrestling Women’s Champion may already be an established star, but this woman is the complete package. Power, speed, intimidation; Tessa has an aura.

In just over 10 minutes, these women threw a lot of stuff at us. Dives, high spots and lots of near-falls. As the only women’s match on the card, they needed to impress, and they certainly did. As I’ve said, if you can overlook the muddled and confused ending, you have a great representation of what the women can do too. Given a bit more time, we really could’ve hit the heights with this one.

Winner: Tessa Blanchard

***1/2

NWA World Heavyweight Championship

Nick Aldis (c) vs Cody w/ Brandi Rhodes

I’m not going to lie, I was completely shocked that this went on so early, it must’ve only been an hour into the show. We knew in the build-up that this wasn’t going to be the main event; but maybe second from last? Third from last?

In any event, this had the feel of a main event boxing match or UFC match. Each wrestler came out with their respective entourage of wrestling legends. Tommy Dreamer, Jeff Jarett and DDP to name a few, OH and Cody’s adorable ball of fluff husky, Pharaoh.

The noise in the arena had been a constant throughout the show thus far, but for this match, it’s like someone had given out complimentary shots of adrenaline. The arena was bouncing, it had a big fight feel, and the anticipation of Cody finally winning the illustrious and prestigious NWA Title that his father, the late, great Dusty Rhodes, had famously held was palpable.

Being perfectly honest, the match itself was good. It never felt like it hit those starry heights that some may have hoped. But like The Rock vs Hogan Wrestlemania match, the occasion was special, the crowd was amped, and the tension was felt in the air.

Aldis dominated for lots of the match, but the turning point was when Cody leapt off the top rope to the outside, and Aldis smashed him in the face. Earl Hebner threw up the famous ‘X’ signal, and thus began the shenanigans. DDP came out to aid Cody, Davairi came out on behalf of Aldis, and took exception to this by pushing DDP away.

He ate a Diamond Cutter for his troubles. All this allowed Cody to cut himself open for a nice, juicy bladejob that Dusty would’ve been proud of.

The home stretch was quite gripping with near-falls aplenty. The ending came quite suddenly when, in classic 70’s/80’s fashion, Cody managed to hook the legs and trap Aldis for the 3-count. That pop was something special, and I’m sure that it meant the world to Cody. Some people may complain that Cody booked himself to win this match, but how couldn’t he?

The wrestling business works because of storytelling. This was that AND then some.

Winner and NEW NWA World Champion: Cody

****

Chicago Street Fight

Joey Janela w/ Penelope Ford vs Hangman Page

I presumed that this would be the one to go on after an intense title match. A nice, fun match to sit back and enjoy…

This…this was violent to say the least. Without blood, barbed wire etc, this is as hardcore as it gets. Joey Janela must’ve needed multiple ice baths after this encounter to heal the many wounds he got from this match.

Metal ladders (not wooden), chairs, Crackerbarrels (whatever the hell that is), tables, tables and yet more tables. There were some horrible bumps in this match, not least Hangman Page powerbombing Janela off the stage through two tables. Only, Page had no momentum and basically just kind of threw him at the tables and missed badly.

Page eventually won after using the phone he murdered Joey Ryan with (I’ll get to that soon) and performed a modified Gringo Killer, off the top of a ladder, through a table. A fittingly barbaric way to end a straight-up evil match. Another Bullet Club win.

Great stuff.

Winner: Hangman Page

****

Joey Ryan Segment

Going back to Being The Elite, another running story was between Hangman Page and Joey Ryan. Basically, Page murdered Ryan, Page was haunted by it, and spooky things kept happening to him as a result.

After the Street Fight, one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in wrestling transpired.

We had an Undertaker’s Druids style congregation in the aisleway, only…the druids dressed as massive, inflatable penises. The commentators sold it PERFECTLY with constant innuendos.

Then out came the undead penom, Joey Ryan. As with all Joey Ryan skits, I’m sure you can guess what happened next. On this night, we heard the chant ‘Rest In Penis’. Jim Cornette would’ve popped every blood-vessel in is body watching this segment.

ROH World Championship

Jay Lethal (c) vs Flip Gordon w/Brandi Rhodes

For months, Flip Gordon has been trying to get himself booked for All-In, Cody has kayfabe refused. So he appeared in the battle royal, won and earned a title shot against Jay Lethal.

Jay Lethal was confronted backstage, got slapped, and just like when a bull sees red, Jay channelled his inner Macho Man and transformed into his classic Black Machismo persona for this match. This show literally had everything.

Again, I’d never seen Flip Gordon before, although I had a funny feeling that his move set would be of the aerial, rotation variety. I was not disappointed. I don’t think anyone for a second really believed that Flip would win, even with his friend Brandi at ringside.

It was a good back-and-forth match with Jay Lethal’s zoning in and out of Macho Mode being a particular highlight. At one point he stole Brandi and hoisted her up into the air, a la Miss Elizabeth. It was gold.

This was generally just another solid outing.

Winner and STILL ROH World Champion: Jay Lethal

***

Kenny Omega vs Penta El Zero

It’s been a very good show so far. Nothing bad at all. But now…now we’re moving into A-list match territory. The current IWGP champion against the devastatingly brilliant Pentagon Jr. On paper, this is an absolutely mouth-watering clash.

The reality? It was gorgeously good. I don’t even know if that’s a thing, but it is now. These are just two of the best professional wrestlers in the world, and world-class entertainers.

Once again, the excitement in the air was turned up a couple of notches. These two just went balls to the wall as you’d expect, and delivered a superb wrestling match. It was short of the 20-minute mark, a baby as far as Omega matches go, and even at around 18-minutes, it still felt like they were rushed.

Yet, the action was unrelenting AND devastating. I’m still wincing just picturing Pentagon Jr’s package piledriver on the apron. There were several dicey manoeuvres that involved heads hitting or nearly hitting hard on the canvas.

Either way, you should go out of your way to see this match. Omega continues to excel and produce one spellbinding performance after another.

Winner: Kenny Omega

****

Post-match beatdown

Lights go out. Punk? Nope. Just Omega and Pentagon Jr. still…or is it? Nah, I noticed the tattoos straight away. But the individual realisation of the audience is a moment to behold. Then Jericho’s unmasking is a pop that almost rivals Cody’s title win.

Jericho will see Omega on the Jericho cruise show for part II.

Kazuchika Okada vs Marty Scurll

Now we come to one of the most interesting matches of the night. Despite being the other ‘massive’ match, it felt like a foregone conclusion before it started.

The story going into this, is that the junior-heavyweight, The Villain, couldn’t topple the heavyweight, the Rainmaker. If Scurll could somehow defeat the almost untouchable Okada, then suddenly weight divisions may not matter in NJPW, the ramifications could be huge.

This is wrestling though…so what if?

Boy, did Okada beat on Scurll for a lot of this match. Okada was nonchalant in parts. Yet Marty carried himself with great pride here. He really took it to Okada and proved why he is such a valuable commodity in the wrestling world; a million miles away from party Marty. So many moves were used in this match from lariats, to high-impact DDT’s, Okada tried to crush Marty’s ribcage with several intense, shotgun dropkicks.

There was a glorious moment during the match in which Okada was setting up Scurll for the Rainmaker, but Marty grabbed his finger and snapped it. It crescendoed into an extraordinary finish with a ref bump, which lead to Scurll delivering a very stiff umbrella shot to the head followed by a RAINMAKER!

1…2…3.NO! It must’ve been two and ninety-nine hundredths. Unbelievable.

But Okada recovered and hit Scurll with a Rainmaker salvo. Three consecutive shots that incapacitated Scurll and ended the dream. For a split second, they had me, and they had you. This match delivered in every way.

Winner: Kazuchika Okada

****1/2

The Golden Elite (The Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi) vs Rey Mysterio, Fenix and Bandido

To finish off a resounding night of memories, a six-man tag team sprint full of outrageous spots, seriously, I’m not even going to bother to list them. I think the match was about 12 minutes, and they crammed more moves into this match than The Expendables crammed their films with action heroes.

I think we had serious timing issues which led to the match being cut short. But it was surreal. I was in a constant state of bewilderment. I kept questioning how each spot could be topped, only to grab and knife and fork and get stuck into my own words.

There wasn’t much in the way of a story, this was just a demonstration of world-class athleticism and it was a hell of a spectacle. This is the kind of match that will divide people.

To me? It’s just a hell of a lot of fun. I’d like to have seen the Luchadore team go over, but I get why they didn’t. A vicious Meltzer Driver brought this historic night to an end. Even with less time to work with, they managed to adapt and get their own stuff, whilst performing it to perfection, I can’t recall a single botch amidst the chaos.

Winners: The Golden Elite

****

Post-match

I’ll briefly discuss a slight downside to the night, and that’s the timing issues. All-In had a massive 4-hour timeslot and certainly made the most of it. As soon as the Okada/Scurll match ended, they basically had to get everyone out the ring and quickly get everyone out for the tag match.

Then it wasn’t so much of a sprint finish for the match as a bullet (club) train to the end. I’ve checked the post-show on YouTube and Cody, Brandi, Kenny, other wrestlers and family members all came out to celebrate. It was a 15-minute segment with the Bucks and Cody discussing All-In, thanking the fans and even saying that they finished the PPV with 3 seconds left to spare!

Conclusion

What is there to say about this show? All-In went all-in and above and beyond. Before the show, it was a good-looking card, I’d say it overdelivered.

From top-to-bottom, there wasn’t a single bad match. I think my lowest rating was ***. Everything had ALMOST the right amount of time, people got there their time to shine and the crowd were energetic and boisterous, even 5 hours into the show.

All-In churned out lots of moments from Cody’s poignant title win to Jericho’s surprise appearance to the penis parade; it was just a great celebration of professional wrestling.

This was a statement. It doesn’t have to be about the WWE; with a bit of motivation and can-do attitude, a few wrestlers managed to put together a supercard that has been hyped for a year. It displayed great unity by having NJPW, ROH, Impact, Lucha Underground etc, all come together to make this happen.

During the aftershow speech, Cody basically hinted at All-In 2. With the success of this show, I think it’s only natural that it will get another instalment.

In-all, All-In needs to be watched. It’s up there with Slammiversary and Takeover: New Orleans this year. So go watch it and enjoy being a wrestling fan.

– Andy.H. –

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