PSN’s 12 Deals Of Christmas 2012

Sony have today announced that in celebration of the forthcoming festive period, PSN will be running a very special “12 Deals Of Christmas” promotion throughout December.

It all kicks off this Saturday, when Sony will tuck their first present under the virtual tree that is the PlayStation Network store-front. Gamers will then have 48 hours to collect the “amazing deal” before it disappears forever, and is switched out with a new offer.

The same promotion ran this time last year, and mainly featured rather disappointing discounts on older titles – it did however still feature a handful of gems, and even a couple of freebies for PlayStation Plus subscribers.

This year, with the Vita getting a big push over the holidays, we could well see some sparkly new decoration for our handheld, which in theory sounds fantastic.

Unfortunately, the current lack of Vita content means I am somewhat wary of these proposed deals, and you may well be too – especially if you’re a Plus user. In my eyes, any content with mass appeal, which may be getting a discount, is likely to be games or DLC you’ve already purchased, or are set to recieve gratis in the coming months, thanks to PlayStation Plus.

Dear Santa, I’m using up a Christmas wish here, willing this not to be the case.

Nevertheless, If you’re a PlayStation gamer, keep your eyes on the store throughout December, and hopefully Sony will deliver some crackers, and not turkey-after-turkey to our table.

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PSN’s 12 Deals Of Christmas 2012

Xbox 360 Outsells WiiU On Launch Week

The US Sales figures for the Wii U’s first week have been revealed – looking fairly healthy at 400,000 – comparable to the 600,000 the original Wii managed during it’s launch week in 2006.

Astonishing sales figures from Microsoft, however, show that Nintendo’s new console wasn’t anywhere near the best-seller over Thanksgiving.

Due largely to considerable Black Friday discounts at retail, Microsoft managed to shift 750,000 Xbox 360’s in the same period – nearly twice Nintendo’s efforts, despite the hype surrounding the new system’s launch.

Three-quarters-of-a-million  units for a console which has just passed it’s 7th anniversary is fairly impressive, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Thw Wii U launches in the UK this Friday  and with low stock already being an issue, it will be interesting to see how our Christmas hardware charts turn out.

Xbox 360 Outsells WiiU On Launch Week

Register Your 3DS XL And Receive A Free Game This Christmas

Nintendo UK have today announced a lovely little bonus to anyone picking up a 3DSXL this holiday season – free games!

Regardless of where you buy your XL, if you register the system before January 15th using the Club Nintendo redemption code in the box, you’ll be entitled to claim one of five top-selling 3DS titles for your shiny new handheld, absolutely free of charge.

Buyers will be able to choose from Super Mario 3D Land, Professor Layton & The Miracle Mask, Art Academy, New Style Boutique or Freakyforms Deluxe, and the game will be available to download directly from the Nintendo eShop between January 1st-31st, 2013.

Looks like a good deal to me. It’s doubtful, but would be rather interesting if Sony were to try something similar – It might to help boost the fledgling sales of the PlayStation Vita.

Register Your 3DS XL And Receive A Free Game This Christmas

Skyrim Premium Edition Coming To The UK

Bethesda’s open-world RPG epic, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, is getting a Premium Edition re-release, due to hit the shelves this Friday, November 30th.

Available on PC, PS3 & 360, the Premium package includes the game, a printed t-shirt, a map of the in-game world, some art cards and a brand new novel set in the Elder Scrolls world.

Also included is an additional PC format disk where gamers will be able to find further extra content including concept art, trailers, game soundtrack files and video footage, as well as a full game walkthrough

Originally outed by Amazon Germany a month ago, and today announced in India, the set hasn’t officially been confirmed for a UK release, although retailer GAME have stock, and are informing customers it’s coming soon – all for the rather tempting price of £29.99 (PC) or £39.99 (PS3 / 360).

Skyrim Premium Edition Coming To The UK

What’re Wii Buying? The Confusing Wii U Situation

This Friday sees the European launch of the first flight into “Next Gen” gaming, with Nintendo’s Wii U hitting our stores; In my opinion, the console hasn’t been particularly well marketed over here, but, if the US sales figures of 40,000 units in it’s first 10 days are anything to go by, The Wii U is on par with the Wii’s 2006 launch, in terms of sales figures at least.

Obviously, as a huge fan of gaming, game culture, and everything that surrounds it, I spend a massive amount of time dissecting the gaming media – and yet I’m confused by the Wii U. That’s not a good sign.

A large proportion of people outside of the gaming bubble don’t know the Wii U exists, and those who do, are, like myself, confused by it. Once we get past the “is it a new console, or is it an add-on tablet controller thingy?” there’s still one-hundred-and-one questions to be answered.

Who is the Wii U for?

One minute I hear it’s a branch away from the Wii’s family friendly approach, the next I see a TV spot featuring four player Mario games and giggling schoolchildren.

So, it’s gaming for everybody? Is the Wii U supposed to appeal to everyone, core & casual?

Targeted that way or not, I don’t think the Wii U is for me. I have very little personal interest in the idea of so-called “proper” games on Nintendo’s unit, I have my PlayStation for that; I have my Wii for the Mario and Dance games I can’t get elsewhere. Thing is, I’m not writing this to talk about my personal concerns, or buying choices this Christmas – neither of those are particularly interesting. What is, however, is the confusion that will hit retail in the next few weeks, and my genuine concern as to how this will affect (primarily young) gamers, rather than Nintendo.

The Wii is a still a behemoth of casual gaming, and no doubt will be dusted off for multitudes of Just Dance With Gran tournaments this time next month. It still has a very prominent face at retail, taking up more shelf space in my local GAME than PC, the DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita combined. This Friday, when the Wii U Launches, Nintendo’s presence at retail will double, and parents with mince-pie smeared wish-lists in hand will have the overwhelming prospect of twice as many games, bundles, and price points to confront.

To make matters worse, suppose you’re leaving your Christmas shopping another week, and head into town on the 7th of December: according to various sources – although unconfirmed by Nintendo as yet – this date sees yet another hardware revision release in The Wii Mini.

So that’s the Wii, Wii Mini & Wii U – Three different machines, two differing generations, multiple SKUs, but only one name, and at a casual glance, one product design.

Wii?

A console redesign at the later end of it’s life isn’t unusual. Both Sony and Microsoft have recently put out new iterations of their machines, and the Mini isn’t he Wii’s first relaunch. A slightly smaller Wii without GameCube compatibility quietly started appearing on shelves just over a year ago, presumably in a bid to combat the piracy which ran rife with the original model.

I’m making a few assumptions here, but Nintendo surely must be planning to advertise the Wii Mini, and shelf real-estate for the original Wii will still be significant. These advertisements will of course need to be run alongside the existing Wii U marketing campaign – with that itself being rather mediocre and lackluster in content, it begs the question – In the run up to Christmas, alongside their new console, is a redesign of the original Wii really the best choice?

Like the Wii before it, the Wii U is, pre-launch, pretty much a sell out. Many places have stock to fulfill pre-orders, but no more. If you’re hoping to walk into GAME or Toys R Us and pick one up, you’re going to be disappointed.

Furthermore, one of the biggest games franchises at the moment, and sure to have phenomenal Christmas sales is Skylanders. The recently released sequel to Spyro’s Adventure, Skylanders Giants, will not be available at the Wii U’s launch. Of course, the console’s backwards compatibility mean the U will play Wii software – but when it comes to retail, surely a cheaper – and more importantly, readily available – Wii or potential Wii Mini console will pick up some of the sales the Wii U can’t. If little Jimmy wants Skylanders, Santa has to deliver.

The Wii’s stock troubles were widely reported as being a clever marketing scheme. In basic business terms, shortages make any product more desirable. To those unaware of figures, a sold out sign creates the illusion of popular demand and if Nintendo can trickle out the console whilst maintaining interest, the Wii U will secure pre-orders for shipment-after-shipment of units, well into the new year. This crucially spreads the flow of hardware further into Nintendo’s launch window, which brings the promise of a much wider array of games, whilst also allowing developers a little more time to iron out any teething troubles, based upon feedback from the often critical early adopters.

Wii U itself is still a confusing prospect to me, but Nintendo sure do have some shrewd folks behind their marketing.

Are Nintendo hoping to cash in by selling Mini’s as a cheap and cheerful stop-gap until more U’s are available in 4-6 months? I suspect so, and fair play to them, but this does lead us to less a case of “We wish you a Merry Christmas…” and more “Wii wish you a confused Christmas, and an unhappy new year”.

What’re Wii Buying? The Confusing Wii U Situation

Review: When Vikings Attack (PS3, Vita)

When I first became aware of When Vikings Attack, around the time of E3, I somewhat dismissed the title; It looked gloriously stylish and visually different to a lot of other games on the market, but I wasn’t immediately sure what exactly I would be playing. My first thoughts, based perhaps a little too much upon the project’s name, were that this would be “another tower defense title” – How wrong I was.

When Vikings Attack is the first release by North-West development studio Clever Beans.
After a bit of research I’d discovered that the two experienced chaps behind the studio have previously worked on the likes of Spiderman 3, Juiced, James Bond & Blur – an enjoyable and varied portfolio.
This alone gave me a great deal of interest in how When Vikings Attack would turn out.

Clever Beans – Martin Turton & Andrew Newton (with a little help from their friends), are aiming their sights on bringing fun and originality back into gaming – And that’s exactly what they’ve done.

When Vikings Attack is a rambunctious romp through a 1970’s-esque Northern England, inexplicably overrun by hordes of Vikings.

One can only assume word has spread, and that the beardy Norsemen are on a mission to pillage these fair isles of Space Hopper’s and Raleigh Chopper Bicycle’s (whilst enjoying the sounds of Bowie on their Walkman, naturally.)

… Perhaps not.

Split into a traditional stage-by-stage playthrough, called Quest Mode, and various Battle stages, When Vikings Attack’s gameplay is a ludicrously enjoyable mix of dodgeball, bowling & old-school brawler, all rolled up into 15 beautifully designed and fully destructible environments. Naturally, each is littered with weapons of all shapes and sizes.

You play as an ever increasing angry-mob of townsfolk, trying to rid their streets of Viking invaders.
The two-button control scheme means that although When Vikings Attack is both fast and frantic, it brings an organised kind of chaos, and as such, is really easy for virtually anyone to pick up, play and enjoy.

In it’s simplest form, you move from area to area decimating waves of Vikings using the left stick and the O button to launch projectiles; Almost everything you can imagine from your surroundings becomes a missile – from beehives to beach-huts and phone boxes to police cars.
Obviously, larger items can pick off more of the naughty Norse attackers, but that’s no problem – If you’re mob handed enough, anything goes.

The only other controls you make use of are the shoulder buttons, allowing you to rotate an object to it’s widest side – thus causing maximum impact, and X, the dash button.
This dash adds the game’s strategic element, and quickly becomes a life saver; Not only does it allow you to dodge a low flying traffic cone or beach ball, but it also lets you barge into an enemy crowd, stealing their weaponry.
The most important use of dash however, is as a counter attack – If timed correctly, you can catch thrown objects without sustaining casualties, and quickly propel them right back towards your unsuspecting foes.

Still, describing When Vikings Attack is difficult – It’s somewhat reminiscent of Hudson Soft’s Bomberman, or Capcom’s Powerstone – if that particular title had a Viking bowling mini-game.

The cell-shaded art style brings the assortment of wacky neighbourhood characters and their surrounds to life brilliantly (they look particularly good on the Vita’s OLED display), and the very talented Jamie Finlay has added a layer of undeniable British-ness humour with the game’s sounds.
It’s worth noting that on both the PS3 and PlayStation Vita, When Vikings Attack is running at a constant 60 frames per second and in full native resolution.

With stages ranging from busy high-street intersections and perilous inner city rooftops to the Zoo or even the Viking marauder’s very own longboat, there’s enough variety in the comical environments to keep the gameplay relatively fresh here – each area has it’s own quirks and tactical advantages, such as warp-pipes or soft walls you can bounce weapons off – all of which help to ensure you pummel the final Viking in the way only a super-stylish northern English Barber carrying a hot pink limousine can.

If you’re buying When Vikings Attack for the single-player Quest mode though, you’re doing it wrong. Each and every part of the game can be played with up to four players simultaneously, and absolutely should be.
Quest mode is smashing fun if you grab a friend and take it on co-operatively, and of course, there’s the 20 different VS mode areas if you’d rather flex your pecs in a competitive fashion. This is definitely the most enjoyable way to play, and will keep you coming back for more.

There are three different competitive modes to choose from – The familiar deathmatch affair that is Last Man Standing, a team deathmatch mode (Vikings Vs Vigilanties), or the slightly off-kilter objective based Gold Rush mode, where you must complete 5 particular objectives – such as making a kill with a spinning object – to win the round.

Dissapointingly, at the moment, during 4 player online modes, I’m experiencing quite a bit of server side lag. Hopefully this is just a teething issue as the game goes live, and can be ironed out. Local 4 player is still quite terrific.

Cross-Buy, Cross-Play, Cross-Save, Cross-The-Ocean travellers – When Vikings attack has all the good stuff.
You get the PS3 and Vita version for your £7.99 and they work together seamlessly. When I first booted the PS3, it grabbed my save from the server automatically, and prompted me to continue my quest, with no interaction whatsoever. This is some sort of Scandinavian witchcraft – I’m almost certain of it.

All in all, When Vikings Attack is a hoot. There’s a few niggling issues with the online side of things, such as the aforementioned slowdown and the inevitable rage-quiters, but aside from that, this game is simply an abundance of good, clean, if not clean-shaven, fun fun fun.

There’s collectables and tricky challenges to keep you coming back to the slightly repetative single player Quest, but it’s the accessibility and styling of When Vikings Attack that means it really does shine as a stupidly glorious multiplayer party game – One which willl have you screaming at the TV in equal amounts of joy and despair. Highly recommended.

Review: When Vikings Attack (PS3, Vita)