Yakuza Kiwami (PS4)

After playing Yakuza Zero, the first game of the franchise that I’ve played, it set the bar quite high for the rest of the story. 

Kiwami, Japanese for extreme (as in extreme remake) immediately follows the events of Zero, building the story from the end of the 80s, through early 00s. 

The gameplay is almost a clone of Zero (with slightly aged character models) and is even set in the same town. 

You may only get to play as Kiryu but Majima is omnipresent in this game. 

Kiwami features 12 chapters (opposed to Zero’s 17) and just over 75 sub-stories. 

It generally felt less of a challenge to complete as Kiryu becomes much stronger with the Dragon of Dojima fighting style in this game. But I miss his drunken rage. 

As it’s in the same town, many of the sub-stories are a lot alike the ones found in Zero (or maybe it was the other way around, I’ve not played the original). 

Sonic, Super Monkey Ball and Virtua Fighter were all present in the SEGA arcades this time around but I kinda hoped there would have been a built-in port of a classic game again. 

I know Kiwami is literally an HD scene-for-scene / word-for-word remake of the original, but it felt shallow and small in comparison to the great impact of Zero. 

The story was great with seamless gameplay but I can’t help feeling like its later developed prequel did a better job. 

I do highly recommend this game but obviously play them in chronological order to understand the complex story. 

I would have had to stop dead there but before I even got my hands on Kiwami they announced Kiwami 2. 

Keep ’em coming!


Sonic Mania (PS4)

The game made for Sonic fans, by Sonic fans. A nostalgic trip back to the 2D world of Sonic the Hedgehog. 

It was refreshing to see SEGA revisit their roots in an all-old remix of their beloved flagship character’s biggest retro hits. 

The game plays just as you’d expect it would, like Sonic 2 or Sonic 3, but it seems more heavily influenced by darker themes of games like Sonic CD and later entries. 

Unlike the classics, it’s much harder to navigate stages, which are lined with bugs and unintentional death traps. 

The music is overly polished for its retro appearance and personally I think the character sprites have too many frames, giving it an awkward Disney vibe. 

One thing that really annoys me about it is the off-colour tones used for Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. 

I get that they were trying to separate themselves from being mistakes for an old game but it just doesn’t look right. 

The boss battles were repetitive copy-and-pastes of retro fights (Dr. Robotnik) and of itself (Hard Boiled Heavies). 

While I played this game, I felt an irrational unclean sensation, like I was inside the mind of a DeviantArt regular. 

It was extremely fan-service, and not in the ways I’d hoped for. 

It didn’t seem to blend very well with itself and it clearly stands out as an ugly doppelg√§nger next to the real retro titles. 

After this mess, I can see why SEGA never looked back at the 2D world…

Overhyped, overrated. Sonic 2 is better.

Yakuza 0 (PS4)

I had heard good things about the Yakuza series for years prior to picking up a game as it is made by SEGA and channels a spirit similar to Shenmue.

But I didn’t expect a masterpiece.

Yakuza 0 captures all the good elements of a well-written crime story, then pairs them with the beat-em-up style of old arcade fighting games like Tekken and Streets of Rage.

This game is massive. I picked up Zero around the end of May 2017 and I was hooked. I couldn’t put it down for a month as it was so addictive.

Alongside the main story, there are 100 sub-stories, a variety of mini-games, challenges and even fully playable retro SEGA titles from the 80s such as Out Run, Space Harrier and Super Hang-On.

It’s odd to see a world of SEGA games before Sonic the Hedgehog.

Onto the music – each fighting style has its own badass track that really gets you amped for caving a thug’s head in. Unfortunately you don’t get long enough to listen to some of the tunes because the characters quickly become so overpowered you can easily beatdown enemies in mere seconds.

The disco has a song inspired by and featuring the likeness of Michael Jackson (renamed for legal reasons). With the help of a man resembling Stephen Spielberg, you also get to direct the iconic Thriller music video while M.J moonwalks down a street packed with zombie actors trying to bite him.

Despite I’m nearing the end now, I’m glad I have five more titles to follow the story (six including Yakuza 6 which was out in Japan 2016) because it’s so good, I’ll be lost when I complete the game.

Well done, SEGA.


Japanese clothing store UNIQLO are known for their collaborations with big names like Pixar and Star Wars. 

This month (May) they teamed up with Nintendo for UNIQLO Grand Prix 2017.

Last year they held a worldwide contest to have fans design their entire line, with the grand prize including a trip to Japan to meet legendary Mario and Zelda creator – Shigeru Miyamoto.

The rules of the contest were to submit an original T-shirt design from a list of Nintendo games and then 25 designs would be chosen. Miyamoto himself would pick the winning design.

According to the UNIQLO website they received over 16,000 entrees.

I felt most of the winning designs to be a little lacklustre considering how many submissions were made.

First place was a generic 8-bit pixel art Super Mario. I could have sworn one of the conditions were to not use official artwork but whatever, it’s up to them.

The only design I genuinely liked was about halfway down the list and it was Mr. Resetti from Animal Crossing with the text “Life can not be reset” which I thought was pretty dark for Nintendo.

UNIQLO stores are fully decked out with Nintendo decorations and cardboard cut-outs of their video game characters. 

The UTGP 2017 range is currently available online and in store.

If you’re quick, you might catch the Mario and Luigi mascots in London.

Mafia III (PS4)

As expected of a 2K game, it’s full of terrible glitches that make it barely playable. It’s also very slow, uncoordinated and lazy. 

I’m pretty sure boats and cars didn’t used to suddenly flip meters into the air after clipping a stone on the driveway. 

It’s intent was to make the player feel compassionate about tough times in the 1960s but it’s so dull it’s given me plenty of reasons to steer clear of that decade. 

The voice actors lack enthusiasm and the narrative is as cringeworthy as Burke’s stereotypically drunken-Irish character.

Lincoln can be described as a physically fitter yet immensely thicker Franklin Clinton – except devoid of personality. 

The game plays like sitting down and listening to your senile grandpa tell an overly-dramatic and incessantly racist tale about the poor quality of life in the 1960s. 

This is the worst Grand Theft Auto clone I’ve played, and that’s counting Simpsons Hit & Run and the original Saints Row. 

If you like games that go on forever with boring dialogue and cutscenes that can’t be skipped – you will love this game.

For your sanity, don’t play this game…

Lara Croft GO / Hitman GO (PS4 + PS Vita)

I bought a PS Vita back in January this year (2017) and so far have only found about 10 games worth playing. 

The PSN store was selling this Square Enix bundle together for about £7.99 last month with cross-buy included.

I didn’t expect much from a couple of mobile games but the sleek design and clear narrative of the GO series compliment Tomb Raider and Hitman. 

Since they’re mobile games – either one is great to pick up and play on the go. 

They’re puzzle games littered with references to their own history. 

The games aren’t particularly long but are heavily rewarded with trophies (and an easy platinum). 

Sitting down steadily focused – you may finish either one in about 4 hours but I like to savour puzzle games and solve them without help. 

I hadn’t played Tomb Raider since the SEGA Saturn days. I had little interest in catching up but this simple game has inspired me. 

I’d like to see more games in this style. 

Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)

Having heard constant good things about Horizon Zero Dawn, I was sceptical at first about genuine quality but the graphics in its trailer had me hooked. 

Knowing that Guerrilla’s Decima engine would later be powering Kojima’s upcoming project: Death Stranding (with cameos) had my curiosity. 

I took my time enjoying the game but eventually got platinum in about 50 hours. 

There were a lot of things I liked and disliked about HZD and I’m not usually into open world hunting games but overall I was impressed with this game. 

The machine designs were particularly interesting as they reminded me Yoji Shinkawa’s mechas from Metal Gear and Zone of the Enders.

Gameplay felt a bit like a combination of Metal Gear Rising (stealth striking) and Phantom Pain. 

The post-apocalyptic futuristic design was like Destiny meets Far Cry Primal but it delivered an original experience. 

Climbing mountains for collectibles was a bit awkward. You need to find ledges with little to no help or manually hop stones on a cliff side which could be fatal without warning. 

I was caught in the landscape multiple times where I plunged to my death, sometimes far from a campsite having not saved any progress. 

If you don’t like running around and stopping to pick up every plant in sight, you had to go to a merchant and buy individual supplies with no option to multi-buy (until a later update) which needlessly added time. 

Death Stranding easter eggs; dog tags, handcuffs and a weird baby doll. 

The first of three I found (stranded necklace) gave no indication other than being marked by a purple light that it was very rare.

When I collected the item, I found it had no option to view the model in your inventory so you need to go into photo mode before collecting it. 

It has fairly easy trophies but it’s a big game. I recommend Horizon Zero Dawn.