A Gamers review by Alberto Statti

Fairyland on Facebook

Fairyland is a free to play virtual farming simulation and collection game. You only need a Facebook account to sign up, and from there it’s easy to get started.

Spend some time reading the ‘how to’ guides before you get stuck in (there’s really helpful newbies forums and general ‘how to’ game guides available) and, if you like collection games that reward you by building on levels and new releases as you go, then this is an addictive game that’s easy to pick up and will soon have you hooked.

Once you enter Fairyland, you begin planning your own garden to attract various wildlife; which you can also spot by watering plants in other gardens. The thrill is in the chase, so they say, and you will soon become hooked on ‘colouring in’ your spotter’s guide to wildlife as you attract and then spot in other gardens.

Different combinations of plants and food attract different animals, so this is a ‘learning’ game that rewards you for taking time and paying attention to the guides.

Don’t try this game if you’re all about the action – as a farming simulation and collection game it’s far more suited to the type of person who will happily spend many hours ‘building’ or ‘collecting’ to gain levels and rewards from their online games.

It’s a cute little game – from the neat wildlife graphics through to the actual garden and plant graphics, everything is cute, visually pleasing, and easy on the eye.

And it has real world rewards too: Play and Connect Ltd (game developers) make contributions towards the Amazon Rainforest preservation in real world terms for all their players. So even if you don’t buy gold (which of course there’s the option to), every plant you harvest in your own garden attracts a contribution from Play and Connect Ltd towards the protection of the rainforest. Some experienced Fairyland players have gardens which have bought (via Play & Connect Ltd’s contributions) hundreds of hectares of rainforest – meaning you can enjoy getting sucked into the game without feeling too guilty as it offers real world rewards too!

So if you like building, learning, cute wildlife critters and collecting items to build on levels then go along to Fairyland on Facebook to sign up and get playing!

by Alberto Statti

Yooka-Laylee: Rebirth of the 3D Platformer

Alberto Statti

Yooka Laylee

The Platformer was once the fundamental genre of game, from Super Mario bros to Sonic the Hedgehog (to Bubsy), there was once a time when a person couldn’t even hear the word video game without immediately imagining a 2D Platformer. Following the release of the fifth generation of consoles, in a way very reminiscent of its 2-Dimensional brethren, the 3D Platformer burst onto the scene and within a few short months, would quickly become a staple of its own.

Games - Alberto Statti
Alberto Statti Games

A Platformer is a game that involves the player controlling a character traversing a series of platforms, ledges, staircases (or any object that can be climbed/ jumped on really) to reach a destination or goal. So as I’m sure you can gather from the name, a 3D Platformer is the same basic concept, but in 3 dimensions. Often dubbed Collectathons due to the central mechanic of exploring levels and collecting whatever item the game revolved around. From 1996 to 2005 literally hundreds of 3D platformers were produced, licensed games (Codename: Kids next door), franchise players (Super Mario 64) and original titles (Banjo Kazooie) it seemed like every company, and indeed every character, was getting in on the craze.

With this huge influx of games, came a huge amount of innovation, and many would argue leading the charge in this regard were Rare Ware. Themselves a developer who had themselves breathed new life into the 2D platform game genre with their Donkey Kong Country series.

Yooka Laylee
Yooka Laylee – Alberto Statti

No good thing lasts forever though, after nearly 10 years of near constant releases, the thrill of the genre was all but gone by 2005 and releases began to fade from the public eye. On the 19th April 2005, the fate of the 3D Plat former was finally sealed. Psychonauts was released. Despite its enormous critical acclaim (many heralding it as the absolute pinnacle of the 3D platforming experience) it was an utter commercial bomb. As is the case with most things, one huge disaster was enough to derail the genre and the failure of Psychonauts saw “The Golden age of 3D Platform games” come to a quick end.

By this time even the gold-standard, Rare Ware, famous for developing many beloved titles for Nintendo, had been bought by Microsoft. Despite a brief return to their signature franchise (Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts) in 2008, fans of Rare and indeed the genre could tell that it just wasn’t the same. All viewpoints led to the obvious conclusion that 3D platformers were gone forever, since not even a new wave of Indie developed 2D platformers had heralded the faintest whisper of a return to 3D.

It’s therefore easy to understand the shock to fans when in May 2015, 15 years after their last true foray into the genre, the original Rare Ware team (having formed Playtonic games) announced their plans for a new game. A Kick-starter was set up for an original 3D Platformer, Yooka-Laylee, in the vein of those of yester year. What followed was an even greater shock of its own, with fans of the genre expressing their enormous thirst for new content by pledging over £2,000,000 (massively surpassing the games £175,000 goal).

It appears as though this Kick-starter has (quite aptly) kick-started a new age of 3D platformers. New titles are being announced all the time, from “A Hat in Time” to even a sequel to the (now) Cult Classic Psychonauts, 3D platformers are back in a big way, and it’s all thanks to Yooka-Laylee.

 

-Alberto Statti

5 Games to Look Out For This Year

This is a thrilling year for video game lovers. You can enjoy several brand new games that are sure to keep you engaged and at the edge of your seat. Here is a selection of five games to look out for on popular platforms in 2017.

1. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Alberto-Statti
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a major game for Nintendo switch, comes after ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s’ launch in March. Although it is a re-release of the ‘Wii U game’, it has some new content and better graphics. The game, which will be launched in April, is sure to please fans because of the series pedigree.

2. Night in the Woods

The main character Mae drops out of college to return to her home town. She, however, feels alienated when she gets there. Everything seems to have changed and the inhabitants of the town are speaking animals—Mae is a cat. The captivating game is about discovery and storytelling, not interactivity. It’s a must have for Play Station 4, Mac and PC players.

3. The legend of Zelda: Breath of wild

The success that ‘The legend of Zelda: Breath of wild’ is experiencing after its Launch in March is unprecedented. The masterpiece which is playable on Switch and Wii U follows main character, Link, on his missions. The game begins at the Shrine of Resurrection where Link wakes up after a century. At the start, a voice calls the player who quickly gets out of the shrine to embark on a journey of discovery of nature.

4. Red Dead Redemption 2

‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ is the awaited sequel to ‘Red Dead Redemption’ which was a popular game released in 2010. The game which will be launched in the Fall, allows players to control the protagonist and explore a huge world with all sorts of missions and interesting characters. Critics love it for its vivid narration and huge open-world. You can play the game on Xbox one, PlayStation 4 and PC.

5. New “God of War”

The game stars Kratos, a bald headed raider from previous games of the ‘God of War’ Franchise. The character looks a bit different though. He now has a beard and lives a more domesticated life in a Norse setting; he is portrayed more as a family man and mentor rather than a marauder. What’s more, players can use Kratos and his son for interaction. You are sure to enjoy the game on Play Station 4.

Conclusion

Whether you are looking for interactivity, unforgettable missions or breathtaking graphics, you are sure to find something that you love this year. Simply immerse yourself into your favourite game to find out what critics have been talking about. You won’t regret it.

Written by Alberto Statti

Crash Bandicoot Retrospective

After the recent announcement of the Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy(the remake of the original Crash trilogy)’s release date, 30th June, it’s becoming more and more clear that Crash well and truly is back. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about what exactly it was that led fans to be so remarkably hungry (?) for a new instalment.
Crash Bandicoot, as a character, first came about after original developers Naughty Dog set forth to create an original 3D action platforming game, and a mascot for Sony’s new yet to be proven home console, the Playstation.

The first Crash Bandicoot would released as a hit, which resulted in two more original (main series) Crash Bandicoot titles being developed by Naughty Dog, each releasing to more critical acclaim than the last.

Naughty Dog were riding high with their Playstation mascot, but they clearly wanted to move on to new and different series, especially with the ever approaching release of the Playstation 2. So, in 1999, Naughty Dog would finish their fourth and final Crash Bandicoot game, Crash Team racing (a game which had been in development since before the third Crash game). They were now done with the Crash Bandicoot IP, seemingly forever, going on to produce several other hit properties including Jak and Daxter, Uncharted and the Last of us. The fate of Crash Bandicoot, however, was up in the air. Would the property be allowed to fade off into history? Would Naughty Dog return to their original creation? Or would a new developer pick it up?

As it turns out, the latter was the case. Universal released one final Crash game, Crash Bash, exclusively to the Playstation in order to fulfil their publishing exclusivity deal, before they handed the series off to Mark Cerny and Vicarious Visions to develop 2 new Crash games. This marked the end of Crash’s original Playstation exclusive run, now moving onto multiple platforms for a series of hit and miss titles, such as Wrath of Cortex and Twinsanity.

2005 marked another complete change up in the Crash Bandicoot development (ironically) with another racing game, Crash Team Racing. Crash was now redesigned for his next title, Crash of the Titans; many fans found this radical change from the series roots jarring, but the game was ultimately a critical and commercial success, leading to the announcement of its direct sequel Mind over Mutant. This new series would not last long however, as in 2009 (true to form) a final kart racer was released Nitro Kart 2, before the series went on a hiatus. Seemingly, Crash Bandicoot was gone for good.

As you may know however, especially if you actually read the introduction of this article, rumours were abounding on the way to E3 2016, then, some time into Sony’s press conference fans heard the familiar music they’d been longing to hear again for 7 long years. Crash Bandicoot was coming back, appearing as a new playable character in Skylanders before once again appearing in his own game. A full, from the ground up, remake of the original Naughty Dog Crash trilogy; with new additions including full analog capability and a new save system. Fans of the series (myself included) are hotly anticipating this new installment, so let’s all hope it lives up to the series long and varied history.

Written by Alberto Statti

 

Computers Components to Look Forward to in 2017

Alberto Statti

The year is just beginning, and there is a lot to look forward to in the tech world. 2016 left us with spectacular designs, but they are gone just as fast as they came. Late last year, AMD released some basic information about their new Ryzen processors. The enthusiasm was multiplied when they launched Ryzen motherboards and PCs at CES 2017. Here, you will find information on the new Ryzen products plus a few of their technical details.
Motherboards

 

On this front, we can expect new AM4 motherboards from AMD. These motherboards carry the X370 chipset; some even have the X300 chipset – both types purposed for high end computers and mini-ITX systems. This year, there will be A300 motherboards to cover the needs of you mainstream mITX computer, A320 motherboards for those budget rigs, and last but not least, B350 motherboards simply for mainstream computers. The mITX motherboards have an added advantage to them – there are no I/O lanes onboard to allow vendors to add their own specialized links. Any of these AM4 boards can accommodate the new Ryzen chipsets, and given the various features of these chips, you are guaranteed to see fully differentiated hardware in the tech world this year.
CPUs
Intel is set to launch the latest version of Kaby Lake Architecture, bringing them up to their 6th generation of Core CPUs. With a dual-core, a four thread unlocked multiplier processor with a 4.2GHz clockspeed, Kaby Lake is a promise of better performance and even better overclocking potential. AMD was not left behind as the tech giant is set to bring forth the Zen CPU. At about half the price, gamers can get the same experience Intel is offering from Ryzen. More to this, Ryzen CPUs are to be offered in 6-core, 12-thread versions, as well as in 8 thread. Quad-core versions.
GPUs

We are expecting AMD’s Vega GPU architecture to change the entire market with its 8GB performance and high bandwidth memory. A 16GB version is rumoured to also appear this year, and knowing AMD’s performance history, these new components can be expected to stay in the market long after technologies like DDR5 are fully functional. The Vega based cards are not all AMD is about, there are also Polaris GPUs set to be released by this company. Nvidia will also be releasing their GTX 1080 Ti.

By Alberto Statti