It's the traditional question asked at the start of pretty much every video game podcast: "What have you been playing?" Our answer is this page. Every month you can watch reviews and read our thoughts on the games we've been playing, old and new.
Dragon's Crown Pro Review
by Joe Merrick
Vanillaware. Beautiful, wonderful wee vanilla ware. They’ve been quietly churning out games with unique, gorgeous hand drawn art for a wee while now, Dragon’s Crown Pro here is a re-release of Dragon’s Crown for PS3. It’s a four-player co-op hack and slash adventure game, and you’ll know whether you’ll like it or not just by looking at it. If you’re the kind of person that sees hack and slash games as dull and repetitive, Dragon’s Crown Pro won’t change your mind, but if you’re a fan of the genre, and can’t wait to get your next fix of being knee deep in the corpses of goblins that have fallen to your sword, then you’ll probably want to dive in.
The strength of Dragon’s Crown Pro is in the sheer chaos on screen. Some of the character sprites are absolutely massive, taking up a large part of the screen, so when you have four teammates all bashing away at a crowd of nasties - swords slashing and spells zapping everywhere - it can be a bit hard to follow. That’s not a criticism though; it’s all just part of the fun. The rhythm of the game goes from quiet moments to full-on brawls in the blink of an eye, and embracing the madness is what it’s all about.
Things quieten down and you’re given space to think when you travel back to the main town. Here you can advance the plot, talk to characters, buy potions and equipment and, most importantly, bring the dead back to life - if you were lucky enough to find a pile of bones on your adventures! The newly-living will wait at the inn, ready to be enlisted into your merry band of adventurers as AI partners, if you’re lacking real pals to play with. The plot is high-fantasy hokum but it’s a great excuse to meet some of the weirdest looking characters I’ve met in a game for a while.
Vanillaware usually stick to a sort of anime aesthetic mixed with Classical Japanese art. Dragon’s Crown Pro looks more like a 80s fantasy film like Conan or something, through the lens of a manga artist. I can’t decide if it’s a beautiful looking game, or if it’s minging. Muscles bulge, beards grow untamed, and the dirt and grime of the medieval setting is plain to see. There’s something about the overemphasis of everything, and I mean everything, that puts me off a bit, but I can’t deny it’s eye-catching and utterly unique looking. That being said, I’m all for artistic expression but the sorceress’ heaving chest just makes it a little embarrassing to play as a grown man. Maybe you’re into that though, and I’m not here to kink shame.
One thing that is truly beautiful though, as in all vanilla ware games, is the parallax scrolling effect. Layers upon layers of gorgeous scenery scroll past and give a real sense of place and depth to the world. The map screen alone is just wonderful; I could just sit and stare at it for hours as it flies through the world.
If you’re into hack and slash games, I wouldn’t let some of the, er, extravagances of the artist put you off Dragon’s Crown Pro. It’s fun, it’s chaotic and it’s mental. I haven’t played this PS4 version with real folk yet but we here at Bit Socket played the PS3 version with some pals all on one couch years ago and it was a blast. Now that it’s on PS4 I highly recommend it. Maybe make sure the folk you’re playing with are cool with the Dead or Alive size tits first though, eh?
Gran Turismo Sport
Probably the most boring racing game ever made; an exercise in tedium and monotony, where you have to watch a 3-minute video about sportsmanship before you're allowed to race online. A career mode that thinks driving at 20mph through a pile of traffic cones is wacky fun. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I love you Gran Turismo.
I bought this just so I could play as my boy Noctis. I'm not really a Tekken player but my boy did not disappoint; he really fits into a fighting game, and arguably plays better here than he does in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. The Mishima/Kazama clan are still a dark-art though, so story mode will probably go incomplete for quite sometime.
Scott's Shotgun Top Five
Worst Games to pick back up after a long break
The Witcher 3
Such a great game, but they made so many changes to the UI once it launched that I forgot where everything was and how to do anything. It meant I could roleplay Geralt’s amnesia perfectly.
I once stopped after playing for 15 hours and came back after six months. I’d forgotten everything; the combat, the story and what I was meant to be doing. Swiftly restarted.
Everything is overgrown and all my friends are dead.
Zelda: Skyward Sword
I pop the disc back in to resume this Wii classic and then I remember the motion controls. I eject the disc and place it back into cold storage.
Any Phoenix Wright game
After a two year break, I recently picked up Trials and Tribulations. It was mid-trial. I was hopelessly lost, with no idea who I was cross examining or what evidence I still needed. Poor Maya came a bawhair away from getting the death penalty.