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31 Jul 2022

REVIEW: Two Hundred Ways - Nintendo Switch

Review by Jon Donnis
Two Hundred Ways is the latest puzzle game that graces the screens of the Nintendo Switch, for this review I will be playing on the Switch Lite.

The sequel to One Hundred ways, (which I have not played), Two Hundred Ways has a simple concept, you start each level releasing a ball, the ball will then follow gravity and roll along, your job is to place objects that will affect the roll of that ball, and ultimately guide it to the end position.

Of course, things get trick fast and you will have obstacles to overcome, or even use to your advantage.

There are 200 levels as you might have guessed, and these are in blocks of 10 which sees the levels having a certain graphical theme.

Things start out nice and simple, place a spring, and the ball will jump a hole, place a speed up and the ball will whizz past a fan that might try to change its direction. But pretty quickly after getting a taste for the mechanics of the game, the levels start getting harder and more intricate, meaning you will need plenty of practice runs, and analysis of the level to find the best route to the finish.

Eventually you will unlock 40+ tools to help you guide the ball, and as the levels get harder you will have to keep an eye on up to 3 balls at once, and just when you think you have it mastered, the game throws added layers to a level.

The game in some ways reminds me of the Bridge Constructor games, in that you can start time, stop it, reset the level, more pieces around, and keep trying to your get it right, the controls can be a bit tricky at first, especially on the small screen, and the tutorial screens have a few grammatical mistakes, but you will get the hang of it, luckily you can zoom in and out of the levels, move the camera view around which will really help you map out where you need to go, and of course when you get massively stuck there are plenty of walkthroughs online.

The game will in my opinion slightly trick you with the learning curve, I say this as early on I was getting through the levels pretty quickly, and then suddenly I was faced with a really tricky looking level, so I tried using the various tools at my disposal, making ever more intricate routes for the ball to travel, but I just couldn't figure it out, so in the end I had to do the one thing I hate and that is look up a solution online. The solution itself showed that the answer was way more simplistic than what I had been trying, so the lesson here is to try and keep things simple, and not make things more complicated when it is not needed. The spring tool is the best one early on, and will be your friend for at least the first quarter of all levels, but don't ignore the other tools, they are there to help you.

The Good
This is a really good puzzle game, loads of levels, a fair learning curve, and a scoring system that works on how much money you spend to place tools, so the more tools you use, the more money you spend, the more money you spend, the lower your final ranking and score, so if you want that gold medal, you need to find the simplest way to complete the level and not the fanciest.

The Bad
A few typos here and there and grammatical errors, which I assume will be fixed in updates, and if not they dont really make much difference to the game. Plus I am sure I make plenty of typos in my reviews, so perhaps I should be quiet on this one.

I really enjoyed Two Hundred Ways, and I will probably now seek out the original game.

I score Two Hundred Ways on Nintendo Switch a really strong 8/10

Out Now at

28 Jul 2022

REVIEW: Avenging Spirit on Nintendo Switch

Review by Jon Donnis

The great Ratalaika Games are back once again with another classic title. This time it is 90s cabinet arcade game Avenging Spirit by Jaleco.

Originally released in 1991, Avenging Spirit tells the story of a man who was out with his girlfriend Gennifer on a romantic walk, a crime syndicate killed the man and kidnapped his girlfriend. The man rises as a ghost or spirit and joins forces with his girlfriends father who is a paranormal researcher, and he now not only wants to rescue his girlfriend, but also get revenge on those who killed him. Ironically the crime syndicate is researching ghostly energy and their aim is to force Gennifer's father to help them and give them the secrets of the ghostly energy.

For a simple arcade game, that is quite the backstory!

You start the game as the spirit, and you can possess one of four initial characters. As you play however if you do get killed, your spirit is released from the possessed character and you can simply go and possess another character, even if it was one your were just fighting. But be quick as you have limited energy as a spirit, and if it runs out, your will die forever. Since you can possess any enemy (except bosses), when you do, you also control their individual abilities, this usually manifests as different types of weapons or abilities. The levitating guru guy is good fun.

While playing you mainly have two buttons to worry about, one to jump and one to fire your weapon, weapons depend on the characters and can range from simple guns, ninja stars, grenades, a simple kick, snowballs, lasers, there really is quite a selection to see when you possess the different enemies, which include the likes of Gangsters, Commandos, Robots, Hitmen, Vampires, Spirits, Ninjas and so on.

There are 6 Stages in total, play is 2D side scrolling, navigate a level, find doors to pass through, eventually face a boss, beat them onto next stage, collectables include your health, as well as energy for your spirit self to survive longer outside of a body. You will also need to keep an eye out for keys to collect, for when you reach the end of the game, if you don't have the keys you cant rescue your girlfriend, and you need to do that, and then possess her before you can fight the final boss.

The Good

This is classic arcade platforming done right, the kind of arcade machine I would spend countless 10p coins on, back in the day. I played this on my Nintendo Switch Lite and it works really well on the small screen too. Also a great story with plenty of layers.

The Bad

Perhaps a little short, but if you don't collect all the keys you will have to start from scratch anyway.


Thoroughly enjoyable arcade game, that I think would attract both the older gamer like me for nostalgic purposes as well as the younger gamer who likes retro style games.

I score Avenging Spirit on Nintendo Switch a solid 8/10

Released on 29th July 2022

26 Jul 2022

REVIEW: Pretty Girls Breakout! PLUS on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
ZOO Corporation are back with their latest "Pretty Girls" release, this time it is a reimagining of the all-time classic arcade great brick busting game Breakout.

I am sure just about everyone reading this has at one time played a version of Breakout, either the original, or one of the thousands of clones. Well, we should all know by now that ZOO Corporation really are the masters of taking a classic game and giving it a new twist, so have they managed to do it again with this? Let's find out.

The big twist with the Pretty Girls games are the addition of... well.... erm... Pretty Girls. They are basically the "worlds" and "levels" of the game. Beat the levels, and you unlock the Girl for use in creating your own computer wallpapers, or just for admiring the fantastic Japanese art.

You collect the Kawaii girls (Kawaii means culture of cuteness in Japanese) by beating the levels and then completing something of a boss battle. There are 10 characters to collect, and all have costumes you can change in a dressing room, you can place multiple characters in a scene, change their facial expression and so on. Although the girls are all very sexy, there is no nudity here. Just busty girls in skimpy clothes. They are even voiced in Japanese, which really is needed, I cant imagine an English translation with voice actors from Birmingham or liverpool for example. That would just be wrong.

An example of some of the girls and their characters are as follows.
Queen of the fairy kingdom who descended to the human world. She is an egomaniac who respects beautiful things and can't help acquiring them.
A mischievous girl with a strong sense of justice. But in fact, she is actually shy.
Rui is one of the most popular idols of the moment. She becomes tsundere in front of men she likes.

Now that is the packaging, what about the actual contents of the game itself, as that really is the most important. Well the game is Breakout, you usually control a paddle at the bottom of the screen, and move it to bounce a ball to destroy bricks. And this is basically the model here, however there is one big difference, the flat paddle is gone, and in its place is a small character with a sword. You swing the sword to hit the ball, don't swing and the ball will go out of play.

I like anything that is a bit different, however there is a problem here, when you first start to play, you will litterally be trying to hit the ball with the sword as you swing, however that is not quite how it works, really you are playing with a paddle, that looks like a girl with a sword, so the swing of the sword itself is only activating the hit of the ball, where the ball goes, works identically to classic Breakout and the paddle system. This looks and feels a bit weird, and I am not sure that it quite works, I would suggest changing the girl waving a sword, to a girl holding a paddle for example, because as it is it is hard to judge where you are hitting the ball to, and although you will get used to it, the point of having a sword is completely redundant other than having to swing it to hit the ball.

This is probably the first big mistake I have seen in all of the Pretty Girls releases that I have covered, and it is a big mistake by the game makers, which I hope after reading this they will fix quickly, or at the least allow the player a choice of having a paddle or the girl with the sword. 

The game itself plays like classic Breakout but with more than just blocks to hit, there are super blocks that need to be hit a numbered time, there are blocks that release creatures that will fly about that you need to hit with the ball, (dont try to hit with the sword), those creatures might even shoot bullets at you which you can hit back at them, which is a cool touch.

The different modes are as follows.
Pretty Battle - 5 stages for each of the 7 characters that you need to beat, each characters stages are harder than the previous one. Collect points to unlock new costumes in the point exchange in the dressing room.

Eternal Challenge - an endless mode where blocks are moving closer to you and if they cross the line at the bottom of the screen you lose, this is a challenging mode, where you really need to be on top of your game to get a high score at.

The Good
I am a big fan of Breakout and have been playing it forever, this version offers lots of new gameplay mechanics that improve on the original, and offer a new challenge.

The Bad
The girl with the sword to hit the ball, it doesn't look good or work well within the Breakout style of game, and needs to be changed, hopefully before release.

One big mistake does bring the score down for me, but the game itself is solid, I like the new gimmicks, I like the artwork, everything looks great, and when you get use to the Sword girl the game is fun to play. But they just have to change it. Otherwise upon release they will have a lot of complaints.

For now, I score Pretty Girls Breakout! PLUS on PC (Steam) a safe 7/10, replace the Sword Girl with a graphically pleasing old fashioned paddle, or something different and the score instantly goes up to 9/10

Pre-Order on Steam at

22 Jul 2022

REVIEW: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga Playstation 5

Review by Staff
Lego are back with yet another Star Wars game, but this one is a bit special, as it covers all of the main films in one epic game. This is the first time such a venture has been undertaken in the Lego Star Wars universe.

You can play each episode of the franchise, although at the start of the game only Episode's 1, 4 and 7 are unlocked. So, the first film of each trilogy is playable from the start.

Once you choose an episode, you get the usual "A long time ago in a galaxy far away", the music hits, you get the iconic story scrolling on the screen, and after a cinematic, which is really cool, you finally get into the game proper. I started with Episode 1, and the first game control you get is of a small space craft, dock with a battleship, and away we go. You control your character in a fully 3D, open world type environment. Everything looks incredible, perhaps the best-looking Star Wars Lego game ever!

You quickly get into your first fight, beat up someone with your lightsabre to win. The game does a really good job here of easing you into the action and controls. You can destroy boxes, which drop items, coins etc. One of the coolest moments you will notice early on, is the ability to throw your lightsabre, which then returns to you, that is really cool.

After messing about for a bit, speak to an android, follow him for a while, and then you will learn your next little trick, how to use the force.

As you play further you will unlock planets, just as they appear in the film, each planet acts as a hub with side quests, things to unlock, plenty of people to speak with and so on.

Each level has multiple ways to be completed, which gives the game a huge replayability factor, the freedom to play the game in the way you want is huge.

Over 300 playable characters, from the various classes like Jedi, Hero, Dark Side and on on. Different classes of characters have different abilities which in turn allow you to find secrets and areas that other characters cant.

There is a skill tree which you can use to upgrade and learn new skills. For fighting there is now a combo system, which forces you to constantly use new ways of attack instead of spamming the same moves over and over, as the enemies soon learn what you do and will block you if you try repeating the same things over and over.

There is such a huge amount of content in this game, that I know I will be playing it for a long time to come.

The Good
Such a deep game, so much content, everything feels really good, controls, fighting, flying etc. They really have made something special here. Voice acting is also worth a mention.

The Bad
This is open world, and I do know some people prefer the more linear aspects of previous games, there is the chance to waste too much time not really achieving anything.

This is a great game, simple as that. Will satisfy StarWars and Lego fans alike.

I score Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga on Playstation 5 a super strong 9/10

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is out on 5 April for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and PC

20 Jul 2022

REVIEW: Pinball Freedom on Nintendo Switch

Review by Jon Donnis
The pinball table is one of the oldest games around, and almost as soon as computers were invented, we have video game pinball. So whether you are a younger gamer or a more mature gamer like myself, we all know and have played Pinball games.

The latest game to want to grab your attention is Pinball Freedom, this is very much a simulation of real Pinball tables, you can even walk around the room while you choose which table to play next.

There are 5 tables to choose from, each with their own theme. Sci-fi, Fairy-tale, BMX, Skate Park and my favourite Chill Panda's Adventure.

There are a few viewpoints to choose from when you play, and gameplay itself is pretty straight forward, press A to launch the ball, and then use the bumper buttons on your controller to activate the paddles. Keep the ball in play as long as possible and try to get as high of a score as possible so to get to the top of the all-important leader board.

The Good
Nice selection of tables, all unique and easy to play. Graphics are clear and well defined so easy to follow your ball as it zooms around the table.

The Bad
The playable viewpoints are all in set positions and although you have a few to choose from, I would have liked a free camera option to set the viewpoint in what would be the perfect position for me.

A simple, straightforward Pinball simulation, good tables to play, and as is always the case in Pinball games, that leader board is always calling you to play one more time to get the high score.

I score Pinball Freedom on Nintendo Switch a solid 7/10

15 Jul 2022

REVIEW: Matchpoint - Tennis Championships on XBOX

Review by Jon Donnis
Matchpoint - Tennis Championships is the latest tennis game out there to try and grab your attention, released to coincide with Wimbledon, and try and pick up your casual fan as well as your tennis gamers, the first thing you will notice when you start playing is that this is a proper tennis simulation.

Everything looks incredible, the graphics are amazing. (Some of the close ups not so great)

Now if like me you are a fan of Virtua Tennis games, you need to quickly get that out of your head, as the controls are slightly different, and at first I struggled a bit with the characters as I was trying to play, I jumped straight into a quick game, and you will soon learn that everything is about precision, positioning the player, but most importantly where you are going to play the ball, once you have positioned your player and chose the shot type out of top spin, flat, lob or slice shot, a small black circle appears which you have then got to quickly put in the place where you want the ball to go. All of this needs to be done in quick order. And despite at first feeling a bit overwhelmed, I was surprised how quickly I then figured it out.

Of course, jumping straight into a quick game is not always the smartest thing to do, luckily there is a tutorial mode, which I should have tried first. This helps explain the game mechanics, gives you practice shots and talks you through everything you need to know to get you feeling solid on the basics of play.

There is your usual career mode, which you will want to get started on, as this delivers the main focus of the game. Create your character, choose your clothes, rackets and so on. As you play through career mode you can unlock special equipment and so on. 

There are training modes and a coaching system that will allow you to build up your characters strengths and lower your weaknesses.

The game features 16 real-life tennis superstars including Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori and Amanda Anisimova, as well as official branding from their sponsors, so you will see Nike, Yonex and Babolat etc.

You can play online or local against real life opponents, and there are even some mini games to have some fun with.

The Good
Once you get used to the controls, the game is fun to play, the career mode has good depth, and in general this is top quality tennis game.
At the start the opponents will feel tough to beat, but this really is a game about practice, you need to watch your opponents, learn their movements, and before you know it you will be dragging them around the court to where you want them to be, so you can play that winning shot.

The Bad
Only 16 real world players in the game is a disappointment, I understand licencing players costs money, but would still have been nice to have had a full selection of new and legend players to choose from. The sound effects are also not the best.

If the developers can bring updates to the game, new players, and updated commentary, sound effects etc, then the game can become great. If this is the finished article, then the game is still good and brings enough to impress any tennis fan, but I just feel like it could do better.

I score Matchpoint - Tennis Championships on XBOX a solid 7/10

12 Jul 2022

REVIEW: Dragon Forge on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
Dragon Forge is an incremental base building adventure game, you start the game as a young dragon, and you have to uncurse areas, build factories, gather resources and expand.

Main gameplay involves gathering resources like wood, charcoal, food, stone etc. You build factories which are automated, with the help of little Goblin Minions. Once you unlock buildings, you place them, and once set up, pretty much can forget about them. Once you build up diamond currency / mana you can then uncurse areas which are covered in fog, which then allows you to expand to those areas.

Your dragon can of course fly, but you have a stamina limit, so don't fly too long or you will fall to the ground, oh and swimming in the water also drains your power, so no long swims for you.

The game works when you are not playing it too, set up the Altar and Forge, let them do their thing, and when you come back to play the next day you will have plenty of diamonds.

The game plays a lot like a mobile game, play for 20 minutes, then leave and come back the next day, collect resources, expand, rinse and repeat.

There is combat too, your dragon can breathe balls of fire, and eventually poison and lightening, as well as claw at people. This is also how you collect resources.

80 areas to expand and explore, as well as a few different environments, all with their own secrets.

The Good
Simple game that doesn't take too much thought, and plays as something you do for 10-20 minutes.

The Bad
Although not advertised as such, this does feel very early access, and some of the aspects of the game seem a bit off, the placing of buildings for example.

The game has a lot of potential, but it is unknown if this is the finished article, or if there is more to come.
Time will tell, I guess.

I score Dragon Forge on PC (Steam) a fair 6/10

10 Jul 2022

REVIEW: Paradise Killer (PS5)

Review by Jon Donnis
Paradise Killer is an open world adventure game made by British studio Kaizen Game Works.

Your job is to investigate a murder and explore Paradise Island, (wasn't Paradise Island the name of the Island in the classic racing game Burnout Paradise?) Paradise Island is a pocket universe created by aliens canned The Syndicate, they want to create the perfect society, as that will awaken their ancient Gods. The Island is an experiment but unfortunately as with all utopias, things fail fast, the Syndicate kidnap humans from earth and let them live on Paradise Island, but as things fall apart, the humans are all killed, and their souls harvested to rebuild the Island. This game exists on the 24th rebuild of the Island.

When the humans are about to all be killed, so that everything can be transferred to Island 25, the alien Syndicate Council are found murdered. The Syndicate Judge sends for Detective Lady Love Dies, who was previously in exile, and is given the task of solving who was behind the killings, with everyone on the Island a potential killer.

The game is a murder mystery, a "whodunnit" if you will. The game is played in the first-person perspective, and when the game starts you find yourself on an island, you have to solve a mass murder. But how exactly you do it is up to you. As this is an open world game, there is little instruction, you will have to explore, look for clues, find evidence, and talk to people.

The game can be a bit confusing at first, as I said there is not much instruction, and at times it feels like you are playing a game that has some rich history to it that you are unaware of. So much of the first part of the game is you trying to understand what is going on.

Once you do kind of figure things out, the island is a pretty big place, and there is a lot to explore, this can mean a lot of walking, but along the way you will talk to a lot of people, as you try to solve the mystery. There are plenty of people to talk to, items to collect, and clues to find. Luckily there is a fast travel option, however it is not free, and you will use in game currency to use it.

One interesting part of the game is the ability to bring a suspect to trial at any time, but of course if you want to get the all-important conviction you better have enough evidence.

This really is an unusual game, something very different.

The Good
A wonderful soundtrack, and interesting gameplay really bring to live what is a pretty unique game.

The Bad
It can be confusing at first, with a lot thrown at you, but if you stick with it, it is worth it. And for a PS5 game I was ratehr underwhelmed by the graphics in some parts of the game.

A decent addition to your PS5 collection, a game that stands alone in its genre. Pretty unique in every way.

I score Paradise Killer on Playstation 5 a solid 7/10

1 Jul 2022


Review by Jon Donnis
We do like a good shoot-em-up here on the Gaming Couch, and we were asked to take a look at one called CYBERSTELLAR.

The game has a pretty unique look, it is rendered in 3D Pixel (2D Rendered Voxel), which means nothing to me, but if you look at the images and trailer, you can see it is looks pretty incredible.

The game has 8 levels, of which I managed to only get to level two, and that was after a few hours of gameplay.

There are 4 weapons you can upgrade to, a single shot, a double shot, a treble spread shot, and a temporary super laser shot that just destroys everything, as well as a collectable, automatically fired bomb.

The story tells us of a distant future where a civilisation has made its way to Mars to make a home there, after some time though a planetary event happens, and a great eclipse causes storms, as well as being a cover for an alien invasion of Mars as well as Earth.

Earthlings and Martians ask for help, (not sure from who exactly?) a spacecraft has been designed for spare warfare called Cyberstellar, and you are the chosen pilot for the mission to save the lives of Earthlings and Martians.

With the slightly over convoluted story out of the way, how does the game play?

Well as mentioned earlier I have only managed to get to level 2, and that took me nearly 2 hours of repeated play.

I am not a newbie to the genre; in fact I have been playing shoot-em-ups since the 1980s. This is one challenging game, that's for sure.

Controlling the ship is easy enough, it moves well, the weapons are upgraded during play through power ups you collect, but some of the weapons are temporary and you need to collect repeated power ups, without using them, to get the most powerful weapon, and once that is used you are stuck back with the basic one, so you need to choose carefully which weapons you activate and when. The whole weapons system needs to be re-thought, it just doesn't quite work, use traditional ideas for weapons and you can't go wrong.

The ship you control is relatively large, on what is a small playing area, with alien ships also quite big, this can cause problems, you simply don't have much space to navigate in if things get a bit hectic, so what will happen is that you will quickly become overwhelmed, and if you lose a life, you have to start back at the beginning of the level.

You have your usual power bar, but make contact with a large opponent and it is instant life lost.

To get through the level on a clean run, you really need to be on top of your game, and take out your enemies as soon as you can and in the best order possible, the levels play pretty much the same each time, so you will learn where enemies will approach from and use that in your tactics.

The Good
The game looks incredible, I have never seen graphics quite like this, and although in screenshots things might look a bit too busy when an enemy explodes, it isn't actually that bad as it is only for a moment. The music is ok, if a bit dull. Gameplay is super challenging, and you really need to try, try, and try again if you hope you get through the game.

The Bad
The main ship is too big, and the playable area is too small, leaving you little room for error, I understand that the developer wants you to see the detail on the shop, the pilot etc, but that's just not that important in the grand scheme of things. The menu is poor, and some of the power ups and weapons should be much clearer, and easier to use.

The issues I mentioned are easy to fix, but I am not sure if the developer is interested in listening to criticism. (I tried).

With such a unique look, this game could hit it big in the gaming community, but I fear that the lack of compromise, as well as some basic errors might mean the game struggles to do well.

I always want to support Indie Developers, but sometimes they really are their own worst enemies.

I score CYBERSTELLAR in its current state a 6/10. A lot of potential, but a lot of work needs doing.

Currently on sale with a 50% discount for just £1.99