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28 Jun 2023

REVIEW: Formula Retro Racing - World Tour on Nintendo Switch

Review by Jon Donnis
A few years ago Formula Retro Racing was released, and I reviewed it on Xbox, I called it the spiritual successor to Virtua Racing. Well fast forward to 2023 and we have a sequel called Formula Retro Racing - World Tour.

Let's take a look at the official blurb.

"Players can drive, drift and draft their way across 18 unique tracks, including Japan, London and Paris. Multiple gameplay modes provide hours upon hours of replayability, with corners to master and endless lap times to overcome through the online leaderboards. This expanded sequel also adds new vehicle types to the mix, each with their own distinctive feel and handling properties.

Low-poly models and assets now look crisper than ever before thanks to 4K visuals and 60fps performance. Every aspect of the game has been designed with performance in mind, ensuring a consistent feel as players dive headfirst into corners at breakneck speeds. It's retro gaming as players remember it, but with a modern twist.

Relive the glory days of sharing the settee with 4-player split-screen in Formula Retro Racing: World Tour's multiplayer mode. Players can take the clean driving line, draft behind competitors or take the chaotic route and push friends into the wall  - just remember, the only place that matters is first.

For those looking to add an additional dimension to their racing experience, Formula Retro Racing: World Tour is also fully playable in VR. Incredibly immersive, and not for the faint of heart, this mode allows players to experience the thrill of racing from the most authentic point of view, the cockpit."

Since I am playing this on a Nintendo Switch Lite, I have not been able to try out the VR mode!

At first you might not notice much difference between this and the previous game, the menu looks the same, the graphics are basically the same, but there are some differences, the main ones being new tracks and a new set of drift cars. Everything else is pretty much the same as the previous game.

I have to admit I tried the drift cars first, and they just felt a bit strange to play with. Feels like they may have been tacked on at the end just to add something different. I quickly went back to what I know best, that being the regular racing cars. 5 to chose from, from F1 style to Le Mans style. They all pretty much handle the same though, although there are slight differences in cornering and braking, but nothing that felt major. Once you choose your car, you can change its colour, and away you go.

Racing is very straight forward, no turbos or boosts, just basic racing, but keep an eye on your damage gauge, if not you might explode.

4 racing modes, Arcade, Grand Prix, Eliminator and Free Practice. 18 tracks in total.

The game plays just as well as the first game, it is good fun, the tracks look great in their low polygon style. The eliminator mode is still the most fun.

The only question that remains, is if this game has improved enough over the original for it to be worth purchasing.

The Good
Fun little arcade racing game, that could have come right out of the 1990s. The graphics are awesomely retro. The soundtrack is very 8bit which I like.

The Bad
The addition of the drift cars, although a nice idea, did not cut it for me, after a few goes using those cars, I had lost interest and went back to the regular racing cars. Since that is the main addition, it is slightly disappointing.

Drift cars but no drift mode? Car damage but no demolition mode?

First of all this game is 100% an improvement over the original, more tracks, more cars, leader boards, multiplayer grand prix events. But I am not sure it offers enough to make it a proper sequel, it feels more like an update, or DLC content than a seperate new game.

If you don't have the original, then this is worth a shot, it is a lot of fun, looks and plays great. If you do have the original though, I am not sure if this offers enough for you to buy it. 

I score Formula Retro Racing - World Tour on Nintendo Switch a safe 7/10. Just expected more after 2 years.

Out Now

23 Jun 2023

REVIEW: Martian Panic on Nintendo Switch

Review by Jon Donnis
I have not played an "on-rail shooter game" for ages, I was a big fan of the Virtua Cop and The House of the Dead games back in the late 90s which probably introduced me to the genre, well on-rail shooter games are back, (apparently), this time on Nintendo Switch. I played Martian Panic on a Switch Lite.

The Martians have invaded, and you have to stop them. Thats the story. No more, no less.

As mentioned, this is an on-rails shooter, for those unfamiliar that means that you are on a pre-determined route, and all you need to worry about is shooting the aliens, you don't need to worry about which way to go etc.

The main selling point of the game is the style, everything is done in a comic book style, with a retro 1950s feel.

There are 8 levels to beat, across various locations, movie theatre, the pyramids, a farm, outside a diner etc. There are 6 different weapons to collect and use, and 10 different types of enemies, there are also a number of powerups to collect. Other than the aliens, you can also shoot various objects that might drop a bonus. For example, shoot a scarecrow in the farm level and you might get a new weapon. Try to avoid killing the civilians who will undoubtably run right in front of you, get a high score, and try to get to the top of the leaderboards.

Between each level you have short movies which further tell the story, and within each level there are short cutscenes to give your fingers a break. Everything is done with a nice level of humour, and as mentioned earlier in a 1950s comic book style.

There are the usual difficulty levels, and you can also play with 3 others on one console although I was unable to test that, I am guessing that is for the Switch regular and not the switch lite.

The Good
This is a fun little game, great humour, nice voice overs, and a silly but fun story.

Fun bright graphics and I like the comic book style in the cut scenes.

The Bad
This game needs to played using a light gun, using the Switch Lite controller joystick to move the aim icon is tough, it is hard to be accurate, why on earth they didn't make this touch screen for the Switch Lite is beyond me, that is literally the only other way that you could get the best out of this game without using a light gun. Also you NEED to play this game with the sound on, I know many people like to listen to music or have the TV on, but without the sound it is hard to tell when you are out of bullets, watch the gameplay video below, and you will see how often I kept shooting when I had no bullets left. Also, when you do shoot someone, there needs to be more of a feeling that you have hit them. This game leaves you wondering at times if you have actually hit an enemy or not.

A fun game that just struggles on the Switch Lite, if you have a Switch regular, then I am sure this game will play better. I wonder if I can plug a regular PC mouse into the Switch Lite to play this game? Would definitely make it easier? No Bluetooth mouse though, will need a converter.

If you are a fan of On Rail Shooters and have a Light Gun, then this is definitely a game you should add to your collection, if only because there isn't that many out there. Would be great fun with young kids.

Doesn't really work on the Switch Lite which is a shame, but there is a fun game here if you have the right set up, which unfortunately I don't think I did.

Out now on Nintendo Switch at and also pick up the accessory to turn your Joy-Cons into a gun like device at, its not perfect, but until we get a proper light gun it will have to do.

17 Jun 2023


Review by Jon Donnis
The very good people at Zoo Corporation send me their latest game to review, called SETTRIS, just from the name you can guess that this is going to be a puzzle game with blocks.

The game has a simple concept, you have an empty puzzle board, your job is to place the pieces available onto the board, making sure there are no spaces, and everything fits perfectly. Trust me it sounds easier than it is.

You can rotate the pieces as well as flip them to help you, as you progress through the levels, they will get harder, and the puzzle pieces more complicated and harder to fit. Luckily if you get stuck you can clear the board and start again. You will find yourself doing this often.

In the "Stage Mode" there is no time limit, so you can just play at your own pace, take your time, and hopefully solve the puzzle. Once you have completed a puzzle you move onto the next. There are plenty of levels to complete, so will keep you busy for a while.

There is also a time attack mode, this is infinitely trickier than the stage mode, the job here is to complete as many puzzle boards as possible within the time limit. There are leaderboards too so you can compete for the fastest time against players from all over the world. There are 3 time attack modes to try to score high on, one has you trying to place 3 pieces, another 4, and finally 5 pieces.

The game has a simple layout with a sea background and feel.

Puzzles are well crafted, and a great challenge for any puzzle game fan, young and old.

The Good
Simple concept, well designed, the leaderboards will keep you coming back, and there are plenty of achievements to collect.

The Bad
Perhaps not the most original game, but for a few quid you can't complain.

A perfectly simple puzzle game, for fans of the genre. I like a nice puzzle game and I enjoyed playing SETTRIS.

I score SETTRIS a straightforward 8/10

Out Now on Steam at

12 Jun 2023

REVIEW: Pile Up! on PC (Steam)

Review by Jon Donnis
It has been a while since I have played a simple building game, so I was looking forward to checking out Pile Up! from developer Remoob.

Pile Up!" is a strategic building game set on a small piece of land, where your objective is to construct houses, keep the people happy, and manage risky buildings placed on a small area as you learn to build upwards instead of outwards. However, don't be deceived by the tranquil environment and the soothing music playing in the background, the game is designed in such a way that if you don't get the balance just right, everything will collapse, and you will have to start over.

Your primary aim is to increase the city's population by constructing risky buildings to their fullest extent. As the days pass, you will unlock new technologies and buildings. To utilize these new structures, you must construct factories. Each factory grants you access to a unique set of buildings, allowing you to expand your city even further. There are various types of factories, each will help you with different types of buildings as well as support.

With a plethora of buildings at your disposal, the choice is yours when it comes to stacking them up in your city. Experiment with different combinations, marvel at the results of your random creations, strategically place buildings in just the right spots, and cover up any mistakes you make along the way. Consult The Architect's Handbook to learn the functions of various buildings and discover creative methods to control your city's growth.

There are missions that you need to complete, which will reward you with various special buildings that may bend the games rules slightly, for example you destroy a building and then rebuild it and it becomes more powerful.

The game is still early access, so it is far from being a finished article, there needs to be more content, and at times it feels more like a block building game, than it does a strategic city builder. Due to the limited space, I feel like the game will end up forcing you to create the cities in a certain order, instead of letting your imagination run free which would perhaps be more fun.

The more you play the better you will get, and failure in many ways is part of the game, as you unlock more buildings.

The Good
Nice graphics, nice idea, just needs more content.

The Bad
Might leave you frustrated instead of challenged at times.

For an early access game this has a lot of potential. I'd prefer a completely free camera, as at times it is hard to know where you have put stuff.

No score for now as it is Early Access, but the game is worth a look. But keep in mind there are other games out there with the exact same name.

5 Jun 2023

REVIEW: Away: The Survival Series on Xbox

Review by Jon Donnis
I was asked to review Away The Survival Series for its Xbox release, although the game has been out on other systems for a while, the Xbox release should be the best version with all bugs ironed out, as well as the addition of being able to control cats being a selling point.

The game is separated into two modes, Story mode, and Exploration mode. Story mode plays a bit like you are watching a David Attenborough documentary, but you get to control the main animal character.

You play as a young sugar glider (a small, omnivorous, arboreal, and nocturnal gliding possum), there has been some kind of apocalypse on planet earth, and only the animals are left, somehow the sugar glider survived, and he is tasked with following his mother and younger sibling as they try to survive. All the time you are being narrated to like a documentary. The narrator will give you clues of what to do next to further tell the story, for example catch a lizard, kill spiders attacking your family, catch butterflies that will act as a cure to a spider bite, as well as traversing from one area to the next through beautiful and dangerous paths.

While you play the story, you can go off and explore which will unlock other things for you to do, and allow you to uncover all of the game's mysteries.

You will also have to fight large predators as well as small ones, and you will need to use tactics to achieve your aims, or else you will get killed, luckily if you do get killed you can start again at the last check point. And if you choose the Easy mode, you will also have your energy and food supply refilled.

Talking of energy and food, you can eat almost anything, including mushrooms and the small animals that you might need to get past. And should you get lost or lose your mother, you can use a kind of special instinct mode, bit like in Assassin's Creed, where you can sense where they have gone, as well as find animals and so on.

The story mode is the main way you will play this game to get out of it everything the developers want you to.

There is also an exploration mode, which will have you at first controlling a bit of floating fungus, which you can use to "possess" any animal you choose, once you possess an animal, you will be able to use it as if you were it, control a snail, and you will basically be able to do nothing but move very, very slowly. Control a butterfly and you can flutter about, and in the Xbox version there are also cats you can control.

In this mode you are tasked with possessing a certain number and type of animal. Hence why it is exploration mode. At any time, you can leave the possessed animal and return to the floating fungus, to allow you to better search, or you can jump directly from one animal to the next.

Now the idea for the game is great, but how is the execution. Usually, I am very kind to Indie games like this, but because it was initially released a few years ago, I feel like that they have had plenty of time to improve it for the Xbox release. The game does have a few problems. The controls feel clunky, whereas gliding should feel great, it doesn't, it feels a bit awkward, and landing where you want isn't as easy as it should be, although there is an aim method that only adds button pushes to what should be the most fun part of the game.

The camera is also a bit of a pain at times, usually when you are moving in small confined areas.

Combat is rather limited, and not animated as well as it should be, neither are the eating animations.

The game does have a few graphical bugs, as well as bugs with regards to the animals, especially in fight scenes. There are no excuses for any bugs like this a few years after release date on other systems.

The Good
The idea for the game is great, I liked the narration, and it really did feel like you were taking part in a documentary.

The Bad
The graphics at times are a bit basic for the Xbox Series S which is what I was playing it on, graphics are more Xbox 360, unfortunately, a game like this really needs super high detailed graphics to help tell the story. Some textures look a bit dodgy, and the animation is a bit poor. You will probably complete the story mode relatively quickly, and I wasn't a fan of the exploration mode at all. The addition of cats doesn't seem to add anything special to the game, I prefer using the humble cricket instead.

A great idea for a game, but perhaps hampered by a lack of ambition. Maybe there is just not enough money and man time available to make this game what it should be, which is such a shame as I like the concept. It is just poorly delivered. And with initial release on PC a few years ago, I don't hold up much hope that the bugs will be fixed any time soon.

To release this on Xbox, the game needs to be perfect, and the graphics much improved.

I wish this game was better, I want it to be better, but as it is, I score Away: The Survival Series on Xbox a sad 6/10

Out Now