Review: Xenoraid – A Quadruple Vertical with a Twist

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It’s encouraging to see big-budget, cutting edge releases such as Horizon Zero Dawn trying to bleed every last drop of power from our latest console hardware. These sorts of triple A releases validate the spending of our hard-earned, and fulfil our hopes of seeing graphics and gameplay we’ve only ever fantasised about. It’s the ride we bought the ticket for.

It’s equally as encouraging however, to see desire – and sometimes even success – still finding room for the old genres many of us grew up with: new 2D fighters are still being released, pixel art platformers, top-down RPGs, side-scrolling shooters, and more. They refuse to fade away, and are being embraced by new gamers much the same as music lovers don’t all of a sudden stop listening to the standards just because they’re old.

One of the oldest gaming genres – the vertical shooter – has also made its way through the decades intact. While developer 10tons may not have reinvented the wheel with Xenoraid, the excellent new spin the studio has added, coupled with it’s tight gameplay execution, has resulted in a vertical shooter that is at once recognisable in its genre, and refreshing for its newness.

Hit page 2 for a closer look at why you should pony up and start shooting stuff.

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Bioware & Legendo are Treating Nintendo Switch & Apple TV the Same Way

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In December 2016 I reached out to studio Legendo to find out if it was still planning to bring games to Apple TV. You can read my full story here, but in short, the studio replied, “Yes we are. Dracula Twins hitting the tvOS App Store soon! We were/are waiting for the platform to mature, and now that Minecraft is available, I think it may be getting its legs.”

Even more recently, only four days ago to be exact, Legendo posted an update on its blog reaffirming its position on still planning to bring games to Apple TV. So good news all round. (On a side note, the studio also teased a brand new game in development based on Norse mythology which is exciting, so watch out for more details on that.)

Meanwhile, over at my old stomping ground – Grab It Magazine – Chris Stead posted an article only just today with a snippet from an interview with Bioware’s Fabrice Condominas, producer of a little upcoming game you may have heard of called Mass Effect Andromeda. When asked to comment on why the hugely anticipated fourth entry into the Mass Effect franchise wasn’t a launch title for Nintendo Switch, Condominas replied, “If the Switch is a significant success we will revisit that. So the door is certainly not closed, it just wasn’t the right timing for us.”

So much the same as Legendo was keeping an eye on Apple TV’s growth, Bioware – the huge producer of triple A titles – is playing wait and see with Nintendo Switch. It’s fascinating to get these occasional glimpses behind the business side of the development process, and to see how studios both big and small react to new hardware.

Interestingly, in Legendo’s recent blog post, the studio also teased how excited it is for the upcoming Switch, with a promise of more information to come when the time is right. Obviously ATVG is more concerned with Apple TV developments here, but within the context of this article it’s a great tidbit of food for thought.

Also Read: I Had a Nintendo Switch Moment on Apple TV

New Release:  Machinarium – An Aptitude Test from the Twilight Zone

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Czech studio Amanita Design’s games have an otherworldly quality, an almost alien symbolic language that differs from game to game, yet always retaining a consistent, playful absurdity that somehow makes perfect sense until you start giving it too much thought.

I’ve reviewed another of Amanita’s adventures – the stunning Botanicula – for Grab It Magazine, and while it also features puzzles, it has a more exploratory feel to it than Machinarium, with the latter being a more direct puzzler, and a tough one at that. Funnily enough, and for those who have been following The ATVG Blog, Machinarium is also a previous PlayStation Plus title, which is the platform on which I played it a couple of years ago. So for those keeping score, you can add another one to this list.

If Machinarium is an aptitude test, than I failed. I’m not sure if my brain has evolved at all in the couple of years since I played it on PlayStation 3, maybe it would be interesting for me to have another crack. My brain has never really been wired up for puzzles. Abstract thinking I’ve no issue with, but connecting the dots is not my strength. I seem to prefer just making more dots for others to connect. But that’s enough about me.

Machinarium can be played either with the Siri Remote or a controller, and as with all the other former PS Plus titles that are now on Apple TV, it makes for a great addition to the catalogue, adding a nice artful entry to the lineup. The trailer below gives those new to Amanita Design’s style a wonderful glimpse into the studio’s universe, with wonderfully imaginative visuals and always stunning music that matches and complements the gameplay perfectly.

Lovers of puzzles, or just simply lovers of beautiful interactive experiences, should definitely hit the download button on this one, you won’t regret it.

Nightgate Free for a Week – A 21st Century Rabbit Hole

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A ghostly, green, electronically generated hand extends outward from Nightgate’s app icon, reaching from the darkness. Is this disembodied appendage inviting you in, clawing for your capture, or begging for your help?

If Nightgate’s price tag has so far prevented you from resolving the mystery its icon presents, now is the time to give in to curiosity, as Apple has chosen it as its Free App of the Week.

Games and apps that are universal across iOS (iPhone and iPad) and tvOS (Apple TV) mean that downloading any of the three versions grants access to all of them. I would recommend playing Nightgate on as big a screen as you have access to, through either a nice sound system or headphones. The sights and sounds are what make Nightgate worth playing.

This morning I took the free bait Apple offered, and I’m glad I did.

Quantum Revenge – Mechs, Manga, and Twin-Stick Shooting Coming in March

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Mechs are a great fit for video game culture, and the fiction of heroic warriors piloting weaponised armour has been embraced by gamers and developers for decades. From the early Gundam games of the 1980s, through to current-gen consoles with Titanfall 2, our fascination with mechs has endured. Mechs make role-playing easy for gamers, thanks to the connection between players at home with a controller in-hand, and the on-screen hero battling huge odds by essentially playing a video game within a video game.

Canadian studio Realtech VR are continuing the relationship by bringing a classic, Saturday morning Manga depiction of mechs to Apple TV with Quantum Revenge. The trailer below teases a twin-stick shooter with a wonderfully smooth frame-rate, and mechs controlled by traditional big-eyed pilots fighting overwhelming odds.

The storyline is one that will sound familiar to fans of the genre, casting players as the last line of defence against the invading troops of Rokuseya, who are looking to destroy all living things in the newly colonised 14th solar system. It sure is classic sounding stuff.

Quantum Revenge promises customisable robotic armours with varying attacks and abilities, upgradeable mods, boss fights, and an “epic finale.”

ATVG will be keen to jump into the pilot’s seat when Realtech VR’s efforts hit Apple’s big screen in March. Check out the trailer below, and keep an eye out here for more info on release.

New Release: Xenoraid Made it to Apple TV Today – Early Impressions

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Last month after reaching out to developer 10tons, I received word that its vertical shooter Xenoraid “should make it to Apple TV.” Well today it did.

Today has been a good news day for space shooters on Apple TV, with 3D space epic Stellar Wanderer being announced for release next week, and side-scrolling shooter Toon Shooters 2 getting a massive 2.0 update on March 2nd.

I’ve just spent a short half hour with Xenoraid and I can say at this early stage that things look very promising. It’s been available since November 2016 on PS4, and certainly carries that PlayStation Plus factor that I talked about last week, being a smaller indie title that brings some innovative gameplay twists to a well known genre.

Players are able to navigate everywhere across the entire screen, and swap out different ships with varying weapon configurations when needed, depending on damage taken or the types of enemies present. This looks like it will add a nice element of strategy and variety as difficulty increases in later levels, coupled with the fact that ships and weapons can be upgraded as well. Tapping your various ships in and out is a great new twist to a very old genre and spices things up nicely.

You can download Xenoraid for free which gives you a trial version with some missions and ships, with a small price to unlock the full game. And that’s exactly what I’m about to go and do so I can sink my teeth into it, and post a longer review in the not too distant future.

Enjoy!

Toon Shooters 2 Gets a Second Chapter on March 2nd

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If you’ve exhausted the content in side-scrolling shoot-em-up Toon Shooters 2, sit tight, as you’ve only got a couple of weeks to wait for Chapter 2 to land.

Mooff Games has squeezed an awful lot of fun into Toon Shooters 2, and for fans looking for this sort of old-school shooter with some modern polish I can’t recommend it enough. Even if this isn’t normally your bag, it’s a free-to-play download, meaning you’ll lose nothing by checking it out, and chances are good that you won’t regret it.

Leading up to the 2.0 update, Mooff Games currently have a 40% discount going on the premium upgrade, with the studio announcing on its blog that players who purchase the upgrade will receive future content also.

There are two new toons coming with the Chapter 2 content as well, so save some of those coins or get grinding, March 2 is just around the corner.

Here’s a sneak peak at Chapter 2: