April 15, 2021
Good morning! Welcome to our regular column where we write a bit about some of the games we’ve found ourselves playing over the past few days. This time: boats, a birthday and a hedgehog.
If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We Been Playing, here’s our archive.
Thunderful had a bunch of games at the WASD game show in London last week, but the one that really caught my eye was Swordship.
It’s a scrolling arcade game where you control a futuristic speedboat and try to steal valuable cargo from an enemy megacorporation, while trying not to blow yourself up. I checked the Swordship website after the show and found there was a story about global warming, which explains the flooded world.
The most eye-catching thing, besides the shiny and stylish look, is that you don’t have any weapons yourself. In other words, it’s a dodge-’em-up. You have to dodge charged beam weapons, or bomb explosions in the attack area, or multiple mortar attacks, while gliding towards long thin yellow platforms where the dropships will be – then, when you get them, drop them off at small platforms that appear. I’m telling you, doing all of this while the screen is filled with flashing red danger zones is tough.
You’ll get blown up a few times, but Swordship is a game of retrying so you’ll restart almost instantly. Soon you will begin to understand how the game is played. You will understand that even if you have no weapons, you can use your enemies as if you had them, turning them against each other. It’s just a matter of timing and waiting for the exact moment to swerve and leave your pursuers in the bomb blast. And when you do, you’re rewarded with a cinematic slow-motion sequence as they explode behind you, and it’ll make you feel like ‘James Bond in a boat chase’. It’s awesome.
It’s coming to PC, Xbox S/X, PS4/5, and Switch this year.
Fez is a game where the memory tax is very high. Drop it for a week and there are so many things to follow, I always feel like I might as well start over.
That’s why I haven’t replayed this game, which I love, as much as I should have. But this week, on the 10th anniversary of Fez, I woke up feeling things differently. What the hell. I loaded an old Switch save and got Fezzing.
I loaded somewhere around the 8% mark. No idea what I was doing or where I was heading. Instead, I simply picked a door on the vaguely industrial island I was on and hoped for the best.
For the next five minutes, I enjoyed a bit of reflection moving between rising and falling platforms, shifting the perspective to create longer continuous tracks. It was effortless: so clever and so engaging, so much fun to get by. When it was done, I still didn’t know where I was or what I had done, but I felt like I knew Fez again. Happy birthday Gomes.
Sonic Mania, Switch
After a lot of patience, I finally got to see Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with my daughter on her spring break, and it was worth the wait – she laughed so much at the wedding scene that she literally pissed herself , which is pretty much the same reaction I had during the mid-credits, and after all that excitement, it just seemed like a pretty easy return to the biggest Sonic game yet.
Going back to 2017’s Sonic Mania – can it really be nearly five years old? – I am now convinced that there are good reasons why this is not just a highlight of the series, but one of the best 2D platformers to date. Sega’s signature ’90s style meets deft execution and fan enthusiasm that somehow manages to elevate it above the originals. In truth, Sonic the Hedgehog was never quite quite