February 2012 Archives

In exciting news for PokémonTM Trainers in the Midlands the Pokémon Video Game National Championships, which take place on March 3rd at the NEC in Birmingham.

New for each of the five 2012 Pokémon Video Game National Championships European events: a total of four top finishers from each age division, up from two last year, will win travel and accommodation for the 2012 Pokémon World Championships held August 10th-12th, 2012, in Hawaii, U.S.A. Players under the age of 18 will also receive travel and accommodation for one accompanying adult.

New for this year, players can build their teams using Pokémon from the National Pokédex[i] and must play using the Pokémon Black Version or Pokémon White Version video games for the Nintendo 3DSTM and Nintendo DSTM family of systems.

"Opening up the National Pokédex for competition, and thus expanding the number of Pokémon that can be used in the 2012 season, will only increase the skill and strategy needed to be crowned a Pokémon Video Game National Champion," said J.C. Smith, director of Consumer Marketing for The Pokémon Company International. "We look forward to seeing the thousands of Pokémon players and fans who will be attending the five European National Championships events this spring."

2012 Pokémon Video Game National Championships, European Dates and Locations
Saturday 3rd March--UK, Birmingham, NEC, Hall 11
Saturday 10th March--Germany, Essen, Messe Essen, Halle 1A
Saturday 17th March--France, Paris, Espace Champerret, Hall C
Saturday 24th March--Spain, Madrid, IFEMA, Pabellón 5
Sunday 1st April--Italy, Milan, Centro Congressi Milanfiori, Strada 1

Players will compete in one of three age divisions, based on their dates of birth:
Junior Division--born in 2001 or later
Senior Division--born in 1997, 1998, 1999, or 2000
Masters Division--born in 1996 or earlier

All tournaments are free to play with entry granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Space will be capped so players are encouraged to arrive early for registration. At all European National locations, the Masters Division line opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 8:30 a.m. the Junior and Senior lines open at 12:30 p.m. and close at 1:00 p.m. Go to to review caps on the number of entrants at the National qualifiers for the 2012 Pokémon Video Game Championships.

The tournament will use Double Battles and will take place via Infrared Connection; competitors taking part at the European qualifying events may only use European versions of the video games and must have a Player ID to participate.

If players have a Pokémon Trainer Club account but do not have a Player ID, they can obtain one by logging into their account and visiting Competitors must bring their Player ID to their event to compete.

For more information about the Pokémon Video Game National Championships, including full conditions of entry, tournament locations, dates and times, prizes, and more, please visit:

Review: Kingdoms of Amalur

By Steve Wollaston on Feb 26, 12 05:13 PM

IF you've just finished the epic life-consuming majesty that was Skyrim, chances are you're still slowly adapting to life back in the real world.

You will still be expecting dragons to come out of the sky on your way to work, or Nordic demonic skeletons to start wielding great iron axes when you pop into the corner shop.

If that's you, then you need a break from free world fantasy fighting. Try a nice, gentle game of FIFA 12, perhaps?

But if you do still need your fantasy fix, it might just be that Reckoning: Kingdoms of Amalur will offer you a quick route back.

It's no Skyrim, and that needs to be established quickly. That was a game which took roleplay to another level.

This is a lighter offering but, in terms of concept and delivery, it's actually pretty damn fine.

And so it should be, with the pedigree of the team behind it.

Backed by EA, Reckoning is created by New York Times bestselling author R.A. Salvatore and brought to life visually through the trademark style of renowned artist and Spawn creator Todd McFarlane. Great storyline, great visuals and the EA machine giving it some much-needed clout.

You play a once-dead warrior who has risen from the grave with plenty of special powers - and plenty of enemies to pit them against.

You have the freedom to wander at will, despite having a key plotline to stick to. In the finest traditions of quality RPG games, you get to deviate and explore from the path.

Rather than being a Skyrim clone, the game borrows a lot from the Fable series in terms of gameplay. The combat is a great blend of hack, slash and strategy, not to mention great fun.

While lacking the overall magnitude of Skyrim, and not having the same intense gameplay experience, this is a great title that keeps things simple but sophisticated.

I didn't find the game repetitive, shallow or dull at any stage. After investing a serious amount of time on Skyrim, that's a compliment in itself.

English: Logo of the PlayStation VIta.
Here's our round-up of the PSP Vita launch titles...

FIFA Football

Essentially a watered down version of FIFA 12 this is an eye-popping feast of the football and it looks incredible.

The only down side to otherwise solid gameplay is the use of the back touch panel for shooting, it could have been great but for me it was clumsier than it was effective.


Wipeout 2048

Sony have wheeled out an old favourite for a new venture with a blistering outing for Wipeout.

It's the anti-gravity racing we are used to and it's delivered with finesse. The weapons are a big part of proceedings and tearing around the futuristic backdrops has never been so much fun.


Everybody's Golf

Again this is a Sony favourite packaged up for the Vita and it uses the new technology well.

Club swings and views are controlled by the back touch panel and your player can be moved around via the front touch screen. Quirky characters, inventive courses and some great graphics. A solid offering.


Unchartered: Golden Abyss

Probably the pick of the launch titles. This is a massive game for a handheld and has a control system that fits perfectly; responsive and rewarding throughout.

A superb adventure from start to finish and the graphics, storyline and gameplay are of the highest standard. This game demonstrates the ability of the Vita better than any.


Little Deviants

Essentially this is just a collection of mini-games but this game was a big hit with my 5-year-old daughter.

There is no doubt that this is the fun party title amongst the pack of games but it's actually a little bit more sophisticated than it appears.

A lot of the mini games serve a purpose of demonstrating a key strength of the technology, each one is a quick burst of fun and there is a lot of variety although not as much lastability.

Score 3/5

Mod Nation Racers: Roadtrip

Sony's answer to Mario Kart makes it's Vita debut and as ever it's a high-octane fun packed racer with cute characters and lots of madness.

Shortcuts, weapons and a mastery of the controls are the order of the day and once you get into things you will really enjoy it.

Score 4/5

Formula 1

A big hit last year and proof that the F1 franchise when done well can be exhilarating and almost impossible to rear yourself away from.

This like the recent 3DS game is a port from the successful PS3 and 360 game and whilst it does carry over a lot of the depth of the original it does at time feel a little rushed.

The gameplay has had the 'arcade' treatment and for the most part it's fine, the handling is still good to play and there is a lot on offer for fans.

Graphics and audio are fine and the licensing attached to the game give it a welcome and authentic feel.

Score 3/5

Rayman Origins:

Ubisoft unleash Rayman once again and for me this is the pick of the launch games.

A highly stylised cartoon approach looks wonderful on the HD screen of the Vita.

This is the best 2D platform game you have seen and it is backed up by strong gameplay and a quirky sense of mischief.

A huge hit in our house and just a fine game all round.

Score 4/5

Lumines: ES

It's been 5 years since the last Lumines title but now the Tetris influenced music puzzle game is back.

Some of the biggest names in electronic music such as The Chemical Brothers and Kaskade provide the backdrop for the trippy block busting action.

Production values on the game are first class, as is the gameplay. It's a game that revels in it's simplicity and yet also it's complexity. Very easy to play, very hard to master.

Score 4/5

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THE DARKNESS 2 (Xbox 360)

By Steve Wollaston on Feb 26, 12 03:02 PM

THE dark and foreboding world we were first introduced in 2007 in critically acclaimed The Darkness is back once again, and more sinister than ever.

This sequel features an original story by acclaimed comic writer Paul Jenkins and the quality of the plot is matched by the game itself.

Once again the gameplay is innovative. The unique demon arms and dark and light elements are refreshingly different.

The name of the game couldn't be more apt, with dramatic visuals, eerie storytelling and a truly atmopheric and fitting soundtrack.

A highly stylised game that is very engaging to play, the multiplayer mode seemed like an after-thought, though.

* * * *

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MORE than 19 million people worldwide have bought video games from the Mario and Sonic series, and the latest one is set to be a firm fixture on Nintendo 3DS screens for months to come.

This is an adaptation of the recently released game of the same name for the Nintendo Wii but this time you get to compete on the go - and in 3D.

Gone is the emphasis on party games and family fun, however. In its place is a plethora of sporting events for the lone player, which proves perfect train fodder, it has to be said.

A rather twee storyline is the big downfall if any, a flimsy and cringeworthy plot that links the different sports together and moves around various London landmarks.

All of the regular Mario and Sonic characters are included, along with a whopping 55 different Olympic events.

The game utilises the diverse nature and capabilities of the 3DS really well and involves the touch screen, gyro controls and even the microphone.

Essentially it's a huge compendium of mini-games, and some work better than others. The variety in the controls keeps things really fresh throughout, as does the huge catalogue of games ranging from trampolining to running and BMX riding to Taekwondo.

Some of the games will have you thrashing the buttons in a frenzy while those where you have to move the 3DS via the gyro controls do actually leave the 3DS screen redundant, and quite annoying.

However as a compact bundle of playable sporting fun, this is very impressive. The graphics and audio are of a very high quality and the package on offer is enviable, to say the least.

There are flaws as mentioned above. The party element obviously is a loss to a game with such a subject matter and a few of the games don't really work out. Throw in the naff storyline and you have the only blemishes to another quality Nintendo offering.

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Review: Sony PSP Vita

By Steve Wollaston on Feb 26, 12 02:27 PM

PS VITA (PlayStation Vita)

PS VITA (PlayStation Vita) (Photo credit: 아우크소(

WITH the PSP Vita, Sony has unleashed the most powerful handheld console of all time. In short, they mean business.

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Here's this week's big Apple download charts...

iPhone (Paid):

1.) WhatsApp Messenger - WhatsApp Inc.

2.) Grand Theft Auto 3 - Rockstar Games.

3.) The Lost City - Fire Maple Games.

4.) Clear - Realmac Software.

5.) Ragdoll Blaster 3 - Backflip Studios.

6.) Lep's World Plus - NER Brothers.

7.) Fruit Ninja - Halfbrick Studios.

8.) FIFA 12 by EA Sports - EA Swiss Sarl.

9.) Angry Birds -

10.) Keep Calm and Carry On - Back Bay Bytes LLC.

iPhone (Free):

1.) Snake - FujiCubeSoft.

2.) Temple Run - Imangi Studios, LLC.

3.) Save The Pencil - Perfect Dimension.

4.) MONOPOLY Hotels - EA Swiss Sarl.

5.) Your handwriting personality - Movisol.

6.) Gumtree -

7.) Trial Xtreme 1 Free - Deenmedya MS Ltd.

8.) Toca Hair Salon - Toca Boca.

9.) Live Wallpapers Free - Spark So.

10.) Lep's World - NER Brothers.

iPad (Paid):

1.) Grand Theft Auto 3 - Rockstar Games.

2.) SCRABBLE for iPad - EA Swiss Sarl.

3.) FIFA 12 by EA Sports for iPad - EA Swiss Sarl.

4.) MONOPOLY for iPad - EA Swiss Sarl.

5.) Where's My Water - Disney.

6.) Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars HD - Rockstar Games.

7.) Weather Live - Apalon.

8.) Pages - Apple.

9.) Gangstar Rio: City of Saints - Gameloft.

10.) Lep's World HD Plus - NER Brothers.

iPad (Free):

1.) Dune Rider - Geek Beach.

2.) MONOPOLY Hotels - EA Swiss Sarl.

3.) Temple Run - Imangi Studios , LLC.

4.) Running Fred - Dedalord SRL.

5.) Lep's World HD - NER Brothers.

6.) Top Gear: Where's Stig HD - BBC Worldwide.

7.) Toca Hair Salon - Toca Boca.

8.) Skype for iPad - Skype Software Sarl.

9.) BBC iPlayer - Media Applications Technologies Ltd.

10.) Weather Live Free - Apalon.

Here's this week's Apple Charts for all you downloaders.

iPhone (Paid):

1.) WhatsApp Messenger - WhatsApp Inc.

2.) NFL Flick Quarterback - Full Fat.

3.) iSpy Cameras - SKIM, LLC.

4.) The Night Sky - iCandi Apps.

5.) Angry Birds -

6.) Evi - True Knowledge.

7.) Keep Calm and Carry On - Back Bay Bytes LLC.

8.) Fruit Ninja - Halfbrick Studios

9.) Stickman Cliff Diving - Heiko Hufnagel.

10.) Hatchi - Portable Pixels.

iPhone (Free):

1.) Temple Run - Imangi Studios, LLC.

2.) Craziness - Lynxapp.

3.) Flick Soccer! - Full Fat.

4.) Rope 'n Fly 2 - Robert Szeleney.

5.) Pimp My Text - Send Color Text Messages - MobGen.

6.) Many Bricks Breaker - FujiCubeSoft.

7.) Crush The Castle - Armor Games Inc.

8.) BBC iPlayer - Media Applications Technologies Ltd.

9.) Death Rally - Remedy Entertainment.

10.) Stick Stunt Biker - Ignition! - Robert Szeleney.

iPad (Paid):

1.) Inspire Pro - Paint, Draw & Sketch - KiwiPixel.

2.) Paper Monsters - Cresent Moon Games.

3.) The Night Sky - iCandi Apps.

4.) MONOPOLY for iPad - EA Swiss Sarl.

5.) NFL Flick Quarterback HD - Full Fat.

6.) Pages - Apple.

7.) Catchphrase for iPad - Deluxe Digital Studios London.

8.) FIFA 12 by EA Sports for iPad - EA Swiss Sarl.

9.) Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 for iPad - EA Swiss Sarl.

10.) Angry Birds Seasons HD - Chilingo Ltd.

iPad (Free):

1.) Temple Run - Imangi Studios , LLC.

2.) Flick Soccer! HD - Full Fat.

3.) iTunes U - Apple.

4.) Draw Pad Pro: Amazing Notepad - Fishington Studios.

5.) Death Rally - Remedy Entertainment Ltd.

6.) Sky Sports News for iPad - BSkyB.

7.) Skype for iPad - Skype Software Sarl.

8.) BBC iPlayer - Media Applications Technologies Ltd.

9.) Puzzle Man Pro - Ferran Tebe.

10.) LEGO App 4+ - The LEGO Group.


Steve Wollaston

Steve Wollaston - Sunday Mercury games reviewer Steve has been writing about video games for donkey's years. In fact he is probably far too old for it now which is why you will see a lot of reviews been done by kids... He has been nominated three times for Regional Games Journalist Of The Year at the Games Media Awards, but never wins. His major love is sports games and rates Sensible World of Soccer circa 90's as the greatest game ever made - closely followed by Championship Manager 2. Skyrim has currently taken over his life.

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