Sunday, 15 January 2017

Entries to the Asylum: Monday 28th November 2016 - Saturday 14th January 2017.

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts, so I'm sorry guys! But finally, here it is, backdated all the way back to the last one. The main reason that I hate doing this, as in forgetting to keep posting these regularly, is that it makes it really hard to remember everything that has been received/purchased in the time frame. So here they are, as best as I can remember - pretty sure there may be a few things missing though...

Friday 2nd December 2016

- Pokémon Sun Fan Edition [3DS].
- Pokémon Moon Fan Edition [3DS].

Sunday 18th December 2016

- Donnie Darko Limited Edition [Bluray].

Sunday 25th December 2016

- J.T Studio Monkey King W [Figure].
- Suicide Squad Collector's Edition [Bluray].
- Suicide Squad Steelbook [Bluray].
- The Shallows Steelbook [Bluray].
- Agent Carter Season 2 Steelbook [Bluray].
- Jessica Jones Season 1 Steelbook [Bluray].
- Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward Collector's Edition [PS4]
- Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn Collector's Edition [PS4].
- The Legend of Zelda Manga Collection.
- Build a Bear Eevee Plushie [Online Exclusive Ver.]

The following were for the wee man's Christmas, but as before, are included due to being within the shelves :)

- Steep [Xbox One].
- Skylanders Imaginators Starter Pack [Xbox One].
- Skylander Imaginators Crash Bandicoot and Neo Cortex.
- Transformers the Movie Steelbook [Bluray].
- Lego Dimensions Benny.
- Lego Dimensions Emmett.
- Lego Dimensions Bad Cop.
- Lego Dimensions Wonder Woman.
- Lego Dimensions Sonic the Hedgehog.

Tuesday 27th December 2016

- Emily Wants to Play [Xbox One].
- Minecraft Story Mode Eps 6-8 [Xbox One].

Wednesday 28th December 2016

- Shantae: Half Genie Hero Risky Beats Edition [PS4].

Saturday 31st December 2016

- Lego Dimensions A-Team B.A. Baracus.
- Lego Dimensions Mission Impossible.
- Clustertruck [Xbox One].

Tuesday 3rd January 2017

- Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.
- Samsung Gear VR.

Sunday 8th January 2017

- Grow Up [Xbox One].
- Necropolis  [Xbox One].

Tuesday 10th January 2017

- Tiny Tina's Damsel Plushie.

So as I said, probably missing a few things here and there, but for the most part, this is what I've received since the last post :)

What new stuff have you gotten recently?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The Rise of the Collector's Edition Pricing.

In recent years, collecting has grown more and more expensive. Not just for me, and not just for collectors like me. From video game and movie collecting, to BNIB Action Figures, to stamps: the price of collecting has risen. That's partly down to things getting rarer over time: between people binning copies, to copies getting damaged and less minty-fresh (therefore less desirable) the longer they are out there in the wild, but also, the number of collectors is increasing, causing the number of copies available to decrease, as more enter their collections and the demand for the product skyrockets.

And that's something that is affecting the video game (and to a lesser extent I find, movie) collecting hobby quite a lot, and not necessarily in a good way. Now, this might be, and probably is to some extent, applicable to other collecting habits too. The marketers are seeing the increase in popularity of video game collecting, so they release more variations of a single item/game to cause collectors to buy more in order to complete their collection. This then trickles down to non-collectors, too. "Oh, I'm a huge fan of "x" franchise, look - I can pay £20 more for the game and I'll get a cool trinket". Boom. Another sale, gaining extra money than they'd normally have made from that particular person - and potentially a new collector to add to the pile - who will be so happy with their purchase, they'll be more likely to buy more non-standard copies in the future. And then boom, again, the marketers think, why not release region specific versions, oh and we could also bring out one that is super rare and limited to 1000, or convention exclusive items, etc etc (really, I could go on all day).

I made this in all of two seconds, and I understand it completely rips the pish right out of my own hobby. But it's just so fucking true.
So already, we're expanding the number of releases a single franchise would bring out. And bearing in mind the up front costs of planning (and therefore making) these editions, it used to be something more common for the established, popular franchises. Smaller titles, or even AAA games that are new, standalone games (with no previous games before it) wouldn't really see this treatment, bar maybe a cardboard slipcover if you were lucky, as there just wasn't enough demand, and not enough potential in guaranteed sales. But now with the very obviously increased collecting community, pretty much every game gets some form of edition and for games that would previously have been digital only, we have the likes of Limited Run Games now releasing highly collectible, low print runs of physical releases to satiate the collector mentality.

So again, we've expanded the market further. And to add to my point of most games getting some form of release, my next point is the downfall of certain types of variation due to this. A big one being Steelbooks. Steelbooks were once something to be excited about, "Oh my god, this game comes in a Steelbook", "Ooh, you can tell that's a good edition because there's a Steelbook in it", etc. And that was as recently as 2010 for us. Even a few years after that, things were still pretty good for Steelbooks. But then every game wound up getting a Steelbook. You got empty Steelbooks as free preorder bonuses with games, instead of them being an actual edition to buy. You could often buy them standalone for as little as £5/$5 in places such as GAME and Futureshop. Every movie in the back catalogue got a Steelbook release. They stopped feeling special. The market is over saturated with them now, and not just in that every release gets one. They also became super common, for the most part, no longer being released in fairly low numbers, but shifted in the tens of thousands. Gone are the days of a Steelbook being truly limited to 1000 (like my SDCC Sucker Punch steel), and not just "limited to 1000" in one particular store/region (a la Zavvi's releases). And pricing of Steelbooks has gone way off now (for movies, mostly). Play.com would sell old title movies, rereleased in bluray Steelbook format for £9.99/£14.99 each. When this changed over to Zavvi after the death of Play.com, the prices rose to mostly being £17.99-£24.99 now for these old-title releases (with Disney releases pretty much always being the higher end, and new releases sometimes even hitting £30+).

Just a quick screenshot of "steelbook" listings on game.co.uk
So the market changed, Steelbooks had dropped in popularity, but big editions were still popular, right? Enter, 2016. Previous years have had their fair share of large editions, with Halo Reach Legendary Edition, Gears of War Epic Edition and Skyrim Legendary Edition all releasing fairly close together (with box sizes pretty much identical to one another). But in comparison, most other editions around then were smaller. Steelbooks, and generally smallish, but still high quality(ish) editions. These were there to balance out the insanity of the bigger ones. And whilst there were these bigger editions, they pretty much all tapped out at the £99.99 price point. More common were the smaller editions, around the £59.99-£79.99 range. Something which seemed kinda expensive still, but nowadays is a fond memory of the days of yore.

Remember back when we could afford to collect every release in a month, whilst paying bills, and still have money leftover for some cheap eBay pickups? Yeah it's hard to believe a time like that ever existed. And this is the part where people like to get up on their high horses.

Yesss, I know we don't *have* to buy everything that is released, and I know we don't have to get them the instant that they come out. Heck, I know that we don't need to buy any of it, period. But we want to, and this is what collecting is all about. You collect because you want to, and often it evolves into a type of obsession. An addiction


Now don't worry, I'm not gonna go all dark on you. I don't mean addiction in the sell my entire house and all of my other belongings for one more hit edition, type addiction. Just in the sense that, once you start collecting games, or well anything really, it becomes difficult sometimes to draw a line.

Some people draw that line at one single franchise, or a few closely related franchises - for example Zelda collectors, or Nintendo collectors. Some people will collect only Steelbooks (although due to the over-saturated market, this seems like a less common aim now), and some will collect only for one platform. And then there's people like us here in the Asylum (which is aptly named at times like this), people like us who go for the broader range. The much broader range. We collect for any platform (albeit Xbox One being the primary one), we collect for any games that we like (and admittedly the ones we like the look of, but have yet to play), and we don't hesitate about double dipping on a particular release. Two cool editions of "x" game, sure. Why the hell not?

For people like us, 2016 has been a fucking bastard of a year. Not only have there been a shockingly high number of releases most months (at least in the latter half), the prices have skyrocketed too. And thus, we reach the main part of this post (only took us 1100+ words). We've had to forgo a lot of the editions, and even just games in general, that we would've normally gone for, purely because the pricing of these editions just keeps getting higher. So in a month where we'd previously have managed maybe 10 releases (between a few game CEs and some cheap movie Steelbooks - Play.com how we miss you!), we're now managing maybe two or three some months. And not only do you have the CEs to budget for (or standard copies if no CE is available), you now have to expect another £20/£40 for the bloody Season Pass too!

Season Passes, for the most part, absolutely boil our blood. Charging extra for bits of a game, sometimes charging as much as the game itself in the first place, when these things should have been in the game from Day One anyway. And even more annoying is when you buy the Season Pass, to see that it's only 10kb, and essentially just unlocks the content that was already right there on the disc, but was locked off, because hey, "We want more money!". I'm looking at you Dragonball Xenoverse. But alas, just like with CEs, we keep buying these Season Passes even though we fucking despise them. And the companies know that we're gonna keep buying them. So they'll keep doing it. Until the day we wise up and actually stop paying for Season Passes, they'll just keep releasing unfinished games, and churning out DLC for their Season Passes for countless months, instead of devoting time to working on a new game. We're fucking ourselves over, essentially. But it's a vicious cycle we've gotten ourselves into, and I don't see us (gamers as a whole) getting out anytime soon.

January - April this year were fairly reasonable. Busy, but manageable. We missed a few things that we wanted, but overall, managed to get most of what we'd aimed for. Bear in mind that April saw the release of the £300+ Dark Souls III Prestige Edition when I say that this part of the year was manageable.

May served as a bit of a nightmare month, budget wise. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End had a £104.99 CE, Doom had a £100 CE, and Overwatch had a £100 CE too. Those three, all within a fortnight of each other. We also had the TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan game, which didn't turn out as great as we'd hoped, Dead Island: Definitive Edition and then One Piece: Burning Blood - which was the one that took the bullet that month, and had to be missed. But even at that, this was one we'd considered waiting it out for anyway, as have yet to catch up with current events in the show, so would be a little worried, haha.


June, we debated over the Mirror's Edge: Catalyst CE. See, in previous years, it would have been a no-brainer (since we'd normally just preorder everything), but with all the other releases crammed in around the same time, that was £160 that we just couldn't spare, at least not for a game that we would no doubt not have played for some time anyway (and just as well, too, as it ended up dropping). We also had Mighty No. 9, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Inside (squeeee!). and a few anime things, and figures. As I've said before, we collect a lot of things, haha. For games releases though, June was surprisingly quiet. As was July.

August onwards was when things really sped up, coming to a culmination in October/November, which thankfully slowed again in December. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided CE got the bump in August, due to too much going on at the time. Followed by missing out on PlayStation VR in October, as holy crap that month was busy (especially since payment for Final Fantasy XV's UCE was taken on the 31st, despite having a release date of 29/11!) Missed Skylanders Imaginators too, which was annoying due to the inclusion of Crash Bandicoot - however the wee man asked for this for Christmas, so we now have it, at last.

November, we skipped Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, AC: Ezio Collection, and also quite a few non-game releases. Lots of anime released in November, including the beautiful Fullmetal Alchemist Ultimate Collector's Edition, which was fairly expensive, but understandable considering the contents.

This thing is made of resin, and limited to 1000 worldwide. Now that's what we like to see.
I hope that 2017 will be better for releases, both in pricing and in scheduling. And for a moment, I thought "maybe it's gonna be", when I saw that GAME had listed the Resident Evil 7 Biohazard Collector's Edition for sale. £99.99. For a CE with a decent amount of contents. Oh, but wait, what's this? No game. Riiiiight. When is that trend gonna die? We've seen it a few times in the past, usually with CEs from stores such as the Bethesda store, with the Wolfenstein: The New Order Panzerhund Edition, and the Bioware Store with the Dead Space 3 Dev Team Edition. Both of which, I must admit, I did purchase. But that was primarily down to the cool contents and packaging of both of these. Resi 7's CE looks far more like your typical CE - you know - one that should have the game in the packaging as standard!? ReCore CE also pulled this stunt recently, but part of me thinks this was down to awful preorder sales for it, as it started as being listed as a £149.99 CE, for not very much content, in all honesty. This was then knocked down to £69.99 with the game, or £40 without, here in the UK. A massive price drop, before release had even rolled around. And then willing to sell without the game? The box is huge, probably a bit bigger than the Halo Reach/GOW3/Skyrim CEs, and they probably produced a buttload of them, so GAME (who it was exclusive to in the UK) probably thought "Wow, these are not going to shift at all. And we can't afford the warehouse space to be taken up with them all for months before we price drop".

Anyway, this concludes my ranty post. Expect another one soon, as I've got a whole load of shit with my hobby to get off of my chest (and don't worry, that's not to say I'm giving up or anything, just venting a few frustrations lol).

What things annoy you about your hobbies?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Friday, 9 December 2016

Review: Headlander


Double Fine's Headlander has recently been released on Xbox One, and we just couldn't wait to play it. A Metroidvania-style game, set in a heavily 70s sci-fi inspired future, where you are the last conscious, surviving human. Oh, and by human, we mean a floating head.

It's the future, so naturally everyone has uploaded their consciousnesses into robot bodies to do tasks as they see fit. Because y'know, why not? Only, this wasn't a very good idea, since an AI named Methuselah has gone and taken over these robots, trapping the little human minds inside.

You play the nameless, bodiless, silent hero. Just a head, with a super useful helmet that allows you to zoom around and ultimately take control of the robots bodies (and other things) that you encounter along the way. Certain robots can do some things, whilst others can't, meaning that there's all the puzzle-y elements of retracing your steps and such that you'd expect. The gameplay is smooth, and feels great whether you are flying around bodiless, or taking control of a robot. When flying around, you're faster, and more capable of exploring, but unable to do damage to enemies (at least until you get some upgrades). Whilst utilizing a robot, you can engage in combat with other robots, open warp doors, etc. You can use cover whilst shooting, however this is rarely needed. It's more fun to just shoot and swap bodies whilst running around.


Shooting is pretty good with the ability of a targeting system to see where lasers are going to land. Or you can just fire blindly and watch your lasers bounce all over the place. Some robots have different abilities, meaning that some are more useful in some situations than others, and they vary in power too: some might have a single laser and some may have a quad laser, etc. There's also an upgrade tree, with a decent amount of upgrades, that allow unique opportunities, like headbutting and swapping your head onto the now decapitated robot's body, getting shields around your helmet and a vacuum ability to pop the heads off of robots that you plan to take over. 

Collectables are fun to look for and not too many that it makes it tedious collecting them. They're also useful collectables, as they allow you to upgrade, which makes it more of an incentive to find them rather than just for achievements. The game wasn't very hard overall, and the bosses were few in number (and generally not that difficult to defeat either), which was slightly dsappointing. It would have been good to have had at least a few more bosses to lengthen the game a bit more, as generally speaking, you can complete it, in it's entirety in around 8 hours or so. 


Voice acting is fantastic and there's a good dose of humour to the game, which is of course a Double Fine staple. Richard Steven Horowitz makes a vocal-appearance too, having previously voiced Raz in Psychonauts, here he is voicing the Mappy robots, as well as the automated turrets. The styling of the rooms and areas is really cool, and really fit so well together. There are dances available to do whilst in control of the robots, which is funny, and lands you an achievement for doing them all. 

Full of the usual sci-fi tropes, this keeps the humour going, whilst nodding to all of the things inspiring the game. Double Fine are just so diverse as a developing team, and that's why we really love them. From genre, to art style, no matter what they choose to do it just always hits the right notes with us. And we're excited to see what else they bring out in future (PSYCHONAUTS 2! - that we pledged a lot for on fig). Really loved the game, hence why we 100% completed it. 


Fantastic game, and truly worthy of the 9/10 score we've chosen to give it.

Have you played Headlander?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Monday, 28 November 2016

Entries to the Asylum: Tuesday 8th November - Sunday 27th November 2016.

Tuesday 8th November 2016.

- The Voices Steelbook [Bluray].

Thursday 10th November 2016.

- Dishonored 2 Collector's Edition [Xbox One].

Friday 11th November 2016.

- Summer Wars/The Girl Who Leapt Through Time [Bluray].
- Tiger & Bunny: The Beginning Collector's Edition [Bluray].
- Goosebumps Steelbook [Bluray].

Monday 14th November 2016.

- Digimon Season 2 [DVD].
- Pokémon 3-Movie Collection [Bluray].

Tuesday 15th November 2016.

- Watch Dogs 2 San Francisco Edition [Xbox One].

Friday 18th November 2016.

- Outlaw Star Collector's Edition [Bluray].

Tuesday 22nd November 2016.
*These are all technically the wee man's, but including them for the sake of them being in the shelves, etc.

- Cartoon Network Battle Crashers [Xbox One].
- Transformers Devastation [Xbox One].
- Rock Band: Band in a Box Edition [Xbox One].
- Nintendo Classic Mini NES.

Saturday 26th November 2016.

- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare "Know Your Enemies" Preorder Pack.

Quite a lot has been received since the last Entries post :) There should also have been Pokémon Sun and Moon Fan Editions (w/ preorder bonus figurines) however they have yet to materialize in the post, grr.

What new stuff have you gotten recently?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Review: The Bug Butcher.

In The Bug Butcher, by Austrian developers Awfully Nice Studios, you play as an exterminator called Harry who is tasked to destroy the hordes of alien bugs that are taking over the ship. The gameplay is fairly straightforward, but massively fun.

The game is able to be played co-operatively, which is a great inclusion, as this has been a fantastic game to play with our son, who enjoys - and is surprisingly good at - killing all of the weird bugs and blobs that head his way. The objective is simple, clear out each room of all of the bugs that are infesting it. As you wipe out a wave, more will come until the room is literally covered, and you (and a friend, if playing co-op), have to shoot them all, whilst dashing side to side to dodge them. See, these bugs don't just fill up the room, they like to bounce around, attempting to squish you. So as the waves get faster, and with more bugs spawning, this can be quite panic-inducing, but nevertheless fun.


As well as killing the bugs, you often have to rescue the little scientist guy who is accompanying you. He doesn't do anything really, in the sense of fighting back. His role in the game is to occasionally give you power ups, which can alter your weapon for a short time, giving you faster rate of fire, stronger weapons, etc. Often, spider looking enemies will spawn with big grabby tentacles that will snatch your little scientist friend, trying to take him away - these need to be dealt with straight away, as losing him will end the run.


Three difficulties exist: Easy, Medium and Hard. The difference between these is the number of bars of health you have available to you, with Hard being just a single bar, and this is cleverly, and humourously depicted in you, Harry, wearing nothing but your pants. No armor, whatsoever. Nada. Two game modes exist, so as well as Arcade Mode, which is essentially your Story Mode, we also have Panic Mode, which is pretty much just a horde mode, but an aptly titled one. Both are available in the main menu from the start, but Arcade is the usual one we play, especially if playing with our son. The bonus for playing Panic Mode in co-op, is that if you get downed, your partner-in-butchering can revive you. 


The game is fun, fast-paced and interesting, with a variety of upgradeable weapons in your arsenal, a cute art style - that still manages to be gory when those bugs explode, 30 levels that feel and play differently as you progress due to your upgraded weapons and different enemies, and a Leaderboard system, to give yourself the bragging rights against your friends - providing you're the best, of course.

And at only £7.99 on the Xbox Store, it's cheap and cheerful, which makes it even better that it's a whole load of fun. So we decided to give The Bug Butcher a solid 8/10.

Have you played The Bug Butcher? What did you think about it?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Back once again....

Hi guys, sorry for being AWOL for quite some time again. I was unfortunately suffering with pneumonia, and am currently still recovering. Don't worry though, it was a mild case, but still put me out of action for a bit (and my voice still hasn't returned to normal yet, which is pretty damn frustrating when your work revolves around speaking!).

Things have been pretty busy here in the Asylum, between me being ill, the kids being ill a couple of times whilst I was ill, and Allan having kidney stones and requiring surgery all fairly recently, we've been a little bit preoccupied.

But things have all settled down again, so you can expect quite a few posts shortly. Starting with an Entries to the Asylum post, for everything that has been received since the last one, as well as a few posts discussing things I've been thinking about lately, and of course some reviews!

So please keep checking back, and you'll see all our new stuff shortly!

What other things would you like to see soon?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x

Monday, 7 November 2016

Review: Rive.


Okay, let me just start by saying...

RIVE IS HARD.

Like. So fucking hard. It is easily the hardest game I've played this year, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Some people thrive on difficulty in games, with the extreme frustration being a driving factor to push them through the game. I can be like that with some games, however Rive really did make me question my own sanity at times.


A 2D side-scrolling platformer/twin-stick shooter hybrid, Rive has you play as Roughshot, a frequently-pop-referencing space-scavenger who can hack into enemies, causing them to work against themselves, and a whoooole bunch of other cool stuff. With 360-degree shooting, , the game is just about as bullet-hellish as you can imagine, with a tonne of trial and error needed to progress, however this constant barrage of death does prove to make you better, albeit whilst tearing your hair out in the process, but this can be a fantastic incentive - just the relief of completing a particularly difficult part.

Rive makes it easy for you to figure out what needs to be done, but the actual process of doing these things is where the game gets hard. And when you finally pull it off, something else often ends up killing you immediately after. And then the whole process starts over. As I've said before, this can be horrifically frustrating, but also really pushes you to your limits, making you react faster and think more about your plan of attack. The art design too, is fresh and great to look at, and the weapon upgrades and gadgets that you receive as you progress in the game make taking down enemies more interesting and fun as you go along. 


It's a good game, but it is marred slightly by the difficulty, but again, if that's your thing, then you'll totally love Rive. If schmups aren't your thing, then I'm afraid Rive probably ain't the game for you, but I would recommend trying it out a little, at least just to see how you fare with the difficulty. Plus, it's fairly cheap too, at only £7.99 currently on the UK PS Store - EIGHT QUID - so even if you end up not being a massive fan, it won't be too much of a loss, and with this being the developer's last game, it would be nice for it to do well sales-wise.

Two Tribes, the Dutch indie-game developers behind Rive have now officially closed their doors as of Rive's release. Not through poor sales of the game itself, or company buy-out, but instead voluntarily shutting up shop. After struggling with the release of their previous game, Toki Tori 2, and filing for bankruptcy in early 2014, I guess Two Tribes figured best to end on the high of the release of a game, rather than drag things out any longer. It's always sad to see a developer close their doors, but better to do it this way than to see them go as so many have before.


In the end, we decided to give Rive a 7/10.

What did you think of Rive?
Let us know in the comments below!

- V x