Let Nostalgia Commence: Streets of Rage 4 (Review)

Streets of Rage 4 is a side-scrolling beat ’em up and continues the Streets of Rage storyline from the previous games – particularly the one from the Japanese version of SoR3 (titled Bare Knuckle 3). It was released in April 2020 on XBox One, PS4, Switch and PC.

This game picks up 10 years after the ending of SoR3 and follows original characters Axel Stone, Blaze Fielding and Adam Hunter. Joining these characters are Adam’s daughter Cherry and a cybernetically enhanced bloke named Floyd Iraia.

The story follows these characters as they fight against their old enemy, Mr X‘s children – the Y twins (yes, I know original names but hey, what are you gonna do?)

The main game is split up into multiple different levels which consist of battling through waves of enemies until you reach a mini boss at the end – if you’ve played the previous games, this won’t be anything new to you.

This was another game that as soon as it was announced I knew I had to play it, but it was yet another that fell by the wayside in favour of others. But, this month it became available on PSNow so I had to finally play it.

Personally I loved the original Streets of Rage games. I was never especially brilliant at them, but that didn’t stop me from dying repeatedly and always going back for more.

The combat in this sequel is very similar to the previous games. It consists (for me anyway) of button bashing to punch, kick and throw the onslaught of enemies. One addition to this game though is that you have several special moves. Although these moves use a portion of your health, you do have the chance to recover what you lose by successfully landing combos. I was happy to see the weapons are still there. There are a range to choose from, some dropped by enemies and some just in certain sections of the level. These include but aren’t limited to; knives, metal pipes, baseball bats, bottles and a golden chicken…yes, a golden chicken can be used as weapon. Along with these are several power-up pick-ups including apples, money bags and I’m happy to say the roasted chicken is back too.

The look of SoR4 is different to the other three games in that it’s all hand drawn rather than pixelated. This change doesn’t detract from you knowing that you’re playing a Streets of Rage game and this new style works really well with this kind of game. The music, as always, is top notch and definitely reminds of the original games, it’s not your usual repetitive noise that you sometimes get in side-scrolling games of this ilk. There’s even a way to play the original games’ music instead which is kind of awesome.

The main story mode is fairly short. I’ve only been playing it a day and have finished it. But, you have the replayability of going through it with the other characters or co-op with a friend or online player. And, of course, if you’re looking for trophies and need the extra incentive, there are ample up for grabs obtainable through your multiple playthroughs..

Simply put, I love this game. Not just for the nostalgia factor, but because games like this are a rarity these days. I only wish I could play it on a proper arcade cabinet like in the good ol’ days – I miss arcades…Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes. This game is brilliant, the art style, the music, the mechanics, there’s nothing not to love about this title and you should definitely play it, especially if you’re a fan of the originals. This game makes me want to find the originals and replay those too.

Streets of Rage 4 is a solid ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ in my book and one I will definitely be going back to. And if it disappeared from PSNow tomorrow, I would buy a copy. I intend on putting a lot of time into this game as I did the older games.

I will leave you with these words. Go and play it now!

A Free Bundle of Fun: Astro’s Playroom (Review)

Astro’s Playroom is a 3D platformer that was released in November 2020 for the PS5 and comes free, pre-installed on the console at purchase and makes use of the PS5 DualSense controller and all of its new functions.

I’m a little late with my review of this one. Astro was the first game that we played when we got our PS5 a few months ago, but I’m only now getting around to writing about it.

Astro’s Playroom isn’t the first Astro game, but it was the first one that we played. We didn’t expect it to be free with the PS5, so that was a pleasant surprise right off the bat.

The game spans four worlds with several different levels in each. Two levels within each are regular platformers and two. You’re given a special suit that allows different actions, for example, a frog suit that has a spring allowing you to bounce to higher parts of the level or over obstacles. This suit for us was fun, not so much the suit itself, but the way that the DualSense controller feels and sounds when you’re using it; it’s just like a real spring would be. The resistance is also the same as an actual spring. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s a fun feature. Other levels put you inside a ball which you have to navigate down a track or -the bit I really enjoyed – on a pinball machine. There also a monkey suit that allows you climb walls – some bits with suit were a tad frustrating but still enjoyable.

Astro’s Playroom isn’t a hard game, although it does have a few challenging elements. Some of the collectibles are difficult to get, but with a little persistence and timing they are achievable.

Another fun thing about this game is that there are little scenes involving other robots that act out characters and bits from other games throughout all of the levels. It was great to find them and figure out which ones they were. They range from games like Ratchet and Clank to The Last of Us to Horizon: Zero Dawn. There are probably hundreds to see, and over the couple of playthroughs we did, we think we found and figured out most of them.

I’ve never been a lover of the 3D platform game. I grew up with side-scrollers and still prefer them, but some like the previously mentioned Ratchet and Clank and this game Astro’s Playroom – that I do enjoy.

It’s not just the gameplay that is excellent, but also the soundtrack. There are several different songs that we found ourselves singing by the end of the game, they were that catchy. One of them is also written on a wall in one of the levels (see the above central image.)

Now on to trophies.

The platinum for this game wasn’t a difficult one, and we managed to get it after just a couple of days of playing. There aren’t many challenging trophies, but there are some that you wouldn’t necessarily get if you weren’t looking for them, for example, gaining a large number of robot followers in the home world.

For a free game that we didn’t expect, we really enjoyed Astro’s Playroom. With the other two games that we got with our PS5 – one of them being Werewolf (you can find my scathing review here) – it was by far the best of the bunch and probably one that, despite having completed and gained the platinum for, we would go back and replay at some point. I’d say if you’ve got a PS5 and haven’t yet played this game, you need to go and do it as soon as possible.

I’m giving Astro’s Playroom a fantastic ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and two big thumbs up.

Final Fantasy VII Remake (Review)

**Possible spoilers ahead**

Final Fantasy VII is an RPG that was originally released in 1997 for the PlayStation. It’s the seventh full instalment of the Final Fantasy series that dates back to 1987 when Final Fantasy was released on the NES.

This instalment follows main character Cloud Strife, a mercenary employed by an eco-terrorist group named Avalanche to stop a world-controlling corporation from using the planet’s life essence as a power source for the city Midgar as well as other towns and locations throughout the game.

When this game was first released back in 1997, I remember my brother buying it and us spending hours playing it. This was possibly the biggest game I’d ever played up until that point, and I was drawn into the story from the very beginning.

In a previous blog, I stated that along with other games such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Skyrim, Final Fantasy VII is one of my most played and favourite games.

At the time of its release, FFVII was one of the most beautiful games I’d seen, and the cutscenes blew me away. I know, if you look at them now, they seem a little dated, but they still look pretty great.

Anyway, FFVII was recently remade into an even more epic and beautiful game.

Final Fantasy VII Remake (what an original title for a remake, eh?) was released back in 2020 and was a game that I couldn’t wait to play. However, I only recently bought a copy of it and got to play it for one reason or another.

During its pre and post-release, I did my best to avoid anything about it (other than the demo). I’d heard things like “it wasn’t the full game” or “the story had changed”, and I didn’t want anything to ruin my own experience of a game that I love being remade.

So a few weeks ago, I finally got a copy and started to play it. I’d previously played the demo, so I knew how the combat worked and what the first 30-40 minutes of gameplay would be like.

During this demo, I couldn’t help but compare it to the beginning of the original, and I was impressed with just how well it had been done. Yes, it changed certain aspects – like the combat mechanics going from random turn-based encounters to real-time – but I found these just brought the game into this new age. It did away with some of the original’s clunkiness and made it feel more streamlined and clean, and I was there for that.

The further you get into the game, you start to see other changes to the story; for example, side characters such as Biggs, Wedge and Jessie all get a more significant role, and you get to see more of the story in relation to these characters. I found this a great addition as it just added that little bit extra to the story.

The other thing that the remake has that the original didn’t is quests.

At certain parts of the game, you have a little bit more of a free-roam ability (in the original, when you were in Midgar, it was pretty linear.). This too, added that little bit more to the story, allowing you to find out more about certain characters and really feeling the plight of the citizens of Midgar’s slums.

If you were used to the original turn-based random encounters, the new combat system takes a little bit of getting used to. It all happens in real-time (aside from the pauses when you’re selecting an ability or spell), and this seems to make the battles feel a little faster and less clunky – there’s that word again… For me, the removal of the random encounters was a good thing. Back in the day, I would get really annoyed when – having just come out of a battle – you get thrust into a fight without time to heal up or sort your gear out. Over time, this system just wound me up and marred what otherwise would have been a perfect playing experience.

As far as main characters go, you’ve got the standard Cloud, Barret, Aerith and Tifa, but the thing that confuses me is when you get to the part of the game where you meet Red XIII, you can’t control him. Of course, he’s with you in battle, but as an uncontrollable AI character. I’m not sure why they made him this way, I for one, I was looking forward to controlling him as he was one of my favourite characters from the original. I just hope that when it comes to the other characters you meet along the way – Yuffie, Vincent, Cait Sith and Cid – that you get to add them to your team and play as them. I’ll be disappointed if not.

The magic system is very much the same. You pick up and equip materia to your weapons and accessories so you can use them in battle. One of the differences with the summons is that you only have the chance to use them in bigger battles and only when a bar that appears on screen has been filled. The big difference comes with the summons. In the original, the summons were a spell that was cast and did a single move doing a lot of damage. In the remake, though, the summoned entity joins you in the fight, and as well as doing automatic smaller attacks, you have the chance to perform extra attacks using the action via the ATB menu. Once the bar on screen has ticked down, the summon will leave the battle, but not before doing their main move for ample damage. I feel like this system does work, although, like other changes to the original, it takes a bit of getting used to.

I said at the start that it’s not the whole game, and that’s true. You play the game, up until the point where – on the original – you’d be asked to change discs, which kind of makes sense. Even though it’s not the full game, you still have hours and hours of gameplay, plus the ability to replay chapters should you want to.

All in all, I’ve really enjoyed Final Fantasy VII Remake. It does build on what was already an incredible game and provides you with more background to the characters and the ability to walk around and explore different areas. I’m interested to see what happens with part 2, whether they allow you to explore the map as in the original or whether it will be a bit more closed off. Either way, I look forward to how it’s done, especially when it introduces some of the higher level summons.

I have no option but to give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. It’s just brilliant, and despite only being a part of the game, it’s well worth it, and I honestly can’t wait for the next instalment. I highly recommend this game, whether you’re a fan of the original or not.

A Way Out: A Prison Break for Two (Review)

A Way Out is an action-adventure game that was released in 2018 for PC, Xbox One and PS4. It has no single-player mode and is only playable using either local or online co-op, both of which employ a split-screen dynamic.

The game follows main characters Leo and Vincent as they attempt to escape from prison and evade the authorities. In order to complete the game, players are required to co-operate with each other. This takes the form of creating distractions so the other player can perform an action, or assisting each other reaching certain parts of a level. The roles will change so it’s not always one creating distractions for the other. You’re able to watch what the other is doing via the split-screen and sometimes the action will change to a cut scene for one of the characters.

We first discovered this game back in 2018 when we borrowed it from a family member. We took our PS4 to a holiday cottage (when you were allowed to go to such places) and this game came along with us. The lure of a true two-player co-op game was what made us want to play A Way Out. There aren’t many of these types of games out there, especially ones that are so good.

When you start the game each player chooses the character they wish to play as – either Vincent or Leo. At the character select screen it shows who each character is, why they were in prison etc. It doesn’t necessarily matter which character you choose, it only changes the perspective of how the game play outs but.

As soon as we started the game we were drawn into it. It starts with Vincent arriving at the prison where Leo is already an inmate and shows how they meet and how their plan to escape the prison evolves. In some parts of the game, one character has to distract other NPCs so that the other can perform an action. For example, early on in the game the player playing as Vincent needs to distract a nurse so that the player as Leo can steal a chisel from a workman to aid in their escape. It sounds simple, but you’ve got to get the timing right between you so that Leo doesn’t get caught and these type of puzzles get steadily harder as the game goes on.

The game isn’t just escaping from the prison, once you escape you have to evade the police while doing other tasks as the story unfolds, so there is a lot more to the game that just a prison break.

Once we started playing A Way Out, we couldn’t stop. In total it probably took us 2 or 3 days to complete the game but we played for long stretches at a time, the game just wants you to keep playing. The story is in depth and engrossing and culminates in an end that we didn’t see coming.

If you’re in it for the platinum, this game doesn’t disappoint. There are trophies that are story-related and there are ones that involve you performing actions that you don’t necessarily have to in order to complete the game. For example, you have to play baseball in a trailer park and hit a home run (this is harder than it sounds.)

We were impressed by the game mechanics, though they were simple and easy to get used to that didn’t stop us enjoying the game, in fact it probably added to the enjoyment as we didn’t have to spend time going through a tutorial and figuring out the controls. The story is engrossing and you soon become attached to the characters and their plans to evade capture. The graphics are great, and the few times when you see non-building scenery it looks incredible. I can’t stress enough how much we loved this game, it was the perfect game to play together while we were away and we straight away started to look for other games that are similar, but unfortunately so far there isn’t a great deal out there. This gets a well-deserved ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ from us.

Moonlighter – Sales and Slashing (A Review)

Last year we discovered a new game; Moonlighter.

We watched a trailer for this delightful little dungeon crawling shopkeeper game and straight away we knew that it was our kind of game. It was reasonably cheap for a physical copy, so we went ahead and ordered a copy.

When it arrived, I was knee-deep in We Happy Few, and although I was really into it and wanted to finish it, (it had been on my ‘to-play’ pile for a long time), I couldn’t wait to get Moonlighter going. Luckily I could stick it in to install and still play We Happy Few for a bit.

Once it was installed I was in there.

When the game starts you find yourself in a dungeon – one that looks like it’s straight out of Zelda: A Link to the Past – you’re in control of the main character Will, and you have to fight your way through a few screens of enemies until you get overwhelmed. At this point, you’re unsure as to whether you’re supposed to fight or just give in so this bit was a cause of much confusion.

When you’re pulled out of the dungeon, you find out that you’re tasked with running your grandfather’s shop Moonlighter, but that Will harbours a secret yearning to become an adventurer and hero.

The way that the game separates the two tasks is quite good, by allowing you to adventure at night and then run your shop during the day – which you need to do, to earn money, to upgrade your gear so you can fight your way through the dungeons.

It’s such a simple premise when you think about it, but it works so well and is extremely enjoyable.

The shop bit is a fun addition to what may have been an average dungeon crawler. Not only do you sell the things you find in the dungeon, but you also have to adjust prices to customer demand and even do tasks for them. It’s all about fine-tuning your selling price and not flooding the market with a particular item. Oh yeah, and there are thieves you need to stop whilst your busy serving customers…bastards.

Along with upgrading your weapons and gear, you can also buy upgrades for your shop to allow you to buy more selling and storage space. There are also several upgrades for the town where your shop is situated, businesses like potion shops and blacksmiths that will help you along your dungeon adventure.

The dungeon side of things is all simple. There are 4 types of dungeons which have various kinds of enemies of varying difficulties. As you complete one dungeon by defeating the boss, the next one opens up to you.

Inside the dungeon, there are a total of 3 floors (including the boss at the end of the third) in which you need to get through. You don’t have to get through them all in one go as you gain a pendant that will allow you to save your progress, leave the dungeon, and then go back later. This is useful as the one thing that you can’t upgrade through the game is the size of the bag you carry that stores the items you pick up through the dungeons. This is good in a way because it makes you think about what you’re picking up and making space for the more valuable items, customer quest items, or things you need for the upgrades.

Throughout most of the game, you’re on your own in the dungeons. But there are eggs that you can pick up, that hatch a little buddy. This buddy will follow you around and help you fight enemies.

We enjoy a good trophy hunt and Moonlighter provides some fun trophies to get, some of them are a little on the hard side due to not being able to save and redo bits. In particular the ones where you have to kill the bosses without being hit; this requires a lot of practice, and another where you have to kill each boss by using your trusty broom for the last hit. The platinum may be just out of reach to all but the seasoned adventure, but if you’re so inclined it does add the extra playability after you’ve finished the main story.

Overall, Moonlighter is excellent. It’s not too taxing and is quite a good stress reliever with its retro graphics, slow pace, and soothing soundtrack. For the price that this game is, it’s well worth it and maybe a bit more. I would definitely give this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and recommend it to anyone that asked.

The Next Stage; 100! (Bonus Entry)

It’s been a little under two months since The Next Stage released in Kindle and paperback form. Today it an amazing milestone.

It now has over 100 ratings on Goodreads, and every single damn one of them is ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It has now overtaken Creatures with number of reviews and rating average.

This, to me, is a huge thing to happen and something that I never even thought would happen. When it 50 reviews and they were all ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I thought that was amazing, but hitting 100 is phenomenal.

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that I had started work on the second book in the series. I’ve done an outline, and I’ve already started writing -so far I’m up to just over 4000 words, so it’s slowly getting up steam. I think I’ve for a pretty solid story so I’m hoping it’ll follow in the footsteps of the first one and be something that readers enjoy.

Below are all the places you can pick up a copy for yourself along with the Goodreads page.


Google Books

Apple Books




Thank you to all who have bought it so far, especially those that have reviewed it. I hope many more people will enjoy it.

Monday Writing Update

Hello and welcome to another joyous 2020 day.

Well, that’s enough of that, let’s get on trudging through the day until the next crappy thing happens.

Today is the start of my “proper” blog schedule which should look like this;

Monday: Writing update, where I’m up to with projects, how I write, and what I think about writing etc

Wednesday: Gaming, I’ll be doing reviews or retrospectives on gaming throughout my life.

Friday: Mental Health, these will be posts about how I live with bipolar, thoughts on how to deal with different situations, and general chat about it to get things out there.

So, today is Monday, and despite doing a writing update on Friday, I’m going to do another one today.

On my current WIP, I’m around 50,000 words in, it’s going pretty well so. I’ve got most of the story down, and I’m just coming up to wrapping up the main storyline. It still needs some fleshing out, but I’d say it’s about 75% there.

Over the weekend, however, I had some thoughts on what I’d like to do for The Next Stage 2 – not an actual title – so I’m in two minds as to what to work on today. With the way that people have reacted to the first TNS – 84 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ reviews and counting, I really want to get going on a sequel, but I also don’t want to do it just for the sake of it and screw it up, so we’ll see what I can work out with it and go from there.

While I’m talking about TNS and the reviews it’s gotten, part of me still can’t believe that all it’s got are the ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ reviews and 84 at that. It means a lot to me that people are genuinely enjoying it and a lot of readers are saying they look forward to a sequel. There is also an element of pressure that I feel now, the want to do another book in the series but to also make either better, or at least, as good as the first entry. It’s now all about no rushing to do another, maybe dipping in and out of it while working on other things, or perhaps once I get going it will just flow out of my like the first; who knows?

The other thing, of course, is that I have started writing an outline for it, something which I didn’t do for the first or anything else that I’ve written. I don’t know if putting too much thought into it will be a problem, or whether for this one I need to think about it more. For TNS, I did some researching, for the likes of locations, and some smaller elements, but I didn’t do a great deal of planning; and it turned out pretty well. For now, I’ll try to finish the outline and see how I feel about it.

That’s it for now, I’ve got a games post ready for Wednesday that will be scheduled and online at around 11am (GMT).

Have a good week!

5 Stars! (Bonus Blog)

I just wanted to thank everyone who has so far read The Next Stage. Especially those that have rated it on Goodreads. It now stands at an average of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ with 50 ratings. I can’t believe that it has gone down this well with people and you’re actually enjoying it.

If you haven’t yet read it, you can find everywhere where it’s available over on the books page of this blog.

By way of celebration of this I’m making it available for free on Kindle on Friday 11th December. If you would like it sooner on Google or Apple Books, let me know, and I’ll send you a promo code.

Thank you again. It gives me more motivation to continue with writing.

Cover Second Thoughts

Monday, Monday, Monday.

I’m back to writing this week after all the fun last week, what with pain meds knocking me into a parallel universe and ending up in hospital with an excruciating migraine.

Well, I say back to writing…last night I got thinking about the cover for The Next Stage. I know, I know, I’ve archived all the files, and I should be moving on and concentrating on new things, but I got it stuck in my head, so I had to do something about it.

I was thinking that although I do like the simplistic cover, I’ve always felt that something was missing. I didn’t want to move away from simple – simple seems to be what my covers are all about – but I felt like I could make it a bit better, and maybe doing so would make a few more people take a look at what it’s all about.

So, this morning I did a bit of messing about with colours, fonts and images and I’ve come up with something a bit different.

This is what it looks like now;

I’m just uploading and changing the cover art in the various different places that the book is available, so hopefully, soon you should see a difference on their site pages. I’ll also update on the Books page on this blog.

Now that they’re all changed – or in the process of changing – I can now get back on to actual writing.

I’m currently focusing on my ghost story at the minute, but I’ve also had some thought about a story that is tentatively called Dreams. Dreams will be another sci-fi story, but it may (or may not) have some horror elements too. I’ve not done a great deal on it so far, having only written the first chapter, but I’ve got a lot of ideas of where I can take the story. I guess we’ll see how it turns out.

Reviews for The Next Stage are still steadily coming in, and I’m happy to say that they’re still all 5-stars. I’ve also had a few ideas of where I might be able to take a possible prequel or sequel to this book, so keep an eye out for updates on that too.

Anyway, that’s it for the blog today. Hopefully, I’ll have more updates on Wednesday.

Well, here we are again…

Friday again…

But, I’m home now and feeling better. I’m taking today to be lazy and do very little, apart from play games and watch stuff.

So this week has been another fun one. I didn’t do a blog on Wednesday because I felt so out of it on pain meds that I couldn’t concentrate on what I was writing. I was going to do one yesterday to make up for it, but then I woke up with a banging headache, which turned into the worst migraine I’ve ever had; Alex ended up calling an ambulance, and I spent most of the night in hospital. Luckily, over time it eased, and nothing scary was found, but for a time, I was terrified what it might have been. It was so bad that I couldn’t even open my eyes; I was that photophobic.

I didn’t eat or drink most of yesterday so the McDonald’s McMuffin I had this morning tasted amazing.

I’m hoping that I can get back on the writing next week as I’ve got a pile of ideas for this ghost story, as well It’s All in the Eyes.

This year has been God awful, and I can’t wait to see the back of it. I’m not going to be optimistic about the new year because, well, I did that last year and look where we ended up.

One good thing to come out of this week is that The Next Stage now has 21 reviews on Goodreads and all of them are ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. I’m blown away by the response this book has had, and I’m looking forward to more people reading it and letting me know what they think.

So for this week that’s it for me, other than probably some tweets here and there.

Just a polite reminder that The Next Stage is now available on Google and Apple Books, I’ve still got some free promo codes to give away if you’re interested too. Just drop me a message if you’d like one.

Have a good weekend!