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Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D
Release date: May 24 (worldwide), May 21 (North America)
This 3DS title will be a port of the acclaimed Wii platformer first released in 2010. Developed by Retro Studios, Donkey Kong Country Returns took the series back to its side-scrolling roots. The port also features an easy mode, providing players with expanded health bars and new special items.
> Our review of Donkey Kong Country Returns: A welcome return
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Ludum Dare is a regular competition that gives developers just 48 hours to make a game from scratch. Each contest usually comes with a compulsory theme, such as 'You Are the Villain', and people vote on their favourite at the end.
In fact, an early version of Evoland is a former winner, crowned after playing around with the theme of 'Evolution'.
Participants this time were asked to stick with 'Minimalism', and F**k This Job features basic, blocky visuals and one-button controls.
In each level, players are tasked with reaching the exit door, avoiding obstacles including gears, enemies and projectiles. The character automatically runs forward, leaving you only with the power to make him jump.
It only takes a split second to respawn, similar to Super Meat Boy, and in a neat feature, an instant replay is shown presenting all of your attempts simultaneously when you finish a level.
The game isn't long at all, but thanks to enough variety in the 20-plus levels, reaching the end is enjoyable.
Developed by Jay Robin, F**k This Job is only just lightly scratching the surface of the vast number of hidden gems out there being produced by the indie community that make games because they love doing so.
There were nearly 2,400 entries for this Ludum Dare - it might be fun having a look around.
F**k This Job is available to play for free on Blockjack.net.
> Click to view this Level Up UK entry
Metro: Last Light
Release date: May 17 (Europe), May 14 (North America)
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Set within the underground train stations of post-apocalyptic Moscow, the Metro 2033 sequel will see multiple factions fight to secure a doomsday device hidden inside a vault. It features the return of the original's bullet currency system, but made clearer and easier to use.
> Digital Spy's first-look preview of Metro: Last Light
First released: 1987 (Famicom Disk System, NES)
Now Available On: Virtual Console
Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series is easily one of the greatest gaming sagas of all time, continuing to this day to set new standards in the action-adventure genre and stake a claim for 'Game of the Year' on an almost annual basis.
But every family has a black sheep, and in this case it's Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link.
First released in Japan in 1987 for the Famicom Disk System before coming to NES consoles worldwide, The Adventure of Link was a direct sequel to the original Legend of Zelda, yet it marked a radical departure from its predecessor in many respects.
The top-down perspective of the original was dropped in favour of side-scrolling platform action, and the game introduced role-playing elements, multiple lives and a more complex combat system.
The Adventure of Link had more in common with RPGs like Faxanadu or action-driven titles such as the Castlevania or Metroid series, though some aspects from the original Zelda were carried over.
An overworld map view reminiscent of its predecessor's visuals was used to journey between locations, and core Zelda concepts such as dungeon-crawling, magical items, swordplay and interaction with non-playable characters were retained.
The storyline saw pointy-eared protagonist Link seeking out the Triforce of Courage to awaken Princess Zelda from a powerful sleeping curse, with the forces of Ganon attempting to thwart his efforts and use his split blood to revive their fallen leader (whom Link slayed in the first game).
With its levelling-up component, strategic combat and platforming, The Adventure of Link was a very different experience to The Legend of Zelda before it, or indeed any of the instalments we have seen since (unless you count the Philips CD-I spinoffs, which we most certainly do not) - and it didn't quite catch on in the same way among fans and critics.
That's not to say it is a bad game by any means.
One of the most frequent complaints about the The Adventure of Link is that it does not have the same feel as the other entries in the series. While that is true to an extent, it should be noted that Nintendo had released only one Zelda title prior to this, so the company should not be criticised for exploring new avenues for the series.
Suggestions that it is the weakest entry in the Zelda series are perhaps unfair, given that the developers went for such a fundamentally different approach; but one thing is for sure - The Adventure of Link is easily the most difficult chapter in the saga.
Right from the off, players would feel like their enemies had a significant advantage over them, and while this lessened towards the end of the game after Link was levelled-up, there were difficulty spikes sharp enough to impale you. Anyone who has suffered through the horrors of Death Mountain will know exactly what we are talking about!
Although Nintendo took the franchise back to its overhead roots for the sublime Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past four years later, many of the concepts introduced in The Adventure of Link went on to become series staples.
For instance, Link has always possessed a magic metre since its introduction in the original sequel and the game's final boss Dark Link has made numerous subsequent appearances - yet was never more challenging to defeat that in his debut.
Looking back at the game today, it holds up better than so many NES titles, and is a worthy addition to the Zelda series for the variety it brings to the franchise.
We recommend hunting down a copy of The Adventure of Link or downloading it on Virtual Console if you are a fan of the series, but don't expect an easy ride. The world of Hyrule has never been more brutal than it was in 1987.
Do you have any fond memories of Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link? Post a comment below!
You get one every second, and seemingly have two choices - to eat them or nonchalantly throw them away. At first, there doesn't seem to be much to the browser-based game.
But save up enough candy, and you can buy lollipops and soon swords and scrolls. It turns into an RPG with ASCII art. It completely flips your expectations, and the joy of discovery is rather delightful as more and more elements open up.
Taking on quests will make your character stronger, but there will be several occasions where you'll hit a wall. One mission will be too tough.
However, eating candies will increase your health, while your farm will eventually provide a good, steady supply of lollipops which can be used to purchase upgrades.
Candy Box doesn't parody anything in particular, but it's not unlike a social game in that you'll often have to wait for your candy and lollipops to accumulate in order to become strong enough to progress.
The novelty initially keeps Candy Box fresh and a fun little diversion. But when you get to the midway point, the surprises run out and bosses require cheap strategies to defeat. It begins to get tiresome. The second half lacks enough charm or depth to remain engaging.
And although the ASCII art is quite novel, at the same time it can be quite difficult to see and react to what's going on - annoying especially since a split-second can be the difference between survival and death.
Completing the game doesn't have much payoff, though there are a couple of quirky unlockable extras. Still, Candy Box is an interesting little project that's free to try out.
Candy Box is a browser-based game that can be played at http://candies.aniwey.net/.
> Click to view this Level Up UK entry
> Games out this month: 10 biggest releases for May
Persona 4 Arena
Release date: May 10 (Europe), out now in North America
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3
Released last year in North America, Persona 4: Arena is a spinoff for the series that sees characters from both Persona 3 and Persona 4 battling in a 2D fighting game. It was developed by Arc System Works - known for both the Guilty Gear and BlazBlue fighting game franchises.
> Persona 4 Arena limited edition announced for Europe
Also out this week:
Telltale's The Walking Dead retail bundle (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) - May 10
What games are you buying this week? Add a comment to the space below!