This week in video games, May 7, 2018: New God of War vanquishes PS4 sales records

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      This week, a look at two games recently released for Nintendo platforms, Detective Pikachu and Kirby Star Allies. But first, God of War sets a sales record.

      God of War is fastest-selling PS4 exclusive

      God of War, the latest game in the action adventure from Santa Monica Studio, has been getting rave reviews from critics.

      In my review of the game, I called it “exceptional”, praising the way it has allowed the protagonist, Kratos, to change, and in how the father-son relationship is developed.

      Early numbers suggest that gamers are equally excited about becoming Kratos again.

      Last Thursday, Sony reported they’d sold 3.1 million copies in the first three days, making God of War the fastest-selling PS4 exclusive game to date.

      On the day of release, the game’s director, Cory Barlog, uploaded a video to his YouTube channel that was shot as he looked at the Metacritic score for the game after the embargo lifted and reviwes were being published and aggregated. He was emotional about the “94”, based on the reviews of 52 critics.

      “It shouldn’t matter, but I’m just so fucking proud,” he said. “I’m just so lucky to work with the people that I work [with].”

      Pikachu’s turn as a detective fails to appeal to some younger Pokemon fans

      Pikachu is the star of this odd game, but he's unlike any Pikachu you know. And this game is unlike other Pokemon games you've played.

      Cemented in story and character, Detective Pikachu, exclusive to the Nintendo 2/3DS, gives the iconic pocket monster a gravelly voice and a Holmesian deerstalker cap and drops him into a narrative about a boy's search for his missing father.

      There are no battles here, either. The game is divided into chapters in which players, in the guise of the young boy, Tim, uncover clues by exploring the environment and interviewing witnesses. Pikachu is the seasoned private eye providing Tim with suggestions and advice on how to progress.

      It's a great way to teach some of the techniques of deductive reasoning, but for older players it will become tedious having to retrace steps so frequently to service the needs of the game's structure.

      There's a good story and some interesting interactions in Detective Pikachu, but it's a game that feels like it's trying to please two audiences: the kids who love the character and the older players who want a more sophisticated game.

      My kids, who liked the game's mechanics, were put off by the '50s-era personification of Pikachu. I quickly tired of not being able to skip ahead with the case-building, but I appreciated the game's referential tone.

      Kirby Star Allies ideal for younger players

      Kirby is back, appearing on Nintendo's Switch for the first time. Star Allies is designed for cooperative play, with up to four players dropping in or out at any time.

      It's this cooperation that makes the game work so well. It's loaded with cute characters that you unlock by playing through the various levels. They start out as antagonists who you convert to your cause. Each has different abilities that Kirby can combine with those of his new friends.

      Absent other human players, the game's artificial intelligence picks up the slack, so you're always supported by a crowd.

      The platforming and power-ups are perfect for younger players who benefit from an easier approach to these side-scrolling games.

      Games released or releasing soon

      • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, first published for the Wii U in 2014, appears on the Nintendo Switch.
      • Destiny 2: Warmind, the next expansion for the Bungie-developed shooter, arrives on PS4, Windows, and Xbox One.
      • Tacoma, the exploration adventure from indie Fullbright Studios (Gone Home) is being released for PS4; this edition features a two-hour “Developer Commentary Mode”.