Imagine Takeshi’s Castle meets Total Wipeout but with enough people to fill a lecture theatre. That’s Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout. And it’s ludicrous fun.
You play as a colourful little bean person (that you can put in outfits! Mine is dressed like a dinosaur!) taking part in “shows”: a series of different games and challenges, whittling the competition down from 60 contestants to one champion.
What’s brilliant about the game is that each of the levels are so distinct, and they change depending on how far through the rounds you are. Not just that but while there is a bit of a knack to it, there’s always an element of luck, meaning that even if it’s your first game, you feel like you’re this close to getting a win, and even if you’ve played it loads you feel this close to losing at any moment.
Speaking of losing, be prepared to do that a lot. I was the grand winner once during my first night of playing and I peaked early. But I keep coming back because of every nail-biting “Oh I was so close!” or “Did you see that? I just made it!” leads to a celebration with ferocity and vigour.
For a game that’s only £15, you get so much for your money’s worth, especially because you can play with friends, watching their character after you’ve been eliminated or vice versa, and part of the fun is the social “Come on! You can do it!” that the game inspires.
A lot of people would describe Fire Emblem as anime chess, and this isn’t too far from the truth: there’s certainly a grid and the ‘pieces’ (units) you control all move in different ways; reducing it to chess is an oversimplification though, of course.
Fire Emblem for the GBA was the first title released in the West and is also the first of the series I played, although I’d hardly say it’s my favourite. So why have I been playing it this week?
Compared to other JRPGs–it’s debatable whether Fire Emblem is a JRPG, but that could be a whole other article– Fire Emblem’s gameplay is far more dynamic. You are given a wide cast rather than a small group like in Dragon Quest, and players are forced to assess a character’s usefulness in any given situation. For example, a flying unit is good on maps with mountains as they can ferry other units across them. Paladins are very versatile as they can wield many different weapons and move very far. Magic users can attack from 1 or 2 squares away but are usually weak defensively, whilst archers can usually only attack from 2 squares but are strong against fliers.
Even now players are still finding new ways to challenge themselves in Fire Emblem for the GBA, and I’m no different. With self-imposed challenges providing a new gameplay experience, I imagine I’ll be playing it for weeks to come as well.