Games reviews roundup: Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon; Farming Simulator; Oxenfree | Technology

3DS, The Pokémon Company, cert: 7

Following last year’s Pokémon Sun and Moon, these Ultra versions return players to Alola, a Hawaii-like island chain packed with new Pokémon to capture and battle. It’s more of a rejig than sequel, with new story elements, more Pokémon and new gameplay features. The story now puts more emphasis on the Legendary Pokémon Necrozma and the alternate dimension it inhabits. Long-time players will also be pleased to see the return of characters dating back to the original Pokémon Red and Blue, as villains from across the series team up.

Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon also have a handful of new, rare creatures to catch, more super-powerful Z-Moves to use in battle, and a cute photo mode. It’s enough material to make the games worth returning to, although most of the new content takes place after the main story – frustrating for those who’ve already put dozens of hours in, but worth barrelling through again. MK

Farming Simulator.

‘Not fun in the traditional sense’: Farming Simulator.

Nintendo Switch, Focus Home Interactive, cert: 3

This intricate, relentlessly realistic sim offers the perfect counterpoint to the fun and frivolity of Stardew Valley’s virtual farms: wonderfully dull, endless hard work. After a short introduction, you’re left to get on with choosing crops and livestock and managing transportation in a fully realised virtual world. Ploughing, seeding, harvesting and selling cycles start simply, but with multiple fields soon become a logistical challenge. It’s not fun in the traditional sense, but go with the drudgery and there’s a genuine, peculiar, pedantic joy in each perfectly ploughed field or crop sold at the highest price, with 250 real-world farming machines to save up for and tasks for neighbouring farmers. This Switch edition is the first that can by played on the go, without substantially downgrading the level of detail. Although possibly not quite a leisure activity, this is perfect therapy for those who enjoy the rewards of a steadfast task well done. AR


‘Demands attention’: Oxenfree.

Switch, PC, Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android, Night School, cert: 12

From the first lines of perfectly delivered hipster dialogue to the disturbing, reality-shattering time-slips, Oxenfree demands attention. Influenced by teen movies and TV shows, this walk-and-talk supernatural adventure subverts the genre by allowing you to choose between dialogue responses, and adds novelty with a radio that can discover hidden transmissions, unlock doors and even communicate with ghosts. Of course, the teenage characters chatter constantly as you explore the hand-painted world, but this doesn’t feel forced as might be expected. There’s a little too much aimless wandering, and the plot sometimes gets convoluted, but Oxenfree compensates by keeping the connection between your choices and the several possible endings opaque. The Switch version benefits from high-end production and touch-screen options that make it the best way to play this beautifully crafted coming-of-age adventure. AR


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