Gamestyle Wikipedia Page

Thanks to Rogue Soul for the heads up on the Gamestyle Wikipedia page. This was a useful resource to track the history of the website and the team involved – especially the early days. Technically its gone from Wikipedia for whatever reason they want to quote (they’ve lost my pending donation)  and any future support.

However we do have the images of the page and I’ll copy the text beneath as well. That’s what an archive is all about.

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Gamestyle is a UK-based independent computer and video gaming website that was launched in 1999 by Dean Swain, under the name Dreamers128.

Gamestyle covers video game software reviews, previews, news, and other information. After starting out on its own, Gamestyle was linked with a small American media network called FanGen. Later, Gamestyle broke free of FanGen and merged with fellow independent site GameHub.

To date, Gamestyle remains independently operated.

History

Launched in 1999 by Dean Swain, the site focused exclusively on Dreamcast games, under the guise Dreamers128. Approximately a month after launch, the site rebranded to Gamestyle.co.uk, became a multi-format site, and began to cover all console systems – though coverage of other consoles was restricted to previews alone.

With sites of this stature somewhat of a rarity, Gamestyle was quickly tied to a small American media network named FanGen who covered running costs of the website. Under FanGen, Gamestyle turned to become a more humorous, ‘punky’ website which displayed images of semi-nude women on the front page.

The FanGen link remained until Gamestyle merged with another UK independent, GameHub. This merger saw an increase in visitors to the site, due to the popularity of GameHub. With each newer build of the website, Gamestyle progressively lost its attitude and tamed the humour in written articles.

To date, the site runs primarily on gamestyle.com and is now funded by Dean Swain, Dave Carlson, Matthew Cox and Jason Julier.

Main site

Gamestyle’s main page displays the latest news, reviews, previews, and links to areas for the following platforms: Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube and Game Boy Advance. Visiting each console section shows a list of the latest articles, the most popular games on that console, and an index method for users to track down games of interest as quickly as possible.

The new version of Gamestyle launched on 11 April 2010. The main page was launched a few days earlier but the final release updated the review and preview hubs, allowing further searches and the highlighting of top scoring articles and random pieces from the archives.

Reviews and rating system

Gamestyle has a strict review policy and they themselves believe their reviews to be trustworthy and unbiased, granting a fair review score. While none of the writing team are professionals, Gamestyle delivers new content daily on weekdays and also at weekends.

Though in articles, Gamestyle refers itself in third person, staff writers are also credited. Reviews are also listed on GameRankings,[2] Metacritic,[3] Rotten Tomatoes,[4] andMobyGames.

Their reviews were considered highly enough to be included alongside IGN and Electronic Gaming Monthly on Nintendo‘s UK marketing print campaign for Metroid Prime. These adverts were printed in numerous gaming magazines, on advertising hoardings across UK towns and cities and also online.[citation needed]

Developments

Gamestyle is constantly looking to evolve and improve the site. In March 2007 a new feature was launched that connected any posted news story, with a related topic in the forum. This allowed users to discuss events and offer opinions on breaking news in the world of videogames.

2008 version

January 2 saw the launch of the latest version of the Gamestyle site. Then new modern, white look was a dramatic change from its predecessor.

Blog

On June 22, 2008 Gamestyle introduced its own blog. The aim of this extension was to attract new regulars to the site and provide an outlet for the whole team to provide extra comments on their reviews or gaming news. The blog is an open forum for staff members to post about anything from films to their latest review.

2010 Version

Arguably the best version of Gamestyle so far. The 2010 edition incorporated comment functions for the first time in years, allowing users of Facebook & Twitter to give their opinions on articles.

2010 Upgrade

As of 1 November 2010, Gamestyle started coverage of mobile phone releases with Fruit Ninja being the first review. This date also marked its arrival on the Opera portal. The front end and forum were matched under the same banner design, allowing greater ease of navigation.

Retro Gamer Magazine Website Of The Month

In issue 60 of the popular Retro Gamer magazine, Gamestyle received their website of the month award.

“Gamestyle has been around now for a staggering ten years and remains one of the most entertaining non-corporate gaming websites around. Featuring a thriving community, Gamestyle prides itself on its well-written and non-biased reviews and covers everything from the latest 360 and PS3 releases to the classics like Metroid and Football Manager.

Indeed, one of Gamestyle’s greatest strengths is that it’s able to offer something for everyone and as a result is a true gamer’s website, with polite and enthusiastic forum members and a small core team of talented writers. Oh and if you fancy a giggle then look for the Project Zero/Fatal Frame review in their massive archive.”

2012 Hack and Rebuild

In 2012 Gamestyle was the victim of an attack and had to rebuild from the very bottom again. Despite losing everything, the current team has pushed on to keep the Gamestyle name running. The focus has shifted somewhat with more reviews based around ‘Indie’ titles and has seen the site build up a solid relationship with indie developers over the months. The team is much smaller now, but by no means any less dedicated.

The reviews are still coming and the site has undergone another redesign.

2013 Back To Social Media

In 2013 Gamestyle decided to get back into the social media space. The Facebook page has become active again along with our Twitter account. All articles will be found on both and the team encourage users to interact.

Gamestyle Offline

Gamestyle also creates and hosts a downloadable PDF magazine. Now published on an infrequent basis, Gamestyle Offline[5] is intended for the visitor to print their own copy for ‘on-the-go’. Gamestyle maintains that download figures of each issue are promising, and are known to have worked with video game publishers such as Vivendi Universal to create special editions.

At the close of 2006 there are eleven issues of the magazine, three of which are special editions. Each issue contained content that one may not typically find on the main site, such as interviews with developers and features on specific subjects. Gamestyle has been known to publish reviews of various titles in Gamestyle Offline, before publishing them online, as a selling point of the PDF magazine.

As of January 9, 2008, Gamestyle began a five-part series called ‘Gamestyle Offline: The Missing Issue’. This brought together the five remaining unpublished features that were intended for Issue 10 which was put together at the end of 2005 with the intention of releasing a new issue in early 2006. Number 10 was meant to represent a new start for the series, with a new look and a new issue editor but unfortunately the project never saw the light of day.

Gamestyle Live podcast

The spirit of the Offline magazine has been carried onto a new format, the podcast. The show covers all the latest news, site developments, reviews, releases and some opinions. It is available via the website or one can subscribe with iTunes.

Community

The Gamestyle forum now has over 1000 members, many who are regular visitors. While this number is smaller than other communities, it enables a more personal level of interaction between members, many of whom take part in meet ups to share their love of video games.

Staff

Owner: Dean Swain

Development: Matthew Cox (design) and Dave Carlson (implementation)

Editor: Jason Julier

PR Contact: Bradley Marsh

Writers: Bradley Marsh, Ben Gleisner-Cooke, Mark Ford, Gareth Chappell, Stef Snell, Adam Gulliver, Simon Farrow

Previous Staff: Andrew Revell, Andy Lucas, Anna Ghislaine, Colin Whiteside, Dan Gill, Daniel James, Gareth Chappell, Garry Webber, Gopinath Chandran, Hanley, Tom Knowles, Usman Zia, Richard Meerman, Drew Middlemas

Other previous staff writers for Gamestyle have gone onto further their career, include Garnett Lee of 1UP.com,[6] Ollie Barder of The Guardian and Darren Jones, retro editor ofgamesTM and Retro Gamer.

Webarchive: http://web.archive.org/web/20151218121356/https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamestyle

Scarface: The World is Yours

Gamestyle Archive intro: fond memories of the original OTT PS2 version of Scarface that captured the feel of the original perfectly. Writer JJ, Published July 2007

Developer: Radical Entertainment

Publisher: Sierra

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When Gamestyle reviewed the PlayStation 2 version of Scarface: The World is Yours we were certainly impressed.  Rather than revisit the storyline of the film, it took the grand finale and used it as a blueprint for a new adventure in Tony Montana’s world.   Many wrongly labelled Scarface as a viable pit stop for anyone waiting for Grand Theft Auto V, but in fact it proved to be an excellent addition to the genre.  Now the violent tale arrives on the Nintendo Wii, thankfully displaying no obvious restraint and full of its customary bravado.  So the obvious question we ask of most Wii releases applies; a worthwhile port or just another title that fails to utilise its new host’s capabilities?

If you are familiar with the film, then you will automatically realise just how much fun you can have as Tony Montana.   A ruthless Cuban gangster who previously ruled the Miami underworld, you must rebuild your empire long after the wolves have departed with every last scrap of power, drugs, money and the trappings they bring.  However Montana still has his pride intact, combined with a ruthless streak and desire to gain revenge on those who dared plot against him.   And whereas Tony ruled before with no consciousness, now his enemies have even more reason to fear his wrath.

For anyone old enough to purchase Scarface, being Tony Montana is the real joy.  Its not everyday you experience such a role as this, the reckless freedom, lack of morals, outright self-belief in your own ability and being above the law.   It may not feature the voice of Pacino but the replacement voice actor is more than adequate, perhaps providing more venom and scope than Al would have brought to the project.  Shaking the nunchuk prompts a series of witty comments that seem endless for most given situations.  At times Gamestyle would just try out the range of remarks to see what delights and sound bites of wisdom Montana would utter. Whereas elsewhere such samples soon become repetitive and diminish in value, here it just confirms the work that has gone into developing this release.

Our fears of a scaled down version have been cast aside as Radical Entertainment have done a tremendous job in porting the PlayStation 2 title to the Nintendo Wii.   While Scarface does not offer the variety and wealth of options that an instalment of GTA provides it still represents a sizeable title.  Arguably with the exception of Zelda this is the longest adventure on the system and raises the genre barrier set previously by The Godfather.   You can follow the main goals and set up deals, taking over drug rackets or simply engage in turf warfare or even developing your mansion into the ultimate bachelor pad.  The choice as they is yours and thankfully there are no hidden icons across the map, removing the need to explore every blade of grass.   Instead Radical Entertainment have stayed true to the source and created a rampaging white-knuckle ride without any filler, should you decide to get onboard.

Visually it is miles better than The Godfather and shows up many of the PS2 ports that the system has been receiving for what they are.   Agreed, it does lack the polish of the original, but excluding the resolution they stand side by side extremely well.  The layout for the most part remains untouched and residents either on foot, or on the road happily populate the streets.  Even the rich selection of music from the period has made the journey across onto the Wii.

The biggest improvement comes with the control method, which at first seems blighted by the camera control option.    This is partially due to the shortness of the training introduction that is identical to the one you’ll find on the PS2 version.  This was conceived to show you the basics, but the Wii edition provides a level of control beyond that seen originally.

The nunchuk controls your direction and shaking it unleashes the rage attack, where Montana goes more ballistic than usual.  The twist comes from the Wii remote that acts as the camera by simply pointing it at the screen.   There are several options that control the speed and scope of the camera, and due to the training mode you’ll have to try out each in game to find the one that suits your style.   Once a favourite has been found, the combination works extremely well as the remote also acts as your target sight.  The Z button allows you to lock onto targets and strafe when needed, resulting in a more fluid, practical and hassle free experience.

Few titles nowadays grow in stature yet almost a year on from its original release, Scarface: The World is Yours remains as strong and potent an experience as you’ll find.   With the Wii tending to favour cute juvenile experiences of late, we’re thankfully that Tony has graced us with his presence one more time.

Gamestyle score: 8/10

Full Auto 2: Battlelines

Gamestyle Archive intro: the archives are littered with titles you may have reviewed yet cannot recall much about. Full Auto 2 Battles is such an example.

Writer: JJ

Published: June 2007

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Vehicle combat has always been an oddity, with few releases outside of the Mecha genre offering a worthwhile experience.   Twisted Metal Black is the obvious exception, but this apparent difficulty does not dissuade further developers from trying more times than gamers care to remember.  The law of averages concludes that eventually a worthwhile contender will appear, but Full Auto 2 is far from being a worthy dark horse.  Apparently the success of the first Full Auto prompted the rapid fire sequel we have here yet how many different perspectives can you bring to a rudimentary genre?

Arriving like a cross between Mad Max and Richard Morgan’s Market Forces, Full Auto 2 places you in the role of a secret government agent, inserted into a car with a secret mission, that is to destroy all the gangs from within.      Advise comes from a rogue AI that slowly opens up as you progress to provide warnings and details on new possibilities.  As for the storyline, well it never gets off the starting line, and after all we’re all here for the carnage and not some engaging tale of good against evil.  Just why are these gangs standing up the government?  Could they actually be heroic citizens, saying, “enough is enough” or “no more car taxes”, these possibilities actually keep Gamestyle engaged more than the game play itself.

While you have a small selection of modes on display (arcade, offline multi-player and online) the main thrust of Full Auto 2 is the career mode.  By naming it as such is already misrepresentation, as it’s just a selection of mission types wrapped around the AI attempting to deliver a story that is ultimately pointless.   Why the gangs slowly allow you to improve and gain more weaponry is beyond us – any decent crime lord (or revolutionary depending on your point of view) knows to cut down a threat with maximum force before it can grow.  James Bond does not start with a pistol before getting his hands on a machine gun half way through, then finally a rocket launcher.  Nope, he’s full tooled from the off as the mission requires, but the government here have not taken a similar approach, with cutbacks being fairly evident.

The experience itself consists of rampaging along a lapping circuit avoiding obstacles and enemy fire, whilst trying to achieve the primary goals (and if you’re good enough) secondary goals that deliver more goodies.   The bonuses can be worthwhile such as new vehicles, or totally pointless examples such as new skins.  The goals at times may consist of taking out a particular vehicle, or coming first in a race.  The actual goals are well designed, with each requiring improvements in driving ability, aim and course knowledge.   Trial and error is certainly a staple procedure here, unfortunately you will have to wait while each level reloads and we have to question why.

The environments are nice and crisp with plenty of details you fail to notice at your average speed, never mind the fountain of violence that can often spring up on any given bend in the circuit.   However unlike Burnout, which Full Auto 2 tries so hard to follow and outdo, it lacks the speed or adrenaline factor.   Any thrill from taking down a worthy opponent is lost through the myriad of options and buttons you can call upon to dilute the experience.  You wanna jump back for a second?   Try out those thrusters?  Mores the point how can you see over the bonnet with those huge machine guns on it?

You really have to dispense with your sense of realism and knowledge of cars, before Full Auto 2 starts.   No matter what weaponry you plaster over the front of rear of your vehicle, it will handle exactly the same and hit those top speeds all too easily.      The handling is way too sensitive, Gamestyle has never driven a vehicle that is so responsive and never loses speed when navigating bends.  Nought to sixty in a blink of an eye, at least you have visible damage but it does not affect handling or speed either.  The aggressive AI has its limitations and can be outrun or out thought when you realise taking out anything but the primary target is a waste of time and effort.

Full Auto 2 tries so hard to be enjoyable with its arsenal of weapons and distinctive car designs.  It is very much like a combat version of NASCAR, with large numbers of cars going around a bland circuit at high speeds.    It may appeal to a minority, but this is no Destruction Derby.

Gamestyle Score – 5

Call Of Juarez

Gamestyle Archive intro: the archives will be full of games that arrived and shortly afterwards vanished. Call of Juarez is such a title lost amidst the onslaught of the Xbox 360 release schedule. Eventually they say cream rises to the top but the title lacked such quality as Adam explains.

Writer: AG

Format: Xbox 360

Published: June 2007

callofjurez

The good, the bad and the ugly
Words by Adam Gulliver , playing on a Microsoft Xbox 360.

There seemed to be a point a few years ago when traditional westerns were a rare thing to come across. Now you have a few games in the genre trickling out, with titles like Red Dead Revolver and Gun. Sure, they’re not going to take over World War 2 in the over-milking stakes, but it’s nice to see a new style of game coming to the forefront. It’s just a shame that very few of these titles are actually worth playing. The same could be said about the latest to hit the Xbox 360.

Call of Juarez suffers from having half a good game and half a terrible game, which comes down to the two characters you will be playing as. On the one hand you have the absolutely awful (and unfortunately named) Billy Candle. A Mexican outcast, back from his quest to find the Gold of Juarez, which didn’t turn out too well. He is universally disliked and he’s mistaken as being the murderer of his parents. Then on the other hand you have the brilliant Reverend Ray. A preacher who has to go back to his old gunslinger ways to catch Billy Candle who he believes is the killer. If Reverend Ray can be compared to Solid Snake then Billy is Raiden, yet somehow worse.

The problem comes not from the character and voice of Billy (there is some surprisingly decent voice acting on show), but from the type of gameplay his section of the story falls into. Whereas with the Reverend it’s a traditional FPS with plenty of gun slinging and duelling which is what you expect from a western. Billy Candle has stealth and platforming elements thrown into the mix, something which often spells disaster when put into an FPS. Both these elements are terribly implemented. They’re just so dull and uninspiring. The stealth has been shoehorned in because it’s the big thing with games these days and the platforming reminds us of Turok, only this time you get a whip to swing from, which does make it more bearable, but can irritate when you find yourself trying for ages to line yourself up with a particular tree branch. The only reason you’ll put up with these sections is so you can get back to shooting with the Reverend.

There are also a few niggling faults that caused quite a bit of annoyance during the story. Why, for instance, does it sometimes take six shots to kill somebody? Okay, maybe we shot them in the leg for a couple of them, but even that should drop someone even if they are rock hard Indians. And why does the same animation repeat after each shot? We haven’t seen anything as bad as this since Goldeneye.

For all its faults there are some things we quite liked. The ‘Concentration Mode’ which gives you the ability to slow down time (another name for ‘bullet time’ then?), picking your shots carefully is implemented well and graphically it’s a competent title. Character models and facial expressions won’t blow you away, but climbing on top of a mountain and looking down on your surroundings shows off how good the game looks from a distance. There is also additional online play, it certainly won’t topple the likes of Rainbow Six: Vegas and Call of Duty, but it’s a nice added extra. Particularly the ‘Wanted’ game, which sees one person become the Wanted man while everyone else must hunt him down.

Call of Juarez is an odd game that manages to mix two distinct gameplay styles, failing miserably in the process. For the majority of the time spent as Billy you’ll be praying that it ends quickly so you can get back to the good half of the story. Chances are though when you reach the section where you have to hunt rabbits with a bow and arrow (we’re not joking) you’ll throw your controller in frustration, giving up entirely.

5/10

Bioshock

Gamestyle Archive intro: fond memories of the first Bioshock title and the experience it delivered. Biggest surprise is that it arrived in 2007. Rapture lives on strongly in the memory for those who visited it.

Writer: AG

Format: Xbox 360

Published: August 2007

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It’s almost that time of year again. We are of course talking about the ‘holiday season’, a time when the big games of the year are all saved and thrown at an eager audience, destroying their wallets in the process.
Words by Adam Gulliver , playing on a Microsoft Xbox 360.

The first big game of this period is here in the form of Bioshock, a game much anticipated amongst Xbox 360 owners – and, surprisingly, it actually delivers.Though we don’t really like to jump into the whole “are games art?” argument, if there was one game that really should be showcased as art, it’s Bioshock.

Built in the 50s, the underwater city of Rapture is gloriously detailed, and the first moment you set your sights on its majesty you’ll be dumbstruck. The architecture of the buildings, the neon lights, the water, everything looks wonderful. It’s not just the look and feel of the city that make you feel deeply involved in the adventure of your nameless hero, but also the hidden meaning in it all. Okay, it’s not so much hidden as it is a swift sledgehammer to the face, but it’s the whole Garden of Eden style story.First of all, Rapture was built as a utopia which went horribly wrong, similar to the Garden of Eden story and subtly implying that there is no such thing as a perfect world.

Then come the more obvious references: the main power in Rapture is called ADAM, and can be used to upgrade your Plasmids (more on these later). Then you have the EVE which is used to power these Plasmids which you obtain at the start of the game. Bioshock is definitely a game that makes you think. The gameplay isn’t half bad either.On the surface it looks like a first person shooter, and it certainly is; however, the twist that it brings to the genre is the use of Plasmids as mentioned earlier. These allow you to control various powers that can be unlocked (or bought with ADAM) as the game progresses. Starting with the basic electric attack, you will soon find the powers to freeze, burn and even perform a bit of telekinesis. It brings with it a fresh way of approaching each enemy encounter.

The most common foes in the game are called Splicers; these genetic mutants can be killed with some simple gun work, or you could be a bit clever – find them hanging out in the water and whip out your electric Plasmid power and you can shock them causing an instant kill. It also helps showcase some impressive AI: set a Splicer on fire and, if you’re close to some water, he’ll jump into it, dousing the flames. But the Splicers aren’t your biggest threat – that would be the Big Daddies.Wearing what can only be described as an enormous retro diving suit, these Big Daddies walk around the levels aimlessly. Not having a particular set pattern, you’ll often come across them when you least expect it. On higher difficulties, they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Luckily they only ever attack once provoked so they can be avoided if you wish. But this is not recommended – you see, Big Daddies are guardians of the Little Sisters who follow them around, creepy little girls protected by the walking behemoths. They all contain ADAM (the source of all power in Rapture) and, by killing the Big Daddy, you get the option to either rescue or ‘harvest’ the Little Sister. It’s a big choice; each option brings with it a worthy reward, and the choice you make determines which ending you get to the story, and the story is certainly something worth thinking about.

Aside from the religious elements, the story is also pieced together with little diary recordings you find spread across Rapture. These give a far more in-depth history of the underwater city, a layer of depth to the plot which throughout the game is fantastic. You could say there are a couple of things wrong with the story, but rather than being plot holes, they’re just things that aren’t properly explained. Though we do like that sort of thing, as it makes us think long after the game is finished, a much better way of telling you a story than lengthy exposition scenes.

Bioshock is certainly a superb experience, but it’s by no means perfect. One notable complaint is with the system of hacking. Everything, from vending machines (the source of ammo and health in the game) to turrets and security cameras, can be hacked. The problem comes from the mechanic that is used to do so: you’re presented with a grid of question-marked squares; flipping over each question mark unveils a pipe that is pointing in a particular direction. The idea is to piece together a route from the start to the end quickly, before the flow of electricity works its way through the pipe and catches up with you. It’s a pleasant diversion, but that’s just the problem – it takes you out of the action. You could be fighting four splicers in some brilliant action-packed moment and, as soon as you enter the hacking mini-game, the action completely stops. In the end, we started to use the auto-hack items that can be made at U-Invent stations scattered through the city; it’s far simpler and gets you straight back into the game in seconds.

Bioshock unfortunately just misses out on that special 10/10 score, but still manages to engulf us in a world like no other. Rapture is a beautifully stylised city that provides plenty of mystery and intrigue. Definitely a game of the year contender.

9/10

Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80s

Gamestyle Archive intro: Lovin’ this review! Daniel James was our resident Guitar Hero expert. The fad for musical games was his nirvana and we covered the lot. The genre vanished as quickly as it arrived yet the gameplay it offered remains constant.

Writer: DJ

Format: Playstation 2

Published: August 2007

guitarhero80s

Acceptable in the eighties

Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80s is Harmonix’s last Guitar Hero title before Neversoft take over the reins of development, and they’ve decided to focus on arguably the best decade of music ever. Guitar Hero 1 and 2 have already featured a lot of the more obvious choices from the eighties, including Judas Priest, ZZ Top and Motley Crue, so this has had to dig a little deeper to fill up the thirty-strong tracklist.

Yes, with just thirty songs (no bonus tracks, but some of them are original recordings), this is thinnest Guitar Hero yet. It’s basically an encore edition; the venues and characters are the same, redressed to suit the era, and all the menus and interfaces are identical. It’s lazy, but that’s not why you want Guitar Hero – you want Guitar Hero because of the music, you want more levels. The fact that it comes on a separate disc in its own box is neither here nor there. At least you can be confident that the same refined hammer-on and pull-off system from GH2 is in place, and the game supports wide-screen, progressive scan and lag offset.

The music, frankly, is brilliant. Gamestyle was pessimistic at first, glancing at the track list, but this is the most consistently high standard selection of songs in any Guitar Hero to date. The only issue is the lack of variety, but it’s an eighties themed list, so you should know what to expect. The catchy heavy metal sound of Quiet Riot’s ‘Bang Your Head’ kicks things off, taking a tour through Flock of Seagulls’ ‘I Ran’ and onto White Lion’s ‘Radar Love’ (a particular favourite). Then there are funkier upbeat tunes from The Romantics and comedy from the Vapors’ ‘Turning Japanese’, before heading into heavyville with Maiden’s ‘Wrathchild’, Anthrax’s ‘Caught In A Mosh’ and an excellent closing track which we’ll leave as a surprise (it’s no Freebird, but what is?).

Hair metal, glam rock, it was all about being loud, being bold, but not being show-offs with complicated guitar fretwork. Most of GH80s’ tracks are quite content to follow simple repetitive sequences of notes, certainly favouring power chords, most of the way through, which makes learning the patterns easier. That said, some of these are quite long songs and they can hinge on an annoyingly-placed solo or end flourish, but if you’re playing on an appropriate difficulty for your skill level, you shouldn’t have any problems. Compared to GH2, the hard mode seems easier now and the expert mode a little harder. Three-button chords are more plentiful than ever before and some of the solos are just ridiculous. ‘Star power’ can turn things around, so using it tactically is as important as ever.

But that’s the thing about Guitar Hero, it has an amazing learning curve. Gamestyle’s mangled hands have found new life and are pushing on with harder and faster sequences than ever before. To think that medium mode seemed difficult once upon a time is to realise how far Guitar Hero can take you. It’s not quite the real thing, but sometimes it feels like it, and GH80s can take you there right from the start with its four difficulty levels.Take this into multiplayer mode and you can once again set a difficulty handicap for yourself or the other player. Face-off and Pro Face-off return, as does the inspired co-operative mode whereby you each play a different guitar part and your score is added together. For extra fun, devise a cue for both triggering simultaneous star power. Guitar Hero 80s is a standalone disc, but you’ve probably got a couple of guitars by now, right?

Once again, Guitar Hero makes us appreciate rock music more than ever before. Away from the game, songs can become coloured buttons in our mind and our fingers mimic the movements across the plastic fretboard when we hear a guitar track. Even those songs we might not normally like are raised to a higher status through visual association. When playing, the temptation to pose or strut is too hard to resist, so we just go with the flow. It’s an exhilarating game.30 for 30 tracks is not the best value for money, but can you put a price on this sort of fun? Granted, this is a filler game before the next ‘full’ edition, but in terms of songs, there’s no filler here – not one track is tacked on or unsuitable – that’s not even something GH2 can claim. Neversoft have their work cut out for them.

Overall 8