Knack (2013) [PS4]

My most recent Well-Red Mage review was probably the toughest one I’ve done.

I knew Knack would be a tough one from when I started playing – it’s a repetitive game that seems a lot longer than it’s thirteen levels. I actually started playing Knack in July (I think? It’s a bit of a blur) but it got put on hold due to a failed house move and I really struggled to motivate myself to go back and play it.

Then I changed blog so I was distracted dealing with that. This was followed by a refurbishing of my living room which stressed me out no end – I hate anyone unplugging and moving my consoles about, I’m scared that they will get broken. By now it was nearly October and I was starting to stress about playing Knack..I’d originally planned for Knack to be published on The Well-Red Mage in September.

I sat down in October and gutted it out, playing Knack as much as I could and drafting the review as I went. This led to another problem – I had now set myself a deadline of 15 November (Knack’s fifth year anniversary of it’s release) and was running out of time. I managed to finish the game, but writer’s block caught up with me, as did an irritating virus that sapped my stamina and resolve to write about PS4 launch games.

Basically, I finished the review Gary style – I got to 12 November and had two late, late nights smashing through the Knack review. It was painful and intense, but I finished the review and could move on from Knack. It’s weird how games can take over your life – I’ve basically had Knack at the forefront of my gaming for nearly six months, which I imagine is longer than most people did!

So, if you read the review (or have already read it), thank you! As much as I have been moaning over the last few paragraphs, I really enjoy writing these reviews and plan to write a lot more….just in a more sensible and efficient manner…..

The Well-Red Mage

Technology… the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.
-Max Frisch

HandheldMage1 “The following is a contributor post by the Hopeful Sega Mage.”

The launch of a new console is always a stressful event for all concerned. Consumers, game retailers, publishers and of course, developers. I always think developers have one of the most important jobs of a console launch as they are the ones helping to sell the system via the software they develop. Talk of vague terms such as ‘blast processing’ and ’emotion engine’ doesn’t sell consoles. Super Mario World sells consoles. Halo sells consoles. Tetris sells consoles.

The launch of the PlayStation 4 in November 2013 was a landmark event for Sony. The PlayStation 3 had lost out to Microsoft’s Xbox 360 due to it’s initial price, awkward install times and it’s inferior online functions. With the PlayStation 4, Sony…

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Gary watches…WWE Survivor Series 2018

Pre-show thoughts

Let’s get the obvious issue out of the way – I’m not looking forward to Survivor Series 2018 as much as I was due to Becky Lynch’s injury.

It’s a shame, as Becky’s injury has put a dampener on what was looking like a decent card. I’m a fan of Survivor Series as WWE tends to mix things up on this card, with cross brand matches and elimination tag team matches adding a bit of variety to WWE’s schedule. I really like the classic Survivor Series matches – when given time and linked to ongoing storylines, they are excellent ways of continuing feuds without wearing them out.

There are two Raw vs Smackdown Survivor Series matches on the card (one for women, one for men) and I’m hoping WWE takes them seriously. No ‘one clothesline’ or roll up eliminations…I want to see long matches with everyone getting a chance to shine.

The cross-brand matches are interesting. Again, I want to see WWE take them seriously and give them time. In particular, I want to see Charlotte vs Ronda Rousey headline – as a substitution for Becky Lynch, Charlotte is a superb choice and that match should be pretty good.

Plus, if it means that Becky vs Ronda is pushed back to Wrestlemania, I can live with that.

Continue reading “Gary watches…WWE Survivor Series 2018”

Gary watches…NXT TakeOver: War Games II

Pre show thoughts

I’ve got to admit, I’ve struggled with watching NXT TV this year – after two years of watching it every week, this year has seen me miss most of the shows and I’ve dropped off completely since the summer.

I’m not sure why – I think it may be the lack of a hook. See, everyone in NXT is great in the ring these days, but I want a story that will grab me and I think the Gargano v Ciampa story has gone off the boil personally. It’s been a fun feud, but I wish they had spaced the matches out more.

That said, this show has got me excited for NXT and makes me want to get back into the weekly TV shows. The card looks fantastic and there is absolutely no filler on it. No buffer matches, no cool down matches…just four awesome matches. I wish all shows were like this….

Continue reading “Gary watches…NXT TakeOver: War Games II”

Altered Beast (1989) [Genesis/Mega Drive]

My review of Altered Beast for Well-Red Mage marked my 1 year anniversary as a mage and it felt like a good choice. I’ve defended Altered Beast in my role as Sega Mage many a time so it felt right I should review it, especially after covering Makato Uchida’s other games (Golden Axe, Alien Storm)

You’ve probably read my thoughts on Altered Beast before, especially if you’ve been reading my writing for a while, so I will just leave you with a confession; I can’t beat Altered Beast without the level select cheat. I can get through the first four levels, but that last level throws me every time. The boss battle isn’t too bad either… I just can’t beat the level, the enemy attack patterns feel completely random and I get overwhelmed quickly….


The Well-Red Mage


What is man without the beasts? For if all the beast were gone, man would die of a great loneliness of the spirit.
-Chief Seattle

HandheldMage1 “The following is a contributor post by the Hopeful Sega Mage.”

This review marks my first anniversary at The Well-Red Mage and I couldn’t think of a better game to review. This is a game that I’ve discussed frequently with Red and a game that has probably helped me earn my reputation as a Sega devotee. Altered Beast was also the first game developed by Makoto Uchida, who would go on to developGolden Axeand Alien Storm. Having covered those games previously, it feels like I’m coming full circle by going back to Uchida’s first game.

 “The idea was to embody a very muscular character, who can become stronger and more able to defeat an army of monsters. But at the time…

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ESWAT: City Under Siege (1990)

Now I’ve posted November’s Well-Red Mage review and satisfied my Pro Evolution Soccer addiction for a few days, it’s time to post another Well-Red Mage reblog. I’ve nearly moved them all over to this site now.

I enjoyed my time playing ESWAT, but nearly gave up on the review when I got stuck on Level 5. Level 5 has a long jetpack section that was really tough to complete due to all the awkward enemies. Thank God for save states, otherwise I’d probably still be there now!

The Well-Red Mage


The humblest citizen of all the land,
when clad in the armor of a righteous course,
is stronger than all the hosts of error
-William Jennings Bryan

HandheldMage1 “The following is a contributor post by the Hopeful Sega Mage.”

While I’ve been away from writing for The Well-Red Mage, due to a change in role (no more handhelds sadly), something has come to my attention… Sega’s developers really watched a lot of films in the eighties. We’ve had games inspired by Conan The Barbarian (Golden Axe), Ghostbusters (Alien Storm), and then there’s ESWAT, a game featuring a policeman in robotic armour dealing with crime in a futuristic city… does that ring any bells?


ESWAT was originally released as an arcade game in 1989 under the name ESWAT: Cyber Police and it was followed by a reformulated (and not very good) Master System game…

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Alien Storm (1990)

As I start to finish up my November review for The Well-Red Mage, I’m getting close to finishing my reblogging of previous Well-Red Mage reviews.

What started off as playing Golden Axe to see how it would fare under the Well-Red Mage’s 8-Bit review system ended up being a journey through the games of Makoto Uchida. Uchida was a big part of Sega’s arcade development during the 80’s and it was pretty cool to see what games he has inspired.

My memories of Alien Storm are of the Master System port, a game I have a love/hate relationship with. Love because I so desperately wanted it to be a good game and poured hours into it. Hate because it’s a bad port, another poor Sega arcade port for the 8-Bit System. Small sprites, no two player mode, messy backgrounds….it was hard work on the eyes. I still love the music though and hum it at least once a day….

The Well-Red Mage


“Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.”
-H.G.Wells, The War Of The Worlds

HandheldMage1 “The following is a contributor post by The Hopeful Handheld Mage.”

Title screen

After completing my analysis of  the Golden Axe series (for now!), I wasn’t too sure where to go next. Then I remembered another beat-em-up developed byGolden Axe creator Makoto Uchida in 1990… Alien Storm was a game that I fixated on in my youth, but seems to have been forgotten about today. It’s a game that Sega has never revisited. I sometimes wonder why… is it because Sega saw Alien Storm as a weak sister to GoldenAxe?

“The idea behind Alien Storm comes from the movie

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Golden Axe III (1993)

While I finish off my next review for The Well Red Mage, I just want to finish reblogging all the reviews I’ve already done for him. Hopefully, I should be caught up on everything by the end of the week.

So Golden Axe III then….well, all I remember of writing this review was the struggle in completing Golden Axe III. At this point, Golden Axe III was the hardest game I’d reviewed for Well Red Mage and I did have a few doubts if I could beat it. I insist on beating the games I review for The Well Red Mage – to review a game fully, I have have to complete them and experience everything the game has to offer.

In the end, I was able to get the ‘bad ending’ of Golden Axe III – to get the good ending you need to get to final boss with a continue to spare. I think I beat the game with two bars of health to spare so I’m a little way off that yet!

Golden Axe III is worth a play in my opinion and hopefully this review can persuade people that it’s worth picking up. It’s better than Golden Axe II in my opinion and for the £1.99 it goes for on Steam, you could do worse…

The Well-Red Mage

Video game image #39216

“After all, even the wool of a black sheep is just as warm”
-Ernest Lehman

HandheldMage1 “The following is a guest post by the Hopeful Handheld Mage.”

Title screen

The tale of Golden Axe III was told as a tragedy for many years; this game was seen as the final nail in the coffin of a once great franchise. Golden Axe III was the black sheep of the Golden Axe family – you had the much loved original,the lazy sequel, the mysterious arcade sibling… then the oddity. The game that no one knew a great deal about, apart from it’s inaccessibility. How did the Golden Axe series get from widespread acclaim to quiet banishment in the space of five years?


By 1993, the side-scrolling beat ’em up genre had seen better days. Despite the excellent Streets Of Rage 2 coming out at the start of 1993, the genre was…

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