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The Gamer’s Guide to the World Cup – Group H



With soccer’s biggest tournament started this week, the world is watching. But what happens if you want to follow the action and know nothing about the “beautiful game” because you spend all your time playing video games? Worry not, because Goomba Stomp’s resident footy-mad, cynical England supporter is here to give you some key info on this year’s contesting teams and how they theoretically relate to the gaming world. We’ll be doing one group every few days, so keep it here and you’ll be come a World Cup expert in no time! This is the final group of the tournament. If you’ve enjoyed this series of articles, then thanks for reading and enjoy the World Cup! 

Gamer's Guide World Cup ColombiaColombia

Previous World Cup Appearances: 5

Best World Cup Performance: Quarter-Finals (2014)

Star Player: James Rodriguez (Real Madrid)


Biggest contribution to video games: CellFactor series (PC) – Immersion Games

Colombia had an excellent showing at the World Cup in 2014 when they made it to the Quarter-finals, and this time around they only just qualified for their first consecutive finals appearance in 20 years. Star player James Rodriguez put it in some perspective as he said to World Soccer Magazine, “Qualification from South America is really tough. To get out of this group you need massive balls.”

There’s no reason why Colombia won’t be a team to fear this time around as well, as they have some really talented players in their ranks. Chief among them is James Rodriguez – winner of the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup with six goals – but he did start today’s opening game against Japan with muscle fatigue. Luckily, all-time top scorer Radamel Falcao is a revitalized player after his terrible stint at Manchester Utd, and Juan Cuadrado’s blistering speed is also a real weapon.

If it were a video game, Colombia would be:

Alien IsolationAlien video games (good ones anyway) and the Colombian team at the World Cup were both basically non-existent during the 00’s, and then both came back with a bang in 2014. Alien Isolation was the tense, terrifying, faithful video game fans had wanted for decades, and Colombia returned to the World Cup after 16 years with a bang to reach the Quarter-finals. The world now expects both to push on from there.



Gamer's Guide World Cup JapanJapan

Previous World Cup Appearances: 5

Best World Cup Performance: Round of 16 (2002, 2010)

Star Player: Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund)


Biggest contribution to video games: If you need to be told this, you’re on the wrong website.

Japan is one of the most successful teams in Asia, having qualified for the last six consecutive World Cups. It shows how much the sport has come on in the country, considering they never qualified at all until 1998 and have qualified for every tournament since. Although, apparently qualifying for a tournament isn’t everything, as the JFA sacked their previous manager, Vahid Halilhodzic, after the team had some bad results in a couple of friendly matches.

According to World Soccer Magazine, JFA president Akira Nishino said he was moving to improve Japan’s chances at the World Cup chances “even if by only one or two percent.” The new manager may likely only see that much of an improvement, as an aging group of star players will need to dig in and support the younger crop for them to have any chance at getting through the group.

If it were a video game, Japan would be:

Resident Evil 0Japanese developer Capcom’s Resident Evil 0 was the straw that broke the series’ back. After Code: Veronica followed the usual template, and Resident Evil remake on GameCube was bound to ape the original, 0 was the moment when that formula became tired, and it was apparent that change was needed to freshen it up. Freshening up is what Japan are aiming to do with a new manager and some young rookie players, but perhaps their older stars, and indeed their brand of careful possession football, is looking a little tired as well.


Gamer's Guide World Cup PolandPoland

Previous World Cup Appearances: 7

Best World Cup Performance: 3rd Place (1974, 1982)

Star Player: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)


Biggest contribution to video games: The Witcher series (PC, PS3, PS4, XB360, XB1) – CD Projekt Red

In what is now a very repetitive theme for the 2018 World Cup, Poland are yet another team staring down a last chance for a supposed “golden generation.” Superstar all-time top scorer Robert Lewandowski is now 29, and will face a challenge to make the tournament in 2022 aged 33. It’s not just he who is getting on in years though, as Poland are one of the oldest squads at the tournament with ten players all aged at least 30.

Poland reached the Quarter-finals of Euro 2016, and are arguably the second strongest team in Group H. Lewandowski didn’t even score a goal at the Euros, and much more will be expected of the man who would have joined English football shitshow Blackburn Rovers back in 2010 if it wasn’t for a volcanic ash cloud over Europe cancelling his flight. Instead, he ended up with 6 Bundesliga titles for German clubs Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich combined. Can he add to his collection of winner’s medals at the World Cup? No. No, he probably can’t.

If it were a video game, Poland would be:

Pac-ManWith their finest hour in the late 70s and early 80s, both Pac-Man and Poland used to be a big deal in their respective fields. Largely middling for long periods of time, both have had impressive showings in recent years, with Pac-Man Championship Edition completely revitalizing the pill-munching ghost-dodger, and Lewnadowski’s golden generation giving Poland their best chance in 34 years of making an impact on the world stage.



Gamer's Guide World Cup SenegalSenegal

Previous World Cup Appearances: 1

Best World Cup Performance: Quarter-Finals (2002)

Star Player: Sadio Mane (Liverpool)


Biggest contribution to video games: Cross Dakar City (Mobile) – Ousseynou Khadim Bèye

Senegal shocked the world in 2002. In their first-ever World Cup, they beat defending world (and European) champions France in their first group game. France absolutely imploded at the tournament, while the Senegalese tournament rookies went on to the Quarter-finals. It remains the only World Cup appearance in their history. They were probably also the catalyst for “big clubs buying previously unknown players who have a good World Cup,” as the 2002 squad boasted several players who went on to be household names across Europe in the wake of the tournament.

2018’s Senegal boasts their own handful of household names, most notably Liverpool’s Sadio Mane and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly. Group H is a very tight one in terms of the ability of its competing teams, but Senegal will be expecting their physically strong and speedy team to make a hell of a go at it.

If it were a video game, Senegal would be:

Eternal DarknessAnother entity that made a surprisingly good showing in 2002 and has never been seen again. Much like the Senegal team that featured Henri Camara, Papa Bouba Diop, El Hadji Diouf and current manager Aliou Cissé, people still remember Eternal Darkness fondly. Unfortunately, just like a Senegal appearance in a World Cup, we haven’t seen another Eternal Darkness title. The Senegalese will be hoping their World Cup campaign goes a little better than the failed Kickstarter for Eternal Darkness spiritual successor Shadow of the Eternals.

Crotchety Englishman who spends hundreds of pounds on video game tattoos and Amiibo in equally wallet-crippling measure. Likes grammar a lot, but not as much as he likes ranting about the latest gaming news in his weekly column.

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This Heart’s on Fire: ‘Death Stranding’ and Heartman

‘Death Stranding’ has no shortage of your standard Kojima weirdos but one that almost no one is talking about is the eccentric Heartman.



Death Stranding Heartman

*This article contains spoilers up to and including Chapter 8 of Death Stranding*

Over the course of Hideo Kojima’s wildly ambitious Death Stranding there are a whole cavalcade of intriguing and intoxicating characters for players to meet and acquaint themselves with. From the guy with the weird goalie mask to the lady with the magical umbrella, there is no shortage here of your standard Kojima weirdos but one that almost no one is talking about is Heartman.

Portrayed by writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn, best known for Drive, Heartman brings the game to a dead halt when you finally meet him face to face in chapter 8 but the reprieve comes as a welcome comfort to the player. Having just crossed a treacherous mountain range and survived a second trip to Clifford Unger’s war-torn beach, most players will welcome a little down time, and Heartman is there to provide it.

Death Stranding
It’s immediately clear that Heartman’s home is something special from the moment Sam walks through the door. Lit with a ring of holographic fire, the foyer of the mansion is immediately welcoming in the hostile environment of the snowy mountains. However, it also has a sort of clinical detachment to it. This is by design, as reality for Heartman is merely a distraction — downtime to be filled.

Yes, Heartman comes with the tragic backstory players will no doubt be expecting but, like most of them in Death Stranding, his is a real treat. Delivered partly through voiceover and partly through flashback, Heartman reveals how he lost his family to a terrorist attack while in the hospital for a heart operation. When he flatlined during the operation, though, he was able to find them on the beach before being whisked away back to reality.

Obsessed with finding them again and joining them, Heartman now spends his life in 24 minute intervals: 21 minutes of life, 3 minutes of death. Every 21 minutes Heartman journeys to the beach by flatlining himself with a personal AED, only to be resurrected 3 minutes later. During those 3 minutes though, where time is altered by the elastic effect of the Death Stranding, he seeks out his family and makes observations on how the beaches and the after life work.

Death Stranding
Bizarre as all of this is, it makes Heartman a truly fascinating character. Since his life is mainly confined to 21 minutes at a time, he has collected hundreds of books, movies, and albums which can be experienced during that tiny window of time. His study is brimming with them, stacked on the ceiling high bookshelves that surround his work area. Also in the study are eerie recreations of frozen corpses, old family photos, and a host of other curiosities, each of which will earn the player likes from Heartman for noticing them.

Of course, this is the most interesting part of the meeting. As Heartman continues to explain his theories, a counter occasionally appears in the bottom corner of the screen, showing how long Heartman has before he will flatline again. When the moment of truth finally comes, he lays himself down on a chaise lounge, turns over a golden hourglass and dies before your eyes. As the Funeral March begins playing from an old record player, Sam must keep himself busy for 3 minutes while he waits for Heartman to return to the land of the living. It’s a truly brilliant moment, as a counter appears in the bottom corner again, and the player must simply take in Heartman’s eccentric home from a first person perspective for 3 minutes uninterrupted.

What would be boring as sin under the wrong direction becomes a welcome moment for the player to just sit and absorb this strange, yet comforting, place. Then, after three minutes have elapsed, Heartman reawakens and picks up from where he left off as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. He even breaks the 4th wall as he continues to talk, swatting away the timer when it appears on screen again and adding likes to your counter in real time.

There’s really nothing like the meeting with Heartman in all of Death Stranding — but then, there’s nothing like Death Stranding really in the realm of gaming either. With its long periods of walking between haunted destinations and its deliberately cryptic mythology, the game is like a series of tone poems and intellectual treatises mashed together into a post-apocalyptic courier sim.

Heartman then, with his heart-shaped lake and pink-lit study, is just one more piece of Kojima’s mad puzzle here but what a piece he is. Who would have thought the most normal looking member of Death Stranding‘s bewildering cast would end up also being one of its most interesting? Certainly not this writer. Still, Heartman and his eerie, purgatorial existence make for one of the nicest surprises in the game.

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Five Best New Pokémon Designs from ‘Pokémon Sword and Shield’



Much like Pokémon Sun and Moon before, Pokémon Sword and Shield is an adventure full of fascinating surprises. Some of those many surprises across the Galar region are the new pokémon you will come up against. While many of the designs in the eighth generation were a sorry sight to behold, here are five that should stand the test of time as welcome additions to the ever-growing franchise.


When I first encountered an Applin, there was a stark realization across my mind that Pokémon had ran out of ideas. Here I was, with my then Sobble, about to fight an apple with eyes. It was about as baffling as the ice cream cone back in Black and White, which looked as if it was designed by a child. But for not the first time, I was wrong, and instead of becoming three apples or a pear, Applin actually has a fantastic evolutionary journey.

Throw a sweet apple at Applin, and it’ll evolve into a Appletun, which is an interesting evolution in its own right. But when you throw a tart apple in its direction, it evolves into something so much better, with the result becoming the Flapple we see above. A tiny dragon using the broken apple it burst out of to flap around in the air is a creative concept to say the least, and certainly helped to change my early judgement on the apple core pokémon.


Farfetch’d has been an unfortunate pokémon ever since its illustrious debut on Pokémon Red and Blue. A weak pokémon that was rare by virtue of being delicious, Farfetch’d has been a pokédex filler ever since. Luckily, in the Galar region, the Farfetch’d are a little more feisty, with a new typing to match.

With a little patience and a shovel of goof fortune, you can evolve your Galarian form Farfetch’d into Sirfetch’d if you manage to deal three critical hits in one battle. The odds are increased if you catch a Farfetch’d holding a leek, and then further increased at level 55 when your Farfetch’d learns leaf blade. For what it’s worth, the hard work does pay off. Sirfetch’d is a fantastic design and suits the theme of Pokémon Sword and Shield honorably. The evolution that Farfetch’d always needed has been worth the two decade wait.

Galarian Corsola

For all the demonic ghost pokédex entries and back stories, the Galarian form Corsola hits most close to home. While the change is largely a new colour and a sad face, the reasoning can be a little more tragic.

There are no secrets about the destruction of the coral reefs across the world due to climate change. It only takes a change of a degree in temperature for the coral to expel the algae that gives them their unique colouring and become the bleached white. While the coral isn’t dead immediately, if left in that state, it does eventually starve to death. Hence Galarian form Corsola represents more than the sum of its parts, and its a clever message Game Freak has left in Pokémon Sword and Shield about the destruction of our ocean ecosystems.


Ever since Hawlucha, I have a bias towards Mexican wrestling pokémon. They’re fantastic. Clobbopus and Grapploct are no exception, and the only reason I’ve chosen Grapploct over Clobbopus is because of way Grapploct swam like a hungry Olympic swimmer to announce my destruction.

While its base stats are actually average, the confidence it showed to pursue me on my journey across the sea certainly left a stain. The design of Grapploct itself is so consistent with fighting type pokémon that it’s one of the least lazy designs in Pokémon Sword and Shield, and for all the prayers to Arceus, there are some hopelessly lazy designs in this generation.


This is going to be huge statement that might rile up a number of pokémon fans, but for me, Corviknight is the best designed bird pokémon. The whole concept fits the brief, from the armour on its head, to its seamless fit into the inspiration behind the region.

It’s no secret that the Galar region was inspired by England, from the train system to the architecture, there are pieces of Ol’ Blighty everywhere in Pokémon Sword and Shield. Some of those influences are seen in the pokémon themselves, and none express that more than Corviknight. The raven has a lot of folklore behind it, particularly its presence in the Tower of London. It is said that if the ravens were to leave the tower, then the destruction of England is imminent. As such, not only does Corviknight look like a formidable bird pokémon, it actually has a clever reason behind its design.

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Game Reviews

‘Donkey Kong Country’ – Still as Difficult, Demanding and Amazing to This Day



Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country: 25 Years Later

Back in 1994, Nintendo was struggling with their 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which wasn’t selling as well as they’d hoped it would. With the release of the Saturn and Playstation on the horizon, the Super Nintendo needed a visually impressive and original title to reinforce its market dominance. After three years of intense competition and heated rivalries, Nintendo desperately needed a hit that could prove the Super NES could output graphics on the same level as the forthcoming 32-bit consoles. They teamed up with Rare to produce Donkey Kong Country, a Mario-style platformer, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Donkey Kong Country is a game held in high regard and with reason. Monumental! Monstrous! Magnificent! Use any term you want, there’s no denying how important this game was for Nintendo and Rare. The graphics for the time were above and beyond anything anyone would imagine possible for the 16-bit system. For a two-dimensional side-scroller, Donkey Kong Country conveys a three-dimensional sense of dept. The characters are fluidly animated and the rich tropical environments make use of every visual effect in the Super NES’s armory. Each stage has its own theme, forcing players to swim underwater, navigate through a misty swamp, swing from vines, or transport DK using a set of barrels (cannons) to advance. And let’s not forget the mine cart stages where you ride on rails and use your quick reflexes to successfully reach the end. Every level has little nooks and crannies too, hiding secret areas and passageways that lead to bonus games where you can earn bananas and balloons, which you can trade in for additional lives. And in Donkey Kong Country, you’re not alone; your simian sidekick Diddy tags along for the adventure. You control one character at a time, and each has his own unique strengths. Donkey Kong can dispatch larger enemies with his giant fists, while Diddy can jump a little higher than his bulky cousin. It isn’t the most original platforming feature, but it works. The two heroes can also rely on various animal friends to help guide them through their adventure. Predating Super Mario World: Yoshi’s Island, Diddy and DK can also ride on the backs of Rambi the Rhino, Winky the Frog, Enguarde the Swordfish and more!

What’s really impressive about Donkey Kong Country is how it has withstood the passage of time. In 1994, Donkey Kong Country’s visuals were spectacular with its rendered 3D models, lively character animations, detailed backgrounds, and a lush jungle setting, and while some would argue the game is dated, in my eyes it still looks great to this day. Kong has heart, and he’s willing to show it in a game made with wit, excitement and moments of visionary beauty. Meanwhile, the soundtrack by David Wise is guaranteed to win listener’s over. Practically every piece on the soundtrack exudes a certain lyricism that has become a staple of Rare’s games – from its upbeat tropical introduction to the unforgettable climax which secures its place as one of the Super Nintendo’s most memorable boss fights. The result is an apt accompaniment to the colorful characters, tropical landscape, and tomfoolery that proceeds.

What really stands out the most about Donkey Kong Country after all of these years is just how challenging this game is.

But what really stands out the most after all of these years is just how challenging this game is. Donkey Kong Country is a platformer you can only finish through persistence and with a lot of patience. Right from the start, you’re in for one hell of a ride. In fact, some of the hardest levels come early on. There are constant pitfalls and Donkey Kong can only take a single hit before he loses a life. If your companion Diddy is following you he will take over but then if he takes a single hit you lose a life and it’s back to the start of a level. Needless to say, the game is unforgiving and requires quick reflexes and precise pattern memorization to continue. This game requires so much fine precision that it will definitely appeal to hardcore platforming veterans looking for a challenge and those that do are in for one hundred eighty minutes of mesmerization, astonishment, thrills, chills, spills, kills and ills. The only real downfall of Donkey Kong Country is the boss battles. Yes, Donkey Kong Country gave us some memorable villains such as Dumb Drum (a giant Oil Drum that spawns enemies after it hits the floor), and The Kremling King (who is responsible for stealing Donkey Kong’s Banana Hoard), but these enemies have very basic attack patterns and far too easy to defeat.

It’s one of the rare, great works of art that stands up endlessly despite repeated playthroughs, each time revealing something new.

Donkey Kong Country

Along with its two SNES sequels, Donkey Kong Country is one of the defining platformers for the SNES. The game looks great and sounds great and the platforming, while incredibly difficult, is still very fun. Rare did the unexpected by recasting a classic Nintendo villain as the titular hero and it paid off in spades. It’s one of the rare, great works of art that stands up endlessly despite repeated playthroughs, each time revealing something new.

The beauty of the original is that there’s more to it than the oversized gorilla. Donkey Kong Country is truly amazing!

– Ricky D

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