We give Sony’s Pulse Explore Earbuds a serious listen, then check out Super Mario RPG, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora and more.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – choosing the right set of earbuds is an incredibly daunting decision. Adding gaming capabilities only makes things more difficult, which is why it’s so smart that Sony is trying to take some of the guesswork out of the whole process with their latest audio offering – the Pulse Explore Earbuds.
If you already own a PS5 it’s clear that the wireless Pulse Explore buds follow a similar design pattern. The core black and white colour palate is in play here, but they don’t give off a strong ‘gamerbud’ vibe should you choose to use them out and about. That said, while they look nice (and feature the classic PlayStation logo), the wings are quite large and could become an issue for those with smaller ears.
The Pulse Explore Earbuds case is also similarly stylish. There’s something inherently satisfying about sliding out the buds each time you need to use them, but it does lead to a bit of bulk compared to others in the market as a result. That said, if you’re using them primarily at home that’s hardly an issue, and I hardly minded once it was hooked up to my PS5 via an included USB dongle.
When they were in action, the Pulse Explore Earbuds were exceptional. The planar magnetic drivers (a technology often used in much more expensive overear headphones allowed for some of the richest, most rounded soundscapes I’ve heard out of my console thus far.
From replaying Final Fantasy VIII Remake to digging deeply into God of War Ragnarok Valhala, I noticed a great amount of detail in each game world that I simply hadn’t noticed before. Paired with the Tempest 3D audio and it’s an exceptional experience that also keeps a much smaller footprint on your gaming space compared to bigger and bulkier units.
Sure there are more buds out there than you know what to do with, but if you’re a PlayStation gamer wanting to stay within the ecosystem, the Pulse Explore Earbuds are a no-brainer, especially considering they may be the best way to play with the upcoming PlayStation Portal due out in only a few weeks time.
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You can pick yourself up a pair of the Pulse Explore Earbuds for $329 from Amazon now.
Also out now…
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PC)
After a decade-long break the Avatar money-maker is back in full swing, so its only fitting that Frontiers of Pandora hopes to expand the mega-franchise into video game territory as well. But while this could have been an easy cash-grab, Frontiers of Pandora is a truly beautiful, polished open world adventure that’s a surprising delight to run around in.
You’ll play as a captured Na’Vi, awoken fifteen years later – a stranger to the land and its people. That allows Frontiers of Pandora’s plot to follow very similar ground to the movies, especially once you start defending the land from the shady RDA military group.
Ubisoft’s core formula runs straight through Frontiers of Pandora. As a result, there are outposts to capture, items to fetch and all sorts of general checklists to cross off. It might not be an incredibly unque approach to Pandora’s world, but it’s proven successful for Ubisoft titles in the past, so if that style of game design works for you it’s hardly a negative.
Instead, Frontiers of Pandora is well worth your attention and a great way tide you over until the next film.
Super Mario RPG (Switch)
A truly exceptional blast from the past, this updated version of Super Mario RPG is an utter delight.
Originally released for Super Nintendo back in the ‘90s, it makes sense that Nintendo has updated this strange Mario side quest to run infinitely better on the Switch hardware. As a result, although the core classic gameplay remains surprisingly faithful, it all looks and plays a treat, with charming new 3D visuals and slight tweaks to the game’s turn-based combat only enhance the overall experience.
But despite all the changes the core zany story remains in place, as Bowser is brushed aside in favour of the more dastardly Smithy Gang. If you’ve yet to enjoy one of Nintendo’s quirkiest games in the company’s back catalogue than this is without question the best way to play.
Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, XBO, PC)
Yakuza fans are eating well lately, and The Man Who Erased His Name is no exception. This much shooter-paced spinoff is stacked with plenty of strong characters and enjoyable combat without ever outstaying its welcome.
Yes, there’s something inherently fun about the series’ brawler combat and switching up between the two fighting styles (Yakuza and Agent) in this outing only makes things better still, as you juggle between choosing power over speed and nifty gadgets.
The biggest sticking point to The Man Who Erased His Name is context. Taking place all around the events of Yakuza: Like a Dragon and Yakuza 6, if you’re not well versed in those games you’re likely to be pretty lost as you follow the dramatic plights of Kazuma Kiryu.
It’s not a total deal-breaker, but is perhaps the best way to enjoy this solid offering.
Bomb Rush Cyberfunk (PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, XBO, Switch, PC)
While the Jet Set Radio series may be lying seemingly forever dormant, that opens the door for other titles to take advantage, and Bomb Rush Cyberfunk is the latest to confidently do so.
This spiritual successor of sorts embraces much of what fans love about Jet Set – cel-shaded visuals, skating and a bit of casual graffiti. In this instance you play as Red, a graffiti writer who happened to unfortunately lose his head, only to quickly have it replaced by a robotic head by the Bomb Rush Crew.
It sounds ludicrous, but somehow Bomb Rush Cyberfunk makes it all work, and it brings a fun zany vibe to the game’s blend of skating-focused exploration, tricks and even the occasional combat section. It may lack a true identity of its own, but if you’re looking for a modern-day interpretation of Jet Set Radio, you should be well covered.
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