By now, if you’ve been following MoeGamer this week, you’re hopefully aware of Steam’s Comiket sale, in which a selection of Japanese doujin titles are available for significantly reduced prices in celebration of Japan’s famous biannual doujinshi fair.
It’s a sale that, despite there being a dedicated page for it, Valve has seen fit to all but ignore so far as promotion is concerned — there’s not a whiff of it on the store’s front page. We’re not going to let that stand, though! The doujin titles on Steam represent some great examples of the burgeoning Japanese indie development scene, and supporting them sends a great message both to the doujin circles responsible for developing the games in the first place, and the localisation companies who have brought these titles to the West.
Today, we’re going to take a look at another selection of games available in the sale. Hold on to your wallets!
Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae
For those of you who liked the sound of Croixleur Sigma (which we discussed yesterday) but prefer a more realistic art style — or those of you simply hungry for more hack-and-slash — I present Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae.
In Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae, you take on the role of a warrior maiden forced to hunt down her former best friend who has, as these things tend to go, become possessed by a demon sword. Along the way, you’ll hack, slash, punch and kick your way through hordes of enemies in a suitably satisfying manner, earning skill points to spend on upgrades to your moves as you go.
Like Croixleur, Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae is a relatively simple game in terms of structure — you battle your way through waves of enemies in small arenas rather than doing any sort of exploration — but its combat system rewards skilful play with techniques such as parries, counterattacks and dodges. You’ll also have to take care when making use of your most powerful special moves, as they can often leave you somewhat vulnerable to attack. Thankfully, a helpful tutorial explains how all this works.
Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae is one of those games that is just effortlessly cool, both to play and to watch. It’s smooth, slick, enjoyable and looks great — just be aware that it’ll take a bit of practice to get the hang of!
Grab it here: Mitsurugi Kamui Hikae
Dismissed by some for its superficial resemblance to brutal roguelike platformer Spelunky, La-Mulana is, in fact, an altogether different beast. It’s not a roguelike, for a start: it’s more of a Metroidvania affair, with you exploring a vast map, solving puzzles and defeating enemies along the way. It is challenging, though, make no mistake; the difference here being that the challenges are all fixed and able to be “learned” rather than the constant adaptation required from procedurally generated affairs.
La-Mulana tells the story of an archaeologist’s attempts to uncover the “secret treasure of life” which, naturally, is buried deep within some seriously perilous ruins. The developers describe it as being an old-school game designed to mirror the experiences they themselves had with classic games of the past — so expect a stiff challenge along the way.
A sequel is in development after a successful Kickstarter campaign, too; you can take a sneak peek at what to expect over at the game’s Playism page.
Grab it here: La-Mulana
Ether Vapor Remaster
If you enjoyed developer Edelweiss most recent release Astebreed, which we explored yesterday, you should absolutely check out its spiritual predecessor Ether Vapor Remaster, too.
Like Astebreed, Ether Vapor Remaster describes itself as a “cinematic 3D arcade shooter” and lives up to this description with some beautifully smooth 3D graphics that shift perspective as the missions progress — sometimes you’ll be playing a side-on shooter; sometimes a top-down shooter; sometimes an into-the-screen rail shooter.
As an older game from earlier in Edelweiss’ life, Ether Vapor Remaster isn’t quite as polished or well-designed as the super-slick Astebreed, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out: it’s still an enormously satisfying game with a surprising amount of depth thanks to its interesting weapons systems, variety of enemy types and the aforementioned shifting perspective constantly keeping things interesting. As many Steam reviewers have said, it’s a game that wouldn’t be out of place on the Dreamcast — which, as far as I’m concerned, is quite a compliment.
Grab it here: Ether Vapor Remaster
Bunny Must Die: Chelsea and the 7 Devils
This peculiarly named title is a Metroidvania from Platine Dispositif, the team behind the Gundemonium games that we discussed a couple of days ago. In keeping with the challenging nature of the Gundemonium titles, Bunny Must Die features deceptively cute visuals that mask a game that absolutely wants to kick your arse, smash your face in and then laugh about it afterwards.
It does so in good humour, however, so it’s difficult to be too angry; we’re talking about a game where you can’t walk in one of the two directions until you pick up a powerup at the start of the game allowing you to do so. These strange and wonderful powerups persist throughout the rest of the game, gradually unlocking more and more useful abilities for Bunny to use as she continues on her quest to rid herself of her unwanted cat ears.
Yes, Bunny Must Die is not a game intended to be taken seriously in a narrative sense, but by golly it is a game that should be taken seriously from a gameplay perspective. It’s a solid Metroidvania with fun level design, interesting mechanics — including some Braid-style time manipulation — and a selection of enjoyable weapons with which to deal out death and destruction. Highly recommended — so long as you have the patience to deal with frequent death!
Grab it here: Bunny Must Die: Chelsea and the 7 Devils
Finally for today, we come to 99 Spirits, a puzzle RPG adventure based on the Japanese folklore of Tsukomogami, the legend that tells of everyday objects coming to life on their hundredth birthday.
Taking on the role of young medieval Japanese maiden Hanabusa, your quest involves roaming the realm to take revenge on the evil spirits that killed Hanabusa’s mother. The twist here is that the spirits in question can be identified and captured in an unusual game system that has been described as a curious cross between, of all things, Pictionary and Pokemon.
99 Spirits is certainly an unusual game, but it provides a unique twist on the JRPG genre thanks to its peculiar, inventive mechanics, great art design and interesting story. It’s well worth a look if you’re after something a little bit different with which to spend your time — and with the new(ish) Cage of Night DLC, also available as part of the Comiket sale, you can explore the game world in a new way, too.
Grab it here: 99 Spirits
Steam’s Comiket sale is running until August 18. We’ll have a final selection from the available games tomorrow; in the meantime, check out the official sale page here.