Category Archives: Essentials

A collection of articles highlighting noteworthy or interesting games from the libraries of lesser-appreciated, rarer or retro systems, and in specific genres.

SeaBed: What You Leave Behind

I reviewed this visual novel over at Nintendo Life — please go support my work over there, then join me back here to delve into the narrative in more detail!


SeaBed from Paleontology Soft is a kinetic novel that first released in 2015. It was localised for PC two years later, much to the delight of Western yuri fans, and in early 2020, it got released on Nintendo Switch, too.

It is, not to put too fine a point on it, an absolutely masterful work of fiction. It’s peaceful and calming yet melancholy, and the evocative, descriptive writing gives the whole experience a pleasantly mature feeling that is a far cry from noisy, chaotic anime hijinks. Not that there’s anything wrong with noisy, chaotic anime hijinks, mind, but sometimes you just want a bit of quiet contemplation to mull over.

So let’s mull it over together, because there’s a lot to talk about. There are likely to be some spoilers ahead, but I’ll try and keep major ones to a minimum, because you should experience this for yourself!

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Samurai Aces Episode III: Sengoku Cannon – Blasting Goodbye

Samurai Aces Episode III: Sengoku Cannon (“Sengoku Cannon” hereafter) is a game of farewells.

It bids a fond farewell to the Samurai Aces series, which is how Psikyo began as a developer. It waves goodbye to Psikyo’s run of arcade-centric shoot ’em ups, being designed specifically for the PSP platform. And, in some ways, as a title developed by X-Nauts after they took over Psikyo in 2002, it’s something of a sayounara to Psikyo themselves, too.

Some of the snobbier shoot ’em up fans out there would also argue that Sengoku Cannon also bids adieu to Psikyo-branded games being “good”, but I’ve actually found quite a lot to like about this curious, clunky shooter. Let’s take a closer look.

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Tengai: The Return of the Samurai Aces

If there’s one thing that becomes clear from looking at Psikyo’s shoot ’em up output over the years, it’s that they love a sequel.

The Strikers 1945 series saw two sequels, for example: one which built on the original formula, and another which transplanted the action into the modern day. They all played fairly similarly to one another in terms of their core mechanics, though each with their own unique features to enjoy.

The Samurai Aces series shook things up a bit more with each new installment. So after the straightforward, no-nonsense, enjoyable fun of the original Samurai Aces, we come to the second episode: Tengai. Let’s take a closer look.

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Samurai Aces: A Strong Debut

It’s always fascinating to see a developer’s first game, because it often represents a combination of the new company’s staff bringing their past experience to the table and an attempt for that new company to truly define themselves as something unique.

Psikyo kicked off a prolific few years of shoot ’em ups with Samurai Aces (also known as Sengoku Ace: Tengai Episode I), originally released to arcades in 1993. As the company’s first game, it certainly helps set the mould for their subsequent games, but it remains a solid shoot ’em up in its own right, and can easily be experienced today as part of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo compilation for Nintendo Switch.

A lot of that is probably down to the fact that it was designed by Shin Nakamura of Aero Fighters fame, so Psikyo was always set up to get a good start. But let’s take a closer look anyway, and see what makes this game truly tick.

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Zero Gunner 2-: Making a Classic Affordable

Anyone interested in collecting video games has doubtless run into the issue of certain titles from previous console generations commanding astronomical prices.

There are numerous reasons this might happen — perhaps the game had a very limited print run; perhaps it only came out in certain territories or perhaps it had problems with distribution when it was current.

One such example is Zero Gunner 2 for the Dreamcast, which, at the time of writing, is going for anywhere between £100 and £200 on eBay. Fortunately, there’s a much cheaper way to get your hands on it today: the Switch version, which is available either on its own via the eShop, or as part of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha collection. Let’s have a look!

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Dead or School: A Passion Project Pays Off

I reviewed this game over at Nintendo Life — please go support my work over there, then join me back here to delve into the game in more detail!


It’s abundantly clear when you’re experiencing a creative work that was genuinely special to the people who made it.

The end result of such a passion project might be scraggy around the edges, it might not be technically perfect and you can probably find things that are “better”, whatever that means… but for me, finding something with genuine heart and soul will always trump big budgets and technical efficiency.

And so we come to Dead or School from Studio Nanafushi, a passion project that certainly still has a few scraggy edges even after two years in Early Access on PC… but a game that captured and maintained my attention from the moment I booted it up to the time the last of the credits scrolled off the screen. Let’s take a closer look.

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Dragon Blaze: Strikers 1495

As we’ve already seen with the three Strikers 1945 titles, Psikyo is a developer that is more than happy to make incremental improvements to a formula rather than radically inventing things with each new game.

There are exceptions, of course, but few can deny that the Strikers 1945 formula worked well and could most certainly support a few more games with a few tweaks here and there. Like, say, changing the aesthetic somewhat.

Strikers 1945 III already transplanted the weighty shooting action from post-World War II to the modern day. Dragon Blaze, also part of the Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha collection, zaps us into a fantasy world with neon pink bullets and challenges us to survive another stiff challenge.

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