The original Groove Coaster, which released on iOS in 2011, was a revelation. It was an accessible yet challenging rhythm game that made excellent use of its touchscreen control method — and which beautifully demonstrated how a completely abstract aesthetic can be just as thrilling and enjoyable as a detailed, realistic one.
While the series isn’t as well-known today as it was during the initial fever for it when it first appeared on the scene, it’s been quietly rumbling along for a decade at this point, taking in several sequels for both mobile phones and arcades, a Steam release for PC in 2018 and, towards the end of 2019, a special Switch version subtitled Wai Wai Party!!!!
At fifty quid, Groove Coaster Wai Wai Party!!!! may look a tad pricey for a downloadable game to the casual observer, and I must confess I’d put off checking it out for far longer than I should have because of this. But having been generously given some eShop credit as a leaving present from my old job, I figured it was high time I gave it a look for myself. So let’s explore it together!
Continue reading Groove Coaster Wai Wai Party!!!!: Rockin’ Out With the VTubers and Vocaloids
This post is one chapter of a MegaFeature!
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A couple of years after his first commercial video game Combat Crazy had failed to set the sales charts alight — despite being an enjoyable side-scrolling platform shooter — Bizarre Creations founder Martyn Chudley was back with another game, this time for 16-bit platforms.
The new title was known as The Killing Game Show, and was published on 16-bit home computers by a company called Psygnosis, which had been establishing a very solid reputation for itself since its inception in 1986. Not only was Psygnosis a spiritual successor to the legendary 8-bit developer-publisher Imagine Software, but it had also demonstrated right from the start that it was a company dedicated to high-quality, well-produced games that oozed class and style — on both the computer screen and on players’ shelves, too.
The Killing Game Show, developed by Chudley and a team working under the name Raising Hell Software, was an ideal fit for Psygnosis’ portfolio, featuring impressive visuals and solid but challenging gameplay to back them up. So let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading The Killing Game Show: The Only Way is Up
Fun fact: I have the manual for the original Atari Lynx version of Checkered Flag framed in my toilet.
For a certain period during the Lynx’s lifetime, Atari eschewed booklet-style manuals in favour of posters for the games with the instructions on the back. My wife liked the art on Checkered Flag’s instructions sheet — which I somehow still had despite having not owned a Lynx for a good ten years or so — and so we put it up on the wall. Consequently, every time I’m having a poo I get to read those instructions for the umpteenth time.
Believe me, I am now intimately familiar with how to play Checkered Flag effectively — helpful now that it’s been rereleased as part of the Atari Lynx Collection 2 cartridge for the Evercade — and the fact that, in Atari’s own words, the winner of each race is rewarded with “a trophy and a big hug”. And, in a surprisingly progressive, inclusive step for a video game on a failed console from 1991, the manual also takes care to note that said big hug is “where the driver’s gender becomes important”. Oh, also there’s some racing game action in there, too, I suppose; let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Checkered Flag: Where the Driver’s Gender Becomes Important
As I type this, one of my longstanding gaming prayers has just been answered: Jaleco’s Rod Land, one of my favourite games of all time, has just got an Arcade Archives release on Switch and PlayStation 4. This is, to my knowledge, the first time the original arcade game has ever been rereleased on any platform. It even lets you start straight at the “sequel” set of levels if you want to.
I’ve written about Rod Land before — as well as showing the excellent Atari ST version in the Atari A to Z series — but what I haven’t done is share a personal story about why this game is especially important to me. And why, in retrospect, the first time I encountered it was probably a defining experience for me, not just in terms of gaming, but also in terms of things like self-expression, self-perception, taste and perhaps even a touch of gender identity, too.
So indulge me a moment, dear reader, and I’ll tell you why Rod Land means so much to me.
Continue reading Rod Land: A Personal Story
The racing game genre is one area of gaming where, outside of graphical and performance improvements, I suspect it’s always felt quite difficult to innovate.
After all, the fundamental concept of “two or more things moving in the same direction at high speed, with one attempting to get somewhere before the other one in order to receive some sort of reward” has been around pretty much as long as human civilisation. So what else can you do with that?
Well, says Tokyo Highway Challenge (aka Tokyo Xtreme Racer, aka Shutokou Battle) for Sega Dreamcast, why not rethink the fundamental means through which a winner is decided? Let’s take a closer look at how that works.
Continue reading Tokyo Highway Challenge: Around and Around and Around
Helicopters are cool. At least they used to be in the ’80s and early ’90s. I’m not sure we’d get a TV show where the helicopter was the star today.
Anyway, with how fashionable helicopters were in this time period, it’s not surprising that we got a fair few video games where helicopters played a leading role. And one such example was FireHawk, developed by the Oliver Twins and published by Codemasters and Camerica in 1991 as an unlicensed cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
It’s not one of the Oliver Twins’ better-known pieces of work, but it is a fun time. And, as luck would have it, we now have easy access to it as part of the Oliver Twins Collection for the Evercade retro gaming platform. So let’s take a closer look!
Continue reading FireHawk: Lafia Strike
There’s been a quiet revolution happening in gaming over the course of the last year or so. You won’t read much about it in the mainstream games press, for a variety of reasons, but it’s absolutely been happening.
I’m talking about the growing acceptance of games with adult content on home console platforms. More specifically, Nintendo’s seeming willingness to embrace this side of things considerably more than either of its key rivals in the console business — particularly Sony, who have been notoriously heavy- handed with what content they will and won’t allow on their platforms in the last few years.
While we’re still a way off getting fully uncensored, sexually explicit eroge on the Switch, we can at least enjoy games with a cheeky sense of sexuality and eroticism about them on Switch. And, as I type this, the latest game that falls into this category is Eastasiasoft’s port of the excellent Crawlco Block Knockers by Cosmi Kankei. Let’s take a closer look!
Continue reading Crawlco Block Knockers: Getting Lewd on the Switch
One of the most delightful things about the modern video game scene is the fact that a lot of developers are willing to go back to classic hardware and make new games.
In doing so, they can create games that feel authentic thanks to their working within the limitations of the original host platform, but which perhaps incorporate some more modern design sensibilities that the gaming community as a whole has figured out over the years.
Xeno Crisis is an unapologetically old-school arcade-style shooter, designed specifically for the Mega Drive and ported to a variety of platforms. That original Mega Drive version is also available as part of a double-game cartridge (alongside the excellent but very different Tanglewood) for the Evercade retro gaming system, and it’s that version specifically that we’re looking at today.
Continue reading Xeno Crisis: 16-Bit Mayhem
Despite being the franchise that pretty much defined a whole genre, the Double Dragon series has had its share of troubles over the years.
One particularly troubled installment was 1992’s fourth game in the series, known as Super Double Dragon in the West, and Return of Double Dragon in its slightly enhanced Japanese release. This Super NES-exclusive title suffered from an all-too-common problem in the games industry that we still see to this day: the developers being forced to rush the game out before it was completely finished.
Even the enhanced Japanese release was missing some of the material that was originally supposed to be in the game, but for now it remains the definitive version of the game. Lucky that we now have easy access to this version thanks to the Technos Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system, then, isn’t it?
Continue reading Super Double Dragon: An Unfinished Symphony
Racing games used to be very different to how we know them today — primarily due to the limitations of the hardware on which they were running.
Instead of unfolding in lovingly rendered, minutely detailed 3D polygonal worlds as most of today’s racers are, they took what we now call a “vanishing point” approach, where the road was drawn using two converging lines to simulate a sense of perspective, and sprites drawn at various sizes were placed along the sides of the track to assist with the illusion of movement and speed.
Of all the racers designed in this way — and there are many, including some developed quite recently! — Kemco’s Top Racer, also known as Top Gear, is one of the finest out there. This is a game that still gets regular play from a lot of racing enthusiasts today — plus now you can enjoy it as part of the Piko Interactive Collection 1 cartridge for Blaze’s Evercade retro gaming system. So let’s take a closer look!
Continue reading Top Racer: Definitely-Not-Lotus Turbo Challenge