The mechanical genre that we refer to as “shoot ’em up” actually covers a number of different gameplay styles. And, as with everything else in this world, it displays distinct fashions and trends as the years go by.
Back in the early days of gaming, the fixed shooter was king. Then we moved into the beginning of the horizontally and vertically scrolling age, the former of which in particular flourished throughout the 16-bit home console age. The rise of polygons brought with it a shift to “2.5D”, where 3D graphics were combined with 2D gameplay for added spectacle. And today, many — though not all — shooters focus on the elaborate choreography of the “bullet hell” or danmaku subgenre.
This is an oversimplification, of course, but the fact remains that we see fewer shooters in the style of those from the late 16-bit and early 32-bit eras than we used to. Which is why Rigid Force Redux, a recent Nintendo Switch and Xbox One release from German developer com8com1 Software, was such a pleasure to explore.
Continue reading Rigid Force Redux: An R-Type By Any Other Name
Nintendo’s widely beloved Super NES continued to get new games long after the Sony PlayStation and its rivals had brought in the “next generation” of gaming in 1994.
As you might expect, many of these titles from the latter days of the 16-bit era have very much flown under the radar over the years, and a lot of them have become expensive rarities that only those with deep pockets can hope to collect.
Incantation, a 1996 release by Titus, and a game that subsequently fell into the hands of the Interplay brand, is one such example, with carts commanding three-figure prices on the collectors’ market. As of the time of writing, you no longer need to pay through the nose for it, though, since you can find a modern rerelease of it on Interplay Collection 1 for the Evercade retro gaming handheld. Let’s take a look!
Continue reading Incantation: Having a Wizard Time
The concept of “gaming” wasn’t always about immersing yourself in RPGs that last for several hundred hours, or about hurling abuse at random strangers online.
No; in the dim and distant past, before electronics dominated nearly every aspect of our lives, it was about gathering around a table with friends and doing various things with bits of wood, glass beads and playing cards that could, in most cases, be summarised as “tidying up”. And once the digital age first dawned for consumers in the late ’70s, it was about gathering around your family television to play digital recreations of those tabletop pursuits on your woodgrain Atari Video Computer System.
51 Worldwide Games, also known as Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics, marks a delightful return to both of these bygone eras. And in the process, it becomes a true essential for anyone’s Nintendo Switch library.
Continue reading 51 Worldwide Games: The Good Old Days
Although at the time of writing a lot of people are super-excited for the impending PC release of Phantasy Star Online 2, the series as a whole isn’t anywhere near as well-known as the heavy-hitting classics of the RPG genre.
Indeed, Phantasy Star as a whole has always been something of a niche interest series — perhaps in part due to the majority of its “golden age” being released on platforms that were not typically renowned for their role-playing games.
The first game in particular is very interesting to return to, especially when you consider its original release date as a contemporary of the first Final Fantasy and the second Dragon Quest. And the Sega Ages version for Nintendo Switch is the definitive way to experience it — so let’s explore that now!
Continue reading Sega Ages Phantasy Star – Classic Dungeon Crawling, Modern Conveniences
Despite what anyone who has ever worked in the teaching profession (including myself) might tell you, children are not inherently evil.
They’re not inherently good either, mind you, and that’s what potentially makes them interesting as characters. Particularly characters in some form of interactive media where you get to explore the consequences of “good” and “bad” behaviour in various contexts.
Among other things, A Hat in Time is a joyful exploration of what it means to be a child. A child who has their own spaceship and is clearly a lot more 1) intelligent and 2) affluent than they might let on, but a child nonetheless. Let’s explore this strange and wonderful world through the eyes of the one and only Hat Kid.
Continue reading A Hat in Time: Hat the Nipper
Part of my intention behind my Delving Into series focusing on Castlevania was to get a solid understanding of the classic franchise before jumping into Koji Igarashi’s Kickstarter-funded Bloodstained project.
While I’m not all the way through the classic games at the time of writing, I do feel like I’m at an adequate point where I can start looking at the two Bloodstained games and be able to analyse their similarities and differences from classic-formula Castlevania.
So let’s begin today with a look at Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, a spinoff title developed by Inti Creates, designed more in the mould of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse than the more recent, post-Symphony of the Night open-structure 2D platformer incarnations.
Continue reading Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon – Enhanced Nostalgia
For a lot of us, the more “extreme” sports are probably best left in the realm of fantasy, because we’d probably kill ourselves within about five seconds of starting.
I, for example, know that while I am perfectly capable of riding a bike, I would almost certainly be never heard from ever again were you to put me at the summit of a mountain atop a suitable bicycle and encourage me to enjoy a scenic but perilous trail down to the bottom. Which is a shame, because I rather enjoy the peacefulness of being out in nature — the breeze brushing past you, the clear air and the relaxing, soothing sounds of being far from “civilisation”.
Lucky, then, that we have games like Lonely Mountains: Downhill, which allow you to enjoy at least some of that experience from the comfort of your sofa — and without any risk of injuries ranging from grazed knees to catastrophic eruption of ribcage from torso. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Lonely Mountains: Downhill – Bringing the Outside Inside
Back in the early days of gaming, it wasn’t at all unusual to find games built around a single, static mechanic that simply required players to show increasing levels of mastery over it.
There was a certain degree of “make your own fun” to these games; you might try to think up challenges to impose on yourself, or keep track of your high scores, or perhaps compete against a friend to see who truly was best.
These days, there tends to be an expectation that even “arcadey” games have a certain amount of depth to them. But titles like Kawaii Deathu Desu, developed by Brazilian outfit Pippin Games, demonstrate that sometimes all you need are two buttons and some twitchy fingers — plus some cute girls never hurt, either. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Kawaii Deathu Desu: The Art of Finger Dexterity
I reviewed this game for Nintendo Life! Stop by and check out my thoughts over there, then pop back here for a more in-depth look.
In video games, we’re accustomed to having some sort of concrete “villain” to fight — usually a personified antagonist of some description.
But what happens when you don’t really have an “enemy” as such — you’re just struggling against natural forces that have no feelings about you one way or the other? And how will your experiences interact with those of the people around you?
These are the questions that Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories attempts to answer. So let’s take a closer look at how it does that.
Continue reading Disaster Report 4: Summer Memories – Living a Crisis
Boulder Dash is an all-time classic game from the early microcomputer era.
First releasing on Atari 8-bit computers in 1984, it has enjoyed numerous ports, sequels, spinoffs and unofficial level packs for a wide variety of platforms, with the latest at the time of writing being the Nintendo Switch release of Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary. The official website has a nicely comprehensive history for you to enjoy at your leisure.
The astute among you will note that there are more than 30 years between 1984 and 2020. That’s because this port in particular also goes back a few years, too. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Boulder Dash 30th Anniversary: The Rockford Files