Category Archives: One-Shots

One-off articles about games, cultural phenomena, anime and anything else that isn’t getting the Cover Game treatment.

Project Eris and the PlayStation Classic as a “Retro Box”

While we all know that original hardware is best (and dedicated hardware that pays homage to the conventions of original hardware is almost as good), it remains desirable for many retro gaming enthusiasts to have at least one “retro box” within easy reach.

Up until now, my main living room PC has fulfilled this role very well, thanks to a hodgepodge collection of emulators I’ve acquired over the years, plus the excellent Launchbox to keep things organised. This has worked absolutely fine for me for a while now, allowing me to dip into a vast library of digitally preserved games across a variety of platforms whenever I feel like it — and, rather helpfully for what I do here, easily capture video and take screenshots. But then I got a PlayStation Classic for Christmas.

I’m not one of those people who gets a new mini console and immediately wants to hack it to pieces in order to completely destroy its individuality and uniqueness — my PC Engine Mini is staying pristine, for example. But in the case of the PlayStation Classic, I’d seen numerous people online saying that it made a particularly good multi-purpose “retro box”. So I decided to investigate.

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Groove Coaster Wai Wai Party!!!!: Rockin’ Out With the VTubers and Vocaloids

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!

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Rod Land: A Personal Story

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.

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The MoeGamer Top 10 of 2020

It’s New Year’s Eve! In fact, as I type this, it’s New Year’s Day in some places around the world, so if that’s the case, uh, happy new year, and I hope 2021 looks better than the rancid 12 months we’ve all just endured.

As is tradition for video gaming-related websites, it is obligatory for me to declare some sort of “game of the year” before 2020 ends, and as I’m someone who likes to be awkward and do things differently, I am counting “games of 2020” as “games I played and/or covered on MoeGamer in 2020” rather than necessarily “games that released in 2020”. My site, my rules — but hopefully you’ll find some fun things to check out along the way!

Hit the jump and let’s get started then — and note that these are (probably) in no particular order; I’m just noting them down as they come to mind!

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Brok the InvestiGator: Punch and Click Adventuring

It’s been a good few years since the point-and-click adventure was a “mainstream” part of gaming now. That’s not to say the genre is dead, mind — more that these days it tends to be the exclusive preserve of smaller, independent developers rather than big studios like LucasArts.

And those games from smaller, independent developers aren’t in any way “lesser” than the games from the golden age of adventure games, either — in fact, in the case of games like Brok the InvestiGator, they represent what would have been the natural evolution of the genre if the mainstream hadn’t become so obsessed with gritty photorealism and cinematic open-world experiences.

In short, Brok the InvestiGator, whose Prologue chapter is presently available for free from both Steam and GOG.com at the time of writing, is something very special indeed. And it deserves your attention. So let’s take a closer look!

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Crawlco Block Knockers: Getting Lewd on the Switch

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!

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Quantum Theory: Tower Toppler

The longer I run this site, the more it becomes clear that immediate, embargoed, day-one reviews of video games haven’t been doing a lot of titles justice for a very long time now — right back to the PlayStation 2 era at the very least, and probably beyond.

The trouble is, thanks to the Metacritic-fuelled world we live in, if a game scores poorly in those initial reviews, in most cases it is doomed to languish in obscurity, even if there are interesting things to say about it. There are occasional outliers — the wonderful Nier is probably the best example — but for every game that manages to claw its way out of the darkness to get some degree of recognition, there are myriad others destined to be forgotten.

Which brings us to Quantum Theory, a third-person shooter developed by the people behind the Project Zero series. Almost universally panned by Western reviewers on its original release in 2010, this is not a game that anyone looks back on particularly fondly — or at all, in most cases. But I thought it sounded interesting. And you know what? It is. Let’s take a closer look.

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Mad Rat Dead: Prepare to Die

One of the best things about Nippon Ichi Software is the company’s willingness to take some risks and put out some highly creative, artistic titles alongside its longstanding cash cow franchises.

A reliable source of these fascinating “B-tier Nippon Ichi” titles is designer Yu Mizokami who, to date, has given us the Yomawari series of horror games and contributed to the excellent (and perpetually overlooked) Lapis x Labyrinth. Now he’s back once again with a brand new but equally stylish title: Mad Rat Dead, which aims to blend rhythm action with 2D platforming.

Both are genres that demand committed, attentive players with an eye for detail and a willingness to put in some practice. But can these two styles of game work together? Let’s take a closer look.

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The Coma: Recut – Extracurricular Horror

Good horror, as we’ve previously talked about on The MoeGamer Podcast, is about more than just spooky scary skeletons and gallons of gore. And good modern horror games tend to be a natural evolution of the narrative-centric adventure game genre.

A good example of this is The Coma from Korean developer Devespresso games, which originally released for PC in 2015 before getting a “Recut” version for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch two years later. This is a game that challenges players to solve a seemingly supernatural mystery while on the run from a ruthless killer — and without any means of fighting back.

At the same time, there’s some interesting narrative content designed to get you thinking, too. It’s a fine use of your time this spooky season — so let’s take a closer look.

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Golden Axed: A Prototype with a Dark Past

As part of Sega’s 60th anniversary celebrations, the company has been putting out a number of limited-time-only free minigames on Steam, including a Streets of Rage-inspired brawler based on the Yakuza series, a tank blaster based on Company of Heroes and a Fantasy Zone/Endless crossover.

By far the most controversial of these freebie releases is an unfinished prototype that has become known as Golden Axed. It was originally intended to be part of an ambitious series known as Sega Reborn, which would not only feature reimaginings of Sega classics such as Shinobi, Altered Beast and Streets of Rage, but also tie them all together with some sort of coherent plot and a “hub world” to explore.

The project as a whole never happened, but the team from Sega’s Australian studio behind the pitch did manage to put together a short prototype for the Golden Axe part of the whole package. But there’s an interesting — and somewhat depressing — story behind it that is well worth sharing. So let’s explore further.

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