Category Archives: Genres

Articles about the best, worst, most interesting, most overlooked and most underappreciated games in specific genres.

Namco Essentials: Sky Kid

While I was familiar with most of the other games in the Namco Museum collection for Switch, one that I hadn’t come across before was Sky Kid.

First released in 1985, Sky Kid is a horizontally scrolling shoot ’em up based on the company’s Pac-Land hardware introduced the previous year. Indeed, this fact is fairly obvious, as the two games have a similar aesthetic, and in a later mission there is even a billboard where Pac-Man in his Pac-Land incarnation (sporting arms and legs) makes a cameo appearance.

It’s the first of Namco’s games to support two players simultaneously, and aside from all that, it’s an entertaining, interesting take on the arcade shoot ’em up.

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Namco Essentials: Galaga

Some games are utterly timeless, remaining just as fun today as they were back on their original release.

Namco’s Galaga is definitely one of those games, though it’s also a title the company has taken great pains to keep “relevant” over the years with numerous re-releases, the most recent at the time of writing being as part of the Nintendo Switch version of Namco Museum. It even showed up as one of the company’s “loading screen games” in the PS1 era, putting in an appearance during the initial load time for the original Tekken.

It’s had a number of sequels and remakes since it first showed up in 1981, but there’s an endearing purity to the original that is hard to beat, making it a true classic from gaming’s early days.

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Shmup Essentials: Satazius

When you think of Japanese shoot ’em ups, it’s easy to get hung up on nothing but classic arcade and console titles.

But over the years, the PC has played host to a wide variety of its own unique titles, too, with many developers specialising in this highly flexible platform thanks to its ease of digital distribution and free marketplace.

One such developer that has come to prominence over the last few years is Astro Port, and its title Satazius is one of its best, alongside the similarly excellent Zangeki Warp.

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Puzzler Essentials: Lumines

There’s been an unwritten rule ever since the days of the Game Boy that every major new handheld system must launch with at least one awesome puzzle game.

Sony’s PlayStation Portable was no exception, launching with the wonderful Lumines (pronounced “luminous”, not “loo-mines”, as I’ve heard some people call it), a game that combined the familiar style of falling-block puzzling with the synaesthetic blend of light and sound patterns designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi had used to such great effect in his renowned Dreamcast title Rez, and which he would later use once again in the PSP versions of Gunpey and Every Extend Extra.

Lumines isn’t a complex game in mechanical terms. But it is most definitely not a quick-hit throwaway experience, either; on the contrary, when you sit down for a game of Lumines, expect to be staring glassy-eyed at your PSP for at least half an hour before you’ll be able to tear yourself away.

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Shmup Essentials: Raiden V

It’s interesting to see how the Raiden series has evolved over time, what with it being one of the longest-running series of shoot ’em ups that is still relevant today.

Raiden V is probably the biggest “reinvention” the series has seen since its inception — and consequently may take a little adjusting to for series veterans in particular — but it’s still very much recognisable as an installment in this classic series.

For those less familiar with shoot ’em ups — or those interested in getting involved in the modern side of this challenging, fascinating genre — Raiden V is certainly something of a trial by fire, but it’s a very rewarding journey to take.

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Shmuzzler Essentials: Every Extend Extra

Every Extend Extra is a game that defies easy description. Is it a shoot ’em up? Is it a puzzle game? Yes. And no. And… uh…

For those familiar with the work of Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Q Entertainment, it is somewhat par for the course in that it is developed around the concept of “synaesthesia” — the subconscious connections that some people make between different sensory inputs, in this case sound, visuals and “touch” of sorts through gameplay.

But for everyone else, it’s an initially baffling experience that, before long, becomes utterly compelling and fiendishly addictive.

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Puzzler Essentials: Gunpey

There’s something about handheld systems that just makes puzzle games feel right.

The PlayStation Portable was no stranger to games of this type, of course, what with the excellent Lumines being a launch title for the system and a wide variety of other brainteasers making solid appearances on the platform over the subsequent years.

One of the most interesting and unusual titles on the platform is 2006’s Gunpey, actually the latest installment in a series that got its start on the Japan-only WonderSwan system.

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