Shmup Essentials: DoDonPachi Resurrection

My first encounter with DoDonPachi Resurrection — also known as DoDonPachi DaiFukkatsu — was in its iOS incarnation.

I’d never really played a danmaku shooter before, so it was to be a new experience to me, but I’d been assured by people whose opinions I trusted that I would have a good time with it. Those assurances turned out to be emphatically true — which is just as well, because at the time I originally purchased it, DoDonPachi Resurrection was rather expensive for a mobile game.

Since that fateful initial encounter several years back, I’ve since sought out the various other versions of this game, and have found it an incredibly challenging but rewarding experience whatever form it takes — and absolutely one of Cave’s finest games to date.

Continue reading Shmup Essentials: DoDonPachi Resurrection

Puzzler Essentials: Detonator

You can make games about pretty much anything.

Demolishing buildings, for example, is a theme that we’ve seen a few times over the years, most notably in Midway’s classic arcade game Rampage, though you might not think this inherently destructive activity is the best fit for the rather cerebral puzzle game genre.

You would, however, be wrong, as Kadokawa Shoten’s PlayStation 2 puzzler Detonator aptly demonstrates.

Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Detonator

PS2 Essentials: Party Girls

Party Girls is an interesting anomaly in D3 Publisher’s Simple Series in that its Japanese title is much more interesting than its somewhat generic sounding localisation, rather than the other way around.

Party Girls? Eh, pass, sounds like shovelware. Mogitate Mizugi! Onna Mamire no THE Suiei Taikai (Fresh-Picked Swimsuits! The Swim Meet Packed with Women*), on the other hand? Sign me right the hell up.

This situation wasn’t helped by Western publisher 505 GameStreet’s rather generic-looking cover art for the game, which looks like it was knocked up by an intern messing around with WordArt on their lunch break. And consequently, I’d be rather surprised if you ever played Party Girls.

And this is a shame. Because Party Girls is fun.

Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Party Girls

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: Driving Into Dreams

There have been a number of attempts to dethrone Nintendo’s Mario Kart over the years, but none of them have been successful, at least in the multiplayer sphere.

There is one aspect of Mario Kart that has pretty consistently sucked over the years, though, and that’s the single-player offering. Offering little more than predefined Grand Prix championships, one-off races or time trials even in the most recent installments, Mario Kart has always struggled to provide anything of real substance for the solo player. Which is fine, as the series has always been known for being best experienced with at least one friend, right from its inception in the 16-bit era.

This has, however, left a decent-sized gap in the market for other developers to come along and offer more robust solo experiences in kart racing titles. And one game that succeeds admirably in this regard is the cumbersomely titled Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed from Sega.

Continue reading Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed: Driving Into Dreams

Stormblood: The MMO as Musical Theatre

“Video games aren’t movies.” That’s a line of criticism that those who prioritise mechanics over narrative like to level at cutscene-heavy games, particularly those by creators such as Hideo Kojima and David Cage.

And while it’s true that making effective use of games as a form of interactive media tends to emphasise actual interaction over passively watching cutscenes, one can hardly deny the spectacle offered by strongly movie-inspired titles, and the flexibility that entirely computer-generated scenes and characters can provide creators.

Which makes it all the more unusual that so many games focus on movies as their primary inspiration rather than other forms of media. Sure, some role-playing games might be rather operatic in tone, visual novels are effectively “Books Plus” and rhythm games provide a new way of experiencing pieces of music, but video games have never embraced the idea, of, say, musical theatre.

Or so you thought…

This article is also a video! Hit the jump to watch it, or catch it on YouTube.

Continue reading Stormblood: The MMO as Musical Theatre

Puzzler Essentials: Hell Girls

We’re enjoying a bit of a puzzle game renaissance at the moment.

While we’re not quite at the same level as we were in the 8-, 16- and 32-bit eras, where puzzle games would happily share retail shelf space with 100+ hour RPG epics (Puyo Puyo Tetris aside), we are at least starting to see more and more puzzle games that aren’t free-to-play mobile titles primarily designed to repeatedly part you from your cash rather than providing a well-balanced, fun experience.

One interesting game that may well have passed you by owing to its low price and seemingly low production values is Hell Girls from Taiwanese circle SakuraGame. And you should most definitely give it a look!

Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Hell Girls

Shmup Essentials: Steel Dragon EX

The shoot ’em up genre is one in which it is quite difficult to innovate.

This has, of course, led to a number of games over the years that can quite reasonably called knock-offs of other, popular titles that became well-established, though that doesn’t mean that said knock-offs aren’t interesting in their own right.

One such example of this being the case is Warashi’s Shienryu, a game which unashamedly draws great inspiration from the legendary Raiden series, and which was originally released for arcade, Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation. It was subsequently bundled in with an all-new sequel, Shienryu Explosion, as part of D3 Publisher’s Simple Series for PlayStation 2, and this is the version we’re concerned with today.

Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Steel Dragon EX

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