Taito Essentials: Elevator Action Returns

Elevator Action is an established classic of the ’80s arcade scene, and saw a wide variety of ports to most of the popular computer and console systems of the period.

While the original game is still relatively well-known today, many people remain unaware that Taito followed it up with an official sequel in 1994, some eleven years after the original game’s release.

These people are, of course, also unaware that Elevator Action Returns is an absolutely awesome game, even from a modern perspective.

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Puzzler Essentials: Cleopatra Fortune

Cleopatra Fortune is an arcade game from 1997, developed as a collaborative effort between Taito and Natsume.

It’s a falling block puzzle of the type that was fashionable throughout the 16- and 32-bit eras in the mid-to-late ’90s. But despite having a touch of Tetris about some of its mechanics, it’s an altogether unique experience. And, moreover, unlike some of the more well-known names in the puzzle genre, particularly in recent years, it’s not one that’s been endlessly cloned, reskinned and recycled.

It is, however, brilliant.

Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Cleopatra Fortune

PS2 Essentials: Shadow of Memories

The first game I ever played on the PlayStation 2 was Konami’s Shadow of Memories, also known as Shadow of Destiny in the States.

I’d wanted a PS2 for a while, but even back then, I felt like I didn’t want to pick up a game that I felt I already knew all about from reading about it in magazines. So I deliberately chose a game I knew absolutely nothing about as my first PS2 game, then sat down to play it and found myself utterly entranced by something quite unlike anything I’d ever played before.

Combining elements of traditional adventure games, visual novels and even open-world exploration, Shadow of Memories remains a highly noteworthy title in the PS2’s library, and well worth exploring even today.

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Fate/stay night: Introduction and History

To say that Type-Moon’s Fate/stay night is an influential work in Japanese popular media is something of an understatement.

Since its first appearance as an adults-only visual novel in 2004, the series has gone on to spawn a visual novel sequel and all-ages remake, numerous spin-off games for a variety of different console and handheld platforms, several anime series, manga volumes, light novels, movies and, most recently, a successful free-to-play mobile game.

The original game is regarded as one of the best visual novels of all time, and indeed was a bestseller in its year of release in Japan. And yet, for some reason, we’ve never seen an official localisation in the West, even from long-standing powerhouses of visual novel publishing such as JAST USA, MangaGamer or Sekai Project.

Thankfully, all is not lost, thanks to the continuing efforts of various fan translation groups, who have not only translated the original 2004 visual novel, but also the 2012 release of the Réalta Nua remake, including the ability to re-integrate the adult content from the original.

Continue reading Fate/stay night: Introduction and History

Waifu Wednesday: Vert

Everyone has a favourite in the Neptunia cast, but even if she’s not top of your list, it’s hard to dislike Vert.

The blonde-haired, big-breasted goddess of Leanbox personifies Microsoft’s Xbox platform as well as embodying the anime trope of “beautiful foreigner” thanks to her physical characteristics.

And as with the rest of the Neptunia cast, there’s a lot more to her than first appears, too, making her a delight to get to know and spend some time with.

Continue reading Waifu Wednesday: Vert

Shmup Essentials: Muchi Muchi Pork

Although rather less active than it once was, Cave was once an extremely prolific producer of some highly varied and creative shoot ’em ups.

Some of their series — such as DoDonPachi, Espgaluda and Deathsmiles — managed to attain mainstream appeal, or at least the closest thing an arcade-style shmup can get to “mainstream appeal” in this modern age. But others are largely unknown for one reason or another.

Muchi Muchi Pork very much falls into this latter category.

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Puzzler Essentials: Zoo Puzzle

You’ve almost certainly played Zoo Keeper at one point or another over the years.

Originally developed as a Web-based game by Tokyo-based animation studio Robot Communications, Zoo Keeper was subsequently ported by developer-publisher Success to a variety of platforms over the years, including Nintendo DS, 3DS, Game Boy Advance, iOS, Android and PlayStation 2.

The latter of these, inexplicably rebranded to the even more generic-sounding Zoo Puzzle (or, more accurately, the questionably punctuated Zoo “Puzzle”) in Europe by publisher 505 GameStreet, is the one we’re primarily concerned with today.

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