Tag Archives: Metroidvania

Shantae: Risky’s Revenge – Jumping Generations

An interesting aspect of the Shantae series is how its presentation and execution has evolved over time.

While the first game, being released in the twilight years of the 8-bit Game Boy Color, represented the diminutive handheld being pushed to its absolute limits, the two subsequent installments in particular made a specific effort to be “modern retro” titles — games that emulated experiences from systems of the past while providing modern-day conveniences.

Risky’s Revenge, which we’re concerned with today, very much has its sights set on the 16-bit era. And it explores this concept with a clear knowledge and understanding of not only the classic 16-bit consoles, but also the earlier 16-bit home computers.

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Shantae: You Stay

The Shantae series as a whole is a wonderful symbol of endurance, and of holding on to the things you believe in.

I’m not talking about the narratives of the games themselves — though for sure this theme certainly makes an appearance numerous times throughout Shantae’s career to date — but rather the fact that series creator Matt Bozon and the team at WayForward have always believed in the quality of these games, even during difficult times.

It’s gratifying to see that, at the time of writing, the Shantae series as a whole is finally coming to see some mainstream acceptance and appreciation with its latest installment 1/2 Genie Hero. But this doesn’t mean the earlier games aren’t worth checking out. Quite the opposite, in fact… so let’s go right back to the beginning.

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Blaster Master Zero: Retro, Reimagined

Blaster Master Zero for Nintendo Switch and 3DS is an interesting game in more ways than one.

Not only is it a loving remake of a very fondly regarded title from back in the NES era, it also incorporates elements of the Famicom game that was heavily reimagined to become Blaster Master. On top of that, it even acknowledges elements of the Worlds of Power novelisation of Blaster Master — which, in itself was something of an interesting curiosity in that it was later retconned into being “canonical” so far as the rest of the series is concerned.

None of this is required to appreciate the fact that Blaster Master Zero is a great game, mind you, but delve a little deeper into the lore and you find out all sorts of fascinating things.

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Switch Essentials: Cave Story+

Cave Story has been around for a good few years now, and indeed is still available for free download from the Web.

You may have already played it. You may have already beaten it. Perhaps you even set an amazing time in that bastard hard “secret” level on the way to the best ending. So why would you spend money on another copy for Nintendo’s latest console?

Well, firstly because Cave Story is a lovely game by a talented developer, and is worth supporting at every opportunity. Secondly because the Switch version feels like the most delightfully complete edition of this game there has been to date. And thirdly because this game just belongs on a Nintendo console.

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From the Archives: Secret of the Elemental Stone

I’m a big fan of unconventional JRPGs that buck the trends of the genre.

That’s not to say I don’t have any love for good old “ATTACK, MAGIC, ITEM” — quite the opposite, in fact — but when something combines the strengths of the JRPG genre (strong characters, heavy focus on narrative, over-the-top drama, colorfulness) with some fun mechanics from another type of game altogether, I sit up and pay special attention.

Fortune Summoners: Secret of the Elemental Stone, then.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Harmony of Despair: Castlevania’s Red-Headed Stepchild

Speak to anyone who claims to be a fan of Konami’s Castlevania series and ask them what their favourite entry in the series is, and doubtless each one will give you a different answer.

Some will prefer the purity of the NES originals. Some will cite Symphony of the Night’s genre-defining nature. Some will extol the virtues of the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS titles. Some even have a soft spot for the 3D Nintendo 64 installments in the series.

One title you won’t hear a lot of people cite as their favourite Castlevania, however, is 2010’s Harmony of Despair, a digital-only game that originally released on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 platform — not typically a hotbed of Japanese games — and which subsequently came out on PlayStation 3 a year or so later, featuring a number of enhancements.

It’s a game that wasn’t received all that well on its original release, primarily because it deviated fairly dramatically from the Metroidvania format we’d come to expect from the series by this point. But although this game is far from your typical Castlevania of the erait remains worth a look, particularly as its age means you can now pick it up pretty damn cheap.

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