“Get me rewrite!” Or: Sometimes the Stupidest Things Happen at the Dumbest Possible Times Division (Q Branch). Anyway, last night I was about two hours into writing up this article, I actually sneezed while typing and (get this) accidentally replaced about 8 or 900 words and a few videos with one word. I hit that Undo button and laughed loudly because boy, it’s a good thing that option exists when stuff like this occurs, right? But guess what? That actually didn’t work. Yipes. I then find out that WordPress’ auto-saving function in drafts or works in progress does NOT account for these unhappy accidents and yes, will overwrite even as one is trying to fix an issue. Eep.
After some time messaging with a WP tech support rep who was otherwise helpful but couldn’t solve my particularly stupendously stupid accident, I figured out that yep, I needed to start over. I absolutely HATE rewriting stuff like this, so after pressing the old panic button about a dozen times until it exploded, I decided to go watch a three quarters of a very good Netflix documentary on Orson Welles and call it a night. Hey, it was a long day up to that point and staying up any later trying to fix what was busted would have just made things worse.
Anyway, yep, I’ve been busy playing a bunch of games that I’m going to recommend below, now in slightly shorter form than the original, but I think you’ll get the gist of things. Or at least your wallet will start trying to hide before you can whip it out.
R-Type Dimensions EX (Nintendo Switch, $14.99): Absolutely stellar versions of the 1987 classic arcade shmup and its 1989 sequel offer up a wealth of options that make it accessible to anyone who can hold a controller. Both games feature the ability to switch between 2D and 3D art on the fly (with a number of visual options), super responsive 60fps gameplay at 1080p and even a 2-player co-op mode where friendly fire can be toggled on or off.
There are even slow motion and fast forward options if you want to learn how to play or just make things pure hell on your stress level, although that crazy fast forward mode is survivable if your skills are up to the challenge. Me? I laughed so much while using it because I was thrilled I actually survived a few levels while using it. The game tallies up all the R-9 ships you’ve lost, so completing a stage with as few (or no) deaths is pretty rewarding when it happens.
The game is still as incredible a challenge as it’s ever been, with those Bydo Empire baddies doing their level best to blast you into space dust. Whether you play with unlimited lives or really challenge yourself with the more intense original difficulty, you’re getting a pair of games with a ton of replay value as well as a nice slice of game history. I’m not sure if Tozai Games has the publishing rights to the other entries in this series, but if they do, a nice set of all the games would be more than welcome by fan if they can make it so. This one’s also on Steam if you’re a PC gamer looking to check out what’s here on a PC that will run it, so go take a peek if your interest is piqued.
Score: A (95%)
Super Hydorah (Nintendo Switch, $19.99): Abylight Studios finally gets Locomalito’s nostalgic shmup out on Switch and it’s just as fantastic (and fantastically tough) as previous versions. Don’t be put off by that price point at all as you’re getting more than your money’s worth in a game that tips its cap to a few arcade shmup classics. R-Type, Gradius, Daruius, Thunder Force III and more get nods here, but Locamalito’s original creations and level designs are the standouts. That and if the game were on a cart and released on an older 16-bit console circa 1991, you’d be paying about $50 and thinking that was a great deal back then.
Featuring three game modes, 21 levels divided into 35 sub-levels, 35 bosses and more than 100 enemies, there’s a surprising amount of content here. The 60+ music tracks from Gryzor87 really get the job done in evoking a perfectly nostalgic mood and yes, the difficulty is quite high if you’re challenging the harder modes. Novice players will appreciate the learning friendly mode that nets them some leeway, but for you shmup veterans, you’ll want to dive into that brutal one hit and you’re space toast mode just to nab the top rank and the rewards that go with it.
In other words, you should be playing this before you’ve finished reading about it. By the way, Abylight is also getting a Switch version of the brilliant, tough Cursed Castilla EX ready for Switch owners soon. Finally, if you’re fortunate enough to still own a Sega Genesis, Mega Drive or other console that can play those carts, don’t forget that Mega Cat Studios has one more Locomalito surprise for your collection. More Logomalito (and Grysor87) is a good thing, that’s for sure.
Score: A (95%)
Toki (Nintendo Switch, $29.99*): Veteran publisher Microïds is on a bit of a roll as of late, and that’s a good thing. Developed with love by France-based Golgoth Studio, this HD remake of the 1989 arcade game does an excellent job of matching the original game’s tight controls, deadly enemies and all sorts of environmental hazards.
You play a formerly dashing (well, for a cave guy) cave guy turned into an ape by the evil wizard who’s kidnapped his lady love and yep, you’re going to get her back by spitting all sorts of collectible ordinance, butt bouncing, and generally being a nuisance to a wide range of enemy types. Eh, you’re not buying games such as there for engaging plots and deep characterization, right? Gee, I truly hope you’re not at all, as in general. you’re not going to be playing most of these retros and remakes for their “stirring” plot lines, heh.
If your brain can recall the original’s gameplay beats to a T, you may breeze though this one with a gleeful smirk on your mug as those pesky enemies and even peskier bosses go down with relative easy (well, on Easy). On the other paw, new players and those who barely recall this or the Atari Lynx, Sega Genesis “sequel” or one of the other versions from back in the day will face off against a fun but punishing (one hit and you’re dead) platformer/shooter hybrid that’s an excellent lesson in how to remake a game. Granted, some retro=heads will whine about the pixel are being replaced by more colorful artwork. But it’s gorgeous artwork and works well enough to keep things constantly enjoyable.
*For those of you into collecting limited editions, you can pop into a GameStop or poke about on their online shop for the Toki Retrocollector Edition ($49.99) that gets you the physical game and a bunch of cool goodies including a stand you can stick your Switch into that turns it into an arcade cabinet. Nice. Overall, this one’s a solid gift chouce for genre fans as well as a seemingly a strange choice for a remake. But it’s quite clear that the folks who made it really understood how special the game was to them all those years ago.
Score: B+ (85%)
Jonny Turbo’s Arcade: Night Slashers (Nintendo Switch, $7.99): Yes, a poem again, a rewritten one, but still – this game deserves some somewhat non-perverse verse:
Zombies coming from the ground?
Not much fun to be around!
Unless you punch and kick and pound
and with two friends, you go couch-bound.
Night Slashers is the game this time
that gets a new, just made up rhyme
A mere eight bucks? The price is prime
You’ll feel you’ve committed crime
Three heroes tough to select from
two guys, a gal, who’ll beat that drum
Or undead heads are more their choice
You’ll hear that arcade garbled voice
As blows are landed and magic bursts
Those moves, they do that damage worst
Keep killing ’til you come up first
on Leaderboards with scores you’ll curse
The blood flows free, but cartoon-like
it’s no offense, so take a hike
if you’re one to call a cop on bike
when kids try this, don’t yell or “Yike!”
So, Splatterhouse meets Final Fight
and done up oh, so truly right.
Make sure you grab this one tonight
to clear up your arcade gaming blight!
Score: A- (90%)
Okay, I was going to post seven capsule reviews, but that long- winded preamble above wore me out a bit more than I thought it would. However, this is indeed a GOOD THING. Why? Well, I get to continue tomorrow and actually (gasp!) ADD more games. It looks as if tomorrow will get you six more mini reviews thanks to me poking at my backlog over the weekend and completing a few games which also need to be reviewed. Pop back in say, tomorrow at this time (or sooner, hopefully) and enjoy the er, sequel, I guess.
(Review codes courtesy the respective publishers)