While the SEGA logo is nowhere to be found (they only published the game way back in 1992), Advanced Busterhawk Gleylancer looks, feels and plays like it’s 1992 and that’s a great thing. Ever busy publisher Ratalaika Games and veteran developer Shinyuden go above and beyond the call here with a flawless English translation plus a slew of gameplay improvements that range from a horde of video customization options to some all-new game modes that make this an instant buy at its low $6.99 price point (the original Mega Drive version will set you back about $200, and yes it’s solely in Japanese).
The game is pretty story driven with a lengthy opening movie, but in s nutshell: The story follows Lucia, a 16-year-old star fighter pilot in the Earth Federation. A war breaks out between humans and an unknown alien race in the year 2025. Lucia’s father, Ken, a high-ranking admiral in the Federation Navy, is captured after his ship is warped out of the combat zone with 4 alien modules which have the ability of teleportation. Lucia, heart-broken after hearing of her father’s disappearance, decides to hijack the prototype fighter CSH-01-XA “GleyLancer” with the help of her friend Teim and go after her father.
Like any decent classic shmup, a good player will complete the game in under an hour, but a smart player will deep dive this and go back for more and unlock every trophy. The fast but methodical gameplay is also customizable to the point of letting players cheat right off the bat if they so desire. There’s also a handy rewind function that’s excellently implemented and like the cheat mode, optional. The really amusing thing here is very likely, a good deal of modern gamers may not have heard of this until this release and may automatically snap it up for the quick trophies Ratalaika games are known for. My bet is they’ll be surprised at the challenge the game presents on its standard mode.
I have no idea what Shinyuden has planned for the future, but there are a ton of other shooters for the Genesis out there that can use this sort of very proper localization. I can name way too many here, but let’s not go over the moon with wishful, wistful thinking just yet. Recommended!
They’re baaaaack. Full motion games developer D’avekki Studios has made the big leap to self-publishing with the digital release of Dark Nights With Poe and Munroe,($12.99) which is now available on the PS4, Xbox and soon, Switch. The game comprised of six episodic tales of a somewhat supernatural nature, with ghosts, a werewolf, a hungry painting demon, a bizarre love triangle and more. Although the game features a few toe-dips into light horror, it’s more of a creepy dark comedy where a bit of previous homework with Davekki’s earlier titles goes a long way in explaining some of the quirkier aspects found here.
Poe (Klemings Koehring) and Munro (Leah Cunard) first appeared in 2018’s great little gem The Shapeshifting Detective and they return in this standalone set where we get to know their characters a bit more, but yes, there’s even more mystery going on in the small village of August, which seems to be a magnet for offbeat supernatural occurrences. In “Frankie” the pair need to deal with a persistent stalker with surprising results. Let’s just say Poe has a way with a knife but we haven’t heard the last of Frankie in this game.
“In Bed with Poe and Monroe” is next, and it’s about a 24-hour radiothon where the two characters need to raise funds to keep the station afloat by staying in bed together (not THAT together) while broadcasting live. Well, it’s about so much more, as a sleepy Munro discovers a few times. Poe also makes a few discoveries that are equally revealing as a jealous ghost (Ayvianna Snow) appears to make his love life even more complicated. This episode has a few scenes like the first where shocks drop in and affect the outcomes of paths to wonderfully different results. More of this strangeness will come.
In Episode Three, “Green With Envy”, the pair are racing against time to find a kidnapped and drugged student (Warrick Simon) before his time runs out. Time is of the essence as the duo’s decisions in this chapter affect the ending and all depends on how you choose to investigate the case. There’s a pair of laugh out loud innuendo bits here when Munro visits guest house owner Violet (Aislinn De’Ath) and a little De’ath goes a long way when Munro misinterprets some simple queries before asking her own. Poe gets his way (sort of) with a pretty teacher (Ashleigh Cole) who may be a suspect, but who’s the mysterious Yvette who calls into the show to say she’s the kidnapper?
Episode Four, “Everybody Changes” brings a hypnotist into the studio, Madame Baratsky (Lara Lemon), who puts Munro into a trance where she relives a past life and tells a disturbing tale of murder. As mentioned above, playing that chapter made me go see the Doctor up close and personal (I bought the game last year on the PS4), an experience I highly recommend. In any event, this episode made me want some sort of Doctor Dekker followup, or at least the desire to replay that game again a few more times.
In Episode Five, “Many Happy Returns”, it’s the day before Munro’s birthday, there’s a full moon and a caller rings in to note he may have almost run over a werewolf. Guess where out two intrepid adventurers are headed? If you guessed “Why, to find out if that’s true, but not before a possible time traveler named Kaspar (Vincent Gould) calls, then shows up to the studio!” Well, you need to be in your own game, as you’re psychic. Like all the episodes, there’s a set-up of events and situations here that definitely hints at more. This give players a hint that the sleepy town of August is quite the nexus for bizarre happenings (like the sudden rock, paper, scissors game in this chapter).
Finally, Episode Six gets truly freaky with “It Started with a Wish” where we get a soul-eating canvas demon named Rose (Rachel Cowles) who lives inside a painting. She grants Poe a wish, which he has to pay for by having Munro hide nine capsules as prizes for ‘lucky’ listeners to find. Those capsules are supposed to have museum tickets inside, but (surprise!), they have a less pleasant gift awaiting. You’ll see. Poe’s wish has very huge consequences both he and Munro have to deal with and there’s a sort of David Lynch meets Night Gallery thing here when the characters have to deal with the results.
As noted, the game teases very much that there are many more August takes to be told, and I like that Poe and Munro’s relationship goes where it does in different ways depending on your choices. In terms of production, this one’s pretty solid. Without fancy effects makeup or gore, the game still conveys an eerie, scary vibe when it needs to, But it’s also funny, sexy and mature where it matters. Some may feel the vignette nature of the episodes might be better served as a single story arc. But I found that a game where time travel seems a quiet reality, dryads may actually exist and so many possible outcomes from charming to deadly are at one’s fingers that I’m all aboard for more. Recommended.
Spoiler Theater: In Curtis Hanson’s beautiful, haunting and unsettling romantic thriller, it’s a case of Boy meets Girl, Boy gets Girl and Boy, Oh Boy, does Boy lose Girl, But That’s Sort Of A Good Thing? Night Tide is a dark and moody film set by the Pacific, with an old pier carnival and its seaside surroundings as the main setting and what could be seen by some today as a few problematic elements in some of its troubled characters. I still think it’s an excellent film, mind you. But after watching it with a few friends recently, I see it’s also a film where some viewers applying more modern thoughts to its story may find an issue with their overall enjoyment. You’ll see.
A young sailor on leave named Johnny Drake (Dennis Hopper) goes to a seaside amusement park at night. He pops into a jazz club where he sees a lovely woman (Linda Lawson) sitting alone enjoying the music. He crosses the room, asks her if he can sit at her table because he can’t see the musicians from where he is, then proceeds to sit facing the woman, not the musicians. He tries to strike up more conversation, but she asks him to let her listen to the tunes instead. He then tries to buy her a drink twice, but she refuses both times. Suddenly, a strange, middle-aged black-clad woman (Marjorie Cameron) comes into the club, approaches the other woman and starts speaking an untranslated foreign language (Greek?) to her. The young woman is upset by this and quickly hands Johnny some cash to pay for whatever she was drinking and rushes out of the club.
I’m still waiting for the Slow Company movie, but I’m patient…
I think it was around 1983 or so and I’d seen four or five films by David Cronenberg when I found out he’d made the 1979 drag racing centered “B” movie Fast Company. At the time I had to search around for a video store that carried it because in the US, it wasn’t readily available as far as I was seeing. A friend of a friend got a copy of the film from one of his sources not too long afterward because he was just as curious as I was and its funny how that sort of thing works out, isn’t it? I recall liking the car stuff, but not liking the plot much, but overall it was a decent popcorn flick provided you didn’t take the story at all seriously.
Watching it again more recently reveals it’s still a pretty pedestrian (ha-ha) movie with a some great car action, a touch of sex and nudity not uncommon to the era and if you didn’t know it was directed by Cronenberg, you’d think you’ve gotten a pretty good made for cable flick from a time capsule. It’s not a badly made film at all, though. In fact, some of the drag race scenes and a later car reconstruction scene benefit from Cronenberg’s attention to detail and his real-life obsession with the sport. Hey, everyone needs a hobby, right? You could say “All body horror and no play make Jack a dull boy”, but that’s not true if you stop and think about it. Still, variety is indeed, the spice of life, so this one’s special like that.
It’s quite the year for nostalgia in games, am I right? Final Fantasy VII, Langrisser I & II, the Yakuza Remastered games, a new King’s Bounty, and more are on the way, but there are a few firsts for the US and Sega’s Sakura Wars is at the top of the hit parade for many, I think, as it’ll be the first officially licensed game to make it westward on console. This trailer in only a hint of that’s to come, but I’m going to stay away from bigger reveals because I love going in as blind as possible on some games because it keeps them more interesting and yes, I’m happier with no or as few spoilers as possible.
You’re not buying that excellent Bayonetta/Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle ($39.99) from Sega strictly for the plots of both games, that’s for sure. Both titles hold up mostly excellently in terms of visuals and controls, but the writing is more of an excuse for some lengthy and visually lovely in-game cinemas that pad out both run times. Granted, both games are made to be highly replayed, especially Vanquish, which seems short at about six hours, but there’s a lot more to it once you mess with the difficulty and as with Bayonetta, play through like the bad-asses both characters are. If you’re into both games, they’re far from “one and done” experiences.
The two stories here actually enhance how wonderfully crazy and brilliant the gameplay is for both titles, especially when you go from hanging onto every word in cut scenes and free yourself from simple button-mashing to pulling of perfectly timed strikes of all sorts in the flagrantly sexy Bayonetta to taking down enemies and bosses with the fast slide and shoot moves from Vanquish. That said, the latter’s plot about Russian-led forces commandeering a huge US-built microwave-powered space cannon to decimate California and threaten to do the same to New York might be something a few players might find blows their minds a bit. Bayonetta’s still phenomenal opening just throws you into battle as it plays out, then teaches you the ropes before the real challenge begins. Trying to explain the plot here? Good luck – just enjoy the cut scenes instead and kill a lot of enemies and bosses when they’re done.
“I thought you just used microwaves for Hot Pockets and cold coffee!”
Both games allow for unskilled players to get in their kills although the latter game is more punishing if you try and flail through it and refuse to pick up on all it’s trying to teach you. Then again, it may take a bit of getting used to the controls in both titles for some who’ve not yet played both games – your mileage will vary based on how adept you are at picking things up and dealing with the forced camera angles in Bayonetta. Vanquish has a bit more freedom in its camera, but on the harder modes (there are four difficulty settings), speedy, precise play becomes a must. Continue reading →
Well, 43,111 people participated in a little extensive survey THQ was taking and the verdict is in: We’re getting a Gothicremake at some point, just not this year. PC and next-gen consoles are the targets here, so it seems at least the game will have a very similar visual fidelity across anything it’s eventually released on.
If you have Google Drive, you can see and download the results of the survey here in PDF form (it’s a whopping 21 pages):
I think it was about 1998 when a friend visiting from Japan gave me his used copy of Sakura Warsas a gift after he found out I really liked strategy games and had made my way through a few Japanese games with a bit of effort and persistence. Well, I ended up picking up Sakura Wars 2 a few years later, but never played either game thanks to thinking Saturn games would all be successfully emulated and/or localized at some point and I wouldn’t need to learn any more Japanese other that what little I picked up from a few dictionaries and games over the years. Well, that and yes, I was a bit lazy to my great disadvantage (Or not that lazy, as I finished four Front Mission games, two FEDA games and a few other imports with not too much hassle). Anyway. with 2000+ games in the library here, I never got around to to playing either title.
Hmmmm. But I give it a thumbs up, with reservations…
I still have my boxed copies of Gothic and Gothic II here and got the non-Piranha Bytes developed Gothic 3 on a disc with two other games, so this news of a playable teaser got me thrilled the series is in a comeback mode of sorts. THQ released a demo of what their team in Barcelona is working on a few months ago and is very wisely asking for user feedback and whether they should continue with the project. In a nutshell, it’s a big YES from me despite some huge problems from the start, and yes, I have some notes to offer as a fan. Constructive criticism time:
Well, I just discovered two things buried in my ever-packed email inbox: Ember(reviewed here in its PC incarnation) is on Switch and I need to get this at some point because it’s a good game worth a few replays. That and developer N-Fusion has teamed up with another indie developer, NY and LA-based Digiart Interactive to bring the comic-based game Aluna Sentinel of the Shards to PC and console players. It’s set for release this year on PC and consoles, but I’m just getting to seeing the news and yes, I’m sharing.
Soon to be everywhere you get your games (and thankfully in a physical release as well as digital)
Here’s the trailer in case you haven’t seen it yet: