Head to Head (Sort Of): Fast Striker vs. FullBlast (PS4/Vita)

I can recall a few years back reading in more than one place that the arcade shooter was dead as last week’s formerly fresh fish, but this was really never true. Between numerous indie developers and fans keeping the genre alive through making and publishing and distributing games via digital and retail formats, the good ol’ shmup lives on pretty much anything that can play them. Two of the more recent ones go for the gold and succeed when by being well-made games with excellent price points destined to hang out in your game library for a spell. Let’s take a peek at both, shall we?

Fast Striker 01

Pretty, isn’t it? well, it’s also PRETTY FREAKIN’ HARD to an old gleep like me, but I keep playing these shmups because I used to be better at them back in the day.

fast striker PS4First up is Fast Striker ($6.99), a 2010 NEO·GEO MVS/AES vertical shooter getting a new life on current gen systems thanks to German developer NGDEV and publisher Eastasiasoft. Six levels of frantic, gorgeous bullet hell bliss await with four difficulty settings to challenge. Yes, six levels may seem short to some of you out there, but this game makes you earn those high scores and like a solid shmup, you’re going to keep coming back to beat your previous runs or die trying.

There are some basic screen resizing and wallpaper options, but I personally prefer sticking to the more arcade accurate default window than going full screen. Er, not that it helps much given my awful reflexes when the going gets too tough (or okay, a little tough. Hey, I’m getting old!). For example (yipes):

 

 

Yes, I’m THAT bad at this game, but I managed to get through the Novice difficulty and messed with the others (Omake mode is SUPER nuts). I’ll be a saint here and link you to the official trailer just so you can see how a far better player does:

 

 

In addition to the digital release, Online retailer Play-Asia has a very limited edition physical version ($34.99) for both the PS4 and Vita set for a November release. Each is limited to 2200 copies worldwide and will include the region free game, a manual, collector’s box, soundtrack CD and a numbered certificate you can show off if you please. The price difference is yes, because of all that stuff inside the box, but if you’re into packaged games and have the shelf space, it’s a fair enough price point.

fast striiker LE

You’ll want to be a Fast Striker if you need this nifty Limited Edition exclusive from Play-Asia. Better pre-order this now before the scalpers snap them up to resell at ebay prices (ugh).

 

Overall, a pretty solid shmup that’s a trip down memory lane to my former glory days and perhaps yours as well (but I hope you can play better than I can).

Score: B (80%)

-Review code provided by the publisher

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Review: Bleed Complete Bundle (PS4)

Bleed Complete Edition PS4Hoo Boy. If they were a pair of cartridge games back in the mid-1990’s for the SNES, Genesis or any other console of that era, I’d bet we’d see Bleed Complete Edition ($27.99) pop up on a few action game of the year charts back to back. That said, both games can absolutely compete with today’s high action games thanks to tried and true great gamplay. Both titles are gloriously over the top, non-stop, throw everything at you and watch you jump insanity with seemingly endless levels, 2-player co-op, boss fights that will whiten your hair and replay value way off the charts.  There’s also a sense of pure unadulterated fun here that keeps things flowing through all the gameplay modes making even the easiest difficulty somewhat challenging for novice players.

Don’t let the simple looks fool you at all, kids. Both games will smack you around, lay down covering fire and drop all sorts of ordinance on your head if you attempt to take it easy. Badass heroine Wryn can take it as well as dish it out, but it’s up to your skills to keep her alive to fight another day.  The gal wants to be a hero and certainly has the chops, as you can see below:

 

 

Developer Ian Campbell (aka Bootdisk Revolution) drew influences from all over the gaming map, tossing elements from classics such as the Contra series, Gunstar Heroes, a few arcade bullet hell shmups and more. The game is also packing a very solid sense of humor right from the get-go. Wryn’s got a kill list full of bosses to take down (a Kill Bill reference) and the game is pretty much her doing just that while trying to blast or avoid all sorts of heinously cute kitties, robots and other very well-armed baddies, sub-bosses and bosses. In between stages, there’s a cartoon news show that drops in some amusing bits that don’t wear out their welcome and yes, give your fingers a chance to cool off before more mayhem begins. Continue reading

Assault Suit Leynos: Target Worth (But So Far, Not US-Bound)

As you can see above, Dracue Software has taken the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis classic Assault Suit Leynos (or Target Earth to American gamers), polished it up while keeping the gameplay and visuals nicely nostalgic. Even better, the music is the same as in the original game but sounds suitably beefy (yes, I was grinning like a madman while this trailer was playing). So far, the game will only be available for Japanese PlayStation 4 owners and most likely other Asian territories.

Given that the intro screen text crawl is in English, it’s a safe bet that the game may be considered for localization by a smart US publisher. My money is on Xseed Games, Atlus or maybe Rising Star Games as a longshot. Anyway, it’s a darn good thing I’m not home at the moment or else I’d have stopped writing this post, dug out the Genesis or MD from under the TV and started playing the original version just to relive he days of beating it on on sitting on the hardest level. Granted, my reflexes are probably a lot lousier than they were way back in the day and it would take a few plays to recapture that old glory and put a notch in the gaming belt. Hell, I probably won’t make it past the first stage until I remember how to quickly take down that end-level boss ship before it reaches my base and blows it to space dust.

Eh, we’ll see. Now, someone get on getting his game out in English, please. I’ll start holding my breath in 3… 2… 1… (inhale!).

#TBT Retro Freak: Cyber Gadget’s Time Machine Console May Be Your New Best Buddy

retro freak 1 

I’d heard of the Retro Freak console a little while back but paid it little mind thanks to all the hype over Hyperkin’s RetroN 5 as well as the fact that there are too many other hybrid consoles out there vying for your retro gaming dollars. Now that I’ve read a bit more about it thanks to an email alert from Play-Asia, my eyebrow is up in a very good way. I think I want one of these at some point because I have a ton of games here for nearly every console it can play. The RF isn’t inexpensive at all, but that’s a good thing provided it does everything it’s supposed to.

Releasing in September are two models, Standard and Premium with the latter coming with a controller adapter that allows for Famicom, Super Famicom, Sega Genesis, and TurboGrafx controllers to be used. The big draw for many will be not only the 11 consoles the RF plays games for (Famicom, Super Famicom/SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, PC Engine, TurboGrafx-16, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and Supergrafx), but the fact that the unit can rip and install all games from cartridges onto the console via SD card. In addition there’s an HDMI output, 720p upscaling, instant saving and even cheat codes for certain games.

I’d imagine those who can afford this will be snapping them up via pre-orders anywhere they’re going to be sold. Some will wait until the thing gets a few positive reviews though, but it’s all good at the end of the day for those with big collections who don’t want to keep too many consoles around their TV’s.

Monday Goes All Lost Weekend On Me

Ha. I was supposed to get stuff done today, but other than getting up too early to do laundry, today was a near total bust. Why? Well… my birthday present to myself came early and I was busy playing with myself.

Oh, wait… this is a family show. Oops. Hey, I got pictures as proof! Look:

Play-Asia Stuff 001 (Custom)
 

What? You were thinking something else? Anyway, Demon Gaze I’ll need to get used to because it’s both great (Wizardry-style gameplay) and pesky (I’m not at all fond of some of the character designs and somewhat icky fan service elements). On the other hand, Earth Defense Forces 2 Portable V2 is amazing on a few levels. Yes, developer Sandlot didn’t change the wacky animation from the original PlayStation 2 game and in fact, Pale Wing slides around and almost tips over like a Weeble even more when she’s not airborne. However, there’s a solid and lovely familiarity to the (smoother) visuals and gameplay that kept me busier than expected. Oops. Well, that Double Nyuutai Pack was a total steal thanks to an overstock, so I’m certainly pleased with my purchase and then some.

Play-Asia Stuff 004 (Custom)
 

I also got a Blu-Ray to review that’s more of a real “not for the kiddies” deal (it’s a pretty icky horror flick from Arrow Video), so I guess I’ll get to that shortly. Saving the earth from robots and too huge insects can be put on hold for the time being. Maybe.

An Intentionally Buggy, Busy Thursday, Courtesy EDF 4.1


 

I missed posting this latest Earth Defense Forces 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair video when D3Publisher posted it about a week ago. But now that I’m seeing it and smiling way too much, it seems that the game still hasn’t a US release date or publisher announcement. I’m gathering more will be revealed around E3 as to who gets the rights to drop this onto North American shores soon. My money says Namco Bandai (or is it Bandai Namco?) will do this, but I’m also holding out hope that D3Publisher of America once again does the deed.

Given that there’s a link between both publishers, anything is possible. This series may be niche outside Japan, but it certainly has a loyal enough following to support the PS4 version should it get the localization nod. Heck, do a promotion with Orkin or some more organic pesticide company to get more Americans into this game and you’re guaranteed a hit. Unless of course you run into the wrath of pro-invasive insect fans who think this stuff will lead to people being afraid of EVERY type of bug. Eh, you can’t please everyone, right? Riiiiiiight.

Earth Defense Force 4.1 Update: No Lights, New Rides? It’s All Good!


 

EDF 4.1 PS4 Release DateAmusing “warning”: If you don’t speak Japanese, this video will seem somewhat baffling for about the first two minutes and fifty-three seconds. However, those of you who happen to be fans of Sandlot’s awesome Earth Defense Force series of games will get your jaws hitting your shoes hard before you burst out laughing and nodding in approval.

The upcoming PlayStation 4 game Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is shaping up to be a must-have title thanks to the developer not only porting the main game over intact, but adding loads of new content, enemies and vehicles. That Depth Crawler you see at around 2:55 is the best thing to happen to the series because it allows for the ultimate in mobility in the game’s deadly tunnel missions AND it works excellently in outdoor maps.

EDF 4.1 Depth CrawlerAdditionally, longtime EDF fans will see that there’s no longer static lighting in those tunnels, meaning visibility will be practically zero without some sort of light source. Thankfully, that Depth Crawler has lights (and packs some nice firepower). Hopefully, this means going in on foot if one chooses will show your character or teammates all sporting lights on their armor. The game isn’t out until April 2, 2915 in Japan and no U.S. localization plans have been announced.

EDF 4.1 Depth Crawler 1That said, one would hope that some smart publisher who owns the rights would be on the case worldwide for this one. I smell a surprise hit that thanks to all the improvements and new content just might be one of the better games. New bosses, more missions, improved visuals, what’s looking like a more stable frame rate? Yup, all of those are making EDF 4.1 a must buy when it finally ships. The Japanese version is compatible with any PS4, although expect to be lurking around GameFaqs if you need help navigating the menus and learning some strategies if you’re new to the EDF experience.

Double Earth Defense Forces News: EDF 2 Coming to Vita ! EDF 4.1 Coming to PS4! (In Japan at Least)


 

EDF 2 V2 VitaOkay, I had a weird tickle in the back of my head today and as I had my Vita with me, I fired up Earth Defense Forces 3 Portable (EDF 2017) just to see if there were any recent updates and when I clicked on D3Publisher’s Japanese game page for the EDF series and looked in the news section, my head spun around like Linda Blair’s in the Exorcist before I let out a little squeal of delight. Woo and hoo – the best EDF game is finally getting the portable remake it deserves AND that “new” EDF game for the PS4 is packing EDF 4 and some excellent new content onto next-gen hardware.

EDF V2 Vita SCRN Earth Defense Forces Portable 2 V2 packs in the full PS2 game on the Vita, but it’s NOT a straight up port at all by developer and series creator Sandlot. A new 4-player mode, the Air Diver class from EDF 4 and some nice visual tweaks that don’t spoil the intentionally “retro” look of that PS2 classic are making me want to grab this one as soon as it’s available in Japan (or from Play-Asia where I’ll most likely get this from). Go ogle the two LOVELY screenshot galleries over at Gematsu (thanks, Gematsu!) while I compose myself for a minute… Continue reading

Biohazard HD Remaster Offers Up A Great Reason To Import (For the PS3 At Least)

Biohazard HD Remaster banner 

Biohazard HD RemasterSure, you can hold out for the download-only North American release of Resident Evil HD Remaster, but I’m seeing the more hardcore fans of the long-running franchise and a few gaming friends running for the Eastern border and snapping up pre-orders for the Japanese or Asian versions of Biohazard HD Remaster instead. Why? Well, for starters, the game comes on a physical disc with a manual and as you know (or should know), PS3 games are region free, so the game should run on any console anywhere in the world. Both the Japanese and less expensive Asian version (which is for Chinese gamers and should come with an English manual or instruction sheet fold-out common to that region’s software) will have dual-language support (English and Japanese voice and text based on the console settings), so jumping back into this classic experience will be a breeze for anyone.

From what I see, that much more expensive E-Capcom Complete Edition is sold out in a few import shops, so folks who want that pack for all the goodies it contains will need to hold out and see if Capcom plans to get that out over here. Anyway, go take a gander at some comparison screenshots so you can see what you’re in for. We won’t be seeing this remaster in the US until early 2015 at the earliest, but as the import ships out this November, I have the feeling that a bunch of people will be grooving on this game before that and posting their impressions left and right in the usual spots. Will I be one of those people? Hmmm… we shall see…

Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection – I Did My “Snake’s on a Plane” Joke Already…

Konami and Hideo Kojima can squeeze money from fans of the Metal Gear Solid franchise any time they want to and given the huge amount of interest in this upcoming collection, it looks as if fans worldwide aren’t minding one bit. The great thing is, the PS3 is region free, so anyone anywhere can pick this set of classics up and get it shipped to them. Granted, that airmail shipping isn’t cheap to many locations, but as I said, the harder core fans of the series probably don’t give a hoot. I have most of these titles here in the library but yes, I still want this pricey box set. Well, it’s not THAT expensive considering what’s inside… but I’m not made of money like that guy in those Geico ads who I wish would zip around the block here on that motorbike of his…