Altogether, Devil Engine is an intriguing STG that's held back by rough fundamentals. Given enough tuning, it could turn out to be welcome entry in any fan's library. There's plenty of content, and the two playable ships are impressively realized. However, the weak arsenal is a constant nuisance. Attempting to destroy massive bosses or even moderately-sized foes with a pea shooter isn't fun. There are options for quickly eliminating adversity, but getting past their constant waves of fire is also an ordeal. Simply put, it feels like this is trying too hard to break its players.
Nearly thirty years was a mighty long time, but ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove! proves that the wait was worth it. This is an excellent sequel, and it's not just because it captures the spirit of the original. The new features, as well as quality-of-life improvements, really enhance the experience. Each level is filled with things to do, and they all serve a purpose. There aren't any meaningless distractions. Even today, where roguelikes are exponentially more common, this is one that shouldn't be passed up.
Seeing as how Versus STGs are incredibly uncommon, Rival Megagun could easily get some recognition just for being part of such a rare niche. Thankfully, Spacewave Software went above and beyond to create a fantastic shooter. It has gotten the basics down pat, and delivers an exceptionally realized meta. Players are rewarded for thinking three moves ahead, reading their opponents, and finding the right opportunity to strike. For competitive gamers looking for something new, this is highly recommended.
Ultimately, this DLC accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. It presents more variables to consider. This not only spices up the average play-through, it also allows for more flexibility in determining that perfect level of difficulty. Just be aware that the full breadth of features requires a significant time investment. It's the whole "you get out of it what you put into it" adage. The rival colonies can seem a bit trivial, especially if one is never put into a position where they might have to deal with them. Expecting the player to invest hundreds of hours and pursue the toughest scenarios might be asking a lot, but if they're really enjoying the base game, then Surviving Mars: Space Race is worth looking into.
In conclusion, Genesis Alpha One is a decent way to spend a weekend, but it will wear out its welcome not long afterwards. Building, upgrading, and defending a starship is compelling enough. There are also those times when a large-scale invasion generates some real excitement. However, a lot of time is going to be spent performing mundane tasks. Although this does an admirable job of streamlining most of them, boredom will eventually set in. Still, the unique premise might be reason enough to check it out.
Refreshingly unique and lots of fun, Steel Vampire is well worth checking out. Its inspired take on rank control makes for a shmup that can be approached in a number of ways. The RPG elements are also quite interesting. Finding the right build can lend all sorts of advantages to the player's ship. There are even rare and legendary drops, which is an amusing novelty. Best of all, this game's usage of high speed bullet spreads and strong weaponry create an aura of ferocity not often seen in the genre. The impact of crushing legions of enemies before they can shoot is oh-so-satisfying.
Game Tengoku CrusinMix Special is best thought of as an experience. There are a lot of scenes where the main characters chat with each other and goof off - not to mention the multiple songs with vocals, commentary tracks, and even an interactive karaoke performance. This creates an atmosphere not often seen in such a tradition-focused genre. None of this comes at the expense of the game itself, which is a solidly enjoyable trip down memory lane. The scoring mechanics are well-realized, while the stages are cluttered with things to see and destroy. Ideally, all of the clutter could have been stretched out to create a more consistent and fully-realized shmup, but what's there is perfectly all right.
The Last Remnant Remastered is not for the risk averse. It features a lot of design decisions, and punishes anyone who dares to ignore them. There's also a massive learning curve to account for, as the intricacies of battle will require serious effort to master. Even this critic, who has logged almost 200 hours between all three versions, still has a lot to learn. Regardless, the various gameplay systems are all satisfying to understand, and the results of a well built team that employs sound tactics are immeasurably fun to experience. What else is there to say about this game? It's a classic.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is an exemplary compilation. Both games have received some quality of life enhancements, and playing as Toadette is pretty entertaining. More importantly, this is simply some of the best content in the Super Mario saga. It's amazing how every element comes together for a thoroughly refined platforming experience. The level design is nothing short of genius, and the flawless controls make every leap more joyous than the last. Everyone who hasn't already played through the Wii U version should pick this up immediately.
Battle Princess Madelyn is a difficult game to recommend on a whim. Its design and mechanics calls to mind the classics of yesteryear, but there's a distinct lack of follow-through. The story mode isn't hurting for content, as it features a slew of worlds to explore, bosses to battle, and goodies to collect. Unfortunately, not all of it is arranged in a manner that is appropriately compelling. The arcade mode trims most of the fat, but it lacks the challenge and polish that defined the arcade era. Still, one has to appreciate the effort that went towards appealing to fans of action-adventure and arcade games. If they're willing to look past the issues present in both modes, they might enjoy themselves. It helps that the art direction and music are really charming.
For anyone out there who is a fan of Harry Potter, LEGO, and videogames, LEGO Harry Potter Collection just might be the safest bet imaginable. Both titles within are overflowing with Traveller's Tales' affection for charming production values and easily-accessible gameplay, and Xbox One's enhanced frame-rate and resolution breathes new life into what was already a lovingly-crafted world. The formula does wear itself thin at times, and players might even feel like they're just going through the motions, yet it's doubtful that they'll ever regret their days spent at LEGO Hogwarts.
Admittedly, this critic isn't exactly experienced when it comes to mini-golf games. Determining Wonder Wickets' standing in such a niche genre is immeasurably difficult. With that said, anyone with an appreciation for tight game-design and superb aesthetics is liable to fall in love with it. Courses are complex and challenging, but there's enough restraint to keep players from feeling bogged down. The conditions for unlocking most of the content are actually really light. Nobody will ever get the feeling that they have to repeat the same mission constantly, just to make any progress. Definitely give this a shot.
At times, the secret to enjoying a video game is patience. Like a seemingly incomprehensible puzzle, it's up to the player to take their time, giving careful consideration to every aspect. However, as Noahmund proves, patience can have its limits. There is merit to be found in this strategy RPG, but it's buried under a number of issues, namely the uneven pacing, annoying combat, and progress-halting bugs. Some people might be able to struggle through them; others will feel that their time is better invested elsewhere.
Shikhondo - Soul Eater is a visually unique and very enjoyable shmup. That's really all there needs to be said. It's not as if there's some riveting plot or a fantastic ending to look forward to. In fact, the story is basically non-existent. Perhaps, instead of filling the screen with words, the developer chose to cram in some more bullets. That's fine - wonderful even. There aren't any distractions to keep players from performing their best. If the idea of navigating a sometimes literal maze of death grabs you, then consider giving this a go.
Fast Striker is solid all round. It has four modes of ever-increasing challenge and complexity. Novices are able to get a feel for the game, while Maniacs can push their skills to the limit. The shields are an interesting idea. Under the right circumstances, they are a satisfying means of escape, yet they can also be a crutch. If they are always being exhausted, it's proof that the player needs more practice. Overcoming the impossible is what STGs are all about, and this title clearly understands that mantra.