Space, science-fiction, and "expanding your mind" have always gone hand-in-hand. Whether it's something as worthy as Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, or as campy as Jane Fonda vehicle Barbarella, many creators like to partner the vast unknown of space with, well, tripping your balls off.Songbringer, an action-RPG from indie outfit Wizard Fu Games and its auteur, Nathaniel Weiss, also marries sci-fi adventure with a healthy injection of New-Age philosophy, all presented under 1980s aesthetics. Some would like to call it "Zelda on acid!" but that's not strictly accurate on either count, as well as being awful writing.
As someone who grew up adoring the Dizzy series, I definitely got a kick out of Mystik Belle's whimsical trip down memory lane. Props should also been given for some lovely colourful sprites, cute characters and nostalgic tunes from yesteryear. But it is certainly a short trip down said lane, and one which will present the majority of gamers with very little resistance.
Pato Box is one of the most unique titles I've played in some time. It has its share of problems, with an unorthodox style that might not be to everyone's taste, but feels destined to acquire a cult following. Though quite flawed, it still has the ability to get the heart pounding, and sounds damn good while doing so. Pato Box fails to score a knockout, but it's an exciting bout, and I'm certainly up for a rematch.
There's a very simple reason why so many modern pro-wrestling games are bad. Pro-wrestling is not a legitimate competitive fight, it's two or more people working together to put on an incredible, breath-taking performance. Wrestlers work within slight nuances of pace, timing and storytelling. The psychological skill of knowing when to kick it in and when to cool it down is just as important as the memorable characters and jaw-dropping moves.But in a video game, you're working against each other, because you're both trying to win. That's all well and good for FIFA, or Madden, or even Street Fighter. But you can't accurately translate the speed and intensity of modern pro-wrestling to a complex, realistic sim. That's why when Adam Cole (Bay Bay) and Ricochet have a ladder match in NXT, it's a breathless thing of beauty, but if you have the same match in a WWE 2K title, it's a boring clusterfuck. The more "realistic" the genre gets, the worse it gets.Fire Pro Wrestling is a long-running series that strips wrestling sims back to basics, while featuring deep gameplay mechanics and so many customisation options that it becomes less a competitive wrestling title, and more of a sandbox wrestling title. Fire Pro isn't attempting to perfectly recreate Sports Entertainment "like on TV", it's instead trying to encourage players to create their own memorable moments within the confines of the squared circle.
Blade Strangers is a fun, friendly, accessible fighter. It allows newcomers and experienced players alike the opportunity to throw down with some great characters, without necessarily concerning themselves with one-frame-links or meaty reversals. Whilst that lack of tech-depth may prevent Blade Strangers from holding the attention of the pros, or blowing up on the competitive circuit, it's sure to be a hit at any good-natured rumble with friends, battling for pride within your own four walls.
Though SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy is not the Gals Fighters 2 we may have been hoping for, it is a very daft, very fast, and fun brawler. There is a serious question of longevity to be considered, and veteran players should consider the game's simplicity before purchase. But in a group setting, or among newcomers, sisterhood of sluggers will get the job done, looking fabulous while doing so.
The Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle offers seven good (if repetitive) games for a great price. There's zero excuse for a 30-year-old game having terrible online in 2018, which is a huge minus here. But for those who fancy a violent trip down memory lane, especially with local buddies to watch their back, The Capcom Beat 'Em Up Bundle still provides simple-minded mayhem for not a lot of coin. Besides, you probably spent more than that on those money-hungry arcade cabs anyway.