It’s a tough game, particularly in the later stages, and if you’ve not got the patience for it, then it’s not going to be the game for you. To start off, you can select individual stages, starting with relatively easy scenarios and building significantly in difficulty from there. Once you’ve reached a certain level, you can start tackling ‘campaigns’, which are just several levels grouped together. There’s no overarching plot to bind the levels together, which is a shame, but not a deal-breaker. Finally, you can also generate random levels by selecting various parameters, such as size, number of enemies, and so on. There’s a lot to be getting on with, and if you’re a fan of tactical games, this is definitely one to watch out for.
Graphically, the game is technically decent, though the frame rate could have been bumped up a bit more. From an artistic perspective, the environments and characters are all a bit ‘samey’, blending together from one level to the next, with little variation. It’s a shame, because Hong Kong is undoubtedly a visually striking city, but the buildings showcased in The Hong Kong Massacre could have been plucked from literally any town in the world.
Although not quite as meaty as its older sibling, Professor Lupo: Ocean boasts the same engaging puzzle gameplay, albeit with often unwieldy controls. It’s a short game, and not one you’re likely to come back to soon after completion, but with a relatively small price tag, it’s one you’d do well to pick up if you’re after an original puzzle title.
As with any roguelite, Synthetik: Ultimate requires an abundance of playthroughs in order to progress further into the game. Its overall length very much depends on your own commitment, but the strong gameplay is more than enough incentive to keep coming back, despite the poor menu system and less-than-stellar graphics. The addition of an Arena mode on top of the main ‘Citadel’ mode is welcome, though it doesn’t offer anything particularly new, so you’ll likely just stick to the main mode.
Despite the lack of a single original idea to call its own, Landflix Odyssey is saved by its gameplay, which is both challenging and fun. Each stage is just the right length if you want to drop in and out, and there’s enough here to keep you busy for a good four or five hours altogether. If you’re willing to forgive the poor translation and weak attempt at parody, then Landflix Odyssey is a solid 2D platformer worth checking out.
Tanuki Justice is typically ‘retro’ in terms of its overall presentation. The colourful, pixel-heavy visuals pay homage to NES titles (although the art design often screams Sonic), and the soundtrack features some catchy, albeit rather repetitive tunes. There are a couple of annoying quirks typical of some 8-bit games, like the inability to jump down through a platform, and items disappearing after just a few short seconds. Otherwise, if you’re after a fun little run ‘n’ gun platformer reminiscent of early Mega Man titles, this might just be the one for you.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Rhythmic Adventure Pack is an incredibly comprehensive experience that both fans of the series and newcomers will love. The story modes boast fun characters and engaging battles, though the random encounter feature from Rhythmic Adventure 1 can get a little tiring after a while. The real meat of the experience once again lies with Taiko Mode, which features a generous selection of song across various genres, and the accessible nature of the gameplay makes it immediately gratifying and addictive. It's a shame the motion control scheme remains unreliable, and you really should invest in a taiko drum for the full experience, but thankfully the touch screen and face button controls are more than capable.
Absolute Drift is the kind of game that can quite easily provide a good hour or so worth of entertainment on a rainy day. Our fear with this one, however, is that the learning curve is so brutally steep, it may put you off before you even properly get into it. If you do manage to power through, though, it’s a genuinely relaxing, satisfying experience. It’s just a shame the game is hampered by poor design choices and crippling technical issues.
Ultimately, though, this all feels like extra baggage that isn’t necessary to the overall experience; there’s enough here to keep you entertained for a good while just in terms of pure gameplay, and although it’s not the kind of game that incentivises repeat playthroughs, there’s always that niggling feeling at the back of the mind to have ‘just one more go’. There are a couple of minor issues, such as the fact that some obstacles get obscured and really sneak up on you, and a distinct lack of extras that we’d like to have seen in a collection like this. But otherwise, the Alto games are well worth checking out if you’re after a breezy, relaxing experience.
Considering how quickly Five Dates was conceptualised and developed, the overall execution of the story is commendable. Having said that, it’s a shame there’s no option here to flip things around and have a woman protagonist join the app to date five men in addition to Vinny. We appreciate this would effectively double the amount of work required, but we have to wonder who exactly Five Dates is aimed at. As it is, the entire premise feels like a throwaway side-story shoved into a Richard Curtis rom-com to simply appease the men in the audience. It’s a fun little distraction, but ultimately not an experience that’s going to stick with you for long.