Even when I initially thought of Shiren 6 as a very good Mystery Dungeon game that focused on gameplay over story, I was quickly blown away by just how much depth there was to this island, and the sheer amount of extra stuff there is to do after beating that main dungeon is just proof that addictive, well-balanced gameplay is the best quality a game can have.
Sure, you’ll die a lot, there’ll be some funny secrets to discover here and there, and there’s a ton of trial and error, but when the game really isn’t all that frustrating and each solution is one step closer to the ultimate end goal, I found that Dead Tomb quickly became a nice, fun little romp that was worth playing through to the very end.
The level editor is a promising step into making this a fun community for custom content akin to how Chuck’s Challenge panned out, though, and I hope we see more improvements and focuses on that to enable easier sharing and more tools to play with in the editor. Otherwise, you’ll have a decent time playing the solo stages, and pulling your hair out trying to par them. I just wish there were more cool gimmicks and risks taken with the stages as a whole, but overall, a fun effort puzzler fans will enjoy for a while.
It may not do anything that new or spectacular, but Blaze in the Deepblue manages to be a very well made, gorgeous looking metroidvania that’s well worth your time for a 100% clear, even if there’s little here in terms of bonuses for the price.
From a great gameplay loop, a simple concept literally anyone can pick up and have fun with for a few minutes, and a good leaderboard system, this is easily one of my favorite scorechasers in a long while, and I’m eager to see what sort of new content or features they add to this.
While the Map is a good step in that direction that at least provides some help to newcomers, it just isn’t enough to make these games as approachable as they should. If you like the Game Boy game, that one was handled pretty well with no emulation issues, but otherwise, maybe wait for some patches to drop and smooth this collection out to make it less of a headache to deal with.
Still, I struggle to see how any of this is meant to be an “Engine improvement” over the spectacular FX3, which is incredibly hard to top even now, and it seems this is a rocky regress more than a natural evolution, with the two returning FX3 tables here not feeling different enough to warrant a rebuy if they weren’t free, at least in my view.
Solid action platforming fun, but definitely would have been a bit of a softer blow if it had some sort of password feature, and for the price, you are supporting a fun NES indie with a solid port, but I still wish there were at least more bonuses or QOL stuff for the asking price.
Even with the jank and frustration in parts, you’ll be rewarded with one memorable adventure and some awesome tunes, and I still can’t help but recommend it nevertheless. It may have a lot of rough edges, but Shockman 2 is a fun gem that I’m super excited to see get the treatment it deserved.
The true shining gems from Making of Karateka however, are the remastered titles. Karateka getting a definitive remastered edition is awesome enough, but a super addicting, finalized version of Jordan Mechner’s Deathbounce? Hell yes, and the latter is definitely the game that’ll keep me coming back to this set again and again for a casual scorechase, while the Karateka titles are presented in the best sort of way that they can.
Really outside of the manual coin option being borked, I do feel that as a means to introduce yourself to this game and see what Toaplan’s other horizontal shooter was all about, Bitwave did a damn fine job at bringing over Hellfire with all sorts of goodies, and considering this comes right off the heels of M2’s impressive port, Hellfire is just a glimmer of what I feel this team is capable of providing once they manage to smooth out the annoyances and bugs in the other ports.
Still, of the four ports in Volume 2, I feel this one is neck and neck with Hellfire for being the least bugged of the bunch, and the sound effects are actually pretty darn close to perfect now, so with the high response time, great practice options, and online leaderboards to tackle, this is still an excellent shmup to check out if you like retro shooters, and even the brutal Same Same Same is worth taking on. You might be surprised by how better you’ll get at it over time!