Umihara Kawase: BaZooKa! is a spin-off of the Umihara Kawase series. This series has actually been floating around in the gaming ether for quite some time all the way back to the Super Famicon. In the main series, it’s a colourful little platformer where you use a fishing hook to navigate around platforms and defeat various fishy enemies. If you want to look into the series further the easiest way to play the old games is on Steam but there was also a recent title Umihara Kawase: Fresh released on Nintendo Switch in 2019. BaZooKa takes many of the ideas of this series and turns it into more of an arcade title. Let’s explore in more detail.
Card Game Bundle Vol. 1 was a wonderful surprise for me. If you’re new to card based video games this is an excellent bundle to get you started. Frost is very brutal and sad whereas Monster Slayers is brutal but hilarious. You get quite the nice contrast of styles. I love how both titles are very pick up and play and are incredibly re-playable. They are also ideal to play between other games or if you just need something to return to for a quick fix. I never thought in my writing days I would give a top score to a game titled Card Game Bundle Vol.1 but here we are.
Bad North is a fantastic pick up and play strategy game (a genre I’m usually terrible with). With difficulties to suit most gamers. Simple controls and tons of replay value. This is a game I’ve returned to again and again. I can’t guarantee playing this game will prepare you for an actual Viking invasion. But I can assure you there is plenty to love whether you want a quick gaming session or a long night in defending from invaders. Once your done with that you may also want to play a bit of Bad North.
You know when I first saw the picture for Fury Unleashed I kinda expected this to be yet another junk food gaming rogue-lite. Some thing that I’m totally on board with. But after playing it several times and having weird nightmares about Aztec skeletons, this has easily jumped to one of my favourites in the genre. I loved the surprise heart to the story, as someone that often questions their own written work and creativity I found something to connect to; though I’ll probably never reach the heights of fame in my creative work. It’s good that video games like Fury Unleashed can remind you that moments of uncertainly are normal. And right now in this moment you are enough. Also Fury Unleashed is just brilliant.
Streets of Rage 4 is an incredible game. Where I am now, compared to where I was when I played the series originally, is very different. However, this will easily become another nostalgic memory in years to come from playing with my wife, alone, and with a very good friend who lives just too far away for my liking. I think you’ll most likely already guessed my rating for this title –
I was pleasantly surprised by Neversong. It’s another Kickstarter success story where the developer has made full use of their abilities and talent to create a wonderfully creepy but memorable adventure. The music, the graphics, the gameplay its all just so well polished despite the adventure being short. The game is due to release on Nintendo Switch in the future (as well as other consoles). This adventure moved me and did horror in just the right way. But don’t don’t let that put you off. Neversong is a game not to be missed.
The game takes around 30 hours to finish but there are plenty of side quests and collectibles to find which will add to an already packed adventure. This really is a game you can sink your teeth into and get lost in for hours at a time. Like a really really long satisfying picture book. Bug Fables is a wonderful bug riddled adventure. In a good way not the gaming way. Charming characters with fun witty dialogue. It’s adventure that feels suitable for the entire family. The only trouble is, since it is single player, you may need to fight over who gets to play. Good thing the game provides additional files. While I struggled with pressing the right button many times I was constantly smiling while playing this game. A wonderful piece of gaming more people should discover for themselves. Don’t let it buzz you by.
This bring us to both collections’ biggest issue. Darius as a series must be programmed with some kind of rare metal because they always seem to command a very high price for entry. I noted this back in the day when I reviewed Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours for the Vita. This issue will be the main reason people will avoid a purchase, especially with current circumstances in the world. The other notable issue is that these collections are not complete collections of the Darius series. This is nothing new with retro collections in general, but the oddest omission is that of the first Darius game on the Console Collection. The reason it’s a bit fishy is that this game was released on the Mega Drive Mini which was also developed by M2 and yet is strangely missing from this collection. There are also a variety of other titles and ports missing that enthusiasts of the series may be disappointed not to have. Both the Arcade Collection and Console Collection are brilliant. M2 has once again outdone themselves and proved they’re the best at retro gaming on modern systems. It’s a shame the price is so darn high though, especially since I really couldn’t see owning only one of these collections. If you do take the plunge you have a brilliant collection of one of the best schmup series from ye old days.
Urban Flow has 100 levels in the core campaign but there’s always the incentive to replay levels to gain the 3 star rating. Getting more stars rewards you by unlocking a variety of things like new cars and buildings. As well as this, there are additional modes like endless mode to keep you busy even longer. This game is easy to dip in and out of even if you just need a really quick gaming fix. Who would have thought a game about controlling traffic lights could be so much fun. Well, Urban Flow proves simple ideas can still make incredibly good games. A good time alone but this game really came alive when I played with my wife and will now hold a special place in gaming memories for the two of us. I really enjoyed playing this one, as James mentions the music was great and it was easy to get to grips with. It added in some extra twists to keep you on your toes and to keep the levels interesting without becoming tedious. It also got your brain moving a lot more than you might think it would. I also would have loved it if you actually were the pigeons that got hold of the controller but then one can dream! Melissa
If Panzer Paladin was an episode of Voltron, I would re-watch it every week. Since it’s not, I’ll just settle for keeping this additive retro-inspired title on a regular gaming cycle. Panzer Paladin has won me over with its soundtrack, its sci-fi demons design, and general retro quirkiness. It’s the sort of game that makes me want to be a paladin every single time!
Heroes of Hammerwatch is a game that grows on you. While definitely more fun with others I still had a lot of fun alone. It may have minor faults but I loved how I kept discovering something new about the game whether it was discovering a new mechanic or mastering the games traps. This is easily a title I’ll return to for years to come.
Evergate is a beautiful and clever platformer. Once you get your head round the mechanics there is something quite special here to enjoy for the puzzle-platforming fan. If you need to take a break away from this world for a while, Evergate will take you to an afterlife with great music, rewarding challenges, and a moving story that may just speak to those who share a special bond with someone.
Star Renegades is a beautiful looking futuristic game with fun memorable characters and deep tactical gameplay to match. Certainly not an easy game. The Imperium is a hard enemy to stand up to. But with every failed attempt comes new lessons in the hopes of finally entering that dimension where you succeed. Star Renegades is a game I won’t be putting down anytime soon and look forward to its future updates.
Mini Motor Racing X was a pleasant surprise. It took me back to the days of playing Micro Machines on my Mega Drive. Fun, simple arcade gameplay that does the trick for gamers with not a lot of time to spare. Tons of tracks as well as fun extra modes make this a great racing package worth playing alone or with a friend in split screen. I didn’t think I would ever be won over by a racing game again to this degree but here we are. Good job developers!
Hades is a brutal but highly entertaining trip through the Greek underworld. Although I got knocked down again and again much like the stubborn prince himself I couldn’t help but get back up and try just one more time. With so much content on offer, this will easily be a game I’ll have in regular rotation for a long time to come. Definitely a title worthy of the Gods!
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends: The Baron is Back is a great package for fans of the old days as well as introducing a new audience to the cuteness of Bub and Bob. Bubble Bobble 4 is a feel-good arcade game that offers a balance of casual and challenging modes that are sure to please a wide audience of gamers. It’s good to have this dinosaur duo back on top form.
Haven is a game best enjoyed with someone else while making yourselves comfy on the sofa. While not without its flaws, a brave decision to focus on the story about a couple makes this a unique title worth immersing yourself in. The music is brilliant and the characters are just lovely. The story may go through the typical beats that I expect lovers to go through in a typical film. Its the talent of the voice actors and the accessibility of the gameplay for most audiences that keep you hooked till the end. Sometimes in life a game just hits you and ends up being better than you could possibly imagine. Haven to me is one of those game made even better because I got to share it with someone special.
Undermine is a rogue-lite that doesn’t reinvent the wheel compared to other games in the genre. But this wheel is of high quality and made to such a high standard it’s hard to ignore. If you’re old or new to the genre Undermine is a title that you can sink hundreds of hours in long or short bursts. Undermine is easily up there as one of the best titles in the Rogue Lite genre. Excellent stuff
Rain on your Parade is a feel-good game that will hopefully make you smile as much as it did for us. While light on a challenge, if you’re having one of those rainy days yourself, this game might just be the ticket to bring a little sunshine to your day. Rain on your Parade is funny, charming and overall brilliant, one of my favourite gaming experiences this year so far.
If you have someone else to play with I can not recommend this game enough. Heck this is a game I would go as far as to say it’s worth getting a console or PC for. The game pushes video games forward in the right direction and it’s a darn shame others haven’t taken note of this. A wholesome co-op experience that is guaranteed to entertain. No DLC, no microtransactions, no exp, no bugs and utter gaming rubbish we so often see in games these days, just a good video game. It Takes Two is not just one of the best games I’ve played this year. It’s one of the best video game experiences I have ever had, period.