Crisis Wing is very much a standard shooter, for better or worse. It works and works fairly well but there isn’t much to really make it “pop” even when compared to other shooters – even those of the era it’s trying to emulate. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since sometimes a basic game hits different and can act as a nice palate cleanser to unwind with between major releases. Even at the reasonable $7.99 pricetag, there are other shooters you may want to spend your time playing and returning to over this one.
At $29.99, Umihara Kawase BaZooKa! isn’t a bad game per se, however, it’s one that I feel is going to struggle to find an audience. I understand that they are trying to take the series into a new direction, however, Umihara Kawase is niche enough as is, and I can’t imagine too many people are going to look at this game and be willing to pick it up. There is a huge learning curve to Umihara Kawase in general, and the game doesn’t do enough to make itself inviting to new players either. Again, a more fleshed out single player experience and proper training mode could have gone a long way in making this one feel more approachable. It also doesn’t help that many players are going to recognize very few, if any, characters outside of Kawase, and that’s assuming they even knew Kawase to begin with. There is online play complete with leaderboards, ranked, casual and private matchmaking, but I have never been able to find a match, and I don’t think I’ll be finding many in the future. So really, your mileage with Umihara Kawase BaZooKa! is going to depend on whether or not you can convince your friends to come over and play this game with you. If you can manage that, you’ll probably have some fun. I can’t help but feel like this could have been a nice bonus DLC mode for Fresh! instead of a whole new release. I’m not opposed to them exploring multiplayer options in future Umihawa Kawase games, but I’d rather see the series stick to its single player roots.
If that wasn’t enough, there are multiple versions of Mushihimesama for you to experience including Arrange, 1.5, and Novice Mode designed for newcomers featuring simplified bullet patterns and the ability to auto-bomb. Each “version” of the game offers some differences such as remixed soundtracks and different scoring systems. Any good shoot ’em up release would have a whole list of options for you to play with to further customize the experience, and Mushihimesama delivers on that front as well. You can change the aspect ratio, screen orientation and size, display the inputs and high scores, and have the ability to enable additional game windows for a “picture in picture” effect.
At $19.99, Ogre Tale is a hard one to recommend, especially over Phantom Breaker: Battle Grounds, a game that is not only cheaper, but features more gameplay modes, playable characters, better difficulty balance, a more satisfying upgrade system, and tighter boss battles. On its own, it’s not a bad game, but a really underwhelming follow up to what was a really solid beat ’em up.
For $24.99 Streets of Rage 4 is a good game, but it can really benefit from better balance between the characters and some of the levels. There is a good amount of replay value thanks to the unlockable characters, additional difficulties, a boss rush mode and online play. You can fight with each other in the story or Arcade mode or fight against each other in battle mode. In any case, if you are a fan of 2D beat ’em ups, this is one worth checking out.
The game will last about an hour or two depending on your platforming skills. If you want more of a challenge you can try the Hard difficulty mode where you are given only 6 lives to complete the entire game. For $5, Dogurai might tickle that nostalgic itch for a bit, however once you get over the initial thrill of playing a modern Game Boy style game there isn’t much else here that will keep your attention. The game never truly lives up to its full potential, but as a relatively inexpensive little game, it’s not bad.
For $14.99 Murder By Numbers is a game I really hesitate to recommend. It is a relatively lengthy experience as it took me about 28 hours to complete, with a lot of that time spent solving the puzzles. It’s a competent Picross game that will give you a large amount of puzzles to solve, but the story really didn’t leave much of a lasting impression on me. It showed a lot of promise at first, but ultimately falls short of reaching its full potential. I think the developers really wanted to make Murder By Numbers something special and I would like to see them improve on the formula and expand on the narrative in a sequel.
It’s clear that Shenmue III is a game that wants to please the fans and it’s clear a lot of effort was put in ensuring this experience is the one we would have had on the Dreamcast back then. They even bothered to get Corey Marshall to reprise his role as Ryo for the English audio track. However, the game trips over itself in its execution. Shenmue III is so stuck in the past and in its own bad habits that it forgot it needs to move on. Shenmue III is very much “more Shenmue” in that it’s certainly a continuation of the story, but its also not taking many significant steps in moving it or the gameplay forward. Yu Suzuki had a rather grand vision for the future of the series but for fans to have waited this long only to get a small glimpse of that vision and continue to be teased about it is incredibly disappointing. It feels like him and his team are constantly building hype for things we can expect in the future games without ever actually delivering on it. And while it’s true that in the past, he wasn’t entirely at fault due to the fate of the Dreamcast, I have a very hard time excusing it here.
Other than some alternate difficulty modes and a funny versus mode where the two characters can duke it out, there really isn’t much reason to keep coming back to Haunted: Halloween ’86. It’s a game that isn’t really bad, but also not a particularly remarkable one. Once you get over the fact that this is a new NES game, you’ll start to see this game’s flaws more and more and realize that there are other exciting indie platformers out there. That said, Haunted Halloween is worth checking out if you are looking for more NES games to play. The game won’t take you too long as a playthrough will take about an hour or much less if you get good enough at the game to speedrun it. The digital version isn’t terribly expensive at $9.99 and can be fun for a little while if you are feeling nostalgic and find yourself craving a Halloween themed retro game. If you are interested in a physical NES cartridge with the game, check out Retrotainment Games’ site.
If you really enjoy the frantic nature of the game, there is lots for you to come back to. Most of the enemies you encounter can be unlocked as a playable character, and the levels are filled with branching paths and decisions you can make leading to more than 40 endings for you to unlock. So clearly this game is packed with content and replay value. However it’s up to you to make the most of it and spend a lot of time mastering the battle system in order for you to really appreciate it. The levels are large and can go on for a long time. But as I’ve mentioned before the game is oozing with style so that can potentially keep you playing even if it will kick your butt for a while. Also the music is rocking, with plenty of metal tunes to compliment the action and mayhem on screen as you are sending enemies flying or being sent flying yourself. For $20 Fight ‘N Rage is a nice little gem, however your enjoyment of it really depends on how much you are willing to put up with the learning curve. If it clicks for you and you enjoy mastering the parry system and learn how to chain attacks properly, this will probably be among the best beat ’em ups you’ve ever played and the unlockable content is sure to keep you coming back for more.
The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors will cost you $19.99 digitally and $29.99 for a physical copy. That’s a great price point for this kind of game. It’s short but loads of fun and there is plenty of challenge including a harder difficulty mode to keep you coming back for more. Each character also feels different enough that you will be compelled to try out as many as you can. What is nice is that when you lose a life and continue, you can change characters. So if you have trouble with one, you don’t have to fully commit to using them. There are also Time Attack modes and Online Rankings for those of you who like to speedrun and compete for the best time. All in all this is a nice package that fans of the original game or the SNES sequel will not want to miss. As for everyone else, this is a game well worth trying out.
I’m not the only one disappointed in this ending. It was the topic of discussion shortly after the game launched on message boards and on Twitter. Many people have had very colorful things to say about Wayforward when it comes to this ending and their portrayal of female characters. Despite my last two paragraphs, I’m not here to attack Wayforward or Arc System Works for this. I think they made an excellent game that hits almost all the right notes but just couldn’t fully nail the landing. I encourage them to revisit and expand on this story in a sequel, because I think the biggest reason the ending doesn’t make a lot of sense to me is that it’s very abrupt. It feels like there was more story to be told about these characters and I would love to hear and see it. Also I just want to play more River City Girls! Some of you might think the $29.99 price tag for the digital release is a bit high, but aside from the ending, this was one hell of a good time. If you are interested in a physical copy, Limited Run Games had a standard edition available to preorder until September 27th. If you were unable to preorder a copy by then and are still looking for a physical copy, Play-Asia also has multi-language physical copies for both PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
Steins;Gate Elite is for people who have either never experienced Steins;Gate before, people who have never read a Visual Novel, were turned off by their lack of animation or those who want to experience the story in a slightly different way. If you find the anime visuals to be too off-putting, then the original Visual Novel is available on PC, PS3 and the PlayStation Vita. Not only are those available both in physical and digital format, but they are also cheaper than this new $59.99 release. However if you have played the original and are curious about Linear Bounded Phenogram, then you should consider checking this release out as well. No matter which version of Steins;Gate you experience, you’re in for a hell of a ride that can last you a solid 30 hours or more if you try and get every single ending or route.
Between the two story modes, hidden items and the bonus modes, Umihara Kawase Fresh! has a solid amount of replay value and if you really enjoyed playing the story mode, the game gives you a lot of reasons to come back to it. Long-time Umihara Kawase fans may find this one a bit weird and even alienating at first with all of the modifications to the gameplay and feel, but change isn’t always a bad thing and I think they did a solid job working with those changes. It’s still an Umihara Kawase title, which means it’s still an enjoyable time despite its flaws. If this is your first time jumping into Umihara Kawase and you find the fishing lure mechanics interesting, I highly recommend you check out some of the older games as well, especially Sayonara Umihara Kawase.
There is definitely an audience for a game like The Walking Vegetables but unfortunately it might not be the game for me. I would have preferred it to have been a bit more traditional and less random. If you are really into rogue-likes and can deal with the unpredictable nature and lengthy process for acquiring skills, you will find the game to be a lot of fun and even rewarding with a lot of replay value. If that sounds up your alley, I would say add as much as an extra star to the score below. There is also a two player co-op mode and an even more difficult “Too Hard Mode” for you to challenge. So the $9.99 asking price gets you a good game with some solid replay value, as long as you are willing to put up with some of the quirkier aspects of it.
Games like Twinkle Star Sprites occupied a space within the shooter genre that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention – the competitive shooter. Those games stood out because they dared to be different and put a weird spin on the genre and I always wondered why more developers didn’t try and expand on the ideas that game brought to the table. Rival Megagun seems to do just that. It took elements from it and delivers a package that is not only fun, but offers something you don’t often see. For $14.99, some may say that the game is lacking in content, but personally it was so much fun to play, I felt it worth the price of admission. This is the kind of game I can come back to or would want to show my friends because I can see us having a ton of fun playing.
Jake Hunter Detective Story: Ghost of the Dusk will last you about 10-12 hours. This 3DS package justifies the $39.99 price tag by including a few bonus cases which are ports of mobile entries in the series. There are also hidden passwords to find throughout the main game that can be entered. These unlock all sorts of bonuses including sound tests, character profiles, interviews with the developers and a CG gallery. Overall Ghost of the Dusk is a decent visual novel that’s held back by a localization that tried a bit too hard to appeal to an audience that likely wasn’t interested in this kind of title to begin with. Aksys Games should know better and quite frankly this is concerning. I fear they may have written themselves into a corner and have to now stick with it in order to be consistent with future games. Case in point, a new title in the series was recently released for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. However the game was rated in Korea as Jake Hunter Detective Story: Prism of Eyes, suggesting that they are intending on localizing this one and keeping the Jake Hunter name. Should that actually be the case, we might be stuck with all the pointless localization changes made in the releases by Aksys Games and that’s a shame. As for Ghost of the Dusk, I can recommend it to those of you who really enjoy the genre and are looking for one to play on the 3DS. It may not be the best the system has to offer, but you might enjoy it for what it is.
For $39.99 Blade Strangers is the kind of game where you will know right away whether or not it is for you. It’s not a hardcore fighting game which is fine since it’s really not trying to be one. This is just a fun little game to appreciate some of the lesser known characters in gaming and give them some spotlight. For that, Blade Strangers is a lot of fun, however that does mean its audience will likely end up being very limited. While it can provide a few solid hours of fun, its lasting value will depend on how much you enjoy the characters featured here. If you are someone who really enjoys Code of Princess or Umihara Kawase, you should check this one out and can probably add half a star to the review score.
The music is really catchy and features a lot of techno songs that change about every eight or nine levels. If you press triangle at the main menu you can actually toggle between three versions of the OST, some including music from Tempest 2000. Other than that, there really isn’t much else to say about Tempest 4000. There is a lot of fun to be had with the game, however your mileage will vary on how much you like playing this kind of game. If you are the type to play it through over and over again to achieve that high score or compete in online leaderboards, this game is more than worth it and you can add half a star to the score. For everyone else however, the $30 price tag may seem a bit steep considering the relatively low amount of content.
For $7.99 Quad Fighter K is an interesting title. I can appreciate the unique approach to the genre but it needs more polish. If you like old school shoot-em-ups and find this intriguing, I’d say give it a shot. Keep in mind though that the nature of the four-player gameplay makes for a chaotic playthrough that is equally as impressive as it is frustrating. It might make for a fun game to play with friends however if you plan on tackling this solo, I have nothing to say other than “Good Luck!”