Josh Speer Avatar Image

Josh Speer

Mercer Island
Th3BlooB0mber
SW-5568-1808-3098

Favorite Games:
  • Castlevania Symphony of the Night
  • Eternal Darkness
  • The Binding of Isaac

296 games reviewed
74.4 average score
80 median score
72.6% of games recommended

Josh Speer's Reviews

I've been a game fan for years, but since 2013 I've been writing about them. Love retro and indie, but willing to tackle most genres. Champion of PAX West and lover of SIX.
3 / 5.0 - Ultros
Feb 12, 2024

More than anything, I feel amazing Metroidvanias need to strike a great balance between combat and exploration, where everything you accomplish is constantly bringing you one step closer to reaching the end of the game. I don’t feel that’s the case in Ultros. The rewind aspect of the game, combined with constantly losing platforming abilities and combat upgrades, makes the entire experience a painful slog. So even though I respect the ambition and creativity on display, ultimately, that’s not enough to elevate this game beyond its peers.

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3.5 / 5.0 - LogiKing
Oct 28, 2023

LogiKing is a novel concept and a fun enough experience, but I can’t shake how barren it feels. In many ways, I think this game would have fared better as a technical demo than a full-fledged game you have to pay for. While I can respect the overall polish and strategy present in the game, ultimately, I was disappointed there wasn’t more to do.

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Oct 3, 2023

Astrea: Six-Sided Oracles is easily the best game I’ve played from Akupara Games thus far. It’s challenging, beautiful, complex, and an utter joy to play. Not only is it an amazing example of the rogue-like genre, but it’s also one of the first dice-builders I’ve ever played. If you’re at all a fan of the genre, do yourself a favor and get a copy!

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It’s rare for a sequel to be better than the original. It’s even rarer for it to so eclipse it that they feel like completely different species. Nevertheless, that’s the magic trick that Cyber Citizen Shockman 2: A New Menace pulls off. It’s a beautiful retro adventure full of great artwork and amazing music, with lots of accessibility options to make it a bit easier. While the goofy story is nothing to write home about, it’s a great adventure and a tribute to a lost era of Japanese-only videogames. If you’re a fan of game history or just enjoy platformers, be sure to check this one out.

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Osyaberi! Horijyo! Gekihori: Anna Holinski Saves The Universe, Alright?! is an absolutely crazy Shmup that reminds me of games long past. It’s colorful, hectic, and full of unlockable content and additional modes to keep you playing. If you’re a fan of games that don’t hold back, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here.

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4.5 / 5.0 - 30XX
Sep 15, 2023

Put simply, 30XX is by far the superior Mega Man-inspired rogue-like experience. It oozes style and features challenging gameplay and diverse bosses. I wouldn’t mind more to do in the game, but that in no way changes how well-made the experience is in general. If you’re at all a fan of rogue-like platformers, buying this is a no-brainer. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last such adventure we’ve seen from the folks at Batterystaple Games!

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4 / 5.0 - Xtreme Sports
Aug 26, 2023

As a fan of the Shantae games, I was delighted to play this sports-themed adventure by the same team. It’s not perfect, featuring some occasionally irritating controls and hard-to-read instructions. But with a bit of patience, you’ll find a solid adventure that reminds you not just why WayForward is such a great company, but why the Game Boy Color was such a classic system. If you’re at all a fan of retro or just want to play a simple and fun collection of mini-games, I’d definitely check Xtreme Sports out.

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Aug 4, 2023

Slime Girl Smoothies is an engaging, sometimes sexy puzzle excursion from eastasiasoft. While I was initially perplexed to discover it’s not a match-3, I grew to enjoy the puzzle mechanics. It features an eclectic group of rather horny slime girls to interact with, and a few modes to keep things fresh. Despite all that, it’s held back by some translation issues, long load times and some confusing UI issues. But if you can look past that, it’s a solid puzzle experience for mature gamers.

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Aug 1, 2023

I honestly had a great time playing Mr. Run and Jump. There’s a variety of fun mechanics, solid platforming, and distinct challenge. That said, the challenge may be too much for some folks, and I even considered throwing my controller aside in frustration several times. If you can push through the difficulty, there’s a ton of replay value and a surprisingly humorous adventure to enjoy—a great effort from Atari, Graphite Lab, and Heavy Horse Games.

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Sometimes games hold up, and this is one of them. Though I absolutely loved the original, Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes – Definitive Edition brings a classic game to exhilarating modern life. Not only does it feature complex and nuanced strategic gameplay, but has an engaging story and tons of replay value. My only small complaint is I wanted to spend even more time in this world, and would have loved some sort of endless rogue mode. But that said, even if you never heard of the original, all strategy fans still owe it to themselves to check out this amazing adventure.

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Jul 18, 2023

As someone who’s constantly striving for novelty in gaming, I really wanted to give LISA: Definitive Edition a higher score. But sadly, the game’s perplexing and unpredictable combat, combined with huge difficulty spikes, made that impossible. With that in mind, there’s still a really fascinating and darkly compelling story here and some unique gameplay elements. If you live for strange and unique experiences, you need to pick up LISA: Definitive Edition right now. Just prepare for the unexpected in this harrowing adventure.

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4 / 5.0 - Garlic
Jul 6, 2023

I honestly found Garlic a joy to play, steep challenge and all. While the game may be a little intimidating to some, I found it quite engaging. It features a diversity of content, crazy challenges, great visuals, and a style that was quite unlike anything in recent years. If you’re not worried about dying a few dozen times, I’d say any fan of platformers or old-school games should give this a try.

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3 / 5.0 - DOOMBLADE
Jun 13, 2023

I really hate dunking on a cute, creative Metroidvania like DOOMBLADE, but I feel it just fails to make the game approachable and enjoyable. Much as I wanted to get lost in this dark, humorous world, the core mechanics never got more intuitive or fun, making the entire experience a slog. That said, there’s definitely a great game in here somewhere for those willing to push through the pain to find it.

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May 28, 2023

Honestly, I had no idea what to expect from Pulling No Punches. I’ve played a lot of beat ’em ups, and in recent years very few have made an impression. But this one absolutely did. While the game’s themes and the narrative’s brash nature may offend some, I find the game a breath of fresh air. It combines a unique visual style with dynamic combat, amazing bosses, and plenty of reasons to keep playing, especially with a group of friends. If this is the first project from BrainDead Broccoli, I’m eager to see what their encore presentation might be.

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4 / 5.0 - Bat Boy
May 25, 2023

If you had told me one of my favorite retro adventures in a long time would be sports-themed, I would have called you a filthy liar. But it’s true that Bat Boy is one of the best games I’ve played in a long time. Though the adventure is relatively short, with only one ending, and can feel occasionally overwhelming, it’s also well-crafted and fun. I spent a good 7 hours with the game, though you can probably beat it in less if you don’t replay stages or go for completion. It’s not a perfect experience, but it’s a worthy one, and I hope this isn’t the last adventure for Ryosuke and his merry band of athletes.

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May 20, 2023

So once again, I’ve tried another deckbuilder, only to come out disappointed. Three Kingdom: The Journey isn’t a terrible game, and there’s kernels of greatness that could grow into something much better. That will just depend on Senmu Studio putting in the time to fix the translation and tweak the game balance. Until that happens, this is just one of many frustrating deckbuilder experiences.

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May 19, 2023

Put simply, Cyber Citizen Shockman is a peculiarity of a retro game. Though I appreciate it being brought to new audiences some 30 years later, I can’t say it holds up very well. My hope is that the series grew over time and got much improved, since I know Ratalaika is bringing other games from the franchise to the West. But if you’re looking for an amazing retro experience, you’ll probably be disappointed with it.

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While it’s true that Bend the Roo’les is a pretty affordable experience and one that’s easier to recommend, it still has its share of problems, both in terms of glitches and bugs, but also in terms of unbalanced game design. But if you still want to take your chances and spend more time in the Kao the Kangaroo universe, you might still find some limited enjoyment here.

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Apr 28, 2023

I had hoped I would find another amazing roguelite in Mr. Sun’s Hatbox. But between the hardcore stealth component and the persistent glitches I encountered, I found the game more of a chore than a delight. While there are plenty of folks that may still enjoy the game, it’s a much harder sell until those nagging issues are patched out.

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4 / 5.0 - Varney Lake
Apr 27, 2023

Ultimately, I had a great time with Varney Lake. The story is well told and features a surprising amount of replay value. While I personally didn’t love the mini-games, they don’t do much to detract from the experience. If you’re a fan of tales of woe and love reading good stories, give this one a shot. It’s incredibly affordable and very enjoyable.

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