Metal: Hellsinger was an adrenaline-fuelled experience that left me with a smile and a sore neck each time I turned the game on. It managed to not only present me with a visceral and focused First Person Shooter, but also my current musical obsession. The gameplay gave me no middle ground in the best way and pushed me to play better with each trial and difficulty setting. Initially, if I couldn’t catch the beat I’d play very poorly, but once it clicked with me I’d find myself headbanging, foot stomping, and playing with all the ferocity of Slayer possessed by Lucifer Morningstar himself. Metal: Hellsinger is quite possibly the game I’ve needed ever since Doom Eternal’s curtains closed and I for one throw the devil horns into the heavens at the prospect of more to come.
Radiant Silvergun is a legendary title for a reason. It's addictive, it rewards your time, and it offers players an experience that initially would seem quite routine at first, but it isn't long until the depth shines through and it has its hooks in you. Treasure is an iconic developer, and with titles like this under their belt, you can see why. It's a perfect blend of home and arcade experience that deserves to stand next to the better-known Ikaruga as an all-time great. It shouldn't just be famous for its price tag.
SD Gundam Battle Alliance is a good action RPG wrapped in even better Gundam fanservice wrapping paper and served up in a way that makes sharing the treat the best way to experience it. It can be a little grindy, a little cute, and displays some practices that I just can't get behind. Despite that, the core gameplay and fan service are just too good for me to refuse that itch of "one more go".
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R is a much better fighting game than it was on its original release. The various gameplay tweaks and the increase to 60fps on current-gen and PC bring this underrated title to life. Unfortunately lackluster online multiplayer and lack of new characters do knock this down somewhat, but if you haven't already owned the original and are newly into JoJo you'd be downright bizarre to sit this title out.
Arcade Paradise is a fantastic attempt at producing a simulation slash compilation title, but unfortunately has a few failings which stop it from being a World Warrior. The lack of punishment should you choose to neglect the Laundromat gives the game a real half-baked feel. Beyond that, the fact there isn't any representation for key arcade genres such as Fighting Games and Rail Shooters puts a downer on anyone whose arcade experience wasn't dominated by Match 3 puzzle games and Missile Command. Arcade Paradise is still a fun title and is an excellent stepping stone to what could be a true arcade gamer's paradise. It's part simulation, part retro, and full neon-soaked good time. Sadly, it just doesn't simulate the arcade experience I had and at times feels as deep as the shallow end of the shower.
Thymesia is a great idea, but it feels like it couldn't decide if it wanted to be its own thing or march to the beat of the Souls Drum. This hampers the product, alongside the loose feeling, lack of feedback in combat, and non-appearance of voice acting. In a post-Elden Ring world, we need to be looking at innovative and unique additions to a genre that has seemingly reached its apex. Sadly Thymesia seems to be solely carried by dated and constructive design, alongside an interesting theme.
Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium is a fine compilation title without the celebratory features, and a rather mixed bag of games on hand. Fortunately, being able to buy them separately rather than strictly in bundles can help you navigate the wheat from the chaff. The lack of online multiplayer harms this package much like the previous one, and I'm still unsure why it required a completely separate 'launcher' when everything but the games are the same.
Live A Live is a fantastic experience that any JRPG fan should try for at least a few chapters before writing off. It's still a unique and fresh title after nearly 2 decades and provides as much emotion in its shorter run time as some 80-plus-hour titles. While I've held back on some of the surprises the game has on offer, rest assured the game has enough diversity and allure to keep anyone engaged. Live a Live is an essential title that has finally broken through the western release barrier.
It's always fun when Kunio leaves the streets to take on other roles. River City Saga: Three Kingdoms is certainly no exception. This is a much stronger outing for the River City franchise than the recent River City Girls Zero. Its overall quality and fun combat have skyrocketed the game firmly into one of my favorites from the franchise. While there isn't enough here to convert the naysayers, anyone who's enjoyed previous titles or even just the genre could find quite a lot to love about this title. Here's hoping that we see even more River City Saga titles in the future.
It's hard to recommend Horgihugh and Friends when I had such high expectations dashed. It's not a bad game per se, but it's full of annoying cheap deaths and the visual department doesn't hit where it needs to. It certainly isn't my "go-to" cute 'em up, but there is certainly is worse on the market. Sorry, Horgi - you're not the best boy.
Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series is a brilliant little package for fans and newcomers alike. That said, the latter may have to wade through some of the more basic stuff before they hit on why Klonoa has such a cult following. The graphics and funky physics paint a deceptive picture that the game is "budget" or "cheap", but it's simply a faithful remastering of two titles that are still very much rooted in the late 90s to early 00s. The same titles that have so much heart it would make the Kingdom Hearts crew green with envy. The lack of extras outside of the DLC and the omission of the GBA titles does mean that the title slightly misses the mark, and it isn't the most original title around nowadays, but the cheap price point and overall charm win the day in the end.
Final Vendetta is a brilliant time capsule of an era currently making a comeback. While it doesn't exactly move the needle in innovation, it does provide fans of the genre a much-needed booster of brawling fun. Deliciously 90s in all the right areas, this is certainly one for the retro enthusiasts who like a bit of a challenge when they roam the mean streets dishing out some justice.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is a game for and by series fans, but also doubles up as one of the most fun beat 'em ups around. It even edges out mighty titles like Streets of Rage 4 and Scott Pilgrim with its intuitive controls and 6-player multiplayer. To put it into perspective, I am a fan of the Turtles but haven't followed them since I was a child. From start to finish, I was grinning from ear to ear as nostalgia washed over me and my love of beat 'em ups was catered to with its addictive gameplay. While it's more of an essential purchase for fans of the Ninja Turtles and provides long-time fans with references and nostalgia by the boatload, there is enough fun to be had here to not only justify its price tag but make it feel like that feel-good game of the summer. It's one where you can sit down either by yourself or with friends and really have a great time every time you play.
Biomotor Unitron is yet another curiosity in the NeoGeo Pocket Color library much like Card Fighters’ Clash and Big Bang Pro Wrestling. Fortunately, it falls in the more playable and enjoyable court of the former than the latter, which while unique and nice-looking didn’t play too well. If you’re a fan of mechs, don’t want to spend too much, and have 10 hours spare, then you can’t do much better than Biomotor Unitron.
Solid fun gameplay, outstanding performance, and those timeless Nintendo visuals make Mario Strikers: Battle League Football yet another fun Nintendo Switch exclusive title that can convert the masses to pick up and play sports. Even the ones like myself that detest the source game it comes from!
It's hard to say that Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising isn't worth the small asking price of £12.99 when it feels more like an indie Metroidvania than a taster of what's to come in Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising - at least from a world-building aspect. On the other hand, I just didn't find too much of the game enjoyable. It mostly boils down to inane tasks held together with weak combat and shallow exploration, along with very light city-building aspects. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising manages to land firmly as a middle-of-the-road title for me. While not a horrible game by any standard, it just did nothing to convert me to its cause. Unless you're extremely hyped for the main event, it might be worth picking up on a sale out of curiosity at best.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is an interesting time capsule from an era that wasn't actually a long time ago but feels like forever. It's a fun 8-hour romp as long as you turn your mind off and expect a somewhat budget feeling PS2 era title. Visually and in its gameplay it has started to show its age. It's a shame that the 360/PS3 version didn't make the jump. I feel these stand up to today's standards a little better than its Frankenstein of a baby brother. It's not got the legacy of Jedi Knight and it's not in the same league as Jedi Fallen Order, but there is still a decent bit of budget fun that can be found here. If nothing else, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is still miles better than its rushed-out sequel!
Cotton Fantasy is frankly my favorite Cute 'em Up I've played in years. The different character playstyles caught me off guard and I fell in love with the title so quickly. In the gameplay department, it does very little long and sets the standard of the series for the most part. If it took the omissions from Cotton Reboot for a potential sequel we could be looking at a G.O.A.T contender. Sadly the visuals do let the overall package down and I feel that may have done some damage to the stage designs. It's not enough to knock the title down but is something that could be easily addressed in a future title in the series. This Cotton anniversary stretch has been great and what better way to cap it all off with the best gameplay the franchise has seen? The only thing sweeter than Willows it seems is Cotton Fantasy!