Tom Massey


41 games reviewed
72.3 average score
70 median score
78.0% of games recommended
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7 / 10 - Astronite
Nov 30, 2022

Astronite is a throwback game in a modern Metroidvania mould, and, owing to sharp design, map layouts, currency systems and ability upgrades, is an enjoyable experience. Its simple emphasis on platforming pitfalls and cavern negotiations feel more Metroid than 'Vania, and refreshing in a genre that usually follows the Japanese route of grinding for levels and magic. With a little effort, it reveals itself as a well-thought-out and competently-executed action adventure, with a few magic moments in its boss battles and NPC characters. Its black-and-white styling may not appeal to everyone, but it's easily recommended to those intrigued and is a nice companion for Gato Roboto fans looking for a steeper challenge.

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Neo Geo Pocket Color Selection Vol.2 is a perfectly able collection, albeit less enticing than the first volume. Several games in the library here - notably Card Fighters Clash, Mega Man Battle & Fighters, and Biomotor Unitron - have already received standalone releases on Switch eShop, which may well dissuade you from a purchase if you already own them. Die-hard fans of everything Neo Geo Pocket Color will likely enjoy getting stuck into what's here, but it's not a must-buy.

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Nov 12, 2022

There's nothing at all wrong with Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising in terms of concept. An arena battler set in the TV show's small world of dojos, shopping malls, schools and parks with a theme of recruiting a team on your way to a mega tournament is all well and good. But the quality is shockingly under par, and far poorer than the Switch hardware is capable of. One could argue being sloppy, confused, and trashy is very much akin to what the show is all about, but when we're transcending mediums into the realm of video gaming, half-assing it doesn't land the right kind of blow.

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That it's called 'The Anniversary Celebration' rather than 'collection' is a substitution of phrases that couldn't be more apt. With its smooth, fast, and perfectly-pitched interface, and rich, thoughtfully created content, Atari 50 really is an honouring of the company that founded the industry. It's true that its content is going to have a greater appeal to an older generation of gamers, to today's parents (and grandparents) who grew up in the whirlwind of the '70s and '80s arcade scene. For them, reliving moments and experiences that used to cost a pocketful of coins will be joyful. For others, understanding the appeal of a lot of these games will take work, and few of the titles outside of the Lynx and Jaguar catalogues are easy to pick up and play for the uninitiated. At the same time, Atari 50 is so thorough and engrossing a retro gaming tunnel, akin to exploring a virtual museum, that it transcends its target audience somewhat. For those interested in video gaming's history, the unearthing of the past, and for gamers not afraid of what today is considered rudimentary, there's a great deal of enjoyment to be had in this trip down memory lane.

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7 / 10 - Sophstar
Oct 27, 2022

That said, it's still a competently assembled title: smooth, clean, and enjoyable. What it lacks in gravity and bravado it makes up for in balanced scoring mechanics and an interesting teleportation twist. While its Cadet Mode is its brightest spark, the main campaign shoots for the stars but falls just short of reaching them.

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Oct 18, 2022

Them's Fightin' Herds isn't entry-level stuff, and it's impressive that an indie developer has created something that professional teams take years to master. Soft and furry in appearance though it is, this is a robust and fleshed-out fighting game, and one that demands practice. It's challenging even on its default difficulty with AI that won't fall prey to simple or repetitive routines. While its story mode is engineered toward a particular fanbase, the wild combo-building demonstrates an excellent multiplayer experience. Thematically, its draw might be limited, but there's no real ceiling in its appeal to fighting game fans. While would have been nice to have had a few more characters out of the box and a little more invention in its world-building backgrounds, if you're here for pure fighting game action, don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

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Sep 19, 2022

Clarifying Radiant Silvergun's place in the genre is trivial in light of its achievement. It remains, despite its uncompromising nature, deservedly celebrated. The game wears its hardcore credentials on its sleeve, and its depth in both technical and artistic terms is astonishing. As stimulating and rewarding as it is exhausting, it's a labour that has transcended not only the genre but the medium to some degree. Regardless of its difficulty - and in that difficulty, its lack of immediate connection - those who learn to fell the game proper can say they truly lived Radiant Silvergun. That's an experience worth fighting for.

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At $12.99, this package could have been slightly cheaper, primarily because Super Space Serpent SE is the main attraction and Perpetuum Mobile feels like a B-side bonus. Neither title is going to redefine your expectations of what an indie game can achieve, but if you enjoy classic score attack arcade games like Robotron, and can’t get enough of Minter-esque trippy audio-visual combinations, you’ll enjoy sinking a couple of hours into climbing the leaderboards — but probably not much more.

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6 / 10 - Restless Soul
Sep 1, 2022

While the banter has a certain amount of charm, for us it became wearisome somewhat quickly. There’s almost too much of it. You can’t ignore NPCs entirely — there are times when you need pointers — but most offer no useful information whatsoever, and are only there to serve up yet another ba-dum-tss moment. Developer Fuz, who appears in-game as a townsperson, clearly thinks of themselves as a witticist, and that’s fine — just be aware that if you tire of the humour, you’ll tire of the game.

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Aug 30, 2022

If you liked the previous Atari Recharged titles, Yars: Recharged presents another enjoyable diversion and interesting take on the theme. While not always as thrilling as it could be, the design overhaul still works well. That said, those who aren’t entirely intrigued by the formula may find it repetitive and ultimately tiresome. This reimagined Atari catalogue would probably be better off as a compilation title rather than a segmented anthology. And who knows, that may still eventually come to pass.

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TMNT: The Cowabunga Collection is indisputably the best thing Konami has released in a long while, meeting all expectations and then some. Bar absent difficulty settings for the arcade games, it's an anthology that finally gets it totally right. Digital Eclipse and Konami have done the fans justice, offering a comprehensive library that doesn't hide content behind a paywall, while going above and beyond in terms of features and bonuses. With online functionality and rollback netcode being the icing on the cake, this is now the gold standard for retro collections. Capcom, pay close attention.

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Aug 9, 2022

Mega Man Battle & Fighters is an excellent Neo Geo Pocket Color package that is fairer and more playable in some ways than the arcade originals on which it's based. For fans of the Mega Man formula, there's lots here to learn and plenty of rewards to be gained from defeating each story's boss lineup. Getting to grips with each character's strengths and weaknesses mixes things up, and it's great fun to study and overcome the attack patterns of your adversaries. Sadly, it's hamstrung by a prominent and invasive continue option that many will struggle to ignore, and the localisation is non-existent, making it both cumbersome to get into and limited in terms of how much one can be absorbed by the experience.

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Aug 4, 2022

That said, the only real downside to Turrican Anthology Vol. 1 is the limited selection of games on offer. This is a series currently spanning two volumes, which some will rightly see as unceremonious enterprising. The Turrican games exist in so many formats and in so many guises, that it would have made sense to build the ultimate compilation and serve everyone at once, perhaps including obscurities like the PC Engine, original Commodore 64, or even Atari ST entries for the sake of completeness and preservation. As it stands, while a package that provides hours of gritty action gaming, its main drawback is its hefty price tag and meagre curation in respect of multiple volumes. Still, that soundtrack though.

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Aug 4, 2022

Mega Turrican represents one of the series highlights, and there’s a certain amount of intrigue in Super Turrican 2’s adjustment of the formula. The rest is largely recycled. The package has all the same awesome, tweakable features and options featured in Vol. 1 as well as continued bonuses in the form of galleries, jukeboxes, and a remastered soundtrack option. But the price for what’s on offer is somewhat lofty. As we mentioned in our review of Turrican Anthology Vol.1, there’s no real need to split these titles between two releases except to wring more money out of consumers. While the titles herein and the quality of the ports are generally excellent, the lack of unique content leaves something to be desired.

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Jul 14, 2022

As long as you're okay with its unreasonable lack of online functionality and screen filter niggles, there are hundreds of hours of fun to be had with Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium. 32 mostly excellent games and another historically notable preservation piece, it recalls the essence of what an arcade felt like. Achieving that feeling, however brief, will be enough to justify a purchase for those with an affinity for gaming's rich history.

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Once a technical marvel, Zero Tolerance Collection is now severely dated. Fans who live to relive days gone by might get a kick from diving back into the Planet Defense Corps facility, and the new Underground set of levels is a nice, if limited, bonus extra. But tweaks to provide an updated graphics option, improved frame rates, audio tracks, and true button remapping would have been greatly encouraging for existing fans and newcomers alike. As it is, this collection is largely just a ROM set thrown into a lacklustre zip file, with a frustrating level of non-effort.

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Jun 21, 2022

Capcom Fighting Collection does exactly what it sets out to do, and bar a few very minor presentational oversights, is a product with years of longevity. It's a shame to lose those bonus characters present in previous console releases, and you do need to consider what appeals to you when considering a purchase. If you want the best Darkstalkers collection, look no further. If you want to experience Red Earth and take it online, the time has finally arrived. Or, for Street Fighter II diehards, Anniversary Edition's modernised netcode really lets you be a world warrior.Bar Red Earth, however, this isn't the first time these games have been released, and it surely won't be the last. A purchasing decision comes down to how many times you have bought these titles before, how much time you spend on MAME (which has been a viable, albeit illegal, option for years) or whether or not you just want the most polished, accurate, easy-access fighting game experience to date, either at home on your TV or portably on the go. If you fall into the latter category, it's a no-brainer.

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Jun 17, 2022

Final Vendetta does an able job of using and enhancing tried and tested formulas of the past, and is great fun for either one or two players. Its brevity is ameliorated by its single-credit format; a bold but welcome move that makes learning to clear it rewarding for all the right reasons – but it's a setup some may struggle with. There's still room for experimentation in this genre with regard to original systems, and sadly Final Vendetta doesn't really attempt any of that, instead opting for more traditional '90s arcade fare – albeit with lots of variation in how you smack people around. If that's enough to tickle your fancy, you'll feel well-served by Bitmap Bureau's stab, but others might feel like they've walked this street before.

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Two years in the making, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is the best Turtles beat 'em up ever made, and a faster, better-looking, and more entertaining affair than even Streets of Rage 4. It looks delicious, sounds superb, and rekindles childhood memories beyond all expectation, time-warping you back to 1987. Its combat system is so much fun to mine that you feel compelled to keep coming back to try new strategies, and with its awesome multiplayer the experience evolves again and again. Like any beat 'em up, it does get repetitive as you enter the last third, but that's more a fault of the concept than the game. Our only regret is that we didn't use anywhere near enough puns in this review, so let's close by saying Shredder's Revenge is an unprecedented shell-ebration.

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May 30, 2022

For fans of Pac-Man and his historical pedigree, this is the best round-up yet, spanning decades and featuring his most notable titles. It's the kind of collection the current Wonder Boy release should have been. The arcade overworld is a nice touch, although the frame rate is a big letdown and really should have been ironed out. And, while you might spend a while tinkering and designing your arcade space, the attraction of the gimmick is ultimately short-lived. Presentation deficiencies aside, though, one can't really fault the comprehensiveness of the collection, nor the quality of the titles themselves (well, except Pac in Time). It's a Pac-festival, and while it certainly has limited appeal, it offers countless hours of gaming fun and an interesting historical insight into the yellow orb's evolution.

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