The blend of all-out action, deep strategy, and Ancient's irreverent humour is as enjoyable as ever here, and smashing a huge castle-tank into evil things never stops being fun. Gotta Protectors: Cart of Darkness plays its story for laughs but the game itself is an expertly crafted challenge with lots to do and plenty more to keep coming back for.
There may not be many games in here, but they do cover a broad range of genres and most of them are still great fun to play today. It's just a shame Switch owners have already had access to the majority of them, with the exact same features, for years already. The glaring lack of any extra features make it hard to appreciate the significance of the more obscure or basic titles unless you're prepared to go off and do some homework, and there are some very obvious milestones missing for no reason other than it allows Taito to make more money by splitting the games across multiple collections.
Many of the avoidable snags found in GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon were solved by genre predecessors long before this game was announced. There is no doubt that in a few patches time this could be a fantastic game - but that's if Konami, which hasn't been in many gamer's good books for a long time, actually grants the development team the time and the funding to work on it. As it stands the game could end up being something special, the trouble is other similar Switch titles already are.
If you're going to release something titled Valis: The Phantasm Soldier Collection it's not unreasonable to expect it to contain a full complement of Valis games, even if only for one format. Unfortunately, those hoping for a one-stop Yuko (and friends) shop are going to be disappointed. What's here is delivered in a no-nonsense, serviceable fashion, and newcomers may well fall in love with the action heroine's slightly awkward games... only to find they're missing the final entry.
Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth doesn't take too long to beat - even the most curious/thorough/careful player is unlikely to go over the 10-hour mark - but when the adventure's this much fun and as densely packed with creativity, does it matter? At the end of it all you're far more likely to feel satisfied than short-changed, and Deedlit's tale is a surprisingly touching one regardless of how much or little you already know about Lodoss. If you're after something with the flavour of Symphony of the Night that doesn't feel like a shallow knock-off, this is a fine alternative.
Resurrection is arguably one of the best of its genre even after all these years and a lot of competition (plenty of it coming from developer Cave themselves). It’s relentlessly challenging, breathlessly inventive and exhilarating to play; an essential purchase for confirmed shmup fans. But it’s also one that needs you to do a lot of homework to get anything meaningful out of it.
Clockwork Aquario has been a long time coming, but it was definitely worth the wait. An obvious labour of love, this ill-fated arcade gem has been improbably recovered, restored, and reassembled, and it never feels like anything less than a carefully unearthed treasure that's been polished until it shines. It won't take long to beat - and it shouldn't, because a good 30-year-old arcade platformer is supposed to be short and sweet - but what the game lacks in length it more than makes up for in entertainment and raw creativity, with stages pitting you against everything from mechanical flying fish to a gigantic egg-dropping robo-penguin. It's the sort of game you come back to again and again because you want to rather than have to, and we feel lucky to have it.
As a small, short experience, it's not entirely without merit, but if you enjoy lightly randomised action then the Switch already has the likes of Enter the Gungeon, Dead Cells, and Hades for you to play. Heaven's Machine is sadly best left for collectors to keep safely sealed away.
Gynoug hasn’t quite got that special extra spark that turns a great game into a spectacular one, but even so it’s still a unique and thoroughly enjoyable thirty-year-old shmup capable of standing proudly next to any other sold on the eShop, and yet another affordable retro re-release sitting in that perfect middle ground between modern convenience and hardcore authenticity.
Cotton 2, Cotton Boomerang and Guardian Force are a lot of fun, and let down not by their age but the quality of these Switch ports. What should’ve been a complete no-brainer purchase for anyone looking for more arcade action is now something to carefully consider first and possibly wait for a sale or a patch. There are many other shmups — retro, arcade, and brand new — on Switch that are all more deserving of your hard-earned money.
Whatever the mode, there’s no doubt Gleylancer’s a brilliant 16-bit shmup. The game’s fantastic use of parallax scrolling adds not only speed but excitement to its varied eleven stages; taking you down through icy depths, weaving between small gaps in tight tunnels, slowly looping around a gigantic battleship, or hurtling through an asteroid field. The ways your Movers — the floating gun turrets that follow your ship — can behave are so different from one another they have a direct impact on how you tackle everything from “popcorn” enemies to end of level bosses, and the newfound flexibility of Modern Mode feels like the perfect twist on an already brilliant idea. Gleylancer is as fresh and thrilling as it’s ever been, only now it’s as authentic — or accessible — as you want it to be too.
Luckily for publisher Live Wire, its bare-minimum localisation work and stumble out of the online gate aren't destructive enough to drag the excellent Espgaluda II down too much, and underneath it all the game feels as fresh and well-designed as ever. The flexible risk/reward scoring system allows long-time fans to decide for themselves (to a certain extent) how much trouble they want to get into while still allowing newcomers enough leeway to enjoy an intense and visually spectacular shmup experience.
This is unlikely to be the Aleste collection anyone wanted. Those interested in the early days of Aleste will quickly notice the lack of the MSX2 games and the omission of Musha, Dennin (AKA: Robo), and Super Aleste will disappoint those fond of the most popular entries in the series. However, even without those, Aleste Collection still contains five great shmups and represents excellent value for money, especially when you consider this package costs much less than some second-hand cart-only auctions do for single games contained within it – and that's before you even consider GG Aleste 3's very welcome addition.