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.