Akai Katana [Xbox 360] – Review

It’s amazing what comes into your mind when you just stop and think, huh? For instance, just a few nights ago I was thinking about Akai Katana, the bullet hell shoot ‘em up I’d been playing on the Xbox 360. I first dabbled with it back in September, after thrilling sessions with Mars Matrix caused me to reevaluate the intimidating subgenre of shoot ‘em ups. That first session was a euphoric experience, full of lights, sounds, and unconscious reflexes, and I wasn’t even doing very well.  It was a lot like losing my virginity! And like that pivotal event, once it was over, I knew I wanted to experience it again.

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Sword of Vermilion [Sega Genesis] – Review

Although my playthrough of Phantasy Star II sputtered to an end well before that game’s completion, my appetite for an older JRPG hadn’t been satiated. There was no shortage of such game on the Sega Genesis Classics compilation I was playing, and with most of them still new to me, I decided to stick with it for the time being. Continuing on with the next entry in the Phantasy Star series – Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom – was an option, but I went ahead and placed it on my backlog. Instead, having learned that Phantasy Star II was the first JRPG released on the Genesis, I thought I’d follow it up with the next chronologically released JRPG (available on this compilation). That game, which debuted half a year later, was Sword of Vermilion.

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Picross: Lord of the NAzarick [Switch] – Review

I won’t lie. After more than forty hours with Picross: Lord of the Nazarick, I still have no idea what’s up with Overlord, the game’s underlying source material. In fairness, I’ve been slowly whittling away the more than 500 picture crossword puzzles for over a year, so of course the brief text conversations that occurred at the beginning of a particular character’s section didn’t stick with me. And hey, who cares anyway? My original intent wasn’t to familiarize myself with Overlord, it was to find a new well of Picross puzzles to solve at bedtime and on that account, it was a… well, a mundane success.

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Phantasy Star II [Sega Genesis] – Review

If you’ve read a few of my reviews, you know I often mention my backlog. I’ve made a concerted effort to work through the treasure trove of games I own or have always wanted to play the last few years, and it’s been a fulfilling process.

It wasn’t too long ago that I completed Phantasy Star, many years after first playing it. Thanks to a number of enhancements that allowed the player to determine how much they valued their time, the SEGA AGES release of Phantasy Star proved to be an enjoyable way to finally roll credits. Well naturally, that set me up to play Phantasy Star II.

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Growl [Arcade] – Review

I don’t know that I’d call Growl a good game, but man is it great.

Originally released into arcades in 1990 courtesy of Taito, a friend and I happened upon it last weekend while dabbling with AtGames’ Legends Gamer Pro. A classic beat ‘em up with middling gameplay, Growl would fit right in amongst a police lineup (or an identity parade, as I just learned it was called across the pond) of contemporaries. Nonetheless, we plowed through it in about a half-hour, won over by the numerous absurdities.

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In the Hunt [PlayStation] – Review

I think it’s safe to say that when Metal Slug launched in 1996 it put recently minted developer Nazca Corporation on the map in a big way. It wasn’t their first effort as a team though, more like their major label debut. And like your favorite band’s major label debut, it was an effort produced after years of honing their craft. In their case, that was with games developed for Irem like Undercover Cops, GunForce II, and In the Hunt.

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Metal Slug Anthology [PlayStation 4] – Review

Last week was pretty great, and not just because I played through a different Metal Slug game each day. No, it was pretty great because I spent the week with my three month old son. My wife’s FMLA was scheduled to end and accordingly, we had planned for me to use up some accrued vacation time to prolong daycare one more week, and you know, get some quality time with our little tree frog. I had taken off the week when he was born, and of course we had plenty of bonding time in the evenings and on weekends when my wife would get a break, but nonetheless, spending so much unbroken time with him was immensely fulfilling. At this stage in his development, he seemed to make noticeable improvements with his motor skills daily; and I may be a little biased, but everything he does is so fascinating!

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Alienation [PlayStation 4] – Review

Who else but Housemarque could’ve perfectly melded arcade-inspired twin-stick shoot ‘em up gameplay with class-based multiplayer, RPG character progression, and an addictive loot system? The Helsinki-based developers are after all, in their own words, the torchbearers of the classic arcade game ethos. They’ve been riffing on Asteroids since the early 1990s with their Stardust series, paid homage to Defender with Resogun, the best title to play on the PlayStation 4 at launch, and even collaborated with Eugene Jarvis, the man behind Defender and a few more of the most iconic arcade games of all time, on 2017’s Nex Machina. Fast-paced, responsive, good feeling gameplay is at the core of their best works, some of which represent my favorite games of the last couple of console generations. And now, after a few dozen hours with it, I can add Alienation to that list.

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Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection & Retro-Bit’s Wireless Genesis Controller – Review

After cleaning up the trophies in Tokyo Jungle and Blue Toad Murder Files, I went back through my partially played PlayStation 3 history to see if there were any other trophy lists I could mop up somewhat quickly. I was on a roll and figured I would keep trophy hunting before devoting serious time to something else, like Suikoden III. After all, whether my friends realize it or not, we’re in a never-ending competition to obtain trophies, achievements, etc. I eventually decided upon Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. The prospects of unlocking the platinum trophy didn’t seem too daunting, and to boot, it’d give me an excuse to purchase one of the Retro-Bit 2.5 GHz Genesis controllers I’d been salivating over.

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Tokyo Jungle [PlayStation 3] – Review

When I think of Sony’s Japan branch, I think of all the oddball titles they’ve made in collaboration with smaller studios. Games like Rain, Mister Mosquito, or Tokyo Jungle.

Developed by Crispy’s, a seemingly now defunct developer based in Tokyo’s Chūō ward, Tokyo Jungle was published for the PlayStation 3 on June 7, 2012, with western releases following in September of that year. The middle release of their output, it followed MyStylist, their self-described “fashion life support tool” which remained exclusive to Japan following its February 2008 release for the PlayStation Portable. And to my knowledge, their 2014 endless runner Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime’s Longest Day, made in collaboration with Grasshopper Manufacture, remains their last published work. Oh, and they also revamped Tokyo Jungle for mobile devices and the PlayStation Vita, although that version is shamefully unavailable to play anymore.

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