Category: Reviews

Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus (Saturn) – is this biological or mechanical warfare?

It’s been a while, readers. But I’m back. That’s right, the PhD is over. Submitted and awaiting viva! Throughout these past few months, I haven’t stopped playing games entirely. Still, my enjoyment of life in general has increased dramatically now, and that extends to games too. After listening to a recent Retronauts episode about the Gradius series, I decided to dust off my copy of the expansively named Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus for the trusty Sega Saturn. I’d always been curious, so why not try these spin-offs of a beloved series?

Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus is a collection of three arcade games, namely Salamander, Life Force, and Salamander 2. The former two, which I’ll cover first, are variations on the same basic game released within a year of one another in 1986-7. Salamander 2, by comparison, released almost ten years later in 1996, and is a more modern iteration on the series formula. These games all riff on similar level themes, bosses and structure, many of these themselves nabbed from the Gradius series. For instance, every game alternates between horizontal and vertical scrolling stages, and contains a mix of biological and sci-fi themed stages. Continue reading

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Rule of Rose (PS2): A loyal dog, a princess, and a rusty steel pipe…

A good horror experience will ask the important questions: what is the nature of evil? Is death ever truly final? What kind of hospital needs a zodiac sign puzzle-operated door? Amongst the various preoccupations of the horror genre is a longstanding fasination with children. Children are scary precisely because we expect purity and innocence from them, and yet they exhibit many of our worst traits unfiltered (cruelty, jealousy, narcisscism, idleness, fickleness…). I didn’t know I had been waiting for a game that explored the psychological dimensions of young girls’ friendships… until I played Rule of Rose. Continue reading

Tensei Megami Boobei – everything wrong with Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE (Wii U)

Breasts are fascinating, aren’t they. You know something else that’s fascinating? Japanese idol culture. And the fact that both are front and centre (with the help of multiple push up bras) in this Shin Megami Tensei/Fire Emblem crossover makes for a boring, big boobed monster. I hate Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE. Over the past few weeks it has become my most hated game of all time – I call it Tensei Megami Boobei because a) I’m trying to swear less, and b) it’s a game composed of IDOL BOOBS. Continue reading

Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)

Videogames have found a wealth of inspiration from the first and second world wars, often adding their own quirky takes on the stories of hope and tragedy that emerge from these seismic historical events. (I’m curious to play the Shadow Hearts series, for instance!) Valkyria Chronicles riffs heavily on WWII – it is set in an alternative universe where you fight as the small country of Gallia, stuck between two warring world powers…

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Walkthrough not optional: replaying Alundra (PS1)

Lack of free time much? Lately, absolutely. But thankfully I have had just enough free space to get in some time with Alundra. Now, I did write a review of Alundra waaay back in 2014 based on my own memories of the game, but at this point it’s been almost 10 years since I actually played the game at great length. Great length indeed – this game is huge! Anyway I’m pleased to report that Alundra has won me over all over again. Continue reading

Shitty platforming in Ninja Gaiden Black (Xbox)

These past few weeks I’ve become very intimate with the Game oveR screen in Ninja Gaiden Black on the original Xbox. I was already aware of its reputation of being hard as nails. What I wasn’t expecting is the plaforming, which is… utter shit. It pains me to say it, because platforming is not a huge part of this game – 10% of the levels? 5%? – but so far I’ve come across several platforming challenges where the game has taken more than its fair share of the piss.

Look, I get it. It’s trying to look cool, to be Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, which came out just a few months before Ninja Gaiden. And there are moments when Ninja Gaiden pulls it off. But there are moments that are just plain awful. Continue reading