Continuing our regular new feature with quick-fire reviews and impressions of what I’ve been playing this week, old and new and a bit of both…

This has been a very big week in horizontal shooters for me! First up, I discovered Deathsmiles, a very gothic, occult-infused bullet-hell arcade shooter by Cave in 2007 that’s simply gorgeous, and its Castlevania-esque soundtrack does it no harm either! Forced me to finally get MAME going on my MacBook, then immediately started knocking on the doors of Thunder Force AC and P-47 as my favourite shooter ever! It’s that good! It’s also on the way more legitimately too, and my coincidence we got the scoop when the news also broke this week!

And it’s possibly only from lack of time spent playing it so far that I’m not saying the same about Schildmaid MX from my friend and Video Wizard Michiel Kroder’s HitP Studio. I’m still getting to grips with its Jaeger mode for bullet-hell babies, but there’s a bunch of more frantic modes for veterans, and everyone’s getting a wonderfully catchy soundtrack against some often-breathtaking 2D visuals. Oh yeah, it’s also one of the most exhilarating games I’ve ever played!

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed my annual play-through of Super Castlevania IV, this time on the SNES Classic Mini for that authentic controller vibe. Not much new to report – still looks and sounds gorgeous, still mostly plays fair, and I’d still live in that game if I could. Assuming my place in Silent Hill wasn’t available! Also beat Splatterhouse 2 on Mega Drive for the first time, albeit with the help of its levels-earned passwords, which I think still counts, but did then beat the original game again on PC-Engine well within its allotted five credits!

Also tried some new stuff on Xbox Game Pass. Nogunz: Doppelgänger Edition is an unforgiving black and white pixel art platformer that’s not as much fun as it likes to make out. Project Wingman is a marginally more fun flying combat not-sim that very quickly becomes less engaging than its missiles. Pick of the bunch was Unpacking though, a space management game that has you unpacking boxes as you move your way through life. Very relaxing and thoughtful, although I did tire of organising women’s underwear drawers before it ended!

That will do us for this week. On Retro Arcadia next week we might finally get that dive into Hunter Patrol on Commodore 64 I promised last week that got hijacked by my review of the wonderful new ZX Spectrum match-three Vegetables Deluxe… Or we might get a review of the equally wonderful Gynoug, a Mega Drive classic about to get the Nintendo Switch treatment (that we also had a news feature on) Or maybe both if I’m feeling generous! Until then…