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

Starting old-school, I’ve been breaking bricks with balls all over the place, and having a great time doing it! We start at the very beginning with Breakout and Super Breakout, which are both still crazy addictive if you can get the controls to play ball (literally), but they weren’t really designed for PS4 controllers! Moving into the eighties helps a bit, first with Arkanoid and it’s sequel on the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, then rotating into Krakout, where the C64 might have the polish but the Spectrum got a bit more of the fun. As usual! Slightly less fun once you’ve beaten its first two levels is Batty on there – for all the praise it gets, most people (me included!) have forgotten that it’s hard to the point of being pretty much unplayable beyond those! Anyway, it’s all in the interests of what will be our first post of 2022 here, so watch this space.

Sort of moving another decade forwards, I finally finished Hypnospace Outlaw, care of Xbox Game Pass, and if you like the sound of a slow-burn sleuth puzzler set in a deep and thoughtful simulation of the early internet, I can’t recommend it enough!

Apart from that, lots more Forza Horizon 5, and I did have a go at Halo Infinite multiplayer too. Not sure why though – I’m useless, and as a result don’t particularly enjoy that stuff. Moving about and shooting at things feels nice though, and it’s all looking a bit prettier than that original trailer, so things are looking up for the single player campaign when it eventually arrives!

Let’s finish with Haunted Castle, the outrageously difficult 1987 Castlevania arcade game! I’m planning on doing a proper feature on this, on the basis that I eventually have something other than stage one to talk about, but so far the stinky first boss is absolutely battering me every time, not least because I’ve got barely any life left when I get there. It’s brutal – a fast-depleting energy bar and insta-death from falls and the like. One life, no mercy! Always the same though, so I reckon a bit more practice and I’ll be all over stage two then who knows where!

Quick preview of what’s on the way here next week – we’re going to be deep-diving into my life with Pit-Fighter, the digitised fighter that blew everyone away in the early nineties arcades whatever anyone says about it now, but I’ve had a soft spot for it ever since. ZX Spectrum version aside, maybe…