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…

What on earth was I thinking when I decided to make an assault on Haunted Castle, the brutal Castlevania arcade game? Actually, once you’re past stage one – apart from a couple of insane difficulty spikes – it’s beatable, and ends with about the easiest Dracula you’ll find across the whole series! Looks great, sounds great, just a shame it’s so unwelcoming! Full feature on discovering that coming early in 2022, once I’ve regained what was left of my composure.

After putting myself through that, Noddy: A Day in Toyland on Game Boy Advance offered the exact opposite, mainly because it was aimed at five year olds, but I loved Noddy when I was five, and still got a kick out of its simple platforming and terrorising chickens in his car. The climax in the Dark Woods is still pretty scary too!

Exo One is a new to Game Pass sci-fi exploration game, with you controlling an alien ball thing as its obtuse drama slowly unfolds across huge, surreal and often stunning planetscapes. It’s kind of like my old mobile favourite Tiny Wings mashed-up with Journey, but unlike either of them it unfortunately starts dragging before you’re even halfway through its couple of hours duration. So nearly beautiful… It did lead me back to playing through Journey on PS4 again though, which is still one of the most beautiful games ever created!

Apart from that, more arcade Bubble Bobble than I’ve ever played before, slightly ruined by getting bogged down in its ridiculously deep high score mechanics, but still the same timeless gameplay that gave me so much joy on ZX Spectrum and Atari ST so many years ago! We should cover that in a bit more depth here soon, but not before Supertrux on ZX Spectrum, which I need to get good at if I’m going to have anything to say about it! Never realised that truck racing could be so punishing!

That’s all to come though! This week we’ll be discovering Splatterhouse 2 on Sega Mega Drive, as well as taking a tour of my favourite Friday the 13th movies! And if you’re really good boys and girls, we might also have a very special review of a very special side-scrolling action game, Clockwork Aquario. And it’s special because after never quite being released in 1992 by legendary arcade developer Westone, it then got lost for almost three decades, but it’s about to be brought back to life on Switch and PS4, and I might just have got my mitts on it!