Time for our regular quick-fire reviews and impressions of what’s been on the go this week, old and new and a bit of both…

Bit slow this week because I’m still completely obsessed with early arcade bullet-hell shoot ‘em up Batsugun, and would you believe I’m actually getting alright at it! Still takes a few credits to see the end, but I’m now making it most of the way through on the first, and could virtually do the first three levels in my sleep – actually, I’ve been playing it so much I think that’s precisely what I am doing! It’s an absolutely beautiful game in all respects though, and the Special Version’s increasingly challenging loop mechanic for when you reach the end means there’s longevity there way beyond my capability no matter how much time I put in! Really loving this game and experimenting with the genre elsewhere too, especially Progear over on Switch, which I think I’ll be putting similar time into once it’s eventually time to move on from Batsugun…

Elsewhere on MAME I also became more briefly obsessed with Ninja Commando, a 1992 Neo-Geo vertical run and gun shooter that has you time travelling to what I think is three randomly ordered iconic eras after the first stage boss – the Stone Age, Feudal Japan and Ancient Egypt. The gameplay is loads of fun if not massively memorable, but it’s a looker whenever or wherever you end up, and has the best Tutankhamen death mask boss you’ll ever see in a game! Battered me the one time I met it though, and the Japanese boss is the only one I’ve managed to beat a couple of times so far, mainly because that seemed to be the most popular random choice so I had the most practice there… What with that and Batsugun I’m starting to talk like I know what I’m talking about too!

One more evening on Taiko no Tatsujin: The Drum Master! on Xbox Game Pass mopped up the last of the easy and normal difficulty song clears, a few hard ones I wanted to go back to and even a few in extreme mode (which I failed miserably). I’ve now done every song at least twice, unlocked all the extra songs I want, dressed up my little drum guy as a rock guitarist in our second Tutankhamen death mask this week, got him a voodoo doll mascot and bought the slogan “Squid Lover” for my retro dashboard name bar. And now it’s time to give my fingers a rest and consign this wonderful addition to the series to my 2022 game of the year shortlist, where it’s currently just a drum controller away from the top at this early stage!

I did also carry on with action-platforming rogue-lite Skul: The Hero Slayer, another recent arrive on Game Pass. Trouble is that I’ve now played for several hours without any persistent progress – there’s potentially some kind of upgrade behind the first boss(es), but it’s like you need some kind of upgrade before that to have any chance against them, and if that’s the case then it’s not obvious to me! These bosses aren’t especially sophisticated, just virtually impervious to any reasonable damage I’m currently capable of dishing out before I’m dead. And that might spell the end of it, which will be a real shame because it’s loads of fun otherwise!

Speaking of fun, this week at Retro Arcadia we’re going to be looking at Basketbrawl on Atari Lynx, which is exactly what it’s name suggests, and we’ll also have a quick look at its Atari 7800 predecessor, and as an added bonus we’ll also run through the Evercade VS console where I’ve mostly been playing it recently. See you then!