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…
Would you believe I’ve been playing a brand new game? The original Race Driver GRID on PlayStation 3 is one of my all-time favourite racers, with its world of tracks, intense competition and that pioneering rewind feature. The second game was alright too, then I skipped the third, and 2019’s GRID was ultra-polished but a bit too busy for my liking. This week, ten hours of GRID Legends appeared on EA Play on Xbox Game Pass, and first impressions are similar – looks and plays incredible but there’s a load of guff getting in the way of the racing, and I reckon that from ten minutes in onwards I was pressing skip as much as accelerate. There’s loads to do, trademark variety and the races can be chaotic and really thrilling. And some of the tracks – especially those in very recognisable cities – are simply gorgeous. If you’re okay with all the ornaments, you’ll probably love it, but I reckon ten hours free trial and the original on PS3 will do me, thanks.
After being close to ditching it here last week, I decided one more go on Xbox Game Pass action-platforming rogue-lite Skul: The Hero Slayer just to make sure I wasn’t missing something that was hindering my progress, and I’m not sure what I did or if that one more go was all it needed, but suddenly I was beefed up, had a roadmap and was striking out on some big runs, which in turn unlocked even more. Getting to a big, big boss and finally running down his energy down to zero just before mine did, only for it to completely refill and then batter me was a bit deflating, but now I know I get can some persistent upgrades I’ll keep going because being fun was never its problem!
How about another racer but a proper stinker for a change? NASCAR 21: Ignition has been free to try on Xbox Games With Gold for a few days, and I like a bit of that when it’s on TV so had a pop, but one race told me I was better off going back to the dreadful Days of Thunder on Atari ST… It might move at one frame every two seconds, but at least I didn’t have to keep changing to cockpit view in practice then qualifying and then the race on that, and it didn’t have a freaky-looking uncanny valley crew chief’s oversized head right inside the car window and right in your face every time you want to get out onto the track. It doesn’t look much better than Days of Thunder either – Free Play Days is still too high a price for this crap!
I think I’m ready to move on from focussing so much attention on arcade schmup masterclass Batsugun Special Version, not that I’m ever likely to leave it alone for long now I’ve found it, properly tuned into it over the course of this month, and can now consistently see the end in a respectable handful of credits; the last few stages are a proper thrill-ride too! Beautiful game, and I’m sure a future all-time favourite. Speaking of which, Deathsmiles was next on Schmup Junkie’s schmup for beginners list, but the hopefully-not-regrettably expensive limited edition physical release for Nintendo Switch will hopefully arrive in a few weeks, and it’s not like I’m not familiar with that already, so I’m jumping to Mushihimesama and it’s novice mode on there instead, and we’ll have a look at that next time!
When The Cuphead Show arrived on Netflix last week and was as good as it was, it was inevitable that I’d be going back to the sadistic, surreal and absolutely stunning game that spawned it, and I still hate it just as much as I love it! The brutal difficulty is just how I remembered it, but I was a bit surprised at how quickly the perfect controls became second nature again, allowing you to focus on the relentless trial and error then repeating over and over before you can beat the bit you’re on and do it all again on the next. Not sure I need to see it through to the end again to get my fill this time around, but this thing is timeless and won’t be going anywhere if I ever want more!
Quick preview of what’s coming here next week before we part ways – we’re covering my life with Robocop’s arcade incarnation, as well as the ZX Spectrum and Atari ST ones. And I’m sure the movies might get a look in too. See you then!