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…
As much as I’ve enjoyed really getting serious about playing Mushihimesama on Nintendo Switch for many hours over the course of the whole month, it was only when I dipped my toe into the next game in my schmup for dummies odyssey, Espgaluda II, also on Switch, this week that I realised the one thing it’s missing… For all the gorgeous forest-floor graphics, mesmerising bullet patterns and, in time, the satisfaction of elegantly facing-off against its crazy insect enemies, there’s no real moments of exhilaration, where even after literally two games on Espagaluda II (or equally a previous months’ worth of Batsugun), it’s full of it! That said, I’m still not quite done with it yet, with a few too many credits being lost to a couple of late-stage enemy formations to call it “finished” but I reckon a few more days and I’ll be going through the same process with Espgaluda II.
I have been playing another shoot ‘em up for the first time this week, Banshee, and actually I think it’s the first Amiga game I’ve ever really played of my own accord rather than on a friend’s machine in the late eighties! This one’s from 1994 though, a system exclusive as far as I know, and while its steampunk meets World War II theming might draw comparisons with 1943 or Flying Shark in particular, I’m finding it very forward-thinking in terms of enemy design and behaviour. Some really cool graphical stuff going on too, with my favourite so far being the oppressive rain effects that make just staying airborne feel like a slog before you even think about getting ambushed out of nowhere!
Moving to horizontally-scrolling shooters, and this time a 1992 arcade exclusive, R-Type Leo, which I think was the last one of the series to get an arcade release. Anyway, in my opinion it’s also the most welcoming of the R-Types, possibly because strictly speaking it doesn’t really feel like R-Type, but it’s definitely the best looking, with some really spectacular cosmic backgrounds… Shame the soundtrack stinks so much – I can’t quite put my finger on where I’ve heard music like this playing before; somewhere poncey, no doubt, but let’s just call it modern elevator jazz! Very good game though, with trademark big and imaginative bosses and some really hectic gameplay once you get beyond stage two, where things aren’t quite so welcoming anymore!
From unwelcoming to slightly less bewildering, after thirty hours or so I think I’m starting to get to grips with Elden Ring! I haven’t progressed the story at all this week, but have had a wonderful voyage of relentless discovery as I’ve tried to methodically travel the areas of the map I’ve uncovered so far, as well as some of those bordering them. There’s still loads of stuff I’m picking up that I have no idea how to use, and at some point I’ll actually go into my inventory and see what all this stuff I’m carrying does, but apart from that I think I’m getting to grips with the main mechanics, and have a plan of action for where I’m going next and next and next, and I’m also developing a decent eye for what I’m not ready to mess with yet! Still good stuff!
Last up this week, although it is also a regular ongoing occurrence, I’ve been totally sucked in again by one of my top three racers of all time, Virtua Racing. It was a favourite on my brother’s Mega Drive, but my Switch is telling me I’ve now spent sixty hours reacquainting myself with every inch of those three perfectly designed tracks, now brilliantly remastered on there from the original arcade version. While my best times might have slipped into top 500 on the global leaderboards rather than top 100 where they were in the months after it first came out, I’m still happily trying to shave hundredths of seconds off of them, and if I’m not wishing I was playing Elden Ring when I’m supposed to be doing something else, then I’m wishing I’m playing this again!
That’s the lot for this week. I’m looking forward to properly getting to grips with Espgaluda II next week, and I’ve also got a bit of a hankering for some more Silent Hill too, so more on those here I’m sure next Sunday, but in the meantime on Wednesday we’ll be diving headlong into Journey on PlayStation 3. That is retro now, right? See you there to argue it out!