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 a footnote to the last few weeks playing Mushihimesama on Switch, I mentioned previously that the only slight negative I could level at it was that it wasn’t especially exhilarating compared to similar stuff like Batsugun or DoDonPachi. This week I did finish off my hardcore month with it by playing a bit of Maniac mode on the original arcade version, and it would be remiss or me not to mention that I now know where its exhilaration was hidden all along! Just the right side of overwhelming, and I was just about getting to stage two without losing a life, so once I’m a bit more proficient with this bullet hell stuff I think I’ll be back!

In the meantime, next up on YouTube’s Schmup Junkie’s journey for beginners that I’m loosely following is Espgaluda II, where I’ve finally been able to get serious after dabbling since I bought it on Switch a couple of weeks ago. This is another Cave bullet hell arcade shooter, launched in 2005, though this is based on the later Xbox 360 Black Label release, offering a bunch of new play modes including Novice, which is why we’re here. That said, I was clearing that mode in a single credit pretty consistently before too long, so I’ve jumped to the original version and that’s got exhilaration in spades! Amazingly I’m not doing too badly with that either, and have even shared a rare video of my exploits, but as with Mushihimesama, the plan is to spend the month working towards getting to the end with as many credits as the coins in my pocket would have bought in the arcade, so I’ll report back again next time!

I have my friends Michiel and Ben at The Video Wizards Podcast to thank for switching me on to Growl, and if you don’t know them, check it out – a monthly podcast about the arcade games of the 1980s and 1990s and their cultural context by two survivors of the scene, and it’s generally about seven hours long, so no doubt you’ll get your money’s worth from two of the funniest and most likeable absolute experts you could ever wish to meet. Anyway, Growl, and it turned out it was also lying undiscovered on my Taito Legends 2 collection on PlayStation 2, but then it also turned out that might not be where I wanted to be playing it…

Right, according to Go Straight, the wonderful new beat ‘em up bible from Bitmap Books (which I’ll also try and review here sometime soon), that version is censored and missing the exploding bodies. And that’s an outrage, so MAME it is! Apart from that, we’re also told that it comes from 1991, where evil poachers have stolen animals from a peaceful wildlife preserve, so it’s up to a squad of fighting park rangers to win them back. You can read the rest yourself, but for what it might lack in finesse, it makes up for by being totally bonkers! I’m having loads of fun with this, and the massive crowds of enemies, the brutality of some of the ground-pounds, the chaos of a load of rampaging deers, the chaos of a gaggle of miniskirted enemies emerging from a tank, the attention to detail when you take down one of your miniskirted enemies…

Another arcade game I’d never played before, and another that might lack finesse but that should never be a reason to not have fun! I’ve really got quite hooked on this – it’s Snowboard Championship by Gaelco in 1997, which I don’t think ever appeared anywhere outside of the arcades. It’s top-down and side-scrolling almost rail-racing where you’re mostly just reacting to turns and obstacles, much like the 1000 Miglia or World Rally games but on snow. And it’s great! You can really feel the edges of the board on the snow, and the more you feel it the more likely you are to beat the increasingly vicious timer. Like Growl, it’s now on the list to deep-dive here sometime soon, so watch this space!

There’s also been more Elden Ring, but mostly more exploring the map and staying out of trouble, so instead we’ll close today with my new toy, The A500 Mini Amiga console, which finally turned up a couple of days ago as you read this. Unless you’re not reading it then! Anyway, this is the first time I’ve been near anything Amiga of my own, and first impressions are it’s a great piece of kit, with having both a mouse and authentic controller included a particular highlight. Being able to fire up your own choice of games is another though, and while there’s no doubt we’ll have a more in-depth look at some of the 25 included shortly, playing Banshee and Badlands from a USB stick on here for the first time has been pretty special too!

That will do us for now, even though I have actually been playing a load of other stuff I’m not allowed to talk about yet for the review you’re going to read here next week… Which is a little strange considering it’s for Taito Milestones on Nintendo Switch and most of it is about forty years old, but the glamour of the embargo is not to be sniffed at, so see you here for that as soon as we’re allowed!