Time for our regular quick-fire reviews and impressions of what’s been under the spotlight at Retro Arcadia this week, old and new and a bit of both… And now they’ve all got a number too!
My initial impressions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge here last week only became more effusive as I finished its story mode! I’ve now been through a second time with another unlockable character, which I won’t spoil, and the arcade mode with a third, and while I don’t think I prefer either to my original choice of Leonardo, there’s certainly a lot of depth to the superbly fluid combat. The environments remain varied and mostly creative throughout, with enemies taking genuinely hilarious advantage of each, whether carrying shopping bags through a mall, cooking in a TV studio kitchen or busy working behind desks in an office before they notice you and attack! The stages join together into a decent story that moves nicely through brief cutscenes, and the soundtrack similarly comes to life the further you go. Citizen Sleeper didn’t last long as game of the year so far! By the way, as we’re almost halfway through, we’ll have a look at where we are with that over the next couple of weeks too.
After that, as well as Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion and Citizen Sleeper all being plucked out of Xbox Game Pass over the last couple of weeks, having to fork out actual money for the Capcom Fighting Collection was a real shock to the system! It was £32 or thereabouts on Switch very well spent though, with ten more or less one-on-one fighting classics restored and tweaked and beautifully presented. It’s all about the gothic theming of the Darkstalkers games for me though, and they feel great here as far as this dabbler can tell; my series favourite Morrigan Aensland is definitely still ageing pretty well too! Loads I’ve never really played before though, and we’ll be coming back to those over the next few weeks, but so far I’ve had a great time exploring stuff like high fantasy fighter Red Earth, which I don’t think has ever seen a console release before, and especially the only non-fighter here, Puyo-style puzzler of sorts Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Fantastic compilation that’s going to be around for a long time!
I’ve never spent much time with Raiden II, and I also had no idea that a PS1 port existed, or, indeed, was collected together with a port of the original on The Raiden Project in 1995. But now that’s all been remedied! I did do a quick compare with MAME, and aside from the addition of a 3D cutscene at the start (and some black borders either side), it seems pretty much spot-on, which makes it pretty impressive! Eight levels of increasingly brutal vertically scrolling invasion-Earth shoot ‘em up, though in the few hours I spent with it I’ve only made a bit of headway into the second! Not sure it was especially groundbreaking even at the time, but there’s a few exhilarating flourishes in the gameplay that feel a bit Cave-like, with moments of sweeping destruction across swathes of chaos that you’ve got no right to survive but somehow do! Same with the environments too, which you think you’ve seen a hundred times before and then it throws something cool at you before returning to form… But given I’ve not even seen a quarter of it, there might well be a lot more to come!
Along similar lines (sorry, non-schmup fans!), the wonderful Taito Legends 2 compilation on PlayStation 2 got some more well deserved love during the latter part of this week when I spent a good chunk of time with Gekirindan, and for just about the first time to my shame! This is another vertical shooter from 1995 by ex-Toaplan devs after that went under, and a lot of what I’ve just said for Raiden II still also still applies here… Except this one’s main bad guy is called Huge Boss! Otherwise, stage one is an increasingly exhilarating warmup for the rough ride your going to be given from there onwards as you travel through time to save humanity. Again. The soundtrack is a stunner, as is the sound design in general, and I love anything with a cowardly boss that does a runner on its literal last legs after five minutes of frantic beat-down! I do need to get back to my more structured shoot ‘em up journey sometime soon, but nothing beats the endless discovery of awesome new stuff on at least a weekly basis!
I’ve actually been in Germany with work most of this week, so while there might not have been as much on the go here as usual, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share an absolute stinker I came across by accident a couple of weeks ago! Moto Frenzy comes from Atari, no less, in 1992, and it’s a cross between Enduro Racer, Pit-Fighter and a lad’s mag like Loaded or Nuts from the same era! Without the novelty of up to four ride-on cabinets linked together, there’s almost no redeeming qualities to the racing over its six selectable courses, half of which are in America and the rest from around the world, presumably so they had reason to include digitised polar bears and rhinos that will cause you to explode spectacularly with the slightest touch! Otherwise, you’re left to simply enjoy the sight of a digitised woman in a g-string bending over to start the race, digitised redneck couples waving beer bottles at you, crowds of digitised women in bikinis (who suddenly look wonderfully terrified if you plough into them!), loads of more mundane digitised roadside scenery and a digitised wet t-shirt contest on the winner’s podium! Good luck with even finishing a race though because if the bugs don’t get you the general lack of any non-digitised fun will!
You’ve probably noticed we’re just about halfway through the year at the moment, so this week at Retro Arcadia we’re going to be returning to a regular annual feature and counting down our top ten games of the year so far! That’s on Wednesday, and then Thursday is the last day of the month, which can only mean one thing… On The Retro Radar For July 2022, when we’ll take a look at everything on the way for the retro enthusiast next month. Or at least the stuff we know about. Which isn’t a huge amount this time, but anyway, see you somewhere then!