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…
The original P-47 arcade game is a top five horizontal shoot ‘em up in my book, but until I listened to the new Video Wizards podcast this week, covering the big news, games and culture from the month of April 1995, I had no idea a sequel even existed! P-47 Aces is one of the most addictive games I’ve come across for a long time, mostly down to it’s initially infuriating but ultimately fair enemy density. Otherwise, it picks up after the first game, with eight more levels of gorgeous World War II inspired destruction, a madcap soundtrack and a choice of four unique aircraft. I’m going to be spending some serious time with this now I’ve found it, and if you haven’t found it already, be sure to check out Video Wizards too – lovely lads who know their games (as well as their Spinal Tap references) and then some!
I have now spent some serious time with vertical shoot ‘em up, Gekirindan, which I mentioned here last week and have barely left alone since! Actually, I’ve got pretty good at it, relatively speaking, and while this Toaplan-infused 1995 arcade game from Taito probably isn’t the hardest of its kind, and certainly isn’t the most creative, we’re in tune and I’m seeing the end of its six levels in a handful of credits. And that’s good enough for me, just like the game!
I won’t go into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge here again, but do have a look at our halfway point game of the year countdown from earlier this week though, where it gave a good account of itself! Instead, let’s take a look at a new Arcade Archives release, 1986 top-down run and gun shooter Soldier Girl Amazon. It plays a lot like Commando, but aside from that it’s really not easy to pin down! You could be looking at a fantasy JRPG, especially when magic swords and stuff are thrown into the mix, but then the aliens, the cyborgs and the triffids start appearing among the regular human soldiers rolling about shooting at your, er, Amazon. It’s weird, but somehow it works and is definitely worth a look!
We’ve got a deep-dive into military stick waggler and button masher Combat School coming up here in a few weeks, and while it’s mostly focussed on the arcade and Spectrum versions, this week I’ve had a look at the other 8-bit ports too… Really impressed with Amstrad CPC! It looks fantastic and is way more colourful than even the arcade version, and there’s really nice music, and apart from the crosshairs being a bit slow to manipulate in the firing range levels, I reckon it plays pretty close to the original. Jumping to Commodore 64, the loading screen looks great, and the music is outstanding – way better than the arcade version, with such depth to the melodies, and they’re delivered with so much care too. And then all that hard work goes to pot with some dreadful clichéd American military thing when you finally get to press fire to start… There’s a ton of great music to follow though, and while it’s not a bad conversion, that’s the highlight of this port. It looks as C64 as it sounds, although the characters themselves are surprisingly un-blocky, and it plays nice too. Good effort, even if my heart will always lie with the Spectrum version!
Also a bit of Amiga action to report this week. First up, Navy Moves, all the way from 1989. Now, I’ve known for a very long time that the first level of this game is absolutely gorgeous – did any game ever have a more dramatic sky? Lucky I like it so much though, because while I also knew how hard it was reputed to be, what I didn’t realise until I finally just played it was that my colourblindness was never going to let me see anything beyond it! What I did see a bit more of was Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing for the Amiga 1200 in 1992, although I am playing on the A500 Mini. It’s not the best F1 racer ever, or even the best on the Amiga, but the racing feels good, there’s sixteen circuits in single race or full season modes, and there’s weather, pit stops and some top-level tweaking if that’s you’re thing too. I’ve had fun with it so far!
At some point I will have something new to say about Capcom Fighting Collection on Nintendo Switch, but until then I’ll probably still be playing Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors! I’m still genuinely useless, but I love the characters and their various gothic horror environments, not to mention their exquisite animation. And while there’s way more depth to the move sets than I’ll ever deserve, I’m slowly remembering a couple of nice flourishes with cool names like Vector Drains and Darkness Illusions! I’ve even managed to drag myself away from my favourite Scottish succubus from 1678, Morrigan Aensland, for a bit too! Really fantastic game, and I can’t wait to get into the sequels and the rest on here, but they’re not going anywhere while I’m enjoying this so much!
In case you missed it earlier this week, as well as our top ten games of the year at halfway, we also had a look at a few upcoming retro-related releases for July. And while we’re back to the more regular format next week, we’ve got a big one as we jump into what’s still the most exhilarating arcade experience I’ve ever had, Atari’s Star Wars from 1983. Red Five standing by!