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… I’ve actually been on holiday this week, so while the Nintendo Switch did still manage to get a bit of love, I didn’t really have much time to write about much of the stuff I played on there, so this week we’ll be brief for a change!
I bought Wonder Boy Returns Remix in a sale a while ago, then it got totally overshadowed by the Wonder Boy Collection that came out not long after, so this was pretty much first time playing. Never a series to make its naming simple, when it says “remix” it’s actually dropped a fair amount of 2016’s Wonder Boy Returns, and instead it’s pretty much a remaster of the original 1986 side-scrolling platformer with a few tweaks to gameplay under the hood. And that makes it a really wonderful way to play Wonder Boy, even if it is the original I’ll always return to!
Some bullet-hell now, and vertically-scrolling shoot ‘em up Danmaku Unlimited 3. This was another bargain basement sale purchase some time ago, but my ongoing and very prescriptive schmup for idiots journey hasn’t really allowed enough extra practice time (not to mention brain power) to really get into it until now! It is very modern and very approachable though, and I can’t think of many better places for genre newcomers to start, with some great bosses and mesmerising bullet patterns regardless of difficulty.
I’d honestly forgotten that Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection even existed, let alone made a push through most of the second half of the game where I’d last abandoned it! I did actually completely abandon all of that though and just started again. Marvellous game, lovely atmosphere, still old-school platformer hard, but unlike its predecessors it’s not averse to giving you a helping hand one way or another.
I played through last year’s Switch release of Panorama Cotton for review but never really took the time to properly savour it, so that’s what we’ve done this week! It’s the third game (I think!) in the witchy cute ‘em up series, but in this 1994 Mega Drive exclusive they dropped the regular 2D side-scrolling action and went for a 3D Space Harrier vibe instead. It’s also gone a bit more cartoon fantasy over the regular gothic environments, but the polish is still there, as well as a really great soundtrack. It’s not my favourite in the series but having just also spent a bit of time with the Cotton 2 arcade game, it’s a nice change and a nice time all the same.
Not ideal handheld, but I also went back to Cave’s 2001 horizontally scrolling bullet-hell shooter Progear because, despite getting to the point where I was finishing it in a reasonable number of credits over the last couple of months, it still felt like unfinished business, so I’ve been trying to do a bit better! This has really become an absolute favourite, with a wonderful, mesmeric flow to its bullet-dance that never stops rewarding persistence.
In contrast, something I meant to include last week – a complete fluke finish of Commando, also on Capcom Arcade Stadium on Switch. I got all out of sorts early on in the final showdown, and being on my last life and totally cornered up I just ran kamikaze towards the enemy fortress and a stream of enemy bullets like a loon until the inevitable happened… Which it did, but clearly not quite fast enough to prevent the end-game sequence triggering too, so back from the dead and back to glory! Which then lasted seconds on the next loop, but a jammy win all the same with a second video in one post, no less, to celebrate!
In case you missed it, or you’re just a massive Rat Fan and need another fix, last Wednesday at Retro Arcadia we were discovering Roland’s Rat Race on Commodore 64. And normal service resumes here next Sunday, and while I’ve no idea yet what delights my second week off work might bring for that that, I can tell you that on Wednesday we’ll be going deep into Cobra on ZX Spectrum, as well as counting down a few favourite movie soundtracks! Until then, stay Stallone, stay eighties, and I’ll see you there!