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 love Xbox Game Pass but I hate PowerWash Simulator, and I hate myself even more for every second I’ve wasted playing it. The trouble is, once you start playing it’s not going to let you stop! Just one more fence panel… I’ll just try this nozzle on that chair… Okay, I’ll just do the other three chairs… I’ve actually had to delete it because I’ve barely scratched the surface of its thirty-four cleaning jobs, but already some of them are taking several hours each and they’re impossible to resist! And yes, you’re just standing there spraying water out of a hose at dirty stuff! The worst of it is, I’ve got a real power washer and nearly two acres of garden, and just imagine what I could have actually cleaned in the hours I’ve spent “playing” this! Wonderful, dreadful game!
I’ve had Saturday Night Slam Masters via Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium on Switch for a couple of weeks now, and having dabbled with all the characters and generally got to know the game (not to mention have a great time doing so!), I’ve stuck on Biff Slamkovic for a first proper title run. It does now feel a bit more like a wrestling game than a fighting game, and a simple old-school one at that because there’s only a handful of moves and not much in the way of tactics, but it’s all the better for it, even if I still can’t pull off his Sonic Attack and Head Rocker specials! I am making progress though, racking up a few wins and becoming more confident in what works where. Enjoyed a bit of two-on-two too! Fantastic game!
Enduro on Atari 2600 will never get old. Unless you’re on your fourth loop and the first Saturday lunchtime game of the Premier League season is about to start, but that’s what forty years practice will do for you I suppose! Its multi-stage sunset still amazes me though, as does what must be one of the earliest examples of both day / night cycles (including extended dawns and dusks) as well as weather. Without doubt the best racing game on the system, and something else we need to get to in more detail here sometime too!
Not sure I’ll be doing that with Ironclad though. It’s a horizontal shooter, and a good-looking one at that, originally developed by Saurus for Neo Geo CD in 1996. It’s just not very exciting! The setting is a bit like the far more exhilarating Progear’s, a kind of steampunky future war fought in old propeller planes and stuff. It plays more like a Gradius or something though, but way more accessible… Or slow to get moving, depending on your point of view! There is a choice of ships and branching paths to take, and I do really love the presentation, but you’ve just seen it all before and you’d probably be better off seeing all of that again!
Want an exciting shoot ‘em up instead? Well, we can spin around to a vertical orientation and have a go on Strikers 1945 II, which I’ve never played much of before this week despite spending a fair bit of time with both its predecessor and successor. This is a Psikyo arcade game from 1997 which gives you a tough choice of six World War II fighter planes to take on four randomly ordered then four linear levels, although honestly I’m still struggling to get past any of the stage three bosses, by which point the action has ramped up to pretty much bullet-hell! All typical Psikyo then, but as you’d also expect, it’s all slick, polished and eventually methodical. Loads of fun too!
I want to quickly mention one more schmup, but more of the bullet-hell variety, and that’s Chuhou Joutai 3: Three Nights of Scarlet Abscess on Steam. It’s not out until the 7th October, but it has just got a demo and it’s really worth playing. “Pandemonium will break loose if you don’t unleash your rage” is about all you need to know! It’s very Japanese, and its easy mode is a very good shout if you’ve never played one of these before – its slower pace and lower bullet density is a great way to learn about bullet patterns and how to approach them. Generous demo too, about 20 minutes long, with other difficulties available. Definitely recommend a download!
A couple of top-down racers to close out this week, and first Thrash Rally, a multi-stage, multi-car affair that would be enjoyably average in all respects (especially after I’ve spent so long with Gaelco’s World Rally 2 recently) if it wasn’t what I believe to be totally unbalanced too! Stage one is hard but build up enough of a bonus time buffer on the first couple of laps (of sorts) and you should just about beat the time limit of the final lap. You’ll soon get the lie of the land though, and it won’t present too much challenge for long. And that should be the case with stage two as well, except you can have a way closer to perfect run than should be necessary on any stage two of anything and still be out of time – maybe within sight of the finish if you’re really lucky. Then at one point I decided just to continue from there rather than do track one again for some practice and I noticed an extra two seconds on the clock – the very two seconds that a competent player will need to finish it. Behind another credit! It gets even worse in the third stage though…
We need one of the best of its kind after that, and among the best is Ivan Ironman Stewart’s Super Off Road! I actually started with the 1989 arcade version on Midway Arcade Origins on Xbox, and it’s wonderful as always, but its real home for me is on the Atari ST with a QuickShot joystick! These games were never built for modern console controllers (or even not so modern ones!), but Super Off Road never felt better than with one of these. Probably one of the best arcade conversions on the ST too. And now I’ve got a lovely bunch of arcade screenshots and dodgy photos of a dodgy old TV screen there’s no reason why we shouldn’t cover this one in more detail here soon as well!
Quick mention of this beautiful Taito Egret II Mini that finally arrived (after I paid £50 customs duty!) a few days ago. Great build quality, the stick feels lovely, awesome selection of forty games to chew over in the coming weeks, and that screen that spins between portrait and landscape so easily is a game changer! Unfortunately, due to rare grown-up stuff involving planning permission and some last minute related single-handed demolition after work until dark since it arrived, I’ve only really dabbled with a few games and spent a bit more time with Toaplan’s 1988 vertical shooter Tatsujin (or Truxton), but so far so good, and I’ll start putting together a full review including every game here shortly!
Before that though, in case you missed it last Wednesday we had the best unboxing video that isn’t actually a video ever when we pored over every single juicy morsel in the Cotton Fantasy Collector’s Edition for Nintendo Switch, as well as get an update on our original PS4 review. And coming up next week we’ve got a deep-dive into my new favourite in the Darkstalkers fighting series, Vampire Savior: The Lord of Vampire. See you there next Wednesday!