I did touch on a few of these in The Retro Arcadia Game of the Year and Top Ten Countdown, but this self-indulgent record I keep of games played and completed doesn’t tell the whole story, so I wanted to share some other highlights too before we properly get started here!
According to my Nintendo Switch, what I’ve played most on there this year is Sega Ages Virtua Racing, Cave’s seminal insect-filled bullet-hell Mushihimesama and the Capcom Fighting Collection, and more than anything I reckon that’s where I’ve had the most fun this year. Certainly reignited my passion for fighting games. Not to mention the lovely Morrigan Aensland… Shoutout to another fantastic compilation too, Atari 50: The Anniversary Celebration.
A couple of cool new Minis also landed this year, and I’ve already had more than my money’s worth out of the Taito Egret II Mini and its Paddle & Trackball Expansion Set. The Mega Drive Mini 2 was great in and of itself too, but the inclusion of Mega-CD (or Sega-CD) games opened up a whole new world to me there, where Night Striker and Sewer Shark have quickly become real favourites. If we’re talking new worlds though, the big one is thanks to the A500 Mini, opening up the world of the Amiga to me for the first time, and some really great experiences with the likes of Banshee, Apidya and Zool, as well as new-to-me versions of old favourites like Stunt Car Racer, Battle Chess and a couple of Monkey Islands to name just a few. But I’m rambling now. Let’s check out what else has happened in 2022, month by month…
1 January: Star Wars Squadrons (Xbox Series X)
3 January: Dizzy the Adventurer (NES on Evercade VS)
5 January: Gates of Zendocon (Atari Lynx on Evercade VS)
19 January: Star Parodier (PC-Engine Mini)
23 January: Windjammers 2 (Xbox Series X)
24 January: Cadillacs and Dinosaurs (Arcade)
28 January: Blazing Lazers (PC-Engine)
For all the movies I watch and games I play, I’d have never guessed that rewatching the mess that is Robocop 2 and replaying the spectacular Star Wars Squadrons (but first time on Xbox) would kick-off 2022, but there we are! After dabbling with eight cartridges worth of various collections on my new Evercade VS I settled on a Dizzy game I’d never played before and it turned out to be a good choice! Next on there was Atari Lynx Gates of Zendocon, the walking sim of horizontal shooters, but sometimes that’s alright! After a bit of a MAME odyssey I was inspired to try and learn shoot ‘em ups, starting with a couple for beginners on PC-Engine. And Windjammers 2 might have been short and sweet on the surface, but there’s always more to be done there and it was nice to already have some game of the year fodder right off the bat like this!
6 February: Steel Empire (Mega Drive)
8 February: Commando (Arcade)
14 February: Taiko no Tatsujin: The Drum Master! (Xbox Series X)
26 February: Batsugun Special Version (Arcade)
Another beginner-friendly schmup down, although a couple of weeks on Steel Empire was more educational than inspiring. Taiko no Tatsujin is always inspiring though, making it two game of the year contenders in its first two months, and while I’ve done everything on easy and normal difficulty (and a bit of hard), and spent my coins on everything I wanted for my little drum guy, I’ll still be back! The schmup journey continued with bullet-hell for beginners (relatively speaking) Batsugun Special Version, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so serious about putting the time in to really learn a game – I properly obsessed over it for the whole month, and it’s beautiful in every respect! I’ll never one-credit it, but I can do most, and the rest is now a handful more, and I’m happy with that. Always happy with a run around in Commando too, but that doesn’t really count anymore!
3 Mar: Batsugun (Arcade)
6 Mar. Far Changing Tides (Xbox Series X)
12 Mar: Prehistoric Isle 2 (Arcade)
17 Mar: The Mandarin (Amstrad CPC)
26 Mar: Buggy Boy (Atari ST)
30 March: Mushihimesama (Arcade on Switch)
I decided to challenge myself with original Batsugun rather than the more welcoming Special Version before I moved on this month – a few more credits but still respectable! Mushihimesama then took over, from novice to original mode, and its many hours of bullet-heaven either way! It made a brief interlude with a literal dinosaur massacre seem positively easy, although Prehistoric Isle 2 is pretty easy by SNK standards with a bit of practice and a few credits. There was another interlude of a very different kind with melancholy, meditative puzzle-adventure follow-up Far: Changing Tides, as well a new CPC game and an old ST one that I’d wanted since it came out but only just bought. Apart from that, I caved in to Elden Ring and that was going to take a bit more beating…
11 Apr: Silent Hill 3 – HD Collection (Xbox Series X)
16 Apr: Hardcore 4×4 (PS1 on Evercade VS)
25 Apr: Beach Head (ZX Spectrum)
27 Apr: Alien vs Predator (Arcade)
28 Apr: Espgaluda II (Arcade on Switch)
I fancied a break from Elden Ring so did a relative speed-run of Silent Hill 3, which might be on autopilot now but it’s still a happy place! Loads of fun with the very PS1 off-road racer Hardcore 4×4 from the Gremlin Collection 1 on Evercade VS too – just need to let your eyes, ears and fingers adjust! Then most of the month was spent moving from Novice in one credit to Original to Black Label mode in Espgaluda II, which I’ve ended up being enjoyably proficient at and can now see the end in a reasonable number of continues. Same for an old favourite mash-up beat ‘em up, and I even found time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of everyone’s favourite home computer with a Beach Head clear, which will never need a continue after all this time!
10 May: Tengai (Arcade on Switch)
19 May: Cotton Fantasy (PS4)
22 May: Dick Turpin (ZX Spectrum)
26 May: Gryphon (Commodore 64)
30 May: Banshee (Amiga A500 Mini)
When I say completed Tengai, I mean played it to death but still had to feed way more credits into the last two levels than I’d normally prefer on one of my now regular schmup journeys! Cotton Fantasy was a lot more forgiving on an acceptable handful of credits, though I was saving a big all-character complete for when my Switch Collector’s Edition arrived, which is still to be completed but no rush! I’ve always had a passion for Dick Turpin but never played his Spectrum adventure before, so that was a primitive treat, as was Gryphon from the glory days of the Commodore 64! And after dabbling since the Amiga A500 Mini arrived the other month, I finally saw through the brutal last levels of very pretty vertical shooter Banshee and its measly three credits! Also decided I was bailing on Elden Ring – I loved almost every second, but about eighty hours in I’d just had my fill and didn’t need the same again.
1 June: Monster World IV (Mega Drive on Switch)
4 June: The Legend of Kage (ZX Spectrum)
10 June: Citizen Sleeper (Xbox Series X)
11 June: Combat School (Arcade)
17 June: Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (Xbox Series X)
18 June: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge (Xbox Series X)
I thought I didn’t like any Wonder Boys after the first but how wrong I was with the newly repackaged Monster World IV – instant all-time favourite, and another great example of that discovery thing I go on about all the time as my main retro gaming thrill! Legend of Kage is always a pleasure, though no chance I’m beating the less forgiving original any time soon! I did beat Combat School though, but while old habits do die hard, an arcade stick kind of feels like cheating! Game Pass also came up trumps several times this month – narrative RPG of sorts Citizen Sleeper from out of nowhere to stake a claim for game of the year, and Turnip Boy was marvellous over the course of a scant few hours too. Shredder’s Revenge was going to take some beating though…
4 July: VVVVV TIC 80 Demake (Tic-80)
6 July: Cotton 2 (Arcade)
12 July: Return of the Jedi (Amiga A500 Mini)
15 July: Vampire Savior: The Lord Of Vampire – Morrigan (Switch)
19 July: Panorama Cotton (Mega Drive on Switch)
24 July: Progear (Arcade on Switch)
27 July: Silent Hill 2 – HD Collection (Xbox Series X)
Something eventually came of the three Darkstalkers games I’d been playing all month and ever since on the Capcom Fighting Collection, (although I really should try another character sometime) and after a couple of months on Cave’s horizontal bullet-hell Progear, I was pretty happy with the number of credits that was now taking to beat! Otherwise, a load of stuff including a load of Cotton (nothing new!), another Amiga Mini completion and a cool demake, but nothing massively exciting. And I won’t even mention Silent Hill 2 again!
2 August: Gekirindan (Arcade)
12 August: Panorama Cotton (Mega Drive on Switch)
18 August: Midnight Wanderers (Arcade on Switch)
25 August : Vampire Savior 2: The Lord Of Vampire – Morrigan (Switch)
I think I could still do better at vertical shooter Gekirindan but I moved on for now after getting to the end in five credits. I did get Panorama Cotton down to three though, after having unfinished business with that following the previous month’s clear. I got a good enough clear on Midnight Wanderers too, part of the Capcom Fighting Collection bonus content for Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium, and a very decent action platformer to boot. And Darkstalkers from that fighting collection keeps on giving!
1 September: Star Gladiator – Hayato (PS1)
9 September: Over Horizon (NES)
15 September: Vampire Savior: The Lord Of Vampire – Lilith (Switch)
18 September: Vampire Savior 2: The Lord Of Vampire – Lilith (Switch)
23 September: 19xx The War Against Destiny (Arcade on Switch)
27 September: The Secret of Monkey Island (Amiga A500 Mini)
Really getting into this fighting thing again, starting with my first Star Gladiator clear this monfh. Very impressed with Over Horizon too – an accessible and creative shoot ‘em up that looks and sounds incredible! A bit like Lilith in a bit more Darkstalkers and a new, albeit predictable new character at last ! 19xx is often spectacular but sometimes too frustrating to rinse as much as I usually might but I was done in a reasonable number of credits now so time to move on. Never a problem to rinse Monkey Island again though!
1 October: Castlevania: Vampire Killler (Mega Drive on Switch)
2 October: Castlevania: The New Generation (Mega Drive Mini)
2 October: Castlevania: Bloodlines (Genesis on Switch)
9 October: Resident Evil Village (Xbox Series X)
21 October: Harmful Park (PS1)
30 October: Deathsmiles – Normal Mode (Switch)
My annual Castlevania clear turned out to be Bloodlines on Genesis this time, as well as Vampire Killer, the Japanese version and The New Generation PAL version on the Mega Drive. Not my favourite but clearly still a good time! Far more frequent than annual for Resident Evil Village in its much shorter life and it gets more beautiful every time. Harmful Park was another real beauty of a cute ‘em up that I really clicked with, but if you’re shooting stuff then Deathsmiles always wins out for me, especially just in time for Halloween.
3 November: Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown – Arcade / Taka-Arashi (Xbox Series X)
9 November: Resident Evil Village – Shadows of Rose DLC (Xbox Series X)
20 November: Space Harrier II (Mega Drive Mini 2)
21 November: Panzer Dragoon Mini (Game Gear)
23 November: Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown – Arcade / Sarah Bryant (Xbox Series X)
26 November: Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Mega Drive on Switch)
27 November: Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown – Arcade / Vanessa Lewis (Xbox Series X)
Picking the giant sumo guy was a happy mistake but I ended up right on his Virtua Fighter 5 wavelength before normal, more predictable (meaning, once again, more voluptuous!) service resumed a couple of times later in the month! Fun time whatever though! Mind you, not as fun as Shadows of Rose; loved being back in my beloved Village but this DLC is a great bit of Resident Evil in its own right. The Space Harrier II remaster on my latest Mini giveth and taketh away but unfortunately it didn’t taketh away the stupid boss rush at the end. Never any need for a boss rush! Just glad Sonic 2 didn’t have one – that ending was rough enough as it was but what a game!
1 December: Sonic the Hedgehog (Mega Drive on Switch)
3 December: Runark / Growl (Taito Egret II Mini)
5 December: Sonic the Hedgehog (Master System)
6 December: Sonic CD (Mega Drive Mini 2)
8 December: Streets of Rage 2 (Mega Drive on Switch)
9 December: Sonic Advance (Game Boy Advance)
10 December: The Secret of Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge (Amiga A500 Mini)
13 December: Sonic Advance (Game Boy Advance)
17 December: Return to Monkey Island (Xbox Series X)
18 December: The Munsters (Atari ST)
18 December: Operation Wolf (Arcade on PS2)
20 December: Time Pilot (Arcade)
21 December: XMAS-oid (ZX Spectrum)
23 December: Sonic Advance 2 (Game Boy Advance)
24 December: Deathsmiles II – Original Mode (Switch)
29 December: Out Run (Mega Drive Mini 2)
I know I’m a little late to the party, but it turns out this Sonic thing is pretty cool (at least until the boss rushes did appear)… Who’d have believed it? Need to decide where to focus on collecting some Chaos Emeralds next but Sonic 2 is holding its own as favourite. Growl, or Runark in Japanese, is also pretty cool but I did already knew that – completely bonkers beat ‘em up too that I’m managing in a respectable number of credits as usual to count such things as completed. No choice but do it in a maximum of two on Streets of Rage 2 though – lucky I’ve had a bit of practice! Fortunately no such shenanigans with Monkey Island 2 but plenty of others – took forever! Made Return to Monkey Island worth the wait even more though – game of the year worth it! Something The Munsters will never be accused of but I’ve always kind of liked it! And I had a literal blast looping around Operation Wolf again a few times, though I still can’t do it in less than two credits after all these years trying, which is exactly the same for Time Pilots but I keep trying! XMAS-oid is old-school cruel, gloriously addictive and mercifully short, but fittingly Christmas meant Deathsmiles II – it’s not Deathsmiles but it is my favourite Christmas game! And we finished off with an all-route clear of one of my oldest favourites on my newest console!
From the very first game completed onwards, I don’t think I could have predicted I’d even play most of those, let alone complete them. Especially all those schmups, which have developed into a real passion for me over this year. Who’d have believed I’d be all about the bullet-hell twelve months ago? And even more so Sonic! All about discovery, this retro gaming thing, though, and hopefully there’ll be just as much to discover next year. I’ll be sure to keep writing it all down too! But I’ll finish this time by going out on a limb and saying Vampire Survivors will be one of the first games I complete in 2023 because there can’t be much left there I haven’t rinsed yet! That said, on current form with several routes already down, OutRun 2006: Coast2Coast on both PS2 and PSP might have something to say about that! See you this time next year to find out if I was right!