The Ninja Warriors (Arcade Archives) NSWDDL [REVIEW] | Arcade Ninja Terminators

Well, guess who bought this on sale on the Nintendo eShop on a whim and kinda regretted it.

I was surprised to see this on the “ACA” label, as The Ninja Warriors received a remaster on Switch, even on a non-limited physically produced cartridge, didn’t knew it had an arcade version…

and i was right because it didn’t, Taito just happened to make an arcade game called “The Ninja Warriors” (the one being reviewed here) in 1987 and then reused the same name for the sequel on the SNES… which is kinda confusing anyway(and also oddly appropriate) as it’s more of an enhanced remake.

And boy, the arcade precedessor/original, aside being outclassed in everything by the SNES game….didn’t age as well, as the arcade trappings are so obvious and dated, thought it’s not a complete disaster or a completely mediocre forgettable relic that leaves nothing to say about it.

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Earth Defense Force: World Brothers PS4 [REVIEW] | BROTHERS EVERYWHERE-

While we wait for EDF 6 to come out this august in Japan, the previous spin-off finally went on proper sale on the PSN some time ago, so i finally got to play (bought the Deluxe Edition on sale, so complete of all Season Pass content, FIY) and review Earth Defense Force: World Brothers, another spin-off of D3 Publisher’s beloved cult series about space ants and giant robots, handled by Yuke’s, which did previously develop another EDF spin-off the year before, the quite solid EDF: Iron Rain.

The story it’s actually a more comedical take, with the aliens invaders from all previous EDF game scoming back (with a mothership each) under the guise of the new villain, just called Dark Tyrant, destroying “voxel earth” into many pieces in a single shot, so what’s left of the EDF has to find a way to put it back the pieces together and repel the invaders, one mothership at the time.

Instead of going for the serious faced ridiculousness played totally straight seen in the mainline titles and even the previous EDF Iron Rain, World Brothers just revels in the sea of clichès, deliberately having a voice acting that’s so ridiculous or “old fashioned cringe” for the also ridiculous as hell dialogues, here more on the zany side, which is further reinforced by the stylistical choice of going “voxel” in terms of graphics.

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[EXPRESSO] Cruis’n Blast NSWITCH | LETS GO CRUISINNNN

I knew the Cruis’n series was a fan favourite since the N64 days, but i never played one until the recent Cruis’n Blast, developed by Raw Thrills… and boy i played the shit of the arcade cabinet in these years. One of my favourite arcade racer ever, and i don’t even particularly care about racers.

Guess i wasn’t alone since an updated expanded version arrived on Switch (boxed to boot) for Halloween 2021, costing 40 bucks as MSRP.

In terms of content, it has the 5 tracks found in the arcade version, plus 24 brand new ones, now all laden with extra collectables necessary to buy and unlock new cars, also coming in more variety, regarding both regular vehicles and the triceratops n stuff.

Obviously stuff like the helicopter isn’t given away immediatly but will require getting gold trophies, collecting a lot of keys and money, levelling up cars and stuff, but there a good amount of content for the single player experience and gameplay it’s still such pure mindless arcade racer fun.

The controls and mechanics have been slightly altered and improved from the arcade version, but it won’t take much to discover how to “wheelie” over other cars, spin in the air and drift to collect a boost (Mario Kart style). Just remember that the original cabinet didn’t have a brake pedal, it’s that kind of uber arcade experience, with lots of spectacle and shit happening on the tracks, like the London Eye breaking loose, Yetis, etc.

More importantly, it’s indeed the absolute “Blast” the subtitle claims it to be, the IA isn’t bad even at Normal difficulty, and obviously it’s even better with 4 players.

I can’t recommend it at full price to due some performances hiccups and no online multiplayer, but i do recommend it, absolutely.

[EXPRESSO] Centipede Chaos ARCADE | Voxel Bug Blastin’

Atari in modern times is more garbage than it ever was, i don’t think i need to remind you of the previous incarnation of the company bearing this name actually wanting money for something called Alone In The Dark: Illumination.

Among other egregious crimes.

But what do you know, sometimes they manage to actually use the brands and franchises of old in new ways that aren’t unholy artifacts of shit, like actually making new arcade games of arcade series they own, like this Play Mechanix developed new Centipede game, Centipede Chaos.

Sporting a retro voxel graphics and a cabinet made for max 3 players, Centipede Chaos actually does things right and doesn’t try to reinvent Centipede into something else that’s not Centipede at all, it’s just straight, simple arcade shooter action with a decent soundtrack, fairly good looks and satisfying gameplay that stays true to the core formula, just throwing some limited use power-ups.

It’s a fun time even solo, but sadly it’s limited by own nature as a ticket redemption machine, meaning it’s fairly short even for an arcade Centipede game, as to not require a lot of work to get to the final boss worth the fabled 500/1000 tickets, but since this is arcade gameplay design, they throw in a dickish curveball by giving you one shot to kill the final boss, regardless of lives left or money put into the machine. Yep.

And that’s basically it, there are no extra modes or anything else to see, which it’s a bit disappointing considering the license used, but not too surprising due to the nature of redemption ticket arcade cabinets and the surrounding economy.

It’s just that kind of arcade money beast. Nothing that special overall, but definitely worth a go if you can find it in your neck of the woods.

[EXPRESSO] Pac Man 99 NSWDDL | Last Pac Standing

It has got to this. We knew it would eventually come to this.

And to be honest it doesn’t necessarily have to be bad, or half-baked by design like Super Mario 35, which was clearly not that well thought out, but also had a very short expiration date decided on birth, so why put more effort in if we decided we’re gonna kill it 6 months later regardless?

Like Tetris 99 once was, this is currently available as a free download for NSO subscribers, but this time it’s clearly being built as a freemium thing, since it had locked modes (the single player offerings of Score Attack, CPU Battle, and Blind Time Attack) at launch and paid themes. YAY.

Even more “YAY” how even private matches are walled beyond a paid upgrade.

But the main, free attraction is obviously the eponymous “Pacman 99” mode. While everyone plays in their separate mazes, by eating ghosts you sent mini-Pacmans into other players’ games, which aren’t deadly but will slow you down, and this can be used alongside the… NOT explained at all ability to choose how the power pellets operate to create more strategies: stronger power pellets will do more damage, but the time the ghosts will stay vulnerable for less time, etc. Also, while the mini-Pacs can be simply eaten, it’s better to not ignore them completely either…

There’s a bit more to digest here in terms of extra layers over the time-tested Pac Man formula in comparison to (take a swig) Tetris 99, so it may not be as immediatly intuitive, but regardless if you use the more advanced strategies or not, it’s yet again a surprisingly simple, addictive & effective way to adapt an arcade classic, enhancing the formula for modernity without compromising or ruining it in the process.

[EXPRESSO] Sly Spy/Secret Agent NSWDDL | Rolling Thunderball

Another Switch eShop sale on old arcade games from Data East (as part of the Johnny Turbo’s Arcade releases), another EXPRESSO review.

This time i picked up Sly Spy… never even heard of it before, but it look like it’s gonna be heavy on spy movie cliches and Bond references…for 2 bucks, sure,

And my intuition was spot on, alongside plenty of posters in the background, bearing titles or characters from other Data East games, like Karnov or Bad Dudes, there are plenty of Bond references in it. I was also right in guessing it being a fairly transparent Rolling Thunder rip-off, from the screenshots and description.

While it’s totally that, the game tries to disguise it a bit byt adding some variety, since it opens on a sky.-diving level, has a driving section on a bike with built-in machinegun and a couple of underwater levels where you harpoon sharks avoiding scuba enemies and mines.

The variety isn’t bad at all, but the main bulk is still on-foot levels and it’s basically Rolling Thunder, with a limited amount of ammo for the gun and the deliberate inability to just shoot upwards. Same sidescroller formula, plus the ability to shoot while jumping, use fists and kicks when you’re out of bullets, minus the ability to enter doors to replenish ammo. You can also fire a powerful golden gun-rifle when you get all pieces from fallen enemies.

And like Rolling Thunder, while there is some challenge involved, it’s way more about memorization of the often unfair level design through multiple quarters inserted into the machine and out of your pockets.

It’s alright, all things considered, but i don’t recommend spending more than 2 bucks on it, since it’s a very short experience from an era of design best left in the past.

[EXPRESSO] Bleed 2 PSN | They Watch The World Burn

After becoming “the world only and truest hero” in the first game (as in her fantasy videogame world), Wryn sat around playing videogames and all was well with the world. Until the usual gaggle of old rivals, new villains and alien invaders (some of them robotic) attack The City, for the usual reasons that this is a videogame and we need to shoot a lot of baddies. Not that it matters in any way, it is a videogame.

What has improved is the gameplay (graphics not so much), which was already good but has been refined, with better controls and a better control over the jump and dash manouver, and a new found emphasis on deflecting back projectiles and countering boss attack thank to the katana, already available in the fist BLEED, but now given as the standard melee weapon to compliment the usual twin pistols, making for faster, tougher and more satisfying encounters and ways to control the flow of battle.

Even the campaign levels are paced and flow better into each other, while also providing more variety, ticking all the classic arcade clichès, like riding and moving around rockets shot by the enemy airship, standing on moving cars while fighting in the highway, levating into the alien mothership, etc.

It’s still a short experience, but this one improves on replayability thank to the better gameplay, as it lends more to speed-runs or the Arcade “1 life only” run, but it also has more varied and interesting characters to unlock (including the Clawgirl from They Bleed Pixels), mutators and a mode that offers a set of 5 randomized levels. The Challenge mode is back unchanged, but at least they just outright say “it’s totally unbalanced”.

Short but quite sweet, i’d recommended getting the series bundle when it’s on sale.

Haunted Castle PSN [REVIEW] | That Dastardly Dracula

Played in the Konami Arcade Classic Anniversary Collection on PS4.

In this fairly good collection (thankfully Konami tasked the Arcade Archives team to do this one, and this one has a regular Arcade Archives release as well), there is something that will stick out from the many old shoot em ups that make up this collection, and that made Konami a premier videogame company, once upon a very long time ago.

Is the spooktacular arcade version… kinda of the original Castlevania title on NES, released in the west as “Haunted Castle”. And when i mean “arcade version”, i mean this isn’t a conversion, but a completely different game that uses different hardware and graphics, but still adapts the first Castlevania in gameplay and premise, the stages being original but also drawing comparisons to the NES game. To make things even odder, this isn’t even the first title in the series to do that.

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[EXPRESSO] They Came From The Sky NSWITCHDDL | Beam It Up

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After debutting last year on Steam, FobTi Interactive’s “flying saucer 2D abduction simulator is now also available on Nintendo Switch, where it honestly feels more at home, given it’s designed primarly for quick runs, and oddly it’s NOT a mobile port.

They Came From The Sky (not to be confused with “They Came From The Skies” on PS2) definitely delivers on its title, since it’s a 2D arcade style game, with pixel art to match the premise of playing as an alien saucer, attacking the 50s with a simple goal: to abduct humans (animals as well) and make delicious smoothies with them. So the premise goes anyway, you won’t see any retro, faux 8-bit pixel gore in any detail.

Gameplay is simple, as the ufo scrolls automatically in the sky, and when you use the beam to capture humans and collect power-ups, you also change in which direction the ufo is gonna move, so timing is essential to avoid rockets or bullets from the human opposition (unless you manage to collect enough energy for a warp drive), and at the same time to keep the combo going, because it’s either a high score race in a limited time, o a survival run. Either case, you’ll see and hear Godzilla in the background.

Admittely, there isn’t much in the way of stuff to unlock (with in-game coins ONLY obtained via playing) in any “long term”, outside of 5 extra ufos with different stats, there are 3 background/cities to play in, there’s local multiplayer for max 4 players, but it definitely nails the arcade formula of simple control scheme but far from immediate (and potentially quite addictive) mastery of the combo system.

Perfect for coffee breaks, honestly. And for 3 bucks (full price), this is a no brainer if the premise intrigues your high score brain.

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[EXPRESSO] Zed Blade/Operation Ragnarok NSWDDL | Norsemech

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More Neo Geo titles on Switch? YES.

Like most offering in the Arcade Archives-ACA series by Hamster, the game has both the american/international release and the original japanese one, named Operation Ragnarok. Not that it matters, they took names from norse mythology, but you are still in the usual spaceships flying around, shooting mechs, insectoid robots n stuff, as one of three anime styled characters you can choose.

As for why, you’re up against the supercomputer-turned-rebellious spaceship Yggdrasil, not that you’re ever gonna find out if you don’t read the description in the store page or search wikia, because the game itself doesn’t tell you.

MHK’s game delivers a typical but satisfying 2D spaceship shooter, with an interesting feature, as you can (and must) customize the type of main shot, rear shot and missiles (all shot at the same time) at the start of the game, alongside one of the three characters, who determines the ship’s speed. There are power ups that improve each type of shot, alongisde the classic smart bombs, but you mostly gotta work with the loadout chosen at the beginning.

Graphics are nice, nothing impressive for the time, the music on the other hand definitely stands out, with EDM style tracks that i personally dig. Sadly, i don’t think it’s enough to overlook the generic nature and some balance issues, since your ship has a bigger sprite than it should, making it for some cheap deaths, but then again the smart bomb is a bit too powerful, and even without those, it’s an easier (and shoter) affair than usual for the genre.

Good game, still, definitely worth playing for fans of genre hungry for lesser known Neo Geo games, even if flawed and lacking distinguishing features in a sea of  more popular (and often better) shmups.

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