Bowser’s Fury (Switch): COMPLETED!

Included with the Switch port of Super Mario 3D World, Bowser’s Fury reuses all the power-ups, enemies and gimmicks from that game but adds cat ears to literally everything and gives you a fully controllable camera. It’s also one complete open world, a bit like an extra large Super Mario Odyssey level.

Bowser has gone out of control, and you need to collect Cat Shines to keep him in check. Every so often he rises from the black goo that covers the world, tried to kill you, and you send him back with the shines. As you collect more shines, you reveal more areas by getting rid of the goo.

Working in two player mode, with my daughter as Bowser Jr (who is concerned his dad is a bit too evil now), we collected all 100 Cat Shines in a few hours. It’s not a massive game, but it is excellent and something new in the Mario world.

Super Mario 3D World (Switch): COMPLETED!

There was no way I was going to buy a copy of Super Mario 3D World for the Switch when I already owned it on the Wii U which is still connected to the TV the Switch is. So of course that’s what I did anyway. With my remaining Nintendo Online game voucher thing, so it only cost £21.50 and I’d bought the vouchers before HYRULE WARRIORS: Age of Calamity come out so that’s basically forgotten money now, right?

Anyway, it’s still really good. Because it’s the same game as before, and it was really good then. Touch controls (for prodding switches and baddies and things) are translated into gyro controls like they were in Super Mario Galaxy and don’t work as well as on the Wii U, but they’re barely used in the game so it doesn’t really matter.

Played through the story with my daughter as the whole game is co-op. That actually works both as a positive (when you die you don’t restart – you respawn providing the other player doesn’t die) and a negative (you get in each others’ way and push the camera on too fast). We’ve not got all the green stars yet (far from it), but have beaten the final boss. Before we go back and mop up, however, Bowser’s Fury awaits!

River City Ransom (Evercade): COMPLETED!

I’m sure I own this on about five different platforms now, but for some reason, the Evercade version is the only one i’ve actually put the time in to complete. Previously, I’d found it very, very, hard, but in fact, it’s not. Once you reach the first shopping centre – only a few screens in – you can buy a power-up which makes you capable of wiping out a lot of foes more easily, so can start grinding to get money, to get food and books to boost your stats.

Since dying only puts you back to the last shopping centre, and you lose half you money, the trick is to build up some cash, spend it all on upgrades, then repeat the process. It sounds tedious, but it really isn’t, and after an hour or so you’re massively overpowered and can kill almost everyone (including some of the bosses) in seconds.

Really enjoyed it, got a bit addicted to the upgrade cycle, and hope there’s a sequel on something I own to work through now. Well, aside from River City Girls of course – I’ve done that one!

1943 (Switch): COMPLETED!

Capcom Arcade Stadium, yet another collection of Capcom arcade titles, was released on the Switch this week. You get 1943 for free, so I played it. And then completed it.

I mean, you get infinite continues so doing so isn’t really hard. Although the game is. Not least because you seem to have a combined fuel and energy bar which constantly dwindles, and there are a number of waves of baddies where avoiding them or their fire is completely impossible. Plus some of the bosses don’t give you enough time to take them down before they’re gone – meaning you fail the mission have have to try again, hoping you’ve enough smart bombs this time.

Still, it’s mindless and slick and fun.

Concrete Genie (PS4): COMPLETED!

I thought this game was going to be about painting murals on walls, which then come to life. And, for a while, it is. You paint genies who can help you move objects, activate power or open doors, and you can paint random stuff on most vertical surfaces. However, it’s a lot darker than that and the first third of the game involves a lot of hiding from some not very nice bullies.

There’s quite a bit of Assassin’s Creed style traversal, which I wasn’t expecting. Not sure how Ash, the boy you control, has the skills needed to use the underside of a crane arm as monkey bars without freaking out he’s going to die. There’s a lot of collecting scrapbook pages that float around the rooftops, again giving the feel of Assassin’s Creed III.

But it isn’t Assassin’s Creed of course – it’s a painting game as I said. Until it isn’t. The final part of the game introduces attacks, a skating mechanic, and a health bar, as you suddenly have enemies to fight. It also introduced a bug where one of the enemies wouldn’t move and was invincible. These bits of the game, and the final boss, aren’t really what I signed up for and don’t really fit. It doesn’t help that the “lock on” button very rarely actually locks on to the baddies, and when it does it doesn’t stay locked on for long. I don’t know if that’s a bug or by design, but either way it hampers beating them and just adds annoyance to the end of the game.

Concrete Genie is a very pretty game (perhaps more so as I played it on the PS5), with some clever bits and a nice world and story, and the painting bits are enjoyable, but the world traversal is clunky and the game style switch was a bad idea.

Super Robin Hood (Evercade): COMPLETED!

This reminds me a lot of every single platformer for the Spectrum. Especially Ghost Hunters, for some reason. Which is also a Codemasters game. Yes, i know there was a Spectrum version of this too, but I never played it.

Anyway, you explore a castle, collect treasure, and eventually reach Maid Marion. Except when I got there, a ladder to reach her was broken. Turns out, you have to get all the treasure to fix the ladder (for some reason that isn’t explained). Of course.

So I had to spend half an hour backtracking (thankfully I’d killed many of the baddies and opened a few shortcuts so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been) and then another half an hour returning to the final screen again. With the ladder complete, so was the game!

Not a fantastic game, but a more than competent 8bit platformer. Providing you don’t miss any treasure, obviously.

Mystery World Dizzy (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Two things about this game struck me. Firstly, it’s very much like a much shorter version of The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy what with many of the same (again) puzzles and locations. Secondly, there’s no way this is a NES game, surely? It looks way too good. And when you drop three items on the same screen it doesn’t flicker like mad. And it’s so smooth! And the music is way ahead of that in the other Dizzy games!

As I said, it’s a lot shorter than the previous Dizzy game I’d played, so it wasn’t long before I was done with this too. It’s really good though – very impressive.

The Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy (Evercade): COMPLETED!

Good grief that was a long game. Not helped by the fact that nearly two hours in I discovered I’d somehow managed to accidentally sequence break and ended up somewhere without items I needed to progress and no way to return to where they were located. Apparently that isn’t possible, but I did it anyway.

So I started again, and that took five hours. Five hours! For a NES Dizzy game with no password system or save games. On the Evercade, i can save and quit when I want, but on the original NES that would have been ridiculous. I’m reminded of another Codemasters game – Rolo to the Rescue – on the Mega Drive which, after four hours play, I realised there was no way to save or continue later. After turning it off, I never played it again. At least, until emulators were a thing.

Back to the game though. Well, it’s the same as all the other Dizzy games, isn’t it? It’s much, much larger with way more to-ing and fro-ing, but it rehashes a lot of previous puzzles and locations, and adds four sort of mini-games that must be completed to continue. I remember two of them – Dizzy Down the Rapids and Bubble Dizzy – as standalone releases on the Spectrum.

Aside from getting stuck on my first playthrough, I didn’t find it all that difficult (although the cloud jumping section was frustrating). It was just really long!

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (PS4): COMPLETED!

Let me preface this by pointing out that I won’t be going into detail about the game itself. Enough has been written elsewhere about the premise, and to mention too much about the plot will just be spoilers anyway. Instead, I’ll tell you why it has taken me OVER A YEAR to complete it.

Well, the main issue was the loading times. After all the DLC was installed, it took more than ten minutes from turning on my PS4 to being able to control Kassandra (like I’d play as Alexios) in the game. Fast travel was anything but, with horsing my way across the map genuinely feeling faster (and although most of the time it wasn’t, at least I could pick up wood and ore on the way). To be honest, after a few months of hour-or-two sessions, I’d started to not play it most of the time just because it took so long to get into. In August 2020 I made another stab at it, but again after a while the loading got me down so I stopped.

And then I bought a PS5.

Playing Odyssey on that has been a revelation. OK, so the load times aren’t instant but fast travel is a few seconds now, not minutes, and from boot-to-control is under two minutes. Plus I’ve taken to using suspend and rest on the PS5 so really, loading has mostly gone. And it’s like a different game.

There are probably graphical improvements and fewer frames dropped too, but I wouldn’t notice. They’re much less important, anyway.

So finally, after a couple of months, the achievement popped for completing Kassandra’s Odyssey (and an email from Ubisoft – in real life – came through congratulating me, which just feels weird). I’ve not killed all of the Cult yet, although I’ve made a good go at it, not least because after finishing off Deimos and doing a few forts, I discovered I’m completely invincible, thanks to (presumably) a bug:

I! AM! IRON MAN! (or woman)

This means I can take down anyone with impunity, and attract as many mercenaries to attempt to kill me as is possible because, well, they can’t. Turns out one of them was a cultist too – bonus.

The game itself is fun. It’s more of the same as Origins, albeit with lynxes instead of hippos and with more boating. Kicking people off cliffs with my Spartan Kick never gets old. The problem is, it’s too big. There’s too much to do. Although I’ve completed the main questline (and a handful of side quests), and I’ve spent over 85 hours on it, there’s still about 1/4 of the map completely unexplored. There’s still 27 open quests (plus however many I’ve not even found yet). There’s two entire lots of DLC I’ve not touched. I still have some cultists to assassinate. I’m level 47 with a cap of (I think) 100. And who knows what else. Sure, you can’t complain you don’t get your money’s worth here, but I’ve other games that need playing!

Syberia 3 (Switch): COMPLETED!

It just so happened that soon after completing Syberia 2, the third game in the series was reduced on the Switch eShop from £45 to about £8. Perfect timing, and so here it is.

With the story essentially concluded at the end of 2, Syberia 3 starts with Kate Walker in a hospital having been dropped there by youkols (the people who you found near the end of the previous game) who had discovered her freezing to death after her boat wrecked – presumably on her way home from Mammothland. The plot involves her escape, and then helping the youkols migrate their snow ostriches to some ancestral grounds “over the border”. The border being important as one of the doctors at the hospital, and some unnamed military group, are in cahoots trying to stop both you and the youkols from making it, for reasons that seem to only amount to “because we don’t like them living in a non-modern way”.

Unlike the first two games, the graphics are now fully 3D in a fixed camera format, not completely unlike Resident Evil, rather than mainly static 2D canvasses. It’s a bit jarring at first – literally, as there’s some jerkiness – but I soon got used to it. Also changed is the inventory, where you now have an “item wheel” to select stuff from, and when you interact with things you sometimes “gesture” with the control stick to open, twist, or move knobs, doors, handles, and so on. It doesn’t really add anything, but at least they thought to try something different, I suppose. It does feel like this should have been a Wii game, though!

The puzzles are as good as before, and the locations are great and varied – like an abandoned fairground in Not Chernobyl Honest, and an old olympic stadium. The story isn’t as good, and you don’t meet so many great characters as in the original games, but overall it’s still definitely worth playing. And it makes me want them to hurry up and finish Syberia 4 now too!

Wonderland Dizzy (Evercade): COMPLETED!

OK, so I’ve played a few of these NES Dizzy games now and without wanting to point out they’re all the same… they are a bit?

I mean, some of the puzzles are very similar, and there’s a whole heap of asset reuse, but it’s different enough. I think.

This was longer than Dizzy the Adventurer, but actually easier. The puzzle solutions were more obvious (especially if you’ve read Alice in Wonderland on which much of the game is based), and although it was possible to die from high falls or falling in water (but only some water, confusingly), that didn’t happen nearly as much. I also collected all the stars without actually needing to hunt them down.

But, like the other games, Wonderland Dizzy was very enjoyable and still stands up well today.

Dizzy the Adventurer (Evercade): COMPLETED!

I’d never played this Dizzy game before, although many parts of it seemed familiar. Was is a retitled reworking of another one, perhaps?

It was much, much easier than Treasure Island Dizzy, not least because it looks like the only way you can die is by falling in water, and I only did that once. There’s a bit of an anticlimax at the end too when you don’t get to fight Zaks like I was sure you would (and I thought you needed the potion for – perhaps that’s another Dizzy game). It was good though!

Impossible Mission (C64): COMPLETED!

I don’t know how my mind works regarding which game I want to play next. The thought thread here was along these lines: Oh, there’s a new C64 game out that looks good (despite being a C64 game lol) I wonder if I can play it on my RetroFlag GPi? I’ll test it. What’s a game I could test it with? Impossible Mission is decent on the C64 right? OK, I’ll test that. Oh, VICE doesn’t work well on here at all. But Impossible Mission is great maybe I should play another version of it. Not the Spectrum one as that’s broken (a bug means you often can’t finish it), what about the Master System version? That should be good on a GPi. Hmm, this isn’t right. I can’t seem to go near robots without dying. Can’t jump them. That’s not right. Gah, now I really want to play Impossible Mission. VICE on the laptop and the C64 version it is then.

And so here we are. Yes, it’s great. Yes, I completed it. Yes, the puzzles are flipping hard and not just because you have to flip the pieces (oh ho ho!). Stick a (working) version of this on the Evercade please someone.

Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, that’s really the name of the game.

Luminous Avenger is a sort of sequel to Gunvolt Striker 2, in that it follows on from that albeit about 100 years later and with you playing as Copen, Gunvolt’s nemesis. Although it turned out Gunvolt and Copen were really on the same side, sort of, but from different directions. Anyway, mankind has been mostly enslaved or destroyed by the bad guys from the previous games and Copen is now a machine because, well, 100 years have passed. Gunvolt isn’t in it because (spoilers) he be dead. Yeah, the Copen ending of Gunvolt 2 seems to be the canonical one? Whatever, it seems you didn’t save the world and in fact, it all got a lot worse.

The game plays out just like before, with Mega Man style bosses that give you special powers that are especially good against other bosses. Copen’s gimmick is he can fly into enemies which then targets them to be shot or have those special powers triggered on them. There’s often a bit of aerial action where you “bump” from enemy to enemy fo combos and to pass dangers or bottomless pits.

Just like previous games in the series, it’s very slick, a lot of fun, and has bosses that seem impossible to beat until you realise they’re not. Now, where’s Gunvolt Striker 3, eh?

Bezier (Switch): COMPLETED!

Bezier is what would happen if Geometry Wars and Deus Ex Machina had a baby. All the neon eye cocaine of the former, with the disembodied narration and storytelling of the latter. And both bits are great.

The gameplay is pure arcade. A twin-stick shooter with Gradius-like powerups, Blasteroids-like “bosses”, and a lot of dodging and weaving and sometimes running away. It looks, and sounds, incredible, and there’s some meaty feedback when big things explode.

Like Out Run, there’s a pyramid of stages and a choice of “route” to take at the end of each. Different enemies and types of special shielded foes are located in these, and some seem to provider better opportunity for higher scores – via longer chains of blowing stuff up – than others. I’ve completed the game in that I’ve taken every route through it and beaten the boss on each one, albeit the same boss.

So it’s short, but a lot of fun. I managed to reach the heady heights of 25th on the world rankings – which put me at the bottom of the first page – but I didn’t stay there long, sadly. There’s daily challenge with rankings, and an endless endurance mode too, so there’s still plenty of reason to play.