Super Fantasy Zone (Switch): COMPLETED!

This was hard. I’ve played it before but I don’t remember it being this difficult. In fact, last time I said this:

So yes, it’s probably the easiest of all the Fantasy Zone games 

Which is proof I’m an actual liar because no, no it is not. It’s bloody hard and even with saving each level I barely made it through. That said, the bosses were pretty easy – it’s the levels themselves which are virtually impossible to move five pixels without dying. Again. And again.

It was still fun though, despite all that. You can’t hate the blue skies and twinkly happy musics even if you are struggling to progress.

Metal Slug 2nd Mission (Switch): COMPLETED!

And now the sequel! It’s basically more of the same, but there are plenty of changes which improve on it. Firstly, you press pause to actually chuck a grenade (or “pineapple”, as the VO says) rather than use it to swap weapon. This makes it much easier to make use of! You can still pause by holding the button.

Secondly, there’s voices. Like the original Big Boy NeoGeo games, you get sound samples of “Heavy Machinegun!” and “Rocket Lawn Chair!” when you pick them up, which might not sound like much but it makes a big difference.

The game is also a fair bit longer than 1st Mission, doesn’t have as many “maze” missions, and reintroduces the aliens from Metal Slug 2 which were missing from 1st Mission. Your character has more colours too – I assume they mesh two or more sprites together to achieve this. While the first game is still excellent, this is better in so many ways!

Metal Slug 1st Mission (Switch): COMPLETED!

The two NeoGeo Pocket Metal Slug games are both much, much easier than the “proper” NeoGeo games in the series, and they’re also as much about platforming as running and shooting, which differs from the big versions too. They are, however, still both excellent on the tiny screen.

I’ve completed them both before (a few times, I expect), but I hadn’t remembered much from the actual levels. There are a couple where the layout is basically a maze, which was a bit annoying as I got lost and all the baddies respawn, and having to press pause to swap between gun and grenade was not ideal, but 1st Mission was a lot of fun.

SNK vs Capcom: The Match of the Millennium (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, another NeoGeo Pocket game from that Switch compilation. And it seems I’d completed this previously – twice in fact. Like all the other fighting games on the NeoGeo Pocket, it’s very good, although they don’t half do a lot of asset reuse. At least in this one they had to create all the Capcom fighters from scratch though!

I played through it three times. First as Ken, then as Mai, then as Leona, getting the ending for each, Of course, Ken is best.

Dark Arms (Switch): COMPLETED!

This game is one I have for the NeoGeo Pocket and I remember I enjoyed it at the time, but don’t remember much about it. Aside from you shoot baddies to get souls which upgrade your guns. Seems, now I’ve completed it on the NeoGeo Pocket Colour Selection on the Switch, that really that’s all there is to it.

OK, so not quite. There’s a story which is badly translated and makes little sense, and you don’t just have a gun, you have some other weapons which you can swap between like “a big alien arm thing” and “some sort of shield I think”. But you do just go round various areas like a graveyard and a cave and a haunted house shooting (or “big alien arming”) ghosts, demons, witches, zombies, and other evil and/or undead creatures.

There’s a day and night cycle, with different characters and foes appearing at one or the other, and because of the terrible text in the game it’s a bit tricky to understand what you need to do so you basically have to wander the whole of each area several times over both day and night to make sure you’ve done everything. This may sound tedious, and it is a little, but you have to grind to improve your weapons anyway so it’s actually not too bad.

Then, when you’ve defeated the final boss it turns out that’s not the end of the game as you have to find a load of (harmless but hidden) witches to combine them together to resurrect something which isn’t really explained. So I did that and got the One True Ending.

Dark Arms was, overall, less fun than I remember but I still enjoyed it.

Big Tournament Golf (Switch): COMPLETED!

Although I don’t like golf at all, I’ve always enjoyed a good golf game. From PGA European Tour on the Amiga, which I don’t even remember buying, through Mario Gold, NES Golf, Golf Story, and so on. One of my favourites is Neo Turf Masters for the NeoGeo Pocket, which is the Other Region name for this – Big Tournament Golf.

To be enjoyable, golf games need to be simple. Choose a club, aim, press a button to swing, set power, then set accuracy. That’s it. And Big Tournament Golf does exactly this with no fuss. There are three courses, with increasing difficulty, although actually none of them are really very hard. I completed them all over a couple of weeks, coming first in the tournaments for each.

SNK Gals’ Fighters (Switch): COMPLETED!

The Neo Geo Pocket fighting games are such good fun. They might all be the same, more or less, but they’re fun. Even in single player.

I completed this a few years ago, but I recently bought the Neo Geo Pocket collection for the Switch so I’ve been playing the games on there a bit. This is the first one of them I’ve completed, and I did it as Yuri for a change.

Ichidant-R (Switch): COMPLETED!

When this came out, I played and completed it almost immediately. But, as I was looking for a two player game to play with my daughter – and that was a while back – I thought it’d be good to play again. And it was!

It’s a very different game when you’re playing it with someone, as it’s both competitive and co-op at the same time. You have to complete each mini-game to progress, but only one of you actually needs to do that so you compete to see who can do it first/best/whatever. This also has the knock-on effect of making the game even easier than it already was as you have effectively have twice as many chances to beat each game!

Double Dragon II: The Revenge (Evercade): COMPLETED!

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You know something? I’ve never been a big fan of Double Dragon. Sure, it’s OK. And yes, it’s one of the first arcade games I ever completed in an arcade (well, in a shed in a field), I don’t understand the reverence. It doesn’t have the fun of TMNT, or the style of Streets of Rage, or the depth of River City Ransom. But here we are.

The main reason for playing it was because my daughter wanted another two player game to play through after Wizard Fire and this was just there on my Evercade. Is it OK that she likes games where you punch people in the face? That’s fine, right?

So we played through it, used a billion credits on the end boss because that’s what happens in arcade games so they can extract the maximum number of ten pees from your pockets, and watched the ending. Hurrah?

Wizard Fire (Evercade): COMPLETED!

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The sequel to Gate of Doom, apparently. Well, it’s obvious when you play but not so much from the titles of the games. Although they’re called Dark Seal and Dark Seal II in some regions so I suppose that makes sense. It also doesn’t say “I’m the wizard!” any more, which instantly loses it a million points.

It is a bit better in terms of clunky-flickeryness, and the magic system is improved: Previously it seemed random which effect you’d get but now it appears to be linked to which character you choose. Gameplay is almost identical though, but levels are worse designed and the final few are just throw hundreds of baddies at you just to make you give up your (real) money. Ha ha suckers! I can just press Select!

We again played it in co-op, and enjoyed it a moderate amount, but it’s really not as good as other similar games.

Gate of Doom (Evercade): COMPLETED!

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“I’m the wizard!” it shouts as you choose to be the wizard when you start the game. Stupid, but it stuck in our house.

I wasn’t the wizard though, my daughter was. I was the knight. In this scrolling fighting game, not completely unlike Golden Axe or Gauntlet III, each character has different skills but as you die one hell of a lot regardless it doesn’t really matter that much. Yes, it’s a coin-muncher but as it’s on the Evercade the coins are simply pressing the Select button so it’s a bit cheaper that at the arcade.

Not that I ever played it at the arcade, because I’d never even heard of it until I saw it on this cartridge.

It’s OK. Very flickery, probably pushing the hardware a bit too much with the big sprites, but it’s mindless killing and there’s nothing wrong with that, right?

Tumblepop (Evercade): COMPLETED!

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I’d never played this before, but it’s a nice little arcade game in a similar style to Parasol Stars or Super Snow Bros – a single screen two player game where you clear out baddies by sucking them up into your hoover and then spitting them out before they escape.

It’s not very hard, nor is it very long, but it was fun and had some nice big bosses. It was probably made easier as I played it in co-op with my daughter, and of course being an arcade game you can just keep sticking virtual ten pees in until the end.

Castlevania: Bloodlines (Switch): COMPLETED!

Just in case I was misremembering that this was one of the good linear Castlevania games, and my thoughts on Vampire’s Kiss were based on warped memories, I decided to give this a go. It’s on the Switch Online Mega Drive collection too so it wasn’t difficult figuring out a way of running it.

And, I was completely right. It is so much better than Vampire’s Kiss it makes that game look like a dodgy c-tier “Dracula’s Castle” knock-off and not a legitimate title in the series at all. Bloodlines (or “The New Generation”, if you prefer) is faster, slicker, more varied, longer, less frustrating, and much more fun. The bosses are excellent, there are all sorts of nifty graphical effects that the Mega Drive can’t do except it can – tilting towers, sprite scaling, splitting the screen up and shunting bits of it around, and so on.

I played through as Eric Lecarde – the one with the trident – as I think I played as Mr Whippy last time, and the reach of his tool (careful now) makes certain sections much more doable – he can stab baddies on platforms above him, for a start.

I’d probably go as far to say that this is the best linear (rather than SOTN style) Castlevania game. Yes, even better than Super Castlevania IV.

Puyo Puyo (Switch): COMPLETED!

Yes, it’s essentially the same game as Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, which I completed a couple of days ago. But this one has cute Japanese character voices and cuter graphics and no stupid fake Sonic enemies.

Other than that, though, it was no different to play. I didn’t find the end boss as difficult, but that’s probably luck and/or practice rather than it being easier than the Sonic reskin.

M.U.S.H.A. (Switch): COMPLETED!

Until this appeared on the Switch Online Mega Drive collection thing, I’d never realised that “MUSHA”, “Aleste”, and “Musha Aleste” are the same game. I’d never played any of them before, either.

It’s a vertically scrolling shooter with big robots and great music and impressive graphics. And it’s hard. And I completed it, eventually.

The bosses were, mostly, much easier than some bits of the actually levels, it turned out. Aside from the “final”[ref]Spoiler: it’s not final.[/ref] one with the almost unavoidable things that stick out of the wall, with the walls already having become really narrow!