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Retro-Inspired Indie Games

Time machine not required

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

Game developers have been emulating classic games for years. In this collection of reviews, I'll take a look at four completely different old-school experiences that you can enjoy on your newfangled modern consoles.

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Pixel Ripped 1989 Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

When you think of a brand new VR game, you probably wouldn't count on it playing like a Game Boy game. Pixel Ripped 1989 puts you in the shoes of a British schoolgirl who might have what it takes to save the world so grab 4 AA batteries and let's check it out. v1d30chumz 3-235-186-94

Pixel Ripped 1989 screenshot
Education is important

Pixel Ripped 1989 is divided into a handful of chapters and each one is played quite similarly at first. Basically, you hold the controller up to your face and play a Game Boy style 2D platformer. However, there may be some complexities in play. For example, your teacher might catch you playing in class so you have to regularly distract her by firing spit balls. Also, each chapter ends in a spectacular scene where your portable game comes to life. Controlling your character to jump between desk objects that are now suspended in mid-air while fighting a boss is nothing short of epic. The amount of imagination poured into Pixel Ripped 1989 is phenomenal and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. However, it is very short and can be completed easily within a couple of hours. Also, a few parts can get intensely frustrating, especially the final boss which has you juggling between tasks while balancing on hovering platforms.

In the end, Pixel Ripped 1989 is a superb VR experience that'll make you have flashbacks if you grew up in the '80s or '90s. The imaginative premise and tight 2D platforming creates one of the most memorable games that you can play on PlayStation VR.

Pixel Ripped 1989 gameplay video → Pixel Ripped 1995 Review

Forsaken Remastered Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

Here we have a game that's not just retro-inspired; it's a remake of a classic shooter. Forsaken originally debuted for PlayStation and Nintendo 64 back in 1998 and it has held up beautifully.

Forsaken Remastered screenshot
Blasting away enemies in Forsaken is so satisfying...

For the unfamiliar, Forsaken is a first-person shooter with six degrees of freedom controls. You control a character who rides a hoverbike in a post-apocalyptic world and it's your job to raid various environments in order to claim treasures for yourself. With rival bounty hunters and plenty of automated defense systems waiting around every corner, you have to constantly dodge oncoming attacks and shoot like there's no tomorrow. It's such a fast-paced, challenging, and incredibly satisfying game that it's hard to put down once you start playing. My hat's off to indie house Nightdive Studios for bringing it to modern consoles. Anyway, one of Forsaken Remastered's best aspects is how many options there are. Being able to fine-tune the controls and difficulty as well as play with a friend is fantastic. Trying to master every lengthy stage within the campaign is so much more fun when you have so many ways to customize your experience.

Sometimes, playing a game from decades ago is more gratifying than picking up the latest and supposedly greatest games. Working through the massive campaign is such a blast and I couldn't recommend Forsaken Remastered enough for fans of the genre.

Forsaken Remastered gameplay video →

Whip! Whip! Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Arcade games from the '80s defined gaming in countless ways. Whip! Whip! is a familiar experience so grab some quarters and let's play.

Whip! Whip! screenshot
If this looks familiar then you've probably played Bubble Bobble before

If you've ever played Bubble Bobble then Whip! Whip! will feel right at home. The single-screen stages, simple cooperative gameplay, and even the items that spawn after enemies fly across the screen only to perish upon hitting the ground are lifted directly from Taito's classic arcade game. Heck, you even spell "Expand" instead of "Extend". The primary difference in Whip! Whip! is how you take out the enemies. Instead of blowing bubbles, you grab onto foes with a glove which thrusts your character forward and takes out everyone in your path. This mechanic reminds me a lot of Ristar so that's not even wholly original. Don't get me wrong; it is a fun game and it's very cute to boot but the lack of originality certainly makes it feel flat compared to the classics that it's inspired by.

Whip! Whip! is a decent take on a classic formula and it can be pretty fun with a friend. However, don't count on anything particularly original or exciting. The adorable presentation only goes so far.

Whip! Whip! gameplay video →

Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

In Vitro Games' debut title released last year and now we have a brand new version of it. Defenders of Ekron is a twin-stick shooter with an impressive amount of variety so buckle in to your ship and I'll get to the review.

Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition screenshot
A boss this big requires teamwork to take down

For the record, I've never played the original Defenders of Ekron so I'm not entirely sure what's new in this version so this review is from a fresh perspective. You start Defenders of Ekron's campaign by partaking in an automatically scrolling tutorial stage. You'll learn that the controls are intuitive yet you have limited power that's used for various attacks as well as a shield. Once you're out of power, you have to fly around and avoid projectiles as it replenishes which creates an additional layer of challenge. The next stage is an exam where you play through a dungeon that's set up like one from the original The Legend of Zelda. Here, you'll solve puzzles by reflecting bullets off coloured walls, setting up shots to unleash simultaneously, and reflecting projectiles with your shield. From then on, the gameplay alternates between styles and you'll find yourself exploring large stages, taking on huge bosses, and upgrading your ship. Thankfully, the gameplay is super-tight, challenging, and extremely satisfying which is surprising considering how much variety there is.

Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition also contains a bonus mini-game called Invaders of Ekron. This shoot 'em up uses similar mechanics to the main game although its 8-bit visuals and arcade-style campaign make it feel like an authentic retro game. Some developers would release this game separately so the fact that In Vitro Games included it as a bonus is just awesome. It's quality stuff that you can sink quite a lot of time into mastering. Two games for the price of one is always good, especially when the games are this much fun.

Invaders of Ekron screenshot
Invaders of Ekron is a great old-school inclusion

If you're looking for a twin-stick shooter that sets itself apart by offering a huge and varied campaign then Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition will surely not disappoint. Plus, the bonus Invaders of Ekron game is the icing on the cake.

Defenders of Ekron: Definitive Edition gameplay video → Invaders of Ekron gameplay video →
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Gameplay video playlist for Retro-Inspired Indie Games
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