It's a new year and old-school games are more popular than ever so here are 6 recent retro-style indie gems that caught my eye.
SuperEpic: The Entertainment War Review Xbox One ★★★★☆
If the idea of a Metroidvania with RPG and beat 'em up elements appeals to you then you should definitely check out SuperEpic.
SuperEpic was created by the same developers behind the ridiculous and highly underrated endless runner Superola and The Lost Burgers and just like that game; this stars a llama, too. As the title may suggest, SuperEpic: The Entertainment War is a satirical look at the game industry where a monopoly causes video games to become homogenized and not fun. So, a racoon and llama venture forth to infiltrate Regnantcorp and make gaming fun again. The gameplay has you utilize 3 distinct weapons and as you advance, you'll learn new abilities like the double-jump which helps mix up the gameplay a great deal. You'll also spend earned money on upgrading your arsenal and purchasing special moves. Thankfully, the gameplay is tight, challenging, and supremely enjoyable, especially because it's set in such a humorous and memorable world. Oh, and there are even mini-games that you can play on your mobile device via QR codes.
When it comes to satirical Metroidvanias, SuperEpic is the complete package with plenty of laughs and fun to be had throughout.SuperEpic: The Entertainment War gameplay video →
Mini Motor Racing X Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆
Overhead racing games offer a fresh yet undeniably retro perspective to the classic genre so let's put the pedal to the metal!
On its surface, Mini Motor Racing X is a typical overhead racing game and for the most part, it is. That being said, everything is handled beautifully with a variety of upgradable vehicles, optional power-ups, local and online multiplayer for up to 4 players, and a soccer mini-game known as Bumper Ball which is quite similar to Rocket League. Personally, I mostly enjoyed working through the single player campaign as it's full of challenges set on a wealth of great-looking tracks. The level of challenge and satisfying upgrades kept me hooked and I can't wait to dive back in. Last but certainly not least, Mini Motor Racing X is PlayStation VR compatible and it looks and plays incredibly in virtual reality. The developers really went above and beyond to pack this game full of great stuff!
Fans of overheard racing games will find a lot to love about Mini Motor Racing X, especially those with PlayStation VR headsets.Mini Motor Racing X gameplay video →
Metaloid: Origin Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆
There have been loads of Mega Man clones over the years and Metaloid: Origin is yet another but is it any good?
Last year, I played Metagal which was a solid take on Mega Man and now, the same developers just released Metaloid: Origin. It plays very similarly to Metagal in that you have a variety of offensive and defensive weapons. One big difference is that the level designs are much more complex and there's a surprising amount of puzzles that you need to solve in order to progress. I honestly felt that these puzzles ruined the momentum although a few of them are genuinely clever and enjoyable to solve. The stages themselves are huge and feature a couple of bosses each which range from predictable to brutally challenging but thankfully, you can heal with a special ability that uses up your currency that's otherwise used to purchase new abilities. Overall, it's a solid game yet not quite on par with Mega Man.
If you enjoyed Metagal then you'll definitely have fun with Metaloid: Origin yet it still doesn't deviate much from the classic formula.Metaloid: Origin gameplay video → Metagal Review
Pixel Devil and the Broken Cartridge Review Xbox One ★★☆☆☆
Here's yet another 2D action game that looks like Mega Man so let's jump to it and blast some baddies!
Pixel Devil and the Broken Cartridge is a strange game. It looks like a promising take on classic NES action games but once you start playing it, you'll realise how clunky the controls are. For example, jumping feels very off although you do get used to it after playing for a while. The campaign is set up in a way that forces you to complete levels out of order so you can earn abilities that are required to advance in other levels which is needlessly confusing. However, there are essentially only a handful of levels so it's a very short game. Once you manage to figure out which order to tackle the stages, you can easily beat the whole thing in 1 sitting. In the end, the clunky controls, frustrating campaign setup, annoying platforming segments, and short play time make it an easily forgettable game.
With so many superior retro indies out there, why anyone would bother with Pixel Devil and the Broken Cartridge is beyond me.Pixel Devil and the Broken Cartridge gameplay video →
Xposed Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆
Taito's arcade classic Qix has seen loads of copycats over the decades yet Xposed offers a unique spin on the formula.
Xposed is undeniably inspired by Qix but it doesn't exactly play like Taito's classic. For starters, you can move anywhere within filled-in walls which makes avoiding enemies a breeze. Next, when you draw a complete line to fill in a section, it won't fill in if enemies are on both sides which adds a layer of strategy because you'll want to gather as many enemies in as small of a section as possible in order to claim more of the field. Finally, most stages are littered with areas that you move slowly through or can't move through or perish when you touch them so that can make mastering levels much more time-consuming. Although all of this makes Xposed stand out as a distinct game, I couldn't help but feel that these elements work against the fun factor and I instead wanted to play Qix or Volfied.
Although it's inspired by Qix, Xposed offers an original take on the formula that both works for and against it.Xposed gameplay video → A Quick Look at Qix
Super Korotama Review PlayStation 4 ★★★☆☆
Guiding balls along a thin chrome bar to their goal holes has been a fun arcade formula since 1983 so let's check this out!
Here's another indie inspired by a classic Taito game. Back in 1983, Taito released Ice Cold Beer which has players raise and lower the 2 ends of a metal bar that has a ball balancing on it and you have to guide it into its respective hole. I remember playing it a lot on a trip to Vegas but I digress. Super Korotama faithfully follows the formula by having you carefully control a metal bar with the analogue sticks. One major difference is that whenever you complete a level, the layout is replaced with a new one and some of the stages can be incredibly tricky to navigate with loads of holes scattered about. In the end, it's simple stuff that can be quite enjoyable but the fun factor quickly dies down when the repetition of it all starts to sink in. Unlocking new themes is rewarding, though.
Super Korotama is a safe adaptation of Taito's classic Ice Cold Beer yet it doesn't do enough to form its own identity.Super Korotama gameplay video →