Retro-Inspired Indie Games (Part 8)

Retro-Inspired Indie Games (Part 8)

From ninja tanukis to stranded Santas

A.J. Maciejewski

Written by for Rapid Fire Reviews on

There's nothing quite like settling in with a good old retro title so here are 7 recent indies that may just scratch your nostalgia itch.

Tanuki Justice Review Switch ★★★★☆

2D action games come in all sorts of varieties yet few nail the arcade feel as well as Tanuki Justice does so let's check it out.

Tanuki Justice screenshot
I don't think we're welcome in this neck of the woods

Tanuki Justice has you control a little critter who plays like a ninja as you can double-jump, throw shurikens, and unleash powerful attacks as you run through its lovely pixel-perfect levels. Although you can play it solo, its action-intense gameplay lends itself well to cooperative multiplayer and it ends up feeling like a quarter-eating arcade game from the late '80s with its high degree of difficulty and tight controls. In fact, everything from its graphics to its music and effects are spot-on for old-school arcade fun. Whether you're dodging an onslaught of enemy projectiles, collecting power-ups to deploy shields and powerful attacks, or taking down a tricky boss; Tanuki Justice is an absolute ton of fun. However, it is very challenging so ensure you have plenty of patience before diving into this fun-filled throwback.

Not many indies completely nail retro arcade games as well as Tanuki Justice does so if you love 2D action then this is a must-have game.

Tanuki Justice gameplay video → More 2D Switch Games

Landflix Odyssey Review PlayStation 4 ★★★★☆

Playing through a variety of themed levels is nothing new yet the spoof-filled Landflix Odyssey is here to offer some rather unique twists.

Landflix Odyssey screenshot
Even the cacti shoot bullets

Landflix Odyssey is essentially a spoof of a bunch of popular TV shows; many of which are on Netflix. You'll play through virtual parodies of shows such as Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, and The Walking Dead and each themed stage represents its respective franchise quite well albeit in a humorous and goofy way. The core gameplay is what you'd expect from a 2D platformer as you run and jump around levels while trying not to get hit by enemies and hazards. On top of that, you have a projectile burp attack that will defeat or stun your foes and you'll also encounter plenty of distinct power-ups and nifty mechanics that help to diversify the gameplay a great deal. Overall, it's a simple platformer with goofy and sometimes crass humour yet there's enough variety that you'll likely binge-play every stage.

As a silly spoof game, Landflix Odyssey is jam-packed with parodies of TV shows that'll keep you glued to your TV with its fun gameplay.

Landflix Odyssey gameplay video →

Colossus Down Review Xbox One ★★★★☆

Here we have a beat 'em up that takes place in the twisted world of Agatha Knife and MechaNika so let's cause some destruction.

Colossus Down screenshot
Some kids simply don't respect authority

Mango Protocol has created some memorable and dark comedic adventure games and they've now culminated in a highly enjoyable beat 'em up. Colossus Down has you control MechaNika who's on a rampage to destroy everything that isn't cool and if you have a friend to play it with, they can control the Great Bleeding Pig. At its core, the gameplay is typical of a beat 'em up as you're capable of different attacks that are more effective in certain situations. Additionally, there's a cool health system where you use coolant so you don't overheat and the key to staying alive is collecting beverages while cooling down whenever you have the chance. Along the way, you'll learn awesome new attacks which usually cause you to heat up so there's an element of strategy involved in combat. It all comes together to make a top-notch beat 'em up and the fact that you'll visit many memorable locations as you progress is a treat.

Colossus Down is a great beat 'em up that takes place in one of the most twisted indie franchises out there and I highly recommend it.

Colossus Down gameplay video → Agatha Knife Review MechaNika Review

Ponpu Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

As a huge fan of Bomberman, I often enjoy seeing how indie developers play with the classic formula so let's see if Ponpu's worthwhile.

Ponpu screenshot
It's like Bomberman after the edibles kick in

Ponpu is played very similarly to Bomberman in that you plant bombs on a grid while trying to trap your foes into taking damage as you frantically run around and avoid explosions. The first thing that struck me about Ponpu is just how stylish and quirky its visuals and characters are. For example, instead of planting bombs, you lay eggs that explode. Anyway, its gameplay is done well although it's not quite as tight as the classic Bomberman games and on top of that, it's much more action-oriented overall as opposed to relying primarily on strategy. After planting a bomb, you can tap a button to send it flying away from you which tears down all of the walls in its way and although this is cool, it takes a lot of the strategic fun that Bomberman is renowned for out of the equation in favour of a more chaotic and action-focused formula. It's still fun, though, and its single player campaign is quite lengthy and filled with variety.

Although I had fun playing Ponpu, it made me want to dive back into Bomberman as it isn't quite as satisfying as Hudson's classic.

Ponpu gameplay video → Bomberman games

Santa's Xmas Adventure Review Switch ★★★☆☆

Sliding tile puzzle games have been around for a long time yet this might just be the first one that stars jolly old Saint Nick.

Santa's Xmas Adventure screenshot
Don't worry, Santa; I'll show you the way!

For whatever reason, I absolutely love sliding tile puzzle games and Santa's Xmas Adventure does a decent job of offering enjoyable stages where you build paths for Santa to reach the goal. Along the way, you can have him traverse tiles with presents on them and gathering all of them can be quite tricky in some levels so getting them all poses a fun albeit not too difficult challenge. There are a ton of stages to master and 3 modes as well including the super-easy Gift mode with no restrictions, Classic mode where you have a limited number of moves, and Moving mode where Santa moves on his own accord. Oh, and there's an option to use a cursor via motion controls which works impressively well. All-in-all, this is a solid sliding tile puzzler even if it remains on the simple side of the spectrum.

If you want to inject some festive fun into your Switch library then guiding Santa along tiles makes for a nifty little puzzle game.

Santa's Xmas Adventure gameplay video → Bunny Adventure Review Similar game: Crossroad Crisis

Grood Review Xbox One ★★★☆☆

Shoot 'em ups are plentiful yet Grood is here to provide rockin' good times with its challenging and unique take on shooting action.

Grood screenshot
I don't like the look of that missile...

Grood is a rare indie shoot 'em up that features 3D graphics and it looks great. You control a spherical ship with mounted guns as you shoot at enemies and avoid their projectiles. In other words, it's as you would expect from the genre. Grood sets itself apart by featuring the ability to slow down time whenever your meter is full and you'll also switch weapons as you acquire them throughout the campaign. Plus, the metal soundtrack enhances the onscreen action in a suitable way. That being said, I found being able to gauge where I was in relation to the enemies to frequently get in the way of my enjoyment because the tilted camera makes aiming and avoiding bullets tougher than it should be. Also, although they're challenging, the levels aren't all that cleverly laid-out and become quite repetitive as a result. Other than these issues, Grood is a solid and enjoyable shmup that'll thoroughly put your skills to the test.

When it comes to shoot 'em ups, Grood is a capable indie although it doesn't do all that much beyond the very basics of the genre.

Grood gameplay video → More Indie Shoot 'em Ups

Burst Shooter Review Switch ★☆☆☆☆

Speaking of shoot 'em ups, have you ever wanted to play as a bird that can blast away enemy orbs? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Burst Shooter screenshot
Where are all those projectiles coming from anyway?

Right off the bat, let me just say that Burst Shooter is a tough game to recommend. All you do is fend off encroaching orbs by shooting at them to send them to the right side of the screen. As you play, your firepower becomes ridiculous and the number of enemies that you have to deal with increases, too. In fact, it gets so chaotic that the visuals slow down and become quite choppy. Anyway, that's all there is to it and once you run out of health which is caused by enemies reaching the left side of the screen, you simply start it all over again. I mean, you can trade health for a special attack but that's about the extent of Burst Shooter's complexity.

Burst Shooter seems more like a game made for a school project than something that should be commercially available to the public.

Burst Shooter gameplay video → More Switch Shoot 'em Ups
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