September is over, but before we enter Spooktober, I gotta give you guys the rundown on eight games you may have missed this past month. A good range of genres, so thanks to the publishers who sent them to me in order to make this list possible and let’s go ahead and get started.
Cave, one of the giants of the shoot ‘em up genre, is back with another Switch port – this time for the notoriously difficult Espgaluda II. This is one of those shooters where there are so many bullets on-screen that the game itself even lags – a feature accurately replicated from the arcade version on which this port is based. And you’ll be thankful for that lag, as it gives you time to weave in and out of these massive explosions of color bullets.
It’s a visual feast for sure, but it is also a fun one. As someone that has been playing more and more of these types of games lately, I quite enjoyed how over the top this one goes. You have weapons that literally blast the entire screen, bosses with super intricate attack patterns, graphics that uniquely blend 2D and 3D elements, and a soundtrack that is an absolute bop. And then there’s the numerous new game modes, settings, and all the upgrades and such that come along with this new definitive version. It is one of the better shmups I’ve played recently and an easy recommendation if you like a game with a real sense of challenge behind it.
eShop page. Espgaluda 2 retails for $20 USD and this latest version is available exclusively on Switch.
Tails of Iron
If you couldn’t already tell by this very series I run, I am a bit of a fan of these 2D souls-like games. Tails of Iron is a bit on the simpler side for the genre, but it’s a fun, rat-themed take on it. You play as the heir to the Rat Throne, only to have that throne swiped right out from under you and the kingdom overrun by the Frog Clan. Thus begins your journey through this dark and dangerous world full of enemies, secrets, and a whole lotta loot to find.
The combat has its mix of light and heavy attacks, dodging, blocking, parrying – basically all the staples of the genre and it feels good to play, even if it doesn’t really do anything new. And yes, it is difficult, if the genre did not already make it obvious. Save points are plentiful, but bosses can easily slap you in a couple hits if you are not careful, so it is worthwhile to really learn proper dodge timing and all that. It’s a neat little Souls-like all things considered and worth a look for genre fans – the nice, stylized aesthetic on top of that is a cool bonus too.
Part puzzle game, part strategy game, ConnecTank is a unique mashup that has you working the inside of a giant tank. The game basically revolves around skirmishes in which you must build conveyers to get ammunition into the tank’s cannons. Once you’ve set up the proper conveyer system, then you move on to the actual crafting of ammunition – and there’s quite a bit to build there as each shot has its own matchups against others and each has its own set of stats (like speed, strength, etc.).
Finishing one skirmish allows you to branch out on the map and find others, earning upgrades and running into special events along the way. It’s a fairly simple game all things considered, but fun enough to warrant a recommendation – I feel like it’s been grossly overlooked with only a handful of reviews on Steam, surprising considered it comes from the same publisher behind Harvest Moon.
Steam page. ConnecTank retails for $30 USD and is also available on PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.
So this is easily one of the most creative approaches to a card battler I have seen. It takes the aspects of that genre we all know and love and slaps it onto a mini chess board, complete with pieces and all. Your pieces move the same as you would expect in chess, but this time as cards and the enemy pieces all have unique traits of their own – like not allowing you to take them when you’re in an adjacent space or even leaving behind a trail of poison that deals damage if you end your turn on it.
You get upgrades too – like pawns attacking diagonally after moving forward or bishops that grant you an extra turn on use. All of these layers come together to form quite the unique and fun little roguelike and honestly, the novelty alone is enough of a reason to recommend it – double so if you’re a fan of the genre like myself.
Steam page. Pawnbarian retails for $10 USD and is currently exclusive to Steam.
So what if you took Pokémon Snap and made it into a puzzle-adventure game? That’s pretty much TOEM, a neat little black and white indie game that has you exploring these small, yet dense environments and taking a bunch of photos. Sometimes it’s photos of the wildlife, sometimes its of a manmade object, and sometimes it’s of something completely unique. You’re given a bunch of quests to complete in each area and they have you going all over, solving various puzzles and earning stamps to put in your book – which then grant access to the next area.
It’s a very laidback experience and – while not really that challenging – I did enjoy taking my camera around and snapping some neat pictures, sometimes just for the sake of it (the game lets you do selfies and you bet I took advantage of that). If you’re into indie puzzlers, it is well worth a play.
Steam page. TOEM retails for $20 USD and is also available on PS5 and Switch.
Another month, another HD release of a classic Darius game. This time it’s for G-Darius, the 4th arcade entry in the series released all the way back in 1997. Of course, this time it’s also presented in HD – with upgraded 3D models and an overall resolution upgrade that really emphasize just how weird this game is. I mean, it’s a shoot ‘em up where you’re flying through space blasting giant robot fish things using this unique “capture” ability – which basically lets you throw out a Poké Ball and snag another ship to use as an upgrade on your own.
It is some absolutely bonkers game design and it meshes well with its equally bonkers soundtrack – at times not really fitting the theme of the game, but being so interesting in its own right that I couldn’t help but end up enjoying it. It’s a fun shmup if you’re a fan of that genre and even includes the original game if you don’t want to go the HD route – a nice all around package worth a look.
PlayStation Store page. G-Darius HD retails for $30 USD and is also available on Switch.
I won’t claim to be the best at these precision platformers, but something just keeps me coming back to them. The rush of their fast-paced gameplay, the absolute satisfaction of being able to blitz a level within mere seconds – Aeon Drive is yet another game that brings out these strengths. It’s a game all about speed, with levels being timed in the seconds and every action counting.
You’ll need to jump, slide, dash, and dodge all over the level, picking up items to increase your time all while working to get towards the end. A simple design, but an effective one and with some nice pixel graphics to match. Recommended if you’re into precision platformers, but be ready for a challenge.
Steam page. Aeon Drive retails for $15 USD and is also available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Switch.
From the same solo developer that brought us the excellent Red Ronin comes another neat little puzzle game. This time though, it’s a platformer in which you lack the ability to jump. Your movement is instead linked to that of a grappling hook, which you can shoot in four directions and even swap direction mid-air. The levels are these small, contained things, but expect to die a lot. There are frequent hazards you have to avoid and patterns you have to learn in order to find that optimal path to the goal.
Of course, there are multiple paths to take – it all depends on how well you can time your grappling hook. It’s a bit on the simple side – and should take around 3-4 hours to clear – but an enjoyable puzzle platformer nonetheless and worth a shot if you’re up for a challenge.
Steam page. Raven’s Hike retails for $5 USD and is currently exclusive to Steam.
And that’s the end of my list for this month. I didn’t actually end up playing all of the games I wanted to that came out this past month, but hopefully at least one of the ones I did play for this list caught your interest.