Cuphead was one of the most highly anticipated indie games of 2017 and, while I always enjoy stumbling upon great overlooked games, it’s rather refreshing to see a game with so much hype behind it actually (mostly) live up to that hype. Both visually and audibly Cuphead is an aesthetic masterpiece and this is something that was obvious from the first, painfully brief E3 trailer, but there is a breathtaking world of difference between seeing a few disconnected trailers and brief gameplay demos versus playing it for yourself as one cohesive whole. Even more importantly, it plays extremely well. (more…)
Eden Reverse is a short cross between a platformer and a shmup without feeling entirely like either. Your character can stay in the air for quite a while before falling back down to the ground, but the main feature is hinted at by the title itself. Specifically, you can reverse gravity to walk on the ceiling. This is far from the only game to feature such a mechanic, but Eden Reverse is rather unique among these types of games in its pure focus on boss fights. With gravity controls, a jetpack that lets you remain in the air for extended periods of time, and creative boss fights within often equally creative arenas, this little game packs a big punch. (more…)
The two games in the Anyman series are incredibly short and slightly too easy for their own good while still being entertaining enough to be worth spending the roughly five minutes it takes to finish them. Despite some obvious references to the Mega Man series with a cast of robotic ‘mans’ and an evil scientist for an antagonist, the gameplay in this series is rather different. You play using only the mouse and right click to jump and left click to shoot. Each game consists of nothing but back-to-back boss fights and you get about a third of your maximum health back after defeating each boss. These fights all take place with Anyman on the left side of the screen and the boss on the right side, but the big twist here is that neither Anyman nor the bosses can move horizontally since they’re both technically running to the right at all times. With no horizontal movement, you need to rely entirely upon your jump to dodge attacks. Thankfully, you can jump indefinitely while in the air so you have quite a bit of vertical control, though bosses can jump just as much as you can and many of their attacks force players to balance their height near the middle of the screen rather than sticking to the ground or the very top. As for your attack, this is the one area where the gameplay more closely matches that of the Mega Man series as you have a gun which can shoot small bullets each time you click or you can charge it up for a stronger shot, though even here it’s not quite the same as your attacks can be freely aimed with the mouse and your weapon charges up in about a second with no middle step along the way.
Both games feature four fights against other robots followed by two fights against the antagonist, Dr. Alien. There are some interesting ideas for these robots, such as Pulse Man, who sends out red circles of various sizes which combine together and can be destroyed if you shoot them enough, while other robots are decidedly less original, such as in the case of Blade Man, who is virtually identical to Metal Man from Mega Man 2 aside from the lack of horizontal movement. You only have a single life to get through all six fights, but with the rather generous healing between fights and the low difficulty of the fights themselves the only real danger of death comes from the Dr. Alien fights. Though the second game is listed as being in an alpha state and will almost certainly never be finished, it seems to be free of bugs and all it is missing is a tutorial and the final, seventh fight so it basically has just as much content as the first game. In fact, the second game even has a bit more in the way of content because you can choose to play as Anygirl, who sacrifices the charge shot in exchange for a rapid-fire machine gun and the ability to hover in place whenever the left mouse button is held down. A higher difficulty setting would have been nice to have and a potential playtime of less than five minutes for each game makes them rather light on content, especially since they were not made as contest entries with time constraints to the best of my knowledge, but the gameplay is creative enough that both games are nevertheless fun little diversions.
Bleed 2 is going to be released in less than a week (February 8), so now seems like a pretty good time to look at the original game in this series. For those unfamiliar with Bleed , it is a brutally hard game focused mostly on its many boss fights which are spread out between seven short and rather varied levels. It shows its age a bit in spots, but the crisp combat and the incredibly smooth controls hold up as well as ever. (more…)
Lunatic War is a game consisting entirely of 12 boss fights separated by brief dialogue skits (all in Japanese) and it makes the most of the content it has to offer. Every boss has a unique and often creative design and, more importantly, each fight is memorable with some fights consisting of two or more phases. Though there are not multiple difficulties, you have access to both a Mega Man buster and a Kirby-ish magic glove and your choice between the two dramatically alters how you approach nearly every fight. (more…)