Skeler Boy from Ratalaika Games

Skeler Boy

Inspired by horror classics like, The Shining or The Exorcist, Skeler Boy is a tale of the lengths a teen will go to rescue his love in the latest title from Ratalaika Games!

Originally released on pc/steam by Maniac Studio and as of today, the team at Ratalaika Games have brought it over to consoles for our enjoyment. Skeler Boy is a tale of young love and the lengths our hero Skeler will go in order to save his girlfriend Megan. Currently the developers are working on editions that will be playable on both Gameboy and NES, but also currently working on the sequel. Oddly according to the Kickstarter that ended in 2021, both the Gameboy and NES versions have already been made. Perhaps they mean official release versions that are for others that didn’t participate in the Kickstarter? Time will tell on that one. What is surprising is that from this original release I couldn’t find any reviews. Literally the only mentions from that time simply refer to the status of the crowdfunding. This means I’ll be doing this one old school without knowledge of the things to watch out for and diving right in. The game starts you in a forest looking for Megan with your first real clue being a mysterious audio message.

Visually the game looks like it would fit as a classic SNES title, similar to many of the ports we’ve seen from Ratalaika. The game makes superb use of lighting which is essential for a great horror game. The game is filled with puzzles, many of which require a bit of thought before figuring them out and I expect to find many more along the way. There’s even a lockpicking section that seems like it is a bit on the realistic side and makes me wonder if it can really be this easy with the right tools? Maybe the designer has some real life experience there? The controls are easy to pickup, at least they are on Xbox, I haven’t tried on other systems so I can’t speak to them. Overall gameplay transitions between different views and how you interact with the puzzles making for a more engaging experience. Over the course of the hour I played it felt like I got quite far in the game and I expect that most player will wrap this one up within 5 hours or less. Overall it was a solid experience that uses a great deal of variety and ambiance to it’s advantage. Definitely has me curious about the pending sequel, hopefully this one will release simultaneously on the consoles at the same time.

Rainbow Cotton is back from ININ!

Rainbow Cotton

The witch with the pink hair is back in ININ’s rails shooter Rainbow Cotton and is cuter than ever!

The young witch named Cotton has returned in Rainbow Cotton from ININ Games. Monsters are coming to eat the candy made by adorable faeries and they have called on Cotton for assistance. The game is a rails shooter, that was originally released in Japan in 2001, with Cotton riding a broom and blasting foes away with star filled spells and hexes.

Controls are extremely simple, relying on very little. One stick controls her placement on the screen where the other controls your targeting reticle for you to endlessly fire on your enemies. Where it seems a majority of games follow more of an 8 or 16 bit art pallet, this game holds to its roots on the Sega Dreamcast and even though it hasn’t really changed graphically it stands out as having far superior graphics in the nostalgia age of gaming. Rail shooters are also something I rarely see these days and even without the nostalgia factor it is nice to experience the playstyle. There are so few of these that it feels like a refreshing change of pace.

Overall, the game is adorable, has a touch of nostalgia, is simple to play and a refreshing joy in a world of unimaginative platformers that seek to cash in on our desire of playing something that reminds us of the good days.

Cyber Citizen Shockman 3 The Princess from Another World

Cyber Citizen Shockman 3 The Princess from Another World

Cyber Citizen Shockman is back for the final installment in the trilogy from Ratalaika Games with The Princess from Another World!

Cyber Citizen Shockman 3 was originally released in 1992 and has been resurrected by Ratalaika Games for current gen consoles. After winning the lottery and taking a much needed vacation, our two heroes, Arnold and Sonya, are forced to turn back into Shockman and defeat an alien threat that has ruined their vacation. This starts players on a side-scrolling adventure that looks and feels like they are still in the 90’s.

The game looks and feels like you are playing some of the run and gun classics from 90’s and looks like the continuation of the Cyber Citizen Shockman franchise that it is. For those that are new to the franchise it feels like a classic Mega-Man side scroller but without the thematic bosses who share a name with their power. The bosses in this game border on the extreme in difficulty compared to the stages themselves. This time around the gameplay is less sticky, meaning much smoother controls and animations. Which is great because in the first two installments I felt like I died more to incomplete jumps than anything else.

The game does lean towards feeling tedious as you press on between the difficult bosses and the repetitive gameplay. Visuals hit that nostalgic itch as does the gameplay itself and the story is humorous at times but not enough to keep me engaged long term.

Lunar Lander Beyond from Atari

Lunar Lander Beyond

From arcade to remaster, Lunar Lander Beyond is the latest Atari title to recreated from the ground up by Dreams Uncorporated!

Lunar Lander Beyond is the latest game to get the remastered, re-energized, polished treatment from Atari, with the help of Dreams Uncorporated. The Beyond moniker is similar to the Recharged titles, but has gone even further. It’s like playing a brand new game with the same base mechanics instead of just improving the graphics. We are even given a fully animatic cinematic experience with the gameplay, adding to the world beyond any of the previous reborn titles from Atari. Seriously, this looks and feels like it was designed from the ground up.

Sometimes you play a game and swear up and down you were playing a different title. I have memories of watching my father play Lunar Lander on our Atari back in the 80’s and him kicking my ass at it too. Looking at pictures of games from that time it’s clear that my memories have been of Gravitar after all. Memory can be a funny thing. Again, looking at the pictures it’s clear I have no memory of playing the original, despite my original claim in our review video about the game. Thankfully some followers straightened me out on that and I apologize to anyone that I confused or unintentionally misled there. Compared to the title I thought I had played, this game felt exactly like my memories of that but this time I’m at least more skilled than I was about 40 years ago. The original title was released only in arcades in 1979 and never (at least as far as my research can confirm) released on the Atari itself.

The cinematic visuals are absolutely stunning and feel like you’re watching a cyberpunk-themed anime. Game play is difficult if you are heavy handed like myself and require a lot of finesse. I typically hate games that require a gentle touch but found myself having a lot of fun. The production quality definitely helped with that.

Orion Haste from Ratalaika Games

Orion Haste

Orion Haste from Ratalaika Games is their latest sidescroller shooter that has definite Contra vibes but with a Doom Guy cosplay.

The folks at Ratalaika Games shared another nostalgic filled title with us, this time with Orion Haste. OH is a run and gun side-scroller that pits you against an alien invasion with an array of weapons with unlimited ammo. That’s right! UNLIMITED AMMO! You play as a soldier, who remarkably looks like Doom Guy, who is tasked with ending the alien menace. Along the way you will find extra lives or health and the four weapons. Each stage starts you with having to find the weapons once again and I must say the electric beam is the best option for nearly EVERY fight. It is a never ending beam of destruction. It is great to wield. The only problem with the weapons is aiming. You are limited to up, down, left, right and the left and right upper diagonals. With using a controller with sticks for aiming I hoped for better control. This in turn limits your options when dodging the enemies.

Gameplay looks and feels like the classic Contra games in nearly every way. Even the level of difficulty felt the same. Besides the limited options for shooting the controls are quite fluid. I loved Contra and this hit me in the feels in all the right ways. I had a blast with this one. Thanks to the team at Ratalaika and PR Hound for sharing another nostalgia gem with us!

Outer Terror from Ratalaika Games

Outer Terror

Outer Terror from Ratalaika Games is an isometric horror title that looks and feels like a twin stick shooter without a trigger.

Ratalaika Games has provided us with a code for their latest horror title, Outer Terror. The game looks and behaves like a twin-stick shooter. Only real difference is you don’t control your shots, they never stop shooting. Your focus, as far as controls are concerned, is on moving and triggering different abilities. As you level up you pick among three cards that will either heal you or power you up further. As each stage begins you get an introductory story clip with artwork that is very reminiscent of Charlie Adlard from The Walking Dead. Adlard is one of my favorite comic artists so I am absolutely here for these intros.

When you start the game there are four chapters and based on the achievement list there are others that will unlock later. As you complete chapters you collect money and can use these funds to pay for upgrades. The more you play, the more you’ll earn. The game is full of dodging and as a tip, the more money you pick up, the faster you’ll level up and that means the more upgrades you’ll unlock. By the time I finished episode 1 I had all upgrades finished within the level.

The gameplay art was a bit of a disappointment. As with most RG titles, the graphics look like it was developed for the Super Nintendo and I love them for that. However, with the fantastic intro art I was disappointed that the sprites weren’t rendered in the same style, by the same hands. Gameplay itself is smooth though and once you learn to read the map you can make quick work of some of the episodes. Overall I had a great time and look forward to seeing more of this great art as I play more episodes.

Code supplied on behalf of Ratalaika Games by PR Hound.

Xatrom Command from Ratalaika Games

Xatrom Command

Xatrom Command is a twin stick shooter from the team at Ratalaika Games where you must stop the alien threat.

Aliens have invaded and it is up to you to stop them in Xatrom Command from Ratalaika Games. XC is a twin-stick shooter with blocky graphics where your objective is to kill everything alien you see. Many of these aliens a similar to animals and bugs from Earth, except some of the bosses. As with any twin-stick shooter, it is quite easy to get overwhelmed. Movement is key and NEVER stop shooting. The primary targets are tiny spider-looking things and some sort of four-legged green and purple creature. I thought it was also a bug at first but couldn’t figure out which kind. Later on you fight scorpions, snakes and tarantulas. Not to mention a boss every ten rooms or map squares.

The game is actually quite simple, not just in appearance but in controls. You have one stick to move, one to aim your gun and the right trigger to fire. Again, movement is key. Don’t let the bugs overwhelm you because you will lose health quickly. The good news is the green things that look like bushes regularly drop ammo and health.

At first glance I assumed the game would be just TOO simplistic. Between the graphics and controls there wasn’t much to it. I was wrong. Despite the simplicity I had a great time, so much so that in a single sitting I completed thirty five of the levels and every achievement in the game. Doing so took almost an hour to do total so this is a great one for achievement hunters too!

Dungeon Drafters from Dangen Entertainment

Dungeon Drafters

Dungeon Drafters is a Zelda-like dungeon crawl where you have unlimited lives and a classic SNES look and feel.

Dangen Entertainment provided us a code for their latest title, Dungeon Drafters and it is an experience that quite surprisingly felt both new and nostalgic. How can it be both? I know. it feels weird. Visually the game looks like some of the classic JRPG titles you would play on the Super Nintendo or even the Genesis, with an isometric dungeon crawl. This is most like some of the original Final Fantasy titles. That covers the nostalgia part of it, now on to the NEW. The combat mechanics are a blend of turn based combat, like a tactics game, and merges it with card abilities from a randomized deck. This cards perform actions like rappelling from one end of the map to the other or a flaming sword strike.

As you dungeon crawl through the various stages you will confront monsters and people to save. Sometimes the monsters will attack each other as well. The way to tell the difference is the color of the health bar. If it’s red, then you kill it with extreme prejudiced. If it’s gold however, you need to save them as quick as possible. If this part was explained somewhere I completely missed it. Each chamber of the map seems to get more difficult as time progresses so playing cautiously is important as you rarely get chances to heal. Most enemies can move or act two times per turn where the character I chose had three. Knowing this makes planning your moves even more important because you can force some enemies to lineup to make fighting them easier.

I plan on a minimum of one hour of gameplay prior to writing our reviews.  This game sucked me in and somehow I lost almost three hours and had no idea, I was just having fun while slashing my way through the Glacial Library. Some dungeons are harder than others and I think choosing the library was a mistake this early in my gameplay because I didn’t even complete a single floor before getting killed. Interacting with NPCs leads me to believe we will unlock additional characters in our party through the story which will make stages like this one easier to traverse. Not only did I have a great time with this one but my son who was watching me play enjoyed it as well and even helped me understand some of the ability cards I was using better.

Cybertrash STATYX from Sometimes You

Cybertrash STATYX

In a cyberpunk world where corporations control everything you play as Jenet in Cybertrash STATYX from Sometimes You.

You begin Cybertrash Statyx as Jenet, waking up in a facility that is testing your body against numerous stressors. Things like being forced to run an obstacle course during the middle of the night when you should be sleeping. It’s obvious this corporation is EVIL because they are intentionally ruining your sleep. That is sacred. For that, they must pay! You are tested in challenge after challenge while the scientists and corporate bosses watch on.

The game is a two dimensional side scroller from Sometimes You and Uncle Frost Team where your goal is to survive this corporate run world by using their own tools and enhancements against them. Maybe you’ll even uncover a greater conspiracy while you’re at it?

The game looks like a classic title from the days of the Super Nintendo with solid combat mechanics. However where the game really fails is the movement controls. They can be quite sticky at times, especially when trying to jump and move forward at the same time. This has caused me to die more times than any failed reaction by falling short and running into an enemy. Being able to see cinematics and dialogue featuring the heads of the evil corporation make the story more engaging. This in turn makes the events around Jenet make more sense as well as she is fed only the most basic information. The poor movement mechanics do detract from the gameplay but the combat mechanics were surprisingly solid. Being able to switch weapons from item points allows you to better control the combat and made the game enjoyable.

One More Dungeon 2 from Ratalaika Games

One More Dungeon

The team at Ratalaika Games have returned along with Stately Snail to release the sequel One More Dungeon 2.

Our friends of Ratalaika Games shared one of their latest titles, One More Dungeon 2, with us and we recently had the chance to sit down and give it a play. We had never heard of the franchise prior to the announcement of this sequel but based on images alone we were excited to dive right in. In both titles you play an unnamed adventurer. I don’t know much of the original storyline but in OMD2 you are held captive by a kingdom of snails, or are they snails and slugs? Either way, they are green and slimy looking, but in a cute way. To earn your freedom, you must run through the dungeons and remove the evil denizens there to keep them from raiding the snail-king’s domain. More than enough justification for me to explore these dangerous spaces.

As I mentioned, the slugs are pretty damn cute and the enemies themselves are rendered in a chunky art style that reminds me of the Super-Hero Squad line that Hasbro released over a decade ago. The stages are randomly generated with each expedition but are hampered by the controls. Most games with a poor controller setup have a chance to make up for this by having easier gameplay, an engaging story or stellar graphics. The controls for this game are obscenely sticky, making aiming with ranged weapons quite difficult. They were so bad that they turned what would have been a great game into one that is only okay. The difficulty (when set higher) was much higher than I expected and provided a great challenge that was made more frustrating by these same controller issues. Overall we enjoyed the game but, without the necessary controls making it nearly impossible at times, it fell short of its potential.