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Top-down, Side-scrolling Aces of the Lufwaffe hurts my brain

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Verticality makes perfect sense for arcade games; the less width each machine takes up, the more you can cram side by side. It makes even more sense for arcade shooters, providing more space to see the bullet hell ahead of you. Home versions of these games, however, have struggled with reshaping that vertical presentation to fit square CRTs and now widescreen formats. The best solutions have been to shrink down the game to fit the height of the TV screen or to physically turn the TV on its side.

Aces of the Luftwaffe takes that less-than-ideal physical solution and applies it to the game itself, rotating the vertical shooter action on its side. I’m no shooter historian but this is the first top-down shmup I can think of that scrolls left to right and it’s a little unsettling to see in action. It wasn’t designed this way from the beginning — Aces has been around on mobile devices since 2008 — but it’s a clever twist that lets the action fill the screen instead of being shrunk down. It also looks like a hearty challenge and is currently $4.99 on PlayStation 4 and Steam. Or check it out for free on iOS, Android, Windows, Windows Phone or the Amazon app store.

A new videOST for CounterSpy is out today!

There’s something in CounterSpy’s visual style and soundtrack that more than compensate for its gameplay flaws. It’s a terribly inconsistent game when it comes to being spotted which makes the experience more frustrating than it should be. Still, I really liked it and after the first several hours with the game I couldn’t stop humming its cool 60’s spy flick music.

I went looking for an official soundtrack but only found a few songs on Soundcloud and one copy on vinyl… that comes direct from the developers??! So I did the thing I usually do and recorded it myself! It was a fun process and really got me thinking about the audio design and how it’s all linked to go along with the randomly generated levels. Then I thought about things even more and edited all the musical cues and interludes into a new videOST series. Watch, listen, enjoy and then go play the game yourself. It’s pretty fun, only a little flawed and it’s on every PlayStation platform as well as iOS and Android.

Q-Games’ Nom Nom Galaxy launches on PlayStation 4 May 12th

Oh hi there Nom Nom Galaxy, where have you been hiding? I haven’t touched the Early Access version of the game in nearly a year and the email updates stopped coming in from the team. Turns out they’ve been posting major updates to their blog over the last few weeks which makes this surprise PlayStation 4 launch trailer a little less surprising.

Nevertheless, the console version — now running on an optimized engine with a new career mode, gear, recipes and 4-player online co-op — is launching on PlayStation 4 next Tuesday, May 12th. The Early Access version available on Steam goes for $9.99 so expect that to be the minimum price on PS4, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see it at $14.99 after a launch week or PlayStation Plus discount.

Play Spelunker Z as gaming’s most famous spelunker

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In what I have dubbed the most adorable cross promotion in years, the free-to-play Minna de Spelunker Z now has an assortment of gear themed after Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. Most notably is Lara’s trademark tanktop and short shorts, made extra adorable in Spelunker’s chibi style. It’s also really powerful and I want it really bad, but here’s the rub.

Gear in Spelunker comes in pieces. As you play stages you’ll find little shiny egg thingies which you crack open at the end to see what you’ve won. It’s very gashapon and very grindy. Special Event items are only available for a limited time — in Lara’s case it’s through the end of May — so you’re motivated to play the same specified stages over and over, preferably with other players which boosts your chances.

So, anyone interested in trying? I finally found one person to play with but the game supports up to six players at once and that sounds fantastic to behold, even if we don’t get short shorts.

Get Funky with Sega Swirl’s Soundtrack

Thanks to Giant Bomb’s Dan Ryckert and the Demo Derby series, I was once again reminded of something I’d forgotten about; how great the music is in Sega Swirl! It’s also one of those great oddities of gaming, having only been distributed on demo discs or bundled on the Dreamcast Web Browser discs. I remember really enjoying it back in 2000 and getting much more use from it than the Dreamcast web experience.

It also had a great funky soundtrack that I quickly recorded. Though it’s lost to time now I remember emailing with Tremor Entertainment (or possibly Richard Jacques who is credited on the game) about the soundtrack. He mentioned that the music was interactive, changing with the player’s speed and performance. I swear I’ve never heard it change because the rounds are over so quickly. Regardless, it’s got a handful of great tunes and you can listen and watch along in my latest videOST playlist.

Other videOST offerings include Beetle Adventure Racing, Crash ‘n Burn, San Francisco Rush 2049, Extreme-G 2, and X-Men on the Genesis.

Everybody SPLUNKAAAH!

I haven’t had much time for writing or working on Promo Man posts but I did manage to record some time with my current game of choice: Minna de Spelunker Z. It’s a Japanese exclusive, free-to-play update of a 2009 remake of the venerable NES original… so of course I’m into it!

This was my first attempt at streaming from our new PlayStation 4 so the quality isn’t nearly as high as I’d like but hopefully it’s watchable and entertaining. I think I cover all the basics so treat this as a guide if you’re interested in trying it yourself and let me know so we can play multiplayer!

Promo Man: ‘Bonk for President’, the Bonk RPG and more

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A super-deformed, chibi caveman is exactly the kind of thing I’d expect to fall out of Japan in the 90’s. Starring in one of the more vibrant and enjoyable games for the PC-Engine, Bonk was quickly turned into a mascot for NEC and the TurboGrafx-16. But I don’t think the marketing team thought much beyond having a face to go head-to-head (pardon) with Sonic and Mario.

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Now Playing: Tori Watch (iOS, Android)

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Do you like birds, but don’t want the mess and noise of having one as a pet?  Do you like birds, but don’t like sitting outside too often  to watch for them?  Well this Japanese app (game?) has solved these problems!  The app is still mostly in Japanese, but is available here. It’s called Tori Watch by ククリス・ゲームズ (Cuculis Games) and you can find it on the Google Play store and iTunes.

Even without reading Japanese many of the menus are easy to figure out.  You can upgrade the food items you feed them with to attract new types of birds.  There are info cards to tell you about them, but those are in Japanese.  Hopefully it will get translated to English someday, but until then here are some info cards I made myself.

Shawn’s Thoughts
First off, Katy’s images are fantastic! The in-game models are cute but I didn’t realize how spot on they were to the real birds until Katy put them side by side. Questioning if this is a game at all is also spot on but as the adorably translated description proclaims, “you can play it without any complicate action”. They know the score. Truthfully, the most challenging thing I’ve done is to keep my screen from timing out when new birds arrive.

Despite the simple nature of this “bird watching game to observe leisurely small birds”, it definitely follows modern mobile game design. Don’t worry, none of it involves microtransactions or hot sales on ‘Energy’, it’s supported by simple ad banners. Birds fly in, you get points. Like Katy said, you spend those points to upgrade your feed options or expand your park to accommodate more birds. There’s a journal with goals to shoot for (again, all in Japanese so I’m guessing stuff like “get a male and female on-screen at once”) but that’s about all you have to do.

It’s been a cute little diversion over the last few days and fun to poke around the Japanese menus to figure out how the game works.

Promo Man: I mustache you a question

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I always appreciated the simple iconography of Mario and Luigi’s mustaches on this postcard. It wasn’t a standalone ad for Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga, rather a cheeky little postcard that came tucked into a few issues of Nintendo Power leading up to the game’s 2003 release.

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