It’s another update after only a week? Yes, I do want to get this done this month. It’s almost like a real website for a few weeks! Heh.
Table of Contents: Q-R-Sa to Sh – 22 games
Quarters, Please! 2
Quest of Dungeons
Retro City Rampage: DX
Robot Rescue 3D
RV-7 My Drone
Samurai Sword Destiny
Sanrio characters Picross
Secret Agent Files: Miami
SEGA 3D Classics Series — OutRun
Senran Kagura Burst
Shantae [GBC Virtual Console]
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove
Quarters, Please! – Published by Nostatic Software in 2019. This is a collection of five homebrew remakes of classic arcade games. There is no stereoscopic 3d here. You start out by choosing a character to walk around the arcade with. It defaults to the girl who is the main character of the developers’ adventure game series (Quiet, Please!, Candy, Please!, and such), but you can also play as a bunch of other characters from the games. This doesn’t mean much since most of your time will be in the games and you don’t see the character while playing, but it’s there. In the arcade, you walk around to go to the arcade machines or look at the handful of other things to do in the arcade, though there isn’t much. You can’t leave the area, it’s just one one-screen building to explore. Having the arcade at all is nice but I was hoping for a bit more interaction. Once you enter a game the lower screen goes totally black as you play on the upper one.
The games here are Meteor (Asteroids), Nebula (Galaga), Dino Dig (Dig-Dug), Face Invaders (Space Invaders), and Bound ‘n Bash (Bump ‘n Jump). The games play a lot like their classic arcade counterparts, though generally not quite as well as the real things. Meteor’s controls feel a bit off, for example. Games are controlled with the dpad or analog stick and the A button. B or Start pause and let you quit back out to the arcade. Each game saves the top five best scores, with initials, which is nice. Perhaps the biggest problem here isn’t gameplay though, it’s audio. There is no music during play, at all. Some games have better sound effects than others, but none have music. Playing Nebula is kind of boring without anything at all replaing Galaga’s iconic musical bits! Some of these games have at least some sound which approximates the real things, such as Face Invaders and Bound ‘n Bash, both of which do sound alright if only with simple beeper sounds, but the other three really are lacking. There is some basic music in the arcade so the developer is capable of something, but it’s not in the actual games. When you combine that with the fine but not anything special play of the games themselves you get something I can’t quite recommend. This collection’s okay and the games play well, but you’re probably better off with the real things somewhere else. Nintendo 3DS digital exclusive.
Quarters, Please! Vol. 2 – Published by Nostatic Software in 2020. This is a second collection of homebrew remakes of classic arcade games. This collection is very similar to the first one, with the same arcade, the same selection of characters from the developers’ adventure game series to walk around the arcade as, and five new games to play. Stuff was moved around the arcade and some colors were changed and such, but it’s mostly the same. You still can’t play that ping-pong table sitting there in the arcade, unfortunately. Bah. And again there is no stereoscopic 3D and while in a game the bottom screen is just solid black. Shouldn’t it show arcade controls or something?
As for the games, this time you have: Guardian (Defender), which as usual for this series has okay NES-ish graphics, decent gameplay, and incredibly minimal sound effects that totally fail to represent Defender at all; Badger (Frogger), an okay Frogger clone; Space Attack (Missile Command), a decent Missile Command clone which would be a lot better with touchscreen controls instead of dpad or analog, but sadly it does not have that and is buttons-only though at least it does support analog with the analog stick; Decipod (Centipede), a solid version of Centipede with sounds as the enemies move around and analog controls; and one original title. This is Karate Battle, an endless runner with more mid ‘80s style visuals and actual in-game music. You run along at high speed and need to press down to slide, X to attack, or A to jump at the right moments to not die to the obstacles that come at you. Overall, I’d probably call this collection a bit better than the first one, as the games included are done slightly better and there is a bit more audio, though it still isn’t nearly as good as the sounds from a classic arcade machine. The original title is fairly bland, I’m not an endless runner fan, but it’s something. As a big Defender fan it’s too bad the version of Defender here is probably the weakest of the four classic arcade ports, but it’s still fun. If you get one of these two collections, get this one. Nintendo 3DS digital exclusive.
Quell: Reflect – Published by Circle and developed by FK Digital in 2014. Do you like ice puzzles, where you cannot stop while in motion but instead slide until you hit something? Do you like the idea of facing plenty of puzzles like that? Well, if so, this is the game for you. If not… probably don’t buy the Quell games. If you do though, start with this one bcause it starts out much more approachably than the second game. The game has simple controls, you choose with way to slide with either the touchscreen, dpad, or analog stick. Controlling orb-like raindrops, you need to collect all of the items on each stage to complete it. Various obstacles exist to get in your way, including spikes which pop up after you pass over them and more. A touchscreen icon or the Y button resets the stage. Eventually you get stages with multiple orbs to control as well, and can switch between them by touching them or with the R button. Each puzzle easily fits onto the lower screen, there is no scrolling. The edges of the screen do, however, connect. This means that infinite loops are a danger, since the edges of the screen connect to eachother. You will need to figure out the correct path to get through the level without getting stuck in a loop and needing to restart. The game keeps track of how many moves it took you to complete each level.
There is also a story here, about memories and the passage of time, but the main focus is on gameplay, the plot is minimal. It’s more an atmosphere than a story. This game is decent, it starts out easy enough and gets harder. Once the puzzles get hard, of course, the game is very frustrating; like most people I find this kind of puzzle frustratingly difficult and I’m not sure if this game is actually fun, but still, it does do what it does well. The visuals are simple, with basic 2d for the puzzle on the lower screen and a simple image on the upper screen that unfortunately is not in stereoscopic 3d, but the gameplay’s the focus here. Overall I’d call Quell: Memento an average game that is far more frustrating than it is fun. That is as intended, of course, but do you want to play this kind of game? If you do, pick it up. Also released on Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam), and PlayStation Vita.
Quell: Memento – Published by Circle and developed by FK Digital in 2015. Essentially, this game is a level pack to the first one above. Similar to its predecessor but harder, this is a very difficult, but simple, logic puzzle game about sliding raindrops around mazes, trying to collect all of the items without hitting a spike or getting stuck in an infinite loop from the connected edges of the screen. Sliding-tile puzzle fans will like this, but for anyone else I’d call this game maybe a bit less good than the first one since it gets so frustrating. I think this game is average due to getting frustrated at how difficult it is, but people who like hard logic puzzles will surely like this game. If you are among them, pick it up. Also released on Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and PC (Steam).
Quest of Dungeons – Published by Upfall Studios in 2016. This is a top-down action-rpg roguelike dungeon crawler with nice sprite-art 2d graphics but no stereoscopic 3d. It was first released on PC and mobile, and got other console ports later. This is a decent but overly simplistic game, as you might expect from its mobile roots. Of the indie games like this I’ve covered in this series on 3DS Quest of Dungeons has probably the best sprite art and music, but for overall gamepla, similar to Bit Dungeon, it is of middling quality, unfortunately well behind Alchemic Dungeons. In this title you play as one of four guys, warrior, wizard, assassin, or shaman, and can choose from four difficulty levels before you begin. Each character has slightly different gameplay. In the intro the four of them are together, then the three you didn’t pick suggest that you go alone into the dungeon while they stay there. Heh. Well, you’re probably going to die.
This game is relatively simple as far as roguelikes go, it is a fairly straightforward action-RPG gameplay-wise, but it’s still tough. As with most games in this subgenre, the dungeon is randomly generated. Rooms are generally rectangles with enemies and breakable objects with items in them scattered around, along with doors to other rooms. There are also warps that take you to different points in the map. Your goal is to find and kill boss monsters. They are pretty hard, though, so you’ll need to grind to level up enough to be able to fight them without dying. Your health regenerates slowly while not in combat, but it’s probably too slow, so you end up walking in circles a lot. The game gives you no indication of which rooms have tough enemies in them, too, so it can feel cheap at times; be ready to run. The lower screen has a map of the area, which is useful. It is fairly zoomed-in, but you can scroll around it with the stylus to view the rest of the map. As expected for this genre you auto-attack when you move to a space with an enemy on it, or you an use a skill mapped to the A or B buttons if you have one equipped you want to use. Each class has different skills, of course. It’s simple but fun enough… until you die from a strong enemy you couldn’t have seen coming and have to start all over from the beginning.
The core gameplay loop here, then, is to explore, kill regular monsters, level up, get skills and items, defeat bosses once you’ve levelled up enough, and repeat. If you die, that’s it; there is no continuing here, and this game is not a rogue-lite, nothing carries over from one run to the next other than the dungeons that you have unlocked — you can start on any unlocked dungeon. Other than that, you died, try again. I’m fine with this structure and prefer it over one like Rogue Legacy’s where you unlock permanent upgrades as you play the same dungeon over and over, but best of all is just, you know, letting you make permanent saves. You can do a temp save here to suspend a game in progress, but not a permanent one. This game does have an ending, it’s not infinite. It will be hard to get there, though. I sure haven’t. Overall I’d probably have to say that this game is slightly below average, but I do have some fun with it despite that. The game is fast-paced and can be fun as you zip around killing things and collecting items. It doesn’t have the gameplay depth of the better games in this genre — there is no hunger meter, no crafting, and such — and has more grinding than I’d like, but what is here is decently fun for a while. Still, I’m not sure if I can recommend this one. Maybe. If you buy this game for 3DS you are given a 100% discount on the Wii U version of the game, and vice versa. Also available on PC/Mac/Linux (Steam), iOS, Android, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.
Quiet, Please! – Developed by Nostatic Software in 2017. This is a three-in-one pack of indie adventure games. This is another adventure game in Nostatic Software’s series of very chunky pixel-art graphic adventure games starring a young girl in the ’80s or ’90s. I previously covered the Halloween and Christmas games, though going sequentially this goes first, it released first and contains games made before the later two. This title contains Quiet, Please!, Quiet Christmas, and Vacation Vexation. In each game you wander around a fairly small game world, trying to figure out what to do. You aren’t given much direction, but the game worlds are quite small and you do have an objective, so it works. Most of the games in the series re-use the same house as their main setting, the family’s home, but Vacation Vexation has a different setting as the name suggests, so there is some variety.
I’m not going to describe all three games in detail, but in the first game, Quiet Please, for example, the heroine doesn’t like all of the annoying noises coming from around the house and wants some peace and quiet, so you need to figure out how to make all of them stop using only the items found around the house. Mom won’t let you go upstairs to your room until you do your homework, but you don’t have any! How can you distract her? You can only pick up one item at a time, so gameplay is simple and approachable. In that classic adventure game style, puzzles here consist of trying to figure out where to use each item. Unlike most classic adventure games, though, conversations here are a single line of text long, or maybe two at most. There are no dialog options. That’s kind of disappointing, but still the core item-use gameplay is strong. The game controls with the d-pad and buttons and plays fine. I’d certainly recommend this series to adventure game fans, they are simple, cheap, and fun. They’re nothing incredible but are good enough for anyone with an interest in the genre to enjoy. Recommended. Also on PC (Steam), and originally on Xbox 360 Indie Games, though that store was delisted years ago.
Retro City Rampage: DX – Released by Vblank Entertainment in 2014. This fairly popular multiplatform indie hit is basically a homage to the early top-down Grand Theft Auto games, but with an ’80s setting absolutely loaded with references to NES games, ’80s movies, and the like. The 2d pixel art graphics look nice, but unfortunately the game makes absolutely no use of stereoscopic 3d. It’s a shame, because it could have looked nice to have some depth. As for the gameplay though, being a GTA knockoff, the game is a mysanthropic, violent game where you run around murdering people at will. GTA’s enduring popularity really says something about 21st century culture; this game may have NES or DOS PC-inspired visuals, but this gameplay would not have done well back then, it’s too hatefully violent against innocents.
The gameplay here really is pretty much overhead GTA with small but nicely drawn sprites, but it has a few twists. You get a large arsenal, and can run, steal cars, shoot or hit people, etc. Ammo is limited, but ammo drops are frequent. You also can jump, and, amusingly, kill people by jumping on them — hit the attack button in midair and you’ll knock out the person. Heh. The controls are good, and the game has auto-lockon — hold down the fire button with a gun and you’ll lock on to enemies and be able to circle-strafe.
As you wander around, you can murder civiliants pretty much at will. This will increase your threat meter and get the police to come after you, but they are easily avoided, just escape them for a few seconds and you’re fine. Kill some police and maybe one will drop a ‘police will forget about you’ item and walk off. Yeah, as I said, it’s the same mysanthropic stuff as GTA. It’s mindless fun for a few seconds but it’s not something I want to play a whole game about. If you want to do actual missions, fortunately this game does make that easy. Missions are linear objective-based stages, and they are marked on the map with icons. This game may make no other use of the 3DS hardware, but the lower screen map is, at least, incredibly useful. In an open-world game, even one with a fairly small open world like this one, having a map telling you where everything is, including the exact locations to start all the main or side missions, is great. The missions themselves really are just ‘here’s a sequence of references, can you recognize them all?’ though, which gets old fast. Overall, this is a well-made game with good gameplay, but I greatly dislike open-world games and don’t often like playing as a villain in a game so I’ve played very little of it and probably will not go back.
As an added bonus, you can unlock the NES version of the game, ROM City Rampage, in this title. It is a real NES game rom and is unlockable in a bunch of versions of the game. Retro City Rampage was released on PC (Steam) first, and then many platforms. It got physical releases on Wii, PS3, PS4, Vita, Nintendo Switch, and DOS PC (many of them limited-production-run releases), digital releases on all the modern systems it had physical releases on, and digital-only releases on PC/Mac/Linux (Steam), PlayStation Portable, Xbox 360, Android, and iOS. It’s cool that the retro versions were made, I just wish that it was a kind of game I actually enjoyed. It isn’t.
Robot Rescue 3D – Published by Teyon in 2013. In this three-pack action-puzzle collection, you get Robot Rescue, Robot Rescue 2, and Robot Rescue 3D. All three games have the same gameplay and graphics, though: a puzzle game where you move multiple robots around a single-screen maze, all of which move at the same time when you move. They just get harder as you go from title to title, as more objects are introduced. If you press left, all robots move left. If you press right, they all move right. All you can do is move, which is done with the d-pad, there are no other controls. And if the robots touch eachother or if any robot is destroyed by an obstacle such as a laser trap or such, you lose and the stage restarts. As you might imagine, things get tricky quickly. Sure, at first it’s easy enough, but the puzzles later on require very precise timing. You’ll need to hit the correct directions at just the right moments or you will die and restart. It’s an unforgiving game, but it is fun.
The game has nice sprite-art 2d graphics, and does have stereoscopic 3d, as you play on the upper screen and the field pops out over the background. The controls are pretty odd, though — even though the in-game controls are controlled with the d-pad only, all menus are touch input only. I have no idea why this is the case, but it is. The presentation is good, with nice art and menus and such, but why is this dpad-controlled game touch only in the menus? It should have either button or touch support. But anyway, Robot Rescue 3D is a quality but quite challenging puzzle-action game. The first part in this game, Robot Rescue, may be beatable, but but the third part, Robot Rescue 3D? Good luck. Still, I recommend giving this game a try. It’s well made. The first two Robot Rescue games in this title were originally released on the DSi DSiWare eshop, while the third is exclusive to this collection.
Runny Egg – Published by Tom Create in 2015. This is a 2d platformer where, as the name suggests, you play as a chicken still inside of an egg. This game is a simple, somewhat short, and quite charming game that platformer fans should play. The game is NOT an auto-runner, it is important to note. Speed is important here, but you have full control of your cute little egg. In each level your primary goal is to get to an egg cup at the end of the level, but there are also a few secondary objectives in each one, usually about beating the level in a certain short amount of time and with a certain large number of collectibles picked up. There is also a bonus objective if you find a hidden golden egg in each level.
Control in this game is simple. You can run, jump, double jump, wall jump, and that’s about it. You can take multiple hits, but after about three hits your egg will break and you’ll lose a life and go back to the last checkpoint. Running is one of the key mechanics here though, and you build up speed as you run. If you are going fast enough and run down a hill, you will start rolling. While rolling, you can defeat enemies and bounce over water. The rest of the time, though, this is a non-violent avoidance-based game. As with many modern games, this game has RPG elements as well, as you get points for level completions which you can spend on upgrades for your egg. It’s a simple mechanic which works. The game also lets you change difficulties on the fly between easy, medium, and hard.
The 16 levels in this game are linear but frequently have multiple paths. Each level is a large space full of a whole lot of yellow rubber duckies to collect, both on a main route and hidden in various alternate paths, and enemies to avoid. Each level ends with a “boss” section, but instead of a battle it’s a little platforming challenge section. It fits the mostly non-violent nature of the game well. It’s fun to zip through the levels as quickly as you can, but going slowly to collect a lot of the stuff is also fun. Runny Egg controls well and looks nice, with cute graphics. This game may not be anything really special, but with solid, cute graphics, good level designs, some variety, and good controls, I definitely recommend picking this game up while you can. It’s a good, charming little game well worth playing. Nintendo 3DS digital exclusive.
RV-7 My Drone – Published by EnjoyUp Games in 2016. In this … uh, flight action game? Racing game? Something like that. Anyway, in RV-7 My Drone you control a helicopter-sized drone. It’s basically a helicopter, gameplay-wise. The game has nice stereoscopic 3d graphics and in-game has an overhead view at a slight angle. You might think of Desert Strike, visually, but the actual gameplay here is very different from that one. For one thing, My Drone levels are entirely linear. Each stage is a fairly narrow, just over one screen wide, but decently long corridor. You fly your drone with the analog stick. You have no height control, so even though you are flying this is basically a 2d game. The controls are quite floaty, but this is probably appropriate. In each level you have an objective that you need to accomplish in order to beat the mission. Generally this involves picking things up and then dropping them off at the end of the stage. You also have a battery charge meter, which you can refill at recharge stations. You can’t shoot in this game, but do have a tractor beam with which you can pick up boxes or people who need rescuing. and if you win get additional stars for beating a time limit and finishing the level with full health.
Oh, this is another one of those odd 3DS games with touch-only menus but buttons-only gameplay. It’s odd but okay, whatever. There are a decent number of levels, each with different objectives and obstacles, but unfortunately stage layouts are randomized. The nature of the mission and the types of obstacles you will face, including trees, missiles, UFOs, laser towers, and more, is preset. The layout OF those obstacles, though, is randomized each time you try. This even applies to after you die, so if you fail a mission at some obstacle, next time it might well not be like that anymore, it’ll be redesigned into possibly an easier layout. That’s a little disappointing, as is the crutch of relying on random generation in a game like this instead of what would be better, premade level layouts. Even so, RV-7 My Drone is a solidly fun time. This game is an above average little obstacle-avoidance and racing game. How quickly can you avoid all of the obstacles in a level to get all of the boxes to their destination at the end? It’s nothing amazing but is reasonably fun. The presentation is good for an indie game as well. There are ways that this game could have been better, but it still might be worth a look. Nintendo 3DS digital exclusive.
Samurai Defender – Published by CIRCLE and developed by Link Kit Co., Ltd. In 2013. This game is a defense game, but it’s not quite a tower defense game as you might expect. Instead it’s an action/tower defense hybrid of sorts. The is a conversion of a Japanese cellphone game with the pay-to-win elements removed. You play as a force defending a Japanese castle. Your gate is on the left, and enemies approach from the right. You have several archers above the gate. Somewhat like the ’01 PC freeware game Castle Attack but nowhere near as great (that game is a promo bonus game for the PC simulation game Stronghold; I played a lot of that flash game back when it was new…), your main method of defense in Samurai Defender is these archers. You control where they are aiming with the stylus, analog stick, or d-pad, though the stylus is by far the best way. The upper screen shows the full field with approaching enemies, and the lower screen just shows an image of the field with nobody on it, ally or enemy. You touch the lower screen to place an X that marks the firing target where the archers will be shooting at on the upper one. With the button controls, you move a hand cursor around and place the firing target with a button press. There is also a slider on screen to change whether the archers’ arrows should converge or spread as they go across the screen.
Additionally, you have several different special abilities that you can use. You will slowly get more as you go through the game, but the first few include an attack that hits most enemies, walls to slow down the enemies, and repairs for your castle during a stage. Using these special abilities requires MP points and have cooldowntimers. MP regenerate, but you can’t just keep using abilities repeatedly, you will run out. Win or lose, after each stage you get money to spend on upgrades for your abilities and basic archers and castle defenses. If you win you go on to the next level and if you lose you replay the current one, but it is nice that it just lets you keep trying, while getting money you can use to make the next run a bit easier. This does mean some grinding will be required, unfortunately, but the game is mostly well balanced. The game is lacking in variety, though, it’s all pretty much the same. It isn’t as exciting as I’d hope for, either. Castle Attack is a fast-paced and exciting game, but Samurai Defender’s somewhat bland. Your archers fire slowly, there’s only a moderate sense of danger since failing just means you try again with some stat boost, and such. It will get repetitive. You do need to pay attention, though, because you will need to change firing locations often and use the special abilities well in order to complete stages beyond the early ones. This is a kind of game I like a lot and it’s done okay, but it just is a bit too slow-paced and bland to really excite me. It’s above average but only bit a bit. Also digitally released on iOS and Nintendo Switch.
Samurai Sword Destiny – Published by UFO Interactive in 2012. In this sidescrolling action game you play as a female samurai in some requisite skimpy bikini armor, going to the right and as the name suggests slashing everyone apart with your samurai sword. Unfortunately, it’s not any good. The weird controls, where you move with the dpad or analog stick (though control is not analog) and attack by drawing lines on the touchpad to slash or do distance slashes, functions. However, oddly for a side-scrolling game, you can’t jump in this game! No, you are stuck to the ground. So, you just do slash-dashes left and right until eventually you die or get lucky and somehow win. I imagine that there are ways to play this game that aren’t awful and random-feeling but I really doubt that it’s worth the time to find them.
On the other hand, though, this game does have pretty nice graphics. The sprites are all very nice looking and well-drawn, and the game has great stereoscopic depth, with the sprites strongly standing out over the backgrounds. It makes heavy use of the touchscreen too, of course. The audio is fine. You do make money as you play, even from defeats, and can spend that money on ability upgrades. And the game has some auto-runner QTE-ish stages, though I hate that kind of thing more than anything so that’s yet another big negative for me. But even just focusing on the main game, the issue is the gameplay and how bad it is to play. This was a pretty early 3DS game, so at the time of its release the visuals alone probably sold some downloads, but now? There is very little reason to waste your time unless you really like slashing the stylus left and right over and over and hoping you can do that with the righ, timing to avoid enemy attacks. There is absolutely no variety and pretty much depth beyond ‘get better at timing your left or right slashes’. No thanks. I’d rather play anything else in this update. Nintendo 3DS digital exclusive.
Sanrio characters Picross – Published by Jupiter in 2018. Jupiter’s final Picross game for the Nintendo 3DS was… a Hello Kitty game? Yes, it’s true. This game has a lot of polish, though, and in visuals and features is probably the best of the Picross games on 3DS. I’ve never had any interest in Hello Kitty or any of Sanrio’s other characters and don’t know much about them, but that doesn’t matter all that much; this is a Picross game after all, so the main focus is on solving those wonderful nonogram puzzles. As far as the number of puzzles goes, this game has the same amount of content as the last few Picross e titles, so there are 150 puzzles that have both regular and Mega puzzle versions and three Micross puzzles. This game mixes things up by not just letting you play the Micross puzzles, though; instead you have to unlock the blocks of the Micross puzzles by completing the regular puzzles. It’s a solid idea. The game also has all the options. You can enable or disable hints in the pause menu and everything, it’s totally up to you! Fantastic. Additionally, as you complete regular and mega puzzles you get stickers which you can place in sticker book pages. There are a lot of stickers of various Sanrio characters in this game. I don’t know them but it’s all very charming stuff. This game is great, definitely pick it up. Nintendo 3DS digital exclusive.
Secret Agent Files: Miami – Published by Joindots in 2013. Note: this game does have smoking shown in game and is not for children. This game is a hybrid of a hidden-objects game and a traditional adventure game. It tries to do interesting things but is pretty average at best, I think. The game starts out with some backstory. You play as a member of the CIA named Mia. She’s been written off by the agency and had her identity erased for some unspecified (at the start) reason, and as the name suggests is in Miami… which happens to be her hometown, so you start out by visiting her mother. Then, she tells her mother that she’s a CIA agent. Yes this plot sure is plausible… uh. The story is kind of weird but is okay I guess. The controls are kind of annoying, though — the main gameplay mostly uses touch, for touching the hidden objects and such, combined with either the dpad, analog stick, or face buttons for moving the lower screen around the image on the upper screen as you look for the hidden items. That’s fine, but in the story scenes, you need to use the A button to advance the text. Only A works. So, put down the stylus, hit A until the story part’s over, then pick it back up again… that could have been done much better.
This game is also difficult for several reasons. First, I looked but can’t find any guides for this game online. Next, you don’t get to see images of the things you are looking for, just one-word descriptions. The objects are often quite well hidden in the backgrounds, even right from the beginning of the game, so actually finding things can be pretty frustrating. There is a hint button, but you start with only a few hints and get only ONE hint back after each screen, so it’s incredibly limited. I imagine plenty of people will give up here after running out of hints. On a positive side, while each screen’s image is always the same, if you replay the game it does randomize which items you need to touch. Items you must collect for your inventory will always be required, but the other items you just need to touch for the game to let you proceed will be different.
As for the adventure game element, as I said, some items go into your inventory. Then you can drag those items out and try to use them on something else in the scene. Good luck figuring out where to use what, the game gives you no hints. There isn’t any kind of onscreen indicator showing where you can use an item, it usually just does nothing. If you want to look up help online… well, I tried but couldn’t find any for more than a couple of puzzles. How unhelpful. I eventually gave up, as most people probably eventually will. There are also some minigames described in the nicely detailed manual, but I didn’t get far enough to play any of them. This game is okay, but I’ve never been a big fan of the hidden object genre, and this game has some design issues. It’s a decent low-budget indie title, but the low budget shows, this game needed more polish. If it sounds interesting definitely pick it up, though. Nintendo 3DS digital exclusive.
SEGA 3D Classics Series — OutRun – Published by SEGA in 2015. OutRun is, deservedly, one of Sega’s most popular games of the ’80s. I should have covered this game when I discussed the rest of the 3D Classics titles I have digitally in part one of this series, but I didn’t, so here it is. OutRun is a super scaler racing game. You zoom forward along roads in a Ferrari, following a branching path from the start to one of five endings five stages later. This is a linescroll-style racer, so it can only do smooth curves with no hills, but that’s fine. OutRun may be a short game, but you have a very tight time limit to complete each stage, so very good driving will be required to finish even the easiest route. The effort is worth it though, because OutRun is brilliantly designed, with great graphics, music, and controls. It’s a fantastic game that will keep you coming back for some time.
This is a fantastic version of this all-time classic, and indeed in some ways is the best version of the game. The stereoscopic 3d is fantastic, and the illusion of depth it gives you adds a lot to the game. This version of OutRun is, for the most part, the arcade game with the usual Sega CD Classics options, including a savestate and some options. It has one major option that the arcade game doesn’t, though, and that is a 60fps mode toggle. At the time of this versions’ release only the Saturn and 3DS versions had 60fps support, and the Saturn doesn’t have stereoscopic 3d so I’d put it below this version for sure. This game is a definite must-buy and is maybe the best game in the Sega CD Classics line for the 3DS. OutRun is available on many platforms, but this 3D version is 3DS-exclusive.
Senran Kagura Burst – Developed by Tamsoft and published by XSEED Games in 2013. This is an enhanced version of the original, Japan-only Senran Kagura title. We didn’t get that game in the US, but did get this version. Unlike Japan, here it was a digital-only release, which is why I’m listing it here. Senran Kagura is a beat ’em up with lots of visual novel-style story sequences between the simple but fun action. The story is surprisingly serious. It’s not too dark, but isn’t just fanservice-bait comedy. The characters have interesting stories and it is well-written. The game stars an all-female cast of schoolgirl ninjas and definitely tries to sell based on their looks. The game is set in anime high school, and has two different factions of ninjas, one good and one evil. You can play as either side, and need to play as both to get the whole story. There are five playable characters per faction.
This game is not like its sequels, though. This series became somewhat infamous for being overly sexualized, and that is true, but the original two 3DS games are tamer than their sequels on other platforms. There is no nudity or underwear in this game, for example. All characters can have their uniforms torn off, but they just have bathing suits on underneath. Senran Kagura games would get much racier after leaving the 3DS for platforms like the Vita and Switch. I think this relative restraint is better design overall. The storytelling styles are also very different — this game is, again, a game which has both serious and comedic moments and does both well. The serious side is significant. But the later games? They are mostly to entirely excuses for sexualized fanservice, with plots with little seriousness or depth. It’s barely the same franchise from the Senran Kagura you see in these two 3DS games and the anime, which I liked at the time and which is tonally much more like the 3DS games than the nonsense that came after them.
As for the gameplay, Senran Kagura Burst is simplistic and mostly easy, but I think it’s the fun kind of simple. The combat levels in this game are classic-styled isometric beat ’em up stages. You pick a character and outfit and go fight against the other faction. Most of the time you beat up generic foes with regular attacks and basic combos. Each character has a regular form and a powered-up super form, and you can switch to super mode with a button. Of course, if knocked out of super mode you’re in trouble. Occasionally you will face off against bosses, often one of the other factions’ five main girls, or perhaps somebody else important to the plot. The gameplay is pretty fun. The variety may be limited and the challenge moderate, but there’s enough fun beat ’em up action to keep me interested. Overall Senran Kagura Burst is a good game. I’d say pick it up while you can if it seems interesting. Just know that it is a different thing from the post-3DS series. This game also has a sequel on the 3DS, but that one did get a physical release in the US so I’m not covering that here. Senran Kagura 2 does have some free DLC though, so make sure to get it while you can. This game is a Nintendo 3DS digital exclusive in the US, though Japan got a physical release. This game has a remake on modern systems with the combat style of the newer games in the series called Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal. I don’t have that version so I have no idea if it’s any good, but it clearly plays very differently.
Severed – Developed and released by DrinkBox Studios in 2016. This game is an indie first person dungeon-crawler RPG. The game is from the same developer as Guacamelee (which I covered in my PC platformers list some years back), but I like this game a lot more than that one. With pretty good, original art design and solid gameplay that is both conventional and unique, this game will get your attention with how original it is while also being familiar enough to play. This is one of the better indie RPGs on the 3DS, it’s quite good. You play as a female character in a somewhat tribal jungle setting. It’s probably supposed to be Mesoamerican, given the studio. Bad stuff happens at the beginning and you lose both one arm and your family, and you need to find them. You do get a creepy magic sword with an eye in it though, and will use that a lot in this game. The visual design is modern, but the controls are classic first person dungeon crawler stuff: you move between preset spots and rotate around in place with the analog stick or dpad, you can’t freely move. The lower screen always shows the dungeon view, and you can switch the upper screen between a larger stereoscopic 3d view with a small minimap showing the area directly around you, or a full-screen map showing much more of the current dungeon. The stereoscopic 3d looks great, but the larger map is often more useful.
You attack by drawing lines on the touchscreen to swipe around your weapon. You can also interact with levers, wheels, and such with the stylus; this game is designed around touch input and it works very well. This game does NOT have random battles, which is pretty nice. If you are going through areas you’ve been in before, looking for the way forward or a solution to some environmental puzzle, you won’t be fighting constantly as you go. I love that. The puzzles are clever and well thought through, too. Once you do get into a battle, they are action-style touch-based fights. Enemies can be on multiple sides, and you choose which one to face. The others can attack you while you’re facing away, of course. As you swipe enemies with the stylus they will react by moving shields around, so you will need to swipe in the directions they are not protecting themselves in. It’s fun stuff. As you defeat enemies you get monster parts that you can upgrade your stats and sword with. And then it’s on to more exploring, finding your way around, solving puzzles, and fighting monsters. The dichotomy between the really nice, quite modern animated graphical style and the more traditional gameplay works well. Severed is a game not to be missed, pick it up for sure while you can. Also available digitally on the Wii U, iOS, Android, PlayStation Vita, and Nintendo Switch. If you buy this game for 3DS you get both the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game for a single price, and vice versa. Very nice. Because of the controls and stereoscopic 3D, this 3DS version is probably the best version of the game.
Shakedown: Hawaii – Released by Vblank Entertainment in 2019. Shakedown Hawaii is the ‘90s-themed spiritual sequel to Retro City Rampage, above. The gameplay is very similar to the first one, except it’s set in Hawaii now and instead of 8-bit-era-style visuals you get 16-bit-style visuals, and a Hawaiian setting instead of a generic Northeastern city. Do you like walking or driving around a top-down city, causing random chaos and killing innocent people? Or do you like being a criminal, doing missions killing other criminals? Or do you like this games’ new element, buying properties and doing generic missions to get protection money from the inhabitants? I think I said my opinions on that in my Retro City Rampage review above, I don’t like this genre conceptually and don’t like open world games in terms of design so this is DEFINITELY not for me. Even aside of my dislike of the games’ genre, sure, the world’s not going well in a lot of ways these days, but reacting to that with this kind of pretend celebration of very violent crime feels wrong. I mostly just got this because it’s interesting to see 3DS games released this late. Maybe you’ll like it, though reviews of this game weren’t as positive as Retro City Rampage’s were, reviewers like this game less. It’s more repetitive, I guess, though I didn’t get far enough to run into that and nor do I want to. And unless you count the Wii, which I wouldn’t, there aren’t any classic versions of this game, which is unfortunate, so there are no equivalents to the DOS or NES versions of RCR. Ah well. Also released on PC/Mac/Linux (Steam), PlayStations 3, 4, 5, and Vita, Wii (physical release in Europe only), and Wii U. Most of those other platforms got physical releases of this game, but not the 3DS.
Shantae [GBC Virtual Console] – Released by WayForward in 2013. The original Shantae was a late Game Boy Color title which released in 2002. As someone who had a GBC but not a GBA yet, I wouldn’t get myself a GBA until ’03, I should have been very much in the target market for this game… but I didn’t buy it. I’m not sure why, other than that I’ve rarely been much of a fan of open-ended “Metroidvania” platformers, of which this is one. I prefer a game that may have some options along the way but has you follow a linear path to one where you have to wander around lost a lot. For a similar reason, even though Wario Land 1 is one of my favorite games ever, I didn’t buy Wario Land 3 until many years after the GBC was dead. In both cases, I don’t regret my decisions. They are good games, certainly. Maybe even great ones. They just aren’t my favorite style of game. I still don’t own Shantae on cart, unfortunately, because the game got quite expensive in a hurry. I did finally buy it on 3DS, sometime after getting Pirate’s Curse (below), but while the first Shantae is clearly a good to great game I still haven’t ever gotten all that far into it.
Anyway, in Shantae you play as a half-genie girl named, well, Shantae. The game has pretty good cartoony graphics in that classic WayForward style. This game definitely tries to sell based on Shantae’s good looks and skimpy clothing, it must be said. The game beyond that is good, but it’s worth mentioning for people who are bothered by that. The game has great controls too. As for the gameplay, though, you wander around a town trying to figure out where to go, then go to various sub-areas where you explore, fight enemies, and look for stuff. This is a platform-action game with powers to get as you proceed which let you access new areas in previous parts of the game. So, as I said, it’s a metroidvania-ish platformer. It’s good to great, but as with many games of this style I lose interest after a while. That’s just me, though. Despite my qualms I do like this game, it controls and looks great and is fun to play when you know where you’re going. While for a while it seemed like the game would be a one-off, it has ended up being an ongoing series with quite a few entries. This digital release is a good way to play Shantae on a handheld for a fraction of the cost of the original cartridge. Recommended. Also digitally released on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.
[Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse – Released by WayForward in 2014. This is the third Shantae game, but it is the first game in the series that I bought and played. This game started out as a digital exclusive, but had a physical release in 2016. So, I probably shouldn’t cover it here ,but since I do have the game digitally and have played it I will in brief. The second Shantae game started out as a DSiWare game, though both are also available on other platforms. This one first released here, on 3DS. This title is a very nice-looking 2d platformer with good use of stereoscopic 3d and plenty of fun platform-adventure gameplay. Despite my somewhat lukewarm statements above I think I might actually like the first Shantae game the best, but they’re all good games and this one is no exception. The game is a lot of fun at first, as you explore islands, find powers, and fight badguys. The problem is how I handle getting stuck in a metroidvania-ish game. I eventually got stuck at some point and while I definitely like this game, I wasn’t loving it quite enough to look up what to do, so instead I stopped playing. I am okay with that though, with how many games I try I think it’s fine that I don’t finish most of them. That I liked it enough to get hours into it says something about the games’ quality. Pick it up, it’s quite good. If you like stereoscopic 3d definitely get this game for 3DS. Ports of this game were released on Wii U, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One.]
Shift DX – Released by Choice Provisions and developed by Cosen in 2017. Shift DX is a 2d puzzle-platformer game where you rotate the stage with L or R in order to flip the screen. One way and, with the default black-and-white color palette, you are standing on the “ground”. Hit a shoulder button and now the world is flipped over and you are inside the block at your feet, on what used to be the ceiling of that block underneath you but now is the new ground. You play as a female character, and there is no plot here. This title is about the gameplay. There are additional unlockable characters to play as if you progress far enough, though they all play the same. The game has a nice black-and-white visual style with solid art direction. If you dislike that palette though, you can use others, and will unlock more as you progress.
As for that gameplay, for the most part all you do is run around, jump, and shift. The controls are fine, though nothing special as far as responsiveness gopes and such. Your jump is fairly low, you can only jump about one tile high, so the primary way to get around is through shifting. You can only shift while on solid ground, though, so for instance you can’t switch into a ceiling in mid-jump, unfortunately. That would make things too easy. You’ll need to figure out the puzzle instead, and that can be tricky. In those puzzles you have an entrance point and an exit door you must reach, the two colors of blocks which flip, and various things in the stages, including tiles which flip you when you enter them, keys which remove locks from tiles that block you from flipping into those tiles, cross-hatched titles that you cannot flip into, and more. This is a platformer but it is not an action game, so there is no combat or enemies present. That’s certainly for the best, the game shines by sticking to what it does well, its unique take on puzzle-platforming.
This screen-flipping concept is not new, and wasn’t even when the Shift series began with a flash game in 2008, but it is done very well here, with a good sense of style and nice music. There isn’t much if any use of stereoscopic 3d, but that’s okay. There is a lot of content, though — this title includes all of the stage layouts from Shifts 1 and 2 for the PC, plus 100 new levels only in this version. There’s even a level editor, though there is no online level trading so its use is somewhat limited. Each level is a challenging single-screen maze of blocks, and after the early rounds it will take some serious thinking, and flipping, to figure out how to get all of the collectibles and to get to the stages’ exit. It’s very rewarding when you finally figure out a stage and make your way to the exit. This is yet another tough but well-made puzzle game on the 3DS, and it’s definitely recommended! Handhelds are a perfect place for puzzle games with fairly short stages like this one, it’s a great pick-up-and-play title to play for a few minutes here and there. Definitely recommended. Nintendo 3DS digital exclusive.
Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove – Published by Yacht Club Games in 2014 (though this fully DLC-updated version is from 2019). Shovel Knight is a very popular NES-styled, though not NES graphics-accurate, 2d platformer released on a lot of platforms. The 3DS version is as good as any, and does have stereoscopic 3d. However, it also has a physical release. So why am I listing it here? Well, the game had several downloadable addon campaigns released after the main title. The 3DS got two DLC packs, each with another campaign. There was a last part that wasn’t released on 3DS because it is multiplayer-focused, but the 3DS got all of the single playe content. They were released for free, very generously, but given that demos and such will go un-downloadable after the shop’s purshasing shutdown, I very much doubt that anyone who buys the physical version after the shop shuts down will be able to play the other three campaigns, only the first one, which is the only one on the cart release. So, if you want to play this very good platformer classic, pick it up while you can.
Each of the four campaigns has you playing as a different character who controls totally differently, so there is some nice variety here. I won’t describe all of them, play the game and find out for yourself. The first campaign’s main character, Shovel Knight, controls a bit like DuckTales for NES’s Scrooge McDuck but with a dig mechanic added, but the others are quite different. I’ve never loved this game quite as much as some people and didn’t get addicted to it, probably as much as anything because it isn’t NES-accurate and has parallax backgrounds and extra colors and such, but it does play well and has decently good level designs. I’m not quite sure why this game was such a massive hit while other games I liked just about as much or more are obscure, I’d rather play Mutant Mudds or Chicken Wiggle than this game for instance, but even so Shovel Knight is a good game well worth playing. Also released on PC/Mac/Linux (Steam), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Wii U, PlayStation 3, 4, and Vita, and Amazon Fire TV.