Updated: Mar 27, 2020
Welcome retro fans to another Antstream Arcade new games update! This week we have a selection of superb classic games from the legendary shoot-‘em-up developer Cave debuting for subscribers, all ready to play right now. Let the retrogaming bullet hell bonanza begin!
First up, we have the glorious Espgaluda, a devilish bullet hell shooter starring two siblings, Ageha and Tateha. Hidden from their power-mad father at a young age, the pair are discovered at the start of the game and resolve to take on his oppressive regime, destroying their father’s minions and frequently facing off against younger sister, Seseri. Helpfully, both Ageha and Tateha have sprightly wings and a powerful gun, which can be charged into a super ‘rapier’ shot for when things get really testy – which they will do, often. Through legions of colourful and hyper-hectic levels, Espgaluda is a beautiful shoot-‘em-up, and actually one of Cave’s easier offerings, making it a good first destination for anyone looking to experience the renowned developer’s games for the first time.
Ant-Tactic: Unlock the ‘awakening’ ability by collecting spirit gems from fallen enemies. Its most useful effect is slowing down enemies and their shots.
Ant-Fact: Espgaluda is a spiritual follow-up to Cave’s earlier game, ESP Ra.De.
Ant-ernative: SNK’s HAL 21 is another tough vertically-scrolling shooter guaranteed to test your reflexes to the limit.
Puzzle Uo Poko
If you’re a fan of compelling puzzles games and cute kittens then Puzzle Uo Poko is the game for you. Released by Jaleco in 1998, it’s the tale of two kitty cats, searching the seas for ingredients so that they can enjoy a meal at the Ryuugi Castle restaurant. Quite why they have to collect the components of their meals themselves remains a mystery, but once underwater, the cute felines fire orbs from their pinball-style plunger with the aim of bursting three or more of the spheres at a time. Once a stage is complete, they are a step closer to the bottom of the sea and their yummy ingredients. A twist on the Puzzle Bobble style of gameplay, Puzzle Uo Poko is a great one or two player game that makes a refreshing change of pace from Cave’s complex shooting games.
Ant-Tactic: There are different types of ball to watch out for such as glass balls which shatter upon contact, and ultra-tough shell balls that are harder to combo.
Ant-Fact: Some versions of the arcade game sported an adorable kitten paw joystick attachment. Aw.
Ant-ernative: Magical Drop 3, released a year earlier, and also on Antstream Arcade, is another sweet spherical puzzle game available on Antstream Arcade.
It’s a return to the shoot-‘em-up genre with this game, and a title that’s known as Fever SOS in the west. As with all of Cave’s shooters, it’s a manic battle against the assembled enemy horde, but with a thematic twist. While it still takes place in outer space, Dangun-Feverun has a Seventies disco vibe running through it thanks to its funky tunes and dancing sprites. With three different spaceships to choose from and some crazy intense moments, the only thing that’s missing is a pair of flared trousers – thankfully!
Ant-Tactic: Dangun-Feverun’s excellent time attack mode is also included – hold down the shot and bomb buttons before starting a game to initiate it.
Ant-Fact: Dangun-Feverun has a unique scoring system: each enemy destroyed releases cyborg creatures which can be collected to increase subsequent scores.
Ant-ernative: Data East’s Super Real Darwin is another rock-hard vertically scrolling shooting game that you should try.
Muchi Muchi Pork
This bizarre pig-related shoot-‘em-up is also fresh on Antstream Arcade, and another sure-fire hit for fans of the bullet hell sub-genre. Sitting astride one of three different coloured sci-fi cycles (called ‘ketta machines’), this is a game full of peculiar porcine references and puns, as the player takes on the forces of the game’s main enemy, General Porkfillet. Another of Cave’s “easier” games – not that Muchi Muchi Pork is a pushover – collecting pig medals dropped by destroyed enemies fills up a lard meter; when it’s full, the devastating lard shot can be unleashed.
Ant-Tactic: While much more powerful, take care in using the lard shot, as it slows the player down.
Ant-Fact: Muchi Muchi Pork was designed and programmed by legendary Cave coder Shinobu Yagawa.
Ant-ernative: For more piggy-related hijinks, take on fellow arcade game Butasan, or the 8-bit comic adaptation, Oink!
Pink Sweets: Ibara Sorekara
This sequel to the original Ibara sees the previous game’s heroes turned to enemies as another
crazy bullet-frenzy plays out. Grungy background graphics combine with retro-themed robots and other enemies, all in a Day-Glo style that cascades a rainbow of colour every second of play. Another extreme assault on the senses and reflexes from the celebrated developer called Cave.
Ant-Tactic: Watch out for the spinning special power up which instantly boosts the player’s firepower to devastating effect.
Ant-Fact: Not a lot of Pink Sweets’ aesthetic makes sense, but the combination of roses, other flowers and the punky industrial theme is different, at least.
Ant-ernative: For non-arcade related cuteness, why not have a go at the Mega Drive game Magic Girl?
More New Games!
But wait! Porcine and candy-related shooting games not your thing? Then fear not, retro fans, as there are plenty more new games in the Antstream Arcade this week. Over on the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 we have the Egyptian-set Fighting Warrior from the same publisher responsible for iconic beat-‘em-up, Way Of The Exploding Fist, Melbourne House. Meanwhile, on the Sega Mega Drive there are two fantastic shooting games in the metallic form of Gaiares and Sol-Feace, while the same famous console spawns Valis III, a brilliant scrolling arcade adventure starring a sword-wielding schoolgirl called Yuko Asou.
On fellow 16-bit platform, the Commodore Amiga, we have Super Methane Brothers, a colourful platformer that neatly combines the arcade classic Bubble Bobble with Super Mario Brothers, and The Plague, a technically impressive run ‘n’ gunner with massive sprites and some brutal gameplay. Finally this week, for fans of futuristic sports games, there’s Room Ten, a neat wireframe ball game created by Pete “Tau Ceti” Cooke, on the ZX Spectrum, and Penetrator, a very splendid and still-playable Scramble clone, again on Spectrum, and also the Commodore 64.