13 more titles revealed for Astro City Mini
No real surprises, but plenty of excellent games
As intimated in my last self-indulgent missive on the subject, 13 further games have been revealed for the Astro City Mini device. Am I going to talk about all of them? You betcha!
Success' cult cute-'em-up Cotton was the first new'un announced, and it's a bit of a doozy - it's not the easiest game to get ahold of and play, with my last exposure to it being the Neo Geo Pocket Colour port. It is good fun, though, with a lovely retro-anime aesthetic. Its inclusion also bodes well for future third-party showings!
Known banger Shinobi was next up, a game I mostly adore for its fabulous Sega Master System port, but the arcade game is an excellent side-scrolling action game nonetheless. It's not as exciting as it could be, seeing as this version recently turned up as part of the Sega Ages line on the Switch, but it's definitely a welcome chance to play it with a proper joystick.
A dog-based follow-up to the above, Shadow Dancer has - from my memory - never been re-released in its arcade form before, which makes this a very cool inclusion. I'm not sure if I prefer the arcade game to the excellent Mega Drive incarnation, but the chance to own this piece of history is deeply appealing nonetheless. A marvellous title.
Cyber Police ESWAT
Called it! In fact, I called the last two, as well. In that order. As Rob Halford would say, I am Nostradamus! But, yes, Cyber Police ESWAT is another first-time appearance for the arcade version, and I actually do prefer this one to the Mega Drive take. Take control of Duke Oda and his experimental crime-crushing mecha suit and pour bullets into an unlimited supply of mild drug dealers and petty thieves.
Completing a hat-trick of previously unavailable arcade versions, Crack Down is a top-down oddity that sees the brilliantly named Billy and Andy navigate mazes, shooting bad lads, defusing bombs and sticking to walls in what is a rather cool and under-rated little gem. I'm delighted that it's on here, frankly.
This one seems to show up everywhere, which fascinates me because I don't know a single person who actually likes it. That's not me saying it's bad, but its slow-paced, timing-critical evasion gameplay doesn't seem to resonate with many western gamers. It's popping up everywhere like a bad rash, though, so evidently someone likes it a whole lot.
The classic Compile puzzler that got localised as Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, then mashed up with Tetris. It's a game that seems to have a storied history that I'm extremely unfamiliar with, but I do enjoy chaining those puyos together.
Hmm. This seems a little bit moot to me, because Columns 2 is already in the line-up, but I'm informed that the original Columns is actually very different. It looks the bloody same to me, but I'll defer to the more informed Columns fanatics.
Brilliant side-scrolling crime-'em-up in which you take avowed yeggs Mobo and Robo through various museums, banks and orphanages and steal everything not nailed down. It's got a brilliant Money For Nothing-esque art-style, plays brilliantly, and this is the first time the arcade edition has been released on a home system. Essential.
More of the same from the already-included Tant-R: Puzzle and Action, a Wario Ware-esque mini-game collection. This has been released on the Switch with online play, no less, so you can sample it right now. And see that it's quite good, to be honest.
Whoa! A brace of Wonder Boy titles begins with the Adventure Island lookalike original. It's still fun to play, though overshadowed by...
Wonder Boy in Monster Land
The best Wonder Boy game - I prefer it to Dragon's Trap, which I've always found a little bit on the dull side. This stone-cold banger set the template for the modern Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom, but that wasn't very good. Monster Land is tough, but fair. Though it may not seem that way when you run out of time in the final corridor.
Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair
This game kind of sucks, a platform-shmup thing with no real Wonder Boy feel whatsoever. I also recall this one being a bit of a coin-muncher in terms of difficulty, so I consigned it to the bin of my mind. Still, that's two games out of 13 that I don't really care about... good innings.
The remaining 13 games will be announced on September 3rd. I'm very excited. Can I dare to hope for some third-party bangers?