Astro City Mini: The full line-up revealed
13 more titles for the compact coin-op
Whoops! I got sidetracked by all that Mario news last week and forgot to scream at you all about the final 13 games on the Astro City Mini. Yes, they were announced on the same day, and people just don't get as excited about Alex Kidd as they do Super Mario Galaxy, for some unfathomable reason. Anyway, you'd best believe I'm going to write about all thirteen games, now.
A first-time port, Arabian Fight is a brawler characterised mostly by its enormous scaling sprites and breathtaking animation work as enemies leap into the screen to stab you in the face and/or torso. It's nice to see any game getting a chance outside of the long-forgotten arcade, and while Arabian Fight isn't the best beat-'em-up it's far from the worst.
Localised for Sega Master System as The Ninja, Sega's Ninja Princess is a top-down run n' gun shooter akin to KiKi KaiKai in which the titular Kurumi-Hime tools about in feudal Japan, throwing kunai into peoples' faces and/or torsos. It's not the best game in the world, but this is your first chance to play it in its original format.
Another version of ruddy bloody Columns, though according to our very own GSK, Stack Columns "goes places". It certainly looks more interesting than the first two games in the series, but it's still Columns so for me personally it's only good for triggering a Proustian rush when I see its graphics. Nostalgia blows right to my face and/or torso.
A fairly plain top-down shmup, Sonic Boom is nonetheless a remarkable inclusion for - yes! - once again being a debut on the Astro City Mini. It's fitfully fun, but only really interesting as a piece of history, a curiosity. Also, it has nothing to do with the later, failed reboot of Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends in which Knuckles had a really oversized face and/or torso. (OK, this ends now. - Ed)
This fun and attractive shmup is a nice boom for the Astro City Mini, and yet another first home release. Well, it hit Sega Master System, but that version was barely recognisable. Nice music, good graphics and strong stage design make this a fun - if a little muted - addition to the system.
First-class banger and one of my personal favourite Sega arcade titles of its type. Taking control of Flicky (yes, that Flicky, from Sonic) you have to collect a succession of baby chicks and bring them safely to each wrapping stage's exit. Bringing multiple chicks at once increases your point multiplier, but makes it easier for the marauding enemy cats to catch you and spoil your fun. The Mega Drive version of Flicky has been widely circulated in compilations and such and is basically a flawless port, but it's still nice to have this one on Astro City.
Puyo Puyo 2
Hmm. Another instalment of Puyo Puyo. I mean, I do enjoy the game , but... it feels to me like a bit of a wasted slot. Less so than three Columns games, natch, but still. These games are widely available.
I asked for this one, and didn't in my wildest dreams think we'd get it. Quartet's main gimmick is the inclusion of four-player action, which... erm... isn't present here. It's the two-player variant, which is still much better than not getting Quartet at all. A fun, breeze side-scrolling run n' gun style game, and it's really cool that Sega remembered it exists.
Thunder Force AC
An arcade release of Thunder Force III, this is a series that for whatever reason I've never been able to get into, but it has its fans. It's a bit of a mash-up, incorporating stages from Thunder Force II as well as new content. It has also recently seen a general release on Switch as part of the Sega Ages line. A nice inclusion, but not the best.
Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars
It's my boi. Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars is Alex's most outwardly straightforward game, a left-to-right platformer with one-hit kills and a succession of increasingly brutal stages. It's also, I believe, the only appearance of Alex's friend/lover Stella. Well, except for her grave at the beginning of Altered Beast, of course. Though, to be honest, if I had to be in Altered Beast, I'd rather be a corpse, too.
The historic first appearance of one Sonic "The" Hedgehog, as a car ornament akin to a pair of fuzzy dice. Otherwise, what we have here is a steering-wheel based arcade driving game but without the steering wheel. Hmmm.
Better known as in the west as My Hero, this is a ridiculously difficult ode to the pointlessness of diplomacy. Yes, you can try to rescue your best gal from whichever thug has kidnapped her, but after the battle your character will attempt to bond with his enemy over a lush sunset, only to see another delinquent seize her and escape into the mists of time. Ridiculous.
Never heard of this game.