Not too much has happened since the end of STGT 2011, but not too little either. At that point I wasn't nearly as burned out as after STGT 2010 and thus incredibly motivated for the next challenges. I chose to get deeper into XOP Black Ultra and achieved some decent scores at first. But my enthusiasm didn't last for long. Let's just say that this game can be frustrating. It is great overall, but the constant need to point blank enemies and even bosses (!) as well as the raised difficulty and more limited firepower compared to the original XOP Black could be tough. Especially when one death totally destroys your score for the respective stage. However I have to admit that the boss point blanking was incredibly fun - I wouldn't have expected that at all. In the end it was the lack of time that killed my motivation completely and forced me to quit playing. Back then I was a bit exhausted and not able to focus really well.
Luckily this isn't the whole truth. Light showed up at the end of the tunnel and I returned with full force and more free time. What I partly did with that time shall be the topic of my next blog post...
Some new entries to my collection
I have also been way too busy with buying old and new games. These are strangely "Gun"-heavy somehow... I swear I haven't planned this at all.
Most importantly, my Psikyo collection grew once again. This time my victims were Gunspike (alias Cannon Spike) for the Dreamcast and Psikyo Shooting Collection Vol. 2: Sengoku Ace & Sengoku Blade for Playstation 2. So far I've played each one of them a bit. Gunspike, while a very dry and absolutely not flawless take on the Psikyo formula, does have its right to exist. To me there is no doubt that real shoot 'em ups are what Psikyo can do best, regardless this is a nice arena shooter with decent character and attack variety (gun, special attack, bombs, melee) and good overall gameplay. The partly awkward turning and aiming controls ruin it a bit which is sad - especially considering how excellent Zero Gunner 2 was done in that regard. However a comparison of these two games might not be the best idea because of the different game mechanics. Sengoku Ace and Sengoku Blade on the other hand are classical Psikyo shmups in any regard (besides Blade being a horizontal). They are not as polished as the company's later titles, but great fun in their own way. I am especially surprised how much fun I tend to have with Sengoku Ace while I have bought the collection mainly for Blade at first. Anyhow, after this purchase I own pretty much every game from Psikyo that I need: Sengoku Ace, Sengoku Blade, Gunbird 2, Dragon Blaze, Zero Gunner 2 and Gunspike. Only the Strikers games remain.
Furthermore, I decided to register at Steam after a friend had showed me some of his games. I am generally not too fond of download titles, but they looked promising enough to give them a try. The Gundemonium Collection started it all. Consisting of the games Gundemonium Recollection, GundeadliGne and Hitogata Happa, it offers lots of diverting and fun gameplay, cute graphics and outstanding rearranged soundtracks. Even though it looks like Platine Dispositif threw together too many different scoring systems, all games are still very enjoable to be played in a simple and straight way without paying attention to every single scoring mechanic. Some boss fights are what bugs me the most, for example when they shoot out tons of dynamic bullets which change directions constantly. This makes them hard in an odd way. Hitogata Happa is the weirdest game of the bunch. Easy at first with a standard difficulty during the stages and plenty of lives. On the other hand the boss fights with sudden Game Overs after a certain time limit are as brutal as it gets. Fun game, but highly unbalanced.
Gundemonium Recollection in action
Jamestown concludes my Steam purchases. The debut of Final Form Games offers great music, lovely hand-drawn graphics as well as promising gameplay with a simple and fun chaining system. Yet once again this is a little bit of a mixed bag. There are many beginner's mistakes to be found in the gameplay, leading to tons of frustration at times. This could have been avoided so easily. I've still put lots of hours into Jamestown as it is a great game apart from that. The 5th and last stage is not only awesome, but also quite memorable. The level design with all these moving blocks adds some kind of platformer element to it. That reminds me a lot of the Mega Drive shooter Elemental Master which also has some similar elements.
Further orders also include the yet to be released Dreamcast titles Gunlord and Sturmwind. Looking forward to see how these will turn out.