Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls

When everything is going well and you’re able to just play the game, it’s a really fun time and feels like a proper marriage of Castlevania throughout the years. There’s quite a bit to experiment with and you’ll get to test your skills against enemies from several different Castlevania entries, seeing them in a whole new context. Every character feels like they have a distinct enough playstyle and the 5* items do a great job of rewarding you with fun new attacks to use. But all of that comes with a hesitation to recommend this game for a variety of reasons. This isn’t a game you can just pick up and play even if many of its design choices encourage exactly that when it’s finally in your hands. You need to jump onto a specific ecosystem and pay monthly, it’s a game that works best if you’ve played at least eight or nine Castlevania games to completion to appreciate all the throwbacks, and it’s a game that expects you to keep coming back no matter how much it asks you to grind. You can outsmart it in some ways, but ultimately, this is one that you’ll have to chip away at bit by bit to see it through, no matter how much it gets on your nerves.

Deadly Arts

I have such goodwill towards Deadly Arts despite acknowledging it as mechanically inferior to any of the major 3D fighting game series. It just doesn't fit into conventional descriptors like "good" or "bad". Instead, it's the kind of game you just want to root for, one that captures both your heart and your imagination. It doesn't feel like a tightly designed, mechanically strong game that you could recommend to anyone passively interested in the genre, but if it hits right for you, it leaves one heck of an impression, and you can tell pretty easily just by looking at it if it'll do just that. I love its ideas, its soundtrack, its aesthetic, and its vibe, so I can't help but be generous towards it. Deadly Arts is an encapsulation of that late 90s gaming magic that so many people reminisce fondly about. This is the kind of game that I think indie developers could learn a lot from. Even though it never goes far enough to give its characters depth and complex personalities, it plants all of the right seeds, so if someone comes along and takes those seeds to a more suitable location, they could really work some magic...


It doesn’t have much “meat” on its bones and it still finds a way to overstay its welcome, but Pippols is an overall enjoyable romp that feels pretty fresh even in a genre as crowded as shoot ‘em ups. The lane changing mechanic adds a lot of strategy to what would otherwise be a simple game, and the aesthetics and premise give the game a unique identity that still stands out for its procurement-based mission compared to the majority of its contemporaries that purported eradication as the only solution to their conflicts. Konami was at their absolute peak during the 8 and 16-bit eras of gaming, and this game serves as but one of many examples of why they were one of the big names to look for on the MSX. With fun gameplay and impressive technical flourishes for its platform, Pippols is one of those games that you could bring out and show off to get people interested in the ol’ computer that could.