If you’ve been keeping up with Square Enix’s mobile releases, you probably have SaGa opinions by now. The series, which had always had a spotty localization record, went dormant in the West for a long time following the 2005 release of Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song on the PlayStation 2. I can only assume the Western release of Romancing SaGa 2 ($17.99) did better than expected, as we’ve received a veritable flood of SaGa releases since. All of those games have seen global releases regardless of their original localization status, meaning that we have just about the entire series available on mobile. And now fate has brought us here, back to Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song ($24.99).
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As I’ve said more than a few times in the past, the NEOGEO was generally known for a couple of genres more than anything else. Fighting games, of course. And thanks to Metal Slug and to a lesser extent Shock Troopers, it’s also known for run-and-gun action. It’s just how things shook out given the developer talent and arcade zeitgeist of the era. But since it was mainly arcade hardware, it did have its fair share of shoot-em-ups. When pressed to list the best of the bunch on the console, a few names tend to come up. Blazing Star. Aero Fighters 2. Viewpoint. Twinkle Star Sprites. And this game, Pulstar ($3.99).
The NEOGEO is generally characterized by, with only a few notable exceptions, fighting games and Metal Slug. Within a couple of years of its launch, the vast majority of the output on the console seemed to be mining (quite successfully) a few particular types of games. To be fair, such was the state of arcades by the mid-1990s. If you weren’t making a fighting game, a licensed beat-em-up, a shoot-em-up, or a puzzle game, you were rowing against the current.
Sigono’s OPUS series of games had its debut with OPUS: The Day We Found Earth back in 2015 on iOS and Android. That was eventually ported to PC and Nintendo Switch with its followup game OPUS: Rocket of Whispers following the same pattern. I adored the first game and have played it on every platform. While I do have issues with the gameplay in OPUS: Rocket of Whispers, I still consider it worth experiencing for fans of the first game. When OPUS: Echo of Starsong ($8.99) was announced, I was hoping it would make its way to iOS because it kept looking like a massive step up over the originals in scale and production.
Marvel Snap is a really good card game. On the one hand, you could say that isn’t all that surprising. Ben Brode is one of the minds behind it, and you might remember him as the lead designer of Hearthstone. Four years ago he and some of his colleagues dipped out from Blizzard and set off to do their own thing, and that turned out to be Marvel Snap. The pedigree is there. These folks clearly know how to make a good card game, so of course they went and made another good card game.
If you own a Steam Deck or have played anything on Steam over the last year, you likely have heard of or seen Vampire Survivors. When it had just hit Steam Early Access, I had a few friends try to get me to play it, but I didn’t bother because I rarely play games until they do their proper 1.0 launch. Vampire Survivors on Steam Deck made me break that rule after I saw a few GIFs of the gameplay. The blend of survival, rogue-lite, bullet hell, avoidance, and more with the aesthetic from developer poncle has been a joy to play for the most part, and it has been mindblowing seeing how much is included in this game at its low price point.