Our Favorite Games Through the Years - Part 2 - Gaming Thoughts

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Our second round of these finds us moving into the 16-bit and further into the handheld era, with RPGs being a common theme among the lot of us


SNES: Final Fantasy III/VI

This is actually a difficult one for me, mainly because the SNES felt like it was around forever so there were a ton of games to wade through. Super C, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the list could go on for miles... but when I sit down and think about the Game on SNES, I always fell back to Final Fantasy III / VI. A huge cast of playable characters that had deep, intricate stories of their own that's told alongside some of the best writing in video game history. It was a perfect mix- say, "the Opera scene" and most old-school JRPG fans will know exactly what you're referring to. Or, you know ... Suplexing a train. Final Fantasy VI's story is more than a simple collection of moving gears- it's an absolute masterpiece of clockwork-like mechanical precision. Strong characters, darkly enchanting and incredibly deep, Final Fantasy VI is to this day still considered one of the best. Ever. It's well-earned.

Genesis: NBA Jam

This one came as a bit of a shock to the others here at CGR. Namely because if it's not Baseball or Bowling, sportsballing just isn't my cup of potatoes. Thus, there was something of a collective, "wait, what?" when I put forward my list. Sure, there were great games out on the Genesis, but none to me were so great as NBA Jam. There's something magical at, given my lack of vertical stature in real life, being able to dunk basketball from damn-near half-court. The magic of NBA Jam worked so well that I, someone who still to this day utterly despises basketball, will always be up for a game of NBA Jam. It was fun, didn't really care much about realism, and just wanted to give an exciting experience. Give one it did, so much so that nearly 30 years later and I'd still be up for a game.

Gameboy Color: Link's Awakening

This was a difficult one for me to answer, mainly because I still love me some OG Tetris, but also because the Gameboy was my first real foray into gaming-on-the-go so there are a lot of memories associated with a lot of different games, but the one I always go back to when I need that warm-and-fuzzy feeling ... is Link's Awakening. Not only is it one of the best Legend of Zelda / Link games period, it was a nonstop adventure that I took with me everywhere I went.


SNES: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

This was a hard pick for me. The SNES is a treasure trove of amazing titles. Final Fantasy IV, my first RPG, JRPG, and Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy VI as we didn’t get V until the PS1 era. Chrono Trigger which I sadly wouldn’t get until the PS1 bundle with FFIV. Secret of Mana… I guess most Square Soft titles before they moved over to the PS1 and then into Square Enix.

But unlike the Final Fantasy Series, Super Mario RPG took a beloved character who at this point in time had been moving through the Mushroom Kingdom in 2D into a 3D realm and added turn-based RPG mechanics. Adding a real story to boot, Mario would adventure with new friends, his princess, and his nemesis as they all banded together to save the kingdom from an even larger threat. And it still holds up to this day.


Gameboy Color: The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX

Here we go, the first and only Zelda title in my listing. While Oracle of Ages and Seasons were great titles, I have to say my favorite was Link's Awakening DX. DX specifically because it was the color version. Right Right Up Left Left Up Right Up. Yup, I still remember that to this day. Link's Awakening is probably my favorite Zelda title period. I enjoyed the dungeon design, the trading minigame, the music, the boss fights, and just the way the game feels overall. There's a reason I was super excited to hear Ballad of the Wind Fish when I went to the Zelda orchestra, before they announced the remake.

Susan N:

NES: Super Mario Bros 3

Okay. Super Mario 3 was a staple game for my brother and I. We spent so much time playing this game, and we did try to teach our mom but that just led to laughter and tears. Mom is not great at platforming even though she was a GOD at Loderunner which required some good reaction time. Anyways, this is my favorite in the series because each world had a different theme, the levels were challenging, and it was always fun. I loved the giant level because it was a small change but made a huge impression. I also loved the ice land levels with the cute white pac-man looking snappers. They killed you if you touched them but they looked adorable. Besides, who doesn’t love melting ice with FIREBALLS! Anyways, my brother and I played it so much that I have a permanent memory of certain cheat codes with the Game Genie. NXKXGLIE. WHY DO I REMEMBER THIS?! And if I recall correctly, that code was for permanent flying Mario. *looks this up* YEP. I told you. PERMENANTLY ENGRAINED.

Runner Up: The Legend of Zelda

The only runner up for the NES is the original The Legend of Zelda. There are many reasons for this. One IT’S FREAKING ZELDA. Two, it was a cool RPG that I don’t think I ever finished - despite my best efforts. Three, I played Zelda when I first started playing Dungeons & Dragons. On the surface that isn’t important. What is important is the fact that we didn’t have the booklet, so mom graciously sat with us to MAP OUT THE WHOLE THING so that we would stop getting lost. Even more important than that, I cleverly used that map to try and ‘create’ a D&D game. I didn’t exactly have faith in my skills as an artist, but Zelda was the video game that inspired me to try things that were strange. Who remembers the first time they accidentally put down a bomb and it revealed a secret passage? This game marked the beginning of RPGs, and that makes it right up there on my favorite list.

N64: Ocarina of Time

What a surprise. Another Zelda game! Except that this game was a bit of a departure from the other two I had played before it (The Legend of Zelda and the TERRIBLE Zelda II which can die in a fire. SO. MUCH. RAGE.) Ocarina of Time was one of the first 3D games. I was used to playing 2D side-scrolling or top down views. I also played text based games because I had dabbled in some computer programming. As this was the first 3D game I really played, it took some getting used to. Plus, there were all kinds of puzzles to solve, creatures to fight, and tunes that would get stuck in your head. In case you want to know, the one I’m referring to is Saria’s Song. This Zelda and the first one are my all time favorites for good reason.

Runner Up: F-Zero X

I had very few games on the N64, but I can’t let one of them slide by so easily without mention. Aside from Ocarina and Super Smash Bros, my friends and I spent COUNTLESS HOURS playing F-Zero X. This racing game was just the right amount of chaos and fun. You could choose a random mode where the game would generate a track. On one day, the game generated a nasty half-pipe track that I died on repeatedly. We had found out that if you hit restart just before everyone reaches the finish line (or before the timer runs out), you could keep repeating that track. My friends became SO GOOD at this one track, that it was insane. It became a competition between the two gents. And I, being ‘dead’, had the opportunity to play the slot machine. For those unaware, the slot machine in F-Zero X had the images of the other players on the track. If you matched the image on all three cards, the game would take away that players HEALTH BAR. So while the two gents kept trying to knock each other off the half pipe, I got to make their lives hell. At one point, I became so good at the slots that they BANNED ME from doing it. Party poopers…


Sega Genesis: Warsong

Next to the NES selection, this console is probably the hardest for me to narrow down a winner. Like the Tandy 1000, this was a gift from my uncle after he bought it for himself, but only really played it when I came over – so he gave it to me as a birthday present. Between the Phantasy Star titles, the Sonic titles, Shining Force and so many more classic games – it’s hard to just pick one. That being said, readers of the site have heard me extol the gameplay of Warsong plenty of times throughout the years. It was one of those titles I bought on a whim and wound up absolutely loving as I played through it over and over again. My friends like it so much that two of them bought copies for themselves as well.

Sega 32x: Virtua Fighter

Like the Genesis CD, the 32x was a short-lived addition to the Genesis that saw that system on life support a bit longer than it probably should have been. I found quite a few of the CD games enjoyable – fewer 32x that I liked. NBA Jam Tournament Edition comes in a close second here, but Virtua Fighter was something I enjoyed a great deal. I was pretty heavy into fighting games at the arcade during this time, and they just never seemed to hold up very well when they were ported over to consoles. Virtua Fighter did not feel like as big of a step back as most of them, and I enjoyed my time with it.

Sega Genesis CD: Lunar: The Silver Star

The CD addition to the Genesis console was a doomed-to-fail half-measure before the next generation of consoles went out, but hey – I did my part and bought one. Truth be told? I enjoyed it quite a bit, as did my friends. Sure, there were some absolute stinkers on that platform (I’m looking at you, Street Fighter: The Movie), but titles like Dark Wizard, Vay and Shining Force CD were thoroughly enjoyable. Still, none of them hit me the way Lunar: The Silver Star did. The visuals and sound were fantastic – I am almost embarrassed by how many times I probably watched the intro song and movie, which had a very Saturday morning cartoon quality vibe to it. The characters were fun, the world was vibrant, and the story definitely hit me multiple times throughout.

Super Nintendo: Chrono Trigger

I was a bit late to the SNES party, having sunk my time and money into the Genesis. That being said, I eventually got my hands on a SNES, and found a lot to love here. From strategy games like Ogre Battle, or great adventure games like Zelda or so many of the fun brawlers out there. I probably sunk more time into Final Fantasy III than anything, but I think I got more enjoyment out of Chrono Trigger than anything else on that platform. I must have replayed it at least three times back in the day, and it always felt like time that was well spent.

Sega Game Gear: Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya

I spent a ton of time on these games when they released on the Genesis and absolutely loved them. The mix of strategy and RPG elements was highly rewarding for me from a progression standpoint as I maxed my characters’ stats out for optimal pummeling of the AI. When this released for the Game Gear, it was a perfect fit. Easy to start and stop, unlike action games, the gameplay mechanics were identical to the earlier games in the series that I loved.

Article by RobertPierre-YvesRichardSusan N., and Nick


Atari games now available on Utomik!

Utomik and Atari bring iconic games to more players

Eindhoven, The Netherlands, February 24, 2023 - Cloud gaming service Utomik has announced a new partnership with global interactive entertainment and multiplatform licensing company Atari. The partnership will allow Utomik to offer Atari's classic and contemporary games to its subscribers and business partners, including iconic titles like RollerCoaster Tycoon® 2: Triple Thrill Pack, PONG Quest™, and Asteroids: Recharged that are released today! 

The Utomik cloud gaming service is currently in Early Access and includes a 14-day free trial. During the Early Access period, the cloud service can be enjoyed through the personal plan for €8.99/$8.99 and the four-person family plan for €12.99/$12.99 per month.

For an overview of the games that are now available through Utomik, have a look at the new announcement trailer here: https://youtu.be/03xLoDXUISk

Have you played Atari on Utomik today?

Atari is one of the most recognized and celebrated brands in the world when it comes to games, and so Utomik is proud to announce that multiple iconic Atari games are now available to play through the Utomik app. Subscribers of the cloud service can even enjoy some of these games on Android devices or smart TVs. Thanks to Utomik, it is now possible to relive one’s childhood or discover iconic games without having to purchase them all separately!

This partnership between Utomik and Atari also provides countless possibilities for potential content partners by presenting them opportunities for cross-promotion with Atari on other platforms as well as more customer engagement. This collaboration also provides a competitive advantage for gaming platforms by allowing them to offer a more diverse range of games, including Atari’s iconic classics. 

Starting today, the well-known RollerCoaster Tycoon® 2: Triple Thrill Pack, Yars: Recharged, Asteroids: Recharged, and PONG Quest™ can be played through the Utomik app. All of these games, with the exception of RollerCoaster Tycoon® 2: Triple Thrill Pack, are also available on Android devices and smart TVs through Utomik Cloud! And that’s not all, because Utomik is planning on adding more Atari games to its catalog in the upcoming months, such as:

  • Black Widow: Recharged
  • Breakout: Recharged
  • Centipede: Recharged
  • Gravitar: Recharged
  • Missile Command: Recharged
  • Kombinera
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon® Classic

The partnership will allow subscribers and business partners to access Atari's games on various devices, including PC, Android devices and Samsung and LG smart TVs. This expanded reach provides more opportunities for Utomik and Atari to reach new audiences and engage with current fans.

"We are thrilled to partner with one of the most iconic brands in the gaming industry," said Doki Tops, CEO of Utomik. "This partnership will allow us to offer our subscribers and business partners a wider selection of classic and contemporary games, while giving Atari the opportunity to expand its reach and engage with more players around the world."

"Utomik's platform is a great way for Atari to get our titles in front of some of the most passionate and dedicated gamers," said Atari CEO Wade Rosen. "The Utomik team has been a pleasure to work with and we hope to expand our relationship as they continue to grow."

To learn more about Utomik and our B2C and B2B services, please visit their website at www.utomik.com.

*depending on each title’s compatibility

Discover more with Utomik Cloud

Utomik occupies the perfect sweet spot with its hybrid gaming model: enabling subscribers to play on multiple devices and switch seamlessly between them. This is achieved by combining its cloud streaming and smart download technology. Thanks to Utomik, great indie and casual games can share the spotlight on multiple platforms, such as TVs, mobile devices, and tablets.

Utomik Cloud allows subscribers to play more than 200 cloud games from its ever-growing catalog of 1400 PC games, selected specifically for their compatibility with smart TVs and mobile devices. The app includes games from various genres, such as indie favorites like Coffee Talk, My Time at Portia, and Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion. 

The Utomik Cloud app has launched on mobile devices with Android 9 or higher, starting with over 200 curated games included in the cloud gaming subscription. Depending on the platform availability of the games you’re playing, you can switch between various devices. For instance, you can start playing a game on your TV, only to continue on your phone or tablet as you make your way to your desktop. 

Utomik’s cloud gaming service will initially support Android 9 and higher, Samsung 2021/2022 TV models, and LG 2021/2022 TV models. It will run 1080p, with a target of 30fps to 60fps depending on the game. With cloud gaming, Utomik offers an accessible gaming experience, allowing people to play whenever and wherever they want. Utomik Cloud is now available in the following countries, with many more to come:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Read more about Utomik Cloud here.

About Utomik

Utomik is a worldwide gaming subscription service that services both the B2C and the B2B markets with its hybrid gaming platform. The platform delivers an excellent user experience through cloud gaming and fast-download tech, which ensures smooth game performance all over the world. Partners such as Samsung, LG, and Hewlett Packard embrace this progressiveness by adapting Utomik’s services to their products.

Supporting a games library of 1400+ high-quality titles on PC and currently a subset of those for smart TVs and Android devices users in the cloud, the platform appeals to casual and core audiences of all ages. Cloud gaming allows Utomik to offer an accessible gaming experience, allowing people to play whenever and wherever they want.

About Atari

Founded in 1972, Atari played an integral role in the development of the arcade game, game console, and personal computer industries. Atari’s iconic games, including Pong®, Asteroids®, Centipede® Missile Command®, have been played by many millions, and the brand continues to bring joy to gamers with its expanding portfolio of PC, console and mobile games.

Atari’s core businesses include video games, consumer hardware, licensing and blockchain. The team at Atari is focused on creating value by expanding and integrating each of these businesses under the leadership of our CEO Wade Rosen.

Atari’s team is dedicated to honoring the legacy of the brand, building upon its success to be associated with fun for generations to come.

For more news on Atari, visit https://atari.com/.


Article by: Susan N.


Pinball FX Review

Pinball FX by developer and publisher Zen StudiosSony PlayStation 5 review written by Nick with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Zen Studios has brought their fantastic arcade pinball simulation series to the latest generation of consoles (and Epic Store), and they are very welcome additions. While there are numerous pinball games and simulations available on the market, this series has always been my favorite and nothing about this latest iteration has changed my mind on that front.

Now, I will admit – I was a bit confused when I first saw this announcement. But that likely has more to do with me being a very long-time fan of the studios’ pinball games. I was first introduced to Zen Studios’ pinball games on the PlayStation 3, when it was called Zen Pinball. I also picked it up on Steam where it went by an FX moniker. Over the years we’ve seen Zen Pinball 2, Pinball FX3 and more – so to see a sort of ‘back to basics’ branding kind of threw me off for just a moment, especially when I saw it on the Epic Store and not Steam. I’m sure there’s plenty of reasons for the way they are tackling these, from an infrastructure perspective as well as just licensing, but if you are a bit confused by the branding, just know that you’re not alone. But also? In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter much.

Now, as someone who has owned just about every console table ever released in whatever version of these titles over the years, my initial question was: will they port over? After all, Zen Studios was incredibly generous when it released a native PlayStation 4 version of its pinball series, grandfathering in tables I had purchased for my PS3. The answer is a slightly disappointing ‘no’, so my hundreds of tables do not port over for free. At the same time, most of these packs are not overly expensive and I understand that the team needs to monetize their product somehow, so I’m not overly worried about it either, but I felt it was worth calling out.

The next question I had to ask myself then was: why upgrade ecosystems? Well, for one – having it native to the PlayStation 5 (or Xbox Series X | S) is pretty nice. Everything just looks a bit crisper and shinier, and for trophy / achievement hunters such as myself, it’s always nice to have some new shiny objects to chase. Those are pretty superficial reasons though, and for me, the primary draw has always been the tables. If Pinball FX were to only be rehashing my previously purchased tables, there wouldn’t be much reason to delve in – and there are a ton of returning tables. 67 to be exact. But there are over a dozen other tables that were available on PC but not console, such as Curse of the Mummy, Grim Tales and Wrath of the Elder Gods to name a few. There are a few brand-new tables as well, such as The Addams Family, Borderlands and Brothers in Arms (which are available in the Gearbox table bundle, which was one of the bundles I spent a lot of time with). I really enjoyed these tables, especially the bright, colorful and zany nature of the Borderlands table.

One of the remastered tables I spent plenty of time with as well was the Indiana Jones table. I had previously reviewed this one when it was a Pinball FX3 table (you can read it here – but the short version is: I really enjoyed this table, and it’s great to have a reason to play it again after having spent so much time with it in the past). There are 86 tables available upon release, with a plan to have 120 by summer, so I’m looking forward to seeing what is coming down the pipe.

Cosmetically speaking, Pinball FX is doubling down on the idea of unlocking themed items for your ‘space’, which is pretty cool – though I wonder if it would be more interesting / immersive if it was presented in VR (I was a huge fan of the prior VR tables released on PS4). This “Pin Hall” as they dub it is fun, but it’s more the tease of “what’s to come” I’m curious about. The core gameplay from the last few releases are all here, but with the promise of more tables and a battle royale mode coming as well.

One of the things I touched on earlier was monetization, and it seems Pinball FX is built to do so a couple of different ways. The traditional method of buying tables that you can keep forever is still available, but now there is a Pinball Pass as well. For $14.99 a month, you can access most of the tables (75 out of the 86). That strategy gives you the most immediate bang for your buck, but I do wonder if that will hurt the game long-term as players may do that for a month or two and almost never pick the game up again. Or maybe they only buy new table packs going forward because they had previously played everything available. I’m not really sure, I’m just speculating at this point, but the new strategy does introduce greater flexibility for gamers, but some what-ifs as well.


For those like myself that can’t seem to get enough of the Zen Studios pinball games, this is an easy acquisition. You can download the framework for free, and then choose to buy tables or go with the monthly pass, and there are a ton of tables right out off the bat. That said, there may be more reason for veteran players who feel like they’ve already done everything there is to do to check back later with the promise of new tables and modes. Pinball FX is still the best pinball series around, but the current release feels more foundational at this point, leaving me anxious to see how it develops in the future.

Score: 7 out of 10


Let's Bounce! Clive ‘N’ Wrench, New 3D Platformer Launches today on Switch, PlayStation & PC!

Developed over 10 years by Rob Wass, sole developer at Dinosaur Bytes, Clive ‘N’ Wrench reimagines the classic genre for enthusiasts and first-timers alike.

24th February, [LONDON, United Kingdom]
Numskull Games is proud to announce that Clive ‘N’ Wrench is now available digitally and physically for the Nintendo Switch™ (UK/US), PlayStation®5 (UK/US) and PlayStation®4 (UK/US), PC via Steam, and coming soon to GOG. (Physical release date is 28th February 2023 in US/CAN)

Watch the Clive ‘N’ Wrench official launch trailer here. You can also watch further showcases that take the characters through Ancient China, a pre-historic Ice Age and a Horror themed town.

Starring Clive the rabbit and best friend Wrench, the monkey on his back, players will jump, roll, hover, and spin their way through time and space in a magical 1950’s refrigerator, on a heroic quest to thwart the tyrannical Dr Daucus. Players can expect 11 vibrant and exhilarating worlds, with challenging boss battles and collectibles to find throughout every level.

Inspired by platformer classics such as Spyro and Jak & Daxter, Clive ‘N’ Wrench is a love letter to 3D platformers. Developed over 10 years by sole developer Rob Wass, the game features jam-packed cameos, endless jokes, and hat-tipping easter eggs for fans of the genre to enjoy.

Clive ‘N’ Wrench also features a brand-new move set, including agile parkour, that make the game a perfect update for 3D platformer enthusiasts and first-timers alike.

Wass commented: “Clive ‘N’ Wrench has been a huge part of my life over the past 10 years. This project has been a real labour of love for me. I’m beyond excited for everyone to get their hands on Clive ‘N’ Wrench.

Follow @NumskullGames on Twitter & TikTok for the latest updates - retailer links available from the Numskull Games website.

For an extended look at Clive 'N' Wrench check out the Big Gameplay Preview below!

More about Clive 'N' Wrench...

Clive ‘N’ Wrench is a brilliantly crafted 3D platforming paradise full of challenges, collectables, and charismatic characters. Starring Clive the rabbit and best friend Wrench, the monkey on his back, players will jump, roll, hover, and spin their way through time and space in a magical 1950’s refrigerator, on a heroic quest to thwart the tyrannical Dr Daucus.

Players will adventure through the prehistoric ice age in Iceceratops, to ancient Egypt in Tempus Tombs, and even across the Wild West in 11 distinct levels each with its own boss battles with varying difficulties. Clive ‘N’ Wrench has been tailored for both experienced players and newcomers alike.

About Numskull Games

Since 2019, Numskull Games has quickly established itself as a publishing force with a global physical and digital proposition. Launching and curating games from both new and veteran development studios as well as international games publishers, Numskull Games publishes titles across all major gaming platforms. Additionally, by utilising the infrastructure and resources of its sister companies Rubber Road / Numskull Designs, Numskull Games creates unique and compelling Collectors' Editions for its elite releases.

About Dinosaur Bytes

Founded in 2018, Dinosaur Bytes Studio is a small independent game developer based in the UK. Dedicated to creating new handcrafted experiences inspired by the golden era of the medium, for both PC and major console platforms.

Article by: Susan N.


Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol. 1 Review

Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol. 1 by developers Bitwave Games and Toaplan and publisher Bitwave GamesPC (Steam) review written by Jim with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol. 1 is a collection of four classic arcade shoot ‘Em Ups consisting of Out Zone, Truxton, Twin Cobra, and Zero Wing. The four games were originally released in the late 80s to early 90s and some have been ported to other systems other than just arcade cabinets while others like Out Zone don't seem to be until now. I can't be positive about this but I do think Video game preservation is important so it is nice to see these old arcade classics re-released and with some added touches.

Out zone, Truxton, and Twin Cobra are vertical shooters while Zero Wing is the only horizontal shooter in the pack. These being arcade games mean they didn't have any story but once beaten every one of the games takes you back to the first stage to replay the game. This is my guess that in an arcade once you paid to play you would want to keep going and not have to stop just because you beat the game. All four games are solid shmups and I am glad they are getting re-released so more people can play them.

With that said the games did have some cool improvements. These games are really hard but you can slow down time, rewind, and fast forward time in the game so if you find one too easy or hard you can use these to help. You can also quickly save a game and quickly load. You can turn on assists like auto fire mode where you don't have to keep pressing the shoot button. You can change the difficulty setting and there is even a new very easy mode. You can rotate the screen 90 degrees to switch it any way you like. There, of course, is Steam achievements and lastly, there is a practice mode. These all add up to nice little touches that can help new players or someone who wants to beat the games.

Gameplay in each game is about the same in Out Zone, Truxton, and Twin Cobra. You shoot at everything and can get power-ups and upgraded gun pick-ups, and in each game, I had a favorite weapon. You also can pick up bombs in all four games where you can use these to blast enemies and or to save yourself from their bullets. You can collect these and save them for a boss as I did or just use them to save your neck. The only game that differs slightly is Zero Wing. The bombs in Zero Wing are not collected and kept until you use them. You can only get one at a time and you can use it but it also helps if you get shot it will explode then and there taking the hit instead of you and saving you a life. Each level ends with a boss fight and Zero Wing has a few mini-bosses along the way. Each game can be beaten in about an hour or so. They are not time-consuming games and can be fun to play when you don't have much time to play.

While playing I ran into no problems and there was no input lag as it was a perfect emulation of these classic arcade games. From the music to the sound effects they all seemed to match up with the original arcade games. I hope Bitwave Games brings more classics to PC and hopefully to consoles.

Now the only thing some people may have a problem with is the price. Each game is $7.99 each or $20 for all four games. These seem a bit much for games from the late 80s early 90s but with such care being put into making these games playable and work good on modern PCs, the $20 for all four isn't a bad price.


Overall Bitwave games did an excellent job with these classics and I cannot wait to see what they do next with what will hopefully be a second collection. Shoot ‘Em Up fans shouldn't miss out on these four blasts from the past. Without games like these there would be no Shoot ‘Em Up genre. I enjoyed this collection of games.

Score: 8 out of 10

Announcing Foundation’s Roadmap Update

Quebec, Canada, 24th February 2023
Polymorph Games is pleased to announce a roadmap update for its award-winning, medieval city-building game Foundation available now in Early Access on Steam and GOG.

Roadmap Update

The studio is planning five major releases until Foundation’s end of Early Access.

1 - Residential Density and Safety Concept

The next Major Update we are working on is about adding Safety, a tool players can use to control the density of housing in specific zones. Safety is also something that will be used and extended by the Castle in the Kingdom progression path. This will also integrate the walls into the construction flow. We will provide more details soon.

2 - The Castle (Kingdom Progression Path)

We know you are eager to get your hands on this one, and we are already working on it. In addition to the new Castle monument, expect more gameplay options from overhauled military missions (including squads!), and more interaction with the new safety concept.

3 - Labor Progression Path

This update will round off the final Estate gameplay and its visual overhaul. It will focus on giving the tools to improve happiness and taxation capabilities.

4 - Environment Rehaul

As you may know, we are working to revamp our building and environment visuals: environment biomes, skyboxes, lighting, map edges.

5 - End of Early Access Release

This one will have all the completed game content, with the improved residential zoning, and tier 3 housing.
Along the way toward Foundation's full release, the team will continue to add minor features, to include new quality of life (QOL) changes as well as game content.

Some Planned Minor Releases (not in release order)

  • Continuous Monument Experience Improvements
  • Continuous Map Generator Improvements
  • Continuous Quality of Life Improvements
  • Continuous Accessibility Improvements
  • Continuous Modding Improvements
  • Continuous Balancing Improvements
  • New Productions Buildings and Production Building Extensions
  • Scalable Quests
  • New Mandates
  • New Information Layers
  • Job XP Implementation
  • Paved Roads

Some shelved or on hold features

As mentioned earlier, the process of reviewing and completing our game design had us focus on Foundation’s strengths. But that also means that unfortunately, some features we have added to the roadmap during the Early Access won’t make it to the full release, as we realized that they will not add any significant fun to the game and will create more micromanagement than we wish to push on the player. We are thus shelving housing decay, aging and families, and graveyards from the roadmap. The disease feature and vehicles are also postponed, meaning they might become part of the game at some point, but not before the end of the early access. Steam Workshop Integration has also been dropped as we continue to focus on mod.io and its cross-platform modding capabilities.
We know some of you will be disappointed about this news, especially the aging and family, but the average village size in Foundation has a higher population count than first anticipated, and having a feature like this would have brought us on the path of survival, micromanagement and overcomplexity.
We have reasserted our inspirations - Pharaoh, The Settlers and Anno - all games that don’t feature aging and death, but are still unique in their own ways and most importantly, great city-building experiences. With that in mind, we are confident that we are on the right path with Foundation’s design plans.

Putting an end to the Trello and to Mantis Public Bug reporter

As many of you may have realized, the Trello board was not being updated often. It has shown to be a lot of work to maintain, and it also creates a divergence with our internal planning tool. Hence why we are closing the Trello, and will instead share updates and progress on the roadmap on posts such as this one.
We are also closing our Mantis Public Bug reporter. We realized that the most efficient way to track bugs and get feedback is through Discord or right here on the Steam forums. It is also a better way to filter what is a bug and what is not, because the community usually provides help as well. So don’t hesitate to join our Discord server to share your bugs and feedback!

When are the next updates planned?

As of now, we are currently working on multiple updates:
  • 1.9.2 is about an improved budget breakdown and multiple Quality of Life improvements, like the ESC and right-click handling (Estimated Release Date: February 2023)
  • Minor Update: We are preparing an experimental build that changes early progression in the game (In Progress, Experimental in March 2023)
    • Taxation will be moved to the Labor progression path
    • Tavern will become a need for the commoners
    • The early and mid game progression will be reviewed
    • Trade revenue will be more generous
  • Minor Update: Plains terrain type (flatter) will be introduced in procedurally generated maps (In Progress, Estimated Release Date, March 2023)
  • Major Update: Residential Core + Safety (Being prototyped, No ETA yet)
  • Major Update: Castle (Kingdom Progression Path) (In Progress, No ETA yet)

Note that this planning is subject to change along the way
Foundation’s official website can be found here: https://www.polymorph.games/en/

About Foundation

Foundation is a grid-less, sprawling medieval city building simulation with a heavy focus on organic development, monument construction and resource management. The game features in-depth resource management akin to the Anno (Dawn of Discovery) series, expertly mixed with city building elements from Settlers, SimCity, and Pharaoh all topped with narrative encounters inspired by Crusader Kings II to create the ultimate medieval ant-farm simulation.
About Polymorph Games

Polymorph Games is a tightly-knit independent studio based in Quebec City, Canada. Since 2016, the studio has been hard at work on Foundation, a unique take on medieval city building simulations. The team's focus is to deliver authentic, deeply engrossing experiences where players can express their creativity through innovative gameplay.

Article by: Susan N.


Pac-Mania - Retro Reflections

I would like to introduce our first Throwback Thursday review of PacMania. An arcade game all the way back from 1987.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Article by: Hamza 

Pac-Man... but with differences. The first and foremost is that it’s in isometric view that boasts pseudo 3D-graphics. With this one particular camera view that I love in video games, it was only natural that Pac-Mania was not restricted to one screen. The maps may be limited in number but are twice the size of the maps in Pac-Man and take nearly about twice the amount of time to finish them, too. The second noticable feature is that there are more ghosts here than probably in any other Pac-Man game – bar Pac-Land. Though Pac-Mania retains the basic formula of the original games and plays exactly like them albeit from a different perspective, the cool new feature is that the titular yellow dot can also jump. Unfortunately, so can the ghosts!

But first, I’m pretty sure many of you are thinking, “why improve, modify or re-create a bonafide classic?” I thought the same, too, until I played Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Land and Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures – all ofwhich surfed on the giant waves the original had caused. Since I loved all of them and was confident that any yellow dot related game or spin-off would not be a disappointment, I tried out this game and left with a smile on my face. Once again a Pac-Man-related experience that has left me rightly satisfied.

The gameplay is simple and familiar to those who have played the original. With now the ability to jump, the yellow dot must collect/eat/chomp/chew all similarly colored pellets. But of course a gamer’s main aim is to gain the highest score possible and not lose all three lives in the process. When one map is completed, the player proceeds to the next one. The big pellets temporarily turn the ghosts into edible phantomswhich the protagonist can then gobble them up for further points. The phantoms then become floating eyes and float all the way back to the pen, where they immediately become ghosts again. In this version, the protagonist seems to give them a small nibble, and there’s a considerable distance between him and the ghost. This faulty programming, in reverse, often results in unfair deaths. You can clearly see there’s a good distance between the two inhabitants, yet Pacmanloses a life.

This version is not as big as the others and really not at all polished or graphically defined. The outlines are quite-fuzzy and give off a chromatic aberration effect. But the movements – jumping and all – are very smooth and responsive. Never once did the controls suddenly decide to become stubborn and refuse to obey me. They worked perfectly and all the deaths witnessed were partly my fault. I say partly because apparantly cats and toddlers find it irresistible to start randomly typing away on my keyboard as if they will become the next Hemingway by doing so.

Coming back, Pac-Mania is a simple little game good enough incentive to come back for more. The level designs themselves are worth the replay. The first is simply made up of Lego blocks; the following one has neon walls and crazy corners. Though not wildly inventive or catchy, they are fun to wander in for long periods. But despite anything and everything, I just cannot see Pac-Mania fall under the ‘great games’ banner. It lacks that certain unspeakable charm, an intangible quality. It’s worth the time, yes totally, but not worth the adulation in a praising compilation or category.

Score: 8.5 / 10


Industries of Titan - PC (Steam) Review

Industries of Titan by developer and publisher Brace Yourself GamesPC (Steam) review written by Susan N with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Over the years, city builders and colony simulators have tried to break out of the mold by adding some elements to keep things fresh. At first, it seems like Industries of Titan does that as it is unique in a couple of ways through shipbuilding, converting colonists into workers, and exploring a new map. Unlike other colony builders, this game doesn’t rely solely on building a massive city like Cities: Skylines. It feels more like a post-apocalyptic Civilization game with a beautiful score, impressive gritty graphics, and the threat of looming rebels that will come after you. While it has some interesting elements, it’s missing a few things to make the game fantastic because right now, it’s a plain jane entry in the genre with stellar add-ons. So let’s take some shots at the features and gameplay first.


Industries of Titan requires players to balance a couple of aspects in order to win the game. First, a successful colony has to be built in such a way that it has enough power to run, resources gathered and refined through processors, several monetization stations to gain credits, and adequate defenses to keep rebels away from your newly acquired land - which is on loan by The Council. 

In order to explain the gameplay loop, this will be separated into two sections where the colony-building aspects are presented first. Then we’ll cover the defensive and combat aspects in order to paint a full picture of the game.

Colony Building

Industries of Titan begins when you land on a new planet that has been ravaged by the gritty and barely habitable environment. As the council has sent you on a mission to make the planet habitable - as best as possible - it seems like the entire purpose of the game is to reach that point. 

One of the first challenges to face is adequate power generation which is done by using harmful Xethane gases. As you collect the planet’s natural gas, it has to be converted to energy that can be used by your equipment. The problem is that while power generation isn’t difficult, collecting this gas is harmful to colonists. 

Another challenge that you face is that many machines need to be placed in factories. Those machines come in different sizes which come into play when you need to Tetris the power generators, habitation pods, and material refinement machines. The only good thing about this design is the ability to create blueprints for your builds. Otherwise, you will need to upgrade the factories to have an additional floor to give you space. 

Finally, you need to balance power generation with colonist health. This in itself, isn’t an issue as other post-apocalyptic games have similar balancing acts, but increasing the number of colonists isn’t necessary. Assuming you have medic stations and air purifiers to keep the people alive, you can get by with a low number of colonists to suit your industry. Setting up residential buildings for more colonists isn’t required as the bulk of their importance to the game is credit generation. You will need to convert colonists into workers for specific jobs, but once those are fulfilled, you can get a new batch of colonists from the shipyard. This part of the gameplay could have been more interesting if we had to deal with worker bots instead of humans. It just felt a bit flat for me when all I had to do was request more colonists from the shipyard, instead of improving the air quality or living conditions. Additionally, there are achievements for losing a certain number of colonists. That’s not a meaningful achievement, just saying. 

In essence, the game is a nice colony builder without a ton of consequences. Even when you gain the favor of the council, the game isn’t complete. Your task is to fulfill a ton of ridiculous objectives that aren’t necessary. The council will require a ludicrous number of parks or resources collected to ‘win’ the game. One would think that the looming threat of rebels would be required as a victory condition, but it isn’t. And on that note, let’s talk combat.

Combat Gameplay

Industries of Titan features a looming rebel threat where you need defenses to keep them at bay. This is a different take on the colony builder as most of them focus on milestones or solving some challenges. By adding tension to the game with the threat of rebels who will attack your newly formed colony, seems like a great idea. Unfortunately, it falls short. 

You can spend resources to build defensive turrets to thwart any territorial race and these turrets will keep most of the rebels at bay. On its own, their addition to the game would be mediocre at best. However, the developers included the purchasing and customization of your own ships to defend the colony. And like the buildings where you have to Tetris the machines in, ship design requires you to do the same. 

There are three or four ships to choose from, which range from low armor to high armor, that you can customize with life pods, weapons, and engines. Even with the option to customize your own ship layout, the addition of combat is unnecessary. You end up wasting resources to take on the rebel encampments only to find that none of it is necessary to complete the game objective. While it was a neat and refreshing change, not enough was done to make combat a meaningful inclusion. This is regrettable, in my opinion.

Tech Tree

Colony builders often have a tech tree that locks game progression behind it, but Industries of Titan doesn’t do that. Instead, the tech tree serves to make colony-building efforts easier by providing increases to production speed or less waste generated by colonists. But, in order to progress through it, you will need artifacts. 

Unlike other games, all of the industrial, military, science, energy, and council nodes are scattered away from each other. This means that the tech tree isn’t organized by category which is often done in games like this. And as there is no set path to researching the nodes, you won’t need to pigeonhole your efforts into one style of gameplay to pursue victory. 

Regarding colony-building games, this feature is a welcomed change. It allows Industries of Titan to feel fresh and different. Above all else, this is one of the features I really love about the game. 

Graphics and UI

One aspect of the game that knocks the ball out of the park is the graphics. Unlike other colony builders that focus on the UI and not a lot on the graphics, Industries of Titan has a lot of details that the average player might miss. For example, the ruined buildings sell the idea that this planet has been previously inhabited. While many ruins have a similar look, the ones that are identical aren’t placed side-by-side. Moreover, there are ruins that contain a high concentration of resources that are graphically different from all of the other grayscale structures. Aesthetically, this creates a sense of variety through its assets without overdoing it. 

Each building has a distinct aesthetic that looks and feels futuristic through the use of lighting and what looks to be decals. From the vantage point that you have, many of the buildings like the factories, the medical center, and residential buildings appear as though you’re in a tech-heavy district in a metropolis. 

Even though each building, machine, and ruin has a specific design, your colony will not look like it is designed with cookie cutters. After all, it is a planet that has gone through a ton of strife. Other colonies have failed, there are large craters that disperse copious amounts of gases, and there are other rebel colonies that will pillage whatever they can get. In terms of graphics design, Industries of Titan sells you on the challenges you will face. I’m definitely here for that.

Final Thoughts and Summary

I wish that the developers of Industries of Titan put a little more time into the game. It would have been a stellar hit if the rebel threat added more of a challenge or if there was more variety with the combat system in general. Instead, the game falls short of something amazing by focusing on ridiculous milestones set by the Council. 

Though it was a valiant effort to bring something different to the genre, I don’t feel as though it’s quite enough for avid colony-building fans. That certainly doesn’t make this game bad by any means, as it looks amazing and has cool features like blueprinting which isn’t present in any colony simulator that I can think of, but I found myself oddly bored with it. There wasn’t enough to keep me interested in playing the game for long periods of time, which is unfortunate. 

Industries of Titan is an alright colony-building game set in a post-apocalyptic world, that oozes with potential conflict and hazards aplenty. Sadly, the game just doesn’t hold the player's interest long enough as the win conditions are bloated, the threat of being attacked is paltry at best, and the need for colonists is not as important as one might think. It’s great to kill some time with because it has some features that are different from others in its genre, but it can get quite dull over prolonged sessions."

Score: 8 out of 10

Review By: Susan N.


Shadow Warrior 3: Definitive Edition - PC Review

Shadow Warrior 3: DefinitiveEdition by developer Flying Wild Hog and publisher Devolver DigitalPC (Steam) review written by Jim with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

I went into Shadow Warrior 3 without playing the first two games so I didn't know what to expect going into this one. I knew it was a fast-paced FPS that was supposed to be funny and that is exactly what I got. I also knew the game's main protagonist was Lo Wang who was the same as the two previous games.

The story is pretty straight forward. You're Lo Wang, a sword and gun-wielding ninja who must fight to save what's left of the world from the Evildoing Dragon and yes that is its name in the game. It seemed like the game was a direct sequel to Shadow Warrior 2 and playing this is making me want to play the first two games. And I probably will. Not fully knowing the story from the first two games didn't hinder my enjoyment of Shadow Warrior 3 though. The game's story reminded me a little of Deadpool as Lo Wang will break the fourth wall at times and the action is fast and furious. From what I can tell, almost all the characters in the game are returning from previous games. Mainly just Lo Wang, Zilla, Hoji, and the Evildoing Dragon.

The game levels are short and linear with a few hidden areas to find upgrade orbs for both weapons and Lo Wang's powers like his Chi blast and health. Each level has a set of challenges you can try to do to get upgrade orbs for completing and more challenges unlock once you beat the game once. Doing these new challenges rewards you with warrior rank points that can unlock special cosmetics for your weapons.

Lo Wang's arsenal has five guns and his katana. I liked all the guns and the katana as they all felt different and felt good to use for different enemies. Lo Wang can also use a Chi Blast to push enemies into spikes and off the edge of levels. You can even upgrade it to be able to push the bigger enemies which can come in handy at times. There are seven different enemies or Yokai in the game although not a lot every few levels a new one will appear. You will have to figure out the best way to kill it. There are only two bosses in the whole game which is a little disappointing. Some of the yokai designs are good though, so that makes up for the lack of different enemies and that even includes a gassy one that farts a lot while you fight it.

Lo Wang is a fast-moving character who can wall run and climb areas in a level marked with vines. He also has a grappling hook that he can use but with the levels being so linear you will mostly use it to get from one point of a level to the next. In combat, it is always best to keep moving much like in other games such as the new Doom games. As you kill yokai you can pick up health, ammo, and energy that they drop. Energy lets you use a finisher to instantly kill an enemy. The weakest enemy called a Shogai grants you health while the other enemies give Lo Wang a gore weapon that is strong but only lasts a limited amount of time and can turn the tide of a battle.

Shadow Warrior may not be the best-looking game on the market, but it does get the job done. They looked good in 4K and ran well too showing good optimization as my computer is starting to age. The sound and music were decent too. Nothing grand about the music but it wasn't bad either.

Shadow Warrior 3 is short clocking in at just about four to five hours to beat on normal difficulty but can be longer if you want to try to do every challenge and find every orb. Once you beat the game you unlock a new game+ mode that lets you select any level to go back to and have every weapon unlocked and all upgrades. It's a great way to try to find any orbs or challenges you missed. Also unlocking after you beat the game once is a survival mode where you will face wave after wave of Yokai. Before each wave, you will be able to select one of three guns, gun upgrade, or upgrade as none of the upgrades carry over from story mode to survival. It is fun and difficult but with only three different arenas the fun didn't last long. Getting so far in each level will again unlock cosmetics for Wang's weapons.


Overall Shadow Warrior 3 is a short, fun, and funny FPS that I enjoyed playing, but after beating it once I don't see any reason to return to it. The short time to beat may turn some people off, but if the game was any longer it would have gotten boring unless more things enemies, bosses, and weapons were available. The added survival mode is nice, but still isn't enough to keep me coming back. It's worth a play but don't expect anything more than a fun and short FPS, and a story that doesn't take itself too seriously. Good news! Anyone who owns the game already will get the Definitive Edition for free so it could be a good time to revisit the game.

Score: 7 out of 10


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