The New Classics #68: Psyvariar Delta


The Backstory: Psyvariar — now that’s a weird series if I ever saw one. The word ‘series’ is not even relevant, as we’re dealing with a single game that’s been revised and expanded over the years since its initial release in 2000. Psyvariar Delta is no exception, as it’s still the same old game repackaged with various enhancements. Not that I care that we’re dealing with a rehash, mind you; the only thing that matters to me is whether P-Delta is worthy of joining The Collection. 


The Game: Okay, now. P-Delta looks amazing, with only the faintest hint of phone game plastic-ness — but the bright colours are here, and so is the flurry of neon bullets and laser beams. It plays very neatly as well, with solid physics, fulfilling speed and a delightful splash of bullet hell frenzy. It could have been a perfect shooter in my eyes — and hands — if not for one glaring, deal-breaking detail: the god-forsaken player interface.



Why, Success? What compelled you to squeeze all that eye-popping, frantic action into such a ridiculously tiny display — a mere rectangle that barely amounts to one third of the Switch’s screen, with both sides occupied by pointless crap? I don’t care that this is a classic, tried-and-tested display style for vertical arcade shooters; we’re not dealing with an arcade cabinet, but with a Switch screen that begs to be fully exploited.  

As a result of that choice, the bullet hell sections become a real chore, an exercise in frustration, claustrophobia and gritted teeth. The last time I felt constrained by a screen was when I played my Game Boy back in the days — needless to say, that’s not something I was eager to experience again. 



The Verdict: No surprise here, Psyvariar Delta is no New Classic of mine. I have enough stellar Shoot’em ups already to dispense with the ones that are, well, less than stellar. Guess I’ll have to find my bullet hell heaven in another shooter! 



The New Classics #67: Legend of Mana


The Backstory: Way back in 1999, Legend of Mana marked the series’ move to the PSX and to Sony’s pastures after three back-to-back entries released on Nintendo systems in a mere five years. LoM also marked the series’ first incursion into spinoff territory — ironic, knowing that the original Seiken Densetsu game was marketed as a Final Fantasy spinoff — and thus into new, uncharted gameplay. I would never have played that game if not for the 2021 Switch remake — now, is that a good or a bad thing?



The Game: LoM is not as, well, legendary as Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3. This is not due to a loss of the Mana graphical style or atmosphere which was at its strongest in that first PSX entry but rather to the disconcerting new gameplay. Many critics at the time panned the gameplay’s lack of focus, and the absence of a ‘red thread’ that made the whole experience cohesive and fulfilling.




You’d have thought that Squeenix would fix that lack of direction in the remake — all the more so as it seems to have been the original’s only real flaw. But if what I’ve played is any indication, Squeenix didn’t fix jack sh*t. Worse, they didn’t even try to alleviate the gameplay’s looseness by, say, squeezing in a handy tutorial that could allow unsuspecting players to grasp the game’s logic. So, you can tell the player to use the left stick to move in FFXII, but you cannot guide them through the first uber-nebulous stages of LoM? Gimme a darn break, Squeenix. 


Mind you, I tried to play the thing. I ran around in the first town, talked to people, and apparently nailed a quest and an ally; then I wanted to go fulfil said quest, and couldn’t figure out where to go. Look, game: I’m really trying, but you have to do your part — like, let me play you



The Verdict: If there is one thing I despise more than a game bristling with handholdy tutorials, it’s definitely a game that plays all coy and hard-to-get and expects me to move heaven and earth to penetrate its arcane gameplay. Look, b*tch: I literally have hundreds of games at my fingertips, and I’m not gonna lose precious hours of my life with a game that so obviously doesn’t want to be played. 



The New Classics #66: Pawarumi


The Backstory: Pawarumi doesn’t have its own Wikipedia page, but is routinely described as a “modern Shoot’em up set in a retro futuristic sci-fi pre-Columbian universe”. It’s also the main work of Manufacture 43, a teeny-tiny French developer based in Bordeaux, home of other indie game studios such as Motion Twin (of Dead Cells fame) and Asobo Studio. Manufacture 43 cleverly teamed up with publisher EastAsiaSoft to release 2000 physical copies of the Switch version — one of them headed to my precious collection. 



The Game: Pawarumi is a generous Shoot’em up that gives you a lot to wreak havoc with: three types of weapons, each as deadly and flashy as the next. There seems to be a clever colour combination system that can grant you benefits, but I’ll admit it: I was too busy shooting at stuff to pay attention. 



I was also very busy gazing at the splendid vistas, which are the most beautiful and evocative ones I’ve flown through this side of G-Darius HD. In fact, the whole game is splendid: from the highly geometric and choreographed formations to your ships’ supremely stylish laser beams, everything in Pawarumi is a feast for the eyes. Add to all this eye-candy some perfect physics, smooth and speedy at the same time — and nearly liquid in their slickness — and you get the crème de la crème of Switch Shoot’em ups. 



The Verdict: Not gonna play it all patriotic here, but the French sure know how to craft some good sh*t when they want it! Also, Pawarumi is most definitely a New Classic of mine — can’t wait to discover more of that French-made Neo-Aztec goodness! 



Pokemon X&Y: The 2022 Solo Runs

Did you think I had missed my usual summer round of X&Y solo runs, dear fellow gamers? No way! I played them alright, and they were a blast. I racked up no less than four back-to-back runs in September, for a tally of roughly 50 hours. I didn’t write about them in due time, as I was starting a new job that absorbed most of my time and energy; and unfortunately, I currently don’t remember enough about these runs to write individual posts about them. But I still wanna make a run report of sorts; and so, I’m gonna lump all them together here, and deliver whatever I can remember about them. 



Carbink: I honestly expected the worst from that cute little rock. I mean, a Rock/Fairy non-evolving ‘Mon, with high defensive stats and passable everything else? Why, that sounds like a sure recipe for solo run hell! But surprise surprise, my Crystalline didn’t struggle all that much. Sure enough, I needed a little help from Battle Items and Ancient Power from time to time; but overall, Carbink turned out to be a pretty reliable lone ranger. This is the Boldore and Pachirisu story all over again, where a seemingly crippled ‘Mon proves to be a force to be reckoned with — and man, I never get bored of such plot twists in my solo runs.



Clawitzer: As a born Special Attacker with well-rounded other stats, that crustacean ‘Mon is perfect solo material. Add to this a kickass, near-exclusive learnset and an ability that strengthens said learnset, and you get a perfect weapon of ‘Mon destruction. No surprise here: with Moves in the +80 Power range and a Special Attack boosted by her Mild Nature, my Water Cannon obliterated the competition. Also, did you know that Dragon is weak to Dragon? I sure didn’t know that, and it was sweet as heck to discover it while spamming Dragon Pulse at the Elite Four showdown. 



Dragalge: Poison/Dragon—now that is a seriously interesting combination, with some stellar design to boot. Stats distribution is a bit weird, but didn’t hinder me in the slightest—Dragalge packs a punch despite being a slow defense-oriented ‘Mon. I mean, my Coral Reef boasted a respectable 192 Attack by the end of my run, despite her Bold Nature! Factor in Poison Point and a stellar learnset, and you get some darn good solo run material.



Gogoat: You know, I always love when a Grass ‘Mon is blessed with sky-high HP and offensive stats. I love it even more when said Grass ‘Mon looks as cute as Skiddo and as badass as Gogoat. Seriously: the latter now stands proudly in my Gen VI Top Five. Took me long enough to run with it, but that was worth the wait! Great looks, high Attack and Sp.Attack, and a varied and destructive learnset: Gogoat ticks all the boxes to qualify for perfect solo run material, and my BK wreaked havoc through Kalos. In case you’re wondering about that name: BK sounds a lot like “biquet”, a French word that means kid—as in, a little goat. I’m quite proud of that one, honestly ^^



My summer rendezvous with X&Y have been going on for seven years now; at that point, I’ve probably played the pair enough already for a lifetime. I’m not done yet, though! For once, there are still a number of Kalos ‘Mons I wanna run solo with—I have my eye on ya, Hawlucha, Dedenne, Goodra, Aromatisse, Doublade and Noivern. Then, I might want to reacquaint myself with with Gen VI favourites of mine, such as Meowstic; and on top of that, I can always very much cruise Kalos with ‘Mons from other Gens. Long story short: Kalos and Gen VI ain’t going nowhere, and my love for X&Y burns as bright as ever!