Also available on PlayStation 4 and Windows
Senran Kagura is known for two things - enormous anime tiddies and clothes that tear as you take damage. Neptunia is known for two things - Nep and shallow fanservice. This is an almost perfect crossover of the two series that brings to the table three of those four things. Unfortunately, all clothes remain fully intact for the duration of the game.
Unlike most Neptunia games, this game doesn't take place in the world of Gamindustri; the setting for this game is Gamninjustri. The word play is utterly stupid and utterly fantastic. The two major nations in Gamninjustri are Heartland, home to the 4 Ninja Goddesses of the Compa Style, and Marveland, home to the 4 Honeypa Style ninjas. These two great nations have fought along conflict over share energy in which no side has ever managed to win a significant victory over the other despite the two quartets' frequent clashes. When a mysterious faction of robot ninjas called the Steeme Legion shows up and starts attacking nations indiscriminately, the two former enemies must team up to face this threat to Gamninjustri together.
As you play through the game, you unlock a total of ten playable characters. From Neptunia, you get Neptune/Purple Heart, Noire/Black Heart, Blanc/White Heart, and Vert/Green Heart. From Senran Kagura, you get Asuka, Homura, Yuki, and Miyabi. There are also two original characters, the cat girl, Yuuki, and the edgelord amnesiac, Goh. You can choose two of these characters to play as at a time in a tag-team set up. The game itself is a pretty fair length - 9 chapters, I think, although the last chapter is really two. In addition to the main chapters, there are several dozen side missions that you can complete for challenge, bonus rewards, or xp grinding. The game has five difficulty settings from stupid easy to brutally difficult, so you can tailor the experience to your preferences.
Gameplay is pretty standard beat 'em up. If you've played another Neptunia game, then imagine a beat 'em up that feels like when you're exploring the overworld in most Neptunia RPGs. Mix that with the high tempo combat of Senran Kagura, and you've got Ninja Wars. It really is a solid blend of the feel of the two games rather than being overly heavy on one or the other (think the Fire Emblem X Shin Megami Tensei game that was literally just Persona with a Fire Emblem skin; this isn't that). The story is as typically shallow as most Neptunia stories, but no one plays Neptunia (or Senran Kagura, for that matter) for the deep and well-developed narrative; you play it for big titties (except Blanc) and fan service; this game delivers both in spades.
Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars isn't an amazing game, but it is a solidly fun one. It does an excellent job of blending the two series it's crossing, and while it gets a little monotonous if you play it for more than a couple hours at a time, it's a fun game to play for an hour or two a night. If you're a fan of either Neptunia or Senran Kagura, I definitely recommend checking this one out.
My Rating - 3 Neps
Dead Space (PlayStation 5)
Also available on Xbox Series and Windows
The original Dead Space is one of my favorite horror games. I remember playing on the PlayStation 3 not long after I first got my PS3, and it scared the absolute dog shit out of me. With how good Capcom's remakes of Resident Evil, Resident Evil 2, and Resident Evil 3 were, I was super excited when EA announced a Dead Space remake...and prayed to whatever god may or may not exist that they didn't screw it up with microtransactions in typical EA fashion. I am pleased to report that they absolutely did not screw it up in any way, shape, or form.
The basic story of Dead Space is that the USG Ishimura, a massive planet-cracker mining ship, has gone dark, and you're on a small ship sent to investigate the loss of contact and repair whatever happened (everyone is operating under the assumption that it's just a mechanical failure of some kind). When you and your handful of crewmates get to the Ishimura, however, you find that something is horribly wrong. Mainly that the crew of a thousand people are dead. To make things worse, they're specifically undead abominations. You play as an engineer named Isaac Clarke, and while he's terrified of the creatures that have taken over the Ishimura, his girlfriend, Nicole, was assigned to the Ishimura as a doctor, and he's hoping desperately that he can find her alive on the infested ship.
Having played the original Dead Space on PS3 and the remake of Dead Space on PS5, I am blown away by how GOOD this game looks and sounds. The sound design was always super impressive in the original games, but it's extraordinary in the remake. Everything just SOUNDS terrifying. You never really realize how important sound is to the atmosphere of a horror game until you play a game that absolutely nails the sound design. Visuals, as well, are top notch here. The original release always looked good for the time, in my opinion, but the improvements, the texture detail, and the resolution - a jump from 720p to 2160p - of the remake give the horror an entirely new dimension (as one would hope being two generations and nearly twenty years later).
There are a few side quests that you can complete to unlock some bonuses and extra goodies along the way, and it's a good risk-vs-reward type of situation. The side quests require a little more exploring, so you'll have to contend with some enemies you might otherwise have been able to avoid. On the other hand, you'll get the opportunity to gain some extra lore and extra items. I, personally, completed all of the side quests, and I'd say it's worth it, but it definitely threw some extra enemies in my way. If you complete the game once and want to go through it again on a harder difficulty, you do get the option of New Game Plus which gives you some bonuses to take into your new playthrough. If you're a completionist on upgrades, that's the way to go since it's virtually - if not literally - impossible to upgrade everything fully in one playthrough.
The original Dead Space was the pinnacle of horror video games in my opinion when it came out in 2006, and I think the 2023 remake is today's pinnacle of horror. It's tough but fair, it's got some fantastic lore, the controls are great and fluid, and it's absolutely terrifying. The only complaint I have is that it does get a little repetitive and last a little longer than I might want. I spent about 18 hours with the game between dying and losing progress and my fervent exploration, and I realistically could have gotten through the game in 9 or 10 hours probably, but by the time I cleared chapter 10 (there's a total of 12), I was honestly ready for the game to be over. Still, though, the game's ending is extremely satisfying, and it ends on a rather open-ended note that leaves the player wondering what happened. If you have a PlayStation 5, Xbox Series S or X, or gaming PC, I absolutely recommend giving Dead Space a go.
My Rating - 4 Neps
Vs. Super Mario Bros (Switch)
Also available in arcades
Vs Super Mario Bros is a weird little piece of Mario history. It was essentially a ROM hack of the original Super Mario Bros made specifically for American arcades with some new levels, some items shuffled around, and an overall higher difficulty. It's technically the second Super Mario Bros game (I guess third if you count the original arcade Mario Bros as the first) as it released in America one month before Super Mario Bros 2 (what we Westerners call The Lost Levels) released in Japan.
I call Vs Super Mario Bros more of an official ROM hack rather than a truly new game because most of the game is the same as Super Mario Bros as far as levels go. There are six new levels in the game, but all of them were reused in The Lost Levels. The other differences are relatively minor and serve to make the game harder, not original; fewer warp zones, fewer items, and more enemies are the biggest difficulty boosters, in my opinion. Still, though, that does give the game a reason to be played since the average Super Mario Bros enjoyer probably finds The Lost Levels to be a bit too difficult but the original Super Mario Bros to be too easy; this is a really good middle ground between the two. It's definitely tough, but it's not quite as brutal as The Lost Levels. If you play via the Arcade Archives version on Switch like I did, then you can endlessly credit feed to make it a little more doable. That still doesn't make it easy, per se, since you start back at the start of the world if you lose all of your lives, but it's definitely not as brutal as the original quarter-munching arcade cabinet would have been.
Other than that and some minor tweaks to levels throughout the game, this is basically just the original Super Mario Bros but on hard mode. If you're a casual Mario fan, this probably isn't worth going out of your way for, but if you, like me, are a big fan of the 8-bit Mario platformers, then this is definitely a must for your Switch SD card for the novelty of it if nothing else. Why this was never brought to the Wii or 3DS Virtual Consoles, I'll never know, but it's on Switch now, so give it a try if you think the original game is too easy.
My Rating - 4 Neps
Silver Falls: Galaxy Bound Curse takes you back to the 1990s both stylistically and in setting. It's a Game Boy Color game made as a free distribution game by Silver Falls developer Jerrel Dulay that can be downloaded at a .gb file at no cost on the Silver Falls website. I've tried it out on a variety of systems and can confirm that it works flawlessly with PC emulators, on an actual Game Boy system via a flash cartridge (I used my GBA Everdrive to play it on my Game Boy Advance SP), as a 3DS Virtual Console file when made into a .cia file and injected into a hacked 3DS, and via the mGBA emulator on a hacked Switch. Jerrel has confirmed that, if you have the necessary cartridge, it will work on an old school DMG-01 Game Boy.
The game stars Fred, the sheriff of Silver Falls, and a host of other townsfolk you can recruit on a manhunt for Eli Goodwin, a well-known scoundrel in town who has kidnapped a young boy for some nefarious purpose. While there are a large number of playable characters - some with fairly obscure recruitment methods - you can only use two at a time, one "Lead" character and one "Partner" character controlled by AI. Each character has their own primary weapon - for example, Fred has a handgun while Wirriam has a hammer - but you can also equip a secondary weapon. These can bring some balance to your chosen character by giving a ranged character a melee secondary weapon, for example, but they can also be used to solve puzzles, like using an axe to remove a log blocking your path.
While you know who kidnapped the child, you don't know where Eli has taken him. Fortunately, Dodger's tracking dog, Samba, can help you out, but for Samba to get the kid's scent, you have to find seven of his toys scattered in and around Silver Falls. Complicating your toy hunt is the fact that there are vicious animals and strange creatures roaming in the wilderness around town, so stay alert, and be ready for a fight. The game is still in beta, and with his focus naturally being on commercial titles more than a free title, Jerrel has had little time to improve Galaxy Bound Curse, so player feedback is super important; my playthrough helped him identify and fix major glitches in the late-game and get the game to its current actually beatable state; if you play the game and see any bugs, definitely let him know via Twitter, Facebook, or Discord so he can continue to improve the game!
The sprite work is great, and the music is absolutely fantastic. It's obviously fairly simple music being a literal Game Boy game, but it's wonderfully nostalgic, and when playing on a color-capable system, the sprites look great, and the various environments use great color variety. Like a lot of Game Boy adventures, the game isn't too long if you know what you're doing and where you need to go, but you'll probably spend five or six hours on your first playthrough. There's definitely some replay incentive, though, because each character has unique dialogue when confronting Eli, and some of the dialogue in the game - all parts, not just at the end - are directly referenced in later Silver Falls games, building a story continuity that I absolutely adore.
Silver Falls: Galaxy Bound Curse is, hands down, the most impressive GB Studio-made game I've personally seen, and while it is a little rough in places due to being a public beta and pushing the limits of what a Game Boy ROM can realistically hold, it's a fantastic experience. There is a full HD remake, Galaxy Bound Curse DX, in the works for Switch, but that's probably between six and twelve months away, and while it's supposed to be a faithful remake, it won't have the same nostalgic feel that an authentic Game Boy game does. If you've been wanting to see what the storytelling in Silver Falls is like but don't want to commit money yet (or don't have a 3DS or Wii U), then Galaxy Bound Curse is a great place to start and see what the world is all about. I definitely recommend this to any indie game enthusiasts or Game Boy fans, no doubt.
My Rating - 4 Neps
Silver Falls Gaiden: Deathly Delusion Destroyers is the latest entry in the Silver Falls series and the last one to release on 3DS before the closure of its eShop. Envisioned as a swan song for the system, this game was designed specifically to maximize the uniqueness of the 3DS systems and, as such, wouldn't really work well on any other system. That reason alone makes it a perfect system finale in my opinion as well as being enough by itself to justify giving a game a purchase. It's also technically a 2-in-1 deal; not only do you get Silver Falls Gaiden: Deathly Delusion Destroyers, but you also get Silver Falls: Ruby River. I'm not going to say how since it spoils one of the cool narrative reveals in the game, but the games directly connect to one another not only in narrative but also in mechanics. All screenshots are courtesy of Sungrand Studios.
Deathly Delusion Destroyers tells the story of Gus, a long-time Silver Falls resident, who is looking for someone very important to him who went camping in the woods but hasn't been seen or heard from since This takes place around two weeks after the events of Silver Falls: 3 Down Stars, so Gus is naturally worried about the mutated and highly aggressive animals that people had reported seeing in the woods around Silver Falls. Gus is aided in his search by his friend, Dodger, but he's not comfortable asking other townsfolk for help. Over the course of the game, though, more and more people show up to the campsite to help search, and Gus has to confront some of the misconceptions about the people in town that he had. The storytelling and character development is really superb here, and it's really the highlight of the game. My only gripe with the story is that it doesn't conclude definitively; the game intentionally leaves whether the rescue is successful or not up to player interpretation. There's a lot of artistic merit to that, but for me personally, I just want to know how it ends.
As good as the characters and story are, though, the gameplay for Deathly Delusion Destroys is what makes the game stand out, though. You hold the 3DS sideways like a book; think BrainAge if you ever played those games. The gameplay consists of battles between story events. Your characters - there are three dozen playable characters, but you can only use up to four at once - are on the right side of the bottom/right screen, and enemies make their way towards you steadily from the left side of the top/left screen. Each character has a specific type of weapon that they use, and each weapon type has its own range. Some weapons, like the rifle and shotgun, can shoot in a narrow line but have incredible range; some weapons, like the bow, have moderate range but can hit enemies in a wide angle; some weapons, like heavy melee, have almost no range but hit hard and stagger enemies. Combining the right characters in the right place is the key to victory so that you can hit multiple enemies at once. You can choose how difficult a battle you want to do from the super-easy-you'll-never-lose Casual missions all the way up to the giga hard I'll-literally-never-beat-one Titan and Multiboss battles. Regardless of difficulty, you get a new story scene afterwards until you've seen them all at which point you can just play infinitely for fun.
Ruby River is a very different sort of game from Deathly Delusion Destroyers. Whereas DDD is heavily story focused, there's almost no story in Ruby River. You're alone along the bank of Ruby River with just a few items in your inventory. The only real story that you get are the text boxes that appear from repeatedly interacting with those items. Other than that, it's pretty much a survival game. Using the real time clock, the game changes depending on the time. During the day, enemies are fairly infrequent, not nearly as strong, and mainly consist of mutated animals. This is when you'll want to gather resources and build a shelter. At night, enemies are much more frequent and are significantly stronger. They're also grotesque creatures like you'd see in Ghoul Busters. You'll not want to play much at night until you're sure you're ready.
The cool part about this 2-in-1 is that you can send resources from Ruby River to Deathly Delusion Destroyers to help you improve your weapons in armor in that game, and then you can send weapons and armor from Deathly Delusion Destroyers to Ruby River to help you survive the horrors at night in Ruby River. I'm not a big fan of builder survival games, personally, but I absolutely love the integration between the two and can definitely see myself playing Ruby River just to farm resources for Deathly Delusion Destroyers.
Silver Falls Gaiden: Deathly Delusion Destroyers is a pretty unique game, and it provides something that gaming often lacks - well written gay characters that don't just pander to folks for the sake of having a gay character. I love Gus, but Gus isn't the only great character here; Slim gets a ton of great development, and a handful of other Silver Falls denizens get some development to build up their characters. The gameplay in DDD and the connectivity with Ruby River are great, but honestly, it's the character development that made this game amazing for me. Add to that the fact that it's an amazing swan song for the 3DS, and I really can't recommend downloading this game highly enough. Don't miss out on this game.
My Rating - 4 Neps
Hentai World (Switch)
I have played a lot of bad games in my life. I have played a lot of shameless cash grab games in my life. This may not be the worst game I've ever played, but it is the worst cash grab I've ever played. I'll go ahead and give you a tl;dr right now - this game sucks and should not be bought for any price above $0.00.
You remember those sliding square keychain puzzles from when millennials like me were kids? The ones where you slide the squares around to restore the image? That's what this game is. That's literally all this game is. A sliding square puzzle with generic anime girls who progressively take off more clothes as you solve more puzzles. Ooo, uncensored boobies. How scandalous! That's literally the only reason this game exists, which is baffling since porn not only has more than just top nudity but also is both free and more accessible than this game.
I genuinely cannot fathom why Nintendo allowed this game to release, and I don't even mean the uncensored tits. I paid $1.99 for this, and I genuinely feel that I paid $2 too much. It doesn't matter how cheap this game is, absolutely do not buy it. If you really want to see low-effort anime boobs in a crappy Switch game, play Hentai vs. Evil. At least that game lets you shoot orcs and zombies.
My Rating - 1 Nep
Red Colony (Switch)
Also available on Windows
Red Colony is the first in a trilogy of ecchi horror games that plays like half Resident Evil and half Sakura Swim Club with a pinch of Senran Kagura for good measure. Well, for measure, at least; the game certainly isn't what I would describe as good, but it's not awful, either. It's solidly "meh."
The game takes place on the Martian Red Colony, a communist colony bordering Mars's capitalist colony, Blue Colony. You play as Maria, the CEO of a major research company on Red Colony and wife of the colony's mayor, during a zombie virus outbreak that has ravaged the colony. The game is 2D, so you'll make your way through the game in a generally left-to-right manner with the occasional backtracking. The zombies are a pain to fight, but they're not hard, per se; if you have a good feel for controls, you can kill them all with the knife and never draw your gun or take any damage (although if you take damage, your clothes tear like in Senran Kagura, so who wants to avoid damage?). This is good because ammo is in frustratingly short supply. You can craft ammo, but the crafting materials are frustratingly scarce. The scarcity is done in a way that, thanks to the knife, the game isn't hard, it's just irritating.
The story is actually pretty decent even if totally and utterly cliché. You can zip from start to finish in under an hour if you want, but if you take the time to explore and dig through the various lore drops, it's a fairly entertaining albeit unoriginal narrative. I'm hoping the two sequels improve the story because while it wasn't boring by any means, it also wasn't exciting. It was a resounding okay.
Unfortunately, that also describes the entirety of Red Colony - "okay." The game is inoffensively bland and safely uninspired. If you like Resident Evil style stories and 2D games with big titty anime girls, then you might enjoy this. If that sounds as contrived and worn out as it does to me, then maybe skip this one. It's not a bad game, but you'll certainly not miss anything by not playing it.
My Rating - 3 Neps
Silver Falls: Frontier Fighters Mini is a small free-to-play browser game made in RPG Maker 2003 that serves as a sort of demo for the series. It's not a full release but more a short taste of what the series has to offer. It revisits a few key moments from the first Silver Falls release, Silver Falls: 3 Down Stars on 3DS, but aside from giving you a brief taste of the narrative in 3 Down Stars, it mostly gives you an idea of what the series' Frontier game modes offers - massive content value with a large set of missions to complete. All screenshots and images are courtesy of Sungrand.
After completing the few story events from 3 Down Stars to introduce you to Holt, Analise, Moss, and Soldier (the best boy), you find yourself in a camp where the real "meat" of the game is. You assemble your team of four, customize your equipment, and embark on combat missions where you defeat enemies, gain experience, and acquire new gear. It's a very simple game to play, but there's a surprising amount of content for a free game made in RPG Maker 2003. There is some story and character elements to see in this game, but it's like a food sample at Costco; it'll whet your palate, but it definitely won't satisfy you. And that's the point - convince you to buy the other Silver Falls games. If I hadn't already been an established fan of the series, this definitely would have baited me into buying 3 Down Stars.
The easiest way to play Frontier Fighters Mini is through the game's page on the Silver Falls website. It can be played right your computer's web browser, and it works extremely well on mobile phone browsers as well. You can also install it and play it on a homebrew-enabled console through EasyRPG. I, for example, have played it on my homebrew-enabled 2DS and my custom firmware Switch. Given that it's free to play and gives you a great taste of Silver Falls, I absolutely recommend spending an hour or two playing around with the game and seeing what this neat little demo game has to offer. It's a little bare-bones as you would expect, but it's a wonderful starting point for new fans.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.