Time for another look at games that recently became available on new platforms. We’re looking at Zombo Buster Rising, Ancient Stories: Gods of Egypt, Super Arcade Soccer 2021 and Immortus Temporus today – all of them smaller games that are now getting bigger audiences.
Zombo Buster Rising
Developed by Firebeast, this is a game that launched five years ago already on Steam, but was now ported to consoles. Part stationary 2D shooter, part tower defense, it’s a fun little action game that’s easy to pick up and get hooked by.
Not needing to move or jump around, the gameplay here is simple, at least on a surface level. Standing on the roof of a small building, you’re going to be attacked by waves of zombies heading towards your building, and if they reach it, you’re essentially defenseless. Things start simple, but pretty soon you’ll notice that there’s a varied range of enemies that come towards you. Some are harder to kill, some have the ability to fly, some have special skills that let them protect or heal others. What starts with simple aiming and shooting mechanics gets a subtle tactical layer this way, and whenever you fail a level there’s always a sense of “let’s try this a different way”.
You’ll also notice humans that you can try to keep safe, and over time you’ll gain access to two NPCs that will help you. With a range of upgrades and special weapons for each character, Zombo Buster Rising does a good job of keeping things interesting. It’s a shame this is a single player only game though, as it would be fun to do this in co-op as well.
With about four hours of gameplay in the campaign and easy and responsive controls, this is a fun budget title. Its visuals are very simple and almost mobile-like in nature, but Zombo Buster Rising is a fun way to spend an evening without breaking the bank.
Ancient Stories: Gods of Egypt (PS4)
While they’re abundant on mobile platforms, it’s rare to see Match 3 launched for bigger consoles these days, yet that’s exactly what Ancient Stories: Gods of Egypt provides. Originally developed by Panda Games and published by Alawar (of Treasures of Montezuma fame), it’s now been ported over by ChiliDog.
Although it’s a straightforward Match 3 game, Ancient Stories: Gods of Egypt features a narrative premise in which an evil pharaoh chases immortality by drowning your city in a deadly plague. Hey, whatever the cost, right? Your job is to thwart his plans by crushing his evil altars, and the way to do this is by matching three or more elements together to clear them off the board.
The actual gameplay has all the features you’d expect from a Match 3 game, like combos, boosts and upgrades – many of which tie into the Egyptian lore of the story but which are generic to long time fans of the genre. Some levels unfold as boss fights as well, and eventually you’ll go up against main antagonist Tutmos.
Playing its default mode where levels are timed, Ancient Stories: Gods of Egypt feels like a rather generic Match 3 game once you look beyond the storyline. The visual style is exactly what you would have expected to play on a mobile device about a decade ago, and the gameplay is like you remember it as well. There’s a fun puzzle to play with as well though, which gives you a finite number of moves and requires you to use power-ups as effectively as possible.
This type of mode was introduced to the genre earlier of course, but if – like me – you’re only used to the classic Match 3 style then it’s a welcome change. One that turns this into a game that’s not for those who enjoy mobile titles, but also puzzle enthusiasts looking for a quick fix.
Super Arcade Soccer 2021 (PS4)
You’d think that Super Arcade Soccer 2021 was a brand new game based on the year in the title, but – keeping up with the FIFA and PES games of this world – it was actually released just over a year ago on Steam by solo developer Ruben Alcañiz. It’s now been ported over to PlayStation 4 though, thanks to PID Games, a division of Plug In Digital.
With PES going the freemium/free-to-play route this year and clearly needing some time to find its footing, there’s really no better time to introduce a fun arcade soccer alternative to FIFA. Games like Kick Off and Sensible Soccer hold a timeless appeal to players, and the wait for spiritual successor Sociable Soccer has been very long indeed, unless you’re on mobile. Super Arcade Soccer 2021 doesn’t quite fill that gap though, for a number of reasons.
Of course a complete lack of licenses isn’t one of them. Just as it was thirty years ago, you shouldn’t go into this expecting accurate player names, team names or even league names. I’m fine with Misse and Ranoldo, and I can definitely do without the fluff that FIFA brings with it – hiding some of its biggest profile players behind the paywall that is FUT. My only real issue here is that the fake rosters weren’t updated to include the latest transfers – which include some pretty big ones.
Bare bones features are expected as well, with bracket-style tournaments and leagues in addition to quick games, which can be played by up to four players at once locally. No issues here – it’s exactly what players want from an arcade soccer game: the ability to just dive in and play without a steep learning curve.
What’s not as easy to accept is that the gameplay itself feels broken in places. No one expects true-to-life AI from games like this, but goalkeepers don’t come off their line for a cross or through ball and defenders don’t move up with their attackers, who are then easy to reach for a relatively clear show on goal. You can’t do a high cross either, so much goals are just carbon copies of one another. This doesn’t have to be a big issue because a lot of soccer games have a way of scoring goals that works better than others, but here things feel so imbalanced that it drains the diversity out of your attack patterns, which is a shame.
Defending feels awkward as well, with a near inability to steal the ball with a regular tackle and sliding tackles being a recipe for a yellow or red card. Kick Off had that, but that was thirty years ago when we were playing with one button joysticks. And that’s not even mentioning the many bugs and glitches, which range from blatantly wrong ref calls that make no sense to goalies depositing the ball into their own goal. We really want to enjoy a game like Super Arcade Soccer, but we’re hoping that the 2022 edition feels more polished.
Immortus Temporus (PS4)
Originally launched on Steam this summer by Khud0, Immortus Temporus is one of the smaller indie games that EastAsiaSoft has ported over to consoles this year. It’s out now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch though, and it’s a fun hybrid of platforming, speedrunning and puzzling.
We’re using the term “platforming” very loosely here as there isn’t any actual jumping involved, but fans of speedrunning/challenging platformers will no doubt recognize the “get to the finish as quickly as you can” mechanics that are used in Immortus Temporus’ levels. Many levels here have multiple ways to complete them though, and sometimes the most obvious one won’t get you there before the timer runs out.
Death doesn’t really exist in Immortus Temporus, and instead you’ll find that obstacles deactivate when you meet your demise at their hand. You’ll then respawn, which can provide a quicker way to the exit than you originally had when you had to go the long way around. This encourages replays and experimenting just to break the target time, and even more of that if you want to shave some time off your personal bests.
There are levels that will frustrate, but you can always skip them and come back to them later when that happens. There’s a limit to how often you can do this, but with a maximum of 30 levels you can temporarily shelve through a level skip feature it’s quite forgiving for how challenging it can be. This is a great little game for those who enjoy the genre, with some novel mechanics that you gradually discover over time and make you want to jump back into earlier levels to see if you can beat your time there as well. Considering its budget price, we highly recommend it.