With Rolling Gunner + Over Power, Jim Power: The Lost Dimension, Pretty Girls Speed and Insomnis we’re looking at four titles that were previously released on different systems. Spanning four very different genres, there’s something for everyone here.
Rolling Gunner + Over Power review (PS4)
ININ Games’ latest console port for PlayStation 4 is Rolling Gunner, which previously made waves on the Nintendo Switch and comes to PlayStation with its Over Power DLC included. It’s an arcade/bullet hell shooter, and Daisuke Koizumi was attached to the Mebius development team as director after previously working on games like Deathsmiles 2 and Dondonpachi for Cave.
As with many bullet hell-inspired shooters, Rolling Gunner fills the screen with plenty of colorful bullets, and while a lot of arcade shooters will have you waiting to upgrade to more powerful firing options over time, this one is quite generous with the firepower you start out with. Part of that is that your ships comes equipped with semi-automated turrets as well, which add additional firepower with a dynamic aiming system that’s based on the direction you’re moving in. You can change between fighter and gunner mode to allow for different gameplay styles, and powerful mega-bombs can provide relief in a tough spot.
One downside is that the game only features six levels, even though that’s par for the course in the genre. They all have boss fights at the end though, which is a great place to use those aforementioned bombs. You also have the ability to select different difficulty levels, which adds some replay value as the easiest level is quite manageable but the harder ones throw up a real challenge. You also get to select one of three ships at the start of every run, so there are definitely options to pad the gameplay length beyond the mere hour it’ll take you on the easiest setting.
What we also really liked is that Rolling Gunner looks the part. Many games in this genre opt for a very busy but low detail look that’s quite pixelated, but here you get a modern look and feel that evokes memories of titles like Sine Mora with some gorgeous visual effects, which include enemies emerging from the background for some beautiful 3D effects in what’s otherwise a 2D shooter. The game’s a little pricey for the length of the campaign, but fans will get plenty of value out of it and this is one of the most polished shooters we’ve seen in a while, so it’s still an easy recommendation for those who enjoy a quality shooter.
Jim Power: The Lost Dimension Collection review (PS4)
QUByte Interactive has been surprising us with their ‘retro’ line of game that they’re releasing under their classics label – mostly with niche titles that don’t immediately come to mind but will strike a chord with gamers who were around for the original releases. Jim Power: The Lost Dimension is the latest game to be ported over to consoles, and we checked it out on a PS4.
While Jim Power: The Lost Dimension is a port of a PC/console game, we mostly remembered the protagonist from a home computer outing that came out a year earlier: Jim Power in Mutant Planet, which was a 2D scroller for systems like the Amiga and Atari ST in 1992. The follow-up, Jim Power: The Lost Dimension in 3-D, came out for completely different systems just a year later, which seemed like a weird choice considering that it meant most players missed out on one of the two games.
Sadly, Mutant Planet isn’t included here, but you do get access to The Lost Dimension, which was an ambitious game for the time due to the use of different visual and gameplay styles in certain levels. This particular collection also includes a previously unreleased NES version of the game, which like the 16-bit version revolves around intergalactic special agent Jim Power fighting an alien threat lead by antagonist Vaprak.
All of the included ports run through emulation, but a few extra tricks were added that weren’t in the original releases, like the ability to stretch the screen output (originally 4:3) to widescreen televisions and add filter for a ‘retro’ effect (like a CRT monitor). The gameplay itself remains untouched though, and Jim Power: The Lost Dimension is certainly a challenging game by today’s standards – which will certainly frustrate some players. The music is a real highlight though, with tracks from Chris Huelsbeck, who at the time was producing some of the best videogame soundtracks ever made in games like Turrican 2. Jim Power isn’t quite at that level as a game, but the music is excellent and it’s a worthwhile trip down memory lane, especially if you missed out on one of the Jim Power games originally.
Pretty Girls Speed review (PS4)
Eastasiasoft’s ports of the Pretty Girls franchise have become a bit of a staple in recent years, and this time they’re tackling the card game “speed” in a game that was previously released on PC but is now available on consoles as well – as with previous Pretty Girls releases, we played the PS4 version. And yes, as with other Pretty Girls games you can unlock new girls and outfits, but we’ll focus on the gameplay here.
While the Pretty Girls franchise spans a whole range of videogame genres at this point, a good portion of the games are based on familiar card games – often variations on solitaire or poker. Speed is also a card game, though a less familiar one to most players. It’s very easy to learn though, and you’ll be up and running within minutes, after which reaction times and speed become more important than logic or strategy.
Pretty Girls Speed’s gentle learning curve has a lot to do with its simple rules. Two players each get four cards and a deck of cards to draw from. Two cards are placed in the middle of the table, face up, and from there on you try to play cards from your hand selecting the ones with a value that’s one higher or lower than one of the top cards in the middle – making your card the new top card for that growing pile.
You play simultaneously and there are no turns, so you’re pretty much just playing as fast as you can with an ever-changing duo of cards to add to. If you run out of options, your opponent can keep playing – which can either give you a new chance to play or results in the both of you drawing a new top card from your deck. Unsurprisingly, gameplay is pretty fast and a game can be over quickly – especially if you’re able to play ahead a little and play multiple cards in quick succession.
Opponents become faster later on, but the gameplay largely remains unchanged. Automatically filling your hand with new cards is a big plus for a digital version of this game in terms of pace, although we wish the UI was slightly different to adjust for the d-pad controls that the game uses to play your cards. Because the four cards you can play are mapped to the four directions of the d-pad, we wish that the middle ones weren’t horizontally aligned, but realize we’re nitpicking. This is a fun little game to play and it’s been well implemented with a few gameplay modes and content, but don’t assume it’ll hold a lot of lasting appeal – a two-player mode would have helped in that regard.
Insomnis hits the PS5
When we covered Insomnis back in January, we commented on the game’s short length and lack of storytelling mechanics, but enjoyed its atmosphere-rich environments which made for an enjoyable feature-length horror romp. Now, a PlayStation 5-optimized version has been released, which includes a number of enhancements that are well suited towards the atmosphere-centric approach that the developers took with the game.
Obviously it helps that Insomnis on the PS5 features 4K visuals, enhancing the visual fidelity of the game. Shadows have also been enhanced to be more dynamic, changing depending on your position and the light sources that are available. While both add to the immersive quality of this horror puzzles, not all the improvements are visual in nature.
Other things that help Insomnis on the PS5 include faster loading times – though there wasn’t too much loading to begin with, but more impactful are the new DualSense features. These include haptic vibration to bring some of the suspense over to your gamepad, as well as the implementation of 3D audio, which is useful if you play with the sound turned up or a good pair of headphones – both being good options for Insomnis.
While the new PS5 version is a clear upgrade over the existing version, there’s also a downside – it’s a separate purchase on the PlayStation store, so if you already have the PS4 build then you’ll want to wait for a sale – as long as you have the hardware for it, this one was worth the wait for the next gen version.