If you were expecting a quiet retro week after Easter, forget it. HAMSTER and Zerodiv are once again teaming up with three offerings on the same day that will be too darn sweet to pass up. Fighting, platforming and shmup-ing fans, take notice of yet another three worthy additions to our ever-growing virtual arcade Switch salon.
First up is a radical and somewhat divisive departure from the previous games in SNK's weapon-based series. Samurai Shodown III not only adds the mandatory fresh faces to the roster (Nakoruru's sister Rimururu, Nicotine Caffeine’s rather large grandson Gaira Caffeine, the vengeful spirit Basara and new series poster boy Shizumaru Hisame) while also making the previous game boss Amakusa a playable character.
The biggest addition is the new Slash (good) / Burst (evil) character mechanic, effectively giving you two variants with different special moves for each character in the roster. Despite being a rushed release back in 1995, the completely redrawn, darker tones of the graphics and incredible soundtrack still stand the test of time.
From honoured samurais a to dirty (but very colourful) ninja, we then have UPL's Ninja-kun: Majō no Bōken (or simply Ninja-Kid in the West). This 1984 platformer kick-started the whole Ninja-kun Jajamaru series that would eventually reach new heights at the hands of Jaleco, thanks to several sequels and spin-offs for the Famicom, Game Boy and even one 16-bit SNES entry. While being a terribly additive and charming game, we can but only hope the superior sequel will follow in the future.
By the year 2000, Psikyo was clearly at the top of its shmup game and you need not look any further than Dragon Blaze as the perfect example of such mastery. This TATE shmup gives you a choice of four knights and respective dragon mounts (Quaid and his Fire Dragon, Sonia and her Aqua Dragon and offspring, Rob and his two-headed Thunder Dragon and last but not least Ian and his terrifying Skull Dragon) sent on their quest to defeat the Demon King whose throne sits in Hell. Naturally.
A unique touch to this shmup is the ability (and necessity) to dismount from your Dragon. Don't worry, all the knights have wings, so you can keep controlling your character while using your dragon to independently inflict focused damage somewhere else on the screen. Despite not being a true bullet hell shmup, the amount of enemies, bullets and coins raining down on the screen might lead you to think otherwise. Even better news: It is just as hard as it looks.
These three lovely arcade offerings will be out on the 5th of April, kicking off what we hope is another excellent month for Switch retro fans. The regular price of $7.99/€6.99/£6.29 stands before those willing to venture into such digital retro delights. Will you be one such bold Switch owner?