If you’re at our site, you’re probably familiar with Carpe Fulgur’s work in localizing great Japanese indie titles like Recettear into English but they’re not the only game in town when it comes to bringing Japanese indie titles to a worldwide audience. The good folks at Nyu Media were kind enough to provide me with some review codes for some of the Japanese indie games they’ve brought out. Here are my impressions.
First up, we have Fairy Bloom Freesia, an action game that came out on Steam yesterday for $8. In it, you control a cute green-haired fairy with serious martial arts & magic skills as she fights monsters to defend the forest. Gameplay is pretty straightforward – you’re dropped into a 2D arena, a bunch of monsters appear and you have to beat everything up. No exploration as far as I’ve seen, just fighting, fighting, fighting. In between stages, you have an opportunity to purchase skills & passive abilities to make your character more powerful and before long you’ll have quite the arsenal of moves & spells. The game is great fun once you start figuring out the combat system and some cool combos, although be warned that it gets hard fast – it took me several attempts to beat the first boss and I’m still stuck on the second one (although I’ve gotten close).
Next up, we have Ether Vapor Remaster, also available on Steam for $8. It’s a side-scrolling shmup with a twist – the game switches between perspectives so one second, you’ll be playing a vertical shmup, the next, you’ll be playing a horizontal one, and then it might switch to a behind-your-ship view for a bonus stage. The frequent switching between perspectives helps to keep things interesting, the selection of weapons is standard (shoot forward, spread shot, lock-on shot) but fun, and the music is great. I also thought it was very neat how there was an option to turn on hit-box displays on EVERYTHING – your ship, the enemy ships, and even the bullets. On the downside, sometimes it’s unclear when an enemy isn’t on the same plain as you and can only be targeted with your lock-on attack. Oh and it probably goes without saying, but like most shmups, Ether Vapor Remaster is tough – the first two levels weren’t too bad but it quickly ramps up after that.
Finally, we have my favorite game of the lot, Eryi’s Action. This one is not available on Steam yet but it can be purchased directly from their website for $5 or from a couple of the major indie game stores out there. Eryi’s Action is a masochistic puzzle platformer. Everything in the game is designed to kill you and in the cheapest way possible. You would think this would be very frustrating (and it is) but it’s also frequently funny to see just what new creative way they’re going to use to kill you this time. You frequently have to resort to some very creative methods to pass the game’s many levels. Luckily, the game gives you unlimited lives and most levels have save points scattered throughout them so things stay manageable.
I’ve enjoyed all 3 games greatly so far and intend to beat all 3…if they don’t break me first.