Dragon Sinker Review [PS4] – Charming, Simple and Wistfully Sound

The immeasurable list of old-school inspired RPG titles seems too dauntless to rifle through, even for some of the most dedicated RPG gamers around. Dragon Sinker follows in line with the rest of the 8-bit moulded titles released from publisher KEMCO, but still manages to provide a few subtle twists to the waterlogged RPG genre. However, I’m just not sold it’s enough to separate itself from the enormous heap of other traditional turn-based RPG titles that consistently overflow the industry.

As any enthralling attempt at a fantasy story begins, players are thrust into an epic battle with a mighty dragon foe known as Wyrmvarg. In a vast world where the three distinct races – Humans, Elves and Dwarves – are all divided by racial tension, players will need to find a way to unite the land and take out the dreaded dragon threat, (LOTR, to some degree). Throughout the lengthy adventure, players will find themselves amidst a journey that feels similar to the other nostalgic experiences available. Taking on the many monsters that lurk through the overworld map and its many dungeons in search of the coveted weapons capable of slaying the beastly dragon is nothing close to original, but that doesn’t mean Dragon Sinker isn’t an enjoyable experience nonetheless.

Yet Another Dragon/Fantasy Adventure

The 8-bit pixellated visuals scream nostalgia and take players back to what can only be described as the golden age of RPGs. As you wake from your deadly fight with the dragon enemy – Wyrmvarg – players take control of the human warrior, Abram. As you progress through the story you’ll soon discover your hometown is only a small village in a very vast world. Each of the three races has their own regions throughout the lands, as it comes down to our team of heroes to unite them and take out the looming threat.

In standard RPG form, Dragon Sinker has players exploring an overhead map in search of villages and dungeons. As you travel from dungeon to dungeon or village to village, random enemy encounters occur bringing up the turn-based battle system. The combat is as traditional as most other turn-based RPGs, as players choose from a variety of physical and elemental attacks for each one of their party members. After each character – up to four in a party – has selected either offensive, defensive, or support tactics, it’s the enemies turn to react. It’s yet another take on one of the most common and simple battle systems found in traditional RPGs and done so in an easy-to-learn fashion.

Dragon Sinker Review
As you meet new warriors your party will expand and grow with a diverse cast of characters.

A Unique Team-Based Party System

Where Dragon Sinker takes a different path from the cookie cutter RPG formula is the unique team system. As distinguished earlier, the game’s world is populated by three separate races. As you continue your journey as a noble human warrior, you will meet characters from both the dwarf and elf tribes. As the legend has it, the dreaded Wyrmvarg was once defeated by a trio of warriors containing one warrior of each race. As you may have guessed, this is precisely what players must accomplish, among other tactics, to take down the fearful beast.

As you begin to build your party, players will become aware of Dragon Sinker’s unique team system. As you acquire new allies they will be paired with one of the three different parties. The player will control all three parties with the ability to swap between them in battle. Each team resembles the Humans, Elves and Dwarves – giving a bit more strategy during the tactical battles. Keeping each of the parties – and party members – distinct with multiple effective skills and abilities, the unique party swapping system helps players switch between weaknesses and other affinities while in the heat of battle.

Dragon Sinker Review
The turn-based combat system is a staple in the retro RPG era and one that’s not forgone in Dragon Sinker.

A Simple Experience

While the overall tone of Dragon Sinker doesn’t actually add anything new to the retro RPG category, the game still provides a sound and simple experience. Whether you’re a gamer who maybe missed the boat on the 8/16 bit RPG era, or perhaps an RPG enthusiast looking for the next sentimental experience – Dragon Sinker hits a few of those feelings, and rather sharply. Just don’t expect any game-changing moments throughout the brunt of the journey.

You can find Dragon Sinker on the PS4/Vita, Steam via PC, Google Play and the eShop for the 3DS.

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Super Hydorah

Super Hydorah Review [PS4 Pro] – A Nostalgic Blast

Hydorah took players back to the 80s shoot em’ up era as a throwback to side-scrolling space shooters everywhere. Re-released and revamped for Sony platforms, Super Hydorah returns to the bullet-riddled skies with the same intense shooting mayhem and unique ship customizing options. Glide your way through surreal space environments, and strap in for a completely unforgiving, quick-manoeuvring ride in the latest release from indie developer, Locomalito.

If you’ve played the classic horizontal scroller, Gradius, Super Hydorah will look almost identical as a spin-off of the beloved NES title. Presented in new-aged pixellated form, this shoot em’ up adds a few of its own quirks to the mix of high-energy space battles. As you make your way through each level, more and more enemies hurl themselves at you in never-before-seen ways. Tons of exciting surprises literally leap out in front of the player, and if not careful, will crudely end your current run.

Super Hydorah
Take to the skies and glide through space fending off enemy spacecraft.
Super Hydorah: Engaging the enemies

The game plays smooth as can be, giving players a tightly wound experience where one mistake could ruin their mission. The levels are broken up into segments, usually ending in some sort of mega enemy encounter, or boss fight. Gliding through the space levels firing away at your cannon, players are able to collect specific power-ups to increase their abilities in flight or combat. Special enemy ships drop rare points when defeated, resulting in either a speed upgrade, protective shield adding an extra hit of damage to be absorbed, or a unique special power. Players can also find extra lives, as well as green and red booster points.

As enemies are blasted out of the engaging skies, more common opponent ships will drop booster points which add to the effect of your primary and secondary weapons. Racking up the green points will improve your primary weapon, while the red boost up the secondary. Fill them both up and enjoy a flurry of charged weaponry, giving players a huge step forward in combat.

Super Hydorah
Many boss encounters are scattered throughout the diverse selection of levels across deep space.
Advanced Weaponry

Initially, players will have to use the standard laser cannon as their primary, and the semi-useful bomb dropping tactic as the secondary fire. Firing away with the single fire button, both weapons unleash their fury upon the clutter of enemies. While the combo of these two starting weapons is useful in getting players out of a pinch early on, the many different weapons available later in the game provide some serious weaponry to your star gliding ship.

By making it to the end of each level, conquering the final boss, which is usually done in a matter of dodging sequences and continuous firepower, players are awarded with a new weapon to add to the growing customization list. Before each level, players are presented with the ship customizing screen, which provides them with the chance to strategically pick from the selection of primary, secondary and special weapon slots. Pairing up the perfect combination of weaponry could be the only thing standing between you and utterly painful defeat.

Super Hydorah
The screen will quickly fill up with enemy ships, bullet fire and powerful icons to help upgrade your ship.

As you make your way through the galaxy filled with dangerous foes and enemies, the game begins to grow increasingly difficult. As more weapons unlock players will begin to understand the strategy of picking the perfect arsenal for each level. Of course, the weapons you select will only help with your offence, dodging and thinking quickly is the main skill to keep you alive.

Co-op Anyone?

The campaign mode takes players across a split path and has players choosing which level to conquer first. While the story mode alone is enough to satisfy most horizontal shooter fans, there’s also the co-op feature in that helps add a little more depth to Super Hydorah. The primary focus of co-op is heading through the story campaign, only now with the help of a friend. This is the basic cooperative gameplay that friends could spend hours on digging each other out of overwhelming holes.

However, this is not the only method of co-op/multiplayer modes. Robot Chasers is an original multiplayer game which has 2 player controlled astronauts tethered by a rainbow cord. Coming in from all angles, invading robots float past and it’s up to the duo to stretch their tether in front of the robots and wipe them out clean. The catch is, the tether only expands so far before it’s disengaged. This can be worked around by slaying robots and collecting the rainbow points to help extend the reach of the deadly tether.

Super Hydorah
Robot Chasers is an interesting two-player co-op mode using the lethal tether.

Super Hydorah is a great way to catch that nostalgic presence of horizontal shoot em’ ups, without having to plug-in the retro hardware. With a decent sampling of weaponry and deadly special skills, the quick-reacting gameplay of this space shooter will likely torment more than a few souls.

Antiquia Lost Review – A familiar fantasy RPG [PS4]

Antiquia Lost shows off its deep roots from the early years of the Final Fantasy saga, but deep down the game sits quietly with a mold of its own identity. Powerful and heroic characters mixed with emotionally charming plot lines and dialogue, Antiquia Lost brings a surprise nostalgic experience to the broad circle of traditional RPG titles.

Deep Roots

Starting the game in the small town of Crysta Village, you take control of Bine – a red-haired demon hunter engaged in the beginnings of a warm and exciting adventure. With the help of his mysterious power and newly acquired friends, you’ll dive deep into the fantasy world full of intriguing towns and villages, dungeons, as well as plenty of turn-based battles along the way.

Antiquia Lost Review
Bine and his cast of powerful allies are full of interesting and eventful dialogue moments in the charming story.

Lunaria and Safira hail from the goo-like people of the Ruta tribe, Jade – an elder of the cat-like species from the Eeth tribe and the protagonist Bine is home to the Fai tribe. Each represents one of the three elements being Earth, Fire and Water. The peaceful tribe lives in harmony with one another in the vibrant world of Antiquia Lost, until important figures from all over the lands begin to disappear. Venturing to the Capital City with your trusted group of friends, you’ll begin to uncover the truth behind the mysterious disappearances that are taking place.

The battle system is set up in a traditional turn-based RPG format, only now with a few enhancements and quirks that help keep the game original. Each character in your party is capable of common physical attacks with whatever weapon is equipped, and of course various magic spells ranging from fire attacks, healing water abilities to ancient powers and the unique Brave Arts ability. Random enemy encounters occur throughout the sprawling world map, rewarding the player with experience points, useful items and equipment and tasty gems which act as Lunaria’s special method of leveling up.

Antiquia Lost Review
Many different physical and magical abilities are crucial in defeating the monsters found throughout the world.

New or Robust?

The storyline in Antiquia Lost doesn’t offer anything new or robust coming out of the stale isometric RPG genre, but creates a wonderful cast of friends and dialogue to keep fans of cheesy narrative lines and fantasy tales playing throughout the campaign. Talking with your party members during down time in between quests will give you the opportunity to either boost your status with each individual – or lose trust – based on the response you choose in dialogue selection areas. Paying attention to each ally’s personality will give subtle hints as to which direction to take the conversations.

Traveling from town-to-town, each small village has a number of villagers, some with additional side quests to add to the playability. Traversing back through previous areas in search of a lost item, piece of equipment or even a stray sheep, more often will result in ending these side quests with a powerful demon fight to cap off your short journey. Once you’ve fully explored the current village or dungeon to your desire, the option to move along with the story remains in your trusty quest log for quick ease of use.

As your party members battle their way through waves of enemies, gaining vital experience and gems to help build the power of their abilities and other attributes, enemy encounters become increasingly more difficult, featuring various forms of every monsters. Color-coded by specific strengths and weaknesses, some monsters require unique weapons to be defeated, while others just require more persistence and strength.

Antiquia Lost Review
Boss battles require careful strategy and powerful skills to defeat the monstrous enemies.

Antiquia Lost Review

Using your attacks and defenses to your advantage is crucial, such as strategically using multiple-hit skills to strike down every enemy in specific rows and columns. These techniques prove useful against large mobs of enemies that out-number your party.

A large variety of supporting items are also present, curing status ailments, healing items and various fruits to help boost important stats in your characters. These fruits can be grown in potted soil kept in your inventory. After obtaining seeds labeled for specific skills – i.e. strength, vitality, speed, attack , defense etc. – as well as other rare items, you’ll plant them in one of the desired planting pots located in the inventory menu. After the timer ticks down, the fruits are ready to be harvested and saved for a time in need to help sway the tide of battle in your favor.

You can find Antiquia Lost available now on the PS4/Vita on the PS Store, mobile devices on the App Store and Google Play, and Steam.