It’s funny. Despite the fact that this series of listicles started off as an April Fools’ day gag and in the end, simply seeks to undermine any and all advantages my platform of choice has above all others, I almost look forward to them more than the lists of yore where I was portbegging from a much more selfish perspective. Maybe with all the indie games and whatnot making their way to consoles with parity to PC, I just happen to find it a bit more fun to discover some hidden gems and give them a miniscule taste of the spotlight.
It’s been a pretty mixed bag in terms of PC news this year. On the one hand, the Epic Games Store emerged last December, bringing with it some scummy business practices and free games every two weeks – at the cost of your personal data. No game is safe from Tim Sweeney’s onslaught of buying up the (purportedly “timed”) exclusivity rights to any Western game, big or small. At the moment, I feel a twinge of fear any time a game is simply announced for “PC”: chances are Sweeney could wrap his greedy tentacles around it. I pray he never realizes that Japanese games are generally my thing. I vow never to spend a single cent on the Epic Games Store, but I will continue to steal their free games and will likely only buy any of their exclusive games once the exclusivity period expires – and then, likely at a significant discount. Still, the risk of upcoming titles like the recently-announced “Shantae 5” becoming exclusive to an anti-consumer store like EGS looms at every corner.
But on the other hand, quite a few major titles have been announced (and released) on PC. My crown jewel came first: Catherine Classic – based on the original PS360 release of Catherine – hit PC on Steam, meaning that Atlus has finally fallen, thanks to the efforts of our friends over at Sega Europe. Better still, they’ve implied that we may see more from Atlus’s library hit PC in the future. On top of that, Yakuza Kiwami finally launched on Steam sans Denuvo and Sega even seems to be removing the DRM from older titles as well: Yakuza 0 already had it removed and Sonic Mania has it removed in a beta patch currently. Hopefully, Puyo Puyo Tetris will see it removed as well. Square Enix announced that Million Arthur: Arcana Blood – a game I only knew about due to the presence of Iori Yagami from The King of Fighters as a guest character – will be coming to Steam sometime this Summer. Speaking of SNK, they had some significant announcements on PC. Metal Slug XX came out on Steam at the end of January. SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy released the following month, as I predicted. And the new Samurai Shodown game was finally confirmed on PC in March. Although it’ll release after the initial June release of the PS4 and Xbox One versions… and possibly after the Switch version, which is scheduled for “late 2019”. Either way, not a bad haul.
Although, I think there may have been a price for Catherine (and Atlus) coming to PC, because for once, quite a few games that were previously PC exclusives were announced on consoles this year. It got to the point where I was almost worried that the console announcements would outright dwarf the PC ports. For starters, Screenwave Media and FreakZone Games announced that Angry Video Game Nerd I & II Deluxe – consisting of a remastered version of the first game and more importantly, the previously PC-exclusive second game – would be coming to “consoles” worldwide (so far it’s only been confirmed for Switch), while also implying (but not outright confirming) that this new compilation title would also be hitting PC. I decided not to consider putting it on the list because the game’s previous publisher, ScrewAttack Games, totally shot down any chance of AVGN II hitting any sort of consoles. From there, both Evoland titles were compiled into Evoland: Legendary Edition and released on the Switch, Xbox One and the PS4 this past February. On top of that, JoyMasher announced that both Oniken: Unstoppable Edition and Odallus: The Dark Call were being ported to all three modern consoles by Digerati, a publisher that focuses exclusively on indie games. And finally, while doing a last-minute check for this list, I discovered that one game I originally intended to put on this list – RetroRevolution’s METAGAL – was actually released last week on… well, just about everything (even the Vita). Little did I realize that the game was announced for the Switch back in January, while its sequel (prequel?) Metaloid: Origin was announced for consoles back in February. Likewise, I originally intended for Bot Vice to be on this list, but it was announced for Switch awhile ago. But DYA Games – the game’s developer – had one more surprise for me: last week at PAX East, Super Star Path was also announced for the Switch.
There is another announcement that I’d like to discuss, even if it may seem like it’s unrelated to the topic at hand. Konami recently revealed three compilations set for release on all 4 modern platforms, including PC. Konami Anniversary Collection: Arcade Classics is due out later this month and has had all eight of the games included announced. What’s even more interesting is that the other two collections – Castlevania Anniversary Collection and Contra Anniversary Collection – are both set to release sometime this Summer and only announced four out of the eight games on both collections. If it seems pointless for me to bring this up, then you’re clearly not remembering that I requested games from both series in previous PC port wishlists. I’ve got a gut feeling that we might see Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth and Contra ReBirth surface in these compilations, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if Hard Corps: Uprising made it into the Contra collection as well. We’ll just have to wait and see whenever Konami decides to reveal the full line-up for both collections.
The weird part about doing these articles is that many times, just when I think I’m done, a new announcement crops up. Whatever infernal energies allow my wishes to come to fruition are unpredictable at best. Why, two days before this article went live, SNK made one more announcement at PAX East: Samurai Shodown NeoGeo Collection, set to release on all 4 platforms this Fall. Now you’re probably wondering why I’m bringing this up. It’s simple. Samurai Shodown II – specifically the release on Xbox Live Arcade with online play – was on one of my old lists. So not only am I getting what I asked for (including online play via Digital Eclipse), but an additional 5 games on top of that. Granted, both Samurai Shodown II and V Special already had PC ports available via GOG and the Humble Store, but this package should be much more robust.
But before we get to the list itself, I’ll go over my criteria for these lists. I generally stick to games that were released on PC from 2006 onward – essentially lining up with the seventh generation of video game consoles and beyond – that are not currently available on consoles or handhelds by legitimate means. This means that games that were present on older generations of console are omitted, but the games that were present on Microsoft’s discontinued Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) are fair game at this point. I’ll also be listing the platforms I feel would be the most likely (or at least the best fit) for each game in question. And with that brief recap, let’s get into the list itself.
I guess you could claim that bringing up this game could be considered cheating. But as this game was originally an exclusive to the Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) program – which has since been discontinued – before seeing its only other release on PC, I think it’s fair game. After all, I managed to pick Super Killer Hornet: Resurrection a couple years back under similar circumstances and the service was merely on the verge of being shut down at that point. Now that it’s fully dead, it only seems fair to pick at the carcass with reckless abandon.
EvilQuest isn’t necessarily the best action RPG in existence, but considering the fact that it’s only $2, it’s well worth the cost. I actually streamed the game awhile back at the request of a friend – who actually purchased it for me, so I kind of felt like I owed it to him. Better still, maybe a console re-release would help to fund the game’s sequel, which was greenlit on Steam back in 2017, the last bit of information regarding the game before the developer, Chaosoft Games, went completely radio silent.
Best Platform: While Xbox One might seem like a slam dunk given Microsoft’s current focus on backwards compatibility, the way XBLIG was handled ended up burning a great deal of bridges with small developers. And while Nintendo has a tendency of obtaining the rights to every indie game under the sun, they also have a tendency to curate those acquisitions. That leaves the PlayStation 4 as the winner by default.
You know, it’s funny. This one has been sitting in my queue for years. I kind of expected that I’d never actually have the chance to do a write-up for it, because I kept expecting that it wouldn’t need one by the time I’d actually get around to it. Guess the joke’s on me, eh?
Offspring Fling is essentially one of those single-screen puzzle-platformers where you take on the role of a poor forest creature trying to rescue her babies which have been scattered throughout their home. After picking them up, she has the ability to throw them – which seems counter-intuitive, but necessary to press switches, stun predators and get them to safety. With over 100 levels and a stage editor, the game offers substantial content for its low $8 price tag. I’m actually kind of surprised that the game has yet to hit any consoles yet, especially since it’s been on my backlog since these lists became a yearly tradition.
Best Platform: I have to give it up for the Switch. This game’s been out for nearly 7 years now and while I think it’s probably a long shot all around, Nintendo seems to be the only company that is actively courting independent developers at this point. Of course, considering that the dev doesn’t really have too many newer titles that could be used as leverage, it’s still just a shot in the dark from my perspective.
Speaking of obscure games with little chance of actually getting ported, Skeleton Boomerang is another game by ANIM•ACE, the same company that brought us Aliens Go Home Run from last year’s list. While that previous game was more of a modern take on Breakout, Skeleton Boomerang is a platformer where the main character uses boomerangs to fight skeletons – hence the title. Of course, there are many secrets and upgrades that can be obtained and higher scores yield better hauls. What really got me hooked on the game was the soundtrack, composed by one of my favorite chiptune artists +TEK. It’s no surprise that Disco Necropolis – one of the game’s stage themes – became the subject of several remixes.
Best Platform: Considering the developer appears to be on hiatus, I have my doubts that this will ever be ported. But if anyone is going to do it, I’d be willing to bet money this game would appear on the Switch. Chances are, if they really wanted the game, they could just buy the rights to it and farm out a console port to some other studio.
I guess I chose a bad time to include this, given Konami’s recent announcement of a Contra Anniversary Collection for… well, everything. Not to mention Joymasher’s Blazing Chrome – a clear homage to the best Contra game, Hard Corps – is clearly going to release in the near future. In other words, fans of Contra and the like are clearly in for some good times in the coming months but adding Super Cyborg to the mix could only make things better.
Super Cyborg is a game that I’d best describe as coming from an alternate reality, where instead of sticking to consoles, Konami decided to make a wholly original Contra game for DOS computers… and they actually put effort into making it worthwhile. Or maybe a world where Apogee was inspired by Super C instead of Super Mario Bros. 3. Regardless, it’s packed with old-school charm, with both fast-paced gameplay and graphics that evoke the EGA graphics of years past.
Best Platform: I think the Xbox One wins this by default. Nintendo tends to go for the most prominent indie games, while Sony has essentially shifted towards commissioning games from independent developers on their own terms these days. Sifting through more obscure titles for hidden gems seems to be Microsoft’s modus operandi when it comes to nabbing indie exclusives these days. …that or just buying out the studios that made them.
Speaking of ripoffs homages to classic video games, my next entry is a Breakout clone developed by Retro Army Limited, the same people who gave us Verdict Guilty. After the Grim Reaper finds that Dracula has stolen several souls, he summons two of the greatest dead warriors he can find. Unfortunately, it’s slim pickings so he’s left with two of the biggest morons who ever lived, Andy and Bob. Giving them new female bodies, the two are tasked with defeating Dracula and taking back Grim’s lost souls. If they fail, they’ll be killed again… so no pressure. With Andy moving a giant paddle and Bob taking refuge within the ball, the two must battle through Dracula’s minions before dealing with the vampire lord himself. The game contains a fair amount of rude humor, but it also comes with a level editor: a pretty nice bonus one doesn’t generally associate with bat-and-ball games.
Best Platform: The thing is, I think this game is equally capable of ending up in an indie sizzle reel for any of the three major console manufacturers. However, since I gave them Verdict Guilty last year, my money would go with the Switch. Besides, they do seem to take risks when it comes to odder titles, so this does seem to be right down their alley.
Effectively the sequel to Blocks That Matter – which surprisingly did appear on the Xbox 360 back in the day – Tetrobot and Co. takes place years later. The Tetrobot robot from the first game has become the world’s most popular and reliable robot, leading to several variants. Unfortunately, they’re not perfect: they’re all prone to damage both external and internal. For that reason, a young roboticist by the name of Maya developed a microscopic “little brother” for the Tetrobot line, known as Psychobot. Players are tasked with navigating the innards of the larger robots and fixing them by solving various block puzzles.
While the game itself recommends that it be played with a mouse, there are alternative controls meant for a standard gamepad as well, meaning that the game should be easy enough to port to consoles.
Best Platform: Considering the fact that the Xbox 360 was the only non-PC platform to receive the original game, it seems most likely that the Xbox One would receive the nod should Tetrobot ever hit consoles. The fact that it also has native mouse support doesn’t hurt its chances much either.
You had to know I’d be including another fighting game this year, didn’t you? At first glance, Vanguard Princess appears to be a standard anime-themed 2D fighting game, but its unique blend of mechanics makes it seem more like an homage to several points in Japan’s history with the genre. Players choose a main fighter and an assist character that they can summon at various points in the match. And while the game contains super meters – and by extension, super moves – the combat feels significantly more grounded than most modern fighters, more akin to the earliest versions of Street Fighter II.
Honestly, I’m kind of surprised that this one hasn’t already come out on consoles: there’s no netplay, so couch multiplayer isn’t just recommended, it’s downright necessary. Better still, some of the more fan servicey elements are censored by default, only made available to players after downloading a free “Director’s Cut” DLC. In other words, eigoMANGA doesn’t even have to worry about the ESRB.
Best Platform: Much like Verdict Guilty from last year, my odds-on favorite for VP is the Switch. Even these days, the platform is lacking in fighting game representation and it seems like Nintendo is the safest home for a little-known game with any fanservice whatsoever nowadays. How the tables have turned.
Okay, technically this entry consists of two games but that hasn’t stopped me before. In fact, this time, it might be more beneficial to just pack them together: the first game is free on Steam in the first place. Both games are essentially action-RPGs with a graphical style reminiscent of retro computers like the ZX Spectrum. The player takes on the role of the titular Princess Remedy uses the healing arts she learned as a student of the Saturnian healing school to cure people of their rare ailments. But she doesn’t heal them the boring way with spells and potions, she fights them head-on by hurling giant pills and syringes at the physical manifestations of the illnesses themselves. Whether she’s healing an ill prince or saving the people of the aptly-named “Boss Tower”, Princess Remedy is ready to keep her Hippocratic Oath by any means necessary.
Best Platform: I’m going to have to give this one to the Switch again. Nintendo’s had a history of partnering up with the game’s developer Ludosity and I think that’ll work in their favor. I’m not sure if Nicalis would be willing to delve into the rest of the catalog for Nintendo’s sake though.
If you haven’t guessed by now, action-RPGs are clearly among my favorite subgenres, so it’s only reasonable that I include a second. Like Offspring Fling!, Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale has been on my list for a long time, if only because of its premise. Players take on the role of a young girl named Recette Lemongrass who wakes one morning to find that her home has been transformed into an item shop. It turns out her father took out a massive loan and left Recette in charge of paying it off. But don’t worry, Recette is joined by a fairy companion by the name of Tear, whether she wants her help or not.
The game is essentially balanced between two distinct but equally important halves: running the item shop itself – which includes setting prices, managing stock and creating a welcoming atmosphere for potential customers – and traveling through the world, looking for brand new items to sell in traditional action RPG fashion. In fact, Recette can even hire various adventurers to make exploring various dungeons even easier.
Best Platform: I think the PlayStation 4 is the likeliest contender for Recettear. Granted, I think this one’s another long shot in general, but Carpe Fulgur – the translation studio that published the game on Steam – does have a history of working on games that appeared on Sony’s earlier systems. Not exactly the strongest connection, mind you, but it’s the best I can think up.
Our final game answers a question that I doubt anyone has ever asked: what if Twisted Metal were a traditional racing game instead of a straight-up demolition derby? Fortunately, the fine people at Steel Monkeys (in conjunction with their publisher, Next Dimension Game Adventures Ltd.) decided to answer that question and do a decent job of it. Sure, the game isn’t the prettiest out there and the mechanics can be a little clunky at times, but that kind of fits with the post-apocalyptic setting.
Best Platform: This is another tough one. Steel Monkeys does have history working on older systems from all three current console manufacturers with no clear favorite. Nowadays, it looks like both the developer and their publisher stick to PC and mobile games. As such, I’d probably give this to the Xbox One, if only because Microsoft is the standard torchbearer of the former.
And so, with that, another list comes to its conclusion. Much like the PC Ports wishlists of old, it’s getting harder and harder to find suitable games for these lists. But while the issue with the older lists was my inability to find games that excited me, I take the mounting difficulty that these lists are sure to pose in later years as a challenge: to find more hidden gems currently exclusive to PC (and possibly smartphones, but no one cares about that) that deserve their time in the spotlight.