Outside of the call for voting for your favorite VGM tracks (see here, I'm headlining this particular update with Nin2-Jump, an XBLA platformer released by Cave earlier this year. Back when it came out, I tried the demo and wasn't too impressed; the general reaction from both the press and on game forums was that I wasn't missing much. Still, I've been playing a bit of Akai Katana lately, which has a fantastic soundtrack by the (sadly departed) Ryu Umemoto. He also did the music for Nin2-Jump, which is a similar style, so I decided to just put down the $5 and give it another chance.
I'm really glad I did, because the game is really fantastic. I'm looking at the Gamerankings average, which puts it at 70% or so, which is not terrible, but not indicative at how great this game is. Most of the reviews spend their time talking about the Adventure Mode, which consists of 50 fairly short platforming challenges. The meat of the game is the Score Attack, which, if even referenced in the text, is usually just in passing. To be fair to the reviewers, this is not really their fault. Cave's consistent problem is that they do a terrible job of communicating the proper way to play their games, leaving players to figure it out themselves. (If the goal is to 1 CC something then why do they give unlimited continues?; if the goal is to play for score when why are the mechanics so poorly explained in-game?; and so forth.) In this particular case, they hid the Score Attack beind the menu of the "main" game and only gave it a single, easy to obtain achievement, leading numerous people to 200/200 it in 90 minutes and then claim they were done with it. There's less than a 1000 people on the leaderboards for most of the Score Attack levels! At any rate, it's definitely worth picking it, and you can read the write-up to find out why.
I'm also reaching into the archives of the adventure game book to post up Emerald City Confidential, which re-images the world of Frank L. Baum and his Oz books as a detective noir story. The review is on the harsh side, largely because it's written for the readers of this site, the kind that get irritated at constant tutorials and hand-holding, which is basically the entirety of this game. The reason I'm posting it now is that the designer, Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye Games, is posting a Let's Play of his own game, acting as sort of a director's commentary like on some of his company's other games, like The Shivah and Gemini Rue. Emerald City Confidential was published by a casual games portal, and thus had a whole bunch of playtesting done to make it suitable for the average stereotypical soccer mom or whatever. It's almost absurd to listen to some of things that had be done in order so regular people could enjoy it. Still, the concept and writing is generally excellent, making it well worth the $10 or so it costs on Steam.
On to more legitimately retro topics, as opposed to retro-styled, is a look at both Wai Wai World games, two Famicom titles that serve as crossovers for a large number of Konami titles. And a look at Beyond Oasis and its sequel, Legend of Oasis, also known as The Story of Thor in Europe and Japan, two Middle-Eastern themed action-RPGs with an interesting beat-em-up-style action system. Our spotlight article is a revamped look at Shenmue, which, as the screenshots illustrate, still manage to look fantastic ten years after its release, even though the actual game might seem a tad quaint. And Your Weekly Kusoge is The Orion Conspiracy, a point-and-click that so desperately wants to be mature, but fumbles it so, so badly.