Aquaplus P/ECE: Game Reviews Vol. 2

If you’ve not yet read my review of the P/ECE hardware comparing it to Playdate, now is the time to catch up! It includes my 6 favourite games on the system.

Below I cover more of the interesting and unique games that I enjoy on the system.

Delta Star, by BLACK FTZ

A new game for P/ECE in 2021! Well, technically it’s a re-release but I’ll take what I can get after all these years. Especially for only 500¥ at BOOTH (pixiv account required).

At first glance you might think this is a simple Asteroids clone, but you’d be wrong. Whilst it does share much with that concept it adds in enough of its own ideas to make it unique.

First, the big differences: you can pass through enemies if you’re careful, and you can shoot down enemy bullets. That’s right, these aren’t lifeless hunks of rock floating around in space! There are multiple types of enemies some of which will fire either normal bullets or homing missiles. Your ship has forwards and reverse thrust, forward dash (a predictable and much more enjoyable equivalent of Asteroid’s teleport), sideways strafing (which I should use more often), and emergency braking. You can fire multiple shots at once, as expected, but they’re limited in number and have a short range of roughly a quarter of the width of the screen.

There are 52 levels, with 4 boss encounters, and continue points. Gameplay is against the clock with remaining time being converted into points. Extra lives are awarded at key point milestones and greeted with one of many great sound effects. The initial levels are easy and can be completed quickly, almost like a tutorial, and after that difficulty ramps up quite nicely. As an example, enemy bullets aren’t seen until level 9. And I adore for the motivational messages at the end of each level that let you know how you did “don’t mind, nobody is perfect”.

The game features smooth 60fps vector graphics with sub-pixel accuracy, plus some nice effects using multiple lines of different shades of grey. And amazing chip tunes. Listen to the high score entry tune at the end of the above video!

I’ve been playing the free “Gratuitous Version” which has only one boss type and lacks music, so I’m excited to spend more time with this fleshed out version now that it’s available once again. Awesome work by BLACK FTZ team, what a lovely surprise for 2021.


Speed Barricade, by Kenta Cho (ABA Games)

This was previously shown in my blog post comparing the P/ECE with Playdate, but I neglected to mention one cool thing…

Speed Barricade LIVE, by Kenta Cho (ABA Games)

If you play with your P/ECE connected using USB cable to your Windows PC you can use a special client app, Speed Barricade LIVE, to show real-time 3D footage of your game in full colour at high resolution! A true spectator sport.

Majang Project, by Hiroshi Makabe

This game came out of the first of two P/ECE Hand Books written by Hiroshi Makabe. The development of the game was outlined in the book and on an accompanying website. It has impressive greyscale graphics, nice animation, wonderful chip tune music, sampled voice clips, win/lose scenes, and hosts a nice VS CPU game of Mahjong. And that’s Riichi/Japanese Mahjong, not the Solitaire type you might associate with the name. I’d say this game is definitely of retail-release quality and was a good showcase for what is possible on the platform.

ALERT (アラート), by Jumpei Isshiki (HELLO WORLD PROJECT)

A nice little barrage shmup with procedurally generated boss fights! Prize winner in the Megastore Cup official contest. There’s a lot going on here, not just the bullets but also the gameplay logic and music. Remaining enemy bullets turn to points which offers an engaging risk/reward mechanic. Three game modes, Easy, Hard, and ENDLESS. Let’s go for the high score!

I read that there was once a port of this game to Dingux-based devices, and found it on a download site (I guessed “alert” was the password, how lucky!).


Delivery Bird, by Hafupon

This is a Sokoban that shifts the view to side-on rather than top-down, which allows for height and gravity to enter into the puzzles. As with many of the best games on P/ECE, it was entered into one of the official game development contests run by Aquaplus. This game won a runner-up prize.

There’s also a Windows version that expands on the concept.


Norito, by Gorujii

Another runner-up in the Megastore Cup official contest. A great looking game featuring fluid wire-frame 3D with dithering for distant objects. It’s a strange sort of shmup that makes me think of both Jumping Flash and Battlezone. Controls take some getting used to but after that score attack is quite a challenge. The game system and stages are intertwined with a story, and things like the “one-shot” fortune-telling add extra flair.

In the next volume of reviews I’ll cover the official bundled games in addition to some homebrew ports of popular games from other systems.

Originally published: 2021-08-28
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