Weekplay 202305

Marie Kondo may have thrown in the rolled-up-and-vertically-stored-in-a-cardboard-basket towel, but developer Futurelab (previously of Velocity 2X-fame) has instead finally allowed PlayStation 4 and 5 players to experience the majesty that is PowerWash Simulator (PS5). And oh, is it glorious! This is the most simple of premises: there are objects, they are dirty, and you have power washer and the deep-seated need to clean.

I knew this was going to click with my own orderly tendencies, I just didn’t know how much of my faculties it would claim. The answer? Pretty much all of them. My first “short session” lasted 5 hours as the satisfaction of watching things get clean was just too much for my brain to ignore. I only vaguely remember turning on my podcast-playlist somewhere after the first hour, to make this session a tiny bit more productive. The rest is a watery blur of cleaning vehicles and structures.

Although the premise seems as straight-forward as can be, there are some streamlined gaming elements. The final 1% or thereabouts of a surface is automatically cleaned for you to ensure a 100% score. It’s egregious when you start, it becomes a dopamine rush one hour in. Likewise, there’s an upgrade system, because of course there is. You can buy new nozzles, upgrade the power washer itself, and buy some cosmetics. It’s all functional enough to give a nice sense of progression as you get to clean larger surfaces faster, but it’s all a bit superfluous when posited against the main idea itself. Still, never look a gift horse in the mouth.

There is some crazy DLC for this, allowing you to clean Croft Manor out of the Tomb Raider series and an upcoming piece of DLC that will let you aim your power washer at Tifa’s Seventh Heaven straight out of Final Fantasy VII’s Midgar. And it’s perfect. This game is perfect to just provide you with silly recognizable locations, because it allows quiet look at the more mundane side of video games. Meanwhile, I can feel my stress levels just melt away.

Now where did I leave that copy of Viscera Cleanup Detail?

G-Darius HD (PS4) is the most nineties game I know. The colours, the effects, the spectacle, and - bloody hell - the music! The original shoot mecha fishies in a space fighter shmup went completely overboard in this instalment. You get giant polygon models to invoke wonder, a capture system to weaponize your enemies into power-ups, and to top it off: an insanely over-the-top beam struggle mechanic that would make Goku go weak at the knees.

I have to say, the HD makeover is nice, but it doesn’t do the game much good. The models were already a bit rough, and apart from upping the resolution, the graphics haven’t been redone or smoothed out. It really comes across as an original PlayStation title blown up to a native 4K signal output. I actually prefer the original unstable polygon look. Thank god, the game itself is still every bit as good with interesting patterns, lots of upgrades and a ton of player agency thanks to the aforementioned capture system.

Whereas the more modern Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours can feel like a collection of challenge runs (and, to be honest, the main campaign of that game simply is that), G-Darius HD at least has the decency to provide you with a varied and visually interesting arcade run, complete with the series’ OutRun-style branching levels as a signature flourish.

Yup, this is good ol’ nostalgic shmup fun complete with a phenomenal killer soundtrack by ZUNTATA. You can listen to it on Apple Music and Spotify and if you like biomechanical space opera soundtracks, you will have this playing on repeat. Harder to recommend the game itself, but if you can handle shmups, this one does warrant at least a try whenever it hits a sale.