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This week in the Nintendo eShop: Shmups galore with Graceful Explosion Machine, Alpha Mission II and Super Star Soldier leading the charge.

After some truly amazing indie deals and consistent love from Atlus over the past few weeks, we’re sadly back to scraping the bottom of the bargain bin. On the Wii U, it’s your last chance to pick up Swap Fire for free before it jumps back up to its regular price in just a few days. For 3DS owners, Punch Club is currently 30% off until tomorrow afternoon, with both Legend of Dark Witch games seeing similar discounts for the foreseeable future.


Graceful Explosion Machine (Vertex Pop, $12.99) – Graceful Explosion Machine has massive potential tucked under the hood of its adrenaline charged name. A blisteringly intense shmup at heart, players skillfully pilot the titularly titled fighter ship through deep space as they shoot, dash and combo their way through jewel-hued alien worlds, fighting crystalline enemies to find a way home. It’s by far one of the most gorgeous shooters I’ve seen in a long time, boasting vibrant visuals bursting with color and bold lines that are hard not to gawk at. Be sure to check out Logan Plant’s glowing review — he praised the addicting combo system, funky tunes and exciting variety of weapons, culminating in a must-have space shooter experience any shmup fan with Switch should play.

Vroom in the Night Sky (Poisoft, $9.99) – Are you a witch suffering a midlife crisis that only an enchanted motorcycle drive through the night sky can fix? Aladdin’s magic carpet rides not fulfilling your craving for danger? The developers behind the unique 3DS puzzler Kersploosh! have got your back. Known as Soratobu Bunbun Baan in Japan, Vroom in the Night Sky is a fantasy racer about Magical Girls who’ve hung up their broomsticks for spellbound, flying motorbikes. It actually shares a lot more in common with games like Pilotwings or Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater than a traditional racer, performing flashy tricks and combos while soaring through floating rings in free roaming, obstacle laden environments. While perhaps a little rough in the graphical department, I fully appreciate the creative concept and whimsically silly vibe the developers were shooting for.

Arcade Archives – Alpha Mission II (Hamster Corporation, $7.99) – Clearly it’s a good day to be a shmup fan! A vertical shooter released in 1991, Alpha Mission II is the second and final game in the short-lived SNK series that started way back in 1985. Typical of the genre, you’ll blast enemy ships out of the air, bomb hostile structures on land, and defeat hulking bosses using an arsenal of useful power-ups. If you’re looking for a good time, pass a Joy-Con to your bravest and best hand-eye coordinated buddy to experience that frenzied fight-for-life feel only the best shooters are famous for.


Just Dance 2017 (Ubisoft, Free) – A demo for Ubisoft’s juggernaut franchise boogied on over to Switch today! Even if you normally have the dance moves of a Magikarp flopping around on dry land, it’s well worth a download for some old-fashioned family fun.


Dragon Sinker (KEMCO, $9.99) – Dragon Sinker looks to capture some of that ‘80s magic established by RPGs of the golden era. Players don the grieves of a dozen 8-bit heroes in search of legendary weapons needed to free the world from the oppression of a ferocious dragon. The entire experience is deeply rooted in nostalgia, from its pixelated presentation and catchy chiptunes to intricate job systems and turn-based combat mechanics. If you’re remotely interested, I’d suggest nabbing the game for free in its entirety on your phone first. Sure, it’s plagued with unbearably obtrusive advertisements, but it should at the very least help you decide whether it’s worth the added premium here on the 3DS.


Pinball Breakout (nuGAME, $7.00) – Never in my wildest dreams did I think New 3DS exclusives would become synonymous with underpowered shovelware, figuring if anything, Nintendo would be the only one to end up regularly utilizing the hardware. Boy, was I wrong. This week’s blight on the eShop is brought to you once again by nuGAME: the king’s of lazy Breakout clones. I’m almost certain I’ve written specifically about Pinball Breakout 27 times by now, whether another port or the fourth sequel in a line of equally uninspired spinoffs. Please try your hand at another genre, guys. This one’s been milked long enough.


Animal Gods (Still Games, $12.80) – Animal Gods is a beautifully illustrated, 2D top-down game with a focus on zen-like journeying, light puzzling, precision-platforming and fallen gods. It’s commonly been described as The Legend of Zelda meets Ico, with dungeons that can be tackled in any order in a captivatingly picturesque world. Unfortunately, the kickstarted title was met with a lot of criticism following its initial release on Steam back in 2015, harping on the game’s short length and poorly realized influences from the Zelda franchise promised during funding. Nevertheless, it’s still an experience worth having for the stunning art direction and somber soundtrack alone, especially if your Wii U is in the market for something stable to rest its weary legs on.


Super Star Soldier (Konami, $5.99) – Originally released in Japan for the PC Engine way back in 1990, Super Star Soldier is a vertical-scrolling shmup and sequel to the NES classic by the same name. While not as critically acclaimed as some of its immediate successors, especially Soldier Blade, fans can still expect gorgeous arcade-quality visuals, a rockin’ soundtrack and endless hours of high score chasing. Fair warning: This nifty space shooter takes the term ‘tough as nails’ to new heights thanks to a lack of checkpoints, special attacks and screen clearing smart bombs. If you think you’re up to the challenge and enjoy jumping into the cockpit of games like R-Type or Gradius, then a download here should prove a no-(mother)brainer.

World Sports Competition (Konami, $5.99) – Originally released in Japan for the PC Engine back in 1992, WSC is a sports game featuring 18 different Summer Olympic events within track and field, archery, rowing, shooting and swimming. While lacking serious depth, these simple, bite-sized mini-games at least provide plenty of fun and variety for fans of the classic old school genre, especially with four friends to feverishly compete against. I personally find the lack of an official Olympic license works well in its favor, too: a stark reminder of a time when sports games were purely focused on gameplay, free of trademarked logos and celebrity endorsements. If mashing buttons with lightning speed and fighting through carpal tunnel syndrome happen to be your specialty, then this might just be the competitive sport you were born to play.


[3DS] Punch Club ($6.99 | 30% off) until 4/7
[3DS] AeternoBlade ($4.94 | 67% off) until 4/27
[3DS] The Legend of Dark Witch ($2.99 | 25% off) until 4/13
[3DS] The Legend of Dark Witch 2 ($5.59 | 25% off) until 4/20
[3DS] Witch & Hero ($2.99 | 25% off) until 4/13
[3DS] Witch & Hero 2 ($2.99 | 25% off) until 4/13
[3DS] Mercenaries Saga 3 ($4.79 | 20% off) until 4/20
[3DS] Cube Creator 3D ($5.99 | 25% off) until 4/20
[3DS] Gourmet Dream ($3.99 | 20% off) until 4/20
[3DS] Fairune 2 ($5.59 | 20% off) until 4/20
[3DS] Smash Cat Heroes ($1.99 | 50% off) until 4/27

[Wii U] Swap Fire (Free | 100% off) until 4/9
[Wii U] Cube Life: Island Survival ($7.99 | 20% off) until 4/20
[Wii U] Hot Rod Racer ($0.49 | 50% off) until 4/20
[Wii U] Star Splash: Shattered Star ($2.61 | 25% off) until 4/19
[Wii U] SDK Spriter ($5.00 | 50% off) until 4/20
[Wii U] Wicked Monsters BLAST! HD+ ($1.59 | 80% off) until 4/27

Check Nintendo’s website for the full list of deals available.

What games will you be downloading this week? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

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Written by Matthew Weidner

When it comes to playing and writing about video games, Matthew aspires to be the very best, like no one ever was. Writing for Nintendo Wire and the thought of one day finally achieving a perfect, no death Super Meat Boy run fills him with determination.