Stealth adventures, sci-fi action, action-rhythm and explosive party games headlined a hands-on event held by Konami this past week. Attendees could get hands-on with four upcoming titles from the publisher, which included the chance to reacquaint ourselves with Snake’s adventures in the upcoming Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1, test our shoot ‘em up skills with Cygni: All Guns Blazing, alternate between cooperative and competitive with Super Crazy Rhythm Castle and try some fresh spins on classic multiplayer in Super Bomberman R 2. Read on for impressions on all four titles.
Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol.1
Let’s get straight to the facts, shall we? Volume 1 of the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection gives you the choice to download each game separately (with Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 are combined into one) and the bonus contents individually onto your PS5. Each includes digital booklets on their uniform top menus, dossiers detailing the entire in-world history of MGS (complete with warning spoilers on initially opening), transcripts of that game’s dialogue, and an online manual for that specific title.
My hands-on time was limited to the original Metal Gear Solid era. Master Collection Vol.1 contains four titles total from this release window: the 1998 original, Metal Gear Solid VR Missions, Metal Gear Solid Special Missions and Metal Gear Solid Integral.
The Collection keeps the MGS experience as authentic as possible, down to Circle being used to confirm and X to cancel, and save files limited to 30, 15 blocks per (phantom) Memory Card. The DualSense controller’s feedback mirrors the original DualShock vibrations when Snake’s wading through water, firing bullets or taking damage. After playing through the opening acts of the Shadow Moses Incident (my first since completing the game back on original release), the experience still captivates. It’s lean, and the gameplay ideas introduced – so dazzling back in the 90s – have lost little of their sheen.
Let’s continue with MGS and detail what’s new or expanded. Metal Gear Solid will include Trophy support (including a Platinum Trophy), as well as allowing you to select from multiple language versions (each housing its own separate save state). There’s a new top-level, Collection-specific menu. For the MGS era that includes options for minor visual adjustments, choosing from a selection of wallpapers to surround its 4:3 presentation or switch the gameplay screen’s positioning from center to left or right. This menu also includes an option to switch your controller port from P1 or P2. For those who this will be their first ever playthrough, this may be a seemingly odd addition. It’ll come in useful.
The Collection also houses the HD versions of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, last seen in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection released over a decade ago.
Metal Gear Solid Master Collection Vol. 1 will launch on PS5 on October 24. A PS4 version was announced at the event, but a release date has yet to be confirmed by the time of publishing.
Cygni: All Guns Blazing
Edinburgh-set studio KeelWorks’ debut is a fearsome twin-stick vertical shoot ‘em up equipped with lavish visuals and gameplay hinged on continual, situational awareness. Fitting for the genre, yes. However, Cygni’s core mechanics are built to make its level-based playthroughs feel distinct.
The game’s vividly depicted cinematic sci-fi of a ravaged colony battling an overwhelming biomechanical alien race plays out on two fronts: the skies above and the ground below. While you dogfight aerial invaders, you can switch your on-board weaponry from attacking those around you to supporting troops underneath with well-aimed bombardments. L2 guides an on-screen marker while R2 fires a barrage, with a click of R3 locking on to specific targets. All the while you’re attempting to steer your ship clear of bullet hells.
The second mechanic is hooked around the two separate but interconnected energy bars the game’s UI places under your ship. These multi-segmented half circles denote shields (taking a hit knocks a segment off the bar) and secondary weapon systems (for the demo, this was one special multi-missile shot per segment) respectively. Refill via collectables dropped by destroyed enemy vessels and your ship can route energy from one to the other by tapping L1 or R1. Cygni’s intense bullet storms means you’re continually gambling whether to shore up shields to survive incoming enemy waves or if your piloting skills are good enough to escape destruction long enough to deploy another multi-missile to clear some sky.
Cygni packs impressive end level bosses, unlockable ship upgrades, an expected but ever-welcome scoring system, multiple difficulty settings and an optional two player local co-op, and is set to fly on PS5 in the future.
Super Crazy Rhythm Castle
This colorful adventure, created by Second Impact Games, packs in a multitude of quirky, action-rhythm-infused challenges. You can enjoy these alone, but the chaotic energy of ever-changing objectives swaying between outright cooperative to lightly competitive is magnified the more players that join in.
The centerpiece of the experience is exploration of the eponymous castle, completing its many challenge rooms created by this world’s unhinged king, earning stars, discovering secrets and unlocking new characters along the way. Room objectives continually shift as rule sets change, complications arise and demands from the residential royalty escalate. For instance: play musician laying down a (surprisingly upbeat) tune for a summoning ritual one moment, tapping the DualSense buttons in time with on-screen prompts, then, with the spell successfully calling forth a mystical portal, race around the room (and against the clock) to grab and toss vegetables into its crackling maw. My play time was crammed with such “wait, what?” moments.
A separate Versus mode goes all in on the competitive streak. There’s everyone-for-themselves challenges (example – grabbing and holding the correctly coloured item else you’re cast out from the level) and team-based games (an early favorite: a race to the finish line by two chariots, two players per chariot, each vehicle powered by playing a song correctly in time with the music). Music is all-original rather than licenced, and quite a few got stuck in my head after my hands-on session concluded. Super Crazy Rhythm Castle will launch on PS5 & PS4.
Super Bomberman R 2
Bomberman’s latest outing packages together the gameplay and modes you’d expect from the series, with increasingly intense and enjoyably contentious battles as players clear arenas of obstacles (be those walls or competitors) by way of strategically placed bombs and ability-upgrading power-ups.
There’s plenty on offer in this new entry. Dive into the single player Story mode, tinker with custom arena creations in Stage Editor, test your skills in the multiplayer free-for-all Standard battle mode or team up and face off in Grand Prix mode.
Super Bomberman R 2 also packs in two other modes which took up the lion’s share of my hands-on time. Battle 64 is Bomberman’s own battle royale, 64 players divided up into groups and sectioned off into smaller arenas all housed in a single, larger map at the match’s start. Soon enough walkways between open and certain arenas are shuttered, funneling survivors into increasingly hectic battlegrounds. Castle mode is new for this release. Like Grand Prix it’s team-based, but splits groups into attackers and defenders. Castle’s maps contain trap-filled fortifications within which reside treasure chests, and the keys to opening them located around the arena.I can see how the extra layers of strategy built upon Bomberman’s increasingly fast-paced matches will see this mode find an audience when the game launches on PS5 and PS4 on September 13 (on PlayStation Store) and September 14 (physical).