I’ve mainly played visual novels for the past few weeks and I do love them, even though it makes me “a weeb, a gamer and a fucking nerd all at once.” But sometimes, I like to sit down with something more arcade-y, so I decided to hit up something I saw in my feed a while back.
The 7-in-1 Morning Toast Mega Pack is by Morning Toast, a developer that mainly dabbles in Pico-8. The mega pack is a collection of arcade games that they have previously released in one package, plus a game that they haven’t released before.
I actually wrote about BuzzKill before and it was the game that got me to follow this developer. I gave it another go in the collection and honestly, my thoughts still stands.
Yes, I am indeed shamelessly using the pictures I took before.
Invader Overload is partially inspired by Space Invaders Extreme, an updated, flashier version of Space Invaders that was originally released on DS and PSP that has also recently been updated for Steam a few months ago.
Those doofy invaders do what they always do, shuffling back and forth while shooting down wiggly lasers. What’s different is that they now drop different colored squares, and getting all three of the same color gives you a temporary power-up like a laser beam or an explosive weapon. Occasionally, a little UFO flies at the top of the screen that drops a gold power-up that activates a fever mode where enemies start dropping golden squares. Pick up enough of them and you’re thrown into a hectic boss fight against a huge invader that throws down huge beams and its tinier fellows. It’s all very fun and a nice take on Space Invaders.
What keeps me from fully enjoying the game, however, are the backgrounds. Now don’t get me wrong, the backgrounds are actually cool to watch, but from a practical standpoint they can be too distracting. It’s especially bad with the boss battles for me, because the screen is very busy with falling green lines of code that get mixed up with all the actual shots you have to dodge. Honestly, if it went a bit easier with the backgrounds, this would have been my favorite game in the collection. With that, Invader Overload is fun yet flawed.
Alien Harvest looks like if Alien had a tie-in game for the ZX Spectrum and feels like a tie-in game that would have been pretty okay for its time. The grandson of Burke plans to finish his work and you, as a faceless entity, are tasked with collecting alien eggs to prevent the legacy from coming to fruition.
Your main goal is to collect 12 eggs (or 20 on Terror Mode) to unlock the final level. You don’t necessarily have to collect every egg on a level, because if you leave an egg lying around long enough, it’ll hatch and evolve into a proper alien. You have a scanner that shows all the biological stuff scattered throughout the maze environments, showing you the locations of eggs, dead bodies that can give you power-ups and fully grown aliens. To stop you from just letting you walk to your doom, you also have an audio scanner that starts beeping the closer you are to a threat. As there’s no music playing in the main game, the scanner makes for a tense atmosphere.
Personally, I didn’t get into the game because it’s not what I look for in an arcade-y game. However, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Sure, I sometimes got stuck on walls while moving around, but the it’s otherwise a solid survival game. In fact, I’d say that it’s the most unique game out of the bunch.
Bustin‘ continues the movie based Pico-8 action with a game based off of the new Ghostbusters. The Ghost Lord is out and about trying to unleash slimy ghosts into the world and it’s up to one of the gals to stop him.
Gameplay has you moving between four rows, blasting your photon pack at ghosts and the portraits they’re coming out of. You move on to the next stage after destroying all the portraits, with portraits getting repositioned to give you less breathing room while the latter stages have the portraits move on their own with the Ghost Lord himself stepping in to hassle you. I wasn’t into the game initially, especially since the first few levels are at their hardest in the beginning, but it settles into a frantic pace in the later levels that I really got into.
The photon pack can overheat, so you have to be careful about its usage. Or you could just move into a different row, which resets the overheating bar in what is certainly a glitch, but I’m not complaining. You can also deploy this thing that sucks up ghosts in a row for a few seconds, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with it for a bit. Touch a ghost and you can’t do anything for a few seconds, which can make a major difference. I kinda feel that you’re stunned for too long, though the game is still manageable.
The music can get a bit repetitive and the beginning is slow, but Bustin‘ made me feel good.
Stepping away from the games based on other properties, Mass 360 is based off the real life story of the developer’s dad’s fight with cancer. Mass 360 has you control… something to fight off your dad’s growing cancer. I guess it’s metaphorical like Edmund McMillen’s stuff except tasteful and not gross.
You rotate around an arena while shooting inward, which is an interesting way of playing this. You progress by shooting apart cores, which are protected by cancerous masses that branch out when left alone and some virus things that shoot at you. It initially starts out slow, but it soon evolves to bullet hell levels, colorful sprays bursting out of the center.
Your dad starts out with a mere two minutes to live, but you can get more time every time you destroy a core. You don’t lose lives if you get hit, but you do lose your precious time. Ideally, you should focus on building up a time bank so you can spend the latter parts of the game focusing on destroying the turrets, because you’ll probably waste more time trying to dodge their nonsense.
Honestly, this may be my favorite game out of the pack. My biggest issue was that I kept getting disoriented playing this, but that’s a personal flaw more than anything.
Bullet Cave is another shooter game with an interesting gimmick. Bullets fly toward you, but they’re completely harmless. Unless you let one of them fly past. A wall of spikes appears behind you, threatening to get closer with every bullet you let slip by. You think, “okay, I’ll just shoot them down.” You do that and suddenly the cave is getting more cramped in a different way, the cave walls below and above extending with every bullet you shoot down.
The game is an interesting take on shooters in that the difficulty comes not from dodging intricate patterns, but managing the environment around you to live as long as possible. You may be tempted to let bullets pass by you to avoid the cave walls from growing too far out or you may risk getting crushed by the walls to prevent the spikes from getting closer. You can collect an item that fills up a gauge that lets you freeze time and flip what the bullets do. Bullets will now hit the spikes back and destroying bullets also destroys parts of the wall, but now, you’ll be asking yourself which is more important to destroy.
You can also collect power-ups, which manage to be a blessing and a curse. Sure, you can shoot down bullets more easily, but also, that may not necessarily be what you want. Spread shots are important because they could shoot bullets that are blocked by walls, but that just risks bringing that wall closer. Then there’s the power-up that just shoots one slow big bullet, which actually kinda sucks no matter how you cut it. They can’t all be winners.
I wish that you could turn off your time freezing ability mid-use in case you want to conserve it, but otherwise, it’s a solid game with a neat concept.
This last game is the only fresh one out of the bunch, exclusive to this collection. The title screen is evocative of a fighting game, but in reality, it’s another shooter.
Bunyan’s Rage puts you in control of a jetpacking lumberjack shooting at hostile squirrels, ending in a fight with a bull piloting a UFO. It’s definitely the wackiest game thematically. However, from a gameplay standpoint, I actually consider it the most boring game out of the collection. It is a straightforward shooter, which comes off as disappointing after playing the more ambitious Mass 360 and Bullet Cave. You go through a gauntlet of enemies, you pick up power-ups to increase the power of your shots, the only thing different from a standard shooter is that you have unlimited lives and you’re held to a time limit that gives a score bonus for beating the boss at the end.
It’s still kinda okay, though the game lacks music and I think it’s hard to get a read on the character’s hitbox. It’s not terrible, but it’s not terribly exciting either.
Overall though, the 7-in-1 Morning Toast Mega Pack is a good collection, providing a series of arcade games with different ideas. The collection is pay-what-you-want, though I suppose nothing’s stopping you from checking out the games’ individual pages.