Welcome to this week’s edition of the Steam Deck Weekly. After a bit of a busy few weeks, things are calm right now. If you’ve not been keeping up with our recent Steam Deck coverage, I reviewed Persona 3 Reload, Granblue Fantasy: Relink, Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, and Tekken 8 that all ended up being amazing. What a start to 2024 right? Since the last feature, there have been many notable announcements and releases in the world of Steam Deck including new Verified games, Steam Next Fest, Lunar New Year sales, and more. The highlights of today’s feature are Steam Deck impressions of Experience Inc and Aksys Games’ Death Mark II and Bitwave Games’ Toaplan Arcade Shmups collection volume 3 reviews. Let’s get into the reviews and impressions first.
Steam Deck Game Impressions & Reviews
Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II Steam Deck Impressions
Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II, is the third entry in the Spirit Hunter series from Experience Inc. I loved both Spirit Hunter: Death Mark and Spirit Hunter: NG, but was curious to see how Death Mark II would feel years later. I won’t go into too many details for the story and such here because I am reviewing the Switch version next week, but I wanted to cover how the game feels on Steam Deck right now after a few pre-release updates.
When I got Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II on Switch and Steam Deck, it actually wasn’t playable on the latter at all, so I ended up playing it on Switch, and loved it. I adore Experience Inc’s horror games, but I think Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II might be the best one so far for its story, visuals, and characters. The aesthetic in the developer’s games is always top notch.
While Death Mark II had a few issues last month on Steam Deck when I got review code, the developers have completely fixed it. In fact, barring manually forcing the Steam Deck to run this game at 720p on the internal display which also seems to have been addressed as of today, I’ve not had any issues playing it on my LCD and OLED Steam Decks. It even correctly invokes the Steam Deck onscreen keyboard for text entry. It looks and runs without issues now including cut-scenes based on the time I’ve put into it on Steam Deck.
I hope future updates can add in-game graphics options so you can actually set it to 720p in-game or higher if you play docked and not have to manually force it. That’s my only complaint with the PC port right now. Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II plays and looks wonderful on Steam Deck. I’m looking forward to replaying it alongside the Switch version for my review and comparison next week. If you were hoping to play this one on Valve’s handheld system, I can’t imagine it not being Steam Deck Verified in the near future.
Spirit Hunter: Death Mark II launches on February 15th for PS5, Switch, and PC via Steam worldwide.
Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Ups 3 Steam Deck Reviews
Bitwave Games is back with another set of Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Ups in its 3rd collection for PC platforms so far. Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Ups Volume 3 includes Batsugun, Fixeight, Vimana, and Tiger Heli from Toaplan. Out of these, I’ve played Batsugun’s Saturn release through City Connection’s port and Tiger Heli through M2 ShotTriggers’ Toaplan Arcade Garage release. Vimana and Fixeight were completely new to me. In this Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Ups Volume 3 review, I’m going to cover the games themselves, but also the collection itself since it offers incredible value at its low asking price.
When the developer and publisher brought over the first four games in the Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Ups Volume 1 release, there was a lot of potential with amazing responsiveness, but the games had some issues. Volume 2 also launched with a few issues but as usual, the developer has been quickly addressing and fixing the releases. In a lot of ways, I felt like those games should’ve launched as early access releases so that Bitwave could get feedback from players and improve them for 1.0 launches.
Right now, the games in Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Ups Volume 3 have been patched a few times across the pre-release and post-launch period, and they are already in a much better place. I won’t call them perfect emulation releases, but I don’t have any major complaints left, and Bitwave delivered another set of responsive and super fast games here. I say super fast because you can literally tap the play button on Steam and be in-game in a second or two. There is no time wasting here.
If you’re new to Bitwave Games’ re-issues of Toaplan classics, the games are presented in their arcade versions with different regional editions, save states, rewind options, a few visual options, sound options, assist options, and more. These are very lightweight releases as well clocking in at a few MB each. The only disappointment for the overall packages are the fonts used in the menus are quite bad. I don’t know why this ugly font is still being used two volumes later, but here we are. Now, onto the games themselves.
Tiger Heli Steam Deck Review
Toaplan’s 1985 classic vertical shmup Tiger Heli feels great to play in this release from Bitwave, but the sound pitch is a bit off even now. It has gotten updated as recently as a few hours ago from this writing, but it still doesn’t sound exactly like the prior release I’ve played on Switch. Barring that, I have no real complaints with this specific version of Tiger Heli. It delivers a responsive version of the game with a super fast boot up on Steam Deck.
Tiger Heli Steam Deck review score: 3.5/5
Batsugun Steam Deck Review
Batsugun is another vertical shmup from Toaplan and it was released back in 1993 in arcades. It is most known for its soundtrack, bullet patterns, hitbox, and more. My first experience with Batsugun was through the Saturn version in CityConnection’s S-Tribute release on Steam and Switch, so I can’t comment on how Bitwave’s release feels compared to the arcade original, but it has been a blast to play on Steam Deck.
Bitwave’s new version of Batsugun also includes the Batsugun Special Version release that includes multiple loops, changed enemies, different visuals, and more. If you’re new to Batsugun, this release is excellent, and worth grabbing even standalone if you aren’t interested in the other games in the collection. This new version is a much more responsive version of Batsugun compared to the CityConnection release as well.
Batsugun Steam Deck review score: 4.5/5
Vimana Steam Deck Review
Toaplan’s 1991-released vertical shmup Vimana is the first of two games in this collection I had never played in any form before. I was surprised by the unique setting and visuals for a game released back in 1991, but Vimana’s gameplay excels quite a bit in its levels and weapons. This version has a few sound-related issues that I hope are addressed in patches though. I noticed audio cutting in and out if I used the fast forward or rewind options a lot, and I only did to test and see how the game would handle things. Barring that, Vimana has been a good addition to this collection.
Vimana Steam Deck review score: 3.5/5
Fixeight Steam Deck Review
Fixeight is the only non shmup in this collection from Bitwave Games. The 1992-released vertical run and gun game from Toaplan had never been brought to any console or modern platform until this new release, and it has been very interesting to play as a fan of Out Zone from a prior collection. I liked that quite a bit, and Fixeight has been a noticeable improvement in many parts. It isn’t essential if you only care about Toaplan’s shmups, but I’m glad it was finally released on PC. It also plays without issues on Steam Deck.
Fixeight Steam Deck review score: 4/5
As with prior releases from Bitwave, I wish we had some sort of extras here like scans, interviews, or design documents. The complete Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Ups 3 bundle is priced at around $20 and it is an easy recommendation if you want to sample some great Toaplan games. It isn’t as polished as what you’d see in an M2 ShotTriggers release, but this is a fraction of the price you’d pay for that. I like these Bitwave releases as accessible and super responsive versions for PC because they don’t cost much and play great on Steam Deck. If you just want to be able to quickly play Batsugun, Fixeight, Tiger Heli, and Vimana, this release delivers and has many useful emulation features, visual options, and more.
Toaplan Arcade Shoot’em Ups 3 Bundle Steam Deck Review Score: 4/5
Sokobond Express from Jose Hernandez and Draknek & Friends releases on February 22nd for Steam and itch.io. I’m very excited for this puzzle game that blends chemical bonds and pathfinding in what looks like a very interesting way. I’ve not looked into this too much yet, but it is one of the easiest purchases given the Draknek & Friends’ prior releases. You can wishlist it on Steam here.
KEIZO and WhisperGames announced that the DLC for Astlibra Revision, a game we featured in multiple Game of the Year lists, is launching on February 13th in the form of Astlibra Revision Gaiden: The Cave of Phantom Mist. This DLC goes deeper into the lore and characters of the original game with randomized elements. It is a standalone experience with quality of life improvements over the original game. While the date is just for Steam, KEIZO confirmed that it will hit Switch soon as well. This DLC is supposed to be 20 hours long. I’ll be reviewing it on Steam Deck in the near future.
Persona 3 Reload, which has sold more than 1 million copies worldwide already, is amazing on Steam Deck, but it has gotten even better since launch thanks to a new Proton Hotfix update. Areas that dropped below 40fps are now locked 60fps for me, and I’ve even been testing the game on the OLED at 90fps to see. I’ll have more on this soon.
Capcom announced that Ed will join Street Fighter 6 (our Steam Deck Game of the Year for 2023) as the 21st playable character on February 27th. Ed will be available standalone or as a part of the character pass in the Deluxe Edition or the Ultimate Pass in the Ultimate Edition of the game. After Ed, the only announced DLC character left for Street Fighter 6 is Akuma. I’m curious to see who arrives following Akuma.
Alongside Street Fighter 6’s news, this week also saw the reveal of the complete EVO 2024 lineup. EVO 2024 will feature Street Fighter 6, Tekken 8, Guilty Gear Strive, The King of Fighters XV, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising, UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH II Sys:Celes, Mortal Kombat 1, and Street Fighter III 3rd Strike. Out of those, only Mortal Kombat 1 isn’t a great experience on Steam Deck right now.
Here is the full roster of featured titles at #Evo2024!
— EVO (@EVO) February 7, 2024
Nitro Plus announced that the 3D mecha action game Dolls Nest will release this year for Steam worldwide with English support. I’ve had my eye on this one since it was announced, and the new story trailer which you can watch below looks great.
Fate/Samurai Remnant DLC Volume 1 “Record’s Fragment: Keian Command Championship" is now available worldwide on Steam, Switch, PS5, and PS4. It is included in the Season Pass, the Digital Deluxe Edition, and also sold separately on Steam for owners of the base game. I loved Fate/Samurai Remnant, but will not have time to play this DLC until next week. If you do end up playing it, let me know how you find it.
Daedalic Entertainment and Yaza Games announced that the gorgeous turn-based strategy game with a medieval manuscript aesthetic Inkulinati will launch on February 22nd following its early access debut in January last year. I’ve had my eye on this one for a while, and it likely will be gorgeous on the OLED on Switch and Steam Deck.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty Complete Edition launched a few days ago with all prior DLC included and a new DLC item which seemingly isn’t available to buy for existing owners. If you skipped the game before or played it, read my interview with Team NINJA here.
Alongside the launch of the complete edition, the excellent Lies of P is getting Wo Long crossover content next week. Watch the trailer for it below:
Disney Speedstorm Season 6 “Under the Sea" is now live with The Little Mermaid-themed content like the Atlantica racetrack, new racers (Ariel, Prince Eric, and more), the bonus racer EVE, and new crew members (Flounder, Sebastian, Max, and more). The season is now live on all platforms including Steam.
Sega announced that the superb Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth that I scored 5/5 has sold over 1 million units worldwide making it the fastest selling game in the series. I’ve been chipping away at 100%, and likely will get there in a month or two.
Capcom released Resident Evil 4 Gold Edition bringing the amazing remake and all DLC together. This is the base game, the Separate Ways story DLC, and the Extra DLC Pack. For some reason the Mercenaries mode is not included in the bundle, but available as free DLC. Watch the trailer for it below:
Homeworld 3 from Gearbox Publishing and Blackbird Interactive has been delayed to May 13th from March 8th. After getting external feedback, the team decided to delay the game to implement the additional feedback and insights from others into the game to make it as good as possible. I’m not sure how this will run on Steam Deck yet, but I definitely will be trying it when I can. You can download a demo for it until February 12th on Steam.
Raw Fury will be releasing a free content update and paid DLC pack on February 13th to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Moonstone Island. This will include the ability to get married to any NPC, new items, interactions, and more.
Developer BeXide announced that its roguelike deckbuilder Yohane the Parhelion – NUMAZU in the MIRAGE – which is a Love Live spinoff game, will launch on February 22nd for Steam, PS5, and Switch worldwide. I’m looking forward to this one after its recent Steam demo.
The final bit of notable news is Overwatch 2’s newest season, Season 9: Champions, that has new Jade Weapon rewards, the new co-op event mode: Cosmic Crisis, and a new Season 9 Battle Pass. This doesn’t sound out of the ordinary, but the reason I wanted to highlight this trailer is the ending teasing a Cowboy Bebop crossover. I’m in for that for sure.
New Steam Deck Verified & Playable games for the week
For some reason, Valve marked Granblue Fantasy: Relink as unsupported when I’ve played it myself on Steam Deck and tested it online and offline both pre-release and post-launch including an hour before I wrote this article on my Steam Deck OLED and LCD (to check something). Hopefully Valve can update the rating soon.
- Enshrouded – Unsupported (Graphics configuration)
- Gangs of Sherwood – Playable
- Granblue Fantasy: Relink – Unsupported (via TouchArcade reader Mor)
- Mercenaries Saga 3: Gray Wolves of War – Playable
- Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition – Playable
- Smurfs Kart – Unsupported
- Star Trek: Infinite – Playable
- Stray Souls – Playable
- TEKKEN 8 – Playable (Text input requires manually invoking keyboard)
- Threes! – Verified
- Turnip Boy Robs a Bank – Verified
- Ultros – Verified
- War Hospital – Playable
Steam Next Fest Demo Recommendations
Steam Next Fest might be over by the time you read this, but I wanted to recommend the following game demos (on PC and in no particular order) if you have time to play some this weekend, and are looking for something interesting. If you do play something you think I should try, let me know in the comments.
- Sword of Convallaria
- Mullet Mad Jack
- Lightyear Frontier
- Shapez 2
- News Tower
Steam Deck Game Sales & Discounts
As for discounts and game sales, Sega has a Year of the Dragon sale with multiple Yakuza games cheap. I also recommend checking out Square Enix’s Lunar New Year Sale for Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade and also Dragon Quest games. I grabbed a few older Final Fantasy games I didn’t have with this sale including Lightning Returns (a great game!). The final notable sale is Rockstar Games’ catalog including GTA V and Red Dead Redemption 2 discounted.
That’s all for this week’s edition of the Steam Deck weekly. As usual, you can read all our past and future Steam Deck coverage here. If you have any feedback for this feature or what else you’d like to see us do around the Steam Deck, let us know in the comments below. I hope you all have a great weekend, and thanks for reading.