Retro Re-release Roundup, week of November 29, 2018
The Force re-awakens.
I'm sure I've been given reason to say this before but it remains appropriate: it never rains but it pours, eh? If you're a shooting game maniac like me, you're probably content with one or two decent shooting game releases a year, so it's always a pleasant surprise to see multiple interesting and varied shooting game releases in this very update. Now I know how Picross fans must feel every fortnight.
(Sega fans, take heed: Sega Ages Outrun, which launched in Japan today, won't be officially available overseas until early next year, so sayeth Sega Europe.)
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster
What's this? One of Sunsoft's earliest arcade games, published overseas by Centuri in 1981; players have to dodge rival cars as they race to grab money from inside a handful of fixed-screen mazes — 16 of 'em, as it happens — with the entrances and exits of each maze leading to a hub map viewed in ultra-zoomed-out "radar mode".
Why should I care? You're curious to see how Sunsoft managed to approximate Namco's Rally-X using extremely basic arcade hardware.
Useless fact: Sunsoft's first-generation arcade hardware was barely more advanced than the hardware that powered Taito's Space Invaders and didn't even support features as basic as sprites, so for as rough as Route-16 looks now and even back then, it's a reasonably accomplished work of craftsmanship.
ARCADE ARCHIVES NEOGEO
Neo Geo Cup '98: The Road to The Victory
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster
What's this? The final Super Sidekicks game in all but name, released by SNK in 1998 as an attempt to capitalize on the hype for the FIFA World Cup in France; in essence, it's Super Sidekicks 3 with new team designations and a few new splash screens, nothing more and nothing less.
Why should I care? Super Sidekicks 4 a.k.a Ultimate 11 had already been released by the time the World Cup rolled around — SNK could have reskinned that game instead, but they wisely gave people more of what they actually wanted instead, and for that they deserve at least some kudos.
Helpful tip: In the very unlikely event that any of you have only ever played the AES version of Neo Geo Cup '98, know that a lot of the tweaks made for that version, including the inclusion of all the past teams and the weirdly slow passing, are not present in the MVS version, it's regular ol' Super Sidekicks.
- Platform: Playstation 4 (Japan)
- Price: ¥3700 (digital) / ¥6800 (disc)
- Publisher: M2 / CAVE
What's this? A military-themed bullet hell shooter with an aggressive proximity-based scoring system, released in arcades by danmaku fiends CAVE in 2003 and subsequently ported to X360 and later PS3; this release is the fourth entry in M2's ShotTriggers series of boutique emulation-based shooting game releases and includes their usual accoutrements — several remixed modes, a choice of four original and arranged soundtracks, an extremely granular custom menu that allows you to tweak every aspect of the game, online leaderboards and a bevy of display and controller options, including technical on-screen read-outs via "M2 Gadgets" — as well as some brand-new features like a training-style challenge mode and a mode that takes precise snapshots of your arcade-mode deaths that can be practiced and refined in order to help you get the elusive one-credit clear.
Why should I care? Despite being a bonafide bullet hell game, Ketsui was made for old-school players who didn't care for modern aesthetics or esoteric scoring systems, so if you've ever been curious about CAVE's output but didn't care for gothic lolitas or bug princess and want a game that puts the focus squarely on shooting and dodging, this is not only the game for you but also the very best possible version of the game and one that offers the tools to become a better player. It's also subtitled DEATHTINY, which honestly counts for a lot.
Helpful tip: For all you digital curmudgeons, Ketsui Deathtiny's two DLC items (a rare revision of the game that was only playable at a live event in 2007 and an arranged soundtrack by Jake "virt" Kaufman, borrowed from Dodonpachi Resurrection Black Label Arrange) are both included with the disc version as pre-installed data, not as a download code.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $49.99 / €49.99 / £44.99 (consoles) / $26.99 or equivalent (PC)
- Publisher: Microids / OSome Studio
What's this? The second of two Playstation 2 action-platformers starring France's favourite legionnaire-walloping duo, Asterix & Obelix, originally developed by Étranges Libellules in 2005 and later converted to PSP and DS; in addition to visual enhancements like new lighting and retextured models and environments, this HD remaster also includes a handful of additional content and extra features including a brand-new set of in-game collectibles, a new skill tree for each character with new moves, challenge arenas in each of the game's environments, quick travel, selectable difficulty and more.
Why should I care? While this probably isn't the best introduction to the Asterix oeuvre — this particular game happens to be partially themed around videogame parodies, some of which are extremely dated — it's still, by my hazy recollection, a perfectly pleasant Lego-esque brawler adventure that should service whatever lingering licensed-'00s-platformer itch you might still need to scratch. (It's also the first non-mobile Asterix game to leave Europe since the original Asterix & Obelix XXL game almost fifteen years ago, so it deserves acknowledgement on that point alone.)
Helpful tip: First reports seem to indicate that Microids may not have included the Italian dub from the original release, so if you have a particular affinity for those voices, you may want to wait to ensure those voices are present before you put any money down.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $14.99 / €14.99 / £13.49
- Publisher: Tozai Games
What's this? A double-pack containing ports of the first two entries in Irem's classic horizontal shooting game series, originally released in the late '80s and remade for this particular collection way back in 2009; in addition to Dimensions' signature gimmick — the ability to toggle between the original graphics and HD visuals in real time — this particular iteration includes local two-player co-op and several optional tweaks to make the games easier to clear, including infinite lives, instant respawns, a rewind function and a stage select.
Why should I care? These ports mightn't be the least bit arcade-authentic but they nonetheless provide a perfectly fine and extremely beginner-friendly avenue to experience a pair of classic and widely imitated arcade games... just don't be surprised if the HD visuals come off as even more dated than the '80s dot art.
Useless fact: Despite being ported to over a dozen platforms and reissued in various formats on Virtual Console, the original arcade version of R-Type has only ever been re-released in emulated form as a smartphone app.
Game Tengoku CruisinMix Special
- Platform: Playstation 4, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: free update, base game $29.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Degica Games / City Connection
In conjunction with the full-on version upgrade released in Japan this week, the overseas version of the Jaleco all-star shooting game Game Tengoku CruisinMix is receiving a "special" update that adds additional voices and a sound test, arranged versions of classic Jaleco tunes for the time attack mode and other small tweaks, including the long-delayed translation of all the Jaleco archive material contained in the data mode; it also paves the way for additional DLC characters in the near future, including an announced cameo from the classic Toaplan shooter Tatsujin a.k.a Truxton. (Perhaps most importantly for PS4 players: the update also coincides with the game being officially, finally available without weird "please don't buy this yet" caveats from the publisher.)
R-TYPE Dobkeratops figma by FREEing
- Price: ¥13,704
- Availability: ships August 2019
From ripoff to ripped-off, the Dobkeratops has enjoyed a long history as one of gaming's more recognisable bosses, so it was only a matter of time before he became available as an overly-priced desk trinket. The figure includes everything seen in the picture, including the to-scale R9 ship, and can be posed at the head, neck and tail; preorders are open now, with shipping to commence in August of next year.
Game Boy Works Vol. I & II via Fangamer
- Format: color hardcover
- Price: $29 each, $55 bundled
- Publisher: Fangamer / Retronauts
Sorry, what Boy? Jeremy who?