Retro Re-release Roundup, week of January 10, 2019

Tales retold.

The holiday season is well and truly over and the faucet of weekly re-releases is flowing once more, with one surprise title (Hitman HD Enhanced Collection) announced just days ago, but I'd like to draw attention to one more game that's out in the Americas this week: Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey, a 3DS remake of a game many consider to be the best of the Mario & Luigi series but one that misses the Retronauts cutoff by a scant few weeks. I have a hunch it'll be a while until AlphaDream's allowed a genuine sequel, so give it a look for their sake. 


Kizuna Encounter 

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (worldwide)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster

What's this? A post-apocalyptic weapons-based tag-team fighting game, developed and published by SNK in 1996; released as a followup of sorts to Savage Reign, Kizuna Encounter shares most of the same characters but adopts a much darker tone and replaces the previous game's sillier mechanics with more conventional systems like chain combos, droppable weapons and a real-time character system that lets players switch in an out when standing in their respective tag zones.

Why should I care? You're looking for a standalone SNK fighting game with relatively easy inputs, you're curious to witness the spiritual precursor to Neo Geo Battle Coliseum or you just want to spend a little more time with Rosa, the unsung SNK Heroine.

Useless fact: According to members of the development team, Kizuna Encounter was primarily conceived as a means of recycling existing ROM chips from unsold copies of Savage Reign; as such, SNK's production run per region was dictated by however many Savage Reign cartridges remained in their inventory, which meant certain versions of the game were produced in extremely limited quantities and remain among the scarcest titles in the Neogeo library.


  • Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One (worldwide)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster

What's this? A fighting game set in the world of Japanese mythology, developed by the little-known System Vision and produced by SNK offsiders Saurus for the Neogeo in 1996, with NGCD and Saturn ports to follow; this game is remembered by fighting game fanatics for its emphasis on free-form aerial combat, and by everyone else for its ill-advised reliance on low-detail pre-rendered sprites. (The Arcade Archives release is the first time Ragnagard has been re-released outside of Japan, or at least it was when it hit Switch last week.)

Why should I care? There's a surprisingly ambitious and forward-thinking combo-oriented fighting game buried under all those shoddy, over-animated CG sprites — not a fun one, necessarily, but it's not hard to see why Arc System Works cited it as an influence on the original Guilty Gear.

Useless fact: Former System Vision director Akahiro Takanami recently shared the history behind the development of Ragnagard  — even if you have no interest in the game, I recommend reading the interview for some insight into how promising games can turn into bad ones.



  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (North America, Europe)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Sega

What's this? Sega's classic arcade driving game, released in arcades in 1986 and ported forward to every platform forevermore; the Sega Ages Switch version carried forward most of the enhancements from the recent 3DS version (60FPS mode, widescreen support, additional brand-new music, optional car upgrades) and adds a few more of its own, including online leaderboards, gyro controls and extra arranged tunes from other ports and versions of Outrun.

Why should I care? Outrun's never stopped being a good time, and you can play this version with your Mario Kart joycon wheel.

Useless fact: Two of the additional tunes added for the Switch version were added at the last second and therefore play via conventional streaming audio rather than via emulation of the arcade board's FM sound hardware; if you can't pick them at first listen, they're the tunes that are designated by the new cassette graphic on the track select screen.


Hitman HD Enhanced Collection

  • Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One (worldwide)
  • Price: $59.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: IO Interactive

What's this? A double-pack containing IO Interactive's 2006 murder sandbox Hitman: Blood Money and its would-be blockbuster followup, the too-recent-for-Retronauts Hitman Absolution, updated with improved textures and lighting, 4K resolution support at 60FPS and some as-yet-unspecified control "improvements". (For the curious, it seems Absolution's online Contracts mode, long disabled elsewhere, isn't included with this port.)

Why should I care?  Stuart's already made a case for Blood Money and I shan't be making a case for Absolution... forgive me if my recollection is faulty but doesn't that game hinge around Agent 47 being framed for murder? Like, what?

Helpful tip: If $60 strikes any of you XB1 owners as too high a price to pay for this collection, you can always grab the X360 version of either title via backwards compatibility.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $49.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Bandai-Namco

What's this? A port of the tenth entry in Bandai-Namco's Tales of... series of anime-inspired action-RPGs, originally released exclusively for Xbox 360 in 2008 and famously ported to PS3 in Japan with a slew of exclusive content in 2009; this re-release includes almost all the additional features and content of the PS3 version (which include new party characters, areas, music, enemies, skits, costumes and much more) with a full English and Japanese dub, as well as the requisite resolution and framerate bump. 

Why should I care? Vesperia's protagonist, the cynical and level-headed Yuri, remains an overwhelming fan favorite all these years later and, while I'm far from a Tales veteran or even a tourist, I'm reliably informed that this was the last of the great conventional Tales games, before the series pivoted into its new role of "low-budget mule for character merchandise".

Useless fact: Contrary to popular belief, Vesperia protagonist Yuri Lowell is not voiced by his alleged namesake, voice actor Yuri Lowenthal — he was originally voiced by fellow voice actor Troy Baker, and the extra scenes that were newly dubbed for this port are very conspicuously not voiced by Troy Baker.


Resident Evil 2 1-Shot demo

  • Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Availability: January 11-January 31 
  • Publisher: Capcom

When they say "one shot", they're not kidding — this REmake 2 demo gives you thirty minutes and one life to get as far as you can, and once you die, that's it: no more demo, just a trailer and a not-so-long wait until release day... or an immediate sojourn to wherever RE dataminers congregate, if you're one of those people.


Ace Combat 7 backwards-compatibility bonuses

This reminder may be a little late, given than Ace Combat 7's out next week, but for those of you who are looking forward to the return to the strangereal, know that there's a fairly enticing reason to pre-order the game on your console of choice: a digital copy of Ace Combat 5 for PS4 or Ace Combat 6 for Xbox, respectively; these titles are running under emulation and will probably be made available for standalone purchase at some point in the near future but just in case they aren't, here's another heads-up.


Vixen 357 by Super Fighter Team

  • Platform: Sega Mega Drive/Genesis (worldwide)
  • Price: $63USD (US), $70USD (worldwide)
  • Availability: ships 2019

Super Fighter Team, typically the purveyors of unlicensed oddities from mainland Asia, recently announced something a little higher-profile: the first-ever English-translated cartridge run for Vixen 357, a Mega Drive sci-fi strategy RPG originally developed by Masaya, the studio best known for the Langrisser series, and released only in Japan. This upcoming production run holds an official license from Masaya rights holders Extreme and utilises the translation produced by the fan group Nebulous, so if you'd like to try before you buy, you can always try the translation patch at your own discretion.