Retro Re-release Roundup, week of February 7, 2019

Crackin' & Drakkhen.

Confession time, pals: many of games featured in today's update came out last week but went completely unnoticed by yours truly due to the simple fact that Steam's a busy, busy storefront that condemns countless games to virtual obscurity every day. Never fear, though: if you thought I'd let the spawn of Drakkhen languish unseen in the pits of Steam, then... okay, I was tempted.


Puzzle Bobble 2 (Bust-A-Move Again) 

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

What's this? The second of many, many Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move games from Taito, now featuring an expanded single-player campaign with Darius-style branching paths, plus a new vs. CPU mode; Puzzle Bobble 2 originally hit arcades in 1995 and was subsequently ported to every platform under the sun, with this Neo Geo conversion being released in 1999.

Why should I care? You're looking for a Neo Geo puzzle game that's a little more laid-back and a lot less moe than Magical Drop or Money Puzzle Exchanger.

Useless fact: The MVS version of Bust-A-Move Again contains all the cutesy Bubble Bobble trappings one would expect, unlike Taito's own F3 arcade version which scrubbed poor Bub & Bob and adopted a more neutral, vaguely sci-fi aesthetic.


Dragon View

  • Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $4.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Piko Interactive

What's this? The SNES-only sequel to the influential pseudo-3D RPG/adventure game Drakkhen, released in 1994; Drakkhen's fantasy prose and first-person overworld remain but many of the core systems have been completely replaced, most notably dungeon traversal, which now follows the format of a side-scrolling action-RPG as opposed to... whatever the hell Drakkhen did.

Why should I care? You remain intrigued by Drakkhen but won't hesitate to lose some of the weirdness for something a little more console-conventional — think of it as an extremely Euro-filtered take on Zelda II, if you will.

Useless fact: Dragon View's action leanings and console exclusivity are a consequence of the game being developed entirely by the Japanese studio Kemco, rather than the French team at Infocom that developed the original computer versions of Drakkhen.

Eric the Unready

  • Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $5.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Piko Interactive / Legend Entertainment

What's this? A parodical fantasy adventure game, released on PC by interactive fiction stalwarts Legend Entertainment in 1993; the plot follows the adventures of an incompetent, in-over-his-head knight sent on a quest to rescue a princess and foil the succession plans of her evil stepmother.

Why should I care? Eric the Unready represents one of the more forgiving and immediate parser-based adventure games of its era and while the humor can be overly referential, it offers a credible interactive fiction counterpart to contemporaneous LucasArts fare like Monkey Island.

Useless fact: If you're the type of person who continues to be entertained by games that acknowlegde the entry of curse words then Eric the Unready might just be the game for you.

Mission Critical

  • Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $5.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Piko Interactive / Legend Entertainment

What's this? An FMV-packed sci-fi adventure game, developed and published on PC by Legend Entertainment in 1995; players are tasked with maintaining and exploring a Star Trek-esque spaceship by solving simple puzzles and occasionally playing simple and mostly-optional action minigames.

Why should I care? I'd not seen nor heard of this game until half an hour ago but I can safely say that if you enjoy grainy FMV of mid-'90s flat-shaded CG then you are going to have a field day with Mission Critical.

Useless fact: Much of the period coverage of Mission Critical seems to either massively emphasize the fact that Star Trek actor Michael Dorn has a part in the game, or warn against buying the game due to the fact that Michael Dorn's barely in it.

The Dame Was Loaded

  • Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $5.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Piko Interactive / Beam Software

What's this? A first-person point-and-click adventure game in the film noir mold, developed by Beam Software in conjunction with Vixen Films and released on PC in 1995; the game mixes still scenes and FMV in order to enact the real-time investigation of a missing-persons case that balloons into something much more.

Why should I care? You've been waiting your entire life for a Tex Murphy knock-off full of Australian actors doing terrible Maltese Falcon accents.

Useless fact: While the final product was eventually released only for PC, there are allegedly completed versions for both Mac and the Philips CD-i sitting in a vault somewhere.


Atari Flashback Collection features and fixes

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita
  • Price: free update
  • Publisher: Atari / Code Mystics

Y'know what, the image pretty much says it all.


Crackdown, free!

  • Platform: Xbox One, Xbox 360 (worldwide)
  • Price: free, but for how long?
  • Publisher: Microsoft

Crackdown 3 is actually, finally coming out next week, believe it or not, and to remind you why you should give a damn, Microsoft's made the original city-cracking sandbox game free to download for a limited time — until Crackdown 3 is released, presumably — for both X360 and XB1. (In case you missed the memo, Crackdown's also one of a select few backwards-compatible titles with enhancements on Xbox One X, which include a resolution upscale to 4K, improved texture filtering and forced v-sync.)

Free shipping on Mondo Records vinyl 

  • Format: vinyl (worldwide)
  • Price: free shipping until February 12
  • Publisher: Mondo Tees

Just as the title says, Mondo's offering free worldwide shipping on all vinyl until February 12; where retro VGM is concerned, that includes the likes of Katamari Damacy, Portal, Streets of Rage 3 and a whole lotta arcade Sega, Contra and Castlevania records.