Retro Re-release Roundup, week of February 14, 2019


If there's one thing we can all count on, it's Square-Enix's proclivity for cashing in on their old beloved titles: in this instance, they're celebrating the 20th anniversary of the beloved dark horse Final Fantasy VIII with... a bug-addled port of a port of Final Fantasy IX. Whatever.


Front Line

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

What's this? An overhead military run-and-gun game, developed and released into arcades by Taito in late 1982. The arcade version used a joystick for movements and a rotary dial for aiming and firing your weapon; the Arcade Archives version allows you to play with dual-analogue controls and also offers a directional-fire option that operates similarly to the Famicom port.

Why should I care? It represents the evolutionary link between Nintendo's Sherriff and Capcom's Commando. and it doesn't feel quite as dated as it looks.

Useless fact: Most of Front Line's prior ports and reissues were exclusive to Japan, but there's one version that was released only in North America: Sgt. Rock: On The Frontline, a Game Boy Color game that was inexplicably released under the license of DC Comics; long-dormant WWII hero Sgt. Rock.


Puzzle Bobble 2 (Bust-A-Move Again) 

  • Platform: PlayStation 4 (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.


February '19 NSO update: Kirby's Adventure, Super Mario Bros. 2, Tsuppari Ouzumou, Blaster Master SP, Metroid SP 2

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: available as part of Nintendo Switch Online
  • Publisher: Nintendo, HAL Laboratory, Koei-Tecmo, Sunsoft

What're these? Super Mario Bros.' odd-duck sorta-sequel and the definitive 8-bit Kirby game, plus the obligatory maxed-out endgame Blaster Master savestate and, bucking tradition, an additional Metroid savestate that puts you at the beginning of the game with all equipment, instead of at the end. (Once again, Japan got an additional game: the extremely English-unfriendly sumo simulation game Tsuppari Ouzumou.)

Why should I care? Kirby's Adventure maintains the distinction of having the closest thing to a traditional difficulty curve in a main-line Kirby game and, while I'm sure you've all played SMB2 to death, it doesn't seem like it'll be added to the Mario Maker roster anytime soon, so you might as well play it again. (Should you want to brave Tsuppari Ouzumou, this guide should allow you to see what little the game has to offer.) 

Useless fact: The little-played Tecmo WiiWare title Eat! Fat! Fight! was the first Tsuppari Ouzumou title in over fifteen years and the only one to be released outside of Japan; it also wasn't particularly representative of the traditional games, as you can well imagine.


Commander Keen in Keen Dreams

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $9.99 / €9.99 / £8.99
  • Publisher: Lone Wolf Technology

What's this? A port of the "lost" episode of id Software's much-loved Commander Keen series, originally made in just one month to fulfil a legal obligation to their former publisher Softdisk and left to languish in forgotten IP hell until a crowdfunded rights revival a couple years ago; the game has been revived, pulled and re-acquired numerous times under a series of bizarre circumstances and this Switch version, released last week, seemingly caught even Nintendo by surprise.

Why should I care? It's not a great game even by Keen standards but it'll probably be pulled off the eShop by this time next week, so if you have any interest whatsoever in trying this game out, you should probably buy it while you can.

Useless fact: Keen Dreams was originally released as a standard retail game but was later distributed as a "shareware" product that contained all the content of the retail game, with absolutely no benefits for paying the registration free. Oh, Softdisk!

Final Fantasy IX

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows 10 Store (worldwide)
  • Price: $20.99 / €20.99 / £20.99
  • Publisher: Square-Enix

What's this? The final main-line Final Fantasy game developed for the original PlayStation, originally released in 2000; today's surprise release is a port of the HD version produced for smartphones and later ported to PC and PS4 a couple years ago, which featured spruced-up character models, higher-resolution cutscenes and achievements, among other enhancements.

Why should I care? You want to experience the 3D Final Fantasy game that is perhaps the most evocative of the classic 2D era.

Helpful tip: All the fun "quirks" of the previous ports, including the absence of analog controls and the ever-present music looping bug that persists across multiple different games, seem to be present in this port, along with a few new issues like excessively and unpredictably long load times. That's our Squeenix!


Oddworld Stranger's Wrath PS3 from Limited Run Games

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows 10 Store (worldwide)
  • Price: $29.99 (standard version, limited to 4000 copies), $64.99 (limited edition, limited to 6500 copies)
  • Availability: from February 15, 10AM EST

Limited Run Games has made the jump to PlayStation 3 games and their first reissue is a peculiar choice — the HD remaster of the final Oddworld game, a title availible for multiple platforms and one most heavily associated with Xbox — but I suppose these packages aren't really for playing, are they?


Capcom blowout on Spotify

In the last day or so, Capcom Sound Team has dumped well over 80 official and arranged soundtracks on Spotify, including the likes of Monster Hunter, Street Fighter, Mega Man, Resident Evil, Ace Attorney and Devil May Cry, as well as plenty of deeper cuts including. Japan-only titles like EX Troopers and Toraware no Palm. Personally, I could probably stick with Third Strike for another fifteen years, but you do you.