Retro Re-release Roundup, week of April 11, 2019
Court's back in session.
There are a few choice games in this week's update, including Konami's first Arcade Archives title in quite a while and a trio of unreservedly fun, if difficult, Nintendo Switch Online NES titles, but due prominence must be given to Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney Trilogy, the collection of investigative adventure games that has somehow reached Resident Evil 4 levels of ubiquity despite reaching but a fraction of that series' popularity — not that anybody's complaining, mind you, but the series feels like it's one poorly-performing release away from being sent to the same farm as Rival Schools, Dino Crisis and Dead Rising, so let's hope this ain't it.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Konami
What's this? A free-scrolling 360-degree shooting game, developed and published in arcades by Konami in 1982 and ported sporadically since; do flips, shoot enemies, rescue parachuting pilots and travel through time from 1901 to the futuristic hellscape of 2001.
Why should I care? Of the three prominent multi-scrolling shooters of that era — Time Pilot, Namco's Bosconian and Williams' Sinistar — this was and remains the most forgiving and approachable take on that particular game mechanic.
Helpful tip: Simply crashing into enemies deals a surprisingly high amount of damage, so if you have lives to spare and don't want to deal with any particular boss, the kamikaze attack is a viable option.
NINTENDO SWITCH ONLINE - NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
April '19 NSO update: Punch-Out!!, Star Soldier, Super Mario Bros. 2/The Lost Levels plus Kid Icarus SP
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: available as part of Nintendo Switch Online
- Publisher: Nintendo, Konami
What're these? The Super Mario Bros. sequel deemed too iterative and too difficult for US audiences, the Hudson shooting game that popularized button-mashing and the classic pattern-puzzle boxing game that Mike Tyson's social media handler is currently pretending to be mad about, plus a savestate for Kid Icarus that puts the player at the final level with all three sacred treasures. (For once, Japan and the rest of the world have received the exact same lineup.)
Why should I care? The inane brouhaha caused by Sekiro has compelled you to cheat your way through a trio of classically challenging and unforgiving games, thereby cheating yourself and learning nothing, etc.
Helpful tip: If you grew up with Super Mario All-Stars and wonder why this version of SMB2 doesn't seem to have the additional worlds, don't worry, they're still there, you just have to loop the game eight times to unlock them all.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $29.99 / €29.99 / £29.99
- Publisher: Capcom
What's this? Shu Takumi's original trilogy of zany cartoon lawyerin' adventure games, initially released in Japan for Game Boy Advance from 2001, released worldwide for Nintendo DS from 2005 and ported many times since; this particular trilogy release is based on the recent remakes for mobile phones and 3DS and features significantly retouched HD graphics, remastered audio, localization fixes and other minor adjustments like off-the-bat text skipping, thank christ.
Why should I care? For as constant a presence as the series and these particular entries have had in recent years, the Ace Attorney series has been largely Nintendo-exclusive until now, so this may be the first chance many of you have been given to experience Phoenix Wright's inimitable combination of absurd character drama and genuine high-tension investigative mystery.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (worldwide)
- Price: $19.99 / €19.99 / £15.99
- Publisher: Zojoi / Abstraction Games
What's this? A remake of the classic fantasy MacVenture game, originally released for Macintosh in 1987 and ported to NES by Kemco in 1989; crowdfunded by the original developers in 2012, this remake hit PC in 2014 and brought with it completely new hand-drawn HD art and massively redesigned puzzles, along with several UI options (including a new console-specific radial menu), multiple difficulty settings and other features including retro music options.
Why should I care? I've not played the remake and I can't say I'm terribly fond of the original, even, but I've heard nothing but unqualified praise from backers, so I can only presume the enough-rope-to-hang-ones-self school of MacVenture puzzle design has been faithfully upheld by this remake.
Useless fact: The Famicom release of Shadowrun is notorious in Japan for its inexplicably goofy translation, which rewrote all the text in first-person and added a ton of very silly wordplay and other gags which, combined with the obtuse and frequently-fatal puzzles, make the game sound less like a grim fantasy novel and more like the adventures of a bumbling idiot who's too stupid to live.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $9.99 / €9.99 / £8.99
- Publisher: Regista / YMCAT
What's this? A remake of the first in a trilogy of RPG-tinged action games, developed by a small group of teenagers under the moniker YMC (Yonago Micom Club) and published by renowned port-house Denpa Micomsoft for various Japanese computers in 1984; this remake retains the original pixel art and stages, more or less, atop a brand-new engine with new sub-menus and UI, translations in multiple languages and an excessive but not unwarranted amount of in-game hints.
Why should I care? You're one of the dwindling few for whom the phrase "Tower of Druaga turned sideways" still holds appeal.
Helpful tip: The English text shown in the promo shots does not reflect the quality of the translation present in the final release; in fact, I was advised not to mention the recently-released Steam version until the updated translation was ready for that particular version — my presumption is that it'll be ready soon, so keep an eye out.
PHYSICAL CARTRIDGE REISSUES
- Platform: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
- Price: ￥6458
- Publisher: Columbus Circle / Masaya
Masaya's Japan-only horizontal shooting game Gleylancer has commanded absurd prices for almost two decades, with the Wii Virtual Console release of a decade ago only cementing its status as a sought-after collectors' item; not a moment too soon, Columbus Circle is offering an option for those who'd like to own an officially-licensed version for a reasonable price. This reissue features a new cover illustration by original character designer Hiroshi Aizawa and is limited to 2500 copies, so it's bound to reach the same secondhand price as the original version in short order.
HACKS & HOMEBREW
Sonic 3 A.I.R (Angel Island Revisited) by Eukaryot
Christian Whitehead & co. weren't able to get the official go-ahead to remaster Sonic 3 & Knuckles for reasons that may never be publicly revealed, so here's the next best thing: a fan-made remaster that adopts many of the welcome enhancements seen in the Retro Engine remasters of Sonic 1, 2 and CD and the recent Sonic Mania including widescreen support, remastered audio and granular music toggles for those who prefer tunes from one version or the other, time attack support and the implementation of the almighty drop dash. The remaster's free to download but requires the Steam version of S3&K or some other legally-obtained ROM to function, which I'm sure you'll all have no trouble procuring.