Retro Re-release Roundup, week of April 18, 2019

Ryu Hayabusa's bloody zenith graces Xbox once more.

The long-overdue return — hell, acknowledgment — of Ninja Gaiden II and the ever-increasing proliferation of Final Fantasy remasters both deserve your consideration, but I'd like to give special mention to the Arcade Archives Neogeo series, as Hamster's just announced that today's release will be the last ACA Neogeo release for the foreseeable future: in short, their contract's up and they've all but run out of games anyway, so this may be the end of the road. I'll have a more substantive tribute ready in due time but for now, pour one out for one of the homies.


Samurai Shodown V Special 

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

What's this? The final Neo Geo entry in SNK's series of ultra-ruthless samurai fighting games and the final official Neo Geo title overall, released in mid-2004; the Special revision was notorious for containing a plethora of gruesome finishing moves that were hastily and somewhat hackily removed from the home version before release as a response to a violent stabbing incident in Japan.

Why should I care? You didn't buy the online-equipped version for PS4/Vita two years ago and you're not planning on buying the online-equipped Samurai Shodown Neo Geo Collection later in the year. (A more helpful answer: SamSho VS is the standout iteration of late-era SamSho and offers a more contemporary take on the formula that should nicely complement the new SamSho that's due in a few months, which skews much closer to the classic formula.)

Useless fact: Samurai Shodown V, V Special and VI were not developed by SNK but by a studio called Yuki Enterprise that mostly specialized in shogi games; that particular development group later spun off into their own studio named Examu and they continue to develop fighting games to this day, including the popular Arcana Heart series.


Ninja Gaiden II

  • Platform: Xbox One via Xbox 360 backwards compatibility (worldwide)
  • Price: $29.99 or equivalent (or just put in your X360 disc!)
  • Publisher: Microsoft / Koei-Tecmo

What's this? The controversial sequel to the critically-acclaimed and surprisingly popular 3D reimagining of Tecmo's classic ninja action series, originally released exclusively for Xbox 360 in 2008, remade for PS3 as Ninja Gaiden Sigma II and now made backwards-compatible on Xbox One, with all the typical enhancements including forced v-sync, performance boots for better and more stable framerates and, on Xbox One X, a x9 resolution bump — it's not a full 4K enhancement, given the original game's rather low resolution, but it still makes a big difference.

Why should I care? Ninja Gaiden II remains a fiercely divisive game on many fronts — is it a worthy sequel to Ninja Gaiden Black? is the Sigma version better? is it even a good game? — but many diehards still regard NGII as the apotheosis of bone-tough and gleefully underhanded 3D ninja action, and Microsoft's X360 BC emulator smooths over many of the original game's significant and conspicuous performance issues (yes, including the staircase scene).

Helpful tip: I've noticed new and returning players alike getting tripped up by this gotcha all over again, so I'll mention it upfront: hold block after defeating the nuclear armadillo, even when you think it's safe to let go... or don't, and find out why people complain about that boss fight to this day.


Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $19.99 / €19.99 / £15.99 / ¥3000
  • Publisher: Konami

What's this? The first of a series of eight-game anthologies from Konami, this one focused on their arcade output; this collection was developed by Hamster's Arcade Archives team and includes save states, individual dipswitches for each game, button configs and a modest array of display options, as well as a gallery containing translated documents and interview material with several of the games' original developers.

Which games are included? Scramble, Twinbee, Nemesis (aka Gradius), Salamander (or Life Force in the Japanese version), Typhoon (aka A-Jax), Haunted Castle, Vulcan Venture (aka Gradius II) and Thunder Cross. Notably, this collection is restricted to one version of each game and that version is largely determined by region: buy the Japanese version, get the Japanese ROMs, buy the overseas version, get the US ROMs, unlike the standalone Arcade Archives versions which generally offer multiple ROM revisions; some of these games vary significantly and drastically between regions, and the US versions tend to be hobbled.

Why should I care? You're content with a well-emulated and functional collection of some of Konami's most accomplished shooting games and you don't mind the inexplicable omission of features and options provided by other Arcade Archives packages. (The Switch version's missing tate, even. Just... why?)

Helpful tip: No matter which version you choose to buy, Haunted Castle will still suck.

Final Fantasy X / X-2 HD Remaster

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One (worldwide)
  • Price: $49.99 USD or equivalent
  • Publisher: Square-Enix

What's this? A collection containing remastered versions of Square's 2001 PS2 RPG Final Fantasy X and its sequel, 2003's Final Fantasy X-2, originally produced for PS3 and Vita and slowly rolled forward to PS4, PC and now XB1 and Switch; these remasters include reworked high-definition visuals, an alternate arranged soundtrack, all the content from the international revisions of the original games and a new voiced epilogue. (These ports specifically conform to the contents of the PS4 version, so no PC-exclusive cheat modifiers here.)

Why should I care? As always with Final Fantasy games, I'm never quite sure... Blitzball? Is the answer Blitzball?

Helpful tip: The North American and European Switch versions of FFX/X2 HD include FFX on the cartridge and FFX-2 as a download code, but the Japanese and Asian versions include both games on the cartridge and will run in English if your system's region is set accordingly. (You can also play them in Japanese by altering your system's region settings, but there's no way to mix and match English and Japanese text/voices.)


Viewtiful Joe merch & Capcom restock at Fangamer

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One (worldwide)
  • Price: $49.99 USD or equivalent
  • Publisher: Square-Enix

Officially, HMD stands for "His Master's Dance", a sign of respect for his master, Captain Blue. Informally, HMD is a reference to the programmer of the first two Mega Man games. To most of us, it's just a thing written on Joe's shirt in Viewtiful Joe that don't mean nothin', and now it can don't not mean no anything when you wear it too!