Retro Re-release Roundup, week of August 22, 2019

Carbuncle, Cotton and Kamurocho.

Sega's omnipresent legacy catalog tends to loom over most of these weekly roundups but today's update is particularly Sega-heavy: not only are we receiving the de rigueur Yakuza and Sega Ages updates but there's also a Sega-by-way-of-third-party release (Japan's Ge-sen Love! + Pengo port for Switch) and even a Sega-by-way-of-byzantine-library-acquisitions release for Nintendo Switch Online (VICE: Project Doom, a NES game now owned by Sega via parent company Sammy). That's not a complaint, mind you, but it begs the question: where you at, everyone else?


Water Ski

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

What's this? A vertically-oriented water-skiing game, developed and published by Taito in 1983; the player-character is being towed behind a speedboat that moves automatically through the course, so in addition to dodging obstacles and moving in accordance with the movement of the boat, they also have to avoid snagging their towline on taller obstacles like protruding rocks.

Why should I care? You're willing to persevere with a racing game with consciously cumbersome player movement. (The credit system is timer-based rather than mistake-based, so it'll at least let you crash a whole lot while you figure things out.)

Useless fact: By complete coincidence, arcade rival Irem also released a water-skiing game that same year, albeit one with a pseudo-3D, behind-the-back perspective and a very prominent bikini-clad skier.


August '19 NSO update: Kung-Fu Heroes & VICE: Project Doom plus more Kunio-kun and Gradius SP2

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: available as part of Nintendo Switch Online
  • Publisher: Nintendo, Culture Brain, Sega, Arc System Works

What're these? A port of a top-down arcade-action game that spawned a series for b-studio Culture Brain, as well as a cult sidescrolling action game that took the Ninja Gaiden formula, added multi-genre bonus stages and a Blade Runner-esque setting and dialed the difficulty down a couple notches, as well as a second savestate for Gradius which starts the player at the beginning of the second loop. (Available on the Japanese side: Downtown Nekketsu Koushinkyoku: Soreyuke Daiundoukai, the first of the four-player multi-event Kunio-kun games and the predecessor to one of the few localized Kunio-kun games, Crash 'n the Boys: Street Challenge. Curiously, the Famicom version of VICE, titled GUN-DEC, is not available, making it a rare overseas exclusive.)

Why should I care? Both of these games exemplify the underexposed, left-of-center cuts that would ideally be a staple of NSO and not a consequence of them literally running out of currently-cleared NES games to offer, and it doesn't hurt that one of them is a legitimately fantastic game to boot.

Useless fact: VICE: Project Doom is often attributed to former Ninja Gaiden staff, that's not really true: while developer Aicom was founded by a former employee of Tecmo but VICE itself was developed by an entirely unrelated team with more lineage from Taito and Jaleco than Tecmo... all of whom had a fondness for Ninja Gaiden, evidently.


Puyo Puyo

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide outside of Japan)
  • Price: $7.99 / €7.99 / £6.99
  • Publisher: Sega

What's this? The first arcade entry in the long-running and widely influential competitive falling-block puzzle series, developed by the now-defunct studio Compile and published in arcades by Sega, with ports and reskins produced for a multitude of platforms immediately afterwards; the Sega Ages version includes two-player online play, minor mechanical enhancements like the ability to rotate puyos in both directions and, perhaps most notably to collectors, the inclusion of an extremely rare English-localized ROM that some presumed to be a bootleg until its inclusion in this release.

Why should I care? You're a casual Puyo Puyo fan who doesn't require the most balanced version to have fun, you want to experience the original form of the game you once played as Kirby's Avalanche or Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine or you just want to experience the overseas version's truly corny voice acting.

Useless fact: Of all the localized versions of the original Puyo Puyo that exist, there is one other that uses the original characters: the Game Gear version, which was released only in Japan but switches an English-localized script when played on overseas hardware, including the new title of "Puzlow Kids" which was never referenced again.

Space Harrier

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide outside of Japan)
  • Price: $7.99 / €7.99 / £6.99
  • Publisher: Sega

What's this? Yu Suzuki's classic Super Scaler fantasy shooting game, released in arcades in 1985 and permanently reissued into eternity; this version builds off the Sega 3D Classics version's feature set, which includes widescreen enhancements and an additional boss based on exclusive content from certain home versions, and adds other small features like HD rumble, a virtual throttle motion control option and a new "Koma-inu Barrier Mode" that sees the Harrier equipped with a protective barrier, courtesy of the lackeys that usually assist the final boss.

Why should I care? The recent onslaught of Yakuza games hasn't purged your taste for what remains an engaging and charismatic arcade classic.

Helpful tip: The HD Rumble isn't just used for collision/shot feedback; depending on your control and screen configurations, there are different virtual bounding boxes that determine how far the Harrier can move around the edges of the screen, and the HD rumble implementation lets you subtly feel the peripherals of the playfield.


Yakuza Remastered Collection (or at least one part of it)

  • Platform: PlayStation 4 (worldwide outside of Japan)
  • Price: $59.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Sega

What's this? The first step in the surprise rollout of remastered mainline PS3 Yakuza titles, starting with the only one that's quite old enough to qualify for Retronauts coverage, 2009's Yakuza 3; this version runs at 60FPS and in 1080p resolution and features a revised localization, including a new localization for several of the ultra-Japanese side events that were controversially cut from the western PS3 release, including the hostess club side-events, mahjong and shogi and other assorted sub-stories. (The package will be updated to include Yakuza 4 and Yakuza 5 in October and February, respectively, with a retail release also scheduled for February 2020; individual remasters are not available for standalone purchase.)

Why should I care? If you jumped on the Yakuza bandwagon with and have been buying each new release since then this package will finally catch you up with everything you missed, and if you're a Yakuza veteran then you probably don't need to be told that Yakuza 3 in particular is a game that really warranted a second localization.

Useless fact: Answer x Answer, the quiz game that was among the more notable features cut from the western release, is now missing from all versions of the remaster, which is perhaps attributable to the fact that it was a complete pain in the ass no matter the language.


Game Center Love! + Pengo

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
  • Price: ¥5800
  • Publisher: Mebius / Triangle Service

What's this? A collection of arcade-borne odds-and-ends from one-man shooting game developer Triangle Service, released during the '00s and first compiled for X360 in 2012; in addition to action- and shooting-themed "skills tests" and the caravan shooter CombatZeal, this collection most notably includes a home port of the eight-player remake of Sega and Coreland's 1982 action-maze game, Pengo. (No, it doesn't include the "Popcorn" music. Y'all know how it be.)

Why should I care? Not to be dismissive of the other games in this package but I'd say you'd really, really have to like Pengo. (The retail release was produced in tiny quantities for licensing reasons, so if you do in fact really, really like Pengo, consider importing a copy while you still can.

Helpful tip: If you're solely interested in the non-Pengo portion of this package, you can grab Arcade Love as a standalone on Steam for quite a bit cheaper than the + Pengo version.


JagSD from RetroHQ

  • Platform: Atari Jaguar (Jag CD must be unattached)
  • Price: £140.00
  • Delivery time: ETA 6-8 weeks

After years of planning, RetroHQ's Saint has finally finished work on the Jaguar SD, the first player-friendly Jaguar flashcart — simply drag and drop all your desired Jaguar cartridge ROMs and/or homebrew onto a properly-formatted SD card and you're good to go. Just think... Ultra Vortek, Fight for Life and Kasumi Ninja, all at one's fingertips! (Jaguar CD support is not present but is a tentatively hopeful prospect.)


Cotton X68000 reservations at BEEP Shop 

  • Platform: Sharp X68000 (3.5" or 5" disk)
  • Price: ¥13,800 + tax & shipping
  • Availability: until September 1, shipping begins September 17

The renowned Japanese gaming store BEEP recently announced a move into game publishing, starting with an enhanced release of the Sharp X68000 version of the cult shooting game Cotton for consoles and PC; what's more, they're also reissuing their touched-up version for genuine X68000 hardware on both 3.5" and 5" floppy disks, complete with the customary Cotton-themed yunomi teacup. Due to recent server errors that made the initial order very difficult to facilitate, they've opened up a second batch of orders until September 1, with a specific order form for overseas purchasers


Metal Gear Solid vinyl by Mondo

  • Format: vinyl (2xLP)
  • Price: $35
  • Availability: TBD

The MGS vinyl previewed at San Diego Comic-Con went up for general purchase several hours ago and what do you know, it's already close to being sold out — the standard black vinyl option is completely out of stock, with only the "green smoke" variant still available for order as of this writing.