Retro Re-Release Roundup, week of October 31, 2019
Toshihiro Nagoshi's masterwork returns, albeit not in the manner you'd hoped.
This Halloween update brings with it an omen of pure dread to any game enthusiast of a certain generation: the return of the son of the bride of the never-dying argument about which version of Aladdin is better, and may Satan himself claim my soul before I dedicate another second of my life to thinking about this topic.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Konami
What's this? A rudimentary side-scroller starring the Robin Hood-esque Japanese folk hero Ishikawa Goemon, released in arcades by Konami in 1986; technically a predecessor to the Legend of Mystical Ninja/Ganbare Goemon series, Mr. Goemon can be most obviously distinguished from its descendants by its unique kabuki-style graphics.
Why should I care? You want to experience a unique piece of Goemon history for no longer than ten minutes.
Helpful tip: The Switch version of Mr. Goemon includes a few additional features that weren't a standard part of the ACA line back when the PS4 came out, like a caravan mode, but these will be patched into the PS4 version in due time.
Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $29.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Disney / Nighthawk Interactive / Digital Eclipse
What're these? Two of the most popular movie games of the early '90s, developed by Virgin Games and Westwood Studios, respectively, in collaboration with Disney's own animators; this Digital Eclipse-helmed collection includes both games with save states, control and general game configs (including invulnerability toggles), in-game rewind, several in-depth display settings and an interactive replay viewer that allows players to take control of the game at any point, as well as a music player and an extensive museum containing making-of videos and a bevy of high-resolution concept art, developer documents and promotional material.
Which games are included? Aladdin and The Lion King, obviously, but let's break it down: Aladdin comes in Genesis, Game Boy, Super Game Boy and "Japanese" variants, whereas The Lion King offers the SNES, Genesis, Game Boy, Super Game Boy and "Japanese" versions of the game. Aladdin also include two noteworthy bonus offerings: a pre-release demo of the Genesis version, produced for the 1993 Consumer Electronics Show, and a "final cut" version of the Genesis game that offers a retuned experience with fixed and altered collision handling and camera behavior, bug fixes, boss and enemy adjustments, alterations to level design and more.
Why should I care? One of Digital Eclipse's stated goals has been to confront the baffling undercirculation of history's most popular games and this collection admirably presents these games with as much reverence as any nostalgic fan could hope for, while also making clear the limits of what one might realistically expect to show up in a collection focused on expensive, multi-pronged collaborations such as these.
Helpful tip: Owning the pre-existing (and now delisted) version of either game on Steam will give you a discount on the Steam version of this package, should you want to upgrade.
Resident Evil Triple Pack
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $59.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Cpapocm
What're these? The third-person Resident Evil action-horror trilogy — 2005's Resident Evil 4, 2009's Resident Evil 5 and the too-ridiculous-for-RE, too-recent-for-Retronauts Resident Evil 6 — all together in one package (or separately, if you don't mind being gouged). RE5 & 6's ports are derived from the recent PS4 versions and include a few small additional perks, like the inclusion of gyro aiming. (Demos exist for these games; mercifully, the final versions run a little better.)
Why should I care? These ports aren't without their shortcomings (bafflingly so, seeing as they've been ported ad infinitum and originated on much weaker hardware) but not only do they offer the most practical portable options for these games but the addition of gyro aiming makes for a suprisingly fresh experience — it's like breaking RE4 apart with Wiimote aiming, all over again.
Helpful tip: As per usual, only one of these games is present on the card, but at least they picked the right one. (Hint: it's the one without Chris Redfield.)
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (worldwide)
- Price: $39.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Sega
What's this? A Unity-powered remaster of the third and biggest-selling original mainline entry in Sega's simple but addictive 3D monkey-rolling game series, originally released as a Wii launch title in late 2007. Banana Blitz was perhaps most notable for its heavy-handed and mandatory integration of Wiimote controls into both the core game and the many, many tech-demo-esque minigames; this version completely eschews motion controls for traditional analogue inputs and retains enhanced versions of just 10 of the original 50 minigames, with the addition of a new time attack mode, online leaderboards, HD textures and a completely new HD UI, many broad and minor revisions to stage layouts in order to better accomodate the new input method, and a few unlockable characters, including good ol' Sonic the Hedgehog.
Why should I care? This isn't the remaster Monkey Ball fans were asking for, nor is a particularly representative entry even after the changes made for the remaster — this remains the one game in the mainline series that's designed around jumping as a core mechanic, which lends a distinctly different rhythm to the stages — but it's reasonably fun in a vacuum, and the difficulty level is much more relaxed than in prior entries. (If nothing else, it's the perfect test bed for a drifting joycon...)
Helpful tip: Almost every song from the original Banana Blitz has been replaced with older or brand-new songs due to licensing issues — there's no soundtrack toggle anywhere, the old tunes are simply absent.
HACKS & HOMEBREW
Xeno Crisis, available now on damn near everything
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam & GOG, Dreamcast, Neo Geo, Mega Drive
- Price: from $15
- Publisher: Bitmap Bureau
It's a little reductive to describe Xeno Crisis as "homebrew", seeing as it was developed simultaneously for modern hardware with the explicit aim of being sold commercially, but this Mega Drive-rooted, crowdfunded overhead run-and-gun is finally available on a wide handful of platforms and I imagine most of you will be particularly interested in the legacy console versions, which exist not just for Mega Drive but also for Neo Geo and Dreamcast, and which can be purchased not just as physical copies but in ROM/ISO format at a very affordable price.
MUSIC & MERCHANDISE
Ape Escape x Siren "SHIBISARU" crossover shirt from PlayStation Gear
- Price: $22.95
- Availability: now
Originally designed for Tokyo Game Show, this crossover shirt commemorates the 20th anniversary of both the Ape Escape and Siren franchises with a design by Siren Shibito designer Miki Takahashi. Could a new game be on the hori—oh, who am I kidding, it's just a shirt. A cool, cool shirt, signifying nothing.
Battletoads merch from Fangamer
- Items: shirt, pins, plush
- Price: from $10
- Availability: nowwww
I just think they're neat.
Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth vinyl by Ship To Shore Phono Co.
Format: vinyl LP
Availability: on sale noon Eastern October 31
You can't buy the game anymore, so why not buy the soundtrack? Konami's ReBirth series combined faux-arcade FM arranges with some very left-of-center track choices to provide interesting B-side soundtracks for the most hardcore fans, and now the Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth soundtrack is officially available outside of Japan for the first time in a variety of vinyl variants, including crystal-clear and red/black splatter, and liner notes by the eternal lord of darkness himself, Jeremy Parish.
Etrian Odyssey soundtracks on streaming services
All the Etrian Odyssey soundtracks you could possibly want — mainline games I through V, Untold 1 & 2, Etrian Mystery Dungeon and the Japan-only Etrian Mystery Dungeon 2 — are now available on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Streaming Unlimited, LINE and other, extremely Japanese music streaming services. (Etrian Odyssey Nexus' OST was already available, as it happens, so if you missed that one then you have one more to add to your playlist.)