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

SaGas retold, empires reborn.

I fully expect everyone's excited, if not more than a little trepidatious, to play the hot new monster-catching RPG everyone's arguing about, but rest assured: even if that game doesn't manage to provide the next-generation experience you've been waiting for, you can always fall back to the new Pokemon game!


Yie Ar Kung Fu

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

What's this? Konami's first foray into the one-on-one martial arts genre, originally released in 1985; players control the martial artist Lee against a motley assortment of kung fu movie flunkies, using the then-innovative control method of combining directional inputs with punch or kick buttons to perform unique attacks.

Why should I care? Figuring out the AI patterns for each opponent remains simple fun, and if you grew up with the NES or microcomputer conversions you'll get to see a ton of opponents who were left out of the ports.

Helpful tip: This is an alternating two-player game only -- in other words, each player takes turns fighting the CPU, there's no two-player versus mode.


Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition

  • Platform: PC via Steam, Microsoft Store & Humble Store (worldwide)
  • Price: $19.99 / €19.99 / £14.99; included with Xbox Game Pass
  • Publisher: Xbox Game Studios

What's this? A new and more extensive remaster of Microsoft and Ensemble Studios' 1999 real-time strategy classic; whereas 2013's Age of Empires II HD essentially adapted the original game for modern hardware with minimal changes, Definitive Edition includes brand-new high-definition visuals optimised all the way to 4K, remastered music, the option to play against a dramatically revised and improved AI, a heavily customisable UI and native streaming support, as well as all previous expansion content (including the new content from AoEIIHD) and a brand new expansion pack titled The Age of Kahns

Why should I care? You want to (re)play the best base-building RTS of all time and you can spare the five hundred hours it'll take you to burn through the massive amount of content contained in this pack.

Helpful tip: The combination of the increased max unit count, the new AI and pathfinding routines and the new visuals means this version may have unexpected performance issues on even relatively recent hardware, so be prepared to turn down a lot of the fancy graphical settings off the bat.

Romancing SaGa 3

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, iOS, Android, PC via Steam and Windows 10 (worldwide)
  • Price: $28.99 / €31,99 / £27.99 (20% until December 1 on Switch, December 4 elsewhere)
  • Publisher: Square-Enix

What's this? The third and final Super Famicom SaGa game, originally released in Japan in 1995 and officially localized for the first time with this remaster; this entry retained and refined the "open scenario" game structure and idiosyncratic character levelling from its predecessor (itself remastered & localized in 2017) and adds some surprisingly in-depth sub-systems including stock trading and large-scale battles, with the remaster adding a few niceties like a new game+ option and a new dungeon alongside enhanced art, audio and UI.

Why should I care? For one, SaGa seems to be the one 2D-era Square series that's able to be competently remastered, so there's always that reason. Beyond that, RomSaGa 3 has a more concrete narrative and fewer punitive mechanical countermeasures than its predecessor, so it's a perfect entrypoint to a series that's inexplicably getting a concerted western push after well over a decade's absence.

Useless fact: RomSaGa 3 happens to be a prequel to the mobile gacha game SaGa Re;universe, which has been running in Japan for some time and will be launching worldwide next year.


Asobi no Oto vol.0 remix record from Bandai-Namco

  • Format: vinyl (2LP)
  • Price: £$29.99
  • Availability: ships March 2020

Bandai-Namco has launched a new initiative called "ASOBINOTES" that aims to bridge their classic music with broader pop culture, and their first project is a record features tunes and remixes from Namco games both classic and obscure — if you ever wanted to own Muscle March tunes on vinyl, this might be your one and only opportunity to make that dream a reality.

Resident Evil Code Veronica and Resident Evil 0 vinyl by Laced Records

  • Format: vinyl (12")
  • Price: £33.00
  • Availability: ships January 2020

Another Halloween near-miss, these Resident Evil series vinyls come in standard black and limited-edition coloured variants and begin shipping in January 2020, and I'd love to be able to recommend them but upon reflection, I don't remember a single note from either game.


Simon Belmont Smash amiibo

  • Price: $15.99 or equivalent
  • Availability: November 15

The legendary vampire hunter has finally been immortalised in a form befitting his legacy, a modestly-priced NFC figurine of dubious utility. (Richter's not due out until early next year, Rondo junkies.)