Retro Re-release Roundup, week of November 21, 2019
Rejoin the hunt!
Never let it be said that SNK doesn't learn from their mistakes: not only is SNK's latest plug-and-play offer significantly higher emulation quality and slightly more utility than the Neogeo Mini but the current game lineup does not include Top Players Golf, meaning the inclusion of Neo Turf Masters remains a distinct possibility.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Irem
What's this? An underwater military-themed shooter for one or two players, developed and distributed in arcades by Irem in 1993 and ported to PlayStation and Saturn in 1995; the player controls a submarine with horizontally and vertically-aligned shots, with several atypical game systems including a degree of player-controlled scrolling and restricted movement based on the amount and flow of water on screen at any given moment. (The Arcade Archives version contains both the overseas ROM and the Japanese ROM, titled Kaitei Daisensou, the primary difference being an altered stage order.)
Why should I care? In The Hunt was often bootlegged as "Underwater Metal Slug" and while that moniker's a little reductive, it's not entirely misleading; the team behind this game would later go independent and develop Metal Slug for SNK, and the visual similarities in particular are hard to miss.
Helpful tip: This game has multiple endings that change depending on whether credits are used and/or reaching the end of the game with one or two players, and in true Irem fashion, a lot of them are quite dark and the path to the "best" ending may not necessarily require the most skillful play.
PLUG-AND-PLAY & REPLICA HARDWARE
- Price: $129.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: SNK
What's this? SNK's latest plug-and-play product, following 2018's miniature arcade cabinet, the Neogeo Mini. This product takes the form of a fully-sized 8-button arcade stick pre-loaded with 20 Neogeo games which can be played directly on your TV or monitor via HDMI out, powered by USB; additionally, the Arcade Pro can also be used as an external controller for PC, Android devices and (via adapter) Neogeo Mini, and it also allows Neogeo Mini controllers to be connected for two-player action. (The unit also has an 3.5mm headphone jack, as well as an external USB port that currently serves no purpose.)
Which games are included? The 20 included games are all fighting games: King of Fighters '95, '97, '98. '99, 2000 and 2002, Fatal Fury Special, Fatal Fury 3 and Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Samurai Showdown II, III IV and V Special, World Heroes 2, Jet and Perfect, Art of Fighting, Ninja Master's, The Last Blade 2 and Kizuna Encounter; these are the Japanese ROMs, many but not all of which can be changed to other language from the in-game settings menu. Interestingly, intrepid modders have already found 20 additional titles present in the software; SNK has teased "hidden" titles but the precise method of unlocking them has not yet been revealed, and there's no reason to believe they won't require an additional purchase. (You can find the list of uncovered games here.)
Why should I care? The emulation and image quality looks to have improved significantly over than of the Neogeo Mini, and while the individual components don't offer much value for money — the current software library is much stingier than need be, and the stick itself uses cheap, albeit easily replaceable, clone parts — the unit's external functionality that makes the price a little easier to swallow.
Helpful tip: The unit does not come with a HDMI cable nor an AC adapter, so be prepared to supply your own — long ones, too, seeing as the unit is also the controller.
iOS & ANDROID
- Platform: iOS devices (worldwide)
- Price: $4.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Tozai / Irem
This XBLA-borne remake of R-Type I & II certainly has legs, as it's recently found a way to PC, PS4, Switch and now phones — and at a significantly lower price, albeit with the customary control compromises that seem particularly ill-suited to a game as exacting as this one.
Twin Cobra (Kyuukyoku Tiger) Classic
- Platform: iOS, Android (worldwide)
- Price: free with in-app purchases
- Publisher: Mobirix / Tatsujin corp.
Hot off the heels of Truxton Classic comes another emulated mobile conversion of a classic Toaplan arcade shooter, this time the tried-and-true helicopter game Twin Cobra. Once again, the difficulty has been artificially lowered in order to encourage the purchase of more authentic difficulty options, and the introduction of drag-based touch controls breaks the game balance even further, but free's free.
SORT OF OLD, I GUESS
Bubble Bobble 4 Friends featuring the original arcade Bubble Bobble
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Europe)
- Price: €39.99 / £35.99
- Publisher:ININ Games / Taito
A genuinely new (albeit a very traditional) Bubble Bobble has merit all its own, but I mention it here because it includes an emulated version of the classic arcade game, which has been reissued as a standalone Arcade Archives titles on PS4 but continues to elude Switch, and I suspect it may continue to do so for the foreseeable future, so buying this new game may be your only means of obtaining a version for Switch.
DISCOUNTS & DEALS
European Nintendo "Cyber Deals" sale
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Europe)
- Discounts up to 70% off over 100 games until December 1
- Publisher: various
Nintendo of Europe's big holiday-season sale includes big discounts on quite a few classic games and collections, including Capcom's Street Fighter, Mega Man, Mega Man X and Beat 'em Up collections, Konami's Arcade, Castlevania and Contra Anniversary Collections, SNK 40th Anniversary Collection and several Sega Ages releases (Sonic, Alex Kidd, Phantasy Star, Virtua Racing, Wonder Boy in Monster Land).