Retro Re-Release Roundup, week of December 12, 2019
If you think I'm going to spend my time dumping on Frogger — Frogger! — then you are dead wrong. If you think I'm going to spend more than a couple minutes playing it again then you are also wrong, but it's okay because Frogger.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Konami
What's this? Konami's endlessly-imitated, dodge-centric arcade game, originally developed by Konami and distributed by Sega Gremlin in 1981; dodge traffic, hop on logs, y'all know how it do.
Why should I care? You feel bad about the Crossy Road devs snatching all the crumbs off poor Konami's plate and you want to show support for the little guy.
Useless fact: The arcade game's BGM was almost entirely lifted from popular songs and TV themes of the days, so very little of it remains intact in this reissue.
NINTENDO SWITCH ONLINE
NES & SNES NSO update for December 2019
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: free with NSO subscription
- Publishers: Nintendo, Capcom,SNK, Sunsoft
What're these? A few mainstays from the SNES Virtual Console era (Kirby Super Star, Super Punch-Out!! and Capcom's Breath of Fire II), a pair of cult classic NES games (SNK's action-RPG Crystalis and Sunsoft's totally-not-a-Terminator-reskin Journey to Silius) and the one famously unreleased SNES game that recently help move a zillion SNES Classic Minis, Starfox 2. (Over on the Japanese side, the NES games are replaced with two Famicom games, Nintendo's Famicom Wars and Sunsoft's Route-16 Turbo.)
Why should I care? Not only is every game in today's update a top-shelf title in the library of its respective system but the two NES games are ones that hardcore fans have been begging for since the earliest days of the Virtual Console, and the inclusion of Starfox 2 is a welcome confirmation that they weren't intending to release it exclusively via a seasonal plug-and-play toy.
Helpful tip: Given that Journey to Silius is a Sunsoft game and most Sunsoft NES games of a certain vintage sounded phenomenal, I'd be remiss if I didn't let you know how to access the sound test: on the title screen, hit the B button 33 times and press start. (You can also change the number of continues on this screen, if need be.)
- Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $12.99 or equivalent each, $19.99 or equivalent a a bundle
- Publishers: Majesco / Piko Interactive
What're these? A pair of Game Boy Advance shooting games by German demoscene flag-bearers Shin'en, with the first being a Game Boy Advance launch title and the second appearing two years later in 2003; both games share a clever use of pre-rendered 3D graphics and high-quality tracker-style music but their playstyle is quite different, with the original Iridion being a pseudo-3D sprite-scaling game and the sequel being a more traditional vertically-scrolling shooter with a slightly tilted perspective. (These PC releases look to be ROMs with spartan emulation, and Shin'en does not look to be directily involved with their re-release.)
Why should I care? You're still as capable of having your mind blown by pre-rendered animations and clever technical sleight-of-hand on an HD screen as you were on a handheld device in the early '00s, and you're content to accept style over substance.
Helpful tip: Shin'en co-founder and Iridion series composer Manfred Linzner released an arrangedi series compilation CD some years back, which you can preview and/or buy here.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
- Price: ¥3,619 (digital) / ¥4,200 (physical)
- Publishers: City Connection
What's this? A compilation of the Famicom entries in Jaleco's mostly-Japan-exclusive series of silly ninja action games, complete with an extensive sound test, a collection of developer documents and other materials from across the series and, perhaps most crucially, a new arcade-style game that boasts modern scoring systems, local 4-player multiplayer and a substantial amount of unlockable content, including dozens of characters from the series and the broader Jaleco stable. (There are many signs that point towards an overseas in the future but they've had months to announce it and have yet to do so, so for the time being let's assume no other option but to import.)
Which games are included? This collection includes six games: the 1985 arcade-action game Ninja JaJaMaru-Kun, the 1986 sidescroller JaJaMaru no Daibouken, the 1989 overhead RPG JaJaMaru: Ninpou Chou, the 1990 overhead action-RPG JaJaMaru Gekimaden and the 1991 action-platformer Ninja JaJaMaru: Ginga Daisakusen, plus a brand-new retro game in the vein of the original called JaJaMaru no Yokai Daisakusen. (To my knowledge, there is an English interface option but none of the classic games are translated.)
Why should I care? Tracing JaJaMaru-kun's journey from fad to fad is interesting, if not always intrinsically entertaining—for what it's worth, the original game and the final Mario 3/Mega Man wannabe are pretty okay—and the people at City Connection have proven form with being able to deliver boutique packages for games you mightn't think warrant them.
Helpful tip: A PlayStation 4 version of this collection was announced to launch day-and-date with the Switch version but it was delayed at the last second, hopefully not for long.
SOUNDTRACKS & VINYL
Mega Drive Mini -Celebration Album- by Wave Master
- Format: CD
- Price: ¥3000
- Availability: in stock now
Sega of Japan liked Yuzo Koshiro's Mega Drive Mini menu medleys so much that they've released it on CD, alongside several alternate hardware takes and eight brand-new modern arranges of tunes from games on the Mini by Kei Takanishi, the arranger associated with the classic gaming magazine BEEP. The CD is also getting a couple of deluxe packages via different retailers, including a t-shirt bundle from ebten and a version with an exclusive 2-track plexidisc from BEEP Shop. (By sheer coincidence, it's also being released on Yuzo Koshiro's birthday, so hippy birdy to him.)
Metal Gear NES & Metal Gear MSX2 vinyl by Mondo
- Format: vinyl (10")
- Price: $20 each
- Availability: ships in 7-10 days
Hideo Kojima famously detested the NES conversion of his beloved MSX2 stealth game and now you can too, by picking up both versions of the original Metal Gear soundtrack on vinyl from Mondo and derisively comparing the one to the other, or you can just grab the Metal Gear Solid vinyl reprint if that's more your speed. (If you don't know what a MSX2 sounds like, think Game Gear, Master System, Colecovision or Amstrad and you'll be in the general ballpark.)
Radiant Silvergun vinyl by Data Discs
- Format: vinyl (2LP)
- Price: £26.50
- Availability: ships January 13
Hitoshi Sakimoto's bombastic orchestral score was but one of the elements that established Treasure's Radiant Silvergun as a fiercly individual and ultimately respected puzzle-esque shooting game, and while the game itself is at the mercy of Treasure's health as a functioning studio, getting the music printed into a big ol' frisbee is a far more practical undertanking for whatever's left of Treasure. I'm almost more inclined to recommend it to people who've never played the game itself — it's a '90s Sakimoto soundtrack you might'nt have heard, and there aren't a ton of those out there.