Retro Re-release Roundup, week of January 30, 2020
The beat goes on, give or take half a second.
This space would usually be reserved for some pithy quip about the week's releases but Blizzard's utter botching of Warcraft III Reforged defies all conversation. Just... like... how?!
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Koei-Tecmo
What's this? The first in a long line of Tecmo-branded American football games, released in arcades in 1987 with an eye-catching two-monitor cabinet and later adapted for NES to massive success; unlike the home version, you're restricted to two generic 10-man teams with no player or league licenses and a relatively limited set of tactical options, but you can at least play with up to three other people.
Why should I care? While the original version lacks a lot of the nuance injected into the home version and subsequent sequels, Tecmo Bowl was the first video game to visually capture the over-the-top pageantry of American football, and it's commendable that a Japanese team were the first to do it.
Helpful tip: The NES version (sans player names) is available as part of Nintendo Switch Online, in case you forgot.
PLAYSTATION PORTABLE REMASTERS ON PS4
- Platform: PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $14.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Sony
What's this? The middle child of the PSP's quirky "command carnival" series of side-view rhythm-controlled strategy games, developed by Japanese studio Pyramid and published by Sony in 2009; much like previous PSP-on-PS4 remasters (which include the original Patapon among their ranks), this version displays at 1080p on PS4 & 4K on PS4 Pro. (First accounts suggest it's also afflicted by one of PSP-on-PS4's less appealing recurring features, severe display/audio lag.)
Why should I care? If you've never played a Patapon game, this is the one to start and end with: it's a very iterative sequel that irons out most of the flaws of the original and adds all the content you could ever want, and it's not bogged down with the grind-heavy, multiplayer-encouraged nonsense that plagued its successor.
Useless fact: Patapon 2's legacy is intertwined with that of Sony's digital game distribution history in a couple of ways — the original North America release of Patapon 2 saw Sony experimenting with a download-only, code-in-a-box rollout, and the Japanese version was one of the "apology" games offered to Asian users whose PSN accounts were breached in the wide-reaching Sony hacks of 2011.
- Platform: PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $11.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Tozai Inc.
What's this? The most recent interpretation of the late Douglas E. Smith's classic action/puzzle series, originally released for PC in 2017 and on Switch a year later; this version, developed in Unity with design input from Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator Hirokazu Yasuhara, this version includes a new voxel-rendered art style, two-player co-op, an extensive stage and character editor and hundreds of themed pre-designed stages, including a 150-stage pack that recreates the original game.
Why should I care? Lode Runner's not a game that ever really needed to be screwed with, and this version (and every version over the past decade, more or less) wisely plays things pretty straight, with the biggest improvement being the integration and ease of level sharing.
Helpful tip: Both the Switch and PS4 versions of Lode Runner Legacy received limited-print physical releases late last year via Super Rare Games, should you want a boxed copy.
OH COME ON BLIZZARD
Warcraft III: Refunded
How'd you like to revisit Warcraft III with uglier cutscenes, worse connection speed, no local LAN support, no offline matches vs. AI, no clans or other community features, no custom campaigns or access to the vast majority of custom maps and a rewritten EULA that means Blizzard owns any custom content you might create? Not interested? Well joke's on you, Blizzard's forcibly replacing the original WCIII with the Reforged version via battlenet. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
ROMHACKS & FAN TRANSLATIONS
Format: .ips or .bps patch
Konami's 1992 SNES game Legend of the Mystical Ninja was the first and only of the four Super Famicom Ganbare Goemon games to make it overseas but now, after decades of waiting, entries 2 and 3 are wholly playable in English for the first time (and, thanks to the further assistance of others, the translation of Goemon 3 is now slur-free. What year is it, again?).
SOUNDTRACKS & VINYL
Romancing SaGa 2 Original Soundtrack Revival Disc from Square-Enix Music
- Format: bluray (1-disc)
- Price: ¥5500
- Availability: available
Square's SaGa anniversary love-in continues with a new entry in their curious "Revival Disc" video soundtrack series for what is arguably the most beloved of all SaGa games, the Super Famicom's Romancing SaGa 2. In addition to the video vignettes and bonus interview footage that accompanies the remastered music, this package also includes a digital version of the soundtrack that can be downloaded via home wi-fi network. (There's a "revival disc" coming for RomSaGa 3 too, just in case you were worried they wouldn't complete the set.)