Retro Re-release Roundup, week of April 23, 2020

Mahjong, Mana and mobile misery.

Will the third time be the charm for the Mana series? Square's tossed out tepidly-received 3D remakes of their first two Seiken Densetsu games and for reasons known only to them, they've forged ahead with yet another budget remake, albeit one with a little more ambition. One has to wonder how many more chances the Mana series might realistically be given... but on the other hand, I think somebody's echoed similar sentiments after literally every Mana game of the last twenty years, and yet here we are.


Tube Panic

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

What's this? A pseudo-3D sci-fi shooting game, developed and distributed in arcades by Nichibutsu in 1984. Tube Panic's stages are broken into three phases: a conventional forward-scrolling phase, a tube-based phase in which the entire stage rotates left or right to simulate the player moving inside a tube, and a docking phase in which the player has to their spacecraft aboard the mothership.

Why should I care? Tube Panic is widely credit as the first Japanese arcade game to use hardware rotation for sprites, and while the rotating stages in particular are more fun to look at than to  play, it's not hard to see this game as the evolutionary link between earlier pseudo-3D arcade  games like Buck Rogers and later, more celebrated games like Space Harrier.

Useless fact: Tube Panic's graphics were drawn by Shigeki Fujiwara, a man who'd later go on to refine Hudson's Bomberman series into the cute pop-chic party game the world knows and loves to this day.


Ai to Roudou no Hibi ("Days of Love & Labor") 

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
  • Price: ¥500
  • Publisher: G-MODE

What's this? A surreal work-simulator starring a salaryman bear who's grinding out his last month of work in order to finance a happy life, originally released for Japanese cellphones in 2006; the bear's job consists of rolling balls around isometric stages and into holes, with better performance giving the bear more money to spend on luxury items, up to and including literally buying a loving family.

Why should I care? You can read Japanese, because this game's all about the somewhat dark narrative and isn't particularly interesting without it.

Useless fact: I still have no idea if I'm wasting my time writing about these releases, but at least I'm enjoying it.


Super Real Mahjong LOVE 2~7!

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
  • Price: ¥5,980 (standard edition) / ¥7,980 (special edition) / ¥14,980 (limited edition)
  • Publisher: City Connection / Mighty Craft

What's this? A Japan-only, retail-only collection containing ports of six games from the erotic mahjong series Super Real Mahjong, made famous in Japanese arcades and elsewhere by SETA Corporation in the 1990s; in addition to the standard release, there's also a special edition that comes with a collection of replica arcade flyers and other material, and a limited-edition package that includes a box set of new editions of the collectible "mamemoto" fan books distributes in arcades back in the day.

Which games are included? This collection includes the previously-released ports of Super Real Mahjong PV, PVI and P7, and also includes ports of Super Real Mahjong PII, PIII and PIV that were specifically sourced from a previous Sega Saturn compilation and will not be made available digitally. (These versions do feature some silly and conspicuous censorship edits; please don't complain to me like it's my fault or that I should be bothered by it, because it's not and I ain't.)

Why should I care? Super Real Mahjong was at the forefront of Japanese erotic arcade game subculture and the series' Saturn ports played a major role in Sega of Japan's attempt to position their console as the adult alternative to the PlayStation, so these games genuinely warrant curation for reasons beyond mere titillation. (This collection's also bound to be worth a pretty penny before long, I'd wager.)

Useless fact: You may be wondering why the original Super Real Mahjong game isn't included, and the answer's quite simple: the first game sold itself on recreating the "super real" atmosphere of a genuine mahjong match and does not feature the series' trademark erotic elements; it was also a flop, so the sequel essentially recycled the content of the first game with the addition of the erotic elements that would become the series' drawcard, meaning there simply isn't a lot of demand for the OG.

Trials of Mana (remake, out April 24) 

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC (worldwide)
  • Price: $49.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Nintendo

What's this? A 3D remake of the third game in Square's Mana series of fantasy action-RPGs, originally released exclusively for the Super Famicom in 1995 (as Seiken Densetsu 3).and finally officially localized for international audiences as Trials of Mana about a year ago; this remake somewhat controversially eschews the original game's multiplayer component in favor of a fully-3D single-player experience rendered via Unreal Engine 4 that utilizes a modern action combat system and a dynamic camera but largely maintains the same world design, structure and plot as the original game.

Why should I care? You feel it's about time Square's long overdue to remake one of their beloved '90s RPGs for modern audiences. (For real: there's a demo, try it: I did, and the impression I got is that they learned their lesson from the Secret of Mana remake and knew better than to adhere to dated mechanics for the sake of faithfulness.)

Helpful tip: If you pre-load Trials of Mana on Switch you'll be eligible for a 70% discount on the classic Seiken Densetsu three-pack Collection of Mana, which puts it at about $12.

Yakuza Kiwami

  • Platform: Xbox One (worldwide)
  • Price: $19.99 or equivalent, available via Xbox Game Pass
  • Publisher: Sega

What's this? The original adventure of the impossibly virtuous yakuza Kazuma Kiryu, originally released for PlayStation 2 in 2004 and recently remade for PlayStation 4 and PC on the foundations of 2015's Yakuza 0; aside from the obvious visual upgrades, Kiwami carries over 0's system of multiple fighting styles and features a revised and re-recorded story that closes a few plotholes and ties it more closely to its prequel.

Why should I care? Whether Kiwami's best played before or after Yakuza 0 is the subject of some debate but these games are being ported and remade at an alarming rate so if you've not jumped on the train, Yakuza Kiwami offers an easy and relatively brisk introduction to the absurd macho melodrama of Kamurocho. (Yakuza 0 also hit Xbox a few weeks ago, in case you missed it.)

Helpful tip: "Kiwami" means EXTREME, in case you hadn't heard.


Star Wars Jedi Outcast & Jedi Academy (PS4/Switch/PC) boxed editions from Limited Run Games

  • Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC (worldwide)
  • Price: $29.99 (Jedi Outcast)  / $34.99 (Jedi Academy) / $59.99 (double-pack) / $74.99 (individual collectors' packs) / $599.99 (mega bundle)
  • Availability: from 10AM & 6PM,Eastern, April 24

I'm just so tired of all these Star Wars.


NeoPocket GameDrive from Stone Age Gamer

  • Platform: Neo Geo Pocket, Neo Geo Pocket Color
  • Price: $94.99 (basic edition) / $106.99 (deluxe edition)
  • Availability: COVID19 Time ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Available in MVS, AES or traditional NGPC aesthetic variants, Stone Age Gamer's new Neo Geo Pocket flashcart does everything you'd expect it to do: it plays the full library with full link functionality and battery backup, with storage and quick loading to flash via micro-SD. The deluxe version comes with a case and other items, while the standard version is cartridge-only.

Virtual-On Twin Stick (PlayStation 4) general-order run from Sanwa Denshi

  • Price: ¥55,000
  • Availability: from 12:00 April 24 to June 1 Japan time

Are you ready to drop half a grand on a deluxe controller used exclusively with a collection of Japan-only arcade ports and its delisted-due-to-licensing-issues anime-crossover sequel? Me neither, and it hurts.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC character merch leak at TheYetee

  • Price: from $14
  • Availability: sale ends midnight April 24

I wouldn't usually post anything concerning such a modern game, but who am I to resist such a scoop?