Retro Re-release Roundup, week of May 7, 2020

Prepare to resharpen an old blade.

The highlight of this week's rather modest roundup is not a new reissue but an update to a previous reissue: namely, the rollback netcode update for SNK's weapons-based fighting The Last Blade 2, released years ago and updated this week by the fine folks at Code Mystics. This is the fourth such Neogeo game running this much-improved netcode, and this update brings the total number of currently-available classic fighting games with halfway-decent netcode to... four?



  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster / Nichibutsu

What's this? A horizontal shooter starring a ship that can be upgraded piece-by-piece into a battle robot, developed and distributed in arcades by Nichibutsu in 1985 and ported to NES and European microcomputers the following year; each stage is dived into above-ground and underground sections, with the above-ground sections displayed with a then-novel three-quarter-view perspective using line-scroll parallax. (For reference, think the angled floors from Street Fighter II.)

Why should I care? Nichibutsu's games of this era are known for their pioneering visual gimmicks and this is one such gimmick that didn't make it to any of the home ports, so this is the only place to get the true MagMax experience.

Useless fact: MagMax's Japanese arcade how-to-play card is notorious for featuring photos of a random lady in silver-chrome getup who seems to bear no relation whatsoever to the game.

Tube Panic

  • Platform: PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster / Nichibutsu

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.


Beach Volleyball Girl Shizuko

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

What's this? The first in a popular series of two-on-two all-girl beach volleyball games produced for Japanese mobile phones by G-MODE from 2007; as you defeat rival teams in the game's story mode, you'll unlock new moves and new swimsuits for your players.

Why should I care? The core action handles adequately for a mobile game of this vintage, and while the characters and dialogue are the obvious drawcard for this series, this first entry doesn't really contain any text-critical game systems.

Useless fact: The Beach Volleyball Girl Shizuko series was one of the earlier mobile hits for acclaimed game designer Masanobu Endou, who famously designed Xevious and Tower of Druaga during his time at Namco.


The Last Blade 2 rollback netcode update for PlayStation 4 and PC

The recent netcode update that rejuvenated the player base for Garou: Mark of the Wolves has officially been extended to The Last Blade 2 after an impromptu bout of quarantine-induced beta testing, so whether you've owned this version for years or you're just now becoming acquainted with SNK's back catalogue, now's the perfect time to jump in. (In case you missed it, this same netcode is already present in the Steam and PS4 versions of Samurai Shodown V Special and King of Fighters '97.)



  • Platform: Nintendo Famicom (cartridge)
  • Price: 13,200
  • Availability: on sale from 7PM Japan time, May 9

8 BIT MUSIC POWER and KIRAKIRA STAR NIGHT developer RIKI is back with his fourth (and possibly final) Famicom game: ASTRO NINJA MAN, a shooting game designed to max out the graphical capabilities of the Famicom, with the hardware's 64-sprite limit being pushed at almost every second. This game features music from chiptune veterans Manabu Namiki, Nobuyuki Shioda, Hiroro Saito and bun and, in response to the manufacturing issues that plagued previous releases, will be built using newly-designed and domestically-produced materials (hence the higher price).

LSD: Dream Emulator (PlayStation) translation patch by Mr.Nobody & Arcanearia

This new translation patch, largely sourced from the LSD fan wiki, translates the discoverable text entries and the modest amount of menu text present in Osamu Sato's infamously opaque "interactive dream diary", making the game approximately one iota less inscrutable. (This footage is from the unpatched Japanese version, in case that's not immediately obvious.)