Retro Re-release Roundup, week of May 28, 2020

Bullet-dodging and air conditioning, together at last.

I'd be remiss if I didn't preface this week's roundup with these three points: one, Xenoblade Chronicles isn't quite old enough for this week's remaster to warrant a formal mention, but let's not pretend that matters; two, Nintendo of America says the Darius Cozmic Collections Arcade and Console are due out today, but I'll believe 'em when I see 'em; and three, the creator of Custom Robo is back with a new 3D customizable robot fighting game and it's called Synaptic Drive and it has online play and why is nobody talking about this


Crazy Climber 2

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

What's this? The long-awaited sequel to Nichibutsu's 1980 arcade hit, released in Japanese arcades in 1988; the distinctive dual-stick climbing mechanics (mapped to both analogs by default) have returned, and the game's visuals, now heavily Americana-themed, have been upgraded to contemporary standards.

Why should I care? You always wished the original Crazy Climber was roughly eighty times more difficult.

Useless fact: Nichibutsu did attempt an earlier arcade sequel to Crazy Climber but, for whatever reason, it was shelved; the PlayStation version of the Nichibutsu compilation Nichibutsu Arcade Hits contains a port of this unreleased game (dubbed Crazy Climber '85) alongside two other purportedly unreleased arcade game ports, but the veracity of these games is of some dispute with Nichibutsu fanatics.

Radical Radial

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

What's this? A vertically-scrolling shooting game starring a... sentient tire?, distributed in arcades by Nichibutsu in 1982; players are tasked with shooting, jumping and accelerating their way through three stage types: an entry stage with flying enemies and rocks, a road-based stage packed with vehicles and a bonus stage that challenges the player to grab as many point pickups as possible.

Why should I care? I can almost guarantee you'll never see this game reissued anywhere ever again (unless Sony forgets to put the game up in one region or another, which they do pretty much every week).

Useless fact: The original arcade game features a fairly blatant rendition of KISS' "I Was Made For Lovin' You", and I can only presume the Arcade Archives release has not removed it.


Thunder Force AC

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide outside of Japan)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Sega

What's this? A rare home-to-arcade System C2 conversion of Technosoft's popular Mega Drive shooting game Thunder Force III, originally distributed in arcades in late 1990 and later ported to Sega Saturn as part of the Japan-only Thunder Force Gold Pack 2; in addition to the typical Sega Ages embellishments (Japan/world ROMs, online leaderboards and replays, screen and border settings, HD rumble, button remapping and a virtual cabinet display), this version adds newly-implemente stereo audio and the less-difficult "Kids Mode" from the Gold Pack version and also adds three extra playable ships: two versions of Thunder Force IV's Rynex ship (with or without the mid-game Thunder Sword upgrade), as well as a "mass product" version of TFIII/AC's Styx that includes the little mechanical additions made for the version present in the Saturn Gold Pack and the previous Sega Ages version of Thunder Force IV.

Why should I care? Thunder Force III's immaculate pacing, rockin' music and relatively mild difficulty made it a series and genre favorite in its day, with the arcade remix adding just enough extra kick to excite familiar players without significantly upsetting the original game's breezy balance, and the Sega Ages version's extra ships, which have been tuned with scoring in mind, significantly up the replay value.

Helpful tip: Here's a quick list of what's actually different about Thunder Force AC, off the top of my head: two of the stages have been completely replaced, the initial stage select has been ditched for a fixed route, the music has been rearranged owing to the arcade board's different audio hardware, autofire was removed (but can be reimplemented in this version), enemy and item placement have been adjusted, a rank (dynamic difficulty) system has been implemented, the system voice is different and, for whatever reason, the status bar has moved from the top to the bottom of the screen.


Bioshock: The Collection

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $49.99 / €49.99 / £39.99
  • Publisher: Take-Two Interactive

What's this? A compilation of all three games in Irrational Games and 2K Marin's narrative-laden first-person shooter series, with the first two being remastered with questionable (by people who care about Bioshock games, so I have no idea what these questions may be).

Why should I care? You're happy to pay fifty bucks to scoff at what passed for subversive AAA gaming in 2007.

Helpful tip: You can buy any of these games individually off the eShop for $20 a pop; additionally, if you do buy the collection at retail, you're still going to need to download roughly 31GB of content to play everything you paid for.

Borderlands: Legendary Collection

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $49.99 / €49.99 / £39.99
  • Publisher: Take-Two Interactive

What's this? The first three games in Gearbox's influential and omnipresent multiplayer loot-shooter series, available on the go (with better performance than Borderlands 2 on Vita, presumably).

Why should I care? Whatever taste I had for lootin' has long since dried up, so you'll have to tell me.

Helpful tip: Again, you can buy these games individually for $20 a pop, and if you buy the retail collection you're looking at a 42GB download before it's playable.

F-117A Stealth Fighter (NES)

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $4.99 / €4.99 / £4.49 (€2.99 / £2.69 until June 18)
  • Publisher: UFO interactive / Retroism

What's this? The NES coversion of MicroProse's popular turn-of-the-'90s flight simulator, dumped on Switch with, as far as I'm aware, no enhancements or changes save for a screen border.

Why should I care? I'd love to have an answer for you but I've never tried this version and I suspect its competency as a flight simulator may be, um, insufficient.

Helpful tip: This version of Stealth Fighter also hit Steam last week to zero fanfare, and there was a further seven-game MicroProse dump on GOG just a couple days ago, if giving money to GOG is your thing.

Game Tengoku CruisinMix Special

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide outside of Japan)
  • Price: $29.99 / €24.89 / £22.39
  • Publisher: City Connection

What's this? The deluxe port of Jaleco's obnoxiously silly all-star crossover shooting game, released in arcades in 1995, remixed for Sega Saturn in 1997 and remade and ported for PC and modern consoles since 2017; this Switch release includes all the free and paid DLC enhancements released for previous versions as standard, including the crossover ship from the classic Toaplan game Tatsujin/Truxton.

Why should I care? You have a Truxton itch that you're willing to scratch by any means necessary, and you haven't already bought this game multiple times over the past year or two.

Unhelpful tip: I have no idea about what is or isn't going on with the physical version of this game that went up for order eight months ago, and if I were you I'd give up waiting.

Strikers 1945-II (May 29)

  • Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $29.99 or equivalent (20% off until June 6)
  • Publisher: City Connection

What's this? The second and most popular entry in Psikyo's no-nonsense series of vertical shooting games, originally released in arcades in 1997 and subsequently remixed for Neogeo, Sega Saturn, PlayStations 1, 2 and Portableand multiple permutations of mobile phone; this version is based on the recent Switch port and now features a button config and online leaderboards.

Why should I care? If you're only fleetingly familiar with the Strikers series and vaguely remember seeing or touching one of these games at some point, it was probably this one, or derived from this one.

Helpful tip: SEX may be a kacho-approved high score entry but it is most certainly not a Psikyo-approved option.


Grandia & Noriyuki Iwadare tribute album vinyl from Wayo Records

  • Formats: CD, vinyl LP
  • Price: from 30€ to 67€
  • Publisher: Wayo Records

Not only is Wayo Records offering up the soundtrack to Game Arts' recently-remastered Grandia, they're also throwing in the first-ever reissue of the official arrange soundtrack Vent for both the CD and vinyl versions, as well as a brand-new arranged soundtrack that pays tribute to composer Noriyuki Iwadare's long and illustrious career, drawing from his work on Grandia, Lunar, Langrisser and more. Wayo's also selling another one of them there music boxes, because every label needs a gimmick.