Retro Re-release Roundup, week of June 11, 2020
Bury itch.io with your money.
A quick addendum to this week's roundup: there may or may not be a PC port of Persona 4 Golden arriving on Steam on the weekend, but until they announce it, I can't promise it, and it seems like Sega's not going to announce it until it's already out, so until that does or doesn't happen, have fun with Sunset Riders! Y'know what, do that either way.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Konami
What's this? A cartoony gun-slinging romp through the wild west, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Konami in 1991, with conversions for Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo in 1992 and 1993, respectively; players pick one of four bounty hunters and shoot (and occasionally horse-ride) across eight stages in search of bounties, in a manner very similar to Contra with a touch of Namco's Rolling Thunder. (The Arcade Archives release includes both 2-player and 4-player versions of the Japanese and US ROMs; aside from the regional language differences, the 2-player version lets each player freely choose their character whereas the 4-player version locks each character to a different controller a la TMNT.)
Why should I care? Sunset Riders is an action-packed, unabashedly silly (and, it must be said, occasionally racist) and, by Konami's standards, uncharacteristically fair game and one that's never seen a home release in its original form before, and of the hundred games now available via Arcade Archives, I'm tempted to declare Sunset Riders the single best choice when it comes to casual, pick-up-and-play couch co-op.
Useless fact: Sunset Riders' cattle stampede setpiece was homaged in the now-unavailable WiiWare game Contra ReBirth, albeit with robotic alpacas in place of bulls.
- Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $9.99 or equivalent (10% off until June 25)
- Publisher: City Connection / Zerodiv
What's this? The prettier and more advanced sequel to Psikyo's fantastical vertical shooting game, released in arcades in 1998, ported to Sega Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 and adapted several times for smartphones; as with all the recent Psikyo PC ports, this version is derived from the recent Switch ports (which themselves are a hodgepodge of elements from previous conversions), with the addition of online leaderboards and button mapping.
Why should I care? Gunbird 2 was arguably the first game to show off the true potential of Psikyo's second-generation arcade hardware and while it veers into bullet hell territory, it's not quite as ruthless as other later-era Psikyo games — on the first loop, anyway — so it's a good starting point for less seasoned players.
Useless fact: This latest version allows you to toggle the final boss' appearance between the altered version used for previous ports or the original design as seen in arcades, which was a blatant rip-off of the famous mascot of the Japanese pharmacy chain Sato.
- Platform: PC via Epic Store (worldwide)
- Price: free until 11AM Eastern, June 18; standard price $39.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: SNK / Digital Eclipse
What's this? An emulated collection of all five-and-change mainline Neogeo entries in SNK's venerable fighting game series, Samurai Shodown, originally released between 1993 and 2005; this collection, developed by the Digital Eclipse team responsible for Capcom's Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, includes online play with rollback netcode, save states, various visual options, an extensive museum filled with official artwork, developer documents and interviews and other video content, and a music player with other 200 tracks spanning the series, capped off with the first ever release of a barely-seen and unsanctioned revision to Samurai Shodown V Special, now officially endorsed and playable worldwide. (Thanks to Epic, you're looking at a staggered release schedule: it'll hit Steam next week, and consoles next month.)
Which games are included? This collection includes both the English and Japanese Neogeo MVS versions of all six Samurai Shodown games — OG Samsho, II, III, IV, V and its revision V Special — with online play available for the English versions only. Additionally, this collection also includes both the Japanese version and a freshly-translated and online-enabled version of the never-released update to Samsho V Special titled Samurai Shodown V Perfect, which adds story content and minor bugfixes. (For those completely unaware, the recent Samsho game is entry #7, so there's only one game missing between this collection and the newest game.)
Why should I care? First off, it's free right now, so you don't need to care that much. Secondly, this collection includes a pair of stone-cold classics (Samsho II and VSP) and an unearthed rarity with the promise of a newly-populated online playerbase, so even if you've recently bought any or all of these games in some other configuration, this may be your best opportunity to actually play against other people. Lastly, Digital Eclipse's museums are rightfully praised for their breadth and volume and from what little I've seen, they've reached a new standard of quality with this one, so I don't doubt many of you could be satisfied without ever touching any of the games. (Do touch the games, though.)
Useless fact: The emulator developed for this collection uses a clever 4k supersampling trick, similar to that seen in recent emulators like bsnes, to allow for massively smoother and less artifacted sprite scaling than was possible on Neogeo hardware, if that's something you desire. (This feature won't be an option on Switch, by the by.)
DISCOUNTS & DEALS
- Platform: PC via itch.io (worldwide)
- Price: pay-what-you-want, $5 minimum
- Availability: ends June 16
All the traditional would've-been-E3 summer sales are kicking off right now and feature all the classic games you bought a hundred times over, so here's a sale that really matters: itch.io's Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, a fundraising drive that's closing in on five million dollars raised for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Community Bail Fund. Pitching in above the minimum will grant you access to roughly 1,500 games, bundles and other software from across the indie scene; I know for a fact that there's at least one decades-old game in there, and that most of these games will be decades old by the time you're able to play them, so you have no excuses. (If you'd like to easily sift through the massive volume of games for something that fits your tastes, this site has you covered.)
For everyone who thinks Ty the Tasmanian Tiger is a little too polished, Tate Multimedia has your back.