Retro Re-release Roundup, week of June 18, 2020

I always wanted a thing called Wanpaku Graffiti!

This week's roundup sees two more entries in the ever-growing category of officially-sanctioned, hardware-accurate retro conversions — in this case, Namco's Pac-Man Championship Edition and Gaplus, which have been ported (or at least stewarded) by M2 to Famicom and included as bonus games for Namco's new NES/Famicom collections. What crazy game/platorm mashup might be next? Devil May Cry 64? Yakuza on Master System? Anything Game Boy on Nintendo Switch Online?


Vs. Baseball (June 19)

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

What's this? The Vs. Dual System conversion of Nintendo's black-box baseball game, distributed in arcades in 1984; in addition to requiring certain point thresholds to be exceeded in order to continue, Vs. Baseball's biggest new feature is the dual-perspective layout that adds a second behind-the-back angle for the pitcher.

Why should I care? The split perspective really does make games like these a little more intuitive, doesn't it? I mean, the fielders still suck, but what can ya do.

Helpful tip: Unlike some other Nintendo Vs. System sports games, Vs. Baseball's Japanese and North American versions were separate ROMs rather than dipswitch settings, and as of now I don't know if both versions are included here.


Naughty Boy

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

What's this? A maze-based action game of sorts, released in arcades by Jaleco in 1982. Players are tasked with controlling the titular naughty boy as he evades ghosts and monsters in his quest to throw rocks at castles for no discernible reason, with the distance of your rock-throw attack determined by the length of time the button is held before release.

Why should I care? When I posted about this game a few weeks ago, I declared it a pioneer of the hold-to-charge projectile system — thanks to some timely info from Kevin Bunch, I'm no longer confident that's the case, but I do stand by the statement that it's the one fun thing about Naughty Boy.

Useless fact: Naughty Boy was such an early game for Jaleco that it's still credited to "Japan Leisure Company" on the title screen.


Burnout Paradise Remastered (June 19)

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $49.99 / €49.99 / £44.99
  • Publisher: Electronic Arts

What's this? The 2018 remaster of Criterion's much-heralded open-world driving game, now ported to Switch with some small platform-specific features like pinch-gesture map control on the touchscreen.

Why should I care? If memory serves correct, the previous release of this remaster was pretty severely broken for a good while, and while EA is promising 60FPS optimization and all the rest for Switch, I wouldn't take them at their word. Still... it's a good game.

Useless fact: You can buy this remaster on every other current platform for maybe ten bucks right now. Good ol' Switch tax!

Darius Cozmic Collection Arcade & Darius Cozmic Collection Console

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide outside of Japan)
  • Price: $44.99 / €39.99 / £34.99 (Arcade) / $59.99 / €54.99 / £44.99 (console)
  • Publisher: Taito / ININ Games

What're these? Emulated compilations of titles from Taito's classic mechaquatic shooting game series, Darius, split between arcade and console releases as the titles imply; programmed by the fanatics at M2, these collections feature painstaking emulation of each game alongside display options, save states, additional control settings including autofire, and, for the arcade titles, online leaderboards, replay sharing, dip switch settings and per-game "gadgets" that display additional data on the unused portions of the screen.

Which games are included? DCC Arcade includes the old, new and extra revisions of Darius, the two-screen version of Darius II, the original version and the extremely rare undumped second version of Sagaia and the original version of Darius Gaiden, for seven games total; DCC Console features the SNES and Super Famicom versions of Darius Twin, the Super Famicom game Darius Force and its SNES counterpart Super Nova, the Genesis and Master System versions of Sagaia, the Mega Drive version of Darius II, the PC Engine HuCard conversion Darius Plus and the ultra-rare promotional HuCard boss rush Darius Alpha.

Why should I care? If you don't already care then definitely don't start with DCC Console: the games contained therein are mostly curios for diehard fans and I don't think they'll leave much of an impression outside of that context. DCC Arcade, however, features impeccable versions of three classic and very impactful horizontal shooting games, with Gaiden in particular being an eminently memorable and replayable entry that many consider the high point of the series.

Helpful tip: Sagaia for Game Boy, a game that was only obtainable via an extremely limited Japanese Amazon Prime Day promotion years ago, has still not been made available in any other form, either in Japan or overseas.

Namco Museum Archives vol.1 & Namco Museum Archives vol.2

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam (worldwide outside of Japan)
  • Price: $19.99 / €19.99 / £15.99
  • Publisher: Bandai-Namco

What're these? M2-developed compilations of select titles from Namco's voluminous library of NES and Famicom games; these collections include save states, screen settings, rewind features and, most notably, a pair of exclusive new games made to NES spec, one for each collection.

Which games are included? Volume 1 includes Galaxian, Xevious, Mappy, Dragon Buster, Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, The Tower of Druaga, Sky Kid, Dragon Spirit: The New Legend, Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti and an exclusive Famicom demake of Pac-Man Championship Edition, while Volume 2 features Battle City, Pac-Land, Dig Dug II, Super Xevious, Galaga, Rolling Thunder, Mappy-Land, Legacy of the Wizard, Dragon Buster II, Mendel Palace and a brand-new NES conversion of Gaplus (that's the game between Galaga and Galaga '88, dontcha know.)

Why should I care? Pac-Man CE is fantastic, the mere concept of a NES demake is brilliant and there's currently no other way to get the original CE in any form on current consoles, so this version's a no-brainer. Beyond that, there are a small handful genuinely interesting, underserved and cult games nestled in among the classics and standbys (Legacy of the Wizard! Mendel Palace! Wanpaku Graffiti!), and while the package itself is disappointingly basic in comparison to the Japanese version detailed below, at least these no-frills game collections actually contains the games they advertise.

Useless fact: The truth has yet to come out but there's quite a bit of evidence to suggest this Pac-Man CE demake is partially based on a Japanese fan-made homebrew that was shepherded and further developed by M2, in a similar manner to the recent version of Darius included on the Genesis/Mega Drive Mini.

Namcot Collection

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
  • Price: free to download, individual games ¥300 each, 10-game bundle for ¥2400
  • Publisher: Bandai-Namco

What's this? The alternative, Switch-exclusive and Famicom-centric alternative to the Namco collections covered above; aside from the game selection and distribution method, its biggest difference is a customizable game shelf front-end with virtual game boxes and other goods to display, as well as scanned game manuals and other gallery items. (The games themselves have not been translated, of course, but the menus will all display in English on an English-language system.)

Which games are included? Wagan Land comes free with the app, so you get that no matter what. After that, you can choose to buy games individually or in packs of 10, with the Pac-Man CE demake thrown in as a 10-game purchase bonus and the Gaplus port thrown in as a 20-game purchase bonus. DLC pack #1 includes Pac-Man, Galaga, Tower of Druaga, Battle City, Star Luster, Family Jockey, Yokai Dochuki, Dragon Spirit: Aratanaru Densetsu, Quinty and Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti; DLC pack #2 (out August) includes Galaxian, Mappy, Warpman, Pac-Land, Valkyrie no Bouken, Dragon Buster, Family Circuit, Kaiju Monogatari, Rolling Thunder and Keru Naguuru; DLC pack #3 (out October) includes Xevious, Dig-Dug, Babel no Tou, Sky Kid, Metro Cross, Megami Tensei, Quest of Ki, King of Kings, Family Pinball and Namco Classic II. (There also exists a physical version that contains the first DLC pack, Wagan Land and the Pac-Man CE demake, but you'll have to buy the rest of the games digitally.)

Why should I care? As of this moment, you shouldn't — Namco's indefinitely suspended all DLC sales while they fix a very silly issue that was giving people completely different games to the ones they paid for, so until that's fixed, there's not a whole lot to do with this app. If and when the DLC issue is resolved, however, you'll have access to a ton of neat home exclusives and a wrapper that finally brings Namco's legacy reissues into the same ballpark as the decades-old Namco Museums for PlayStation.

Helpful tip: Legacy of the Wizard, Super Xevious, Mappy Land, Dragon Buster II and Dig-Dug II are all exclusive to Namco Museum Archives, whereas Valkyrie no Bouken, Family Circuit, Kaiju Monogatari, Star Luster, Yokai Dochuuki, Megami Tensei, Keru Naguuru, King of Kings, Namco Classic II, Babel no Tou, Quest of Ki, Family Pinball, Metro Cross, Family Jockey and Warpman are exclusive to Namcot Collection. ("Namcot" was Namco's label used specifically for home games, by the way — they retired it with the PlayStation port of the original Tekken.)


Humble's Fight for Racial Justice Bundle

  • Platform: PC via Steam, Humble Store
  • Price: pay-what-you-want, minimum $30
  • Publisher: many, many publishers's racial justice bundle wrapped up at over $8 million raised for worthy social causes, and now Humble's doing their share by co-ordinating a $30 bundle that contains over $1200 worth of games and books until June 23, with the proceeds going towards  NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Race Forward, and The Bail Project. Come for Baba is You, stay for the literature.