Retro Re-release Roundup, week of September 10, 2020

A cult Tecmo shooter takes the spotlight.

If today's modest selection of games doesn't take your fancy, I strongly suggest you investigate the latest round of Nintendo leaks, particularly if you're a Game Boy aficionado, as it contains a small but precious handful of fascinating discoveries, including several unannounced and/or unreleased first- and third-party games and a ton of unreleased localizations, of which I need to single out this localization of a mundane golf game that injects tons of snide dialogue and, for no particular reason, robots.


Gemini Wing

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

What's this? A fantasy-themed vertically-scrolling shooter, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Tecmo in 1987 and subsequently ported to the Sharp X68000 computer and the extended menagerie of European microcomputers, but never released for consoles until now; Gemini Wing eschews the typical power-up and bomb systems seen in similar games for a unique "gunball" system, in which the player collects a variety of single-use weapons and items that visibly trail behind your ship and are sequentially activated with the press of a button.

Why should I care? Gemini Wing better upholds the simple, caravan-esque immediacy of Tecmo's Star Force than any of the official sequels, and the frequency and somewhat random distribution of the gunball pickups makes for a game that expects you to fire off your overpowered weapons early and often, which is always fun.

~SCOOPS~: Earlier today, I learned that Gemini Wing was one of the earliest works of Hideo Yoshizawa, a key figure behind games such as the classic Ninja Gaiden NES trilogy and the Klonoa and Mr. Driller series, so on a whim, I asked him if there was any truth to a rumor about a Famicom version of Gemini Wing that the staff had made purely to amuse themselves on their lunch breaks... and there was! According to Yoshizawa, the aforementioned Gemini Wing port was derived from an unauthorized attempt at a conversion of Taito's Darius that obviously could and would not be commercialized, so he had the staffer mold it into a Gemini Wing conversion instead, and was particularly impressed to see the centipede boss recreated using the Famicom's background functions. One can presume this version of the game never made it further than a proof-of-concept, but it's fun to dream...


Churashima Kurashi ("Life on Chura Island)

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

What's this? A "slow life" game, released by G-MODE for Japanese feature phones in 2009; think Animal Crossing/Stardew Village, but on an island modeled after the Japanese island of Okinawa, where the player can partake in traditional activities like fishing or playing the shamisen, or converse with the locals in their native dialect.

Why should I care? I'm going purely off the trailer here but, I mean, it looks charming...? Japanese comprehension is going to be crucial, in case that's not clear.

Useless fact: Yeah, nothin' for y'all this week.


X (Game Boy) fan translation by anthropogon

The Japan-only 3D tank-shooting game is significant for many reasons: aside from being an impressive technical accomplishment, it was also the first of several collaborations between Nintendo and the British studio Argonaut Software, the debut work of now-legendary composer Kazumi Totaka and one of the most high-profile untranslated Game Boy games, so it's great to see that a fan translation has finally been completed... and extremely unfortunate that the translation patch was uploaded on the very same day that the Nintendo omnileak unearthed a complete, genuine unreleased localization of X, titled Lunar Chase. Ya win some, ya lose some.


Mad Stalker: Full Metal Forth (Mega Drive) cartridge release by Columbus Circle

  • Platform: Sega Mega Drive (Japan)
  • Price: ¥5,980 plus tax
  • Publisher: Columbus Circle / Opera House

The original Sharp X68000 version of Mad Stalker was an impactful and influential side-view brawler whose influence could be directly felt on games like Guardian Heroes and Phantom Breaker, and a computer game that was blessed with several home conversions; one such conversion that never made it to market due to manufacturing costs was the Mega Drive conversion, which was recently discovered and polished up by the original programmer and is now being made available for the very first time by retro publisher Columbus Circle. Of all the Columbus Circle releases thus far, this one has easily garnered the most buzz, so I suspect availability may quickly become scarce.

Shantae mania, all up in your brain-ia

  • Products: games, vinyl, cases & covers
  • Price: from $29.99 to $392.99
  • Availability: from September 11, 10AM Eastern (four-week order window)

Limited Run Games is going all out on Shantae paraphernalia from tomorrow: there are steelbook cases for the previously steelbook-less Half-Genie Hero and Pirate's Curse, plus a series slipcase that fits all five games; collectors' and standard editions of Risky's Revenge for Switch (which is just shy of ten years old now, sheesh), a Risky's Revenge soundtrack vinyl plus a clear variant of the Shantae GBC vinyl, various trading card pack and, most relevant to Retronauts: standard and collectors' edition reissues of the original Game Boy Color Shantae game, not just for Switch but on genuine GBC-compatible cartridges, too. Will this cement Shantae as the only GBC game to have two different versions that rack up thousands of dollars on the aftermarket?

Toaplan Shooters (Genesis) cartridge reissues from Retro-Bit Games

  • Format: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive (cartridge)
  • Price: $44.99 / €39,99 (individual games), $159.99 / €144,99 (bundle)
  • Availability: from September 15 to October 6

Licensed from the original co-creator, Retro-Bit is reissuing the 16-bit Sega ports of four of the most beloved shooting games from the library of the celebrated shooting game developer Toaplan — the vertical military-themed Fire Shark, the vertical skull-bomb-adorned Truxton, the horizontal space shooter Hellfire and the eternal laughing-stock Zero Wing — with new collectors' packages that include slipcovers, stickers, art cards, interview books, a certificate of authenticity and more, including an All Your Base pin for those who buy the bundle. (For what its worth, these ports are at the very least fine and in a couple of cases, arguably preferable to the arcade originals; furthermore, Zero Wing has been edited to include the 30+ extra endings that are otherwise exclusive to the Japanese arcade version.)