Retro Re-release Roundup, week of January 7, 2021

Jaleco's big-in-Europe bopper makes its way to Arcade Archives.

The centerpiece of today's roundup is Rod Land, one of many fixed-screen action games that found particular success in the European microcomputer market and, if my recollections of the gushing published in the various Amiga mags can be trusted, was the primary visual influence on every single game or other piece of media that looked the slightest bit Japanese. You're welcome, Miyazaki.


Rod Land

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

What's this? A cutesy fixed-screen action game starring a pair of fairies on a quest to save their kidnapped mother from the clutches of demons, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Jaleco in late 1990 and subsequently ported with some acclaim to Atari ST, Amiga, C64, Amstrad and ZX Spectrum, NES and Game Boy; the player-characters can traverse each stage by climbing and/or placing ladders but cannot jump, and in order to clear each level they need to defeat every enemy by immobilizing and then repeatedly swinging them into the ground with their magic staff.

Why should I care? You've exhausted the Taito fixed-screen oeuvre and want to branch out to one of the better imitators, and you're entirely comfortable with the notion of a sickly-sweet game being unabashedly difficult... or, beyond all else, you're curious to try a game that was disproportionately popular on European microcomputers and relatively unsung elsewhere.

Helpful tip:  Rod Land contains a second loop with a distinct set of stages and bosses, accessible either by clearing the standard loop or via arcade operator setting; the Arcade Archives version allows players to toggle that dipswitch, and you'll see some subtle changes on the title and attract screens that'll let you know which loop has been selected.


Super Naruto Gekitou Ninja Taisen 4 (Gamecube) translation + rebalance mod

Eighting's Naruto: Clash of Ninja series of Gamecube and Wii fighting games bears a messy genealogy of games that were localized, half-localized and left entirely in Japan, but some intrepid fighting game crate-diggers have not only partially translated one of the more sought-after Japanese exclusives — namely, the final Gamecube entry, Gekitou Ninja Taisen 4 — but they've substantially rebalanced the characters and reworked and enhanced the game systems (with more than a few mechanical additions taken from another Eighting fighting game, Bloody Roar: Primal Fury). 

Super R-Type (SNES) SA-1 speed enhancement patch by Vitor Vilela

Yet another of the SNES' infamously slowdown-plagued games has been modded to make use of the SA-1 co-processor chip, virtually eliminating all excess slowdown. As always, you can support modder Vitor Vilela on Patreon and potentially steer him towards speeding up the SNES game of your choice. (The crackling heard in the video is an encoding issue and not a consequence of the patch.)


Ys I & II (Sharp X68000) by BEEP Shop

  • Platform: Sharp X68000 (3.5" disks, 5" disks)
  • Price: ¥8800 + tax
  • Publisher: BEEP Extra Games / Nihon Falcom

Believe it or not, despite Nihon Falcom's Japanese microcomputer pedigree, the original Ys duology were conspicuously absent on Sharp's X68000 machine: the second game was completely absent, and while the original did eventually make an appearance, it was in the form of a remake sporting a controversial new art style that incorporated quasi-realistic character portraits, an abundance of CG sprites and other odd deviations. All these years later, BEEP Extra is producing from-scratch X68000 ports of both PC-88 originals that will faithfully recreate both games while also offering hardware-specific enhancements like smooth scrolling. Each game is available in either 3.5" or 5" disk format, with orders estimated to ship on March 9, pandemic delays notwithstanding.