Retro Re-release Roundup, week of February 4, 2021
Rare's worst-kept secret is finally, and unofficially, out in the open.
This week's marquee game is less a re-release and more the return of a prisoner of war: the long-completed and never-released GoldenEye 007 remaster, vaulted over a decade ago due to byzantine licensing issues and now finally available to those who are willing and able to track it down, and particularly to those who didn't play the Perfect Dark X360 remaster and no longer feel the need to go back.
Ninja Kazan (Iga Ninjutsu-den: Gojin no Sho)
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / City Connection
What's this? Jaleco's take on the ever-popular "dubious westernized ninja" sub-genre, released in arcades in 1989; as the player clears each globe-spanning stage, they'll acquire new and different ninpo that can be unleashed by charging the attack button for varying lengths of time.
Why should I care? You've exhausted the likes of Ninja Gaiden and Shinobi and have a particular tolerance for terrible side-view cameras. (If you're easily amused by incongruous music, you'll definitely find plenty of that to enjoy as well.)
Useless fact: A ninja named Kazan also appears in Jaleco's SNES brawler Brawl Brothers, but there's no explicit connection between them, as far as I'm aware.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (North America, Europe)
- Price: $4.99 / €4.39 / £3.99;
- Publisher: G-MODE / D4E
What's this? The mobile phone conversion of Compile's hit MSX/NES shooter Zanac, released on various Japanese mobile services between 2003 and 2005; this G-MODE Archives version contains both the original game and a new arranged mode with enhanced visuals and playability that aims to more closely replicate the original experience. (This version took a little longer than scheduled to appear on the international eShop, but it's been available for a few days now.)
Why should I care? You've forgotten just how ill-equipped the average early-millennium phone was to handle frenetic action games and you want to show respect to a conversion and a reissue that really, genuinely tried to transcend their limitations.
Helpful tip; This version of Zanac's reduced to six stages; as far as I'm aware, the arranged mode adds in some of the specific scoring secrets and so on from the original games but doesn't add or restore any substantial content.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide outside of Japan)
- Price: $6.99 / €5.99 / £4.99 (15% off until February 7)
- Publisher: PLiCY
What's this? A 20th-anniversary remake of a beloved Japanese freeware RPG, made and maintained by erstwhile developer Shou for Windows PCs in 2001 and maintained until 2009; this version adds true 3D battlefields and 16;9 display, voice-acted cutscenes, new and original music, difficulty adjustments, tutorial features, new scenario and post-game content, redone menus and online time attack leaderboards, among other things.
Why should I care? Now, I know of Cresteaju only by reputation, so I cannot offer a personal recommendation, but this is a game that was and continues to be referenced and recommended to this day by Japanese gamers (and sincerely, at that) for its deep tactical battle system, intriguing and nuanced characters and catchy music, so I'd urge people to try it if only to acquaint themselves with one of the cultural touchstones of the early-millennium Japanese internet. (It's also much cheaper than the Japanese version, so buying it won't be the huge gamble it could've been.)
Helpful tip: The original version's still online, for those who are willing and able to play in Japanese.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide outside of Japan)
- Price: $29.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: PQube / Arc System Works
What's this? A relationship simulation/first-person dungeon-crawling RPG hybrid, originally developed by Shout! Design Works and published by Atlus in Japan in 2004, and remade for Switch last year under the supervision of Ark System Works; this version includes complete voice acting with a new and revised cast and a near-total visual revision/overhaul (and, until several days ago, was not even announced for localization, but here we are).
Why should I care? Again, this is a game I haven't played and therefore can only relay what little I've heard about it, but Kowloon High-School Chronicle is one of the more celebrated games in a milieu described by designer Shuuhou Imai as "juvenile denki", a sort of fusion of young-adult sci-fi and traditionalist otherworldly fiction, so if you're at all curious about what that entail, this release is currently the only way to experience it in English, and may remain so for the foreseeable future.
Useless fact: Atlus published a revision of the original game for PS2, subtitled re:charge, in 2006, but for whatever reason, this remake apparently ignores the extra content added for that revision.
IOS & ANDROID
Ninja JaJaMaru-kun NEO Classic
- Price: free with in-app purchases
- Publisher: Mobirix / City Connection
Jaleco custodians City Connection are taking their plucky Famicom hit for another spin, this time on mobile — unlike the new, Pac-Man Championship Edition-esque version produced for the recent Japan-only compilation, this version of Ninja JaJaMaru-kun is firmly rooted in the mechanics and aesthetic of the original game, albeit with remastered visuals, enhanced bonus stages and new enemy types. (This is the first in a wave of Jaleco f2p mobile adaptations, by the way — City Connection's next.)
DON'T TELL THE COPS
GoldenEye 007 (Xbox Live Arcade remaster) leak
Microsoft's worst-kept secret of the Xbox 360 era has finally seen the light of day: a HD remaster of Rare's beloved Nintendo 64 first-person shooter, GoldenEye 007, which was essentially finished but shelved due to irreconcilable licensing hurdles posed by the original game's many stakeholders. The game is entirely playable on both JTAG-modded X360 hardware and the Xenia X360 emulator for PC and, much like the Perfect Dark X360 remaster, the single-player campaign utterly crumbles in the face of modern twin-stick controls. (I can't link to the game itself, but archive.org certainly can.)