Retro Re-release Roundup, week of May 13, 2021
Famicom detectives and Bioware correctives.
As has occured the last few weeks, I feel I ought to draw your attention to one more not-quite-old-enough release for this week: GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon, the surprise revival of Konami's decades-dormant action-RPG as a roguelite metroidvania, which will begin Steam Early Access imminently with the aim of being complete and Switch-ready in early 2022... and, even if the new game's not to your taste, you'll be given the original Famicom game for participating in Early Access, so it won't be a total bust.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Koei-Tecmo
What's this? An overhead maze game starring a peculiar liquid-spitting creature, developed by Tekhan and distributed in overseas arcades by Centuri in 1983, with a sole home conversion produced for the Othello Multivision; each maze contains monster-spawning pillars of fire that must be extinguished by spitting water onto them, which can be collected from puddles and alcoholic beverages and which will affect the guzzler's movement depending on how much liquid he has stored.
Why should I care? You feel a certain civic duty in monitoring this sad creature's alcohol intake.
Useless fact: The Othello Multivision was a licensed third-party clone of Sega's SG-1000 console, for which games were cross-compatible — it's the equivalent to more modern systems like Hitachi's Hi-Saturn (a Sega Saturn with a built-in video CD expansion) or Panasonic's Panasonic Q (a Gamecube with DVD and MP3 playback functionality).
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $34.99 each (North America; buy one & get $10 off the other) / €59.99 / £49.99 (Europe, only available as a two-pack)
- Publisher: Nintendo
What're these? Remakes of the first two entries in Nintendo's horror-tinged command adventure series, Famicom Tantei Club, originally released for the Famicom Disk System in 1988 and 1989, respectively, with the latter game being remade for the Super Famicom's Nintendo Power rewritable flash cartridge in 1998. (A third and final game was produced for the Satellaview service, and has never been reissued.) These new versions, developed by visual novel specialists Mages, fully remake the game with high-definition 2D illustrations and animations, voice acting and arranged music and augments the game's scenarios with additional narration, fleshed-out conversations and glossaries, as well as a command hint system and several accessibility options, as well as options to use the original games' music, text fonts and voice sounds. (Japan is getting a limited-edition collectors' set with both games on one card, but these are primarily download-only releases.)
Why should I care? The original Famicom Tantei Club games, released during an adventure game boom triggered by Enix's Portopia Serial Murder Case, were extremely popular in their day, not just for their scenarios but for their exemplary use of facial animations and detailed sounds to immerse the player beyond what most other Famicom or adventure games were thought capable of, as well as their streamlined command systems which minimized the amount of potential roadblocks or downtime, and from what I've seen, that core design hasn't really changed for the remake — what's on offer are, in essence, much prettier version of the games the wider world was denied 30+ years ago, and they've aged relatively well.
Helpful tip: The Girl who Stands Behind is a prequel to The Missing Heir but their chronology isn't particularly important, so you should be fine whether you play them in chronological or release order.
Mass Effect: Legendary Edition
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC via Steam & Origin (worldwide)
- Price: $59.99 / €69.99 / £54.99
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
What's this? A remastered collection of the three company- and generation-defining primary entries in Bioware's interstellar action-RPG series, originally released for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC between 2007 and 2012. All three games are now rendered at a potential 4K resolution and/or 240hz framerate, and each game has been visually retouched to both support modern post-processing and lighting effects and to maintain a uniform visual style, with the first game in particular receiving substantial updates to skyboxes, environment models, textures and more. Additionally, each game has been rebalanced and optimized for maximum comfort, with the first game receiving the brunt of the tweaks, most notably with regards to the squad AI, aim assist and handling and performance of the Mako personnel carrier. This collection includes and integrates almost all of the previously-released downloadable content, but is completely absent of any of the original games' multiplayer functionality. (PlayStation and Xbox versions are playable on next-gen consoles via backwards compatibility, but are not presently optimized for the new hardware.)
Why should I care? I'm so glad Feit's taken to streaming these games recently, because I am not the dude to ask about Mass Effect.
Useless fact: There is one single piece of downloadable content missing from this collection: Pinnacle Station, a single-player expansion for the original Mass Effect that was developed by an external studio and whose source data was irretrievably corrupted and thus could not be restored for this remaster.
ROM HACKS & TRANSLATIONS
Have I played this game? Not for longer than five minutes, no. Do I feel confident in recommending it as the most accomplished expression of Akira Toriyama's art style on the humble PlayStation? Yup. Sorry, Tobal.
LIMITED-EDITION PHYSICAL PRINT RUNS
Castlevania Anniversary Collection from Limited Run Games
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $34.99 (standard) / $59.99 (classic/Bloodlines) / $174.99 (ultimate)
- Availability: from 10AM Eastern, May 14 to 11:59 June 27
After a somewhat prolonged wait, Konami's recent eight-game classic Castlevania anthology is getting a suite of physical releases, including versions with NES and Genesis-style variant packaging and a monstrous deluxe edition with all the extras you could possibly ask for (unless one of those extras is Rondo of Blood, in which case, you'll have to wait for the Castlevania Requiem release that may or may not be in the pipeline).
DISCOUNTS & DEALS
itch.io Creator Day (May 14)
This isn't a discount per se, nor does it pertain specifically to classic games, but it bears mentioning: itch.io will be waiving their revenue share for the entirety of May 14, meaning anything you spend on that day will go directly and entirely to the developers of the games; itch's default cut is not especially high as it is, but small devs rely on each and every cent for support, so any windfall, however small, is welcome.