Retro Re-release Roundup, week of June 24, 2021
A legend reborn. Also, a Mana game!
This isn't particular relevant to the roundup but I feel I ought to acknowledge the 30th anniversary of Sega's mascot and pop-culture icon Sonic the Hedgehog, which was officially commemorated on June 23, which meant the Alex Kidd in Miracle World remake was allowed precisely one day of uninterrupted attention before people once again turned their focus to the blue money-maker. Sucks to be you, not-Goku.
Shingen Samurai-Fighter (Takeda Shingen)
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / City Connection
What's this? A two-player brawler themed around a particular ruler from feudal Japanese history (or, more precisely, piggybacking off a popular NHK TV drama about said ruler), released in arcades in 1988 and remade with an RPG-tinged bent for PC Engine the following year; one or two players slash their way through individual scenes featuring hordes of mooks, interspersed with bonus stages on horseback and one-on-one (or two-on-one) boss battles.
Why should I care? The music's kinda nice, I guess.
Useless fact: The mosaic effect that displays on enemies upon death uses a particular hardware function of the Jaleco Mega System 1 arcade hardware that was relatively technically advanced but not particularly useful or applicable; at the time, Jaleco's hardware designers allegedly complained to the software developers that they weren't making sufficient use of this function, and so they'd occasionally find trivial ways to show it off just for the sake of making them happy.
Tantei Kibukawa Ryousuke Jiken-dan Vol.4: Shirasagi ni Aka no Hane
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
- Price: ¥500
- Publisher: G-MODE / And Joy
What's this? Kibukawa game the fourth, originally released for Japanese feature phones in 2004 and reissued on Android devices a decade later; this version is set in an earlier time period to the preceding works and sees the amnesia-stricken protagonist befriended by a local girl from a mountain village and dragged into a murky mystery surrounding an inheritance dispute. (This game was originally released in two parts, both of which are present in this package.)
Why should I care? I've officially run out of ways to say "I haven't played this, so I don't know", but there's certainly an audience for this series in Japan, and from what I gather, volumes 4 through 10 or so are the ones they're really jonesing for.
Useless fact: To my knowledge, the extreme similarities of this synopsis to that of the original Famicom Detective Club are entirely coincidental.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $19.99 / €19.99 / £14.99 (digital), £24.99 or equivalent (standard physical edition), £54.99 or equivalent (Signature Edition)
- Publisher: Merge Games
What's this? A remake of the original and definitive Alex Kidd game, originally released for the Sega Master System in 1986 as the would-be Mario killer; remade by the primarily-Spanish "Janken Team" and published by Merge Games under license from Sega, this version of the ever-so-slightly-RPG-tinged platformer features completely reimagined visuals, new and arranged music, altered boss fights (of the janken and non-janken variety) and tweaked controls, as well as an instant toggle for classic graphics/audio and extras like a boss rush mode and an infinite lives option.
Why should I care? You're somebody with a lot of affection for the original game who believes it didn't require much fixing... in which case, rest assured, it definitely did not receive a lot of fixing.
Helpful tip: A demo went up on Steam a few days ago, in case you missed it.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $29.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Square-Enix / M2
What's this? A remaster of the fourth game in Square's Seiken Densetsu/Mana series of naturalistic action-RPGs, originally released on the Sony PlayStation in 1999 in Japan and 2000 in North America; this remaster features redrawn, widescreen-friendly HD backgrounds and UI, a new orchestral arrangement for the original music, a new animated intro, the implementation of the previously Japan-exclusive PocketStation minigame "Ring Ring Land" and a few quality-of-life features like being able to toggle co-op play on the fly or disable enemy encounters.
Why should I care? The Mana series has been somewhat notorious for failing to deliver the successor to Secret of Mana that English-speaking fans in particular have clamored for, and that reputation began with this game: it was developed in collaboration with many of the SaGa series leads and as such, it's structured in a very open, player-driven way and packed with dense and minimally-explained systems that go completely at odds with its very linear predecessors. That said, when viewed with the benefit of twenty years of hindsight (and more than a few genuinely awful Mana games in between), as well as the long-awaited international localization and remake of Trials of Mana, I think it's due to be reappraised as an ambitious and inventive game that was simply presented to the wrong audience at the wrong time. It's also real purdy.
Useless fact: The key visuals for this remaster were illustrated by Shinichi Kameoka, the former Square artist and current president of Brownies inc. whose designs and illustrations defined the visual style of the Mana series; this is the first Mana project he's contributed to since the 2006 DS game Heroes of Mana.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $39.99 or equivalent (standard) / $49.99 (digital deluxe)
- Publisher: Activision / Vicarious Visions
What's this? The belated Switch port of last year's superlative remake of the first two Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games, which feature brand-new graphics, skaters music, a revamped park editor and an online suite atop all the classic maps, skaters and (almost all of) the classic music, as well as the inclusion of some slightly newer mechanics like manuals.
Why should I care? Word on the Switch version has been so quiet for so long that one might reasonably be concerned about how it runs and plays, but from all accounts it includes all the features and modes of the other versions, albeit at a solid 30FPS and with reduced visuals and (even) longer load times: in other words, the best-case scenario for a Switch conversion of a modern game, and a particularly natural fit for handheld play.
Helpful tip: The three classic tunes that didn't make the cut: from THPS1, "Committed" by Unsane, and from THPS2, Alley Life's "Out With the Old" and The High & Mighty's "B-Boy Document '99".
SOUNDTRACKS & MERCHANDISE
Metal Gear 2 & Snake's Revenge vinyl from Mondo
- Format: 2LP (MG2) / LP (Snake's Revenge)
- Price: $35 (MG2) / $25 (Snake's Revenge)
- availability:MG2's still available!
Mondo's vinyl soundtracks for both the canon and non-canon Metal Gear sequels went up for sale a little under 24 hours ago... and, as you might expect, the Snake's Revenge vinyl is already sold out, but you can still grab both the black and color variants of the Metal Gear 2 vinyl, with shipping expected to start in October.
Mega Man Legends vinyl & cassettes from Ship to Shore, Light in the Attic & Black Screen Records
- Format: 2LP, cassette
- Price: $40 / €40 (LP) / €18 (cassette)
- availability:ETA Q4 2021
...and again, these went up on Ship to Shore a day or so ago and very quickly sold out — Jeremy's liner notes musta brought in some serious traffic, right? —but distro partners Black Screen Records and Light in the Attic still have specific variants of the vinyl and/or cassette available for purchase, at least as of now. (At a glance, these soundtracks are missing the opening and ending vocal tunes.)
moon. merchandise from Tokyo Otaku Mode
PlayStation-era RPG fanatics were finally blessed with an official worldwide release of love-de-lic's cult adventure game moon. last year, and now they've also been given access to a ton of official merchandise, which has just gone up for pre-order on Tokyo Otaku Mode, including shirts, phone cases, keychains, mugs, stickers and more (and, unlike most previous moon. merch, this stuff ships from the US.)