Retro Re-release Roundup, week of July 1, 2021

Seibu Kaihatsu's shooting game juggernaut graces Arcade Archives at long last.

Here's a cautionary warning to cap off this week's roundup: Sony's digital PlayStation Portable library may or may not become completely unavailable for legitimate purchase after July 2 — I say "may or may not" because Sony's Japanese branch has told certain Japanese outlets that this content will still be purchasable via PS3 and/or Vita after this date and my hunch is that those reports will turn out to be correct, but they've been so evasive and unnecessarily ambiguous on this front that I'd urge those with any particular lingering interest in those libraries to acquire what they can, while they can, just in case they do pull the plug after all (or they accidentally break something else).



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

What's this? Seibu Kaihatsu's explosively popular military-themed vertical shooting game, originally released in arcades in 1990 and subsequently converted to virtually every gaming platform of the day, with later emulated reissues on smartphones and PC in 2012 and 2013, respectively; the shot-and-bomb, three-color power-up system is as orthodox as they come, but the devil's in the details.

Why should I care? Raiden's legacy as one of the few continuously-running shooting series was cemented with this one game: it's accessible, challenging and crafted with a lot of attention on the subtler verisimilitude of the military setting; it may very well be the last shooting game a lot of people ever played in an arcade, and it remains a great starting point for the uninitiated.

Useless fact: The entire existence of Raiden is owed to the failure of Dynamite Duke, an earlier crosshair-shooting arcade game by Seibu Kaihatsu that was atypically expensive to develop and manufacture, and not particularly successful in arcades — the developer was forced to produce another game on cheap hardware with a small budget, and so they set about dutifully mimicking popular shooting games of the day, most notably Toaplan's Twin Cobra, in an effort to recoup their losses.


Flyhight Cloudia 3

  • Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $4.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: G-MODE

What's this? The third in G-MODE's successful mobile-optimized RPG series, originally released for Japanese feature phones in 2009; the incrementally-increasing hardware & data specs allowed for ever-so-slightly better and denser graphics and content, with the big innovation in this entry being a massive broadening of the party system, allowing for larger parties, more potential party members and more team customization overall. (As always, this is the original Japanese game, completely untranslated outside of the front-end wrapper.)

Why should I care? I'm not up to 3 just yet, but

Helpful tip: The entire trilogy's available as a bundle at a slight discount. (There exists a fourth feature phone Cloudia game that, to my understanding, is something of a time-skip from the classic trilogy, but for whatever reason, it isn't considered a priority candidate for reissue.)

Magical Fantasista 2

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

What's this? The second of Matrix Soft's breezy magic-themed dungeon crawlers, originally published on Japanese feature phones by G-MODE in 2006; the core conceit of these games is synthesising new magic attacks, both manually and dynamically by combining attacks during battle, and this sequel promises a greater amount of tactical variety with less hassle.

Why should I care? I cannot, from experience, describe the degree to which the game systems have evolved from the original's fairly straightforward Final Fantasy X-ish combat, but it certainly looks about as pretty as a circa-2006 feature phone game could look.

Useless fact: As with a lot of these mobile-centric series, there are three of these games, so if you liked the previous two, strap yourself in.


Secret Agent HD

  • Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $4.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Apogee / Emberheart Games

What's this? A puzzle-platformer game loosely themed around James Bond 007, originally developed by Apogee Software and released on PC in 1991 via shareware; helmed by the same studio behind the recent Crystal Caves remaster, this version of Secret Agent boasts revised HD visuals and widescreen support, new music, additional enemies and a brand-new fourth episode alongside the complete original game, as well as a level editor and Steam Workshop support.

Why should I care? If you can distinguish the quality of any of these non-Duke Apogee games at a glance, you've a more discriminating eye than I.

Useless fact: Secret Agent was directly assembled atop the Crystal Caves codebase, hence why it was the immediate choice for a second remaster.

Wonder Boy: Asha in Monster World

  • Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $34.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: G-CHOICE

What's this? A belated PC release of last month's polygonal remake of Westone's 1994 Sega Mega Drive action-platformer Monster World IV, the final, boy-less game in the Wonder Boy/Monster World series and one that was released exclusively in Japan until its digital localization in 2012 and recent reissue on the Genesis Mini. This remake was overseen by several members of the original development team and features Japanese voice acting, newly-arranged/orchestrated music and a very obvious 2.5D visual overhaul, as well as several subtle mechanical tweaks like the abolition of save points for a save-anywhere system, an increased amount of collectible upgrade items and the ability to revisit completed areas.

Why should I care? Stuart recently shared his impressionsand while I broadly agree, I do think this remake deserves credit for not only matching but improving upon some of the fundamental mechanical aspects of how Asha handles, which is exceedingly rare for polygonal remakes of this nature, and for looking substantially better than it did upon its first reveal, which isn't as common an occurrence as one would hope. (I can only presume the average PC will be able to brute-force the Unity-based performance issues that are a constant on consoles.)

Helpful tip: The PC port requires a controller and, to my knowledge, does not offer any way to play the translated version of the original Mega Drive game, which was available via certain means on Switch and PS4.

Zombies Ate my Neighbors and Ghoul Patrol

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox, PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $14.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: DotEmu

What's this? Exactly what the title promises: the SNES versions of LucasArts' beloved co-operative, even-lighter-than-rougelite B-horror action game Zombies Ate My Neighbors and its less-beloved and less-played followup, Ghoul Patrol, slapped into an emulator by the masters at DotEmu; the games now include a save feature, and the package also includes an extremely modest museum of historical materials, but it's otherwise bereft of features or enhancements (and is, in fact, plagued by some odd annoyances like a single display setting with ugly borders and the inability to remap the now-altered button layout.)

Why should I care? I feel like someone at DotEmu asked themselves the same question and never bothered to find an answer, so your homework for this week, dear readers, is to ever-so-politely share your answers to this question with the folks at ol' Dot and hope that they get the message. 

Useless fact: LucasArts' spiritual successor to ZAMN, the Greek mythology-themed PS/Saturn game Herc's Adventures, was and may still be available as a PSOne Classics title for PS3/Vita/PSP. (I say "may" because checking those stores in TYOOL2021 is hell and I ain't doin' it no more.)


Shantae (Nintendo Switch) at Best Buy

To some, $30 for a Game Boy Color ROM on a card might seem a little egregious, but to others, seeing this game available once again at a mainstream retailer might allow them to somehow atone for ignoring the original GBC game at the bargain bin only for it to very quickly explode in price. (Failing all that, you can just grab it off the eShop, or even on your 3DS if that's where you'd rather play a Game Boy game.)