Retro Re-release Roundup, week of July 15, 2021

"I honestly think we cannot go back to button controls" —Eiji Aonuma, 2011

If the nadir of the Zelda series doesn't tickle your fancy, dear readers, then you may want to try one of the two old games re-released in Japan this week that I didn't mention due to impeding official global releases: Spelunker HD Deluxe for PS4 and Switch, which is already fully localized, and Earth Defense Force 2 for Switch, which isn't, but probably doesn't need to be.


Darwin 4078

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

What's this? A vertically-scrolling shooting game with a unique evolution gimmick, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Data East in 1986, with a lone port produced for the MSX2 by Hudson. On top of the traditional aerial shot/ground bomb system cemented by Namco's Xevious, your ship will gradually and constantly evolve upon the collection of certain items, growing faster, stronger and acquiring different shot types; failing to collect those items within a certain amount of time will cause your ship to devolve, and there are many specific de-evolutions and mutations that can only be acquired by temporarily merging with certain enemies or evolving or devolving from a certain evolutionary state.

Why should I care? This might be the first Arcade Archives title to really showcase the offbeat ideas that typified a certain era of Data East's output, and while the the difficulty of the game absolutely hinges on your willingness to decipher and memorize the effectiveness of the evolution tree, it's a generally reasonable game otherwise.

Helpful tip: It might not be immediately obvious, but the bullets fired from enemies with directional shots will change speed depending on how close they are to your ship when they fire, with the bullets being fastest if you're further away, so being close to them can often make their attacks easier to dodge.


The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $59.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: iunno, Midas Interactive?

What's this? A HD remaster of the sole original, main-line Zelda game made for Nintendo Wii, originally released in late 2011 as one of the few games to compulsorily utilize the MotionPlus gyro enhancement peripheral for the Wiimote. This version promises 1080p, 60FPS visuals with updated textures, a freely-adjustable camera, several minor alterations that greatly decrease the original version's overbearing didactic blabbering and, most fundamentally, optional button and/or right-analog controls for every action that previously mandated a motion gesture, on top of the original motion controls (which now track far more accurately).

Why should I care? You're far away enough from both this game and Breath of the Wild to have forgotten just how desperately this series needed a shake-up. I do like the cats, I'll give it that much.

Helpful, possibly infuriating tip: Skyward Sword HD includes a quick-travel feature that lets you jump between the sky world and your precise spot on the surface (including within dungeons), but it's only accessible via tapping the new Zelda & Loftwing amiibo. 


...they're here! (...iru!) fan translation by SnowyAria & co.

My brief understanding of this game before this translation was that it was a) something of a first-person Clock Tower. b) not-so-secretly a Lovecraftian game, and c) not actually all that fun during the moments where actual interaction is required, but now that it's translated, I'm willing to put those presumptions to the test — it certainly looks cool, in an is-it-supposed-to-look-like-this sort of way.


Hell Chaos (Splatterhouse) soft vinyl from Unbox Industries from Limited Run Games

  • Price: $130:00
  • Availability: from 00:00, July 18 Japan time

Out this weekend is one of the first of many planned collaborations between figure maker Unbox Industries and Takashi Oda, who currently works as a visual effects designer for TV and film but, in another life, provided creature and concept designs for Namco's classic arcade game Splatterhouse; he's been modeling many of his old creations on a hobbyist level, and now his work is being made widely available via this officially licensed co-production. Ain't it purdy?