Retro Re-release Roundup, week of August 5, 2021

No, it's not the roguelite.

If this week's modest and rather niche offerings aren't to your taste, dear readers, I suggest looking into Picross S: Genesis & Master System Editiona near-enough-to-retro fusion of Picross and a buttload of old Sega console sprites (and, strangely, a very small selection of old Sega arcade music — would it have killed Jupiter to throw in this bad boy, too?)


Bio-Ship Paladin

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster

What's this? A horizontally-scrolling sci-fi shooting game that puts the player on the side of the invading force, originally developed and distributed in arcades by UPL in 1990, with a Sega Mega Drive conversion released the following year. Bio-Ship Paladin is defined by its dual-weapon system which gives the player both a traditional forward shot and a powerful laser shot that has to be manually aimed by moving a crosshair on the screen, leaving your ship immobile in the process; your ship will also become physically larger as it powers up, 

Why should I care? The idiosyncratic laser system definitely separates Bio-Ship Paladin from the dozens of other shooting games available via Arcade Archives, for better and worse — your enjoyment of the game will hinge entirely on whether you're able to gel with the mechanic and memorize precisely when and how to utilize it, something that eludes a lot of players. (The various autofire options included with this release do help to mitigate a lot of the tankier enemies.)

Helpful tip: Bio-Ship Paladin's enemies seem unnecessarily durable at the best of times, but the developers implemented a simpler and much more egregious method of stealing players' money: after three minutes of play, the damage dealt by your ship will be unilaterally halved, just because.


Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi+

  • Platform: PC via Steam
  • Price: ¥500
  • Publisher: G-MODE / CAVE

What's this? The first feature phone conversion of CAVE's beloved militari(ish) bullet hell shooting game, originally released in 2003; most of the elements from the arcade game, including the stages and bosses, bullet patterns, music and distinctive lock-shot system, are replicated with varying degrees of fidelity.

Why should I care? As has been the case with the Cave feature phone reissues of weeks prior, Ketsui DX was an admirable accomplishment for its time and while it's clearly no substitute for the genuine article, you might be pleasantly surprised by just how playable it remains (or simply thankful for a version that absolutely anybody will be able to clear without much effort).

Helpful tip: You can unlock the highest difficulty mode by pressing right(x2), leftx=(x2), up(x2), down(x2) on the title screen.


Spelunker HD Deluxe

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
  • Price: $24.99 or equivalent (digital) / €29.99 (standard physical) / €59.99 (collector's edition)
  • Publisher: Tozai Games / ININ / Strictly Limited Games

What's this? A remake of Tozai Games' 2009 revival of Tim Martin's unforgiving, big-in-Japan platform series, originally released digitally on PlayStation 3 and succeeded by several follow-ups, most recently Spelunker Party!; this version maintains all the content and features of the original, which include 100 mostly-new stages, online and offline multiplayer for up to six players and the ability to toggle Famicom/NES-style visuals, while also providing new HD visuals that have been upgraded over the PS3 version, as well as a new, randomized "Infinite Cave NEO" mode.

Why should I care? Of the several Spelunker games produced in this vein over the last decade or so, this one is the most faithful to the exacting nature of the NES/Famicom game without veering too far into the masochistic or being saddled with active or vestigial free-to-play trappings, and while you might not realize it without A/B'ing the two games, the new HD visuals really have been improved over the 2009 version.

Helpful tip: This package does not, to my knowledge, include the Japan-only remix Minna de Spelunker Black, which was essentially the same game as Spelunker HD but with an additional darkness mechanic that obscured most of the screen, which was sold as a standalone game in 2010 and delisted in 2011 when the publishing rights changed hands, never to be relisted.


Rainbow Cotton (Dreamcast) translation patch by Derek Pascarella & co.

Cotton's 30th anniversary year has promised several ports, character cameos and even a brand-new games, and now fans have joined in the celebration with a translation patch for Rainbow Cotton, the most recent main-line Cotton game developed for the Sega Dreamcast and released exclusively in Japan in 2000. Frankly, it's not a particularly exciting game nor one that Cotton fanatics were necessarily waiting on a translation for, but I'm sure it'll sate the curiosity of a few of you