Retro Re-release Roundup, week of August 19, 2021
Return to the Nth Dimension.
I should preface this week's roundup, dear readers, with a notice that it coincides with Quakecon and some extremely reliable rumors about an imminent Quake remaster/s that will probably be revealed the moment after this post goes up, but if you think I'm giving up Zool's marquee status so easily, you have another thing comin'.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Taito
What's this? A vertically-scrolling overhead fantasy action game, originally developed and distributed in arcades by UPL in 1990 and never reissued by now; players are tasked with leading a Conan-esque sword-wielding warrior on a nebulous quest to slay a variety of Harryhausen-esque and slightly-less-Harryhausen-esque foes, with the unavoidable sub-goal of pulling mandatory bodybuilding poses whenever a powerup is collected.
Why should I care? You're looking for the specific brand of macho silliness that can only be provided by a turn-of-the-'90s, macho-obsessed Japanese arcade game, and you particularly want one that's not too difficult (provided you're able to hold onto the boomerang weapon).
Useless fact: Hamster's been on the ball about removing or editing some of the offensive stereotypes from previous Arcade Archives titles, but at a quick glance, it seems Vandyke may have slipped their screening process, so bear that in mind.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
- Price: ¥500
- Publisher: G-MODE / Happymeal Inc.
What's this? A retro line-scrolling racing game, developed and released for Japanese feature phones by Happymeal Inc. as part of their "Choice Go Computer" series of games that were purported to have originated on an imaginary Famicom-style game console; race, jump, ram and experience the odd-ball stories that sends up classic Famicom racing games like Paris-Dakar Rally Special and Famicom 3D Hot Rally.
Why should I care? The game itself is a perfectly competent facsimile of a faux-3D NES racing game, and the ability to toy around with the "Choicon" console and cartridge and watch the plastic fade over time is always a cute gimmick.
Helpful tip: This game is viewable in 3D using anaglyph red/blue glasses; these aren't supplied with the game, obviously, but there's a DIY PDF available on the website.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (outside of Japan)
- Price: $59.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Taito / ININ / Strictly Limited
What's this? The long-belated worldwide release of Taito and Gotch's fuller Space Invaders anthology, preceded by the truncated Space Invaders Forever earlier this year; this collection contains a mix of classic games running via emulation (handled by the capable hands at Gotch) and ports of more modern entries of the series, each equipped with display settings and other configs (including vertical orientation in handheld mode where relevant), unique challenge modes for each game, online leaderboards, save states and more.
Which games are included? This collection includes both the black-and-white and color variants of the original Space Invaders (arcade, 1978), Space Invaders Part 2 (arcade, 1979), Lunar Rescue (1979), Space Cyclone (1980), Majestic Twelve (arcade, 1990) and its overseas variant Super Space Invaders '91, Space Invaders DX (arcade, 1993) Space Invaders Extreme (specifically, the 2018 HD version for PC) and Space Invaders Gigamax 4SE, a home arrangement of an ultra-wide (as in, projected-onto-the-side-of-a-building wide) installation game from 2019, as well as a bonus download for the 2017 standalone version of the mobile app Arkanoid vs. Space Invaders, playable solely via the Switch's handheld mode.
Why should I care? You bought this a full year ago from Strictly Limited Games and are relieved it's finally here.
Helpful tip: As with the Darius collection, there's one game that was given away as an Amazon Prime Day promotional item in Japan several years ago that still can't be bought or acquired any other way: the Sega Mega Drive game Space Invaders 90.
- Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $9.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Secret Mode / Sumo Digital Academy
What's this? A remaster of Gremlin Graphics' customarily overexposed and undercooked mascot platformer, originally developed primarily for the Amiga in 1992 and ported to most anything else that could run it at the time; this new reissue, produced as part of an intern development initiative with fellow Sheffield studio Sumo Digital, recreates the original game with a much wider viewing area and allows the player to experience the game in "Redimensioned Mode" with new moves and altered progression requirements that make for a gentler experience, on top of other modern conveniences like a level select and an optional screen filter, and also includes an emulated version of the Mega Drive version for good measure.
Why should I care? Minor as they may seem on paper, the changes made to the viewing area and the default play mode address almost issue one might have had with the original game — it's everything a Zool fan could want, and everything a Zool neophyte would need to be able to tolerate Zool in any form or fashion. (The Mega Drive emulation is entirely perfunctory, in case you're curious.)
Useless fact: The notoriously awful Wii platformer Ninjabread Man was, at one point, slated to be released as a Zool revival game, before the license owners thought better of it and revoked the license (as opposed to, say, releasing it anyway with the expectation that people would buy it ironically, a la a certain other overhyped Sonic wannabe.)
SOUNDTRACKS & VINYL
- Price: $28 (HOD LP) / $39 (HOD2 2LP)
- Availability: quickly selling out; ships February 2022
The music penned for Sega's beloved horror-themed lightgun series is often overlooked in the face of the games' famously captivating voice acting, but now Cartridge Thunder's giving people the opportunity to properly reappraise the tunes from the first two games via these LP sets, newly mastered from the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast ports, respectively. (This vendor only ships to North America and has already sold out of the HOD1+2 box set, but there are links at the bottom of each listing for European, Japanese and Australian vendors that may be able to meet your requirements.)