Retro Re-release Roundup, week of January 27, 2022

Elastomaniacs, check in.

Today marks a particular milestone, dear readers: between ACA and ACA NEOGEO, Hamster's Arcade Archives series has officially released three hundred individual games across PS4, Switch, Xbox, PC and now smartphones... and yet, Karnov ain't one of 'em, so I can only hope to offer more cheerful commemorations for Hamster's 400th release.


Pistol Daimyo no Bouken

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

What's this? A very silly horizontally-scrolling shooter set in a ridiculous mashup of traditional Japanese historical tropes, originally developed and released in Japanese arcades in 1990 and ignored until now, save for the odd themed pachinko game. The game's titular character (a boss from the company's previous and not-quite-as-wacky Bravoman) sports a gun in the place of a traditional topknot hairdo, which can either fire very weak straight shots or more powerful charged shots that fire in a cannonball-esque parabola and increase in size depending on the duration of the charge. 

Why should I care? Pistol Daimyo no Bouken's appeal is that of pure irreverent spectacle: it's packed with a lot of absurd enemies and scenarios that the vast majority of arcade-goers would never see due to the game's hellish, unfun difficulty, which this version mitigates via the implementation of sensible features like an autofire button tuned for a specific frequency (allowing for consistent, painless mid-size shots, the only type worth using) and more brute-force features like save states. 

Helpful tip: Pistol Daimyo no Bouken contains a non-negligible amount of content that might be viewed as too tasteless for general audiences, or just for a particular age rating, but I can say that at the very least, the replaced the racist anti-Japanese dialog spoken by a certain boss.


Elasto Mania Remastered

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox, PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $10.00 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Elasto Mania Team

What's this? An expanded version of the cult physics-heavy motorbike platformer, originally released on PC by Balázs Rózsa & co. at the turn of the millennium and kept alive by a passionate fanbase ever since; this remaster features higher-definition graphical assets, online leaderboards, two-player split-screen, achievements and several packs of community-made levels on top of all the originals, with an online challenge mode and additional levels promised for future updates. (The existing Steam version is being automatically updated with the remaster for free, and will maintain compatibility with classic user-made content, as well as the level editor.)

Why should I care? Elasto Mania established the template that was shamelessly copied and/or streamlined by a thousand other games across browsers, portable devices and, eventually, consoles, but the specifics of the game's very rubbery player movement and oddly tranquil aesthetic have helped it maintain an incredibly dedicated following and an appeal that I'd like to think can reach beyond those people with nostalgia for goofing off with browser games during computer lab.

Helpful tip: Elasto Mania was a successor to the even earlier Action SuperCross, and in celebration of the new remaster, the developers have released the source code to Action SuperCross on Github.


River City Girls Zero from Limited Run Games

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
  • Price: $34.99 (standard) / $64.99 (classic) / $149.99 (ultimate)
  • Availability: from January 28, 10:00 to March 13, 23:59 Eastern

Capitalizing on both the success of WayForward's River City Girls and the broader deluge of long-awaited Kunio-kun series localizations comes this freshly-translated emulated reissue of the somewhat obscure Super Famicom game Shin Nekketsu Kouha: Kunio-tachi no Banka, which served as both the direct inspiration for River City Girls and the inadvertent catalyst for River City Girls' somewhat confusing connection to broader Kunio-kun canon. (Put simply, the two heroines were never as prominent a part of the series as WayForward had presumed them to be, which ultimately informed the story and much-maligned conclusion of their own game.) This version features a new animated intro, theme song and between-stage animatics and is available in three different variants, from a standard release to the massive package above that include poseable action figures, of all things. 


The Snowed In Game Bundle - curated by David L. Craddock (pay-what-you-want, basic tier $5 / full tier $15)

This latest entry in StoryBundle's regular game-related book bundles includes notable works from long-time collaborators like Hardcore Gaming 101 and Boss Fight Books, but I'd like to draw attention to one book in particular: Smoke and Mirrors: The Rise and Fall of a Serial Antipreneur, Mike James' crowdfunded dive into the nitty-gritty history of the trashfire that was the Coleco Chameleon (and, I suspect, a test run for a book on the colossal failure of the Intellivision Amico). As always, you can freely decide how you'd like your payment to be divided between author and vendor, with the additional option of donating a portion to the Women in Games nonprofit organization.