Retro Re-release Roundup, week of June 23, 2022
Happy thirty-wunth, Ivo.
Between the year-late anniversary collection for Sega's movie mascot, the new Puzzle Fighter & Friends Collection from Capcom and the Switch reissue of the premier N64 Pokemon game, you might not have room for much else on your gaming schedule, but I'd like to take a moment to remind people that Pocky & Rocky Reshrined, the Sonic Mania-esque remix-cum-sequel to Natsume-Atari's beloved SNES action game, will finally be releasing globally on Switch and PS4 tomorrow, and I'm sure those of you who declined to buy the Japanese version months ago will enjoy it as much now as everyone else did in April.
Soldier Girl Amazon (Sei Senshi Amatelass)
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster
What's this? A vertically-oriented overhead run-and-gun with a far-future sci-fi setting, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Nichibutsu in 1986. Set in the year 13000AD, the player controls the space warrior Amatelass on a mission to hunt down a crew of criminal who escaped from intergalactic jail and fled to a distinctly earth-like planet overrun with cyborgs and monsters; Amatelass is equipped with a standard shot and a time-stopping bomb, and can also enhance her abilities by commandeering motorcycle-esque vehicles. (This game was one of the very first Arcade Archives releases and has been available on PS4 for years, hence today's release being Switch-only.)
Why should I care? Soldier Girl Amazon seems to be a game more fondly remembered for its Japanese arcade flyer than anything else but, goofy hit detection aside, one could make a case for the game being a more forgiving and non-commital alternative to other more popular points of comparison like Ikari Warriors or Commando, and composer Kenjui Yoshida's distinctive off-kilter FM music scratches an itches that few other arcade composers of the day were attempting to scratch.
Useless fact: If you're a fan of this game's music, or have recently become acquainted with the Nichibutsu sound via Yuzo Koshiro's homage soundtrack featured in the recent Platinum Games joint Sol Cresta, you might also be interested in importing Clarice Disc's impending Nichibutsu Shooting Sound Box, which offers nine CDs worth of classic and unreleased music from composer Kenji Yoshida and others.
NINTENDO SWITCH ONLINE EXPANSION PASS
NSO February '22 update: Pokemon Snap (N64)
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: included with the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pass subscription service
- Publisher: Nintendo
What's this? HAL Laboratory's innovative Pokemon-themed photography game, originally released worldwide in 1999 and reissued on both the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console. Players are tasked with taking unique and exciting photographs of wild Pokemon as they go about their lives; each environment is traversed from within an on-rails, autoscrolling vehicle, but the player can use a handful of unlockable items to interact with the environment, thereby revealing access to new routes, or to coax different reactions and poses out of the native fauna.
Why should I care? The recently-release, sequel didn't satiate your decades-long demand for more casual apple-based abuse of fantasy slave-pets.
Useless fact: The Wii VC version of Pokemon Snap allowed you to copy your in-game photos to the Wii Message Board and share them with friends, but I can't imagine this version will include any extra photo-related functionality on account of the fact that you can just, y'know, take a screenshot of whatever you like.
- Platform::Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $9.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Night Dive Studios / Westwood Studios
What's this? A remaster of Westwood Studio's third-person point-and-click adventure take on Blade Runner, originally published for PC in 1997 to some acclaim but lost to time due to lost assets and intractable licensing hurdles, only to be miraculously reissued on PC in 2019; this new version, produced by Night Dive Studios, significantly enhances the game's voluminous video content via upscaling and framerate enhancements, optimizes the display for HD screens, adds multi-language subtitles, allows for modern post-processing/anti-aliasing effects and adds a more thorough hint system to help newer players decipher the game's somewhat inscrutable investigation interfaces.
Why should I care? Blade Runner's randomized human/replicator system and heavily branching, open-ended scenario structure is something many players can admire but not quite enjoy, and I can only hope that this remaster does enough to help more people get a grips with what remains a very unique and visually arresting adventure game.
Helpful tip: Keep scrolling and you might learn a thing or two about a physical version...
- Platform::Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $49.99 each or equivalent
- Publisher: Capcom, I guess?
What's this? A collection containing emulated versions of ten of Capcom's '90s-era arcade fighting games, developed by the same internal team that produced Capcom Beat 'em Up Bundle and Ultra Street Fighter II. In addition to online play, lobbies and spectator support for every game, they've also included individual training modes for each game (sans Puzzle Fighter), specific per-game bug fixes, customizable control layouts that include macros for special moves, a variety of display settings, a save state and dipswitch/difficulty settings, as well as an in-game achievement system and a museum full of concept art and music (which can be browsed while waiting for online matches.
Which games are included? This collection includes all five Darkstalkers/Vampire games — Darkstalkers, Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge, Vampire Savior, Vampire Hunter 2 and Vampire Savior 2 — alongside the 2003 all-version CPS2 swansong Hyper Street Fighter II, the peculiar non-humanoid-mecha-themed Cyberbots, the super-deformed all-star masher Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix/Pocket Fighter, the falling-block gem-building fighting game Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and, for the first time outside of arcades, the the RPG-tinged one-on-one action game Red Earth/Warzard. (The official website.contains extremely specific JP/US ROM identifiers for each game.)
Why should I care? Capcom typically deals in either game/series-specific collections or super-broad variety bundles, so a collection like this one, which offers a multitude of different genre works within an established niche, not only allows fanatical players a lot of different ways to scratch a particular itch but helps to illuminate an overarching design context for Capcom's oeuvre of 2D fighting games and highlight the many different approaches they took during the genre's heyday — and, touch wood, the online functionality might not be completely busted, so you may even be able to play 'em, too. (Also worth noting: the developers have been up-front about the fact that this release is not a Capcom Test and that the success of this collection will not have any particular positive or negative bearing on the future of any one game series.)
Helpful tip: Of the ten games included in this collection, six are or soon will be available in overlapping contemporary collections, albeit without online functionality or other more granular enhancements: Cyberbots is featured in Capcom Arcade Stadium, and Hyper Street Fighter II, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, Darkstalkers and Darkstalkers' Revenge are all slated to appear in next month's Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium. (There's also speculation that some of them may end up being playable within Street Fighter 6, whenever that comes out...)
- Platform::PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $39.99 or equivalent (base package), $25 or equivalent (DLC)
- Publisher: City Connection
What's this? The long-awaited PC version of City Connection's recent Deathsmiles collection, which contains Cave's popular gothic horizontal bullet hell shooting game Deathsmiles, originally released in arcades in 2007, the Mega Black Label revision and the lesser-played, Christmas-themed Deathsmiles II, originally released in 2010 with an Xbox 360 port released the following year in Japan and in North America in 2012 as a digital exclusive. This collection includes authentic ports of all three games and their attendant arrange modes and promises a more arcade-accurate experience than ports prior, and also boasts a new training mode feature and online leaderboards. Additionally, this version exclusively offers five additional playable characters from Deathsmiles' sister game, the shockingly popular Japan-only mobile shooting game Gothic wa Mahou Otome, as paid DLC.
Why should I care? You're a Deathsmiles fanatic who's willing to pay twice over the asking price of the port that already and currently exists on Steam for the sake of a training mode, slightly more accurate slowdown and the opportunity to pay even more money for a handful of nigh-broken characters from a gacha game you may not have ever played. I suppose there's also a chance one of you might be a Deathsmiles 2 fan, but I have my doubts (and if you are, you probably already know that the DS2 half of the collection is more inaccurate than even the X360 version, but given that few people noticed and fewer care, it probably won't ever get a touch-up.)
Helpful tip: City Connection's recent shooting game reissues have drawn the ire of many enthusiasts, so it may be worth explaining that the publisher has several different teams and methods of porting games to newer hardware and, put simply, the team behind these ports is the good one. (That same team is currently working on a port of Cave's Akai Katana, as it happens.)
- Platform::Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4+5, Xbox, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $39.99 each or equivalent
- Publisher: Sega
What's this? A 30th(+1) anniversary collection produced to commemorate the Mega Drive/Genesis legacy of the world's most beloved video game character, Sonic the Hedgehog, which contains remastered versions of the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the Sega CD title Sonic the Hedgehog CD and the combined Sonic 3 & Knuckles alongside a game-sequential Story Mode with animated intros, a swathe of external bite-size missions, additional mirror mode, boss rush and granular time attack modes and a museum full of unlockable videos, art, developer materials and music from across the series. Each of the games can be played in either a "classic mode" with the original 4:3 aspect ratio and progression systems, or an "anniversary mode" which displays in full widescreen, adds the Drop Dash move from Sonic Mania, eliminates the timer and lives system and allows players to spend in-game collectibles to retry special stages, among other changes. (These versions of Sonic 1, 2 and CD are touched-up versions of the existing Retro Engine ports, produced by Sega themselves, whereas Sonic 3&K is a fresh remaster produced by Sonic Mania and Retro Engine collaborators Headcannon.)
Why should I care? Put it this way: you can generally rely on Sega to eventually fix games that launch with obvious bugs, deficiencies and broken functionality, so I'm confident that this collection will, at some point, offer people the modernized Sonic tetralogy they've been dreaming of... unless you're dreaming of playing Ice Cap Zone with Ice Cap Zone's music, in which case, try again next anniversary.
Helpful tip: You may have seen the very silly and deliberately hard-to-parse DLC/pre-order bonus chart for Sonic Origins — if you couldn't or didn't want to make sense of it, or simply weren't aware that this collection had DLC, let me break it down as simply as possible: almost every piece of pre-order DLC is an early unlock for something already in the game, save for a single exclusive screen border, and everything else can be acquired by spending $5 extra for the digital deluxe version. (Most of the DLC content is frivolous things like additional menu flourishes, but the more substantial content includes additional harder missions and an extended sound test with music from Sonic Spinball, Sonic 3D Blast and Knuckles Chaotix.)
RETRO REPLICA CONTROLLERS
- Formats: wired Genesis, wired USB, wireless 2.4Gh
- Price: $19.99 (wired) / $34.99 (wireless)
- ETA: "late October (wired)" / "late November (wireless)"
An officially-licensed six-button Genesis controller with the size and form factor of the classic three-button pad... madness! Heresy! Why'd it take so long? Grab a copy for the hardware of your preference from this October.
LIMITED-EDITION PHYSICAL PRINT RUNS
Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition from Limited Run Games
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $29.99 (standard) / $89.99 (collector's edition) / $174.99 (ultimate edition)
- Availability: from June 24, 10:00 Eastern
Y'know that there Blade Runner game a ways up the page? You can grab it on disc or card if you so desire, complete with many, many optional trinkets (including, as part of the ultimate edition, a replica blaster sealed inside a shadowbox).