Retro Re-release Roundup, week of December 22, 2022
Ride of the Valkyries (okay, just one).
Happy holidays, Retronauts! Or, as we release-schedule-watching dorks might say, happy where's-Goldeneye-already-I-know-it's-coming-quit-screwing-around weekend!
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Namco
What's this? A free-scrolling overhead helicopter shooting game designed for a large moving cabinet, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Namco in 1988 and never reissued until today; players are tasked with destroying a certain quota of enemies in each stage within the time limit, with a control schemes that includes both a throttle and a stick for adjusting altitude, which has been emulated here with a sizeable array of different controller configurations.
Why should I care? Of all of Namco's System II scale-and-rotate showcases, Metal Hawk might be the most immediately accessible, and learning how to optimise a route through each mission in tandem with mastering the controls gives it a racing game-esque edge.
Helpful tip: The PS4 version of ACA Metal Hawk has some exclusive bonus functionality: it's compatible with the Cyber Stick USB, the Sharp X68000 twin flight stick peripheral recently produced in conjunction with the Mega Drive Mini 2! You'll have to use a standard controller to navigate the menus and to set the button configs (including changing the orientation of the sticks), but if you plug the stick in during the attract screen, it should register as a controller. (The Cyber Stick has not been certified for console compatibility, so there's no guarantee this functionality will remain intact, or that it'll ever come to the Switch version.
NINTENDO SWITCH ONLINE EXPANSION PASS
NSO December '22 update: Alien Storm, Columns, Golden Axe II, Virtua Fighter 2 (Sega Genesis/Mega Drive)
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: included with the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pass subscription service
- Publisher: Sega
What're these? The extremely unambitious home sequel to Sega's beloved fantasy brawler, the home conversion of Golden Axe's sci-fi/horror sister series, the eternal gem-matching falling-block puzzle game and the inexplicably omnipresent Genesis conversion of what might be the genre-defining 3D fighting game. (These actually dropped last week, but who's counting?)
Why should I care? There's a good reason three of these games are Genesis reissue staples: they're solid second-tier picks whose lesser reputation in no way implies a lack of crafstmanship or modern-day enjoyability, and their respective aesthetics, if not necessarily distinctive in and of themselves, are representative of a certain era of the Genesis' library. As for VF2... I mean, they gave it an honest try, they really did.
Useless fact: I did the math and it seems VF2 Genesis has been reissued at least 11 times, versus the authentic VF2's 8 (four of which are as Yakuza minigames, so they barely even count).
REPLICA/"MINI" PLUG-AND-PLAY HARDWARE
Egret II Mini Arcade Memories Vol.1 expansion pack
- Platform: Egret II Mini (Japan)
- Price: ¥8778
- Publisher: Taito
What's this? The first(?) expansion pack for last years Egret II Mini desktop arcade unit, which adds ten additional games via the SD card slot and comes bundled with a 32P strategy guide/interview book and ten additional mini how-to-play arcade cards.
Which games are included? This expansion includes six games by Taito themselves — Cleopatra Fortune, Gekirindan, Light Bringer (Dungeon Magic), Riding Fight, Grid Seeker and PuLiRuLa — two games from the Toaplan catalogue — Daisenpuu (Twin Hawk) and Slap Fight — and two games from the little-known developer SETA — Ougon no Shiro (Gladiator) and Great Swordsman.
Why should I care? These games are, for the most part, deep cuts chosen for the hardcore Taito freaks who pre-ordered the Mini from day one and bombarded every user survey: there are a lot of games here that are more notorious than popular, and a deceptive amount of effort has gone into legally clearing a handful of these games that one would have to think is very hard to justify, but they did it and I'm sure a small handful of you threw down your hundo months ago. As for the rest... I mean, you're kinda not expected to get it.
Helpful tip: Much like the paddle/trackball expansion kit, you cannot access the unit's standard games while the expansion card is in the SD slot, presumably owing to differences between the emulator on the card vs. on the base unit.
- Platform: PlayStation 4+5 (worldwide)
- Price: $19.99 / €19.99 / £15.99
- Publisher: SIE Worldwide Studios / Square-Enix
What's this? The enhanced port of the first entry in Tri-Ace's side-view action RPG series Valkyrie Profile, originally released for Sony PlayStation in 2000, brought to PlayStation Portable in 2006 and ported to iOS/Android in 2018; this reissue is an emulated version of the PSP port running in Sony's own PSP emulator, which adds a few filter settings, trophies, save states and rewind functionality.
Why should I care? This reissue was announced in tandem with the release of the new outsourced Valkyrie universe spinoff Valkyrie Elysium, a game that has already been largely forgotten and whose middling reception may well spell doom for the series moving forward, so buying the reissue might at least send the message that there remains a paying audience for authentic Valkyrie Profile games. As for the game itself, this is a hugely influential title that none of the many games that claim it as an influence — from more overt examples like Exist Archive and Indivisible to the umpteen mobile/social games with timing-based, tap-to-attack oer-unit RPG combat — have managed to meaningfully replicate, so you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not going direct to the source.
Helpful tip: The iOS/Android versions of Lenneth feature several enhancements not present in the PSP version, including many UI/menu quality-of-life tweaks and high-resolution character portraits, so if you don't mind playing on a telephone, you may want to look into those ports instead. (They're on sale right now, even.)
UPDATES UPDATES UPDATES
Digital Eclipse's first Cowabunga Collection update packs a punch: not only does it attempt to address many of the quality-of-life irritants concerning the online lobbies and certain button mapping deficiencies, it also adds new strategy content, a bevy of filters for the Game Boy games based on various hardware versions, audio fixes for the arcade/Genesis games and, most notably, online multiplayer functionality for the SNES port of Turtles in Time. (Online play for TMNTIII is scheduled for a future patch, too...)
SOUNDTRACKS & VINYL
- Price: $70 / €55
- Availability: ETA April 2023
An international vinyl release of the soundtrack to a never-localized Artdink hot air balloon simulator? That's right, and before you ask: no, you're not going to be able to gift any of these for xmas.