Retro Re-release Roundup, week of February 9, 2023
Whaddya know, a bona fide Retro re-release.
I don't know if the era of "where's Super Mario RPG?" will ever truly end, but make no mistake: the era of "where's Mother 3?" has assuredly... well, not "begun" but certainly "gotten way the hell louder".
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Allumer
What's this? A digital adaptation of the card game Speed, originally developed by Allumer and distributed in arcades in 1994 via a custom sit-down cocktail cabinet with oversized buttons arranged of the position of the cards shown on the screen; two players can go head-to-head, or a single player can choose one of three routes and battle a variety of CPU opponents, with each game broken up by brief character interactions a la the popular versus puzzle games of the day.
Why should I care? There's not much to decipher or discover about this one: it's a fast-paced card game wearing the skin of a versus puzzler, and the CPU's not so ruthless that you can't enjoy it on your own. (You might also care to know that Hamster has formally acquired the Allumer game catalog, meaning this is just the first in a series of planned Allumer reissues, which include... a bunch of clones of other, better shooting games, mostly.)
Helpful tip: This game's two-on-top, four-on-bottom button layout doesn't necessarily map cleanly to every controller, but this reissue does offer several different control configs alongside button mapping, including a first-ever ACA feature for Switch owners: you can enable touchscreen controls, which allow you to play by directly tapping the cards in handheld mode.
NINTENDO SWITCH ONLINE
Game Boy (NSO) & Game Boy Advance (NSO+) come to Switch
What're these? Game Boy/Color and Game Boy Advance apps for the Nintendo Switch, complete with now-standard NSO features like quick suspend, save states, rewind and both local and wireless online multiplayer between same-region friends, as well as system-specific features like the ability to choose between Game Boy, Game Boy Pocket and Game Boy Color screen settings, and a "reproduce classic feel" toggle that adds a faux dot-matrix filter and simulates effects like screen ghosting and fake transparencies. (The Game Boy app comes with standard NSO subscriptions, but you need the big-boy Expansion Pass to play the GBA app.)
Which games are included? The Game Boy app launched with Tetris, Super Mario Land 2, Kirby's Dream Land, Gargoyle's Quest, Metroid II, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX, Game & Watch Gallery 3, Wario Land 3 and, for some reason, Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare, while the GBA app launched with Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 (with e-reader stages included!), Mario Kart Super Circuit, The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, WarioWare Inc.: Mega Microgames! and the formerly Japan/Europe-exclusive Kuru Kuru Kururin. (The Japanese GB app is missing AitD but exclusively contains Nintendo's launch-title mahjong game Yakuman.)
Why should I care? Allow me to restate the obvious: the Switch is a handheld device, and it's absurd to think that it's gone almost six years without consolidated access to the libraries of previous Nintend handheld devices, especially those that only used a single screen... and, now that they're here, it seems that the emulation is pretty good to boot. It's also worth noting that the inclusion of online and local wireless multiplayer means that these apps have the potential to foster a new appreciation for a ton of old games whose multiplayer modes originally went underplayed due to the burden of requiring multiple systems, cartridges and/or link cables (plus, yknow, willing partners).
Helpful tip: GB games scheduled for the not-too-distant future include The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages & Oracle of Seasons, Pokemon Trading Card Game and the tilt-controlled Kirby Tilt'n Tumble, plus Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru/"The Frog for whom the Bell Tolls" in Japan; GBA games in the pipeline include Metroid Fusion, F-Zero: Maximum Velocity, Golden Sun, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror and Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade (aka Fire Emblem 7 aka just Fire Emblem), as well as Fire Emblem: Fuuin no Tsurugi (aka Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade aka Fire Emblem 6) in Japan.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $39.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Nintendo
What's this? A long-rumored, surprise-dropped remaster of Nintendo and Retro Studios' influential and critically-acclaimed first-person reinterpretation of the Metroid series, originally released for the Gamecube in 2002 and brought to the Wii with altered controls and other subtle enhancements as part of the Metroid Prime Trilogy in 2009; this version retains all the animations, world layouts and mechanics of the original but greatly modernizes the visuals and adds a wealth of alternate controller and acessibilty options, including convential dual-stick FPS controls, gyro-assisted aiming or, if you're a purist, the original, idiosyncratic GC control scheme.
Why should I care? It's been so long since the last mainline Metroid Prime game that one would be forgiven for forgetting (or simply not being around for) the massive and profound impact this game had on launch: it represented perhaps the most transformative and seamless 2D-to-3D adaptation of any classic game franchise to date, it rebirthed a series that had long lay dormant and many presumed never to return; it demonstrated the peak of the Gamecube's graphical capabilities and it cemented the once-shaky reputation of Retro Studios... to many people, this sub-series and specifically this game is Metroid, and I'd be extremely curious to see how it fares with modern players borne into a post-metroidvania, post-CoD world. At a glance, it looks like "remaster" might be underselling the graphical overhaul, too.... they actually put in some work, whaddya know.
Helpful tip: If you prefer to buy physical, you'll be able to pick up a physical copy at the end of the month.
- Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $39.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Sega
What's this? A belated Steam release of the 2021 remaster of one of the more critically-not-hated games in the 3D Sonic oeuvre, originally released for the Nintendo Wii in 2010; this version added retouched visuals with support for upto 4K resolution, classic and arranged music, gameplay changes like the removal of lives and an assist system for deaths via pits and extra content like "rival rush" races through competed stages, among other things.
Why should I care? It was thoroughly and conspicuously broken when it launched everywhere else, so those of you who waited this long to try it should be getting the optimal experience, I suppose. As for the game itself, those coming off the back of Sonic Frontiers might want to remind themselves what it's like to play a game with, like, stuff in it.
Useless fact: The Switch version of this remaster was released in such a shoddy state that it accidentally contained a ton of developer tools within the game files, which helped modders crack certain file formats that had troubled them since the Wii days.
- Current price: $19.99 (may rise at launch)
- ETA: 3~5 months
A few years back, an erstwhile employee of the Japanese studio Sting took it upon themselves to singlehandedly port their signature SRPG Yggdra Union, originally released for Game Boy Advance in 2006 and ported to PlayStation Portable in 2008, to current smartphones, and that initiative proved to be so successful that the studio has now reissued and/or remastered half a dozen games from their catalog of cult and unorthadox RPGs... exclusively in Japan, that is, with no English options and no indication that anybody seems able or willing to localize them for a global audience. Now, out of nowhere, Sting's brought an early-access version of Yggdra Union to Steam, complete with English script, and barring some strange translation inconsistencies and the typical fledgling-PC-conversion issues, it seems pretty much complete, so you may want to dive right in and hope that your early show of support leads to them bringing over Baroque and Knights of the Nightmare and everything else they have in the tuck.
LIMITED-EDITION PHYSICAL PRINT RUNS
Xtreme Sports(Switch, Game Boy Color) physical editions from Limited Run Games
- Price: $34.99 (Switch) / $44.99 (GBC)
- Availability: orders end March 12
Shantae wasn't the only original GBC game produced by WayForward: they also developed Xtreme Sports, a California Games-esque minigame collection with a thin Pokemon veneer, and now the folks at LRG are bringing it to the modern ero for both Switch and authentic GBC hardware, complete with neat burnt-orange cartridge shell.