Retro Re-release Roundup, week of February 23, 2023
Kirby returns to Dream Land (with new hat!)
As if this week wasn't already packed, here's one more new release that sits right on the precipice of being vintage: Akka Arrh, a Jeff Minter reinvisioning of a canceled and unfinished Atari arcade game that officially resurfaced for the first time as part of the recent Atari 50 collection. Spoilers: the audiovisuals could be described as excessive!
Don Doko Don
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Taito
What's this? Yet another branch of Taito's fixed-screen action game tree, originally developed and distributed in arcades in 1989 and subsequently ported to Famicom and PC Engine and succeeded by a Natsume-developed Famicom sequel, with later emulated reissues on PlayStation 2, Xbox and the recent Egret II Mini; one or two players control hammer-wielding carpenters on a quest to rescue kidnapped royalty, whose method of dispatching foes consists of whacking 'em with their hammer and tossing them across the screen at other foes.
Why should I care? You want something a little more immediate (that is to say, absolutely boneheaded) than the likes of Bobble Bubble, or you're one of the five people on earth who bought this thing.
Helpful tip: Like many games of its ilk, Don Doko Don is packed with arcane systems and secrets, including an entire second set of stages that one could conceivably never discover on their own, so I'll just spell out how to find them: on the first level, climb to the top platform and jump and swing in the air at the center of the platform until you reveal the secret key; grab it and enter the secret room, and from there, climb to the left corner of the uppermost platform and swing to the left until you uncover a second key; that key will take you to a password room, and if you enter ♡ ♤ ♢ ♧ ♢ ♡ ♤ ♧ within the time limit, you'll move onto the second set of stages and be eligible for the true ending.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5 (worldwide outside of Japan)
- Price: $9.69
- Publisher: Limited Run Games
What's this? A digital version of the emulated Bill & Ted two-pack sold physically by Limited Run Games some months ago; this Carbon Engine-emulated collection features the NES game Bill & Ted's Excellent Video Game Adventure, originally developed by US studio Rocket Science Productions and published by LJN, and the Game Boy game Bill & Ted's Excellent Game Boy Adventure: A Bogus Journey!, originally developed by Australian studio Beam Software and published by Acclaim, alongside some basic screen settings and options, save states and a music player.
Why should I care? Search me, I didn't watch these movies.
Helpful(?) tip: These ports were also announced for Xbox and PC, and those versions do seem to still be coming.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $59.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Nintendo
What's this? A remake of the 2011 Wii action game Kirby: Return to Dream Land (Kirby's Adventure Wii in Europe) that boasts a more refined high-definition art style and augments the contents of the original game with a few new copy abilities, several assist options for newcomers, the integration of new and returning sub-games (some with online leaderboards and other passive functionality) into a themepark-themed "Merry Magoland" side hub, unlockable character cosmetics and a new post-game campaign starring RtDL newcomer Magolor, among other things.
Why should I care? The original Return to Dream Land represented a a long-awaited return to consoles for mainline Kirby games and the beginning of a second wind of traditional Kirby games that was very directly maintained by the two 3DS titles and the more recent Star Allies... but what will it represent in 2022? My hunch is that time may have reduced it to being Just Another Kirby Game, especially now that it exists in the shadow of Kirby's decades-in-the-waiting 3D game Forgotten Land, and I don't know that the extra content is necessarily going to dramatically shift peoples' sentiments, but y'all tell me.
Useless fact: Yes, they changed Dedede's look pretty significantly for the remake — it basically conforms to how he looked in the most recent game, but why they felt the need to retrofit that design into this old one is anyone's guess.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide outside of Japan)
- Price: $12.99 or equivalent (The Lost RPGs), $14.99 or equivalent (Retro Collection), $29.99 or equivalent (Great Yokai Battle DX)
- Publisher: ININ Games
What're these? Segmented chunks of ININ/Strictly Limited Games' recent physical collection of classic games from the cult Japanese series Ninja JaJaMaru-kun, originally developed and published by Jaleco near-exclusively in Japan in the '80s and early '90s: specifically, there's a collection of five Famicom/Super Famicom/Game Boy action games, a double-pack of freshly-localized Famicom RPGs and a deluxe pack that bundles the retro collection with a new retro-style JaJaMaru game subtitled The Great Yokai Battle (which can also be purchased as a standalone, if you just want the new game.) Confusingly, despite offering near-identical packaging and contents to the JaJaMaru collection released in Japan some years back, this is actually a distinct collection programmed by ININ's go-to, Ratalaika, and offers their usual feature suite of screen filters and shaders, save/load settings, button configs, toggleable cheats and modest art galleries, with the games themselves now sporting English titles and text where relevant, as well as brand-new colorizations for the Game Boy games.
Which games are included? Retro Collection contains Ninja JaJaMaru-Kun (Famicom), Ninja JaJaMaru’s Big Adventure (JaJaMaru no Daibouken, Famicom), The Great World Adventure (Oira JaJaMaru! Sekai Daibouken, Game Boy, now in color; originally released in English as Maru's Mission), Ninja JaJaMaru: Operation Milky Way (Ninja JaJaMaru: Ginga Daisakusen, Famicom), and Super Ninja-kid (Super Ninja-Kun, Super Famicom), which technically isn't a JaJaMaru game, but whatever. The Lost RPGs contains Ninja JajaMaru: The Ninja Skill Book (Ninja JaJaMaru: Ninpouchou) and Ninja JajaMaru: The Legend of the Golden Castle (Ninja JaJaMaru: Gekimaden – Maboroshi no Kinmajou), both of which were newly translated for this release.
Why should I care? You're one to applaud the work that goes into enhancing Japanese curios for global consumption, irrespective of whether the games themselves necessarily hold a lot of appeal; for what it's worth, I do think NES barrel-scrapers will find something to enjoy from JaJaMaru-kun and Operation Milky Way, at the very least. That said, one might also lament that the same amount of work doesn't seem to have gone into the emulation, which is currently very obviously broken in certain configurations, but you'd have to imagine it won't go unpatched forever.
Helpfup tip: You can also buy The Great Yokai Battle on Steam, direct from developer City Connection, but I don't believe any of the other contents from any permutation of this collection are scheduled for release on PC/
- Platform: PlayStation 5, PSVR2 (worldwide)
- Price: $29.99 or equivalent (standalone PS5), $9.99 (PS4-to-PS5 upgrade)
- Publisher: Enhance Games
What's this? The latest version of the synaesthesic 3D rail shooter Rez, originally developed by Sega subsidiary United Game Artists for the Sega Dreamcast in 2001 and ported to PlayStation 2 soon thereafter, with an HD remaster produced for Xbox 360 in 2008 and VR-enhanced Infinite versions produced sequentially for PlayStation 4, PC, Android and Oculus Quest from 2016; this version runs at 4K, 60FPS on PS5 and 2k-per-eye, 120FPS on PSVR2 and adds new haptic feedback functionality via DualSense and/or PSVR2 headset, as well as a new PSVR2 control method that allows you to aim and shoot via eye-tracking.
Why should I care? You innately understand that the primary purpose of new game hardware is to facilitate uptouched versions of games you routinely purchased for the last three generations of console hardware, and that the best VR experiences are not bespoke software tailored from the ground up for VR but old games with VR bolted on. I'm only half-kidding, by the way: Rez is a game one can and should happily re-experience every half-dozen years, and the new area added to the Infinite version really does add a new dimension to the game that those who haven't played since the Dreamcast games are bound to appreciate, especially if played in VR.
Useless fact: Fantavision also made a comeback as a PSVR2 launch title. Fantavision!
SOUNDTRACKS & VINYL
Mega Man Battle Network vinyl LP from Ship to Shore & co.
- Price: $30.00 / €30,00
- Availability: ETA Q3 2023
Capcom's long-anticipated, online-enabled Battle Network collections are almost upon us, and so Ship to Shore's climbed aboard the hype train with an LP release of Akari Kaida's original MMBN soundtrack (and with authentic original art on the jacket at that). The NetNavi variant pictured above is already sold out, but StS still has the "battle chip" splatter variant in stock, and you can also pick up a "Blue.EXE" blue version from US vendor Light in the Attic, or a "Protoman.EXE" red variant from EU vendor Black Screen Records.