Retro Re-release Roundup, week of March 9, 2023
The canonical Metroid saga is together on Switch.
Tell me, folks: do any of you still carry any real animosity towards Metroid Fusion? Yes, it's talkier than Super Metroid; yes, it's more linear than Super Metroid; yes, the bosses aren't exercises in damage-tanking like Super Metroid, but one might hope that the last twenty years of breadth seen in this subgenre have softened peoples' long-standing grievances with what has proven to be a perfectly cromulent game, if for no other reason than there being eight zillion alternatives for one to enjoy that reside at all points on the spectrum of castleroid-um.
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Video System
What's this? A vertically-oriented sci-fi shooting game for one to three players, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Video System in 1991 and never ported or reissued until now. Players are given control of a flying car and tasked with defending a future timeline from an alien invasion, with the only reliable being a straight shot that gradually powers down, but one can also make use of randomly-dropped shot top-ups and random immediate-use powerups of varying usefulness.
Why should I care? Turbo Force can be considered a very, very rough test run for the team's later work on Sonic Wings/Aero Fighters and, after a company change, Sengoku Ace/Samurai Aces: their predilection for detailed sprite work, fast bullets and goofy humour is very evident, albeit with the added burden of an uncharacteristically sluggish player-ship, a bunch of egregious bugs (most of which remain present in the ACA version) and a completely unnecessary multitude of overbearing and interweaving rank systems that push the game to murder you with little to no recourse... and yet, there are certain people for whom this level of absurdity is the precise exact amount they crave, and I don't doubt a few of 'em are gonna read this article.
Useless fact: The Turbo Force car makes an appearance in Sonic Wings 3/Aero Fighters 3 as a hidden playable ship, with one of a few different pilots from other Video System games.
- Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: ¥800
- Publisher: G-MODE / SIIX
What's this? The complete version of a dragon-raising roguelike RPG, originally distributed on Japanese feature phones by G-MODE from 2003 to 2004. Players enter a variety of randomly-generated areas in order to find and collect items that can be used to power up their dragon, fighting enemies and foes via turn-based battles all the while; the player's dragon resets to level 1 at the beginning of every outing, but the items collected on each run can be used to craft items and power-ups that confer permanent stat upgrades to the dragon between runs.
Why should I care? I've not yet played this game, but the impressions I've seen make it sound like it scratches a similar itch to the average loot game, ie relatively frictionless, pick-up-and-put-down investment with the guarantee of gradual progression (for as long as it lasts, at least).
Useless fact: This game was the directorial debut of Osakana Koda, creator of the popular G-MODE-published mobile game Sepas Channel and the upcoming G-MODE-published original indie game OU.
- Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: from $4.99 to $14.99 each or equivalent; $75.90 or equivalent (bundle)
- Publisher: G-MODE / And Joy
What're these? The first ten volumes of And Joy's (formerly Genki Mobile) Tantei Kibukawa Ryousuke Jiken-tan series of detective adventure games, released for feature phones to much acclaim from the mid-'00s, eventually making the jump to Nintendo DS (and back to phones, as it turns out), and sequentially released on the Japanese Switch eShop over the past couple of years to surprising success; now, they're all available on Steam, indivually or as a bundle (and entirely unlocalized).
Why should I care? More than any series released on home platforms, this one was perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the success of Ace Attorney, but not without good reason: these games are extremely well-written and manage to touch of Famicom-era ADV nostalgia without being beholden to antiquated game systems of progression blockers. Incidentally, you can also draw a direct through-line from the reissue of these games on Switch to the existence of the just-released, Square-Enix-published adventure game Paranormasight, directed by Kibukawa's writer/creator Takanari Ishiyama and currently receiving extremely positive reviews, so if you dig that game, these games might give you a similar fix once you're done.
Helpful tip: If you want to play just one of these, try Vol.8, which is a sort of back-port of a game originally made for Nintendo DS and is suitably content-packed and newcomer-friendly.
NINTENDO SWITCH ONLINE EXPANSION PASS
March '23 update: Metroid Fusion (Game Boy Advance)
What's this? The fourth mainline Metriod game, originally developed by Nintendo and published for the Game Boy Advance in 2002 (the same day as Metroid Prime!), with later reissues for 3DS (via the mea culpa ambassador program) and Wii U Virtual Console; this game directly follows the events of Super Metroid and explores Samus' infection by the parasitic shapeshifting X virus, her relationship with a former CO and increasingly violent encounters with the SA-X, a predator formed from the excised remains of Samus' old power suit.
Why should I care? It's just nice to have the entire mainline series in one place, for one. More specifically, Fusion established the direction that future Japanese Metroid games have followed with varying degrees of strictness: tight controls, bosses that really try, extremely artificed gamey-game environments and just enough narrative to inject or diffuse tension where appropriate. You might even like the Fusion Suit!
Helpful tip: The Japanese version exclusively features easy and unlockable hard modes, as well as several additional exclusive ending images based on various time/collection criteria, but it doesn't offer English text, so you may want to save it for repeat playthroughs.
- Platform: PlayStation 4+5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $49.99 or equivalent (standard), $79.99 or equivalent (digital deluxe)
- Publisher: Koei-Tecmo
What's this? A remaster of the fourth game in Tecmo's photography-themed horror series Fatal Frame / Project Zero, originally developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and released for the Nintendo Wii in 2008, exclusively in Japan; this version marks the first official global release and boasts significantly enhanced character models and lighting, alterations to the original version's peculiar tilf-based controls, enhancements to the original save system and some new additions like a photo mode. (The digital deluxe version adds a bunch more character costumes, and can be bought as an upgrade for the standard version, should you so desire.)
Why should I care? The original game was a very prominent near-miss for international release some fifteen years ago — it was allegedly shelved due to unresolved issues pertaining to progression-breaking bugs, but whatever the reason, its disappearance ushered in an era of uncertainty and low-profile releases for a series once considered a pillar of modern Japanese horror alongside Silent Hill and Resident Evil, and so this remaster not only closure for a long-standing request but will hopefully also represent the re-emergence of a series that one could imagine is running out of chances make a big comeback.
Helpful tip: Apparently the PC port is... pretty okay? What the hell, Temco.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide outside of Japan)
- Price: $14.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Playism
What's this? A commercial remake of the acclaimed free RPG Maker 2000 art-gallery horror game Ib, originally developed and released by creator kouri in 2012 and updated until 2014; this new version offers redrawn, higher-resolution visuals, support for multiple languages, the replacement/revision of certain puzzles and some extras like a post-game gallery.
Why should I care? Ib is a quintessential title that played a significant role in ushering in the current era of deeply personal but communally-appreciated introspective horror games, and this remake hews so close to the original so as to be almost wholly additive: you wouldn't want to play them back-to-back, but you might want to play the free version and then buy this version for the sake of throwing some money kouri's way.
Helpful tip: The Steam version is also being updated today with several of the additional languages added for the Switch port.
BOOKS WHAT ARE AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE
Wanna give Jeremy slightly less of your money than you might be required to give for other, harder-cover alternatives? Amazon's got you covered.