Retro Re-release Roundup, week of March 16, 2023
Experience the origin of Kirby's most merchandisable friends.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of this week's: update: a four-pack of Nintendo Switch Online games, so soon after Metroid Fusion, and they're all... good?.And I mean "any one of your friends, acquaintences and/or colleagues could repeatedly play and enjoy all of these" good, not "I continue to count the days until we are blessed with Earnest Evans" good. What can I say, I have a refined palate.
⁽ᴬᵖᵒˡᵒᵍᶦᵉˢ ᶠᵒʳ ᵗʰᵉ ʳᵉᵖᵉᵃᵗ ᶦⁿᵗʳᵒ, ᵃⁿᵈ ᶜʰᵉᵉʳˢ ᵗᵒ ᴳᵘᶦˡˡᵉʳᵐᵒ ᶠᵒʳ ᶜᵃᵗᶜʰᶦⁿᵍ ᶦᵗ ʷʰᵉⁿ ᴵ ᵈᶦᵈⁿ'ᵗ ⁻ ᴵ'ᵈ ᵗʰᵃⁿᵏ ʸᵒᵘ ᶦⁿ ᵗʰᵉ ᶜᵒᵐᵐᵉⁿᵗˢ ᵇᵘᵗ ᴰᶦˢᵠᵘˢ ᶠˡᵃᵍˢ ᵐᵒˢᵗ ᵒᶠ ᵐʸ ᶜᵒᵐᵐᵉⁿᵗˢ ᵃˢ ˢᵖᵃᵐ. ˢᶦᵍⁿᵉᵈ, ᵀʰᵉ ᶜᵗʳˡ⁻ᶻ ᴬᵇᵘˢᵉʳ⁾
3-D Thunder Ceptor II
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Namco
What's this? A revision of Namco's yoke-controlled, sit-down 3D rail shooter, originally released soon after the original in 1986 and never brought to home platforms until now; this version notonly rebalanced the existing content and added new stages, enemies and obstacles but was also equipped with LCD shutter goggles in order to provide a stereoscopic 3D experience (which isn't available here... yet...)
Why should I care? When the original hit Arcade Archives, I confidently declared that a reissue of the sequel would be an impossibility, so if you wanna rub it in my face, here's your chance. Either way, both of these games represent an unsung link in the evolution of pseudo-3D arcade games and are particularly impressive for what was essentially 8-bit hardware.
Helpful tips: Not only does the PS4 version of 3-D Thunder Ceptor II support the USB Cyber Stick peripheral, recently produced in conjunction with the Mega Drive Mini 2, but the vanilla version has also been patched to offer that same compatibility. Additionally, Hamster intends to add PSVR support to 3-D Thunder Ceptor II at some unspecified point in the future.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Jaoan)
- Price: ¥800
- Publisher: G-MODE
What's this? A "slow life" game set on an Okinawa-esque southern Japanese island, originally developed and distributed on Japanese feature phones by G-MODE in 2011; players spend five days on a fictional island, befriending and/or romancing the locals and engaging in minigame-style activities and events, with multiple endings that are dependent on one's relationship status and minigame accomplishments.
Why should I care? Mobile games of this era were made with such stringent capacity restrictions that the sheer breadth of activities and dialog necessary for a satisfying life sim weren't really possible; as such, this game's streamlined adventure game-esque format helps tie a satisfying bow around an experience that might have otherwise felt empty or aimless.
Helpful tip: This game is a sequel to Churashima Kurashi, one of the few G-MODE Archives games to also hit Steam.
NINTENDO SWITCH ONLINE
March '23 update: Xevious (NES), BurgerTime Deluxe (Game Boy), Kirby's Dream Land 2 (Game Boy) & Side Pocket (SNES)
What's this? The big-in-Japan home port of the Namco shooter that Jeremy is obligated to reference in every Game Works video, an expanded remix of Data East's inexplicably-canonised 1982 arcade game, the first handheld sequel to HAL Laboratory's hit suck-em-up and the SNES iteration of Data East's once-prolific digital pool series.
Why should I care? This is the first time in a while that NSO's presented a full, varied suite of games that are all sensible, conventionally-fun and well-made titles... so naturally, it bugs me a little, but I'm sure the well-adjusted among you will be more than happy with everything on offer. I mean, who doesn't like hamsters?
Useless fact: Someone at HAL thought they were really clever when they assembled this level layout... and, given that their handiwork seems to have persisted for almost thirty years, perhaps they were right.
Terminal Velocity: Boosted Edition
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $11.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Terminal Reality / Ziggurat Interactive
What's this? An enhanced version of Terminal Reality's arcade-y 3D shooting game, originally released for PC in 1995 and ported to iOS/Android in 2015; this new version updates the original game with support for widescreen rendering, higher framerates, massively increased draw distance and altered polygon rendering for less jitter, with other small additions like achievements and restored spatial 3D audio.
Why should I care? Terminal Velocity's relatively mindless, flippy-dippy gameplay offered a pleasant nexus between the flight simulators of the day and the 6DOF subgenre codified by Descent, and one might be surprised by how just a few technical tweaks have preserved and enhanced the game's sense of speed.
Helpful tip: Owners of the original standalone Steam release should be able to claim a free copy of this version, but those who own the original version via the 3D Realms Anthology are out of luck.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam (worldwide outside of Japan)
- Price: $39.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: NISA / Falcom
What's this? The second and final chapter of the "Crossbell Arc", a substory within Nihon Falcom's Trails series of melodramatic sci-fi RPGs, which themselves are a sub-series of The Legend of Heroes; this particular game originated on PlayStation Portable in Japan in 2010 and was followed by a Taiwanese PC port in 2011, an enhanced version for Vita in 2012 and a port of the Vita version to PlayStation 4 in 2020, with none of those versions ever localised, so this version (produced in collaboration with the fan translation group Geofront) will allow the English-speaking world their first chance to experience the game.
Why should I care? When Trails to Zero came out late last year, I talked about the series' reputation for being extremely long and dialog-dense games with a zillion entries had kept me from ever taking the plunge, and thus I couldn't offer any personal insight as to why you should play them... and, well, nothing's changed, but I can say that the negotiations required to allow fan translators to collaborate on localization in an official capacity is something that should be applauded and encouraged.
Helpful tip: As with Trails to Zero, the PC and Switch versions of Trails to Azure were freshly-produced as part of the localization effort and, as such, contain several technical and quality-of-life enhancements over the PS4 version, which was a direct localization of Falcom's own port with minimal alterations.
ROM HACKS & HOMEBREW
Mega Man 2 SNES port by infidelity
Just as the title says, you're looking at an exacting port of good ol' Mega Man 2, painstakingly converted for SNES hardware and as accurate as one could hope (bugs withstanding). Now, you might be wondering what the point of such a port might be, beyond the novelty or the sheer technical flex, so let me explain: this port can potentially serve as a foundation for more expansive remixes that take advantage of the SNES' fuller color pallete, enhanced audio from either the SNES' own audio hardware or streamed audio, etc... or, you can just use it as a means of playing with slightly better visual output than your NES is capable of, iunno.
TOYS WHAT YOU GLUE TOGETHER
Assault Suits Valken ASS-177A "Renewal Version" plastic kit from PLUM (¥7810)
Timed to coincide with the Assault Suits Valken (Cybernator) reissue planned for the end of the month, this revised reprint of PLUM's 2013 Valken kit offers a more game-accurate color scheme, the addition of the booster unit upgrade and some small tweaks for easier construction. There may or may not be a smaller, cheaper, quicker-to-assemble alternative in the pipeline, too, but I'm sure many of you would be most satisfied with the full-fat version.