Retro Re-release Roundup, week of March 23, 2023

Whaddya buyin'?

Honestly, I'm more of an Escape from Bug Island dude.


Bonze Adventure (Jigoku Meguri)

  • Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster / Taito

What's this? A sidescrolling action game starring Buddhist monks on a trek through the Japanese underworld, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Taito in 1988, with a conversion produced for PC Engine in 1990 and an authentic reissue via the PlayStation 2 Taito Memories compilation in 2005; one or two players are tasked with restoring order to the underworld, with their prayer-bead projectiles being their primary defense against the hordes of yokai situated therein.

Why should I care? You want to play a Ghosts'n Goblins game with a Japanese horror twist, and you fully understand that most of the games made in the shadow of Ghosts'n Goblins weren't nearly as engaging as the real deal.

Useless fact: This series has nothing to do with Taito's other, more popular yokai-fighting series, Kikikaikai/Pocky & Rocky, but main character Bonze was made a playable character in an obscure Kikikaikai port hacked together for a mid-'00s plug-and-play device.


Keitai Shoujo -Koi to Hime-  Koi ni Ochita Cinderalla-hime

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (Jaoan)
  • Price: ¥800
  • Publisher: G-MODE

What's this? A visual novel spinoff of the once-popular Keitai Shoujo franchise, released in two parts for Japanese feature phones in 2008 and compiled as one release for G-MODE Archives; this game is a parallel-world story with a very vague Cinderella motif, with characters from the main series appearing in very different roles and personalities (and more than one, in some cases).

Why should I care? You really, really have a particular fondness for the characters in the original Keitai Shoujo and aren't married to the mechanics — to my understanding, this game lacks the majority of the "feature phone ADV" conceits and is basically a straight novel game with a very finite number of choices, so this is something you'll play purely for the girls, if at all.

Helpful tip: There is a narrative through-line for why the parts that are supposed to be like Cinderella seem nothing like Cinderella, and the parts that are supposed to represent school life aren't a whole lot like school life.


Classic catalog update, February '23: Ridge Racer Type 4 (PS), Ape Escape 2 (PS2), Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror (PS)

What're these? Namco's super-stylised PS-exclusive racing game, the second entry in Sony's breakout dual-analog platformer-y action game and the first of two PlayStation Portable Syphon Filter games (both of which were later ported to PS2, but you're getting the originals here.)

Why should I care? I can only personally vouch for R4, and vouch I shall: it's emblematic of the y2k PlayStation aesthetic and offers an atypical focus on style and production and a ton more content than one might expect from this era of Ridge Racer (maybe too much, in fact).

Helpful tips: Syphon Filter's missing all the convenient button-to-stick features available on Vita that might've let you aim with the right analog stick instead of the face buttons, Ridge Racer Type 4's yet another game that PS3/PSP Classics owners can't claim and Ape Escape 2, like most every PS2 game on the service, is broken (like, this-is-guaranteed-to-crash-and-possibly-cause-seizures broken).


Resident Evil 4 Remake

  • Platform: PayStation 4 & 5, Xbox Series S/X, PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $69.99 or equivalent 
  • Publisher: Capcom

What's this? A remake of the critically-acclaimed, action-leaning fourth entry in Capcom's survival-horror franchise, originally released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2005, ported to the PlayStation 2 thereafter and subsequently ported to every platform known to humankind, including a recent VR adaptation; this new take offers state-of-the art visuals with refreshed character designs and voice acting, a new crafting system on top of the original attache case upgrade system, additional sidequests, expanded areas and a "modernization" of the core combat mechanics a la the recent remakes of Resident Evil 2 and that adds knife parries, simultaneous moving/shooting and more.

Why should I care? You're one of the silent millions who secretly really liked Resident Evil 6 but wouldn't dare admit it — congratulations, you're getting another one of those in the skin of a game you're allowed to like.

Helpful tip: If you, like most of my social media feed, absolutely cannot wait to play this game, you can play it on Xbox right now by changing your system location to New Zealand.


Weaponlord (SNES) FastROM patch by kandowontu

Fans of Visual Concept's cult galaxy-brained 2D fighting game Weaponlord have long debated which version ought to be played: the SNES version, which was clearly the base version and boasts superior visuals but is crippled by slowdown and general sluggishness, or the Genesis version which is visually compromised but, deliberately or accidentally, offers a faster and more responsive experience? That argument may now be over thanks to a new fastROM patch for the SNES version, which apparently does little more than turn back on the fastROM mode that the game was evidently intended to ship with.