Retro Re-release Roundup, week of March 30, 2023
The quintessential side-scrolling mecha game returns for a new generation.
This week's suite of re-releases is headed by a reissue of a game that one would expect to have been surpassed by now, but hasn't: Assault Suits Valken (aka Cybernator aaka "that one game LucasArts ripped off when they made Metal Warriors"), the SFC mecha action game to which all other sidescrolling mecha action games continue to be compared. Of course, this is a subgenre that lends itself to and continues to thrive in all manner of formats, but it's still a little surprising that so few other pixel-art side-scroller takes on this milieu have even come close to this one. When the Cho Aniki devs put their mind to something, there's no topping 'em, I suppose.
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Namco
What's this? An obscure vertically-oriented fixed-screen shooting game, originally developed in 1978 but not released until 1980, and never ported before now. The player, whose ship is restricted to moving along the left/right/bottom edges of the screen, is tasked with shooting into the playfield to destroy all the mines placed in each stage, dodging shots from enemy turrets all the while; large mines will create chain reactions when they explode, and destroying a certain number of mines will lower the defenses of the central fortress, which can then be destroyed for big points.
Why should I care? This is a game that was solely to clear out old arcade hardware, never made available outside of a very small number of Japanese Namco-owned arcade venues and considered "unreleased" by Namco themselves, so the very fact that it's available in a contemporary form is admirable, even if the game itself is one that might've felt archaic forty years ago.
Helpful tip: The ACA reissue includes an option to play with color visuals, which were originally achieved via a cellophane overlay on the arcade cabinet.
Assault Suits Valken DECLASSIFIED
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $24.99 / €16,99 / £14.99
- Publisher: Rainmaker Productions / M2
What's this? An emulated reissue of Masaya's cult side-scrolling mecha action game, originally released for the Super Famicom in 1992 and published globally by Konami the following year as Cybernator; developed by M2, this version offers a new, more authentic and uncensored translation of the original Assaults Suits Valken, equipped with save states, replay saving, controller configs and screen settings, and also includes an extensive gallery of supplemented material that includes the fully-translated ASCII strategy guide and new art from illustrator Satoshi Urushihara, a music player that includes the music from the original CD soundtrack and a video gallery that includes a super play and an interview with primary pixel artist Satoshi Nakai.
Why should I care? Assault Suits Valken remains the benchmark for cinematic, detail-oriented, atmosphere-drenched side-view mecha games and one that is consistently mimicked and tributed to this day, and this is an extremely reverent reissue with a truly impressive amount of ancillary material that dwarfs a lot of other more celebrated (and more expensive!) reissues.
Helpful tip: Assault Suits Valken is a prequel to the Mega Drive game Assault Suits Leynos, released globally as Target Earth — the original is available on Switch via the NSO expansion pass, and a Valken-esque remake is available on Steam and PS4.
UPDATES & DLC
Wizardry: Prisoners of the Battles DLC for Wizardry: The Five Ordeals (Steam, $24.99 or equivalent)
The virtually-complete Steam remaster of the final Wizardry Gaiden title, The Five Ordeals, has just received a somewhat surprising bit of DLC: a remake of the 2005 PlayStation 2/PC entry Sentou no Kangoku ("Prisoners of the Battles") as a Five Ordeals campaign, complete with a first-ever localization and a remaster of the Basiscape soundtrack. (Both the base game and DLC are discounted at the moment, with a price hike expected when the game leaves Early Access in a few months.)
SOUNDTRACKS & VINYL
Mega Man Battle Network vinyl LP from Ship to Shore & co.
- Price: $40.00 / €42,00 / £42.99
- Availability: ETA Q3 2023
As anticipation starts to build for the Suikoden I&II HD Remaster, Ship to Shore's getting in n the action with a vinyl soundtrack release for the original PlayStation game, complete with liner notes from Retronauts' own Nadia Oxford and cover art sourced from the original Japanese archive (as opposed to the original North American box art, which I am electing not to share right now). You can grab the blue marble variant from STS themselves, or grab the standard ocean blue version from STS, Black Screen Records (EU), Vinyl Guru (UK )or Very Ok Vinyl (Canada).