Retro Re-release Roundup, week of April 27, 2023
Square-Enix's surprise sleeper remake hits PlayStation and PC.
When one of these first-ever localizations of a smaller RPG makes the jump from one platform to another, I generally tend to implore people to lend their attention to a worthy game that repeatedly finds itself overlooked... but in the case of the Live-A-Live remake, w'ere talking about a game that sold and reviewed unexpectedly well and will no doubt continue to do so across a wider number of platforms. Will the inevitable Unlimited Saga remake be so lucky?
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Namco
What's this? The fourth official game in the Galaxian series, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Namco from late 1987, with home conversions produced for Sharp X68000, Turbografx-16 (as Galaga '90) and Sega Game Gear (as Galaga '91/Galaga 2) and the occasional emulated reissue thereafter; this game eschews many of the changes from the preceding game, Gaplus, and adopts a more "Galaga Again" approach, albeit with new elements like an even heavier emphasis on combining player ships and a "dimension" system that lets players warp to higher difficulty tiers by collecting certain capsules during gameplay, with the game's ending determined by which dimension the player is occupying upon beating the game.
Why should I care? A lot of players who casually pick up and/or return to Galaga tend to be taken aback by how tough it can seem right from the beginning, and I think Galaga '88 probably bears a closer resemblance to the pick-up-and-play experience they remember — not that it doesn't bite, mind, but if you elect not to pick up the blue capsules then it really is rather easy.
Namco Museum Overlap Watch: Yep, this is a repeat.
- Platform: PlayStation 4/5, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $49.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Square-Enix
What's this? A port of last year's formerly-Switch-exclusive remake of Square's 1994 Super Famicom multi-scenario "omnibus RPG", originally developed in collaboration with several mangaka from the publishing company Shogakakun and released exclusively in Japan, with a modest 20th-anniversary reissue on the Japanese Wii U and 3DS Virtual Consoles. This version of the game is presented with the hybrid pixel art/polygonal "HD-2D" style popularized by Octopath Traveler and boasts a newly re-arranged soundtrack by original composer Yoko Shimomura, voice acting during key dialog and some other modern touches like optional waypoints and a minimap, on top of a mostly-faithful recreation of the original battle system and scenarios. (Aside from support for higher resolutions, this port seems unchanged from the initial Switch release.)
Why should I care? When this game hit Switch last year, I cautioned people by stressing that the game is less an RPG and more a succession of vignettes unified by an RPG-esque framework, with the thinking that the lack of conventional RPG structure and progression loops might be a turn-off, especially given the age of the original game and the implied lack of expressive capabilities relative to its age... but as it turns out, there's a surprisingly large audience out there who not only wants to play something that challenges the boundaries of the RPG template but specifically want to see how golden-era Square approached the idea of challenging RPG conventions, and that audience is now about to get a whole lot bigger.
Helpful tip: It's pronounced "lie-ve a lie-ve", not "livv a livv".
- Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $29.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Success
What's this? A remaster of the 2008 PlayStation Portable version of the first game in Success' long-running farm sim Shepherd's Crossing/Hitsuji Mura. which saw traditional releases on PlayStation 2, PSP and DS in the '00s but has been relegated to Japan-only mobile and social games for the last fifteen years or so; this remaster remains largely faithful to the contents of the original PSP game (itself an enhanced version of the original PS2 entry) but adds some quality-of-life features like an enhanced item carry limit, various degrees of display zooming on your farm and new UI indicators for moving and placing objects. (An embeddable English trailer would be nice, but alas.)
Why should I care? This series was traditionally compared (mostly unfavorably) to Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons but now, in a post-Stardew Valley world inundated with derivations of the same farm-and-romance framework, it stands a good chance of wider reappraisal: the game's focus on rearing animals rather than constant crop cultivation, unique barter-heavy progression system and relatively undemanding time mechanics make it a curious and compelling instance of divergent evolution within a subgenre many believe to have been exhausted long ago.
Helpful tip: This PC port is spartan in all the ways you'd expect a cheap PC port from a smaller Japanese dev to be, but if you're happy to play on consoles, you might want to wait for the Switch and/or PS4 versions, which will be out globally in June (and is already available with English text in Japan right now, at least on Switch).
LIMITED-EDITION PHYSICAL PRINT RUNS
Irem Collection Vol.1 (Switch, PS4, PS5) preorders from Strictly Limited Games
- Price: €34.99 (standard) / €89.99 (collector's edition) / €159.99
- Availability: ETA Q4 2023 (box set in 2024)
Irem descent Tozai Games has teamed up with Strictly Limited Games on a series of collections reissuing the game catalog of the classic Japanese studio Irem, beginning with a first volume containing the arcade and home versions of the shooting games Image Fight and X-Multiply, which are up for order right now in standard and collector's edition configurations... and, if you're so confident in the quality and game selections of these collections that you're willing to commit to the whole five-volume series sight unseen, then you can even throw down for a complete box set. (These collections are also coming digitally to Xbox, by the by.)
Trip World DX (Switch, PS4, PS5, PC) & Trip World (Game Boy, Game Boy Color) cartridge reissues from Limited Run Games
- Price:$34.99 (standard) / $74.99 (collector's edition) / $39/99+ (cartridge)
- Availability: from Aprl 28, 10:00 Eastern to June 11, 00:00 Eastern
Limited Run Games' latest classic game reissue project goes beyond a mere reprint: they're working with Game Boy colorization hacker toruzz and original director Yuichi Ueda to present Sunsoft's little-played side-scroller Trip World in both its original form and an all-new colorized version, for both modern platforms and on cartridges compliant with both authentic Game Boy and Game Boy Color hardware (and for the first time in North America at that). Due to technical constraints, they weren't able to include the original game and the colorization on one cartridge, so think carefully about which version you really want...
READ A BOOK SOMETIME, WILL YA
Atari Archive Vol.1 standard ($34.99) & collector's edition ($69.99) hardcover books from Press Run Books
Y'all caught the latest podcast episode on Patreon, right? Right, so y'all know what it be... but, in the event that you didn't: you're looking at the first volume in a series of books that promise the most comprehensive historical overview of the Atari VCS ever committed to page, penned by regular Retronaut Kevin Bunch, and it's available to ship as soon as you put in your order.