Retro Re-release Roundup, week of May 18, 2023
A clunky PC Engine curio gets an unexpected localization.
...alright, be honest; y'all are just gonna go right back to playing Zelda, aren't ya?
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / UPL
What's this? A surreal arena shooter and a remake of sorts of the earlier NOVA2001, originally developed and distributed in Japanese arcades by UPL in 1989, with the first-ever reissue being the PlayStation 4 Arcade Archives version released in 2017; players are tasked with blasting their way through 23 wide arenas filled with indescribable enemies, via the use of a two-button system that uses one button to shoot and another to alter and fix your angle of fire. (The above screenshot is taken from the Williams-esque stage-clear effect and is not at all representative of the moment-to-moment look of the game, but Hamster chose to use that screenshot to represent the game and I respect their choice.)
Why should I care? You want a condensed dose of UPL strangeness, crammed into a simple and surprisingly forgiving (if and when you use autofire!) Robotron-esque shooter — seriously, there are unceremonious asset rips from at least three other UPL games in here.
Useless fact: There remains just one ACA PS4 title that has yet to come to Switch, and it probably won't ever make the jump: Wonder Boy, released exclusively in Japan way back in 2014 and licensed directly from original developer Westone during their final days, and now owned by a small consortium that doesn't seem to want to do business with Hamster. For what it's worth, the original arcade game and multiple various other conversions are available on Switch in other forms.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
- Price: ¥800
- Publisher: G-MODE / Althi
What's this? A 2008 feature phone remake of the first entry in a Taisho-era detective mystery series originally developed by Japanese adventure game pioneers Riverhillsoft for Japanese microcomputers in 1988 and subsequently ported and remade to the likes of PC Engine, Windows and Nintendo DS; in this first entry, the fledgling detective Ryunosuke investigates the death of a wealthy pharmacist who is alleged to have taken their own life with one of their own drugs, but...?
Why should I care? Riverhillsoft had a long pedigree of adventure games, with the J.B.Harold series being perhaps the most internationally-known of the bunch, but this was perhaps their second-most popular series, and while I certainly don't have the bandwidth to add a period drama into my current routine, perhaps you do.
Helpful tip: There are eight more installments in this series, plus a phone-exclusive gaiden series with five or six more entries.
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $9.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: 8-bit Legit / Sivak Games
What're these? An emulated version of one of the very first big-impact physical NES homebrew games, originally developed and released by Sivak Games from 2008 to 2010, with reprints and revisions in the many years since, including a substantial revision made for a Famicom cartridge release a few years ago and an Xbox release last year; this version offers all the revisions of the Famicom version and more and is presented here with the option for a few different screen borders, a scan of the manual and... well, that's it.
Why should I care? As an overall package, this release is abysmal: it not only lacks all of the basic emeneties one would expect from an emulated NES game — no screen settings, no button mapping, no save states — but it also seems to be entirely dependent on passwords for saving/resuming, which is just asinine. As for the game itself, the original release turned a lot of people off by outwardly resembling Mega Man but playing far more like I Wanna Be The Guy and other rote "masocore" games of the day, but the many updates made to the game over the years may have sufficiently reined it in to the point where you might now be able to tolerate it.
Helpful tip; The raw ROM is available for purchase, for use wherever and however you see fit, and I'd much sooner suggest you do so than buy any of the official console versions.
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $5.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Ratalaika / Masaya
What's this? The first entry in Masaya's "henshin hero" action game series Kaizou Choujin Shubibinban, originally released for the PC Engine in 1989 and followed up with three sequels for PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 (as Shockman),, PC Engine CD and Super Famicom Satellaview, respectively. On top of the usual assortment of Ratalaika enhancements (save states, rewind, button remapping, screen setting, cheats and a modest image gallery), this reissue allows you to play either the original Japanese game or a brand-new localized version sporting the title Cyber Citizen Shockman.
Why should I care? Shubibinman is a series that, to whatever small degree, coasted on being one of the first prominent original games in its milieu, and one might argue that this first entry is not nearly stylish enough to counter the player-character's absurdly sludgy and unsatisfying handling, but it is nice to see the licensees at least attempt to treat it with some degree of reverence, and this release paves the way for later, less interminable entries to make their way back into the spotlight, so that's somethin'.
Useless fact: "Shubibin' is an onomatopoeia for something whizzing through the air at super-fast speeds.
- Platform: PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $9.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Secret Mode / Sumo Digital Academy
What's this? A port of the 2021 remaster of Gremlin Graphics' would-be Sonic killer, a game originally targeted for Amiga and ported to a multitude of contemporaneous 8- and 16-bit consoles; produced as part of a student training initiative in Gremlin's native Sheffield, this release offers both an emulated version of the original Sega Mega Drive port and a new 'Redimensioned' mode with a wider viewing area, new moves for the player-character, altered progression requirements and other user-friendly tweaks, as well as a new local multiplayer that is currently exclusive to the PlayStation version.
Why should I care? Ask Stuart, he recorded an entire podcast about it. For what it's worth, I feel this remaster did virtually everything possible to convert naysayers to the school of Zool without rendering it unrecognizable from the original, and I think one might be surprised by how much less tedious the game has become thanks to some relatively minor, common-sense tweaks.
Useless fact; One of Zool's stranger outings was as part of an official commercial asset/code template for the Game Maker engine.
TRY YOUR LUCK
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (PC), relisted, delisted and possibly relisted again
Red Fly Studios' overly-ambitious 3D TMNT action game has been gone from digital storefronts since 2017, but today has seen it randomly flickering in and out of availability on Steam, presumably due to some clerical error and not because it's genuiely in the process of being re-upped, but if you ever want to get your hands on the closest approximation of technical 3D combat as applied to the TMNT template (and yes, that includes the Platinum game, not that that's saying much), maybe try your luck on this link.
LIMITED-EDITION PHYSICAL PRINT RUNS
- Price: €34.99 (standard edition) €54.99 (collectors edition)
- Availability from May 21, 00;00 CET; limited to 2600/1400 copies (Switch) / 1300/700 copies (PS4)
Originally released exclusively for the Xbox 360 in Japan in 2011, this high-intensity vertical shooting game put developer Qute and composer Yousuke Yasui (of later "Yokai Disco" fame) on the map, with the later well-received PC port garnering international acclaim, but it's somehow managed to evade a global physical release until now, with these packaged versions of the recent, enhanced ports for Switch and PS4; these versions also include ports of Eschatos' spiritual predecessors, the independently-produced WonderSwan games Judgment Silversword and Cardinal Sins, and yes, they work splendidly with the ol' Flip Grip.
YOU DIDN'T FORGET, DID YA
Analogue Duo preorders open May 19, 15:00 UTC, $249
Three years behind schedule and $50 over the initial asking price, Analogue's FGPA-powered PC Engine family replicator system is finally going up for order — it'll allow for accurate, lagless, convenient play of all your original-format PC Engine games on modern displays, with support for both original controllers or modern wired & wireless replicas (sold separately, of course).