Retro Re-release Roundup, week of August 3, 2023
Reprise of the triad.
Yo, fake-Apogee: you still own Blake Stone, right? D'ya see where I'm going with this?
Bakutotsu Kijuutei: Baraduke II
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Bandai-Namco
What's this? A free-scrolling horizontal sci-fi shooting game and sequel to the far more widely-played Baraduke, originally released in Japanese arcades in 1988 and reissued just once, on the Japanese Wii Virtual Console; players are tasked with navigating to the end of each horizontally-scrolling stage and fending off enemies, either via their default wave gun or via a variety of revolver-shaped vehicles that offer different weapons and allow the player to take an extra hit.
Why should I care? It's not hard to understand why this game doesn't have the reputation of its predecessor — the odd shift in tone from moody sci-fi to almost comical might be difficult to stomach, and the stage designs amount to narrow corridors packed with enemies that take forever to die — but it's not poorly-made, necessarily, and the Arcade Archives version adds some very specialized auto-fire options that help mitigate the tankiness of the enemies.
Useless fact: For whatever reason, this game stars Baraduke's player-two character Takky, rather than the more well-known and recognizable player-one character Kissy.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
- Price: ¥800
- Publisher: G-MODE / City Connection
What's this? A remake of Jaleco's (in)famous Famicom baseball game Moero!! Pro Yakyuu, known overseas as Bases Loaded, released for Japanese feature phones in 2004; this new version offers more detailed graphics and extra modes, including a "dramatic mode" that allows the player to take on pre-set conditions, and a straightforward homerun derby mode.
Why should I care? You haven't realised that the original Bases Loaded/MoePro isn't actually on the Nintendo Switch Online NES/FC app.
Helpful tip: This version has an on/off toggle for the origina's notoriously broken "bunting almost always results in a home run" behaviour.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox (worldwide outside of Japan)
- Price: $29.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: City Connection / Toaplan
What's this? An emulated reissue of the Sega Saturn port of Toaplan's final arcade shooting game Batsugun, originally developed and distributed in Japanese arcades in 1993, with a revision planned for the following year and released somewhat ambiguously into arcades; both versions were included in the Saturn port. This is the first "Boosted" release in City Connection's S-Tribute line and as such, it offers some more specific features and enhancement on top of the standard emulator functionality (save states, fast-forward/rewind, speed settings, button mapping, etc), which include a brand-new arranged soundtrack and the option to set tunes from any of the four included soundtracks per-stage, a basic practice mode, screen options that attempt to better replicate the full resolution of the original arcade game, an extended score counter for the leaderboards and more. (This actually appeared on international stores with no fanfare at the end of last week...)
Why should I care? Batsugun represents not only the swansong of a storied arcade developer but also an evolutionary link between their traditional style of shooting game and the bullet hell style that its developers would cultivate at studios like Cave, and this reissue attempts to present the game with a little more reverence and thoughtfulness than the relatively unadorned releases that precede it. As for the ever-present concerns about input lag, the original Saturn port was not especially laggy, so even with the unavoidable input delay added by the emulator, my feeling is that most people will consider it to be within the realms of tolerability.
Helpful tip; There is a global physical version in the works, and this delayed global digital release was meant to fall in tandem with an announcement of the physical version, but nobody's talking right now, so search me.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $13 or equivalent
- Publisher: Triangle Service
What's this? A port of a vertically-scrolling shooting game originally released in Japanese arcades in 2002 under the title G-Stream 2020 and later ported to Xbox 360 in Japan as part of the Shooting Love 10th Anniversary collection under the new title DELTAZEAL, with a further port to PC in 2015; this out-of-nowhere Switch version is largely identical to the X360/PC versions, which offer screen rotation settings, adjustable options, online leaderboards and replays, but adds an exclusive new developers' commentary feature that offers subtitled/text-to-speech trivia and inside info.
Why should I care? Not only does this game offer a very straight-down-the-line arcade shooting experience in the vein of later Raiden games, it also stands as a monument to the perseverance of the one-person studio that made it — to make a long story short, the original arcade version was "canceled" by its publisher and the developer not paid for any of their work, only for the publisher to turn around and release it in an unfinished state, and only through the resourcefulness of the developer were they not only able to survive but reclaim their game in some fashion, and it now exists as both a 10th-anniversary and 20th-anniversary commemoration of their commitment to scrappy, heartfelt shooting game development.
Useless fact: The Raiden comparison go beyond mere mimicry: DELTAZEAL's pixel artist had previously worked on the original Raiden Fighters.
- Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $19.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Apogee / Nightdive Studios
What's this? A remaster of Apogee's 1995's more-than-Wolf, less-than-Doom first-person shooter, Rise of the Triad, originally released on PC in 1995, with a 3D reimagining released in 2013; this Nightdive-produced remaster includes all the original commercial episodes and expansion packs alongside an adaptation of the fan-made Return of the Triad and a brand-new episode and allows players to play at ultra-HD resolutions and uncapped framerate, with access to the full multiplayer suite via online or LAN play, a level editor, the option to use the soundtrack from the 2013 game, the implementation of unused/cut/beta content and more.
Why should I care? You're confident that the proliferation of a level editor and the collective ingenuity of countless thousands of new players might result in someone finally constructing a halfway-interesting ROTT level.
Helpful tip: There are console versions of this remaster in the works that were held up at the last second due to silly administrative issues, so they should be available any day now..
ROM HACKS & TRANSLATIONS
Cool Cool Toon (Dreamcast) fan translation by Derek Pascarella & co.
After decades of demand, SNK's extremly y2k Dreamcast rhythm game Cool Cool Toon is not only playable in English but presented with a suite of touch-ups, including a new bonus menu full of extras including browsable replicas of the original websites, documentation on the game's hidden support for the Samba de Amigo maraca controllers and more. (The more adventurous among you may want to implement this hex edit to display the game in imperfect widescreen.)