Retro Re-release Roundup, week of September 7, 2023
The ultimate Rune Factory game makes the jump from DS.
I was going to acknowledge the coincidence of two anime-style slow-life farming games dropping on the same day, but then I realised that's been happening multiple times a week for the past, what, seven years? Thanks, Stardew Valley!
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Allumer
What's this? A goofy military-themed vertical shooter, originally developed by Allumer and distributed in Japanese arcades by Tecmo in 1992, with no home ports or reissues until now; this game takes the conventional shot-and-bomb format and mixes in a lot of silly comic-style character illustrations and an overenthusiastic announcer who likes to shout JELLY BEAN!, as well as a somewhat unconventional rolling manoeuver that grants a brief (and necessary) window of invincibility, performed by holding a horizontal direction and then changing to the opposite direction.
Why should I care? Allumer's reputation is one of shameless imitation, but Zing Zing Zip adds a respectable level of originality to a game that one might presume was a mere clone of the likes of 1942; unfortunately for some, it also comes with a grueling level of difficulty bordering on the unfair, which runs contrary to the game's wacky tone but has its own masochistic appeal that the gravel-chewers among us may appreciate.
Helpful tip: The 1P and 2P ships have slightly different vertical and horizontal movement speed, respectively; Hamster's implemented an option to easily select the 2P ship, so give 'em both a shot.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
- Price: ¥800
- Publisher: G-MODE / City Connection
What's this? A bowling game set in the world of Momoko 1200%, the feature phone successor to Jaleco's cult arcade game Momoko 120%, originally released via the Jaleco Garesso mobile service in 2006; the simple bowling action is augmented with special moves unleashed when the gauge reaches 1200%, and special illustrations can be unlocked by hitting certain score targets, with modes including two-player local multiplayer, vs. CPU, training and a score-challenge mode.
Why should I care? The mere notion that Momoko 120% could foster such an extended universe is inherently interesting, even if this particular game bears little relation to the games from which it is ostensibly derived.
Useless fact: The original Momoko 120% arcade game has never been reissued, presumably due to its prominent use of music from the anime Urusei Yatsura as BGM, which may or may not have been officially licensed.
NINTENDO SWITCH ONLINE
SEPTEMBER '23 update: Downtown Nekketsu March: Super-Awesome Field Day! (NES), Joy Mech Fight (NES), Kirby Star Stacker (SNES) and Quest for Camelot (Game Boy Color)
What're these: The first in the sub-series of Kunio-kun multi-event sports titles (and the predecessor to the more widely-known Crash'n The Boys: Street Challenge), the first-ever international reissue of the Nintendo-published Famicom versus fighting game starring customisable robots, the first-ever international reissue of the expanded Super Famicom conversion of Kirby's original Game Boy falling-block puzzle game, and, completely breaking with theme, a Zelda-esque action-adventure tie-in to Warner Bros. famously underperforming animated feature Quest for Camelot, originally developed by Titus. (Despite the use of English titles,and the fact that this Kunio-kun game was very recently officially translated, all of these Japan-original games are entirely untranslated.)
Why should I care? Minor comprehension/navigation issues aside, you're looking at a trio of import titles that have ranked high on the list of demanded international releases since the Wii Virtual Console days, and the inclusion of Quest for Camelot is, nothing else, a potential indication that other, ever-so-slightly-more desirable games owned or associated with Warner Bros. might potentially reach NSO in the not-too-distant future.
Useless fact: I can't help but mention this whenever Joy Mech Fight comes up: this game was originally developed by a student team as part of the Nintendo-Dentsu Game Seminar and, due to complications around the ownership rights, could not be reissued nor referenced by Super Smash Bros., as revealed by Masahiro Sakurai on an old iteration of the Japanese Smash Dojo blog... and when Joy Mech Fight co-creator Koichiro Ito read this blog post, he discovered that the paperwork he'd signed to relinquish the game's rights to Nintendo had never been submitted and had instead sat in his desk drawer for a good fifteen years.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $39.99 or equivalent (worldwide)
- Publisher: XSEED / Marvelous
What's this? An enhanced remaster of the widely-acclaimed third entry in the now-defunct Neverland's series of Story of Seasons-adjacent action-RPG/farming games, originally released for the Nintendo DS in 2009/2010; aside from the customary dual-to-single-screen display adjustments, this new version features remade character/enemy models and upscaled 2D environments, fleshed out character episodes (some of which are available as DLC), expanded save slots, a new high-difficulty Hell Mode, control/interface adjustments to bring the game in line with recent entries and more.
Why should I care? Rune Factory's pioneering blend of slow-life adventure and hack-and-slash RPG was oftentimes more novel than genuinely engaging, but Rune Factory 3 was the first entry to offer a truly compelling experience that didn't collapse under the weight of a million bugs, and many might argue that stands head and shoulders above all other entries, before or since. That said, there is a degree of residual cruft that might seem inelegant when compared to the current era of farming game, so take heed.
Useless fact: Rune Factory's the Story of Seasons spinoff that took, but there was one other that remains in the vault: Innocent Life, a futuristic farming RPG with a sci-fi bent, developed by ArtePiazza for PSP/PSP and quickly forgotten by all involved.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (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. (It's been six months since the Steam release and they still haven't uploaded an English-language trailer)
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 Switch port was supposed to be out several months ago but has only trickled out just now; the PS4 port seems to be MIA, but you can import a Japanese copy and play in English if you're out of patience.
PRINT MEDIA? PRINT MEDIA!
Day of the Tentacle by Bob Mackey from Boss Fight Books
- Price: $7.95 (digital) / $16.95 (paperback) / $19.99 (digital+paperback)
- Availability: paperback ships October 3
Bob's long-in-the-making retrospective/oral history on LucasArts' 1993 point-and-click adventure game Day of the Tentacle can finally be yours to own, for the low, low price of whatever figures I've posted above.