Retro Re-release Roundup, week of September 21, 2023
Shockman goes Rockman.
You're not going to see any of these games until many roundups from now but I feel I should point out the staggering number of left-field reissues, reboots and revivals of obscure old games coming out of Tokyo Game Show right now: Assault Suits Leynos 2! Exerion! Rushing Beat aka Rival Turf/Brawl Brothers/The Peace Makers! Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja! Formation Z! Game Center CX (1 AND 2)! Relics! RELICS!
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Athena
What's this? A vertically-scrolling shooting game with the tried-and-true theme of defending against extraterrestrial invasion, originally developed by Athena using SETA hardware and distributed in arcades by Tecmo in 1991, with a heavily-arranged conversion produced for Super Nintendo the following year; this game coasts on a couple of big gimmicks, including the ability for players to combine into one extra-powerful ship when playing together, and the subweapon system that sees players selecting one of ten subweapons before each round, with the caveat that that weapon cannot be chosen again for subsequent stages, which theoretically adds a little strategy to the player's choice of armaments.
Why should I care? You're familiar with the SNES version and want to see for yourself how the SNES devs managed to wring a C-class game out of D-class material. (This release is significant for a broader reason: it's the first ACA release from the catalog of Athena, which was recently acquired by Hamster, and includes several, much more interesting arcade games including the shooting game Daioh and the Ghouls'n Ghosts-but-birds action game J.J.Squawkers., so good things are on the horizon, at least.)
Useless fact: This reissue offers an option to disable the absurdly short time limit on the name entry screen.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox (worldwide)
- Price: $5.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Ratalaika Games
What's this?The second entry in Masaya's mostly-Japan-exclusive Kaizou Chounin Shubibinman series of "henshin hero" co-op action games, originally developed and published for the PC Engine in 1991 and published in North America for the Turbografx-16 the following year as, confusingly, Shockman. In addition to Ratalaika's well-trodden suite of enhancements (save states, rewind/fast-forward, shaders, button mapping, cheats, etc), this reissue allows you to play either the original Japanese game, the original 1992 localization or a newly-translated version that brings it in line with the recent translation of the first game.
Why should I care? This game offers a lot of drastic changes from the original, and they're mostly for the better: the format changed from Monster Land-at-half-speed melee combat to something pretty close to Mega Man-esque shooting action with auto-scrolling shooter sections, the quality of the visuals and music went way up, the tone became a little more melodramatic and at no point will you feel like the game glitched and activated permanent ice physics. Put simply, if one were to single out any entry in the series as The Good One, it'd be this one.
Helpful tip: Irrespective of everything I just said above, this game was extremely divisive among Japanese fans of the original due to its shift in structure and tone, and so the follow-up modeled itself directly after the original game and not the sequel (and also introduced its own problems, which I'm sure will be revealed to the world in short order).
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $44.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Edia
What's this? A four-game collection of shooting games taken from the wildly inconsistent library of Nihon Telenet, published in Japan last year after a crowdfunding campaign that just barely met its goal; as with the previously-released Valis collections, this compilation offers basic save states, rewind functionality, button mapping, sound and cutscene galleries and scans of the original manuals and other printed materials.
Which games are included? This collection includes the horizontal Sega Genesis/Mega Drive sci-fi shooter Gaiares, Laser Soft's cutscene-laden PC Engine CD helicopter shooter Avenger, the tokusatsu-themed vertical PC Engine CD shooter Psychic Storm and the Genesis/Mega Drive version of Wolf Team's overhead tank shooter Granada (which you may have recently played on the Genesis/Mega Drive Mini 2).
Why should I care? Avenger and Psychic Storm are, for all their faults, representative of the naive faith that many publishers seemed to have in the inherently transformative power of the CDROM format, irrespective of its application, and Gaiares and Granada are perfectly pleasant games that will probably sell modestly well if and when they're not anchoring a collection all on their own.
Useless fact: In a recent Japanese interview promoting this collection, one of Gaiares' original developers was asked about the North American advertising face of the game, the legendary Jamie Bunker, and replied by saying that he had very faint memories of once meeting Renovation's "pro gamer" celebrity... and that he was terrible at games.
LOOK WHAT JUST GOT DUMPED
Um Jammer Lammy NOW! (arcade) dumped and available at archive.org
Did you know Namco released an arcade version of Um Jammer Lammy with more music, more stages, difficulty settings moderately-higher-quality cutscenes? Did you know fans had been hunting for a cabinet for ages, until they happened to locate one in the possession of UK media personality Jonathan Ross? Did you know you can play it in MAME right now? Oh, you did? How is it? I haven't tried it.
PROBABLY-NOT-THAT-LIMITED PHYSICAL PRINT RUN
Pikmin 1+2 (Nintendo Switch), out September 22 in North America ($49.99)
LIMITED-EDITION PHYSICAL PRINT RUNS
Jurassic Park Classic Games Collection (Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox) from Limited Run Games
- Price: $39.99 (standard) / $64.99 (classic edition) / $149.99 (prehistoric edition)
- Availability: orders close 23:59, October 15 (Eastern)
One of the small benefits to ever-so-occasionally neglecting to mention certain things during any given roundup, like I may or may not have done last week, is that it gives me the opportunity to eventually make y'all aware of things once they've reached a state of optimal interestingness. Case in point: LRG's Jurassic Park game compilation, which was initially put up for order last week and initially intended to solely cover the NES/SNES/Game Boy games produced by Ocean Software, has just been upgraded to also include the two Sega Mega Drive/Genesis games produced by BlueSky Software and published by Sega, which I'm sure will tip the scales for a lot of people (despite the SNES game being the one that truly matters, right?).
Rainbow Cotton (Switch, PS4, PS5) from Strictly Limited Games
- Price: €34.99 (limited edition) / €74.99 (collectors edition)
- Availability: limited to 5000/1000/1000 copies (limited edition) / 2000/500/500 copies (collectors edition)
Success' recent deluge of Cotton remasters missed just one game Rainbow Cotton, the thoroughly mediocre Dreamcast-exclusive rail shooter than many have blamed for putting the series into stasis for the better part of two decades. Props must go to SLG, I suppose, for going to the effort of not only remastering this game for modern consoles and releasing it globally for the first time but also attempting to fix the game's control and mechanical issues — if we're all lucky, they may have redeemed the black sheep of this franchise.
SOUNDTRACKS & VINYL
The Scheme: 21st Century Revival arranged soundtrack from Limited Run Games
- Price: $14.99 (CD) / $29.99 (vinyl) / $49.99 (signed gold vinyl)
- Availability: orders close 23:59, October 22 (Eastern)
One of the perks of being as well-known a composer as Yuzo Koshiro is that they can produce an arranged version of a soundtrack from a game released exclusively for a late-'80s Japanese computer than most international players have never seen or heard of and trust that people will jump at the chance to throw money at them... and sure enough, I wouldn't mind a copy, either. In addition to new arrangements of select tunes from The Scheme's two original soundtracks using of-the-era synths, this soundtrack boasts new key art by Click Medic and Bushi Seiryuuden artist Ken Sugimori.