Retro Re-release Roundup, week of October 19, 2023
Super Mario Wonder? Sonic Superstars? Spiderman 2? All irrelevent in the face of Blandia, trust me on this.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster
What's this? A fantasy-themed weapons-based one-on-one action game, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Allumer in 1992, with the only home versions before now being ports to the Japanese FM Towns and PC-9801 computers; after selecting one of six characters, the player is tasked with taking on a friend or a succession of CPU opponents, including four unplayable bosses, via a three-button, high/mid/low combat system built around shattering the opponents' armor and attacking their exposed weak points.
Why should I care? One would be forgiven for immediately writing this off as a forgotten Street Fighter II bandwagoner, but it's actually a successor to the Taito-published arcade action game Gladiator that retains and expands many of its predecessors' distinctive combat systems within the fighting game format; as such, it willfully ignores any of the lessons imparted by SFII on matters like hitboxes, collision detection, command inputs or general listenability. Infuriating? Sometimes. Entertaining? Definitely, if you have the right sparring partner. Bland? Hardly.
Useless fact: The instruction card insists that playing against another human makes this game three thousand times more fun, so be sure to rope in a pal!
October '23 classic games update: IQ Final (PlayStation), Ape Escape Academy, Soulcalibur Broken Destiny &Tekken 6 (PlayStation Portable)
What're these? The sequel to the surprise arthouse action-puzzle hit Intelligent Qube, the rapid-fire minigame-focused sorta-adaptation of Ape Escape 2 and portable conversions of the hottest Namco fighting games of 2008.
Why should I care? You're far enough from Intelligent Qube that you could stand to go in for another game, you're completely comfortable with the idea of buying versions of fighting games that won't let you fight against other people, or you want to try a game that allegedly sold and reviewed so poorly that Sony of America was dissuaded from bringing over anything Ape Escape-related for many years after.
Helpful tip: Namco's back on their nonsense, so there's no way to redeem or purchase Soulcalibur or Tekken as standalones.
- Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $9.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Ziggurat
What's this? A two-pack containing emulated versions of David Crane's memorably-titled side-scrolling NES adventure game A Boy and His Blob and its lesser-played Game Boy sequel, The Legend of Princess Blobette; this Carbon Engine-powered collecton offers English and Japanese versions of both games with enhancements that include save states, screen filters and a music player.
Why should I care? For as finnicky and exacting as these games might be, just having save states does help to keep the focus on puzzling your way through the environment and not, like, wasting all your items or wandering aimlessly through the same few screens over and over.
Useless fact: Proposed and or/developed between these two games and the 2009 Wii revival game were new entries for Game Boy Advance and DS, and several work-in-progress ROMs for the DS versions recently leaked, to some controversy.
- Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $14.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Disney Electronic Content / Empty Clip Studios
What's this? A remaster of the sole video game based on Disney's cult 1990s cartoon series Gargoyles, originally developed by Disney Interactive and published by Buena Vista Interactive for the Sega Genesis in 1996; this version, produced by Empty Clip Studios, allows the player to switch between the original visuals and new high-definition graphics and offers a rewind feature, save states, button remapping and a remastered soundtrack.
Why should I care? The very fact that Disney's not only willing to let a game of this modest caliber out of the vault but is also willing to let a small studio make such drastic changes to the visuals suggests that they might be similar permissive with regards to the many more interesting games in their cataloge, and that's the silver lining I'm taking from this dark, weirdly-smoothened cloud.
Useless fact: The game's original programmer released the source code to this game on their website many years ago, alongside a very incomplete ROM for a canceled SNES version, and I imagine that very code underpins this remaster.