Retro Re-release Roundup, week of November 9, 2023
Two cult favorite brawlers return to modern platforms after decades.
After two decades, one of the pinnacles of classic brawler action has finally made its way to home systems: Double Dragon Advance, a focused and self-assured capstone to a particular style of melee action that many had and continue to wrongly dismiss as irrelevant in a post-Final Fight world. One can only hope that any of the eight hundred current licensees of this series might play it someday.
Shao-Lin's Road / Kicker
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Konami
What's this? A vertically-oriented kung-fu action game, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Konami in 1985 and converted for ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC, with more authentic reissues included on compilations for PlayStation, Nintendo DS and Xbox 360 Game Room. Players are tasked with defeating a specified number of enemies within each stage; the stages are designed in a compact, multi-tiered fashion with minimal horizontal scrolling, and the player has to not only dodge and attack enemies but also navigate the terrain without accidentally dropping from platforms, which incurs a fall damage penalty.
Why should I care? Contrary to most of Konami's other arcade output, before or since, this is forgiving and breezy pick-up-and-play game that I can safely recommend to pretty much anyone, and the genuine article is much quicker and punchier than the lousy conversions you may have played in your youth.
Useless fact: Shao-Lin's Road not only resembles Konami's more famous one-on-one kung-fu arcade game Yie Ar Kung Fu but is connected via lore, with several of the characters said to be relatives of those seen in Yie Ar Kung Fu
Double Dragon Collection (well, sort of)
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan/Hong Kong physical version), PlayStation 4, Xbox, PC via Steam (standalone digital games)
- Price: $4.99 or equivalent each (DD/DDII/DDIII) / $6.99 or equivalent each (Super DD/DD Advance/DDIV)
- Publisher:Arc System Works
What's this? A collection of sorts that bundles three contemporary reissues from the classic Double Dragon catalog — the three NES games, recycled from the Double Dragon & Kunio-kun Brawler Bundle released a couple years back — with the 2017 throwback game Double Dragon IV and two brand-new reissues: the 1993 Super Nintendo title Super Double Dragon (and its touched-up Super Famicom counterpart, Return of Double Dragon) and the Game Boy Advance title Double Dragon Advance. The emulator suite for these games includes save states, screen settings with borders and scanline options and some other game-specific tweaks and options, like a turbo feature for Super Double Dragon that lets you play at up to x2 speed, and local co-op and higher-quality audio support for Double Dragon Advance. (The physical collecton is exclusive to Japan and Hong Kong, but I'd be shocked if LRG or some other boutique publisher isn't cooking up their own version right now.)
Why should I care? Those waiting and hoping for a curated anthology of classic Double Dragon are going to be left sorely wanting: this is mostly just a grab-bag of existing games with no attempt made to tie them together or add any sort of supplementary or historical material, and it goes without saying that it's missing quite a few of the classic games (like all four arcade games!), so it's not comprehensive, either. Those who just want to play some of the later, lesser-represented Double Dragon games with little fuss should be happy enough: Return of Double Dragon is a game that many have long insisted does much to redeem the underwhelming Super Double Dragon, and Double Dragon Advance represents the apotheosis of Technos' signature brand of brawler combat and a more authentic tribute to the classic games than any of the other post-Technos games than bear its name.
Helpful tip: The versions of the classic NES trilogy included here do not contain their Famicom counterparts, but the first two Famicom games are available via the Nintendo Switch Online Famicom app, should you want to jump through those hoops.
LIMITED-EDITION PHYSICAL PRINT RUNS
Jurassic Park 2: The Chaos Continues (SNES, Game Boy) cartridge reissues from Limited Run Games
- Price: $64.99 (standard edition) / $99.99 (collectors edition)
- Availability: from November 10, 10:00 to December 10, 23:59 Eastern
Coming in tandem with the imminent Jurassic Park Classic Games Collection for contemporary platforms are these vintage cartridges reissues of Jurassic Park 2 for SNES and Game Boy — not The Lost World, mind. Both versions of these games are being released in transluscent "amber" cartridge shells, with the collectors editions sporting some internal LEDs that produce a light-up effect.
BUY SOME BOOKS WHY DONTCHA
From now until November 27, you can grab any of the books currently in stock at Press Run Games for 15% off — as of right now, their selection mostly includes hardcover copies of books from the likes of Jeremy Parish, Stuart Gipp and Kevin Bunch. I know those people!