Retro Re-release Roundup, week of November 23, 2023
They can't all be Dino Rex, huh?
Whatever commentary I might have been mulling for Limited Run Games' Jurassic Park Classic Games Collection has been completely flushed from my mind by the news that Sony chose to reissue a PSP tie-in game to the Pixar movie Up... did I completely miss the cult following for this game, or something?
Warp & Warp
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Taito
What's this? A multidirectional sci-fi maze shooter, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Namco in 1981, with conversions produced for various contemporary Japanese computer systems and an enhanced remake, retitled Warpman, released for the Famicom in 1985. The player is challenged with clearing out the constantly spawning enemies in each stage, with the periodic option to warp between an open-space area and a boxy mazed area; the space zone sees the player fighting with a projectile weapon, whereas the maze zone sees the player equipped with bombs that are placed on the ground and auto-detonate after a certain amount of time.
Why should I care? For as simple and primitive as this game may seem (and, just to be clear, it was technologically dated even by the standards of 1981), there is something compelling about the rhythm of warping between the two playfields and switching attack types... or, if nothing else, it'll give you a glimpse at Bomberman years before Bomberman.
Helpful tip: Warpman is also available on Switch via the Japanese Namcot Collection, but the game is not present on the international equivalent available on Switch and other platforms, Namco Museum Archives vol1 and 2.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
- Price: ¥800
- Publisher: G-MODE / Atlus
What's this? A 2005 feature phone conversion of Data East's notoriously bizarre 1990 arcade action game Trio the Punch, which was later reissued on PlayStation 2 in Japan and, more recently, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch via Arcade Archives; players are tasked with piloting one of three characters and progressing through dozens of compact stages by clearing out enemies and collecting the requisite amount of hearts, with a roulette between stages that randomly assigns the player buffs, debuffs and/or buffs that ultimately turn out to be debuffs.
Why should I care? I mean, it contains at least eight zillion Karnovs; what else might one want? I can say that while the conversion doesn't offer enough changes from the arcade original to make up for the poorer performance (and is in fact missing stages and enemies), it does offer some noteworthy changes, including some additional music, alterations to some of the more copyrignt-infronging character designs, attempts at player-character rebalancing and a stage select, so it's not an across-the-board downgrade.
Useless fact: In tandem with a new historical book on the early days of Data East, G-MODE seems to be focusing on Data East G-MODE Archives for the near future — BurgerTime is due out next week, even.
Grandia (PlayStation), Jet Moto (PlayStation), Parappa the Rapper 2 (PlayStation 2), Up (PlayStation Portable) plus Klonoa Phantasie Reverie Series (PlayStation 4+5)
What're these? The globally-released but compromised port of one of the Sega Saturn's premier third-party RPGs, the first entry in a trilogy of PlayStation hoverbike racing games, the lesser-played sequel to the PlayStation's smash hit rhythm-rap game and a handheld Pixar tie-in that I refuse to believe anyone, anywhere has ever played, plus the recent remasters of the two mainline Klonoa platformers. (Parappa 2's only available on PS4, but the other games should be available on both PS4 and PS5.)
Why should I care? It wouldn't be a PS Premium update without one bizarre dartboard PSP pick, but the other games being offered represent a varied selection of emblematic PlayStation games, and I'd single out Jet Moto as a game worth visiting or revisiting that I can confidently say is never, ever going to make a comeback.
Helpful tip: You should be able to buy Grandia and/or Jet Moto as standalones, or claim them for free if you previously purchased them for PS3/PSP/Vita, but whether you'll actually be able to download them without being stopped by error messages is another matter, especially on PS5.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 (worldwide)
- Price: $24.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: ININ Games / Tozai
What's this? The first volume in a five-volume series of collections focused on the game catalogue of Japanese developer Irem, which offers the arcade and Famicom/NES versions of their influential vertical shooting game Image Fight, the PC Engine CD-exclusive sequel Image Fight II and the arcade version of the grotesque horizontal shooter X-Multiply. The emulation for this collection is handled by ININ's go-to contractor Ratalaika, with all of their typical features and options — save states, rewind/fast-forwards, cheat options, screen filters and shaders and various control configs including enhanced settings that make use of the right analogue stick for additional functionality. (PS4 and Xbox versions are also coming, but they're not out right now; you can also order physical standard and collectors' editions of this volume, or all the volumes, from Strictly Limited Games, with an ETA of February for Vol.1)
Why should I care? Both of the arcade games have been available via Arcade Archives for years, but one might specifically want to consider this collection for Image Fight II, a game whose only prior global release was on the Wii U Virtual Console a year after the launch of the Switch, and one that even many Image Fight fans aren't aware of (not that it's a patch on the original, mind). As for the quality of the collection, it bares all the typical hallmarks of Ratalaika's more slipshod releases — chiefly, broken button implementation that hinders the playability of certain games and can be difficult if not impossible to manually address — but given that the publisher's on the hook for four more volumes, I figure they have to commit to patching out all the issues... right...?
Helpful tip: Image Fight II remains entirely untranslated.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox, PC via Steam (worldwide)
- Price: $29.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Limited Run Games
What's this? An emulated compilation containing several of the many tie-in games for the cinematic juggernaut Jurassic Park, developed by Ocean Software and/or BlueSky Interactive during the early-to-mid-'90s across NES, Game Boy, SNES and Sega Genesis; powered by Limited Run Games' Carbon Engine, this collection offers a basic feature suite that includes a save state for each game, rewind functionality, some basic screen settings and viewable stage maps where applicable (taken straight from VGMaps), as well as a music player for each game.
Which games are included? This collection contains seven classic Jurassics: the NES, Game Boy, SNES and Sega Genesis Jurassic Park games, as well as the Genesis game Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition and Jurassic Park II The Chaos Continues for Game Boy and SNES. (Contemporary JP games not present on this collection include games for Sega Master System, Game Gear and Mega-CD, as well as a Sega arcade game, a 3DO game and two different DOS games, one of which was also released on Amiga, so there's definitely fodder for a potential second collection.)
Why should I care? Perhaps owing to the fact that this is a multi-game compilation with an undoubedtly pricey array of licensing expenses (which include the post-announcement inclusion of the Genesis games due to popular demand), this compilation doesn't offer the same attention to detail or core emulation competency as some other, single-game Carbon Engine releases: all the telltale corner-cutting issues are here, from screen ratio issues to choppy performance to audio bugs to a dearth of controller options, but I'm going to be optimistic and presume that updates are in the works. As for the games themselves.... I think it goes without saying that your enjoyment of any or all of these games is going to be heavily contingent on an overriding affection for JP, but I do think the SNES & Genesis games (and in particular, the first SNES game) are a slight cut above the typical movie tie-in games of their day, and something one could plausibly enjoy on their own merits, if but for a brief while.
Helpful tip: The versions of the games in this collection have all undergone content edits in line with whatever the licensors can or would permit to be reproduced and/or what the involved parties were willing to pay for, so you may notice quite a few changes from game to game, ranging from the conspicuous removal of actors' portraits to audio changes that, on their face, might not immediately present as content edits.
BLACK FRIDAY KRIKZZ SALE
The once-a-year Everdrive sale is live once again, allowing people the chance to grab the latest and greatest flash carts for NES, Famicom, Game Boy, Game Gear, Master System, Mega Drive/Genesis, SNES, Turbografx-16/PC Engine, Game Boy Advance and/or Nintendo 64 at slightly-less-than-usual prices. You may want to pay attention to the PRO variants of each cart, which offer functionality that goes beyond merely running ROMs.