Retro Re-release Roundup, week of January 11, 2024
I assure you, things are going to pick up next week, dear readers — they might even pick up within the next 24 hours via a Nintendo Switch Online game update, even, but don't quote me on that. I'm going to go ahead and throw out an early prediction: Shrek 2: Beg For Mercy's coming to the GBA app. If not now, when?
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Bandai-Namco
What's this? A falling-block puzzle game for one or two players that borrows character from Namco's popular Cosmo Gangs redemption machine, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Namco in 1992 and ported to Super Famicom a year later, and subsequently reskinned for global audiences as the Pac-Man-themed Pac-Attack for Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, Game Gear, Philips CD-i and many subsequent ports and reissues. The L-shaped pieces placed by the player generally consist of two different types of block — solid blocks, which can be cleared by creating horizontal lines a la Tetris, and aliens, which must be cleared using the left- or right-pointing spheres that occasionally enter the playfield and, when placed, move around the playfield, destroys all the aliens in its path.
Why should I care? Frankly, this game's systems are so ideally fitted to the later Pac-Man theme that it's hard to believe it was ever released without it, but that's not to say the original version is completely redundant, either: it's still entirely comprehensible and addictive in a slightly different way to your typical, single-minded shape-making or color-matching arcade puzzle game.
Useless fact: There existed a third version of this same game: Korogashi Puzzle Katamari Damacy, a stylus-controlled take with a Katamari Damacy motif that was released exclusively in Japan for the Nintendo DSiWare service, and has long been delisted.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide... well, maybe; definitely Japan)
- Price: $6.49 / ¥880
- Publisher: D4 Enterprise / System Sacom
What's this? An overhead action-RPG with a cute fairytale-esque storybook theme, originally developed and published by System Sacom in 1985 for the PC-8801 series of microcomputers, with ports quickly produced for the PC-98, Sharp X1, MSX series and, a little later, a reworked conversion for the Famicom Disk System published and co-produced by Sunsoft. The player controls a prince on a quest to return to their betrothed princess after being banished to a wasteland and cursed with the form of a satyr-esue monster; in between the action stages, which task the player with attacking and dodging enemies via projectile-heavy combat, navigating treacherous terrain and uncovering hidden items and upgrades (including floppy disks required to activate save points), the player is presented with lengthy illustrated story introductions via a format dubbed "novelware".
Why should I care? You're not only able to read the story chapters (which remain untranslated and are presented entirely in katakana) but you're willing to endure some really choppy action in order to get to 'em, and you're comfortable knowing that the story doesn't neatly resolve by the end — they made this game knowing there'd be a second one following it up soon after.
Useless fact: Märchen Veil 's programmer and designer, Yukio Horimoto, would go on to make a few other games with a similarly cute/fairytale-coded aesthetic, including the very similar Wave Jack FCDS action-adventure Kieta Princess and the cult NES/Famicom Zelda II homage, Battle of Olympus (Ai no Densetsu), which features a few enemy/character designs that could've come straight out of this game.
PATCHES & UPDATES
Metal Gear Solid Master Collection vol.1 ver.1.4.0 patch, now available on all platforms
Released on PC a few weeks ago, this Metal Gear Solid Master Collection update implements some much-requested features and tweaks for several of the included games, including the ability to enable/disable MGS1's screen filter, change aspect ratio settings or enable an optional work-in-progress toggle for faster input response, as well as broader audio and display options for the other games in the collection. (Fixes for MGS1's analog control support or lack thereof are still in the works.)
LIMITED-EDITION PHYSICAL PRINT RUNS
Cosmic Fantasy Collection (Switch) physical release & soundtrack vinyl via Limited Run Games
- Price: $44.99 (standard) / $89.99 (collectors edition), $39.99 (2LP vinyl)
- Availability: from January 12, 10AM Eastern to February 11, 23:59
Crowdfunded last year by Telenet catalog owners Edia, this collection brings the first two entries in the irreverent anime-inspired PC Engine CD sci-fi RPG series Cosmic Fantasy to Switch and features the first-ever localization of the original game alongside a brand-new localization of the second game, as well as cutscene and audio galleries, scanned manuals, save states and more. (Ignore the extremely dubious insinuations to the contrary: this collection was translated by actual human beings, not AI, and the lack of inclusion of the '90s-era Working Designs localization of Cosmic Fantasy 2 indicates absolutely nothing about the budget or scope of the project except, perhaps, a modicum of good taste.)