Retro Re-release Roundup, week of February 8, 2024

An unsung Namco sports classic makes its global debut.

Y'all finished Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth yet? Didn't think so... nor did many vintage game publishers, it seems.

Face Off

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster / Bandai-Namco

What's this? An overhead ice hockey game with a cartoony sheen, originally developed and distributed in Japaneses arcades by Namco in late 1998 and reissued just once via the Japanese Wii Virtual Console in 2009; in addition to offering 3v3 and 5v5 action, eight teams representing real-world countries and a handful of surprisingly coarse synthesised voice clips, Face Off's defining feature is its twin-stick control scheme, which broadly repurposed the control panel from their tank shooter Assault to facilitate the simultaneous control of multiple players on each team by a single person, or to allow players to team up by splitting their controls with a pal. (PSA this game might not actually be available in your country/store of choice... it seems Hamster's once again faced a trademark issue concerning the title of the game. Thanks, John Woo!)

Why should I care? It's a wonder this game wasn't ported or reissued more widely, frankly — it has all the polish, immediacy and charm of Namco's other popular sports games, and the two-stick controls allow for a controlled frenzy that wasn't possible with other arcade-style hockey games of the time.

Useless fact: The "Piccari" logo seen on certain rinks is a reference to the Namco team that developed this game and many other Namco sports titles like Famista and Family Tennis; for whatever reason, it was removed from the Wii Virtual Console version, but it's back for this reissue.


Psycho Mystery Series vol.6: Bloody Tears

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
  • Price: $7.99 / ¥800
  • Publisher: G-MODE

What's this? The sixth entry in Genki/And-Joy's Psycho Mystery series of paranormal mystery adventure games, which spanned roughly a dozen volumes, as well as radio dramas and e-books, from 2005 to 2007; set three years before the events of the original game, detective Junichi Torigoe visits Los Angeles on a training expedition and becomes involved in a serial murder investigation that saw statues of the Virgin Mary left at each crime scene...

Why should I care? This one stars one of the main protag's dad! Family drama!

Heavy-handed reference: I'd love to say the game was referencing Castlevania, but alas.


Aero the Acro-Bat 2 (SNES/Genesis) cartridge reissue via Limited Run Games

  • Price: $69.99
  • Availability: from February 9, 10AM Eastern to March 9, 23:59

LRG's reissues of the Aero series seem to be coming in reverse order — they dropped spinoff Zero the Kamikaze Squirrel last month, and now they're back with the second Aero game, reissued here with a translucent purple cartridge shell. Saving the best for last, perhaps? (No. The answer is no.)

Felix the Cat (PS5, PS4, Switch) physical versions via Limited Run Games

  • Price: $34.99 (standard edition) / $64.99 (collectors edition)
  • Availability: from February 9, 10AM Eastern to March 10, 23:59

Of all the games LRG might've pried out of the collective Konami-Hudson vault, I'm a little surprised they seemed to have beelined for Felix the Cat, a completely serviceable NES/Game Boy platformer with far less prominence than the dozens of original and licensed games produced by those companies on those platforms alone, but I'm certainly not complaining. Will they be able to unearth the unreleased Famicom version, I wonder?

Majyūō: King of Demons (SNES) cartridge run via Limited Run Games

  • Price: $59.99 / €69.99
  • Availability: orders end March 12; ETA Q3

Developed by former Kaneko/Inter State staff, this little-played 1995 beastorizing horror-action game is being reissued for cartridge for the second time, following a surprising Japan-only cartridge reissue back in 2018; what's more, this release will boast a first-ever official localization. (Whether it differs from the long-existing fan translation remains to be seen.) As per usual, Retro-Bit's providing this release to a multitude of vendors in both North America and Europe, including Limited Run Games, Strictly Limited Games and many others, so check their site for the most practical point of order.

Shadow of the Ninja - Reborn (PS5, PS4, Switch) limited & collectors' editions via Strictly Limited Games

  • Price: €29.99 (limited) / €69.99 (collectors edition)
  • Availability: limited to 3500 (Switch) / 1250 (PS5, PS4) limited edition, 2500 (Switch) / 750 (PS5, PS4) collectors' edition, ETA summer

Tengo Project's upcoming Shadow of the Ninja revival game is a little harder to categorize than their previous efforts: is it a sequel? A remake? A reimagining of the original NES game, or something else? I mean, it says "Reborn" right there in the English title, but let's speculate anyway.