Retro Re-release Roundup, week of February 22, 2024

The pre-eminent retro tributes return to the modern era (in Japan, at least).

I typically wouldn't profile a Japan-only release via the roundup if it seemed likely to be officially released worldwide, so let me get the bad news out of the way: Game Center CX 1+2 REPLAY, the just-released Switch remaster of the cult retro-games-in-a-game anthologies originally released, is only available in Japan, does not support English and is currently not being considered for international release. Now, might that change if enough people make enough noise, or if any of the boutique publishers out there can convince Bandai-Namco to let them handle a global release, like XSEED managed to do with Retro Game Challenge? I really don't know, but what's the internet for if not futile complaints?



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

What's this? A snake-hunting maze game, originally developed by Konami and distributed by Konami and Stern in arcades across 1981 and 1982, with contemporary conversions for the Emerson/Bandai Arcadia and Tomy Tutor/Pyuta in 1982 and a lone emulated reissue via the Xbox 360 Game Room in the late '00s. Players are given control of a segmented snake-like creature and tasked with eliminating the other snakes lurking each maze; colliding head-on with a shorter snake will destroy them, while shooting them will gradually remove segments from their body, with the side-effect of making them faster and harder to eliminate.

Why should I care? You want to try something from Konami's early arcade catalog that isn't Frogger or Scramble, or you remember playing Broderbund's old computer game Serpentine and want to experience the original game that they were ripping off.

Useless fact: Konami once demoed a multiplayer-centric sequel for PC Engine, titled Battle Jungler, but it never saw the light of day.


Hydlide 3 (PC-8801)

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $6.49 / ¥880
  • Publisher: D4 Enterprise / Nihon Falcom

What's this? The third and final game in the classic, mainline Hydlide trilogy, originally developed by T&E Soft for the PC-8801 in 1989 and quickly ported to most of the Japanese computers of the day, with a Famicom conversion and a globally-released Sega Mega Drive port (renamed Super Hydlide) released soon after; this entry builds on the foundation of Hydlide II with several ambitious systems including a shift from bump-contact to combat with button presses, a day/night cycle, a character class system and a weight/encumbrance mechanic, as well as a more pronounced narrative and a plethora of ostensibly-helpful NPCs.

Why should I care? Hydlide 3 was developed during the initial sea change from inscrutable secret-laden RPGs to games with a gentler difficulty curve and a more authored focus towards guiding the player from beginning to end ― and, to be sure, it is a gentler game than its predecessors, albeit one with an abundance of systems that require enough micro-management that both engrossed and overwhelmed players in the late '80s but might just strike modern players as tedious and annoying. In other words, this wasn't quite the mass-market Hydlide game one might've hoped for, and one could imagine them reaching their goal within just one more game, but as it stands, they did pretty okay.

Language barrier? Hydlide 3 launched with an English option back in the day and it's quite legible, so you're good to go. (The preponderance of NPCs who say nothing but "What?" is not a translation issue; they have just as little to offer in Japanese.)


February '23 NSO update: R.C.Pro-AM (NES), Snake Rattle & Roll (NES), Battletoads in Battlemaniacs (SNES), Killer Instinct (SNES) & Blast Corps (N64), plus Mother 3 (GBA)

What're these? A quintet of classic console games from the library of former Nintendo-owned developer Rare, including the SNES entry in their popular action-brawler series Battletoads, a classic NES racing game, an inventive isometric NES action/platformer, the SNES conversion of their hit arcade fighting game and an arcade-y vehicular action game that is, by far, the best N64 game Rare ever made. (The Japanese NSO+ GBA app received Mother 3 today: no, it's not translated, and no, Nintendo has given zero indication that they intend to do anything with it outside of Japan.)

Why should I care? I mean, they added the wrong Battletoads game, but let's look past that for a second: Rare's strength, both as an independed developer/publisher and an appendage of Nintendo, was their ability to quickly and regularly bash out technically-proficient and ambitious games across all genres, and this handful of games, which are very different from each other but all worthwhile in their own right, exemplifies that to the fullest. (It's also nice whenever the NSO SNES app, which offers rollback netcode for online multiplayer, gets any fighting game at all, let alone one might conceivably want to play.)

Useless fact: There exists a side-scrolling companion game to Snake Rattle & Roll for Game Boy, titled Sneaky Snakes, and Nintendo could conceivably add it to the NSO Game Boy app, if they ever remember that the NSO Game Boy app exists.


Game Center CX Arino no Chousenjou 1+2 REPLAY

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
  • Price: ¥6,940
  • Publisher: Bandai-Namco

What's this? A remastered collection of indieszero's two retro game collections loosely themed around the long-running Japanese vintage game TV show, Game Center CX; these games were originally released for the Nintendo DS in Japan in 2007 and 2009, respectively, with only the first released globally, as the license-agnostic Retro Game Challenge. Remastered by indieszero and MUTAN, this collection recreates all 20+ original retro-style games for a one-screen configuration and offers several enhancements, including local two-player support and online leaderboards for select games, while also adding one brand-new game: the Kunio Kun-esque belt-scrolling brawler adventure game, Honou no Kakutou Salaryman Yattaro(There's also a special edition that includes a DVD with a few exclusive game challenges, as well as reprints of the video content produced around the making of the original DS game.)

Why should I care? Upon their original release, the Game Center CX games drew attention for being some of the first mainstream game projects to embrace nostalgia for vintage games in a thorough and authentic way — not just the games themselves, but all the extra attention-to-detail gives to the fictitious game magazines and manuals, and the way the chronology of the games mirrored the trends and advancements of their era — as well as the cult popularity of a TV show that pioneered the concept of watching someone play and commentate over an old game. Nowadays, completely divorced of the novelty of playing a bunch of loving sendups to classic 8/16-bit videogames, one can simply marvel at how amazingly well-crafted all of these games are, and how astounding it is that they were ever able to produce so many high-quality games at a time when other struggle to develop single games of comparable quality. (I should also mention that you don't need to have watched or know anything about the TV show to enjoy or understand the game.)

Useless fact: The developers constructed a 3D recreation of host Arino's desk/gaming station from the TV show to use on the title screen, which they were forced to retake after a comment from Arino: the monitor was modeled with a tangled mess of cables protruding from the back, but Arino insisted that their popular cameraman Abe would never abide such sloppy cable ettiquete and insisted they re-do the model.


Shantae Advance: Risky Revolution (Game Boy Advance) via Limited Run Games

  • Price: $59.99 (standard) / $99.99 (collectors edition)
  • Availability: from February 23, 10AM Eastern to April 7, 23:59

Long-previewed, much-anticipated but never-released, Wayforward's planned GBA Shantae sequel was ultimately shelved and left unfinished after a financier could not be found, with several of its ideas and assets repurposed for other games, including the DSiWare titles Shantae: Risky's Revenge and Mighty Flip Champs. Decades on, Limited Run Games has stepped in to help get the game across the finish line and is making the game available on authentic GBA-compatible cartridges, in both standard and collector's packages.. Now, the extent to which the game has been "completed" vs. merely edited to resemble a complete product has not been made clear, but I presume they've replaced all the placeholder assets they borrowed from Monster World IV, at the very least.

The King of Fighters XIII Global Match (PS4, Switch) via Limited Run Games

  • Price: $39.99 (standard) / $69.99 (collectors edition)
  • Availability: until March 23, 23:59 Eastern

If SNK never makes another authentic 2D fighting game ever again, they can rest easy knowing two things: one, they went out with a banger, and two, they did the right thing by revisiting this game a decade later in order to let Code Mystics retrofit it with rollback netcode, ensuring people can play the game online for what might as well be the first time ever. (Interestingly, only the collectors' edition seems to be exclusive to LRG.)