Retro Re-release Roundup, week of March 21, 2024

An archetypal horror game franchise gets rebooted (yes, again).

I'm usually averse to mentioning GOG releases in these roundups, what with their repeated flirtations with transphobic "humor", but I'm making a quick exception in order to let people know about their out-of-nowhere re-up of Obsidian's secret-agent immersive shooter-RPG Alpha Protocol  not just because it's the true inheritor of the Deus Ex legacy, and a game whose ties to Sega mean it's unlikely to ever be revived in any meaningful way, but because it's been a quiet week and I gotta mention somethin',


Surprise Attack

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

What's this? A sci-fi side-view action game, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Konami in 1990 and never reissued until now; players control an agent on a mission to thwart a terrorist organization that has infiltrated a moon base, which they do by shooting 'em dead and disarming bombs across a variety of multi-planed stages, with the occasional upside-down zero-gravity section and incongrous quiz minigame thrown in for good measure.

Why should I care? Once Namco established a particular format with Rolling Thunder and Sega flipped it into a global hit with Shinobi, all the big arcade makers had to take a crack at this particular style of side-scrolling action game, and Konami acquit themselves pretty well with this one: it controls well, it's generally quite fair, the setting is a mix of self-aware pomposity and pure 007-in-space shlock and the music, composed in part by Gradius' Miki Higashino, is among some of the very best vintage Konam music you've probably never heard.

Useless fact: You might recognize the accdentally-patronizing U DID IT pop-up graphics from the emote selection of a few different retro streamers...


Alone in the Dark (2024)

  • Platform: PlayStation 5, Xbox, PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $59.99 or equivalent (trilogy)
  • Publisher: THQ Nordic / Pieces Interactive

What's this? A "love letter" to Infogrames' formative 1992 survival horror game Alone in the Dark; developed by Magicka series studio Pieces Interactive and written by SOMA / Amnesia writer Mikael Hedberg, this version offers an extremely liberal reinterpretation of the original game (including characters from and nods to several of its direct sequels) that adopts a contemporary behind-the-shoulder format and a wide array of assist options to allow the player to sand the edges off exploration and puzzle-solving, which include a sub-objective system that'll introduce mini-quests intended to breadcrumb the player to the solution to puzzles rather than spelling them out.

Why should I care? AitD has suffered to many ill-fated and ill-conceived swerves and reboots that the dollar-store-Resident Evil 2 Remake direction taken with this version doesn't read as shameless or bandwagon-y so much as... sensible. 

Helpful tip: Included with the deluxe verson, and as standalone paid DLC, is a classic costume pack that'll let you play the game with charmingly low-poly untextured models styled after the original game.