Retro Re-release Roundup, week of May 9, 2024

The final classic Cotton reissue hits modern platforms.

For those who might be confused by the recent deluge of Cotton games, let me offer a simple explanation of what makes this one unique: it's a fully-polygonal, behind-the-back 3D rail shooter and not a traditional side-view shooting game; and it's a game with such bafflingly unhelpful aiming controls that it basically sunk the series for twenty years... but, they've attempted to wrestle the game into something less immediately nauseating, so here's hoping.



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

What's this?  An overhead maze game with an Indiana Jones-esque motif, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Konami in 1982; the game was ported to several North American home systems by Parker Brothers, including the Intellivision, Atari 2600 and Colecovision, while Japan received a port for the PC-6001 computer and a pair of LCD game adaptations, with the first authentic reissue of the arcade version delivered via the 2007 DS compilation Konami Classic Series: Arcade Hits. Players are tasked with exploring four horizontally-scrolling crypts in search of treasure and the keys necessary to progress, dealing with constantly-spawning enemies all the while; the player-character can only carry one key at a time, so thoroughly learning the most efficient paths of traversal and re-traversal are essential. (The arcade game uses a two-joystick control scheme, with the right stick used for shooting left/right and triggering the screen-clear attack, and the Arcade Archives version lets you use either the right analogue stick or the face buttons to perform these actions.)

Why should I care? You want to try the primordial gumbo that went on to influence the likes of Tower of Druaga and Gauntlet, or you only recognize this game through one of its many mid-to-late-'80s computer clones and you feel you ought to pay tribute to the original.

Useless fact: The DS reissue of this game used the generic altered title HORROR MAZE, presumably due to trademark concerns; the Arcade Archives reissue seems to be missing in certain EU territories right now, so one has to wonder if those trademark issues may have reared their head...


Wanderers from Ys (PC-8801mkIISR)

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

What's this? The third game in Nihon Falcom's breakout action-RPG series Ys, originally released in 1989 for the PC-8801 computer and ported to PC-98 and MSX2, with an upgraded version produced for the Sharp X68000 computer that would later serve as the basis for conversions for Famicom, Sega Mega Drive, PC Engine CD and Super Nintendo, of which the latter three saw international release; the game would be remade for PlayStation 2 by Taito, and later completely revisioned by Falcom themselves as Ys: The Oath in Felghana for PC, PlayStation Portable, Switch and PlayStation 4. This game breaks from the overhead "bump combat" format of the previous two games and instead adopts a side-scrolling format with manual sword-swinging achieved via button press, as well as a more linear progression that sees one choosing areas/dungeons from a map rather than exploring an overworld.

Why should I care? This era of games saw a lot of in-name-only "sequels" and this game is far from the worst or most tenuous example of that trend: no, it's not an especially exciting version of this particular type of game, nor does it necessarily feel any more involved or complex than the overhead format that the series was and continues to be built upon, but most of Ys' traditional RPG-esque trappings are here in one form or another, and the PC-88 version in particular acuits itself relatively well in terms of balancing playability and responsiveness with detailed, multi-layer vistas, considering the hardware was rarely able to deliver on either front, let alone both. Incidentally, Oath in Felghana, the recent-ish remake that adopts the conventional overhead format seen with other modern Ys games like Ys Origins, essentially replaces this game in the official canon, which makes it a little easier to appreciate as an odd side-story, rather than having to rationalize it as a true numbered entry.

Language barrier? Most of the text is in Japanese and I honestly don't remember if there are any text-related roadblocks... I gotta say, it's been a minute since I revisited this one.


Rainbow Cotton

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox, PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $19.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: ININ Games

What's this? A remaster of the final game in the traditional run of Success' Cotton shooting game series, originally released for the Sega Dreamcast exclusively in Japan in 2000 and never ported or released globally until now; this remaster allows the game to be played in widescreen with modern visual effects and offers several optional tweaks meant to address the game's notoriously unwieldy aiming controls, as well as subtitled cutscenes in multple languages, a two-player assist mode and a "retro mode" that attempts to replicate the original game, complete with classic 4:3 aspect ratio.

Why should I care? When Success kicked off their recent spree of Cotton reissues, may presumed Rainbow Cotton would remain in the vault, not just due to the heftier workload in reviving a polygonal 3D game made for relatively beefy hardware but also due to the fact that it wasn't an especially popular or well-liked game, so one has to applaud the team in charge of this remaster for not only doing the work to bring it to contemporary platforms but also for trying to realize the potential of a game that should've been, at the very least, okay. (Whether they've actually managed to salvage this game, I couldn't tell ya.)

Useless fact: There technically exists one more Cotton video game that has yet to be reissued, but it's a digital adaptation of various Cotton-themed pachinko machines, so I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.


Virtua Fighter 2 (arcade, Sega Saturn) vinyl soundtrack from Cartridge Thunder & co.

  • Price: $39.99 or equivalent
  • Availability:from May 10, 11:00 Central

You might'nt know it from the way the series was handled overseas but the classic Virtua Fighter games matched and arguably surpassed the popularity of Street Fighter II in Japan, with Virtua Fighter 2 being an especially eventful chapter in the golden era of arcade fighting games; therefore, it was only a matter of time before the music to Sega's crown jewel made its way back to the world in vinyl form, with tunes from both the arcade and Saturn versions and fresh liner notes penned by series composer Takayuki Nakamura. (Global distribution's being handled by the likes of Black Screen Records, Disk Union and PixelCrib, so check the above link to find the distro for your region.)