Retro Re-release Roundup, week of May 16, 2024

No One Lives Forever can wait.

Lemme squeeze a little extra juice out of this week's roundup, dear readers: this week marks the 10th anniversary of Hamster's Arcade Archives line of emulated arcade game reissues, which has seen them release over 400 arcade games across contemporary consoles, PC and smartphones, and may or may not be gearing up to enter the realm of console game reissues... but that's a story for another time. Like, maybe this weekend, even.


F/A (Fighter & Attacker)

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

What's this?  A military-themed vertically-scrolling shooting game, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Namco in 1992 and never ported or reissued until now; F/A borrows the very familiar 2-button, air-shot/ground-bomb system established by Xevious and augments it by offering a whopping 16 playable aircraft, each of which have slightly different shot and bomb patterns.

Why should I care? F/A's a perfectly servicable but dry shooting game, but what sets it apart, and what made it such a requested title for reissue, and one Hamster deemed worthy of punctuating the 10th anniversary of Arcade Archives, is the soundtrack — Shinji Hosoe and Takayuki Aihara's hardcore techno tunes were early examples of contemporary club music cross-pollenating with video game music, and served as a notable precursor to the work they'd produce for the likes of Ridge Racer and Tekken, as well as their independent work as Super Sweep.

Helpful tip: For whatever reason, the name entry screen only gives a scant few seconds to enter a name when the game is set to disable continues (the intended default setting), so if you're one of the many people who hate being rushed out of entering their name, consider flipping that particular dip.

Helpful tip #2: This looks to be one of the uncommon-but-still-too-common Namco ACA titles that's unexplainably missing from overseas stores... just give it a minute, I guess?


May '24 update: Alleyway, Baseball Super Mario Land (Game Boy), plus Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru

What's this? The first portable Super Mario game, as well as Nintendo's perfunctory handheld takes on baseball and the tried-and-true brick  breaker. (Japan's NSO update also includes Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru (The Frog for Whom The Bell Tolls), a comedic quasi-RPG by many of the same folk behind Kid Icarus and Metroid, and one that has never been officially translated or otherwise released outside of Japan... it's a fun one, and a game one would think would be a layup for an official, contemporary localization, but alas.)

Why should I care? You've been waiting for a long time for Nintendo to finally get to the launch titles that should've been available from the moment they started offering up Game Boy games.

Helpful tip: Jeremy's recently-rebooted Game Boy Works video series just covered all three of these games, as it happen.


Kyukyoku Tiger Heli

  • Platform: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch (US)
  • Price: $34.99, $17.99 (DLC)
  • Publisher: M2

What's this? The first volume in emulation experts M2's line of reissues from the arcade library of the defunct developer Toaplan, which originally released in Japan in 2021 and, after a recent physical announcement from Limited Run Games, has finally been made available worldwide on digital storefronts. This collection centers on Toaplan's debut shooting game, the 1985 vertically-scrolling helicopter shooter Tiger Heli, and its popular and influential 1987 successor, Kuykuyoku Tiger (released worldwide as Twin Cobra) and presents both arcade games with new "super easy" modes, a wide array of game-altering custom settings and an "Arcade Challenge" mode that offers a granular mission-style training suite for each game, as well as on-screen "gadgets" that display useful and hidden info on either side of the screen, online leaderboards and replays, screen options, button configs and more... including a large handful of console ports and a couple of wholly unrelated Toaplan arcade games, should you choose to buy the DLC. 

Which games are included? The base digital version includes the arcade version of Tiger Heli, the arcade version of Kyukyoku Tiger in both standard 1P and the extremely rare 2P variant, and the arranged overseas version Twin Cobra, plus, for no particular reason, the falling-block puzzle game Teki Paki, which installs as a separate game. The DLC expansion, included with the physical version as standard, adds the Famicom and NES versions of Tiger Heli, the Famicom, Japanese Mega Drive and PC Engine versions of Kyukyoku Tiger, the NES and Genesis versions of Twin Cobra and, again, for no particular reason, the side-view arcade action game Get Star and its overseas variant, Guardian.

Why should I care? Compared to most of the other shooting games M2's turned their attention to, the games presented here might seem a little antiquated or unrefined, and between the original Japanese release and now, they've become more widely available in a variety of competing formats and pricepoints, so those of you with less exacting standards may be content with some of the cheaper alternatives out there. That said, Kyukyoku Tiger/Twin Cobra is a game that I think will continue to be enjoyed by both bullet hell afficionados as well as fans of Raiden and other, more classic shooting games, and this release will allow you to play it in pretty much every manner imaginable.

Helpful? tip: M2's track record for digital releases in countries that require more than a simple, one-size-fits-all English submission is not great, so there's a very real possibility the game will not be available in your preferred regional store, and that you might have to buy from the US store if you want this collection in English.


Braid: Anniversary Edition

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox, PC via Steam , iOS/Android via Netflix subscription (worldwide)
  • Price: $19.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Thekla Inc.

What's this? It’s about this little guy in this suit and he walk around. It ain’t got no point to the game. He just walk around jumping and shit. It look like Mario in the future, and it’s Mario in a business suit with his hair dyed orange and a tie on. And he just walk around jumping on shit but the funny part about it—you can do this right here, watch this. Yee-up!

Why should I care? Like, if you drink beer and you get drunk, or if you smoke weed and you get high, or anything—if you just be getting fucked up. They got this game right, oh no, this shit called Braid. 

Helpful tip: There ain’t no point to the game. He just go around. This shit is stupid as hell, man.

PO'ed: Definitive Edition

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

What's this? A modern port of Any Channel's crude odball first-person shooter PO'ed, which was originally developed and published for the Panasonic 3DO in 1995 and ported to the PlayStation the following year; now running on Night Dive's KEX Engine, this version boasts support for ultra-high resolutons and up to 144FPS, as well as widescreen support (with redrawn visuals/UI where necessary), a new hardcore difficulty mode, EFIGS localization and a suite of as-yet-unspecified gameplay tweaks and bug fixes that can be disabled at will.

Why should I care? PO'ed is primarily remembered for its crass, adolescent-Dehacked-patch-gone-commercial aesthetic and unwieldy controls, but there is a peculiar ambiance to the colossal, cavernous stage design that is unlike other 3D FPS games of its vintage, and it's not inconceivable that Night Dive's nips and tucks have brought the game to a point where the fun goes beyond the academic.

Useless fact: This game is often said to have been inspired by Quake, and I suppose that's true in the broad sense that any team working on a fully-3D game or first-person shooter in the mid-'90s was undoubtedly aware of id Software, but PO'ed actually beat Quake to market by some eight months, so they couldn't have cribbed any design ideas from Romero and co. even if they'd wanted to.

rRootage Reloaded

  • Platform: PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
  • Price: $5.00
  • Publisher: PERZIUR

What's this? A remaster of the multi-mode boss-rush shooting game developed and released for PC by acclaimed open-source developer ABA (aka Kenta Cho), originally released in 2003 and subsequently ported to a multitude of other platforms by various fans, as well as being included as a hidden unlockable in the Wii game Blast Works: Build, Trade, Destroy, itself a licensed remake of another Kenta Cho shooter. This ersion is essentially identical to the Nintendo Switch version released a few years back and offers optional analogue or touch controls over the standard digital controls, new menus and the option to disable slowdown. 

Why should I care? You're someone who was made aware of Kenta Cho via the recent viral success of his free game Paku Paku and wants to experience one of his earliest and most acclaimed works, or you just want to acknowledge the fact that ABA's been in the trenches for decades — dude came up with the likes of Pixel, and he deserves his due.

Helpful? tip: The individual behind this port has expressed interest in also porting Noiz2sa... now, this was a few years ago, so if they were going to do it, you'd figure it would have happened by now, but I mean, nobody saw this PS4 port coming, either, so here's hoping.