Retro Re-release Roundup, week of May 23, 2024

An RPG cornerstone returns after decades in the abyss...

...and no, I don't mean Paper Mario. Okay, I guess I also mean Paper Mario. S'okay.



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

What's this?  A vertically-scrolling sci-fi shooting game, originally developed and distributed by Nichibutsu in arcades in 1987 and never ported to home platforms until now; one or two players are tasked with taking on the "Dark Empire" through a non-linear progression of stages, with spacecraft that possess a variety of peculiar armaments, most notably a Time Bomb which briefly rewinds the happenings on the playfield when activated, with even the player's death being reversible if one throws out enough bombs in quick succession. (One particularly noteworthy enhancement offered with this reissue is a visible stage/loop display, which can be helpful in figuring out how to reach the ending.)

Why should I care? Nichibutsu's shooting games were known for exerimenting with unique mechanics, and this one went whole hog — between the branching stage structure, the time bombs, the push-and-pull of rescuing soldiers for powerups vs. evacuating them for score and the odd energy-tether power-up, there's a lot to toy with, and the poppy visuals and typically alluring Kenji Yoshida tunes should offer an immediate draw while you wrap your head around everything else.

Useless fact: This game's famous for containing a "robot graveyard" scene full of junked robots that shamelessly resemble many of the most famous anime/manga robots of the era, and to the surprise of all involved, those robots are all present and accounted for in this reissue.


Shin Maou Golvellius (MSX2)

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

What's this? The tthird and final version of Compile's multi-format fantasy action-RPG, originally published for the MSX as Maou Golvellius in 1987, adapted for the Sega Mark III/Master System as Golvellius the following year and converted once more for MSX2 hardware soon thereafter; this version maintains the Zelda-esque top-down overworld, one-way-scrolling sideview caves and overhead autoscrolling dungeons from the original games but offers several enhancements that include far smoother scrolling and more finely-tuned controls, full-screen, high-color event visuals, altered map and dungeon designs, additional quests and FM music. (This is one of the few games officially translated by the mid-'00s WOOMB initiative, but this reissue only offers the unaltered authentic Japanese game.)

Why should I care? You're one of those Master System diehards who proudly pointed to Golvellius as a counterpoint to NES Zelda, or you want to revisit a game from an era where simply cramming multiple formats into one game was sufficiently impressive to make up for deficiencies in pacing or stage design.

Language barrier? The game does gate progression behind a few simple item acquisition requirements or fetch quests, which might trip up anyone who can't read the NPC dialog — specifically, this version has a not-insubstantial fetch quest tacked onto the very beginning that's mandatory to start the game proper, and even knowledge of the Master System version won't let you kludge past it. (Do bear in mind that these releases offer a basic chapter select.)


May '24 update: 2xtreme, G-Police & Worms Pinball  (PlayStation)

What's this? Just based entirely on the titles and box art, I've surmised that these games are a snowboarding game, a futuristic quasi-helicopter 3D shooting game and a Worms-themed pinball games.

Why should I care? You've already subbed for a long window of PS Premium, because I can't imagine offerings like these are going to attract new subs. I'm not even hating, I'm just... confused.

Useless fact: New PS Classics updates are typically followed by a deluge of bug reports, but I haven't seen much on these ones, presumably becauses few people care enough to test 'em.


Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (remake)

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $59.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Nintendo

What's this? A remake of the second and perhaps most beloved entry in Nintendo and Intelligent Systems' Paper Mario series of action-RPG/adventure games, originally developed and published for the Nintendo Gamecube in 2004; this new version maintains the story, structure and mechanics of the original but boasts all-new, modern visuals, redone and new music (with the option to switch to the original tunes) and a few small quality-of-life features like a training mode, quick-travel warp pipes and a quick-swap menu for partner characters.

Why should I care? I do think that later entries in Nintendo's various Mario RPG series, contentious as they may be, have retroactively highlighted some of the shortcomings of this particular game — namely, the complete tedium of anything that's not combat or dialog — and from what I gather, they've done very little to address the basic and repetitive map design, and have in fact exacerbated the game's overall sluggishness via a downgrade to 30FPS framerate... but the aspects people actually liked, and that many insist have never been bettered, are all present and accounted for, and the mere fact that Nintendo finally revisited this game might suggest that they might also be gauging a return to the classic Paper Mario format...

Helpful tip: For anyone who happens to live in New York: Nintendo's NYC store is exclusively giivng away Gamecube-style alt-sleeves with copies of this remake while supplies last.

System Shock (remake)

  • Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStaton 4, Xbox (worldwide)
  • Price: $39.99 / €39.99 / £34.99
  • Publisher:Nightdive Studios / Prime Matter

What's this? A console post of the recent remake of Looking Glass' prototypical cyberpunk immersive sim, System Shock, which was originally released for PC and Mac in 1994 and spawned a sequel before disappearing into rights hell for over a decade; after being reissued by Night Dive in 2015, a crowdfunded remake entered development and, after many twists and turns, was finally released on PC to surprising acclaim last year. This console port benefits from many of the bug fixes, improvements and additions made to the PC version (including the option to play as a female character, and a significant reworking of the final boss) and allow for keyboard/mouse play in addition to controller support.

Why should I care? Against all odds, this remake managed to comfortably straddle the line between maintaining and better realizing the complexity and freedom of choice of the original game with the amenities expected by modern audiences... that said, it only reached that place after many patches and was very clearly not designed or optimized for controller play, so this console version (which not only introduces its own bugs but is also a patch or two behind, and whose controller options are not especially deft) may not provide that same experience as of right now, so you may wanna give it a minute.

Helpful tip: There are individual FOV sliders for the standard and cyberspace sections, and I strongly recommend you make use of them.

Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord (remake)

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox, PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $39.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Digital Eclipse

What's this? The full multi-platform release of Digital Eclipse's remake of Sir-Tech's genre-defining first-person dungeon-crawling RPG Wizardry, originally developed and published for the Apple II computer and quickly spawning an ever-expanding litany of ports and sequels, both by Sir-Tech themselves but also a line of games made exclusively by and for the Japanese market, with the IP rights becoming ever more entangles in the ensuing decades; Digital Eclipse's version reinvisages the game in full 3D atop the original Apple II Pascal codebase, with mechanics and content changes optionally incorporated from other versions, new and revised enemy/character designs, in-game info and lore by veteran Wizardry contributor Benny Matsuyama, a variety of settings to allow players to enable or disable modern perks like auto-mapping, in-game hints/explanations and less pernicious character-rolling, all with the original Apple II version running simultaneously and functioning as a quasi-minimap that can be expanded atop the new visuals. (The PC version is leaving Early Access today and as such, will be getting a price hike which may or may not be live by the time you read this.)

Why should I care? The mere fact that Digital Eclipse has wrested this game out of decades of legal limbo and reintroduced it to modern circulation is worth celebrating all on its own, and one can only hope it bodes well for the many other classic Wiz games to return, either via remakes like this one or via straight reissues, in any or all guises. As for the remake itself, it does a reasonable job of trying to tie together many disparate and competing takes on the same source material and while it's doomed to being unable to please everyone n all aspects, I do think it offers a hospitable but ultimately authentic entry point for those who might be familiar with the countless games made in its image but never the original. (DE, if you're reading this: text-speed/anim-skip options in the next update, thanks.)

Useless fact: To my knowledge, this is the first Wizardry game to ever hit Xbox.


Astro Ninja Man DX 8-Bit Music Power Encore (NES) cartridge releases via Limited Run Games

  • Price: $54.99 (standard) / $84.99 (collectors edition)
  • ETA: expected to ship November 11~December 11

LRG's offering up NES versions of two more Famicom productions from the ever-diligent homebrew RIKI: an enhanced version of their sprite-limited-pushing shooting game Astro Ninja Man and another entry in their interactive all-star cartridge chiptune album series, 8-Bit Music Encore. Do note the CD included wth the collectors' editions: it contains more than just CD audio...

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered (Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One) physical editions via Limited Run Games

  • Price: $29.99 (standard) / $199.99 (collectors edition)
  • ETA: expected to ship September/October (standard), March (collectors edition)

Get in before Embracer somehow irreocably kills the brand, I guess.