Retro Re-release Roundup, week of June 20, 2024

Nintendo makes good on a selection of long-promised NSO titles.

I'd planned to intro this roundup with a silly comment about how nobody's even going to read it because they're all too busy playing the Elden Ring expansion... but, in my own rush to download the Elden Ring expansion, I neglected to even write this intro. Ugh.


Rastan Saga II

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

What's this?  The sequel to Taito's popular side-scrolling barbarian action game, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Taito (under the alternate titles Nastar or Nastar Warrior, depending on region) in 1988 and ported to the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive soon thereafter; this game largely maintains the same broad theming, two-button attack/jump setup and multiple weapon types, but...

Why should I care? The music, composed by Hisayoshi "OGR" Ogura (Darius series, The Ninja WarriorsKikikaikai, etc) is great! The rest of the game — which boasts wildly inconsistent but mostly-bad graphics, unsatisfying and unwieldy player control, monotonous stage design and some truly unfair hazards — is awful, but maybe you're a completionist, iunno. (All three Rastan games, including the dual-widescreen brawler Warrior Blade, have been confirmed for the upcoming Taito Milestones 3 compilation for Switch, so even then, you needn't buy this game standalone.) 

Helpful tip: For whatever reason, ol' Rastan has better collision detection when jumping from a crouch vs. standing; the game does nothing to indicate this to the player, but it's virtually essential if you want to progress without dying for no good reason.


Tritorn (PC-8801)

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

What's this? A side-view "real-time role-playing", developed by the studio eventually known as Xainsoft and published for the PC-8801 in 1985, with ports to MSX and other microcomputers soon thereafter; this game sees the player exploring a large flip-scrolled world and defeating enemies with real-time sword-swinging combat, with progression gated by experience, items and upgrades that can be acquired or discovered by solving the hidden and not-so-hidden puzzles present in many of the games' screens.

Why should I care? This game borrows liberally from both Namco's Dragon Buster and T&ESoft's Hydlide and while it doesn't offer the snappiness of the former or the innovation of the latter, it does present a far simpler and less hair-pulling level of challenge than most of the action-RPG contemporaries of the era (perhaps on accident — many of the game's screens, including most of the bosses, have obvious safe spots that let you defeat everything with complete impunity).

Language barrier? What little text is present is all in English.


June ' 24 update: Metroid Zero Mission and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past + Four Swords (Game Boy Advance) plus Perfect Dark and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (Nintendo 64)

What're these? An expanded remake of the original Metroid, the handheld conversion of the classic SNES Zelda coupled with an all-new multiplayer roguelite side-game, the original game in Acclaim's popular dinosaur-shooting FPS series and Rare's spiritual successor to Goldeneye 007, reissued on Nintendo platforms for the very first time. (The two N64 games are available in a separate mature-rated NSO ap, which requires a separate download.)

Why should I care? Zero Mission was the first and arguably greatest Metroid game made in the post-Super, speedrunning-centric era and a resounding course-correct from the overly-prescriptive Fusion, and NSO's online functionality makes this the most practical opportunity for people to experience the full Four Swords multiplayer experience in twenty years. As for the N64 games, you can use these NSO releases as trials for the immensely-more-playable remasters: Turok's available everywhere, but the Perfect Dark remaster's restricted to Xbox.

Because I missed it... All five Mega Man Game Boy games randomly showed up on the NSO Game Boy app the other day, in between roundups. The last two are particularly good!


June '24 update: Ghosthunter (PlayStation 2), Daxter and Lego Star Wars II (PlayStation Portable)

What're these? A fantastical third-person shooter by SCE Cambridge Studio, the solo handheld excursion for Jak's offsider and yet another of the eight trillion Star Wars games that Sony has determined to continue to trickle out, month after month.

Why should I care? My recollection is that Ghosthunter is all graphics and very little of anything else, so if you want to tear through a game as an excuse to reacquaint yourself with top-shelf PS2 visuals, this might be a suitable low-commitment option. As for Daxter... I got nothin', sorry.

Helpful tip: It seems sub-optimal to reissue a Lego Star Wars game that doesn't offer local multiplayer, but it seems the PSP version was the only option with all the content.


Baten Kaitos I & II HD Remaster

  • Platform: PC vvia Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $49.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher:Bandai-Namco

What's this? A remastered double-pack of Monolith & tri-Crescendo's deck-based RPG series Baten Kaitos, originally developed exclusively for the Nintendo Gamecube and published worldwide by Nintendo in the mid-'00s and recently remastered for Nintendo Switch, these versions maintain the improvements of the Switch versions — higher-detail character and enemy models, upscaled backgrounds and UI, widescreen support, a revamped inventory system, quality-of-life modifiers for elements like game speed and encounter rate, an auto-save function, new game+, etc — with the benefit of additional support for higher framerates.

Why should I care? You played one or both of these games when they were new, judged them harshly for being unconventional and uninviting RPGs at a time when you might've been craving a "Final Fantasy killer" and feel you ought to give them a fair shake a couple decades on, you tried them on Switch but couldn't stomach the unstable framerate, or you hate that the PC versions were droped with zero advertising and feel a moral obligation to attempt to spare these games from a third round of commercial failure.

Helpful tip: The original English dubs were removed for the Switch remasters and remain absent from the PC versions, but Switch fans were able to mod them back into the Switch version and are working on a PC mod right now, so it won't be long before you can elect to ruin your game.

Space Invaders 90

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (Japan)
  • Price: ¥;660
  • Publisher: Taito

What's this? An emulated reissue of one of the many '90s remakes of Taito's seminal fixed-screen shooting game Space Invaders, originally released for the Sega Mega Drive in Japan in 1990 and for the Sega Genesis in 1991 as Space Invaders 91;. This version of the game was originally only available in Japan, as an Amazon-specific pre-order bonus for the Switch version of Space Invaders Invincible Collection that could only be acquired during a very brief window of time; as such, it's essentially just a ROM in an emulator with little in the way of additional functionality. (M2 handled the emulation, by the by.)

Why should I care? Noriyuki Iwadare did the music, and for one of his very first joints, he did alright!

Helpful tip; There remains one major preorder-gimmick Taito reissue that has yet to be made available to the general public: Final Bubble Bobble, the expanded Sega Master System/Mark III version of Bubble Bobble that was given away as a Japanese Amazon Prime Day bonus for Bubbke Bobble 4 Friends.


LRG3 04 announcement stream!

If you're one for announcements and the last few weeks hasn't left you completely spent, you might wanna check out what LRG has in store for the next... however long it takes 'em to actually deliver on whatever they reveal here.