Retro Re-release Roundup, week of September 21, 2017

The not-new 3DS Virtual Console goes out with a bang, or until Pokemon Crystal shows up.

It's been years since the last 3DS Virtual Console release and years since the release before that one, so I feel quite secure in stating that today's 3DS Virtual Console releasePokemon Gold & Silver—will probably serve as the final Virtual Console release for the regular non-new 3DS. May history treat it with more kindness than those of us who waited in vain for the chance to play Operation C one more time.


Art of Fighting

  • Platform: Switch (North America)
  • Price: $7.99 
  • Publisher: Hamster

What's this? The first of SNK's three-part Neo Geo fighting game saga; this game differentiated itself from sister series Fatal Fury through the prominence of huge (for the time) character sprites and a greater focus on narrative, centered around the suspiciously Ryu-esque Ryo Sakazaki's quest to rescue his kidnapped sister from the mob boss Mr. Big.

Why should I care? You're curious about the origins of King of Fighters mainstays Ryo, Robert Garcia, King, Yuri and Mr. Karate and you don't already own this game in five different formats.

Idle speculation: SNK has been pushing Art of Fighting quite heavily in recent months: there's been new merchandise, co-ordinated re-releases across multiple platforms and a recently-announced soundtrack remaster series via Brave Wave. Could Art of Fighting be the next fighting game series to be resurrected by the newly-reformed SNK?

Samurai Shodown II

  • Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One (worldwide)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.39
  • Publisher: Hamster

What's this? The sequel to SNK's hit weapons-based Neo Geo fighting game, featuring completely redrawn graphics, new systems including weapon breaks and a handful of new characters, including fan favourite Nakoruru.

Why should I care? The Samurai Shodown series was one of the first great 2D fighting games to offer a genuine alternative to Street Fighter II and Samurai Shodown II represents both the peak of Samurai Shodown's popularity and the emergence of SNK as a genuine rival to Capcom in the 2D fighting game space. It's also really fun and very beginner-friendly, especially if you soft-ban Ukyo.

Helpful tip: You've read this intro before. Read it again. It'll brighten up your entire day.


Pokemon Gold & Silver (Game Boy Color)

  • Platform: 3DS (worldwide, code-in-a-box exclusive to EuropeAustralia)
  • Price: $9.99 / €9.99 / £8.99
  • Publisher: Nintendo

What's this? A re-release of the original second-generation Pokemon games for Game Boy Color; these games were released at the (first?) peak of Pokemania and introduced a plethora of new features including the Steel and Dark Pokemon types, Pokemon breeding, hold items and the real-time clock system, in addition to a hundred new Pokemon. The Virtual Console versions have been enhanced with local wireless support for battles and trades between the Virtual Console versions of Pokemon Gold, Silver, Red, Blue & Yellow, as well as the ability to transfer your Pokemon to the latest generation of games via the cloud-based Pokemon Bank service.

Why should I care? Pokemon Gold & Silver represent the creative peak of the Game Boy Color's software library and, nostalgia and mid-game grind aside, they hold up surprisingly well—and as an added bonus, if you sync Pokemon Gold or Silver with Pokemon Bank you can claim a Celebi for Pokemon Sun & Moon or the upcoming Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon.

Helpful tip: Get Silver, pick Totodile. You know it's the right thing to do.


Chew Man Fu (Turbografx-16)

  • Platform: Wii U (North America)
  • Price: $5.99
  • Publisher: Konami

What's this? A single-screen action-puzzle game centered around hurling coloured balls through maze-like stages while avoiding enemies; it's one part Sokoban and one part Pengo, with a corny pop-Chinese motif and two-player co-op play.

Why should I care? Chew Man Fu features over 500 stages so, should it hook you, it'll keep you occupied for a long time... or until you realise many of the stages are extremely similar and not that difficult, anyway.

Useless fact: This game is one of the prime examples of Hudson's hammy '90s translation; between each stage, an old man on a cloud will offer you cheesy and vaguely stereotypical words of praise that some might choose to interpret as humour..

Shockman (Turbografx-16)

  • Platform: Wii U (North America)
  • Price: $5.99
  • Publisher: Konami

What's this? A run-and-gun action-platformer developed by Masaya, set in a tokusatsu-themed world that bears more than a little resemblance to a certain Capcom series. Shockman is the second in a series of four Masaya-developed games and the only one to leave Japan; they all play quite differently and some are more irreverent than others, but this one's played pretty straight.

Why should I care? Parts of Shockman look quite nice, and you can play it co-op with a friend. Does Mega Man have co-op? Yeah, didn't think so.

Useless fact: Shubibinman Zero, the final game in the series, was released exclusively via Nintendo's Satellaview download service for the Super Famicom and was condemned to obscurity for almost twenty years until doujin publishers Columbus Circle's recent cartridge reissue; for more info, check out Retronauts' earlier article on Shubibinman Zero.

Detana!! Twinbee (PC Engine)

  • Platform: Wii U (Europe)
  • Price: €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher:Konami

What's this? A port of Konami's cutesy arcade vertical shooter from 1991; this was the first true arcade followup to the original game and the first to feature the Ghibli-inspired visual stylings of popular illustrator Shuzilow.HA.

Why should I care? Twinbee was Konami's premier vertical shooter series during the golden age of shooting games and the PC Engine port of Detana!! Twinbee acquits itself quite well, despite some missing content. (It's also much, much easier than the notoriously brutal arcade version.)

Useless fact: "Detana" translates to "here it comes!"


Final Fantasy IX

  • Platform: Playstation 4 (worldwide)
  • Price: $16.79 / £13.49 until September 26, regular price $20.99 / £16.99
  • Publisher: Square-Enix

What's this? A no-frills port of the PC/mobile version of the 2000 PS2 RPG, complete with fast-forward and cheat options.

Why should I care? You tell me, I don't play these games. Is this the one people hated for being too exploitable or the one people hated for being too lighthearted?

Helpful tip: Kim Justice covered this release earlier in the week and I'm sure she's a more informative source on this game than I am.


Natsume's 50%-Off Sale

  • Platform: Playstation 4, Wii U, 3DS, PC
  • Discount: 50% off almost all Natsume-published titles until September 30

This sale unfortunately excludes Virtual Console titles but there are still a few classics to be had, including Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life and Save the Homeland on PS4 (via PS2 Classics), as well as the PC port of Natsume-Atari's fantastic Wild Guns: Reloaded.