Retro Re-release Roundup, week of Karnovember 9, 2017
Lovers of '90s VGM shlock, brace yourselves.
Ordinarily, either one of today's re-releases would be the highlight of the roundup, but fate has conspired to pit them against each other today. What'll it be readers: street ballin' or devil blastin'? Japanese De La Soul or Japanese Yngwie Malmsteen? Karnov or no-Ka—y'know what, this was easier than I thought.
ARCADE ARCHIVES NEO GEO
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / G-Mode
What's this? An over-the-top 3-versus-3 street basketball game, developed and published by Data East in 1994; players travel the country (or the world, depending on the ROM version) to school other teams with lightning-fast plays and earth-shaking meteor dunks.
Why should I care? It's Japan's answer to NBA Jam and while it can't hang with the king, it offers a much faster pace and a bevy of astoundingly catchy and very cheesy vocal tunes.
Useless fact: One-time Data East sales manager Steve Miller was roped into voicing, translating and writing text all manner of western-facing products at the behest of the Japanese staff, including the lyrics to Street Hoop's unimpeachable soundtrack. That man is now the managing director of Ubisoft Japan, which proves that good things happen to good people..
VIRTUAL CONSOLE (WII U)
- Platform: Turbografx-CD (North America)
- Price: $5.99
- Publisher: Konami
What's this? A 1993 horizontal shooting game with light RPG elements, set in a heavy-metal fantasy world and packed with widdly guitar tunes. Both this game and the in-name-only predecessor were developed by personnel headhunted from rival Technosoft and as such, they bear many similarities to Technosoft's Mega Drive shooting shooting games like Elemental Master and the Thunder Force series.
Why should I care? It's arguably the best original shooting game on a console packed with shooting games and you might have almost as much fun playing the game as the composer had playing endless shred guitar licks.
Useless fact: This delightfully '90s VHS promo video for Lords of Thunder was edited by none other than the Birdman himself, Tony Hawk.
Karnov Kounter: 0.
- Platform: PC, Mac 7 Linux via Steam
- Price: $4.99
- Publisher: Night Dive Studios
What's this? A port of the "lost" episode of id Software's much-loved Commander Keen series, made in just one month to fulfil a legal obligation to their former publisher Softdisk and left to languish in forgotten IP hell until a crowdfunded rights revival a couple years ago; the game was recently and abruptly pulled from digital storefronts but has just been re-upped by new publisher Night Dive Studios.
Why should I care? Honestly, it's a sloppy game even by the standards of the day so non-Keen fans could probably sit this one out; what should be commended is Night Dive Studio's speedy and decisive efforts to acquire and redistribute the game after the former publisher was banned from Steam for picking a bizarre and profane fight with his own customers.
Useless fact: Keen Dreams was originally released as a standard retail game but was later distributed as a "shareware" product that contained all the content of the retail game, with absolutely no benefits for paying the registration free. Oh, Softdisk!
Karnov Kounter: 0
- Platform: PC, Mac & Linux via Steam (November 10)
- Price: $14.99
- Publisher: THQ Nordic
What's this? A Zelda-esque 3D action-adventure game, developed Gamecube, Xbox and PS2 by the now-defunct UK work-for-hire studio Eurocom, published by THQ in 2003 and now remastered and published for PC by THQ Nordic with 4k and ultra-wide resolution support, 60FPS run speed, HD textures and redrawn UI, controller support and other nips and tucks.
Why should I care? Sphinx is fondly remembered as one of the more enjoyable Zelda alternatives of the early '00sby many players , and vaguely remembered as "that one game they say is pretty good" by the rest of us; if, like me, you never got around to trying it out, now seems like a perfect opportunity to do so. (If you'd rather wait for a console release, it's been heavily teased for consoles, including Switch.)
Worrying aside: Despite being dated for tomorrow, THQ Nordic has declined to provide any info beyond a boilerplate press release, and as of this writing there's no public Steam page for the game. Did they jump the gun?
Karnov Kounter: I cannot in all certainty confirm this game contains no Karnov, so I'ma say... 7.
SALES & MISCELLANEA
- Platform: PC via Steam
- Discount: up to 75% off several classic games and franchises until 10AM Pacific
Night Dive Studio's respectable selection of well-known and oddball retro ports and remasters is heavily discounted for a few more hours, including well-known games in the System Shock, Wizardry, Pirates!, Tex Murphy and Turok series as well as cult cuts like I Have No Mout And I Must Scream the late Kenji Eno's infamous 3DO FMV game, D.
- Platform: PC via Steam
- Discount: up to 90% off several classic games and franchises until November 10, 10AM Pacific
Japanese publisher Degica has cultivated a library of Japanese games that spans several niches and their new sale covers many bases, from action games (the Umihara Kawase trilogy!) to shooting games (Dodonpachi Resurrection! Deathsmiles! Mushihimesama! Judgment Silversword!) to visual novels (MUV-LUV!) and even faux-retro games like the early-3D survival horror homage, Back in 1995.