Retro Re-release Roundup, week of Karnovember 16, 2017

Resurrection 'K'

I told y'all it was Karnovember, didn't I? K don't play.


Karnov's Revenge / Fighters History Dynamite

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One (worldwide)
  • Price: $7.99 / 6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster / G-Mode

What's this? A Neo Geo followup to Data East's entirely legally distinct arcade fighting game from 1993; this version adds a few tweaks to fit the new hardware, a couple of additional characters (including a character with a suspicious resemblance to Chun Li) and playable bosses, including a new-and-improved Karnov.

Why should I care? This game is notorious for being blatantly derivative of SF2 but unlike most pretenders, it's an extremely competent and enjoyable alternative that maintains a loyal fanbase to this day — if you want an old-school, bread-and-butter fighting game in the vein of SF2 with a dash of classic DECO goofiness, Karnov's Revenge is the game for you. 

Helpful tip: If you can beat the arcade mode without losing a round, you'll be able to fight the ox from Karate Champ.

Karnov Kounter: Just one, but it's the best one.


Break In

  • Platform: Turbografx-16 (North America)
  • Price: $5.99
  • Publisher: Konami / naxat soft

What's this? An early Naxat Soft billiards title with standard, 9-ball and trick-shot modes and support for up to four players; nothin' more, nothin' less.

Why should I care? It's the next-best thing to Side Pocket.

Useless fact: I, uh... hmm. I got nothin', folks. It's billiards.

Karnov Kounter: Sadly, zero.


  • Platform: PC Engine (North America)
  • Price: $5.99
  • Publisher: Konami

What's this? A port of Konami's Gradius-adjacent 1986 arcade scrolling shooter; this game was overhauled, remixed and renamed (Life Force!) several times upon release in North America and reintroduction into Japan but the PC Engine version is mostly derived from the original arcade game.

Why should I care? The PC Engine version of Salamander is a shrewd remix of an excellent arcade game that arguably bests the original in some respects (the hit detection's much better, for one) and there are enough differences and tweaks on display to justify a look from Life Force diehards, especially those most familiar with the NES port of Life Force.

System breakdown: Two-player co-op? Yes! Gradius-style upgrade bars? Nope, upgrades are directly dropped by enemies. Freaky Life Force-esque bio-horror? Nope, not really. Instant respawn on death? Nope, Gradius-style checkpoints, a quirk specific to this port.

Karnov Kounter: Zilch.


Chip Tanaka - Django

  • Format: CD, digital download
  • Price: ¥1,350 (digital), ¥2,500 (CD)

He's written innumerable turnes for Nintendo games spanning arcade, NES, Game Boy and SNES, composed tunes for the Pokemon cartoon, led the charge on quirky projects like Game Boy Camera and mentored the underground chiptune scene for a decade, and now the esteemed Hirokazu "Chip" Tanaka has released his debut solo album of original tunes featuring a breezy, modern dub-infused club sound with a hint of chiptune; to quote the man himself, “If my music can be divided into ʻfor adultsʼ and ʻfor kids,ʼ then this is the culmination of my harder side, the kind of game music you hear in EarthBoundʼs battle tracks.” If you like what you hear in the promo video, you can stream or purcase Django directly from Chip Tanaka's Bandcamp page, including in CD format with a thankyou note Chip, shipped internationally. (As of this writing, there are only 5 copies left, so don't dawdle!)