Retro Re-release Roundup, week of December 14, 2017

Divine Wolf vs. the Hamster Horde

I didn't realise until I'd put it together but between the ukiyo-e-styled adventure game, the Bakumatsu-era fighting game and the big-time English debut of a long-in-demand JRPG, this week's update really is exceedingly Japanese, so in the interest of balance, next week's website coverage will focus entirely on Franko: The Crazy Revenge. I can't wait!


Hamster Arcade Archives Neo Geo on Windows 10

  • Platform: PC via Windows 10
  • Price: $7.99 / 6.99 / £6.29 (probably)
  • Publisher: Hamster

What's this? Hamster's just announced they're rolling out the Arcade Archives Neo Geo line to Windows 10 PCs on December 15; there's very little detail, not even a website, but I can tell you the nine launch titles include King of Fighters '94, World Heroes, Metal Slug, Fatal Fury, NAM 1975, Art of Fighting, Sengoku, Last Resort and Over Top.

Why should I care? It's impossible to have too much Neo Geo, evidently.

Cause for concern: There's currently no indication that these games will support Xbox Play Anywhere, which seems like a massive oversight... but then again, I could be completely wrong.

Real Bout Fatal Fury Special

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

What's this? The sixth Fatal Fury game and second entry in the Real Bout sub-series, released in 1997. Despite the Special subtitle, this game is no mere Real Bout Fatal Fury revision: in addition to the inclusion of several returning characters from Fatal Fury Special, the multi-plane system has been reduced to two planes, the ring-out system has been abolished and the entire game received a brighter anime-inspired visual overhaul that draws comparisons to Capcom's Street Fighter Alpha series.

Why should I care? You're keen to experience Fatal Fury at its aesthetic peak (pre-Garou, at least).

Helpful tip: Andy Bogard, Billy Kane, Blue Mary and Tung Fue Rue all have alternate "EX" forms that can be selected by moving the cursor over the desired character and entering the following code: hold start and tap B, B, C, C; with the start button still held down, press and hold B for a second, then with both buttons down, press and hold C for another second, then with all three buttons held down, use A or D to select your character.

The Last Blade

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $7.99 / 6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster

What's this? The first in a two-game series of weapons-based fighting games, developed and released by SNK in 1997; set in the Bakumatsu era with relatively stylish character designs, The Last Blade was positioned by SNK as a 2D substitute for Samurai Shodown, which had temporarily shifted to SNK's ill-fated Hyper Neo Geo 64 hardware.

Why should I care? You're looking for something a little simpler and far less grim than Samurai Shodown.

Useless fact: Rurouni Kenshin mangaka Nobuhiro Watsuki was a noted arcade fan who slipped several references to Samurai Shodown into his work, so SNK responded in kind by including many homages to the manga in The Last Blade... but seeing as Watsuki was recently arrested for possession of child pornography, they probably aren't going to lean too hard on that connection anymore.


Battle Lode Runner

  • Platform: PC Engine (Europe)
  • Price: €5.99 / £5.39
  • Publisher: Konami

What's this? The thirteenth(!) entry in the venerable trap-and-grab action-puzzle series; much like Bomberman before it, Hudson saw fit to give Battle Lode Runner a cute visual makeover and a new five-player battle mode, in addition to the tried-and-true single-player game and the ubiquitous level editor.

Why should I care? If you've never played a Lode Runner game, this might be an ideal starting point: the visuals are a little dated but the previous games' graphics are virtually prehistoric by comparison.

Useless fact: Battle Lode Runner was the very first Japanese import game released for Virtual Console way back when, ushering in a new era of frequent and exciting Virtual Console updates full of neat obscu—oh, who am I kidding. 

Bomberman '93

  • Platform: Turbografx-16 (Europe)
  • Price: €5.99 / £5.39
  • Publisher: Konami

What's this? The second of three Bomberman games released for the PC Engine/Turbografx-16, and the first Bomberman game to include now-staple powerups like the bomb kick and line bomb, as well as the ability to play matches against the CPU. As always, the game supports up to five players for local multiplayer matches.

Why should I care? The original TG16 Bomberman introduced the world to single-screen multiplayer Bomberman but it was Bomberman '93 that introduced a broader variety of gimmicks and and a heavy pivot towards action that formed the template for subsequent games, from Super Bomberman to this year's Super Bomberman R; as such, it holds up pretty damn well.

Question without an answer: Bomberman '93 was one of the debut titles for the original Wii Virtual Console... they clearly knew it was a big deal back then, so why's it only releasing on Wii U now, at least two years after everyone stopped paying attention?

Lords of Thunder

  • Platform: Turbografx-CD (Europe)
  • Price: €5.99 / £5.39
  • 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.


Okami HD

  • Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
  • Price: $19.99 / €19.99 / £15.99
  • Publisher: Capcom

What's this? A gorgeous, sprawling 3D action-adventure game set in the world of Japanese folklore, originally developed by Capcom for Playstation 2 and ported to several platforms since; this latest port supports resolutions up to 4K and adds a widescreen display option, as well as the option to re-enable a loading screen minigame that was excised from other versions of the game. (The PC port has extensive mouse/keyboard/trackball support but is locked at the console versions' 30FPS frame rate.)

Why should I care? You've played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and wished the Ordon Village intro was fifty to eighty hours longer.

Crucial addition: This version of the game lets you skip past many events and dialogue sections that were previously unskippable, including all of helper-character Issun's endless asides. 

Romancing SaGa 2

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Playstation Vita, PC (Windows 10, Steam)
  • Price: $19.99 (20% discount until January 8)
  • Publisher: Square-Enix

What's this? A remake of Square's classic-in-Japan Super Famicom RPG, famous for its open-ended "free scenario" narrative system, somewhat incomprehensible battle mechanics and audiovisual splendour; the game was remade and localised for smartphones by ArtePiazza last year and that remake is now being made available on dedicated game hardware with UI touchups and other tweaks, as well as cross-save and cross-buy support on PS4/Vita and XB1/Windows 10.

Why should I care? The Romancing SaGa series and Romancing SaGa 2 in particular have maintained their reputation as top-class Super Famicom RPGs but have been largely unplayable by English-speaking audiences for over twenty years, so this release gives mobile-averse players a chance to experience the game for themselves. (As a bonus, it's one of a depressingly smaller number of 2D Square smartphone remakes that isn't hideously ugly.)

Word of warning: The smartphone version's English localisation was... unpolished, to put it politely, and I haven't seen any confirmation that it's improved here.


Manami Matsumae - Three Movements

  • Format: Vinyl (double-LP), CD, digital
  • Price: $10 (digital), other format TBA
  • Publisher: Brave Wave Productions

Manami Matsumae's best known for her work as the composer of the original Mega Man game but she's contributed to music to several dozen titles across different genres during her thirty-year career, both as a Capcom employee and as a freelancer; now, she's releasing her first-ever solo album which seeks to encompass her broad palate of talents, including but not at all limited to a little chiptune here and there. The album goes on sale across all formats, including a signed double-LP vinyl with exclusive tunes, on December 17, and you can preview four tracks from the album right now on the Brave Wave Bandcamp page.

Streets of Rage 3 vinyl by Data Discs

  • Format: Vinyl (double-LP)
  • Price: 24.99 (digital), other format TBA
  • Publisher: Data Discs

The Streets of Rage games are famous for their pioneering adaptation of contemporary club music, perhaps none moreso than Streets of Rage 3; the calypso-influences hip-hop and house techno from the previous games was largely eschewed for a harder-edged sound inspired by breakbeat and Detroit techno which divided fans at the time but has proven to be an enduring representation of the changing face of electionic music, and one worthy of being reissued for modern audiences. Data Discs's release goes on sale on December 16th in three variants including translucent orange/black smoke, translucent orange and classic back, with orders to ship in January; we can't all be so lucky as to see these tunes performed live, but this isn't a bad consolation prize.