Retro Re-release Roundup, week of December 28, 2017

I'm seeing double! Four dragons!

Merry post-Christmas, pre-New Year stupour, everyone! How are we all feeling? Ready to dive into the backlog and maybe finish one of the twenty games released this year that you started and never finished? No? Me neither, but I'll play the hell out of Double Dragon for the hundredth time.


Double Dragon

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (Europe)
  • Price: €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster

What's this? Bimmy and Jammy's classic arcade brawler from 1987, back and as violent as ever.

Why should I care? You've played the NES version to death and want to experience the game as it was originally designed: that is to say, with a friend in tow... and with fewer stages gimmicks, more bugs and wayyyy more slowdown.

Helpful tip: Elbow smash, elbow smash, elbow smash. Seriously, elbow smash.

Front Line

  • Platform: Playstation 4 (Japan)
  • Price: ¥823
  • Publisher: Hamster

What's this? An overhead military run-and-gun game, developed and released into arcades by Taito in late 1982. The arcade version used a joystick for movements and a rotary dial for aiming and firing your weapon; the Arcade Archives version allows you to play with dual-analogue controls and also offers a directional-fire option that operates similarly to the Famicom port.

Why should I care? It represents the evolutionary link between Nintendo's Sherrif and Capcom's Commando. and it doesn't feel quite as dated as it looks.

Useless fact: Most of Front Line's prior ports and reissues were exclusive to Japan, but there's one version that was released only in North America: Sgt. Rock: On The Frontline, a Game Boy Color game that was inexplicably released under the license of DC Comics; long-dormant WWII hero Sgt. Rock.


The King of Fighters '96

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (North America, Europe)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster

What's this? The third entry in SNK's series of all-star tag-team fighting games, KOF '96 debuted popular characters Vice and Mature and marked the first KOF appearance for heavy-hitters Geese Howard, Wolfgang Krauser and Mr. Big.

Why should I care? It's arguably the first really nice-looking and sounding KOF game. (It's also an inarguably poorly-balanced game that borders on being unfinished, which I suppose some people might find charming.) 

Helpful tip: Do you want to win? Pick Mature. Do you want to avoid being punched by your friends? Don't pick Mature.


Double Dragon IV

  • Platform: iOS, Android (worldwide)
  • Price: free to download (first stage only, paid unlock required for the full game)
  • Publisher: Arc System Works

What's this? Arc System Works' recent faux-retro Double Dragon "sequel", developed by several of the original Technos developers and released for PS4, PC and later Switch, now available on smartphones.

Why should I care? You shouldn't, frankly: it's not a particularly inspired or well-crafted game and the experience is bound to be even worse on a smartphone with virtual buttons, but I suppose this version provides a simple, no-risk option for anyone who really wants to try it for themselves.

Helpful tip: The tower extends well past 100 floors, but you only need to clear 40 floors to unlock every additional character in the game.


Playstation Store Holiday Sale, Week 3

  • Platform: Playstation 4, Playstation 3, Playstation Vita, Playstation Portable (North America)
  • Deal: heavy discounts on over 600 titles

Sony's holiday sale rolls into its third week, with sales on Playstation mainstays series including Final Fantasy Castlevania and Silent Hlll as well as more recent retro reissues like Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour, Grim Fandango Remastered and the Kingdom Hearts HD compilations.

River City: Rival Showdown with keychain, discounted on Amazon

  • Platform: Nintendo 3DS (North America)
  • Discount: $ 16 49 (45% off)

It's only a few weeks old but Arc System Works & Natsume's River City Ransom remake for 3DS is already available for almost half price... could it be franchise fatigue? Has the audience moved on from 3DS? Did Natsume simply print too many copies as a reaction to the shortages they faced with the previous game, River City: Tokyo Rumble? Whatever the case, I suspect this version won't be getting a second print run.