Retro Re-release Roundup, week of January 11, 2018

A cult Japanese dream-exploration game finally makes its way to Steam.

Sorry about last week's mixup, folks! Hamster, in their rush to release ten thousand games a week, managed to fumble their own schedule and sent out press releases out of sync with the appropriate releases, so if all goes to plan you should actually be able to grab King of Fighters '98 today... or the volleyball game that was supposed to drop today... or a Metal Slug game, it's complicated.


Art of Fighting 2

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

What's this? The second game in SNK's series of cinematic fighting action games, released in 1994; this entry put a little more emphasis on the competitive aspect than the original game, with all characters playable by regular means (including the first playable appearance of Yuri Sakazaki, star of the just-announced SNK Heroines), and it also established a concrete link to the Fatal Fury universe by way of a certain secret boss character...

Why should I care? If you're the type who enjoys the challenge of taking on extremely cheap fighting game AI then Art of Fighting 2 will keep you busy for a long, long time/

Useless fact: Clearing the arcade mode is no mean feat but, should you succeed, you'll be greeted by some of the most ridiculous SNK English ever scribed.

The King of Fighters '98

  • Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One (worldwide... for real this time?)
  • Price: $7.99 /  €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster

What's this? The fifth entry in SNK's all-star tag battle series, released at some unspecified point in the mid-to-late '90s; this non-canon "dream match" title refines the systems from the previous game while massively expanding the character count by including almost every character from the previous entries as well as alternate versions of several fan favorites, resulting in a roster of over 50 characters.

Why should I care? KOF98 is the most popular and enduring KOF title in the English-speaking world and while there's no story to speak of, it boasts a huge and reasonably balanced roster and a ton of excellent golden-era SNK spritework and animation. If you have a passing interest in KOF but struggle to differentiate between the fifteen KOF games that are reissued every week, get this one.

Helpful tip: As with all Arcade Archives releases, this is the original, unadorned version of the game; KOF98 Ultimate Match, available as a backwards-compatible title for PS4 (via PS2 Classics) and XB1 (via XBLA) add new characters, game balance, optional 3D backgrounds and a third "ultimate" groove for each character, and KOF98 Ultimate Match Final Round, available on Steam, adds even more characters and further balance changes as well as online play.


Yume Nikki ("Dream Diary")

  • Platform: PC via Steam
  • Price: free!
  • Publisher: Playism AGM

What's this? A surreal horror-tinged vignette, created by Japanese indie dev kikiyama and released for free in 2004 with updates until 2007; despite being constructed using RPG Maker 2003, Yume Nikki contains very few RPG elements and does not follow a conventional game structure: wander, struggle against obtuse dream logic, wander some more. Unsettling, uninviting, grossly compelling.

Why should I care? Along with Cave Story and Touhou, Yume Nikki is a pre-eminent work of the Japanese indie scene and has gone onto influence and inform countless indie games and developers the world over, including western-made games like LISA, Space Funeral,the upcoming OMORI and even that game with the skeletons — and hey, it's free. 

Why now? The Yume Nikki Steam release is a promotional tool for an upcoming Yume Nikki-related announcement — there's no knowing what they're teasing, but my completely uninformed guess is that it's related to the officially-sanctioned but non-canon Yume Nikki game being made with Light Novel Maker.


SEGA Forever January Sale

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Price: 50% off Sega Forever game unlocks for the month of January ($0.99 / £0.99 / €1.09)

The launch of SEGA Forever was a complete mess but credit where credit's due, they've slowly but surely brought the quality of their releases to "frameskip-enabled PSP emulator" standards, and now you can purchase the complete, ad-free versions of many of your favourite 16-bit console games (Sonic the Hedgehog, Phantasy Star II, Comix Zone, Kid Chameleon, Altered Beast, The Revenge of Shinobi, Ristar, Golden Axe, Space Harrier II, Beyond Oasis, Decap Attack, ESWAT: City Under Siege, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Streets of Rage, Gunstar Heroesor a few mobile-tailored ports (Virtua Tennis Challenge, Crazy Taxi) for just a buck — and yes, they support MFi controllers, so no cludging your way through Gunstar Heroes with a virtual d-pad.