Retro Re-release Roundup, week of January 25, 2018

The 3DS Virtual Console has returned to offer you the chance to pick Totodile one last time.

A few months agoI made what seemed like an incredibly safe and reasonable statement: the release of Pokemon Gold and Silver marked the end of the 3DS Virtual Console and the absence of Pokemon Crystal suggested they didn't consider it worth their time or effort to re-release. A mere four months later, I feel the need to revise that statement: there will never be another non-Pokemon game released for 3DS Virtual Console, especially one that isn't Gumshoe. Come at me.


Kid Niki: Radical Ninja

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 (worldwide)
  • Price: $7.99 / 6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster / Irem

What's this? A light-hearted platformer starring "the most radical ninja" and his quest to rescue a princess from a goofy youkai army, developed and released in arcades by Irem in 1986.

Why should I care? Kid Niki is a respectable counterpart to contemporaneous post-Super Mario arcade platformers like Wonder Boy and Alex Kidd and the Lost Stars and while it offers a reasonable challenge, it's far more forgiving than Irem's usual fare.

Useless fact: What makes Kid Niki so much more radical than his Japanese forebear, Kaitetsu Yanchamaru? A spiky 'do, a ponytail and not much else.


Shock Troopers

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

What's this? An overhead run-and-gun shooting game for one or two players, developed by SNK underlings Saurus and released for the Neo Geo in 1997; players can opt for a configurable three-person team whose members can be cycled in real time, or to go it solo in "Lonly Wolf" mode.

Why should I care? Shock Troopers' modern scoring system, branching stage selection and large roster of playable characters combined with a moderate difficulty curve make it an easy recommendation for players of all skill levels; it's not just one of the best Neo Geo games, it's among the very best of its genre and a worthy successor to the likes of Ikari Warriors and Commando.

Helpful tip:  This recent world-record-breaking run by Shock Troopers maniac LordBBH demonstrates the various components of the scoring system, the optimal route through the game and the utility of the character-tag and dodge roll; if you're struggling with a particular section of the game or just want to see the game pushed to its limits, this is the video for you.

World Heroes 2

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

What's this? The sequel to ADK's quirky history-hopping Street Fighter wannabe, released by SNK in 1993; World Heroes 2 added several bizarre new characters, a slightly faster game speed and additional systems that would not return in subsequent games, including throw reversals and a unique "seesaw life-bar" for the deathmatch mode.

Why should I care? World Heroes 2 is one of the weaker entries in a middling series but it's also the quirkiest, and the tug-of-war deathmatch mode is a fun idea that can't be found in either of the sequels, so it's not entirely expendable.

Useless fact:  An arranged version of newcomer Erick's character theme was inexplicably used as the opening music for Fuji News Networks' "News Japan" program from 1994 to 2000.


Pokemon Crystal (Game Boy Color, out January 26)

  • Platform: 3DS (worldwide, code-in-a-box exclusive to Europe/Australia)
  • Price: $9.99 / €9.99 / £8.99
  • Publisher: Nintendo

What's this? A re-release of the third second-generation Pokemon game, released exclusively for the Game Boy Color in Japan in 2000 and worldwide in 2001; this version adds several enhancements over the original Gold and Silver releases including a few additional subplots, animated battle entrances for each Pokemon and the option to play as a boy or a girl, as well as Japan-only functionality that allowed players to battle and exchange data online through the use of a mobile adapter peripheral. Much like the Virtual Console releases of previous Pokemon games, the Virtual Console version of Pokemon Crystal allows players to trade and battle using local wireless, as well as upload their Pokemon to the latest 3DS games via Pokemon Bank.

Why should I care? Pokemon Crystal does not offer a substantial amount of new content over the previous versions but all the changes and additions, including wild Pokemon redistribution, make the game a more pleasant experience and the optimal choice for casual fans. 

Better late than never: The subquest involving the legendary Pokemon Celebi, previously inaccessible in non-Japanese versions of Pokemon Crystal, has been restored for the international Virtual Console release and will be available after completing the Hall of Fame.


Strikers 1945-II

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

What's this? The second and most popular entry in the popular Strikers 1945 series of WWII-themed vertical shooters, developed and published in arcades by Psikyo in 1997; this Zerodiv-ported version seems to be based on the home console ports of the time and as usual, it supports several display configurations including a full-screen vertical display option while in tabletop mode.

Why should I care? Much like the original Strikers 1945, this game offers no-nonsense shoot-and-dodge action with none of the modern accoutrements that might dissuade you from playing other newer shooting games — it's not a bullet hell game, it's not overly complex, nor is it packed with moe fanservice, but it will murder the hell out of you given the chance.

Helpful tip:  I know it's tempting but don't bother entering SEX on the high score screen, Psikyo was wise to your little game.

Zero Gunner 2-

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

What's this? A ground-up "port" of Psikyo's 2001 2.5D helicopter shooter, released in arcades and on Sega Dreamcast in 2000; this is not a traditional vertically- or horizontally-scrolling shooter but an omnidirectional games that hinges around the ability to rotate your helicopter's aim and take on enemies from all directions.

Why should I care? Frankly, you shouldn't. Y'see that minus sign at the end of the title? That's in acknowledgement of the fact that this port is heavily incomplete, almost to the point of unplayability: enemy collision doesn't work, bullets frquently turn invisible, bosses; animations glitch out, the works. There's a chance they'll fix it... but if they knew it was broken, why'd they release it to begin with?

Useless fact:  Another of Zerodiv's recent Psikyo ports, Gunbird, had to be pulled from the eShop when players discovered Zeridiv had neglected to remove critical debug functions that allowed hackers to exploit the system firmware. Gotta give 'em credit for consistency, I suppose.


Resurrection: Panzer Dragoon Saga 20th Anniversary Arrangement by Brave Wave Productions

  • Format: digital, streaming, CD, vinyl
  • Price: $12 (digital), $15 / €15 (CD), $35 / €35 (vinyl)
  • Shipping date: "early March" (CD), "early April" (vinyl)

It's almost twenty years to the day since the release of Panzer Dragoon Sega, Sega's tragically-underplayed and apocryphally-loved Sega Saturn RPG, and Brave Wave Productions has teamed up with co-composer Saori Kobayashi to commemorate this anniversary with an album containing new high-fidelity arrangements of 20 of the game's tracks. Available digitally, on CD and on purple double-LP vinyl, the arranged soundtracks also contains official art and behind-the-scenes photos in addition to liner notes by Tigertron's James Mielke and several former members of the Panzer Dragoon series development team; the soundtrack will be available from January 29, with shipping beginning in early March.

Mega Man Mastermix #1 by Hitoshi Ariga

  • Price: $7.99

As reported last year, UDON Entertainment has produced a reissue of Hitoshi Ariga's beloved Mega Man Megamix manga, now sporting a new name, a full-colour makeover courtesy of Josh Perez and six limited-edition variant colours because comic books, delgado.