Retro Re-release Roundup, week of March 22, 2018

The curse is lifted!

Today's update features a peculiar inclusion in Gekido: Kintaro's Revenge, a rare example of a Game Boy Advance game being remastered for.. well, anything. Seriously, excluding the obligatory DS launch-window ports ,how many GBA-to-anything ports are there, period? I can't think of many, which makes me suspect the answer is "a whole dang lot", but I'm prepared for the blow-up.

(a surprise last-minute update: Curse of Monkey Island!)


Moon Patrol

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

What's this? One of Irem's earliest arcade hits, originally released in 1982 and popularised worldwide by distributor Williams; players drive a moon-buggy from checkpoint to checkpoints across auto-scrolling terrain while shooting ground-based and airborne enemies and jumping over obstacles like rocks and pits.

Why should I care? By the standards of the day, it's both fairly easy and quite visually impressive — parallax scrolling background and individually-animated wheel hydraulics were a big deal in ;82, dontcha know,

Useless fact? Moon Patrol was the first major success for industry veteran Takashi Nishiyama, a man who'd later go on to create hits like Kung-Fu Master/Spartan XStreet Fighter and Fatal Fury.


Waku Waku 7

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

What's this? Sunsoft's second and final Neo Geo fighting game, released to arcades in 1996;  seven wacky and varied characters compete to attain the legendary wish-granting "Waku Waku Balls" in an affectionate over-the-top parody of mid-'90s anime, manga and videogames. (Fiar warning: there are a lot of flashing screen effects in this game.)

Why should I care? While the roster is small at just seven playable characters, Waku Waku 7's vibrant, cartoonish style and highly individualised characters are quite unlike any other Neo Geo fighting game, and the homages to everything from Yatterman to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure to My Neighbor Totoro are spot-on.

Helpful tip: Either player can activate a karaoke-style lyrics display (in Japanese) on Arina's stage by holding Start and pressing A+D before the "ROUND 1" message appears.

World Heroes 2 Jet

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

What's this? An enhanced revision of World Heroes 2, released in 1994. The "Jet" subtitle refers to the new dashing system, allowing for faster character movement; the revision also includes new moves for the characters, new and revised backgrounds and other new cinematic elements, totally revised game modes and a system that lets you select different attributes for your character based on offense, defense or speed.

Why should I care? You're interested in tracking the World Heroes series' gradual ascension to competence, or you already bought the other three and need to complete the set.

Useless fact: World Heroes 2 Jet was ported to the Game Boy and against all odds it turned out to be an exceedingly good port and one of the best fighting games on the system.


Gekido: Kintaro's Revenge

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $12.99 / €14.99 / £13.49
  • Publisher: Naps Team

What's this? A port of an obscure brawler/adventure game, originally developed for Game Boy Advance by Italian studio Naps Team in collaboration with illustrator Joe Madureira and released in 2002; this version adds a new alternate soundtrack and high-definition story art as well as two-player co-op and some additional modes including a mode with procedurally-generated stages.

Why should I care? I can't vouch for the remaster but my recollection of the original is that it's a very earnest and eye-pleasing brawler that's absolutely ruined by the quasi-exploratory map format, so if you have a low tolerance for ill-advised enviromental hazards and severe amounts of backtracking through hordes of identical enemies, you'd best proceed with extreme caution.

Useless fact: Only two Gekido games ever made it to market  the original 3D bralwer for Playstation as well as the GBA followup — but many others were planned and subsequently cancelled due to financial issues, including a Game Boy Color title and a 3D adventure game for PSP; developer Naps Team recently released their GBC prototype for download, so have at it.

Sol Divide -Sword of Darkness-

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (North America, Japan)
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.99
  • Publisher: Zerodiv

What's this? A horizontally-scrolling action/shooting game with a dark-fantasy motif, developed and released to arcades by Psikyo in 1996 and once again ported to Switch by Zerodiv; while it superficially resembles other shooting games with humanoid games like Forgotten WorldsSol Divide differentiates itself from the typical shooting game formula through the heavy emphasis on brawler-style melee combos and light RPG trappings like a health bar and collectible magic spells with elemental attributes.

Why should I care? Sol Divide isn't an exciting game, or a pretty game, or even a long game, but it is an ambitious game, and for that Psikyo deserves... well, not praise, but ackowledgement, at the very least.

Useless fact: Sol Divide's characters and setting were designed by the famed illustrator Katsuya Terada, best known in the west for his work on the Nintendo Power comics and other promotional art for The Legend of Zelda series.

The Curse of Monkey Island

  • Platform: PC via GOG and Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $6.99
  • Publisher: Lucasarts / Disney

What's this? The third entry in Lucasarts' beloved swashbuckling adventure series, developed by a new creative team in the wake of series creator Ron Gilbert's departure and released for PC in 1997; Curse was released at the height of the CD-ROM era and was the first game in the series to feature fully-voiced dialogue for all characters, as well as a brand new, very cartoony art style with a then-impressive volume of animation.

Why should I care? Curse of Monkey Island is perhaps the most accessible of the classic Monkey Island games: t's a friendly standalone experience and perhaps the most joke-dense game of the lot, and while the technical quality of the graphics hasn't aged fantastically, the new look is still charming, especially in the wake of the more recent 3D titles. (It's also a game that fans have been begging for a re-release for well over a decade, so it's nice to finally get some closure.)

Helpful tip: Unfortunately, this re-release is limited to the English dub only, but it's essentially just a ScummVM wrapper so it'll be modded before long.


Katamari Damacy - Original Video Game Soundtrack vinyl by Mondo

  • Format: vinyl (2LP)
  • Price: $34.99 (but it's sold out!)
  • Publisher: Mondo

Sucks, don't it? An official vinyl for one of the PS2's most iconoclastic games  and one with uncharacteristically attractive art from Mondo, no less — and it sells out in under an hour, long before most of us even knew it existed. Never fear; Mondo insists it'll get a reprint soon, and given how successful it was the first time around, I believe them. Let's not miss out next time, okay?


Nintendo of Europe Spring Sale

  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Wii U (Europe)
  • Discounts: occasionally above 50% off over 100 titles
  • Publisher: various

One would hope Nintendo might commemorate the sunsetting of the Wii Virtual Console with a one-off bargain sale, but no, you're getting the usual assortment of modest discounts on titles spanning Switch, 3DS and Wii U without a Virtual Console title to be mentioned. Even so, there are a few retro-focused discounts worth mentioning, including The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and several Sega 3D ClassicsAce Attorney and River City titles for 3DS, as well as many retro-chic indie titles including Axiom Verge (Switch/Wii U), Blaster Master Zero (Switch/3DS), Cursed Castilla (3DS), Mighty Gunvolt Burst (Switch/3DS), Mummy Demastered (Switch) and Owlboy (Switch), to name but a few,.