Retro Re-release Roundup, week of April 19, 2018

Rock the dragon.

It's been a busy week for legacy reissues... at least twenty games across all manner of platforms, including at least eight that I am completely unequipped to evaluate at such short notice, and one (Panzer Dragoon Orta) that I can recommend without hesitation: it's a standout title in a genre that has all but disappeared, it's the first Panzer Dragoon game released in umpteen years and, perhaps most crucially, playing the game on XB1 lets you, like, see the textures. Ya did good, Microsoft.


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.

Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa's Revenge

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

What's this? The fourth main-line Samurai Shodown game and the last Neo Geo entry developed by the original team, released to arcades in late 1996; the bust/slash character style system returns from the previous game but many of the other, tepidly-received systems were abolished and replaced with new systems including a reworked Rage Explosion system that allows for big comebacks, a Mortal Kombat-esque command-based finishing move ("No Contest") and the introduction of a chain-based combo system that shifts the game ever so slightly closer to the more traditional fighting games of the era.

Why should I care? You want a game that looks like a slightly cheerier version of SamSho III but with characters with functioning hit detection and whose attacks do roughly eight thousand times less damage.

Useless fact: SamSho games tended to suffer from particularly poor localizations, even by SNK's usual low standard, and SamSho IV was arguably the title most afflicted by sloppy translation — not only is the dialogue borderline-illegible and littered with out-of-place '90s slang but the giant VICTOLY and FATARITY displays at the end of a match are too egregious to ignore.


Xbox One Backwards Compatibility Update, April 2018 (wave one)

  • Platform: Xbox One
  • Price: starting from $9.99 / £6.75 / 9,49, or free if you own the original game disc or X360 Xbox Original digital version
  • Publisher: various

What's this? The second wave of backwards-compatible Xbox Original titles for Xbox One — or, to be precise, the first half of the second wave, the rest come next week — replete with the standard enhancements including native rendering at 4x the standard resolution (16x on Xbox One X, so very close to 4K) and local System Link support across XB1, X360 and OG XBOX (which can be spoofed into working online using XLink Kai, for all you Conker fans.)

Which titles are available? This week's batch is eight games deep: Blinx: The Time Sweeper, Breakdown, Conker: Live & Reloaded, Hunter: The Reckoning, Jade Empire (minus the Limited Edition disc),   Panzer Dragoon OrtaSSX 3. and  The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (the Game Of The Year version, no less.)

Why should I care? Two of these games — Panzer Dragoon Orta and SSX 3 — are not just era-leading titles in under-represented genres but also games that have never looked or played better than they do via backwards-compatibility; the others range from the best kind of early-'00's shlock (Breakdown) to the worst (Hunter) to games that are better served elsewhere (Morrowind, Jade Empire), to... y'know what, Blinx is fine.

Helpful tip: PAL X360 owners, Microsoft's got a little somethin' for you, too: they finally, finally fixed Panzer Dragoon Orta's fatal emulation bug, meaning the game is now fully playable on X360 just eleven years after being made backwards-compatible.


Dynamite Headdy (Sega Forever)

  • Platform: iOS, Android, Apple TV (worldwide)
  • Price: free, $1.99 to remove ads
  • Publisher: Sega Games

What's this? A colorful and slightly odd action-platformer starring a head-swapping puppet, developed for the Sega Mega Drive by Treasure and released worldwide in 1994; players are tasked with chasing and defeating an evil mind-controlling puppet through a cavalcade of flashy stages with a stage-play motif.

Why should I care? Treasure's Treasure, free's free. (Okay, let me juice it a little more: it's packed to the brim with inventive and technically-impressive gimmicks and bosses, and discovering and collecting all the secret bonuses adds an extra optional rub to already-tough game.)

Helpful tip: The Sega Forever release do feature controller support, so you don't necessarily have to suffer through such a challenging game with virtual buttons.

Ocean Classics vol.1

  • Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $16.04, individual games from $3.99
  • Publisher: Classics Digital

What's this? A motley collection of ZX Spectrum, Amiga and DOS software from the bowels of Ocean Software, presented by Classics Digital by way of Atari / Infogrames. Yeah, it's a little messy.

Which titles are available? All the stars are here: Central IntelligenceELF, Last Rites, Pushover, Sleepwalker, Tunnel B1, The Great Escape and Where Time Stood Still, available individually and as a bundle.

Why should I care? Maybe you should tell me — the closest I ever came to playing any of these games was watching a Tunnel B1 demo on a Playstation demo kiosk... I think it's a Descent clone? Pick it up if you like Descent... I... guess?

Useless fact: Chris Hülsbeck did the music for Tunnel B1 and a quick Youtube search tells me it is, as most of his soundtracks are, pretty good. 

Wild Guns Reloaded

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $29.99 / €29.99 £26.99
  • Publisher: Natsume

What's this? A 2D widescreen remaster of Natsume-Atari's cult SNES sci-fi/western crosshair shooting game, now sporting new levels, two additional players, new weapons, a revised scoring system, online leaderboards and co-up support for up to 4 players. (The Switch version adds a couple new features over last year's PS4/PC release, including a boss rush and a much-requested toggle for unlimited lives.)

Why should I care? It's a near-flawless remaster of a little-played 16-bit classic, and the new characters and increased difficulty will give returning players something to sink their teeth into. (It's also a hell of a lot cheaper than shelling out several hundred dollars for the original SNES or SFC cartridge.)

Useless fact: Wild Guns Reloaded was made by a three-man team code-named "Project Tengo" whose relationship spans back to '90s-era classics including Gundam Wing Endless Duel, The Ninja Warriors Again, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Fighting Edition and the original Wild Guns, among many other games. This remaster was a initiative formed to test the viability of a return to small-team, old-school development — the test was successful, so expect to hear something about their next project in the near future.


CAVE Matsuri Sale

  • Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Discount: over 50% off CAVE games, bundles & DLC

Bullet hell stalwarts CAVE are holding their annual Matsuri festival this weekend, where they're sure to announce all manner of limited-time events for the Japan-only mobile waifu gacha games keeping them afloat and perhaps another port from the back-catalogue; in celebration, they're offering a discount on their three-game PC library (in order of least to most moe: Dodonpachi Resurrection, Mushihimesama, Deathsmiles) as well as the crossover DLC for Taito's Dariusburst Chronicle Saviours.

Yakuza series reprints from

  • Platform: Playstation 2, Playstation 3
  • Price: starts from $29.99CAD, 4-pack for $139.99CAD

Yakuza's international resurgence has caused an extreme demand for the earlier games on the second-hand market that recent reprints haven't been able to quell, but what's the harm in trying again? Canada's is offering yet another limited reprint of the first four Yakuza titles across PS2 and PS3, but be warned: their site is notoriously poor about handling and protecting credit card info, so if you're willing to roll the dice, stick to Paypal for payment.