Retro Re-release Roundup, week of September 6, 2018

Sunny side up.

As I write today's blurb for 428: Shibuya Scramble, I'm becoming acutely aware of just how difficult it is to succinctly describe a parallel-event narrative game without overexplaining a simple concept or ruining even minor twists, and that it's impossible to convey the seriousness of live-action anything, but trust me, you're in for a good time... unless you absolutely cannot stand live-action FMV, in which case, you're completely incable of having a good time.


Ninja Commando

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

What's this? An overhead shooting game starring a trio of time-hopping ninjas, developed by ninja afficionados ADK and published in arcades by SNK in 1992; in addition to traditional vertically-scrolling action, each character has addtional moves like an evasive dash and special attacks that are performed with fighting game-style directional commands.

Why should I care? The action's a little simpler and more immediate than comparable late-era Neo Geo games like Shock Troopers, and there's a cheerful abundance of hammy, barely-translated dialogue to keep you entertained between and even during each stage.

Helpful tip: Ryu's "Triple Wave Break" attack, performed with the ↑ ↙ ↘ ↖ ↗ ↓ + A command, is not only extremely powerful but is also relatively easy to input thanks to a surprisingly lenient input buffer, so abuse this move if you want to have a very easy time of an otherwise tough game.


428: Shibuya Scramble

  • Platform: Playstation 4 (North America, EU version delayed to September 21), PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $49.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Spike Chunsoft

What's this? A multi-character "sound novel" with a live-action photo/video aesthetic, developed by adventure game veterans Chunsoft and published for Wii in 2008, with subsequent ports to PS3, PSP and smartphones; the game charts the real-time interactions of five seemingly unrelated characters whose adventures occur in parallel and whose interactions, guided by the player, are key to unraveling the mysterious kidnapping of a girl in Shibuya.

Why should I care? 428 originally released in Japan to rapturous critical acclaim but zero interest from overseas publishers, so the mere fact that we're getting it at all after so long, let alone with a translation supervised by Alexander O. Smith, is worth celebrating in and of itself; thankfully, it's also fantastically written, very open-ended and not nearly as campy as the live-action stills might lead one to believe. (There's a free and quite lengthy demo on PS4 that'll let you transfer your progress to the full game, and I urge everyone to give it a shot.)

"Sound novel"? Chunsoft came up with this moniker to describe SFC-era fiction games that, for both aesthetic and pragmatic reasons, focused on using audio to accentuate the tone of the novel-style prose that made up the bulk of the experience; despite the obvious volume of stills and even video present in 428, the emphasis on prose over extensive dialogue and the use of audiovisual elements primarily as mood-setters rather than explicit focal points are what separate 428 from the "visual novel" category... well, that and branding, but the distinction does matter.

Monkey King: Master of the Clouds

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide?)
  • Price: $4.99 / €4.99 / £4.49
  • Publisher: Starfish-SD / Tommo / UFO Interactive

What's this? A Journey to the West-themed horizontal shooting game, originally developed for arcades by Hot-B and published by Taito way back in 1988 under the name Chuuka Taisen and ported to several consoles, including the Sega Master System (as Cloud Master); this port of the arcade original includes local two-player co-op, online leaderboards and... actually, that might be it.

Why should I care? You're looking for a pleasant, if unremarkable, arcade shooting game that hasn't been re-released to death.

Useless fact: Chuuka Taisen received an extremely low-budget remake for the Wii way back in 2007; that remake was only released in Japan but the basic systems were recycled for an overseas-only title using characters from the Hong Kong manhua, Saint. Both versions sucked.

Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner - M∀RS

  • Platform: Playstation 4, PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $29.99 / €29.99 / £24.99
  • Publisher: Konami / CyGames

What's this? An ultra-HD remaster of Kojima Productions' second high-octane free-flying mecha action game, originally released for Playstation 2 in 2003 and remastered with some controversey in 2012; this version features further visual enhancements over the previous remaster and also offers an alternative, more contemporary control scheme, as well as full VR support for both SteamVR and PSVR.

Why should I care? ZOE2 is still considered by many to be the premier 3D mecha action game, and now it's sure to cement itself as a premier VR showcase as well. (It also requires no prior knowledge of the first game, which hasn't been included this time around.)

Helpful tip: If you can't abide by Konami's ongoing crusade to deny proper attribution to the people who made their classic titles, you may want to skip this release, as they've elected to exclude the original Kojima Productions team from the game's credits.


Micro Mages cartridge drive on Kickstarter

Platform: NES (cartridge or ROM)
Price: get-the-game tier from €8
Publisher: Morphcat

Morphcat, the programmer behind the years-in-development NES platfomer Super Bat Puncheris looking to fund the production and distribution of a new 4-player action-platformer for NES — the game and all other external media is already done, but they're looking for funds to make and ship the game, so back if you like, or simply marvel at the craftsmanship required to cram such a game into a vanilla 40kb NES cartridge.


Policenauts double-LP by Data Discs

  • Format: vinyl (2xLP)
  • Price: £24.99
  • Availability: preorders begine September 8, shps late September

Data Discs's first Konami record is an odd pick — an international soundtrack release for a game that wasn't released internationally, and certainly not a game one might have experienced via an unauthorized fan translation, no siree — but there's no questioning the talents of the Konami Kukeiha Club, whoever they might be. This double-LP package is being offered in classic black, opaque white or a limited black/white swirl, with shipping to begin no later than September 30.


Xbox Live Backwards Compatibility sale

  • Platform: Xbox One, Xbox 360 (North America)
  • Price: up to 90% off select titles until September 10
  • Publisher: various

Dozens of XB1-compatible X360 games from all your favourite publishers are on sale right now, most of which you've probably bought at some point over the last ten years, but if the recent Streets of Rage 4 reveal has left you hankerin' for some bare-knuckle action, you can grab the M2-made, netplay-equipped Streets of Rage Vintage Collection for loose change.

Altered Beast 30th Anniversary Collection merch on Sega's online store

  • Product: so much merch
  • Price: starting from $12.95
  • Publisher: Konami / CyGames

If I had to see this then so do you. For the love of god, Funko, stop.