Retro Re-release Roundup, week of April 18, 2024

Sunsoft’s run of reissues continues with a trio of untranslated-for-now Famicom titles.

Sunsoft’s not wasting any time in re-establishing themselves in the console space: between the self-made Ufouria/Hebereke, Ikki and Shanghai revival games, the Inti Creates-developed Blaster Master Zero trilogy, recent reissues of cult action games Gimmick! and Trip World and this new crowdfunded compilation, most of their big classic games seem poised for some form of modern representation… aside from their licensed games, of course, but the barriers that might once have prevented those games from ever re-appearing seem more surmountable than ever. What’ll it be next: Batman? Looney Tunes? Fester’s Quest? Gremlins? Quest: Brian’s Journey?



  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4
  • Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
  • Publisher: Hamster / Namco

What’s this? A falling-block puzzle game, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Namco in 1993 and converted for Japanese feature phones in the early ’00s, with a single authentic reissue via the Japanese Wii Virtual Console in 2009; dropping a block onto a same-coloured block will cause the bottom block and vertically/horizontallty/diagonally-adjacent blocks to crack, and dropping another same-coloured block will cause them to shatter, potentially allowing for large cascading chains of blocks as gravity rearranges the playfield. (This Arcade Archives version lets you add another digit to the score counter, should you require it.)

Why should I care? That one extra step required to clear blocks will give setup-oriented players a lot to chew on, and between the three distinct modes (an adventure mode with designed stages and magic items, an endless mode and a two-player versus mode), there’s a little more variety on offer than many comparable arcade falling-block games of the era.

Useless fact: Thisis one of those Namco games with a fairly extensive name filter for high score entry: defaulting to AAAAAA will replace your name with one of many, many Namco game titles, many offensive words will be replaced with daintier substitutes and, most interestingly, the names of other arcade developers will be replaced with notable games from said manufacturer, and the games that the Emeraldia dev decided were “representative” might not align with your picks, or anyone else’s.


Hydlide II (PC-8801)

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $6.49 / ¥880
  • Publisher: D4 Enterprise / Nihon Falcom

What’s this? The second entry in T&E Soft’s popular action-RPG series, originally released for the PC-8801 in early 1985 and ported to contemporary Japanese computers including the Fujitsu FM-7, the Sharp X1 and MZ-2000 series computers and the MSX; this game took the basic exploratory bump-combat action framework of the original and bolted on a magic system, character creation, a conventional equipment/shop system, a good/evil alignment system (or “FORTH”, if you’d rather) and a much larger map.

Why should I care? It’s not hard to understand why EGG skipped over this entry and had to double back for it, or why it was relatively under-represented in terms of ports and reissues: while Hydlide 3 buckled under its own ambition, this one was essentially a retread of the original taken to extremes — which naturally includes an extreme increase in inscrutable progression-blocking nonsense — and the audience for that degree of extremely specific routing is only going to be so big, but if those players still exist, they’re probably going to be reading this site, right?

Language barrier? The game intermittently uses English text for key items and menus and the occasional story/instruction screens, but it’s among enough Japanese to impede those without at least basic Japanese literacy. (Incidentally, the MSX version was officially translated in the late-’00s as part of a Dutch collaboration to release EGG titles globally, but the legal status of that translation is currently unknown.)


April ’24 update: Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare, MediEvil and Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire (PlayStation)

What’re these? The first reboot of the long-running French horror adventure series, the original version of SCE Studio Cambridge’s beloved 3D action-adventure game and the PlayStation conversion of a Star Wars game one might loosely describe as a rail shooter. (Japan’s also exclusively getting the PSP version of the cult Alfa System RPG Ore no Shikabane o Koete Yuke (aka Oreshika), but I don’t think there’s a way to claim it without a separate Japanese account and PS+ sub.)

Why should I care? You cannot abide owning a Sony console that doesn’t offer three distinct versions of MediEvil, I guess.

Obligatory PS Classics screwup: MediEvil may not be available in certain regions for players who bought the standalone version on PS3/Vita: the system will detect that you own it and therefore keep you from claiming it on PS+, but it also won’t let you download the game for free due to a pricing error… y’know, as happens with damn near every returning PS Classics title.


Rose & Camelia Collection

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide outside of Japan)
  • Price: $19.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: NIGORO / WayForward

What’s this? An anthology of new and remade entries in the silly upper-crust slap-battle game series Bara to Tsubaki, originally developed by Japanese indie team NIGORO and distributed online as a Flash game from 2007, and more recently ported to smartphones; in addition to new touched added by WayForward which include an animated intro and full English voice acting, this version offers five games — the two original games, the crossover game themed after NIGORO’s La-Mulana, a new game based on an unreleased third entry and a brand-new game — presented with high-definition illustrations, motion and/or touch-swipe controls and a two-player versus mode.

Why should I care? It’s nice to see one of the staples of ’00s-era Japanese Flash games given a second life, and NIGORO did make some changes to the game system that adds a level of engagement that persists beyond the novelty of the premise.

In case you missed it: Limited Run Games just opened orders for an English physical version.

Sunsoft is Back! Retro Game Selection

  • Platform: PC via Steam (worldwide), Nintendo Switch (Japan)
  • Price: $19.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Sunsoft

What’s this? An emulated three-pack of Famicom games from the Sunsoft catalog, produced as part of a successful crowdfunding campaign to resurrect and re-establish the Sunsoft brand. This collection includes the 1988 adventure game Ripple Island, the 1986 side-scroller Tokaido 53-tsuji and the 1986 sidescrolling action-RPG Madoola no Tsubasa (Wing of Madoola) and boasts save states and rewind, button mapping, screen settings and wallpaper options, 3D reproductions of the original cartridges and galleries for each game that include scans of the manuals, design documents, advertisements and other promotional art.

Why should I care? Sunsoft’s NES output tends to be remembered by later-era technical showpieces like Gimmick or licensed games like Batman, whereas this collection offers an interesting counterpart that reflects the identity of Sunsoft’s earlier Famicom-exclusive output, largely shaped by the soft aesthetic of designer and illustrator Moriken. Of course, it must be stated that as of this writing, all three of these games remain entirely untranslated, but Sunsoft has suggested that translations are coming, so you might want to grab this collection now and play ’em later.

Useless fact: Sunsoft initiated their comeback along a few different vectors, including the revival of their notorious “kusoge” Ikki as a 16-player overhead shooting game in the mold of Vampire Survivors; I can’t tell a good one of those games from a bad one, but Ikki Unite just left early access on Steam and launched on Switch, and it’s allegedly one of the better games in its genre.


Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PCphysical versions & merch via Limited Run Games

  • Price: $34.99 (standard) / $129.99 (collectors edition)
  • Availability: from April 19, 10AM Eastern to May 18, 23:59

Deep down, I know it’s unfair to attribute this one game for the inescapable and ever-encroaching reach of ironic retro ’80s kitsch, but how can I offer it any sympathy when it won’t go away?

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