Retro Re-release Roundup, April 25, 2024


I feel I ought to preface this roundup by acknowledging the many huge RPGs that have just dropped, which include Eiyuden Chronicles, the crowdfunded spiritual Suikoden successor and posthumous swansong of the recently-departed Yoshitaka Murayama; SaGa Emerald Beyond, the first brand-new SaGa game in almost a decade; Megaton Musashi W: Wired, the first globally-released iteration of one of Level-5’s underachieving cross-media action-RPGs that took forever to eventuate, and SANDLAND, the adaptation of the relatively obscure Akira Toriyama-penned manga that’s now saddled with the unfortunate burden of being the first post-death digital monument to his legacy… but if you’d rather play Iggy’s Reckin’ Balls, I wouldn’t blame ya.


Numan Athletics

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

What’s this? A multi-event multiplayer game full of over-the-top sports, originally developed and distributed in arcades by Namco in 1993 and reissued on consoles just once, via the Japanese Wii Virtual Console in the mid-’00s. One to four players are put in control of “numans”, superhuman athletes competing in a global competition that features eight suitably outrageous events that include tossing missiles like javelins, grappling a bullet train and skipping across Niagara Falls; each event is controlled solely via the pressing of three buttons, with unique inputs that are explained before each event.

Why should I care? One might be tempted to dismiss this game as “Track & Field with a ton of eye candy” and while that’s certainly true enough, the events themselves have all been designed with a degree of thoughtfulness and finesse that wasn’t present in any of its forebears or many of its successors — in other words, if you’re going to play one of these button-slappy sports games, make it this one.

Helpful tip: This game originally locked each character to a specific controller/coin slot, so you’ll have to go into the special settings if you want to freely select your character. 


April ’24 update: Extreme-G and Iggy’s Reckin’ Balls (Nintendo 64)

What’re these: Two Nintendo 64 games originally published by Acclaim Entertainment and now owned by the IP hoarder Throwback Entertainment: a Probe-developed futuristic racing game designed to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Wipeout and F-Zero X, and a peculiar fixed-plane racing platformer very loosely themed around the mascot of dev studio Iguana Entertainment, best know for their work on the classic Turok trilogy.

Why should I care? You’re not a nostalgia-poisoned dullard who wants the same dozen games shoved down your throat until the end of time.

Useless fact: Iggy’s Reckin’ Balls was specifically conceived as a low-intensity, low-cost project that could be produced for the smallest N64 cartridge size available, and it certainly has the most Amiga-cover-disk vibe of anything on the system.


Assault Suit Leynos 2 Saturn Tribute

  • Platform: Xbox, PC via Steam (worldwide) / PlayStation 4+5, Nintendo Switch (Japan)
  • Price: $24.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: City Connection / Extreme

What’s this? An emulated reissue of the side-scrolling mecha action game Assault Suits Leynos 2, originally developed for Sega Saturn and released exclusively in Japan in 1997, and a successor to both the original Mega Drive game Assault Suits Leynos (released globally as Target Earth) and the Super Famicom follow-up Assault Suits Valken (originally localized by Konami as Cybernator, and recently re-localized as Assault Suits Valken DECLASSIFIED). Produced by City Connection, this re-release sports a new English localization and several game-specific options and tweaks like in-game mission hints, weapon and equipment data taken from official supplementary materials, toggles for increased durability, HP, etc and less stringent unlock conditions during the second loop, as well as standard “Saturn Tribute” emulator features like save states, rewind and button mapping. (The global release of the Switch/PS versions have been delayed at the behest of their global physical publisher, so if you want to play in English, PC and Xbox are your only current options.)

Why should I care? Leynos 2 attempts to both merge and embellish the fundamental approaches of its two predecessors — that is, the eye-of-the-typhoon pandemonium of Leynos and the more cinematic, setpiece-driven approach of Valken — with the result being a game that demands both an understanding of the game’s relatively complex controls and armament systems and the mastery of each of its missions, and I suspect that many of the more critical opinions shared by importers back in the day were a consequence of players simply not understanding what was being asked of them, so this reissue should not only please those looking for vintage mecha-maniac action but also lead to reappraisal from those who didn’t get, or simply couldn’t do, what the game demanded in order to experience it to the fullest extent.

Helpful tip: The most recent entry in this series was a remake of the original Leynos, developed by the now-defunct doujin studio Dracue and published globally by Rising Star Games for PS4 and PC, and I bring it up because RSG massively discounted most of their catalogue on Steam a little while ago and seems to be on the brink of closure, and if they die then this remake’s probably going to disappear with them, never to be reissued, so you may wanna get on it while you still can.

Class of Heroes: Anniversary Edition and Class of Heroes 2G: Definitive Edition

  • Platform: PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PC via Steam (worldwide)
  • Price: $19.99 or equivalent (individual) / $34.99 (1&2 Complete Edition, console-only)
  • Publisher: Acquire / NISA / PQube

What’s this? A remaster of the first game in Acquire and Zerodiv’s series of moe first-person dungeon-crawling RPGs, originally released for the PlayStation Portable in Japan in 2008 and North America via Atlus in 2009, as well as a modern port of the enhanced PlayStation 3 version of the sequel, which originally released in Japan in 2010 and received an extremely limited North American release in 2015; these versions sport new localizations and offer boss rematch arenas and new galleries taken from old supplemental materials, as well as an option in the original game to toggle between original and new art assets for certain characters.

Why should I care? This series is most known in the west, if at all, for being one of the many barely-requited obsessions of the infamous niche publisher personality Vic Ireland, and while these games certainly did not live up to their lofty proclamations (nor would they have saved his business even if he’d manage to release all the games he’d promised), I do think they adequately acquit themselves among other Japanese dungeon-crawlers by only being moderately challenging — not outwardly-cute but old-school tough, or “easy” as determined by dudes who’ve been grinding Wizardry Dimguil for decades, but actually, genuinely smooth.

Useless fact: The original Class of Heroes is quite literally a Wizardry clone: that is to say, the game was produced by some of the same staff behind the Japanese game Wzardry EX2, and recycles a huge swathe of material from EX2 including most of the character, job and item data, quests and map structure.

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron HD Remaster

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $29.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: crim

What’s this? A visually striking 2D/3D action game very loosely themed around the apocalyptic Book of Enoch, originally developed by the Japanese branch of UTV Ignition and delivered to the world via skeleton crew in 2011 after their publisher pulled the plug; after protracted negotiations, the original director Sawaki Takeyasu was able to buy back the IP and eventually port the game to PC in 2021, and now they’ve brought it to Switch with extra enhancements including improved load times and a higher internal resolution to previous ports, as well as a bundled epilogue mini-novel and digital art book.

Why should I care? This game was once described to me as “a playable OVA that asks the question, ‘what if angels were also jeans models'” and I think a lot of y’all will be as intrigued by that description as I was… or, if you’ve already played it and lament at the fact that it was and remains a blatant patchwork of unfinished ideas, know that the creator’s persisting with their hot-and-cold plans to use sales of these new versions to fund a true, we-finished-it-this-time director’s cut.

Useless fact: According to Takeyasu, this Switch version was produced near-solely by a new employee hired straight out of college, who managed to completely rewrite the game’s code and improve the port on their own.

The Epyx Collection: Handheld

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $11.99 or equivalent
  • Publisher: Pixel Games UK

What’s this? An emulated collection of six Atari Lynx games from the catalog of Lynx designers and primary software developers Epyx  California Games, ElectroCop, Blue Lightning, Gates of Zendocon, Todd’s Adventures in Slime World and Zarlor Mercenary — presented here with some basic screen filters, save states, rewind and 3D-modeled boxes and cartridges for each game. (I might be wrong but I don’t believe they’ve emulated the link cable, so no 8-player Slime World for you.)

Why should I care? If you’ve never played or so much as seen a Lynx in action, this collection gives you most of the Lynx-original heavy-hitters in one convenient package that’ll make the strengths and weaknesses of the Lynx hardware very, very clear.

Helpful tip: All of these games, minus California Games, are available as standalones on Steam.

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