Unfashionable Re-release Roundup, week of August 10, 2023

By qaxio

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Quake II fans overjoyed to ignore the Quake II campaign for the twenty-sixth consecutive year.

To everyone who’s about to experience Quake 2 capture-the-flag for the first time, I envy you… that is, I envy that first hour or so, and absolutely do not envy anything that’s guaranteed to follow.


Mad Shark

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

What’s this? A military-themed vertically-scrolling shooter, originally developed by MOSS and distributed by Allumer in arcades in 1993, without so much as a hint at a home port or reissue until now. Y’all are familiar with Raiden, right? This game is Raiden with the serial numbers filed off — I don’t mean to say it’s a Raiden-style game or a game in the broad military shooting game milieu that was so popular at the turn of the ’90s, I mean this game wholly copies every single element of Raiden‘s game systems, aesthetic and feel.

Why should I care? Allumer had a reputation for putting out games that were shameless imitations of other popular titles, but while most of them weren’t a patch on the games they were imitating, Mad Shark is the exception: it was developed by former Seibu Kaihatsu staff who’d worked on the original Raiden and would later go on to develop Raiden III, IV and V, and I wager that many people might even prefer it to the very difficult vanilla version of Raiden II.

Useless fact: This ACA reissue lets you switch the title screen to use either the more common English title Mad Shark or the little-seen kanji alternative, 最強鮫 (Saikyou Same) — changing the title doesn’t alter the game in any other way, but it does position the game as a Toaplan biter as well as a Raiden biter.


August ’23 update: Pokemon Trading Card Game (Game Boy Color), Pokemon Stadium 2 (Nintendo 64; requires NSO Expansion Pass)

What’s this? The first digital video game adaptation of the Pokemon TCG, and the battle/minigame-centric companion game to Pokemon Gold and Silver that let players interact with the entire 251-strong Johto Pokedex in 3D for the first time. (As with the previous Pokemon Stadium NSO release, this reissue offers no way to transfer or interface with other Pokemon games, meaning you’re limited to whatever rentals offered natively by the game itself; TCG, on the other hand, emulates both the link cable and the infrared port functionality, both of which were disabled for the 3DS Virtual Console reissue)

Why should I care? For as few decks as it might contain, Pokemon TCG remains an accessible and concise primer for the ever-popular card game, and Stadium 2… actually, come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve even played it, nor have I heard anyone specifically big-up its minigames over those of the original Stadium, but I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it must have at least one minigame that people enjoy even half as much as that Lickitung sushi game.

Useless fact: Japan received a second Pokemon TCG Game Boy game that was never officially localised, and I don’t expect it to show up on NSO; beyond that, every other digital TCG game has been a fairly straight recreation of the card game without the videogame-y trappings of the Game Boy entries,and one has to wonder why the sub-series never persisted on GBA and beyond.


Mysterious Adventure of Michael

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
  • Price: $2.23 or equivalent
  • Publisher: HUNTERS

What’s this? An extremely familiar sidescroller, originally developed by one-person dev HUNTERS and released for Xbox 360 via the Xbox Live Indie Games service in 2011, with a PC port released via Steam in 2017; run, jump slide, bop and try to get all the coins, you know the drill.

Why should I care? You want to support and encourage the migration of XBLIG-borne games onto current platforms, no matter how slight any individual game may be.

Useless fact: This game received a PC sequel last year, and I don’t think you’ll be surprised to learn how modest an advancement it is over the origina.

Quake II

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox, PC via Steam & Microsoft Store (worldwide)
  • Price: $9.99 / €9.99 / £7.99
  • Publisher: Bethesda / MachineGames

What’s this? A remaster of the somewhat maligned sequel to id Software’s groundbreaking 3D first-person shooter, Quake, originally released on PC in 1997, with conversions producer for Nintendo 64 and PlayStation in 1999 and a direct port included as a bonus with the Xbox 360 version of Quake 4; this new version offers ultra-high resolution and widescreen support, modern lighting and shadowing effects, optional gyro aiming, remastered character and enemy animation, improved enemy/bot AI, the restoration of cut content and a suite of new accessibility features, on top of all the game’s original stages, the two official expansion packs, a brand-new 24-map expansion from modern Wolfenstein developer MachineGames and all the maps and music from Quake II 64, all of which can be experienced via either local four-player split-screen multiplayer on PS/Switch, eight-player split-screen multiplayer on Xbox/PC and/or sixteen-player online multiplayer (with cross-play, LAN support and/or additional bot features where applicable.)

Why should I care? Despite being only nominally connected to the original game, Quake II’s gnarly futuristic body-horror aesthetic became the series’ defining look, and while id’s own levels exist in the gormless purgatory between the impressionistic toyboxes of Doom and the verisimilitudinous locales of a Half-Life or even a Duke Nukem 3D, the later expansion packs (and, presumably, MachineGames’ new pack) offer a fuller demonstration of the game’s potential… and if worst comes to worst, they added a Crazy Taxi guide arrow to the remaster, so you’ll at least be able to trudge through each map more efficiently than the players of decades past. 

Helpful tip: This remaster’s dropped directly on Xbox/PC Game Pass, and is also a free upgrade to the classic version that’s been on Steam forever.


Sonic Adventure DX (PC) multiplayer mod by conankell & co

This truly commendable mod make almost every element of Sonic Adventure playable with up to 4 players: the stages, the objectives, the fishing, even the awful kart racer that you’d never dare force someone to play. The modding process will require a few different tools, as outlined in the above link, and online play is restricted to external methods for now, but if they’ve gotten this far, they’ll undoubtedly be able to streamline the process in due time.


City Connection (Mega Drive) by Habit Soft

  • Platform: Sega Mega Drive-compatible cartridge (worldwide; “an overseas person can’t buy it)
  • Price: ¥8800
  • Availability: ships from September 29

The second entry in Japanese homebrew vendor Habit Soft’s “IF Series” of new ports of old Jaleco games is upon us: a brand-new coversion of their beloved city-pop arcade maze game City Connection for the Sega Mega Drive, licensed from Jaleco IP holders City Connection and available via MD-compliant cartridge; their page warns off international buyers buy if you use a proxy payment service like ZenMarket or Buyee, you should be good to go.


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