Thursday, 27 October 2016

Retro Re-Release Deja Vu

I've just read the news that The King of Fighters '94 will be getting a digital re-release on the PS4 any time now. Also inbound from SNK are Metal Slug, Alpha Mission II, Samurai Shodown, Fatal Fury and World Heroes with Neo Turf Masters and Nam 1975 expected early 2017. So...are we supposed to be excited about this announcement? I'm not.

Bit of background though before it sounds like I'm moaning. I love: 1. Fighting games 2. Retro games and 3. SNK games so in theory, this sort of thing should be right up my alley. KOF '94, Metal Slug and Neo Turf Masters are three of my Neo Geo favourites as well so I should be right there in that queue to download these titles except I'm not. The problem for me is that these are the exact same Neo Geo games that have already been re-released to death on PSN, XBLA, Wii Virtual Console and also various retro compilations. Seems like every few years, there's an announcement about a new line of retro re-releases and every time, they start again with the same old games. It isn't just SNK; Sega and others do the same thing. These services never have the legs to keep going and reach the jucier stuff that doesn't ever get another airing before falling by the wayside and being replaced by a "new" re-release programme.

I have KOF '94 on SNK Arcade Classics Vol.1 for the PS2 and I've also owned it on two different versions of The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga (PS2 and PSP). I have Metal Slug on the aforementioned SNK compilation but I also have it - and all of the sequels - on the PS2 and PSP (Metal Slug Anthology). The same applies for most of the other games too. Now I know that SNK have to get the recognisable names out there to entice the consumer and furthermore, I know that the compilations I mentioned will have been missed by many but even so, this SNK/PSN news was about as exciting as an episode of Sunday Politics.

So look: these are great games (well...most of them) but please, SNK, give us some of the stuff that you never re-release. Here are some constructive suggestions from my good self...

Pulstar (1995)

I'm absolutely shite at shmups but I'm a sucker for a beauty like this. The Neo original is expensive and it wasn't ported to anything else so I'd like to play it please. I heard that it was re-released on PC via Steam or something but I don't "do" PC gaming so get it up on PSN already. 

Blazing Star (1998)

For the same reasons as the previous nomination. I want to play the other 'star as well.

Windjammers (1994)

Like a futuristic frisbee sport crossed with the wall-bouncing trickery of air hockey, Windjammers looks like a real treat in multiplayer. Sadly, I've not played it because it tends to get passed over in favour of, erm...Burning Fight?!? Yeah...

World Heroes Perfect (1995)

The World Heroes series is a guilty pleasure of mine. One of many unashamed Street Fighter II knock-offs of the time (see how many liberal references you can spot...), it deserved to be crap but it has some charm. Even I would admit however that the first game is a real clunker and yet it's this one that SNK tend to re-release the most. By the fourth installment in the series - World Heroes Perfect - the game was looking lovely, playing a lot more fluidly and generally feeling a lot cooler with some awesome moves and lots of characters. It's one of my favourite SFII copycats for sure and even though it was ported to the Saturn and re-released on a PS2 compilation, I'd still like SNK to give Perfect a digital re-release rather than flogging the crusty original over and over. Heck, I might even be tempted to buy it again for convenience's sake.

The King of Fighters '94 Re-Bout (2004)

To commerate the 20th anniversary of the original King of Fighters game, SNK released this upgraded edition for the Playstation 2 in 2004. It featured higher resolution graphics, a team edit mode, new stages, arranged music, additional characters and even online support. Sadly it remained a Japanese exclusive (a North American release was planned but cancelled and we Euro people didn't even get a sniff) so many will be unaware of this game. If SNK really want to keep pushing KOF '94 out then the least they can do is at least give the world THIS version for once.

Neo Drift Out (1996)

A gorgeous, super smooth top-down rally game with licensed vehicles that was one of those dreaded games: a Neo Geo CD exclusive for the home market. Unbelievably, a game that plays this good and is perfect for quick blasts has not yet been re-released. The Neo wasn't famous for racing games so getting this in the re-release line-up would improve the variety no end.

The Super Spy (1990)

A first-person beat 'em up is a very rare thing indeed. The Super Spy looks a little shallow and limited in fairness but even so, it still appears fun and creative. Definitely worth a re-release!

Street Hoop (1994)

This isn't a blog for sports videogames but I do make exceptions for fun, arcaede style games now and then when they are as entertaining as Street Hoop. Awesome graphics, groovy music and hilarious super moves make this a nice alternative to NBA Jam. This one was re-released on the Wii's Virtual Console in fairness but that was ages ago now and the service will surely be killed off soon, making the game unavailable again. You know what to do SNK...

The Ultimate 11 (1996)

Fantastic presentation and the long-forgotten side-on viewpoint give me reason to include this - the spiritual follow-up to Super Sidekicks 3 - here, despite it being yet another sports game (I must be feeling ill). Also - if memory serves - Ultimate 11 is one of the rarest and most monstrously expensive European AES cartridges to acquire. Even more reason for a re-release? You bet!

Art of Fighting 3 (1996)

Here's an idea: rather than keep giving us the ultra masochistic AoF and AoF2 over and over, how about the third game? You know, the one that looks utterly beautiful with fantastic sprites and amazing animation? Okay, it's still no pushover but the cruel edge is a bit blunter this time around and the aesthetics will make credit-feeding less of a chore.

Rage of the Dragons (2002)

A very late release for the Neo Geo, Rage of the Dragons is nevertheless an extremely forgotten fighting game and that's a tragedy when it looks and plays better than most of SNK's own stable. Seriously, this thing is as visually appealing as Kate Upton lounging around in lacey French lingerie and yet very few have heard of it. If SNK could get just one fighting game up on PSN then I'd love it to be this.

So those were just a few of my alternate suggestions to what I suspect will actually happen with this new push for retro SNK releases i.e. the usual stuff followed by the idea's demise within a year or so. There are many more games that I could have included here but it would just go on forever if I went down that route so go check out some "Top games" countdowns on Youtube or whatever. The reality however is that the next games to be announced will probably just be Burning Fight, Magician Lord and KOF '95...


  1. I feel the same way about SNK rereleases. The other problem is they seem to get a new developer each time- the Steam ports are by DotEmu, the upcoming PS4 and Xbox One ports are by Hamster (except for Garou which is by Code Mystics who also did PS4 Slug 3 and Last Blade 2), and they're putting PS2 ports on PS4 like KOF 2000 and Samurai Shodown VI... As such there's a huge disparity in what features each one has (the Hamster releases have no online, for instance). Even worse, some of the best ports were by M2 on PS3 and PSP, but the furthest into the library they got was Shock Troopers and Metal Slug 2, and they've all been delisted now anyway!

    Of the ones here, I'd definitely like to see The Super Spy just because of how odd it is (I've seen 1 credit clears of it done, that's quite a feat). I wouldn't mind seeing Mutation Nation either- not a classic but pretty unusual- and Sengoku 3 which is a little treat. Just anything past the usual ones, please!

    (Also, hi! It's TepidSnake~! Glad to see you're blogging again. Ta for linking to my site!)

    1. That would certainly help explain it! That and the different rights holders, most likely investment groups etc. who have bought defunct developers' back catalogues and are just sitting on them :(

      Thanks for dropping by Ant! Yeah, I still love checking your site out so I couldn't not have it linked.