Retro Re-Release Wishlist [Part 1]

Gaming is a vast medium with an enormous history, some of it mainstream but much of it niche or obscure. However deep you choose to delve into our hobby however, there will always be great games that never get a modern re-release on the likes of PSN, XBLA or Steam due to licensing issues, a perceived lack of profit potential for the IP owner (often a legitimate reason) or for more bizarre reasons such as Sega claiming to have lost the source code for such classics as Panzer Dragoon Saga and the original House of the Dead (arcade version). Ignoring ALL of these boring, technical explanations for a moment, I’d like to kick off a new series where I look at some retro titles that I’d love to see re-issued for modern platforms. Take my money!

#1 – Outrun and its sequels

turbo-1

The original 1986 Outrun has been re-released several times and is fairly easy to play. Discounting period conversions that all differed wildly in accuracy, some ‘arcade perfect’ ports eventually appeared including the Sega Ages edition for the Saturn and – more recently – a handheld version for the 3DS under the ‘Sega 3D Classics’ umbrella. Outrun‘s sequels haven’t been shown the same love however and that’s a shame. My personal favourite is Turbo Outrun which swapped the Testarossa for the mighty Ferrari F40, added a turbo boost feature, more hazards (such as oil slicks and wet surfaces) and fantastic music. Japan were lucky enough to receive a 3DS conversion of Turbo Outrun but that’s it as far as accurate arcade conversions go. Then there was the visually-thrilling Outrunners, a further sequel that seems – bizarrely – all but forgotten by Sega despite it channelling the essence of the original game and being a lot more exciting to behold.

To go even further, there were also the console-exclusive sequels like Outrun Europa and the divisive Outrun 2019 but I would be stoked just to have a digital collection containing arcade-perfect conversions of Outrun, Turbo Outrun and Outrunners. If the (long expired) Ferrari license is an issue then Sega could just slightly alter the details on the cars as they have been known to do before.

#2 – Capcom Vs SNK (and other Capcom VS series fighting games

cvs-1

Capcom VS SNK 2 is a near-universally loved fighting game that brought the curtain down on the 1990’s and a fabulous era for fighting games. The game deserves the love it receives and it is a firm favourite of mine BUT the original Capcom Vs SNK is also a tremendous fighting game that is – in some ways – superior to its lauded follow-up. The stage backdrops for example were among the last to be hand-drawn and animated by Capcom for example (the sequel uses 3D and while perfectly attractive, aren’t as impressive) and the music is superb as well as exclusive to the original game. Sadly, the original CvS only saw period Dreamcast and Playstation conversions with the latter being the only way to play the ‘Pro’ update outside of Japan without resorting to importing the Dreamcast version. Even worse, CVS: Pro on the Playstation suffered (like with many of the VS series) from downgraded animation + audio as well as frequent load times as Sony’s machine struggled to host the game. The PS2 version of the sequel has been re-issued on PSN but the original game is mysteriously forgotten about. As somebody who no longer owns a DC, I’d dearly like for Capcom Vs SNK to get a re-release.

And while on the subject, not many of the Marvel VS series entries have been re-released. Marvel Superheroes and the original MvC had their arcade editions packaged together for an ‘Origins’ digital re-release but the other early entries in the series – X-Men: Children of the Atom, X-Men Vs Street Fighter and Marvel Superheroes Vs Street Fighter – remain exclusive to the arcade, Playstation or Sega Saturn. Capcom began producing VS games again with MvC3, Ultimate MvC and the recent-ish Marvel Vs Capcom Infinite so the sensible time to whack the older games on PSN/XBLA seems to have been and passed. Add in the poor performance of Infinite and it would seem that the window of opportunity may have disappeared which is a shame. A compilation of all the older games would be an instant purchase as far as I am concerned.

#3 – Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder

GA-1

The debate over which Golden Axe game is the best is a popular one. Some say that the arcade original is the only answer to the question while others have a fierce, nostalgic sentiment towards its Mega Drive conversion. Golden Axe II floats the boat of others while almost nobody opts for Golden Axe III or the spin-off, Golden Axe: The Duel. And if you try to claim that Beast Rider on the PS3/360 is the best? Get out of here! The tragedy of this once great side-scrolling beat ’em up series is that its best installment remained exclusive to arcades. The Revenge of Death Adder is bigger, brighter and so much more expansive than any of its predecessors with new characters, fantastic effects and more depth than ever before yet it has never been re-issued on anything at all, not even receiving an obscure port in some form on a Japanese-only computer. It’s understandable that Sega would see little merit in watering everything down to cram Revenge onto the Mega Drive or even the 32X but a belated Sega Saturn conversion would have been perfect. A counter argument would be that interest in 2D gaming and beat ’em ups was waning by the time of the Saturn but you only have to look at how revered the likes of Guardian Heroes have become to see that Revenge would have fitted the Saturn like a particularly snug glove. Besides, how many other styles of games that were perceived to be of little consumer interest were nonetheless released for the Saturn and Playstation in the 90’s?

#4 – Snatcher & Policenauts

snatcher-1

It might seem odd now but Konami actually used to make a lot of great games. Even typing that feels wrong but unfortunately, they have lost their way with high-profile stories about poor treatment of employees and severe scaling back on active use of their wealth of enviable IP. Yes, Konami may be a Metal Gear Solid/Pro Evolution creature propped up by pachinko machines and the Yu-Gi-Oh!! card game but in the past, they put their name to such games as Snatcher, a distopian cyberpunk graphic adventure that remains frustratingly difficult to play by conventional means (emulation and bootleg fan translations notwithstanding). The only English-language version of the game was released on Sega’s Mega-CD (Sega-CD in the US) and now commands insane prices due to it’s desirability and notoriety for being a game very much worth playing on a system where the quality of the software library otherwise borders on being schizophrenic. At the time of making this post for example, copies are selling on ebay UK for between £250-£300 with ease. Higher condition copies with the spine card are pushing £500 while even loose discs have been snapped up for close to £100.

Spiritual follow-up, Policenauts, suffers an even harsher fate having never received an official translation of any kind. Both games were released for the Playstation and Saturn in Japan (along with various native home computers and – with regards to Policenauts – the 3DO) and language-patched translations are available for emulation or chipped consoles capable of playing back-ups but wouldn’t a proper, digital release be nice? Translate both games and I wouldn’t be able to hand my money over fast enough for the double pack.

#5 – Violent Storm

vs-1

I’m ending part one with another old-school Konami game: 1993’s Violent Storm, an arcade beat ’em up designed (like so many games of the period) to capitalise on the popularity of the likes of Final Fight and Streets of Rage. Thing is, Violent Storm is every bit as slick as Final Fight but manages to be a bit more light-hearted despite the main attraction still being smashing in the faces of thugs. The characters are big and bold while the crazy music and questionable enemy designs help Violent Storm stand out from its peers as an amazing beat ’em up in its own right. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t ever converted to a home system and – for some reason – it is quite obscure and unknown today outside of those in the know. Yes, I play it on MAME but I’d still happily pay for an official re-release.

Well, that’s part one done and dusted (with many more still to come no doubt). Please feel free to comment with your thoughts on my choices or for any suggestions for other games that are crying out for a modern-day re-release. We can but hope that some of these wishes may some day become a reality!

Why I love collecting TCG

Other than videogames, one of my other turbo-nerd interests are trading cards, specifically Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh!! I’m no player of either game but I certainly do like to collect the cards and keep up with the current events where Yu-Gi-Oh is concerned since I also operate a very small ebay buying/selling business purely for selling Yu-Gi-Oh cards. I’ve found discovering which cards are worth money and keeping up with what’s trending in the meta to be fascinating and I’ve had some fantastic scores this year alone. But this isn’t a post where I’m going to be blabbering on about investments and my best sales; this is going to be me discussing my personal collections and how I got into these card games in the first place.

The Pokemon Trading Card game was the first obsession and I got into it right at the very beginning when the Base Set came out here in the UK (I believe I actually started with the cards before the Gameboy games) and a friend at school gave me my first card for free. It was either Machop or Charmander (I forget which) but I soon got hold of Koffing too and so the collection began.

Base-Machop
Humble beginnings…

Of course, the big problem as a kid was the price of booster packs! At £2.49 for an 11-card pack which often had nothing too interesting inside, it was difficult for my parents to justify buying many for me and so I had to rely on trades, the odd pack here and there (when I was allowed one) and decks for birthdays/Christmas’. Later on when I got an official pocket money (or allowance) sum to last me a month, I could buy more packs BUT I also had to make that money last so I STILL couldn’t go crazy. It was often frustrating to go to school with other kids whose parents bought them tons of packs over the weekends, brand-new binders etc. because every Monday, they’d be showing off all of the new foils or “shinies” that they’d acquired. Still – in hindsight – it was better that I learned the value of money and wasn’t spoilt I guess so there is that little life lesson to be thankful for. Besides, having less to work with made those trades all the sweeter. I once somehow managed to trade a ‘rare’ Base Set Dugtrio for a common Onix by arguing that Onix could “easily swing its tail around a chop Dugtrio’s head off”. Ignoring the dark outcome of that hypothetical battle for the moment, it was an epic trade.

The scores were cancelled out by some of the terrible deals that I made though (something I’m sure all TCG collectors can relate to!). One in particular saw me buy a Fossil booster pack for £4.99 from a market before they were officially available in UK shops and pull a holo Hitmonlee card. Needless to say, I was hot stuff come Monday morning in the playground but what did I do? Yep, I traded Hitmonlee away on that first day! Another poor trade was exchanging my booster-fresh Neo Genesis Typhlosion for a Japanese version of the other Typhlosion card from the same set only to later discover that the card I’d received was a fake. Doh!

Anyway, I collected the cards all the way up to Legendary Collection before quitting in secondary school, partly because of growing up and partly because of there simply being nobody to trade with anymore as things such as cool clothes, girls and tech became the things to chase. I briefly returned to collecting current cards during the very early ‘EX’ era and collected from EX-Ruby/Sapphire up to EX-Unseen Forces before binning the hobby for a second time. These new cards just didn’t appeal to me anymore due to poorer (in my opinion) artwork and a focus on the newer generations of monsters that I wasn’t as interested in. The EX holos were usually awesome though, even if the earliest examples were laughably unplayable in the game itself.

RayquazaEX-1
Cards like this convinced me to keep collecting into the early EX/Nintendo era of the TCG.

Fortunately,  I didn’t sell my collection of cards once my brief second stint of collecting was done and so when I decided to get back into the hobby again (around 3-4 years or so ago now) I had a pretty good base to build on. After all, I’d always kept my cards in great condition and organised by set so going for full sets of the original Wizards Of The Coasts-published expansions (the most nostalgic sets by far) was more a case of filling in the gaps rather than beginning from scratch. I decided to not bother with Legendary Collection since buying the same cards a third time (if you factor in Base 2 to the mix as well) was a step too much, especially since I had very little from that set in the first place. The same applied to the three Wizards ‘E’ series expansions (Expedition, Aquapolis and Skyridge) because those sets are huge and the holos extremely valuable in some cases.

So I limited myself to Base 1 through to Neo Destiny and honestly, considering that this period pretty much summed up my original collecting days, it seemed quite fitting and nostalgia-infused to try and complete these sets. The added bonus of this kind of collection also being an investment of sorts is another plus that has to be remembered because these classic cards are constantly going up in value. Obviously nobody can predict the future’s interest in such things but for now, buying old-school Pokemon cards seems a pretty safe investment. Thus far, I have managed to finish Base 1, Jungle, Fossil, Team Rocket and Base 2. I should be working on the Gym sets next but due to rising asking prices, I have decided to skip ahead and try to get Neo Destiny done next since even the core holos from that set can cost between £20-£30 apiece for the most desirable ones – that’s before considering the going rates for the ‘Shining’ cards.

I have very little interest in the new sets of cards to be honest and it’s largely down to the fact that I stopped following the games after Diamond/Pearl so I’m very unfamiliar with the monsters and in any case, I’m no fan of the designs that I have seen or the crazy CG-orientated artwork on a lot of the cards. The days of Ken Sugimori’s simple watercolour artwork or the primitive CG of “CR CG Gangs” is where the appeal lies for me. I DO however pick up some of the full-art cards when I can because they are absolutely stunning at times with their embossed/textured surfaces and artwork which usually impresses me when the regular cards can’t.

ZapdosComp-1
It’s incredible to see how much card design has evolved since that all-important debut Base Set.

But it isn’t just the Pokemon TCG that has my collecting attention. At the start of secondary school, I became aware of the existence of Yu-Gi-Oh!! and it didn’t take very long for another collecting bug to infect the inner workings of my impressionable mind. As with Pokemon, it all began innocently enough with my first card being given to me for free. That card was a copy of Succubus Knight from the first booster set (Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon) and so it began. I bought the obligatory copy of Starter Deck Kaiba (in 1st Edition!) and then booster packs from then on when I could. Money was still tight as a teenager however so as with Pokemon, I couldn’t afford to amass as many cards as those I was trading with at school and building a collection was doubly harder given how brutal the pull ratios were in those older Yu-Gi-Oh sets. A standard 24-Pack booster box would only contain six foils, possibly seven if said box also had a “Secret” rare card so as you can imagine, you had to be lucky to pull a foil card. In contrast, twelve out of thirty-six packs in a Pokemon TCG booster box would contain foils so the strike rate was a lot better. Younger Yu-Gi-Oh players/collectors have grown used to kinder box ratios and all packs coming with a Super Rare foil card at the very least so those early days of Yu-Gi-Oh were a very different time.

YGOSuccubusK-1
The first Yu-Gi-Oh card I ever had. It was only in recent years that I discovered that the art was censored!

What really sold Yu-Gi-Oh to me was that even though it was still a children’s card game, the artwork was so much darker and more grown-up. Here we had cards based on dragons, demons and ancient Egyptian evils. Tombs, magic and all manner of bizarre creatures also contributed to my fascination and I was easily hooked. Sadly, the newer sets don’t quite captivate me in the same way because things have grown more cartoon-like with anime-inspired designs and a greater quantity of comical cards or art that simply no longer interests me as a collector. The golden period for me personally was between Labyrinth Of Nightmare and Ancient Sanctuary; this was where the card art peaked with it’s darkest and most fucked-up designs and where some of the most famous (and broken) cards made their debut. In general however I do appreciate the cards right through the GX era and I am usually able to find cards from beyond that which I want in my collection.

Unlike Pokemon however, I did sell my collection off once I’d had enough the first time so getting back into collecting Yu-Gi-Oh was a steeper hill to climb. Fortunately, I’d kept a few cards that I’d held onto for sentimental reasons and these included the likes of my 1st Edition SDK Blue-Eyes White Dragon, secret rare Thousand Dragon and Ultra Rare LOB-coded Red-Eyes Black Dragon so there were a few desirable cards already ticked-off. My second era of collecting started with me simply buying cards that I liked or had fond memories of but due to purchasing many large joblots of cards, I accidentally found myself with lots of semi-complete full sets so after much organisation, I decided to go for full sets from Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon up to Enemy of Justice which was where I’d originally halted buying Yu-Gi-Oh back in the day. I also have many boxes and binders of promos, OCG (Japanese) cards and other stuff that I like enough to keep from sets beyond those that I collect.

So far I have only been able to complete Rise of Destiny but those early GX-era sets are quite small and less valuable so I actually managed that one without intending to and only had to purposely buy the last four cards which weren’t even that expensive. I’m taking my time however since my attention is also focused on Pokemon and the buying/selling side of Yu-Gi-Oh which can be quite lucrative if you know your stuff. I also like to follow the meta and pick up certain cards as future investments since card prices fluctuate massively and old cards can suddenly gain value if the community finds a worthwhile use for them within a new tournament-viable strategy. As well as potentially rewarding, I simply find all of this very interesting which is why I do it!

I do apologise for all the reading in this post but any future TCG-related posts will certainly be shorter and more to the point. This was just an intro of kinds before I start including TCG here on Darkstalker90 Gaming. I will still predominately be focusing on videogames but sometimes there just isn’t anything I feel like talking about so I’d like to have a few different subjects to mix things up a bit, this being one of them.