Time for our regular roundup of the mostly (but not strictly) retro-interest games that caught my eye and are due for release in the upcoming month, complete with trailers for everything and snippets of fascinating information too… Maybe!
The month begins with S-Tribute series releases of some absolute classics! First up, Taito’s Puzzle Bobble 2X (or Bust-a-Move 2) Arcade Edition from 1994 and Puzzle Bobble 3 (or Bust-a-Move 3) S-Tribute from 1996 collects the original plus Saturn Ports, adds a bunch of new modes and some quality of life enhancements like rewind, save states, scan-lines and so on. Apart from that, it’s the best match-three bubble-popping, solo or two-player puzzler featuring the dragons from Bubble Bobble you could ever wish for! It’s all coming to everything on the 2nd, credit to Gematsu for the trailer, but there’s more…
Actually, I don’t have a trailer for this one because I couldn’t find one, although I did find some great new black metal acts to check out while I was looking! Instead, I’ll share the Arcade Archives release trailer (credit to Game Trailers) and tell you that Metal Black S-Tribute gets exactly the same treatment for some of the same platforms on the same day, and while it’s also more Taito, this time it’s their stunning horizontally scrolling shoot ‘em up from 1991. Looks and sounds incredible, and it’s going to give you a right old beating on top, but you’ll have a great time while it does… But maybe not on PS4 and Switch, where it sounds like you’ll have to stick with that Arcade Archives version after all. And that might explain the last-minute disappearance of any trailers because that wasn’t the case when I first heard about this!
Here’s an intriguing development, and as tempted as I am to give each one of these February 14th releases the individual overview it deserves, I’m going to be lazy and just bunch them all together instead… Seems like Bitwave Games have the rights to a load of old Toaplan shoot ‘em ups and are bringing them to PC via Steam and GOG. The first batch includes Truxton, Twin Cobra, Out Zone and the legendary Zero Wing, and they seem to be spot-on, together with mod-cons like rewind and achievements, plus a new Very Easy mode. All your base are belong to us all over again!
For anyone with a fondness for old 16-bit computers, there’s a good chance you’ll also have a fondness for the work of Cinemaware, and possibly their jaw-dropping b-movie action-adventure from 1989, It Came From the Desert! In which case, It Returned to the Desert might be exactly what you’ve been waiting for for the last 34 years. It’s an unofficial follow-up coming to Steam on the 15th, with you investigating a recent meteor crash while trying to convince the locals about imminent danger from the giant mutant ants it seems to have caused! It’s all story-driven, with what seems to be loads of characters and lines of enquiry, as well as turn-based combat and a bunch of mini-games, all in an early nineties style. I really should have a proper go at the original first though!
Tales of Symphonia Remastered arrives on Switch, Xbox and PlayStation on the 17th, bringing enhanced graphics and improved gameplay to the acclaimed old GameCube action-RPG from 2003, although I think this is based on the PS2 version. Anyway, as well as a really rich and vibrant world and an epic adventure to match, the original had some really cool cel-shaded art and 3D anime cutscenes that should look great with an HD lick of paint if that’s your thing.
Another month passes and just like the last time I mentioned it, I still haven’t got anywhere near the end of the original, but that doesn’t stop me being intrigued by Octopath Traveller II, although as it’s a Switch exclusive on the 24th I can probably wait until I’ve finished the first, which eventually found its way to Xbox Game Pass… Anyway, the pixel art meets CG-HD-2D visuals are looking more stylish than ever, and with eight new characters there’s sure to be plenty more RPG-ing to sink your teeth into!
Also on the 24th and also on Switch, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe is a new version of Kirby’s Adventure Wii, where, for only £50, up to four players can join Kirby and friends as they travel through Dream Land to help Magolor repair his crashed spaceship. You can also take a break from the adventure with returning sub-games such as Ninja Dojo and Samurai Kirby, and the all-new Magolor’s Tome Trackers. Sounds horrendous, but Kirby has never been for me so just do whatever makes you happy!
I’m going to finish this month by going out on a limb with Super Bomberman 2 Remix, which looks like is going to bring the old NES classic to the classic old ZX Spectrum any time now! From the little revealed so far it’s a bomb-dropping, action-puzzling match made in heaven too, looking perfectly suited to the Spectrum with a fantastic bit of 128K music to boot! No fixed release date as I write but apparently it’s close so keep an eye out over the next few weeks.
That’s your lot for this month, although I do already have my eye on another cool homebrew that should be landing in March on the Amstrad CPC of all things! The Revenge of Trasmoz is a really good-looking single-screen platformer that’s already out on the Spectrum but do you really think you can do colours like these justice on there? Check back for more on that this time next month and everything else that’s on the way too!