Let's talk about retro games on modern systems!


I’m old, so while I love playing new games, I have a massive amount of nostalgia for stuff from the late 90s, when I was young and playing games even more than I do now. It’s commonplace now for the oldies to get re-releases on contemporary systems, but for the longest time, in the US it’d often be just the cream of the crop that would make it onto modern consoles. And that’s understandable! But let’s take a quick look at this using Nintendo’s voyage of retroself-discovery as it forms a neat timeline:


Animal Crossing appeared on the scene. People had been emulating NES and other classic gaming (and “modern,” SNK lost a lot of money from people bootlegging the Neo Geo games The King of Fighters 2000 and Garou: Mark of the Wolves) systems for years at this point, but Nintendo slipped an interesting experiment into an already unique and awesome game. The experiment was basically a question in video game form: Do people give enough of a damn about NES games today that they would seek them out in this game’s world?

The answer was yes. Forget rare fish and fossils, the rarest and most sought after treasures in the original Animal Crossing were being able to walk into your virtual home and play Wario’s Woods or Donkey Kong.


So now the question was, okay, if classic games are available on a console people will eat it up, but will people really, seriously drop $$$ on a ten to twenty year old game? The short answer in this case was yes. To give this some context, both of these games were, originally, only available by registering a bunch of purchased games with Nintendo for the former, and by pre-ordering Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker for the latter. A lot of both happened just to get these.

2006: [B]Wii Virtual Console[/B]

Just over ten years ago, the Wii came out, and something beautiful happened. Nintendo introduced the Virtual Console, a platform on which many different publishers would distribute great versions of older games. Not just Nintendo games, but stuff from SNK, NEC, Hudson, it was awesome. Now, finally, the average person could, without messing with less supported emulators or cruising flea markets and an ever shrinking number of mom and pop game stores, easily play the very, very large number of great games for less popular systems like the TurboGrafx-16 side by side with iconic classics like Super Castlevania IV or The Legend of Zelda.

It was beautiful, but it also sucked in a way. Titles were slowly dripfed out, and by the time some of those less mainstream systems’ best games were finally getting released, Wii sales were already in decline, so no one knew they existed. Nintendo’s slowly gotten better with this with their later systems. If you like 2D graphics the Wii is one of the best game systems ever made, but at the same time they blew it in terms of getting people at large into re-buying (or trying for the first time) these rad games.

2017: NOW

Did you know if you have a PlayStation 4 you can get some of the best fighting games ever to come out of the genre? Forgotten arcade games from developers you don’t know but have seen or heard the work of at some point like UPL? The Switch is one of two systems ever to have a port of Waku Waku 7? You can play an awesome awesome awesome cooperative shooter called Wild Guns on the PS4 (and soon PC) today instead of dropping $200 on an SNES cartridge? I love it!

Right in line with all those articles about whether or not the AAA model is sustainable a few years ago, the most important thing ever happened when the PS4 came out - the mass return of the mid-priced and budget-priced game as an actual price range and not an automatic mark of shovelware. A space was created that these classics that are still fun, but also old, SCEA made a huge push to promote various indie titles and make it okay to pay money for a game that has 2D graphics again, a huge contrast from how the same company rolled a decade prior.

Anyway, it’s great to feed my nostalgia, but also great to see how well a lot of these games still hold up!

So let’s talk about that, do any of you pick up games released under the Arcade Archives brand as an example? There’s a bunch available on the PlayStation 4 and Switch (and of course tons of other classics that got re-released over the years for the Wii, PS3, Steam and 360). Are they as fun as you remember? You can play the obscure PS1 Grasshopper game The Silver Case but in English and not on a PS1? I love it!

Anyone grab one of these titles that hasn’t played it before, thoughts? Do people want recommendations?

I love playing this stuff not just for nostalgia, but because it’s interesting to see what quirks of design are still kicking around to day, what aesthetic these games’ devs got associated with from them, and it’s cool to see some wildly different art styles and design choices coming from the same (much smaller compared to what their equivalent may be today) developers.

So what classic stuff, if any, interests y’all on the newest systems you have? Are there some ancient games stuff you’d kill to see on Steam or the Switch?

If I made a list of what I think are the coolest games released as “Arcade Archives” would people be interested in that? I started an ongoing primer about every Neo Geo game that hits the PlayStation 4. I should probably do the same for the Switch.

Right now I’ve been super hooked on the Metal Slug Anthology on the PS4. It’s not 100% fixed from its previous releases, but the games are just awesome. There’s just so many secrets, so many little animation details, and the series’ sense of humor ranges from dark to goofy as hell at the drop of a hat. And there’s still no game on earth that looks QUITE like them. The game’s artists cut their teeth doing Akira ripoffs in games like Last Resort along with sprite art in games like R-Type II and The King of Fighters '94. It’s cool to see SNK’s games slowly turn this into inspiration from which they carved their own unique looks for each of their biggest series.

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There’s a sale on the PSN right now, a lot of SNK ports are involved like ADK Damashii and Samurai Shodown VI! That ongoing primer I linked to learlier has PSN store links to each, definitely worth taking a look at. :open_mouth:

The GBA was also a pretty good testing ground for how much people would want to buy ports of old classics before the virtual console rolled around.

Anyways I personally would love to have some of the GBC games I had as a kid wind up on the Switch somehow. Though I just can’t see that happening because either they’re ports of a base game that’s playable elsewhere (Rayman for the GBC) or they’re obscure enough that a company like Nintendo would just never believe it worthwhile to spend the money to bring it to a modern console (Metal Walker). Which sucks!!

My Vita has turned into a PS1 JRPG machine. Been playing through Legend of Dragoon and Chrono Cross during flights and road trips over the last year. It’s like having a portable version of my childhood. I hope the trend of access to old games on new machines continues.

Oh yeah Nintendo and Capcom especially went way deep into porting their older stuff to the GBA. Capcom got off to a rocky start with that, Super Street Fighter IIX is horrible on GBA and Final Fight isn’t so great either, but then Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is a very nice version with some great extra stuff.

The compromises of some of those GBA ports are interesting. Two that come to mind are Mega Man and Bass and Contra: The Alien Wars EX. Both can get almost unplayable because of the two extremes each went through to fit on the GBA screen. Mega Man and Bass zoomed in, which doesn’t seem bad at first, but results in a lot of blind jumps and tons of enemies shooting and attack from off screen. With Contra they kinda sorta redrew the background elements and bosses to be smaller, but not he player sprite or platforms, and on top of that they replaced the scaling, rotating overhead stages with two levels from Contra: Hard Corp (a totally different game with a totally different look, controls, etc.). That works out about as well as you’d expect. I know they’re there for nostalgia but anyone who doesn’t already have both games long memorized is going to be pretty frustrated by them on GBA.

Speaking of Capcom and portable stuff, it’s a shame the Game Boy and GBC Bionic Commando games never got ported to anything, both of them are great! There’s a lot of lost Game Boy games but the GBC has an even higher ratio of games that are really awesome that will never be around on anything else.

I’m really happy with the amount of PS1 stuff people have access to if they have a Vita or PS3 (or a PSP). The PS3 is amazing, if you make a Japanese PSN account I swear like over half the system’s library is on there, it’s incredible. It was the most feasible way for me to play through some cool stuff I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise like Baroque.

Last Resort is available on the PlayStation 4 now. This is a really really good horizontal shooter from 1992 with an impressively dark atmosphere.

I wrote an article about it a while ago you can read here, but the gist of it is that this was made by several people who did the R-Type games and takes heavy aesthetic inspiration from Akira. Its focus on completely mechanical enemies makes it more of an R-Type III than the actual R-Type III or R-Type Leo (folks forget R-Type II mostly did away with the body horror stuff).

It also has an AWESOME soundtrack, these are chiptunes from 1992:

The same folks followed this up years later with Pulstar and Blazing Star, which I’m hoping are coming soon too since those are among the top games of the genre, absolute must tries.

i’m very interested in that Disney afternoon collection but I’m waiting for a price drop/sale. :joy:

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I had the foolish dream of Capcom vs snk 2 finally being ported but that will probably never happen

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I still think it’s a crime that Goof Troop isn’t on it though. Shinji Mikami directed it, right around the time they started working on Resident Evil. It’s basically overhead coop Resident Evil. I mean it’s lighthearted and happy but it’s the same process of go from room to room, solve basic puzzle, find key, go to next area. :smiley:

Capcom’s been surprisingly low key with their older stuff on the new systems. :frowning: They did the awesome Capcom Generations collections on the PS1, and then on the PS2/XBox we got all of those together in the US as Capcom Classics Collection 1 and 2 which was even better, and then they kind of gave up after that. I was shocked we got the D&D arcade games on the PS3.

Capcom vs. SNK 2’s PS2 version can be downloaded on the PS3 but I think that really is going to be the game’s final resting place now. :frowning:

The King of Fighters '95 has been added to the US PSN for $7.99:

This is the second King of Fighters game, but it’s the first one to really put the series on the map as it had actually gotten ported to the PSX and Saturn back in the day. I have to admit even as a person obsessed with Neo Geo games, despite liking it and the great presentation it’s a bit hard to recommend today when some of the best fighters ever made are also available on the PS4 as we speak.

Still worth at least checking out some gameplay footage for historical reasons - This was one of the last major fighting games of an older breed with smaller combos and attacks doing way more damage. You can feel SNK still trying to merge the philosphies of each of there prominent fighting game series into one here (to match the variety of characters from each game that makes up a King of Fighters roster).

In being the first one to really put the series on the map, this was also the first King of Fighters game where you started to see tons of fanart popping up and people starting to get into it just from the character designs. In the US this would culminate with King of Fighters '98 to 2000 and those two or three magical years where half the attendees at Otakon were cosplaying as King of Fighters characters, so it’s interesting to see the (by today’s fighting game standards) much more humble game where that all began. Plus some of the game’s backgrounds, DAMN!

I’m a nutcase for SNK’s composers so usually I would post a few tracks here too. But instead I’ll just say how I’ve always loved how ecclectic SNK’s soundtracks would be compared to other fighting games of the time. Even years earlier before the Neo Geo, They had some of the earliest composers to really take full advantage of the hardware they were working on music-wise not just from a technical standpoint but to create a really strong atmosphere. They were also masters of having aesome diegetic and ambient tracks that were and surprisingly still are rare in fighting games today. King of Fighters '95 is mostly lacking that except for one awesome awesome example:


The runaway Smooth Criminal extras by the window are playing the song, but the awesome part is the guy in the foreground sitting by the barrel. He’s keeping time with the music and plays the song’s harmonica solo when it comes up. That’s an amazing level of background detail.

Two of my greatest hopes are for remakes of Skies of Arcadia and the first two Golden Sun games. While I’m pretty convinced the latter will never happen, the recent bevy of Sega pushing Bayonetta and Vanquish to PC make me hope for some good, good Skies of Arcadia sometime in the future (sure, those are both Platinum… BUT WHAT IF THO).

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It’s criminal that Skies of Arcadia hasn’t been ported to more systems. The encounter rate is high but everything else about it holds up great today, and I liked the way characters had a very low number of “magic points” but a large pool of energy that shared across them they could build up for each other to do powerful stuff.

Since my Neo Geo is currently in storage, I’m way into those releases. They’re doing a good job with them!

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