There be dragons.
Let it be known, readers, that there’s a fourth Dragon Quest game out on Switch this week: Dragon Quest XI S, the enhanced port of the latest entry in the classic series and one that comes with a nostalgic 2D graphics mode reminiscent of the game’s 16-bit days. For the sake of thoroughness, I should also mention the new Contra game, Rogue Corps: it’s been eight years since the last new console Contra game and I suspect it’ll be a while longer until the next one.
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $7.99 / €6.99 / £6.29
- Publisher: Hamster / Nintendo
What’s this? A vertically-oriented but horizontally-scrolling shooting game, developed and distributed in arcades by Konami in 1981; players are tasked with flying through distinct stages, destroying enemy vehicles with forward-firing shots and bombs and managing their fuel supply, in a manner not entirely dissimilar to another Konami arcade shooter released a few years later…
Why should I care? It’s a somewhat rote game even by the standards of the day but Scramble pioneered the structure that most arcade shooting games followed and still follow to this day.
Helpful tip: Scramble‘s present in the recently-released Konami Arcade Anniversary Collection alongside several other, more playable games, for the unaware.
DRAGON QUEST MADNESS
Dragon Quest, Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line & Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (worldwide)
- Price: $4.99 or equivalent (DQ) / $6.49 or equivalent (DQII) / $12.49 or equivalent (DQIII)
- Publisher: Square-Enix
What’re these? Dragon Quest‘s classic “Erdrick Trilogy”, originally released for the Famicom in Japan in the late ’80s, localized for North American audiences as Dragon Warrior in the early ’90s and remade several times since; these remakes, themselves based on pre-smartphone mobile remakes from 2005, have made their way from iOS/Android to Switch and boast new localizations (with the DQ & DQII scripts specifically hearkening to the Dragon Warrior days), modern music arrangements, several game balance changes (some adopted from the Super Famicom remakes, some new) and other amenities like quick-saving, as well as visual “upgrades” we’ve all come to expect.
Why should I care? Yes, these ports are rife with the typical over-filtered, poorly-stretched, clashing asset pixel vomit that Square-Enix seems to think people actually like, but they’re the only versions that are going to be reissued between now and the next time they’re remade, so if you want to play these classic games on Switch you don’t and probably won’t have other options.
Helpful tip: Nothing’s been announced for other regions as of yet but Square Enix Asia is planning a physical release for DQ1+2+3 that’ll include English language support, so those who want something for the shelf may want to wait for more concrete info.
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
- Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (worldwide)
- Price: $9.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Aspyr Media
What’s this? Game three in Lucasarts and Raven Software’s confusingly-named series of first/third-person Star Wars action games starring the original expanded-universe character Kyle Katarn, originally released for PC, Xbox and Gamecube in 2002; this new and somewhat unexpected console port is based on the PC version and, aside from achievements, optional gyro aiming and a cropped widescreen mode, seems like a fairly direct port. (Note that this ports only contains the single-player campaign and the multiplayer modes are completely absent.)
Why should I care? I have no hands-on experience with this game but Dark Forces II was fun and Raven’s track record was and remains solid, so I can only presume this game holds up in that specific idtech3 way.
Helpful tip: Some of the achievements require the use of cheat codes and while I can’t confirm it, this seems to be the necessary code: press D-up, D-down, L-Stick press, R stick press, L-stick press on the main menu for a level select, or on the in-game pause menu for cheats.
- Platform: iOS, Android (worldwide)
- Price: free with adds & in-app purchases
- Publisher: Mobirix
What’s this? Toaplan’s classic 1989 arcade sci-fi shooting game, perhaps best remembered overseas for its Sega Genesis port; this mobile version, the first officially-licensed Toaplan arcade release in well over a decade, is no-frills emulation of the arcade game with swipe-based controls and autofire, with optional purchases for powerups and quite a lot of ads.
Why should I care? Free’s free, right? If nothing else, consider this a sign that Toaplan’s catalog is available for potential release in other, less tacky forms.
Helpful tip: The Toaplan licensing rollout has just begun, in fact: two of their games are present on the Japanese Mega Drive Mini and further Mega Drive cartridge reissues are scheduled for later this year.
DISCOUNTS & DEALS
Arc System Works Bundle 2 at Fanatical
- Platform: PC (Steam keys)
- Price: $4.99 or equivalent
- Publisher: Arc System Works
Anyone with a casual interest in fighting games has probably already acquired Guilty Gear XXAC+R at some point, but how much time have you spent with the gonzo musou-MOBA Guilty Gear 2, the 2.5D RPG-motif fighter Battle Fantasia or the worth-exactly-one-playthrough Double Dragon IV? For five bucks, they’re worth a roll of the dice.