The Mana series has had a complicated history in the West, and it’s one that we’ve gone over to varying degrees in articles about other Mana games. It’s a tale of confusing branding, lightning caught in a bottle, tough business choices, and a creative team that seemed to perpetually have different ideas than what its fans may have hoped. While the series would continue for many installments after, all of that appeared to come to an unfortunate head with the Western release of Legend of Mana ($27.99) on the PlayStation.
The latest release in SNK and Hamster’s new mobile Arcade Archives NEOGEO line is one of the launch titles for the NEOGEO itself: NAM-1975 ($3.99). While the console would come to be known mostly for its fighting games and the Metal Slug series of run-and-gun games, things were less obvious at the start. A scatter-shot spread of nine games in various genres arrived with the NEOGEO when it hit in 1990, and one of the clear favorites of the bunch was this very game. A gallery shooter set in the Vietnam War, NAM-1975 offered plenty of action for one or two players.
It seems as though we’re rolling along with the ACA NEOGEO releases. Hamster keeps a weekly schedule on other platforms, and that could be what will happen here. That means you’ll be getting a lot of opinions on NEOGEO games from me in the future, I suppose. Today we’ll be looking at Shock Troopers ($3.99), a 1997 top-down shooter that came during a time when the genre was a bit on the wane. This ACA NEOGEO version comes in a similar package as the previous releases, which we already know to be a good thing.
When I owned the original PlayStation, I mostly used to just play wrestling games and the odd game that looked interesting in the stores that sold video games. My fondest memories on the system involve the likes of WWF Warzone, ECW Anarchy Rulez, and WCW Backstage Assault with games like Tomba and Cool Boarders being the games that looked interesting to me back then. As you can imagine, I missed out on a lot of the games people consider the highlights of the platform until I got a PS Vita and started playing many games I missed back then. One series I hadn’t played at all until now is Koei Tecmo’s Monster Rancher.
Unlike the Metal Slug series, SNK’s popular Samurai Shodown hasn’t seen much representation on mobile. A bit over eight years ago, Dotemu did a mobile version of Samurai Shodown II for SNK. A solid choice, as it tends to be the most popular installment. As part of its opening line-up of mobile Arcade Archives, Hamster has opted to bring us Samurai Shodown IV ($3.99), another series favorite.
Historically speaking, SNK isn’t shy about spreading its NEOGEO catalog around. Even when the console was active, ports of SNK’s biggest hits made their way to other consoles. Mobile devices have seen their fair share of NEOGEO love from SNK, largely through a line of releases handled by Dotemu. Still, that’s nothing compared to what we’ve seen on consoles and PC from Hamster through its Arcade Archives line. The company has managed to get just about every NEOGEO game possible up on those platforms, and it seems it’s bringing its show to our mobile shores.
Of the three games that Hamster has selected for its initial spate of Arcade Archives releases, Alpha Mission II ($3.99) is the oddball of the bunch. Metal Slug and Samurai Shodown are both iconic franchises that were born on the NEOGEO, endured through its lifetime, and still see new releases in some form or another today. Alpha Mission II, on the other hand, is a sequel to a modestly successful 1985 shoot-em-up that dropped in the NEOGEO’s first year and served as the franchise’s final chapter. A decent game, but not the sort to appear in a list of the console’s best.
When it comes to a series as near and dear to my heart as Final Fantasy, trying to pick my favorite is a very difficult task. It’s also a bit of a ridiculous task, as there is no particular need to pick a favorite. You can play them all! But it is a question that tends to come up when RPG fans gather, and thus it is one that I have reluctantly answered many times. The answer isn’t always the same, but certainly one of my more common replies is Final Fantasy V. And now, it’s this game’s turn to get its second chance on mobile in the form of Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster ($17.99).
I never expected to see ActRaiser again. A memorable and successful early release for the 16-bit Super NES in North America, ActRaiser hasn’t had a lot of luck since then. It was followed up by an incredibly misguided sequel that seemingly killed the franchise. Then its developer, Quintet, faded out under mysterious circumstances, taking much of its IP with it. The game’s publisher, Enix, merged with Square and the new company appeared to have little interest in massive chunks of Enix’s historical output. ActRaiser got a Japan-only port of its action stages for feature phones, and a Virtual Console release early on in the Nintendo Wii’s life. And then there was silence.