RetroCollect's E3 2014 Retro Gaming Round-Up: Upcoming Classics To Keep An Eye On

E3-2014-Show-ReportWhen you think of E3, you probably think mainly of all that’s new in gaming - but that isn’t actually the case. After all retro gaming is gathering an increasingly sizeable fanbase, and this is demonstrated at the show. RetroCollect's reporter Simon Reed was lucky enough to be at E3 this year, and took the opportunity to look at all that is retro on the show floor.

Whether it’s ports or remakes of older titles, or new systems that allow you to relive the past – I’ll look to cover all that was old in the biggest gaming conference on the planet below.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy (3DS)

E3-2014-Ace-Attorney-Trilogy

A series that started on the Game Boy Advance, the test adventure exploits of Phoenix Wright is getting another port, this time in the form of Ace Attorney Trilogy for the 3DS– which puts together the first three games in one package.

Using the updated HD visuals from the iOS version of the trilogy, the main draw here is the added 3D effect – which does give the game an undeniably crisp look. As the 2D sprites remain (getting remade 3D character models like in the recent Dual Destinies was always going to be a big ask) it can end up looking a little like an episode of Ivor The Engine though. Which is either a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective.

The fact you can already download the previously mentioned iOS version of the trilogy for £11.99/$16.99 means Capcom will have to get the price Wright though (sorry) – even if there is the added ability to swap between the Japanese and English language versions in-game (no, I don’t know why either). The title will be available to download on the eShop in Winter this year.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX (PS3)

E3-2014-Kingdom-Hearts-2

Square Enix’s booth was bustling with new entries in existing series – such as Final Fantasy, Theatrhythm and Hitman– but also an high definition version of 2006 PS2 title Kingdom Hearts 2.

An action RPG that sees you teaming up with and against a host of Disney characters, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX is an acquired taste to say the very least. Of what I played the basic battle system is still in place, and the visuals – although much clearer than the original – are disappointingly a little rough around the edges.

The main advantage to this version seems to be the added bonus of the PSP title Birth by Sleep Final Mix, and if you’re a fan of the series’s strange twists to standard Disney characters is your thing – a snowman version of Donald Duck with stick arms anyone? – this looks serviceable enough fare. It’s released on the 2nd of December in the US and the 5th of the same month in Europe.

Oddworld Abe’s Odysee: New and Tasty (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC)

E3-2014-Abes-Oddysee

A remake of the 1996 Playstation platformer Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, the first thing you notice is that the game looks fantastic – with a level of detail and lighting that brings the 2.5D visuals that is truly stunning at times.

The game’s controls feel much more forgiving than the original too – fortunate considering the stealth aspects of the gameplay – and the difficulty curve has been smoothed out, with more checkpoints available across stages.

The game will be available to download on the PS4 on July the 22nd, and will arrive on the Xbox One, PS Vita, PS3, Wii U, and PC at a later undisclosed date. But if you want more behind the scenes information on the upcoming title, have a listen to the RetroCollect FM Podcast where the hosts interview Stewart Gilray.

Mario vs Donkey Kong (Wii U)

E3-2014-Mario-vs

Nintendo’s booth showed off plenty of sequels and spin offs to existing franchises, but one of the most retro-style titles on display was Mario vs. Donkey Kong for the Wii U – a HD entry in the long running puzzle platformer series.

Sporting a crisp 2D look, the game was unashamedly old fashioned – even if it does intriguingly use the gamepad to maneuver mini-Marios (and apparently Luigis at some stage too). It looks as if it’ll carry on the enjoyable if somewhat undemanding charms of its predecessors, and will arrive on the Wii U some time next year.

While we’re on the topic of Nintendo its booth also gave you the chance to check out the rather neat Mario Maker for the Wii U and also hosted a small display featuring a trailer for the Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire remakes to be released in November, although no playable versions were to be found.

Tetris Ultimate (Xbox One, PS4, PS Vita & PC)

E3-2014-Tetris

Yes it’s not really a retro title, but yet another reboot of Tetris was on show – and although there doesn’t seem to do much new it could be one of the most definitive versions of the game to date.

Boasting built in social feeds that compare your scores to those of your friends, it also implements the official Tetris ranking system and the chance to play by the the ‘Tetris Championship rules.” As you’d likely expect online high score tables, multiplayer, and a smorgasbord of modes come included to boot.

We’ll see how it stacks up to previous takes on the game when it comes onto PS4 and Xbox One some time this Summer – with the PC and PS Vita versions arriving later on in the year.

Hyperkin RetroN 5

E3-2014-RetroN-5

Set up in the South Hall, Hyperkin had a large booth giving you the chance to try out its latest system - the RetroN 5.

Allowing you to play NES/Famicom, SNES/Super Famicom, Genesis/Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance titles, the system even has some impressive features alongside this wide range of system compatibility.

These include HDMI output (making titles look as good as they ever have), save/load states for every game, a smattering of video and audio options to tinker with (from a main menu), and a wireless controller.

Pads for such systems such as this usually feel a little cheap, and the RetroN 5’s is no exception – but it’s far from the worst I’ve used, boasting an eight-way thumbstick (think the one used on the Neo Geo Pocket) which worked well for the titles I tried (Gradius on NES and Donkey Kong Country on SNES). I could see how it could be a problem for titles using specific directional commands though.

The buttons are crafted of hard plastic and make a satisfying click when pressed, but I imagine they may not be the most comfortable things to use over long periods of time. You always have the option to use a system’s original controller of course.

The system’s many advantages are tempered by the fact it doesn’t actually play the carts you insert though, but merely boots them up from an Android based emulator built into the system.

I spoke briefly to a representative at the booth and a RetroN 6 won’t be coming anytime soon either, with several updates and patches for the existing system to come.

Retro-bit hardware

E3-2014-Retro-bit

In the far side of the West Hall was the Innex booth, which housed all of Retro-bit’s latest and upcoming hardware – including the Super Retro Trio, which plays NES, SNES, and Mega Drive titles.

Unlike the RetroN5 an Innex representative did say that the actual carts would be played through the system too – with no emulator involved. This is perhaps why the visuals displayed through the system were noticeably less sharp than those of the RetroN 5. The price difference between the systems ($139.99 for Hyperkin’s system, and $69.99 for Retro-bit’s) does reflect this too. Retro-bit’s system is supplied with two SNES style controllers however – although they do feel very lightweight and cheap.

Another system available to try at the booth was the Retroduo portable, which is compatible with SNES and NES carts – and had a much sharper display than I expected. The system itself also feels reasonably solid, although it does have a perhaps steep list price of $89.99.

The Super Retro Advance Adapter – which allows you to play Game boy Advance titles on the SNES – was also on display, but not set up. It costs $44.99, but does appear to be an extremely niche product.

ColecoVision Flashback, Sega Genesis Game Console, Intellivision Game Console, and Atari Flashback 5 were other products teased at the stand – but weren’t playable. All four are down for a TBD 2014 release date.

Videogame History Museum

E3-2014-Videogame-History-Museum

Finally the show hosted the Videogame History Museum, which is personally the largest (5,600 square feet worth) and most impressive collection of retro gaming titles, arcade cabinets, systems, and paraphernalia that I’ve seen at any event.

Arcade cabinets ranged from Donkey Kong 3, Moonwalker, and, er, World Class Bowling Deluxe – and all were free to play. There was almost every console ever made on display too, with several collectible items on display including patches/badges, various promotional fluff, and areas allowing you to play games with four players (I got a thrashing at Super Smash Bros. Melee).

Trust me when I say it was almost too much to take in. The museum doesn’t have a permanent home, but aims to have one very soon - which with the recent closure of the Spilmuseet in Denmark is very good news indeed. You


So here ends my round up of E3 – and if this year is anything to go the presence of retro gaming will only grow in presence at future shows. Which can only be a good thing.

 


Last Updated ( 17 June 2014 )  

Simon Reed

An avid collector of retro handhelds since getting a Game Boy Pocket back in the 90s, perhaps his most embarrassing gaming moment was when he got involved in an eBay bidding war...for a Tiger Game.com game. Also has a interest in sports and likes to write features connecting them with games whenever possible.

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Comments 

(Link to this comment) el7omo 2014-06-17 21:47
No mention of Grim Fandango? It might be the first reason I buy a PS4 or Vita at the mo...
(Link to this comment) PhoenixAsh 2014-06-29 19:45
Ah, I just made this about stuff on the show floor you see. Grim Fandango wasn't on it (that I could see anyway) - but that announcement was indeed great news.
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