Boss Rush Banter: Games in Distro Limbo

Most of the discussion around video games preservation circles the topic of piracy and emulation. And for good reason! A lot of classic and retro games struggle to present well on modern tech without significant revision by a dedicated team. As a result, countless memorable games live in whatever state of storage their current IP holders have for them. Sometimes they’ll be dumped unceremoniously in arcade collections. Just as likely, though, their only chance to be played is with retro enthusiast hardware or illegal emulation. Even games that have never really been delisted can struggle.

My favorite example of this is Final Fantasy VII. Certainly a game with a massive reputation and enough clout to be considered one of the greatest of all time. Yet, because it was born on CD-ROM and optimized for square-shaped, standard definition televisions, it has never truly felt available the way its original audience remembers it. Final Fantasy VII Remake actually seems to have been programmed to comment on the original’s odd existence somewhere between how it is remembered and how it actually was. Ever Crisis, a mobile game that attempts to repackage the story of FFVII is also in the works. However, if you really want to play a build of Final Fantasy VII that looks good and plays nice on modern hardware, your best bet is to take up a crash course on all the mods that have been lovingly crafted for it on PC.

And this without even touching on our favorite games that we simply can’t play without breaking copyright law. These are the games we loved dropping quarters on. They’re the games that never left our disk trays or cartridge slots, but for one reason or another don’t promise their IP holders a return on investment for keeping them available.

The game I most miss that is lost in availability limbo is Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder. It’s massive character sprites, thumping soundtrack, and cooperative gameplay had me hooked on trips to the arcade! Reaching the end with my brother and two of our friends was such a thrill. And it never seemed like an unfair quarter muncher like other brawlers of its day. Revenge of Death Adder has never been available as an official release on modern storefronts like PSN or Steam. It has, however, recently become available as part of a $500 Arcade 1Up replica collection.That sort of frustrating, quasi-availability drives me crazy. Much as I love that game, I’m not out to drop five bills on a chintzy piece of furniture just to play it legally.

So, what games are out there somewhere in limbo that you miss? Have you gone to any lengths to emulate or play them on retro hardware? Tell us about your lost loves down in the comments or over at the Boss Rush Discord.

Featured Image: Sega via The King of Grabs

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2 thoughts on “Boss Rush Banter: Games in Distro Limbo

  1. Do you know why Golden Axe: Revenge of Death Adder is in ‘distro limbo’? It can’t be a rights issue since Sega must own all rights to the game… It’s a great game and should be made available for people to play. I’d like to see Sega re-release some of its older arcade classics (like Death Adder) via emulation on Steam and They’ve re-released a bunch of Megadrive/Genesis classics on Steam, so it could be done.

    1. I believe it’s because it has actually never been ported off of its original dedicated arcade board. That’s according to a Neogaf article from a few years ago, anyway. It missed the Dreamcast and just happened to be a fit for the Arcade 1Up machine I mentioned. I suppose since it has only ever been an arcade game. I totally agree with you. Museum collections on modern storefronts seem like such a slam dunk that I assume the economic reasons not to put them out go over my head.

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