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Posts Tagged ‘sunsoft

Podcast: The Legend of Fred the Frog (Blaster Master)

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Fred files solo to discuss the Blaster Master franchise.  In a drastically different tale depending on whether you play in the East or the West, Sunsoft’s genre-blending series that constantly tries to capture the magic of the original offers more than you may expect.

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Retro Game Challenge: Daze Before Christmas

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dazeMerry Christmas fellow readers.  Today we are looking at one of the only true Christmas themed games, which is also one of the most rare 16-bit titles released.  Originally developed by then newcomer Funcom, Daze Before Christmas took a whopping year to develop (most games took 4-6 months back then) and was really just a conversion of the developer’s other game We’re Back: A Dinosaur Tale.  It eventually wrapped up and publisher Sunsoft decided to release it exclusively to Australia (a PAL region) in 1994, which is why the title is expensive and hard to find.  Near the end of the summer of release (most games came out in the summer to prepare for word-of-mouth advertising in the holiday season) an SNES port released in Europe, but only in Germany, which again explains its rarity on that platform.  Sunsoft USA had begun work on a US version for both consoles but it was canceled as Sunsoft USA was nearing its closing in late 1994.

It’s really too bad because aside from being super easy, the game is a solid Christmas themed platformer with Santa as the playable character, bright colorful graphics, and a synth Christmas soundtrack.  While a legitimate copy will cost you on the upwards of $100+ today (not to mention the mods needed to a Genesis/SNES to actually fit the cart in your console), reproduction carts like the one I got are much more affordable around $30-$40 online.  For a game that can be completed by almost any seasoned gamer in about an hour and a very narrow theme that may seem like a hefty price tag, but I’ve seen people pay more than that for a copy of fellow holiday game Christmas Nights so supply does justify the purchase.  Either way, Merry Christmas and enjoy Daze Before Christmas.  Friendly warning: I get too close to the mic for portions of the playthrough so I apologize for the jet engine breathing.

Written by Fred Rojas

December 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Review: Final Fantasy Adventure (Gameboy)

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ffa_coverConsole: Gameboy
Released: 1991 (1993 in Europe)
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square/Sunsoft
Instruction Manual: Link for manual, link for map (both helpful)
Difficulty: Moderate
Played as a child? No
Value: $14.49 (used), $77.49 (new) on
Also Known As: Mystic Quest (Europe), Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden (Japan), Sword of Mana (GBA)
Digital Release? No

To fully understand the mystery and headaches surrounding Final Fantasy Adventure, you must first understand the massive differences between the names, although not the content, around the world. Times have changed and these days for uniformity (and the much more widespread import scene) most games retain their original title or some semblance of it. Square in particular was very forward thinking in terms of translation and localization, which resulted in games being renamed and more properly translated in different regions. Enter the portable debacle with the Final Fantasy name. On Gameboy there was a single title named Final Fantasy Adventure, this title, and another trilogy called Final Fantasy Legend (I, II, and III); Adventure is in fact the first entry into the Mana series (known as Secret of Mana Zero for a while and now officially renamed to Sword of Mana) and Legend is better known as the SaGa series, which has continued like Mana outside of portables. Legend wasn’t very widely regarded, SaGa has always been a bit of a so-so series, because it didn’t do anything new and was a simplified RPG by all accounts. Final Fantasy Adventure was a bit more interesting because it took the RPG-like elements of a Final Fantasy (the term “gaiden” in Japan relates to a “side story” so the title is fitting over there) and combines it with the action/map/exploring elements of Legend of Zelda. In short, it’s a hybrid of the most popular RPG and adventure titles on the NES now moved to the portable. It was popular then, too, spawning a long running series and the sequel, Secret of Mana, is an SNES favorite to most gamers.

ffa_1Final Fantasy Legend involves a story about a boy, you name him, and a girl, also named by you, that are brother and sister. Bound by an interesting connection with the Mana Tree, the adventure begins with an evil presence named, get this, the Dark Lord, and his plans to destroy the world. In order to prevent it, our duo sets out on a quest to eliminate him. You will journey to many towns, meet plenty of people that will either help or inform you, and of course at some point the girl gets kidnapped by a man named Julius, the Dark Lord’s advisor. This is just a simplified version of the first third of an adventure that spans tens of hours, a time hard to pin down because like Legend of Zelda your progress depends on how fast you can navigate the map and know what to do next. Trust me, print up the map in the link above and bring a FAQ with you – there are a few moments where you can get stuck unable to beat the game.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 11, 2013 at 11:00 am

Know this Publisher: Sunsoft

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Normally we focus on developers, the true makers of video games, but it’s also important to focus on the publishers responsible for making sure we ever see the game in stores.  In many cases these notable publishers are the ones that grab a bunch of smaller developed or imported games and grants them release in another region.

Sunsoft was such a great publisher back in the days of the NES.  Back in those days the few of us who read the labels of game boxes didn’t normally notice a developer, but rather a the publisher logo (although to be fair the two were often the same).  Whenever the Sunsoft logo crossed your boxed copy you could almost guarantee two things about it that normally don’t go together: 1.) your game would be a license game 2.) it would be good.  Yes, you read that correctly, Sunsoft made good licensed games on the NES.  As time continued, Sunsoft got more linked in with lackluster mascot games of the 16-bit era, but that doesn’t stop them from still being a publisher worth noting.  In fact, had it not been for Sunsoft porting many a game that wasn’t slated for release outside of Japan, we may never have seen these classics.  Oh yeah and Blaster Master, they made that too.

Atlantis No Nazo box art

Sunsoft is not in any way related to the short-lived SunSoft that was part of Sun Microsystems in America, but rather a subsidiary of Sun Denshi (or Sun Electronics) that entered the video game realm in the late 1970s.  When the publisher/developer opened a branch in the United States it went under the title Sunsoft of America but the logo still remained simply “Sunsoft”.  They developed mostly unknown games on arcades at that time: Arabian, Ikki, and Kangaroo – a weird hybrid of Donkey Kong and Popeye – but it wasn’t until the company moved to the NES that it really started making waves.  Sunsoft developed arcade ports and original Famicom games in Japan, mostly odd titles that would never come out over here like Tokaido Gojusan-tsugi (English: Stations of the Tokaido), which is a side scrolling action platformer where you play Kintaro, a fireworks salesman and use fireworks as a weapon.  Of the most famous is a kusoge (Japanese slang for cult video games that literally translates to “sh*tty game”) known as Atlantis No Nazo (English: Mystery of Atlantis), which has the player navigating an explorer through 100 levels of platforming.  What most don’t know is that the hit detection is horrendous and the platforming physics are a crash course in masochism, not to mention the game doesn’t move linearly (ie: you don’t necessarily go onto level 4 when you beat level 3).  Like most other games of the 8-bit era, a game over results in you completely starting over and the real aggravating part is that the game is completed by doing a sequence of about seven brutal stages in a certain order (including hidden warp zones).  Without having the information from the onset, I’d safely declare this title impossible.

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Written by Fred Rojas

August 17, 2012 at 11:06 am