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Freedom is on the March...In July!
Today, GDRI kicks off American Game Developer Appreciation Month. This is not merely meant to be some sort of jingoistic exercise. Independence Day is coming up on the 4th, and we spend most of the time talking about Japanese developers, so this seemed to be the thing to do.
To celebrate AGDAM, we plan to ramp up research of American companies and upload video of American-made games to our YouTube channel. There may even be new interviews, but I can't promise that. And in true patriotic fashion, I've added a tiny American flag next to each American company listed on our Main Page.
Daniel Auld Interview
Our interview with Daniel Auld is now up. He worked for the notorious Tose as a 3DO programmer in the early 1990s. What separates this from other Tose-related interviews is that he's American, and he is not currently a higher-up at the company, so he's not afraid to open up or potentially burn bridges (the best kind of interviews to get). I actually plugged this at a couple of forums a few days ago, but I've added some questions since then, so check those out.
Just Call It "Tose Week"
Or is that TOSE? Still not sure whether to capitalize the name or not...
- I have contacted an American programmer who worked for TOSE on 3DO stuff. He will be sharing his story with us next week.
- I've come across two other former TOSE employees online. Here's an interview with Hideyo Kawaguchi, who worked at TOSE between April 1990 and September 1991. There, he worked on SFC Sangokushi (doesn't say which one) and the PAL version of GB Kid Icarus. Then we have "Sazanta"-san, who worked for TOSE before moving on to Sony Computer Entertainment and tri-Ace. On this page, he talks about each game he worked on. Unfortunately, he doesn't name specific titles for all of them. The first game he talks about is a 2D fighting game for the Mega Drive. He says he is credited as "Sazanta." I think he was talking about Dragon Ball Z: Bu Yuu Retsuden since it's a 2D fighting game for the Mega Drive and the credits mention a coordinator named "Sazanta." Just a hunch...
TOSE! TOSE!! TOSE!!!
Monday night, I came across PDFs of TOSE's annual corporate reports. The 2000 and 2001 reports each contained one image of game boxes and cases laid out. Over the past two days, Dimitri and I have been trying to figure out what they all are. We've figured out 160 games so far. See the results of our dig here and here.
A summary of GDRI-related discussion on #project2612:
Saturday Overnight (May 31)/Sunday Morning (June 1)
- Dran (Dimitri on GDRI) reveals the results of a code comparison between Lennus (SFC) and Super Air Diver 2 (SFC) (both developed by Copya System). The already-confirmed Galaxy Robo and Super Air Diver come up. Dran also believes Civilization, Bing Bing! Bingo, and Hanjuku Hero are likely Copya games.
- CRV thinks Character Soft (publisher of Sanrio games on Nintendo systems) was actually ASCII. Kero Kero Keroppi no Daibouken 2: Donuts Ike ha Oosawagi! (FC) producer Hozumi Yoshida was VP of ASCII. The director and sub directors turn up on Ardy Lightfoot (SFC) (Earlier that night, CRV had determined Kero Kero Keroppi no Daibouken 2: Donuts Ike ha Oosawagi! (FC) was developed by Shimada Kikaku).
- Dran and CRV look at the credits from a few other Character Soft games: Hello Kitty World (FC), Sanrio Carnival (FC), and Sanrio World Smash Ball (SFC). Hello Kitty World shares staff with Balloon Kid (GB) (alledgedly developed by Pax Softonica), which would explain the similarities. The Sanrio World Smash Ball credits associate a company with each staff member. Ape only directed the game, while Tomcat System did the actual development.
Sunday Overnight (June 1)/Monday Morning (June 2)
- Dran thinks Artoon might have been involved with the WonderSwan Guilty Gear games because they share staff with The King of Fighters EX: NeoBlood (GBA), which states it was developed by Artoon. After some investigating, it appears Artoon may have actually subcontracted NeoBlood to another company (likely the same company that did the WonderSwan Guilty Gear games).
- CRV finds the credits for SFC Hanjuku Hero. Mostly Square people, nobody from Copya.
Game Developer Genealogy
I've started putting together a "genealogical chart" of game developers here. It's very much a work in progress. Any help is appreciated.
What Could Have Been
I've uploaded a prototypical version of GDRI that I was working on back in 2005. See it here. I submitted it as my final for a college web design course that I didn't really want (I had been doing web pages for about six years at that point), but I had to take it. I don't remember if I did the site specifically for the class or if I had been working on it before then. At any rate, some of the information is now inaccurate and out-of-date.
The translation of the final answer in our Shouichi Yoshikawa interview still needs some tinkering, but at least I've finally gotten around to putting up Kid Fenris' Q&A with Yoshikawa-san about Wurm. Wurm fans will want to click here.
The Adventures of Ken'ichi and Atsuko
If you've followed our Arc and Minato Giken research closely, you've no doubt seen the names Atsuko and Ken'ichi Iwanaga (I assume they're related somehow). Anyway, I did some searching and came across a 2005 blog post plugging a concert event called RockFesta 625. The first band scheduled to play that night was a Whitesnake cover band called Zanzibar. Ken'ichi was on guitar and Atsuko was on the keyboard. Maybe it's a bit presumptuous of me to think these are the same people that were involved with video games, but the kanji in their names are the same as what I have on file and really, what are the chances of two people named Atsuko and Ken'ichi Iwanaga playing in the same band? Atsuko also played the keyboard in a Deep Purple cover band called Deep Atsuko that performed later that night. As much as the idea of listening to Japanese people cover Deep Purple and Whitesnake songs appeals to me, an even better idea would be to get in touch with these two and ask them about Arc and Minato Giken. But that probably won't happen anytime soon.
Speaking of Minato, we've added a few games to our list recently: Battle Baseball (FC), Tetsuwan Atom (SFC), Cult Master: Ultraman ni Miserarete (GB), and Quiz Sekai wa Show by Shoubai!! (GB). Nothing terribly exciting, but Tetsuwan Atom's a decent little game (watch my YouTube video here).
I had Idrougge retranslate some of Shouichi Yoshikawa's answers. Someday, I will fix up the interview accordingly. I also need to put up Kid Fenris' Q&A with Yoshikawa about Wurm. When will that happen? Don't know.
If you haven't read our Shouichi Yoshikawa interview yet, read it! And if you read it before, you might want to read it again. Translations and rewrites will continue to be tweaked, but pretty much all the questions that are going to be put up are up (I have one last question awaiting a response).
This Q&A is undoubtedly the largest and most comprehensive in GDRI history, encompassing a month's worth of e-mailing each other back and forth, but I did leave some things out. Someone on the Lost Levels forums and various others posted magazine scans featuring unreleased Gen/MD games. One such game was Macress, which looked like Saint Sword to me. I asked Yoshikawa about this. He said Saint Sword was the US version of Macress. Then I pointed out that it was called Saint Sword in Japan, too. Then he said the main character's graphic in Saint Sword was different from the one in Macress, likening the situation to what happened with Time Diver: Eon Man.
I also asked him about why developers like A.I and Cyclone System weren't mentioned on games. At first, he thought I was talking individual staffers. He said it was taboo in the game industry at that time, but he tried to fight that by using full names in Golgo 13. I clarified what I meant, but I still didn't quite get what I wanted. His answer was interesting just the same.