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Archive for November, 2013


   
 

SEGA 3D Classics – 3D Super Hang-On Interview with Developer M2

We continue our SEGA 3D Classic interviews with Super Hang-On, which appears on Nintendo eShop tomorrow alongside Space Harrier. We’re really excited to get these games out to fans and hope these interviews bring all new insight into not only the creation of the games, but also the finer details inside.

Thanks again to Game Watch and Impress, Okunari-san, and Horii-san for their involvement in making these interviews available to our western audience. Thanks to Siliconera for coordinating with us to help spread the word to SEGA fans across the web. And special thanks to our producer Sam for translating these interviews for everyone’s enjoyment.

If you read and enjoy this interview, please take the time to post a comment and let us know. We’ve got a lot of folks looking on reading the feedback, so don’t hesitate to post!

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3D Super Hang-On
Using Gyro and Moving Cabinets to Create a new style of Port

Originally posted 3/27/2013

Pictured: Naoki Horii, President, M2 (left), Yosuke Okunari, Producer, SEGA CS3 (right)

–  Thanks for having me over again!

Yousuke Okunari (below, YO): We got a lot of positive response from our 3D Space Harrier interview article, so we figured we should give it another try. (laughs) But I wondered why that article [was so popular], so I wanted to ask you. For example, it seemed to have a very different reaction compared to, say, the article about Jet Set Radio, a game we just released last month. I’m thinking it’s thanks to Horii-san here showing up. (laughs)

–  I think there are several reasons, including the article being targeted at a different age group. Also, the fact that 3D Space Harrier isn’t just another port; it has full stereoscopic 3D, the moving cabinet mode and it reflects the freshness of what it was like to play the game when it was new. Something you often hear when it comes to retro ports is people saying “I used to be good at these, but I can’t play them anymore” or “It’s like being punched in the gut by reality”, but 3D Space Harrier nicely avoids these issues due to the ease of playing the game in 3D. As a player, it’s always a little embarrassing when you have to drop the difficulty or change the options around.

YO: When we were making 3D Space Harrier, we talked a lot about what we should to make the game more accessible.

Actually, what I argued with M2 the most about with 3D Space Harrier was the way we were going to have HAYA OH appear as the hidden last boss. At first, he would show up as long as you got to the end of the game, no matter what. But there’s no surprise to that, so I proposed that we add unlock requirements for him. The disagreement was with my initial suggestion, to set it up so you had to get to the end of the game with only three continues. I said, “Since players can create save points, this won’t be that hard.” But M2 was really against it. “Then not everyone is going to be able to fight him,” they said.

Naoki Horii (below, NH): I mean, these days, there are a lot of people out there who just play for 3 minutes and then they’re done playing for the day.

YO: So M2 proposed that if they start from the last stage and clear it without dying, HAYO OH should unlock, but I thought the challenge factor was way too low. In the end, we wound up putting both unlock conditions in. Seeing the reaction post-launch, there are certainly people like me who wanted it to be a little harder, but the majority seem to have been able to unlock HAYA OH by clearing the last stage without dying, so I feel that it was an appropriate difficulty setting in the end.

NH: If this was years ago, I would have gone with the harder conditions. As a player myself, I would want others to start from the beginning, go in focused and play to the end, just like the old days. My thinking hasn’t changed there. However nowadays, with people playing in trains and such, depending on how they play, they may not even see the stuff we’ve gone through the trouble to create, and the last boss may be out of their reach. I really wanted people to see it.

YO: On release day, I sat there watching Twitter to see when people would find it. And about one or two hours later, someone tweeted something like “Ah!” Two people were going off about it, and we knew neither of them. After that, more and more people popped up, and there was murmuring about whether or not they should keep it to themselves, this atmosphere like “should we talk about it at this point?” People were voluntarily restraining themselves from spoiling it from others, sort of like how people behaved after the movie version of Evangelion came out.

NH: That sort of unity is really cool.

YO: Seeing that, I feel like we were blessed with a lot of really considerate fans. It seems like those folks are the ones that really liked the previous article. So although it’s not quite the 8 years we put in for making Space Harrier, I figured we could have a chat regarding the 4 years it took to bring 3D Super Hang-on into being.

| From Virtual Console Arcade to SEGA AGES ONLINE, Making Hang-on without permission, and transforming Super Hang-on into 3D

3D Super Hang-On
The arcade version of Hang-on, released in 1985. The first bike race game in SEGA’s physical gaming lineup. Two versions existed, one where you leave the bike and one where you sit and use handlebars.

YO: This all starts with developing Space Harrier for the Virtual Console Arcade (VCA). Shortly after its release, M2 came to me one day and said, “We finished Hang-on!” which I hadn’t even asked them to work on. They told me that, since Space Harrierwas playable with the nunchuk, “you can play this one with the nunchuk too!” They showed it to me out of nowhere when I was visiting their offices.

NH: We really wanted to keep working on VCA. We wanted to put out every SEGA game.

3D Super Hang-On
Super Hang-on’s Mini Ride On type

YO: Hang-on started a new era within SEGA machine architecture, as everything up until then was SYSTEM 1 or SYSTEM 2, which was 8-bit hardware. But this was the first title on 16-bit boards, which wound up influencing the subsequent SYSTEM 16 core. Hang-on was further modified to create Space Harrier’s “Harrier board”, which was subsequently slightly downgraded and generalized to create SYSTEM 16. Since M2 had ported Space Harrier’s arcade board, Hang-onwas highly compatible.

NH: Relatively speaking, yeah.

YO: So one day I went to M2’s offices and there it was, Hang-on. At that point it was about half-done. If we were really going to put it out, there were a lot of things we’d need to change, like graphics we can’t use now, etc. Also, since Hang-on’s horizon line doesn’t move up and down, and the course only moves left and right, it’s actually rather a plain game if you just play it as-is. I didn’t feel like playing it with the nunchuk really captured the fun of playing the original. So since Hang-on by itself wasn’t really clicking, I thought that maybe if we released it in combination with Super Hang-on, we could add some historical context to create something I could get SEGA interested in. So that’s what we talked about.

NH: That was the discussion, yes.

YO: In the end, there was a lot of back and forth, but we weren’t able to push Hang-on through the company. We did however get approval to move forward with Super Hang-on, and we released in on VCA. But releasing only on VCA wasn’t enough… so we wound up releasing it on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as well. And that’s how SEGA AGES ONLINE[1] was born, you see. If the Hang-on project had never happened, SEGA AGES may have never come into being.

– So that’s the background story.

3D Super Hang-On
Super Hang-on, released in 1987 (sit down version) inherited some of the courses from the previous title and had four courses in total. Like Outrun, you could choose the music before playing. The left grip had a super charger button, and your motorcycle could hit a max of 324 km/hr. Sit Down and Ride On types had different courses, except for Asia. There was a conversion kit for the Ride On type of Hang-on, but they were rare.

YO: This is how Super Hang-on’s development moved forward. Shortly after the release of the Wii version, I went over to see M2 and they told me: “We made Super Hang-onin 3D!”

NH: Around that time, there was talk about Nintendo releasing a successor to the Nintendo DS, and it turned out to be the Nintendo 3DS, which displays 3D to the naked eye, a device we never thought would exist. I got so excited I went and got a pair of red/blue 3D glasses. (laughs) Much like Space Harrier, these games where you move forward into the game are perfectly suited for stereoscopic 3D. So we tried it out, and it worked pretty well.

– So you just built in stereoscopic 3D compatibility without asking anybody? (laughs)

NH: At the time, we hadn’t gotten to grips with the 3DS yet, so we wanted to know what the 3D would look like.

– Why Super Hang-on?

3D Super Hang-On
Super Hang-on for Virtual Console. Supported Nunchuk but only had Mini Ride on Type courses.

NH: Well, there’s the fact that in Super Hang-on, you move forward “into” the background, as well as the fact that’d we’d just worked on it for VCA. So it made sense. That and we thought how it looked in 3D display was awesome, which made other games less attractive… (laughs)

YO: Around that time, PS3 had just started to support stereoscopic 3D as well. We had no plans to include it, but when I gave it a shot, it was definitely fun.

NH: When you crash and the rider goes flying… that’s pretty out there.

YO: We started talking about how great 3D was, and I decided to move forward with including it in the project. As a result, we released not only the PS3 version but also the 360 version with 3D support.

3D Super Hang-On
The Sega Vintage Collection 3 (JP: SEGA AGES ONLINE) version of Super Hang-on.

3D Super Hang-On
Sit Down and Mini Ride On type courses were supported, as well as stereoscopic 3D.

NH: As long as 1stparties build protocols for us, any current gen console is capable of outputting 3D on televisions.

| With gyro controls and the moving cabinet mode, at last we have a recreation of the real arcade machine experience.

YO: As all that was going on, I figured, “hey, since Super Hang-on is already in 3D, let’s go ahead and put it out on 3DS.” So the Wii VCA version eventually linked into this 3DS version, which wasn’t planned for at the outset. That’s how we got started on the 3DS version.

NH: There probably aren’t a ton of people out there buying every single port of Super Hang-on, but to those who do, we really appreciate it.

– (laughs)

YO: We had decided that our first 3D release was going to be Space Harrier. Then, one day when M2 was working on 3D Space Harrier, this “Moving Cabinet” mode showed up. It was M2’s idea, and they thought it’d be pretty fun to include. Ultimately we feel that it was a feature in 3D Space Harrier that fans were really happy about.

NH: Without a doubt.

YO: So we started wondering what we should do for Super Hang-on. Naturally, M2 had included the Moving Cabinet mode for Super Hang-on as well. However, when I played it, I blurted out:  “Where are the gyro controls though?!” Haha, pretty mean, right? Gyro controls were never in any plans for the game from the outset. (laughs)

NH: Yeah well… look… the thing with gyro controls is that the control is nice and all, but at the time it actually required a lot of extremely heavy processing. Putting them in meant we wouldn’t be able to maintain 60 frames per second. It was one of those rock and a hard place situations. After all, when we put the arcade mode into Space Harrier, we weren’t able to keep it at 60 fps then either, but we made some speed enhancements at the very end.

YO: I mean, when you think Super Hang-on, you remember playing on those arcade machines that you lean on, right? I said, “How can you not support gyro? That’s so un-M2 of you.” Apparently M2 had a whole struggle with gyro controls on their side, which I wasn’t aware of, and I just kept saying “I want gyro controls in.” And what do you know, a little while later… it was gyro-compatible. That’s a little bit of M2 miracle working. But honestly, just because the gyro controls got in, the game still wasn’t that fun.

– What!? (laughs)

YO: I believe we’ve had a few games that support gyro controls, but there aren’t a lot of people out there who enjoy playing like that. And the reason is that it’s just easier to play on the slide pad or d-pad. That’s why, in order to make it a more satisfying experience, I asked M2 to link the Moving Cabinet mode and gyro controls up, so when you turn, the screen tilts in sync, you know? And once they did that, the game become so much more fun.

NH: I think the thing that makes it so engaging is the fact that objects on-screen react in tune with your own movements. I think.

YO: By including gyro controls with the moving arcade cabinet, I think Super Hang-on is the first time we’ve really reproduced the feeling of a player moving an arcade machine.

NH: Oh, for sure.

YO: People who played the games years ago probably know this, but SEGA’s arcade racing sims would be released in pairs, where one arcade machine moves on its own, and players move the other one. Examples of the former would be Space Harrier, Outrun, Afterburner, and examples of the latter are Hang-on, Enduro Racer, and Super Hang-on.

So I decided that if we were going to release something after Space Harrier, it should be a game where you move the machine with your body, so in that respect the release order makes sense. Syncing up the gyro and the screen creates an incredible simulation of moving the arcade machine. I’ve had a number of people play Super Hang-on, and while the person playing isn’t moving at all, to them it seems like they’re really moving around. For 3D Space Harrier, when you’re in arcade machine mode, you kind of sense that you’re tilting because the screen is tilting, but since 3D Super Hang-on has screen sync, you really feel as if you’re tilting. So yeah, I think we’ve reproduced that arcade experience.

Super Hang-on hadn’t been ported much up until we did the Wii version, so if you’re not the type who went to arcades a lot, you might get the impression that it’s a rather obscure game. Also, since the MegaDrive version was one of the first games to come out, it was a little on the plain side. The X68000 was able to use the Cyber Stick (an analog controller), and the port one after that was basically the Wii version. The Cyber Stick and Wii nunchuk kind of give that tilting feeling, but it’s not the same as the whole bike leaning back and forth.

NH: Like Okunari-san is saying, 3D Super Hang-on is the best there is in replicating that feeling of being on the arcade cabinet’s bike. But if you’ve been following us up to now, you have to realize that this is totally coincidental. (both laugh) We didn’t really aim for it to be this good, so we actually feel a little bitter at the result [because it was accidental rather than intentional]! If the whole gyro discussion was as easy as thinking everything out ahead of time and deciding how we were going to adjust each part of the game, building that into Moving Cabinet mode, and then saying “Here you go!”, we could feel like we accomplished what we set out to do. But it never turns out that easy… (laughs)

YO: By tossing the ball back and forth with M2 like this, I think we’re making some pretty interesting games. With SEGA AGES, we really managed to satisfy people with the quality of the ports themselves, but you know, it’s also about playing the game as it was when the original came out. I feel like the amount of people who appreciate the ports for their faithful reproduction of that original experience  are on the decline, so the approach we have with the 3DS, of adding new ideas to the experience, is something I feel has a good resonance with our fans.

NH: You can take it with you, and pause whenever you want.

YO: Yup.

– Let’s hear more about some of the detailed work that went into 3D Super Hang-on. I’m going to play it while you guys talk.

* Additional Difficulty settings also allow for Time Attack

3D Super Hang-On
Six levels of difficulty. Sit Down and Mini Ride On types also have different difficulties. You can also adjust the time limit.

YO: OK, well, one of the things that M2 really focuses on is difficulty. The original arcade version had four difficulty levels, but this one has six. The VCA version was a straight port, but while we were working on that, we had a problem where some of our testers weren’t able to clear the game. The game was too hard. In the end, we managed to solve the problem, but in the SEGA AGES[2]version, we thought we should add some difficulty options that weren’t in the arcade version. So we wound up adding more time to the clock when you pass through a checkpoint.

NH: That’s right. We boosted the time bonus.

YO: For 3D Super Hang-on, M2 also disabled the hitboxes for opponent vehicles.

NH: Some might say at that point, why not just remove the enemy vehicles altogether? But if you do that, the screen looks really empty. So we left them in to keep the game screen lively.

YO: These settings weren’t in the original game, and you could almost call it a Time Attack Mode. Since you can hit your corners at max speed, the game is easier to clear. For people who’ve played the game before, putting it into the easiest difficultly level and just having a pure battle with the course itself is also really fun.

NH: And if you run into an opponent, it’s OK. (laughs) They won’t slow you down.

– So compared to the arcade version, you’ve basically added two difficulty settings lower than the original easy setting.

YO: That’s correct.

* Button Configuration Options

YO: We also added in the ability to configure your buttons. (laughs)  This wasn’t included in 3D Space Harrier, but it was something we heard a lot of people ask for.

3D Super Hang-On
Custom configurable controls. Even more customization than 3D Space Harrier.

NH:Sorry about that. We figured that if we had rapid fire and all, no one would need a button config, but we got a lot of requests for it. We had a change of heart. (laughs) Sorry for underestimating everyone!

YO: M2 and I argued quite a bit on the button config defaults… Like, since you hit turbo with your thumb normally, I thought the Y button would be perfectly fine. I mean, strategically speaking, the Y button is the easiest to hit when you really need to push turbo rapidly. But it might be a bit tricky for people when they first pick it up if the accelerator isn’t on one of A/B/X/Y buttons, so currently the default is the R button. For those playing Time Attack hardcore, or people who play the game a lot, I would suggest adjusting the button config to find a setting that works best for you.

* Screen Size & Moving Cabinet Mode

3D Super Hang-On
Choosing Sit Down Type will also change the screen frame.

3D Super Hang-On
Four screen size settings and Moving Cabinet Mode, with four levels of tilt.

YO: The screen size is the same as 3D Space Harrier, but for this game, the default view frames the screen. This is simply because we want people to play using the gyro sensor. This is the first time the game has supported wide screen, and it’s something we put a ton of work into, but since gyro mode is so fun we had to choke back our tears and pull widescreen from the defaults. If you play using gyro with widescreen, it just doesn’t feel quite right, you know? You have to see the edges of the arcade cabinet when the screen tilts. That’s why we set the screen defaults to framed. You can also choose between the Sit Down or Mini Ride On[3] versions of the game, which will change the arcade cabinet graphics accordingly.

For the Moving Cabinet Mode, since you move the game yourself, we put three levels of “leaning” in the settings. When the game is in Moving Cabinet Mode, the gyro controls will be enabled. Note that once they’re turned on, the gyro settings will reset to their defaults. Also, per M2’s request, you can set it so the screen will lean in the opposite direction the control leans (normally, turning right will make the screen lean left, but you can make it so turning right leans the screen right). I don’t know if any of this is needed, but some people might like it that way.

NH: These are the kind of things that are just fun to include, you know?

YO: For the Sit Down type, since the original cabinet didn’t lean, we considered disabling the gyro controls, but… well that would be no fun, so for the Sit Down type, we made it move too. (laughs)

NH: The players can just turn off gyro controls if they want, you know?

YO: And this is digressing a bit, but when we were developing the Sit Down version for Wii, we went and looked at a real arcade kit. At the time, the only machine in the city or suburbs was one over at “Game Fuji” in Ichikawa. So we made the trek to take some pictures of it, and the photos we took are the ones we wound up using for 3D Super Hang-on’s Sit Down frame. (laughs) The cabinet might not even be there anymore, so we are really in those guys’ debt!

* Lap Times & Continuing

YO: In 3D Super Hang On, we made it so your lap times get recorded now. Oh and we added a stage select. So if you get a game over on any of the courses, you can restart from the nearest odd numbered stage. The reason why you restart from the odd stages is that the backgrounds change with every odd numbered stage, so the game itself is made as if each two-stage pair is a single course. We actually did try and see what it’d be like to start from the even stages, but some of the checkpoints would be right in the middle of a curve, so it didn’t give you a good start. Odd stages always start like normal.

3D Super Hang-On
Lap times are recorded. You can also start on odd numbered stages, and save anywhere in-game

* Sound & Arcade Sound Effects

YO: We didn’t include any arcade cabinet sound effects[4] this time.

NH: Right because there wasn’t much to record.

YO: We talked about putting the banging sound from when you lean on the machine in, but that’d be it. So since it’d be kind of weak with just that sound, we cut it. Instead, you can play the background music as much as you want, and the equalizer screen’s buttons are much easier to use this time around! (laughs)

3D Super Hang-On
Sound setting screen. The equalizer has been improved over 3D Space Harrier.

NH:Everyone brings that up. Things that get thrown in at the end get put in rather hard to find places. That was the first thing we heard about.

– (smiles) Yeah, when I was playing 3D Space Harrier after it was released, I had to kind of search for it. (laughs)

YO: In that sense, M2 is getting better at this. (laughs)

Oh, and on another unrelated note, when we first ported Super Hang-on, we had ROMs on file internally for both the Sit Down and Mini Ride On types, but the Mini Ride On type ROM still had copy protection on it. So when we were porting to the Wii, we had to use the Sit Down type ROM. However, the courses for the Sit Down and Mini Ride On types are different. And you know, back when Super Hang-on was in arcades, I think…

NH: … More people played the Mini Ride On type. Probably.

YO: So we decided that we needed to use the Mini Ride On type. For the Wii version, we were in a dead heat between M2 working to get the copy protection off, and hitting the schedule deadline. It was neck and neck for a while, and once we hit beta, we wound up swapping the ROM into the game. Our QA test team quickly came back to us and said:  “Um, all the stages have changed.”

– Well, that would be a bit of a surprise if you didn’t know. (laughs)

NH: Since that would basically mean starting testing all over from scratch, the test team was furious. We appreciate all the hard work they put in.

YO: That said, switching the ROM had the side effect of helping them clear the game (The Mini Ride On type is a little easier). However they found a bug about four days before we were going to master up[5]. If you ran over the curb for an extended period, the game’s music would cut out. Suddenly we had to figure out whether this was something that happened in the original version or if it was a bug in the port, meaning we had to do an urgent verification on actual hardware. At the time, there were two places in Tokyo where Mini Ride On cabinets were running: Club Sega in Akihabara, and Warehouse in Shinonome (which no longer exists), but they were both broken at the time. (laughs) So we didn’t have any choice but to ask a favor from the guys at the Akihabara store to take the machine they had, which was pulled to pieces in the arcade’s backyard, put it back together and do emergency repair procedures on the broken spots. Then, when we tried reproducing the bug, bam! It showed up! (laughs) Since it occrred on the original hardware, we left the bug in for the SEGA AGES version, but for 3D Super Hang-on, since this was supposed to be the final version, we fixed it just like we fixed the SFX bug in 3D Space Harrier.

NH: That we did. It had to do with sound requests. Once a sound started playing, it would keep going waiting for the next “key off”, or the other way around. It’s something that happens with a lot of SEGA games.

– (laughs) OK! So what’s the “Special” feature for this title, then?

YO: Our special feature for this game is the “World Course”. It was a part of the “Trials” mode in the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, but this time, if you race all four courses, the “Special” mode will unlock. This was an idea I had back when we were working on the SEGA AGES version, but something that’s always bothered me was the background music. You see, when you played the World Course [in the PS3/Xbox360 versions], you’d have to listen to the same song for something like 30 minutes. Even if you really liked that song, you tend to get tired of it. But this time, the music will change when the course changes. I brought the issue up with our director on the PS3/Xbox360 version, and he told me with the saddest look on his face, “If only you’d told me a bit sooner…” So right from the start of 3D Super Hang-on, I was like, “You remember that thing we talked about?”

– (laughs)

YO: Now you choose which song you want from the very first Africa course, and the other three songs will change in order. By the time you get to the end, it’ll have played all four songs.

NH: Hope you enjoy it. (laughs)

YO: Oh, and for the PS3/Xbox 360 version’s World Course, we used the Sit Down Type courses, but this time you can choose between Sit Down and Mini Ride On types.

There’s also a World Course ending, which is something totally new that M2 made. Hopefully people will get a kick out of it. It’s based on the pre-existing graphics, but it’s the first new animated sequence for Super Hang-on in 25 years. (laughs)

NH: Actually we apparently only made one new graphic. We needed to add something. If you know the game, you’ll recognize it when you see it. Definitely check it out!

– (laughs) I’m excited about the release now, as well as the credits!

3D Super Hang-on’s biggest selling point actually isn’t the 3D

YO: You know, as a game 3D Super Hang-on might be a little plain, but if you’ve played 3D Space Harrier, I think you’ll find a lot to enjoy. We’ve got the 3D from 3D Space Harrier, and the gyro controls. I want people to give the gyro controls a shot, so we put the gyro control option right there on the menu where it stands out the most.

– You’re really pushing the Gyro! (laughs)

YO: I’m telling you, 3D Super Hang-on’s gyro control has a taste all of its own. A lot of the fans who played 3D Space Harrier said “I didn’t see the point of playing in 3D on the 3DS so I’ve been playing in 2D. But I turn the 3D on for 3D Space Harrier.”  We felt really honored to hear that. For those who haven’t played with the gyro sensor on 3DS much, please check it out in 3D Super Hang-on. The difficulty of the game is up to the player, but comparing this version’s controls to those of earlier versions, including the nunchuk on the Wii VCA version, we firmly believe the 3D version has the best controls.

– When I played it with the nunchuk, I found it really easy to maintain my course. You can do that on an analog stick [like in the PS3/Xbox360 version], but personally, I felt that tight spots were easier to manage on the nunchuk. I found it really useful when you go into a corner and hit turbo for a speed boost, or when you want to yank the handle slightly, or pull it and then hold your course.

YO: Yeah, the gyro controls make it even easier to hold that mid-lean state.

– I noticed this when I played 3D Space Harrier too, but it’s really noticeable how easily the 3D allows you to see where things are positioned. The PS3/Xbox360 version of SEGA AGES ONLINE also supported 3D, but I think there probably weren’t as many people on those platforms who experienced it. The 3DS has 3D built in at the hardware level, so as long as you have one, anyone can check it out. Plus you’ve got the gyro controls for another, different experience.

 NH: Yeah, exactly. You don’t have to add anything else.

YO: The biggest sales point for 3D Super Hang-on actually isn’t its 3D. It’s the gyro controls. It’s really Gyro Super Hang-on. The one unfortunate thing is that if you are going to use gyro, you should turn off the 3D. But that’s not something we can work around.

– That’s something that’s tricky with naked-eye 3D, I guess. It moves you out of the sweet spot.

YO: Yeah. If you’re playing in 3D, I recommend turning off gyro and enjoying the game in widescreen mode.

– You guys had to work hard to get 3D graphics working on 3D Space Harrier, but how about 3D Super Hang-on?

NH: Since we had stereoscopic 3D in the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, it was just a matter of porting it to this version. And while we were initially concerned due to the fact that the arcade version of Super Hang-on had slightly different hardware compared to Space Harrier (the CPU clock was different, etc), we were able to get it running.

YO: I think we were able to get all the polish in since this is the same team that’s been doing these ports over and over. If this was their first port, there would have been no way to get all this content packed in within the timeframe we had. By linking the projects up and increasing their number, we were able to accomplish this level of quality. We’ve ported Super Hang-on to 4 different types of hardware at this point, and that’s what allowed us to add all these modes within the development time we had. If it was just a case of porting Super Hang-on to the 3DS as a one-shot, the best we could’ve done was get the game running and that’s it.

– Even though Space Harrier and Super Hang-on themselves haven’t changed much over the years, your porting these titles from previous releases on more powerful systems and adding new features, so it seems like that would be hard considering processing power. But despite that, you’re able to port them due to the amount of experience you’ve accrued.

YO: At first, when M2 told me “it’s not going to work,” I thought to myself “What kind of nonsense is that?”

NH: Even now, we pull him aside and tell him, “It doesn’t work. Sorry…”  (laughs)

YO: But if you wait a bit, they always come back and say “Ok, it’s running now.” See Horii-san? You can do anything if you put your mind to it. (laughs)

– (laughs)

NH: It’s funny, you know. We’ve been at it like this for years now.

YO: Really though, I hate the tough love approach. (laughs)

NH: I think we’ll keep making these gradual advances in processing speed and data reduction.  Even then it will be a slow improvement as we go along.

– By building games like that, you build leverage for the next project. And sometimes there’s a big pay off by combining things in a smart way.

NH: Yes, there are times when it does bear fruit. On the other hand, there are a lot of games out there that never had their time in the spotlight, you know? Like, Thunder Blade, and… um… Thunder Blade… (laughs)

YO: If we’d just put gyro controls into Super Hang-on and that’s the end, you’d probably just think, “well, that’s cute I guess…” But since we’re carrying on with the ports while making new stuff like that cool Moving Cabinet mode from Space Harrier, we’re able to make a bigger impact by combining the Arcade Machine features with gyro controls.

NH: It makes me wonder what cabinets for Afterburner or Galaxy Force would be like.

– How would you go about replicating that? Even if you give it the same description as the Arcade Machines for the other two games, the development approach and how it’d feel to play are completely different. Replicating that really requires building things one step at a time.

YO: If we were to port those, first we’d need the actual arcade machine. This time we had the photos on hand for the Sit Down type since we’d gotten them on a previous project, so it makes me want to document everything we can get our hands on, while we still can.

– That would be a ton of work. You know, as I play this with the gyro controls, I really think you’ve done a great job replicating the feeling of the cabinet, the slight difficulty that the leaning cabinet created, and the feeling when you cut back and forth. When things got really tough, I remember putting my feet down on the floor and just tilting the arcade machine. (laughs)

YO: When we were doing 3D Space Harrier, we wondered just how many people would get on board with this crazy idea.

NH: I wondered at first who we were even building it for.

– Certainly there were more than 1000 people that felt nostalgic for the moving cabinet and environmental sound effects. (laughs)

YO: The combination of those two was key. So I’m not going to say Super Hang-on is a simple game without it, but I hope people check this mode out.

NH: We’re running out of things to do now, so we want to hear from everyone next time their suggestions as what to try.

– Does that mean an open call for ideas? (laughs) This remake series seems like it really has to balance both the technical difficulty of emulating the game screen and the hardware, and emulating the cabinet itself.

NH: It’s not just a matter of getting the game to run at a perfect 60 frames per second, it’s the part about reproducing the authentic ambiance of the original that’s hard… And since Space Harrier wound up working so well… Everyone’s really busting their ass here. (laughs)

– (laughs) That’s because you raised the bar with 3D Space Harrier.

NH: Well, you could say that we’re burning both ends of the candle in order to knock everyone’s socks off. (laughs) To say we’re ‘looking for ideas’ might sound a bit weak, but please send us your feedback. (laughs)

– If anyone has any ideas for M2, give us a shout! (laughs) (NOTE: This article was originally posted some time ago, but M2 is always open to your opinions and feedback. Feel free to contact info@mtwo.co.jp )

YO: That said, I think we’re already moving a little bit ahead of what everyone expects. I think the series is coming along pretty well. I think with3D Super Hang-on, people probably could have guessed we would do ‘3D’ and ‘gyro controls’, , but I think the game has enough to excite the people who played the original arcade machines and make them say “Hey! Look how they did that!”

– This series weaves together a lot of different technology, and I always admire how none of the work goes to waste.

YO: Yeah, it really doesn’t.

NH: You can build a mountain out of trash. Once it’s larger than Everest, it’ll be worth something! (laughs)

YO: I hope players get a new appreciation for the 3DS hardware.

NH: Personally I think it’s a really nice piece of hardware. Though developing for it is exhausting. (laughs) Still, for the players, it’s a really nice machine.

– I’ve asked every time we do this, but what’s in the future for the 3D Remaster Project?

YO: 3D Space Harrier has done quite well for us, and I feel like it’s lowered the barriers to doing what we want to do next.

NH: Thank you very much.

YO: This series will keep going after 3D Super Hang-on. Since we had Space Harrier in development ahead of time for research purposes, we are expecting to pick up the pace after Super Hang-on. The next one is going to be a lot of fun as well, so sit tight!

– Alright, well you’ve got me interested! Thanks so much!

(C)SEGA

Copyright ©2013 Impress Watch Corporation, an Impress Group company. All rights reserved.

 


[1] Known as Sega Vintage Collection 3 outside Japan.

[2] Vintage Collection 3 overseas.

[3] Super Hang-on has two arcade cabinet formats in Japan: Sit Down type, a more standard kit with a chair and handlebars, or Mini Ride On type, which has a small motorcycle that you climb onto and tilt back and forth to control. The overseas arcade cabinet had slightly different configurations, but generally they were the same.

[4] 3D Space Harrier contains sound effects that mimic the sounds of the original arcade cabinet. See the 3D Space Harrier interview for details.

[5] “master up” refers to creation of the final version of the game for submission to 1st party manufacturers.

 
   
   
 

Interview with KCII Live Ops Director

We’ve done a number of interviews with members of the Kingdom Conquest II team, in all different branches and fields of game operations, from development to support. Therefore, it stands to reason that there is someone overseeing all of the mobile title operations here at SEGA. That person is Ethan Einhorn. He’s responsible for Kingdom Conquest II and all of the other mobile games we’ve grown to love, and we managed to sit down with him for a few minutes to learn about what he does.

Interview Preview

1. What do you do here at SEGA? What do your responsibilities include?
I manage the Live Operations team in the US, which is responsible for coming up with cool in-game events, and making sure players know what’s happening in Kingdom Conquest II’s world of Magna!

2. You’ve been working at SEGA for quite some time. Can you give us an idea of what your journey has looked like up to this point?
I’ve been at SEGA for ten years. The company has allowed me to work in many different roles, including public relations, production, creative direction, business development, and now, live ops. I’m a life-long SEGA fanboy – I vividly remember the Christmas in 1987 when I unwrapped a SEGA Master System. At the time, it was the only system where you could play Double Dragon in co-op, so I was stoked! My first job was working at a Dairy Queen (I was fifteen), and my first three paychecks went to buying a SEGA Genesis – Altered Beast was the pack-in game, but I also bought Batman and Strider. Later on, I saved up $400 to buy a launch-window Saturn (Panzer Dragoon made the system a must-own for me). By 1999, I was such a core fan that I couldn’t wait for the 9/9/1999 launch of the Dreamcast – I bought an import Japanese version about four months prior to the US launch, just so I could play Sonic Adventure and Soul Calibur without delay!

3. What kind of path/career advice would you give to someone looking to work in games?

Read Ethan’s response in the full interview on the Kingdom Conquest II Forums!


Official Links

Kingdom Conquest II is Available for:
iOS on AppStore
Android on Google Play
Android on Amazon

Official Website
Facebook
Twitter
Google+
YouTube

 
   
   
 

Samsung’s Winter Sonic Mobile Sale

From November 26th to December 2nd, Sonic The Hedgehog, Sonic CD, Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Ep. I, and Sonic The Hedgehog Ep. II are only $1 USD through the Samsung Apps store!

Pick up classic and new Sonic adventures for your Samsung phone just in time for the holidays!

Note: This promotion is only available to Samsung phone and tablet owners via Samsung Apps, and only available in select countries. Please check the Samsung Apps store to verify if the desired game is available for your device and country of residence.

 
   
   
 

Sonic Dash Out Now on Android Devices

The Sonic speed boost you’ve been waiting for!

Download now for Free from Google Play: http://bit.ly/sdashand

YouTube Preview Image

The long awaited, hit mobile title Sonic Dash is now available to download on Google Play. This free to play, endless runner is developed by SEGA’s Hardlight Studio, the creators of Sonic Jump. Get ready to feel the speed on Android like never before, as Sonic runs, jumps and spins his way through rolling hills, perilous temples and scorching sand dunes. Sonic Dash brings high speed, frenzied fun as players complete missions to increase their score multiplier and battle it out for leaderboard supremacy. With daily challenges, multiple playable characters, deep social integration and Sonic’s unstoppable dash ability, you can find out for yourself how far the world’s fastest hedgehog can run.

“Whenever we’ve talked about Sonic Dash, someone has asked when it will be released on Android,” said Hardlight CTO Chris Southall. “This level of enthusiasm made it very easy when deciding to create the Android version.”

To celebrate the release, Sonic Dash will be holding an exclusive Android score multiplier challenge event this weekend. From November 29th-31st, players taking part will receive a game-wide bonus to their score multiplier, giving them an edge to help rise up their friends’ leaderboards.

Screenshots

Click thumbnail to view full-sized image


Official Links



 
   
   
 

SEGA 3D Classics – 3D Space Harrier Interview with Developer M2

SEGA 3D Classics - Space Harrier

We are extremely excited to present to fans a series of interviews on our upcoming 3D Classics on the Nintendo 3DS. The interview originally took place across the Game Watch and Impress website, featuring both Yosuke Okunari from Sega of Japan and Naoki Horii from the developer M2. These interviews show not only the care that went into making the absolute best versions of these titles on the 3DS, but also a lot of the technical challenges in creating 3D versions of our classic SEGA games.

Big thanks to Game Watch and Impress, Okunari-san, and Horii-san for their involvement in making these interviews available to our western audience. We hope you enjoy these interviews and encourage you to feedback with your own questions or comments. Let’s begin with Space Harrier and information on how the project got started…

————————————————————————-

SEGA 3D Classics - Space Harrier
Pictured: Naoki Horii, President, M2 (left), Yousuke Okunari, Producer, SEGA CS3 (right)

– Alright, let’s start by talking a little about this company called M2. Horii-san, do you mind?

Naoki Horii (below NH): Talk to people in the game industry and you’ll find out that everyone was a “gamer kid”. We’re no different ourselves, and our company’s first actual game was a MegaDrive title called Gauntlet[1]. That was a game that you could play with four people, and some friends and I from school and the local arcade got together and built a copy of the game from memory. We remade it exactly as we remembered it, took it to a company called Tengen, and finally got the money we needed to buy the materials we needed. Just like that. So our first game was a highly faithful port of the arcade version. You could call it a ‘copy by eye’ since we remade what we saw. That’s where I started, and here I am twenty years later, happy with what we’ve accomplished.

Yousuke Okunari (below, YO): He just wants to port the game he loved…

NH: Back in those days, arcade games were expensive and you couldn’t just buy them. Not only that but you had to keep feeding 100 yen coins into them. Even if you went and bought a port, it wouldn’t be the same thing. You’d think to yourself “Something’s just different.” We wanted it to play games as close to the original as possible, and eventually we figured we should just do it ourselves.

[1] Gauntlet was an action fantasy RPG game released by Atari in 1985. The MegaDrive version was released by Tengen. The MegaDrive version was released in 1993 and was called Gauntlet IV overseas.

– So it all started with Gauntlet.

NH: Back then, there wasn’t a good port of Gauntlet, so you couldn’t play with four players at home yet. Everything started once we thought “hey, we probably know this game well enough to build it.”

YO: Then eventually they started working with us (SEGA).

NH: Back in the time of Gunstar Heroes on the Game Gear, there was a SEGA employee named Hiroshi Aso. He approached us and said “Wow, you made Gauntlet, huh? Well how would you like to work on Game Gear? Go ahead and pitch a couple games you’d like to do.” So we suggested a game called Edward Randy[1]. If you think about it, Gunstar Heroes is just an improved version of Edward Randy. So porting that to the Game Gear was our first job with SEGA.

YO: Gunstar Heroes is often regarded as a game that really pulled out all the stops when it comes to the MegaDrive’s capabilities, and trying to port that to the Game Gear was no small task.  By the way, the Game Gear version is available in the Gunstar Heroes:  Treasure Box, on sale now[2] via PS2 Archives. You have to use a cheat code to play it though… (laughs)

NH: So we had a break from working with SEGA for about 4 years, and then we worked on the Windows version of Sakura Wars. We also helped out a bit on the Dreamcast version as well.  The first time I saw the Saturn version, I thought to myself “Oh boy, this game is just massive”, and I definitely remember how much of a rough time we had on that project.

YO: After the Dreamcast version of Sakura Wars, M2 was doing other projects for a while. Then a PS2 action adventure game called Project Altered Beast came along, and internally we had the idea of including the original Altered Beast in the game as a bonus feature. It just happened that M2 was working on a port of the arcade version of Altered Beast at that time.

NH: We were trying to port it by ourselves, you know. I just had a hunch that something like this might come up, so we went ahead and ported it without being asked to. That’s how we got started, right?

YO: Yeah, but the whole “put Altered Beast in Project Altered Beast” thing died on the drawing board. However, the fact that M2 could do ports got shared around internally at SEGA. So for Sega Rally 2006, the idea of putting the original Sega Rally in the game came up, and M2 was basically a silver bullet. Right around that time, AM2[3] was working on a port of Virtua Fighter 2 for SEGA AGES 2500, so we had a ported Model2 engine available. However, there weren’t any production lines open for Sega Rally and AM2 couldn’t get around to it. So then we asked M2 if they wanted to handle it.

NH: That was just learning from imitation, though.

YO: This wound up being M2’s first PS2 job with SEGA. For VF2, AM2 basically used an emulation-style implementation, but the Sega Rally’s arcade board was a later version than VF2, so it wouldn’t run as-is. M2 analyzed the game engine on their own, and rebuilt the game in the process of porting Sega Rally. In the end, it took a while to get Sega Rally 2006 released and it ended up coming out later than Space Harrier. VF2 had been received really well, and we decided to continue the ports this way for the SEGA AGES 2500 games. Right after I’d finished up on Dragon Force, we got the OK to continue on with the series. We were talking to a lot of developers in order to build the next lineup of ports, and that’s when I met them for the first time.

[2] Known as The Cliffhanger: Edward Randy overseas. Released only in Japan in 1990 by Data East.

[3] This a reference to Sega Ages Vol. 25: Gunstar Heroes: Treasure Box, a PS2 game only released in Japan.

[4] AM2, short for Amusement Machine R&D Department 2, is one of SEGA’s development teams. They are responsible for many of SEGA’s popular franchises such as Virtua Fighter, Shenmue, Daytona USA, Project DIVA Arcade games.

SEGA 3D Classics - Space Harrier

– Oh really? Wow that’s unexpected.

 

 YO: So from there, the idea of porting Altered Beast for SEGA AGES 2500 came up. But just doing an Altered Beast port as a packaged title would be kind of hard sales-wise, so we ended up having M2 port S.D.I & QUARTET[1], although in the end there probably wasn’t much of a sales difference between the two. (laughs) Next we said, “Hey, let’s do Space Harrier. Its hardware is pretty close to SYSTEM 16[2].” From there, we had M2 work on a couple of titles for us. And that’s how SEGA AGES 2500 Space Harrier II was born, which was released on PS2 Archives about 7 years ago.

NH: It still impresses me how much we code in assembly[3] even now. Our staff is really incredible…

YO: They showed me what were basically finished versions of Altered Beast and Shinobi running on SYSTEM 16, and though the sound wasn’t working yet, I figured if it was running this well, they’d have it up and running in no time. Boy was I wrong…

NH: When we tried to accurately reproduce all of SYSTEM 16 on a PS2, we couldn’t get the FM sound sources to fit in. When we thought about where to onload those, we remembered the PS2’s I/O Processor (33MHz) for the PS backwards compatibility feature. So we banged out some assembler code for it and got the FM sound source working. (For details check out Sega Voice Vol.15)

YO: It was Space Harrier’s 20th anniversary at the time, and since it’s a game from 20 years ago, we figured that the PS2 would have no problem running a game like Space Harrier. I mean, it ran on the Dreamcast after all (it was in Shenmue), but that’s just not how it worked out. The ins and outs of emulating things were still being figured out back then. Being new to this, even I thought we could churn out ports pretty quickly, but it turns out that wasn’t really the case.

It turns out that since the hardware is different, it takes quite a lot of machine power to emulate these games. M2 is quite fussy about these kinds of things, and they wanted to really get the controls right from the get-go. In other words, eliminating input lag. Around this time, people were really concerned about this term “input lag”. They’d say “really, the hard part is reducing input lag as much as possible.” Space Harrier is actually one of the easier titles in this sense, but for other games, reducing input lag is a big task and took up a lot of our time.

NH: There are a lot of situations where if we could just slow the processing down by a single frame, everything would be much easier.

YO: Sort of like how when you use a number of polygons at 60 frames per second, and then run the program at 30 frames per second, you can use twice the number of polygons?

NH: Yeah, it’s kind of similar, but with input lag, you have to grind away on a lower program layer. If you can get just 1 more frame worth of time, you can do what you can during that frame, which makes things easier.

YO: Also, while we were trying to port the arcade version of Space Harrier, I thought releasing the port for 2,500 yen ($25) might be a little tricky since a remake already existed. I wanted to have some other versions ported as well, and since M2 had made progress on MegaDrive and  Mark III emulation, so we decided to make a bundle. But due to some concern that there’d be some confusion with the remake being released first, we added “II” to the title.

NH: We had this idea that if people thought the game was Space Harrier II from the MegaDrive, they might not pick it up. Actually, I remember Okunari-san saying “If we port this, people will be able to play it not only on the PS2, but on 3 and 4 as well.” Well, now you finally can play it on all versions on the PS3 I guess. (laughs) When the backwards compatibility feature was removed from the PS3, we were a little worried. (laughs) But now we’re in an age where all that work is available for 800 yen (~$8).

YO: The Game Gear version is also in SEGA AGES 2500 Space Harrier II as a hidden feature now, but at the start we had no intention of doing that. Namely because the Game Gear version is a downgraded version of the Master System one, and since it was built for a portable game system, the resolution wasn’t great for playing on a TV screen. Still, M2 said they wanted to include everything they could. However, since the hardware specs for the Master System and Game Gear differ, M2 couldn’t get the Game Gear version working and were about to give up on it. But we got it in at the very end.

NH: 7 years ago, my take on it was: “I don’t want to buy Space Harrier again.” I wanted to make a version that had everything you need.  (both laugh) Then later on we wound up developing the Wii and 3D versions. At this point I hope I can just ask for everyone’s forgiveness since I buy them all myself. (both laugh)

YO: Yeah we’d not planned to develop the Game Gear version at the start, but once we got past beta[4] it was like “Game Gear version got in on time! It’s done!” however it really wasn’t on time at all. (laughs) The manual was already done, and the release date was set so we couldn’t advertise it at all. So we wound up making it an unlockable feature and said: “Oh well, you get another game in there, it’s just hidden away.” But as a result, it seems that people thought that every installment of the PS2 SEGA AGES 2500 series had to have some sort of extra game in it.

NH: You were really brave to hear us out there at the very end.

YO: Well, you still send me outrageous requests even now… (both laugh)

NH: Oh I don’t know. I think we’ve gotten better…

YO: That’ll be the day! (laughs) But anyways, this theme of specs changing while M2 builds the ports certainly echoes down the line.

[5] SDI is a shooting game released in 1987 for Arcade and later the Master System. Quartet is a side scrolling shooter released in 1986 for Arcade and the Master System.

[6] SYSTEM 16 is a 16-bit arcade board released in 1985 that ran games like SDI, as well as Golden Axe, Fantasy Zone and Shinobi. Space Harrier runs on the same board as Hang-On, which is similar to System 16 but with more processing power.

[7] Assembly code is one step above coding directly in machine code. It’s generally considered very difficult to work with.

[8] Beta is a development milestone state that generally indicates the game is functionally complete, but there are bugs and glitches that need to be fixed before the game can be released.

– So the scene was set by SEGA AGES 2500 Space Harrier II.

YO: One of the most last-minute moments we had was with Fantasy Zone Neo Classic in SEGA AGES 2500 Fantasy Zone Complete Collection. Neo Classic was based on a game originally made by Sunsoft, so we had to rush to get a contract in place with them. (laughs)

NH: Oh really?

And the mysteries of Space Harrier keep on coming!

YO: Back to the subject at hand, Space Harrier was ported to the PS2 with M2’s considerable technical skill and all was grand. For a series based on older game ports, I thought we had a great launch, and we got a lot of feedback.

One instance that particularly surprised me was when we put S.D.I. & Quartet and Space Harrier II out for display at the Tokyo Game Show. Since it was our first time showing off the full version in front of customers, I was at the booth myself. The first people to stop by on the first day were M2’s first SEGA supervisor, Aso-san, who was also the developer for the original arcade version,  as well as two developers from ”Game Rotsubo”, who ported Space Harrier for the Super 32x and Sega Saturn.

– Whoa!

YO: I didn’t even have time to be surprised before one of the guys started playing. These guys are legends to me. They brought Space Harrier to the 32X and Sega Saturn, which had had much lower specs than the PS2. These guys played our PS2 version, with eyes as big as dinner plates. I mean, you know these guys LOVE Space Harrier to death, so of course they are going to be interested in people who work on it. So they played up to Stage 7 (Lucasia: where the mammoths come out), and then I heard one go, “Ah!”

SEGA 3D Classics - Space Harrier
The rock bug on the 7th stage, which is faithfully reproduced in 3D Space Harrier.

So I got all nervous, thinking “Oh man, what…” and then asked them about their impressions after they’d finished. They gave it their seal of approval, saying “It’s really well done.” But then they said “There’s one thing. On stage 7, there are these slanting boulders in the background. The issue is with the background horizon…. you see the boulders are supposed to be on the ground, and are only supposed to be displayed below the horizon line, and when Harrier runs on the ground, they’re clipping into the horizon line. If the line goes up, there’s a bug where the color gets a little weird and turns slightly black. That isn’t happening on this PS2 version.”

NH: In this case you’re seeing the correct graphic on the PS2 hardware, but that’s because it differs from the architecture of the original Space Harrier’s hardware.

YO: That’s how the boulders in the first half of the 7 stage display. The original staff said “it’s a bug, but it was pretty how the boulders sort of twinkled.”

– Huh, how about that.

NH: I don’t know if anyone else has pointed that out, but their comment was the first time we’d heard about it.

YO: I think in the end, they were probably the only ones who pointed it out. In any case, being a newbie myself, I wound up thinking the port had a long way to go, and we could do even better. Oh and there was another problem that came up regarding the height of the horizon line. We addressed this with the “Harrier’s moving area” option in 3D Space Harrier.

When the PS2 version was released, we saw comments on the net saying that if the player sits at the highest position on screen, the horizon line’s uppermost position would differ from the arcade board. We thought “Well, we built the game to the exact spec of the original, so why are people seeing differences?” At the time, we had no idea why. That and the sound quality. People said that the sound isn’t the same as the OST CD or the arcade version. Amps and other equipment will make it different from the arcade version at a very basic level anyways, but since M2 wanted to make sure there was no input lag they had to use some of the game’s processing power to eliminate it, and that slightly weakened the sound quality.

NH: From that point on, there were probably some games we worked on where there’s a difference in audio between the game and the Sound Test menus. If you noticed that, let us know. It’s easier to lighten the processor load in a Sound Test menu.

YO: You can hear the difference in the hidden sound mode in PS2’s Fantasy Zone Complete Collection.

NH: Yeah, I seem to recall we did it there.

YO: M2 is getting better at this, and the quality’s also rising since we are devoting more of the console’s processing power to sound emulation.

– Interesting (laughs). So it sounds like in your experience, the game’s sound quality was limited by the power of the console, to the extent that you were performing calculations internally and then outputting the sound.

NH: When using streaming output, you can’t reproduce the behavior where some sounds would disappear due to sound effects being played. It depends on the game, but a lot of people actually like that effect. We wanted to cater to that need. But if streaming is the best option for a particular game, we’ll go with that.

– You used both approaches in Galaxy Force II, right?

YO: Well for that collection, there weren’t that many titles included, so we thought we’d give it a shot. So yes, there’s a streaming version and an internal sound source version. Oh, and an FM Towns[1] version. (laughs)

NH:  For the streaming version of Galaxy Force II, we had a guy at Wavemaster record it for us, so it turned out really nicely. At that point we found out that the original PCB version outputs the L/R channels backwards. (laughs) Since the original was backwards and thus ‘correct’, we matched this up with the arcade speaker specs.

[9] The FM Towns is a PC variant made by Fujitsu that specialized in multimedia applications. Galaxy Force was released on the FM Towns with CD-DA streamed music.

– There’s always something, huh?

YO: So anyways, after releasing Space Harrier II on the PS2 in 2005, we decided to release Space Harrier onto the Virtual Console Arcade in 2009. Being blessed with another chance to release the title, we wanted to make sure the Stage 7 bug could be reproduced, as well as put some extra effort into the sound. We also wanted to look into the Analog Stick and Horizon Line problems.

– So you finally got a chance to poke around this mystery, eh?

YO: On SEGA’s side, we have a Space Harrier machine that we keep for cataloguing purposes, so I actually went down and played it in the warehouse. And it’s true; the horizon line in the PS2 version is higher than the arcade version. It was different. On the original machine, the Tomos enemies that appear in the 1st stage are easier to shoot. I wanted to know why the arcade version was so different, so I went into test mode to take a look and noticed that when I pulled on the stick, the analog input wouldn’t max out. Which means that the controls were programmed that way to move the cabinet.

When we made the PS2 version, we did look at the original arcade board, but we didn’t actually look at the full arcade cabinet. That’s why it’s different. So for the Wii Virtual Console Arcade version, we took the arcade control differences into account. The Wii version can be controlled using the nunchuk, after all, so for us, the Wii version was the one we were most satisfied with.

– So finally that puzzle was solved!

YO: But even after implementing the control corrections, we still got comments saying it wasn’t right. Something was still wrong with the horizon line. Now it was too low! We had players saying “You got it right on the PS2 version, so why couldn’t you do the same for the Wii version?” I decided to visit as many arcades that had Space Harrier machines as I could, and studied the various videos that were posted to the net. And there were cabinets where the horizon would rise as high as it did on the PS2 version.

– So in other words, the PS2 and the Wii versions were both accurate ports?

YO: We puzzled over why the horizon line was higher on certain cabinets, and the dev team came to the conclusion that the sticks in the cabinets were probably loose.  Our warehouse kit hadn’t really been used all that much, and it also gets maintenance from time to time, so it’s in pretty good condition. But the cabinets at arcades have been out there for over 20 years, and their sticks get worn out. When you fix an arcade stick that’s broken, its throw distance changes, and as a result the player’s movement also changes. When sticks loosen, you can move them further than you previously could, allowing you wider control of Harrier.

So anyone who plays the cabinet nowadays may be using a joystick that’s in poor shape, and they might find that the horizon line is higher than what they remember as the real Space Harrier, and we can’t deny that. Generally speaking, we were left with the conclusion that the Wii version is in line with what the developers imagined at the original release. As a side note, the 32X and Sega Saturn version differ in the same way, with the Saturn version’s horizon line staying low like the Wii version.

 

– Sounds like this one wasn’t all that straightforward.

YO: That’s why for the 3DS version, we believe we’ve addressed player concerns by putting in 3 levels of movement ranges.

SEGA 3D Classics - Space HarrierSEGA 3D Classics - Space Harrier
3D Space Harrier has loads of customizable settings, thanks to M2 and SEGA’s extensive porting experience. Every arcade version player has different memories of the title and care has been taken to replicate that.

What did it mean to add stereoscopic 3D to Space Harrier?

– OK Finally we are at the point where we can actually talk about 3D Space Harrier! (laughs)

YO: Three years since we released the Wii version and it’s finally here! (laughs) Sorry for the wait!

NH:  Geez, that was a super long leadup! (all laugh)

YO: When the Nintendo 3DS was released, it included Virtual Console on it, which led us to start working on Space Harrier. At the same time, Nintendo indicated to us that they were looking for games that also use 3D. I thought, “Man, I want to do that.” So I went to Horii-san and said “We’ve got to do this 3D thing,” and he burst my bubble saying, “Oh come on, that’s ridiculous! Do you have any idea how much trouble that’d be to do!?” I took a look at the sample 3D version of Xevious provided by Nintendo for reference, and I really wanted to do something similar, but I kept being told that re-making 2D games in 3D was a pretty big effort.

– Remaking a game originally built in 2D into 3D… tell us about that.

YO: If you want an idea of how hard it is, just consider how M2 has been building games. They’ve been using emulator techniques that replicate the hardware since the PS2 days. That’s one way of faithfully reproducing the originals, but the drawback is that it’s really hard to go back and add things to the code. For example, you wouldn’t be able to add in extra bosses, or build new stages.

NH:  That’s why you won’t see extra features that were added to console or PC ports of older SEGA arcade games in the SEGA AGES ports. They weren’t in the original game.

YO: Re-making games in 3D is almost impossible for similar reasons. When you take a character sprite that was originally in 2D and bring it into a 3D viewpoint, you have to build the graphic from scratch. So for example, back in the 8-bit era, very large enemies were often displayed as backgrounds. But if you did a simple 3D conversion of an enemy like that, it would end up being on a different plane from the player character and look like it’s out on the horizon. If you want real 3D, then it’s basically the same as rebuilding the game from scratch.

NH:  Some things you can change, and some things you can’t. At the time I thought we could probably build a visual copy of the game in 3D, and I wanted to. But cost-wise, there was no way it was going to happen, you know? This was back just before the 3DS release.

YO: But when I asked Horii-san if there wasn’t some way to rebuild the game in 3D, he said “Let’s do it” (both laugh)

SEGA 3D Classics - Space Harrier

– You guys are crazy! (laughs)

NH:  Well, if you pick up the 3DS version I’m sure you’ll understand, but you feel like you’re playing the definitive version Space Harrier when it’s in 3D, right? I know we’re already there, but when I played the game, I felt like we had finally arrived in the 21st century, that’s how much of a killer app Space Harrier3D was for me. Once we knew what it was going to look like, it really motivated us when we were working on it. The whole staff put a lot of thought into how we were going to get this into 3D because we knew that if we could get it done, it was going to be really cool.

YO: M2 told me that “This is going to be really hard to develop, so be aware of that,” to which I said “Let’s do it,” and so we did. Now of course, we’re SEGA, so if we’re going to make 3D games,  we had to start with a 3D shooter, which of course means Space Harrier. So there we were, working on Space Harrier for the 3rd time.

NHThat’s how we got to 3D Space Harrier. We had to recreate the game world (called Dragonland, for those who don’t know) in 3D from the graphical depth of the original arcade cabinet, which wasn’t ever made in 3D. There were people who helped and worked with development who’d never played Space Harrier before, and some told me they couldn’t get good at the game. When I asked them what they have trouble with, they’d say it was hard to tell whether objects were right in front of their character or not.

Once we had the game in 3D, the same people came back and said “OK, now I get it! I can play it now!” Hearing that made me really happy we went through with the project. We started this game because I wanted to do it, so the sales didn’t matter to us, but moments like that really surprised me.

– So by making the game 3D, it was easier to understand where enemies and objects are placed.

YO: For the PS2 version, we included a version of Space Harrier 3D originally released on the Mark III that you could play by putting in a cheat code. That game is much easier to play in 3D. When you can see things in three dimensions, you see where the background stops, and you know what to dodge, so it’s a lot easier that way. When you play the same mode in 2D, it’s really, really hard. On the other hand, one could say that 3D Space Harrier’s difficulty is a lot lower than the arcade original. The stage where you dodge the fast scrolling pillars in particular is a lot easier. Dodging enemy bullets is simpler, and you know how long you can wait before you have to get out of the way.

NHBeing easier to play is certainly one aspect. One thing I also really want people to notice is how much more spacious and expansive the game world feels in 3D. Check out the screen.

– In 3D, you only have to worry about what’s right in front of you. For 2D games you have to watch the whole screen, so the gameplay definitely changes.

YO: Yes, it’s the same game but different.

NH: There are still a lot of games that we have fun ideas for. For this game in particular though, I want to say that playing with the 3D effect off is out of the question.

YO: It’s the same for movies. If you watch the same movie in 3D and 2D, you certainly watched the same thing. But it’s a totally different experience.

– When I saw Space Harrier in 3D for the first time, I think it was a modified “3D” version of the X68000[1] release. I think the programmer must have figured out the positions and behavior of the background and sprites to build the 3D. I’m no expert though, so I’m just guessing. Still, for 3D Space Harrier, I imagine M2 had to get in there and actually fiddle with the ROM itself to get the arcade version running. How did you create the 3D effect? You’d need to understand not only the architecture of the original hardware and software, but also understand the structure of the hardware you’re porting to, as well as modifying your emulation engine, right?

NHYes, that’s right. You have to understand the underlying game before you can add things on top. For this project, we did it all using a method that’s similar to emulation, however strictly speaking, it’s not emulation.

YO: At the core, there’s a program running that’s based on emulation techniques.

NHSpecifically, the code that ran on the arcade CPU, the MC68000, isn’t used in 3D Space Harrier. Replacing that code allowed us to finally get the 3D working.

YO: That’s what we mean when we say this game is the result of all of the hard work and technical skill developed up until now.

NHSince we could take our time with Space Harrier 3D, we were able to do things like support wide screen.

YO: Wide screen support in this version is a first for any port of Space Harrier.  The only other game we’ve done that supported wide screen was the PS2 version of Galaxy Force II.

NHFor game design reasons, Harrier’s movement range is the same as it always was, but it just feels better to play in wide screen.

YO: This is the 3rd Space Harrier I’ve requested from M2, and it might really be the last Space Harrier, or at least the last port. So we wanted to make it the definitive version. When we were interviewed for the PS2 version of Space Harrier II, we said that if you bought the PS2 version, you’d never need another version, but 7 years has passed, and well… turns out there was still a lot of work to be done. (laughs)

NHI thought about it a lot, and after that the PS2 version was done, I told Okunari-san that I wanted to go and play the arcade kit in storage one more time. So I did, and while I was there, I put up a microphone next to the kit’s motor and recorded the motor sounds.

YO: Wait, you went just to record some sounds? (both laugh)

NHYeah, so? (laughs) When you play [3D Space Harrier] in arcade mode[2], you’ll hear sounds we put in, which are me hitting the buttons and the motor running. In that sense, this version’s got some funny quirks to it.

[10] The X68000 was a home computer made by Sharp Corp and released only in Japan in 1987.

[11] 3D Space Harrier features the ability to turn on sounds the arcade machine makes as well as have the screen gyrate as it would if you were playing a real arcade cabinet.

– Maybe in the future, we’ll have consoles that let you play in 3D, and you can reproduce the whole cabinet and feel of the arcade in your living room…the ideas are endless.

NHSince you can install games to hardware nowadays, something I’ve always wanted to do is take all the sounds from the games you own and recreate the cacophony of lots of attract screens in an arcade. You could make something like a virtual arcade.

– Recreate the entire atmosphere of the arcade, I see.

NHIt’s not in the cards at the moment, but it’s something I’d like to try one day. In any case, there’s tons of stuff I want to do. Like Thunder Blade or something. If there are 2,560,000 people out there who want that, I think SEGA would be happy to let us do that for them.

YO: Let’s consider it if 3D Space Harrier sells that many copies. Heck, 256,000 people would be fine. (both laugh)

– OK well it looks like our time is about up. Can you guys sum up the key points of Space Harrier 3D for us?

3D Space Harrier (3DS)

You can choose from 4 different display options: 4:3 like the original game, widescreen optimized for the 3DS, full screen, and an arcade cabinet mode that recreates the feel of the original machine.

YO: For Space Harrier 3D, it all comes down to the 3D support we’ve added that took so much effort as we described earlier. And it’s not a copy by eye, it’s based on the original code base, and it plays just the same. It’s also the first time Space Harrier has ever supported wide screen. And there’s also M2’s excellent arcade mode.

NH:  I hope people reading this to give that mode a try. It’s fun and brings back a lot of memories.

YO: When that mode first went in, I said to Horii-san, “Since the cabinet’s chair moves with the monitor in the arcade version, the screen shouldn’t actually tilt, right?” Remember?

NH:  Yeah yeah, I know. But, we’re talking about nostalgia here, you know? (laughs)

YO: So that part doesn’t quite match up with reality, but it definitely has an “ambiance” and it’s fun. Oh and the arcade kit sound effects are there too.

NHThe arcade cabinet’s motor watches the signals from the original arcade board, so it knows when you’re moving right, or when you’re moving left. The sound effect timing is all the same as the original.

YO: In addition, the background music quality has really improved, and we’ve finally put in an equalizer. We didn’t ask for it but M2 threw that in as an extra. (laughs)

NHIf you play around with the equalizer, you can get pretty close to the original arcade feel. Players can use it to recreate the same environment that they remember.

YO: There are presets too. I hope people give it a try.

NHOkunari-san might think we had a lot of free time on our hands by including the equalizer. (laughs)

YO: Even just playing it as-is out of the box, I think this port probably has the best sound reproduction than any previous one. This is in large part due to Manabu Namiki’s [1]involvement, right?

NHYes, Namiki-san checked the game until the very end. The extra song as well.

YO: Since M2 had hired Namiki-san around that time, he participated in the project as an internal staff member, and he was able to give the game really thorough oversight. The arcade environment sound idea started with him, right?

NHYeah, he had a lot to do with that. He’s the one who put out the idea for the arcade kit sounds. The motor and button sounds.

YO: For those sounds, you can’t just put a mic down and record them because there’s all these other loud sounds that get in the way, so we had to turn off all the cabinet’s fans and record the right, front and rear sounds over and over. Then we took the best samples out of those and included them. Same for the button sounds. Typical players might not care about this sort of stuff, but I hope there’s maybe one in a thousand who will really be into it. Every time this game is ported, people tell us “It’s not really Space Harrier without an arcade kit.” That’s totally true. However, since we can’t port the kit itself, we do what we can outside of that and this is how it turns out. So in a certain sense, 3D Space Harrier is our answer to that problem.

[12] Manabu Namiki is a Japanese video game composer.

– I see.

YO: Also, and this is a sort of down to the nitty gritty, but there was a bug in the PS3 and Wii versions where certain sound effects would play and not stop. It was in the original arcade game, and we’ve made the decision to fix it for this version. Up until now, we’ve prioritized reproducing the original arcade board as faithfully as possible, but now that it supports wide screen and 3D, the 3DS version no longer reproduces the original per se, and it wouldn’t be ideal for a first time player to run into a bug like that. So we fixed it. We also don’t force any sort of slowdown replication on the game. So I think it’s safe to say that this is the perfect version of Space Harrier.

– From what I’ve seen, I’m certainly hoping that’s the case.

YO: Lastly, if you watch the porting staff credits, you can find out all the names of enemies that appear in the game. We often heard from the fans that they wanted to know the enemy names, so M2 put in a little sequence that shows off the original character names.  The names come from a 10 year old game called Typing Space Harrier, where you had to type in the character names. Most of the characters besides bosses didn’t have names at the time, so Yu Suzuki named them. So these are official enemy names from the game designer himself. I had no idea about this until the guy who made Typing Space Harrier told me. I think fans of Space Harrier will be really happy about it. I mean, I could just go on and on. (laughs)

–  Alright, sounds like there’s still more to talk about.

Naoki Horii (below, NH): You know, for the Space Harrier arcade machine on the menu screen, what I really wanted to do was use the AR feature to put a Space Harrier machine in my room.

Yousuke Okunari (below, YO): We totally ran out of time for that one… (laughs)You know, when we were making the arcade machine’s model on the menu screen, we didn’t have any pictures of the cabinet from all three sides (front, back, side). I think we had the design layout for it, and pictures from certain sides only, but we didn’t have one from the front. However, awhile back, Dreamcast Magazine made a papercraft version of the cabinet, and wanted to put a picture of it in Space Harrier II’s manual for PS2. They had lent us some photos they were using to make the papercraft, which came in very handy. Thanks  Umeda-san! (laughs)

… However, there’s actually a difference between the papercraft cabinet and the model in-game. Can you guess what it is? It might be hard because it’s spinning around.

–  Hmm, I don’t know…

YO: See here on the back of the seat, there’s a little portion that looks like an exhaust pipe. On the machine in the warehouse that they photographed for the papercraft, it’s white. But on an actual arcade machine, there’s a light there which flashes red. It seems that the machine we keep in the warehouse is one of the first models, a prototype or a preproduction model, or something, but anyways there’s a light in the middle. Also, the one in the warehouse doesn’t have the gameplay instruction plate under the monitor. M2 noticed that later on and drew one up for us.

Other than the papercraft one, there was a toy version of the Space Harrier arcade cabinet built for UFO Catchers[13] as well, and that one has the white portion as well. We went out to some modern arcades and took pictures, and when you compare them, you can see the difference. I also asked M2 to redo the cabinet on the title screen once as well. You can’t really tell by looking at two dimensional photos, but once it was put into 3D, the differences in the molding were pretty apparent.

[13] Often called ‘claw crane’ games in the West.

–  So you had to make some more changes. You guys really get deep into the details. (laughs)

YO: Maybe we should talk about the controls too? The slide pad controls are similar to the arcade in the sense that once you let go of the slide pad, the stick goes back to neutral. But if you’re using a d-pad, it’s more console-like because when you let go, Harrier will stay in the same position. This has always been the case with previous ports. For people who played in the arcade, they’ll be used to having the stick return to neutral, but that’s not the case for console players. Oh and also, for this version, we’ve added touch screen support.

–  I really appreciated having the slide pad and d-pad controls active at the same time, and being able to switch between them on the fly. Rapid fire is included as well, and playing on the touch screen is easier than one might expect.


YO:
You can also toggle character movement between normal and reverse, and switch between three levels of auto-fire. B button is the auto-fire button, or you can touch the screen to use auto-fire. This game is really a testament to M2’s abilities.

 

The arcade version of HAYO OH, unleashed at last!?


YO:
And finally, since we have this opportunity, I’d like to talk about some additional content we’ve included in the 3D version as well.

–  … What?

NH: We’ve added the final boss from the Mark III version of Space Harrier, HAYA OH, in true arcade style. You can call it a reward for players that push the game really hard. HAYA OH’s music is played through the arcade sound generator as well. I hope it’s a nice surprise when you run into him in game.

–  Oh! Was that the ‘extra song’ that you referred to in our previous article?

NH: Yes, we were checking that track up until the very end.

YO: It doesn’t come out quite as crazy as the original… But you know, it seemed like there was some rule about the Space Harrier ports where HAYA OH would never be included in the arcade modes. M2 and myself really wanted to do something about that. At first we thought we couldn’t. But then we said, “let’s make it happen.”

NH: You know, if we hadn’t put HAYO OH in, we might have been able to get this game out last year… Just kidding. (both laugh) Anyways, he’s in there.

YO: This is what you get when you grumble about things for a straight year.

NH: We built HAYO OH per the original arcade programming. We basically went in and fiddled with the programs for SQUILLA and GODARNI[14] and were able to get HAYA OH working. I think it’s pretty impressive if you consider that HAYA OH is working on top of the original program. Like, this would probably actually work on the original arcade board. That’s the level at which we built it.

YO: Did Mr. Namiki do the song arrangement?

NH: The main programmer, Akira Saito[15], made the arrangement, and then Mr. Namiki came in and advised on specific parts of the track. If you know their work and give it a listen, I think you’ll be able to hear the synergy between them.

[14] SQUILLA and GODARNI are the 1st and 3rd stage bosses, respectively.

[15] Mr. Saito is a programmer at M2, who was in the past was involved in creating sound drivers for the X68000.

–  Sounds like a team-up that’ll make a lot of people happy.

YO: For the 3DS port, we’ve made changes to the game specs from the PS2 and Wii Virtual Console versions. We wanted to keep some of the gameplay tension, so we got rid of unlimited continues. So to get HAYO OH to appear, you need to get all the way to stage 18, starting from stage 1. You can change the number of lives and difficulty any way you want and use all 3 continues, but that’s the underlying condition.

We also put in a stage select for stages you’ve already cleared. So if you start on Stage 18 and beat VALDA without dying, you’ll fight HAYO OH.

If you can beat him, a menu item labeled “special” will show up. You can turn this off to prevent HAYA OH from appearing when you fulfill his requirements. Also, this options lifts the usual 3 continue limit and you’ll have unlimited continues. So it’s a bit more arcade-like that way.

–  Sounds like something I can look forward to. So is the “SEGA 3D Remake Project” going to keep going?

YO: Well a lot of that will depend on how 3D Space Harrier does, but since we think it turned out great in 3D, we’re going to continue development along this line. Lots of people are guessing which games we might do next, and we want to make some of those titles happen. But there are going to be some titles that make people say: “What? You’re going to remake that in 3D?” I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction.

That said, as I mentioned early, actually remaking games in 3D is very work-intensive and difficult  compared to putting games out on the Virtual Console. It’s similar to when we were originally porting things to PS2. It’s the same with porting Game Gear titles to Virtual Console, but the amount of games we can keep putting out depends on how fans react. Personally I keep we can just keep going and going.

We started developing the SEGA 3D Remake Project at the same time as the 3DS Virtual Console. Game Gear got started in March of this year [16], and there’s been over 10 titles that have gone up for it on Virtual Console. We want to keep working next year to get games out for the Virtual Console and the SEGA 3D Remake Project.

NH: Going forward, I want to put a lot of polish into the 3D, and take our time releasing whichever ones seem profitable. I want to take the games that people think would be fun to play in 3D, build them well and get them out in the wild. I hope everyone will support us.

[16] 2012 was the date of this article, so March 2012 for the Japanese Game Gear Virtual Console.

–  From here on out, do you expect the 3D remake work to get more efficient as you continue to release more of these games?

NH: Since we’ve built a shared architecture that’s the basis for our ports, we expect things to pick up. It also depends on the pros and cons of the particular game we are working on.

YO: Yeah, there are titles that people think would be absolutely amazing in 3D, but if you ported them, the graphics would look totally wrong in 3D. So to get a game like that into 3D, you’d be better off building it from scratch off a visual reference. So then the next question is what’s the most efficient way to do that. In any case, there are some follow-up games that I really want to get out, so the series won’t end with Space Harrier.

NH: There could be a game that has a ton of fan support, for which we’ll forego the shared architecture and spend the extra time remaking it on its own.

–  If that happens, it might be hard to put a price on it, don’t you think?

YO: Well, Space Harrier is Space Harrier, so we wouldn’t be able to justify a significant price difference from what we already have on Virtual Console. We’ve heard a lot of people wonder how many times they can actually buy Space Harrier, but this time the game is in 3D, which really showcases how different it is from previous ports. We hope everyone gives it a shot.

NH: Definitely.

YO: Thank you for your support!

–  Thank you very much as well!

(C)SEGA

Copyright ©2013 Impress Watch Corporation, an Impress Group company. All rights reserved.

 
   
   
 

Limited-Time Thanksgiving Mobile Game Sale

We are excited to announce a Thanksgiving sale across our mobile platforms! Pick up your favorite games at a special price for a limited time for your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore for your Android devices.

Play as Sonic or his friends in Sonic Jump leaping through familiar and new Sonic worlds to battle Dr. Eggman, as you tilt and tap your way through fixed Story levels and Arcade infinite modes.

Tag, grind, and trick to the beat in SEGA’s hit game Jet Set Radio, or compete for the supremacy of medieval Japan with Total War Battles.

Pick up your new games soon as the deal ends November 30th!


Featured Games on Sale



 
   
   
 

Castle of Illusion Now Available on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

Mickey Mouse returns to star in Castle of Illusion, a fantastical reimagining of the Sega Genesis classic, now available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch for $9.99 USD! When the evil witch Mizrabel kidnaps Minnie, it’s up to Mickey to brave the dangers of the Castle of Illusion to rescue Minnie. Gather your courage and traverse enchanted forests, take on hordes of rebellious toys and navigate mazes of living books. Play as Mickey and save Minnie from Mizrabel’s evil clutches!

Download Castle of Illusion for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch!

YouTube Preview Image


Game Features


  • Play as Mickey Mouse in this reimagining of the classic Sega Genesis/Mega Drive game!
  • Experience a world of wonder, brought to life with all-new graphics and magical adventures!
  • Journey across five magical worlds filled with Mizrabel’s powerful minions!
  • Complete hidden challenges to customize Mickey with classic costumes!


Screenshots


Click on thumbnail to view full-sized image


Official Links



 
   
   
 

Demon Tribe Releases on iOS with Exclusive KISS Demons

Demon Tribe, produced by the legendary Masayoshi Kikuchi (Panzer Dragoon series, Yakukza series, and Jet Grind Radio), is now available on iOS for free! Download now and get access to the exclusive KISS Demons and Launch Rewards.

YouTube Preview Image

Download Demon Tribe for Free on iOS!


Exclusive Launch Rewards

Download Demon Tribe for free on iOS and complete the following objectives for exclusive, limited-time rewards!

KISS ‘The Star Child’ Rare Demon (left) and KISS ‘The Demon’ Rare Demon (right)
© 2013 KISS Catalog, LTD.


  • Receive KISS ‘The Star Child’ Rare Demon (Paul Stanley) when you complete the tutorial!
  • Receive KISS ‘The Demon’ Rare Demon (Gene Simmons) when you share the exciting launch of Demon Tribe to your Facebook or Twitter profile from within the game!
  • Receive 1,000 CP (in-game currency) by raising your Organization Level to 20!
  • Receive Bonus Gems to summon more Demons just for logging in!


Screenshots

Click on thumbnail to view full-sized image


Game Features

Destroy the demon invasion threatening the world in this epic free-to-play battle game. Rival tribes compete for glory. And all is not what it seems.

Demon Tribe thrusts you into an intense real-time blend of MOBA, Card Collection and RPG gaming. Build a powerful team of fighters by capturing demons and fusing them into the ultimate power: magic that transforms you and your tribe into the very demons you must vanquish.

BECOME A WARRIOR OF THE DEMON TRIBE

  • Play as any number of unique, individualized fighters
  • 250+ unique demons to capture and collect
  • Fuse demons and unleash their powers in battle
  • Master melee and range weapons; use alchemy to create and strengthen weapons
  • Manage the battle for a secret base and send fighters on missions to acquire new technology and resources

INTENSE REAL-TIME MULTI-PLAYER BATTLES

  • Co-op and competitive MOBA-style battles
  • Up to six players in 3v3 synchronous battles
  • In-depth player and clan ranking and reward system
  • Includes single player missions to hone skills, capture demons, new weapons and technology

JOURNEY INTO A MASSIVE DARK FANTASY SCI-FI WORLD

  • Created by SEGA legend, Masayoshi Kikuchi, producer and director of the Panzer Dragoon series, the Yakuza series and Jet Grind Radio
  • 1.1 GB of gaming and graphics; 41MB initial download
  • Features 3D rendered world and character art, animated cut scenes and full score


Official Links



 
   
   
 

Company of Heroes 2 – Turning Point Update is Available Today

Company of Heroes 2 Logo

The ‘Turning Point’ update for Company of Heroes 2 will be live on Steam today. The update features a host of free content including the eagerly anticipated World Builder, allowing fans to create their own maps, two free multiplayer maps as well as four free multiplayer commanders. On top of the free content players will also be able to purchase the new ‘Victory at Stalingrad’ Theater of War update, four additional multiplayer commanders and new skins.

Free Content

Company of Heroes 2 - Turning Point Update

World Builder: This highly requested community feature enables players to design their own epic multiplayer maps for Company of Heroes 2

New Multiplayer Maps: Two free multiplayer maps ‘Rails and Metal’ and ‘Lazur Factory’ added to the multiplayer rotation for all players to enjoy

Four New Multiplayer Commanders: Four new Commanders, two per faction, are introduced into the game’s multiplayer and skirmish modes as part of ‘Turning Point’. One Commander from each faction was created by members of the Company of Heroes 2 community and will be available via registration at www.companyofheroes.com

Premium Content

Company of Heroes 2 - Victory at Stalingrad

Three new Soviet skins
Bi-Tone Red Guards, Two-Tone Spring, Makeshift Sand
Two New German Commanders
Elite Troops Doctrine: Utilize Germany’s most elite companies, using stronger base troops with added abilities
Luftwaffe Supply Doctrine: Using the power of the Luftwaffe, keeping your troops on the front lines as long as possible, even if cut off!

Two New Soviet Commanders
Soviet Industry Tactics: Using the built up soviet industry, making use of more and stronger vehicle units at the cost of infantry numbers
Partisan Tactics: Making use of the Soviet Partisan network to harass enemies from behind the lines while destroying them with the soviet main army

New Theatre of War Content – Victory at Stalingrad

COH2_Victory at Stalingrad banner

Co-Op Scenario: Kalach Pincer: 70 kilometers west of Stalingrad, Soviet forces must move rapidly to secure key locations and resources about the town of Kalach before mounting the final attack on the vital bridge across the River Don

Solo Challenge: Tatsinskaya Raid: The Red Army’s 24th Tank Corps is headed deep into enemy territory to take the German airfield at Tatsinskaya and destroy the aircraft that keeps trapped German forces supplied in Stalingrad

Solo Challenge: Bridge Defense: Forced to wait for air units to be ready, the Red Army has had to delay Operation Uranus at the last minute. Irregular and Partisan forces have already moved to secure a key bridge across the Don River and must now hold out against determined German attacks

AI Battle: Winter Storm: The Wehrmacht has launched Operation Winter Storm in an attempt to relieve their Sixth Army in Stalingrad. Soviet forces must block this attack to prevent the fascists from escaping the city

Company of Heroes 2 - Victory at Stalingrad

AI Battle: Stalingrad Resistance: The Soviets defend the blown out Stalingrad inch by inch, all the while looking to the skies as the German Luftwaffe drops bombs on any target they can find

AI Battle: Stalingrad Encirclement: Months of bloody close-quarter fighting have led to a decisive turning point for control of Stalingrad. Most of the German 6th Army has been left cut off and surrounded in the city. The Red Army must repulse a breakout attempt by the exhausted German forces

Company of Heroes 2 is available on PC and will see a 33% off sales promotion on Steam for new purchases from today until November 16, 2013. For more information check www.companyofheroes.com.

 
   
   
 

Go Dance Introduces Robin Thicke, Lady Gaga & Icona Pop Songs

Go Dance keeps the beat going with all-new songs:

  • Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
  • Applause – Lady Gaga
  • Night – Icona Pop

Stay tuned as more global hits are coming soon! Sync your vibes, anytime, anywhere. GO DANCE!

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Credits

These additional songs are paid items.

“Blurred Lines” performed by Robin Thicke
Written by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, Clifford Harris Jr.
Published by I Like Em Thicke Music, EMI April Music Inc. obo More Water From Nazareth, Deyjah’s Daddy Muzic (ASCAP)

“Applause” performed by Lady Gaga
Written by: Paul Blair, Martin Bresso, Stefani J. Germanotta, Nicholas Monson, Dino Zisis
Published by Universal Music Corp. / Glostream Music Publishing (ASCAP), Sony/ATV Songs LLC / House Of Gaga Publishing LLC (BMI), Maxwell and Carter Publishing LLC (ASCAP) (BMI)

“All Night” Performed by Icona Pop
Written by Brian Lee, Aino Jawo, Elof Loelv, Caroline Hjelt, Luke Steele, Jonathan Sloan, Nicholas Littlemore
Published by Brlyunlee Songs/Songs Music Publishing LLC (BMI),Sony/ATV Tunes LLC (ASCAP) o/b/o Sony/ATV Music Publishing Australia Pty Limited (APRA), Universal – PolyGram International Publishing, Inc. on behalf of Solola Ltd. (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp.
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Video Game Licensing

 
   
   
 


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