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Archive for May 13th, 2015


SEGA 3D Classics – 3D Thunder Blade – Part 2

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade

It’s here! Part 2 of our 3D Thunder Blade article is even longer than part 1. Covering off everything from music, technical design challenges, and of course the secrets inside Special Mode.

As always, your comments are appreciated, I can assure you we geek out as much as you do on these articles and love to hear what everyone else thinks of them. Enjoy!

But Before We Get To The Special Mode

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade
Background: Naoki Horii, President of M2. Foreground: Yosuke Okunari, SEGA Producer

– So before we talk about the Special Mode, I wanted to ask you about something I was wondering about. So the original Thunder Blade ran on the X-BOARD, the one that After Burner used, so I think you probably had the same struggles with this port as you did with 3D After Burner II. I heard you began working on this one in earnest after you finished the work on 3D Out Run, so it seems like you had some limitations on the time you had to get it done.

YO: We did a lot of the typical straightforward optimization work that we normally have to deal with, but we didn’t encounter anything new or special on this project. I heard there were a lot of under-the-hood issues that you can’t directly see, like cleaning up bugs from the original.

NH: Because of the structure of the original code, we had more issues getting the game to 60 FPS than I can go into here. But the core essence of Thunder Blade is included in the program structure, so once we got it to run at 60 FPS there were no further problems with recreating the game. But it took us a lot of work to get our heads around the internal details to allow us to remix things for the Special Mode.

YO: First, we did a straight port, then we went on to do the 3D parts, and then we worked on widescreen…

NH: The widescreen implementation was hard, but at this point everyone expects us to do it, so there isn’t really much to tell there.

– Even so, there’s a lot of work that goes into that. When you put things into widescreen, you can see things that you weren’t able to see before, right?

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade
SEGA’s Storage Warehouse for Arcade Cabinets. From left to right: Thunder Blade, Out Run, After Burner II, Galaxy Force II, Space Harrier.

NH: That’s right. For example, you can see things that weren’t in the original game, like on the title screen. We had to have Iuchi* go in and build out parts that didn’t exist for widescreen.

*Hiroshi Iuchi: A game creator who has worked for companies like Konami and Treasure. Known for shooting classics like Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun. He is currently working with M2 and was involved in 3D After Burner’s Special Mode

– Since there are two perspectives in the game, some parts of the game were like 3D After Burner, but some parts were different, right? There’s a lot more to draw, especially in the top-down views. The buildings are made up of something like 7 layered sprites, so how did you get that into widescreen?

NH: That part actually worked out okay.

YO: Thunder Blade is made so you basically move left and right freely within the background, so the graphics already existed. Though, there were a few problems…

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade
The bridge had to be lengthened to accommodate widescreen mode (Special Mode screen)

NH: Like the bridge in Stage 3, which wasn’t long enough horizontally, so we had to address that. Also in the top-down parts, there were inner parts of the building that you weren’t supposed to be able to see, so we had to hide those as well.

– I believe I asked this in the first half of the interview, but you did have access to the source code, right? Did you have access to the source for After Burner II?

YO: There was no source code left for Out Run or After Burner. We did get the program source code and the sound source for Thunder Blade, however.

– Is it the same data that was used for the retail version?

NH: That’s a little hard to answer. Thunder Blade has both a Japanese version and an International version. The International version, which released after the Japanese version, had a lot of additional work that went into it and is quite different. However, the source data we got is something sort of in between those two versions.

YO: After the arcade version had finished, they were working on an upright version for the overseas market, and they made some tweaks for this upright version. Basically, the ending is different, and positions of obstacles and enemies are different. In Stage 1 and 3, I believe?

– So it had some adjustments in it.

YO: It’s a little like the “fixed” version of Out Run.

– Since they had a little extra time in the schedule for the overseas version, they were able to go back and fix a few things.

YO: That was probably the case.

– So it’s just that you don’t know at what exact point this source data was from.

NH: Back then, they probably didn’t have the strict version control systems that we have now. In any case, when we opened it all up, we didn’t know which version we were looking at, and there were a couple of spots were felt we needed to get it running on an arcade board to check. It was really helpful in the end, though, so I’m thankful we had it available to us.

– Like data locations… It serves as a good guide, at least, right?

NH: That’s right. It does serve as a good guide, but if you just blindly follow it, you may find that the result is different from the retail version. But it did act as a blueprint for when we were pulling the game apart, and that was significant. It’s like looking at the actual building while looking at the blueprints at the same time. I think we had a similar situation back when we were working on the SEGA AGES 2500 version of Virtual-On.

YO: In any case, having the program source code available really was a good thing for our Special Mode.

Unearthing the Sound, as Always

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade
GALAXY FORCE II & Thunder Blade Original Sound Track

YO: So let’s go into the sound source. As a matter of fact, one of the things Thunder Blade was relatively well-known for was its sound. A lot of people have forgotten about the game itself, but the first SEGA soundtrack CD* that Scitron released, Galaxy Force II, had Thunder Blade on it as well. Only the CD version. The songs that Kouichi Namiki made are very cool, and as a result the game became well-known as well… But the reality is that the music on the CD is actually different from the arcade version.

* GALAXY FORCE –G.S.M.SEGA1- : Released in 1988, this CD had music from Galaxy Force, Thunder Blade, and Altered Beast.

When we ported Galaxy Force II to the PS2, Wave Master reissued the soundtrack as well*, but it was the first time we had recorded the music straight off the arcade board, and that caused a small stir among the folks who noticed. The arcade version and the Scitron versions were different, and the arcade version is slightly simpler in some of its details. It seems that the arcade version and the Scitron version were made separately at the same time. Like, an intro that was cut from the arcade version was restored, and there was stereo panning added in. So in a way, the Scitron version was the “complete version.” And after that, for the Mega Drive version of Super Thunder Blade, they followed the soundtrack version’s example and included the intro.

* GALAXY FORCE II & Thunder Blade Original Sound Track : A soundtrack CD released in 2007, containing versions of Galaxy Force II & Thunder Blade music recorded straight off the arcade board. You can get these on iTunes or Amazon.

And so while the soundtrack is very well-known, the arcade version of the song is even less well-known than the “no melody” version of After Burner’s theme.

NH: And since that was the case, of course we wanted to not only have the arcade version, but the soundtrack version of the music in our port of the game.

YO: But we didn’t know where to find the alternate version sound data. Of course this data wasn’t left on the retail arcade board.

So we started by asking Kouichi Namiki-san if he knew if the data had been saved and in what format. He told us that at the time, he had submitted the data to his supervisor, but he didn’t know what had become of it after that. Naturally, this wasn’t a surprise.

NH: This is data from 20 years before, at a previous job, after all.

YO: So then we asked Takenobu Mitsuyoshi*, who is part of the R&D 1 sound team, to see if he could locate the data that Namiki-san’s supervisor had left. And he was able to salvage it for us. We then handed it over to M2, converted it to an X-BOARD sound ROM, and after a number of tries, finally got it working. When it sounded just the like the soundtrack, we were super excited.

* Takenobu Mitsuyoshi: A classic SEGA composer and vocalist. You may know him for his work on Daytona USA!

NH: At first, that is. (laughs)

YO: But, once we started listening closely, we noticed something was…off. Listening further, we noted that the song was about 95% the same as the sound track version, but that remaining 5% was different.

– So it wasn’t the final version?

YO: Actually, it was even further refined than the soundtrack. And on top of that, it didn’t loop—instead, it would play through and finish. It was a version that was completely intended for performance. (laughs) So we went back to Kouichi Namiki-san and asked him, “So we got this data back, do you have any idea what this is?” And he said…

“I have no recollection!” (laughs)

– Well it was a long time ago.

YO: Well, if you think about it from the way it’s made, this new data was probably in fact the final version. So we decided to put it in. And thus, the Extra BGM that’s in 3D Thunder Blade has 3 additional main tracks, including the version that was further remixed past the soundtrack version. We currently have no plans to put this version on a CD or release it digitally, so if you want to hear it, you’ll have to go pick up the game. (all laugh) It’s in the Sound Test as well.

– Well, well…

YO: In addition, the 3D Thunder Blade version is clearer than the older soundtrack version.

– What a complicated situation, with the song being ever so slightly different from the OST… (laughs)

A Special Mode Based On the Overseas Enemy Placements; Shoot, Save, Get More Lives!

– Alright, are we ready to talk about the Special Mode?

YO: Absolutely! The Special Mode is basically what we would consider the final form of Thunder Blade. It’s really the complete version.

So first off, only one arcade version of Thunder Blade was ever available in Japan, so we didn’t really worry about the differences between the Japanese and International versions for Arcade Mode. Arcade Mode is the Japanese version, pure and simple. But everything that changed for the International version has been included in the Special Mode.

So while the base is the International version, the enemy placements have of course been further changed for Special Mode. The concept behind our Special Mode is to take the concept that is Thunder Blade and make the game more interesting while still maintaining that core Thunder Blade-ness.

So in order to further refine what makes Thunder Blade fun as a game, we did what old-school ports called…

NH: Yes, a Power-Up Port.

YO: It sort of like how for the Mega Drive and PC Engine, they went in with the intention of not only creating a faithful port, but enhancing it for home console platforms. You could say that it’s close to Micomsoft’s X68000 port. We wanted to add some content to make the game more fun, and the result is our Special Mode.

We put a lot of ideas into the Special Mode, and we even considered letting people play the Special Mode right out of the box, but in the end we felt that we needed the players to really understand how the original version was first, and then try the Special Mode. So just like 3D After Burner, you’ll need to clear the Arcade Mode once first to unlock the Special Mode.

– Was the design for the Special Mode decided soon after you began development?

YO: We were discussing what the Grantanoff was going to be this time around, and I threw out the crazy idea that I wanted to see more stages.

* “Grantanoff” was character added to the Mark III version of After Burner. Okunari-san wanted this character added to 3D After Burner II, asking M2, “Where’s Grantanoff?” on a weekly basis. Okunari-san dubbed it “Project Grantanoff.” Unfortunately Grantanoff didn’t make it into 3D After Burner II, but it became a code word for adding extra content to the games, such as HAYA OH in 3D Space Harrier, or the moving arcade cabinets.

NH: That you did. And I believe Saito agreed with you.

YO: And this game, while it has 4 stages, you could actually say it has 12 stages in total if you include the boss stages. But it’s presented as four stages. You know, when Galaxy Force was upgraded from I to II, they added that last stage, right? That stage required no additional graphics, and was built from graphics repurposed from other parts of the game.

So we discussed whether it would be possible to build a new stage by taking existing backgrounds and graphics and putting them together in a different way.
Adding stages to a port used to be a very tried and true convention, but these days you don’t really see it too much. “Come on, Horii-san. We’re talking about Thunder Blade here. You can do this, right? ::nudge nudge wink wink::” (laughs)

NH: Yeah, but I couldn’t do it alone. Fortunately Saito wanted to do it, too. While we were working on the first batch, I remember Okunari-san saying, “Why would we want to port such a short game?” So I’d been thinking, “Fine, we’ll just make it longer, then!”

– (laughs) I see…

YO: And with that, we started with the idea that the Grantanoff was going to be a bonus stage. So at first, it wasn’t the Special Mode, but just an extra stage.

NH: I think there are some people who have been reading our interviews who might step in and say that Thunder Blade is in and of itself a Grantanoff.

– (laughs) I’d be inclined to agree.

YO: Then as development progressed, Matsuoka-san, the director, and Saito-san continued analyzing the game and the game balance gradually started to change.

NH: You mean quickly started to change.

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade
Hyper missiles fly quickly long the ground after being fired.

YO: When you take the arcade version and think about it in terms of a console game with a regular controller, there’s lots of things that make it hard to play. Like reloading your missiles is sort of slow. So there were a lot of tweaks that we wanted to make here and there. And even more basic, the missiles were hard to use in the first place.

Wasn’t it Saito-san who changed the missiles to air-to-surface missiles?

NH: It was. They were hard to hit with, so he fixed it because he could.

YO: Even in the Arcade version, there were places that you had to make a distinction between using your missiles and your cannons. You’d use the large explosions to do damage with the missiles, but we made a clear change to that. Super Thunder Blade had lock-on style missiles, but story-wise that was because it happened 3 years after the arcade version, wasn’t it?

NH: That’s correct.

YO: The idea was to power up everything so it felt like it was in a place somewhere between the arcade version of Thunder Blade and Super Thunder Blade. So while we were thinking about what to do with the stages, Saito-san was working on increasing the helicopter’s actual abilities.

By just increasing the helicopter’s core abilities, it made the game really easy. You could clear the Special Mode without much of a challenge. In particular, the missiles were just overpowered. So then the discussion turned to tweaking the game balance to compensate. That was Saito-san too?

NH: Correct. When he upgraded the missiles, he had already decided to change the enemy placements. Basically he had free rein to do what he wanted.

YO: The enemy placements create a totally new game balance and it’s much more of a “shmup” now. The enemies attack harder, but you can attack harder back. Once you get used to the Arcade Mode controls, it’s time to test your mettle on the Special Mode. Arcade Mode is more unassuming, but once you get used to the controls it’s been made simpler and we think you’ll enjoy it. But the Special Mode is much better suited for exciting gameplay.

I mean, when I first saw that tank on top of a building, I was like, “Whoa, what’s a tank doing there?!” The Special Mode came in rather late, but it saw some huge strides there at the end.

– Enemy placement just totally changed. I definitely felt there were more enemies.

NH: Yes. I’m just glad the processing and framerate worked out.

– If you were to take this Special Mode and burn it into a ROM, would it run on the original arcade board?

NH: Similar to what we did with Fantasy Zone II, we have hardware that was slightly enhanced. There are more character banks, since more stages means more characters. If there was a custom SEGA board that had more banks in it, it would run, though widescreen support wouldn’t be possible.

– One of the benefits of this second batch of games is that you’ve gotten better at data placement and program optimization, so I would think that at this point, you’ve got more time and energy to devote to things like that, right?

NH: In general, we’ve been doing a pretty good job for this second batch, but Thunder Blade was one of the rougher ones.

– Especially for the 3D bits, it really feels like you’ve gotten a handle on how it all works. Though I sometimes get the feeling things are fairly tight on the rendering end.

YO: This is our second time working on an X-BOARD project, after After Burner. Super Hang-On was based on the Out Run board, after all.

NH: From the point of view of the people making the games, the Out Run Board and the X-BOARD were pretty similar, but from the point of view of those porting them, they are actually quite different.

– Hmm, I see. Does it make a difference that this one was developed by the former AM1 group, as opposed to AM2?

YO: Yes, there’s that, too. There’s a difference between games programmed by Yu Suzuki, and those that aren’t.

– Since you had the source code this time, did it help with your analysis and let you fiddle with the internals more?

NH: Yes, I suppose it did. It’s like knowing the cardinal directions on a map, and we can where the major roads go if we don’t go in and mess with them. A lot of the details ended up being different, though. But regardless, the difference between having the code and not having it is night and day.

– As a culmination of everything you guys have done, a “port with more,” I’m sure there are a lot of touchups in there and you guys have had to put a lot of work into it.

NH: In a way, it’s an extension on Space Harrier, where we added in widescreen, moving cabinets, and the boss HAYA OH. But even with that comparison, yes, there’s a lot of things we had to get our hands into. We added in a whole new stage this time, so yes, we have definitely “got a handle on it,” as you say.

YO: There’s some representation of everything we’ve done to date in here.

– Did you feel like trying to come up with an interesting Special Mode for Thunder Blade was harder than you expected?

NH: We had a lot of separate ideas thrown out there in the meetings, like more stages.

– Personally, I always felt like the arcade version was lacking, but never could quite put my finger on it. I feel like there would have been a lot of different ideas and approaches that came up until you arrived at “the answer.”

NH: Well, I think there are many ways we could have done it. But we ultimately decided to raise the gameplay density in relation to the amount of time played. Some people stayed away from the game for a variety of reasons, including the feeling that the pace was too slow. So we took it in a direction where you basically are continuously shooting enemies. It’s rather close to 3D After Burner II’s Special Mode. This time, it’s “kill enemies, get lives.”

YO: For 3D After Burner II’s Special Mode, it was all about really going after that satisfying feeling of launching tons of missiles, and so we moved the enemies around to enable that. For 3D Thunder Blade, we are taking it one step further and upgrading your weaponry. In 3D After Burner II, we went a little bit beyond a remix, but we’ve gone even further with 3D Thunder Blade.

– Like there being a new enemy fighter in STAGE 3.

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade
To the right side of the screen is an enemy that was hidden within the ROM.

YO: Well, that was an unused enemy character we found in the ROM during the analysis. We wanted to set him free, as it were, and he was added towards the end of the development cycle. A week before the final version, even.

– (laughs)

NH: There are times when it’s a good idea to do that, and times when it’s not. Usually, it’s not. We made changes here and there this time, though.

YO: I’m sure there was a reason that enemy didn’t make it into the original game. But this time, we just said, “Go go go!”

– So the data in the ROM was finished, rather than being incomplete?

NH: It seemed like it just wasn’t being used.

YO: I think it was a case of running out of time to place that particular enemy. We’ve also added some additional effects, like enhancing the sense of distance by making far-away graphics whiter.

NH: It’s sort of like fog.

YO: Saito-san really does get into the details.

NH: Even though he was always saying he doesn’t have any time. While he was helping out on Fantasy Zone and Out Run, he was always saying, “When am I going to be able to just focus on Thunder Blade!?”

A Totally Newly Created STAGE 5!

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade
Past the fortress waiting at the end of STAGE 4 is where the new Special Mode happens.

– So please tell us about this new STAGE 5.

YO: So in Thunder Blade, when you reach this dead-end at the end of STAGE 4, the boss appears and that’s the only 3D boss fight in the game. When you beat it, that’s the end. But we wanted to give people a little more closure, so for the Special Mode, we went and added a whole new stage. That fortress? Well now it’s just the entrance to the fortress.

– That’s a pretty interesting way to integrate it. The boss for STAGE 4 is just guarding the entrance.

YO: Since that’s the fortress gate, now you proceed into the sort of inner citadel. As far as the last stage is concerned… I’m sure they initially planned a lot of tricks and traps, but they just kept coming up with more and more. Like now a train cannon appears, and the train has all the proper animations. Thunder Blade never had anything like that during the rear-view style gameplay…

NH: No, it didn’t. We actually had to call in support for additions like that. We called in the assistance of a Mr. Haima Fuyuno, who used to do pixel art at Zoom*, and recently has been working at Shooting Game Side. Fuyuno-san and Saito-san formed a tag team of “precise insanity.” When you take “insanity” and put it together just right, you get something truly amazing.

* Zoom: A game studio that created titles such as GENOCIDE and PHALANX (X68000) as well as ZERO DIVIDE (PlayStation).

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade
A Train Cannon awaits in STAGE 5.

YO: Since you can hover in Thunder Blade, there are now shutters that block your way through a gate. That’s new. There are also enemies you need to defeat to progress. They fit very well within Thunder Blade. If you are good, you can defeat them without stopping.

It’s not really like STAGE 4, which is kind of like the EP4 Death Star Battle. It’s more like the EP6 one, with a newly added final stage.

– I was very surprised when I heard there was a totally new stage.

YO: At first, we were thinking we would just reuse graphics in the same way Galaxy Force II does. But then they said, “Nah, we are going to draw our own.” I thought, “You’re gonna what?” But because they went through the trouble, we now have the new train, the shutter door, and some other set pieces as well.

NH: It’s not piecing together stuff that’s already there. It’s really a new stage built from new resources. It’s completely new.

YO: Some people might find a lot of satisfaction in learning that Fuyuno-san did pixel art at Zoom.

NH: Fuyuno-san put a lot of effort in making sure it all melded with the SEGA style.

– To me personally, nothing felt out-of-place at all. Now that you mention it there are a few things that make more sense to me now, but the new art blends right in with the existing world.

YO: In any case, it’s brand new.

– It retains the appearance of being an extension of STAGE 4, but it looks like STAGE 5 has an enormous volume of content packed in there. It’s surprising that hardware back then could even do something like this.

NH: That’s an understandable reaction.

YO: Well, you don’t have to worry about size limits on the ROM, right?

NH: Yeah, but there’s a lot of restrictions here based on the programming side of things. We aren’t doing anything that’s above and beyond what the original X-BOARD could do. It’s similar to the System-16 version of Fantasy Zone II; things like the number of character patterns we could display at the same time are subject to the same limits that existed on the original board.

YO: Limits on things like color palettes or number of characters.

NH: That’s correct. If the original board had unused sockets available, we could use them to make additions, but we can’t go beyond that and increase the number of sockets.

– Actually, now that I think about it, why didn’t you include a top-view segment in the new stage?

YO: Because we felt that it was the back view stages that people wanted to play more of. So we opted not to make a top-view part so we could focus on back view gameplay. We wanted to build on the drama and tension from STAGE 4 right on through STAGE 5.

– You’re right. By just continuing forward in back view, there’s more continuity from STAGE 4 to STAGE 5. What about this stage’s background music (BGM)?

YO: It’s the soundtrack version of the boss song, BURNING POINT.

We wanted to take full advantage of the boss music’s long intro for the final stage. That’s why the stage structure is built the way it is. Actually, that song is the STAGE 1 BGM in Super Thunder Blade for the Mega Drive. And though I don’t think the director Matsuoka-san did that intentionally, personally I think it sort of leads into Super Thunder Blade. It’s an intro that really works well in a shooting game.

NH: It works well, I think. It turned out great, though I’m not sure that was the intent.

YO: The main draw for STAGE 5 is brand-new gameplay—a “physical experience” game no one has ever seen before, rather than a remix.

– Shooting down enemies and getting more lives definitely makes it feel like a similar concept to 3D After Burner II’s Special Mode. But there’s more—a whole new stage, and a better sense of closure now, for sure.

Revenge of the Gyro Sensor

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade
Gyro Sensor has Tilt and Spin modes. Which flavor will you pick? Moving the control stick or feeling the arcade machine move?

– So based on everything you’ve said, this really is a grand culmination of all your work.

YO: Another reason you can call it a “grand culmination” is that it also has gyro controls for the moving cabinet. We’ve only used gyro controls once with 3D Super Hang-On, but since this is one of those games where you had to move the kit yourself, we felt this was another chance to give gyro controls a shot. We discussed if we could really recreate that aspect of jerking the control lever and how it never worked quite the way you’d expect. Well, the result is that there are two options to choose from, which you can see if you go to the Options screen. There are controls for acceleration and tilt.

If you actually try to play the game this way, it has that inexact feel that the original arcade machine did. It helps you understand how the original was rather hard to play. There aren’t a lot of these machines still out there in operation, so it’s quite hard to do a side by side comparison.

NH: Yes, I imagine one would be hard to find.

YO: We weren’t able to combine both the feel of swinging the control stick and the movement of the kit at the same time. Basically, you have to choose which aspect you’d like to try.

– I recall you mentioned that you had to battle with processing overhead when you did gyro controls for 3D Super Hang-On. Did you have any issues this time?

NH: Oh yeah, that. Since we’ve done so much work on these at this point, we didn’t have that much of an issue this time. We didn’t have to worry about that so much.

– You were saying the X-BOARD was tough to work with, but no issues this time even with gyro, huh?

NH: We’ve gotten to the point where we can do it if we try, I suppose.

YO: Also, one of the things that makes the Special Mode really special this time is that the movement and environmental sounds for the arcade machine are different from the arcade version. It’s actually based on a self-moving arcade machine like Space Harrier.

NH: We made that happen on the 3DS.

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade
The first self-moving game since 3D Super Hang-On. Set Gyro Controls to Moving Cabinet, and…?

– Hahahaha! A dreamed-up arcade machine!

YO: The moving arcade machine in Special Mode is a new thing we made ourselves. It’s got motor sounds and all that, and we added in some additional sounds from After Burner II’s cabinet motors. I don’t know whose dream it is though. (laughs)

NH: A fictional arcade machine.

YO: If Thunder Blade had a moving arcade machine, this would have been it.

NH: Thunder Blade is a game that deserved a machine like that. Just putting it in 3D and flying between buildings is just amazing. I’m really glad we did it.

YO: It’s not quite an alternate universe timeline, but it will take you back to the 1980s for sure. The Special Mode is there to take you back for a taste of what might have been.

NH: Please give it a shot.

On To The True Finale of the SEGA 3D Remaster Project

SEGA 3D Classics - 3D Thunder Blade
These three ‘physical experience’ titles have made an appearance in Batch 2. They have all been ported as part of the SEGA 3D Remaster Project, and are all playable on Nintendo 3DS!

– So, I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people are going to have fun with Thunder Blade. You guys finally had the chance to do it.

YO: (In Japan), we’ve set it to a 1000 JPY* price point, so while it’s a little more expensive, but we’ve put that much more work into it as well.

* Note that NA/EU region price is $5.99/£4.49/€4.99.

NH: If we sell a crap ton of copies, then I’ll go and make Power Drift by myself. (all laugh)

– (laughing) But you guys really made it this far.

NH: We did. We did. By ending the second batch in the SEGA 3D Remaster Project series with Thunder Blade, I feel like we’ve achieved a lot of things we set out to do with it. I’m really very satisfied. We were able to take the kind of 3D we wanted to do, and make it a reality.

YO: I think everyone out there probably knows that the series would end if Thunder Blade was released, and wanted him to wait a little longer.

– Yes, there are those who were saying that. “Do it after releasing these other games!” (laughs)

NH: Though Saito was always saying, “If it’s OK to delay the release, then give me more time!” (all laugh) “There’s things that I still want to work on!”

YO: You have to end development at some point—even the original development team ran out of time to create a proper ending.

– Ah, it looks like our time is up.

YO: This is the end here, so I just want to sincerely thank everyone for supporting the series. Because of you, we were even awarded a CEDEC AWARD for Engineering for the work on the project.

NH: All because of this interview series!

YO: Thank you so much.

NH: Yes, and thank you.

– No no, I’m glad things went so well. This wasn’t supposed to be a series in the first place. (laughs) Not only were they a big hit with the users themselves, but they also caught the eye of your fellow developers.

YO: The second batch ends now, with these five titles. The last interview for the first batch, we were also able to announce this second batch at the same time. But that isn’t the case this time. We do not know the future of this series, and we just want to see how things go going forward for the time being.

In any case, this interview series has continued for a long time, from the release of the first 3D Space Harrier to the release of 3D Thunder Blade. To all those who have taken the time to read these very lengthy entries, I’m very thankful.

I do want to say one last thing…

“The SEGA 3D Remaster Project will not perish! It will live on, again and again! The power of 3D is the dream of mankind!”

Wait, I feel like we just triggered an internal game over flag…?

NH: Thank you very much!

– Thank you very much!

The SEGA 3D Remaster Project will not perish!

With the end of our 3D Thunder Blade interview, Okunari-san, Horii-san, Sam, and I wanted to take some time and thank everyone who has helped make these titles so much fun to work on.

From my side, as Community Manager at SEGA, this has been by far one of the best series of titles I’ve worked on. Not only are the 3D Classics always surpassing my every expectation as a fan, with every update I’m constantly reminded of why the SEGA community is so awesome. With every release, we see an overwhelming amount of support from old fans of these games, and new fans discovering them for the first time. It’s a great thing, and I look forward to seeing it with Thunder Blade.

This is not the end! There’s even more 3D Classics coming this summer in the form of Streets of Rage 2, Gunstar Heroes, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I’ll be in line for each on day one, right alongside everyone else!

Naoki Horii – President of M2
And with that, our long-running 3D Remaster Project drew to a close for a time. And because took the long and patient road, we were able to take games that seemed like they would be interesting with 3D and used every trick in the book to remake them. Games like Thunder Blade, and Thunder Blade… and Thunder Blade (laughs).

This was a SEGA game that I would have done anything to see in 3D, so I’m really hoping that everyone enjoys it as much as I do. If you don’t, well, then we’ve got an awkward situation of me mixing business with pleasure, now don’t we? (laughs)

We will be sure to continue our take-no-prisoners attitude with our future technical and gameplay endeavors, so I hope you all will continue your support!

Yosuke Okunari – Producer, SEGA of Japan
People of the world, thank you!

Up until this point, the SEGA 3D Classics were supposed to draw to a close here in Japan, but thanks to all your support, we were able to add three more titles onto the list. They are all very famous titles that are unforgettable to any game fan who played them back in the early 90s. We here on the development side are all extremely excited to turn them into 3D. Each is being built with love and care, so please tell all the friends you played the originals with back in the day, and get together and play them co-op again now 20 years later!

Sam Mullen – Producer, SEGA of America
I just want to say thank you to everyone who took the time to read our translations of the Game Watch Impress articles. I personally learned a lot from working on them, and I hope you did as well from reading them! I also want to thank Okunari-san, Horii-san, and Saeki-san for such delightfully insightful interviews. I hope you have enjoyed the SEGA 3D Classics to date, and are looking forward to the three new titles coming out this summer!

Thank you!


Final Batch of Downloadable Content for Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd is Now Available!


The last of our downloadable content rollout for Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd is available today worldwide. Content available today includes the Rhythm Game Songs Electric Angel by Yasuo and Though My Song Has No Form by doriko. On the Costume Module front, “Tyrol” designed by nezuki “Angel” designed by Tomio, and “P-Style CD” a gold-themed costume are available for Hatsune Miku.





Costume and Song Club

For fans who want to own every piece of content, SEGA has two great sales initiatives; the Costume Club and Song Club, both of which offer more than 25% savings and are available for purchase now on PlayStation Network. All Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd downloadable content is cross-buy enabled, meaning that content purchased on either platform functions on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, and can be purchased individually on PlayStation Network.