In 2016, Nintendo launched the “Nintendo Classic Mini: Family Computer”… …which lead a boom of mini retro game consoles in recent years. But in fact, at least in the early 2000s… …there were many plug-n-play devices with built-in games available in market. Sega Toys, a subsidiary of Sega, …also launched “Mega Drive Play TV” in 2004. So we can say, products with the concept of “mini MD” were already in the market. However, the product line of these mini game consoles has been quite messy. And the quality level of them were mostly just “playable”. Basically, they were all treated as cheap toys. Most gamers wouldn’t take them seriously. So what Nintendo Classic Mini series really achieved, was to establish a paragon of quality… …for these “mini retro consoles” in this new era. Nintendo created a new line of “devices polished by original vendor”… …from the market filled with low-quality devices. AtGames, a company produces many cheap mini consoles with license from Sega for many year, …finally upgraded their spec, and launched “Sega Genesis Flashback” in 2017. They upgraded the display quality from 480i/Composite AV, to 720p HD. However, compared to licensed products, what gamers expect more was, of course, …that Sega could build such device themselves. So in the “Sega Fes” event in April 2018, Sega officially announced that they would launch “Mega Drive Mini” in fall of 2018 in Japan. The demand of Sega fans have finally come true! …umm, hold on… In next day, AtGames tweeted:
(PS: this tweet has already been removed) The MD Mini that Sega has just announced was actually powered by AtGames’ technology! This caused a lot of opposition, …because from early models to “Genesis Flashback”, …AtGames never earned enough reputations. Even though AtGames claimed that they would apply newer and better technology on new models. And with supervising from Sega themselves,
the quality should be more reliable. But gamers still felt pessimistic. A few months later, Sega announced that MD Mini would be postponed to 2019. And in response to the “passionate feedback”
from fans all over the world, …the North American and European editions would also be launched simultaneously. Moreover, in order to achieve “the quality that could satisfy the games”, … the hardware would be re-designed by the original MD development members. And the software would also be developed with assist from experienced Japanese companies. This implied that AtGames could possibly had been replaced. After that, it was also confirmed the software in MD Mini is handled by M2, a company in Japan. Even more, Miyazaki Hiroyuki, the project leader of MD Mini, stated directly in an interview that… …the MD Mini, “from built-in software to OS, circuit boards, materials, controller, cables”… …”has nothing to do with AtGames”. Then, with the pace of every other month, Sega gradually announced the lineup of games. Because the lineup was quite brilliant, …every announcement created quite a topic among old gamers. Everyone is waiting to see what Sega can bring to gamers. After all, it’s Sega that gets back to the home console market, in a sense. After such a long preface, …the topic of this video is the introduction and analysis of MD mini. APPEARANCE DESIGN First of all, there are Japanese, European/North America, and Asian editions. I bought a Japanese edition with single controller, and an Asian edition with 2 controllers. These 2 boxes are designed as boxes printings of early and middle versions of Mega Drive, respectively. The mini console body is almost like an original console with Small Light from Doraemon! Except for the inevitably differences of sockets, …the restoration of all other details, from painting to form factors, is perfect. Unbeatable. Even better, …the “push-n-feel” of all components are completely crafted according to the original console. Not only the power switch and Reset button, Even the non-functional volume control is movable! Moreover, it’s not just “movable”, …you can feel the feedback force when you push it, just like a real volume control! The anti-dust cover of the cartridge slot can also be opened. There used to be vendors manufactured dummy mini cartridges for Mini FC. But since its anti-dust cover can’t be opened, nothing much can do with the cartridges. Now this mechanism is done on MD Mini, …the gamers have the opportunities to restore the appearance of consoles with cartridges. In fact, this creates another business for Sega themselves: To sell model of mini cartridges. The mini cartridge gashapons sold at the Tokyo Game Show… …were sold out every day! Oh BTW, this slot and cartridges cannot be used to store games, of course. Just for decorations and collections. Not finished yet. The original MD has a cover on the side. It’s the expansion slot inside. This cover is also restored! “Why bother? There’s no expansion device at all.” Well, Sega obviously doesn’t think so. In Japan, models of MEGA-CD and 32X in the same proportion as MD Mini are available. You can reconstruct the legendary
“MEGA DRIVE TOWER” in mini size!!! Oh, what a foolish hard-working company.
I CAN’T LOVE THEM MORE! Anyway, amount all mini retro consoles available now, when it comes to appearance restoration, …MD Mini is definitely the most costly and faithful one. Of course, restoration is just one thing. How software performs is more important. Let’s boot and see. INTERFACE DESIGN The design of main menu follows the style of the consle’s box, …and integrates of the colors of logo and the console it self. IMO, it’s pretty good. Bundled games are presented with images of their original boxes. Note that the original “Super Fantasy Zone” was published with SUNSOFT’s special box, which is smaller. This characteristic is retained. This list can be sorted by date of release, title, category…etc. If you press B in this list screen, …it will be switched to a view that list all the games. Each game will be displayed as the back of the box. In addition to the smaller box of SUNSOFT, …”Road Rush II” was published with a thicker box from EA. You can also find this difference. However, I think that the space between each game is not necessary. It’s more like all games are filed on shelves when they are closely put together. Right? When you are idle for more than 5 minutes in main menu, the auto-demo mode starts. The demo of each game will be played sequentially… …according to the order of current sorting opinion. Since there are 42 bundled games, …it takes about 1.5 hours to finish all demos. It’s fun enough even if you just watch the demos. After selecting the game in the main menu, …it will display the brief intro of the game first. To enter the game, you have to press the buttons again. The Chinese titles basically follow the titles given by Taiwanese gamers in early days. Only a few games use the English title. Some significant differences: “Streets of Rage 2” now uses official translated title. “Sonic” now uses another translated term. In the “Settings” menu, …there are language settings, display settings… …usage notice, staff credits… …and license info, etc. Manuals of games, like other mini consoles, are URL’s to the digital manuals. When connecting to the webpage, you can see PDF files of the original manual of games. The language setting is very interesting, …because it doesn’t simply switch the characters. When English is selected, the style of entire interface becomes “Genesis” of NA. When one of the European language is selected, …the style switches to Europe edition of MD. As long as a game was also published in NA or EU in those days, …the cover image of that game becomes the NA/EU edition, too. And even more, …it doesn’t just change the cover image. The loaded game will also be the edition that corresponds to the cover image. For example, if you run “Phantasy Star – The End of the Millennium” in Japanese interface, …you will see the Japanese edition. But if you start it in English interface, …you will see the English edition of “Phantasy Star IV”. Another example is “The Story of Thor”.
(Or “Beyond Oasis” in NA). It can even be switched to Japanese English French Germany Spanish Korean Totally 6 languages! Although there is no Chinese edition, …at least you can play the game in a relatively familiar language. Moreover, it’s not just only languages. Even the content of the games may differ in different editions. For example, the JP edition of “Sonic” was released 1 month later than NA/EU editions. There was more time for development. So some more effects were added to Japanese edition. Such as the cloud in the first level. In Japanese edition, different scrolling speeds were applied, to create a sense of distance. There was no such effect in NA edition. Some modifications were made due to culture difference between different markets. For example, in JP edition of “Contra: Hard Corps”, players got 3 HP for each life. But in NA edition, this design was cancelled. As traditional Contra, the avatar dies once he is hit. This made the NA edition much more difficult. The EU edition dramatically modified the background settings. All characters were replaced by robots. …and the story was modified as well. Another classic example is “Puyo Puyo”. This is a well-known puzzle game in Japan. When SEGA tried to publish this game overseas, …perhaps they thought that customers in NA/EU wouldn’t like the Japanese “Kawaii” characters, …the completely reskinned the game with characters from the cartoon of Sonic, …and became “Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine”. Wow, it was totally a Face Off. In fact, due to culture differences, legal regulations and other factors, …a game might have different versions for different regions. It is still very common nowadays. Not to mention games published decades ago. Anyway, the fact that different editions can be bundled at the same time… …really adds more values to this console. However, for some games, there were actually “Asian Edition”, …which targeted to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and other Asian markets. Some Asian edition games have unique cover designs, which differ to JP/NA/EU editions. But in the MD Mini, if you choose the Chinese interface, …the cover and the game contents are the same as JP editions. Well, it’s true that Taiwanese gamers used to treat JP edition as the “Official Edition”. It’s a chance to revealed the design of Asian edition, but it’s not done as that. I think it’s a little pity. After switching to a different language, the sorting result changes, too. For example, if you sort by release date, …due to different release dates in JP and in NA/EU, the result is different, too. If you sort by game’s title, …in Japanese interface, it is sorted according to the order of Gojūon (50 sounds), …in English interface, it is sorted by English alphabet. How about Chinese? By the number of strokes, they said. But… I paid some attention, and found that the result is very unreasonable. After games in English titles, the first game in Chinese title is “Alien Soldier”. The number of stroke of the first character is 11. How can it appear so early? The next is “Tetris”. The number of stroke of the first character is 9. “Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse”, 7 strokes. “Monster World IV”, 8 strokes. The last one is “Golden Axe”. This is neither sorted by strokes of first character nor total strokes. And it is not sorted by phonetic or pinyin either. Except for the fact that games start with same character are grouped together, …it seems no rule at all. No, there must be a rule. I must find out what the rule is. With my non-professional intuitive, …if I am asked to implement a Chinese sorting program, …the quickest way is to sort with “character encodings”. So I looked up encodings of all “first character” of game titles, …from “Full Character Library” provided by National Development Council of Taiwan. It turned out that none of the encoding codes provides the same order… …that matches the result of MD Mini. So the order is not related to the character encoding? I searched for other possibilities. Then I found that in the encoding database, there’s a field as “codes from other hanzi systems”. Bingo! If I encode the characters into “Japanese JIS”, …the result really matches MD Mini’s result. It’s hilarious. Obviously, the Japanese engineer who in charge of interface made a little mistake, …he/she treated the Chinese characters as Japanese Kanji, and sorted with JIS code. That’s why the result seems so weird. And this made me spent lots of time on this interface, …”played” some sort of “puzzle game”
before playing any MD games. Fortunately, stroke ordering is actually not that intuitive. So I don’t think that this flaw is so serious to overall user experiences. GAME LINEUP Before the game lineup of MD Mini was released, SEGA has held an “on-line vote” to decide the lineup. However, this vote is not used to determine the entire lineup. It just let the voters to choose whether Vol. 1 or 2 of “Sonic the Hedgehog” franchise, “Puyo Puyo” franchise, and “Shining Force” franchises, …should be bundled with MD Mini. The message behind this vote was that for all franchises with multiple titles, …only one of them would be bundled. This undoubtedly lead to regrets, …but it also avoided the situation that some famous franchises occupied most of the lineup, …and made the lineup more diverse. And along with the announcements of the lineup, …SEGA did made a brilliant list. First of all, about the masterpieces. According to the results of voting, …”Sonic the Hedgehog 2″… …”Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention”… …and “Puyo Puyo 2” were included. There were also the masterpiece of early era:
“Golden Axe”, …classic hardcore action:
“The Revenge of Shinobi”… …extremely difficult:
“Ghouls ‘n Ghosts”… …extraordinary brilliant action shooting game:
“Gunstar Heroes”… …a gem of side-scrolling beat-em-all:
“Streets of Rage 2″… …and SEGA’s masterpiece RPG:
“Phantasy Star IV”, and so on. These games are undoubtedly timeless classics. Therefore, they have been ported to modern platforms many times before. Not too difficult to get. In contrast, there were also many less-selling good games in the market. And they were rarely ported to new platforms. These games are so rare… …that they become the “legendary” titles with very high prices in used-games market. The MD Mini bundles many of such titles, and it became the hot topic between gamers. The first is “Castlevania: Bloodlines”. The original Japanese title was “Vampire Killer”. This was a spin-off of the “Castlevania” franchise. Players may choose Johnny, who uses whips, the traditional weapon; …or Eric, who mainly uses spears. At first, you may think that the graphics were just so-so, …not as gorgeous as “Castlevania: Rondo of Blood” released at the same period. However, this title broke the convention of the “Castlevania” series… …that the scenes were not limited in a castle. Instead, the character would travel around Europe. Started from stage 2, you would see effects like… …reflections in the water… …shaking Leaning Tower of Pisa… …pseudo 3D rotation… …light spilling… …and visual segmentation. These VFX were seldom seen in other MD games. Besides, the stages were also well-designed. It was undoubtedly a gem in “Castlevania” series. Then, the “Contra: Hard Corps”. In the “Contra” franchise, this title was also a spin-off. It is the non-mainstream console’s destiny… …that only spin-offs of famous franchise can be found. But the quality of spin-offs are not always worse. In fact, there was never a dull moment in “Contra: Hard Corps”. There were 4 characters with different abilities… …and designs that never seen in the franchise, such as choice of route. From the technical point of view, it’s like a demonstration of all MD VFX. Huge boss with shaking body, …pseudo 3D high speed chasing… …and of course, a bunch of multi-joint synthetic enemies. It’s another masterpiece brought by Konami in the late MD-era. Although “Castlevania: Bloodlines” and “Contra: Hard Corps” … …had never been ported to modern platforms until being bundled in MD Mini, …they were later included in other collection packs released by Konami. In contrast, some other games that are still exclusive in MD Mini’s lineup are more precious. “Mega Man: The Wily Wars” is one of them. This was a remake collection of Mega Man 1, 2 and 3. The stages were basically identical to NES versions, but the graphics were remade. More colors and details were added based on the style of original games. Although there was no impressing visual effects, it looked comfortable overall. About the game system, …the controls and physics were unified, so that all of them had the same touch-n-feel. The Mega Man became “heavier”. Players of the original versions might need some time to get used to it. In addition to the 3-in-1 worthy volume, …an original stage called “Wily Tower” would be available after all 3 volumes were cleared. You could challenge the 3 exclusive bosses designed based the characters from the novel… …”Journey to the West”. The original cartridges used a unique way to safe data that differed from other MD cartridges, …so this original stage could not be played with the old pirated cartridges. Now, with MD Mini, …we can finally enjoy the complete game with cheap and legal way. Except for the situation that “it was not sold well, but gamers found its value long time later”, …there is still one situation that makes the used game so expensive in the used-game market, …which is: the developing company went bankrupt, or they stopped making games anymore. Like games made by “Toaplan”. Toaplan was well-known by making unique scrolling shooters. But after the company went bankrupt in the mid-1990s, …the license situation became unclear. This made it difficult to remake or port their games, …so the games made by Toaplan became very expensive in used-game market. However, “Slap Fight”, a scrolling shooter made by Toaplan, …is included in MD Mini! This is because the copyrights of their games have finally be clarified. Now the licenses belong to a company called “Tatsujin”. It’s no longer impossible to port their games. The Toaplan made not only shooters. The action game “Snow Bros.”, which seems more famous in overseas than in Japan, …is also included in MD Mini. In addition to the high-priced games mentioned above, …some games that were not so well-known, such as “Alisia Dragoon”, are also included. Some games, like “Monster World IV” and “M.U.S.H.A.”, …have already ported to other platforms. But they are still high-priced in used-game market. And the point is, they are not just “high-priced”, but their contents are also qualified. For example, “M.U.S.H.A.” is an excellent Japanese-style scrolling shooter. But when it comes to the biggest selling point in the lineup of MD Mini, …it’s definitely “Yu Yu Hakusho Makyō Tōitsusen”!!! It’s an FTG based on the famous manga “Yu Yu Hakusho”. Unlike the traditional FTG system in games such as “Street Fighter”, …the arena was composed with 2 path of different depth. The input was simplified, and focused on combo attacks. Full of innovations. The most important thing is that you can play against 3 other players at the same time. It is a multiplayer fighting game, like “Smash Bros.”! As a game based on manga, although there was no story in game at all, …the characteristics of characters were well-presented. The completion and playability was way better than other adopted games… …which only die-hard fans wanted to buy. Therefore, it became a masterpiece of late MD-era. However, the license of adaptation usually expires in a short period of time. After it expires, seldom companies would pay to extend the license, just for reissuing or porting. As a result, this title has never been ported. The original cartridges also became high-priced rarities. Finally, with MD Mini, the expectation of reissuing this game is eventually fulfilled! However, it is very important to notice… …that the lineup of games in MD Mini JP, Asian and NA/EU editions are different. There are 9 different games between JP and Asian editions. Unfortunately, it is still due to the licensing issues. The “Yu Yu Hakusho Makyō Tōitsusen” is not included in Asian edition, officially sold in Taiwan. Except for “Street Fighter II’ Plus” and “Dynamite Headdy”, …the replaced games are RPG, SLG and quiz games. The Japanese reading ability is required to play them, …and there are no English editions available. Therefore, in Asian edition, they are replaced by games that require less language ability. To be honest, the substitutions are less valuable than the original ones. It is interesting that games not selected in the voting in Japan, such as “Sonic the Hedgehog (1)”, …”Puyo Puyo (1)”… …and “Shining Force II”… …are all back to the Asian edition. In addition, “Alien Soldier”, the hardcore game made for Mega Drive, …is exclusively included in Asian Edition. It’s also another high-priced legendary, …and it increases the value of Asian edition a lot. In addition to the well-known masterpieces and high-priced rarities, …there are also many unique and brilliant games come with MD Mini. For example, “Assault Suit Leynos”, a realistic sci-fi robot action game; …”Landstalker”, an action adventure with isometric view; …”World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck” that presented the vivid Disney world; …”Beyond Oasis”, an action RPG with beautiful scenes and with rich movements; …”Comix Zone”, an action game in an comic book, etc. Among all these games, “Sega Game Can Value Edition” (not included in NA/EU) is quite interesting. I’d like to spend some time to introduce it. In 1990, Sega launched “Mega Modem”, a modem designed for Mega Drive. Besides used by some games that supported PvP competitions, …the most important application was the “Game Library”. “Game Library” was a subscription-based game downloading service. Users had to pay to become a member, …and members could download games to play anytime. However, the spec of Mega Modem was only 1200 bit-per-second, …which is 0.0012Mbps… …about 1/10,000 of current mainstream fiber network! Due to the limited network bandwidth and memory capacity, …the “Game Library” couldn’t provide cartridge games. There were only some smaller, simpler games available. Not so attractive. And you had to re-download the games once you turned the power off. Since people were still not familiar with “network services” at that time, …the Mega Modem was expensive, and there were not enough software, …this service finally failed and terminated in about 2 years. Although the service was terminated, …it would be a pity if the games in “Game Library” were not available anymore. As a result, Sega selected 20 best games from “Game Library” and released them on MD-CD… …with the name “Sega Games Can” Vol. 1 & 2. In order to utilize the capacity of CD-ROM, …in main menu, a mascot with voice of the famous voice actress Megumi Hayashibara was added, …and the music of games were now played via CD tracks. …and added some animations and voices. On the other hand, even if the Game Library failed, …Sega still did give up the idea of ”game on demand” services. In 1994, “Sega Channel”, a new game subscription service for MD, was launched. This time, “Sega Channel” used cable of TV instead of telephone dial-up network. Data were transferred via coaxial cable. It’s much faster, and the users didn’t have to worry about telephone bills. Meanwhile, the capacity of the system cartridge was 24MBit, which was quite large at that time. Therefore, Sega Channel was able to offer games identical to the cartridge version, …or special versions with just a little modifications. The Sega Channel service has been operating in many countries around the world. In the beginning, the sales wasn’t too bad sold in US. However, in contrast to “Game Library”, which was a service came to market too early, … the Sega Channel came too late. After all, Sega Saturn went launched not long after that. As a console fading out of the market, …MD was not attractive enough for potential subscribers. As a result, this service didn’t last long. In fact, the Sega Channel service used to be imported to Taiwan… …by a company named “Fuzhi” (now closed) in mid-1995. So Taiwan was the 3rd country that has Sega Channel, after Japan and US. Recently, I happened to get the video of TV commercial of Sega Channel in Taiwan. Here it is: *Game channel in cable TV.
Choose your favorite games.* *30 new games every month* *Composed(?) audio & video,
delivered directly to your house.* *Newest! Fastest! Most worthy!* *Fuzhi Sega Channel* *Declaration by gamers!* *Are you already on-line?* I know little about the operating status of Sega Channel in Taiwan, …but I don’t think it went well. If you had the opportunity to get involved with Sega Channel of Taiwan, …then you are truly a witness of history. OK, back to MD Mini. The reason why I mentioned Sega Channel is: …the “Sega Game Can Value Edition” in MD Mini was actually a game provided by Sega Channel exclusively. This version includes 12 of the games from “Game of the Game Vol.1 & 2”. (8 titles of “Phantasy Star II Text Adventures” series were excluded) Unfortunately, due to size limitation, …newly added contents for MD-CD were stripped from “Value Edition” again. Since the “Value Edition” is a game exclusive to Sega Channel, …there was no cartridge nor box for it. So the cover image used in main menu is a brand new artwork made for MD Mini. Illustrated by Yoshiyasu Matsushita, the producer of “Twinkle Star Sprites” & “Doki Doki Majo Shinpan!” In “Value Edition”, there are ports or remakes of Sega’s early masterpieces such as “Flicky”… and “Doki Doki Penguin Land MD”. Simple but fun ones like “Hyper Marbles” and “Putter Golf” Freaky games like “16t”… and “Aworg”. “Pyramid Magic”, a puzzle games that you must be careful about very step. “Fatal Labyrinth”, a surprisingly addictive rogue-like. In the game selection screen, move to “Medal City” and press A+B+C+Start, …the hidden billiard game “Kiss Shot” will be launched. So, although the “Sega Game Can Value Edition” occupies only 1 slot of MD Mini, …it actually provides 13 extra games. In addition to “Sega Game Can Value Edition”, …the “Dyna Brothers 2 Special”, which is exclusively included in MD Mini JP edition… …is also an exclusive edition for Sega Channel. The special edition contained not only the full contents from the cartridge edition, …but also 10 brand new bonus stages. In cartridge edition, you could find some hidden stages and modes by inputting some passwords. In special edition, they were listed in the menu directly. The hidden features include a map made by the face of the former editor-in-chief of Famitsu, …and head-to-head battle mode, etc. In addition, there were several more maps in special edition. The contents were much more than cartridge edition. The “Game Library” and “Sega Channel” were the prototype of modern digital game subscription services. They’re also remarkable but little-known milestones in the video game history. I think that Sega chose “Sega Game Can Value Edition” and “Dyna Brothers 2 Special” to be in MD Mini… …was to tribute and memorize the challenges they had done in early days. Now, let’s talk about the “Special Bonus”. When Nintendo launched SFC Classic, …they included “Starfox 2”, the finished but never released title, as a bonus. It became a main selling point of SFC Classic. Then how about MD? Speaking of “finished but never released” MD title, …the best-known one is of course the “Tetris”. The story behind Tetris’ royalty war is very complicated. I can only give you a brief review. “Tetris” was originally developed by a Russian software engineer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984. In 1988, Sega acquired the authorization from another company… and launched the arcade version of “Tetris”… …which was a big hit in Japan. Then Sega ported the “Tetris” to MD in a very short time, and hoped it could be the “killer-app”… …that can stimulate the demand of MD. However, the royalty ownership of “Tetris” was very chaotic at that time being. What Sega really acquired was just a re-authorization from a authorized company. In the same period, Nintendo got interested in “Tetris”, too. They tried to acquire the exclusive royalty to make “Tetris” on home consoles from ELORG, …the foreign trade authority of USSR, …and the source of “Tetris” royalty. This made Sega cancel their publishing plan of “Tetris” for MD, …even if it had been ready at that time. Only very few sample cartridges were produced. Now after 30 years, Sega started to develop MD Mini. Not surprisingly, they put “Tetris” in MD Mini. It’s sort of like mending the regret that “Tetris” for MD cannot be published. To be honest, it’s not difficult to find pirated cartridges of “Tetris” for MD in Taiwan. As for legal way, “Tetris” for MD has already appeared in “Sega Ages 2500 Vol. 28 – Tetris Collection”, released in 2006. So, this game doesn’t seem to be so rare, right? In fact, the “Tetris” bundled in MD Mini is *NOT* that unreleased MD version. It’s a brand new remake for MD Mini, ported by Sega and M2. The new ported version is still made under the hardware spec of MD. Compared to the unreleased version, …the new remake is more close to the original arcade version in terms of A/V performance and speed. Tutorials in demo animation, …and 2P mode are ported faithfully. However, since this remake is trying to replicate the arcade version, …some original features in unreleased version, such as time-attack mode, item blocks… …”Double mode” which allow 2 players to play in the same box, …are not preserved in this remake. In contract with modern “Tetris”, this remake is a little monotonous. But after all, this is the classic version that established standard of “Tetris” in early days. For example, the lock delay, which allow Tetriminos to be operated in a short time as they hit the ground, …is an important design brought by this arcade version. Moreover, it’s a representation of the gaming culture of that period of time. Of course, the most important is the historical meaning that “Tetris” can finally run on MD. Beside “Tetris”, …there is another newly-made special bonus in MD Mini: “Darius” “Darius” was an arcade game released in 1987 by Taito. It designed with an ultra-wide display with 3 monitors, …provided unique visual impact to gamers. “Darius 2” was once ported to MD. As the standard of that time, it’s not bad. But after all, it’s an game in early MD-era. Due to the technical and memory capacity constraints, it was significantly shrunken. How far we can go if we use modern technologies with larger memory capacity… …to re-create “Darius” on MD? The answer is the brand new ported version of “Darius” in MD Mini. “Darius” for MD Mini did a good job in restoration. Although the display range is reduced from 3 to 1 screen, …but the appearance of game objects are almost perfectly restored. Speed of enemies have been tweaked because the range of display is changed. But since the original “Darius” was released long time ago, the difficulty level is very high. Younger gamers may need some time to get used to it. There was a port of “Darius” on PC Engine. Many additional contents were also ported to MD Mini from the PCE version. For example, there were 26 bosses in PCE version, much more than the original arcade, …and they are all ported to MD Mini. Boss Rush mode, which is continuous boss battles, is also included. Moreover, since MD is more powerful than PCE, …the visible area is larger in MD version, …and no screen flicker when there are large number of sprites. Besides the gameplay and graphics, …the music composed by “ZUNTATA” is another attraction of the “Darius” series. Since both MD and the arcade board used FM synthesis, …the music restoration in MD version is quite satisfying. The only disadvantage of MD version is lacking of
2P co-op mode. The overall quality of “Darius” MD version is very good. This once again highlights the goal of MD in that time: “Bring your favorite arcade games home.” However, there were many arcade games can be ported to MD. Why “Darius”? Well, there were some stories behind the decision. In 2015, a 46-year-old senior gamer named “Hidecade”, …decided to learn the C programming language from scratch. He did so just based on interests. He wanted to re-create his favorite retro games with his own codes. After 3 years, without any reverse engineering, merely analyzing by observations, …he finally ported “Darius” to the original MD. The development process of Hidecade are all recorded in his blog and Twitter. When the game was finally done, several internet media even reported this information. Of course, there were many people asked him to publish his work. However, such unauthorized homebrewed remakes are not 100% legal, …and Hidecade claimed that he did it just for fun, …so he didn’t plan to release it to public. When Hidecade completed his port, MD Mini has already been announced officially. So some gamers asked Sega if they could acquire licenses from Hidecade and Taito, …and to include this indie port from a passionate gamer into MD Mini. But for game companies, it’s not a simple good news just like… “Wow! Somebody just made a finished port for me!” In order to protect their own IP, most companies are not willing to approve such unauthorized homebrewed games. Moreover, at that time, Taito was promoting their official “Darius” collection for Nintendo Switch. So there were conflicts of interest. Then, Hidecade even removed or hid all “Darius” related posts, tweets and video clips… …from his blog, Twitter page and YouTube channels. It made people wonder if he got pressures from IP owners. Fortunately, that’s not true. According to an interview by 4Gamer Japan, …the “Darius” in MD Mini *did* use Hidecade’s code base… …fine-tuned by M2 and supervised by Taito… …to achieve better porting result. The interview also mentioned that the staff of MD Mini spent a lot time in communication… …and finally got agreements from Taito’s copyright management department. It all started from a passionate fan that finished porting with great perseverance. Then, with all the helps from people in many game companies, the royalty issues were overcome. Finally, this fan-made port became the approved official version… In this highly business-oriented modern gaming industry, …that’s a heart-warming story. TO BE CONTINUED… About Mega Drive Mini, there are still many things to talk about. Such as modes of display, …differences from the original game, …system functions, compatibility of bundled gamepad… etc. But this video is already too long. So let’s continue with another episode. OK, this is the video brought to you by Low Score Boy. Thank you for watching.
See you in next episode. (Me chance encountered with Yuji Naka in Tokyo Game Show!!)