Famicom: Apr.-June. 1988

Famicom Strider Hiryuu

Strider is responsible for a lot of internet speculation (mainly about the on-again-off-again SuperGrafx version) and the Famicom/NES version is no different, mainly because of the confusing timeline around this game. The uninitiated may think that the arcade version was the basis for all other games, but that is simply not the case. Strider debuted as a comic series in the May 1988 issue of Monthly Comptique in Japan, and then this Famicom version was announced in September of the same year. It, uh, never came out (that's why it's on this page, silly.)

The arcade version of Strider was released in March the next year, and the unreleased FC version was given a quick translation and released in July for the NES, to capitalize on the success of the arcade game.

Well, who cares about all that? The point is that the Famicom version remained buried. A sample cart of it popped up on Yahoo Japan auctions a few years back, but it sold for way more than my budget could handle (at the time.) Since then I found a VIDEO of the cancelled Japanese release.

And then in August 2014, a kind buyer released the ROM of his Famicom Strider proto out into the world!  Please look for it!  And also check out a comparison between this proto and the NES version which I wrote up.

Various articles in Famitsu and an ad promising an October release date... no, December! No, someday!

The art above looks like Go Nagai's work. (Honestly, I never liked his art style...)

Here's an exciting write up in an October issue of Marukatsu Famicom featuring drawings of Hiryuu, Sheena, and Kain, a page from the manga in Comptique, and screenies from the Famicom and arcade beta version. This preview has sketches of Hiryuu and the Blue Dragon base from the comic. Oh, and they spell the game's title slightly wrong... Not much of note here. Some game screenshots, the cart's price, and... no release date!

Finally, here is a comparison of the early arcade version of Strider.
Arcade Beta
Arcade Final

Alien Syndrome proto screenshots

Nothing too special here, but the screenshots on the left side are from an early version of Alien Syndrome on the Famicom. Notable in these shots are the complete lack of player, enemy, or any other sprites. Even the "comrades" that you have to rescue are a part of the background in these shots.

Among other differences are a few of the floor and wall details and the lack of a status bar. It looks like there's just a plain pattern at the top of the screen.

That's about all for now!

Famicom Wars proto screenshots

These pictures were taken from a Famicom video and magazine circa June, 1988. Now, they showed some screenshots of the gameplay of Famicom Wars, but they looked identical to the released version.

The title screen of FamiWars went through a couple of changes, however, as you can see. The first screen at the top shows the oldest title screen which merely says "Fami Sen" on a black background. (The final FamiWars title screen is to the right of that.)

The screen below is of a later prototype. It resembles the final closely, although an orange city backdrop can be seen. They removed this in the final, who knows why, and replaced it with one or two boring hills and a blank background.

Another difference is that the yellow and green colours in the "Famicom Wars" text have been swapped between versions. In the final image to the right, I have re-swapped the colours in the final screenshot to give you an idea of how the proto would have looked.

Sakamoto Ryoma

Here's an ad taken from the May 20, 1988 issue of Famimaga announcing a "history RPG" from Toshiba-EMI named Sakamoto Ryoma. It's obviously based on the historical Japanese figure of the same name.

This game went unreleased, which is odd enough in itself, but adding to the intrigue is the fact that the announcement to the right shows some planning sheets and development system screens for the game.

Check out the colour swatches used for matching up graphics to the Famicom's hardware palette!

The graphic editor screen shows how professional Famicom artists put together the graphics for their games back in the '80s. With what looks like a workstation-style interface, the artist selects 4 palette banks (top-centre) from the master hardware palette (top-left). Then as one full bank of Character ROM is displayed (left), the artist can draw in a 64x64-pixel region using various tools (right). Finally, palette bank attributes can be selected for each of the 16x16-pixel sub-regions (top-centre-right).

Working similarly, here's the map editor. A one-screen-wide representation of the map is shown, with the Character graphics available below it. It would appear that the Character blocks already have palette attributes mapped to them, making object placement quite a bit easier.

I have no idea (based off the picture) if block objects, or metatiles, are able to be manipulated in this map editor.

Incidentally, Bandai(?) used a similar environment for designing their Famicom games. Shown to the right is a graphic in development for their first Famicom Jump game.