Let’s talk about another cancelled PC-FX game today, Kuma Soldier.
The more I dig into the PC-FX history, the more idiotic the decisions NEC made about the system in terms of content seem to be. It’s one thing not to update your console architecture to compete with the likes of the PSX and Saturn. But at least give the system a chance to compete with a good set of AAA games, however 2D they are.
Every platform has its own set of franchises Sega has Sonic, Nintendo Mario and the list go on. The PC Engine was home to some great series as well, PC Denjin, Bomberman (although multi-platform), the Soldier series, the Thunder series, Tengai Makyo… Not a lot of these made it to Nec’s 32-bit offspring.
In a previous post we looked at Lords of Thunder FX and while there is little evidence to support its existence. Kuma Soldier on the other hand has been documented several times in the press from the announcement of the Tetsujin board and into the early life of the PC-FX. Even a video popped up on YouTube a few years ago showing it in action along with many other unreleased titles…
Tetsujin era magazine screenshots 1
Tetsujin era magazine screenshots 2
Tetsujin era magazine screenshots 3
Legend has it (see article from Nekofan) that NEC rejected the Kuma Soldier project for the PC-FX, preferring to focus FX content on other things… Not letting go, Hudson Soft instead decided to give the beloved PC Engine a final send off and morphed Kuma Soldier into what we know as GINGA FUKEI DENSETSU SAPPHIRE on the PC Engine. Crazy right? Well if you know Sapphire you will see some similarities when you compare screenshots.
Truth to be told while I would have loved Kuma Soldier to come out on the PC-FX, apart from the cut scenes, it doesn’t look overly impressive graphically, compared to say Zeroigar or Zenki.
While the legend of Kuma Soldier lives on in the above video. I’d like to think that it inspired another game that was released back in May 2008 on the Wii, Star Soldier R. I actually played SSR to death for a long time, the online scoreboard made it quite addictive…
The similarities between both games, on the face of it are probably far fetched but Kuma Soldier is the first thing that came to my mind when I first played SSR, shiny cutscenes, fast paced… It also felt like this game should have come out in the 90s, instead of 2008. The PC-FX would have easily handled a 2D rendition of SSR.
So there you go, another missed opportunity for the poor PC-FX. Hopefully one day a prototype will surface somehow….one can hope.
EDIT: Video file replaced on Vimeo with a new file containing the soundtrack professionally mastered by a studio 🙂
On top of being a video game collector, I’m a bit of a guitar/music nerd. If you’ve played Geist Force on the DC, you know that there isn’t any soundtrack on the intro movie. So I decided to give it one metal style… Obviously being a Thunder Force/Lords of Thunder and metal fan, I am a bit biased x) But hopefully you will enjoy it 🙂
This my first stab at making video game music, so be nice 😉 A lot of people will recognise the beginning of the intro… well that’s because of that damn ringtone that wakes me up every morning that I got the idea for the rest of the music… I couldn’t find any better replacement for it, so thank you Apple, I hope you won’t mind… Alea Jacta Est 😉
Hey Folks, Me again 😉 In a previous post we had a look at my Lords Of Thunder Review copy on the Mega (Sega) CD, I love shooters and I love of Wot/LoT a lot!!! I have the game both on Sega CD and PC Engine CD and it has one of the best heavy metal soundtrack a game can get you, IMHO!!! So needless to say when Lords of Thunder FX was announced for the PC-FX back in the 90s, I was super excited. Then we never heard about it again and all we were left with as proof of (in)existence were a few screenshots…
Recently, Celine, a member of the ASSEMbler Games forums pointed out something quite shocking and saddening…
Some people might remember these pictures that appeared in the press around 1992-1993 (these shots are borrowed from PCengineFX.com BTW):
These were published along with shots of demos of the capabilities of the PC-FX and what was called at the time Super Star Soldier FX in 3D , which became Kuma Soldier, which in the end got cancelled and turned into Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire, see Nekofan for more details on that.
I remember at the time, the press were raving about the LoT FX pictures, specifically praising the ability of the PC-FX to render transparency effects…
Now let’s have a look at screenshots extracted from a Winds Of Thunder TV Spot for the PC Engine…
Need I say more??? Let’s have a look at some of these pictures side by side:
There you have it, apart from a few differences in sharpness, contrast and colors, these are coming from the same source material ie Winds Of Thunder TV Spot…
Does it prove that LoT FX was a hoax? Perhaps… I’d like to believe it existed in some shape or form 🙂
Does it make NEC/Hudson Soft bad people? Not really, I mean game companies tend to over-hype their systems as much as they can prior to launch (PS3’s 2005 videos anyone?) But just posting pictures of an existing games’ TV spot is a bit pushing it, I think. Oh well, it’s NEC/Hudson Soft we’ll forgive them if they send us a copy of Kuma Soldier.
To finish this post, have a look at the Winds of Thunder, PC Engine TV Spot:
I’m going through some kind of Castlevania renaissance at the moment, I finally finished Lords of Shadow last night (which is an amazing game by the way) and I’m playing Dracula X remake on PSP which isn’t bad at all!!! That made me think about my favourite Castlevania of all, Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo on PC Engine. The PC Engine CD platform hold a special place in my heart, compared to SEGA’s MegaCD, developers really pushed that platform to its full potential and Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo is a prime example of that.
Now, I’m not going to review that game, as there are far too many reviews out there and my advice is to experience the game, preferably on a PC Engine but an emulator would be fine and/or the PSP remake contains the original Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo emulated as well.
I collected a lot of game related images and web pages over the years that I thought were interesting. While cleaning up my hard drive, I stumbled across some images of an auction for an Akumajou Dracula X: Chi no Rondo sample/demo sold on Yahoo Japan for the whooping price of 316,155 Yen back in 2008!!! That’s about $3,200 at current exchange rate…
As far as I can tell, the demo contains only the first level and then goes onto a to be continued screen. Here are the images that I have gathered at the time. The first 2 images are from the Yahoo auction and the next 5 are from a now extinct Japanese website, this last set of images look like they come from a VHS tape due to the distortion I can see on the images, so there might be more material about this demo/trial out there…
To Be Continued
There doesn’t seem to be a mass of differences between this and the release, if anybody got more information on this disc, I’d be curious to find out more!!!
EDIT 12/11/2015: One of these nice discs is now on sale on eBay for the whooping sum of £1,500, here is a clearer picture of the disc:
EDIT 12/08/2018: Turns out the Demo Clear message is hidden somewhere in the retail version of Rondo of Blood, as discovered by The Cutting Room Floor. Here is a nice quality picture:
I realized (many times) that I opened a blog with a clear hint that it would be about NEC consoles & games, but as you’ve noticed there isn’t anything about NEC, at all, yet…
Promotional games or sample along with alphas and betas are a nice complement to any game collection. They are quite easy to find for current gen (although I have yet to see one for the Wii) on eBay along with last gen and 32/64 bit era, but anything older than that is quite tough to find, not impossible though 😉
Even though PC Engine samples were given away to retailers to demonstrate upcoming games, they do sell for quite a bit on eBay or Yahoo Japan and they don’t seem to devaluate much. The PC Engine had quite a lot of samples produced during its lifespan, but the exact number of titles is not yet known. The PC-FX seemed to have had a good run of samples too and they do pop up on a regular basis.
At the moment I only have 5 samples for the PC Engine, most of them are actually Arcade Card port of NeoGeo titles, here they are.
Ryūko no Ken – Arcade Card (Art of Fighting)
World Heroes 2 – Arcade Card
Garou Densetsu 2 – Arcade Card (Fatal Fury2)
Kaze No Densetsu Xanadu – Super CDrom² (Legend of Xanadu)
Mad Stalker – Arcade Card
On a last note some of the samples bear some differences from the final release, Mad Stalker for example has some different GFX and missing features over the final release. Insert Credit has done an article on the differences that exist between versions of Mad Stalker that I encourage you to read, it features the very same sample pictured above. Although they label it as prototype/sample, it is most definitely the same as above.
Nekofan which is a great French PC Engine review site has done a review in French of the Sample of Gradius 2 for the PC Engine, a great article to read too if you understand French indeed with lots of insight on the subject of samples.
I have had this nice and shiny MEGA CD-R gold disc for quite some time, gathering mostly dust. This one is Lord Of Thunder from Hudson Soft, a port of Winds Of Thunder on the PC Engine made by Hudson Soft and Red Corporation or so they’d like us to think… It was actually developed by CAProduction Co Ltd., who gave us the likes of Gate of Thunder and Hagane to name a few.
Winds of Thunder is a solid and challenging shooter and the SEGA CD version inherit most of its qualities with a few changes like a remixed soundtrack (that you may love or hate compared to the original PCE version.) slightly inferior graphics compared to the PCE… (For a full comparison between the versions check out this article from PC Engine FX.)
I have yet to see any differences between the final release and this disc, the first few levels and intro seem to be the same as the final product. The seller told me this disc originates from a now defunct US Magazine. The files written on the CD are dated from 20/12/1994 but on the final release they are dated from May 1995, the soundtrack is the same as on the final game but according to my hex editor the final and beta/review data part differ, probably few code optimisations here and there. Since the game is mostly a straight port from the PCE version, I wasn’t expecting massive differences between the two, here is a picture of the disc.
And a gameplay video, I did manage to crash my MegaCD, so it’s possible the code is still buggy on this version: