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Episode 36: Red Moon Lost Days



A Homebrew Draws Near!

A blog series by @Scrobins

Episode 36: Red Moon Lost Days



While each generation of video games and the consoles that defined them touch on nearly every major genre, there are some specific associations that endured. For instance, the Sega CD conjures memories of the brief trend of full motion video (FMV) games, and the 16-bit era, between the SNES and the Sega Genesis, was perhaps the pinnacle of console beat-‘em-ups. The early disc consoles brought new prominence to an underrated genre: the visual novel. Lighter on interactivity but heavier on characterization, this genre, with masterpieces like Snatcher ushered in great storytelling to video games while also challenging the conversation of what constituted a video game or even art. As homebrew evolves and the skills of its developers reach the consoles that defined these genres, it's no surprise then that we are beginning to see new games for these old consoles which bring the homebrew flavor to the visual novel.

For this entry, I’m covering Red Moon Lost Days, a visual novel developed by Neuromage Studio for the Sega Saturn. As of the time of this writing, the game can be downloaded on itch.io here, and purchased from publisher Retro Room Roo here.


The Physical Edition CIB


Development Team:

Gabriel Sansigolo: programming, writing, user interface

Adriano Kitani: game art

Guilherme Crispim & Freedy Sanchez: music

Caique Augusto: editing


Game Evolution:

The story of Red Moon Lost Days waxes on the Sega Xtreme forum most prominently. The game’s earliest presence there can be found in a November 22, 2021 post, introducing the game and sharing a demo in celebration of the Sega Saturn’s 27th anniversary. Another demo was shared to the site less than a year later in an October 24, 2022 post. But it was a January 31, 2023 post that heralded the game’s completion and release for download. Though most Saturn homebrew development stories end there, this lunar cycle wasn’t over. In a May 17, 2023 tweet, Retro Room Roo announced they would be selling a physical release of Red Moon Lost Days.


Makers of Quest Arrest, fun merch, and publishers of others’ games



Red Moon Lost Days describes itself as an RPG visual novel hybrid. You play as Kyou Tan Wa, a pilot and general for a reorganized China, investigating the disappearance of your friend, a fellow general. Serving Chukou base, you are the sword of your region, having come a long way from the old Middle East, between United Europe and Great China. As a visual novel, controls are as straightforward as they come in gaming, as you merely need to navigate the text menu through the story, hitting A to continue the text, occasionally moving the D-pad to make a choice, and twice using the D-pad to move your character around the environment.



Red Moon Lost Days is an atmospheric visual novel, deserving of a novelization or encyclopedia to expand its fascinating lore. Jumping between two time periods, the game offers plenty of characterization in bite-sized pieces that keep players not only engaged, but left wanting more story, whether with the same characters, or to explore the world with others. Spanning subjects such as friendship, loyalty, personal growth, and spirituality, this game presents a creative, accessible story, one which stands out for how different it is from the characters we’ve seen before. And for that reason, it leaves a hunger for more content. Fortunately there are two other games set in this universe: Red Moon of April and Alette IfAs a visual novel, there isn’t much generally to say about gameplay, though compared to other games of the genre, I would have liked to see more opportunities for how the story progressed, such as with branching paths and multiple endings. Similarly, there were a couple of places where the style switches to a top-down RPG visual, and this could have been a wonderful opportunity for the player to take a more active role, perhaps in having some Final Fantasy-style battles with enemy Metal Knights, much like the shooting gallery asides found in Snatcher. Instead, these respites from the text are a chance to walk around and move from point A to point B.

The graphics and music together are beautiful, communicating moods from tense and unnerving to ethereal. Though most of what we see are still images, many of the scenes, with vibrant colors and shading could be the meticulously crafted sets of a theatrical production. Meanwhile the scenes pull you into the text, almost hypnotically, unleashing your imagination with the seeds of its own story.



I wrote to the authors of this novel, and we became pen pals while discussing the story behind the story of Red Moon Lost Days, keep reading for more…



Gabriel Sansigolo


-Before we dive into Red Moon Lost Days, I would love to talk about your background. What first inspired you to become a homebrew game developer? What is your origin story? What is the story behind the name Neuromage Studio?

Besides the RPGs I made during childhood using RPG Maker, I started to develop games in early 2018 using python, at that time I knew few programming languages, I was a programming student, that knowledge supported me to develop whatever I wanted. And what I wanted was to create storytelling experiences through games. Time passed and in 2019 I started what was my biggest project, the game Red Moon of April, months after the beginning of the development I decided I wanted to make a Game Boy Advanced version of the game, it was then that my interest in retro game development began. I began making Red Moon of April for GBA, it was a start menu and an introduction only but studying the SDK (software development kits) and how the old console game programming works made me understand what I was facing. Neuromage studio was born from an idea of mine to direct the studio, a game development studio focused on AI software and games. Because of the focus on narrative games in the first five years of the studio I was not able to get this desire off the drawing board, but who knows in the next project.


-Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now?

By far the person who most influenced me to develop games for old consoles was Tulio Adriano, one of the developers of Pier Solar, the RPG for the Mega Drive. He is also Brazilian and in an interview for the Brazilian retro gaming podcast, RGB Inside, he talked about how was the whole process of developing the game and gave little tips for those who had the desire to start, it was at that time I decided I wanted to make a game for the Sega Saturn. At the time I had just graduated from college and was in master's Applied Computing, I knew enough of programming I asked myself 'why don't I try, I know how to program'. Other influences of mine are Danilo Dias and Thais Weiller, the Brazilian developers behind JoyMasher, they are behind some great retro aesthetic games of the last few years like Blazing Chrome and Moonrider. Following their work for years has been very inspiring, they are a duo of developers worth following.


Screenshot from Moonrider by JoyMasher


-How would you describe your design aesthetic, and what to you are the hallmarks of a game designed by you?

This is a tough question, I don't see myself following a single design aesthetic, for example the Red Moon games, Red Moon of April (PC/Vita) and Red Moon: Lost Days (Saturn) share the same art direction, a cartoonish anime-like direction. I tried to come up with an aesthetic design that matches what I was aiming at, science fiction mecha anime. On the other hand, the game in the Case of Renne Brás series, The Lighthouse of São Bento do Oeste (Saturn) follows a pixel-art plus real photos direction. I have tried to come up with an aesthetic design that combines mystery novels, such as Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle.


-What tools do you use to code and create?

For Red Moon: Lost Days I mainly used the C programming language. The game is programmed entirely in C, to compile the Sega Saturn games I used the JoEngine library and to build gameplay for my games I used the Neptune Engine.  Neptune Engine is what I call all the code that I started writing in The Lighthouse of São Bento do Oeste, my first Saturn game, and that I have used in all my console projects since then. It contains code to facilitate the development, on my end, of narrative visual novel/RPG like games.


-What encouraged you to make games for the Saturn?

As a huge gaming content enthusiast, I've always heard that the Sega Saturn was a difficult console to program. At the time I had watched a documentary about the Sakura Wars series, the YouTube channel Chronicles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjNeJv1o86A by far one of the best documentaries related to a Sega Saturn game. After that I fell in love with the Sega Saturn, everything around it was extremely intriguing, I joined my interest in the Sega Saturn to my curiosity to make games for the old console.


-At the heart of Red Moon Lost Days is its RPG/visual novel style. What about this genre resonates so strongly with you? What inspired you to make this type of game?

Some of my favorite games are Sakura Wars 2, Persona 2 Eternal Punishment, VA-11 Hall-A & Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. I love RPGs and Visual Novels, and I really like games that mix genres. I love writing stories through games. I would say that what most inspired me to make Red Moon: Lost Days was the game series Sakura Wars, the anime Evangelion and the manga series Hunter x Hunter and Kingdom.


Screenshot from Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die


-What elements are crucial for a good visual novel?

I literally don't know, although almost all my games are visual novels, I don't see myself as someone who understands the genre a lot, I like visual novels more and I like visual novels as a hybrid genre. Forcing myself to answer, I would say that probably characters, for me they are a crucial element of visual novels, it's no wonder that great universes that are born from visual novels become popular because of their characters.


-How did you connect with Retro Room Roo? What was the working dynamic like across your collaboration?

It’s not such an interesting story, after the digital release of the game, January 31 the game gained a lot of attention, Roo contacted me with the proposal to make a physical version of Red Moon: Lost Days, after two and a half years of development I wanted the game to reach more users and I knew that physical version would help. It was a very good dynamic, Roo seemed to like the game a lot and put a lot of faith in the release.


-Ever since my first episode, M-Tee planted this idea in my mind that a game’s protagonist, who serves as both the player's point of immersion in the game as well as a reflection of its designer. What was the intention behind Kyou Tan Wa’s design, and are there elements of yourself that you see in her?

I would say the effort, I don't see myself as a good programmer or a good game writer, but I managed to start and finish an RPG for Sega Saturn, a game from start to finish, I don't think it was due to skill but effort. Kyou as a character got where she got by effort, her childhood story, presented in Red Moon of April, shows how despite difficulties she brought positivity to Kohime and energy to move forward, I think I put that in her.


-What aspects of Red Moon Lost Days are you most proud of?

The story, from the very beginning the goal of making games was to create storytelling experiences, I think I achieved that with Red Moon: Lost Days. I managed to tell Kyou's story in a game.


-What new challenges or surprises surfaced in developing Red Moon Lost Days? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps?

The memory of the Sega Saturn, making a game for a console with 1Mb of memory is quite difficult, every time I put something in the memory without removing something that was already there, I hit the blue screen - memory limit. Having space on a 700Mb CD is very deceiving, you think that everything flows from CD to memory, from memory to screen easily and no, memory management is everything.


-Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon, Saturn, or otherwise? Any plans to publish a physical release of Red Moon of April? Any dream projects?

Yes there are, in February of this year I started studying 3D game development, Unreal Engine 5 specifically, I've been studying since then. My horizon boils down to: continue studying Unreal Engine 5, as soon as I finish I plan to do 3 to 4 small game projects with a friend of mine, to practice 3D game development, after that I will go back to studying, this time FPS development in Unreal Engine 5, and after that start my personal bigger project, the sequel to the story of Red Moon: Lost Days, a 3D platform shooter inspired by DOOM (2016) and Metroid Prime. Related to Saturn there's a project on the horizon, but it's something only Portuguese speakers will be able to enjoy. As for new Sega Saturn projects I don't have any plans on the horizon at the moment, it's been four and a half years developing games for the Sega Saturn, I want to take my time until I come up with something that I feel compelled to do. About Red Moon of April there are talks but nothing solid to announce. And about dream projects, one of them maybe I'll do for smaller game projects I’ll study 3D game development, I would like to make a mystery/survival horror game inspired by Resident Evil, a series of games that I'm a big fan of.


Cover art for Red Moon of April


-Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play?

There are some, one of them is the Mega Drive game by IuriNery (https://twitter.com/IuriNery), another is Affinity Sorrow, the Mega Drive RPG by Second Dimension (https://twitter.com/alteredimension), another is the Dreamcast and Game Gear version of Paprium (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/573261866/paprium-the-16-bit-beat-them-all-coming-to-the-next-gen), 2dreamcorp Samurai game for System 16 and Mega Drive and from Sega Saturn HELLSLAVE from XL2.


-I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans?

I would like to thank you for the opportunity and leave my social networks for those who want to follow me:









Adriano Kitani


-Before we dive into Red Moon Lost Days, I would love to talk about your background. What first inspired you to become an artist? What is your origin story?

I started my artistic career making comic strips and cartoons for a local newspaper. It was a side gig while I was working as a graphic designer. In 2015 the place I was working at closed and I decided to try going 100% freelancing, taking more illustration jobs. After some time freelancing, I was hired to illustrate YouTube thumbnails for a Magic: The Gathering channel called MTGGoldfish.


-Who are your influences? And whose work are you watching closely now?

Mostly comic book artists, some of my favorites are Brian Lee O'Malley (from Scott Pilgrim), Angeli (a famous Brazilian comic artist), Mike del Mundo (makes covers for Marvel).


Arnaldo Angeli Filho , aka Angeli


-How would you describe your design aesthetic, and what to you are the hallmarks of your art?

I think it's a mix of newspaper comics with some manga/anime influence. It's kind of hard to describe my own art but I always see people pointing out the way I use colors.


-What tools do you use to create?

Mostly Photoshop and Procreate.


-In your opinion, what makes good game art stand out and attract the attention of a prospective player?

I think it's art that has a unique flavor or voice. It can be a unique way to work with colors or a very authorial style.


-How did you connect with Neuromage Studio? What was the working dynamic like across your collaboration?

Gabriel from Neuromancer Studio reached me via email to commission me for the game. We started with an initial set for the main characters and from there I started to work with other elements.


-What aspects of Red Moon Lost Days’ art are you most proud of?

For me it was the robot designs. It was the first time for me working with mecha and I was really pleased with the results.


Go go mecha rangers!


-What new challenges or surprises surfaced in working on Red Moon Lost Days? What lessons did you learn that you would like to share with the people who aspire to follow in your footsteps?

The most difficult part for me was designing the mechas, it was something I had no experience and took me some time to get it done. During this process I spent a lot of time looking for references and looking at how other artists work with this. The best thing to do when drawing something you're not used to is to research a lot in the beginning.


-Are there any other projects you have lined up on the horizon, Saturn, or otherwise?

Right now, I don't have anything new, but I would love to work on other projects like that in the future.


-Are there any homebrew games in development that you are excited to play?

To be honest I don't play much homebrew games lately.


-I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and share your experiences. Is there anything else you would like to tell readers and fans?

Working with Red Moon was super fun and a great experience. I hope people enjoy and appreciate the game. Thank you!




Thanks for tuning in to this latest episode of the series that tells the tales of your favorite new homebrews. What are your thoughts on Red Moon Lost Days and its development team? Do you want to see more games in this genre? What homebrews are you eagerly looking forward to? Perhaps you’ll see it here soon when…A Homebrew Draws Near! Command?





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