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The History of Sunsoft [history research]

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In the summer of 2015 I started researching the history of Sunsoft. I was doing a podcast that in some part included video game history and I was going to do an episode on Sunsoft and five of their NES games. But I thought there was so little information about the company and how their games was made so I just kept looking for information. At some point I found an interview with the people who had worked at Sunsoft of America and who designed Fester's Quest. This made me think that I might be able to get hold of some people to interview myself. I started with the people who made Fester's Quest. And got more information about it and other games. And Sunsoft of America. One of the guys would later (in 2019) send me a VHS tape with promo videos. One of them showing The Terminator for NES.

During these years I have thought of several ways to get my research out there. First I wrote a series of chronological articles spanning 1971 to 1992. But as I was constantly getting new information and tried to update the articles I just got fed up with it and took them down (they can be found on Archive.org's Wayback machine). Then I was thinking of rewriting the articles into a book. But a book is a big project for someone who's not a great writer and two small kids.

I have ended up with the idea to make a series of magazines. I am working on getting the first three issues done before trying to get them printed. The first three will be:

* Issue #1: The Early Arcade Games Part 1

* Issue #2: The Early Arcade Games Part 2

* Issue #3: The Early Famicom Games

But I am also more than ready to discuss anything Sunsoft right here in this thread. I have interviewed 40+ people from Sunsoft's different branches and people who worked at companies that was hired to make games for Sunsoft.


Edited by Gazimaluke
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I'm not all that familiar with Sunsoft's output, but the things that i wonder the most about (and maybe answers are already out there, i've never looked) include:

how they lost the license to both Terminator and Superman, both franchises that likely could have made them a good amount of money.

how/why Mr. Gimmick never got released in USA.

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3 hours ago, twiztor said:

how they lost the license to both Terminator and Superman, both franchises that likely could have made them a good amount of money.

how/why Mr. Gimmick never got released in USA.

They lost the The Terminator license because the game they more or less finished before showing anything to the license holder was not following the movie. The movie is mostly set in "the present" while the game entirely is set in the future. I talked to the guy who sold them the license. Who also revoked it.

They lost the Superman license when Sunsoft of America went out of business in 1995.

Gimmick was never released in the US because Sunsoft of America's management wanted to go all 16-bit.

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1 hour ago, DoctorEncore said:

This is fantastic stuff. Definitely let us know when we can get the magazines.

Sure will. I think I will do a Kickstarter or something for the first three issues.



And I can tell you that the creator of Gimmick does not like the title Mr Gimmick since the main character isn't Gimmick.

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1 hour ago, John Riggs said:

Was this the same Terminator that eventually became Journey to Silius?

Yes. I have been trying to figure out exactly how the game was developed and changed. They obviously was going a totally other way with it when they started developing it. I haven't been able to get in contact with anyone who worked on the game (except composer Naoki Kodaka, and he was an outsider and doesn't know anything about the actual development.

So this is my timeline for Terminator of Silius.

Late 1988 - Sunsoft of America license The Terminator from CLC.

1989 - Terminator at trade show Summer CES 1989.

1989 – The Terminator in Nintendo Power

1989 - Sunsoft presents a finished games to Creative Licensing Corporation (CLC). They reject it and takes the license back.

1989 - Name change to Operation S.S.S.

1990 - Operation S.S.S. at WCES 1990.

  •  Schedualed for June release

1990 - Name change to Journey to Silius

Sept 1990 - Release of Rough World/Journey to Silius


I wrote this article when I first released the video https://www.gamingalexandria.com/wp/2019/07/07/terminator-why-so-silius/

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Another article I have written is about two arcade games that never got finished. They were being developed internally at Sunsoft of America. That was the only time Sunsoft of America did development by themselves. And hardly those who worked there just a year after the dev team was fired knew about it.


Edited by Gazimaluke
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  • 2 weeks later...
On 5/3/2020 at 10:59 PM, RetrorectionistRich said:

This sounds great. I’m a big fan of Sunsoft’s NES output, in particular the Batman game. 

Batman and Gremlins 2 was two of my favorite NES games. I think they are partly responsible for me going down this road. Unfortunately I haven't talked to anyone that did actual game design on any of them.


On 5/4/2020 at 4:46 AM, Jfreakofkorn said:

Always was interested in any game(s) insight of development and creation . Seems like you have the advantage of picking at mind(s) already ( as in , interviewing them ) . Be interested in seeing at where this will go . . . 

I think I might do the magazines two at a time. With each pair having something in common. 

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