Sunday, October 12, 2014

HG101 State of the Union October 2014 - Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 2, more Patreon discounts, and a summary of last month's updates!

Hi everyone! Just here to give some updates about all of the goings-ons at the site for the past month.

A few people have asked if they were able to get copies of the Untold History of Japanese Game Developers book by donating through Patreon. Although HG101 promotes the book and we helped with its production, it's actually John Szczepaniak's project, so we're not at liberty to give anything away. However I've discussed it with him and he offered up discounts exclusively for Patrons at the $5+/month tier. For the book, you need to order directly from the Createspace site, as opposed to Amazon. The coupon will bring the price down to $29.99. Although you have to pay for shipping, overall it's about a $7 discount over the lowest price from over Amazon. Additionally, he's also offered discount prices for the DVD. It's normally 40 pounds but if donate, you'll be given access to a discount link which will lower the price to 30 pounds. If you've donated or are already a donor, I've already posted a section under "Activity" called "Discounts for Untold History of Japanese Game Developers", where you can find the coupon code and the discount link.

You can find some reviews of the book/DVD at Eurogamer, Black Falcon Games and Borders Down.

In the last couple updates I've discussed the Konami Shooter book, which is coming along nicely, but I also wanted to talk about the one every keeps asking me about: Sega Arcade Classics Vol. 2.

In the first volume, we focused primarily on popular franchises, along with a few other one-shots that we deemed noteworthy enough to include along with it, largely based on whether they were ported enough times. The main reason was, even though there is a "Volume 1" in the title, we weren't sure if the book would be successful enough to justify a "Volume 2", so we figured we'd load it with the titles most gamers were familiar with. The good news is that the reception was decent enough to justify a second volume, but on the other hand, the titles are probably not going to ring any bells. But that's okay! HG101 is about discovering new titles, and Sega put out a ton of interesting stuff in the 80s and 90s, most of which has been largely forgotten. So if you're the type that trawls through the MAME archives to find new and interesting things to play, this will definitely be for you, especially if you're a Sega fan.

The selection of games in Volume 2 falls into two basic categories:

(1) Arcade games from 1985 and prior. In the first volume, the earliest release game we focused on was Space Harrier, but there are a lot of games from before that period. These predated Sega consoles (at least the ones that were released worldwide, like the Sega Master System), so they be more familiar to Atari or Colecovision fans. The most prominent of these titles are Pengo, Turbo, Congo Bongo, Buck Rogers and the Planet of Zoom, and Zaxxon, along with others like Carnival, Borderline (AKA Underground), Up n' Down, and Subroc. There are a lot of other titles that fall into this category like Spatter, Flicky, Monaco GP, Ninja Princess, Super Locomotive, and many, many others. Sega also had a partnership with Coreland (in Japan) and Gremlin (in America) that put out a wide variety of strange, bizarre, largely unknown titles.

(2) Any arcade game from the late 80s and early/mid-90s that couldn't fit into the first volume. There were some titles like Bonanza Bros, SDI/Global Defense and Teddy Boy Blues that fell into the era covered in the first book, but we felt weren't quite well known enough to add in, since it would increase the cost to the point of unaffordability. Not all of these games were great. Some games like Bay Route, Tough Turf and Riot City are flagrant rip-offs of other titles at the time, but they're also really good rip-offs! Other games like Last Survivor, Dark Edge, Line of Fire, Laser Ghost and Rail Chase show off some extremely impressive technology, and occasionally have some really interesting ideas, that kind of games that are worth recognizing their efforts even though they're flawed.

Here are some very rough, early samples of what I've been working on:

I don't have anything close to a set release date for this just yet. There are two other books that will come first: the Konami Shooters book, which should hopefully be available at the beginning of 2015, and the HG101 Digest Vol. 1, a 75-ish page issue covering Bionic Commando, Strider, and several other features, will hopefully be available by the beginning of summer.

Some of the most noteworthy articles we've published this past month include: the first parts of Wizardry, the seminal CRPG series, coverage of which is still ongoing; Danganronpa, a series of stylish adventure games that totally justify the purchase of the Vita and are easily two of the best games I've played this year; Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban, a campy SFC run-and-gun similar to Choaniki; Pier Solar and the Great Architects, the recently released HD update of the homebrew (yet quite professional) Genesis RPG; Elemental Master, a fantasy shooter by the same folks as Thunder Force; Smash TV / Total Carnage, the ultra violet twin stick arcade shooters from the 90s; and System Shock, the first person shooter/RPG hybrid that inspired Bioshock, and is the topic of this month's Game Club 199X.

Upcoming articles for October and early November include Charlie Ninja, Puzzle Boy, Boppin'. 64th Street: A Detective Story, Sentinel, Yumimi Mix, Chimera Beast, Martial Champion, King of Dragon Pass, New Zealand Story, and several Halloween themed entries towards the end of the month.

As always, thanks for reading and for your support!


  1. Has there been any discussion about offering Szczepaniak's book as a digital download?

  2. Can I ask if there's a reason you don't use crossheads or pullquotes to break up the text? I've been sorely tempted to pick up some of your books but the unbroken wall of text comes across as a real blow to the layout - I know 'too many words in one place' seems like a shallow way of looking at it but that's just the reaction I have! Thanks.

  3. We used them in the Sega book, but honestly I don't like them. They take up too much space, which is at a premium.

  4. Replies
    1. I was waffling on including it. I would technically qualify. But I figure it's more known as a Genesis game, so it will probably go in the next Sega volume

  5. Your books are outstanding, I have the Sega vol 1 + Castlevania books. Will be getting Sega col 2 (which is the most interesting of course), Konami shooters and hope you make the digest into a full book. Best part is the screen comparisons. Only part frustrating is the amount of time that passes between each book release, especially when all the material seems to be on this site already (you'd think that collating it would be rather easy).

  6. Well, the big gap between the Sega and Castlevania book had to do with a number of life events that happened in the interim (bought a house, had a kid), plus the fact that most of the material needed to be rewritten. The Konami Shooter book should be ready by the beginning of 2015 though, since I was working on it concurrently with the Castlevania book. Going forward the gaps between books should be shorter, but it depends on the material. A large chunk of the material for Sega bol. 2 is written but we still have a ways to go. The Shin Megami Tensei book, if we ever get around to it, will have to be written entirely from scratch.

    A lot of has to do with the fact that there might be material on the site, but I'm not always happy with it, so it needs to be rewritten/expanded. For example, the Konami Shooter article - the Gradius article is getting some touch-ups, as is the general Konami shooter article (Axelay, Xexex, etc.), and Otomedius is used as-is. But the Parodius and TwinBee articles were almost entirely rewritten because they were from the early days of the site and I felt they needed to be brought up with the site's current standards.

  7. Any chance you can do something with all the TMNT content you have? There's got to be enough for a book there. Also what about a Digest covering Modern Adventure games such as Cing titles, Ace Attorney, Ghost Trick and Dangan Ronpa. That would be cool too. Love these books, so many possibilities. What about some mini books for big series like Fire Emblem... Y's... probably just dreaming but that would rock too. ^^