Sunday 1 November 2009

Revenge of Shinobi prototype found

Sega are known for releasing half-assed Mega Drive emulators to the public. You may think it's a fairly new thing, but it actually dates back to the late 90s, just a few years after the emulation scene began. During this time Sega released several "compilation packs" (mostly in America), throwing in a few ROMs and an emulator in the hopes of achieving a few bucks. Sega PC Smash Pack was one of their PC attempts, relying on Steve Snake's first Mega Drive emulator from 1997, KGen.

Do note though, a "good emulator for 1999" tends to suggest that it's a terrible choice today. KGen was considered good because it was the first emulator to have a decent amount of compatible games and Yamaha YM2612 sound emulation, both of which are a standard in all modern emulators, even the ones adopted by Sega.

One of the bundled games in Sega PC Smash Pack was Revenge of Shinobi, a 1989 classic. RoS has been ported to numerous platforms over the years (not to mention it was re-released on the Mega Drive half a dozen times too), but this was its first PC outing. And a strange outing it certainly was.

Turns out for whatever reason instead of using the final US version, whoever created the pack opted for a Japanese prototype, hence the title "The Super Shinobi". Surprisingly, nobody noticed, and in fact the box art actually calls it "Super Shinobi" despite the fact it was NEVER called that in the US.

There was clearly a distinct lack of testing within the walls of Sega of America at the time, because this prototype is surprisingly early. It's missing a lot of music, a couple of bosses and various copyright screens. A level select is enabled by default, and there's a "No death" mode selectable, so not only was it poorly emulated the game wasn't even complete.

Recently the ROM has been extracted and can be run on most emulators. There's probably a load of differences I haven't mentioned, but I'm not a massive fan of the game outside of the music and crazy bosses. Hilarious stuff that something so broken could be released to the public though. Too bad they didn't learn from their mistakes when the Game Boy Advance's Sonic Genesis got put on the shelves.

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