Monday 30 May 2011


All good things come to an end. Except this was never a good thing, and it hasn't technically come to an end. Fan favourite The Obscure Research Project, founded in 2006-ish by myself... isn't going to get any bigger, though you might have guessed this already. It's reached the end of its natural life and I probably won't be updating it anymore. I don't know if it did its job but hey, rest in peace you badly named mess. Keep reading for the autopsy.

If you'd journeyed onto the internet in 2005/2006 on the hunt for unlicensed drivel, you wouldn't have found much. There were small groups of kids fixated by the idea of Somari, the occasional reference to Kart Fighter and rumours that friends had odd colours of Pokémon, but you had to dig pretty far into Google's search results to get some credible information.

tORP of course started not as an information site, but as a place to house sprite rips of games people generally hadn't heard of. Some of the major sprite hosting sites of the time were hesitant to accept things from unlicensed games, and so these sheets sat on my computer not doing anything. Inevitably I felt the need to also put up descriptions of where the rips were actually from, because people are silly and refuse to use the greatest information resource in history to look it up themselves.

Later on I stopped caring for sprite rips and focused solely on documenting games. tORP got a slight name change and became, I suppose, "Blog Squirrel Beta". Then it became the place to dissect Donkey Kong Country pirates rather than have them clutter Blog Squirrel up... then it stopped being useful at all.

The major problem with running a website like this is that a) there's only a limited number of unlicensed games that actually interest me out there and b) when you've got 4379423 HTML pages to maintain it starts to become unmanageable. Contrary to popular belief I am not on top of the unlicensed game scene - I know now that I had an extremely naive view on it back in the day I was very wrong about a lot of the stuff tORP claims as fact. Hell I toss around the word "pirate" on that site all the time and it's the completely wrong term to use.

I came to the conclusion after the opening of Sega Retro that the entire unlicensed video game scene would be better suited to a wiki environment. Get rid of the dependence on HTML sites such as tORP and have the world edit and discuss pages for themselves. I'm a British man who has never bought an unlicensed game (I have a pirate copy of Kirby's Dream Land 2 which doesn't save... that's it) - I cannot comment effectively on the goings on in mainland Asia and many clues to these games' origins can be found via cartridge/box scans. tORP doesn't host any - it doesn't know who made what and just guesses.

Coincidentally one such wiki popped up. Big chunks are wrong and you'll never personally attract me to a Wikia wiki but it's a start, and though it has not yet decided to go into as much detail as tORP, it's a better place to get the facts surrounding game releases. Go there for your unlicensed game fix. Or go watch the many videos kindly put up on YouTube, and demand ROM dumps from those who think videos are more important than the preservation of obscure games.

Or go to Sega Retro. There are many unlicensed Sega games and we're covering many of them. And you can correct the flaws in real time. So modern!

So anyway has tORP been useful to people? Hard to say. I'd like to think it was a foundation for something on the internet but it's just as likely people got there on their own. I think tORP did a pretty fine job at documenting some of the more well known games - bits need rewriting but it's still a project I'm proud of. The site won't be going anywhere of course, but it's good to formerly make an announcement that work on it is over.

And it really does have a bad name. Hell now that I think about it, with all the "Black Squirrel"s and "SHPMDBGWL4"s of this world, "Blog Squirrel" stands as the only clever name I've come up with, and even then it's a push.

Speaking of Blog Squirrel, I will of course continue to diverge into unlicensed game territory and review tripe from Taiwan, Russia, South Korea or wherever the internet takes me, it just won't be put under the tORP banner. But what else is news. There are still many interesting titles out there, they're just surrounded in strip mahjong games and kept in cupboards by hoarders. One day the set will be complete.

Oh and if anyone wants to continue this project for one reason or another, feel free. Though it would be nice if I got a mention somewhere of course! As I said, the world of unlicensed games does interest me, it's just maintaining masses of documentation on it when there's 43829043 other people finding things that doesn't. Five years ago nobody was bothering with this stuff, now they are, so that must count as some sort of success, right?


  1. Hello, I'm actually one of the blokes from the BootlegGames Wiki. :D

    I actually got into pirated games a few yeard ago when I was looking for information about games like Somari and such. I mainly got into them through Youtube videos and research sites like this one. In fact, from what I remember I took bits of information from here and adapted it to the Wiki. Apologies for not commenting on your other entries, but I can rarely think of things to say on blogs.

    Just wondering, what are the bits of incorrect information?

  2. I just think there's a lot of tenuous links based on shared graphics or sounds or whatever. Somari comes to mind.

    But it doesn't matter too much. Wikipedia isn't the most reliable source on the net either but with no possible way for competition to fight it on the same scale, you have to take that gamble.

    Again the issue for me personally is that it's hosted on Wikia.