Tucked away in the shadow of San Diego, Super Fighter Team continues to do what they do best – breathe life into classic game systems through new releases. For a small, independently owned and operated company, they’ve produced a robust number of games across five platforms. While the home-brew and reproduction market has recently begun to develop, those operations are almost always on a limited basis, with a handy electronics whiz cannibalizing another game and soldering a new chipset onto the victim cart. Crudely printed labels are often unique to the person making the game.
Super Fighter Team doesn’t operate that way. Always maintaining the idea that gamers deserve nothing but the best, they’ve made sure that each of their releases has been shown the time a care that they truly deserve, elevating them from more than just some cheap-solder job to a full-fledged, distributable release.
Super Fighter Team’s first Genesis release, 2006’s Beggar Prince, was met with critical praise and sold out it’s initial run in a matter of days.
Two additional print runs were quickly set into motion, altogether seeing a final print of 1500 total cartridges, with sales in 25 different countries.
Beggar Prince’s 3rd Print
Beggar Prince’s success paved the way for more releases, with Legend of Wukong being next out of the gates. Another quality RPG for the Genesis,Legend of Wukong similarly sold out extremely quickly as fans clamored for the next reason to dust off their consoles one more time for a trip into the unforgettable historical world of the Tang Dynasty.
The final RPG in Super Fighter Team’s original RPG Trifecta was far and away their most ambitious. Star Odyssey spins the tale of an intergalactic adventure, with its heroes traveling across multiple planets in their quest to protect the galaxy from a developing evil, drawing comparisons in reviews to a 16-bit Mass Effect in terms of scope and depth of the universe.
While all three of those RPGs will now cost you quite a few dollars more than the original release prices if you go to an auction site or third party retailer, Super Fighter Team hasn’t ruled out the idea of future reprints. You can sign up for Super Fighter Team’s mailing list on their website (www.superfighter.com) to be notified of these rare opportunities when the become available. Don’t let their physical scarcity stop you from playing them though, all three are available for direct digital download from Super Fighter Team’s website for Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP, ME, and 98SE, or Mac OS X 10.5 and above.
Brandon Cobb, President of Super Fighter Team, was kind enough to take a few minutes to for an interview on the state of the company, and all things retro-gaming. Enjoy the transcript, and don’t forget to check out www.superfighter.com!
Joe Sullivan: How was Super Fighter Team formed originally?
Brandon Cobb: When C&E president John Kuo handed me the rights to Super Fighter, it really gave me a shot of confidence. With no experience and no budget, me and a small team started developing an overly ambitious “Super Fighter Advance” for, you guessed it, the Game Boy Advance. It was… maybe 1% complete before we stopped? Ha. But the experience taught me some valuable lessons.
I quickly became disillusioned with the Game Boy Advance and returned to my roots: the 16-bit era. I took C&E’s Beggar Prince, an RPG loosely based on the classic tale The Prince and the Pauper, and me and a new team did up a really nice English language version. Knowing we were on to something, I registered Super Fighter Team as an official business, and we were off to the races.
It’s been all about passion from the get-go. That’s why we have been so successful. We’re passionate, and we don’t give up on our dreams.
Brandon Cobb with C&E, Inc. President John Kuo
JS: In a gaming era when Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter were seen as the mainstream fighting titles, and SNK’s catalogue (Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Samurai Shodown, World Heroes) was typically thought of as the only alternative, you managed to find Super Fighter. What drew you to that game, instead of the others typical of the time?
BC: It’s such a simple story. I couldn’t play Street Fighter II in the arcade because my brother — who drove me there and also provided the quarters — felt it wasn’t worth the money for how quickly the rounds went by (with me losing them due to inexperience). And I did not have a game console at home, like my friends did, so I couldn’t practice that way. I had a PC, which did not yet have a good adaptation of Street Fighter II.
All this meant I had to look elsewhere for my fighting game fix. It just so happened I looked to Taiwan, and Super Fighter. Who knew it would become such a large part of my life, inspiring me to follow my dreams, and taking me places I’d never been? To h*** with Street Fighter II.
JS: Did you have a favorite retro console or game you owned or played growing up?
BC: I had nothing but the PC and an Apple II until high school, when I bought a used Game Boy from a classmate. I loved that little thing and its pea soup colored screen… maybe a bit too much. I can thank Nintendo for my poor eyesight.
The best games ever, though, are on the PC: Alone in the Dark (the original from 1992), Gobliins 2: The Prince Buffoon, the Quest for Glory series, Day of the Tentacle, Dune II, the Commander Keen series, blah blah etc. I will love those games, and their wonderful Ad Lib music, until the day I die.
JS: Are there any modern consoles, games, or developers that you particularly enjoy?
BC: What’s “modern,” exactly? Like, the Sega Saturn? No way, man. 3d rendered graphics are icky.
Beggar Prince’s Prince Steven casts a powerful fire spell
JS: Are there any games you’d personally like to see re-released or updated for today’s market that your team hasn’t already worked on?
BC: The world needs another DJ Boy sequel. With disco. And whatever happened to Awesome Possum? I mean, his face is on Mount Rushmore but people are still chucking plastic water bottles on the ground. Who’s going to kick their butts if not him?
JS: What’s are some of the key things Super Fighter Team looks for when they decide to develop or publish a project?
BC: That’s tough to put into words. It’s sort of like, what makes your favorite foods so incredible? They don’t just taste amazing, but there’s that whole experience: the look, the smell, the way they make your mouth water in anticipation… You get excited just thinking about eating them. A game has to offer me a feast of the senses, for me to put my name on it. (And now I’m hungry.)
JS: What’s the most difficult part of the development/publishing process?
BC: Bugs. Even the slightest, “no one will ever see these but we have to fix them anyway for the sake of perfectionism” kind. Mind you no product anyone makes is ever “perfect,” but we punish ourselves trying to get as close to perfection as we can. Over the years that dedication has caused arguments and burnouts, even held up production on at least one occasion. But it’s in the best interest of the customer.
JS: A large number of Super Fighter Team’s titles have their roots in the Taiwanese gaming industry. Was there anything in particular that drew you toward the games from that region, outside of their not having been released in North America yet?
BC: Like a lot of geeks, I became fascinated with the Orient through video games. Super Fighter whet my appetite, and Sango Fighter got me interested in the military history of ancient China. I just kept going from there, having fun trying new games and learning about the video game market as it exists — and existed — in Taiwan.
It came full circle, when I visited Taipei in 2012 and met the creators of some of these games. And we just hung out together and shot the breeze, as friends. That was a personally rewarding experience for me.
Star Odyssey gets started with a telepathic plea
JS: Your team’s work in particular has been lauded not just for the games themselves, but the entire presentation with the high quality cartridge labels, manuals, cases, and case inserts. What is the biggest benefit about having this level of detail in your work?
BC: What inspired me to found the company was the fact that I was not pleased with the quality level of existing retrogame products. It felt like people were half-a***** things just to make a buck. I thought I could do better, so I did.
Super Fighter Team came out swinging, offering higher quality games at lower prices than everyone else. It was a wake-up call, screaming, “Those other guys are ripping you off!!”
When people buy from us, they are assured an authentic and enjoyable experience. We’re not dumpster diving for whatever lousy game we can get our grubby mitts on, we’re licensing and developing titles that are top tier; of the same quality that people came to expect when these game systems were still on the market.
JS: Does Super Fighter Team have anything in particular you can discuss that you’re working on?
BC: Games. Particularly, video games.
JS: At the time of this interview, Legend of Wukong and Beggar Prince are ranked 2nd and 5th respectively in terms of price for the Sega Genesis. Star Odyssey isn’t listed, but auction site data shows it would also most likely be around 3rd or 4th. How do you feel when you see your titles being resold at these consistently high amounts?
BC: I remember I was at the Classic Gaming Expo one year, and there was this real big guy just sitting contented at his booth, hoping people would come by and overpay for the games he was offering. Everyone else was selling this Frogger cartridge for like $3, but he had it marked up to $12. When I hear about people trying to rake in the dough by shamelessly selling our games at a grossly inflated rate, I think of that guy. Those price gougers are just like him: lazy and greedy. Get out there and work for a living, do something you can be proud of. No one likes a cancer cell.
Flynn squares off with a Weretomcat in Nightmare Busters
JS: Has Super Fighter Team ever added an additional easter egg or hidden feature either giving the team a shout out in the game, or promoting an inside reference, outside of the credits?
There was one quote in Beggar Prince that’s kind of a bitch to get to: it’s the skeleton of a dead adventurer telling the prince, “All I asked about was the release date [of the game], and look what happened to me!”
JS: What’s the best lesson modern day developers could learn from looking back at the retro games, and retro style games being released today?
Games should be games, not movies. Games should be challenging, not constantly telling the player exactly what to do and exactly when to do it.
A very special thanks to Brandon Cobb for the interview, and to Super Fighter Team for helping sponsor Super! BitCon 2014! For more information, and to reserve your copy of the second print of Nightmare Busters, check out www.superfighter.com!