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Joe Sullivan Interviews Brandon Cobb of Super Fighter Team

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.

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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.

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 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.

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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.

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 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.

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 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!

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[RGS Video] Nineties Nostalgia Episode 2: The Physical Game Shows of The 1990s

In this second episode of Nineties Nostalgia, BCP and Aimee take a trip back to the 1990s, featuring Shop Til You Drop, Supermarket Sweep, Double Dare, Legends of the Hidden Temple, Finders Keepers, Win Lose or Draw, Wild and Crazy Kids, American Gladiators, and more. Includes classic Nintendo NES games and bonus Pop-up Video goodness.

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Swimming with Sharks: Lessons I Learned in My First Year of Collecting

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Let’s be honest, the video game collecting community is very competitive, and can be very cut-throat at times.  I have been collecting for about fourteen months, and over the course of my first year of collecting, I have had many triumphs and many downfalls. Whether you have been collecting for years, or you’re just getting into the hobby, I’d like to share a few lessons I learned in my collecting endeavors.

First, let me dive into how I got into collecting.  Like many of you, when I was growing up, every time I moved to a newer system, all of my older games and systems either got sold at garage sales or simply thrown away.   If you fast forward to January of 2013, the only video games I had were an Xbox 360 with the typical COD games and sports games, a PS2 with a couple of my favorite Final Fantasy games, and a Wii with a variety of Mario games and some games on the virtual console.  I was able to re-live some of my childhood by purchasing certain games on the virtual console like Final Fantasy, Mario 64, Super Metroid, Actraiser, and many more.

Eventually, I came to a point where I longed to play one of my favorite RPGs on the SNES, The 7th Saga.  Unfortunately, the game was not on the virtual console and there were no plans to release it.  At the time I still had some money left over for Christmas, so I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to look on EBay to check on the prices of a SNES and the game.   I quickly learned that the condition of the games and whether they had manuals and boxes vastly affected the prices. Growing up, whenever I got into collecting different things, I always wanted the best and I usually went all out.  So when I saw the differences in the prices, I decided I had to have a complete copy of the game.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that retro video games had held –and in many cases increased– in value.  That’s when it occurred to me that I should gather up some of my favorite games from my childhood.

Before I knew it I was following multiple auctions on Ebay, and checking Craigslist frequently.  One Craigslist ad pointed me to a flea market in OKC called The Golden Goose.  It was there that I ran across a vendor named Jimmy that introduced me to RGS.  After a few weeks of being a member of RGS, I had developed a hunger and a passion to collect games – as many as I could.

From the purchase of The 7th Saga, my collecting snowballed into a massive collecting campaign, which lead me from having a few newer consoles with handfuls of games, to building a game room in my garage to store and showcase my collection that I have accumulated in the past year.  While my collection does not even touch the awesomeness of many collectors who have been in the game for years, going from nothing to a collection valued loosely at around ten grand in one year was quite a roller coaster. Throughout that roller coaster I have learned some valuable lessons about collecting that I would like to share.

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There are many different types of collectors out there.  There are those that simply want to have everything.  It doesn’t matter to them if the game is terrible or not, or even if they will ever play the game.  These types of collectors will grab anything they can get their hands on.  If you are just getting into collecting, I would advise against this philosophy because it can send you bankrupt quickly.  There are also collectors who are system or brand specific.  These collectors will often focus on getting a complete set of a particular system library, or maybe they are more brand specific and only collect Sega, or Atari, or Nintendo.  Yet another type is the series collector.  These collectors will pick a favorite series like Mega Man, Castlevania, Sonic, or Zelda and they will devote their time to grabbing anything and everything related to that series.  Some collectors are more gamer oriented and only collect games they like to play.  A lot of collectors are nostalgia collectors and their focus is to get games and systems that they are fond of from their childhood. Of course, many collectors are combinations of the previously mentioned types, and by no means is this an exhaustive list of all the types of collectors.

For instance, within these various types, there are even sub-groups. There are those who just want the games, some want CIB copies of the games, and an even more select group prefer to get sealed copies of the games. So, whether you are a series collector who wants sealed copies, or you are a brand collector who only want the games, the idea of setting goals can be beneficial to all types of collectors.  Here is how this played out in my collecting last year…

I started out focusing on games I had as a kid, which quickly grew to grabbing anything that was a decent price.  This eventually led to where I had three main focuses, Zelda, Final Fantasy, and boxed systems. Outside of those three I still grabbed up tons and tons of stuff, especially SNES RPGs, which are not exactly cheap at the moment.  I finally got to the point where I had a lot of systems and games that I had no interest in playing, so I decided to sell those off in order to focus more on one or two things.  At that point I decided I wanted to get all the Zelda games released by Nintendo CIB (complete in box).  This meant that my efforts were focused on just those, which also meant I could go weeks before picking up something new.

Eventually I did complete that goal, so I started focusing on something else, getting complete copies of the NES Mega Man games as well as Dragon Warrior games.  Thankfully, I was able to finish the Mega Man goal while I was at SUPER! BitCon.  I learned through this process that setting goals made me less of an impulsive buyer, and kept me from spending more money than I should.  Setting goals also helped me get to where I wanted to be in my collection more quickly than just buying when and whatever I come across.  Now, with that said, if you run across a good deal on a game or on a lot, do not pass it up just because it isn’t part of your goal.  You can always sell those off, or trade in order to get something that is one of your goals.  Even if you’re ultimately trying to get everything that is gaming related, if you use short-term goals, it will help you get to your overall goal more efficiently.

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One of the biggest mistakes I made early on was not pacing myself, which led to spending way too much money.    If you are new to the collecting scene, it is easy to get swept up with the excitement of finding good deals and building your collection.  While your enthusiasm is good, it will also lead to many impulse buys and spending beyond your means.  While video games have value at the moment, they are not a guaranteed liquid asset.  So, before you dump your child’s college money into a video game collection, think about why you are collecting.  If you seriously want to be a collector, I want you to think about people who have large collections.  They did not get those collections over night.  In most cases they have been collecting for years – decades even.  So if you plan on being a collector and holding onto your collection for the rest of your life, remember that you don’t have to have everything in a week.

If you pace yourself, you can add some here and some there, and eventually your collection will grow and grow.  I believe the famous saying is “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”  The world of video games is massive, so take your time and enjoy the ride.  Don’t go so fast that you burn yourself out and exhaust your finances.  Another plus of being patient is finding good deals.  If you jump at the first sighting of a game you want, you may end up spending more than you need to.  Take for instance eBay.  Many people are not fans of eBay, but I love it.  I have searched and watched auctions for an item for 6 months before I got a good deal on one.  There is a reason why auctions generally sell lower than buy it now sales, because some people cannot be patient and wait.  There have been numerous times where I could have spent more on a CIB copy of a game, but instead I decided to wait and got the game and the box and manual at different times and saved money.

Patience is not fun, but in the long run it will help you as a collector. Too many times I have seen collectors buy, buy, and buy but then something comes up and they have to sell a bunch of games because they didn’t budget wisely.  So the next time you see a pic of that Little Samson, or that Hagane, don’t get all crazy and spend the rent money to run out and get your own copy.

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The best advice I think I could ever give to a new collector is this: you are not in a competition.  Because of the rise in popularity in video games, the hunt for games has become very competitive.  Understand that you should be aggressive in your pursuit of the games you want, but competition should not be the reason you collect. Collecting games is a hobby, and therefore it should be something we enjoy, not stress over.  Too often, collecting becomes a competition of who has the most, or the rarest, or the nicest stuff.  Go ahead and get this through your head, there will always be someone who has something nicer, better, or rarer than you.  Once you accept this truth, the race to be better than the Joneses can be eliminated.  Let’s face it, once you post a pic of that awesome addition to your collection, within days most people have forgotten about it.  So instead of trying to impress other people with your collection, try to be content with it.  Collect in order to make yourself happy; not to impress people on Facebook.

If you are happy with your collection, who cares what other people think, or what other people have. I see people complain about sealed games, or complain about people trying to get a complete library.  It doesn’t matter what type of collector everyone else is, you need to go after what you want and what you enjoy.  If you want games that have been graded, go for it.  If you think boxes are a waste of money, then just focus on the games.  Bottom line is, don’t let someone else’s opinion affect your collecting.  So what if you paid market value for a copy of Chrono Trigger instead of finding it at a flea market for five dollars.  It’s your collection, be happy. Just because you didn’t find your games for dirt cheap, or your boxes aren’t as mint as someone else’s does not mean that your collection isn’t awesome.  Instead of comparing your collection to someone else’s, try enjoying it.

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Like I stated earlier, the game collecting scene is very cut-throat.  It doesn’t have to be that way, though.  Instead of trying to take out other collectors, maybe we should work together as a community.  That is why I love the Retro Gamers Society.  A large portion of my collection has come from trading and buying from members of the group.  If you make friends in this hobby, it will help you out tremendously.  I have a large number of friends in RGS that I can count on to help me with my collection.  I don’t expect them to give me games for free, or take a loss on their investment, but they do meet me at a place price-wise that is beneficial for both of us.  The concept of working as a community is really not difficult.  If you run across a good deal, say you find a game that you already have that’s worth $100 and you only have to pay $40.  Instead of trying to maximize your profit and aim for that $100 or more, simply meet somewhere in the middle at like $60-$80.  That way you both win in the transaction.  I promise, if you help others out when you work out deals, when the time comes, they will help you out as well.

Also, if you have friends in the hobby, you can find stuff for each other.  There have been numerous times were someone has sent me a message and asked if I had a particular Zelda item, either because they saw it out and about, or because they know someone trying to sell something.  Some of my friends collect things that I don’t, so if I run across something they need, I let them know about it.  In other situations, I have run across something I already have, so I see if anyone needs it, in which case I would pick it up for them. Flying solo in this hobby is extremely lonely, so build relationships, and help each other out.

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The last year of collecting has been a whirlwind for me.  I have found some awesome deals and I have taken some losses at times as well.  I have learned a lot from my experiences and from the knowledge of all the collectors I have been in contact with, or have communicated with through RGS.   I firmly believe that there will always be something that I will want to add to my collection, so I look forward to the decades of collecting to come. What really makes me happy is that my children love these retro games as much as I do.  So I know my collection will have a home when I no longer have need of them. So, to all of you out there who are just getting started: don’t get discouraged, have fun, and most importantly, play more video games. ♦

Ronnie Titsworth

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SUPER! BitCon VIP Packs Unveiled

VIPAs a special way to commemorate our first RGS-hosted gaming convention, we have devote special care and attention to creating the most unique promotional item we could devise. Born out of a love for retro and an appreciation for the art of the classic black-box Nintendo games, these limited edition VIP packs hold true to the vested spirit of our event. The SUPER! BitCon 2014 VIP packs cannot be bought — they can only be won. They will be given out variously via contests and giveaways on the web and television. Information about these contests will be available via the S!BC Facebook page, so like it and stay tuned!

What’s in the VIP pack?

  • One custom black box with striking artwork
  • One custom manual which includes event information and maps
  • One custom cart (this item was sourced from corroded, water-damaged, or otherwise non-functioning games — with that in mind, please be aware that each cart carries a varying amount of character and patina unique to itself)
  • Two commemorative VIP tickets, design inspired by the Nintendo PCB inside every grey cartridge
  • Two standard adult-entry freebie tickets
  • Two event t-shirt vouchers redeemable at the S!BC merch table
  • Two limited edition black S!BC event t-shirts
  • 80′s-inspired posters
  • One NES game sleeve

We are very excited to bring this promotion to our guests in the weeks leading up to our event — and we wish you good luck in winning one! Thanks to Uncle Tusk and Wal R’ Us Games for their help in putting together these beautiful works of art. We couldn’t have done it without their expertise.  Stay tuned to our S!BC sponsor, the Game Bros, for some unboxing goodness coming soon…