Off-Topic: Chinese Bootleg Developer SpeaksPosted on September 2nd, 2008 by Frank Cifaldi
Over on his blog, a gentleman by the name of maxzhou88 has been posting (in Chinese) stories, art, and even source code from bootleg Famicom/NES conversions (or “Hong Kong Originals”) of 16-bit games that he helped develop while working for a company called SuperGame. This marks the first time I’ve ever seen anyone from that strange segment of the international video game industry write about his experiences, so it’s good stuff!
This post (translated here) shows off some very impressive GRASP art files from an 8-bit conversion of Super Shinobi, Boogerman and Aladdin - all three were fairly competent ports considering the market, with Aladdin being the best gameplay-wise and Shinobi being the most graphically impressive. This post (translated here) discusses SuperGame’s port of Earthworm Jim 2, and explains a bit about how the team had to build emulators, rip graphic tiles, and decrease color palettes to make the games look right. It also talks about his frustration in not finding a clean copy of the ROM on the internet and with having lost the source code due to a confidentiality agreement, which is neat to see. I never would have considered there were strict anti-piracy measures in effect over at piracy companies, but it makes total sense. And finally, this post (translated here) contains early test builds and source code for ports of both Boogerman and Pocahontas. After these, the studio (translated by Google as Boqing Columbia Enterprises Ltd., though I can’t vouch for the accuracy of that) also worked on a version of Toy Story, but the author did not retain a copy of it.
The final post also contains a full list of the studio’s staff, and a paragraph explaining the studio structure,which I’m having difficulty understanding. If I’m reading this right, the studio had (circa 1996) eight programmers (all male), seven or eight artists (both male and female) and two producer/planners, both of whom were cut during a staff reduction.
As a strange 19-year-old I wrote up a completely bizarre fictional story about the development of this particular version of Pocahontas on a website that has been dead for about eight years now, so it’s a pretty weird feeling to see someone actually writing a factual retrospective on how it was made.
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(thanks to forums user mrdomino for the tip)