News Article

Interview: Super Fighter Team - Developing for SNES in 2012

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Brandon Cobb explains why retro gaming matters

When we published a news article about a new SNES title on the way in 2013, Nightmare Busters, it attracted a great deal of interest. While many of us spend the majority of our game-time on current-day consoles, there still seems to be an appetite for retro titles and platforms. Few companies represent that appetite quite like Super Fighter Team, who produce and develop physical media releases for consoles from the 1990s, no doubt earning the gratitude of collectors in the process.

We had a chat with Brandon Cobb, President of Super Fighter Team, to talk about the company's work on previous-generation platforms and, of course, the upcoming release of Nightmare Busters on Super Nintendo.

Nintendo Life: Can you tell us a bit about yourself, Super Fighter Team's origins, and what the company does?

Brandon Cobb: I'm just your average, everyday perfectionist. I can recall wanting to be in the video game business as early as ten years old. They said I was nuts. And they were right.

At age eleven, I fell in love with Super Fighter, a PC fighting game from Taiwan. At sixteen, I launched a small website about the game and four years later, I acquired full legal rights to it. Passion can do a lot more for a man than simply drive him. Passion can move mountains. Taking full stock of what had been accomplished, I set out to form a company that would make other classic gaming dreams tangible.

NL: So far you've released games for the SEGA Mega Drive / Genesis, PC and even the Atari Lynx: what made you choose those particular platforms?

BC: I dig a challenge. Producing and publishing new games for the Genesis and Lynx is no cakewalk. The first commercial project we announced back in '05 was Beggar Prince: an ambitious, 32-megabit RPG with a save battery, that was to ship on a brand new cartridge complete with plastic box and color manual. At that point, the classic gaming 'market' consisted of little more than bootlegs burned to CD-Rs and the occasional homebrew. So, you know, people thought we were full of it and some even suggested we were simply hawking vaporware. As a matter of fact, I still have an article from Edge magazine where someone said that in print. By the time the issue hit store shelves, however, Beggar Prince was already shipping to customers. Zing!

NL: With Nightmare Busters on Super NES due to be released in 2013, can you explain the origins of this title and how Super Fighter Team got involved?

BC: Nightmare Busters was conceived by Christophe Gayraud, who had prior development experience on the SNES, having worked on the games The Blues Brothers and Brainies. Together with artist Jean-Christophe Alessandri, he put together one hell of an impressive game.

Although several companies showed interest in publishing the title, certain factors ultimately kept it from appearing on store shelves. One of these factors was timing: by the time the game was finished, the SNES market was quickly shrinking.

We came on the scene in 2008, shortly after I had come across an official mobile phone adaptation of Nightmare Busters. I contacted its producer, Eric Thommerot, who happened to be a good friend of Gayraud's. He made the proper introductions and the rest is history.

NL: You recently confirmed that all 600 pre-order copies have been sold. What do you think attracts such a positive response to a retro product like this?

BC: These people know a great product when they see one. There's a good reason we waited so long to pursue a project for the SNES: we wished to make a grand entrance. I only had to glance at a muddy screenshot of Nightmare Busters to realize, 'I must have this.'

NL: What areas do you typically work on to bring a title up to publication standard?

That all depends on the severity of the issues we find. In the case of Legend of Wukong, our second RPG for the Genesis, around 30% of the game had to be reprogrammed in order to fix bugs, add new features, et cetera. A game is never good enough to be published until I feel that it is something I, myself would buy. And I have pretty high standards.

NL: In terms of the development process, what particular challenges does the Super NES offer in relation to the other platforms you've worked on?

BC: It's not the most developer friendly system in the world, but that's okay because the game itself was already complete. All we really had to do was add a few small bits here and there, and everything was good to go. Apart from that the production costs are quite a bit higher than for the Genesis and Lynx, so we unfortunately had to raise our sales price to compensate.

NL: A major emphasis on your products appears to be a certain level of material quality. How important are manuals, cases and conventional cartridges to your ethos as a publisher?

BC: They are just as important as every other aspect of our product. Game quality, packaging quality and customer service quality make up the 'triad of necessity' at Super Fighter Team.

NL: Your website makes a commitment to using all-new materials for the cartridge and packaging, made in your own factory. What prompted this policy as opposed to re-purposing existing materials?

BC: You wouldn't make a fresh, delicious sandwich only to wrap it in garbage, would you?

NL: I guess not! When deciding on pricing and the number of copies to be initially printed — $68 and 600 respectively — what kind of consumers are you targeting with your products? Is it an exclusive community, or do you believe that you can attract newcomers to the idea of buying a new Super NES release in this form?

BC: Every time we release something new, e-mails come in to us from people who state that they bought the target console just to play our game. That's the goal, really. People who already own the machine are certainly likely to buy one of our new games if they feel it suits their tastes. But what we really want to make are games that are so good, they inspire people to not only buy the consoles they're released for, but then investigate other games for those consoles, too.

NL: With these titles arguably occupying a 'niche' market, have you considered producing low-cost digital alternatives to these physical copies?

BC: We've considered digital publishing several times, but it just wouldn't have the same panache. We're out to give people new games for classic systems, not new games in a classic flavor, for a current day system. I think if anything, we'd do a digital release of one of our PC (DOS) titles, because asking people to go back and buy heavy, old computers to play these games authentically is perhaps asking a bit too much. But, we'll see...

NL: Which is your favourite classic console, and why?

BC: Console: Genesis / Mega Drive
Handheld: Original, monochromatic Game Boy
Computer: Apple IIc

The Genesis was (and still is!) the 'cool' console: an elegant, powerful machine encased in rebellious black plastic which perfectly embodies the 'I couldn't care less whether you play with me or not, but we both know you're going to' image.

Despite the hardware limitations of the original Game Boy, it had the best games of any incarnation of the system, if you ask me. I actually saw a guy in a grocery store just the other day who was carrying a Game Boy Color with him while he shopped. In passing I told him, "The original model is still the best!" With a smile, he flipped the machine around to show me that it housed one of the first generation Game Paks. Apparently I'm not alone in this belief.

The Apple IIc provided me my first experiences with two things I will love unconditionally for the rest of my life: command line operating systems and video game production. The IIc is a miracle machine even in today's world, and I will always adore it.

NL: Do you have future plans to develop for any of the current-generation platforms?

BC: Haven't given it any thought because, at least for now, it wouldn't be any fun. I don't care about the money it could potentially bring in, because we're not about money; we're about doing what we love and sharing it with the world. When you start doing stuff you don't enjoy, it becomes work. And to quote Butt-Head: 'Work sucks.'

We'd like to thank Brandon Cobb for his time, as well as the screenshots of Nightmare Busters.

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User Comments (24)

Shiryu

#1

Shiryu said:

Very impressive read. I wish nothing but the best for this gents. I would also love for them to adquire rights to games that were never published in the west (oh, the judicial nightmare to get such thing done...) and am fairly impressed with the fact they are producing thir own cart parts. Will keep an eye out in the future for their upcoming releases.

DiggerandIndy

#2

DiggerandIndy said:

Wow. One of the best articles I've read in a while on this website. I've heard of Nightmare Busters on Youtube, but not being officially released. I might get this game, just because it's on my favorite console! :-D

ogo79

#3

ogo79 said:

nice read, i wish they would re-release Beggar Prince and Legend of Wukong...

SteveW

#4

SteveW said:

It will have to be an amazing game before I'd pay $68 for it, I haven't paid that much for any game...

chewytapeworm

#6

chewytapeworm said:

Wonder if it's worth holding onto my Wii and 3ds for the next 20 years? Maybe some random, good looking, long-lost games will be released in that time for those consoles?

LordJumpMad

#7

LordJumpMad said:

All this work for a dated game.
I saw what Nightmare Busters was a few years ago, and it doesn't need to come back.

Some games are best left dead

1upsuper

#10

1upsuper said:

@DictatorJumpMad I seriously lol'd. You seem to have entirely missed the point of Nightmare Busters and by extension all "new retro" games.

Anyways, this project certainly has my interest. If it wasn't already completely sold out I'd definitely consider securing a copy.

defrb

#11

defrb said:

Very cool, there was a same situation on the nes last year.

Will this be released on a cardridge? Then ill have to fix the adaptor of my snes.

Good luck with creating a tribute game for this legendary machine!

thanos316

#12

thanos316 said:

you can't knock a team that producing quality titles that people want. he even said that hes pretty hard to please and that he won't release a game that he wouldn't himself buy. so thats good to hear cause you know you won't be paying for bull crap, and you will get your monies worth. so keep making those titles that people want, and it doesn't have to be a million seller. hey they are having fun making those titles, so thats all good. and maybe i should start keeping my consoles longer. but i think imma keep my wii for a long long time. there is so much yet to be done on "old machines"....

MakeMyBiscuit

#14

MakeMyBiscuit said:

@DictatorJumpMad

Sadly, you did miss the point but thanks for the video link.

That games looks great! It is nice to see someone showing some love to the old school 16 bit systems. I still have my Genesis, 32X, Sega CD super combiner system. I would love to see more games for the Genesis or even see what these guys could do with a Sega CD or 32X or even a truly epic Sega CD 32X game.

sykotek

#15

sykotek said:

...shooting, platforming, sliding, boss battles, and different weapons? Man, that sounds Mega cool. I'd gladly support them if they ever decided to release their games on VC or on Steam, but I don't think they want my non-console purist money.

Ryno

#17

Ryno said:

Love that this dude is a "Console purist." Cannot wait for this game. Wii U, pee U. SNES is where it is at!

ICEknight

#18

ICEknight said:

You guys kind of make it sound like Super Fighter Team has actually developed the games they're releasing, but that would be wrong.

Zenszulu

#19

Zenszulu said:

Super Fighter Team probably done a better job with Legend of Wukong on the Megadrive/Genesis not only translating it but fixing some of the problems in the game. If you are looking for new games on old systems I would check out Pier Solar that is a new game on the Megadrive/Genesis and the developers have three more games in development too.

Chuie

#20

Chuie said:

they should make games still for dreamcast :D like final fantasy 7 dreamcast edition

Zenszulu

#22

Zenszulu said:

@MakeMyBiscuit They will only translate games or publish unreleased ones though not make brand new games, since so far all they have done is that Legend of Wukong is perhaps their only one they can truly claim is a lot of their own work as they not only translated it but fixed all the bugs, although I do like them publishing games that never seen the light of day like this, and it does show there is still a market for things like this.

MakeMyBiscuit

#23

MakeMyBiscuit said:

@Zensulu

Thanks man. I did not know that :( but maybe they can get a hold of some of those unpublished 32X games that never saw that light of day :)

Zenszulu

#24

Zenszulu said:

@MakeMyBiscuit Would be interesting if they did but with so few working 32x systems about would it be financially worth it? Plus I would almost go as far to say that most 32x games probably were no where near finished anyway.

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