News Article

Sega Genesis Owners Very Nearly Missed Out On Treasure's Gunstar Heroes

Posted by Damien McFerran

Sega of America almost passed on the legendary run-and-gun title

Localising Japanese games for western release is a costly process, and even today we still see a lot of titles remaining Japan exclusives and therefore tantalisingly out of reach. Back in the '90s it was very much the same deal, with many amazing 16-bit games failing to make the jump to the west.

Amazingly, Treasure's sublime Gunstar Heroes was almost one of those titles. According to former Sega of America producer Mac Senour, the game only saw release in the US because he fell in love with it after every other producer turned it down:

Not just all the producers, all of the associate producers as well. 12 people looked at it and passed before it got to me. If I didn’t pick it up, he was going to be rejected. I played it for five minutes, maybe less, and threw the controller on the floor and said “this is game of the year.” Every one in earshot laughed.

The reason was made very clear to me. Gunstar had small characters. We had just published, or were about to publish, World Series Baseball with a HUGE batter. All the games were showing off something the developers of Spider-Man had discovered, a way to make double high sprites. Gunstar didn’t use this and so the others passed. I saw it as something different. I have to say I made only one real change: there’s a boss in a military uniform, and in the original version he was Hitler. I asked them to remove the moustache or change the character.

Gunstar Heroes also saw release in Europe, but had the US launch not happened, there's a good chance that the game would have skipped that region, too. Seems like Sega fans all over the world owe Senour a massive Thank You!


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User Comments (31)



D3athBr1ng3r187 said:

Weird I just comment on the other topic (Best Games Lineup) about this growing up this is one of my favorite games on Sega Genesis which I have the same picture and here a topic explaining that the game almost never made it to Genesis LOL well i'm glad that never happened because I wouldn't never be met with my Sega with this game growing up or never knew this game exist.



unrandomsam said:

If they can make a 3D Classic of Gunstar Super Heroes that would be really good. (Think there is another they use the GBA version as the base version). Don't think it would fail this time.



retro_player_22 said:

It's good that they manage to get the Genesis version of Gunstar Heroes here in the west. Too bad the Game Gear version never came though.



Shiryu said:

That's insane. It's my favourite Megadrive game of all time, I only had a SNES back in the day and I even so, I wanted a Megadrive just to play "Gunstar Heroes".



Artwark said:

One of my favorite games of all time. SEGA if you can make Sonic good like this, I couldn't thank you enough.



Genesaur said:

Gunstar Super Heroes was pretty awesome, too. That probably didn't have nearly as much trouble getting here.



StarBoy91 said:

No way, I never that! Gunstar Heroes is an excellent game, and one of my top favorites for the MegaDrive/Genesis. Its spiritual sequel (if you like to call it that) by Treasure Mischief Makers was good (not great, imo), but as far as I'm concerned it can never hold a candle to this legendary 16-bit classic!



StarBoy91 said:

@CrabGats - I'm aware that they're not related, I know they're not in canon with each other. But both games do have that Treasure feel, charm, and persnality pervading throughout them that I honestly can't help feel that way (but then that's how I personally view it, I totally understand how others would not). Yeah, I have unusual viewpoints on things sometimes, I'm not coy to admit that.



Rezalack said:

This was one of the best multiplayer games on the Genesis.. me and my friends poored hours into this. Possibly one of the best Genesis games.



Ryno said:

There were so many HItler references from back in the 8-16 bit days in Japan. I have never played this, (its a Genesis game so it's easy to see why) but I should someday due to how many people gush over this.



hYdeks said:

I absolutely LOVED Gunstar Heroes, I played it all the time when I was a kid. Happy they did bring it to the west



unrandomsam said:

@Ryno Nobody had a problem with stuff like that other than Nintendo (And to a lesser extent Sega). Wolfenstein 3D was about that time. Call of Duty uses the Taliban as the enemy. The powers that be (Other than in Germany) have never had a problem with the Nazi's being the enemy. The religious symbolism / stuff like Hitler are part of the life of lots of these games and without them it just seems bare. (Or doesn't make sense - Chrono Trigger the drink - Edgar in FF6 is supposed to be an alcoholic). Stuff like cheap nudity and stuff I can understand but stuff that breaks the story makes it seem like Nintendo (of America) was the one being childish. (Japan never had a problem. Europe inherited it from America (And made some things even worse due to Germany)).



Dreamcaster-X said:

I still play this game all the time!! It's one of those games that has aged beautifully!!! Everything about it is just near perfect. It's the best run-n-gun shooter of the 16 bit era hands down!



unrandomsam said:

@Dreamcaster-X Metal Slug X or 3 still counts as 16 bit (You cannot just add the bits of the main and coprocessor like that) - I don't like the filter that is on it on the Wii VC and I am convinced that Game Over - Music bit isn't emulated right.

Alien Soldier even though it is hard to get into is technically better. There is also Rendering Ranger R2. (Don't get me wrong I still really like this and play it pretty frequently not sure whether it is the best though).



retro_player_22 said:


Actually Nintendo of America does that because of the number of complaints they would received from angry parents had contents like that exist. Sega and many other gaming competitors are an exception since they market their product with mature audience in mind (if such complaint exist, Sega won't be in the wrong as compare to Ninty due to them already stated who they market their products for), Nintendo market its product with everyone in mind, yes everyone including those that are against those kind of contents. Nintendo of Japan could feature contents like those over there cause there aren't that many ethnic cultures (the ones that are against those kind of contents) over there other than their own, so any worries of anti-content feature in a game isn't a big deal over there.

Remember USA had more than one ethnic groups, Japan only has one (the tourists and vets living over there doesn't count), Nintendo of Japan doesn't had to worry much about Japanese do and don't in Japan as compare to Nintendo of America in the USA. You may try to include Hitler in a Nintendo console game and release it here in the US and a bunch of German American descends will be boycotting to get rid of that game, the same situation won't happen in Japan or any other country (except Germany).



retro_player_22 said:

Since there are no German living in Japan, Japan is free to include anything they want in their games. I mean c'mon no one is against them for doing it. Not the same elsewhere though.



ecco6t9 said:

I get the feeling a 3D version will happen. Treasure instead of M2 will probably do it.



ungibbed said:

I used to work with Mac Senour back in the days of Atari Games/Tengen/Time Warner Interactive. He is truly a class act even before Gunstar Heroes was in the works. One of the greatest producers I've met over the years and truly love Gunstar Heroes as one of the most technically impressive Genesis games.

Also proud to have it in my classic Wii virtual console library.



GreatPlayer said:

I doubt the loyal Nintendo fans care about Gunstar Heros... If Nintendo creates trash some people will worship it anyway. Sega... lololo!



unrandomsam said:

@retro_player_22 In 30 years time everybody with direct experience of that tragedy will be dead. Trying to pretend it never happened will make people grow up ignorant and something like it far more likely to happen again. Truth never does any harm to anybody.



retro_player_22 said:


It's not Nintendo pretending it never happen, it's Nintendo trying to protect the safety of their business. Japan is free to include any contents they want on their side of the market, in the US or a nation with multiple ethnics, including contents or trademark that violates or are against other people, religions or cultures is a sign of welcoming retaliation. To prevent Ninty from receiving such retaliation, they had to altered contents to protect their business and IP.

Even Capcom did this, remember the Mike Tyson conflict with Street Fighter, because of fear that Tyson would sue the heck out of them for using a likeness and name similar to his own outside Japan, Capcom had to rotate the names of M. Bison (the boxer), Balrog (the bull fighter), and Vega (the final boss) to Balrog (the boxer), Vega (the bullfighter), and M. Bison (the final boss) everywhere else. Even their starred character Ken was in violation of Mattel toy character trademark with similar likeness and name. For this reason Capcom had added a trademark surname for Ken (Ken Masters).



ungibbed said:


Do you remember the original arcade cabinet? In the game the names were changed but the artwork still had the Japanese names with the characters.



retro_player_22 said:


Really? Never knew that. Yeah it's being a long time since I saw a Street Fighter II arcade cabinet. The last time I see a SF cabinet, it was at a bowling station with Street Fighter Alpha 2 as the only fighting game there. It was a fun game at the time too, that was around 2001-2002.



ungibbed said:

@retro_player_22 it was only printed on the first generation Street Fighter II dedicated cabinets (the entire machine purchased as a whole) and some CE cabinets if they were upgraded but never had the monitor bezel changed.

I used to repair arcade games many years ago when that game was the rage. Twice a year I had to change out the joysticks and buttons from people being so hard on them and the occasional spilled drink making the buttons stick.

I miss it really as consoles really have killed the coin op business.

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