The saga of Paprium – the next game from Pier Solar developer WaterMelon – rolls ever onwards. Earlier this year we spoke to one of the game's artists about the stop-start nature of the project, which is now six years into development and was given a large injection of funding in 2017 when people were asked to place pre-orders. Hailed as the scrolling fighter to topple the mighty Streets of Rage 2, it would, we were told, push the Mega Drive / Genesis to its absolute limits.
WaterMelon's Gwénaël Godde (AKA: Fonzie) has proven to be quite hard to pin down over the past few months, but the company has always assured backers that the game is coming and that it would launch at the close of 2018 (a year after its original projected release date). This is despite no solid footage being shown of Paprium running on an actual Mega Drive console.
At the end of last month, hopes were raised when WaterMelon announced it was holding a special party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Sega's 16-bit console and the impending launch of Paprium (a party that was so low-key that we've only just been notified that it even happened). The kicker? What was shown at the event was clearly an unfinished version of the game that was running off a development cartridge covered in wires and LEDs. To make matters worse, the game lacked any enemies and crashed more than once during the demonstration. Glitches were also everywhere.
There were some interesting insights to come out of the party, though. Paprium will use a feature called 'MegaWire' to connect to the internet – via your phone or other internet-ready device – which we presume means an online leaderboard is planned (if the game ever gets released, that is). It is also stated that, like Pier Solar, the game will come with additional features that are unlocked via the Mega CD. Some irritated fans have sarcastically suggested that this connectivity has been included to allow WaterMelon to ship the game incomplete and add in missing elements later on.
Adding in extra features is a nice touch, but the fact that Paprium was shown in a clearly unfinished state when apparently the game is nearing production has predictably raised alarm; surely at a launch party, there's no harm in demonstrating the real deal? Why risk showing off a bare-bones beta and causing such a stink if you really have the final game waiting to be shipped out to those who had pre-ordered it?
WaterMelon has since stated that it did not want to show off the final game at the event and ruin the surprise for those whose copies would be arriving soon. However, with December now approaching and no confirmation emails arriving that state when the game will physically be shipped, those who backed the project are starting to lose their patience.
There's a thread on the Sega-16 forums which is now over 500 pages long and perfectly showcases the annoyance, anger and sheer puzzlement of those who pledged their hard-earned cash to try and make this game a reality; as one commenter puts it:
I've finally come to the realization that this game may never see the light of day, at least not in the form we had all hoped. I am not going to ask for a refund though, I consider that money lost long, long ago. And while I always try to see the positive in things, I'm starting to think this situation is beyond repair.
According to Paprium Fasico, a site established to highlight the dire situation of the game, people are having serious difficulties getting their money back, despite WaterMelon's previous assertions that refunds would be given to anyone who asked for one. We pre-ordered a copy via PayPal and when we tried to claim our refund yesterday were told that it was outside of the usual 180 day grace period, so no refund could be given.
We've approached WaterMelon for comment and to request a refund, but have yet to hear back on either topic. We'll update this article if we get any kind of response.