Evercade Cartridge Preview: Sunsoft Collection 1
We revealed the Delphine Software Collection 1 and Sunsoft Collection 1 cartridges in Vol. 1 of our showcase events for 2023 back at the end of May. And we thought it was high time we took a closer look at them, since at the time of writing the release date is getting closer and closer!
The Sunsoft Collection 1 package brings together six classic games from a well-loved legend of Japanese gaming, running the gamut from their very earliest titles up until their later releases — some of which are extremely hard to come by in their original format today, making this Evercade release a great, affordable means of adding them to your collection.
Also known simply as Gimmick!, this is a cult classic platformer that was only released in Japan and Scandinavia back in the day. The story concerns a mysterious toy named Mr. Gimmick (Yumetaro in the Japanese original) who is tasked with rescuing his owner Mary from her other toys. Jealous of how much Mary loved Mr. Gimmick after her father brought him home for her birthday, her toys sprang to life, kidnapped her and set up some of the most fiendish platforming challenges of the entire 8-bit era to stand in any would-be saviour’s way!
Mr. Gimmick is an extremely challenging platformer, but a very rewarding one to get to grips with. To help you out in that regard, we’ve tweaked the original format of the game slightly to provide you with a few more lives from the outset, meaning you should have to rely less on continues if you’re playing without using the Evercade save game function.
You still shouldn’t expect an easy ride, though — Mr. Gimmick is a game that rewards practice and patience, but the lovely visual presentation and brilliant music definitely make it one you’ll keep coming back to time after time. And if you want to get the game’s best ending, you’ll want to replay until you find all the hidden items scattered throughout the various stages!
One of Sunsoft’s most well-known games, Blaster Master is an 8-bit adventure that originally hails from 1988, and was a defining influence on the open-structure exploratory platformers we still enjoy to this day.
Its narrative is very different between its original Japanese release and the arguably more well-known localised version found on this Evercade cart. While the Japanese original was set up as an epic sci-fi affair, the North American version rather notoriously replaced all of this with a rather silly setup about a kid losing his frog down a big radioactive hole. Hilariously, this latter narrative setup is the one that ended up with an official novelisation that even ended up being written into series canon.
But we digress. Blaster Master is a fantastic game featuring both side-scrolling platforming segments in which you drive the supertank Sophia III, and top-down blasting sequences where you control pilot (and frog owner) Jason. Like most Sunsoft games, it features a banging soundtrack and a stiff challenge, so be prepared for hours of enjoyment with this one.
Blaster Master Boy
Blaster Master Boy is another example of games that underwent peculiar changes in the transition from their original Japanese format to their localised English versions. Originally, this wasn’t supposed to be a Blaster Master game at all, but instead a spinoff of the famous Bomberman series! Indeed, once you know this bit of trivia, certain aspects of Blaster Master Boy’s gameplay make a lot more sense.
Eschewing the tank-based platforming of the original game and unfolding exclusively from a top-down perspective, in Blaster Master Boy you once again take on the role of Jason as he explores various levels, defeating foes with his gun and explosives while clearing a path onwards. There’s something of a puzzle feel to many levels, though there’s plenty of baddy-blasting action, too, as the name suggests.
Of particular note in Blaster Master Boy are the special items that allow you to light up darkened rooms, safely walk over spikes and traverse deep water — plus a wide variety of different explosives with which to defeat your enemies and, if you’re not careful, yourself.
Aero the Acro-Bat
While a lot of Sunsoft’s most beloved games hailed from the 8-bit era, Aero the Acro-Bat was one of the company’s more well-known titles from 16-bit home consoles. The game’s original designer David Siller drew inspiration from Namco’s classic Mappy series for elements of its gameplay, but incorporated the larger-scale levels that mascot platformers in the early to mid-’90s became known for.
Unlike many other mascot platformers, Aero the Acro-Bat isn’t just a straight run from left to right in order to beat each stage. Instead, to make the exit appear on each level, you’ll need to accomplish a specific task — usually involving some sort of acrobatics or perilous platforming.
Jump through hoops, locate hidden keys, stand on awkwardly placed star platforms — the life of an acrobat who is also a bat (do you see what they did there?) is never an easy one!
Journey to Silius
The excellent run-and-gun title Journey to Silius was originally intended to be a tie-in game for the famous action flick The Terminator, but licensing shenanigans along the way caused it to end up as an all-original title. While it might have been fun to see Sunsoft’s take on Arnie, the lack of attached movie license means that Journey to Silius is still a lot more accessible today than it might otherwise have been.
Taking on control of the brilliantly named Jay McCray, it’s your job to travel to the ruined Space Colony 428 in the Silius solar system and battle the terrorists who have taken control there. Along the way, you’ll gather a series of powerful weapons and take on a variety of deadly foes — all accompanied by some of Sunsoft’s very best 8-bit music.
As a relatively late-era 8-bit game — its original release date was in 1990 — Journey to Silius is rather technically impressive considering its original host hardware. Plus it plays great and offers a tricky challenge that will keep you coming back for many happy play sessions.
Finally, we close out the Sunsoft Collection 1 cartridge with one of the company’s earliest games. In fact, Arabian even predates the Sunsoft name — at the time, they were still going by the name Sun Electronics.
Unlike the other games in this collection, Arabian originated as an arcade game, and thus has a markedly different sort of structure and feel to it. Interestingly, although the original arcade version of Arabian came to western regions, this 8-bit home console version did not, making it yet another “world first” on an Evercade cartridge!
In Arabian, you’ll fight through several different stages, collecting magic pots to spell out bonus words and ultimately rescue Princess Leia. No, not the one from Star Wars. It’s a lot simpler than the other games on this cartridge, but definitely one that has that elusive addictive quality that will keep you trying for high scores.
Sunsoft Collection 1 is set for release on September 28, 2023. Find out more and preorder here.
With over 260 games available