On October 2008, a playable prototype of Happy Camper, an unreleased NES game that was in development at Color Dreams, was discovered between various remains of the studio. NGD was the lucky collector that got his hands on this legendary game and he decided to share his find with all the other NES fans: infos and screens from HC were soon released, so that documents of its existence can now be preserved. But that’s not all. The next week (February 2009), Happy Camper will be finally released to the public, complete with a phisical cart, a paper manual and much more! We had a little interview with NGD, to talk about his discovery, the release of the game and the thoughs of a collector on the wonderful world of unseen games.
Warning: sorry for the spelling errors, we’ll fix them asap ;)
U64: Thanks for your time NGD! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
NGD: My name is Jason aka NationalGameDepot or NGD for short. I have been collecting NES for around 10 years or so now. I had a fully CIB NES set minus a Stadium Event box until this month, when I sold my CIB Myraid 6 in 1. So I am missing the SE box, and a Myriad now for a full set. I also have a few hundred PAL games, around 100 multi-carts, the test carts, Sachen stuff, and pile of other random crap. I am also the guy that has the giant 8ft Nintendo and 7ft Gameboy :) Check out my site @ www.nationalgamedepot.zoomshare.com for some old pics.
U64: Can you tell us about Happy Camper and how did you find it?
NGD: I found Happy Camper on accident to be honest. I have a contact at an old game company and bought a lot of stuff from her that included some game art, company documents, new boxes/manauls, slides and all other kind of goodies. The lot of stuff had about 60 or same lose chips that came in with it. I contacted my friend bunnyboy (www.retrousb.com) and had him dump and combine all the games together. Low and behold Happy Camper just happened to be in that lot of stuff. It also had some Korean games, and aother unreleased NES game titles Free Fall (which already has a rom dump floating around on the internet from years ago)
U64: Why did you decided to share screens and infos about HC? Sometimes collectors prefer to “hide” their most precious prototypes: could it be dangerous to share such informations on the web?
NGD: As soon as I found the game, I knew right then I had to get it released to the public! I don’t want to see games die or be lost overtime, I would much rather see them have a release. I contacted the owner of the original company and made sure I have full rights and permissiong to release the game as I see fit, so I am covered in that regard as well. There was quite the buzz when the screenshots first were released in the NintendoAGE monthly ezine, and news of Happy Camper traveled pretty quick to several internet gaming sites.
U64: Can you tell us about your future plans of physical release for Happy Camper, when and where we’ll be able to buy it?
NGD: The game is getting a full blown CIB release!! I done a preorder at NintendoAGE for the first 100 copies and have sold out of the pre-order (which all have a speical bonus for pre-ordering). The “plan” is to release the game Feb 1st 2009 if all goes well. I have most of the stuff I need now to release it, just waiting on the boxes and manuals to finish being printed.
Anyone will be able to purchase a copy if they want one. There is a stickied thread at Nintendo Age about it in the buy/sell thread, or people can contact me directly at [email protected]. The cost will be $55 shipped anywhere in the US via priority mail w/ DC# for tracking. Canada is $57 shipped, and the rest of the world is $62 shipped. Here is what you will be getting for your $$:
- The previously unreleased Happy Camper cart
- A black dust sleeve
- The original artwork designed box (Tusky’s best box to date IMO)
- A 16 page manual
- A stryo insert
- A packed in woodland creature (similar to Monster in my Pocket)
- A box protector
- …and a pre-order item if you were lucky enough to get in on the pre-order
U64: Do you plan to release more prototypes from your collection?
NGD: I am not really much of a prototype collector to be honest. This is the 2nd game I have released though with Mike Ditka’s Big Play Football being the first. I only have a small handful of protos in my collection and most of them are just tiny minor changes. I do still have Free Fall which is a Wisdom Tree game, and I might release it later down the road if anyone is interested in it at all. I am always on the lookout for new games to relase though, cause I like getting them out there for the community.
U64: Whit a public release of the game, are you “scared” about the possible lose of value of the original prototype?
NGD: As soon as you dump any unreleased proto, and esp after you release one into the mainstream you are going to lose a lot of the value of the cart. I probably could have gotten 1500-2k for Happy Camper before it was dumped and released. I say I would be lucky if I could get 500-600 for it after the release of it. I am more concerned with getting it out than losing money on it. I don’t really plan on selling it anyways, so that doesn’t really matter much to me.
U64: Where do you usually find prototypes? Ebay? Obscure gaming shops? Flea markets?
NGD: The few protos I have snagged have been in private deals outside ebay, or on forums mostly. I have never found anything in the wild, or bought one on ebay.
U64: Which is your favorite “prototype game” and why?
NGD: I honestly think Happy Camper is :) It has been a very well known proto for years by the NES community and has been discussed several times. Some screenshots have floated around for years for it, but the game has never surfaced until now, I was just lucky enough to have found it.
U64: What are some of your favorite released games?
NGD: I love the Metroid and Zelda series like almost any gamer does :) Some of my favorite NES games are Contra, Super C, Solar Jetman, Image Fight, and of course all the other great ones that everyone on the planet likes.
For newer gen. stuff, I love the Pikmin series and and a HUGE DS fan. I have caught the DS demo bug right now and can’t stop buying them. lol
U64: How do you see the scene behind beta/canceled games, their
collectors and their fans?
NGD: I am honestly a bit surprised that more people aren’t into betas and proto stuff to be honest. For most protos there might be 1-3 protos at most that exist (making them stupid rare) and there isn’t that big a market for them. In the NES scene only a small handful of people have large protos collections. Considering what they are, they don’t sell for nearly what they really should considering the rarity based on released games. I am not a big proto guy myself, but I do love playing around with them and finding differences from the released versions
U64: Which is your favorite food?
NGD: Well I am on a diet now, so all I am really eating is salads, ice tea and fruit :( I am a huge Steak guy though and love me a nice big bloody steak :p mmmmmmmmm steak!
U64: Well, that was the last question, thanks again for your time! Do you want to add something?
NGD: I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me and running site dediciated to the lost jewels of the gaming world. I would also encourage anyone who loves this type of thing to buy a copy of the game. It takes a LOT of money to release a game like this (way more than most people imagine) and by having projects like this be successful encourages other collectors to follow suit and relase games as well. I think we can all agree that releasing this lost games is a plus for the gaming community overall. To close I would just like to say Buy Happy Camper now ;)
You can see more screens from Happy Camper in our archive page.