JRPG

PoPoLoCrois [SNES, Super Famicom CD – Cancelled]

PoPoLoCrois is a cult-following series of RPGs based on a ‘70s manga by Tamori Yohsuke, of which just a few games were translated and published outside of Japan. The first game was developed by Epics (G-Artists) in collaboration with Sugar & Rockets and released in 1996 in Japan for the original Playstation, but it was initially conceived as a SNES / Super Famicom CD System project. This 16-bit PoPoLoCrois game was cancelled when the console add-on was canned by Sony and Nintendo.

A few photos from the design document for this SNES version were found and shared online by fans of the series and former developers, so we can preserve some proof of the existence of this lost RPG. As far as we know only this design doc was completed for the SNES CD version of PoPoLoCrois before being cancelled, but it would be nice to know if a 16-bit prototype was already in the works. Afterall, even the released Playstation game had a graphic style very reminiscent of old-school SNES RPGs, more than its 32-bit contemporaries.

Some details and theories about this unreleased 16-bit PoPoLoCrois were shared by Japanese website popolo-crois.com, “translated” by Google translate:

“The plan for the Super Nintendo Popolo shown on the left side of this photo is drawn by Mr. Fukushima in 1989 for Popolo’s animation project, so naturally this plan was created. It was after that. And the notation “EPIC/SONY RECORDS” (all caps) in the lower right of the proposal came to be used after its predecessor EPIC/Sony was absorbed and merged with CBS/Sony in March 1988. However, since CBS Sony changed its trademark to Sony Music Entertainment (SME) in April 1991, it has been mixed with lower case letters such as “Epic/Sony Records”. Therefore, the use of all capital letters in this plan suggests that the plan was created before April 1991 when the notation changed, so that period from 1989 to 1991 I’m guessing it will be until the end of March.

*As far as the date drawn on the setting data of 2 is concerned, it is from September to November 1992. The date of the monster design drawn by Mr. Tamori was also in October 1992, so I wonder if it was probably in the process of becoming a game by this time. In this material, not only Popolo 1’s enemies such as the Ice Demon King and Shitenno, but also Barbara, Myra (also transformed into Sanya!), Zilva, Leona, and other characters that appear in Popolo 2 as well as pilot films will appear. The tango and the figure of Paul the Lion are very widespread, so I have no idea how much story was planned at this stage. However, in July 1992, Sony decided to enter the home-use game console, and since the production of the Playstation version Popolo started in January 1993, as described below, all of this material is for the Super Famicom version. It is unknown whether or not the PS version was also in view (some people say that Pietro’s hairstyle is shaved due to the memory of Super Famicom).

*3 The reason why the PS version of Popolo started to be produced around January 1993 was that Tetsuji Yamamoto said in a magazine interview (CONTINUE Vol.52) that it was three years from the start of Popolo’s production until release. It is said that it took a month, so I calculated backwards from the release date of Popolo. Also, Mr. Yamamoto seems to have been in charge of the PS business preparation room 10 months before the establishment of SCE, so it means that the production of PS version Popolo started at about the same time when the project of this PlayStation unit started. Right. If so, it is considered that Popolo’s production platform moved from Super NES to PlayStation between July 1992 and January 1993.

As I arranged the flow of production of the PS version of Popolo as described above, it is a question about “the circumstances have changed considerably since the pilot film and the design of the scenario and characters have changed”, but the circumstances have changed significantly Rather, it was before the pilot film was produced, and since then, I have not seen so much movement, including changes in the character design. As for the scenario, the essence of PS version Popolo is concentrated in the pilot film. By the way, what is the story behind the pilot film? At the stage of the pilot film, there was already a design image of the Ice Demon King, so was there any reason why I dared to bring in a Skinnag?”

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Ralphadia (Taito) [NES / Famicom – Cancelled]

Ralphadia is a cancelled JRPG that was planned by Taito for the Nintendo Famicom / NES, around 1992. This is another forgotten NES game with not much information online: Akamid83 found a small preview for the game in an old promotional leaflet for in-development Famicom and shared a photo on Twitter.

Ralphadia-Taito-JRPG-NES-Famicom-Cancelled

Heimao, who notified us about the photo, wrote “It is said that it was a novel mechanism in which the enemy was placed 360 degrees around the player in the battle”. By looking at these tiny screenshots it seems Ralphadia had a strange overworld map, with a top-down perspective on the bottom of the screen and a side-scrolling scenario at the top.

There are also 2 screenshots showing cities, were the game kept its side-scrolling view. Combat was “first-person turn-based”, similar to Dragon Quest, but you may have been able to rotate the “first person” camera around to see more enemies all around your protagonists.

That’s it all for now: will we ever see something else from this lost Famicom RPG? As it often happens with these obscure, unreleased Japanese games from the ’90s, probably not. If you can read Japanese and see more interesting details written in the leaflet photo, let us know in the comments below! 

Space Opera: Great Gods [NES / Famicom – Cancelled]

Space Opera: Great Gods ( スペースオペラ 大いなる神々, Supesuopera Oinaru Kamigami) is a cancelled JRPG that was in development by Software Industrial (?) for the Famicom (NES). Only a few screenshots are available, showing off a classic RPG similar to Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, but played in sci-fi settings (similar to Phantasy Star). Some details about this lost game were shared online by a japanese website:

Space opera is a subgenre of science fiction movies, where the hero is usually on a high-speed spaceship. Around summer 1990, a certain magazine hosted a game creator contest by Software Industrial. The tournament was set in three categories: fantasy art, scenario, and software. For each category they offered a grand prize of 1 million yen! Their plan was probably to find new ideas to create a new successful Famicom game.

One of these new ideas was announced in 1991: Space Opera, a sci-fi RPG with an automatic combat system. Using artificial intelligence and by gaining experience during battles, players would be able to improve their character’s AI to improve their fighting abilities. It seems you could also befriend monsters after battle, turning them into cards to be carried around and used in battles, just like in Pokemon.”

We don’t know what happened to Space Opera, nor Software Industrial as we cannot find anything about them online. If you know more about this lost Famicom game, please let us know!

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Indy the Magical Kid (Shounen Majutsushi) [NES – Cancelled]

Indy the Magical Kid (Shounen Majutsushi Indy – 「少年魔術師インディ」) is a cancelled Famicom (NES) turn-based RPG that was meant to be published by IGS Corp. Somehow it looks like a mix between Dragon Quest and Mother / Earthbound. Previews and screenshots from Indy the Magical Kid were published in many japanese gaming magazines at the time and some scans of those were gathered by Video Games Densetsu on their blog. Character designer for the heroes of the game was Hiroshi Fuji (mostly known for Valkyrie no Densetsu and Valkyrie no Bōken), while enemy design was by Yūichirō Shinozaki (mostly known for The Tower of Druaga and Baraduke)

Indy the Magical Kid was based on a short series of “choose your own adventure books” with the same title, published in Japan by Futabasha / Recca-Sha. By searching for more details about these gamebooks, it seems Indy the Magical Kid was written by the same author as the Final Fantasy 2 gamebook and fans feel the two interactive novels are quite similar.

These japanese adventure books were more complex than the average “choose your own adventure books”: other than choosing different choices at the end of each chapter to change the story accordingly, readers were also able to use dices and gather money, items and experience, that would be used to resolve combats and other key events.

As in most gamebooks Indy the Magical Kid had multiple endings depending on your choices, so we can assume that the Famicom game could also have offered many different endings and multiple storylines. The plot of the game would have probably followed the one seen in the books:

“During the absence of his master, Indy – an apprentice magician – has unlocked the seal of the “Magical Inferno” for curiosity. In order to escape from this world he will have to exterminate demons with the help of master’s cat Miau and another magical girl, using weapons, rods, magic-letters, and spirits’ protection.”

As noted by GDRI a short video of Indy the Magical Kid was shown during a Japanese TV Show titled “The TV Power” and it could have been developed by Graphic Research. Looking at this footage (re-uploaded on Youtube by Dosunceste) it seems that by using magic portals players were able to jump into different parallel dimensions of the same world in which NPCs, cities and dungeons were slightly different from each other.

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