Developer M2 talks about SEGA’s Space Harrier 3D port

26 Nov

Naoki Horii M2 Yosuke Okunari SEGA CS3

 

This thursday the 3DS eShop will finally be hit with 3D classics from SEGA, including arcade masterpiece Space Harrier.

The game is obviously published by SEGA, but the actual port of the old arcade game (alongside with all the other SEGA classics for the Nintendo 3DS) is made by developer M2, that started in the industry many years ago and it’s responsible for the SEGA AGES compilations on Saturn, and eventually, on PlayStation 2 and Wii Virtual Console.

It seams that this kind of porting are quite difficult to make and Naoki Horii, President of M2, talk about the whole process in this interesting double interview with SEGA CS3 Producer Yosuke Okunari on Game Watch and Impress website, and kindly translated in English by the official SEGA Blog.

space harrier

• Alright, let’s start by talking a little about this company called M2. Horii-san, do you mind?

Naoki Horii: Talk to people in the game industry and you’ll find out that everyone was a “gamer kid”. We’re no different ourselves, and our company’s first actual game was a MegaDrive title called Gauntlet[1]. That was a game that you could play with four people, and some friends and I from school and the local arcade got together and built a copy of the game from memory. We remade it exactly as we remembered it, took it to a company called Tengen, and finally got the money we needed to buy the materials we needed. Just like that. So our first game was a highly faithful port of the arcade version. You could call it a ‘copy by eye’ since we remade what we saw. That’s where I started, and here I am twenty years later, happy with what we’ve accomplished.

Yousuke Okunari: He just wants to port the game he loved…

• So it all started with Gauntlet.

NH: Back then, there wasn’t a good port of Gauntlet, so you couldn’t play with four players at home yet. Everything started once we thought “hey, we probably know this game well enough to build it.”

YO: Then eventually they started working with us (SEGA).

NH: Back in the time of Gunstar Heroes on the Game Gear, there was a SEGA employee named Hiroshi Aso. He approached us and said “Wow, you made Gauntlet, huh? Well how would you like to work on Game Gear? Go ahead and pitch a couple games you’d like to do.” So we suggested a game called Edward Randy. If you think about it, Gunstar Heroes is just an improved version of Edward Randy. So porting that to the Game Gear was our first job with SEGA.

YO: Gunstar Heroes is often regarded as a game that really pulled out all the stops when it comes to the MegaDrive’s capabilities, and trying to port that to the Game Gear was no small task. By the way, the Game Gear version is available in the Gunstar Heroes: Treasure Box, on sale now via PS2 Archives. You have to use a cheat code to play it though… (laughs)

NH: So we had a break from working with SEGA for about 4 years, and then we worked on the Windows version of Sakura Wars. We also helped out a bit on the Dreamcast version as well. The first time I saw the Saturn version, I thought to myself “Oh boy, this game is just massive”, and I definitely remember how much of a rough time we had on that project.

YO: After the Dreamcast version of Sakura Wars, M2 was doing other projects for a while. Then a PS2 action adventure game called Project Altered Beast came along, and internally we had the idea of including the original Altered Beast in the game as a bonus feature. It just happened that M2 was working on a port of the arcade version of Altered Beast at that time.

NH: We were trying to port it by ourselves, you know. I just had a hunch that something like this might come up, so we went ahead and ported it without being asked to. That’s how we got started, right?

YO: Yeah, but the whole “put Altered Beast in Project Altered Beast” thing died on the drawing board. However, the fact that M2 could do ports got shared around internally at SEGA. So for Sega Rally 2006, the idea of putting the original Sega Rally in the game came up, and M2 was basically a silver bullet. Right around that time, AM2 was working on a port of Virtua Fighter 2 for SEGA AGES 2500, so we had a ported Model2 engine available. However, there weren’t any production lines open for Sega Rally and AM2 couldn’t get around to it. So then we asked M2 if they wanted to handle it.

NH: That was just learning from imitation, though.

YO: This wound up being M2’s first PS2 job with SEGA. For VF2, AM2 basically used an emulation-style implementation, but the Sega Rally’s arcade board was a later version than VF2, so it wouldn’t run as-is. M2 analyzed the game engine on their own, and rebuilt the game in the process of porting Sega Rally. In the end, it took a while to get Sega Rally 2006 released and it ended up coming out later than Space Harrier. VF2 had been received really well, and we decided to continue the ports this way for the SEGA AGES 2500 games. Right after I’d finished up on Dragon Force, we got the OK to continue on with the series. We were talking to a lot of developers in order to build the next lineup of ports, and that’s when I met them for the first time.

Unfortunately the whole interview is copyright of SEGA and Impress Watch Corporation, so if you’re interested in read it in full, here’s the link to the SEGA Blog, where you can find it in English.

We also remember you that 3D Space Harrier will be available on Nintendo 3DS eShop on November 28 for £4.49 (€4.99/$5.99) along with 3DS Super Hang-On.

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