Research: Cancelled Games – NEC’s Monster Maker 2: The Ark of Gods (Turbo CD), Saturn Monster Maker, and other series information

This is just some quick internet research I did earlier this year about what Japanese websites have to say about NEC’s cancelled sequels to the 1994 Turbo CD (PC Engine CD) RPG Monster Maker: Yami no Ryuukishi. I don’t turn up too much, but it’s more than nothing.

I started playing the first Monster Maker for Turbo CD earlier this year, and the mostly solid gameplay, good lead character in Lia, and great graphics and music definitely make me sad that the sequel never finished.  The game is badly buggy, but there’s so much here that it should have continued!  interested in knowing what had happened to the sequel but unable to find anything in English, I looked for it in Japanese, using Google Translate because my foreign language abilities are quite poor, unfortunately.  I mostly looked up what I could find about the Turbo CD sequel, the Saturn game NEC apparently started working on, and the Monster Maker franchise in general.  If there is anything else out there known about these games, I’d love to hear it!  Please comment if anything more comes up.

For one last note, there may be more details in the quotes below, but machine translations of Japanese are only semi-intelligible; sorry for the awful English, I can’t translate it myself.  Thanks to the forum person who did a better job translating that one paragraph from Japanese Wikipedia!  There’s still quite a bit of Google Translate “English” here, though.  Here are the relevant bits I found.

The first game cover

This is the boxart for the first game, Monster Maker; Yami no Ryuukishi, or Monster Maker: Dragon Knight of Darkness as it would be in English. There isn’t boxart for the sequel(s), since they were never completed.  The main character, Lia, is pictured, along with her dragon.

The Saturn and Turbo CD Games

In short, the story is that the first Monster Maker game for Turbo CD was delayed significantly, and still shipped with some significant bugs and with a cliffhanger ending.  The sequel got well into development before being unfortunately cancelled because it was late in the generation and they decided cancelling it was better than releasing it so late, or on some other platform.  That’s the basics of what happened.  It’s an all-too-common story, really.

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/多部田俊雄
モンスターメーカー 闇の竜騎士
前後編構成の前編に相当するPCエンジン用ソフト、当初予定より2年遅れて1994年に発売された。販促活動の一環として当時は珍しいラジオ番組『アミューズメントパーティーファーストアベニュー』を久川綾と笠原弘子の出演でTBSラジオにて放送したが、番組放送中にソフトが発売されることは無かった。更には後編の『モンスターメーカー 神々の方舟』が結局未発売に終わったため、謎や伏線が全く回収されない尻切れトンボとなってしまった。先述のユーゲーインタビューでは「当初の予定の8倍に内容が膨らんでしまった」「後編のCG、音声、スクリプトはほぼ出来上がったが、PCエンジン用なので他機種で出すには完全作り直しになるので出せなかった」と語っている。当時のPCエンジン雑誌に於いて「これ以上延期した場合は丸坊主になる」といった旨の宣言をしたが、その甲斐もなく延期。件のPCエンジン誌には坊主頭にサングラスでにこやかにポーズを取った多部田の写真が掲載された。

Translation thanks to Oare of NeoGAF:

“The first half of a two-parts PC Engine game, it was released in 1994 after two years of delay. In an unusual fashion for the time, part of its promotion was conducted through a radio program called “Amusement Party First Avenue”, with hosts Aya Hisakawa and Hiroko Kasahara, which aired on TBS radio. But the program ended before the game was released. To make matters worse, its sequel “Monster Maker – The Ark of Gods” ended up not being released at all, leaving all the mysteries and plots unsolved. In his aforementioned (2003) interview with “Used Games” magazine, (Tabeta) claimed: “the game’s contents ended up eightfold what we had originally planned”, “the graphics, sound and script of the sequel were almost done, but since they had been built for the PC Engine, we would have had to redo everything from scratch in order to release it on a different platform, which is why we couldn’t”.
At the time of development, he said in a PC Engine magazine something to the effect of: “if the game suffers any more delays, I’m going to shave my head”, but to no avail. A photo of him wearing sunglasses and smiling with his hair buzzed down later appeared in the same magazine.”

Note that ‘Tabeta’ is Toshio Tabeta, the games’ director, and a director who worked on multiple cancelled or unfinished Turbografx games.  If the game was as far along as this suggests, it’s really unfortunate that they couldn’t manage to finish it… 🙁  Port it to a newer platform at least, like the Saturn ports of Gulliver Boy and AnEarth Fantasy Stories!  That would have been great, leaving people who played the first game hanging with its awful cliffhanger ending is pretty frustrating.

 

Also, a Saturn Monster Maker game was in development, also directed by Tabeta.

モンスターメーカー ホーリーダガー
PCエンジン版とは別ストーリーとなる予定だったセガサターン版。こちらも発売延期を繰り返して結局未発売。

Machine translation:

Monster Maker Holy Dagger
Was expected to be a different story from the PC Engine version Sega Saturn version. This is also yet to be released eventually repeat the postponement.

Getting back to the TGCD games though, here’s more info about the game, with some interestiing but almost incomprehensible through machine translation info, from Lia’s Wiki-style Pixiv page. http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fdic.pixiv.net%2Fa%2F%25E3%2583%25A9%25E3%2582%25A4%25E3%2582%25A2

Note: Bold parts are bold in the original version.

Summary

Was released in 1994 PC Engine hero of “Dragon Knight of Darkness Monster Maker” SUPER CD-ROM ^ 2 game.
We left the village of Ferundo, the journey to reveal the truth.

Not the birthplace, the house grew up was a foundling.
Able to talk to monsters is possible, was get on the wrong side around therefore.
However, it is the owner of a bright personality brave in practice.

From the ear of Kirenaga, half-assed half-elf had been subjected to speculation that or not.

Biggest victim of “fraud to issue out” of multi-poor producer of NEC Interchannel of (at the time).
Released time of generational change upcoming PC engine when the last line of repeated postponement to postponement, was released at last.
(Already Saturn it is time the summary of begins to flow in the streets)
And content is only “front half”.
“Ark of Monster Maker Gods” which is the second half was not released at last.
For this reason, the identity of her secret of birth, such as the ability of true was Mai same not told.
(However, from the chronology of the Monster Maker world,
Her conclusion may not have been the thing which never blessed.
In fact, interviews to give out an odor it was listed in the official guide book of “Dragon Knight of Darkness”)

Although it is she who is “a tragic heroine” literally,
It is superb card of TCG in “Monster Maker Resurrection” at the end.

Name the last time head story

It is “Ira” If you read upside down from her name.
The name is fantasy of “Ira” is not uncommon creative, and be divided,
In fact I’m also in Monster Maker.
Protagonist of the novel “Monster Maker: Dragon Rider”,
Boy you are out with a little role to “secret sword of ur 2 Monster Maker” version.
However, there is no picture in question still currently in pixiv.

Uh… yeah. Here’s the link to the original Japanese. http://dic.pixiv.net/a/ライア
Here’s a little bit about the game that was translated by SamIAm of the PC Engine FX forum; he knows Japanese.  Note you’ll need an account at the forum in order to view the link. http://www.pcenginefx.com/forums/index.php?topic=16306.0

「後編のCG、音声、スクリプトはほぼ出来上がったが、PCエンジン用なので他機種で出すには完全作り直しになるので出せなかっ た」

“The CG, voice recording, and the script for the second game were more-or-less done, but they were done for the PC Engine, and moving the game to another system would have meant doing everything over again.” he said.

If the CG, voice work, and script were all done, it’s a real tragedy that nothing came of it at all!   They’d decided on everything, but then scrapped it and nothing was said to the public, or something? I mean, because other articles comment on how Lia’s story was left unfinished, her true origins unrevealed.  Cancelled games are so frustrating, finish games darnit! :p  And as I said earlier, why couldn’t it just be up-ported like those other two games were?  Too bad.


Other Monster Maker Franchise Information

Beyond that I can’t find anything of note about the sequel, but I found some stuff related to the game/series, so I’ll post that below though it’s mostly about the first game and not the second.  This section has three parts.  First, some links to sites about the series.  Second, some about the main characters.  And last, a few links discussing the original Monster Maker: Yami no Ryuukishi for Turbo CD.
This is an interesting site: http://homepage3.nifty.com/muroto/mm/mmold/mmcha.html – This site has a release list of Monster Maker-franchise titles. The game is originally a card-game RPG, and has various games based on it, but the NEC game is unrelated to the rest — as this chart I linked shows, the main character of the TGCD game (in the last column on the right) doesn’t appear in any of the other Monster Maker-licensed titles, and none of the characters from the other games appear in the TGCD game. I’m not even sure if characters from the source material appear in the TGCD game at all, either; note how the characters shown on the boxes for some of Sofel’s NES/GB/SNES Monster Maker games also appear on the guidebooks, but the girl who’s the main character in the TGCD game does not.

Monster Maker fanpage (main page link): old version: http://homepage3.nifty.com/muroto/mm/mmold/mm.htm; new version: http://homepage3.nifty.com/muroto/mm/mmold/mm.htm There isn’t much on the site, but it was kind of interesting anyway.

More general Monster Maker (not for the TGCD games) info can be found on the JP Wikipedia page for the franchise: http://translate.google.com/translate?depth=1&hl=en&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=ja&tl=en&u=http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%25E3%2583%25A2%25E3%2583%25B3%25E3%2582%25B9%25E3%2582%25BF%25E3%2583%25BC%25E3%2583%25A1%25E3%2583%25BC%25E3%2582%25AB%25E3%2583%25BC#.E3.82.B3.E3.83.B3.E3.83.94.E3.83.A5.E3.83.BC.E3.82.BF.E3.82.B2.E3.83.BC.E3.83.A0 or in Japanese http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/モンスターメーカー

http://monstermaker.jp/ – Official site for the cardgame; it apparently still exists, in some level. http://monstermaker.jp/mmfc/index.htm  Note the characters here:

Monster Maker (cardgame) characters

The usual Monster Maker franchise focal characters

Sofel made a series of Monster Maker RPGs based more on the cardgame characters, as opposed to NEC’s original lead character Lia.  Sofel’s games: http://www.gamefaqs.com/gameboy/569811-monster-maker-2/images/box-8026; http://www.gamefaqs.com/gameboy/569813-monster-maker-barcode-saga/images/box-6897; http://www.gamefaqs.com/nes/570619-monster-maker-7-tsu-no-hihou/images/box-9951; http://www.gamefaqs.com/snes/564317-monster-maker-iii-hikari-no-majutsushi/images/box-5156/box-5156; http://www.gamefaqs.com/snes/571169-monster-maker-kids/images/box-9955. The characters seen on the box covers of all of Sofel’s games are the same ones as in the cardgame art pictured above.

NEC’s game, however, while it also uses the license, seems to be an entirely original title, with a new lead character, Lia, and its own story. So why is it licensed at all? Just to get more sales? I’m sure it uses monsters from the original series, but it’s interesting that NEC decided to focus on a new character, and not the usual ones of the other games.  It makes NEC’s game a little more interesting, I think.  It’s cool that the game has a female lead character, as well; Monster Maker (TGCD)’s main character Lia is great.  The problem is that this means that none of the other games are any help at all with that stupid “to be continued” ending since they are entirely unrelated as far as story and characters are concerned.  Ah well.

Actually, upon further review, the original Monster Maker character designs do make an appearance in Yami no Ryuukishi, just not as main characters.  I see the blue/purple-haired mage girl in one of the screenshots on this Japanese blog post about Monster Maker, for instance: http://ameblo.jp/memolmemol/entry-11574780098.html  Google Translate does an okay job translating the text, but the images seem to be missing: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fameblo.jp%2Fmemolmemol%2Fentry-11574780098.html

Here’s purple haired mage girl on the cover of Sofel’s Monster Maker III (SNES), as linked above:
MMIII

And here she is in MM: Yami no Ryuukishi (TCD):

Also, Lia has a cameo as a card in Monster Maker 4: Flash Card for the GBA, as seen here: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fmii5.at.webry.info%2F200910%2Farticle_7.html&act=url
Lia in the GBA game
Monster Maker: Yami no Ryuukishi, the Turbo CD game, also has a soundtrack CD… that’d be nice to have, the music is great. Only 7 tracks, though? http://www.amazon.co.jp/%E3%83%A2%E3%83%B3%E3%82%B9%E3%82%BF%E3%83%BC%E3%83%BB%E3%83%A1%E3%83%BC%E3%82%AB%E3%83%BCCDII-%E9%97%87%E3%81%AE%E7%AB%9C%E9%A8%8E%E5%A3%AB-%E3%82%B2%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A0%E3%83%BB%E3%83%9F%E3%83%A5%E3%83%BC%E3%82%B8%E3%83%83%E3%82%AF/dp/B00005MST5

soundtrack

Note that it says “CD II”, but it’s not a sequel, they just put that label on the soundtrack.
More searching for stuff about Monster Maker 2 in Japanese (“モンスターメーカー 闇の竜騎士”) leads to more blog/article stuff about how buggy the first Monster Maker is.  See this link for an example of that: http://sugiou5.blog.so-net.ne.jp/2009-06-06  Many consider it a ‘kusoge’, or very bad/broken game, as a result, which is understandable really even if the game has some definite strengths.  Example of a mention of it as kusoge: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fdic.nicovideo.jp%2Fa%2F%25E3%2583%25A2%25E3%2583%25B3%25E3%2582%25B9%25E3%2582%25BF%25E3%2583%25BC%25E3%2583%25A1%25E3%2583%25BC%25E3%2582%25AB%25E3%2583%25BC&act  The pages I checked also frequently mention that the sequel wasn’t finished and that the game has no ending.  If I see anything more with real info about the sequel, I’ll post more.   This next review of the game (below) is a bit more positive, but still is critical overall. It mentions the cancellation of the sequel as well. Etc. http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.geocities.jp%2Fawakway%2Freview2%2Fmonme.html
Here’s some more from SamIAm of PC Engine FX, this time writing about the first game.  This post of his has a bit more about the game, though some of it’s just a repeat of the “watch out for that one tower with the bad bug in it, and the game’s unfinished” bit. [url]http://www.pcenginefx.com/forums/index.php?topic=9456.msg266168#msg266168[/url]

“I was reading about Monster Maker in Japanese. It’s a tragic story, really. Or a story of incompetence, whichever you prefer.

The project actually started in like 1991 or so, and it had a famous producer who made good stuff but took forever doing it. Wouldn’t you know, Monster Maker got delayed. Then it got moved to the Super CD, and was delayed again. Then they decided to redraw the character art, so they had another massive delay. They said in interviews that they wanted to make the best RPG anyone had ever seen.

Who knows exactly what was going on behind their doors? But I’d guess that the management at NEC Avenue lost their shit at some point and ordered them to finish it and turn it out within a few months or else. The game that came out in late ’94, over two years past its original release date, was loaded with bugs and only half-finished. Seriously, there was supposed to be an equally large part-two in the works, but it was canned. More alarmingly, the game came with a small pink piece of paper saying “once you go into this one tower, don’t come out until you have this one conversation or the event data will get borked and your game-save will be ruined forever.” And that’s just the worst of a long list of bugs.

It looks like it could have been really cool, too. I like the moody piano music and the funky pastel art. What a shame.

Anyone here play it all the way through? There’s a full play on niconico, but speak of the devil, it’s got a Japanese nerd talking over it the whole way (saying the most obvious crap in the world, too).”

Finally, on a mostly unrelated note, Toshio Tabeta, the same guy behind Monster Maker TGCD, apparently was also involved in Strider’s much-delayed TCD port, and also was working on a version of Wardner as well… huh, didn’t know about that last one.  http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fja.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2F%25E5%25A4%259A%25E9%2583%25A8%25E7%2594%25B0%25E4%25BF%258A%25E9%259B%2584 The article claims that TG16 (PCE) Wardner was complete but cancelled because of… I don’t know what, machine translation isn’t good.  That it wasn’t good enough, maybe?  I have the Genesis version of Wardner, seems like a fairly graphically simple game that the TG16 could certainly handle, and while it’s not a great game, it’s a fun and difficult action-platformer in the vein of Ghosts n Goblins.  It’s too bad the TG16 version was canned.  This guy had issues finishing games, sadly.

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
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