After 30 years, this game is finally here: Discover the story of a crazy log!

Skull & Bones, Cyberpunk… There are games that spend a lot of time developing. But not everyone you can think of comes close to this game that was originally planned for the SEGA arcade and was finally released on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC almost 30 years later. A look back at the history of this video game that should never have seen the light of day.

index

  • Godbrother of Wonder Boy
  • Unexpected retrograde resurrection
  • Released almost 30 years later

Godbrother of Wonder Boy

Here we are in the early nineties. Arcade Stations, despite the slight decline, continues the heyday of young players and has allowed them to discover titles that have become legendary. This is particularly the case with Wonder Boy, a license from Westone. In 1992, the Japanese company embarked on a similar project: a colorful two-dimensional platform game with the beautiful name Clockwork Aquario.

This new license from the Westone giant is still supposed to stand out, both in terms of gameplay and universe, as well as technical capabilities. In this regard, Clockwork Aquario is particularly ambitious. The developers want to push the boundaries of the Sega 18 system. In addition, we find in the big name team that worked on the famous Wonder Boy license, Like Ryuichi Nishizawa (father of the franchise) and Takanori Kurihara.

In short, Westone wants to hit hard for this new license. But unfortunately, things do not go as planned … Since 1993, the tide has been turning on the side of the video game industry. 2D platformers are no longer popular, it is now the era of 3D games and fighting. Hence, a title like Clockwork Aquario really no longer has its place. The first test sessions in local arcades are inconclusive. Few players care about it, preferring to start short games of the moment rather than spend long minutes in front of SEGA and the Westone Terminal. Suffice it to say that by leaving Clockwork Aquario, the two risk making an oven that is unimaginable. In 1994, Clockwork Aquario was permanently canceled.

After 30 years, this game is finally here: Discover the story of a crazy log!

Despite these changes in the industry, we have remained loyal to the type of platforms, our area of ​​expertise. We thought that the fighting games trend would fade, but it never ended and it’s just becoming more and more popular.

Ryuichi Nishizawa

For Westone, the cancellation of Clockwork Aquario signals the abandonment of the arcades. Faced with a market that no longer matches it, the company decided to turn to console games. A lackluster turnaround does not allow Westone to establish itself as a preferred player in the industry. After years of survival, the ax fell in 2014: Weston went bankrupt. But while the studio is truly dead and buried, Clockwork Aquario is rising from its ashes. It started on social networks The most unexpected comeback in video game history.

After 30 years, this game is finally here: Discover the story of a crazy log!

Unexpected retrograde resurrection

It all starts with simple. A Japanese blogger shares with his readers a photo of an old game he got to test during a local quiz session in his basement arcade room. This simple capture is amazing, gets people talking and running all social networks. Clockwork Aquario has just been discovered by the general public, 12 years after its cancellation. But nothing happens.

After 30 years, this game is finally here: Discover the story of a crazy log!

It wasn’t until the release of Monster World Collection in 2012 that Ryuichi Nishizawa realized the sudden interest Clockwork Aquario was generating. Rediscovering the wonderful world of Wonder Boy and Monster World made players finally want to discover the mysterious world of Clockwork Aquario. In addition to the retro appeal, the idea of ​​getting your hands on a long-lost game that only a handful of players have been able to test is enough to make the dream of young and old curious. It appears on social media.

Faced with this enthusiasm, Ryuichi Nishizawa decides to resurrect his stillborn child. He scrolls through the files on his old computer and eventually finds the Clockwork Aquario source code. Just to take the temperature, he tweeted the news:

It’s not a fuss with a double Z, but the ad still takes a certain community of players. Ryuichi Nishizawa believes in this, and therefore goes to see Studio M2, which has rightly distinguished itself in the Monster World Collection and SEGA 3D Classics. But unfortunately, nothing happened… nothing Until 2018. That year, a major player entered this story: Dennis Mendel and his studio, Strictly Limited Games.

After 30 years, this game is finally here: Discover the story of a crazy log!

Working hard to sign the comeback of another game canceled in 1994, Ultracore, The team is very interested in this Clockwork Aquario source code story. It must be said that a large part of the developers are fans of Wonder Boy. So bringing his spiritual successor back to life is a kind of dream for them. Building on their previous work, they had no trouble getting the game code, so they set out to work on a demo of the game to show to its creator at Tokyo Game Show 2019. Ryuichi Nishizawa has been invaded and this moment marks the beginning of a major collaboration that aims to bring this game with a tragic fate to life, while signing one of the most unexpected records in the video game world.


Released almost 30 years later

After a very long break, development of Clockwork Aquario resumes in 2019, with the original team members. Programmer Takanori Kurihara is leading the project which is not limited to a simple refactor/implementation. Real restoration work has already been launched to escalate the base while filling in the sections that have disappeared over time.

When we started working on the game, we thought we had all the software and data needed to do it. But as development progressed, we discovered that they were missing some data. {…} It was very difficult to get the plugins to match the pixels back then. It was similar to the work of a craftsman restoring a work of art.

Ryuichi Nishizawa for Gematsu

After 30 years, this game is finally here: Discover the story of a crazy log!

The development of Clockwork Aquario is one of those rare and timeless moments in the gaming world. In nearly 30 years, the video game industry has changed a lot and the way it is done has also. With Clockwork Aquario, two completely opposite eras, two ways of working, two visions, two fields of possibilities have met … It is not surprising that this moment remains forever in the heads of developers.

After 30 years, this game is finally here: Discover the story of a crazy log!

Nearly 30 years after its inception, Clockwork Aquario finally sees the light of day on November 30, 2021. From a critical point of view, the game is neither a failure nor a hit. If the mechanic’s age isn’t really good, the title’s nostalgia and subtlety effect allow him to score a correct 69/70 on the Metacritic. As for sales, we don’t have exact numbers. But if the title’s release was an event for too many insiders, it failed to become a mainstream success. Some might be tempted to say that this whole story wasn’t worth it. What is the point of reviving such a game and deploying an entire team to such a small stature? Well, the answer is easy: For the passion and pleasure of reviving a fallen game that would have sunk forever into oblivion.

This game has a vision. It’s almost a miracle that the canceled game is now on sale 27 years later.

Ryuichi Nishizawa for Gematsu

After 30 years, this game is finally here: Discover the story of a crazy log!

Clockwork Aquario is neither a new release nor a port, but a game that started in 1992 before going through a long break and was finally released in 2021. Admittedly, it didn’t take 29 years to develop, but the title still records the longest time between its inception and release. As such, it is registered in Guinness Book of Recordsin which this sudden interruption of time is officially celebrated 28 years and 81 days.

Thanks to Strictly Limited Games and ININ Games, Ryuichi Nishizawa was able to live a dream come true: to bring her child back to life, but also to the world of the late Westone. In parallel, Monster World/Wonder Boy had the right to several reruns, and they were received more or less well but never hated them. Even Ryuichi Nishizawa indulged in some crazy ideas, like a remake of Aurail shoot’em or even the return of the Milano no Arbeit collection, a pixel art marvel never released outside of Japan. Simple dreams or ongoing projects? The future will tell, but what is certain is that old games always have good times.

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