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Working Designs almost published Phantasy Star IV, Sega of America wanted it to fail

Lyte Edge

All I got for the Vernal Equinox was this stupid tag
Jun 7, 2004
19,945
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This is awful but I'm glad Phantasy Star 4 wasn't filled with terrible pop culture references and bad jokes.

You didn't want to see Nei talk about missing Melrose Place and her weekly dose of Heather!?
 
Jun 19, 2013
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I think Vic is reversing cause and effect, it wouldn't have been priced at $100 to make it fail, but rather its price at $100 was a result of Sega of America likely not seeing a big market for the game, and thus expecting it to sell less anyway.
 

Mupod

Member
Jun 12, 2011
16,400
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530
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What the hell? The price was the reason I never got that game until much later, at which point it became one of my all-time favorites.
 

TheYanger

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Dec 24, 2008
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Interesting, although I remember other RPGs also being sold for $99.99 at the time, like Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger.

FF3 and CT were NOT 100 bucks. They were like 79. 99 was unprecedented.

I remember renting it, loving it, asking for it for Christmas, and getting a used copy (which was in fantastic shape). At the time I was marginally miffed it wasn't new because I was a stupid bratty kid, but as an adult jesus fuck I wouldn't buy my kid a 99 dollar game when most games were 50 bucks either.
 

ReaperXL7

Member
May 23, 2011
8,208
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People will lay blame at Sega of Americas feet but all the stories I've heard suggest there was a lot of bad blood between the Japanese HQ and the American branch and a lot of that was created by Sega Japan because the refused to support Sega US.

Some of the stories I've heard about Sega Japan purposely trying to sabotage Sega of America out of spite are pretty nuts.
 

Wilsongt

Member
Jul 17, 2007
26,341
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Shining Force 3 was a double tragedy perpetrated by both SoA and SoJ, though.

SoJ gave Camelot very few resources when they were working on Scenario 3. It explains why some of the artwork is pure garbage. However, that project was the Takahashi's baby, so they tried to correct some things with the Premium Disc. In fact, buried within the data of the premium disc is a note from the Takahashi's basically saying they would never work with Sega again.

Now Nintendo is using and abusin Camelot. :(
 

Tizoc

Member
Jun 23, 2010
81,144
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Oman
People will lay blame at Sega of Americas feet but all the stories I've heard suggest there was a lot of bad blood between the Japanese HQ and the American branch and a lot of that was created by Sega Japan because the refused to support Sega US.

Some of the stories I've heard about Sega Japan purposely trying to sabotage Sega of America out of spite are pretty nuts.

Didn't they have Shining Force 3 as low priority which affected its development?
 
Not surprised. SoA was a mess. They wanted to do their own shit compared to Japan, thinking they knew what was the best for the west. Turns out they didn't.
It worked under Kalinske for a time.
I'm still mad at Working Designs for Albert Odyssey.

They made the game unplayable with that awful writing.

I'm actually still hoping for some kind of retranslation or something. I can't play it like that, it's too infuriating.
I love AO's writing, but to each their own.
 

CDX

Member
May 31, 2012
2,756
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Man was it hard to save up that much as a kid in elementary school in 1994/1995. Everywhere and everyway I could I was saving dollars. It seemed to take forever.

I paid the absurd PSIV price and I don't regret it at all. It's honestly one of my most treasured gaming memories.

But wow. To think WD wanted to bring it over. I loved the Sega CD games they brought over, so I have no doubt I would have enjoyed a WD translated PSIV.

But seriously as a kid, I hated, HATED Bernie Stolar, and his Playstation anti-2D policies, and his anti RPG stance.
 

Novel Mike

Member
Jun 4, 2014
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Wait, SF3 got a fan translation? All three episodes? Damn, that's awesome. I guess I gotta figure out how to get ahold of it. Probably expensive as hell.

Yep it sure did. Even retranslated Scenario 1 to fix the ending. In the US version of Scenario 1 (the only one we got in English for those who are unaware) the ending of the game was changed slightly to make it seem like it the story concluded. The Japanese version clearly ended on a cliffhanger which continued in Scenario 2.

The translation patch isn't hard to get a hold of (pretty sure Shining Force Central has it on the Shining Force 3 Forum if not on the main site) but if you want to play the games in English legit then purchase the Japanese Scenario 1-3 and use a program to rip an ISO of the games (its really easy) and you can get all 3 games for like 60$ on ebay and such now. The English version of Scenario 1 can be used but if you are going to buy them US/UK scenario 1 is much more expensive then the Japanese verison but you can use either one. Or if you don't care about owning them then google is your friend XD at least I'd assume so I bought the games long before the translation patch came out so I never actually looked myself but its the internet after all.

I don't remember which is best but theres at least one Saturn emulator that runs the games pretty much 100% without any real problems from what I remember.

Seriously though, play them. It's such a fantastic set of games and while many things are outdated (being a Saturn game and all) a lot of the game holds up really damn well (the story and characters outshine many modern games of the same ilk such as Fire Emblem Fates whose setup is basically a rip off of SF3) and certainly is worth your time.
 

Laevateinn

Member
Aug 7, 2013
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Yep it sure did. Even retranslated Scenario 1 to fix the ending. In the US version of Scenario 1 (the only one we got in English for those who are unaware) the ending of the game was changed slightly to make it seem like it the story concluded. The Japanese version clearly ended on a cliffhanger which continued in Scenario 2.

Oh, hey guys. Sorry for invading you. Let's just pretend none of this happened and maybe I'll invade you again in the future when you've rebuilt and recovered. By the way, this story is absolutely 100 % finished. Buy a Dreamcast!

You didn't want to see Nei talk about missing Melrose Place and her weekly dose of Heather!?

I'll forgive you for confusing Rika with Nei who was in Phantasy Star 2
 

Novel Mike

Member
Jun 4, 2014
2,307
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350
Oh, hey guys. Sorry for invading you. Let's just pretend none of this happened and maybe I'll invade you again in the future when you've rebuilt and recovered. By the way, this story is absolutely 100 % finished. Buy a Dreamcast!

lol yep, even knowing they changed the ending its such an awful cop out and doesn't work at all. Should have just ended the game before that scene takes place and it would've been fine XD
 

LordKasual

Banned
Jul 28, 2016
5,702
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495
Everyone shits on Sega of America

As someone who dealt with them for years by playing the Phantasy Star Online / Universe series...both the America and Japan branch are fucking assholes collectively.
 

Wilsongt

Member
Jul 17, 2007
26,341
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Oh, hey guys. Sorry for invading you. Let's just pretend none of this happened and maybe I'll invade you again in the future when you've rebuilt and recovered. By the way, this story is absolutely 100 % finished. Buy a Dreamcast!



I'll forgive you for confusing Rika with Nei who was in Phantasy Star 2

"What ever happened to that guy who got thrown off a bridge? And the big bad? And the emperor that got kidnapped? And those priests?"

SoA: "what? Who? Idontknowher.gif"
 

Suzushiiro

Banned
Aug 7, 2013
3,092
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The thing with Working Designs is that while their localization practices are kind of bad by today's standards by 90s standards a company that actually put a significant amount of effort into localizations of RPGs and other games with large amounts of text was pretty rare- usually games like that were clearly done by someone who either didn't speak English very well or didn't have the time/budget to take a second pass at the dialogue and actually make it sound natural. Yeah, terrible pop culture references in localizations are a thing we complain about *now*, but back then it was worlds better than the alternative of half-assed broken English. IIRC the only other localization shop that did remotely well at that in that era was Square, and it wasn't really Square so much as Ted Woolsey (whose translations are also criticized in this day and age for the liberties they took.)
 

Shig

Strap on your hooker ...
Sep 30, 2004
15,088
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Georgia
baconmcshig.tumblr.com
Both Sega of America and Sega of Japan were fucked up in their own ways. It's a big factor into why SEGA's console business failed hard after the Genesis.
Yeah, the knives came from every direction. SoA making the Genesis a big success in western market wasn't met with enthusiasm by SoJ, but with antagonization. Which forced Kalinske out, then Stolar perpetuated the same type of self-harm. The whole muddled 32X/Saturn transition was one big act of sabotage between the warring factions. It all went downhill from there.
 

Linkura

Member
Aug 16, 2016
5,462
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This is appalling, though I guess I shouldn't be surprised because it's Sega. Almost nothing they do makes any sense. PSIV is one of my favorite games of all time.
 

Syril

Member
Mar 28, 2008
7,438
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0
PSIV's English script reads like a rough draft of a decent translation, so I wouldn't have been opposed to something more natural sounding, but at the same time I really wouldn't have cared for the kind of difficulty-increasing things that Working Designs tended to do in the early 90's.
 

Laevateinn

Member
Aug 7, 2013
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PSIV's English script reads like a rough draft of a decent translation, so I wouldn't have been opposed to something more natural sounding, but at the same time I really wouldn't have cared for the kind of difficulty-increasing things that Working Designs tended to do in the early 90's.

Like what? Lunar and Vay are pretty easy.
 

rewkol

Member
Sep 20, 2016
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Wasn't there a story of Sega Japan using Yakuza to kidnap developer's wife back in the day?

Do you have a source for this? I really want to know if that's true. I feel like I remember some story about SoJ and developer's wives, but I'm not sure if it was Yakuza levels of terribleness.
 

Syril

Member
Mar 28, 2008
7,438
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Like what? Lunar and Vay are pretty easy.
The Sega CD version of Lunar Eternal Blue was changed to cost a resource for saving the game I think? It might have been inconsequential ultimately, but those kind of things are kind of a pet peeve of mine.
 

Laevateinn

Member
Aug 7, 2013
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The Sega CD version of Lunar Eternal Blue was changed to cost a resource for saving the game I think? It might have been inconsequential ultimately, but those kind of things are kind of a pet peeve of mine.

I actually just beat that a few weeks ago. I didn't realize that was something WD added. I thought it was a neat way to make the early game a bit harder (since later on it's no big deal) and discourage save-scumming.

Do you have a source for this? I really want to know if that's true. I feel like I remember some story about SoJ and developer's wives, but I'm not sure if it was Yakuza levels of terribleness.

I don't know if Sega ever threatened to kidnap anyone but there was this incident that doesn't just happen to a normal person not tied to the yakuza.
 

Inuhanyou

Believes Dragon Quest is a franchise managed by Sony
Jul 26, 2014
26,221
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America
why did Bernie hate JRPGs anyway

My guess is the same reason every Japanese game cover for a long time was generic western illustrations that looked nothing like the super anime illustrations in the actual game and in Japan.

Not westernized enough for human consumption
 
Heh. I remember back when I went to Best Buy to get Phantasy Star 4, but I bailed when I found out it was $100. I ended up grabbing Beyond Oasis instead, which turned out to be one of my all time favorite games.

The SoA/SoJ feud was so petty and baffling. If they actually put their heads together, they could have avoided the many disasters of the mid 90s.
 
Jun 7, 2004
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I wasn't happy with the price I paid to Babbage's for my release copy, but the game was still worth every penny.
I can't believe that decades later I am still angry when reading about what Sega did to itself.

Every Sega fan should be. Hell, as an Atari kid, I'm still annoyed at how that turned out.
 
Nov 20, 2015
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Lots of vitriol for SoA here, but SoJ was no better during the Genesis days. There was a huge rivalry between them. SoA is almost solely responsible for the success of the Genesis.

Stolar's a total dink, though.
 

Beartruck

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Jun 4, 2014
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Stolar was a total idiot. He pushed a policy of no 2D games on a system that was designed to be a 2D powerhouse. There are literally hundreds of amazing Saturn games that never came out in the US because of this bullshit. It wouldn't have helping the saturn succeed, but it sure as hell would've done a lot better.
 
May 18, 2012
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On the pop culture jokes issue, Working Designs drastically decreased the frequency and awkwardness of those in their later releases.

I'm still mad at Working Designs for Albert Odyssey.

They made the game unplayable with that awful writing.

I'm actually still hoping for some kind of retranslation or something. I can't play it like that, it's too infuriating.

The WD localization is the only reason I'd ever recommend someone play the game; it's otherwise a bog-standard average game. And WD made a number of changes to improve the game in their localization which is something that almost never happens with 3rd party localizer - they reduced load times, lower random encounter rate while upping XP gains to compensate, added diagonal movement, and more.
 

Rezae

Member
Dec 22, 2011
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0
650
USA - Midwest
Really depressing. I remember being so ticked off at Playstation's initial no-RPG policy. I nearly imported Arc the Lad that first year.

I'm also one of those people who said "screw it" and still paid the premium on PSIV.

It's also pretty well known that the Saturn had an AMAZING library .... if you lived in Japan. So many stupid decisions.
 

Starwolf_UK

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Dec 5, 2008
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We do know something about the time frame that SEGA of America worked on PSIV thanks to the prototypes dated:
30 May 1994
8 June 1994
15 August 1994
27 October 1994
7 November 1994
The first draft translation was over 6 months after the Japanese release. However that it is not inconsistent with when compared Shining Force 2 has a similar gap in its builds and the Japanese release (April 4th, 1994 and June 7th, 1994*). Then again maybe that is just saying both games were treated poorly by SEGA of America.

*-Btw, I notice some Internet sources have a June 1994 release for SFII in Europe which doesn't make sense considering the minor script changes in this prototype and all the UK magazines I was able to find reviewing the game in usually did so in the October 1994 release. Mean Machines even says it came out in August 1994
I hate release dates for old games you have made up crap on the Internet and guesses in magazines...rarely you find an official press release fax (what happened with Earthbound for example)

Interesting, although I remember other RPGs also being sold for $99.99 at the time, like Final Fantasy III and Chrono Trigger.
Were you in the USA or Canada? I've heard anecdotes of the latter paying $105 for those games mentioned.
 

Psxphile

Member
Jan 5, 2012
9,232
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455
The funny thing is, Sega is still trying to kill Phantasy Star in the west.

Eh, you can say what you want about Working Design's localizations, but let's get real: would anyone have noticed Lunar out of the dozens of similar-looking rpgs coming out on Mega CD and PC-CD if not for WD bringing it to the west? Would it have been as revered today? It would have been just another forgotten title that would maybe merit a fan translation at some point but mostly go unnoticed even by jrpg enthusiasts.

Gotta admit though, I had no idea Vic was interested in bringing established titles like Phantasy Star to NA when Sega was balking. Now I'm curious see what WD could do for the likes of Breath of Fire 1 and 2. I'm sure the localization, refs and all, would have been better than what we ended up with instead.
 

Laevateinn

Member
Aug 7, 2013
6,510
19
335
We do know something about the time frame that SEGA of America worked on PSIV thanks to the prototypes dated:
30 May 1994
8 June 1994
15 August 1994
27 October 1994
7 November 1994
The first draft translation was over 6 months after the Japanese release. However that it is not inconsistent with when compared Shining Force 2 has a similar gap in its builds and the Japanese release (April 4th, 1994 and June 7th, 1994*). Then again maybe that is just saying both games were treated poorly by SEGA of America.

*-Btw, I notice some Internet sources have a June 1994 release for SFII in Europe which doesn't make sense considering the minor script changes in this prototype and all the UK magazines I was able to find reviewing the game in usually did so in the October 1994 release. Mean Machines even says it came out in August 1994
I hate release dates for old games you have made up crap on the Internet and guesses in magazines...rarely you find an official press release fax (what happened with Earthbound for example)


Were you in the USA or Canada? I've heard anecdotes of the latter paying $105 for those games mentioned.

Shining Force 2 was also really expensive when it was released, right? I had no interest in Phantasy Star until PSO was released but I begged my mom to get me Shining Force 2 for over a year (until it was no longer at Target) but never got it because it was so much more expensive than normal games.

The funny thing is, Sega is still trying to kill Phantasy Star in the west.

Eh, you can say what you want about Working Design's localizations, but let's get real: would anyone have noticed Lunar out of the dozens of similar-looking rpgs coming out on Mega CD and PC-CD if not for WD bringing it to the west? Would it have been as revered today? It would have been just another forgotten title that would maybe merit a fan translation at some point but mostly go unnoticed even by jrpg enthusiasts.

Gotta admit though, I had no idea Vic was interested in bringing established titles like Phantasy Star to NA when Sega was balking. Now I'm curious see what WD could do for the likes of Breath of Fire 1 and 2. I'm sure the localization, refs and all, would have been better than what we ended up with instead.

I'm sure they would have. The animation in the cutscenes is far and above other games on the Sega CD and it has a great battle system.
 

ReaperXL7

Member
May 23, 2011
8,208
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FL USA
Didn't they have Shining Force 3 as low priority which affected its development?

I wish I could remember the name of the Podcast but I had heard an episode of this retro games podcast in which they had the former president of Sega of America on and he talked about how strained the relationship was between the HQ in Japan and American branch was. According to him the issues were in part created because the Japanese side was bitter about how popular the console had become in the states vs how it was doing in Japan because Sega US was able to make the Genesis fairly successful here even outselling Nintendo at one point.

I've read for years that there was all kinds of infighting between the two branches that boiled down to pride getting in the way.
 

Sami+

Member
May 2, 2013
10,661
1
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Tallahassee
SEGA in general was a complete fucking mess back then. I still wish we could have seen the SEGA we'd have got if SOJ didn't get jealous of Kalinske's success in the States and just left him to keep doing his thing.
 

MacTag

Banned
Jan 5, 2016
2,315
0
0
After Armageddon, 3x3 Eyes AND Shadowrun?! Sega CD died too early. :(

I know there were a bunch of Saturn games WD had in the works too before SOA/Stolar basically drove them off the system (Lunar SSS/2EB/Magical School, Sakura Wars, Thunderforce V, TF Gold Pack 1-2, Radiant Silvergun, Silhouette Mirage, interest in Grandia, presumably Raystorm and more Sega Ages volumes) but Shining Force III Scenario 1-3 is news to me. Were they looking at any other Saturn games? Any Dreamcast games ever?

Phantasy Star IV is interesting too as I always thought WD had a pretty anti-cartridge policy in the 90s due to the media costs then? Were there any other MD or possibly GG games they looked into?
 

Rezae

Member
Dec 22, 2011
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FF3 and CT were NOT 100 bucks. They were like 79. 99 was unprecedented.

I remember renting it, loving it, asking for it for Christmas, and getting a used copy (which was in fantastic shape). At the time I was marginally miffed it wasn't new because I was a stupid bratty kid, but as an adult jesus fuck I wouldn't buy my kid a 99 dollar game when most games were 50 bucks either.

Don't forget... 99 dollars in '95 is like paying $160 today with inflation. Those $79 RPGs around '94 like FFVI and CT would be like paying $130 now.

At least for those prices today we get a statue or something included...
 

Sami+

Member
May 2, 2013
10,661
1
0
Tallahassee
Not surprised. SoA was a mess. They wanted to do their own shit compared to Japan, thinking they knew what was the best for the west. Turns out they didn't.

I'd argue the laissez-faire approach SoJ had with the American branch in the early Genesis days is the reason SEGA is regarded as more than just a punchline these days. SoJ didn't know how to sell consoles in their own country lol, the entire company got as big as it did because of their enormous success in America, not in spite of.
 

Vamphuntr

Member
Dec 5, 2008
13,792
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0
QC
In Canada FFIII and Chrono were 99.99$ I remember saving my allowance to buy them. Phantasy Star IV was something ridiculous like 120-130$.

I love Vic so much. He's so passionate about games it's crazy. Not a fan of some of the pop culture reference in some of their games but he localized some of my favorite game of all time like Dragon Force and the Lunar Series.
 

Dr. Zoidberg

Member
Nov 6, 2004
8,239
31
1,300
Yeah, the knives came from every direction. SoA making the Genesis a big success in western market wasn't met with enthusiasm by SoJ, but with antagonization. Which forced Kalinske out, then Stolar perpetuated the same type of self-harm. The whole muddled 32X/Saturn transition was one big act of sabotage between the warring factions. It all went downhill from there.

In hindsight, the best thing to do would've been to listen to Kalinske who was the best thing to ever happen to SoA, but SoJ needed to call the shots. In the end, this kind of fighting between the two divisions lead to their demise. It's a good reminder that while we lament NoA as a powerless lapdog, if they actually fought for the western preferences and strategy for Nintendo it would probably hurt the company in the long run.
 
May 19, 2005
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WTF?

That was the reason the game cost $100 back then? That price made my eye bulge as a kid even in the more expensive cart days. The game was 24megs which is a nice big size at the time but games were like around $60-80 at those sizes back then.
 

MacTag

Banned
Jan 5, 2016
2,315
0
0
WTF?

That was the reason the game cost $100 back then? That price made my eye bulge as a kid even in the more expensive cart days. The game was 24megs which is a nice big size at the time but games were like around $60-80 at those sizes back then.
Yeah DKC was 32 Mbit and released several months earlier. Actually even on Genesis SSF2 was 40 Mbit, released half a year earlier and was a 3rd party game. SOA was scalping with that price.