Documentary film “Moleman 4 – Longplay” was released on Vimeo the other day. And I joined their project as a Japanese translator 🙂
You know what this is if you’d watched Moleman episode before, but Moleman is a series of documentary which features subcultures in Hungary. And this time they featured game development history in Hungary.
[UPDATE!] “Moleman 4 – Longplay” is now available on YouTube!! You can watch the entire film for free with subtitles (EN, ES, DE, FR, PT-BR, JA).
Hungary was in socialism era when they started developing games, and this means they had tons of restrictions. It started from smuggling computers and figuring out how to use them, but they gradually yet steadily progressed and took over the European market. Their achievement includes “The Last Ninja” and “Ecco the Dolphin” and in this film their developers and producers are explaining how it was like to make these games.
Don’t forget to watch the deleted scenes! This one is sneaky brilliant. Others includes “Lara Croft” (Mr. Ian Livingstone explains how they came up with her name) and “Tetris” (The origin of that ugly drama)…
I felt the same thing when I translated “Moleman2“, but I felt “finding a solution in the most complicated case, and turning disadvantages into advantages” is one of the strength of Hungarian people…
And after the success in Europe and US, they came to Japan and challenged Nintendo who kept saying No to them.
I happened to have an occasion to be involved in the conversation between Japanese avid gamer (0x4015 aka Yossin-san) and the director of this film (Szilárd Matusik). I thought it would be interesting to share this with other people, and since I got the permission from both I’m posting it here… (Thank you Yossin-san and Szilárd!)
I didn’t know “The Last Ninja” was originally made in Hungary. The
film explains that the original developers were uncredited in the final version,
and the great thing about this documentary series is that it explains by showing
interviews with the people who were actually involved in that matter.
In the scene where developers contacted Japanese makers, I wondered
when they contacted exactly. Because the situation of Japanese makers back then
was changing every few years.
It shows that they contacted Sony, but I wonder if this Sony meant
“Epic Sony”. If it was Epic Sony, I think it would had been easier to get in touch
because back then this company was selling Western games in NES format. For
example “Solstice” (this is known to be the “first contact with Western
game” in Japanese Chiptunes scene) and “Dragon’s Lair” which is known to be Instant
death game. I wish they’d released “The Last Ninja” in NES.
Regarding the situation around Nintendo, there were many Japanese
companies which had to give up creating NES software because Nintendo didn’t
allow to. And one of them created software by reverse-engineering, just like in
the movie. One of the well-known one is called “Quinty” and creators of this
game later produced Pokemon. This game was released in 1989, so I guess it’s
about the same time as Hungarian team was making NES games.
Thanks for your thoughts.
“Traffic” was the first Hungarian game that was
released in Japan in 1986 on the MSX platform by Sony Corporation. I found this on
And the head of studio (Donát Kiss) who speak about
business in Japan left Novotrade in ’86 or ’87 so it had to happen
before that. Also he was who found out to reverse-engineer the NES
so it also had to happen around ’86-’87.
Also they made some conversions that were released by the Japanese SystemSoft.
And games for Konami on NES but I can’t find which was the first.
They made some conversions as well:
0x4015/yossin to Szilárd
Thanks for providing me the complementary information.
It’s amazing that they expand their business that much only in 3-4
It was too bad that Konami didn’t release Novotrade (Appaloosa)’s
NES games in Japan. I’ve never heard about these games. I checked on YouTube
and found their background graphics are meticulously created within the
limitations. Just like The Last Ninja, they made their background by combining
small blocks and I find this very interesting since it’s really different from Japanese
way of making games.
You can rent this film, but you get bonus clips (total 16min long!)
and a chance to get their prize if you buy it (Details). The Bonus clips cover 90s
Independent game dev situation (the dark side) and super creative world of text adventure
games (I wanna try it)…
Moleman4 Official page (So much info!)