Episode 2: Treasure 16bit

Treasure-Old-School

 

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Treasure 16-bit Notes

Treasure was founded in 1992 by former Konami employees.  Popular internet belief is that they were responsible for Konami’s best games (Contra, Castlevania), but this is highly doubtful, just check the credits!  They seemed to be lower level employees disgruntled by corporate control of art direction.

In 1992 Masato Maegawa and 17 other developers left Konami, seemingly begrudged by Konami Management forcing sequels instead of new content.  They became a 2nd Party Developer for Sega and one year later they released Gunstar Heroes.  They wanted a non-hierarchical organization to foster original and creative video games.  (1up, wiki)

Key (Founding) Members: info from Giant Bomb, Gaming wikia, imbd, Sega Retro

Listed in Alphabetical Order (not a complete list of works!):

  • Hisashi Fujita – graphics, designer, Hisashi Fujita is known for his work on Drawing Restraint 9 (2005) and Guardian Heroes(1996).

  • Norio Hanzawa [Non] – music, known for music work in The Simpsons, Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Heady, Bucky O’Hara and Guardian Heroes, among others.

  • Kazuhiko Ishida* [Knig Ishida] – assistant programmer, worked on Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Heady and Light Crusader.

  • Hiroshi Iuchi – director, background art, mostly known for Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga, but has done background for many Treasure Titles.

  • Tetsuhiko Kikuchi [Han] – graphics, art direction, primarily character development, major contributor to Gunstar Heroes, Guardian Heroes and Radiant Silvergun.

  • Kouichi Kimura – designer, worked on Mcdonalds Treasureland Adventure

  • Naoki Kitagawa [Naokiman] – designer, major work in Radiant Silvergun and Guardian Heroes, also anime work.

  • Masato Maegawa – CEO, producer, programmer, Early on, he also directed games and worked as a programmer. The last game for which he performed a role other than executive producer was Mischief Makers.

  • Yoshiyuki Matsumoto – programmer, notable work in Sin & Punishment

  • Satoshi Murata – sound effects, worked on Dynamite Heady, Radint Silvergun and Sin & Punishment

  • Atsutomo Nakagawa – programmer on Radiant Silvergun, Ikaruga, Sin & Punishment and many Sega games such as NiGHTS into Dreams.

List of 16-bit Games from Treasure

Gunstar Heroes – 1993 Sega Genesis

Genre:  Run n‘ Gun

Ports:  Game Gear (1995) , Playstation 2 (2006), Wii VC, XBox Live Arcade (2009), Playstation Network (2009)

Story:  An Evil empire steals a bunch of crystals and you have to destroy the empire to get them back.  The Gunstar Heroes are Red and Blue and all the bosses are different colors seemingly representing the colors of the crystals. (Hardcore Gaming 101)

Notable Releases in 1993:

Notes:

Set the Tone for Treasure Games with bright colors and a large amount of sprites.

Complex Gun power ups, combine flame, lightning, homing and force, for up to 16 unique weapons.

Can choose your play style between Fixed and Free Aim, accommodating fans of any Run n’ Gun game.

Introduces the Treasure standard of Numerical Heath.

Combines physical attacks (ie throwing an enemy) with weapons for a unique gameplay experience, later replicated in games like Metal Slug.

Very fast paced and intense, another Treasure signature (for the most part).

McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure – 1993 Sega Genesis

Genre:  Platformer

Ports:  N/A

Story:  Ronald discovers a piece of  a map in a Magical Forest, he follows the direction on the map looking for 3 more pieces and the treasure at the end and a way back to McDonald Land. (wiki)

Notable Releases in 1993: See above

Notes:

Treasure developed this game at the same time the developed Gunstar Heroes, some code is obviously reused for this game (basic gameplay mechanics Jump, Shoot, Grapple/Physical Attack), but slowed down and limited for a platformer.

Though very colorful and with excellent sprites, it is no where near as polished.  In later interviews admitted this game was made to secure funding for Gunstar Heroes. (1up)

That being said, it is probably one of the better Licensed video games of the time.

Dynamite Headdy – 1994 Sega Genesis

Genre:  Platformer

Ports:  Game Gear (1994) , Master System (1994 in Brazil), Wii VC

Story:  North Town (a town of puppets) is attacked by King Dark Demon who is converting all the peaceful citizens to his evil minions.  Headdy is captured but rejected.  He escapes being incinerated and leaves to destroy Dark Demon’s Keymasters to reach the Evil Castle and destroy king Dark Demon.  (wiki)

Notable Releases in 1994:

Notes:

Dynamite Headdy is a very difficult platformer with classic Treasure oddity and colorful, great looking sprites and parallax scrolling.

Continues to use a massive amount of on screen sprites, fast paced for a platformer, tons of action and many unique levels changing up the gameplay and keeping things fresh.

You can get Head Power Ups giving you special powers and some changing the play mechanics.

All the levels are puppet stages, falling apart and changing as you go through them as if the scene is changing in a play.  Very creative and great to look at, incredible it is only 64 colors.

Unique and whacky bosses and new enemies and every stage, not much is repeated here.

Yuu Yuu Hakusho: Makyo Toitsusen – 1994 Sega Genesis

Genre:  Fighter

Ports:  N/A

Story:  A fighting game from the popular Anime Series YuYu Hakusho where a Junior High school kid is hit by a car trying to save a young boy.  He is brought back to life and is asked to solve cases involving Ghosts and Demons. (Yuu Yuu Hakusho wikia)

Notable Releases in 1994:  See above

Notes:

I think this is another game Treasure made to pay for an internal project (Dynamite Headdy).  It does not have the background quality or bright colors of Gunstar or Headdy, is a bit choppy and the controls feel a bit sluggish.

Does introduce 4 Players into the same fight!

12 playable characters with great looking special moves, used with a Magic Meter.  Also has a great Combo system, allowing for 8-10, or more, hit combos.

2 fighting planes that you can switch between to fight on.

A lot of the gameplay mechanics of this game seem to get revisited in later Treasure games (Guardian Heroes).

Alien Soldier – 1995 Sega Genesis

Genre:  Run n‘ Gun

Ports:  Playstation 2 (2006), Wii VC

Story:  Something about genetically altered Humans taking over the Earth and ripping the space-time continuum…it’s complicated, read it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_Soldier.

Notable Releases in 1995:

Notes:

Very fast paced and unique gameplay.  Similar to Gunstar Heroes in that you can choose between  fixed & free shot options, even during the game.  There are 6 weapons with limited ammo of which you can choose 4 at the beginning of every level.

You can hover briefly and teleport across the screen, which can also be a special “Pheonix” move with full life energy.  You can also walk on the ceiling when you change the gravity.  You will need to master all of these moves.

Typical Treasure 16-bit graphics, many great quality sprites, very fast paced, excellent backgrounds and parallax scrolling, with great special effects.

Light Crusader – 1995 Sega Genesis

Genre:  Dungeon Crawler/Action-RPG

Ports:  Wii VC

Story:  You are Sir David who are invited to Green Row, a village, by the King.  Whne you get there you meet Ragno Roke who ends up being an evil Wizard who wants to wake up the evil demon Ramiah because the Queen rejected him when choosing to marry the King instead of him.  At Green Row the King tells you there have been a rash of missing persons and asks you to investigate. (wiki)

Notable Releases in 1995:  See above

Notes:

Uses an Isometric Viewpoint before games like Civilization II, Diablo and Fallout.  However Treasure’s attempt at it is poorly executed and sometimes confusing to know exactly what platform you are on.

The game is an Action-RPG/Dungeon Crawler, with a very simple upgrade system (there is only one progression in Armor/Weapons etc).  Physical combat is clumsy due to the very short range of the sword and magic is extremely limited (unless you find the Green Potion).

You can combine magic for new elements (similar to Gunstar combining weapons).

A lot of puzzle solving which is made frustrating because of the poorly executed viewpoint.

Very dull colors, mediocre sprite quality and animation with stagnate backgrounds.  Makes me think this played back fiddle to Alien Soldier.

The game is also incomplete, searching the ROM reveals, 2 rings, a bottle you can refill in water, Armor, a Save Cube to save in any room, and an Extra Key.  There are also 2 unused Music Tracks.  All points to a possible bigger game that didn’t happen. (The Cutting Room Floor)

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