We love retro reboots and one company that’s eclipsed them all is the awesome Super Fighter Team! Not satisfied with just the game of the same name, they’ve also brought Beggar Prince and Nightmare Busters, to name but two more, to western audiences. Adrian managed to catch up with SFT founder and supremo Brandon Cobb for a chat over a cuppa and a few biscuits…
How did Super Fighter Team actually start – can you give our readers some information on how this amazing company came about?
When I was eleven years old I was introduced to Super Fighter, an obscure PC fighting game from Taiwan. I instantly became obsessed with it. So enamoured of this game was I that I began telling my friends and family that one day I’d like to have the opportunity to personally thank the developers for making it.
In my teens, I threw together a crude little website about Super Fighter. After an online acquaintance was nice enough to translate it into Chinese, it wasn’t long before one of the game’s developers found the site… and contacted me! Soon after I was put in touch with Mr. Kuo the president of C&E Inc. the company that had produced and published Super Fighter. And I finally got to thank him, and the others, for making a game that I loved. What I could have never expected however was what happened next, Mr. Kuo handed me the legal rights to Super Fighter! I was absolutely floored and knew I had to do something amazing with the gift he’d given me.
Super Fighter Team was thus founded as a productive outlet for my retrogaming passion. I strove to share Super Fighter, and other cherished games from Taiwan, with a worldwide audience who could appreciate them as much as I do.
Did you always believe there would be a strong market for publishing games (many from Taiwan) on classic consoles to the Western world?
Sure. The “new games for classic systems” movement was so small and simple when we started out. People had the heart but there weren’t really any good games coming out. Just little demos and snippets and unfinished things. And the actual “products” being sold were dreadful overpriced bare circuit boards with, if you were lucky, a basic sheet of instructions printed in black and white. What people wanted were games that were just as good as the ones being published for these systems in their heyday, beautifully and professionally designed and packaged. Our aim was to bring such products to market, and when we did — with the release of Beggar Prince in 2006 — people went crazy over it (we’re not surprised! – Ed)
You have helped re-launch many gaming titles that could have been long lost forgotten to a whole new audience – how does it make you feel that you have given so many classics a new lease of life?
It gives me a new lease on life.
Beggar Prince and Legend of Wukong are now two of the most sought after games released for the Mega Drive – did you ever believe your games would ever be so popular?
I was confident from the get-go that we could move 600 units of Beggar Prince, which was a feat unheard of at the time. Everyone else was lucky if they could move over 50 units, but the ceiling was 300. That was the magic number back then. I said we could do 600 and was laughed at. Well it turned out I had vastly underestimated the product, because we sold 1500 units no problem.
And it wasn’t hype. Beggar Prince is a great game. The game is so good it could have been released internationally when the Mega Drive was still the big thing and countless units would’ve been sold. It’s a crime that Beggar Prince was restricted to the Chinese-speaking market until we got ahold of it. But I’m thankful to have been a part of introducing one of C&E’s masterpieces to a larger audience.
When I founded Super Fighter Team my line of thinking was, “If I only want to play games on my favourite classic machines, eschewing all the modern stuff due to lack of interest, then there must be at least one other person who feels the same way.” Based on our success, it turns out there are thousands of people who share my view.
Which game has been your most successful?
That really depends on how you measure success. Beggar Prince garnered the most press and inspired many people who are developing new “retrogames” today. Zaku was the first new Lynx game published outside of Atari that incorporated the unique “curved lip” game card case design; all other independently published titles had been sold on bare circuit boards. Star Odyssey resurrected a game that was promised to us in 90s magazine ads but never came to pass… until we finally made it happen. And Nightmare Busters has thus far sold the most units.
Which game did you have the most fun and fulfillment working on?
Zaku was great fun. The developer, Osman Celimli, and I worked very closely on it every step of the way, during which we shared a lot of zany conversations. In the end we delivered a wonderful product and became good friends.
Beggar Prince was my first large-scale project. I was so young and inexperienced. Quite often I was overwhelmed. So much was happening in my life over the course of the game’s long development process that as a result I have many vivid personal memories that somehow intertwined with the game in one way or another, for whatever reason. When the game shipped successfully, I was amazed by what my team and I were capable of. We’d done it!!
Have you ever been unsuccessful when trying to acquire the right of a video game you hoped to launch to the Western world?
Well you can’t win ’em all. Certain companies just can’t comprehend what we’re trying to do here, telling us, “Why don’t you just emulate it on a modern-day console or make an iPhone version?” to which I gag. I’d rather have no partnership at all than one which compromises my principles and my dream.
Have you ever been tempted to work on your own original gaming title?
Who hasn’t? I must have a half-dozen ideas written down, from half-baked to completely fleshed out, for RPGs, fighting games, platformers, puzzlers… any of which I’d love to get going as a serious project. There’s just two shortages that have always stood in the way: time and money. (Big surprise, right?) But a guy can dream, can’t he?
What titles and consoles are you currently working on?
Wouldn’t you like to know? 🙂
Ah, well one thing of which I’m very proud is that we’re quite far along in development of an updated version of the fighting game Tough Guy. This game was originally developed by my friends at Panda Entertainment in Taiwan, and released in 1996 for the PC. Everything’s been translated into English, and our version will boast many new features and improvements. Look for that a bit later this year, as a free download for Windows.
If you could share a few pints with a video game character who would you choose?
Might be nice to have a rap with Freddy Pharkas over a couple of sarsaparillas. He seems like a nice guy, and he’s got a lot of stories to share. Naturally, the announcer from Namco’s Knuckle Heads would serve as DJ.
Nice choice! Thanks so much for your time Brandon, we look forward to seeing what you come up with next! Check out SFT’s excellent work on their official site.