avatar

Blast From the Past: An Interview with Super Fighter Team’s Brandon Cobb

01

Super Fighter Team caused a sensation last month when they announced they would be releasing Nightmare Busters, the first Super Nintendo game to launch in the US since the release of Frogger back in 1998. SFT’s President Brandon Cobb was awesome enough to answer our questions about Nightmare Busters, classic gaming and other topics. Venture past the break for the full interview.

Piki Geek: What separates Nightmare Busters from other similar run ‘n gun platformers? Or, in other words, why Nightmare Busters?

Brandon Cobb: The game has a ton going for it: graphics, sound, gameplay, atmosphere. It’s fun, it’s challenging and it offers the same large, detailed graphics and fast paced gameplay found in the arcade.

Even the concept is great: seek out a madman who is corrupting the dreams of children, and face him on his own turf. Putting children’s minds at ease so they can enjoy a peaceful slumber – now THAT is a cause worth fighting for, you ask me.

PG: There is certainly a lot of hype surrounding Nightmare Busters, with the game having already reached its pre-order limit of 600. Does this add any pressure to the production and publishing process? You know, the feeling that you guys have to “get it right?”

BC: It’s no secret we’ve got a lot of people to please: customers, fans, the press… but most important to me is pleasing the game’s developers, Christophe Gayraud and Jean-Christophe Alessandri. They have waited very patiently for the game to be released, and doing them proud by putting out an amazing product would make me feel like a zillion bucks. I’m confident we’ll do just that, and that everyone who gets their hands on the game will be as stunned by our production job as they are by the greatness of the game itself.

PG: How does Super Fighter Team go about choosing which games to bring to the North American market?

BC: It’s based on instinct. If I investigate a game and it gets in my heart, that’s it – we get running with it right away. I haven’t been wrong yet, as each of our games have sold quickly and gathered a large fan base in the process. There are plenty of retro outfits that are inclined to slap their name and a price tag on just about anything. Super Fighter Team doesn’t subscribe to that magazine. We’re about quality first. If you’re not going to go that route, you shouldn’t be in business.

PG: Can you walk us through the process of acquiring the rights to produce and publish a game, once you’ve chosen a game to bring over to our market? Have you ever hit any “snags” along the way?

BC: Well the process is always different depending on who we are approaching, the nature of the request and so on. What never changes, however, is the focus on respect and understanding, and making sure the contract we propose is beneficial to both sides.

We generally do not have trouble establishing partnerships, because we present a unique opportunity which requires no real work from the licensor yet guarantees them brand exposure and a profit.

PG: In an age where we’re seeing more and more publishers re-release old classics digitally, why has Super Fighter Team chosen to release its games in their original form?

BC: It’s great to support the original hardware. Thousands of people still have these machines in their homes, and the ones that don’t can pick them up for a pittance. There’s so many neat games to enjoy, not just ours, and we want people to go out and investigate the full range of wonderful game software that’s available for these classic consoles.

As well, there are plenty of people in the world who have no interest in the newer machines. I am one of them. We get irritated by the lack of new software, but not everyone has the power to do anything about it. I do, so I am. And it’s a great ride.

PG: Some of my favorite games from the older generation of consoles have been RPGs. Will we be seeing more releases like Beggar Prince and Star Odyssey in the future?

BC: Yes. We’re pursuing the rights to a few more RPGs as we can find time to do so, so I would say it’s in the cards.

PG: On the subject of Star Odyssey, can you go a little more in depth about the “Japanese partnership” involved in producing and releasing the game? My understanding was that your partnership with Starfish-SD was the first of its kind in the classic gaming
market.

BC: Approaching a company in Japan wasn’t something we had really ever “planned” to do. Rather it was inspired by the many fans that wrote in to suggest it. When the opportunity came along for us to acquire the only known English language prototype of Star Odyssey, I knew that was going to be our first contract out of Japan. I put our best people on
the project before negotiations with Starfish-SD had even begun, as I knew we’d be talking terms for a while and I didn’t want us to lose any development time.

Partnering with a Japanese company isn’t something you can just jump right into. The Japanese are very formal and respectful, very curious. It’s a slower, more meticulous process than I was used to, because they are very interested in getting to know your company, its intentions and its potential. I actually appreciated this, because the
average negotiation focuses solely on profit margins and market penetration. It was a new and different experience, but one which was refreshing.

We also had to bring Sega of Japan in on this one, as the president of Starfish-SD wasn’t comfortable signing the contract without their blessing. While we were not granted a developer’s license by Sega, who said they no longer wished to offer support for the Genesis / Mega Drive, we were green-lighted to produce the game so long as we did not
print any of the company’s trademarks on our product. That was good enough for Starfish-SD; we made our partnership official right then and there.

PG: Will we be seeing more original, Super Fighter Team developed projects? Super Fighter Block Battle was certainly a fun, quirky little title.

BC: Hey, Block Battle! Yes. That was literally our second official project, behind the unfinished/unreleased “Super Fighter Advance” (which was perhaps just a little too ambitious for us at the time). I designed its concept, gameplay and story and, especially for a free release, I think it was pretty good, too. Thanks!

And that’s actually a pretty good question you have there, because we just happen to be working up a platformer for the Genesis at the moment. Though its based on an existing American IP, much of the content will be fresh and original, as our team is slaving over it
ourselves. I can’t share any more details than that at the moment, but suffice to say I’m very excited about this project. It’s going to be a real ripper!

You can check out a whole mess of Nightmare Busters screens below.

Your Comments

  • avatar
    Etrange said Apr 8th 2012 12:00 PM

    Chistophe Gayraud died, last night. RIP

    Reply

Leave a comment

If you're leaving an anonymous comment, be sure to throw all reasoning and rationality out the window. This is the Internet.

Listen homie, it takes about 25 seconds to register, and you can win free crap. Be awesome. Register Now

*