Game publisher Sunsoft, best known in the west for 8-bit era games such as Blaster Master, Batmanand Fester’s search, attempts a return to publishing and developing video games. On Thursday, the new Sunsoft – which technically never went away – outlined its plan to re-release and revitalize its classic games catalogue, starting with the Vampire Survivor– inspired Ikki Unite and releases of popular retro games gimmick! and Ufouria (known as Heberek in Japan) for modern platforms.
Sunsoft even hints at bringing back Aero the Acro-Bat, the anthropomorphic bat that appeared in two Sega Genesis and Super NES games near the peak of the console mascot platformer.
The publisher’s first game under the new plan, Ikki Uniteis kind of a sequel to that Ikian arcade game (later ported to Nintendo’s Famicom) about a medieval Japanese farming village’s uprising against its feudal overlord. Ikki Unite Adds online multiplayer to the original single-player game and is unmistakably inspired – if not copied – by the hit of 2021 Vampire Survivor.
Sunsoft general manager Yuichi Ochi told Polygon in an interview on Wednesday Ikki Unite it is built on Vampire Survivor Game design and viral success to find an audience for the Ikki brand, which according to him does not have a global consciousness. (The Famicom port of Iki is notorious for its shabby quality and is said to be the basis for the derogatory phrase “Strength‘ or ‘crappy game’ in Japan.)
Just a little better known than Iki are gimmick! (which saw a Scandinavian release) and Heberek (What functions Metroid-like mechanics and was released in North America for the NES under the name Ufouria: The Saga). But Sunsoft hopes to bring a new level of exposure to these underdog games by bringing them to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC via Steam and Xbox One.
In addition, there are many games developed and published by Sunsoft that have been cult hits in Japan but have never made their way to the West. Ochi hopes to revive them as well. While Ikki Unite is developed internally by Sunsoft, other titles are developed with the help of external studios. Sunsoft is willing to work with smaller indie studios on games based on its IP, Ochi said: “Our strategy is very open.”
So why bring Sunsoft back now, years after its last attempt at publishing games? Quite simply, business is good for Sunsoft’s parent company, Sun Corporation, and the electronics company wants to invest in game development again, Ochi said. Ochi himself is relatively new to the company, having joined Sunsoft in July 2021 after stints at Capcom and other gaming companies in Japan and Taiwan.
But with a recognizable vintage name, a back catalog of little-used brands, and now an official VTuber called Sunsoft Nosuke to break the good news about games like gimmick! For a global audience, Sunsoft proudly claims it’s back.