Game publisher Sunsoft, best known in the West for 8-bit era games like blaster master, bat ManY Fester’s Quest, is attempting to republish and develop video games. On Thursday, the new Sunsoft, which technically never went away, outlined its plan to relaunch and revive its catalog of classic games, starting with the vampire survivors-inspired Ikki joins and releases of beloved retro games Trick! Y ufouria (known as Hebereke in Japan) for modern platforms.
Sunsoft is even hinting at bringing back Aero the Acro-Bat, the anthropomorphic bat that appeared in a couple of Sega Genesis and Super NES games near the top of the console’s mascot platformer.
The first game from the publisher under the new plan, Ikki joinsIt’s kind of a sequel to Ikkian arcade game (later ported to Nintendo’s Famicom) about the uprising of a medieval Japanese farming village against their feudal lord. Ikki joins will expand the original single-player game with online multiplayer, and is unmistakably inspired by, if not copied from, the 2021 smash hit vampire survivors.
Yuichi Ochi, general manager of Sunsoft, told Polygon in an interview on Wednesday that Ikki joins is being built on vampire survivors game design and viral success to help find an audience for the Ikki brand, which he admitted has no global awareness. (The Famicom port of Ikki is infamous for its shoddy quality and reportedly the basis for the derogatory phrase “kusoge” or “shit game” in Japan).
Just a little better known than Ikki are Trick! (which saw a Scandinavian release) and Hebereke (that features metroid-like mechanic and was released in North America for the NES under the name Ufouria: The Saga). But Sunsoft hopes to give those underdog games new levels of exposure by bringing them to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC via Steam, and Xbox One.
Beyond that, there are plenty of games developed and published by Sunsoft that were cult hits in Japan, but never made it to the West. Ochi hopes to revive them as well. Weather Ikki joins is being developed internally by Sunsoft, other titles are being developed with the help of external studios. Sunsoft is willing to work with smaller independent 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 to publish games? Put simply, business is good for Sunsoft’s parent company, Sun Corporation, and the electronics company is looking to reinvest in game manufacturing, Ochi said. Ochi himself is relatively new to the company, having joined Sunsoft in July 2021, after working at Capcom and other game companies in Japan and Taiwan.
But with a recognizable old name, a back catalog of underdog brands, and now an official VTuber called Sunsoft Nosuke to deliver some good news about games like Trick! to a global audience, Sunsoft proudly states that it’s back.