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Thread: Behind the Design: Surgical Strike 32XCD

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    Blast processor Melf's Avatar
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    32X Behind the Design: Surgical Strike 32XCD

    Some games are never released in all regions, and others are released in such small quantities that most people aren't even aware that they exist. Such is the case of Surgical Strike for the 32XCD, which saw a limited release in Brazil. We have the full story here, so read on!

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    Raging in the Streets A Black Falcon's Avatar
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    Great article! Really interesting stuff. The info on Brazillian 32X and Sega CD sales is also interesting.

    One question, though...


    When asked for sales numbers, Arnhold confirms that the Mega Drive add-ons didn’t even nearly fare as well as the Mega Drive itself. “The 32X adapter was not a popular Mega Drive add on and we sold around 3000 units. We sold around 6000 thousand 32 X cartridges of 14 different titles: Star Trek, Virtua Racing, Star Wars, Virtua Fighter, Doom, Blackthorne, Mortal Kombat II, Kolibri, Super Motocross, Cosmic Carnage, Metal Head, Golf Magazine, Knuckles Chaotix and Tempo. The Sega CD sold about 30k units and a total of roughly 50k CD games. We launched the 32X with different games bundled with the accessory: Metal Head, Mortal Kombat II and Doom.”
    "6000 thousand" cartridges sold? Something has to be wrong there... particularly if:

    “I can also confirm that we had sales of approximately 300 units of Fahrenheit and 1,400 units of Surgical Strike.”
    is accurate. I mean, if the number is actually 6000, I have a hard time believing that 1700 out of that 6000 was of only two games when there were 14 releases...

    Also, it's a bit surprising to hear that 1,400 copies of the game were sold, considering its extreme rarity. 1400 seems like a number that should be enough to have more than one or two copies of the game still known to exist... but I guess not.


    Also, the article doesn't have a link to this thread at the end. It says "Discuss this article in our forum" but there is no link after that.

    Otherwise though, great article with some interesting new info in it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Black Falcon View Post
    I mean, if the number is actually 6000, I have a hard time believing that 1700 out of that 6000 was of only two games when there were 14 releases...
    The two games you cited are CDs, not cartridges.


    Quote Originally Posted by A Black Falcon View Post
    Also, it's a bit surprising to hear that 1,400 copies of the game were sold, considering its extreme rarity. 1400 seems like a number that should be enough to have more than one or two copies of the game still known to exist... but I guess not.
    Brazil's territory is a bit bigger than US if you don't count Alaska and the protectorates. Considering that Tec Toy distributed the games across the whole country, it really isn't a significant number IMO.


    Awesome article, Phantar. Thank you soooooooooooooooo much!
    Looks like the official numbers from Tec Toy weren't very different from my armchair guesses, hehehe, great!

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    Good article.

    It made me think that for all SoA is praised around here, it doesn't take nearly enough flack for its approach to the Sega CD. Japan was putting out RPGs and adventure games that utilized the CD format well (along with a few anime-based QTE games...), while SoA was investing money in developing and marketing FMV games. If only we got more games like Silky Lip:


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    A lot of those RPGs wouldn't have sold well at all in the US or even Europe. The genre itself was niche, and many of the games on the Mega CD are very Japanese in nature. Still, I wish they had released Arcus I-II-III, and action games like Devastator would have required little localization and would probably have done well.

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    Well, that was the thinking back then about RPGs, but Lunar did pretty well in the US as I recall (of course, it's much better than all of the other MCD RPGs). But in terms of some of the more Japanese-style adventure games, yeah, they would not have done well. However, they do showcase how the hardware could have been used. Instead I feel like we got a bunch of games designed by marketers that just did not hold up in terms of gameplay.

    I'm not sure that the 32X would have benefited from a push from more FMV games.

    It is interesting how different the Mega CD and Sega CD libraries are, though. Very few of the Mega CD's RPGs, strategy games, or adventure games left Japan, while the US's FMV games that were released in Japan sold next to nothing (aside, possibly, from Night Trap).

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    Phenomenal article! Aptly timed too since I was just bemoaning the lack of information about this release in another thread.
    Quote Originally Posted by StarMist View Post
    A spine card is the hymen of a new game assuring its first owner that he is truly her one and only, and of a used game assuring its new owner that whilst she has been played with in the past that play has never been too careless or thorough.

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    Excellent work, Phantar! Perhaps this will scare up that one more elusive copy, somewhere out there. All it takes is one. Heck, if Air Raid and Red Sea Crossing can be found, this can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barone View Post
    Brazil's territory is a bit bigger than US if you don't count Alaska and the protectorates. Considering that Tec Toy distributed the games across the whole country, it really isn't a significant number IMO.
    I know nothing about Brazil, but back in the day when I collected GI Joe action figures everybody would always talk about the Brazilian version made by Estrela, Comandos Em Ação, and how rare they were, especially carded figures, despite apparently selling really well upon release. A carded Cobra de Aço can go for several thousand dollars today. A possible explanation that I heard is that Brazilian people generally did not "collect" things in the same sense that Americans did, so toys were more likely to be thrown out or lost or forgotten about.

    Is that accurate and do you think that could explain why this game is so rare?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barone View Post
    The two games you cited are CDs, not cartridges.
    Ah, right. It's still weird though, the two CD games sold almost a third as much as the 12 cartridge games combined? If Surgical Strike 32XCD was that relatively popular, then why is it nearly impossible to find today?

    Brazil's territory is a bit bigger than US if you don't count Alaska and the protectorates. Considering that Tec Toy distributed the games across the whole country, it really isn't a significant number IMO.
    Sure, but the point is the number of copies sold, first. I just find it odd that the thing is so incredibly rare when it didn't sell like a couple hundred copies or something.

    Quote Originally Posted by JumpingRyle View Post
    Good article.

    It made me think that for all SoA is praised around here, it doesn't take nearly enough flack for its approach to the Sega CD. Japan was putting out RPGs and adventure games that utilized the CD format well (along with a few anime-based QTE games...), while SoA was investing money in developing and marketing FMV games. If only we got more games like Silky Lip:
    ... What? SoA gets bashed ALL THE TIME for FMV games! But as that criticism usually is, you're off base here. First, why do you think that Japanese games somehow use the system's power better? They don't. Few Japanese games have FMV, either live-action or animated; there are a few, but far fewer than from the US. Very few Japanese games use the system's hardware scaling and rotation powers; the games that pushed this are mostly from Core and Malibu, Western studios. Western studios did a lot more with the Sega CD's hardware capabilities than Japanese ones usually did.

    I mean, CD RPGs on the Sega CD aren't much different from what you'd see on Turbo CD. But FMV or sprite scaling? The Turbo CD has VERY few games with either live-action or fully-animated video, and no hardware sprite scaling or rotation. Games which push those abilities are the ones that differentiate the Sega CD from its competition. Lunar would have been quite similar on Turbo CD, but Adventures of Batman & Robin would not have been impossible as it is.


    Also, Sega of Japan's software release library for the Sega CD was, as I've pointed out before (go look up my post of their release list), very thin. It's amazing that Sega had so few releases in the first year of the system's life that when it came over to the US in fall '92 BOTH of the pack-in games were multiplatform third party games, because Sega had released nothing of note in ten-plus months! Sure, one was only multiplatform in Japan, but the other (Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective) had previously seen a Turbo CD release. Then their next packin after that, with the Model 2 SCD, was Sewer Shark, a limited-time exclusive that eventually went over to other systems (3DO). Sega of Japan's thin, anime-license-heavy release list left Sega's Western branches mostly on their own, with relatively few games to localize. And the SoJ SCD releases we didn't get that aren't anime-license adventure or RPG games are mostly either ports of games from other systems (either the Turbo CD or Japanese computers) or Japan-centric sports games. Licensed anime or Japanese TV RPG and adventure games and ports of B and C-tier RPGs and such obviously were not going to sell outside of Japan, and those games, again, mostly don't make use of the SCD's potential.

    Of course, SoA's focus on FMV looks bad looking back, but back then it was popular, and helped the SCD sell decently in the US.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Black Falcon View Post
    Sure, but the point is the number of copies sold, first. I just find it odd that the thing is so incredibly rare when it didn't sell like a couple hundred copies or something.
    I understand your point but there's a little more background which can probably explain it.
    Around 95-99 a lot of major retailers went bankrupt in Brazil, so I wouldn't rule out (I'd actually bet on it) that a good chunk of those units ended up not reaching the actual gamers. A few years ago there was a guy selling a dozen of factory sealed Tec Toy PSUs on mercadolivre.com.br, stating that it was part of unsold stock of a retailer; for an example.

    Maybe there's a box somewhere in Brazil full of sealed 32X's Sewer Shark units. Or maybe such retailers just destroyed the unsold CDs stock, we may never know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Black Falcon View Post
    ... What? SoA gets bashed ALL THE TIME for FMV games!
    Rightfully so!

    But as that criticism usually is, you're off base here. First, why do you think that Japanese games somehow use the system's power better?
    And as to your reading comprehension, it is off base as usual I said that the Japanese-developed games "utilized the CD format well", meaning their design principles better incorporated larger memory availability. I didn't say anything about the system. Nor did I say that SoA should have localized those games. Thank you for your monologue, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barone View Post
    I understand your point but there's a little more background which can probably explain it.
    Around 95-99 a lot of major retailers went bankrupt in Brazil, so I wouldn't rule out (I'd actually bet on it) that a good chunk of those units ended up not reaching the actual gamers. A few years ago there was a guy selling a dozen of factory sealed Tec Toy PSUs on mercadolivre.com.br, stating that it was part of unsold stock of a retailer; for an example.

    Maybe there's a box somewhere in Brazil full of sealed 32X's Sewer Shark units. Or maybe such retailers just destroyed the unsold CDs stock, we may never know.
    Huh... yeah, that is possible I guess. TecToy would only know that they were sold to retailers, not how many actually sold to consumers, probably.


    Quote Originally Posted by JumpingRyle View Post
    Rightfully so!
    No, wrongfully so, because people wanted FMV games and someone needed to make them! If it hadn't been Sega then maybe the 3DO would have sold better, I don't know. But someone was going to make FMV games because people wanted that kind of thing. Going back and saying in retrospect that "those games people bought and wanted were all bad so you shouldn't have made games that sold well for a while and helped build your company's name" is kind of foolish.

    In addition, the game this article is about, Surgical Strike, is one of the better FMV games of the generation. I think most FMV games are pretty awful, but Surgical Strike's okay. It is indeed, as the article points out, more ambitious than most in its genre.

    And as to your reading comprehension, it is off base as usual I said that the Japanese-developed games "utilized the CD format well", meaning their design principles better incorporated larger memory availability. I didn't say anything about the system.
    What you're saying here doesn't make any sense. "Design principles better incorporate larger memory availability"? What? That's nonsense... Western games did the same things Japanese games did that gen on CDs, except more Western games actually push the SCD's hardware.

    First, live-action video pushes CD hardware, and is something that uses CD formats well, because it's pretty much impossible on cartridges. Turbo CD-style cutscenes with mostly static images and voiced dialog was a step forward, but the live-action video or fully-animated cutscenes you see on Sega CD are another step forward. There's nothing about RPGs or adventure games that inherently "use CD formats well" versus other genres.

    Second, how are ports of Japanese computer games that didn't originally use CDs, something Sega and others published more than a few of, something which makes such great use of the medium? Anyway, those games have Western equivalents -- Willy Beamish and such.

    And last, on that note, there are Western adventure games, RPGs, cartridge game ports with CD audio and animated cutscenes added, etc. on the Sega CD. And at least games like the SCD Chuck Rock games DO have those animated cutscenes! Even the level of animation in that Chuck Rock intro is uncommon on the Turbo CD, and early Turbo CD games sometimes really are just a HuCard game with CD audio and some additional stuff (Daisenpuu Custom, anyone? I like it a lot anyway!). But the Sega CD has triple the RAM of the Turbo Super CD, so more should be possible with that additional memory. And it is, as the big disparity between platforms in numbers of games with either lots of fully animated or live-action cutscenes shows. It really says something that there are probably more Japanese games with fully-animated cutscenes on the Sega CD than the Turbo CD, it's easier to do those games there. And there are as many Western games on the SCD with lots of fully-animated footage as there are Japanese, or more.

    Nor did I say that SoA should have localized those games. Thank you for your monologue, though.
    SoJ should have been making more games that were designed to sell in the system's primary market, the US. Only ~350,000 of the ~2.25 million SCDs sold sold in Japan. If their Japanese library was an attempt to interest people with Turbo CDs with lots of similar stuff, they failed to attract many of them to buy the Sega CD drive (remember the Turbo CD sold 1.92 million in Japan).

    I will agree with you on one thing, though: Sega did need more games like Magical Girl Silky Lip. A Sega-published original title (ie not a licensed game or other-platform port) for the Sega CD that isn't a sports game? There are so, so few of those, they needed many more!
    Last edited by A Black Falcon; 04-10-2015 at 08:14 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Black Falcon View Post
    No, wrongfully so, because people wanted FMV games and someone needed to make them! If it hadn't been Sega then maybe the 3DO would have sold better, I don't know. But someone was going to make FMV games because people wanted that kind of thing.
    Is this based off of something, or are you just making it up? Sales do not indicate that people wanted FMV games. They indicate that the marketing was successful in the short term. That is the issue here: SoA marketed FMV games well, people bought them and realized they sucked, word spread, and the Sega CD sold worse than it potentially could have. If you are correct in your statement about FMV games, then we would have seen a lot more FMV-centered games (not just cutscenes) on the PC. Instead, the early PC CD-ROM games used the additional storage space for cutscenes, spoken dialogue, and redbook audio (e.g. King's Quest V, Might and Magic, etc.).

    There's nothing about RPGs or adventure games that inherently "use CD formats well" versus other genres.
    Of course not. My point is that the majority of the Japanese Mega CD's library took advantage of the CD format to add animated cutscenes, spoken dialogue, and redbook audio. Developers used traditional game design principles and enhanced them.

    SoA attempted to make an entirely new genre of video game that cost a lot of money to develop and offered little-to-no replay value, but looked good in magazine ads.

    Second, how are ports of Japanese computer games that didn't originally use CDs, something Sega and others published more than a few of, something which makes such great use of the medium?
    I'm really lost here. You know those ports of MSX and PC-88 games are enhanced, right? That was a huge selling point. Play Snatcher with fully voiced dialogue! Japanese devs took classic PC games and re-released them to a wider market with enhanced features and they sold well and were well received.

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