Saving Wing Force
Let's kick off this 2016 with something very special! A Christmas present a mere week late, but 23 years in the making. Wing Force by Atlus, an ultra-rare, unreleased Japanese shooter, has been saved from oblivion thanks to ShouTime, a renown MAME-friendly arcade collector!
This vertical game was developed by A.I, who were also responsible for writing Blaze On. Set for release in 1993, Wing Force never got past the development stage, and was thought to be lost forever. All that remained were a few shots printed on some game magazines back then, such as this one.
When a prototype board unexpectedly turned up in an online auction, ShouTime was so generous to buy it, dump it and document it. It's 16-bit Kaneko hardware, in excellent conditions. The ROM riser boards and the hand-written labels reveal it's no ordinary game:
The unpopulated spot on the left is where the Toybox chip would sit in the production board. That is a custom MCU that Kaneko
would add for protection of its games on this hardware, starting from 1994 onwards. Luckily they did not have time to finalize this
aspect of the production, which means we have no additional hurdles to overcome to enjoy this title.
Here's a close-up of one of the (fragile) riser boards, used for faster prototyping of the development versions of the game:
Below are shots of the game running in MAME. The hardware is almost identical to Blaze On which I emulated in kaneko16.cpp. Most notably it uses two sprite chips, like the only other Atlus title in the driver:
First ever video of the gameplay, in MAME. I'm playing (badly) with an infinite lives cheat for convenience:
You can use this MAME executable (Windows x64), freshly compiled to include the driver, to play it yourself (but roms are not included). For infinite lives, type the following incantation in the debugger:
then press enter and close the debugger window.
The soundtrack is pretty amazing
Thanks to ShouTime
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