$100,000,000 SFC games

Hi, I am curious what you think Super Famicom games would be like if they had giant budgets. I also hope you can think about PC Engine and Mega Drive games too, but I wanted to keep the title short. When a game is 3D it seems so easy to spend lots of money. We can make them look like real life or make it look like a movie. But maybe computers stopped getting better in 1992, so there is war between all the games companies, and now they will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make games.

I am very unimaginative, so it is difficult for me to thing what these kinds of games could be like. Hopefully you can help me. You can tell me a specific 2D game idea that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, or you can think of characteristics many games can have

Please remember limitations like the memory or the cartridge still exist (games for PC engine for example can obviously use CDs). Though it is only imagination, so it is ok to go to somewhere farther than the limits

One idea I have is games about combinations of worlds. For example, in real life if there is a hermit crab but it lives somewhere strange, maybe it will use a small cup to be its shell. And raccoons commune in garbage, though no one taught them this. Things that are alive can be put anywhere and they will start doing things that no one has seen. I imagine that with hundreds of millions of dollars to create simple 2D worlds there can be clever designers who find ways to simulate the adaption and the dynamics. Then when the worlds collide and creatures and things appear in new places they can show new behavior no one planned. Since it is 2D it is perhaps feasible to test something like this with lots of money, though in 3D the possibilities are too great and no money can ever make it work.

Does this example make sense? It is not the best, but I hope it expresses what I am looking for: games that will only exist in the alternate universe where we still only play our super famicoms and pc engines in the year 2020.

My first answer probably isn‘t in the spirit of the question, but the modular nature of the SFC format makes it so it really doesn’t have many limitations. You could probably spend a lot of that budget trying to design ridiculous new chipsets.

More in line with what you were thinking, you could just hire really expensive talent.
Instead of knocking off popular music by your favorite band, hire your favorite band(s) to compose the music.
Instead of telling your artists to make it look like your favorite artist, hire your favorite artist to work on the art design.
Have all the clothing designs for your characters designed by a grand couturier.

You could also fund really expensive globe trotting research trips for your artists and writers at the early stages of development.

You could also make sure all of your developers had excellent development workstations and design tools.

Making a $100,000,000 SFC game sounds like it could be delightful.
I think I'd be more interested in playing a $100,000,000 SFC game then a $100,000,000 Xbox One game.

So I know less about the SFC etc, but I DO imagine folks would be spending lots on chips with infinite budget. Like how there‘s a doom port (or was it wolfenstein) on game boy color (a hack) that’s basically just a separate ARM processor in a cart that takes over everything.

But I can say more about PC Engine. This also might not be in the spirit of your question, but when the PC Engine CD came about, people were going nuts on the idea that they'd have "infinite" space. they had had to scrimp and save for every bit of ROM space before, and now they had ~700mb free and clear on disc.

Before getting started I'll mention that making games for PCE CD was already quite expensive in the early days. CD burners just didn't really exist for the consumer (that's why there's no copy protection on discs of that era), and even devs basically had to chain a stack of HDDs together in order to make the space to simulate one CD! (I interviewed some folks about this back in the day).

Anyway, so that stuff's real expensive already. Then, say you want to have full motion video, you could invest a bunch of money in tech like huvideo, seen in Galaxy Fraulein Yuna. The Sega CD had it built in, more or less, but the PCE CD had no FMV capability whatsoever, so that had to be invested in and built.

like this:

(as an aside, weirdly an american hudson employee {maybe he was a contractor] worked on a huvideo branch(!?) which was only used, as far as I know, in John Madden Duo CD Football. Kind of a waste! It's one of the worst maddens, in part because of the FMV interrupting the action all the time. It's neat to see though. I need to do more research into this, because I might have a lot of details wrong.)

You could also use the space to do intensely detailed bitmap animation, like yumimi mix did on saturn.

this would cost a heckload of money.

You could also, as Tengai Makyo did, pay someone famous like Joe Hisashi to do the whole soundtrack instead of just a couple tracks.

With games of this size and era there's only so much you can really do that *isn't* subverting the paradigm really. You'd have to invent ways to spend that kind of money, and often they did. But you know... games like Tengai Makyo and Final Fantasy VI probably did cost a few million to make in relative dollars. I think in a way those are the examples of what you would've seen in the era. It wasn't until the 3D era, with big texture memory or high end cg workstations that you could really put that huge money to work in the software side, like Final Fantasy VII's CG or Shenmue's open world FREE business.

That's what I think!

BTW I really like this question as a thought experiment!

Right, “a very expensive graphics chip” was also my first thought. One thing to consider is the market price we are aiming for. You could almost create an entire new console with dedicated GPU and RAM within this hypothetical SFC cartridge, but how much would it cost to the end consumer? Are we targeting the modern standard $60+taxes retail price with this modern budget? I think this was quite low by SFC standards.

You mention the year 2020, so I assume it would be now much cheaper to include ARM processors and maybe it would not cost that much to have strong 3D graphics. Flash memory might be the most expensive part, especially to include cutscenes and voices.

It would be difficult to find the right staff. Not so many qualified developers have the knowledge, availability and desire to develop on such an old console. Some training might be needed. QA would also need to be customized. But let's assume for some reason the gaming landscape simply had a status quo and all dev staff are still familiar with this hardware.

I kinda wonder how did the market grow big enough to justify that games reached this kind of budget? I assume Minecraft (or an equivalent) ended up releasing on Super Famicom. Minecraft started on Java, so maybe the boom of Java on mobile phones led to the arrival of Java-compatible chips and Java-based games on the Super Famicom. Did the console get a new controller in the meantime? Are we still stuck with the same controller? It might limit the growth of 3D games.

I think the natural evolution would then be massive communication 2D games, influenced by the growth of mobile communication. The standard "AAA" title might be something similar to Ragnarok Online. The dev costs are justified because there is a subscription service, even if the market did not really grow as big as today. The budget is $100M because we have to keep all those servers afloat, and the console is connected via Modem. That $100M game is probably something like Final Fantasy XIV but with the graphics of Final Fantasy VI, and new regions / graphic assets are stored inside the Flash memory inside the special cartridge. The major cutscenes are fully voiced. Maybe all the data is just streamed at this point, and the cartridge has a special video codec dedicated to streaming.

Also Taito has bought Square and Enix in the mean time, since they had all that leading edge in terms of high speed data transfer via their experiments with WoWoW and Kyocera.

One thing that came to mind: custom controllers per game. Like the separate language processing thing for Hey You Pikachu, the wild control panel for Steel Battalion, the steering wheel controller for Ridge Racer 4. Maybe each game is a portable unit that plugs into the game system as a controller and interfaces with the “home” game. Much like Pokemon Stadium interfacing with Pokemon cartridges, but on a much bigger scale and integrated a lot deeper.


@marlfuchs2#1354 Maybe each game is a portable unit that plugs into the game system as a controller and interfaces with the “home” game

I really love this idea. It takes something like the DC VMU to the absolute extreme. Heck, you could have an entire portable system with its own catalog where the system itself plugs into a special cartridge (or just the console) for more features for each game (budget doesn't appear to be an issue, after all). Something like the Switch with its dock, but the dock is an entire additional system with additional features.

Something I talked to a friend about recently that would be interesting is multi-cartridge epics of varying sorts. In the same vein as Sonic and Knuckles, but rather than modifying existing games, the main cartridge is the base game system, and the add-on cartridges are locations/levels, some special systems, and assets. Imagine a Phantasy Star 5 where each world is a cart all its own - with massive gorgeous sprites and tiles, unique music, and huge areas to explore and things to do.

I totally missed the “2020” aspect of this, and my speculation was all of the era. I do think that in 2020 it‘d be all additions and modifications like a raspberry pi on a chip kind of situation, so I’m going to keep thinking about spending millions in the era. Maybe the Xband got huge and online games are played across it. the Sega Channel and Satellaview are where “indies” put their download-only releases.

And with the PC Engine and Genesis, you know they'd be building more expansions - more ram, more chips, more everything! You'd have some sort of weird chimera beast by now.


I remember when the Pokemon Mini came out, each one being like a separate minigame contained within them, so I'd imagine the micro consoles would be something like it. A bit beefier than a VMU, and with infrared and a pedometer!
[upl-image-preview url=//i.imgur.com/7ldsqTW.png]

Heck, because we got so much gosh darn money, maybe have an RPG where each party member is contained on a separate mini console. You have to level each one up during the day, or share them with friends! then connect via the infrared signal to update data and stats.

I‘d be into that. It’d bring new meaning to the idea of selling characters, that's for sure.